Data Modernization Initiative Project Planning 

Updated: December 21, 2022 

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 and brittle 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 and Systems Modernization 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. 

Funding

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 FY2022 to modernize public health data infrastructure and analytics at CDC and state and local health departments. 

FY21 factsheet - PDHMI (cdc.gov) 

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 and acronyms 

Acronym 

Definition 

APHL 

Association of Public Health Laboratories 

AIMS 

APHL Informatics Message Services 

CEDAR

Cloud Environment for Data Analytics and Reporting

DMLC 

Data Modernization Learning Community 

DMI 

Data Modernization Initiative 

DSTT 

Data Science Training Team 

eCR 

Electronic Case Reporting 

EHR 

Electronic Health Records 

eICRs 

Electronic Initial Case Reports 

EIS 

Epidemic Intelligence Service 

ELR 

Enterprise Laboratory Reporting 

Epi-Aids 

Epidemiologic Assistance 

ETOR 

Electronic Test Order and Results 

FPHS

Foundational Public Health Services

HL7 

Health Level Seven International 

Info-Aids 

Informatics Assistance 

LHJ

Local Health Jurisdiction

LIMS 

Laboratory Information Management System 

MOOC 

Massive Open Online Courses 

MPI

Master Person Index

NBS 

Newborn Screening 

NCHS 

National Center for Health Statistics 

NNDSS 

National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System 

NVSS 

National Vital Statistics System 

OIT

Office of Innovation and Technology

OSP

Office of Strategic Partnership

PHF 

Public Health Foundation 

PHL 

Public Health Laboratory 

RCKMS 

Reportable Conditions Knowledge Management System 

REDCap 

Research Electronic Data Capture 

RR 

Reportability Responses 

SMART 

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

TA 

Technical Assistance 

WFD

Workforce Development

WSALPHO

Washington State Association of Local Public Health Officials

Timeline
Image
Data Modernization Initiative Milestones

Note: Like many projects, timelines are estimates and may adjust due to unanticipated changes.

Previous Milestones Date
Initial cloud migration complete March 2020
Master Person Index (MPI) project kicked-off  January 2021
CEDAR project kicked-off January 2021

Current DMI projects

Projects

Cloud 2.0: To improve enterprise-wide support, Cloud 2.0 will restructure the DOH Cloud Data Center, which was originally implemented under COVID-19 emergency circumstances. New capabilities for high-demand cloud services include, sandbox capabilities, an external partner landing zone, and foundational public health infrastructure.

DMI Workforce Development Web Site (pilot project): A planned web site will provide a space for trainings to address the need across local health and DOH for DMI workforce development. By providing data science training opportunities across the public health system, this site will help develop systemwide expertise at no cost to the LHJs.

Master Person Index: Our first MPI implementation will automate de-duplication of multiple copies of the same lab record for a person. Prior to implementing this operational MPI solution, up to 24 staff were required to manually process duplicate records. We have exciting plans for new MPI uses cases as building blocks within our DOH public health data system and will look forward to sharing more information as those unfold.

Enterprise GIS: The all-new Enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS) is a centralized, intelligent, integrated system that combines spatial information to help us understand the complexities, relationships, and patterns within a defined geographic location. In January 2023, DOH will launch the Enterprise GIS platform GeoHUB. Users will be able to find training, located and use authoritative geospatial data, view web applications and dashboards, and create their own GIS maps. The goal is to help programs use this adaptive technology to tell their own stories and make data-driven decisions.

News and updates

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Local health jurisdictions can email LHJEngage@doh.wa.gov to reach Senior Local Public Health Liaison Julie Hollenbeck or Senior Strategic Engagement and Planning Director Laura Blaske. Tribal health partners can reach out to Agency Tribal Relations Director Tamara Fife.

    Articles about the Data Modernization Initiative at DOH

    FAQs 

    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
    Handouts

    We want to hear from you!

    Do you have a question you didn’t see answered in the FAQS? Excellent. Send it to us at DataModFeedback@doh.wa.gov.