Filling the Gaps in Data and Methods for Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR)


Introduction: The goal of aligning the delivery of public health and medical care services so as to achieve population-wide improvements in health status is not new. Yet the urgency to achieve greater alignment has increased as the prevalence of costly and preventable diseases and injuries grows, and as incentives for health care system redesign take hold through Affordable Care Act implementation. The science of public health services and systems research (PHSSR) can leverage this opportunity for change by bringing data together from public health and health care systems to support a holistic and integrated learning health system that maximizes the value of new data streams.

Issue Overview: This joint issue of eGEMs and Frontiers in PHSSR displays the viewpoints of diverse authors to enhance the types and sources of data that are available to understand and improve population health, and to integrate these data where possible. Four primary themes emerge from the papers: (1) the vision and strategy needed to support the role of data and methods in advancing population health in the United States; (2) the need to improve the infrastructure required to understand public health financing and organization; (3) the importance of making early, meaningful use of health information technology (IT) to achieve these goals; and (4) the need for new approaches and partners to improve measurement strategies and assess population health.

Next Steps and Considerations for the Field: eGEMs and Frontiers in PHSSR hope that, over time, this literature will continue to grow, identifying opportunities for multidisciplinary teams to work with communities and address common priorities that fill in existing information gaps such as those identified in the special issue.