Data integration and warehousing: coordination between newborn screening and related public health programs.
At birth- patient demographic and health information begin to accumulate in varied databases. There are often multiple sources of the same or similar data. New public health programs are often created without considering data linkages. Recently- newborn hearing screening (NHS) programs and immunization programs have virtually ignored the existence of newborn dried blood spot (DBS) newborn screening databases containing similar demographic data- creating data duplication in their 'new' systems. Some progressive public health departments are developing data warehouses of basic- recurrent patient information- and linking these databases to other health program databases where programs and services can benefit from such linkages. Demographic data warehousing saves time (and money) by eliminating duplicative data entry and reducing the chances of data errors. While newborn screening data are usually the first data available- they should not be the only data source considered for early data linkage or for populating a data warehouse. Birth certificate information should also be considered along with other data sources for infants that may not have received newborn screening or who may have been born outside of the jurisdiction and not have birth certificate information locally available. This newborn screening serial number provides a convenient identification number for use in the DBS program and for linking with other systems. As a minimum- data linkages should exist between newborn dried blood spot screening- newborn hearing screening- immunizations- birth certificates and birth defect registries.