Editor's Note: The National Environmental Health Association is publishing a three-part series that describes the development and application of tools, trainings, and resources available in informatics. This series will serve as a guide for identifying new and existing resources that can be adopted at the local environmental health level. This series is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Contract 200-2013-57475. The conclusions in this series are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of CDC.
What Is Informatics and Why Is it Important to Environmental Health?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines public health informatics as the "systematic application of information, computer science, and technology to public health practice, research, and learning." At the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), we are focusing on environmental health data standardization, collection, sharing, and use. Local, state, and federal agencies collect environmental health data through many avenues: inspections, complaint investigations, community interactions, monitoring and surveillance, and illness outbreak investigations. When these data are collected, they create a broad picture of an environmental health condition that can be used to inform environmental health initiatives and improve policies, interventions, and programs. By moving toward a wider adoption of informatics and data driven decision-making, we can expect positive impacts on population health.
What Is NEHA Doing?
Environmental health is profoundly local, however, collecting and using data at the local level can be a challenge. At NEHA, we've identified the limitation of resources as a key hinderance to meaningful data use and informatics systems adoption. In response, this year we worked to develop new resources, tools, and success stories that you can refer ence and adopt to improve the policies, interventions, programs, and health of the residents of your jurisdiction.
NEHA Informatics Committee
In Fall 2017, NEHA developed the Informatics Committee that is made up of local, state, federal, and industry professionals. Committee members provide expertise and support by identifying data related needs of environmental health professionals, existing tools, and developing new resources. Since that time, the committee has met monthly to discuss emerging issues, provide subject matter expertise...