Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, has offers the creation of a new health data agency to improve access to unbiased and objective public health data, resulting in stronger intelligence and preparedness for infectious diseases.
In announcing the proposal, the senator did not say whether he plans to propose legislation to create the new agency.
Senator Romney envisions the proposed Center for Public Health Data (CPHD) as a modern data agency, focused exclusively on aggregating comprehensive, anonymized public health data.
The agency would be structured as an independent data subagency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and led by a chief data engineer. It would collate public health data from a variety of sources, including local, state, and federal public health units; public services and exchanges of state health data; hospital systems; public and commercial laboratories; and academic and research institutions.
Currently, this data exists in electronic form in labs, clinics and hospitals, but it is incomplete and fragmented in HHS, and is not being shared quickly enough to guide decision-making, the senator’s office said.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen how public health data reporting in the United States has failed to provide critical and comprehensive information to the American people. [to] respond to the pandemic. We had to set up a whole new entity in a short time to respond, which was not a sustainable model and will not leave us prepared for the future,” Sen. Romney said in a statement. Press release.
“We saw the gaps again as monkeypox started to spread across the country,” he said. “These failures show the need for reliable real-time data during blue sky days so we can better prepare for and potentially prevent major outbreaks.”
The proposed CPHD would serve as an open and transparent repository of information providing unbiased real-time data. This data would also help paint a clearer picture of the state of public health and the spread of disease and help decision-makers develop and implement informed and proactive policy solutions.
Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted in response to Senator Romney’s proposal to create an institution to collect, analyze and share health data needed to respond to outbreaks.
“[It] recognizes the continuing shortcomings that have plagued COVID, monkeypox… This proposal is a serious effort to create the infrastructure we need to better collect and share data with local authorities in a way that still protects privacy and security” , Gottlieb wrote.