Nationwide Health Tracking: Investigating Life-Saving Discoveries

October 2004

Chronic diseases, such as cancer, asthma, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and diabetes are responsible for seven out of ten deaths in America. These diseases strike more than a third of the U.S. population, over 100 million men, women and children. The costs of caring for people with chronic diseases account for more than 75 percent of the nation's $1 trillion health care budget. By 2020, chronic disease is expected to afflict 134 million Americans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that a majority of these deaths could be prevented. However, the country does not have the fundamental scientific system needed to identify and understand the factors that are causing or contributing to preventable deaths -- a nationwide health tracking network (NHTN).

A nationwide health tracking network involves health scientists connecting rates of disease with a range of studies, including environmental (viral agents, pollution, etc.), occupational, and lifestyle or behavioral (diet, etc.). In addition, a NHTN yields information about the varying rates of disease by geography and ethnicity, providing answers about whether or not there are "clusters" of diseases occurring in particular communities or population groups. Once disease causes are known, public health experts, health care providers, and policymakers can develop informed strategies to reduce and eliminate disease and lower the cost of medical treatment.

Read more in TFAH's Policy Update, Nationwide Health Tracking: Investigating Life-Saving Discoveries

Complete Report (224k .pdf)

TFAH Release: TFAH Applauds Congress for Bipartisan Introduction of Nationwide Health Tracking Bill