State Health Agency Database Improves Timeliness and Accuracy of Data Collection

During 1993 and 1994, the Public Health Foundation continued redesigning its state health data reporting system and to maintain key project staff while awaiting the reinstatement of federal funding.

The reporting system has provided annual data on characteristics of state health agencies, including their organizational structure, expenditures, funding sources, services and activities, staffing, and funding for local health departments.

The revised approach, called the Public Health Impact Database (PH-IMPACT), was designed to:

  • Enhance timeliness and accuracy.
  • Facilitate analyses by computerizing the manual system.
  • Provide critical information on important state health problems.
  • Demonstrate to national and state policymakers the impact of public health activities on national goals and desired health outcomes.
  • Empower health departments to be effective advocates for improving their programs and associated infrastructures.

Key Results

  • Staff at the Public Health Foundation reviewed and modified survey instruments for the fiscal year 1992 data cycle and submitted them for approval by its Data Policy Review Panel.

  • At the panel's recommendation, the survey instruments for both fiscal years 1992 and 1993 were sent out to state health agencies at the same time, with different return dates, so that the project team could process and disseminate the data in a more timely fashion. Project staff provided technical assistance to respondents by phone. Also to increase efficiency, project staff modified specifications for the computerized databases and data-handling procedures.

  • With approval from RWJF, project staff used leftover funds toward the purchase of five new computers to aid in the data-gathering effort.

  • Some additional federal funding for PH-IMPACT was forthcoming during the grant period to allow the analysis and publication of fiscal year 1991 data but the funding for subsequent years was cut from the federal budget, and thus the fiscal years 1992 and 1993 data were never verified or published.