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Executive Summary





                       very day—unbeknownst to most Americans—public health surveillance

                       saves lives by detecting and coordinating the response to health threats.
                       The nation’s public health surveillance system protects the public from
           Ethreats such as re-emerging vaccine preventable diseases like measles,
            emerging infectious diseases like Ebola and Zika, new threats like e-cigarettes

            that build on old threats like tobacco, natural disasters, antibiotic-resistant
            organisms, injury, environmental threats like lead, and more.


            In a world where travel across the globe can be accomplished within 36 hours, the demands for public
            health surveillance have changed dramatically over the past several decades. Today, emerging health
            threats around the world pose a risk to the health of every American. Global health security depends on
            high-quality, immediate, population-wide, complete, and accurate detection and reporting of diseases and
            conditions of high public health consequence.


            Yet, public health surveillance is falling behind.

            The use of data is transforming the world. A 2018 report by the National Science Foundation positioned
                                                                           1
            the United States as the global leader in science and technology.  Many industries—financial services,
            retail, logistics, communications, and health care—have harnessed the power of technology and
            electronic data exchange to streamline processes, reduce manual paper-based methods, increase accuracy,
                                                          2
            improve productivity, and achieve cost savings.  Despite the availability of new technologies to facilitate
            timely data exchange, public health departments
            struggle to take advantage of these advancements
            and continue to rely on sluggish, manual processes           The consequences of
            like paper records, phone calls, spreadsheets, and
                                                                         slow data sharing are
            faxes requiring manual data entry.
            These outcomes do not result from a lack of data or          significant—delayed
            the limitations of today’s technology; rather, these
            poor outcomes are due to inadequate resources.               detection and
            Public health has been unable to access existing data
            or implement advanced technologies necessary to              response, lost time,
            improve the timeliness of public health surveillance.
            To be effective, public health surveillance must             lost opportunities,
            shrink the time interval between recognition of a
            problem and the response to it. To do so, health             and lost lives.
            care providers and public health departments must
            facilitate more, better, and faster data exchange.


            1  National Science Foundation. Report shows United States leads in science and technology as China rapidly advances. ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180124113951.htm.
              Published January 24, 2018.
            2  Benefits of EDI. EDI Basics. https://www.edibasics.com/benefits-of-edi/. Accessed May 11, 2019.



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