Ten principles have emerged from the consultations thus far as key elements of the health statistics vision. These principles, which are discussed below (page 15 ff.), will help focus future discussions as the consensus about the health statistics Vision continues to evolve. They are as follows:
- The confidentiality of health information on individuals must be protected. This precondition applies to all other principles listed below.
- An overarching conceptual framework is needed to help organize the different elements of the health statistics system.
- The health statistics system must be flexible enough to identify and respond to new information needs.
- Information must be available at a sufficiently detailed level (e.g., geographic area, racial and ethnic subpopulation) to be relevant to real decisions.
- Data standards are essential and should have maximum usefulness to public health, health care delivery, health statistics, and research.
- Data should be collected once and then used for multiple purposes, using approaches that promote sharing and efficiency while protecting privacy and confidentiality.
- Health statistics data must be provided back to communities, community groups, local governments, policy makers, health care providers, and others in ways that maximize data access and ease of use.
- Approaches should be developed that allow system-wide planning and coordination so that resources can be better managed.
- Health statistics must be collected, organized, and made available in ways that inform and facilitate decision-making on health.
- Implementing a broad vision for a 21st century health statistics system will only be possible through collaboration and partnerships including both public and private organizations at the local, state, and national levels.
In addition to articulating the health statistics Vision, the three-year national consultative process is designed to yield a practical description of the components of an integrated information system as well as ideas about how the Vision can guide local, state and federal program planning. The process also seeks to build consensus about health statistics priorities, to clarify roles for the levels of government and for the public and private sectors, and to identify new opportunities for partnership among these components. All of these developments will permit a more rational and cost-effective use of resources. Participants also will lay out criteria and a process for evaluating health statistics systems in the future.