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Leana S. Wen, MD, MSc, FAAEM, closed AHIMA20 with a closing keynote address that clarified the health information profession’s role in shaping the future of public healthcare.

Wen is an ER physician and an on-air medical analyst for CNN and a contributor to the Washington Post. She is a former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore. 

One of the things the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted is the need for good data, Wen said: “we really need data or else we are flying blind.”

“…Look at what needs to be done in your community, see where what you do adds value, and just start somewhere. Do not underestimate the work you do because it’s so critical.”

—Leana S. Wen, MD, MSc, FAAEM

 

She particularly called for more data around health disparities, particularly demographic data related to testing. Such data could tell public health experts where more testing is needed, where more resources are needed, and possibly answer why certain communities are being tested less.

COVID-19 has also highlighted disparities in health outcomes, Wen said. “These problems existed before COVID, but COVID is bringing them out.”

The collection of elements of social determinants of health is long overdue, she said. “There is quite a significant role of health IT in this. All of you can be tremendous help in getting the focus not only on healthcare, but on health.”

Wen urged listeners to “look at what needs to be done in your community, see where what you do adds value, and just start somewhere. Do not underestimate the work you do because it’s so critical.”

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