February 25, 2021
Only What Matters in Health Information Policy
We send our best wishes for a speedy recovery to our friends and colleagues in Texas, for whom a Minnesota-like winter was never intended. Like so many other 2020-like events that left us all shaking our heads and saying “wow, that is SO terrible” -- we were duly impressed with the many stories of people helping each other -- neighbors taking in neighbors, sharing food, and survival tips. While we don’t wish these disasters on anyone, it was a solid reminder that most people are good and kind and they will take care of each other.
New healthcare technology is helping to take care of people too:
DrChrono, a digital health company that creates app-friendly electronic health records, announced that people can transfer their health records and other personal health information onto their iPhone with its open FHIR API. DrChrono’s “Health Records” is part of the Apple Health app, allowing a direct connection between a physician or hospitals records and a patient’s iPhone, allowing people to carry around or send all of the information about their health conditions, immunizations, allergies, lab results, medications, past procedures and vitals.
The Consumer Technology Association’s Artificial Intelligence in Health Care working group created new standards, known as ANSI/CTA-2090, to give people a “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” (Maverick’s interpretation, this is not how CTA describes it) that healthcare technology and apps powered by AI and machine learning are trustworthy.
Marble, which allows people to manage their health insurance in a “digital wallet” and earn rewards on their insurance premium payments, is attracting investors in a new funding round to its API-powered technology.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
With so many important issues (e.g., COVID-19, access to affordable healthcare, abortion) to focus on in the U.S. Senate confirmation hearings of the next HHS Secretary -- it is easy to forget that nominee Xavier Becerra will oversee a time of dramatic modernization of the health care system. It may be that technology and data standards are merely tools to achieve other policy objectives, but that is a little like saying the engine on jet planes is just a tool to achieve air travel. Without a new regulatory landscape that encourages interoperability, creates penalties for blocking information, ensures sensitive data is kept private and secure, and issues new mandates to create consumer-facing tools and convenient health care delivery systems, the health care system would remain in silos, on paper, and continue to be a painful experience for every American. Without regulatory oversight working together with private industry, people (and their doctors and caregivers) will still have trouble accessing their own medical records, they will still not know how much health care services and treatments cost, and they will still be surprised that what they didn’t know could bankrupt them or put their lives in jeopardy. While we understand why Mr. Becerra was asked about how he would handle vaccine distribution, lower drug prices, and address disparities in health care, we believe that health information policy is the key to solving our biggest health care problems.