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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

March 10, 2023

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

Only one guy wanted the job of passing out Oscars this year: late night show host Jimmy Kimmel. According to the promo, ABC chose Jimmy Kimmel because he is both “unflappable and unslappable.” Plus, 9-time show host Billy Crystal has a dentist appointment this Sunday night. Can we stay up for the entire night to find out which of the 10 nominated films won best picture? Not sure, but in the One Thoughtful Paragraph, we look at health policy reports that should win recognition, but probably never will.

Other health information policy news that is interesting but will not win any awards:

  • Members of Congress and their staff are being warned by the FBI that they may be victims of a health data breach that exposed "names of spouses, dependent children, their social security numbers, and home addresses." The FBI confirmed that health records were stolen from the Washington, D.C. health insurance marketplace (DC Health Link) and a dark web broker was offering to sell the data.

  • The Regenstrief Institute released its semi-annual update of LOINC, a universal interoperable language for test results, observations, and other lab information, in partnership with the FDA, CDC, and the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL).

  • The Biden Administration released its National Cybersecurity Strategy proposal, which received a positive reception from the AHA and HITRUST.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Unlike the typical 3+ hour Oscars show, we only have a few minutes for the One Thoughtful Paragraph. So we will quickly run through the top three health information policy hits this week:

  1. Just like the film Women Talking, people will find this news too boring to notice -- despite its importance: three female U.S. Senators (Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, and Mazie Hirono) introduced the Upholding Protections for Health and Online Location Data (UPHOLD) Privacy Act, which would prevent identifiable health data from being used for commercial purposes.

  2. Just like Avatar: The Way of Water, which is about a futuristic threat to an entire species because of bad decisions by humans, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is unlikely to win an award for its draft internal report on genomic data cybersecurity to address privacy and risk management problems that could rise to the level of national security threats. The agency is accepting public comments through April 3, 2023.

  3. Just like Top Gun: Maverick, which is an overly-sappy and nostalgic return to a better time for movies, a new report by the ONC is overly-enthusiastic about the progress made on interoperability. Rather than harp for too long on the many challenges remaining about public health reporting, the lack of information blocking penalties, or how mental health therapists, long-term care facilities, and community-based organizations do not have money or mandates to adopt interoperable data standards, the ONC spends most of its 46-page report celebrating its past information-sharing accomplishments.

Why isn't interoperability more widely adopted yet? Part of the problem is that ONC does not have the authority to fix what else is broken. It reminds us of this dialogue in Top Gun: Maverick:

ED HARRIS: (As Rear Admiral Chester "Hammer" Cain) You should be at least a two-star admiral by now, yet here you are, Captain. Why is that?

CRUISE: (As Captain Pete "Maverick" Mitchell) It's one of life's mysteries, sir.

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