The weight of the pandemic response is weighing heavily on federal government agencies, including the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services. One of the most important tools they have at their disposal to aid in pandemic response is data. In this article you’ll learn how data initiatives are driving the pandemic response and bringing us closer to effective treatment and a vaccine.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed agencies including the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to focus on data initiatives and data interoperability. The ability to share data between agencies, hospitals, and providers has become vital for testing and tracing of COVID-19 cases. Recently, a panel of experts came together to discuss priority initiatives, how these are working to improve healthcare, and what the future of health information technology might look like.
In the panel, Mark Vafiades, Senior Advisor, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, José Arrieta, former Chief Information Officer, Department of Health and Human Services, Kshemendra Paul, Chief Data Officer, Department of Veterans Affairs, Bill Tinston, Program Executive Officer, Defense Healthcare Management Systems, Military Health System, and John Harris, Director, Federal Mobility Solutions, Public Sector, Verizon offered insights on these issues.
“One of the challenges we had across the United States responding to this pandemic was visibility and a common operating picture,” said Arrieta. To solve this challenge, HHS Protect was launched. “HHS Protect is focused on protecting people, protecting transparency, protecting privacy, protecting security, and finally protecting integrity” with data sharing from states, hospitals, and agencies. This data sharing helps to ensure that COVID contact tracing is accurate, health records are updated, and resources are being used wisely.
Data sharing was echoed by the other panelists as the focus for their agencies among the height of the pandemic. Vafiades shared that interoperability and health data sharing in a “common picture” was top of mind, especially taking the CARES Act into account. “This will allow and require healthcare organizations and providers to share that information with one another,” he said.
Tinston and Paul agreed and shared that their agencies are dedicating resources to data interoperability as well as improving Electronic Health Records and telemedicine. “While data has been a strategic asset in the VA for some time, the push now is with the foundations of the federal strategy to really take this to the next level,” said Paul.
“It’s about operational medicine, delivering the right data about the right patient to the right provider at the right time,” added Tinston. With these advances, our healthcare organizations will be better equipped with the information needed to aid in the current pandemic and issues in the future.
It’s clear that agencies across the federal government are working to improve data sharing and telemedicine, and to make these improvements possible, agencies need dependable, scalable networks.
“Today’s environment has created a higher dependency on remote networks. With a push to broaden 5G finding ways to provide additional bandwidth and lower latency, we can help our customers and government agencies meet the demands of today,” shared Harris.
Interested in hearing about these use cases? Watch the webcast here.