The U.S. Government Is Investing $80 Million To Create A New Public Health Informatics & Technology Program
“Digital Health” is the new catchphrase / term in health care. The concept itself has proven very useful, as shown particularly during the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic, which required new innovations and technologies amid the chaos of social distancing and quarantine. In the past decade, the idea of digital health has shifted from simple patient portals and rudimentary EMR systems to a broader ecosystem, ranging from health devices, telehealth services, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to robust data science. In fact, many of these new innovations are revolutionizing the way healthcare is delivered.
The US government has continued to recognize the role of digital health and healthcare innovation as an integral part of a successful healthcare infrastructure. In fact, institutions like the US Food & Drug Administration have Digital Health Center of Excellence (DHCoE) reaffirm the government’s commitment to digital health and “mark the beginning of a comprehensive approach to digital health technologies that enables the advancement and realization of the potential of digital health”. The organization aims to “empower digital health stakeholders to advance health care by promoting responsible, high-quality innovations in digital health …” and ultimately “patients, developers, health care providers, researchers, industry, payers, other government agencies, international Regulatory Agencies “to serve CDRH and other centers within the FDA.”
Last week, the government reiterated its commitment to digital and technological excellence in healthcare with the announcement of the launch of a new public health informatics and technology development program. The Press release noted that “the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) of the US Department of Health (HHS) is promoting the establishment of an 80 million US public health informatics and data science.” One of the objectives of the program is to “the Weed out the profound health and socio-economic inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic and ensure that our health system is better equipped for the next public health emergency. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed gaps in our public health reporting and data analysis, particularly regarding racial and ethnic data. Some of these gaps can be attributed to limited technological infrastructure and chronic underfunding of the staff required to support public health data reporting at the state and local levels. “
The initiative has a clear goal in mind: “The PHIT Workforce Program aims to train more than 4,000 people over a period of four years using an interdisciplinary approach in public health informatics and technology.”
Indeed, the aggressive pursuit of training individuals to work better with and innovate in health informatics and data science comes at the right time as more countries around the world recognize the value of investing in health infrastructure and digital transformation.
The trend towards digital transformation is not limited to the public sector. A report from McKinsey & Company explained: “Digital technology has the potential to affect every aspect of business and personal life, enabling smarter decisions, more time to be spent on tasks they consider valuable, and often fundamentally fundamental to the way value is created change […] Now that patients around the world have become more familiar with digital networks and services, even on complex and sensitive issues like healthcare […] We believe the time has come for healthcare systems, payers and providers to go “all in” with their digital strategies. “
And organizations are Go “everything in”. A report of global communications and research firm Mercom Capital Group that digital healthcare companies raised “a record $ 7.2 billion in VC” [venture capital] Financing in the first quarter of 2021 ”, illustrates the astronomical value and interest in this market. Demand has never been so high – organizations and businesses want to be at the forefront of digital transformation to ensure their technology is cutting edge, better serving their respective stakeholders, and staying compliant with the evolving landscape of regulatory requirements .
While the rapid pace of development in the industry is amazing, regulators, companies, executives and key decision-makers in the industry need to ensure the highest levels of quality not only with certain products but also with patient safety issues and the privacy, autonomy and comfort of stakeholders. This is a crucial aspect for a successful and sustainable digital transformation.
Initiatives like the PHIT Workforce Program are a promising step forward to better prepare people for the new generation of health innovations. Time will tell exactly the value and benefits programs like these offer to society as a whole.