The US lacks health information technologies to stop COVID-19 epidemic

Niam Yaraghi at Brookings: “The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the crucial importance of health information technology and data interoperability. The pandemic has shattered our common beliefs about the type and scope of health information exchange. It has shown us that the definition of health data should no longer be limited to medical data of patients and instead should encompass a much wider variety of data types from individuals’ online and offline activity. Moreover, the pandemic has proven that healthcare is not local. In an interconnected world, with more individuals traveling long distances than ever before, it is naïve to look at regions in isolation from each other and try to manage public health independently. To efficiently manage a pandemic like this, the scope of health information exchange efforts should not be limited to small geographical regions and instead should be done at least nationally, if not internationally.


A wide variety of factors affect one’s overall well-being, a very small fraction of which could be quantified via medical records. We tend to ignore this fact, and try to explain and predict a patient’s condition only based on medical data. Previously, we did not have the technology and knowledge to collect huge amounts of non-medical data and analyze it for healthcare purposes. Now, privacy concerns and outdated regulations have exacerbated the situation and has led to a fragmented data ecosystem. Interoperability, even among healthcare providers, remains a major challenge where exchange and analysis of non-medical data for healthcare purposes almost never happens….(More)”.