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  • Julie Barnes

August 6, 2020

Maverick Health Policy Update

Only What Matters on Health Information Policy


Maverick Health Policy can barely believe that this is an election year. Just like most medical services, political conventions are completely virtual or aren’t really happening. Fundraising is all digital, the debates will have no audience, and you don’t have to show up to vote, maybe. It seems quite possible, like our medical professional training, that someday soon elections will happen only via virtual reality. (Hey, given our current state of affairs, virtual politicians may not be a bad way to go.)

At least we know that no matter who gets to live in the White House in the next four years, improving the way our health system handles data will continue to be a high priority (both former VP Joe Biden and the Trump Administration are committed to interoperability). And so, here is what is going on in health information policy this week:

  1. A new (and pricey) Chilmark report indicates (i.e., reportedly indicates -- we aren’t sure because we didn’t pay for the actual report, but you can register for a webinar on August 11th to learn more about it) that COVID-19 is spurring more health care data integration -- evidenced by the 20 vendors who are building API solutions for health care organizations. 

  2. “The wait is finally over!” This is a quote from the always-enthusiastic ONC team when it announced that we can all submit our favorite new data elements to the ONDEC (ONC New Data Element and Class). You can review the ONDEC fact sheet to learn more, but hurry -- submissions are accepted only through October 9, 2020.

  3. With a nod to the always-on-top-of-these-things Ben Moscovitch of Pew Charitable Trusts, the Office of Civil Rights submitted a proposed rule for review that would modify HIPAA rules to support care coordination and patient access to data.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Like any worthy adversary, the COVID-19 virus is not backing down. We continue to struggle with testing and data-gathering, but we seem to be getting serious about finding out where the enemy lives. This week, the Commonwealth of Virginia launched the first U.S. contact tracing app (and gave it a pretty good name: “COVIDWISE”) that uses the Apple-Google bluetooth technology. Like any company launching a new product, Virginia has an easy-to-understand marketing campaign, complete with “how it works” instructions, videos, and a rallying cry: “USE YOUR PHONE TO FIGHT COVID-19!” This strikes us as a better plan than the all-too-human, manual way of contact tracing, a system that is reportedly overwhelmed. Virginia joins 16 countries that have already launched similar apps, and 20 other states are looking to join the fight. This is going to get really interesting really fast, as new data floods in from everywhere -- health care providers, government, businesses, schools, and regular people who got their own lab tests or have wearable device information about their COVID symptoms. Who is going to collect, analyze, and act on this data? We don’t know — that is why we called this “One Thoughtful Paragraph” not “One Big Solution.”

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