Is Health and Human Services IT Adequate for Health Crisis Challenges?
In 2020 we saw how a health crisis can overwhelm our healthcare system in many ways. Inadequate clinical facilities, inconsistent testing availability and controls, and a population that is reluctant to trade personal freedoms and privacy for communal health contributed to the depth of our COVID-19 crisis. On top of that, the information systems to inform citizens, distribution of clinical tools, medicines/vaccines and contact tracing also left much to be desired resulting in citizens relying on social media, network news and other non-professional sources for medical advice.
At CJIS GROUP we track IT projects in state and local government agencies, including health and human services agencies (i.e., public health). What did we see in 2020?
- A surge in new contact tracing RFPs in mid-2020 – but that slowed significantly in Q4, 2020. Did America give up on this effort? Was it lower priority? Not doable?
- Approximately 10 states have put out RFPs or have made awards for upgrading their vaccination/immunization systems. Most of these coming in the tail end of 2020. Where are the other 40 states in their ability to support the nation’s vaccination effort? Are they completely prepared to administer, track and monitor vaccination and its effectiveness? Given our logistical issues over the last three weeks in just getting people vaccinated, I doubt our systems are ready/adequate for the task of monitoring vaccinated and non-vaccinated populations.
So, what do we do in 2021 about this?
- It may be too late in the process to significantly upgrade our vaccination administration systems. But we can put in place systems to verify individual vaccinations (a registry of sorts) enabling at least a portion of our population to engage in more “normal” activities.
- Fund the development and rollout of a national/regional health registry. I know I would be willing to sacrifice some personal privacy for the ability to go into a healthcare facility anywhere in the country (or world) and that provider would have the ability to see my complete health record and treat me in that context. The technology is there to do this -- we just need the will of our people to make it happen.
- Get healthier. This crisis has shown the American people the consequences of obesity, poor senior care facilities, poor nutrition. Americans have suffered disproportionally during the crisis due to lifestyle. Let’s take COVID-19 as a harsh warning signal that we need to get better at treating ourselves and maintaining our own health.
Thanks for reading my rant. If you want to get the latest information on IT systems in state and local government agencies, cjisgroup.com/trial will give you access to the latest RFPs, Awards and IT plans of US state and local government agencies.