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Lessons Learned in Using Hospital Discharge Data for State and National Public Health Surveillance: Implications for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tracking Program

Love, Denise RN, MBA; Rudolph, Barbara PhD; Shah, Gulzar H. MStat, MSS, PhD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: November-December 2008 - Volume 14 - Issue 6 - p 533–542
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000338365.66704.7d
Science and Data

The goal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) Program is to build a nationwide network of integrated}?> health and environmental data to measure impact of environmental factors on public health. This article describes how hospital discharge data can provide essential information for public health programs, including EPHT. The state inpatient hospital discharge data systems have properties that are highly desirable for surveillance and multistate initiatives, like EPHT, yet accessing and using the data can create challenges for the end user. This article highlights the strengths and limitations of hospital discharge data and references crash outcome data and evaluation system and Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project as models for accessing, linking, and aggregating hospital discharge data. These federal-state data partnerships have overcome many of these challenges and have the potential to serve as models for the EPHT Program. The lessons learned from these “early adopters” can shortcut the implementation period for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention EPHT Program.

This article describes how hospital discharge data can provide essential information for public health programs, including Environmental Public Health Tracking program.

Denise Love, RN, MBA, is Executive Director, National Association of Health Data Organizations, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Barbara Rudolph, PhD, is Consultant, National Association of Health Data Organizations, Salt Lake City, Utah and the LeapFrog Group, Washington, District of Columbia.

Gulzar H. Shah, MStat, MSS, PhD, former Director of Research, National Association of Health Data Organizations, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Corresponding Author: Denise Love, RN, MBA, National Association of Health Data Organizations, 448 East 400 South, Suite 301, Salt Lake City, UT 84111 (dlove@nahdo.org).

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.