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Contrary to what you may think, most doctors do want to make eye contact. They aren’t antisocial. They want to engage. But they can’t. They’re too distracted by one of the worst computer games ever invented—the electronic medical record (EMR).

You may be surprised to see the EMR compared to a computer game, but there are many similarities. Both offer a series of clicks with an often-maddening array of tasks to solve. There are templates to follow, boxes to fill in & scoring. However, unlike most electronic games, the points accrued in the EMR often translate into payment—real dollars for either your doctor or the hospital.

Although these clicks and boxes may be necessary to document your visit, it’s distracting. And your doctor begins to feel more like a librarian cataloging information rather than, say, a historian capturing your story. Continue reading “Meet the Worst Video Game Ever Invented: The Electronic Medical Record …”

Health 2.0 Co-Founder, Matthew Holt recently interviewed Alan Joseph Williams, Product Designer and User Researcher at Code for America’s Health Lab, which develops digital services for Californians eligible for or enrolled in social services like SNAP and Medicaid. Alan will be presenting at the HxRefactored Conference April 1-2 in Boston, MA.

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“Physician, Heal Thyself – Luke 4:23″

Not knowing the originator of this phrase, I found this description on Wikipedia: “The moral of the proverb is counsel to attend to one’s own defects rather than criticizing defects in others.” It’s common for those of us in the tech industry to lament how appallingly out-of-date healthIT is. Taking the glass-is-half-full approach, one can see opportunity in that – Why It’s Good News HealthIT is So Bad.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case — convoluted decisions processes, for example — and that health systems are spending billions to prepare for the last battle. However, I’m much more interested in how we fundamentally change the equation than why we’re in our current predicament. The same tech companies that have kvetched about healthcare being behind on technology can address that defect by taking some simple actions.

Continue reading “Tech Industry, Heal Thyself”

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I am a clinician and a clinical trialist. Medical research in some form or another (performing it, consuming it, reviewing it, editing it, etc.) occupies much of my time. Therefore, you can imagine my excitement while watching Apple’s product announcement yesterday when they introduced a new open source software platform called ResearchKit. Apple states ResearchKit could:

“revolutionize medical studies, potentially transforming medicine forever”

ResearchKit allows clinical researchers to have data about various diseases collected directly from a study participant’s iPhone (and perhaps other devices in the future — see below). The software is introduced as a solution to several important problems with current clinical studies, such as:

  • limited participation (the software allows everyone to participate; anyone with an iPhone can download a specific app for every study they want to participate in)
  • frequent data entry (patients can enter data as often as required/desired, rather than only at limited opportunities such as hospital or clinic visits)
  • data fidelity (currently-used paper patient “diaries” are prone to entering implausible or impossible values — the iPhone can limit the range of data entered)

Specifically, the website states:

ResearchKit simplifies recruiting and makes it easy for people to sign up for a study no matter where they live in the world. The end result? A much larger and more varied study group, which provides a more useful representation of the population.

This is a bold claim. We’ll see below that it doesn’t yet ring true.

Continue reading “Apple’s ResearchKit is Not (Yet) Ready For Primetime – But Soon? A Medical Researcher’s Perspective”

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For now, the answer is “we don’t know”.

But… the question is very important and worth tracking over the coming months. Let’s not assume that open source will equate to “open”.

What is ResearchKit?

Apple’s press release provided an overview of ResearchKit:

Apple® today announced ResearchKit™, an open source software framework designed for medical and health research, helping doctors and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone® apps. World-class research institutions have already developed apps with ResearchKit for studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

…With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before.”

Many members of the research community have had high praise for ResearchKit. For more details and perspectives about ResearchKit, see the list of articles appended at the bottom of this post.

Continue reading “Apple Research Kit is Open Source But Is It “Open”?”

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Don’t get lost amongst the 1,200+ exhibitors that will be fighting for the attention of 38,000 or so health IT professionals at next spring’s HIMSS conference. Make sure your brand is top-of-mind before the attendees descend on Chicago April 12-16.

THCB  understands that exhibiting at HIMSS requires a significant financial and time commitment for participating vendors. Our goal is to help organizations maximize their marketing success by sharing their message with the 6,000 THCB readers who visit our site each day.

HIMSS exhibitors wishing to connect with our highly healthcare-centric audience are encouraged to take advantage of one of our HIMSS Specials.

Our sweet marketing packages include:

  • Unbeatable social media exposure on THCB and Twitter
  • Awesome THCB front page placement (logo, ad unit, guest blog post)
  • Networking access to THCB’s healthcare obsessed audience of 650,000 plus healthcare pros
  • Other slick advantages that will help you stand out during and after the event

A limited number of promotional opportunities remain. Contact Michelle Noteboom for details on  options and to reserve your spot.

jordan shlainChief information officers (CIOs) and chief medical information officers (CMIOs) have spent the better part of two decades on a quest for interoperability; yet, their Achilles heel lies in the “information” part of their titles. If information is the sole beacon of efficiency and value, the invaluable contours of human suffering, personal preferences and humanity itself are lost.

Information is the first step to developing knowledge and understanding, but what physicians and patients rely on in the real clinical setting, rife with changes, are knowledge, understanding and empathy. The cold, hard calculus of a=b does not always apply when dealing with people because they are much more complex and complicated than binary machines with screens. If it were so easy, there would be no problem reaching 100% compliance with medication or a plan of action.

Sadly, all data lives in a database; which might as well be called a wait-a-base; after all, the data just sits there and waits for someone to look at it.

The fundamental problem with today’s information architecture is that all data are not created equal. Data, information and knowledge degrade with each new doctor that becomes involved. In addition, systems design lacks an understanding of how the human computer works in the context of illness, anxiety or uncertainty. Healthcare is a people business in need of data, not a data business in need of people. Data are the means; people are the beginning and the end.

Continue reading “Why Data Handoffs Matter”

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 4.23.13 PMIn the past, the AMA published an article questioning the merits of patient portals — the primary tool for engaging patients. Rob Tennant, senior policy adviser with the MGMA-ACMPE, the entity formed by the merger of the Medical Group Management Association and the American College of Medical Practice Executives raised the fundamental issue: “The business case just hasn’t been made.” I’ll attempt to make it.

Perhaps the best evidence of the business case is when industry visionaries/organizations/leaders such as HIMSS (the professional association for healthIT), Aetna and Kaiser Permanente have made significant investments in patient engagement.

I’ve excerpted a couple sections of Pam Dolan’s article on the topic to set context and then I will address the business case. The patient portal benefits assume that it’s more than a simplistic silo’ed patient portal tethered to an EHR since they are broadly available. [Disclosure: My company, Avado, is one many patient engagement companies.]

This is why I would call it the patient portal & relationship management system or simply patient relationship management system to distinguish it from traditional limited patient portals.

Continue reading “Is There a Business Case For Patient Engagement?”

Fred's HeadThe US has spent several billion dollars on medical records, as part of the HITECH program. The goal of that spend was simple: portable medical records for patients. On our current path, we will have medical records, but without that magic word: “portable.” Ironically, the reason for this is identical to the root-cause of the problems with healthcare.gov

The root-cause of the initial failure of healthcare.gov was a lack of accountability and empowerment. There was no one person who was in charge of the operation, and those who were presumed to be in charge did not have the skill-set or political clout needed to make decisions about the project.

The result was the healthcare.gov train wreck. Thankfully, healthcare.gov was turned around.

That turn-around was the result of decisively fixing these exact issues.

Accountability restored, disaster averted.

You would think that the Obama administration and HHS would have learned the “accountability with empowerment” lesson well, if not for IT projects generally, then at least for projects involving Health IT.

Yet we are repeating this mistake with Meaningful Use. For those who are living in a cave with regards to healthcare reform, Meaningful Use is a set of standards designed to ensure that the money that the federal government spends on Electronic Healthcare Records (EHRs) for doctors results in clinically productive outcomes.

Continue reading “What Can Meaningful Use Learn From Healthcare.gov?”

Connected

The hype around wearables is deafening.  I say this from the perspective of someone who saw their application in chronic illness management 15 years ago. Of course, at that time, it was less about wearables and more about sensors in the home, but the concept was the same.

Over the years, we’ve seen growing signs that wearables were going to be all the rage. In 2005, we adopted the moniker ‘Connected Health’ and the slogan, “Bring health care into the day-to-day lives of our patients,” shortly thereafter.  About 18 months ago, we launched Wellocracy, in an effort to educate consumers about the power of self-tracking as a tool for health improvement.  All of this attention to wearables warms my heart.  In fact, Fitbit (the Kleenex of the industry) is rumored to be going public in the near future.

So when the headline, “Here’s Proof that Pricey Fitness Wearables Really Aren’t Worth It,” came through on the Huffington Post this week, I had to click through and see what was going on.  Low and behold this catchy headline was referring to a study by some friends (and very esteemed colleagues) from the University of Pennsylvania, Mitesh Patel and Kevin Volpp.

Continue reading “The Tao of Wearables”

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