Practices that show evidence of effectiveness in improving public health outcomes in a specific real-life setting, as indicated by achievement of aims consistent with the objectives of the activities, and are suitable for adaptation by other communities.

Pandemic Tracking and the Future of Data

99 Percent Invisible

Release Date:


Data Collection and Analysis
Social and Community Context
Tools Included
Outside U.S.

Data Collection and Reporting

This episode from the podcast 99 Percent Invisible reflects on how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the American public to a long-standing problem: the disjointed nature of the U.S. health system. Because state and local health departments largely operate independently and use their own data collection and analysis tools, health systems across the country lack standardized data definitions and systems. These inconsistencies made it nearly impossible to collect and analyze comprehensive, standardized data on COVID-19 cases, deaths, and vaccines administered amid the pandemic. Health experts featured on this episode believe that the pandemic made the need for an overhaul of America’s informatics system very apparent. When rebuilding this system, it’s important to focus on remedying existing inequalities in data collection and classification that in some cases render the health status of certain populations – think Native American communities and other communities of color – completely invisible in the data. By virtue of being small populations, it can be difficult for health departments to collect sufficient and/or statistically significant data on minority communities. Another issue discussed in this episode is the use of broad racial categories like “other,” “multiple races,” or even “Asian American,” which, if not disaggregated, obscures the health status of diverse populations who are grouped under the same category. Without comprehensive and inclusive health data, it’s difficult to identify disparities and implement policies and programming that promote social mobility and health equity.

Resource Details

Outcomes of Interest

Advancing Racial Equity

Priority Population(s)

Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic, Latino, or Latinx, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander

Setting(s) of Implementation


Geographic Area of Implementation

Implementation Period