A great need exists for the creation of one standardized, comprehensive database containing virtually all conceivable types of human population health statistics. Such a database would lead to a much easier identification of trends over time as well as correlations between different variables. It would also enable the conduct of far more efficient and effective scientific studies.
Instead of surveyors going out to various places or instead of survey mailings being sent out to individuals, perhaps the most logical place in which to gather such statistics would be at healthcare facilities, such as physician offices, community health centers, hospitals, nursing homes, home health care agencies, hospice organizations, elementary and secondary schools and anywhere else healthcare services are imparted or healthcare data is received.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) should be required to develop, with input from healthcare providers, a standardized system by which every healthcare provider in the nation would be able to quickly and accurately (and ideally, automatically and seamlessly–i.e., without much dedication of resources) register every type of human healthcare service delivered as well as every type of healthcare data generated. Currently, several departments within the DHHS specialize in collecting various statistics. My proposal is to consolidate all these human health statistics into one standardized database in order to unify that data and make it easier to conduct searches and study. Virtually every conceivable activity (good or service) relating to human physical and mental health (including referrals and discussions) should generate an input into this system. All of this data sent to this statistics database should be stripped of personally identifiable information. Examples of the types of data that should be entered into this system would be vital statistics (births, deaths, etc.), laboratory tests and the results, medical procedures and operations conducted (how and with what kinds of materials) and followup information (quickness of recovery, side-effects, etc.), immunizations given, medications prescribed, illness, insurance coverage, risk factors, health-related behaviors, diagnosed and undiagnosed conditions, growth and development statistics, overweight and obesity statistics, diet and nutrition, environmental exposures, access to and use of health services, prenatal care, birth weights, psychological and behavioral assessments, any kind of physical or mental symptoms or behavior, thought patterns or processes or any other significant data the patient offers, etc.
To ensure that such data is consistently and reliably transmitted to this central database, perhaps it should be a licensing requirement that every healthcare practitioner register with this database and set up a their own approved arrangement for transferring/inputting such statistical data.
In addition to hard numerical data like blood tests and weight and height measurements, one of the main goals of this database should be to collect basic data regarding mental health. The potential of this rapidly expanding field is enormous, to say the least. There is a great deal to learn and asking the entire population a series of questions over a long period of time designed to probe the mind would enable us to gather data on long-term patterns of thought and behavior. Gaining basic but comprehensive standardized data now will be invaluable to researcher many decades into the future. Perhaps the entire population should undergo brain scans periodically and these should be regular bits of information contributed to this database. This way, correlations between brain scan maps and information gained by the questioning would enable researchers to advance the scientific understanding of brain functions far faster than would otherwise be the case.
This data should be formatted in accordance with an open data standard convention so that it is much more accessible for research.
Database With Personally Identifiable Information Included
Personally identifiable information should be linked in with this database so that a patient’s doctor and other authorized personnel would be able to actually service the patient. However, the public database described above should have all of this personally identifiable information stripped from it.