New Tools and Innovations

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Public health is all about preventing disease, diagnosing health conditions and encouraging health and well-being. However, achieving these goals wouldn’t be possible without the help of new tools and innovations in public health. From wearable fitness bands to virtual doctors’ appointments, new technology has changed the way individuals and communities receive and respond to health information. Other tools, like warning systems for natural disasters or COVID-19 testing kits, can help individuals stay connected and protected during emergencies. Advancements in public health can help us in the fight towards equity, so all people and populations can thrive.

Who can make a difference with new tools and innovations?


Wear smartwatches and use health apps. Adults need 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity activity. Physical activity can help improve mental health, reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and Type 2 diabetes and manage chronic health conditions like arthritis. Use wearable health devices, such as smartwatches, or health apps that track physical activity to monitor how much activity you are getting every day. You can even use these tools to engage in some friendly competition with friends and family through NPHW’s Keep it Moving Challenge.

Advocate for public health using media. While not a new tool, digital media plays a strong role in health advocacy and public health awareness campaigns. Use social media to share the real-life impacts of public health by telling your story. Sign on and share APHA’s Action Alerts to elevate your voice on public health issues like violence prevention and climate change.

Communities and Neighborhoods

Make vaccinations and testing more widely available. Testing and vaccine technology have expanded, making it easier to detect, prevent and protect us from more diseases. Vaccines protect us from serious illnesses, like whooping cough. Testing can help people diagnose their illnesses and receive treatment. Communities can open pop-up vaccination sites and make sure free at-home tests for illnesses like COVID-19 are available. Share accurate and easy-to-read vaccine resources.

Use vending machines to deliver lifesaving medications. Vending machines are an older technology that is being transformed to deliver lifesaving tools like Narcan and fentanyl strips. In 2021 alone, more than 106,000 people died from drug overdoses. Neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. are currently fighting to reduce drug-related deaths by increasing access to harm-reduction vending machines.


Increase access to telehealth services. Compared to urban populations, rural residents are more likely to die prematurely from conditions like heart disease and cancer. Telehealth, or receiving health care via video chat, phone call or messaging, is a great option for people who live in rural or remote areas. Telehealth helps overcome obstacles that prevent people from receiving care, such as limited access to health care providers and transportation. It also offers both flexibility and comfort with appointments which can be useful for those who have special health needs.

Broaden internet access. Internet access connects people to mental, behavioral and physical health services. It connects us to our local officials. It can also improve access to education and connect us to jobs and trainings where we live. However, 9 million people in the United States do not have access to high-speed internet, including communities of color, older adults and populations that live in rural or segregated urban areas.


Invest in public health surveillance. Being prepared for and ready to respond to emergencies is so important when faced with natural disasters. Surveillance tools like GIS mapping can help us in times of emergency by monitoring outbreaks, identifying where important health facilities are and tracking environmental hazards. Federal policymakers must continue investing in such tools to remain resilient and prepared for emergencies.

Improve digital health infrastructure. COVID-19 highlighted the importance of making health data digital. Electronic health information exchanges speed up how providers and patients can access medical information, while electronic health records enable providers to give efficiently deliver care to their patients. Federal and state leaders must support policies and fund data modernization to protect and improve the nation’s health. 

Join the Movement

BECOME A PARTNER - Show your support for public health and prevention!

GET MOVING - Join the Keep It Moving Challenge. Let's get active!

American Public Health Association