Data Modernization Initiative Project Planning 

Updated: February, 2024

Public health depends on widespread and rapid access to data to drive decisions. The goal of the Data Modernization Initiative (DMI) is to move from siloed public health data systems to a connected, resilient, adaptable, and sustainable “response ready” data ecosystem that can help us solve problems before they happen and reduce the harm caused by the problems that do happen. 

Modernization is not just for outbreaks and pandemics. Better data on non-infectious diseases and conditions — birth defects, cancer, opioids, suicides, and more — are critical to the wellbeing of everyone. 

To address these challenges, Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is working to: 

  • Align its internal structure to support systems and data modernization, 
  • Assess the current state and gaps of its data ecosystem, and 
  • Develop a plan to address current gaps 

About DMI

History and background 

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) works with others to protect and improve the health of all people in Washington State with equity and optimal health for everyone. However, chronic underfunding has prevented the state from keeping up with technology. The agency uses approximately 50 surveillance data systems, each developed independently over many years, largely in response to prescriptive funding requirements. This has led to duplicative data structures, data formats, data standards, legacy systems processes, and protocols.  

Collaboration and innovation 

The Center for Data Modernization and Informatics is forging and fostering partnerships with those who have worked with the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) in the past and newer ones who have only begun engaging so that the health ecosystem is harnessing the strength of our collective effort to improve health. Our shared commitment to health and well-being is the foundation for future collaboration. 

We will do this by working closely with state, local, tribal, and territorial partners to ensure transparency, address policy challenges, and solve problems together. 


In August 2021, CDC awarded $200M from the CARES Act to share among eligible state, territorial, and local public jurisdictions to build foundational data capabilities, accelerate electronic case reporting, and modernize vital statistics systems. 

Congress dedicates $100M in FY 2022 and $175M in FY 2023 to modernize public health data surveillance and analytics at CDC and state and local health departments. 

Equity and justice 

The Center for Data and Systems Modernization will demonstrate the agency's commitment to transforming the health of communities while also addressing health inequities that this pandemic has laid bare. By ensuring equity, fairness, and justice principles are embedded in our activities, we will seek impactful and measurable solutions to often complex and historically rooted issues that are preventing equitable access to health and health care alike. 

Expected Outcomes  

Significant investment in modernizing our disease surveillance and health information systems will produce a public health community that leverages timely, relevant, and actionable data and intelligence to fulfill mission objectives and achieve long-term outcomes as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in DMI Roadmap of Activities and Expected Outcomes.

  • Public Health can rapidly identify and effectively mitigate emerging threats
  • Trusted data promotes evidence-based behaviors, interventions, and solutions to protect health  
  • Every American has the opportunity to attain the highest level of health possible  
  • All people have the right information at the right time to make decisions  
  • Our country is better prepared for, and protected from, all types of public health threats 
Glossary of acronyms 




Association of Public Health Laboratories 


APHL Informatics Message Services 


Cloud Environment for Data Analytics and Reporting


Data Modernization Learning Community 


Data Modernization Initiative 


Data Science Training Team 


Electronic Case Reporting 


Electronic Health Records 


Electronic Initial Case Reports 


Epidemic Intelligence Service 


Enterprise Laboratory Reporting 


Epidemiologic Assistance 


Electronic Test Order and Results 


Foundational Public Health Services


Health Level Seven International 


Informatics Assistance 


Local Health Jurisdiction


Laboratory Information Management System 


Massive Open Online Courses 


Master Person Index


Newborn Screening 


National Center for Health Statistics 


National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System 


National Vital Statistics System 


Office of Innovation and Technology


Office of Strategic Partnership


Public Health Foundation 


Public Health Laboratory 


Reportable Conditions Knowledge Management System 


Research Electronic Data Capture 


Reportability Responses 


Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound 


Technical Assistance 


Workforce Development


Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials

Note: Like many projects, timelines are estimates and may adjust due to unanticipated changes. DMI Timeline (PDF)
Data Modernization Initiative Timeline




Completed Milestones Date
Respiratory Disease Dashboard replaced COVID-19 Dashboard  November 2023
Completed listening sessions with academic partners about data sharing process November 2023
Launched GIS newsletter September 2023
Released data visualization style guide and palette    July 2023
DMI workforce development website launched April 2023
Opioid data dashboards launched March 2023
Enterprise GIS portal launched January 2023
Initial cloud migration complete March 2020
Master Person Index (MPI) project kicked-off  January 2021
CEDAR project kicked-off January 2021
Implemented Master Person Index (MPI) matching capability for WDRS February 2022

Data Modernization Initiative (DMI) gap analysis complete

April 2022
Center for Data Modernization and Informatics established  July 2022

Data and Systems Workforce Training Pilot kick off

August 2022

Current DMI projects


Data Visualization: Focuses on creating guidance and data visualization products for interactive dashboards to make them more inclusive and understandable for diverse audiences.

Goal: Ensure the public understands the data we are sharing.

Data Governance: This team is working with public health leaders to define and maintain shared data practices that maximize the value of public health data for public health purposes.

Goal: Bring together public health leaders to define and maintain shared data practices for improved transparency, collaboration, and informed decision-making

Data Democratization: This team is working to identify and eliminate data sharing bottlenecks and provide guidance to help the agency communicate data in a way that is easily accessible and understood by the public.

Goal: Streamline data sharing with external partners.

Electronic Case Reporting (eCR): Electronic Case Reporting automatically and securely transmits information from individual electronic health records to DOH, eliminating the need for manual transmission. By providing more complete and accurate data in near real time, eCRs improves clinical care, supports disease monitoring, and reduces the burden for healthcare providers.

Goal: Capture critical clinical and demographic data in a more efficient and timely way. 

DMI Workforce Development Web Site (pilot project): The Public Health Data Science Learning Center, launched in April 2023, offers free training, quarterly webinars, and resources to support public health professionals, helping to develop systemwide expertise to leverage new technologies.

Goal: Ensure employees have the necessary skills for current and future technologies.

Cloud Informatics: Public health uses science and technology to systematically apply information, computer science, and technology to translate the different types and sources of data for professionals working in diverse fields and settings.

Goal: Addressing public health data challenges so that epidemiologists can use our resources effectively.

Master Person Index: Our first MPI implementation automated consolidation of multiple copies of the same lab record for a person.

Goal: Automate process for improved accuracy and timeliness.

Enterprise GIS: Geographic Information System (GIS) is a centralized, intelligent, integrated system that combines spatial information to help us understand data within a defined geographic location. In January 2023, DOH launched the Enterprise GIS platform GeoHUB for internal DOH staff. Eventually, this will allow us to enhance information and data we share with LHJs and tribal partners.

Goal: Improve our ability to visualize, analyze, interpret, and share geographic data.

Electronic Lab Reporting (ELR): ELR is the electronic transmission of laboratory reports that identify notifiable conditions from laboratories to public health. DOH’s ELR system provides data to public health disease investigators across the state via the state disease surveillance system.

Goal: Ensure timely, accurate, and complete data for mission critical case investigation, contact tracing, and disease surveillance.

Future Innovations: Work continues on a DOH Innovation project that focuses on chronic disease surveillance data modernization. This project involves working with state healthcare system partners to develop a cooperatively governed secure platform for private-public data sharing.Goal: Allow healthcare partners and public health professionals access to timely, actionable chronic disease outcome information.

News and updates

Subscribe to the DOH Digest

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Local health jurisdictions can email the Regional Health Office Team at
Tribal health partners can reach out to

Articles about the Data Modernization Initiative at DOH


Why is modernizing public health data important? 

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a high-speed, modernized public health data infrastructure. When people’s lives are on the line, connected and integrated data helps public health put the pieces together faster and take action to protect health. Years of underinvestment in public health have led to systems that are siloed, outdated, and incompatible, and data that are delayed and incomplete. One result is that many places in America are underserved by public health. We must use the lessons learned in this moment to create systems that will help us respond to both infectious and non-infectious threats—and improve the health of all people. 

Why does data modernization matter? 

We need state, local, and federal public health to have rapid access to actionable data. 

Data drives decisions in public health.  The data public health provides are critical not only to respond to COVID-19, but for finding and fixing the full spectrum of health challenges our nation faces.  However, years of under-investment in our data have led to many places in Washington state that remain underserved by public health. We are at a critical turning point— an “all hands-on deck” moment when we must transform how we collect, use, and share data locally, statewide, and nationally. 

What is the federal government doing to help modernize public health data? 
  • We started with the first-ever Congressional support dedicated specifically to data modernization. At the national level, the CDC is unifying its data at and supporting policies that make data sharing easier. 
  • In Washington state, we are working alongside healthcare partners, including vendors, hospitals, and others across the private sector, to make sure the solutions we develop include insights and feedback from our partners. We’ve also engaged with innovation partners across academia and research who are supporting our work. 
How does DMI support health equity in our state? 

DMI is focusing on the potential of data to empower effective decision-making at the local level and to produce positive health outcomes, not only to stop diseases but to create wellness. We are committed to gathering evidence using true and transparent methods, and to listening to our partners and communities at every step. Recommendations from the National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems - RWJF 

Who will data modernization projects impact? 

Data modernization will impact every entity that provides surveillance data to the Washington State Department of Health, including hospitals, laboratories, healthcare providers, local health jurisdictions, medical examiners, coroners, schools, colleges and universities, health clinics, pharmacies, and some community based organizations.  

Partner resources 

Web pages
Plans, briefs, and reports

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