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Digital Public Health: Quality, Interoperability and Capability Maturity  

Siaw-Teng Liaw

Digitalization was accelerated to address the access, safety and quality needs of health professionals and citizens during care provision in the presence of human, animal and environmental vectors of pandemic infections. Digital transformation will harness cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), data networks and personalized digital agents, sensors, and visualization tools to monitor and enhance the care of individuals, populations and communities. A sociotechnical, multidisciplinary, and enterprise-wide approach is essential to improve the quintuple aims of cost-effectiveness, provider and patient well-being, and equity. Digitally competent health professionals and digitally mature health organizations are necessary to produce and use high-quality interoperable digital data and technologies to improve decisions and practice. The maturity of five essential digital health foundations (infrastructure, tools/agents, readiness to share information, enablers of trust and adoption, and quality improvement) is assessed across the micro–meso–macro continuum. The Digital Health Profile and Maturity Assessment Toolkit Maturity Model illustrates a sociotechnical capability maturity approach to assess how organizations manage, govern, improve, and sustain the ethical and safe production, use and sharing of digital health tools and data in the real world. The linkage and convergence of real-word data (RWD) from public health, clinical and managerial practice highlights potential cost-efficiencies in integrated data collection, reporting, aggregation, analysis, and use. Challenges include access, quality, and interoperability of RWD and tools. AI-driven data analytics is increasingly being used, despite misgivings about trustworthiness, biases and fairness of software agents, algorithms, and training data sets. The sociotechnical approach emphasizes leadership, inclusive governance, mutual trust, and reciprocity within a cocreation paradigm; communities of learning and practice operating within regulatory frameworks that promote quality, safety, and equitable access to digital tools and data; quality improvement and professional development programs aimed to improve digital health maturity; and science and digital health diplomacy to harmonize the multiplicity of actors and technology in digital public health ecosystems and global supply chains. Learning organizations that “think small and big simultaneously” within a standards-based cocreation paradigm will create the digital assets and social capital necessary for the national and global digital public health enterprise.

Article

Intervention Approaches for Osteoarthritis  

Susan Hughes, Cheryl Der Ananian, and Andrew DeMott

Osteoarthritis (OA) currently affects 32.5 million people in the United States at a cost of $136.8 billion. The available literature on the epidemiology of OA shows that the number of people affected will increase exponentially by the year 2040, affecting 78.4 million people. There is an abundance of evidence that self-management and physical activity (PA) approaches improve multiple outcomes for individuals with arthritis. However, these programs are not widely accessible to the population that can benefit from them across the United States. Two national organizations—the arthritis program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Administration on Community Living (ACL)—have established similar, but distinct, criteria for the review of evidence-based programs and seek to promote their dissemination. The CDC arthritis program has reviewed the evidence bases of arthritis-appropriate, evidence-based intervention programs and classified them as self-management or PA approaches. These “recognized” programs are recommended for national dissemination by the CDC. The ACL has also recognized several of the same programs by using its own criteria and classified them as Self-Management or Falls Prevention approaches. The different review criteria used by these two national public organizations present significant challenges for investigators who design interventions. The situation is further compounded by an investment in funding that hugely supports the discovery of interventions as opposed to the dissemination of interventions that have demonstrated efficacy. The National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritis: 2020 Update presents a blueprint that includes nine strategies for improving public health outcomes among persons with OA. These recommendations should be considered by interventionists in the future when developing programs. Other areas that can substantially benefit from further research include weight management and weight loss, injury prevention, technology-based interventions, addressing comorbid conditions, and understanding program mechanisms of action. Finally, underscoring all of these approaches and common to them is the need to enroll underserved populations to improve health equity. Underserved populations disproportionately include African Americans, Hispanics, persons with low socioeconomic status, and persons who live in rural areas of the United States. Policy recommendations to render future approaches to improving health outcomes for persons with OA are (a) to increase funding for the dissemination of programs that demonstrated efficacy and effectiveness, (b) to increase the transparency of the review and funding processes across public agencies, and (c) to nurture, broker, and provide sustainable funding streams to maintain evidence-based programming for all persons with OA across the United States.

Article

Priming Healthcare for Health Equity Management  

Ebbin D. Dotson, Kimson E. Johnson, and Jada Irving

Health equity management (HEM) is defined as an actionable framework that supports the development of an industry-defining position for healthcare organizations and senior leaders to guide their business practices for investments in and financial gains from health equity. As healthcare leaders confront the disparate racial and ethnic burdens caused by the nation’s racialized societal history, making investments that increase health equity can help eliminate health disparities. To achieve health equity, leaders must cultivate a sense of interdependence among stakeholders and community members to effectively communicate the importance of collaboration, which is a shared understanding of the necessary actions that engage stakeholders around a central purpose. Achieving health equity forces healthcare systems to consider the notion that creating an equitable environment, where the costs of health inequity and barriers to achieving community and population health are shared with stakeholders and community members, might be addressed by the modification of certain management practices. HEM encompasses an applied management model to help healthcare organizations maximize their efforts to increase health equity for vulnerable populations. It provides a stepwise approach to help frame the social, economic, and educational changes necessary for leaders to invest in health equity initiatives. The HEM involves the following actions: (a) redefining health equity, (b) identifying upstream inequalities, (c) realigning fiscal investments, and (d) leveraging community partnerships. Establishing and sustaining health equity initiatives through HEM ensures that both economic and social criteria are systematically considered, and financial investments are prioritized for sustained impact. Without addressing all four, the efforts of healthcare organizations will fall short of what it will take to effect lasting change. Redefining health equity requires incorporating upstream and downstream inequities to offer a lens to align mission, assess capacity, and leverage profitable partnerships. The systematic approach to HEM goals and principles can be integrated at various organizational levels as a tool to successfully address health inequalities and social determinants of health.