Tech

John Haughom MD whitePhysicians have always been in the information business. We have kept records of patient data regarding the vital signs, allergies, illnesses, injuries, medications, and treatments for the patients we serve. We seek knowledge from other physicians, whether that knowledge comes from the conclusions of experts from research published in a medical journal or the specialist down the hall. However, a physician will always benefit from additional good information such as the analysis of pooled data from our peers treating similar patients or from the patients themselves.

Over the next few years, vast new pools of data regarding the physiologic status, behaviors, environment, and genomes of patients will create amazing new possibilities for both patients and care providers. Data will change our understanding of health and disease and provide a rich new resource to improve clinical care and maximize patient health and well-being.

Patient Data Used by the Patient

Instead of a periodic handful of test results and a smattering of annual measurements in a paper chart, healthdata will increasingly be something that is generated passively, day by day, as a byproduct of living our lives and providing care. Much of the data will be generated, shared, and used outside of the health system. It will belong to patients who will use it to manage their lives and help them select physicians and other healthcare professionals to guide them in their quest for a long and healthy life.

Based on a patient’s preferences and needs, the data will flow to those who can best assist them in maintaining their health. It will reveal important and illuminating patterns that were not previously apparent, and with the right system in place, it will trigger awareness and alerts for patients and other providers that will guide behaviors and decisions.

Continue reading “Three Ways Doctors Can Use Patient Data to Get Better Results”

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You got me. I still won’t cop to eating at a Cheesecake Factory, but I am all about the Apple Store.  In fact, I’m a teensy bit over the top about it. Seriously, I beg of you—could we, please, have just a little genius bar with our health care?

I’m no doubt somewhat of a freak (I got up at 2:55 a.m. ET on September 19th to, you know, pre-order the iPhone 6).  A month or so later, I was more than ready to upgrade my aging iPad2, so obviously at the first opportunity I ordered a new iPad Air 2 online from the Apple website.  I requested pick-up at my local Apple Store—because it’s convenient—and, well, I just love going there. A few minutes after I made my online purchase, I received an email informing me that the store staff was ready for me. My new baby was waiting! Serious goose bumps.

I made my way to the mall. It was pretty crowded, as usual. I walked right past The Cheesecake Factory, into the mall, turned left and into the gleaming Apple Store—smiling, not quite skipping, all along. Several staff members greeted me almost the minute I arrived. I explained why I was there. When she understood my reason for coming to the store, the first staff person handed me off to another. I showed him the email on my iPhone. We traded some numbers. He entered those on his iPhone and went back to get my waiting . . . Air 2!!

Continue reading “We Don’t Have to Live This Way!”

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IBM Golden Age

This might seem like a silly question with an obvious answer, but is it really?

The solution to any problem grows out of the environment in which it appears and from the mindset in which it was conceived.  In 1970, the answer to this question would have been a mainframe system.   By 1981, after the Apple II and a few other microcomputers had been around for a few years, the answer for most people at that time would still have been mainframes (or maybe minicomputers as well)  because microcomputers were still considered to be toys. When IBM released the IBM PC AT in 1982, microcomputers began to be taken seriously as computers—that is, computers that could be used for real business applications.  The arrival of reliable local area networking technology cemented the status of PCs as real business computers.

Initially, local area networks (LANs) were used to share printers, disk storage, and applications.  However, as servers became more powerful and disk storage more dense and affordable, database management systems and sophisticated client/server software appeared.

Client/server computing lowered the cost of owning essential business applications such as accounting systems that once would have resided on a minicomputer or a mainframe.  The tools for building client/server applications were reasonably priced compared to the minicomputer market.  As might be expected, the arrival of a relatively easy-to-set-up network operating system in the form of Windows NT (1993) put pressure on the minicomputer market.    Health technology companies were quick to jump on the Windows NT bandwagon, so that by 2000 most EHR systems for offices were Windows NT-based.

Continue reading “A Question for EHR Vendors: What Is a “Real” Computer?”

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jordan shlainLet’s stop calling them patient portals, for crying out loud.

It’s a relic of the early internet days; when you could go to this cool technology called the world wide web that let you peer into far away places which were new and candidly, otherworldly. Yahoo was a portal – waaaay back in the day. To me, it’s reminiscent of the old TV shows Land of the Lost dimensional portal and Star Trek machinations about the future. It conjures up quantum physics and a tear in the time-space continuum.

For some reason, the healthcare cognoscenti are as creative as a lizard when it comes to using language that is both welcoming and fresh.

Patient Portals sound sterile and distant. Furthermore, a portal is a gateway; both an entrance and an exit. Patients, or better, people want access. They want information like everyone else…and why are they called patients (separate post – coming soon).

We don’t log into an Apple Portal, a Facebook Portal or a Google Portal. Continue reading “The Case Against Patient Portals”

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Bob WachterThe policy known as Meaningful Use was designed to ensure that clinicians and hospitals actually used the computers they bought with the help of government subsidies. In the last few months, though, it has become clear that the policy is failing. Moreover, the federal office that administers it is losing leaders faster than American Idol is losing viewers.

Because I believe that Meaningful Use is now doing more harm than good, I see these events as positive developments. To understand why, we need to review the history of federal health IT policy, including the historical accident that gave birth to Meaningful Use.

I date the start of the modern era of health IT to January 20, 2004 when, in his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush made it a national goal to wire the U.S. healthcare system. A few months later, he created the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and gave it a budget of $42 million to get the ball rolling.

Continue reading “RIP Meaningful Use Born 2009 – Died 2014???”

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Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 9.33.22 AMYou may have seen some news regarding a study MyFitnessPal recently did with UCLA.

I wanted to take a minute to address this study, since we participated in it directly. We are excited that we got to work with some very smart people to answer a question we also wanted to know the answer to. We jumped at the opportunity to find out—is having your physician introduce you to the app and help you sign up enough to kickstart a health journey?

What we learned is that just introducing people to MyFitnessPal wasn’t enough. People have to be ready and willing to do the hard work.

The app itself does work—if you use it. Our own data and the data from the study show that the more you log on, the more you use the app, the more success you will see. Users that logged in the most lost the most weight. In fact, we already know that 88% of users who log for 7 days lose weight.

We make tools designed to make it as clear and simple as possible for you to see the path to achieving your fitness goals. We are not, however, making a magic bullet—because there is no magic bullet. Ultimately, you’re the one who has to do the work.

Continue reading “MyFitnessPal Works If You Use It”

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farzad_mostashariLater this month – perhaps as early as this week – the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is poised to release a proposed rule to update to the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). MSSP is the national program which allows providers to create ACOs, and it is the program under which Aledade ACOs operate. This will be the first update to the program in three years, and we expect there will be a great deal to unwrap once the rule is public (we also acknowledge that we are among the few who await publications of CMS rules with the anticipation of children on Christmas morning). I’m sure we’ll spend the day of the release tweeting our initial reactions — be sure to follow @Farzad_MD, @Travis_Broome, and @Aledade_ACO for those updates.

The new rule will contain a lot to unpack; but we believe that the decisions that CMS makes in 4 key areas will play a large role in whether participation in the program continues to be robust and whether the program succeeds in being the flag-bearer for new payment models.

Continue reading “Preparing for Updates to the Medicare Shared Savings Program”

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flying cadeuciiSo you spent millions to billions of dollars on information systems over the past few years, right?

How’s that working out for you?

For a large percentage of you, whether or not you admit it, not so well. What you bought needs some serious tweaks, re-engineering, re-thinking, re-vamping.

For an even larger percentage, maybe most of you, the best advice is: Junk it. Throw it out and start over.

Poorly designed and poorly implemented information systems are worse than useless, worse than a waste of those millions and billions of dollars. As we go through rapid, serious changes in health care, poor information systems will strangle your every strategy, hobble your clinicians, kill patients and actually threaten the viability of your organization.

A lot of health care executives dismiss the complaints about the new systems as the carping of stubborn technophobic doctors and nurses who should just get with the program. If you are tempted to do that, you need to take a step back. You need to get real. The complaints and concerns are too widespread, too deep and indeed too frightening for that kind of blithe denial. And they are not just coming from disgruntled docs.

Dr. Clem McDonald of the National Institutes of Health, a true pioneer in pushing for electronic medical records (EMRs) over the last 35 years, has called the current implementations a “disappointment,” even a “tragedy.” He is far from alone in this assessment.

Continue reading “Why You Should Ditch Your IT System”

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flying cadeuciiA rash could be leukemia or idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura. A sore throat could be glossopharyngeal neuralgia or a retropharyngeal abscess. A blocked ear could be Ramsay-Hunt syndrome, a self-limited serous otitis or sudden sensorineural hearing loss with an abysmal prognosis if not treated immediately with high doses of steroids. A headache or sinus pain could be cancer, and a cough could be a pulmonary embolus or heart failure.

Treating the Well:

In my early career in Sweden, well child visits were done in nurse-led clinics, some of them only open on certain days, with a local doctor in attendance. Parents carried the children’s records with them, containing growth charts, immunization records and so on.

These nurses had great expertise in differentiating normal from abnormal appearance of children, and would direct the attending physician’s attention to children with abnormal metrics, appearance or behavior.

With this arrangement, the physician time requirement was reduced, and limited to evaluating children attending the clinics who needed special attention. Physicians also performed specific examinations at certain ages, such as checking for hip clicks. These clinics freed up the local pediatricians to evaluate more sick children.

Well-baby visits are now the bread and butter of American pediatricians and family practitioners, and with the ever expanding mandates of politically determined items that must be covered in order for doctors to get paid for their services, we sometimes have trouble accommodating illness care demands.

Continue reading “The Nurse Practitioner … Er, We Mean Doctor Is In”

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The proposed NATE Trust Community  is a privacy-invasive, rent-seeking, and cynical measure that will further fragment the already balkanized Direct secure messaging system and disenfranchise individual patients and physicians.

The proposed NATE Trust Community is a combination of:

  • weak, self-asserted security and privacy claims by institutions and corporations (privacy-invasive), who are

  • willing to pay the membership fee (rent-seeking), to the

  • exclusion of individuals bearing strong identity-proofed certificates such as those issued by the Federal Bridge Certification Authority as originally designed into the Direct secure messaging concept (cynical).

By excluding individual real people from participating in Direct, NATE is violating the core of the physician-patient relationship. The Massachusetts Medical Society has formally voted its objection to this method of implementing Direct in resolutions declaring that FBCA certificates be acceptable for Direct messaging. Physicians paying many $thousands in licensing fees and malpractice insurance each year deserve the opportunity to message with other physicians and with their patients under their medical license. This was our right and practice with Fax and US Mail and it should not be removed as we move to digital messaging.

Continue reading “An Open Letter on the NATE Trust Community”

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