In 2001–02, KIPHS, a software development firm specializing in public health software, Wichita, Kan., studied the potential design for a centralized information system that would allow public health officials to combine data from numerous separate databases holding a community's public health information.
Public health information systems have routinely built separate database systems, including both hardware and software components, to meet specific, individual data needs.
This lack of coordination prevents one agency from using data collected by another (for example, schools are unable to access childhood immunization records from the public health department; lead paint abatement projects are unable to target their activities based on incidences of high lead levels reported by physicians).
- KIPHS prepared a report, The Public Health Electronic Town Square Architecture Study, outlining an approach to designing a centralized system for community-level public health data.
- The report identifies factors that affect how data from different databases could be extracted and used, including the similarity of the databases and degree of control potential users have over the databases being linked together.
- It further specifies a range of 17 criteria for deciding whether inclusion of a specific database in a combined system makes sense. The criteria focus on whether linking the data is feasible and what synergies might develop from such linkages.