December 3, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the many gaps in today’s public health and health data infrastructure, particularly in regards to people of color and other marginalized populations, and it showed us the many ways in which these challenges perpetuate health inequities. To work towards better health data systems, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the National Commission to Transform Public Health Data Systems.

Their report Charting a Course for an Equity-Centered Data System” contains the commission's set of recommendations for reimagining and modernizing the health data system. The report is edited by Emily B. Zimmerman of the VCU Center on Society and Health, along with Gail Christopher, Director of the National Collaborative for Health Equity; Anita Chandra, Director of the RAND Social and Economic Wellbeing; and Laurie T. Martin, Senior Policy Research at RAND Corporation. 

This report issued recommendations that center on narrative changes, privatizing community engagement, and ensuring public health measurement captures structural racism and other inequities. The report also includes calls to action for all levels of government as well as private and other civil society sectors in transforming the public health data system.