Public Health Agencies’ Health Informatics Capacity and Its Impact on Activities to Address Health Disparities

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Background: Because of several recent developments, the environment in which local health departments (LHDs) operate is becoming increasingly challenging and complex. Persisting budget cuts, workforce changes and emerging public health threats have indisputably had negative impact on LHDs. Meanwhile, developments such as Public Health 3.0 focus, accreditation, informatics capacities, and Health in All Policies, have created opportunities for improving public health agencies’ administration, partnerships, governance, and the capacity to provide evidence-based essential public health services. Purpose: This study examines LHDs’ activities to address disparities and whether LHDs’ informatics capacities shape the likelihood of performing those activities.

Method: Data from the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ 2016 Profile of LHDs were used in examining association of informatics activities with two activities designed to address health disparities.

Results:While a large proportion (61%) of LHDs used data and described health disparities in their jurisdiction, only 12 percent are conducting original research to link health disparities to differences in social or environmental conditions. LHDs that had implemented EHRs were more likely to have described the disparities in their jurisdiction than those who had not implemented (68% vs. 51%; p

Conclusions: Interventions aimed at improving LHDs’ tendency to address health disparities may leverage LHDs informatics capacities for a positive change.


American Public Health Association Annual Meeting (APHA)


Atlanta, GA