November 26, 2019
Only What Matters on Health Information Policy
ProPublica published a report this week explaining how Medicare’s “Plan Finder” digital tool (it helps seniors choose from a myriad of Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans) doesn’t work well.
Yet another data privacy legislative proposal was introduced, this time by ranking Democratic members of the U.S. Senate HELP, Judiciary, Banking, and Commerce Committees. The proposal is in response to inadequate existing laws (Financial Credit Reporting Act, Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, HIPAA), yet the new proposal is not suggesting it would replace them.
Google, undeterred by the press about its Project Nightingale, announced that they are piloting an “integrating charting” tool for doctors so they can “access a unified view of data normally spread across multiple systems” that are “a joy to use.” Reminder: Karen DeSalvo, former Coordinator of health information technology at HHS, starts as Google’s new Chief Health Officer soon.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
TIME Magazine’s latest issue, “The Next 100 Most Influential People” features a number of amazing humans who are at the center of the health data and privacy debate. Not surprisingly, TIME recognizes pioneers of health studies that rely on access to data like Mei Mei Hu, the CEO of United Neuroscience, and Nat Turner and Zach Winberg of Flatiron Health. But TIME also features data privacy crusaders, like Max Schrems and Josh Hawley, that are trying to keep big tech from exploiting user data. Maverick Health Policy is not implying that lauding both health data collectors and privacy champions is inconsistent, but it is a good real-world example of how we value both data mining and data privacy. As Maverick Health Policy said in our Health Affairs blog post, we need to address how best to protect our private health care data while also making sure that information is allowed to flow as freely as necessary to improve our delivery system and population’s health. Since the post was published on November 12th, there have been no less than 22 bills introduced, proposals offered, or reports released by Members of Congress or federal agencies that either expect more health data to be collected, exchanged, and analyzed, or suggest more health data privacy and security protections be put in place -- and that list is not inclusive of Medicaid or Veterans Affairs issues (we can only track so many health data issues). Maybe most impressive on this list are the new health care price transparency rules, which will unleash an incredible amount of health data into the public domain and, if implemented and enforced, will do nothing less than transform our health care system (see price transparency rules here and here). It is going to be an interesting decade. Or two.