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Axios health care editor Sam Baker hosted a virtual event on the future of health care featuring Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and co-founder of COVID Exit Strategy, Ryan Panchadsaram.

Sen. Bill Cassidy discussed legislation on the future of health tech data privacy, as well as the lasting impact of telehealth options for patients.

  • On 'The Smartwatch Data Act,' bipartisan legislation for data privacy in health tech: "[The Act] would require the information gathered from smartwatches to be treated as if it were protected, health information certainly not to be used without your permission on anything that would otherwise underwrite your eligibility for fill in a product."
  • On the far-reaching impacts of telehealth: "We're able to reach into the person's home or to a place nearby [that's] non-threatening, where they can go for their visit. It has the potential to dramatically improve outcomes and lower expenses."

Ryan Panchadsaram unpacked the inception of 'US Digital Response' and 'COVID Exit Strategy,' large-scale initiatives tracking and reporting out pandemic data, including tests, cases, hospitalizations, and ICU capacity.

  • On the organization goals: "We set out to track how all 50 states were doing on the pandemic and we ranked them red, yellow, green, and we tried to show what metrics could be improved, how testing could be made better. And it really put a spotlight on how bad things were."
  • On considering tech as an essential part of all policy: "Tech will always be a part of policy today... I think what we've got to focus on is always: What are we trying to achieve?... If we want to get three hundred million people vaccinated by a certain date, how is tech going to play a role?"

Axios Senior Vice President Jon Otto hosted a View from the Top Segment with Chief Physician Executive of OptumLabs and Executive Vice President of Research & Development at UnitedHealth Group Dr. Deneen Vojta, who discussed the importance of data science for the future of equitable health care and technology.

  • On training the next generation of data scientists in health: "Going forward, we will see a relentless focus on improving [health disparities]... And we can do so by thinking about our data assets and really understanding why there are such disparities...The best thing we can do is to have a data science pool that looks like the rest of the country."

Thank you UnitedHealth Group for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Updated 23 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutor to seek hate crime charges, death penalty in Atlanta shootings

In Hopkinton, Mass., the Rally & Run To Stop Asian Hate is held to show solidarity in the wake of deadly Atlanta shootings and to mourn the loss of eight lives including six Asian women. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Prosecutors unveiled murder charges against the white man accused of shooting and killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas, AP reports.

Driving the news: A prosecutor filed notice that she plans to seek hate crime charges and the death penalty in the case. Two separate grand juries have now indicted the suspect on murder charges.

America's pandemic coin crunch returns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An early pandemic problem that plagued businesses is back: not enough change to go around.

Why it matters: The pandemic broke America's coin flow. It has repercussions for millions that rely on it for daily transactions.