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The Trump administration and lawmakers reached an agreement on overall spending levels in a two-year deal to raise budget caps, but they’re still working on a final deal. In the world of health IT, Washington’s talking privacy, interoperability, and patient identifiers. Here’s what we’ve got:
— EU’s lessons for digital medicine: Some lawmakers grappling with federal privacy legislation are looking to Europe’s comprehensive regulations as a possible roadmap. A few experts weighed in on health data privacy in Europe.
— Feinstein to co-chair Judiciary tech task force: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will help lead a working group focused on data privacy and other tech issues created by Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
— AHA: Nation-state spies are targeting health care: The American Hospital Association singled out attackers from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea in a DHS-sponsored webinar.
eHealth Tweet thread of the day: Data Science Renee @BecomingDataSci: I’ve been reading about data science teams, and have heard a bunch of names for them: What is your “data science team” called in your organization?
[Replying to @BecomingDataSci]
Antoine Fabri @antoine_fabri: Advanced Data Analytics . Basic Data Analytics was rejected
Paul Agapow @agapow: “… you, uh, computer people …”
Dr. Brandeis Marshall @csdoctorsister: Brandeis.
IT’S FRIDAY at Morning eHealth. Your author is desperately trying to revive a years-old aloe vera plant that continues to wither despite plenty of natural light. Plant experts — what gives? Tips on news and succulents email@example.com. Tweet the team at @arthurallen202, @dariustahir, @ravindranize, @POLITICOPro and @Morning_eHealth.
CAN YOU HARVEST HEALTH DATA WITHOUT COMPROMISING PRIVACY? EXPERTS DISAGREE — Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, which took effect about a year ago, has forced the EU to confront hard questions about the impact of strict protections on new technology. As lawmakers here attempt to draw up their own federal privacy legislation, they might watch how GDPR plays out in the EU. Our POLITICO Pro colleagues asked a handful of experts if they think the EU can reap the benefits of shared health data without weakening privacy — and if so, how. Here’s what a few of them said:
— “As vast amounts of data are becoming increasingly available, guaranteeing that health data can be stripped of all information indicating the identity of the contributor — ‘data de-identification’ in the parlance of the field — will be nearly impossible. To ensure privacy, individuals must maintain control over the extent, timing and circumstances of how their information is shared and used. We must improve how we seek consent from the individual citizens who are sources of health data and how we inform them about the potential consequences.” — Jennifer Goldsack, executive director of the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe)
— “In the U.S. data can be shared or commercialized if it is de-identified and anonymous. This has created a robust market for data-driven research. Even small amounts of data, such as for the CAR-T gene therapy used to treat cancer, can help governments make decisions on pricing and access. Meanwhile, China, a country of 1 billion people, is moving toward a national registry. Even if a condition is extremely rare — say, one in 1 million — that means a Chinese database could yield 1,000 potential research subjects. Europe must realize that it is possible for privacy concerns to hamper research and cripple industry. R&D will move where data access is available.” — Duane Schulthess, managing director of Vital Transformation
— “Efficient data sharing is one of the key reasons for rising life expectancy across the world. However, as hospitals become increasingly connected to the internet, they are also becoming more vulnerable to cyberattacks — putting critical patient data and medical records at risk of exposure.” — Stefaan Van Hoornick, senior sales engineer for Benelux at Trend Micro
JUDICIARY TECH TASK FORCE TAKES SHAPE — Feinstein will serve as co-chair of the new Senate Judiciary tech task force led by Blackburn, our POLITICO colleague Cristiano Lima reports. They’ve already met with privacy officers from Snap, Salesforce, Mozilla and Match. Blackburn envisioned a bipartisan working group focused on various tech issues including data privacy; both parties have expressed concern about the power wielded by companies like Facebook and Google and consumer privacy. This week’s meeting is the first in a series of bimonthly roundtables with industry leaders, Cristiano reports.
“You’ll see some of all of it: privacy, data security, prioritization, censorship, competition, antitrust. It’s all there,” Blackburn said this week.
— Also on privacy, HHS could release a proposed rule governing data sharing on substance use treatment in August, Bloomberg’s Shira Stein reports. (Read Darius’ previous reporting on efforts to overhaul that patient privacy rule.)
HEALTH CARE UNDER ATTACK — Nation-state spies are menacing the health care sector more than other kinds of attackers, an American Hospital Association official said in a DHS-sponsored webinar Wednesday, our POLITICO colleague Tim Starks reports. “The ones we’re most concerned about, and we’re seeing the most activity from, are nation-state spies” who are usually from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, said John Riggi, senior manager for cybersecurity and risk at the organization. The sector makes an attractive target because it stores more than just medical data and is considered critical infrastructure, he said.
Still, cybercriminals remain the industry’s “most pervasive” threat, especially via ransomware, said Robert Biestman, cyber intelligence critical infrastructure outreach lead at the DHS Cyber Mission Center. Tim Slaybaugh, a senior Northrop Grumman intrusion analyst who works in DHS’s National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, said ransomware attacks on the industry are forecast to quadruple by 2020.
KEEPING UP WITH THE COMPETITION — China is making progress toward its goal of becoming a world leader in artificial intelligence, raising questions about whether America’s investing enough in the technology, write our POLITICO colleagues Luiza Ch. Savage and Nancy Scola, citing interviews for the latest episode of POLITICO’s Global Translations podcast.
President Donald Trump has declared AI a national priority, and America’s a “very strong leader,” said Lynne Parker, the White House coordinator on artificial intelligence policy. “If you look at industry output, if you look at the leading academic institutions that are leading the way and advancing the state of the art and AI, they’re American industries and they’re American academics. We’re clearly producing the most impactful commercial products. And certainly that’s not to say that the rest of the world isn’t waking up to the great opportunities of AI — but clearly, the United States is in the lead.”
But China’s proving a formidable competitor. “Over the last 10 years, there’s been a big effort in China to become a world leader in research and in many areas — but one of them being computing — and I’ve seen computer science departments grow and grow until they are now on a par with departments in the West in terms of what the academics do and where they publish,” said Dame Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton and co-author of the U.K. government’s AI strategy.
“The city of Tianjin alone plans to spend $ 16 billion on AI — and the U.S. government investment still totals several billion and counting. That’s still lower by an order of magnitude,” said Elsa Kania, an adjunct fellow with the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.
FEHRM POSITION? — A job posting went up on LinkedIn for the leadership of the Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization Program Office — the newly created office where final decisions will be made when DoD and VA officials disagree about an aspect of their joint EHR implementation. Turns out the listing — which 52 people had responded to as of Thursday — was mistakenly put up by a recruiting vendor, according to a VA spokesperson. The official posting will be added to USAJOBS soon.
— A reader notes that the job ad indicates the Pentagon will have the last word on joint decisions. VA and DoD will jointly select the director, but he or she will be officially appointed by the DoD secretary.
— Qualifications listed in the posting include “proven success managing a large-scale enterprise business system, EHR or related clinical systems deployment.” We’ll be curious to see who steps up (and is chosen) for this job, which is certain to be a tough one.
STUDY: EHRS AREN’T THAT GREAT AT PREVENTING MEDICATION ERRORS — A new study in BMJ Quality and Safety concludes that EHR systems are getting better at preventing medication-related adverse events, but they’re “far from perfect.” In 2009 the average hospital EHR made suggestions preventing about 54 percent of potential adverse events; that number rose to about 62 percent in 2016.
— Hospitals that tested their systems frequently saw even greater improvement; those hospitals’ EHRs prevented about 55 percent of potential adverse drug-related events in 2009, compared to about 70 percent in 2016, suggesting that “voluntary self-assessment and improvement may be helpful in improving medication safety performance.”
— The Healthcare Leadership Council hosts a briefing called “The Path to Data Interoperability is Currently Under Construction” in Rayburn today.
— The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, American Health Information Management Association, American Medical Informatics Association, and American College of Surgeons host a briefing called “Mistaken Identity: Reducing Medical Errors with a Nationwide Unique Patient Identifier” on Monday in the Russell Senate Office Building.
— Anna Wilde Mathews reports on CVS’s new dialysis clinical trials for WSJ.
— Sharon Begley and Rebecca Robbins asked experts what they thought of Elon Musk’s Neuralink idea for Stat.
— VentureBeat’s Khari Johnson writes that companies should steer clear of “ethics washing.”
— David Stewart evaluates an Epic implementation for the Ottawa Citizen.