February 18, 2021
Only What Matters In Health Information Policy
Things are beginning to return to normal in Washington, D.C. post-impeachment trial. Vaccines are rolling out, the nominee for HHS Secretary is scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing, we know who the CMS Administrator nominee is, and the former National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Don Rucker, gave an exit interview -- explaining that the 21st Century Cures Act’s policies to strengthen health information exchange was an Obama-era law, his team began to implement it, and that work will be continued by the Biden administration. The normal handoff from one bureaucracy to another. It is practically boring. Boring has never been so welcome.
A few not-so-boring things to note this week:
A former Microsoft executive is going to run Truveta, a Seattle-based, for-profit health data platform created by 14 major hospital systems. The purpose is to sell the combined data to companies and institutions that need the data to create new medical devices and treatments. This health system collaboration is a “do-it-yourself” attempt to glean needed information from a big pool of health data rather than hire a big tech company to do it -- like Ascension or Mayo did with Google.
Snowflake has Truveta-like scale-up-data-analytic ideas -- but for health plans. The data cloud provider -- which is designed to eliminate data silos and run workloads from a single platform -- just partnered with Abacus Insights, the cloud-based tech company that offers data integration platforms for large insurers, to enable health plans to generate data insights faster and at scale.
To help get health data where it needs to be during the pandemic, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology made several updates to the Interoperability Standards Advisory, including revising data standards to improve COVID-19 and Public Health Emergency technical operations. Another update will help hospitals comply with a new interoperability rule going into effect in May 2021, requiring an electronic notification to a patient’s other providers and caregivers when they are admitted, discharged or transferred from the hospital.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
While the health care industry and its technical friends are modernizing the tools needed to run the business of health care, there is an explosion of new health care apps for consumers too. There are so many more options to make the whole health care experience a little less painful -- so many more than we could ever list in one thoughtful paragraph -- but this is a few that recently made news. Want to keep yourself well by figuring out what your next best steps are for your health? Look into the going-public Sharecare, or Buoy Health, or at-home lab-test-advice app Base, or Insightin Health. Want to understand your health insurance benefits? Humana has an IBM Watson Assistant. Want to see and understand your medical records? Healthfully says it is creating an easy-to-read dashboard. Hoping to make the process of paying for health care less painful? Check out Cedar Pay (which just closed a deal with Summit CityMD). Want your medical services on-line? Your favorite retailer can help. Some of these “digital front door” companies (Medicom/Duet Health) are figuring out how to offer consumer-facing products because that is what “today’s consumers want and expect in the age of Amazon and Apple.” Yep.