(US & Canada) VIDEO | We’re Transforming Siloed Health Systems to Be Connected and Responsive — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDO
Dr. Alan Sim, Chief Data Officer at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speaks with Adita Karkera, Chief Data Officer, Government and Public Services at Deloitte, in a video interview about data modernization, public health data strategy, the EDAV platform, success stories with data, strategies to improve organizational data literacy, and talent retention.
CDC is the United States’ leading science-based and data-driven service organization that protects the public’s health. Deloitte Government and Public Services help the government sector to drive large-scale, complex transformation programs, designed to future-proof public services.
Sim begins the conversation by shedding light on one of the enterprise initiatives that he is passionate about. He mentions that the Data Modernization Initiative (DMI) was proposed before COVID-19, but was launched in the middle of the pandemic.
Adding on, he states that the DMI is turning the siloed and brittle public health systems into connected, resilient, and responsive to public health disasters. He adds that the strategic goals for the data modernization initiative include public health data strategy.
Explaining further, Sim shares that the public health data strategy focuses on the following aspects:
Strengthening the core of public health data
Accelerating access to analytics and automating solutions to support public health investigations
Advancing health equity
Improving visualizations to share insights for public health action
Advancing open and interoperable data to partners
In continuation, Sim refers to developing enterprise building blocks, also called the data exchange, as an example of DMI and the public health data strategy. Explaining further, he states that through this, the CDC intends to standardize the funnel where the data comes in and ensure the best processes are used to disseminate it across the CDC and to the partners.
Next, Sim mentions another initiative called Enterprise Data Analytics and Visualization Platform. He elaborates that it is a cloud platform that works to improve and standardize how programs leverage cloud technologies to process, analyze, and visualize cloud data.
Moving forward, Sim highlights how much he enjoys partnering with program data scientists, and lists some of their groundbreaking innovations. He starts with Project Tower Scout, where one of the physician data scientists uses computer vision technology to analyze satellite images and locate the cooling towers to provide a rapid public health response during a Legionnaires' disease outbreak.
Further, Sim discusses a group that is harnessing machine learning to eliminate tuberculosis by using computer vision models to perform inference on over 200,000 chest X-rays. In addition, he mentions how another group has developed machine learning and natural language processing techniques to mine social media texts to identify trends in suicide, provide current statistics for suicide incidents, and inform suicide prevention strategies.
With all these innovations being implemented in different platforms, Sim is working with the data science branch to devise a strategy to leverage them on enterprise data analytics platforms to enable consistency and encourage reuse of the developed models.
When asked about data literacy, he states that improving data literacy is critical to address this and that the human resource office has developed a career-ready program. He maintains that the goal is to create career communities and aid staff to move up the career ladder.
Sim mentions that there is a Data Academy within the platform that is self-guided and provides training on a variety of topics including data science languages. In the future, he wishes to share with people the diversity of public health data in addition to data science tools and approaches, through the platform.
Dr. Alan Sim | Chief Data Officer at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sharing some lessons, Sim urges aspiring CDOs to be bold, innovative, and creative while solving problems. He recommends learning the subject matter, regardless of what it is, and leveraging data, tools, and services available.
Another important aspect, Sim says, is connecting with peers. He believes that building relationships with people from all sectors is crucial, be it IT, business, or data science.
In conclusion, he asks young professionals to focus on desired outcomes and be adaptable and open-minded.
CDO Magazine appreciates Dr. Alan Sim for sharing his invaluable insights and data success stories with our global community.