October 8, 2020
Only What Matters On Health Information Policy
Maverick Health Policy is noticing that despite the popularity of telehealth services during the pandemic, virtual visits aren’t for everyone -- President Trump announced that he won’t take part in a virtual debate next week.
The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC), announced that it posted new versions of program criteria for its 21 accreditation programs (including HITRUST) for public review until Dec. 3, 2020.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar tweeted the announcement of another 90-day extension of the Public Health Emergency (buried as it was in the explosion of news that the President tested positive for the coronavirus). The announcement came a full three weeks before the prior emergency declaration was set to expire -- which will allow everyone to plan for the continued flexibility in some of our health care rules through January 20, 2021. Mostly, the continuation of the PHE will make it easier for people to see their doctors via virtual visits and enable funds and personnel to be dedicated to solving the crisis. Manatt Health did a nice summary of what is at stake here.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
The 450-page report entitled “Investigation of Competition in Digital Markets” from the House Judiciary Committee is another example of how Congress is anxious to reign in big tech companies but often fails to consider the nuanced considerations for health care -- particularly health care data exchange. The appendix is replete with how many health care-focused companies Amazon, Apple and Google bought in the last couple of years (not so much Facebook, though its powerful Preventive Health tool may influence health care decisions just as much), and yet the report didn’t make any mention about how these companies use their unique reach and consumer-facing health care tools to help improve health care where the medical establishment has been unsuccessful. We get it -- this is an antitrust report that explores how these big tech companies may pose a threat to competition generally -- but the entire section on privacy made no mention of the existing protections for health data and the need to update them, and the section on interoperability failed to acknowledge the industry-changing federal rules developed by HHS to make sure health care information can get where it needs to go. Maverick is in no way taking issue with the substance or conclusions of this report, but we are hoping that when Congress creates laws to regulate technology companies that it weighs the circumstances of how we are and must modernize the American health care system with their help.