Health Policy News – April 2022

This month’s edition of Health Policy News provides a retrospective view of COVID-19, while also looking forward to what is to come as policymakers, states, businesses, and others aim to learn from the decisions made in the last two-plus years. Fueled by a plethora of reliable public data sources, both our pieces this month highlight different ways that data can serve as a guidepost to learn from policy decisions made to contain the spread of the virus, while allowing for future planning in a way that ensures better preparedness moving forward.

Our first piece, by Dr. Jessica Lang, uses publicly available community mobility data to investigate patterns of public activity during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and speaks to how we can use this data moving forward to measure the impact of decisions like stay-at-home orders.

Our second piece also reflects upon the past two-plus years, offering up lessons learned from PCG’s work on contact tracing as well as continuing the discussion of how this information may be helpful for after-action reports and subsequent pandemic planning efforts.

Where Did We Go During the Pandemic? Using Community Mobility Data to Track Behavior During the PHE

We know elective procedures and most routine medical services were suspended for a time in 2020, and national data confirms that overall, people in the United States got a lot less healthcare in 2020. But how much less, and for how long? And how are the patterns in Utah (where PCG’s Health Innovation, Policy, and Information Technology team is analyzing trends in claims data) specifically different from other parts of the U.S.?

One available indicator is community mobility data—location data aggregated from smartphones that is used to track and predict crowd behavior. To learn more about how researchers or states can use community mobility data to understand the “return to normal,” or in creating after-action reviews of the public health emergency period, click here.

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COVID-19 Lessons Learned Inform Retrospectives of State Responses and Pandemic Preparedness

As the country enters a new phase in public health preparedness, with increased federal funding for public health programs and responses, PCG’s subject matter experts reflect upon lessons learned and shared challenges faced in our just-published report, Strategically Addressing States’ Contact Tracing and Workforce Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic. We hope this report will serve as a resource to states, healthcare providers, and local governmental entities that are in the midst of conducting after-action reviews. To read more about our lessons learned and suggestions for after-action report planning, click here.

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