Monday Roundup

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Becker’s Health IT offers 20 bold health IT predictions for the next five years. Here are the FEHBlog’s favorites:

1. Joel Klein, MD. Senior Vice President and CIO of University of Maryland Medical System (Baltimore): I think at least half of all healthcare in America will be virtual within five years. There are two barriers:

• Payers. They might pay less but if they pay enough, it will be enough. If we can figure out how to solve emergency department visits with widespread, cost effective on-demand care, that will make a difference.
• ‘But I want to see my doctor.’ That might be true for some things, but the convenience factor (especially for tertiary care… especially for millennials…) once you really start doing it overwhelms most of the physical presence upsides.

Edward Lee, MD. CIO of The Permanente Federation (Oakland, Calif.): In five years, physicians will no longer need to manually document their notes into the EHR. Instead, artificial intelligence will capture all the pertinent information from the patient-physician encounter. This will enable physicians to spend quality time with their patients instead of worrying about writing their notes or placing orders in a computer system. Joy and meaning for physicians will increase, physician burnout will decrease, and above all, patient care will improve.

Michael Pfeffer, MD. Assistant Vice Chancellor and CIO of UCLA Health: Health IT will enable each patient to have a unified, interactive view of their health information regardless of place of care or type of clinical data (i.e. phenotypic, genomic, imaging). AI-based apps will help make sense of their data, taking into account social determinants of health and potential health disparities to improve health equity and health literacy. This intelligence will be paired with personal health preferences and data on health provider quality, access, pricing and satisfaction to help patients make truly informed decisions about their care.

Fierce Biotech reports that “Just under a week after it stopped its key phase 3 pandemic vaccine test [due to a safety concern], AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford have been given the green light to restart in the U.K.” What’s more

While AZ and Oxford have been highlighted as [COVID-19 vaccine] race leaders, so too have Pfizer and BioNTech, which said they now want to boost their phase 2/3 trial for one of their five mRNA vaccines, BNT162b2, from around 30,000 to 44,000.

Also over the weekend, the companies said they have asked the FDA for the extra participants in order to include a broader patient population and with plans to include adolescents as young as 16 and people with chronic, stable HIV (human immunodeficiency viruses), hepatitis C or hepatitis B infection to “provide additional safety and efficacy data.”

It said it’s on track to hit its original target of 30,000 patients this week; despite wanting more people, Pfizer said in a statement that it was still on course to deliver data by the end of next month.

CVS Health announced last week that in response to demand created by children returning to school, it has made “children age 12 years and older eligible for testing at the more than 2,000 test sites located at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru testing locations, starting last Friday, September 11.”

In other news

  • The Washington Post reports that commuting in the Washington DC metropolitan area may not be back to normal until next summer.

Some 430 employers representing about 275,000 workers in the greater-Washington region — stretching from Baltimore to Richmond — participated in the survey conducted Aug. 10 to 28. Their responses offer a snapshot of what companies are thinking as they weigh resuming in-office operations.
A clear majority of Washington-area employers said they are adopting a phased approach to returning to the office, although many said they remain uncertain about the timing of that return. A third of the region’s employers said they don’t know whether they will have their workers back on site by next summer.

  • Govexec.com reports that “The Office of Personnel Management issued a proposed rule [today] that would enable federal agencies to appoint employees in STEM jobs, or positions on temporary or new projects or organizations, for a decade. OPM said the change would give agencies more flexibility when tackling long-term science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects and other non-permanent work. Current regulations require agencies to get special permission from OPM to keep any term employee on staff for longer than four years.” The public comment deadline is November 10, 2020.
  • The House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on government operations held a postal update hearing today. It turns out that the subcommittee’s objective was to be to call the Postmaster General’s qualifications into question. A bipartisan Postal Service Board of Governors selects the Postmaster General, rather than following the usual Presidential appointment followed by Senate confirmation route.

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