A National Strategy: It Is Time For Action
“It is time for leadership to focus our efforts on a national system for medical logistics in preparedness and response.”
Part 5 of 5
Written by RADM Craig Vanderwagen, M.D., USPHS (Retired)
Effective response is impossible without actionable information. This cannot be effectively accomplished without a clear understanding of what and where the needs are, what and where the assets are, when and how they are moved, and whether or not they have successfully met the need. This requires a sophisticated system of information flow, analysis and action.
The national health security strategy articulated for us a set of goals. I don't believe we've achieved those goals as we consider actionable information and the ability to provide that on a meaningful and comprehensive basis. The solution that I see is that the federal government, particularly HHS needs to act as an honest broker to facilitate consensus generation around what the critical data elements are for such a data system and how we can do this collectively in an effective way with particular technologies. There has to be a process of collaboration and the honest broker I think needs to be Health and Human Services. The federal government also needs to think about how it can incentivize this more effectively.
The contracting process in the federal government is generally predicated on a competition but in this case we need collaboration. So we need to analyze means to providing an incentivization program through the contracting that we do. For example, two states both recognize the need for a particular technology and dataset. Neither one of them has the individual tools to do it. How could we find a way to fund the states to work together collaboratively using the skill sets that they both have to achieve that common outcome that they both know they need but don't have the individual tools to do?
The lessons that we've learned have told us we need a uniform consistent system that provides us with the actionable information we need to be timely, to be effective and to be of highest quality.
In order to assure that we have more effective preparedness in response, we need to have a comprehensive data system that provides us with the appropriate actionable information in the time frames that are important. The only way that this can rationally occur is if the federal government activities as an honest broker, builds on the innovations that have been developed locally and in state jurisdictions and brings those together into a consensus tool that we can all agree to and work with. There has to be a commitment on the part of all of us for the development of a full and appropriate system of information to guide our actions if we are to take care of the health and well-being of the people we serve.