January 28, 2022
Only What Matters in Health Information Policy
Only four weeks into the new year and we are out with the old and in with the new. Just ask quarterback Tom Brady, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, and Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider. This year will also usher in a series of new rules to modernize the healthcare industry. See more in the One Thoughtful Paragraph below.
Here is some very new news from this week:
For Elon Musk, cars and rocket ships are SO last year. He owns a company called Neuralink that is looking for a clinical trial director (that understands the FDA medical device approval process) to lead the testing of its AI-powered chip’s implantation into human brains. The idea is to allow people who have spinal cord injuries or neurological conditions like dementia to wirelessly transmit and receive information between their brain and a computer.
For Health IT developers or the people who know them, a new version of the HL7 US Core Implementation Guide will be beta-tested soon by the HHS Office of National Coordinator of Health IT (ONC). If you don’t know what this means, but you know that someone near you cares about the interoperability requirements and technical specifications in the 21st Century Cures Act that regulates access to patient data, tell them to read this and they will know what to do.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent agency that reports on trouble spots in federal agencies, said that HHS must improve its handling of public health emergencies. On January 27, 2022, the GAO made 72 recommendations to HHS on everything from a national COVID-19 testing strategy to making sure the agency is clearly and consistently communicating with the public and healthcare providers -- particularly about vaccine distribution.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
The year of 2022 is ushering in a number of dramatic changes to the health care industry. In fact, health insurers may soon be synonymous with the Super Bowl. (Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but GEHA, a non-profit health insurance company for government employees, supports the Kansas City Chiefs -- which may soon be a nice SuperBowl-level marketing opportunity if Patrick Mahomes, who plays at GEHA field, becomes the youngest quarterback ever to start three SuperBowls). In addition to Super Bowl possibilities, this year marks the beginning of big and new changes for the healthcare industry: it is illegal to surprise patients with big medical bills, the cost of healthcare services will be much more transparent (see also here), there are new data standards (see also here) and opportunities to safely exchange health data, and there is at least one option to address patient matching issues across disparate healthcare systems. But, wait, there’s more: we may see new rules soon about how payers and providers must streamline the prior authorization process -- so everyone will know, very quickly, what medical services are covered by insurance. Be sure to send your thoughts on how this process should work, but you can wait until after the Super Bowl (comments on the prior authorization standards are not due until March 25, 2022).