In March 2020, a public health emergency was declared by national and state public health jurisdictions in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Sequoia Project, Inc recognized that there were many opportunities to provide guidance, facilitation, and assistance to those responding to the emergency at the state and local level.
The Sequoia Project determined that the time was right to convene an Emergency Preparedness Information Workgroup. This workgroup, comprised of experts in their fields regardless of membership, resides under our Interoperability Matters cooperative and is directly influenced by members of our Leadership Council. The workgroup’s mission is to focus on challenges for states entities (Public Health, Emergency Management Services, Medicaid, etc.) in terms of interoperability and Health IT specifically in the emergency preparedness arena. These include policy and regulatory issues, programmatic challenges, data quality and availability, resources (financial and human capital), security and privacy, equity, and communications.
As part of an SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) Analysis process, the EPIW extensively discussed the current response to the pandemic and the challenges associated mostly from a public health and emergency response perspective. One common and overarching recommendation came forward during these discussions. During a declared emergency, and during non-emergency times as well, public health should be viewed as a collaborator and partner with equal access to shared data. During an emergency response, it is our assertion that public health is not currently seen as a partner in the healthcare ecosystem.
To transition to a more cohesive healthcare emergency response, it is necessary to examine all aspects of public health’s emergency response process, including not only technology, but workforce, access to quality and timely data, policy constraints, security, privacy and transparency. The EPIW members agree that now is the time to consider the lessons learned during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and determine which innovations should remain and how to promulgate those innovations on a national level.
It is the EPIW’s recommendation that a national pandemic response needs a national approach that is inclusive of partners in state agencies and others who have a role in emergency response at a local level. Because emergency response truly does begin at the local level, this input is invaluable. Our recommendations include:
Download the PDF White Paper to review The Sequoia Project’s Emergency Preparedness Information Workgroup’s complete Pandemic Response Insights and Recommendations. The PDF contains the SWOT Analysis, as well as the complete recommendation breakdowns.