April 22, 2022
Only What Matters In Health Information Policy
It is no secret that trying to fix the healthcare system is challenging. When things are complicated, it is helpful when people articulate clear messages -- like when Tom Hanks said “there is no crying in baseball” or Billy Crystal explained that “men and women cannot be friends” or when the Blues Brothers declared “we’re on a mission from God.” In 2017, then-President Trump said “nobody knew health care could be so complicated,” but we heard a few things this week that may be even more helpful. We explain below in the One Thoughtful Paragraph.
Some clear messages on health information policy in the news:
The CDC launched the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, which is designed to predict the course of COVID-19 and future pandemics, acting as the “National Weather Service for future pandemics.”
HHS’s Office of National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced that all the health IT developers (100% of them -- including Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, Flatiron Health, Greenway, Iora Health -- even state systems like the Florida Department of Health’s) that go through its certification process submitted their plans to do real-world testing of their software. This means that all of these organizations agreed to make sure that their systems are interoperable and functional in real life scenarios, not just in theory.
Efforts are underway to employ technology to help address the nursing staff shortages: Clipboard Health, an app-based marketplace that helps address hospital staffing shortages, raised $80 million; IntelyCare, a tech-enabled nurse staffing platform that will match nurses with open assignments in post-acute care settings reached unicorn status after its latest funding round (valued at $1.1 billion); and the Mayo Clinic and KLOC Health, a healthcare IT company, are collaborating to develop a mobile app that finds nurses for short- and long-term assignments.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
As President Trump and others know, healthcare policy is complicated. So when we attended the NCQA Quality Talks event this week and heard Dr. Joshua Liao of the University of Washington point out that the old adage “teaching a man to fish will feed him for a lifetime” is true only if he can get to the water where the fish are -- it was a great way of explaining why value-based care metrics must include equity considerations. In other words, giving a patient a referral to a specialist won’t help him if he doesn’t have a means of transportation to get there. Got it. Helpful. We think the need for a powerful message is why a patient advocacy group (Power to the Patients) employed rapper Fat Joe to plea for hospitals to comply with the hospital price transparency rule -- and for CMS to enforce it. He says, over an intense (ironic?) classical music score, “When we can’t see or compare prices, hospitals can charge us whatever they want...It’s not even legal, but nobody’s enforcing that law.” As Politico explained, the Fat Joe ad is about the federal price transparency rules for both hospitals and health plans that requires them to disclose their negotiated rates and the out-of-pocket costs for patients. In related news this week, the U.S. Department of Labor told health plans that they do NOT have to publish negotiated rates if they have a value-based payment arrangement with in-network providers that is too complicated to provide a meaningful dollar amount. We can’t wait to see which rapper can explain that one.