February 21, 2024

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Rebuilding Public Health Technology in the U.S.

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The U.S. government is spending billions of dollars to modernise health care and address a crumbling public health technology infrastructure. Yet a lack of clarity on funding allocation and internal coordination, as well as cultural resistance to change, present serious challenges.

The already vulnerable U.S. public health system has been struck with the cataclysmic impact of COVID-19. Without major investments and systemic changes, that system is at risk of failing when the next pandemic or crisis hits. With the government allocating billions of dollars to health care, however, there is a tremendous opportunity to fix one of public health’s biggest problems — a technology infrastructure featuring ageing legacy systems, enormous data silos, lack of interoperability and many other challenges.

Hurdles to success from this funding infusion include a public health culture historically slow to change, resistant to new technologies and with a preference to self-develop systems and platforms. There are also many other complexities — from disparate systems with little ability to exchange and integrate data to health agencies at the state and local levels spending heavily on independent and manual processes.

Billions of dollars have been spent on contact tracing based primarily on phones and faxes at all levels with no cohesive architecture. These factors may derail technology project funding, prioritising and success, potentially setting back public health even further.

Rethinking Public Health IT Strategies 

With the funding, the U.S. health system —  including private entities and public agencies — has a once in a century opportunity to radically modernise the nation’s public health technology.  It is critical stakeholders work quickly across this health ecosystem to establish health system technology infrastructure to be able to respond to the next crisis. Three essential recommendations to maximise this opportunity include:

  • Buy, don’t build: Purchase off-the-shelf applications or partner with proven agile development firms serving similar agencies. Public health must let go of its need to self-develop technology systems and data collection tools, which often take years to develop. Commercial technology can meet — or adapt to — the needs of public health. One of the most significant advantages these technologies offer is their speed to market. Buyers should know that 80% will be perfect out of the box, while 20% will need refinement.
  • Leverage common, standardised available platforms: With their improved interoperability and data collection capabilities, standard platforms can enable streamlined outreach between public health agencies and community health providers.
  • Forge public-private partnerships: Large health systems have spent the last 15 years working their way through system adoption, interoperability rules and regulations and major market shifts such as a focus on social determinants of health and patient experience. There has never been a better time for public-private partnerships.

Today, public health agencies have unparalleled funding to work with, building a high-functioning system with advanced technology is necessary. Otherwise, future generations will be at risk and they have to rebuild this critical safety net.

One of the challenges that healthcare facilities face is cyberattacks. As reported by OpenGov Asia, cyberattacks that target important infrastructure, like healthcare, pose a serious threat to public health and safety. Criminal disruptions of hospital computer networks can have tragic consequences.

Most recently a bad cyber actor was arraigned on charges arising out of a cyberattack on a medical centre. The attacks disrupted phone service, information from a digitising device and disabled network printer service. In this case, the person was the chief operating officer of a network security company.

Experts say healthcare organisations are easy targets for ransomware attacks because they cannot afford to lose access to patient records. Hospitals are more likely to pay ransoms on time as they cannot operate long without patient data as it will put patient health at risk. To protect against ransomware and other cybersecurity risks, companies should deploy machine learning and advanced threat protection-enabled endpoint protection.


Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.


CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.


Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.


SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.


HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 


IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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