Press Release | July 27, 2020

Major Health, Tech Leaders Join CTA's New Initiative to Respond to Future Pandemics

Riya Anandwala

To ensure an effective public sector response to future pandemics like COVID-19, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® has convened more than a dozen health care and technology leaders including Microsoft, SSM Health and CVS Health to lead a new effort – the Public Health Tech Initiative. The group will explore and create recommendations for the use of technology in dealing with and recovering from future public health emergencies.

Technology has been critical in triaging, assessing, diagnosing and helping treat and mitigate COVID-19. CTA’s initiative aims to build a framework based on lessons learned from the current pandemic, specifically related to coordination of resources, bolstering public health systems, capacity, communication and resilience.

“The response to COVID-19 in the U.S. has highlighted the huge demand for health technology solutions,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CTA. “Our forward-looking initiative identifies what needs to change when we are hit by a similar pandemic or another emergency in the future. The group includes leading experts who are on the frontlines of dealing with COVID-19, and we hope to create a blueprint that will guide the effective use of technology to combat these scenarios in the future.”

“This initiative is an opportunity to think carefully about the greater adoption of technology to improve the country’s response, preparedness and recovery in future public health emergencies like pandemics, infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, biological or chemical terror attacks and emerging threats,” said Rene Quashie, vice president, digital health, CTA.

The initiative’s steering committee members include representatives from American College of Cardiology, Brookings, CVS Health, Doctor On Demand, Facebook, Geisinger, Health Innovation Alliance, Microsoft, Northwell Health, Philips, Providence, ResMed, SSM Health and UCHealth.

This effort is co-chaired by Dr. David Rhew, global chief medical officer, Microsoft, and chair of CTA’s Health and Fitness Technology Division Board; and Dr. Alexander Garza, chief medical officer, SSM Health, current Task Force Commander for the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force and former chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama Administration.

“Digital health services, including telehealth and remote patient monitoring have gained a lot of momentum in the recent months,” said Rhew. “These tech solutions, along with others such as AI and data technology will be an essential part of health response plans for future public health emergencies. Technology will keep enabling us to find new ways to solve critical health care problems and integrating those solutions in an overarching framework will be crucial for the health, safety, and well-being of our entire planet.”

“Vigorous planning and preparation are an effective way to deal with unpredictable situations such as COVID-19 and technology is a big part of that,” said Garza. “We need to accelerate the use of technology that advances coordination and collaboration between government agencies and the health sector and boost the capacity of our public health infrastructure to better deal with large-scale, future public health emergencies.”  

The committee’s first project will be a white paper based on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report will highlight what has worked and analyze issues such as the lack of access to services and technology, and the lack of coordination among sectors. The white paper will also provide recommendations for the nation to better address future public health emergencies.

CTA will host a webinar with the members of the steering committee on Aug. 5 to discuss the initiative in detail. To register, click here.

Part of its broader commitment to finding ways to address health challenges through technology, CTA and the World Bank Group launched the Global Tech Challenge at CES 2020 to find solutions for some of the world’s most pressing problems. The Health Tech Challenge matches health tech innovators from around the world with leading health care providers in East Africa to conduct pilot projects and build commercial partnerships. Read more about the challenge here.