Category Archives: Data Stewardship

Public Health Informatics Virtual Event on July 16-18, 2013 – Call for Abstracts!

Connect with colleagues at your own convenience!

ph informatics virtual event

This virtual event provides the opportunity to learn and discuss the latest initiatives in public health informatics with attendees from all over the country and internationally. Call for abstracts is now open and will continue until May 31, 2013. This year’s theme is “Strengthening Public Health – Health Care Collaboration.” Abstract submissions are encouraged in the following areas:

1)  Informatics policy and practice: virtual sessions will focus on national and international policy issues and their implications for public health informatics programs; applied informatics projects for programmatic support; and new initiatives

Examples might include:

  • ICD-10 CM/PCS –deadline for implementations 10/1/2014
  • Meaningful Use & Electronic Health Records
  • Interstate data exchange
  • Data exchange to support ACOs

2)  Research & Innovation: virtual sessions will focus on informatics research and technological innovation to public health and clinical settings.

Examples might include:

  • Applying analytics to new and existing data sources
  • Leveraging Big Data for population and public health
  • Learning health systems to support integration of primary care and public health
  • Novel technologies for population and public health education and communication (mobile, web, social media)

3)  Supporting Public Health Evidence Based through Informatics Practice: virtual sessions will focus on strengthening public health through knowledge sharing, evaluation, visualization and reporting.

Examples might include:

  • Evaluation methodologies and findings
  • Decision support for population health Health status and performance management dashboards
  • Community Health Assessments as part of the community health improvement process
  • Return on Investment (ROI) and Value of Information (VOI) analyses for informatics programs and systems

If any of the items above relate to your area of work, do not miss the opportunity to submit an abstract!

Help us get the word out and share this blog post with your colleagues and friends! And if you’re ready to submit an abstract go straight ahead here.

Meeting sponsors include CDC, NACCHO, and ASTHO.

Community Data, Data Stewardship & Public Health

By Max Gakh, JD, MPH,  Partnership for Public Health Law, maxim.gakh@apha.org

Communities are seeking data as part of their public health work

community _ health dataChild Watch, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is launching a website with extensive data about the children of Allegheny County.  Website data will provide users with information about health, education, and demographics of the county’s youth.  The website is intended to function as a data clearinghouse, providing policymakers and partners with access to streamlined data.

Community partners like Child Watch are using local health information to address public health needs.  Protecting de-identified information is a core element of a new, national stewardship framework for the use of community health data.

Data stewardship principles to guide community work

Data access and use comes with responsibility.  Communities are rapidly learning how to be responsible stewards of data.  Data stewardship requires balancing the same considerations generally at issue in public health: the rights of individuals on one hand and the needs of the community on the other.

Data stewardship ensures responsible use, collection, analysis, and storage of data and information.  It also focuses on data accuracy and integrity.

On December 5, 2012, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS), which advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on health data and information policy, recommended to HHS a framework for data stewardship by communities using data to advance health.  As health data are disseminated for public use, the framework emphasizes cultivating trust and accountability.

Using public health department data for community health

Communities typically use local health data that do not identify individuals.  NCVHS’s data stewardship framework stresses the importance of protecting this type of “de-identified” data.  De-identified data is exempt from the HIPAA Privacy Rule and other privacy protections.

NCVHS expresses several concerns about communities that use de-identified data. One concern is that de-identified data may be used to re-identify specific persons by merging it with other sources of information.  Re-identification may be difficult or expensive and it may be hard to achieve in some parts of the country.  But if re-identified information is misused, it could threaten privacy and lead to economic or social difficulties for the identified individuals.

State laws governing disclosure of information by public health agencies

When providing data to communities, public health departments should recognize that determining whether data identify individuals may be difficult.  Yet this determination may control whether certain state legal provisions apply.

Research indicates that 25 states and Washington, D.C. explicitly prohibit disclosure of any personally identifiable information held by public health agencies except when clearly permitted by law.  Many of the other 25 states protect the disclosure of personally identifiable information related to specific diseases and through practice rather than legal provisions.

Public health departments that provide data to community partners should understand laws governing disclosure of personally identifiable information.  Ohio, for instance, prohibits state and local health departments and boards of health that receive “protected health information” from disclosing it.  “Protected health information” either directly reveals the identity of an individual or could be used to determine that identity.  It may be disclosed only for treatment, to ensure the information is accurate, under a search warrant or a subpoena related to a criminal investigation, or to address a threat to an individual or the public’s health.  Public health agencies in Ohio may also disclose de-identified information in aggregate or statistical forms.

Public health departments that encourage robust data stewardship systems and practices among community partners can ensure community trust by reducing the likelihood that properly disclosed aggregate information will be used to identify individuals.

Max Gakh is a Visiting Attorney with the Partnership for Public Health Law.  The Partnership is a collaboration of NACCHO, the American Public Health Association (APHA), the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), and the National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH).