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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

October 7, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

The U.S. Supreme Court’s term for the year began this past Monday. With so many other legislative mandates to track, it is easy to forget that the first Monday in October kicks off the high court’s season of oral arguments and accepting new cases. This 100-year-old tradition was the name of a classic 1981 film comedy, First Monday in October, featuring Walter Matthau and Jill Clayburgh. The movie mirrored real life because -- at the same time the movie premiered -- President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first and only female Supreme Court justice. We explain in the One Thoughtful Paragraph how fundamental changes in our society like that one is happening in the world of health information policy this week.

Other fundamental changes to health information policy this week:

  • CMS is proposing to create a national provider directory database so that everyone can finally have an easy and reliable place to access correct and up-to-date provider information. The proposal includes a more ambitious plan for additional information to be publicly available down the road, including a Yelp-like search engine of whether doctors are good at what they do and allowing consumers to download all of it onto smartphone apps.

  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released a new AI Bill of Rights, outlining voluntary guidelines for companies about how to safeguard personal data from misuse in artificial intelligence algorithms that drive business decisions. More here about what steps HHS will take to support the guidelines. We also note that the Government Accountability Office and the National Academy of Medicine discussed their own reports on the use of AI for medical diagnosis this week.

  • The Biden administration designated October Cybersecurity Awareness Month, highlighting goals for both the federal government and private sector to strengthen its cybersecurity. The HHS 405(d) Program and Task Group released a toolkit for healthcare organizations, which includes information about multi-factor authentication and software updates.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

One of the best lines in the movie First Monday in October is when the liberal-leaning justice (played so believably by Walter Matthau) makes fun of the new female justice’s super-clean desk by saying “Do aircraft land here frequently?” No self-respecting 1980’s attorney or judge had anything less than several former trees lying all over their desks to demonstrate how much legalese they were constantly poring over, so this was a significant jab. It is a bit ironic, then, that this week -- the same week that the U.S. Supreme Court begins another year of paper-pushing -- marks the paperless future of our health care system. Hat tip to STAT News for calling it “Data Liberation Day” -- October 6, 2022 marked the day that health care providers and their electronic record system vendors must provide patients with full, free, and electronic access to their health records. No more paper, no more hassle or delays getting your own health information. At least, that’s what is intended by the latest set of rules implemented by the HHS Office of National Coordinator of Health IT and authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act. We will see if hospitals do a better job with this than they did with releasing their prices mandated by transparency rules. There are a lot of zingers in First Monday in October, which is about individual / corporate rights v. societal rights -- and this is a zinger that we’ve adapted for our purposes: “One man’s pornography [burden of making health data available] is another man’s poetry [necessary access to one’s own health care information]."

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