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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

July 22, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

Sometimes, it takes 19 years to get things done. If you’re Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, it takes that long to meet, say you’re getting married but break up instead, and [insert many other relationships / marriages / kids / movies] bam -- you fly to Las Vegas to finally get the deal sealed (and then make the interesting decision to honeymoon in France during a historic heat wave despite a lack of air conditioning). In the One Thoughtful Paragraph below, we explain how it also takes digital health policy a long time to get things done.

Other news that had a long lead time:

  • In 1896, a General Electric engineer built the electrical equipment necessary to invent x-rays and by 1975, GE was the world leader in diagnostic imaging. Today, GE is creating a standalone healthcare company named GE HealthCare (Nasdaq symbol GEHC) that will focus on its innovative, digital solutions. This move feels a little like another old-school company, Johnson & Johnson, rebranding its medical devices business to J&J MedTech.

  • Big Tech has had a shorter health care history, but still years in the making. Apple released its health app in 2014 and Apple Watch in 2015, and Amazon employed a secretive health tech team called 1492 in 2017. This week, Apple published a 60-page report explaining just how much it wants to take over the health care market, and Amazon isn’t keeping its $3.9 billion purchase of physical and virtual primary care clinics (One Medical) a secret.

  • Serious digital health investing started in 2014 and 2015, when venture capitalists invested more than $4 billion each year in digital health start-ups, according to Rock Health. In 2021, funding reached a record $29.1 billion, which is why experts are calling the projected 2022 fundraising of $21 billion a cool down. We wonder if General Catalyst -- (the investment firm that backed tech-powered health care start-ups Livongo, Cityblock, Olive, etc.) -- consider their new $670 million health care venture fund as a “cool-down.” More here.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Digital health care policy is just like the Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez saga -- it can take years for big changes to happen in this space. They have their timelines, we have our timelines. Just like Bennifer, the advent of federal health IT got started in 2003-2004, (though the Institute of Medicine was really looking into this when Ben and Jen were just kids) with President George W. Bush making a big announcement about computerizing medical records in 2004. Five years later, the idea was finally funded by President Obama. Five years after that, in 2014, U.S. House Representatives Diana DeGette and Fred Upton began their bipartisan effort to modernize the health care system, which ultimately led to the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016 passing -- and it only took four more years after that in 2020 to finalize rules to implement modern health data standards. This week, the HHS Office of National Coordinator of Health IT released the third version of those data standards (United States Core Data for Interoperability, or USCDI v.3). That means that the federal agency that oversees electronic health record systems are requiring those systems to make sure they capture data elements -- like patient names and prescription medication lists -- and that those data are in a format that can be easily shared with those who need them. The third version of standardized data elements includes things like health insurance information -- which you would think would have happened a long time ago, but these things take time. If you ask the crazy-happy Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, sometimes a 19-years-long wait is worth it.

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