When 2,000 excited Notre Dame football fans stormed the field Nov. 7 after their team upset No. 1-ranked Clemson, it wasn’t so much the come-from-behind victory that shocked the million-plus people watching on national television. It was the students’ blatant disregard for social distancing during the current, raging pandemic.
No wonder college administrators, health care workers and many Americans are worried sick about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, in which millions of students and families plan to travel in a potentially superspreader weekend that could be as damaging as hundreds, if not thousands, of Fighting Irish fans storming the field.
If higher education is going to beat this pandemic over the long haul — and survive upcoming potential superspreader events like holiday gatherings, as well as myriad other short-term roadblocks — one common denominator remains pivotal: Universities need safe, secure and streamlined monitoring and testing procedures.
This goes for students, faculty and staff. People need on-demand tools to securely share their health status while protecting privacy. The more uniform the health monitoring and testing procedure, the more open the technology and the more visible and shareable the test results and vaccination records, the easier it will be for campuses to continuously stay up-to-date on the health profiles of their campus populations.
Timely health communication is of the essence right now, in higher ed as much as anywhere. Already, standardized, health score dashboards that automate the complex workflow of self-assessments, testing, vaccinations and health protocols — regardless of the testing or data source — are a reality in some New York state college campuses, and are spreading more broadly. The ability we have to share that data is, in itself, revolutionary.
When the first vaccines are universally available — we all hope very soon — they will show us if nothing else the critical need to share our data, connect with vaccination registries, and collaborate on results. Now is the time for higher education, the medical community and government agencies to come together and embrace common standards for sharing health records.
The alternative? Locking up data in clinical silos, something we simply can’t afford. If our country is to get back to work, back to school, back to live events, and do it safely, the need for standardized technology on our campuses and in corporate America couldn’t be more timely.
Galen Murdock is the founder and CEO of ShareMy.Health. He lives in the greater Salt Lake City area.