Informatics is the science behind storing, accessing, and sharing information, a critical component to public health practice. Public health organizations, such as ADHS face challenges collecting and analyzing data related to the health of a population and managing this data in the most efficient and effective ways. The ability to store and analyze data allows public health programs to make evidence-based decisions to drive program direction, which enables better use of resources.
The Informatics team at ADHS recently provided technical assistance to our Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to improve their ability to use and share their data. You may have recently seen the 2016 Annual Blood Lead Surveillance Report. The Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program also just released the 2016 Scorecard. Without the work of informatics, these reports would not have been possible. There were many milestones that had to be achieved through informatics, including a new database, standardization of historic data and data analyses.
ADHS receives approximately 65,000 to 70,000 blood test results a year. To ensure timely identification of elevated results for coordination of care, informatics was used to help develop a system that stored non-elevated results and alert the program to those results that were elevated on a daily basis. This allows for more timely coordination of care for affected children.
Data reported from 2011 to 2016 were reviewed to identify duplicate test results and children. The original data included over 400,000 test results. Informatics was used to systematically review and identify errors in the data. This process identified nearly five percent of the data contained duplicate children and test results. The newly cleaned data was used to develop a new model, list of high-risk zip codes for lead poisoning, and for updating the targeted screening policy. Informatics provides direction and a strategy to better utilize data in the most efficient and effective way possible.