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Public Health Tech Initiative


Using Health Technology to Respond to Public Health Emergencies

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Published on Nov 1, 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event for which no nation, including the U.S., could have been fully prepared.1 The world initially grappled with understanding the depth and breadth of the threats that the virus posed to diverse populations. While the U.S. quickly responded to the pandemic using previously tested methods based on pre-planning, some challenges and unexpected circumstances emerged from the novel virus. Coordination of resources across federal and state governments and effective partnerships with the private sector proved vital in the pandemic response. There were several “lessons learned” during the pandemic that are worth considering in preparation for future events. For example, clinicians can provide health care services effectively without consumers having to go to a health care facility, and remote clinicians and caregivers working together can monitor patients to manage chronic conditions. Most importantly, we learned that clinicians and consumers can quickly adapt to providing and receiving services virtually.

However, despite extensive disaster preparedness planning, the pandemic shined a light on several weaknesses in our health care system including underfunded state and local public health agencies, fragmented health data, fragile supply chains, inequitable care and outdated health-related laws and regulations.

This paper sets out a framework for leveraging these “lessons learned” from the pandemic for improved planning, response, coordination and remediation moving forward with public and private partnerships that leverage resources for effective results.