Modernizing Public Health Data Systems - Lessons From the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act

Kushal Tushar Kadakia


Barriers to timely data collection and exchange hindered health departments throughout COVID-19, from fax machines creating bottlenecks for disease monitoring to inconsistent reporting of race and ethnicity. Modernizing public health data systems has become a bipartisan postpandemic imperative, with President Trump engaging the US Digital Service to improve data exchange and President Biden issuing an Executive Order on his second day in office to advance public health data and analytics. These initiatives should be informed by the experience of digitizing health care delivery. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act drove the near-universal adoption of certified electronic health records (EHRs). However, progress was not without pitfalls, from regulatory requirements affecting EHR usability, to new reporting, billing, and patient engagement processes disrupting workflows, to proprietary standards hindering interoperability.1 This Viewpoint explores lessons from HITECH for public health data modernization for COVID-19 and beyond.

Research Areas