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  • Julie Barnes

December 9, 2022

Updated: Dec 10, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

Some things are so important that even when they are forgotten, they are rediscovered. That’s why there will be a fifth Indiana Jones movie released next year: Dial of Destiny. Harrison Ford, who first played Indiana Jones 40 years ago, reprises his archeologist-turned-action-hero role despite being 80-years-old (he got a little tech help with the de-aging process). The Indiana Jones theme music, composed by the incomparable John Williams, (cue the trumpets... bah, ba-dah DAH, da da da) was running through our heads when we learned about what was forgotten but remembered this week in health information policy, as we explain below in the One Thoughtful Paragraph.

Other health information policy discoveries in the news this week:

  • HHS and the FTC jointly launched a decision-tree website page that will help app developers figure out which federal laws apply to them -- like the HIPAA privacy rule or whether they may be considered a medical device by the FDA.

  • The United States and the European Union announced that they will engage in numerous digital transformation activities as part of the official efforts of the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council, including a joint data privacy project that uses synthetic health data to evaluate AI tools and exchanging health information to support public health research.

  • A reminder for HIPAA-covered entities and their business associates: you cannot give away an individual’s protected health information (PHI) to tech vendors without the individual’s consent if -- for example -- the tech vendors are using PHI to track how an individual interacts with your website or mobile app for your marketing purposes. Check out the OCR bulletin on this reminder here.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Health policy wonks can relate to archeologists, who -- like the fictional Indiana Jones -- have a respect for and deep understanding of historical artifacts (or policy proposals) that were forgotten over time. Prior authorization processes, for instance, have been a pain point since at least the 1980s when health plans began to ask providers for proof of the medical necessity of a wide variety of requested services before agreeing to cover the costs. This week, the health policy archeologists at CMS rediscovered the electronic prior authorization rule. It was first proposed by the agency in 2020, which was similar to the 2018 industry compromise (see here, here). It should make things faster and less painful. The whole thing reminds us of when we first met Indiana Jones in 1981. He was wincing in pain after a grueling battle with the bad guys and hears his long-lost love interest say “You’re not the man I knew 10 years ago.” He responds: “It is not the years, it’s the mileage.” Tell us about it.

Did you know that we archive all of the Maverick Updates on our website?

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