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  • Writer's pictureJulie Barnes

January 6, 2022

Maverick's Update

Only What Matters in Health Information Policy

Do you feel like you need an inspiration to face these challenging times -- some beacon of positivity and good humor? Two words: Betty White. Normally, it is sad when people die, but Betty White would rather us celebrate a long life well-lived. It wasn’t that she was blissfully ignorant of life’s trials, she just chose to make light of things with quips like “The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.” Actually, that was the cleanest joke we could find...even her Super Bowl Snickers commercial isn’t fit for a family newsletter. We also acknowledge that Betty wasn’t a big fan of modern IT tools that are typically the subject of this newsletter, but her connection to great healthcare is undeniable (see her Top 10 Tips for a Long and Healthy Life).

Here is some news that will make you glad you’re not a banana:

  • The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is asking people to weigh in on how smartphone apps, telehealth visits, and other digital tech can help people stay healthy and create a more equitable healthcare system.

  • René Quashie of the Consumer Technology Association said there is “a lot of interest” in digital health tech at this year’s consumer tech trade show, CES 2022, where more than 100 health companies featured their innovative solutions this week.

  • Elizabeth Holmes was found guilty of fraud for convincing investors of the falsehood that her Theranos company’s high-tech lab tests could deliver accurate results from one drop of blood. Some experts wonder if this will have implications for future biotech investments (some said it is unclear, some said no, some said probably not), but it seems that the lesson from the Theranos rise and fall is that we need to review how federal regulators are overseeing lab-developed tests (see a full explanation by former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb).

One Thoughtful Paragraph

Like Betty White, John Madden spent a lifetime bringing joy to multiple generations but he too just died last week. Unlike Betty White, John Madden was a huge guy who used modern technology to teach people how to be sophisticated fans of football by mapping out replays using a Telestrator during televised games. This is what we need in healthcare -- a big, funny guy who can help take the complicated price transparency data, health records, quality information -- and map it out for regular people so they know which doctor to see, how much to pay, and how to take better care of themselves between visits. Instead of a big guy, there are a number of companies that are trying to make things easier with modern tools -- like one of the consumer-helper apps featured this week at CES 2022, Vivoo, that tells you about your health after you pee on a test strip. Or how the purpose of the new Vera Whole Health buyout of Castlight is to help people better understand their out-of-pocket costs for medical services. John Madden eventually graduated from the Telestrator to sophisticated, interactive video games, and healthcare may be headed there too (like Mightier, a video game that helps children with emotional regulation, or this video game designed to treat older adults with depression, or how Facebook/Meta’s virtual reality tech Oculus may transform healthcare). Wouldn’t it be great if one of these things featured an animated John Madden explaining how much a health service will cost us and then at the end he yells Boom!

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