Back in 2001 when the US was under a terrorist attack on 9/11, ambulances were rushed towards the site and taking the patients to the hospitals. But only three of them made it to the trauma ward because of the system flaws in hospitals and ambulances communication. Even after 19 years, the COVID-19 pandemic failures are revealing that probably healthcare system has learned nothing from the past.
There is no national networking system that effectively responds to emergencies, disasters, and outbreaks. The information mishandling and delay is primarily responsible for the delay in treatment and saving people from the deadly virus during this pandemic.
Dr. Dan Hanfling, VP at In-Q-Tel says that the government should look for improvement in information handling before the next pandemic hits. IN-Q-Tel identifies itself as a non-profit organization that fixes the technology-related problems in healthcare.
One positive thing about this pandemic is that it has diverted attention to the healthcare flaws and inclines a need to fix them as soon as possible. There is absolutely no way to determine the next move of this virus or if any new pandemic is approaching next. That’s why these COVID-19 pandemic failures should be studied and solved on a priority basis.
Many health experts have called the US health data system to be creaky and fragmented where the state and federal agencies are working on their own rules with no effective data sharing.
To overcome this problem, Sutter Health along with 30 other services providers from the country are working on a new venture. This collaborative effort will improve the efficiency and speed of the clinical data sharing and individual information with all relevant health departments.
But even this database has no record of critical information such as availability of the beds in a hospital, availability of beds in an ICU, supply details, and many others. All this information is necessary to control a situation like a world is suffering right now.
The US government has spent more than $40 billion budget in the last ten years to upgrade the healthcare system and digitalize it. However, there is no significant effort in faster information processing to improve the public health facilities during the time of a pandemic.
Earlier this year, the US Congress approved a budget of over $500 million that is to be spent in the next 10 years for modifying the public health database and the infrastructure. But it seems like this amount is short for updating the systems and professionally training the staff, both local and state level, according to Brian Dixon from the Regenstrief Institute (Indianapolis).
This delay in data processing and information transfer is affecting the treatment of COVID-19 affected people. This data seems to transfer slower than pandemic which is why the delay adds a huge risk to the health of millions of Americans.
There is a dire need to find a better system to send this information digitally and using the public health agencies’ role in governmental departments to control this pandemic.