January 16, 2020
Only What Matters in Health Information Policy
Thought-provoking new Health Affairs blog post by Christine Bechtel, et al. about consumers’ desire to access their health data, and the need to “get serious” about a new national privacy framework for app developers. A nice, new overview of the national privacy law debate is provided by Kirk Nahra here. Concerns about whether big tech is protecting consumer health data properly is compounded by the fact that no tech firms directly weighed in on the interoperability proposed rules (see Politico piece); but that hasn’t stopped anyone from lobbying and threatening lawsuits.
ONC’s released its latest 5-year strategic plan for federal health information technology -- a roadmap for federal agencies and private sector alignment -- for public comment (due March 18). It emphasizes that APIs are an important part of allowing people and their providers to share data -- an echo of the CMS interoperability proposed rule.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
Michael Lewis (best-selling author of MoneyBall, The Big Short, and a host of other well-researched books) has a new one out that somewhat accidentally addresses federal oversight of data: Fifth Risk. The book is mostly a scorching critique of the Trump transition team’s failure to learn about the government agencies it was about to oversee. An interesting aside is how the U.S. Department of Commerce would be more aptly renamed the “Department of Data” or “Department of Information” (p. 160), or as a former senior Bush official called it the “Department of Science and Technology.” (p. 163). Lewis goes on to describe Commerce’s massive data-collecting enterprise (“collects twice as much data as is contained in the entire book collection of the Library of Congress”), how it collects and makes sense of all the country’s economic statistics, and includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology -- the country’s primary cybersecurity and information standards agency that is designed to promote innovation and industrial competitiveness. If the Department of Commerce does all this, and already employs Nobel laureates and information scientists… maybe this is where we should be looking to oversee our nation’s data -- including health data?