Recipe for Improving U.S. Public Healthcare
The new year started with cautious optimism. New COVID-19 virus mutations arrived, threatening the rapid spread of the disease. At the same time, vaccines were administered in the arms of many people worldwide, perhaps signaling the beginning of the end of the pandemic. I am hopeful that human ingenuity and resilience, coupled with science, will prevail and the disease will be defeated.
I have witnessed this war up close at the local level through my work with a California county. I have seen how well-organized data can be of help in empowering local responses to such calamities. I have seen how a reasonable investment in technology for the purpose of improving public health can go a long way in shaping pandemic response. In this column, I will write about some key aspects of that story.
For decades, public health remained underinvested and underappreciated in the United States. The pandemic has shown that such negligence comes with a heavy price as the U.S. claimed the top position in the number of cases and number of deaths worldwide. If we had a well-coordinated public health system supported by modern technology some of those deaths could have been avoided. This is a story about how a collective community, led by a visionary idea of providing technology-enabled health and social care to a vulnerable population, fought a battle to protect those most at risk of contracting this virulent disease and suffering acute conditions or even death. But there is a preamble to the story, and I will begin there.