• Julie Barnes

October 15, 2021

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

Dolly Parton is a talented artist, but most of us think of her as a country singer-songwriter. We were reminded of her strong acting chops when we re-visited the iconic film 9-to-5, where Dolly more than holds her own alongside greats Lilly Tomlin and Jane Fonda. For those of you that haven’t seen the 1980 film (or haven’t seen it in a while), it is worth the belly laughs over the inhumane things we ask the American workforce to do, and the clear demonstration of how you can run an office without a boss -- but you cannot run an office without executive assistants. We also appreciate how the theme song, a real toe-tapper, calls coffee “a cup of ambition.” More on ambitious workforce issues in the One Thoughtful Paragraph.

Today’s news includes some work for people in healthcare:

  • CMS sent a second round of warning letters to hospitals that have not complied with the hospital transparency rule, threatening to fine larger hospitals up to $2 million. These fines may be issued before the end of 2021.

  • At this week’s meeting of the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (“HITAC” - the federal advisory council that helps the HHS Office of National Coordinator of Health IT or “ONC”), Micky Tripathi, the leader of ONC, explained how important TEFCA is -- the federal government’s plan for a nationwide health information exchange. The Sequoia Project was there -- the entity that is putting together the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (“TEFCA”) for ONC -- presenting on elements of the Common Agreement and the QHIN Technical Framework. A recording of the event and materials are available here.

  • To help learn more about this COVID-19 problem we are having, the CDC selected HealthVerity, a company that generates patient histories with de-identified data, to develop an interoperable dataset of more than 100 million patients for COVID-19 research. They also selected PointClickCare, a healthcare cloud company, to provide data sets on more than 5 million patients from long-term and post-acute care facilities.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Who will play Dolly Parton and other roles in these new digital health companies that are sprouting up everywhere? We know that lots of money is being poured into digital health solutions (see Rock Health report that shows $21.3 billion in digital health investments so far this year, a number that breaks 2020’s full-year record of $14.6 billion). So, naturally, there is a lot going on in the build-up-the-IT-workforce space: HHS just awarded grant money (totaling $73 million) to 10 universities to increase the number of IT specialists working in health care. Google launched Google Cloud Skills Boost, an online training platform, to train more than 40 million people worldwide in areas like machine learning and cloud architecture. Chief Information Officers are hiring IT freelancers who have expertise in specific project areas rather than fighting for full-time employees. This need for more IT workers is particularly interesting given the latest news from the Labor Department about people quitting their jobs in record numbers (4.3 million!), reportedly because workers are no longer willing to deal with low pay and inconvenient hours. Maybe they just re-watched the 9-to-5 movie too.

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