The EHR vendor lock-in business model is under attack by frustrated physicians and patients and the reality that health care cost and quality are more opaque than ever. Doug Fridsma of ONC politely talks of the need to move from vertical integration of health care services to horizontal integration where patients can choose with their feet. Farzad Mostashari calls for moral behavior and price transparency. The Society for Participatory Medicine says “Gimme My DAM Data” and Patient Privacy Rights asks HHS to allow physicians to prescribe health IT without interference from the institution or the vendor.
The vendors’ response is a charm offensive called CommonWell Health Alliance with a pastel .org website. The website is presumably the official source of information about CommonWell and it lays out the members’ strategy to preserve the vendor lock-in business model for a few $Billion more. Ok, maybe more than a few.
The core of the CommonWell strategy is to avoid giving patients their data in a timely and convenient way.
Continue reading “The #CommonWell Open Discussion Forum”
Filed Under: OP-ED, Tech, THCB
Tagged: Adrian Gropper, BlueButton, CommonWell, CommonWell Health Alliance, Direct Project, Doug Fridsma, EHR, EHR vendors, Farzad Mostashari, HHS, patient data, Society for Participatory Medicine, Transparency
Mar 18, 2013
Anyone who understands the importance of continuity of care knows that health information exchange is essential. How are we supposed to cut waste and duplication from the healthcare system and truly focus on patient welfare if doctor B has no idea what tests doctor A conducted, or what the results were?
The predominant proprietary HIT vendors know this, yet have engaged in prolonged foot-dragging on interoperability and even basic data interfacing. Yes healthcare IT is their business, but interoperability is not in their nature.
As we’ve seen before, the problem is with the business model.
The proprietary business model makes the vendor the single source of HIT for hospital clients. Complexity and dependence are baked into both solutions and client relationships, creating a “vendor lock” scenario in which changing systems seems almost inconceivable.
In the proprietary world, interfacing with third-party products is a revenue generation strategy and technical challenge; the latter, though unnecessary, justifies the former. When we go looking for the reasons that healthcare is a laggard compared with other industries, this single-source model—the obstacle to much-needed competition and innovation—is a primary culprit.
To be fair, provider organizations, with little if any incentive to exchange patient data before the advent of Meaningful Use, haven’t shown much collaborative spirit either. In the fee-for-service model, why would a healthcare organization let patients slip from their grasp? Health reform is finally mandating needed change, but when will proprietary vendors actually enable the interoperability hospitals and practices soon have to demonstrate?
Recent rumblings from Washington, DC, suggest the feds are losing patience.
Continue reading “Is Interoperability Possible in HIT? And if it Is, Do We Even Want it?”
Filed Under: Tech, Uncategorized
Tagged: Cerner, continuity of care, Edmund Billings, Epic, Farzad Mostashari, health information exchange, Interoperability, McKesson, Meaningful Use, Neil Patterson
Feb 15, 2013
Our recent Health Affairs article linking increased test ordering to electronic access to results has elicited heated responses, including a blog post by Farzad Mostashari, National Coordinator for Health IT. Some of the assertions in his blog post are mistaken. Some take us to task for claims we never made, or for studying only some of the myriad issues relevant to medical computing. And many reflect wishful thinking regarding health IT; an acceptance of deeply flawed evidence of its benefit, and skepticism about solid data that leads to unwelcome conclusions.
Dr. Mostashari’s critique of our paper, will, we hope, open a fruitful dialogue. We trust that in the interest of fairness he will direct readers to our response on his agency’s site.
Our study analyzed government survey data on a nationally representative sample of 28,741 patient visits to 1187 office-based physicians. We found that electronic access to computerized imaging results (either the report or the actual image) was associated with a 40% -70% increase in imaging tests, including sharp increases in expensive tests like MRIs and CT scans; the findings for blood tests were similar. Although the survey did not collect data on payments for the tests, it’s hard to imagine how a 40% to 70% increase in testing could fail to increase imaging costs.
Dr. Mostashari’s statement that “reducing test orders is not the way that health IT is meant to reduce costs” is surprising, and contradicts statements by his predecessor as National Coordinator that electronic access to a previous CT scan helped him to avoid ordering a duplicate and “saved a whole bunch of money.” A Rand study, widely cited by health IT advocates including President Obama, estimated that health IT would save $6.6 billion annually on outpatient imaging and lab testing. Another frequently quoted estimate of HIT-based savings projected annual cost reductions of $8.3 billion on imaging and $8.1 billion on lab testing.
We focused on electronic access to results because the common understanding of how health IT might decrease test ordering is that it would facilitate retrieval of previous results, avoiding duplicate tests. Indeed, it’s clear from the extensive press coverage that our study was seen as contravening this “conventional wisdom”.
Continue reading “The Effect Of Physicians’ Electronic Access To Tests: A Response To Farzad Mostashari”
Filed Under: THCB
Tagged: David Bor, EHR, Farzad Mostashari, Health Affairs, HIT, Imaging
Mar 13, 2012