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Iowa Public Health Tracking

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Information technology and communication systems are vital to the delivery of public health services. The Iowa Public Health Standards* outline the Iowa Department of Public Health's responsibility for establishing and maintaining a Public Health Tracking system. This will result in:

  • Improved public health decision making: Take advantage of high quality, accessible data and decision support tools.
  • Healthier Iowans in healthier communities: Use data to perform thorough community health needs assessments and to create and implement impactful health improvement plans.
  • Increased opportunities for funding: Use data to support grant applications and ensure secured funds are used on programs that provide the most value to Iowans.
  • Better use of time and resources: Spend less time searching for data and more time using the data for value-added activities.

What's NEW?!

IDPH is partnering with the Vexcel Corporation, a subsidiary of Microsoft, Microsoft Consulting Services, and Infusion to complete the Iowa Public Health Tracking system. These partners have extensive experience in developing longitudinal data systems for other state agencies including the Montana Office of Public Instruction and the Connecticut Environmental Public Health Tracking program.

This project involves several key components:

  • Development of two access points- a secure portal containing implicitly confidential data and a public portal with non-confidential data
  • Use of the most recently available version of MS SharePoint as the interface for the public and secure portals
  • Addition of multiple datasets with a focus on environmental health

This project will provide unprecedented access to Iowa health data. While the replacement system is under development, the existing warehouse will remain active. County health snapshots have been posted on this site under “Health Snapshots” for public and health partner use. For more information on the Public Health Tracking system replacement, view the Frequently Asked Questions.

What is Public Health Tracking?

Public Health Tracking is an active, web-based application that organizes and stores health data from a variety of sources. The application also provides basic reports that summarize health data. By having a number of important datasets in one central place, users are able to easily obtain snapshots of the health of individual counties and the state of Iowa as a whole.

The vision of Public Health Tracking is to provide access to health data to help Iowans make more efficient and effective decisions in promoting and protecting the public's health.

Who can access the current warehouse?

There are two types of users who may access the data warehouse. Basic users include local public health agency staff who accesses the data through a web-based portal. Advanced users are IDPH staff with secure access to the data warehouse. Both basic and advanced users must request access to the data warehouse through the project coordinator.

What are the current and future plans for Public Health Tracking?

Throughout 2011 and 2012, Public Health Tracking and Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) staff completed extensive planning efforts. Key accomplishments include:

  • Completion of a department-wide and external stakeholder needs assessment
  • Business plan based on the results of needs assessment
  • Business requirements for the public and secure portals, as part of the warehouse system replacement
  • Migration of 2009 data
  • Acquisition and loading of EPHT data in preparation for the start of contractual work
  • Identification of a vendor for the development phase of the project starting in Fall 2012

2012

2013

  • Release of new public and secure access portals for Public Health Tracking
  • Availability of new datasets including:
    • Air quality
    • Birth defects
    • Cancer
    • Child blood lead
    • Water quality
  • Comprehensive list of 78 nationally-consistent data measures as part of the EPHT program
  • New reporting functions, data view tools and user access levels
  • Addition of 2010 and 2011 data

Stakeholders

Directly or indirectly, Public Health Tracking will support the missions, visions, and core functions of several groups:

  • State and federal agencies
  • Local public health practitioners
  • Academic institutions and researchers
  • Community partners and the public

Development Partners

IDPH Public Health Tracking Team

  • This team is comprised of the project coordinator, technical lead, database administrator/architect and support staff. The team drives the maintenance and progression of the Public Health Tracking program.

Public Health Tracking Administrative Team

  • This group of administrators provides oversight and guidance for the tracking project. Several division directors, bureau chiefs, and program staff serve on this team, which meets twice monthly.

Other Developmental Partners include:

  • Lead User Group
  • Environmental Public Health Tracking Technology Advisory Group
  • Department data committees (e.g. Research and Ethics Review Committee)