Public health policy initiatives and community health outcomes have never been more important.
On a global scale, this is generally managed by the World Health Organization, an agency empowered by the United Nations to guide international public health.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spearheads national public health policy. The organization is “the nation’s leading science-based, data-driven, service organization that protects the public’s health. For more than 70 years, [the CDC has] put science into action to help children stay healthy so they can grow and learn; to help families, businesses, and communities fight disease and stay strong; and to protect the public’s health.”
Understandably, leading something as expansive and as crucial as national public health requires a significant amount of analysis, insight, and data-driven decision making. Indeed, the CDC recognizes that billions of dollars are increasingly being invested in deriving smarter and more granular insights from healthcare data, and accordingly, wants to use these assets to drive its key initiatives.
Thus, the CDC has decided to undertake a massive modernization initiative for health data: “On February 27 and 28, 2023, the CDC Foundation will convene a joint event with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) with the objective to accelerate public health data modernization through public private partnerships.” To do so, the group will bring together thought-leaders to inspire and drive change.
The CDC Foundation is “an independent nonprofit and the sole entity created by Congress to mobilize philanthropic and private-sector resources to support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s critical health protection work.”
Judy Monroe, MD, President and CEO of the CDC Foundation, explains: “We need collaboration from businesses, health care, academia, community organizations, and all sectors to build an efficient, integrated and comprehensive approach to improving our nation’s public health data.”
The event’s purpose is to: “Hear from CDC and ONC leaders about the vision for public health data modernization and the value of multi-sector partnerships; Inform industry about CDC’s and ONC’s strategic direction in use of data and information systems, and about the highest priority areas in which they are seeking support; Provide forums for government and industry to discuss services and priorities (including networking opportunities, exhibits and presentation, and sessions with Q&As); Increase opportunities for CDC and ONC to work with and learn from industry; [and] Provide opportunities to hear from industry partners on their compatible capabilities, tools and services.”
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, and director of the CDC further explain: “I am committed, as part of the agency’s moving forward initiative, to modernizing CDC’s data systems and am looking forward to hearing from our public- and private-sector partners. We should all have the same goal; ensuring that public health data systems are sufficiently designed to swiftly collect actionable data that informs recommendations to protect all Americans from health threats.”
Dr. Walensky is a physician-scientist who is trained in infectious disease and in public health, and was chosen to lead the CDC by President Biden upon his election. Prior to that, she served at the Massachusetts General Hospital as Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases. She brings to the role years of incredible leadership and healthcare experience.
Undoubtedly, this initiative is a positive step for the CDC and for the healthcare infrastructure of the American government as a whole. Healthcare IT infrastructure investment and modernization is a must, as it will assuredly dictate the next generation of insights and decision-making. By exploring parternships with leading organizations that are spearheading the next generation of data modernization and analytics, the CDC can ensure that it remains nimble and agile with the needs of modern society.
Hopefully, with more ventures such as these, the agency will continue to grow in a way that is most effective for local communities and the nation as a whole.