Consortium Newsletters

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  • 05 May 2021 3:20 PM | Lin Li (Administrator)

    May Newsletter Link

    The healthcare sector is, in many ways, the most critical part of the United States economy. Putting aside that it is a fundamental part of people’s lives, supporting their health and well-being, it matters because of its economic size and financial impact on people and communities.

    We know the statistics. The healthcare economy today:

    • employs 11 percent of American workers (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS] 1980–2019b; Hamilton Project, 2020);
    • accounts for 24 percent of government spending (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] 1987–2018; Bureau of Economic Analysis 1987–2018);
    • is, through health insurance, the most significant component (26 percent) of non-wage compensation (BLS 2019b); and
    • is one of the largest consumer spending categories (8.1 percent of consumer expenditures; BLS 2019a).

    Related costs have been rising and some of the increase is undesirable (Cutler 2018). Rent-seeking behavior (gaining wealth without any reciprocal contribution of productivity), monopoly power, and other flaws in healthcare markets sometimes result in unnecessary care, excessive and irregular fees and utilization of services, and burdensome, costly administration.

    In "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", Samuel Taylor Coleridge describes the predicament of the cursed sailor as “Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.” Today, in Massachusetts, we have healthcare everywhere with practices, hospitals, clinics, health centers, and near-universal coverage, as costly as it is. Yet, despite this abundance, Massachusetts healthcare is consistently among the most expensive nationwide (according to the Kaiser Family Foundation and others), remains extraordinarily opaque as to pricing and quality, and continues to burden the patient with poor service and excessive administration.

    Today, we have an opportunity to reverse this history of high costs and consumer burdens by erecting a 21st-century data system that will empower consumers to make better health decisions using standardized payer and provider data shared directly to the consumer’s device using industry-developed interfaces

    We see this need for a 21st-century health data economy everywhere. Today, COVID-19 information management helps regulators more than patients while data systems such as electronic medical records burden clinicians and patients. These systems require enormous amounts of data entry but offer little insight. Privacy and consent remain rooted in the 20th century, hindering the patient’s ability to share what data they want to share with those they want to share it with. This leaves patients and their clinicians incapable of making informed decisions that take clinical, economic, and social factors into account.

    At MHDC, we have no intention of wearing an albatross around our necks and walking the world bemoaning the state of healthcare. As you will see in our newsletter, we are changing healthcare in our own small but increasingly influential way. We are the only organization in the country that enables the health community – payers, providers, regulators, patients – to govern their health data from design through exchange.

    Now we need to get back to work.

    Be safe, and stay well.

    Denny Brennan, Executive Director

    Please let us know what you think of our newsletter at newsletter@mahealthdata.org and look for our next issue. Thank you for your continued support and participation!

    (for the entire newsletter click on the newsletter link at the top to see more...)

  • 01 Apr 2021 11:54 AM | Lin Li (Administrator)

    As of today, April 1, the New England Healthcare Exchange Network (NEHEN) has merged with MHDC.

    In 1994, MHDC formed the Affiliated Health Information Networks of New England (AHINE). MHDC established AHINE to advance the use of information technology in improving the health status of the citizens of Massachusetts. AHINE served as a forum for the IT leadership of regional providers and payers and members of the healthcare IT service and product community to discuss common issues, share experiences, sponsor conferences, and develop white papers on current topics. AHINE enabled the regional IT leadership to develop close and effective working relationships, a critical contributor to that leadership's willingness to engage in the mutual development of NEHEN. In 1998, AHINE incorporated as NEHEN, a collaboration among payers and providers using a shared insurance EDI infrastructure to exchange transactions. In many ways, NEHEN set the standard that MHDC upholds today – that collaboration among payers and providers in advancing shared data and technology priorities will achieve superior results, reduce costs substantially, and produce solutions that work for all. Before NEHEN, MHDC was a central data collection, dissemination, education, research, and analysis organization. AHINE, and then NEHEN, taught us a lot about how to collaborate effectively. With the merger, MHDC becomes a health data services partner for payers, providers, and patients. By assisting our community in advancing to a 21st century health data economy, we reduce our members' exposure to the risks of failing to comply with regulations as well as reduce investments in redundant and costly technologies and implementations that fail to meet their goals. We promulgate standards, engage industry leaders, and move as a group toward the common goal of a patient-centered health data system. MHDC's founder, Elliot Stone, envisioned MHDC achieving these goals and, were he alive today, I think he would be thrilled with the progress we have made. I know I am.

    Be safe, and stay well.

    Denny Brennan, Executive Director

    Please let us know what you think of our newsletter at newsletter@mahealthdata.org and look for our next issue. Thank you for your continued support and participation!


  • 12 Mar 2021 10:59 AM | Lin Li (Administrator)
    March 2021 Newsletter Link

    On February 16, fourteen of the largest health systems in the country announced the formation of a company called Truveta. A Seattle start-up led by a former Microsoft executive, Truveta’s data platform will “help deliver personalized medicine, enable health equity, and empower the health community with insights on how to best treat patients,” according to their website.

    At the heart of Truveta’s proposition is that there has not been enough data to statistically represent all patients, nor the technology to structure, normalize, and deidentify such data.

    Truveta stresses ethics, shared purpose, empowering clinicians, guiding research, and saving lives as their reason for being and the collaboration of these health systems as a ground-breaking effort.

    If you don’t feel a little circumspect after reading this litany of goodness, you should. Why? Let me count the ways:

    1. It doesn't exhibit truth in advertising
    2. It doesn't distinguish itself from existing industry collaboration in any meaningful way
    3. It doesn't include all relevant players, particularly health plans
    4. It disregards the move toward patient control of their health data
    5. It doesn't consider technology advancements

    Behind all the talk of ethics, shared purpose, pandemic preparedness, and the good of humanity, Truveta is in business to sell clinical data to whomever will pay the most for it (most likely big pharma). While there is no mention of this on the company's website, articles in the Wall Street Journal and Fierce Healthcare make this business proposition clear.

    Further, there is nothing new about the Truveta collaboration and there is nothing inherently advantageous in bringing hundreds of hospitals together. We have Group Purchasing Organizations and industry associations pursuing their own patient data strategies. Rather, these collaborations represent new lines of business for their members who see a pretty bleak future in running hospitals and want to jump on the data bandwagon before new privacy and security regulations make these kinds of collaborations much more difficult, if not impossible.

    In addition, health plans are the segment of the healthcare industry entrusted with managing clinical and administrative data for the consumer under the new rules. No provider, however large, has a complete picture of a patient’s health, and disregarding data collated at payers means important data is likely missing.

    The industry is changing in other ways too. Ownership of patient data (in the property sense) is a thorny issue but control and stewardship are not. Patient control, or consent, to information sharing is central to the 21st Century Cures Act and the CMS and ONC Final Rules. Providers and payers are stewards of patient data and this rush to profit from the use of patient data is poor stewardship at best.

    Further, in the near future, health data will reside on patients' digital devices upon their request. In this model, each patient acts as their own health information exchange delegating viewing and usage rights beyond those mandated by regulation to whomever they choose. This is the only truly effective approach to liberating data from the institutional silos that entrap them.

    Truveta doesn't meet the moment in any way, and feels like a desperate grab for resources in a time when the industry is changing underneath providers looking for a way to navigate and survive in a new world they don't fully understand. While we welcome new and innovating ways to collaborate and share data, this effort is missing the mark.

    Be safe, and stay well.

    Denny Brennan, Executive Director

    Please let us know what you think of our newsletter at newsletter@mahealthdata.org and look for our next issue. Thank you for your continued support and participation!



  • 01 Feb 2021 11:41 AM | Deleted user

    FEBRUARY 2021 NEWSLETTER LINK

    Welcome to 2021! It's a new year, and with the new year comes a new administration and some uncertainty about the future of recent healthcare regulations.

    First of all, we'd like to congratulate our long time friend and colleague Micky Tripathi, formerly the CEO of Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative (MAeHC), on his appointment as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, head of the ONC. We think he's a wonderful choice for the position and look forward to working with him in his new role. Congratulations as well to other administration appointees and nominees including Dr. Rochelle Wollensky from Mass General as the new head of the CDC.

    Also with the new administration comes a 60 day regulatory freeze and review of all recent proposed and final rules. We believe this includes quite a few interoperability and health IT rules, among them a new proposed rule with changes to HIPAA and the new CMS rule focused on prior authorization (but including other new interoperability requirements such as a Payer => Provider data exchange, or Provider Access API). These rules may end up going forward as-is, going forward with modifications, or being tabled. There are also a slew of new legislative activities affecting health IT covering privacy, anti-trust, telehealth, and much more.

    Regardless of how all of that works out, we're certain there will continue to be many changes and challenges for MHDC to meet. We think we're well poised to succeed no matter what 2021 brings through our various services offered to our general membership, our analytics services, and our data governance services. We also hope to merge with the New England Healthcare Exchange Network (NEHEN) in April to further enhance our data governance strategy moving forward.

    Be safe, and stay well.

    Denny Brennan, Executive Director

    Please let us know what you think of our newsletter at newsletter@mahealthdata.org and look for our next issue. Thank you for your continued support and participation!




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www.mahealthdata.org

For more information,
please contact Arleen Coletti
at acoletti@mahealthdata.org


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