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1998-04-18 07:28:40


CDC's Problem of Shared Data



The Centers for Disease Control imports and exports data on many topics. If it imports noncompliant data, its own data become unreliable. Then it exports these unreliable data.

This is a systemic problem.

* * * * * * * * *

CDC is especially vulnerable to external systems and data. CDC's primary mission involves the collection of data from external sources for analysis and interpretation. CDC has some 74 active health surveillance systems all of which obtain data from hundreds of external sources including physicians, hospitals, laboratories, State and local health departments, managed care organizations, and other federal agencies. Moreover, CDC conducts thousands of ad hoc epidemiologic studies and analyses per year on disease outbreaks also using external data sources. Finally, CDC also depends upon vital statistics from the State vital registrars. . . .

We have begun efforts to assess the awareness and compliance activities of some of our primary data providers; however, it is unlikely there will be universal compliance given the broad range of sources we depend upon. We are also working on contingency plans to develop intelligent utilities that can convert incoming data automatically to the appropriate format when necessary, or at a minimum, identify it as noncompliant and requiring human intervention for interpretation.


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