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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

December 3, 2021

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy

Over Thanksgiving break, we watched the new movie Tick Tick Boom. It is an autobiographical musical by and about Jonathan Larson, the musical whiz kid that modernized musical theater with shows like Rent. The movie, brilliantly directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda (who is no stranger to modernizing musical theater), highlights Stephen Sondheim’s mentorship of the Larson. It makes total sense that Sondheim -- the awe-inspiring composer/playwright who reinvented the American musical with new themes and complex lyrics -- helped Larson along. If something as traditional and valued as musical theater can undergo such a transformation in a relatively short period of time, maybe the healthcare system can too. More in the One Thoughtful Paragraph below.

Some news that demonstrates the transformation of our healthcare system:

  • A new HHS report from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation explains how the No Surprises Act will prevent surprise bills for millions of Americans.

  • FTC Chair Lina Khan announced new additions to the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning that will work with the agency’s Chief Technology Officer and technologists as part of an informal AI Strategy Group and to provide insight on emerging technology issues. It also looks like consumer data privacy activist Alvaro Bedoya will be confirmed as an FTC Commissioner soon.

  • “The Aurora Forge” launched -- an initiative to grow seed-stage healthcare and government tech companies by refining their business models. Several CIOs have signed on to advise the new venture. See more here.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

As if to say “my work is done here” -- Stephen Sondheim exited our collective theater right after the release of Tick Tick Boom. The genius that brought us West Side Story and “Send in the Clowns” laid the groundwork for new ways to expose and explore really difficult human -- and sometimes uniquely American -- issues. We are not necessarily suggesting that our healthcare woes be set to music, but the number of fundamental changes the American system is moving through right now is worthy of a mind-blowing rock-opera musical score. Not unlike the racial tensions highlighted in West Side Story or how Rent illustrates the first difficult wave of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, there is a daily spotlight on the multiple problems with our current institutional, on-paper, inconvenient, secretive, and decidedly anti-consumer healthcare experience. The Stephen Sondheims, Jonathan Larsons, and Lin-Manuel Mirandas of the healthcare system are helping create an on-line, instantaneous, transparent, and consumer-centric set of solutions. It may be useful to remember that Stephen Sondheim was dismissed at first -- his melodies were considered “unhummable” and his work was appreciated by only a few hard-core theater wonks. Traditional healthcare system players and critics of modern solutions may want to start tapping their toes to the new beat.

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