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  • Julie Barnes

February 18, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters In Health Information Policy


The Superbowl is over. The Winter Olympics are almost over. The new Jack Reacher series was impossibly short. Now what do have to look forward to (besides planning a big vacation)? The answer: The Rings of Power, the new Lord of the Rings prequel series on Amazon Prime. No, it doesn’t start until September, but all good things have a long lead-up. What the new epic has to do with health data is explained below in the One Thoughtful Paragraph.

In this week’s news, there are a few things we can look forward to as patients in the American healthcare system:

  • MyndVR, a company based in Plano, Texas, is offering elderly patients “virtual reality therapy” to help with memory and cognitive function. It just announced a partnership with Select Rehabilitation, which will allow it to expand its virtual programming (e.g., a travel series based on Route 66 that features iconic stops along the famous highway) to seniors who have cognitive impairment that can use the virtual experience to unlock memories, or enhance physical therapy programs by simulating a kitchen or a garage to help seniors with activities of daily living.

  • Epic added PayZen’s “Care Now, Pay Later” tool, an AI-powered tool that determines patients’ ability to pay for care and allows providers to offer affordable payment options, to its online marketplace.

  • Ro, a company that connects people to at-home care and diagnostics, raised $150 million in new funding so that it could launch a new digital clinic for skincare, Ro Derm.

One Thoughtful Paragraph

The superior imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien has delighted generations with his fantastical stories of Middle Earth, where in lengthy books and even longer films, an unlikely multi-stakeholder group goes on an epic journey to save the world from evil by destroying the one ring of power. It should surprise no one that Jeff Bezos is a huge fan, so much so that he (i.e., Amazon) bought the rights to Tolkien’s appendices that provide the backstory to Lord of the Rings (brought to life in the new Amazon Prime series The Rings of Power). The healthcare system is also on a journey, one that involves an unlikely multi-stakeholder group of health care industry giants, tech titans, and people, to free data so our world can be healthy and happy again. As the new FDA Commissioner Dr. Califf (who arguably looks like a beardless cross between Gandalf and Gimli) said upon his confirmation this week, “At the core of all of these [health system] issues is the fundamental need to enhance our ability to collect and analyze data.” At this moment in our series, our heroes are searching for data that illuminates who needs healthcare and how to destroy the barriers that prevent them from receiving it (this is in the prequel series known as the 2023 Medicare Advantage Advance Notice). Please stay tuned for our next episode (which Jeff Bezos’ heirs seem destined to be a part of) when our heroes journey into the Mirkwood-like forbidding forest in search of the elusive social determinants of health data.

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