Making a Powerful Connection: the Health of the Public and the National Information Infrastructure. 7.2.1 Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health


The Assistant Secretary for Health has made population-based health applications of the NII an issue of high priority, and has charged the PHS Public Health Data Policy Coordinating Committee with coordinating efforts in this area across the PHS, and between the PHS and other branches of the federal government, state governments, the public health community, and the private sector. This approach assures that potential synergies among diverse PHS initiatives in this area are realized, and that the leadership of PHS agencies concerned with data standards, data collection strategies, integrated information systems, and public health performance measurement are well informed about the interconnections between these activities and the NII. It also facilitates the development and implementation of PHS-wide policies that capitalize on the capabilities of the NII to meet the information needs of population-based public health at federal, state, and local levels. This paper and the April conference at NLM are but one of the outcomes of coordinated PHS activities in information infrastructure.

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion developed a prototype telecommunication-based Community Service Network in collaboration with community service providers in Washington, D.C. Now under further development by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and partly supported by the Department of Commerce Advanced Technology Program, this type of network can link personal computers across various service agencies to support one-stop shopping for clients, appointment scheduling, and coordinated service delivery. The network can be customized to meet the service needs and resources of large and small communities in both urban and rural areas.

The long-established National Health Information Center (NHIC) is expanding from a 1-800 telephone access, printed material distribution resource to include Internet-based access. The NHIC World Wide Web (WWW) Home Page, an "easy access" tool on the Internet, is currently being searched 1000 times each day by those seeking accurate and timely consumer health information. An additional WWW home page highlighting the "Put Prevention into Practice" initiative to expand the appropriate use of clinical preventive services has been added recently. These tools empower citizens and communities in support of health improvement. The NHIC is also supporting the efforts of an expert panel to develop tools for evaluating interactive communications technologies.