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  • Writer's pictureMAREJ

Northern & Central NJ1Q 2021 Report

The COVID-19 pandemic stretched healthcare to the breaking point. But while the industry bent, it didn’t break. The pandemic did, however, expose some very harsh realities, including the healthcare system’s older technologies and siloed data systems. Even now, the public health system still relies more heavily on faxed forms and manual entry than digital automation.

Improving Public

Health Infrastructure

The US has tried (and failed) for 15 years to build a system that facilitates easy data sharing and access — critical during a health crisis, for example.

Dr. Deborah Bix, of the coronavirus task force said recently that it’s more difficult to access COVID-19 data from US healthcare providers than to get AIDS data from African clinics.

And yet electronic health records (EHR) technology has been used by providers for more than a decade. The infrastructure exists to greatly improve access to critical data, conduct symptom surveillance via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and link EHR across systems and states.

2021 and beyond will include important discussions about overhauling the CDC’s data collection methods and systems to track disease spread. Modernizing this — and other healthcare systems nationwide — will improve overall interoperability and provide yet another tool for healthcare professionals and researchers to respond to:

• Foodborne illnesses

• Seasonal illnesses like influenza

• COVID-19 and other disease outbreaks


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