EHT1102:       Applied Informatics Practices for Environmental Health Programs

Speaker:           Jeff Ditty




The application of informatics practices, resources, and tools for improving environmental health programs is a critical activity for a modern environmental health unit.  This session will focus on informatics concepts such as business processes and requirement definition, available information sources, and examples of available tools that can be incorporated into your environmental health programs for improving performance, service, and outcomes.                    




The ever evolving and increasingly available nature of technology and information sources exponentially increases the potential for public and environmental health organizations to improve service levels and health outcomes for their communities.   Incorporating and applying sound informatics practices, an often undeveloped or under-developed activity in many organizations, is critical to most effectively harness the power of information for environmental health programs. 


  1. Identify and Define Information Needs

    Many opportunities exist to apply concrete informatics practices to shape how environmental health programs use information and data.  The first step involves identifying and defining the information needs for an individual program: documenting business processes, identifying process inputs and outputs, and translating this information into business requirements.  These requirements define the information needed, inform how to apply it to the program, and assist in decisions for information collection and analysis.  Practice and established methodologies for performing these activities will be discussed.


  1. Gather the Information

    Deceptively simplistic in concept, the challenge of gathering the required information or data to use in any environmental health program can often be the most difficult process.  Information sources can include organizational data systems, web services, RSS feeds, health information exchanges, and geographical information systems, to name only a few.  Different data sources and their relationships to environmental health programs will be discussed.



  1. Query and Analyze for Decision Making

    Once the information is in hand, the next step involves asking questions, getting responses, and analyzing the information to inform decisions.  A variety of available tools, including free and commercial desktop applications as well as enterprise solutions, can support this process.  Examples of these tools and how they can be applied to leverage data sources will be discussed.  By using the tools and techniques that meet identified requirements, programs can apply defined information or data to assist in measuring or monitoring activities such as performance indicators, emerging threats, and program evaluation.