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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

September 23, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

You probably have a thing weighing on you that you know you should do but you’re totally not doing it because it is just too big of a hassle. We were reminded of one thing when watching the latest Ryan Reynolds video about getting a colonoscopy. And it made us wonder: WHY is getting a colonoscopy such a big, avoidable thing? It is the way to prevent the 2nd leading cause of death due to cancer, so why isn’t it just required somehow -- why is screening so voluntary and haphazard? In the One Thoughtful Paragraph below, we describe a health data issue that is just like this -- everyone knows it should happen, but it is just not getting done because it is such a big hassle.

Other big hassles related to health data as reported in this week's news:

  • The poor design of electronic medical record systems is making caring for patients more difficult, according to an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

  • Payer data from machine-readable files will not be useful anytime soon, according to a Fierce Healthcare article that cites to the immense resources required to download and process the data.

  • The FBI issued an industry alert that cyber criminals are using publicly-available patient information to target health care payment processers, giving them access to private financial information and allowing them to redirect payments.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Ryan Reynolds is a lot of things -- he acts a little, he owns a soccer team, and he is married to Blake Lively. Ryan clearly loves his mother and he can be funny (see proof on Twitter). He was quoted as saying: "Being a father is the single greatest feeling on earth. Not including those wonderful years I spent without a child, of course." So when he did the public service announcement about the importance of getting a colonoscopy, we paid attention -- and wondered why some totally obvious things are so challenging that you need a funny, famous actor to re-frame the whole conversation. Maybe that’s what is required for our flailing public health data system. Two of America’s leading investigative institutions -- the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the New York Times -- both reported this week on the absolute mess that is our public health data system, how it has cost people their lives, and how challenging it will be to fix it. The GAO recommended that HHS establish an expert committee and designate a particular office at HHS to oversee the development of a public health IT infrastructure and network. In fact, GAO had several good suggestions worth considering, but the GAO is not funny and it does not have a large fan base. This is one of those should-be-obvious-but-no-one-is-getting-this moments that Ryan Reynolds seems to be well-suited for, so we suggest including him as part of the expert committee that the GAO recommended. Another quote from Ryan seems to make him particularly well-qualified for this push to get a public health IT system going: "Any kind of crisis can be good. It wakes you up."

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