Transform Public Health Data Systems


The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created a National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems, a first of its kind National Commission led by NCHE  The Commission, comprised of innovators and experts was convened to reimagine how data are collected, shared, and used, and identify what public and private investments are needed to improve health equity.

As our nation simultaneously grapples with COVID-19, economic upheaval, and a racial reckoning, acknowledging that data can make the previously unseen visible is more important than ever.

The Commission members explored challenges and opportunities for modern recommendations and actionable solutions that government at all levels (federal, state, and local); business; philanthropy; community-based organizations, and more can take to re-envision and modernize our public health data system.


More on our work to harness data to promote health equity:

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Statement from Gail Christopher on New OMB Federal Data Collection Standards

To build a society where all Americans can live their healthiest and most vibrant lives free from discrimination, everyone needs to be seen. Being seen means being recognized, being heard, and getting your needs met, no matter your race or ethnicity. This is pivotal to dismantling structural racism. And it starts with having good data that fully reflect America’s diversity.

Dr. Gail Christopher's Letter to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)

Dr. Gail C. Christopher, in her role as director of the National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems, responded on behalf of the data commission by submitting a letter to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in response to its request for input regarding better collaboration around the production and use of equitable data.

New Commission To Tackle How National Health Data Are Collected, Shared, And Used

COVID-19 has shown us once again that wealth, racism, and privilege play an outsized role in how long and how well people live. Philanthropy has long sought to address the confluence of factors that drive these inequities, but many of us who spend our lives focused on health and equity were surprised by the dearth and limited quality of the data we’ve had to track those most affected by the pandemic.

Addressing Racism in Research Can Transform Public Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently issued a declaration reflecting what many already realized: racism is a threat to public health and a fundamental cause of health inequity in the United States. As we continue to grapple with COVID-19, now is the time to move beyond research that shines a light on health disparities and provide evidence of what works to address structural racism and improve health equity.

Public Health Forward: Modernizing the U.S. Public Health System

Call to Action for State, Territorial, and Local Public Health Departments to Move Public Health Forward. COVID-19 exposed numerous, long-standing, and deep fractures in our public health system and highlighted pervasive disparities among communities regarding factors that affect an individual’s physical and mental health access to affordable and nutritious food options, safe and affordable housing, financial security, and quality, affordable medical care. The infusion of federal relief funds presents policymakers with a historic opportunity to correct these problems and set a new course for health in the United States that advances health equity and enables each person to achieve their best health.


National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems Newsletter

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“The House that Racism Built,” David R. Williams.

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HOPE Initiative: “Inspiring ‘HOPE’ and action toward achieving racial and health equity in our lifetime.”

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“Business case for racial equity,” Ani Turner, Altarum.

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“Structural racism, health inequities, and the two-edged sword of data: Structural problems require structural solutions,” Nancy Krieger.

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“Deconstructing Inequities — Transparent Values in Measurement and Analytic Choices,” Marjory L. Givens, Keith P. Gennuso, Elizabeth A. Pollock, and Sheri L. Johnson.

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“The health-care industry doesn’t want to talk about this single word,” Ron Wyatt.

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“How Structural Racism Works — Racist Policies as a Root Cause of U.S. Racial Health Inequities,” Zinzi D. Bailey, Justin M. Feldman, Mary T. Bassett.

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“Structural racism and health inequities in the USA: evidence and interventions,” Zinzi D. Bailey, Nancy Krieger, Madina Agénor, Jasmine Graves, Natalia Linos, Mary T Bassett.

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“Racism and Health: Evidence and Needed Research,” David R. Williams, Jourdyn A. Lawrence, and Brigette A. Davis.

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“Beyond Declarative Advocacy: Moving Organized Medicine And Policy Makers From Position Statements To Anti-Racist Praxis,” Rohan Khazanchi, Faith Crittenden, Anna S. Heffron, Emily C. Cleveland Manchanda, Karthik Sivashanker, Aletha Maybank.

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“Medicine’s Privileged Gatekeepers: Producing Harmful Ignorance About Racism and Health,” Nancy Krieger, Rhea W. Boyd, Fernando De Maio, Aletha Maybank.

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“The World’s Leading Medical Journals Don’t Write about Racism. That’s a Problem,” Rhea Boyd, Nancy Krieger, Fernando De Maio, Aletha Maybank.

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