Podcast: Healthcare Regulations Lag in the Digital Transformation

Jack Murtha
NOVEMBER 09, 2018


Healthcare regulations aren’t keeping up with medicine’s digital transformation, and that’s a problem for healthcare organizations, providers and patients. But what would a better future for healthcare regulations look like?

To find out, Data Book welcomes Barak Richman, Ph.D., J.D., a professor and attorney at Duke University, who recently published an excellent perspective detailing the shortcomings of healthcare regulations in the digital age, which you can read in the New England Journal of Medicine. “Current regulations were built for a traditional health care delivery system and are ill suited to new technologies,” Richman writes.

>> WATCH: Who Is Responsible for Driving Healthcare Innovation?

In our interview, he argues that the technological divide between regulatory law and healthcare delivery are harming patients and providers. The problem extends to laws governing groups like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration — which Richman credits for doing the best it can to overcome this challenge — and nearly every corner of medicine.

And the solution, he says, requires a fundamental shift in thinking: We must stop viewing healthcare delivery as the work of individuals and begin considering medicine a function of systems.

But this episode is not bleak. For one, even if lawmakers don’t act to change healthcare regulations, common sense will prevail, through the courts or some other venue, Richman says. Then we have a success story.

To kick off this episode, Data Book tells the story of the establishment of the United States’ national coordinator for health information technology. Right now, that role is held by Donald Rucker, M.D., but it has been around since 2004, when President George W. Bush created the role via executive order.

Why do we explore the establishment of that position? Well, if you ask Richman, the national coordinator for health IT represented something of a shift. Healthcare and technology were changing, and no single agency or private entity could manage the transformation alone. The government instituted the national coordinator for health IT to serve as a link, empowering healthcare’s evolution and the development of national standards.

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