• Julie Barnes

May 28, 2020

Maverick Health Policy

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

Maverick Health Policy took a brief break over the holiday weekend to spend some time on a working farm in the beautiful Shenandoah National Park area. We learned two valuable lessons: 1. An alarm clock is no match for nature (try to sleep through a dozen cows mooing and so many geese honking that you would swear you slept-walked into a cocktail party), and 2. It is humbling to be faced with a total lack of cell service or reliable wifi in rural areas. A nod to Brookings for always being on top of the trickiest policy issues.

  1. is a new website launched by the CARIN Alliance to help consumers select a health care app to collect and make sense of their own health care records, anticipating the increased access made possible by the new interoperability rules.

  2. Speaking of interoperability rules, there is a new study that shows that hospitals are ready and able to share vital public health information in accordance with “Promoting Interoperability” (used to be Meaningful Use) requirements, but the public health agencies are unable to receive the data electronically. Where is the interoperability rule for federal, state and local public health agencies???

  3. Hospital executives weigh in on the most promising health care technologies of 2020, which obviously includes virtual health care delivery platforms. There is a great twitter chat feed to follow on this: #TelemedNOW.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

As the nation moves to partially reopen businesses and places to play, the news about how to safely do so isn’t reassuring. If there was any confusion about whether this is a lethal virus, there are multiple news outlets reporting on America’s 100,000 COVID-19-related deaths, here, here, here, and how we aren’t really sure that’s an accurate number because we haven’t done enough testing. To help stop the spread, there is a tentative movement to trace everyone’s connections to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and provide exposure notification, so that they may take any necessary precautions. Apps are just beginning to be used to alert contacts of people who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and New York is doing it the old-fashioned way -- hiring 2,500 contact tracers, who act like virus-seeking Census workers for Gotham -- because, as Robin knows, Batman can’t be everywhere. The key, then, remains lab testing, and news about lab testing may be the least reassuring of all: lab tests are unreliable, have spotty availability, are inconsistently offered, and vary wildly in costs (more here about costs, and there are new tools being offered to compare lab test prices). There are multiple ideas about how to change our testing strategy, and how to pay for it. But our brightest hope could lie in a pile of (excuse our language) sh** -- analyzing wastewater may be our best viral warning tool. A sign of the times, no?

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Julie Barnes, J.D. 

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