The Institute of Medicine is examining how to tap electronic health record data, health insurance information, and other types of data systems to study activities and habits in communities, Government Health IT reports.
An IOM committee on public health strategies has begun considering how to use a variety of data sources to gauge population health. The data could help focus efforts to keep people healthy.
Public health experts have said that to improve health in the U.S., attention needs to be placed on addressing issues such as exercise, smoking, eating habits and preventive care.
Challenges to Using the Data
Margaret VanAmringe -- vice president for public policy and government relations at the Joint Commission -- said the population data that are collected might not be useful for public health purposes.
For example, when health care providers report that they counseled a patient on smoking cessation, there may be no indication about the quality of the counseling, according to VanAmringe (Foxhall, Government Health IT, 2/21).