Here’s how to address the confusing data hampering the USA’s COVID response

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The challenges of defining the spread of COVID-19 relates in part to existing deficiencies – “We don’t really have a public health infrastructure,” Walmart Health’s Senior Vice President Marcus Osborne explains.

We are far better at, or at least more diligent at, determining what a patient should be billed for than determining at the most basic level how they actually fared, both individually and for most categories of patients.

This represents the “feedback gap” I recently described in the context of a July conference on “Establishing a High-Quality Real-World Data Ecosystem” organized by the Duke-Margolis Center.

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[FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Amy Abernathy] described with perfect clarity not just how many large healthcare organizations typically approach large projects, but also the mindset within healthcare organizations that I’ve witnessed and described, where data experts and statisticians are often treated as second-class citizens.

What’s needed, she persuasively argued, is for authentic collaboration, where you have at the same table not just the manager or executive, say, who’s sponsoring the project, but also healthcare domain experts, who understand the subtleties and context of how the data were generated, as well as the technologists – the data scientists and engineers who can build and refine the solution.

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