Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt is the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog and still writes regularly for the site. He is also the co-founder of the Health 2.0 Conference, as well as a Founding Principal of the associated consulting firm Health 2.0 Advisors.

JSK & Joe DeLuca on KQED


One of the best local talk shows anywhere is Michael Krasny’s Forum on 88.5 KQED, San Francisco’s establishment NPR station (SF of course has a rebel NPR station KALW which has had me on a couple of times but I’m too scruffy for KQED!).

At 10 am PST Forum has a show about health IT which has Robbie Pearle from the Permanente group and 2/3 of my old HIO project team at IFTF, Joe DeLuca and Jane Sarasohn-Kahn.

You can listen in here

EMR’s hockey stick up!


Every VC loves and hates the hockey stick–that growth curve that potters along and then suddenly shoots up. But if you check out the new numbers from CDC the use of a basic EMR is on that hockey stick curve. Adoption of a “basic system” has gone from under 17% in 2008 to 33% this year, with another 40% of doctors saying they’re going for the Meaningful Use gold–which means essentially a more than “basic” system. So maybe this is a hockey stick curve that we can all love. (Well all other than the curmudgeons over at Health Care Renewal!). On a somewhat related personal note, I too was awaiting the hockey stick of EMR adoption. I abandoned my attempt to catch the start of the hockey curve in 2000 when I quit my EMR survey job at Harris Interactive. All I had to do was hang on for another eight years and I’d have been proved right!

2011 beckons; Matthew’s personal end of year letter


This is my personal end of year letter. I used to send it to my personal email list but in the Facebook/Twitter era, it doesn't make much sense. I hope THCB readers will indulge me by taking a look and maybe even thinking about some of the charities and causes I support–feel free to add your own in the comments. I'll be back with a more health care featured forecast next week–Matthew

I'm determined to make this the end of 2010 letter, not "well into 2011" letter. But as I've also got tons to do of an unfortunate work nature on NYE even though it's a holiday, so I am going to be quick–or at least a little quicker than in years past.

I do these letters about charity and politics every year and moved them onto a blog a while ago (here's 2010 2009s, 2008s and you can search back), and now it's all I use my personal blog for, given that my Twitter account @boltyboy & Facebook page contain most of my very limited rantings. Of course I started these partly because I didn't have the wife & kids that most people send out their end of year missives about. Then in 2007 I added the wife part, and this year's big news is that next year Amanda and I are expecting a daughter. Little Colette should be here around the end of April, and I'm sure she'll have her own Facebook page and 529 account very soon if I know Amanda! The other family news this year is that my sister Dordy had a baby boy called Alex in February. Sister-in-law Lyn has a baby girl called Talia in 2009 but as it was Dec 26 you can count her in the most recent crop!

But enough about babies (for now!). I'm still running the Health 2.0 Conference with my partner Indu Subaiya and now (gulp) four other full time staff (Hillary, Lizzie, Bianca & new recruit Emily). It's still growing (4 conferences last year including one in Europe) and much more besides. Somehow none of this has translated into more time off for me and Indu! I still own The Health Care Blog but basically now that's a group blog I contribute to very occasionally! Other than getting a little plumper around the middle, Amanda is still being a big time star running HR at her company PRN.

This letter is, though, about stuff I care about on a slightly more altruistic level. This annual missive usually breaks down into my views and suggestions for donations about health care, poverty in developing world, poverty at home, torture, and drug prohibition. Feel free to comment, ignore, delete or whatever. But hopefully at least some of you may pay attention to some of it or even write a check.

Not much fun with Pharma spend online


The other day Mark Bard (formerly of Manhattan Research) came by for a quick chat. Mark’s now running the Digital Health Coalition which is trying to get some voluntary agreement on guidelines as to what Big Pharma can and can’t do on sites that feature user-generated content. Pharma’s still tipping all its consumer advertising into TV when it would be much better off moving the 5% it spends online to 15-20%. But because Pharma’s scared of the FDA, and because–despite holding hearings in the 1990s and in 2010–the FDA is still not close to issuing guidelines, everyone is stuck. I saw Ben Lei who runs eMarketing at Genentech speak at a conference this week and he basically confirmed that they could do much more, but they won’t for now. And it may be that this is getting worse. This has real financial consequences. WebMD missed earnings badly last quarter and lost about 1/3 of its market cap because a bunch of pharma advertising was delayed/put on a longer regulatory review. If you want to dig into this, here’s a link to their earnings call Q&A in which Chairman Marty Wygod himself felt it important enough to come face the music–which is being provided by class action plaintiffs as we speak. In any event, I’m sure that the agencies, the online guys and the pharma marketing types are hoping that Mark can come up with something and soon!

Matthew Holt Interviews Health Catalyst CEO, Dan Burton


One in a series of interviews that should have been posted months ago, but Matthew Holt is just getting to now.

Health Catalyst has emerged to be a dominant player in data warehousing and analytics to support quality (and business) enhancement for huge providers like Kaiser, Partners and Allina, and many more. They’ve also raised over $220m from a stack of noted VCs. Back in February Matthew Holt caught up with CEO, Dan Burton at HIMSS to see what the latest plans for the company were.

Priya Kumar is an Intern at Health 2.0, and a student at George Washington University

Self-tracking gets hip: Withings & more


We’ve been watching self tracking at Health 2.0 for a little while, as it emerges from the world of the Quantified Self geeks to becoming a more mainstream set of shiny consumer gadgets. Today’s NY Times takes a look at just a few of the shiniest including Fitbit and the French company Withings. It has a Wi-Fi scale that sends your weight to the cloud and a beautiful (really!) blood pressure cuff that attaches to your iPhone-both of which I’ve been test driving and like. Also although the NY Times author Farhad Manjoo doesn’t seem to care–despite the fact he obviously has a young kid–a Withings baby monitor is on the way to market too. Many other players aren’t in this article, including sleep monitor Zeo, exerciser tracker BodyMedia and emerging data utility layer platform RunKeeper. But you won’t be surprised to hear that all four and more will be at the forthcoming Health 2.0 Conference on Sept 25-7

ACOR, Health 2.0 in the US & Europe: Gilles Frydman tells all


Gilles Frydman is one of the leading ePatients. He started and runs ACOR (Association of Cancer Online Resources) and has discussed the role of engaged patients with rare diseases at the last few Health 2.0 Conferences. We’ll be hearing more from Gilles in the US this year, but first we’re inviting him to present at Health 2.0 Europe. His twitter name (@kosherfrog) reveals Gilles’ ethnic and national background, so we thought he was a very appropriate person to discuss both the future of online patient activism, and the Health 2.0 scene in the US and Europe.

Matthew says: Gilles, you’re best known for the ACOR list-servs which now see over 1.5 million emails a week go out in around 150 different cancer groups. Can you tell us how it started?

Gilles says: In 95 my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She came home and told me of the diagnosis and I immediately went on the Net to find information about the disease and treatments

Matthew says: And what did you find?

Gilles says: Within 30 mins I had the BREAST-CANCER list and joined it. I didn’t follow protocol and jumped right in and asked about the diagnosis and what we were told was the treatment for it. Within 2 hours I had enough info to call back the surgeon and tell her we were going for a second opinion and that we would wait for the surgery she had told us was absolutely necessary. She “fired us” on the spot. Because we went for a second opinion!

Matthew says: I’m not surprised. Probably might happen today too

Gilles says: But as a result of  what I was told my wife didn’t have chemo. She didn’t have a radical mastectomy. She didn’t have brain, liver and bone scans. All of which would have been TOTALLY USELESS for the type of BC she was diagnosed with. Thanks to informed patients, she just had a lumpectomy and radiation. No piece of cake but MUCH LESS than chemo. So, that started me

Matthew says: So is that a typical interaction on ACOR?

Gilles says: YES. But ACOR can go into incredible depths. Not just pure info but also deep info mixed with profound human feelings

Matthew says: Can you give some examples

Gilles says: Just yesterday on one of the pediatric lists, a mother was writing about her son’s latest situation where all the doctors have now told them there is nothing more to be done. In short the woman writes about what can only be the worse possible situation for a mother, but she does so in an incredibly rational fashion.

Matthew says: What’s the scale  of ACOR activity now?

Gilles says: ACOR is a little under 60K active subscribers, over 165 groups, from 60 members to 3,000. Some of the groups generate close to 200 messages a day

Matthew says: What does it cost to run ACOR in both money and time, and how is it financed?

Swine flu, uninsurance and not-so fondly remembering the teenage years


We get sent lots of rants to our tips line, most of which we ignore in an amused jaundiced way. But this one I found very amusing. I’m not sure it’s 100% accurate, but it is very funny and essentially details something that we know happens every day. So to have some fun with how to buy individual insurance in California, head over to this post on a blog usually concerned with selling you credit cards.

By the way, a close colleague of mine trying to buy a short-term stop-gap policy while her husband changed jobs got a very similar “we’re not selling you insurance and we’re not telling you why” just last week.

Don’t forget that virtually any form of the bills in Congress outlaws these shenanigans.

23andMe punk rock partying, price cuts and on vid on D


23andme is having a gobbing party in NYC tonight—presumably at the Roxie. You didn’t know punk was back, did ya? 

Indu will be there (sadly I had to stay chained to the computer). But there’s a little more 23andme news today in that they’ve dropped their core price to $399 and have inked a deal to get access to’s database of users. Not quite an impulse purchase yet, but still getting down there.

And if you want to know what 23andme is up to, you can see Linda & Ann’s interview/demo at All things D last May. Of course you can see Linda at Health 2.0 next month, but I’m not sure we’ll be quite the pushovers Mossberg & Swisher are…at least we’ll keep them to 3.5 minutes! 

I’m still trying to figure out whether the DTC genomic market is a gimmick or actually has some value (and I don’t mean value the way a VC does! I mean whether society should be spending health care dollars on genomics when we do such a shitty job treating diseases we do understand). But it’s good to see some real activity in at least postulating the concept.

Omnimedix still fighting Dossia owners


KleinkeJD Kleinke and Omnimedix are still in business and still fighting a pretty serious lawsuit
about the Dossia breakup. I talked with JD yesterday. The team is working on several super secret client projects, but it’s tough to run a small consulting shop and keep a protracted lawsuit open, so they’re passing the hat! Why keep the lawsuit going?

Well, there’s obviously stuff that JD couldn’t tell me, so this is speculation but it’s clear that this is much more than an a “vendor didn’t deliver/client didn’t pay” dispute. JD was always very vocal about an open nonprofit being the protector of the Dossia members’ employees’ data, so I surmise that contractual disputes about who got access to what data are at the root of this. It would be interesting (if practicably impossible) to compare Dossia’s contact with Omnimedix in their contract with Indivo.

More generally, JD and I talked about whether there’s a need for a Dossia-type entity when there’s Google Health and HealthVault. Here’s what JD said about Microsoft and Google’s privacy stance.

“In both cases they’ve violated their own operating principles as businesses to do the right thing.”