Matthew Holt

Health Affairs is all about IT

Most of the Health care geek squad is in DC as I write, at a press conference conducted by Health Affairs which has an entire issue out today about IT in health care. Here’s the table of contents. And for those of you who don’t have a subscription, well here are four articles for free including those from David Brailer and John Halamka.

As you might guess KP’s HealthConnect is featured prominently with academic articles about the impact of its installation on physicians & the system (office visits down 25%) and patients (they love it).

There’s lots and lots more, including an article that makes stars of nerdy docs Jay Parkinson, Danny Sands and Ted Eytan—if “star” is the right word for this rarefied environment. (Oh, and somehow Bob Coffield got in there too!) My early tweetings on that one (which is the only one I’ve read so far) were captured and blogged by e-Patient Dave. Converting tweets into a blog post and making it make sense may be the new art form. Be warned that despite the words “Facebook & Twitter” in the title, this is about using Health 2.0 tools for patient to physician communication not about the social networking side of Health 2.0. Still I guess there’s room for another article in the next Health Affairs about that.

The only other thing so far I’ve read is JD Kleinke’s review of Hal Luft’s new book on how to fix health care. JD likes it, which both means it’s a fabulous book and probably also gives the whole thing the kiss of death.

And of course it behooves me to mention that Health Affairs is a media partner to the Health 2.0 Meets Ix conference coming up on April 22–23 in Boston. And Editor-in-Chief Susan Dentzer will be featured prominently to help the Health 2.0 & Ix crowd figure out what all this new Federal/establishment interest in health IT means for them.

6 replies »

  1. Health Affairs is all about IT?
    Dang… thought it was about patients and health care professionals.

  2. I know you were kidding, Matt – I’m just a bit oversensitized to public criticism these days, for some reason. So much for age and wisdom and patience.
    And yes, that was one hell of a party – at a time (Oct 2001) when we all needed to blow off some serious steam. Health reform was the last thing on anyone’s mind back then, which may explain why I never got a movie deal for Oxymorons, but at least we had fun, making fun…

  3. JD, I was kinda kidding, but I was referring to your comment in the review about the timing of the release of Oxymorons. but still remember the release party! But I will read Hal’s book!

  4. A kiss of death from me? Thanks for the – uh – compliment, Matt! Hal Luft’s new book, Total Cure, is – as I write in the new Health Affairs – a comprehensive, detailed, and practical CTRL-ALT-DEL for the U.S. health care system, a reform plan that could actually work. Perhaps I have the health care analyst’s version of Tourette Syndrome; but if my public endorsement of a new health care book, or reform plan, or business strategy is indeed the kiss of death, then trust that I came by my Medusa touch the hard way.
    In my 20 Quixotic years of struggling to make health care live up to its own rhetoric, I have witnessed some breathtaking acts of hypocrisy, deception, and outright fraud. And yet I still believe that we can, should and must do better. Yes, there is no end to the twaddle that thousands of false prophets, political demagogues and corporate hobbyists have packaged and sold in the name of innovation, disruption, reform, etc., etc. Self-serving corporate health care strategies and political quick fixes are indeed billed out at the highest rates in the consulting business, confirming Martin Buber’s simple and durable observation that “the world wants to be deceived.”
    If this principle applies with special force to health care policy and business, it is only because we are all so desperate to change what we all know is so badly broken. The real disconnect that sends the mob running at the next easy answer? We have seen immense progress in medicine, if not health care, and our own lives are at stake. We can bitch and moan all we want about skyrocketing costs, uneven quality, and systemic dysfunction, but not that many years ago, breast cancer was a terminal disease, most forms of mental illness meant permanent disability, and an HIV diagnosis was a death sentence.
    Hal Luft’s book is brilliant because it is completely grounded in “realeconomick,” in a post-partisan world of health care as it is, not how he or any of us wish it to be. Yes, our health care system is a disaster in slow motion, Luft acknowledges from the outset; but it can be fixed, if we would just grow up, agree there is no perfect solution, get over our politics, and stop yelling at each other.

  5. I believe the key to much of success is bringing in sociologists who study health organizational(user)cultures BEFORE any HIT is implemented
    But techies and greedy vendors are eager to dismiss such “soft science”
    Prof Ross Koppel from Univ of Pennsylvania is such a sociologist who publishes on HIT
    Read his publications (JAMA etc) before you leap
    Dr. Rick Lippin

  6. The Health Affairs articles on Kaiser Permanente’s EHR and online projects contain useful data on the benefits of these applications, but they say nothing about the start-up and ongoing costs associated with these initiatives. I realize that publishing cost information might put KP in an awkward position—let’s face it, its no secret that Kaiser (like many other large health care delivery organizations) went through a difficult period developing its EHR, and a few years ago they wrote off more than a $1 billion after abandoning their initial EHR development strategy. But I think policymakers need to understand the financial risks associated with these kinds of investments. KP has a right to be proud of its IT accomplishments but transparency about their finances is not their strong suit—before they take a victory lap, let’s see the price tag.