New office will improve data-driven decision making

In June 2021, the Alabama Department of Public Health established the Office of Informatics and Data Analytics (OIDA) led by State Epidemiologist Dr. Sherri Davidson. OIDA, pronounced /Oy' duh, previously referred to as the Centralized Data Unit, will improve the department’s data-driven decision making. The mission of the OIDA is to ensure that the determinants and distributions of disease and health for Alabama are accurately assessed and the information is disseminated in a meaningful way. OIDA will provide support and input with epidemiologic integration, analysis, interpretation, determination, visualization, and dissemination.

The department will finally have access to hospital discharge data. The Hospital Discharge Data Act passed in March 2021 and requires hospitals to report data regarding a patient’s discharge (without patient identifiers), information previously inaccessible. The newly established Hospital Discharge Data Advisory Council drafted rules that went into effect on March 17, 2022. OIDA is also facilitating communications between Alabama hospitals and the department for hospitals to implement electronic case reporting for reportable conditions.

(Article previously published in the April 2022 issue of Alabama's Health.)