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Health Technology for an Aging Population
Episode 605

Vera Rulon, Founder, and President at Tir Health Advisors

Health Technology for an Aging Population

Today, we are privileged to host Vera Rulon, Founder, and President at Tir Health Advisors. Tir partners with various organizations to promote open communication and support the advancement of health care. Vera discusses her company’s focus to improve communication between providers, payors, life sciences, various communities, as well as patients and caregivers to ensure easy access to health care and to benefit patients. She also shares her commitment to bringing people together in workshops to solve issues around the aging process, leveraging technology to create strategic ideas to improve aging.

Vera highlights her company’s unique feature to connect dots on critical issues that is a result of her company’s diverse health care backgrounds. She also expressed her interest in working with life science and advocacy groups, insight-filled anecdotes, challenges she’s faced and how she overcame them, and how she chose the organizations she’s worked with based on the impact/contributions she can make.

Vera expressed her excitement on the digitization of health care and increasing patient engagement and patient advocacy. She also recognizes there’s still much work to be done and has an excellent callout for everyone at the end of the podcast. We truly enjoyed our conversation with Vera, so please tune in for the whole interview!

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Health Technology for an Aging Population

Episode 605

About Vera Rulon

Vera is a strategic communicator, healthcare thought leader, and innovation leader. She’s also an artist, a poet, a writer, a patient advocate, and a health longevity strategist.

She is the Founder and President of Tir Health Advisors and is a member of the Executive Council for the Center for Health Innovation. She’s a Strategic and Senior adviser to the ATTIA. Areas of expertise include healthy longevity, patient advocacy and engagement, and use of personal health information to improve outcomes with a focus on the use of technology to advance these areas. Prior to starting her own company, Vera spent 18 years at Pfizer. At Pfizer, Vera led the technology and aging workstream for the Center of Excellence for Active and Healthy Ageing. Before Pfizer, Vera managed the clinical informatics team at Oxford Health Plans. She has also served as Chief Content Officer for a clinical trials recruitment startup focusing on the underserved populations. Vera is a past president of the American Health Information Management Association, AHMMA, and is a fellow of AHIMA. Vera is an active participant with the Society of Participatory Medicine, and she’s also the recipient of AHIMA’s Distinguished Member Award. AHIMA Visionary Triumph Award, as was designated from a voice one hundred as a change agent.

 

Health Technology for an Aging Population with Vera Rulon, Founder, and President at Tir Health Advisors transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

Health Technology for an Aging Population with Vera Rulon, Founder, and President at Tir Health Advisors was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Saul Marquez:
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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez is here, and today I have the privilege of hosting Vera Rulon. She is the Founder and President of Tir Health Advisors and is a member of the Executive Council for the Center for Health Innovation. She’s a Strategic and Senior adviser to the ATTIA. Areas of expertise include healthy longevity, patient advocacy and engagement, and use of personal health information to improve outcomes with a focus on the use of technology to advance these areas. Prior to starting her own company, Vera spent 18 years at Pfizer. At Pfizer, Vera led the technology and aging workstream for the Center of Excellence for Active and Healthy Ageing. Before Pfizer, Vera managed the clinical informatics team at Oxford Health Plans. She has also served as Chief Content Officer for a clinical trials recruitment startup focusing on the underserved populations. Vera is a past president of the American Health Information Management Association, AHMMA, and is a fellow of AHIMA. Vera is an active participant with the Society of Participatory Medicine, and she’s also the recipient of AHIMA’s Distinguished Member Award. AHIMA Visionary Triumph Award, as was designated from a voice one hundred as a change agent. So I’m privileged to have her here on the podcast. Vaira, thank you so much for being here.

Vera Rulon:
You’re very welcome. Solemn looking forward to our conversation.

Saul Marquez:
Likewise. And so before we jump into what you guys are up to at here, how I love to hear more about what inspires your day to day journey in health care.

Absolutely. I love to talk about that because all my life I’ve always strive to help make a difference in the world, even if I can impact just one person. So I’ve been listening to people’s personal stories and I try to find ways now to address some of the concerns that people have. You know, on top of all of that, I’m also an artist and someone who had inspired me was Regina Holliday, because she showed me that you can leverage all of your talents in different ways to help improve the health care system. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Regina’s work, but she started the year.

Saul Marquez:
I am. We had her on the podcast.

Vera Rulon:
Oh, you did wonderful. Yes. I’m also an artist for The Walking Gallery of Health.

Saul Marquez:
So cool.

Vera Rulon:
And that really helped push me to figure out ways that I, in my own unique way, can help make a difference in transforming health care. And part of that is also around the whole aging, because I’ve been working in aging now for a while. And as I started getting older and I’ll tell you a little story later on about how I really landed where I am today after having worked at various organizations over the years,

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Yeah. You know, it’s a good reminder Vera that we all have our uniquenesses and way of contributing. And it’s important that we have confidence and faith that what we’re doing is going to make an impact. And so you took the leap of faith. You were inspired. You’ve done a lot of things in the corporate side as well. But now you’re on your own doing your own thing. So tell us a little bit about Tir Health Advisors and what you guys are up to.

Vera Rulon:
Sure. So some of the ways that I think we provide value is I really do like to focus on those areas that we’ve already talked about that you heard in my bio. And a lot of that has to do with improving communication between providers, payors, life sciences, various communities, as well as patients and caregivers, most importantly, because we want to make sure that there’s access to health care, but it’s also working to the benefit of the patient. So to that end, as I engage with various organizations, I have applied some approaches. So, for example, storytelling is really important. So a lot of the work that I do, for example, the VA, I’ve been collecting case studies that express the best practices and getting care to people who need it through telehealth and digital technologies. And the more we tell these stories and the more that your health can provide some thought leadership to help these organizations connect the dots, I think that’s where we provide the most value. Another example of that would be when I was working for him, rather the PCH alliance, I helped bring people together in workshops where they would try and solve issues around improving the aging process. And that in particular was helpful because we came up with a lot of very, very strategic ideas on how to work and how to improve aging in general through the use of technology.

Vera Rulon:
One of the ways that I think that I’m different, I already mentioned the unique ability to connect the dots on strategic issues, a big. Part of that is having as broad net of a network of colleagues who are also working to advance health care, and I think that’s another important and helpful for organizations as they help them build their programs, as they’re working through their strategies. So that connection, as well as bringing people together, is also a big part of what Tir does.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. And so, yeah, you know, the stories matter and how we tackle the problems that we’re faced with matters as well. So talk to us a little bit about how what you guys do is different than what’s available today.

Vera Rulon:
You know, I think several of the things I’ve mentioned connecting the dots on some strategies that they might have, especially with those patient and provider stories and areas of concern, as well as creating these communities. But I think what else Tir brings to the table is the vast experience in very different health care industries from a background in payer organizations to provider based organizations, from a skilled nursing facility straight through to acute care. And then, of course, working for a pharmaceutical company. That brings a whole other dimension, I think, to looking at the whole health care ecosystem and being able to come up with very effective strategies for clients.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, and so who are you mainly working with now, Vera? And who are you guys looking to work with in the future?

Vera Rulon:
Oh, that’s a great question. So working with Non for profits has been the primary alignment there and not for profit health care organizations. So organizations like Hem’s the ATA, AHIMA and others in that vein mostly related to information, health care information, as well as the technologies that support the advancement of health care. The startup that I worked for was very interesting because there were obviously looking for sponsors or pharmaceutical companies as clients, really with a focus on bringing in the underserved population into clinical trials. And that’s been a big theme recently, especially with the COVID work. So in the future, I think I would like to find more clients in the life sciences areas, as well as additional non for profit association, specifically patient advocacy groups, because I think I can provide and the organization can provide some really neat insights to those groups and help make connections with other organizations.

Saul Marquez:
Very cool. And so as you’ve embarked on your journey with your own practice, what would you say has been one of the setbacks that most impacted you and that you learn most from?

Vera Rulon:
Oh, geez, I thought a lot about this. And I think it was leaving. Pfizer was the real setback for me. It was I had been there for so long and I was so comfortable and I was really enjoying the work there. And I loved working for the company. But just the situation at the time had me really think about do I stay or do I go? And so I decided that it was time for me to go. And it was a really rough decision for me. And at that time, I was also in my fifties. I said I was aging just like everyone else. So I was kind of like, what do I do now? Do I look for work elsewhere or do I go off on my own? And at a certain point I did decide not to pursue work elsewhere and to go off on my own. So what I did was I and this is where the key learning comes in. I spent time exploring opportunities and I decided that I couldn’t I needed just to talk with someone to figure out what do I need to look at, what can I do to really do a good job of evaluating and exploring opportunities. So I participated in an online group mentoring session over one summer with a gentleman by the name of John Tarnoff, who calls himself the Boomer Reinvention Coach. And one of the exercises we did was to look at ourselves 15 years prior, and that really gave me the opportunity to boost the understanding of where I really wanted to be, because in my forties I was in my best help.

Vera Rulon:
I was exercising. Every day I work at Pfizer was terrific. I was serving on the board of AHIMA. It was a busy time, but it was also it really gave me that boost to understand what I wanted to do. And that’s another learning that became clear to me, especially after going through that exercise and then spending time doing a lot of networking, I realized that my reach and my impact would be more impactful outside of a large organization like Pfizer. While the experience was excellent and really built the foundation for me, my voice could be heard better outside of a large bureaucratic organization. So what I did. Was it started beefing up my volunteer efforts at this point, and that included and I think that’s where my love for non for profits really solidified because I felt like I could do more and be more impactful. Of course, there’s a limit to how much you can spend volunteering versus getting paid work. So I was very targeted. So I selected organizations like the Society for Participatory Medicine, where there’s an opportunity to make some significant differences there. And then I tried to keep that same vein of what my passions were given now that I was out on my own, that I could be selective about the clients that I chose to work with.

Saul Marquez:
So. Well, I think it’s fantastic. And you make a move like that, it’s never easy. And you certainly just did a nice job of identifying your strengths and where exactly you were going to make an impact. And so here you are. So awesome work as you think about what makes you most excited today. What would you say that is?

Vera Rulon:
Oh, my gosh. Definitely this whole digitization of health care, as I heard a term coined several years back called health care everywhere. And now with covid, it’s really coming to light in many respects. I mean, there’s still a lot more to do. But to have access to health care wherever you happen to be makes me very excited. And also this increased interest, again, more to do, but there’s an increased interest on focus on including patients and designing new health care delivery systems and addressing patients’ needs within the health care system, which I’m really happy to see, you know, providing access to your health care data, increasing interest in participatory medicine so that patients become really active in their own personal health.

Saul Marquez:
I think that’s great and is definitely exciting times as we look to get patients engaged in the way decisions are made at health care institutions. Having folks like you at the charge is certainly so important. And so I want to commend you on your efforts. And so with that, what call outs would you leave to the audience today? What closing thoughts would you want them to think about?

Vera Rulon:
Well, as I’ve mentioned, patient advocacy and inclusion is starting to become more and more the order of business, which is wonderful, but there’s still an awful lot more to do. So I would ask people to keep listening and keep telling your own stories and help spread the word so we can address the issues that really matter both to providers and to patients.

Saul Marquez:
Vera, thank you. And and if the listeners wanted to get in touch or continue the conversation, what would you say? The best place for them to do that is?

Vera Rulon:
Sure. Please find me a Twitter. My handle is V R U L O N, VRULON. My LinkedIn is great and I do have a Tir Health Advisors LinkedIn page as well as feel free to reach out to me via email at vera@tirhealth.net.

Saul Marquez:
Awesome Vera. Listen, this has been a great discussion and I certainly thank you and look forward to staying in touch.

Vera Rulon:
You’re very welcome, Saul. Wonderful to speak with you.

Saul Marquez:
Hey everyone. Sal Marquez here. Have you launched your podcast already and discovered what a pain it could be to keep up with editing, production, show notes, transcripts and operations? What if you could turn over the keys to your podcast busywork while you do the fun stuff like expanding your network and taking the industry stage? Let us edit your first episode for free so you can experience the freedom visit smoothpodcasting.com to learn more. That’s smoothpodcasting.com to learn more.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • How Tir is working with different organizations within healthcare to advance patient benefits and health longevity
  • What makes Tir stand out and different from what is currently available in the market.
  • If you are unsure of your next step (career-wise), be open to exploring opportunities.
  • Keep listening and keep telling stories to spread the word so that issues that really matter to providers and patients are addressed.