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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

January 21, 2021

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

It was a cold and quiet inauguration day yesterday, but as the awe-inspiring young poet laureate -- Amanda Gorman -- said: “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.” Indeed. It is worth a listen.

Some news:

  1. President Biden Signed An Executive Order On Interoperability. Just kidding, there is no EO on interoperability. But he did create a position at the White House to coordinate the COVID-19 response that will report directly to him on vaccine, testing and personal protective equipment production, supply, and distribution. With the word “coordinate” appearing in this EO no less than 27 times in some form, it seems that interoperable record-keeping of these efforts would be quite helpful to Jeff Zients -- the guy appointed to the new coordinating role.

  2. COVID-19 Data Tracking Has Improved. In a rare nod to the Trump Administration’s HHS, The Atlantic declared HHS Protect -- a system run by Palantir, a company run by one of Trump’s high-profile donors -- as the most reliable source of federal pandemic data. This is fairly startling coming from the folks who run the COVID Tracking Project, which is widely-relied upon by public health officials for accurate pandemic data. Worth a read.

  3. Wasting No Time On Modernizing Health Information. Micky Tripathi, a well-known advocate for interoperability, will replace Don Rucker as the new National Coordinator for Health IT under President Biden's administration.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

President Biden will focus (and already is - see above) on the pandemic, but we also know that he really wants to empower people with easy access to their own health information. In 2016, at a Health Datapalooza event, he said that exchanging health data is “a matter of life and death.” President Biden has a personal story about trying to get records from one hospital system to another. When his son Beau was undergoing treatment for brain cancer, the family had to physically bring his records from Maryland to Texas because the Walter Reed and MD Anderson Cancer Center electronic record systems were incompatible. In an emotional pre-inauguration speech, Biden said that his only regret was that Beau, who lost his battle with cancer, wasn’t there “because we should be introducing him as president.” Maverick Health Policy is often asked whether the Biden Administration is likely to delay the interoperability rules, and so we tell this story.

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