The COVID-19 pandemic was the backdrop for this year’s presidential election, triggering important questions about the future of U.S. healthcare. Despite the uncertainty that still exists today, healthcare IT leaders have a strong grasp on the issues and technologies that should take priority in the next four years.

Fierce Healthcare reported on the key issues that healthcare leaders would like to see the federal government take immediate action on. Beyond improving the nation’s public health data infrastructure, the article highlighted improving patient identification, solidifying telehealth reimbursement protocols, advancing interoperability and strengthening cybersecurity in hospitals. All these issues have been exasperated by the pandemic which has created more urgency in addressing them. 

Additionally, an Optum survey of 500 healthcare execs revealed that more than half (56%) are accelerating or expanding their artificial intelligence (AI) deployment timelines in response to the pandemic, demonstrating the importance of this business tool during the most stressful times.

In other AI-related news, a group of researchers at MIT developed an AI model that can detect asymptomatic COVID-19 cases by listening to subtle differences in coughs between healthy people and infected people. The researchers are testing their AI in clinical trials and have already started the process of seeking approval from the FDA for it to be used as a screening tool.

2021 will hopefully look very different from 2020 from a public health perspective, and beyond taking the input of healthcare leaders to heart, the federal government has an opportunity to support broad adoption of advanced technologies that can aid in the ongoing battle against COVID-19.