January 28, 2021
Only What Matters in Health Information Policy
Happy Thursday to you. This last week was a bit of a blur for policy-tracking types. Tracking, in fact, is the word of the week. How do we keep track of everything when what needs to be tracked is the equivalent of drops of water coming from a firehose?
A few things to keep track of:
Wearables Are Tracking. Google bought Fitbit, to better keep track of COVID-19 symptoms among other things -- and this is just one example of a wearables trend. See here, here, here.
Databases Are Launching. The National Institutes of Health is launching a new database to keep track of neurological symptoms, complications, and outcomes from COVID-19 in a new “Neuro Databank/Biobank (NeuroCOVID)” that will be run by NYU Langone Health and supported by the NIH National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Money is Helping. The HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is offering $20M in grants to help communities track and identify individuals who need a vaccine or have yet to receive their second dose. And the HHS Office of Civil Rights will not penalize anyone for trying to keep track of who got a vaccination in connection with the good faith use of online or web-based scheduling applications.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
With bold new plans to test, vaccinate, and test again, the Biden Administration is trying to figure out how to track all of it. Right now, the new CDC director is saying we lack data, and there is legislation being introduced to upgrade technology to expand vaccination data-sharing between states, federal agencies and health care providers, in addition to a serious push for the next pandemic relief package to include a government system IT upgrade. The Brookings Institution, in fact, is suggesting that the Biden Administration implement a "New Tech Deal" that is no less dramatic than President Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression, but this one would invest in technology to complement all of the other priorities of the Administration -- including scheduling and tracking COVID-19 vaccinations. With all of these technology solutions being posed, it is at least clear that we are facing a new paradigm in health care. As Jeff Fritz, serial health tech entrepreneur, recently said in an insightful article: “Understanding and appreciating technology is as core an attribute for a health care leader now as is running a 40-yard dash in under 4.6 seconds if you hope to be a wide receiver in the NFL.”