Trump appointees cheered by both Republicans and Democrats. Venture capitalists venting about too much investment cash. Data nerds decrying the deification of artificial intelligence.
For two days, Health Datapalooza 2018 offered a glimpse of a Washington where all sides work in harmony “to improve Americans’ health through better data,” in the words of Eric Hargan, deputy secretary of Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Not to mention the goal of improving health care economics. Enable digital health entrepreneurs to earn millions of dollars in profits, goes the logic, and their innovations will help the feds and others avoid paying many more millions of dollars in health care bills.
Health Datapalooza began nine years ago as a showcase for public-private data partnership. The shining example back then was the way the release government meteorological data had paved the way for online apps like weather.com. What was significant at this year’s event was not so much the sweeping rhetoric as the signals sent by HHS that it will accelerate the push by previous administrations towards value-based payment.
So, for instance, Seema Verma, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), said CMS will ask private insurers and state Medicaid programs to require hospitals to provide patients with their own data electronically. The Medicare program wants to make that requirement part of the “conditions of participation” for hospitals in Medicare; i.e., do this or you can’t participate in the program that’s your largest customer.
“The expectations of CMS have changed,” said Verma. “Patients can never again be kept in the dark with regard to their health care information.”