Code that blocks web indexing for hospital prices

Anna Wilde and Tom McGinty for WSJ:

A CMS spokesman said in a statement that the rule change “helps clarify the intent of this regulation—make the files public and accessible.” The agency “intends to provide more guidance on this in the future,” he said. The statement didn’t directly address whether CMS will issue similar guidance for hospitals, but it said the hospital regulation requires the data to be “easily accessible and void of barriers” and that digital files “be digitally searchable.” Previously, HHS has said it expects hospitals to comply with the pricing-transparency requirements and will enforce them.

I have included it here on the blog because regulators must be aware of the oncoming crisis of AI and healthcare intersection- especially related to delivery. There has been enough blood drawn and shrill debates around exclusion of specific sections which is unpardonable.

I am not aware of how pricing structures work for the US based hospitals, but it should be a warning sign that future AI deployments will also require a proper vetting. If the current academic standards continue (especially around reporting of the “positive results only”), it will be a recipe for disaster. It will lead to more muddled debates. More hand wringing and patients will not get the due care they deserve.

I was curious about the technical aspect and here’s a small blurb:

To identify webpages hidden from search results, the Journal wrote a program that read the contents of 3,190 disclosure pages whose addresses were provided by Turquoise Health Co., a startup working with the price-transparency data. The program searched for a tag in the pages’ background coding that instructs search engines not to index the page.

Fascinating.