The U.S. health information ecosystem is evolving unevenly. Investments and progress are focusing on health care, while public health is saddled with a significantly underdeveloped IT infrastructure that mostly serves the operational rather than strategic functions of public health.
However, the field of public health and public health informatics have the opportunity to be critical players in health care delivery system reforms to achieve population health. To explore upcoming challenges and opportunities for transforming public health informatics and public health overall, the Public Health Informatics Institute partnered with IAF to develop Public Health Informatics 2023 Scenarios (“Information for Health Action,” “Write-Only Misinformatics,” “Pearl Harbor for Public Health,” and “Everybody Is an Informatician”).
- Using these scenarios, project participants developed the following “robust” strategies to drive the field toward aspirational futures while taking into account potential developments as depicted in challenging and expectable scenarios:
- Engage stakeholders and expand data sharing with traditional and new partners to improve population health.
- Develop new, standards-based and interoperable data infrastructure that is accessible and meets the needs of community-based partners.
- Make existing data more readily available to local partners, as a core responsibility of public health practice.
- Develop a prototype neighborhood health record to capture precise, timely, specific, and relevant measures of health and to track health risks and disparities at the community level.
- Gather, curate, disseminate, and provide sustainable funding to maintain an evidence base of best practices in public health informatics.
- Promote innovative approaches to workforce development in public health informatics.