Category: Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt is the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog and still writes regularly for the site and hosts the #THCBGang and #HealthInTwoPoint00 video shows/podcasts. He was co-founder of the Health 2.0 Conference and now also does advisory work mostly for health tech startups at his consulting firm

Welcome to Healthcare IT Live!

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This time the camera was turned on THCB’s Matthew Holt. Tim Cook of Healthcare IT Live! interviewed Matthew for the web show, which takes place weekly on Google+ Hangouts. Click for a list of the show’s upcoming guests.

Vegas, Baby, Vegas

It seems that I just got back from Vegas and CES although I had 3 weeks in India & Hong Kong in between. But in a few minutes I’ll be off there again as this time HIMSS brings its modest 40,000 attendees to Vegas. (When I say modest, CES had 200K!) THCB and Health 2.0 News will be there in force with me, Laura Montini & Jennifer Lee looking dangerous with our flip cams, while Health 2.0ers Marco Smit, JL Neptune & Pat Ryan will be working with AT&T, ONC, Novartis and other clients. And to those of you following on Twitter, the red satin jacket was the winner in the poll for what I’ll be wearing as fashion judge at HISTalkpalooza (and afterwards Regina Holliday will paint it!). So expect lots of video interviews on THCB and Health 2.0 News in the next days and weeks, and wish us luck as we descend into miles of walking all fueled by too much alcohol and too little sleep!

Another nail in the DM coffin?

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the water, the CBO is out with the bad news that in its analysis of over 30 disease management programs, and none of the independently run ones saved Medicare any money. Even the ones that succeeded, which put the medical groups at risk and generally lodged the DM nurses with them (rather than have them call in on the phone), didn’t save enough to justify the costs of the program.

Now the first group isn’t a surprise to those of us who followed the fate of Medicare Health Support. The second group includes a series of demonstrations paying physician groups to save money. They did better, but not well enough to save once the extra costs of the program are included. (Details here). We can only hope that using more lightweight technologies with better understanding of patient behavior does in fact end up saving money–as has been shown in some commercial medical home settings. But we must also be prepared to admit that we don’t yet know how to save money in the care of the chronically ill under Medicare. Which means that the only obvious way to do it is to cut payments to providers!

Progress made by ONC (Really!)

ONC Director Farzad Mostashari is out with his review of 2011 on a month by month basis. Good to see that Farzad & colleagues took December 2011 off (just kidding!). He calls it a year of “momentous” progress. I’m doubly biased because I’m a proponent of newer and better health technology for clinicians AND citizens. Also, (FD) Health 2.0 is the main subcontractor on the i2 Investing in Innovation challenges which were–as noted by Farzad–launched in June, have had several close already, and will continue to roll off the production line for another 18 months. But as a general and occasionally cynical observer I’m very impressed with what ONC has done. Continue reading…

Usual, customary and made up

It’s been a while since THCB discussed usual customary and reasonable charges, and it’s been longer since health plans did much about them–other than cover them at a low rate and let providers charge what they like. That’s mostly because Ingenix (now Optum Insight) got itself and United beaten up about the topic a while back. But I noticed today (via a company selling expensive webinars about the topic) that Aetna is starting to go after providers that are gilding the Lilly on out of network charges again. In this case a couple of surgeons who were self-referring to a surgery center they owned, not charging the patients their official share, and meanwhile somehow managed to charge nearly $100K for ear wax removal. Aetna, don’t forget, was the “nice” insurer that started the trend of settling with doctors and being nice to them over pricing back in Jack Rowe’s time as CEO. If Aetna’s now starting to get aggressive about out of network charges to its members, then perhaps we really are entering a new era of health insurer activity.

Uwe on premium support and vouchers

There’s a great post on the NY Time Economix blog from Uwe Reinhardt explaining the theoretical difference between premium support and voucher systems (and you thought they were the same thing!). Unfortunately it skirts the real problem that those of us playing along at home know too well. Either a well constructed premium support (Ryan done right), or a well constructed voucher/managed competition (Enthoven) system, a mixed public/private system (Germany, Starr, Reinhardt) or even a decent Medicare for all /Single payer system (PNHP, McCanne) needs to be designed holistically to have a chance of working–especially to ensure that all people are in plans that treat them all equally.Continue reading…

Obama-cares (if you’re under 26)

CDC data just in, reported by Jonathan Cohn at THR, suggests that the impact of allowing young people to stay on their parent’s insurance (or as Michael Cannon would say, forcing employers to cover dependents up to the age of 26) is having a big impact. Up to 2.5 million adults under the age of 26 have moved into coverage. Frankly I’m not surprised. There’s always been a huge group of uninsured young adults moving between high school and college and the workforce. And if you hadn’t noticed, there’s a recession on and good jobs with insurance are hard to find. I know at least three young adults working in the semi-contingent labor force who are on their parents’ insurance. Of course they’d better hope they don’t turn 26 before 2014. But even this little gain is something the Democrats need to punch home about the Republicans: Those bastards want to take your kid’s insurance away! And they do.

Karen Ignagni tells (some of) the truth

Long time THCB readers will remember how several times I’ve called out AHIP president Karen Ignagni for being economical with the truth. Today in a letter to the NY Times she actually tells it how it is. Medicare Advantage plans provide more and better benefits than the FFS program. Ignagni also says that FFS program is outdated and that Medicare Advantage plans also emphasize prevention, wellness, care coordination and management of chronic conditions, do better than the FFS program in reducing hospitalizations and even are fostering the innovations needed to reduce health care cost growth. So given that there is so much waste and poor care in the FFS program (over 35% by most estimates) why do the so superbly managed Medicare Advantage plans require and spend more money per capita than the FFS program? Imagine my surprise when I was unsuccessful in my search to find the explanation for this in Ms Ignagni’s letter.

Bespoke Limbs and Real Mass Customization

There’s a new world emerging of customizable materials and it’s being led in health care by designers like my old friend Scott Summit. Scott designed products like an early prototype of the Palm V (yes, there was a life before the iPhone!) and servers for Apple and Silicon Graphics, but in the last five or so years he’s got very interested in the human body—particularly artificial limbs.

Artificial limbs are an interesting challenge for an industrial designer both because mass production doesn’t do a good job at addressing it and because most of them are interested in form as well as function. Scott started doing his first prototypes on real people three years ago when it became possible to use 3D printing relatively affordably to create bespoke parts customized for individual human needs.

Continue reading…


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