• Julie Barnes

February 11, 2021

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Information Policy

News this week in D.C. is dominated by the impeachment trial of former President Trump, and it is particularly distracting to watch the video of the attack if you used to work for Members of Congress at (or right next to, as most Hill staffers do) the U.S. Capitol Building. It is even more distracting if your former constitutional law professor happens to be the floor manager and gave a highly personal and devastating account of what happened that day. Maverick’s Update is about federal health information policy, and federal policy comes from people in that building. It is important to take a minute to acknowledge the suffering and deaths of the mob’s victims and the real mental anguish of the regular people who live and work in the Washington, DC metropolitan area that were either witness to or only slightly removed from the terrible events of January 6, 2021. The recounting of the events of that day is horrific for everyone, but it is not just on t.v. for some of us -- it is where we live and work and it happened to people we know.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program:

  1. Eight organizations, including the AMA and the College of Healthcare Information Management (CHIME), launched the Information Blocking Resource Center, designed to help health care professionals navigate the 21st Century Cures rules. Read more here.

  2. Six Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) combined to form the Consortium State and Regional Interoperability (CSRI) to leverage their infrastructure and expertise to scale up the interoperability of systems that maintain health data.

  3. Oscar Health, the New York-based health insurance startup filed for an IPO last week. The startup sells itself as “tech-enabled” insurance benefits, with user-friendly member apps that enables things like scheduling physician visits and checking lab results. View the public filing here.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

With any industry paradigm shift comes experts with recommendations about how to handle it. The health care industry is in that paradigm-shifting moment with new technology and software solutions that hope to modernize our system’s processes and medical care decision-making, all of which has been accelerated by the pandemic. So it is not surprising that the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics and the Aspen Institute offered six recommendations about health technology assessment to “better link the price of health technologies to the benefits they provide to patients.” Or that the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and the eHealth Initiative & Foundation (eHI), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, released a proposed Consumer Privacy Framework for Health Data. These proposals are suggestions about how the private industry may regulate itself -- but we know how that turned out for the financial industry. So there are also suggestions about a more formal regulatory approach. A Brookings fellow is suggesting a new federal agency to oversee “big tech” (which is not about health care but would have an enormous impact), Michael Lewis in his “Fifth Risk” book makes the case for the Department of Commerce to be a broad federal data agency, and your own Maverick Health Policy suggested back in November 2019 that it is time for a new federal health information agency. No one is for more government regulation for the sake of it, but this does seem like a lot to manage without a centralized group of experts focused on it.

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