AUSTIN—HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan on Friday said the agency can and should take proactive steps to partner with the private sector to drive innovation in healthcare.
Hargan hit on four areas where the Trump administration is hoping to create more opportunities for innovation—value-based care; engaging and empowering consumers; improved data exchange; minimizing regulatory and payment hurdles. Each were outgrowths of HHS' first Innovation and Investment Summit last December.
Hargan highlighted the recently announced Primary Care First model. Under the model, providers will receive fixed payments based on their population of Medicare beneficiaries. Medical groups will have the opportunity to share in savings. But one track of the program aimed at large practices also puts them on the hook financially. If patients end up needing more care, physicians assume those additional costs not just in their own practice, but across the delivery system.
"We believe this will radically elevate primary care," Hargan said during the closing keynote at Modern Healthcare's Transformation Summit.
Hargan suggested that proposed interoperability regulations, which mandate the use of application programming interfaces to ensure patients can access their records via apps, are aimed at spurring innovation, not dictating to the industry exactly how it needs to be done.
"We are leaving it to the private sector to develop the apps," he said, adding, "Patient-centered technology is not a novelty or a fad."
He also said that the department needs to look at ways to remove regulatory barriers to innovation, citing dialysis as a prime example. HHS in April announced winners of the first round of a prize contest, KidneyX, designed to encourage development of new products and services for care with kidney disease.
He noted that the prize spurred ideas from innovators outside of healthcare, which likely wouldn't have happened if the department looked strictly at regulatory tweaks.