Viewpoint: The US must abandon its patchwork health data system

The U.S. relies on a patchwork public health system at its own peril, two physicians wrote in an op-ed published Jan. 6  in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The article was written by Megan Wallace, who is an epidemiologist at the CDC, and Joshua Sharfstein, MD, who serves as the vice dean for public practice and community engagement at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Dr. Sharfstein and Dr. Wallace recommend consistency between local and health state departments and more revenue going toward state and local public health systems. 

"Few public health departments have staff specialized in roles that are critical to the delivery of essential public health services, such as community health workers, epidemiologists and statisticians or public information professionals," they wrote. 

Dr. Sharfstein and Ms. Wallace say the COVID-19 pandemic has brought appreciation to the "struggles of the U.S. public health system," and the pandemic is creating the best chance for change in an industry that needs an upgrade.


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