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Lessons from COVID-19 will allow compliance to do more with less

By Nick Culbertson

Nick Culbertson ( is the cofounder and CEO for Protenus in Baltimore, Maryland.

This past year, healthcare has experienced unprecedented obstacles and struggles but also its unparalleled strength. A unique introspection is necessary based on what the industry has endured so that organizations can better prepare for 2021 and beyond.

In a pandemic or national emergency, healthcare should always favor accessibility to data, data sharing, and collaboration or partnerships that foster data exchange—even if there is some associated risk. It’s those data linkages that are essential for triaging the crisis and ultimately getting ahead of it, whether it’s contact tracing, epidemiology, or rapidly developing necessary medical interventions. It can be imperative to sacrifice some individual rights for what we believe to be the common good. Since March 2020, we’ve seen necessary relaxation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations[1] in order to help with the necessity of contact tracing. This access to patient data is critical in order to head off any developing hot spots and learn more about how the virus is affecting various populations, especially those most vulnerable.

At the same time, we are still obligated, professionally and ethically, to do what we can to enforce compliance regulations that reduce institutional risk and help ensure patient safety. The fact is that we, as an industry, are trying to keep our balance on a board where the fulcrum is constantly shifting.

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