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COVID-19 Exposes Lack of Health Data Exchange, Interoperability

March 16, 2020 / Christopher Jason

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has put the importance of health data exchange and interoperability under a microscope. Niam Yaraghi, a fellow in governance studies at the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings Institution, penned an op-ed to explain why he thinks the US lacks health information technologies to stop or contain the COVID-19 epidemic. The pandemic has shattered our common beliefs about the type and scope of health information exchange (HIE), wrote Yaraghi. “It has shown us that the definition of health data should no longer be limited to medical data of patients and instead should encompass a much wider variety of data types from individuals’ online and offline activity. Moreover, the pandemic has proven that healthcare is not local.” He noted that there are a select number of countries that have the ability to contain the coronavirus because of their ability to exchange non-medical data, and that the US should work to echo these capabilities. For example, two doctors wrote an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine, citing that travel history information should be integrated into EHRs. This would help put infectious symptoms into context for clinicians.