The COVID-19 pandemic response in the U.S. has exposed significant gaps in the way we collect and use personal health information to affect clinical and public health decisionmaking. In response to this issue, Westat’s Eric Pan, MD, and 13 other national experts have co-authored the article “Ethics and Informatics in the Age of COVID-19: Challenges and Recommendations for Public Health Organization and Public Policy” in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).
The authors are deeply concerned that delayed testing and misuse or distortions of test results and other clinical information will retard the nation’s ability to mitigate the spread of SARS-CoV-2, support COVID-19 care delivery, and accelerate knowledge discovery. In this paper, the authors highlight issues of privacy, surveillance, limits of state powers, and interoperability between public health and clinical information systems.
They provide context and rationale for ethical considerations and recommendations that are actionable during the pandemic—calling for long-term, broader change (beyond the pandemic) for public health organization and policy reform.