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Time For a Stand Against Misinformation

Susannah Fox Cite Me!

Two years ago, I interrupted a speaker at a big health/tech conference, right in the middle of his presentation. I still blush at the memory. But the speaker was citing data — my data—incorrectly and I couldn’t let it pass.

Brian Dolan recently wrote about how he wished he’d spoken up when he heard someone spreading misinformation at a conference:

Unfortunately, about 80 people sitting in the room either accepted this as new information or failed to stand up to correct the speaker. I wish I had pulled a Susannah Fox and done the latter.

He linked to my 2012 post about what happened at Stanford Medicine X.

In that post I asked:

  • What style of conference is the right one for the health/tech field? The TED-style “sage on stage” who does not take questions? Or the scientific-meeting style of engaged debate? Or is there a place for both?
  • Do different rules apply to start-ups? Is it OK to fudge a little bit to make a good point, as one might do in a pitch? Personally, I do not think people are entitled to their own facts. There’s too much at stake.

We can’t let misinformation—or worse—go by without comment.

I think it’s time for more people to speak up in health care.

More pediatricians should express their measles outrage.

More people should chronicle the reality of living with chronic conditions.

More people wearing medical devices should demand access to the data being collected.

More people should speak up about medical errors before—and after—they happen.

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The Anecdote-Innovation Cycle

“Drinking single malt has stopped me from developing flu” – Anecdote (& Business Opportunity)

“Everyone should drink single malt based on my experience. It stops flu” – Advice

“You are talking baloney” – Paternalism

“Everyone is entitled to opine what saves them from flu” – Freedom and Choice

“We need science to determine efficacy of single malt “- Elitism

“Burden of proof is on he who asserts the benefit of single malt” – Epistemology

“We need evidence before third parties can pay for single malt” – Value-based healthcare

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The 3 S’s of Smartphone Shopping

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 10.00.20 AMWhat a difference a few years makes. It wasn’t long ago that healthcare CIOs declared they would never use smartphones for caregiver communication. Now, with smartphones proliferating throughout the nation’s hospitals as an effective clinical communication solution, many vendors are adding smartphone options to their product lines. If you’re attending HIMSS15 in Chicago this week, you will undoubtedly see traditional communication vendors touting the benefits of their brand-new smartphone offerings.

The good news: It’s fairly easy to build a smartphone app using current development technologies. The bad news: It’s not so easy to build a solid smartphone platform that’s reliable in the healthcare environment and scalable enterprise-wide.

While vendors may present their smartphone solutions as tried and true, many have only a portion of their advertised functionality deployed in a real healthcare environment. And many of those deployments are small, one-unit pilot projects that haven’t been tested site-wide. As you assess the mobile communication solutions presented at HIMSS, take the time to ask probing questions to determine which vendor, products and services are right for your facility.

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Emerging Healthcare Innovation Space Needs Serious Investors, Herd Thinning

flying cadeuciiJust a few years ago, you would have had to scour the show floor to find a startup exhibiting at the HIMSS Annual Conference. But, for the first time this year, they will have a major presence at this show that gathers more than 37,000 health IT professionals and innovators who are developing next-generation technologies. In fact, more than 200 startups will be on the floor at the inaugural Hx360 event taking place at the conference in Chicago– demonstrating the perceived ripening of the industry for disruption and the rising expectations of entrepreneurs and the investors supporting their efforts.

Drawing these innovators like the Sirens from the Odyssey is the newly empowered and often under informed consumer with their high deductible and array of chronic diseases. Healthcare provider organizations, payers and pharmacies must adapt to them and view them as actual customers not untapped wells overflowing with potential CPT codes. Now, more than ever, the industry needs to focus on quality experiences and good clinical outcomes for patients – and many startups are developing new approaches and technologies to tackle these issues. In order to make these new approaches a reality sooner rather than later, larger industry players need to understand the dynamic landscape, and work with and invest in these emerging companies.  Incumbents with their large feet planted squarely on the traditional solid ground are sensing some seismic rumblings and how well they are leveraging and embracing these emerging companies to help maintain their balance may determine whether they can sustain themselves moving forward.Continue reading…

HIMSS 2015: Medicomp’s Dave Lareau

Michelle Noteboom: Give me a bit of background on Medicomp and what Medicomp does.

Dave Lareau:Medicomp was founded by Peter Goltra in 1978 and the main mission since its founding was to present relevant clinical information to the physician at the point-of-care so they can document and treat the patient. That’s really the core of what we do. We work with 15 to 20 physicians, most of them board certified in internal medicine, as well their specialty. We have a fairly expansive knowledge editing system, where the physicians work with our knowledge engineers.

So, if you’re thinking about asthma, what are the relevant symptoms, history, physical exam, test, diagnosis, and therapies? If somebody presents with left upper quadrant abdominal pain and nausea and vomiting, what would you be thinking of, and what would you want to document, what kind of test do you want order, what’s your presumptive diagnosis? At the point-of-care we can present the relevant information for documentation given the clinician’s thought process so that we don’t slow them down, we don’t get in their way, let them see more patients. They get all their documentation done and it’s all coded to all the standards. The ICD-9 or 10, as well as LOINC, RxNorm, etc. is in the background, but they’re dealing with something that is fast and familiar. That’s what we do.Continue reading…

An EHR Attestation Report Card and Data Set

flying cadeucii

DocGraph will release an initial dataset will become available on the last full day at HIMSS, and the crowdfund will continue until Datapalooza. This post discusses our underlying motivation for creating a new dataset, as well as some of our goals with its release.

I enjoy and appreciate many aspects of the annual HIMSS conference: the people who run it, the attendees, educational sessions, and keynotes. Further, I find that regional and local HIMSS events are well worth attending. However, I am not a fan of the “big” HIMSS tradeshow floor. The parallels between walking down the “main aisle” at HIMSS and walking down the strip at Vegas creates are striking. The opulence of the Vegas strip and the excess in the HIMSS tradeshow floor both stir a sense of unease and bring up the same questions: “Who is paying for all of this? Is someone getting fleeced? Is it me? If it is not me, would that make the fleecing OK?”

The HIMSS tradeshow floor is a necessary evil because we have, in Health IT, no better way to make decisions about what products we buy. As it stands, figuring out which vendors have the biggest booths at HIMSS is probably not the worst way to make decisions about EHR systems.

The alternative is to hire someone to tell us which EHR vendor fits us best. Probably the most famous provider in this space is the “Best in Klas” service. However, Klas is famous for being payed by both sides of the industry. Klas is paid both by potential EHR purchasers and by those who sell EHR system. Like HIMSS, Klas creates a space for buyers and sellers to meet. I think Klas and HIMSS both do an admirable job trying to maintain fairness and objectivity, given the massive financial biases under which both organizations operate.

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Pharma and Volume-to-Value: The Big Throwdown

Joe FlowerThe collision between the “volume-to-value” movement and the pharmaceutical and biotech industries over the next few years will have a powerful impact on them and on the healthcare industry and on us as customers, patients, and payers. 

On the one hand, pharma is perhaps the part of the healthcare industry least exposed to direct price regulation under the Obama reforms. The actual costs of pharmaceuticals have been rising as a percentage of what people spend on healthcare, and are seen as the part they have the least influence on. At the same time, many new drugs for cancer and other life-threatening diseases have come with astonishingly high price tags, often not fully covered by insurance (due to the high deductibles and co-pays of the new plans), and with few ways for regulators or the market to push back on them. The public perceives these huge price tags as threatening people with a Hobson’s choice of bankruptcy or death. In the volatile political atmosphere of the 2016 elections, this leaves the pharmaceutical industry highly exposed to political attack and actual new price regulation.

On the other hand, the pharmaceutical and biotech industries also potentially offer some of the best answers to bringing the cost of healthcare down through the use of personalized medicines, smart medicines, new methods of administration such as implants, as well as the possibilities glimmering at us from recent research of real breakthroughs in such important chronic disease areas as Alzheimers, diabetes, addiction, behavioral medicine, and functional medicine. For the most part, though, these answers remain potential. We will not see them adding to the “value” side of the equation until they become fully integrated into a system that is at risk for the health of its customers and using every trick in the handbook to bring those costs in line.

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ONC Report on Health Information Blocking: A Solid Double, But NOT a Home Run

flying cadeuciiLast Friday ONC (the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT) released a long-awaited Report On Health Information Blocking. The ONC blog capsulizes the report:

Health information blocking occurs when persons or entities knowingly and unreasonably interfere with the exchange or use of electronic health information. Our report examines the known extent of information blocking, provides criteria for identifying and distinguishing it from other barriers to interoperability, and describes steps the federal government and the private sector can take to deter this conduct.

We were struck with two major reactions to the ONC Info Blocking Report:

  • It’s a solid double: it does a credible job of recognizing that the major problems of interoperability and blocking are not technical or due to a lack of standards, but rather due to business practices and business models. The report also proposes a baseline of potential solutions.
  • It’s not a home run: the report misses the opportunity to describe a comprehensive approach to combat information blocking.Continue reading…

The Blocking of Health Information Undermines Interoperability and Delivery Reform

The secure, appropriate, and efficient sharing of electronic health information is the foundation of an interoperable learning health system—one that uses information and technology to deliver better care, spend health dollars more wisely, and advance the health of everyone.

Today we delivered a new Report to Congress on Health Information Blocking that examines allegations that some health care providers and health IT developers are engaging in “information blocking”—a practice that frustrates this national information sharing goal.

Health information blocking occurs when persons or entities knowingly and unreasonably interfere with the exchange or use of electronic health information. Our report examines the known extent of information blocking, provides criteria for identifying and distinguishing it from other barriers to interoperability, and describes steps the federal government and the private sector can take to deter this conduct.

This report is important and comes at a crucial time in the evolution of our nation’s health IT infrastructure. We recently released the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020 and the Draft Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap. These documents describe challenges to achieving an interoperable learning health system and chart a course towards unlocking electronic health information so that it flows where and when it matters most for individual consumers, health care providers, and the public health community.

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The HIMSS Version of Voter ID Laws

Adrian GropperAt a time when patients, physicians, and even congress are all clamoring for the interoperability we were promised with the HITECH incentives, the principal EHR vendor organization has figured out yet another way to add to their barricades. HIMSS has just released their “Recommended Identity Assurance for Patient Portals” provide cover for more impediments to the patient’s right to access our own health information.

The parallels to voter ID initiatives is striking. A self-assembled “HIMSS Identity Management Task Force” decides to invent a security threat that is undocumented and then propose a self-serving solution. I had the privilege of witnessing this process first hand.

The use of HIPAA as a barrier to patient access is well known. Almost all of us, as patients, have experienced denial of access to our own health information “because of HIPAA”. This misinterpretation of the law is so pervasive that the Office for Civil Rights, in September 2013, issued a right to access memo  that articulates the patient’s right to an electronic copy of her record and to have that record sent to someone else. Later, in comments designed to encourage adoption of the Blue Button initiative, the Office for Civil Rights made clear that the patient’s right of access included the right to insist on transmission of the record by insecure means if that was what they wanted. (By the way, how many of you have actually received a useful Blue Button file from private-sector hospital?)

18 months and maybe $15 Billion of HITECH incentive payments after the OCR memo, the EHR vendors have come up with their interpretation of the HIPAA patient right of access. I urge all of you to read the 3-page HIMSS recommendation and try to understand what this means to you as a patient.

Secure and privacy-preserving patient identity is currently under consideration by the IDESG Healthcare Committee https://www.idecosystem.org/group/healthcare-committee. On this page you will find the contact info for the leadership and I hope you will send your comments and even consider participating. Or, just comment below.

Adrian Gropper, MD is the CTO of Patient Privacy Rights.

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