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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

February 24, 2023

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

It is pretty rare when a book can help with specific action items (not mere inspiration) so that you can tackle something new and complicated. Life’s Little Instruction Book comes to mind -- a guidebook written by Jack Brown, written as a going-away-to-college gift for his son. It has pearls of wisdom like “Have a firm handshake” and “Learn three clean jokes” and “Put the cap back on the toothpaste.” It is #85 that we find most instructive: “Never encourage anyone to become a lawyer.” In the One Thoughtful Paragraph, we tell you about another small instruction book that may be just as helpful to implement a new health care data-sharing effort.

Other interesting written materials this week in health information policy:

  • A leaked draft of an executive order would direct the General Services Administration to expand its internally-developed digital identity and authentication service,, to cut down on fraud / identity theft in public relief programs.

  • A new report by Pew Research Center details the findings of a survey of U.S. adults who said they would not be comfortable with their doctors relying on AI to help with medical screening, diagnosis or treatment.

  • The annual HHS Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) HIPAA breach report showed an increase in violations between 2017 and 2021. More here.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Another instruction booklet -- the “Grail Diary” -- is central to the plot of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That's the film where Steven Spielberg and George Lucas decided that the only person who would be believable as Harrison Ford’s father is Sean Connery -- despite only one of them having a decidedly Scottish accent. Sean Connery’s professorial character kept a diary of his painstaking and life-long research of the Holy Grail, which includes a map that leads the characters on a quest to find the cup that can bear the gift of eternal life. This week, the ONC released its Grail Diary, with a name that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as neatly: Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Information Exchange Toolkit. It is an impressive 77-page instruction book -- a roadmap -- for people “on the ground” who are trying to figure out how to incorporate information about social issues (challenges posed by low income, housing and food insecurity, educational barriers) into the health care system. Why is this important? Without knowing how to identify and use this non-medical-but-impacts-medical care information, all the great health care the American system has to offer may be rendered quite useless for a lot of people. So, after many talks and much advice from experts, the ONC offered this guide, with examples and stories and graphics, to help people and organizations that do not normally collaborate or share information about social issues that impact health to do just that. It may be that the pathway to data sharing as described in the SDOH toolkit is the health care system’s equivalent to the search for the Holy Grail: The quest for the Grail is not archaeology, it's a race against evil."

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