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Paula Yoon: CDC Explores Data Collection Tech to Modernize Disease Surveillance Systems

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health infosecPaula Yoon, director of the health informatics and surveillance division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has said CDC currently explores technologies as part of an initiative to modernize aging public health surveillance systems.

Yoon wrote in a blog post published Wednesday that CDC eyes application programming interfaces and microservices that could support the agency’s data collection and delivery efforts.

“CDC’s surveillance systems serve critical public health functions but many of our systems use aging technologies that have been patched together over time and need to be rebuilt or replaced,” Yoon said.

“We need systems that are less complex than the monolithic systems we use now, can easily be updated, and can be extended for multiple data collections purposes,” she added.

According to Yoon, CDC needs to use new methodologies such as agile development and DevOps to build, test and deploy systems as part of modernization efforts.

She said the agency should also increase oversight of information technology to secure systems and data and augment their capacity to handle automated iterative testing, discrete functionality monitoring, software updates and on-demand scaling.

The director added CDC needs to boost its IT workforce as well as update IT contract procurement and management practices because current rules and funding cycles pose challenges to IT project coordination and systems transition between contractors.

The Department of Health and Human Services‘ IDEA Lab initiatives, such as the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, support CDC’s efforts to address challenges, according to Yoon.

She noted that a software architect and a data architect from the EIR program have partnered to form a team to pilot and test new software; develop a metadata repository to coordinate and standardize data; draft blueprints to guide future software development; and create processes to optimize collaboration across CDC.

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