Making a Powerful Connection: the Health of the Public and the National Information Infrastructure. 6.0 How Can the Nii SUPPORT Population Health in the Future?


Imagine the year 2010, when all health-related agencies and organizations are connected to the NII, as are all schools, universities, libraries, businesses, and the majority of homes in the United States. Electronic mail (e-mail) and teleconferencing are common methods of communication among those concerned with improving and protecting the health of communities. Most data needed to identify and assess community health problems are in electronically accessible form. The majority of available health-related data and information is generated automatically, as a by-product of delivering and paying for medical care and carrying out essential public health services. Public health officials use an array of sophisticated technologies to link, aggregate, analyze, and scan available data to detect changes in community health status and emerging health problems. Reminder systems and decision support tools assist in identifying problems and taking appropriate actions. Because collecting and analyzing data are less labor-intensive, more time can be spent on devising solutions to high priority community health problems.

Information technology helps diverse community groups collaborate on practical strategies for reducing health risks. Disease prevention and health promotion information is readily available to citizens in schools, libraries, kiosks, and homes.

The scenarios that follow illustrate various ways that NII technology could be harnessed to improve the health of the public.