Biden’s COVID-19 plan depends on a data-driven approach for efficacy, equity

President Joe Biden released a comprehensive COVID-19 national strategy on his first full day in office, providing a road map aimed at guiding the United States out of the pandemic.

The wide-ranging plan is organized around seven main goals, many of which rely on data-sharing as a core tactic.  

“We can and will beat COVID-19. America deserves a response to the COVID-19 pandemic that is driven by science, data, and public health – not politics,” read the strategy’s executive summary.  

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WHY IT MATTERS  

Biden’s plan hammers on the importance of data gathering and sharing as primary tenets of an effective COVID-19 response.  

In the first section, aimed at restoring trust with the public, Biden notes that he will issue an executive order, “Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High Consequence Public Health Threats.”

The order will enhance federal agencies’ collection, production sharing and analysis of data, as well as collaboration with respect to it, to “support an equitable COVID-19 response and recovery.”  

The government “will track a range of performance measures and data including cases, testing, vaccinations, and hospital admissions, and will make real-time information readily available to the public and to policymakers at the federal, state, and local level,” reads the description of the executive order.

It also notes that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will maintain a public dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases at the county level.  

“The Administration will build on and strengthen the federal government’s approach to data collection related to vaccination efforts, removing impediments and developing communication and technical assistance plans for jurisdictions and providers,” according to the plan.  

When it comes to patient engagement, Biden’s administration plans to use demographic data to identify communities hit hardest by the pandemic and support them in acquiring vaccines.  

“Working with state, local, and community-based organizations and trusted health care providers, like community health centers, will be central to this effort,” reads the plan.  

Biden’s executive order also directs federal agencies to expand their data infrastructure to increase collection and reporting of health data for high risk populations, while reaffirming data privacy.  

THE LARGER TREND

The Trump administration’s approach to using data as part of COVID-19 response was fragmented, although the undertaking got more seamless over the course of several months.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Alex Azar directed hospitals last summer to bypass the CDC when reporting information about COVID-19 patients.   

After initial reports of chaos and inaccuracy, health systems said they were able to incorporate required data collection into their existing processes.   

HHS also added an antibody treatment locator to the dashboard in the twilight of Trump’s presidency. It is unclear how much, if any, of this infrastructure Biden will choose to keep going forward.  

ON THE RECORD  

“The operational complexity of vaccinating the public will make robust data and its use in decision-making related to vaccinations more important than ever,” reads Biden’s national strategy.

 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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