Based on a nationally representative survey of 324 local health departments (LHDs), this study examined the current status of LHDs’ control of informatics infrastructure (vs. control by the state health agency, city/county information technology (IT) department, or someone else). The 2015 Informatics capacity and Needs Assessment Survey was conducted by Dr. Gulzar Shah, associate dean for research at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, on behalf of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).
The study shows that majority of the control of the LHD informatics infrastructure resides in external entities rather than LHDs. IT system security had the least amount of LHD control, with only 12.8 percent within each LHD program and 21.4 percent within a central department of the LHD. Similar patterns existed for control of data quality, with 13.9 percent within each LHD program and 20.3 percent within a central department of the LHD. The type of governance structure of the LHD was significantly associated with the control of infrastructure. Despite improvements in IT infrastructure in public health, there is still much that can be done to improve the adoption of IT in local health departments, by better understanding the impact of governance and control structures of IT physical infrastructure. Additional research is needed to determine best practices in IT governance and control of IT physical infrastructure for public health.
The study titled “Control of the Public Health IT Physical Infrastructure: Findings From the 2015 Informatics Capacity and Needs Assessment Survey,” was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.
Dr. Kelley Chester, Principal at C3 Informatics, LLC and alumni of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University (JPHCOPH) was the lead author and Dr. Gulzar Shah, Associate Dean for Research at JPHCOPH was one of the co-authors.