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  • Julie Barnes

September 3, 2020

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy


Maverick Health Policy is looking forward to Labor Day not involving any labor, or in our case, thinking. Need the decompression. Hope yours is equally easygoing.


But first, please answer the following questions:

  1. How is your organization doing with the whole interoperability thing? eHI wants to know, and it will help everyone if you answered the survey so they can tell us what plans and providers and health IT developers said. They promise not to tell anyone how far behind you are - but it will be good to know what everyone anonymously admits.

  2. Do you tune into Avalere’s Start Your Day podcasts? They’re quick, hosted by radio-ready-voice Fred Bentley, and Maverick Health Policy was featured on their episode focused on interoperability-related strategic opportunities for health plans.

  3. What is a symptom survey (and why should you care)? It is a set of questions Facebook users answered about their own COVID-19 symptoms and reported to two universities. If you can figure out how to use this data to help policy decision-making and help control outbreaks, you can win $50,000! Check it out.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Health policy is pretty complex stuff. Maverick Health Policy is deeply appreciative of the many leaders and thinkers that share their experience and wisdom to help teach the rest of us. One of the greatest teachers in this space is Atul Gawande, and he just did it again in a remarkable New Yorker article on how to solve our COVID-19 lab testing crisis. His well-researched and yet up-to-the-minute report on our terrible state of diagnostic testing dysfunction is, in short, fantastic. It is written beautifully so that mere mortals can understand the complexity of our situation. It also, pointedly, sends a message to policymakers that the lab testing fiasco is really a small example of what ails the entire American health care system. The data-related takeaways are: 1) While hospitals have spent billions of dollars of the federal government’s money installing electronic record systems over the past 10 years, our “thinly staffed public-health departments…still receive test results by fax and must manually enter them into databases.” We have failed to provide our public health community with the same tools as the private sector, so they cannot measure results or manage test availability. 2) To fix testing, you have to fix the information flow -- “gathering and linking a patient’s information, the provider information, and the bar code on the specimen tube in a way that the laboratory can deal with.” As Dr. Gawande notes, fixing our technology and data flow will only partially relieve our testing debacle -- but these are critical factors in getting us back to normal. Thank you for another master class, Dr. Gawande.

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