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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

April 8, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

You know it is a big news week when at least three stories are “first time in history” moments. This is the first time white guys will not dominate the U.S. Supreme Court bench, the first time an all-civilian crew will rocket off to the space station, and the first time that Howard Schultz returned as CEO of Starbucks for the third time. With all of that and everyone behaving as if 71 is a good score for Tiger Woods as he returns to the Masters, we have almost been able to (but not quite) distract ourselves from the tragic horrors happening in Ukraine. We discuss what is new and distracting in health information policy this week in the One Thoughtful Paragraph below.

Interesting, if not downright distracting, news:

  • A day after the White House held a classified briefing with lawmakers to explain just how bad it is that the U.S. doesn’t make its own semiconductor chips (they are the “brains” of all of our modern day conveniences), Congress announced that they have chosen negotiators to make a deal on the competitiveness bill to fund manufacturing of the chips and other emerging technologies.

  • Edelman's annual 2022 Trust Barometer shows just how much Americans don’t trust tech companies, which is an interesting backdrop as federal regulations are encouraging health care industry players to invest in tech that more readily shares sensitive healthcare data.

  • When the World Health Organization asked healthcare executives what the biggest challenge of the healthcare system is, one response was the need to prepare a skilled digital health care workforce. Interesting reading about that here, here, and here.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Speaking of the need for a skilled digital healthcare workforce, there are reportedly 600,000 cybersecurity positions that need filling if the U.S. is going to stave off cyberattacks from Russia. And last week, the Hive, a ransomware group known to target the healthcare industry, announced that it breached a health plan in California and stole 850,000 patient records. We noticed that President Biden’s 2023 budget proposal included increasing civilian cybersecurity spending by 11% to $10.9 billion. We also noticed that HHS’ Office for Civil Rights released a Request for Information to “improve its understanding of how covered entities and business associates are voluntarily implementing recognized security practices” of healthcare data. For its part, the FDA released draft guidance on cybersecurity for medical devicemakers to make sure their software is capable of mitigating against attacks. Medical device cybersecurity is also being addressed in MDUFA, the user fee reauthorization bill, under consideration by Congress. So... there seems to be money available and recognition that we need to shore up this digital workforce. Let’s hope that Congress and grant-making federal and state agencies will behave like Walmart did this week to respond to its workforce issues (paying its truck drivers $110,000 in their first year with the company) and don’t struggle like Starbucks (Howard Schultz came back to address movement from workers to unionize.) We need our health data protected as much as we need our strong cup of coffee.

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