Making Public Health IT Work

A new program called Common Ground is seeking to create unity in how IT is implemented in public health departments.

Expected to help manage every health crisis, from pandemics to chronic diseases, a new program is working to help public health departments prepare reliable IT systems to meet these challenges.

Currently, information systems for state and local public health department are developed by individual state and local departments so they may not function very effectively in conjunction with one another.

A new program from the RWJF (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) dubbed "Common Ground" is seeking to unify how IT is implemented in public health departments.

Common Ground: Transforming Public Health Information Systems will bring together health departments to collaboratively describe the public health activities—emergency preparedness, restaurant inspections, vaccinations, nutrition education—that their information systems must support and develop the technical requirements for these systems so that they can better serve the public.

The three-year, $15 million program is intended to build upon previously funded RWJF initiatives to strengthen the public health system and improve information technology.

Through the program, RWJF will provide approximately 30 grants to state and local public health departments.

The Common Ground program plans to support the collaboration of state and local public health agencies in two areas: helping them analyze and redesign their business processes, and helping them develop requirements for information systems to improve preparedness for chronic disease prevention and control.

State and local health agencies are eligible for the grants, as are nonprofit organizations such as public health institutes that are specifically designated by a state or local health department to receive funds on their behalf.


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