By Kelly A. Briganti, JD, Editorial Director, G2 Intelligence
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell recently delivered a speech to the New America Foundation calling for Congress and the Administration to work together to capitalize on opportunities to improve our health care system, which she asserted is “on the threshold of both positive and … transformational change.” Among the topics she addressed were innovation, substance use and overdoses, and interoperability of information within the health care system and, of specific interest to the clinical laboratory industry, rapid diagnostics and precision medicine. She also promoted expansion of the Medicaid program, improving quality of care while spending health dollars “more wisely,” strengthening global health security and “reaffirming American leadership in research, innovation and science.” Burwell also highlighted the need to find new ways to reward quality and high value care and to put “better information in the hands of patients and doctors.”
Specifically, with regard to global health security, she highlighted the Ebola outbreak and the need to stop disease threats “at their source” because “microbes and diseases are moving faster and further than ever before in human history.” She praised government investment and CDC leadership in global health security initiatives that seek to improve the ability to prevent, detect, and respond to naturally occurring and man-made infectious diseases. This topic is also the subject of review by the Presidential Commission on Bioethics at its 20th meeting on Feb. 5 at which the issues being discussed include sharing of specimens during such public health emergencies.
Finally, Secretary Burwell highlighted America’s ability to lead innovation in science and medicine. She promoted further investment in innovation to continue progress “on new and improved vaccines, cures, therapies,” and – of most interest to the laboratory industry – rapid diagnostics. She emphasized the “need to improve innovation, collaboration and data sharing among scientists” and “to respond to patient’s needs and give them a meaningful voice in their own care,” fill scientific gaps and bring products to market, and reduce administrative burdens and duplication – while also protecting public health safety. She cited as an example of innovation, the advances made in precision medicine and the use of the human genome to customize medical care to the individual characteristics of patients.