Congressional Briefing Urges Policymakers to Support Focused Ultrasound Research


Key Points

  • On February 22, the Foundation hosted a virtual briefing for US Congressional leaders and their staff.
  • An expert panel discussed three key areas where government support for focused ultrasound could impact patients’ lives.
  • In all, more than 300 participants registered for the event, and the recording is now available.

On Tuesday, February 22, the Focused Ultrasound Foundation and consulting partner G2G Communications hosted an hour-long virtual briefing for US Congressional leaders and their staff.

The briefing topics centered on three key messages:

  • Research – Increased funding is needed for focused ultrasound research throughout the NIH, US Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Defense.
  • Access – Timely reimbursement of focused ultrasound procedures for all patients is essential.
  • Education – Panelists shared the power and promise of focused ultrasound and encouraged those in attendance to become advocates in their communities.

In all, more than 300 participants registered for the briefing, which was led by the Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer and Managing Director of Government Affairs, Jessica Foley, PhD. Two leading clinicians – Matthew Bucknor, MD, from the University of California San Francisco, and Noah Philip, MD, from Brown University and the US Department of Veterans Affairs Providence Medical Center – shared their work in the fields of pain management and mental health. Beverly, a patient with essential tremor who was treated with focused ultrasound, also shared her story.

Beverly shared her experience as a family nurse practitioner who works specifically with veterans. Just eight weeks after her procedure, she was caring for a veteran when she noticed his tremor. He shared his diagnosis and explained how the medications hadn’t helped and he was uncomfortable with surgical options presented by his doctor. She told him about her focused ultrasound procedure.

“Big tears started forming and rolling down his cheeks,” she recalled. “And once he was able to compose himself… he had two questions. ‘How to I get this treatment? And why didn’t my doctor tell me about this?'”

Beverly then shared how she used crowdfunding to pay for her focused ultrasound treatment, because at the time of her procedure, insurance coverage was not available. She stressed the importance of increasing access to the treatment and prompt reimbursement to make it accessible to veterans and the general public.

“We are thrilled that so many joined us for this important discussion highlighting the promise and potential of focused ultrasound therapy to improve the lives of Americans, particularly our military and veterans,” said Dr. Foley. “We look forward to partnering with Congressional leaders and those throughout the various funding agencies to address the barriers that are limiting advancement and widespread adoption of focused ultrasound.”

In recent years, the Foundation has amplified its governmental advocacy efforts for two reasons. There are focused ultrasound applications that are approved treatment options for many patients, but for a variety of reasons, access to these treatments is lagging. Furthermore, there are innovative and emerging uses of the technology that have the potential to improve the lives of many patients and would benefit greatly from increased research funding.

“The Foundation has been fortunate to collaborate with leading advocacy organizations and consultants who have the expertise and relationships to help us address these challenges,” explains Dr. Foley.

In February 2019 and March 2020, the Foundation and the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) hosted “fly-in” events on Capitol Hill, during which groups of focused ultrasound patients, physicians, and industry representatives went to Washington, DC, to educate policymakers on the innovative technology. A third fly-in event is planned for March 2022 and will take place virtually.

Watch the Congressional Briefing Recording >

Learn More About the Foundation’s Advocacy Program >