423: Teaching AI Inclusion, Adjusting COVID Stats

Dr. Brian Anderson, Chief Digital Health Physician at the MITRE Corporation, says public health needs to make data and technology more inclusive; online tickets to attend ASTHO’s TechXpo are still available; Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of the...

Dr. Brian Anderson, Chief Digital Health Physician at the MITRE Corporation, says public health needs to make data and technology more inclusive; online tickets to attend ASTHO’s TechXpo are still available; Dr. Steven Stack, Commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, discusses Kentucky’s COVID-19 infection and death rates; an ASTHO blog article outlines the benefits of attending the TechXpo and the bonus gathering in June; and ASTHO has a news release for the TechXpo.


Public Health TechXpo and Futures Forum

Kentucky’s Covid-19 death rate lower than U.S. average when adjusted for health conditions and average ages in the states

Connection, Innovation, and Transformation at Public Health TechXpo and Futures Forum

Technology, Workforce, Infrastructure Solutions Focus of U.S. Public Health Leaders Meeting

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This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, May 18, 2023. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.



We have the opportunity to build a more resilient future as it relates to public health infrastructure. It's really a matter of do we have the mindset and the willingness to see that through.


Dr. Brian Anderson is the chief digital health physician at the MITRE Corporation. He's the closing speaker at ASTHO TechXpo next week in Chicago and online. Anderson sees the future as an opportunity to make data and technology more inclusive and helpful to underserved communities.


I think it's really important that we take this opportunity to include all of those communities that need to be part of the conversation as we build out these technologies, particularly in artificial intelligence, where all artificial intelligence is programs that are trained on our histories.


Anderson says it's critical that the histories used to build AI systems are as accurate as possible.


If we want to create a more resilient future where we aren't reinforcing the systemic and justices of our past, we need to include those communities. And frankly, we need to include their data in safe, de-identified, privacy-preserving ways so that we can train the models of the future that public health officials will be relying on in future pandemics.


And what about Anderson's takeaway for his audience next week?


That we don't leave anyone behind in that. That the future that we build is a future that serves all of us, that those technologies are built to serve all of us, and that we have that opportunity to shape that and to do that, and that we don't lose that mindset. That's my hope.


You can get an online ticket to Anderson's presentation right now. Visit the show notes where you can click on a link to sign up for the event next week and also get a bonus day of tech talks in June.


A new report card in the British medical journal The Lancet compares every state's handling of the pandemic. Dr. Steven Stack is Kentucky's health commissioner.


The authors found that Kentucky is generally one of the less healthy states. Our health status is, unfortunately, worse than most of the states in the country. Our death rate from COVID performed more in the middle of the pack. So we outperformed relative to the burden of illness in our state, so we're grateful to see that. That's what the authors found.


The study said that Kentucky's COVID-19 infection rate and death rate were both higher than national averages, with the death rate falling below average once it was adjusted for resident health conditions and average age.


When you have chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease and chronic structural lung disease; when you have an older population, particularly with a disease like COVID that disproportionately hurt elderly individuals--those variables change substantially how many people are going to get very ill, hospitalized, and die from the disease. And in a state like Kentucky that has a higher burden of individuals living every day with chronic illness, you would predict that there's going to be a higher burden of illness and deaths related to a serious disease like COVID.


Stack weighs the factors that contribute to public health and is thinking how they impact people in his state.


When people have higher education, they're usually able to navigate the healthcare system better. When they have better healthcare coverage or better financial resources, they can afford to have access to doctors and nurses and medications and treatments. When states did a good job hopefully educating the public and informing them, it meant that the individuals in the state could make informed choices and decisions about their actions. And when we work together and coordinated our activities, we generally I think found that we got through the disease and got through the pandemic better.


You can read more about Kentucky's COVID-19 numbers using the link in the show notes.


Getting back to the TechXpo, if you're still thinking about whether to buy an online ticket to the event next week, ASTHO has a blog article that could help you decide. It offers some key benefits of attending the two-day conference and provides more information about the bonus gathering in June. You can read it using the link in the show notes. You also can read ASTHO's news release about the event. We have that link in the show notes as well.


That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Brian Anderson MD

Chief Digital Health Physician, MITRE

Steven Stack MD

Kentucky Commissioner for Public Health