Transforming Public Health Data Systems

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Commission released recommendations to build a robust 21st century public health data system to advance health equity.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many gaps in public health data gathering concerning race and ethnicity. How can data better illuminate the ways in which structural racism and other forms of discrimination drive health inequities?


Webinar: Centering Equity in Data—Transforming Our Public Health Data Systems

Participants joined RWJF for an interactive discussion of the Commission report, discussing recommendations and hearing insights from experts about how and why we must prioritize equity in data. Listen to the webinar recording »


National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems

RWJF established a first-of-its-kind commission to reimagine how health data are collected, shared, and used, and to identify the public and private sector investments needed to modernize our health data infrastructure and  improve health equity

Read the report

“Our hope is that these recommendations serve as a catalyst for meaningful change before the next public health crisis hits. It’s impossible for the nation to fix what isn’t measured,” said Alonzo Plough, RWJF vice president, Research-Evaluation-Learning and chief science officer.

Read his blog post in Health Affairs »

More About The Commission

Equity and overall well-being are not generally part of how we talk about health, and are not emphasized in our data collection. This has to change in order to truly move the needle on health equity and create thriving communities.

The Commission explored challenges and opportunities such as new data sources and measures that show promise for future public health surveillance; data disaggregation to better identify risk and outcomes by race, gender, and ethnicity; building data capacity in under-resourced communities; community involvement in shaping data systems; data interoperability and other important areas. 

RWJF challenged this commission to identify the improvements needed to make sure our data  systems reflect the harms that racism and other forms of discrimination have on our communities.

The Commission, which included some of the nation’s leading experts in areas such as healthcare, community advocacy, government, business, public health, and others, released their recommendations October 2021.