A Vision for More Effective Public Health Information Technology
David A. Bray
Harvard University; University of Oxford; National Defense University
January 1, 2004
Recently there has been a surge in dialogue both among public health partners and within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding efforts to identify a consolidated set of "best practices" of software application development, specifically to fit the mold of public health information technology (IT). While the intentions behind these motivations are to be applauded -- such talk recognizes the truth that public health IT is a complicated and difficult field which attempts to provide workable, viable technology solutions for additional public health capacity -- intentions toward a single set of consolidated IT approaches risk surrendering the strength of public health to adapt and respond to unforeseen challenges, such as outbreaks or emergency scenarios. Not all areas of public health have the same set of requirements. Epidemiological response to a sudden disease outbreak, for example, will be quite different in its approaches and investigative methods from a response to an increase in chronic disease in a specific population group. Unique disease outbreaks each unfold differently. Similarly, laboratory methods for clinical specimens vs. environmental samples are not expected to follow precisely similar practices either, for each is a unique entity.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: public health information technology, emergency response, outbreak scenarios, innovations
JEL Classification: D70, D83, O31, O38
Date posted: February 13, 2007 ; Last revised: November 20, 2008
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