March 4, 2021
Only What Matters in Health Information Policy
With the latest announcement of vaccines being available for every adult by May, it finally feels like we are on track to getting back to normal. (One does wonder about kid-related vaccines and how families are supposed to feel safe about going on that long-put-off vacation.) Morning Consult has a tracker about how people feel about getting back to normal, and scientists and journalists are answering our questions about what our near-term future looks like.
Luckily, health information technology and improved data exchange can help our return to normal, as reported by Axios here, and as recognized by members of the International Academy of Quality in the New England Medical Journal’s Catalyst. Additional news below.
Ben Moscovitch of the Pew Charitable Trusts authored a helpful article on how to eliminate gaps in data and improve data sharing to give public health agencies the help they need to respond to the pandemic.
IBM and the state of New York began a pilot program to test their forthcoming Covid-19 "digital health pass" that will give New York residents a secure way to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result or certification of vaccination. Salesforce said it will integrate the IBM Digital Health Pass with Work.com, the platform that Salesforce quickly stood up to help companies manage COVID-19 safety.
USQHIN announced the launch of a National ADT Hub Network (NAHN) to improve real-time access to information about patient hospital admissions, discharges and transfers to help address COVID-19 care and follow-up. The pandemic also spurred California’s healthcare organizations and large employers to create a new coalition to support statewide health information exchange, part of the Connecting for Better Health effort.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
It is not just the private market that is modernizing its health information technology and tools -- the federal government is into it too. The FDA just launched its Data Modernization Action Plan, HHS released a seven-page artificial intelligence strategy in January, and the latest COVID-19 relief bill (the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021” that passed the House and is now being considered by the Senate) includes $500M so the CDC can update its public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure. Indeed, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist just published a piece about how automating health care processes can make our the delivery of medical care much more cost efficient. Predictably, the news about how tech tools are solving our health care problems comes with nervousness about technology companies being too comfortable with our most sensitive and private information. So we are quickly moving from “these modern tools will solve everything” to “oh, no, technology companies are taking over the Earth.” So we will see more legislative solutions to address anti-competitive and privacy problems, but hopefully these efforts will not hold back our best technology solutions. Our health care system desperately needs our best innovators to bring their technical solutions into this space.