The Epidemiology (Epi) program within the Division supports many other Department programs with their data and information gathering needs. The Epi program is also a widely-recognized community resource for health statistics, measures and rates. The Division's Public Health Epidemiologist, Assistant Public Health Epidemiologist and GIS Analyst collect, analyze, and disseminate data from various sources including surveys, administrative and medical records data, vital records (births and deaths), hospital discharge data, census, and cancer registry data. When there is a communicable disease outbreak, the Epi staff helps collect and analyze the information gathered from case investigations.
The health databases and information managed by the program staff are used to:
- Assess the health status of the city's and county's population by collecting demographic, socioeconomic, geospatial, lifestyle and behavioral risk data and health utilization data.
- Produce indicators that help set goals and mark progress towards local health objectives.
- Provide data for grant progress reports and evaluation efforts.
- Help determine the statistically most likely or probable source of significant local outbreaks.
- Determine if there are any geographic relationships or spatial patterns that show up in health data.
- Disseminate health data via data dashboards including the data most commonly requested by program staffs and community members.
The most useful data sources are vital records (births and deaths) and adult and youth behavioural surveys about factors that influence morbidity (illnesses and conditions) and mortality. Lifestyles and behaviours influence health status in a number of ways and the Epi program has been collecting survey information from adults and teens about their health status, access to care and lifestyles (both risky and preventive behaviours) for decades. Two data dashboards are available for persons wishing to find the latest available data (generally 2013) on births and deaths (the Vital Statistics portal) and adult's lifestyle factors influencing their health status (the Behavioural Risk Factors Surveillance Survey or BRFSS):
The following are links to other data that are frequently used to monitor demographics and health status in the county, state or nation: