June 17, 2021
Only What Matters In Health Information Policy
If you see In the Heights, the new movie-musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the theme is sueñito -- meaning little dream. Two years ago this week, Maverick Health Policy launched as a new health policy consulting firm to help businesses understand the fast-moving and complex swirl of federal laws and regulations. The American healthcare system reflects the best and the worst of us -- indeed, today’s U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act for the third time is a great example of how we eventually bless imperfect solutions. (“This Court has gone to great lengths to rescue the Act from its own text.” – Justice Thomas). At Maverick, we are privileged to assist some of the best problem-solvers in the healthcare business. To take an entrepreneurial leap like this requires support from family, friends, mentors, and colleagues. Maverick is so grateful to all of the people -- including an outstanding team of interns, both present and past -- who helped this sueñito become a reality.
Other little dreams reflected in the news this week:
Policymakers dreamed that consumers would know more about the price of their healthcare services before needing them, but apparently that remains a dream. According to a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine (and reported by Axios -- we do not have a subscription to JAMA, but we trust Axios -- plus, this is not a new story), most hospitals are not fully complying with a new federal rule requiring them to make their prices publicly available.
Google Health, Apple, and Amazon have big dreams to expand their reach into healthcare markets -- but Google Health is moving 130 employees out of its healthcare group to other areas, according to a scoop by Business Insider. Apple, on the other hand, announced that several electronic health record companies are integrating with the Apple Health app so patients can see their medical records on their phones. Amazon, for its part, posted an example of how its industry customers can use its models and data lake to build patient outcome prediction applications.
The Biden Administration is dreaming of how to use artificial intelligence with a new task force, laden with academics and cloud providers like Google and DefinedCrowd. It will be co-chaired by the National Science Foundation and the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.
One Thoughtful Paragraph
One of the many good parts of the Forrest Gump story/film is when, in the 1970's, a portion of the profits from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company are successfully invested in "some kind of fruit company" -- which is how the lead character describes the surprisingly profitable Apple Inc. The multinational technology company continues to be wildly profitable, and the latest announcement (mentioned above) about Apple's collaboration with electronic health record companies should not go unnoticed. This so-far-successful attempt by Apple to create a way for people to easily access, navigate, and act on their own health care experiences is a watershed moment, and more than Google and Microsoft and others were able to accomplish when they tried to do it. Which makes the confirmation of the famously anti-Big Tech professor, Lina Khan, as an FTC Commissioner particularly interesting. She has said this about leading technology companies: “Even when services are good for consumers, they can hurt a whole set of other interests - be it workers, be it business formation, be it democracy at large.” With an attitude like that leading our fair trade police, and five new antitrust bills being introduced in Congress that are aimed at Big Tech, what will happen to the good works these tech companies are doing for our healthcare system? Apple and the other tech companies may consider what Forrest Gump’s mama said, if they want to stay out of the regulator’s crosshairs: “There’s only so much fortune a man really needs… and the rest is just for showing off.”