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Category: Health Tech

The Big Day for Health 2.0

Yes, today is the big day for Health 2.0 or rather the first of two huge days. In less than 7 hours Indu and I will be stepping onto the stage and six months of work, rehearsals and excitement come to a climax. Many thanks in advance to all the speakers, sponsors, staff, exhibitors, volunteers and members of the Health 2.0 community for coming. We’re ready (or close as we’ll ever be!)

I can’t hope to capture all that’s happening, but here’s two big pieces of news. Myca just received an investment from Sandbox, the Blues venture fund. You can hear an interview I did with Nat Findlay, Myca CEO from a few days back here. You can see Myca both on the Clinical Groupware panel on Day 1 (today!) and in a sponsored Deep Dive on day 2.

And Keas, Adam Bosworth’s company, is formally launching on Day 2 and gets its own article in the NY Times today. You’ll be hearing more about this, and platforms and unplatforms throughout the conference!

Finally, THCB & Health 2.0 has its own little news. JD Kleinke (the Arriana Huffington of health care!) is emerging from a long period of seclusion and both pens his first article as a a THCB contributor today, but is also a very late addition to the “Can Health 2.0 Make Health Care More Affordable” panel at Health 2.0 today!

Olberman, hysterical hypocrisy expose

A really fun piece from Keith Olbermann as he shows how the entire Gang of Six and more voted for fully socialized flood insurance and yet seem to have a problem with an independent government run public option.  

Of course, now that a bill has finally left Baucus committee, our meandering towards a relatively inconsequential tinkering at the edges of the health insurance market is a little further down the path. But can we somehow arrange it that the bozos at the NY Times (yes I’m talking about Robert Pear and David Herzenhorn) please stop saying things this dumb:

the Democrats are trying to restructure one-sixth of the economy, writing a bill that will affect almost every American, every business and every doctor and hospital in the country.

The level of exaggeration in that statement is simply unworthy of the paper of record. Would that it were true.

JSK (national treasure) on data liquidity, and how it fits into Health 2.0

Given that she taught me most of what I know about health IT I don’t know why I ever need reminding about how great Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is at keeping her finger on the pulse of health care, and how consistently good is her one daily post on Health Populi.

Yesterday was no different. She gave a great overview of a new PWC study on data liquidity. You’re going to hear lots from me and others in the coming days about data liquidity, substitutability, intermingling of applications, and unplatforms. But what’s happening on the edges of health care IT in the Health 2.0 movement is a combination of tools, content and transaction data beginning to flow between applications. More and more this is both enabling better management of the consumer (and clinicians) workflow experience and better ways to aggregate these new data sources for clinical decisions and research.

On day Two of the Health 2.0 Conference next week we’ll be showing this both in our panel on Data Drives Decisions, but also on the Tools panel which will feature a series of inter-operable applications sharing data. And we’ll also be showing the big players (Google, Microsoft & WebMD) as they move their offerings to a world where other service providers can use their platform.

Truly exciting times, but Jane points out that there are lots of barriers. She calls the PWC report

a sober analysis of what stands between transactions and raw data, and the ultimate goal of using that information: clinical transformation that benefits people.

And those barriers all center around the workflow, payment structure and institutional inertia of our current health care establishment.

 the health industry en masse needs to shift the focus of data from transactions to quality and outcomes. This will require – surprise, surprise – incentives to, as PwC puts it, “induce all stakeholders to collect, report and use the data.”

Two big deals in Health 2.0

John Halamka writes about the small but important meeting this week at Harvard Medical School hosted by Zak Kohane and Ken Mandl. Because of the impending arrival of about 1,000 of my best friends next week at Health 2.0, I couldn’t go to that meeting. But it may be very important in putting the “cats and dogs” together to think about ways for new platforms with players like Halamka and David Kibbe (who have not been on the same side of these issues) both taking part.

Meanwhile, yesterday Microsoft released My Health Info. I got a quick preview and it’s essentially a layer over HealthVault that allows both Microsoft and others to build widgets that can be arranged on sites like MSN Health (and presumably many more to come) which directly connect with the individual’s data in HealthVault. It essentially is the cool user interface that HealthVault has been missing and it’s more evidence of Microsoft’s serious intentions in consumer health care.

If you’re at Health 2.0 next week you’ll see Microsoft’s My Health Info and hear much, much more about what David Kibbe is calling Clinical Groupware, and also many demonstrations about we’re starting to call “unplatforms”.

While health reform is arguing about multiple amendments in Baucus’ committee and making some of us despair, the tech world is showing some real promise.

The Health 2.0 Accelerator is really gunning it…

The Health 2.0 Accelerator was a glimmer in the eye of Commerce.net’s Marty Tenenbaum late in 2007. But under the dedicated leadership of Julie Murchinson and Aaron Apodaca, something quite remarkable is happening. The Accelerator is an industry consortium, mostly made up of very small Health 2.0 companies who are just getting started in their own young lives. But working together they’re integrating data and services in a way that’s going to make consumers’ use of online health tools very different from the patchwork we see today.

And the effort is getting attention. Today Kaiser Permanente announced that it was joining the Accelerator, moving alongside Sage and Catholic Healthcare West as corporate members. And in the wings is a major health care data player, who’s going to be adding their seal of approval next week.

What’s happening here is the evolution of an ecosystem—an ecosystem where innovation on the web and in mobile Health 2.0 is now finding ways to present itself to consumers and healthcare organizations in new ways.

I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag completely, but I think that anyone who’s interested in seeing the evolution of Health 2.0 and the evolution of health care consumer technology will be fascinated by what around a dozen Health 2.0 Accelerator members are going to show—together—at the tools panel at the Health 2.0 Conference next week.

In the meanwhile kudos to Julie and Aaron, to Erick & Linda von Schweber from PHARMASurveyor who’ve been founding board members and have driven the technical process, to the folks from Sage who were great early supporters and to the more than 100 people and companies who’ve been supporting the Accelerator.

They’ve all made a real difference. And it’s just beginning.

Swine flu, uninsurance and not-so fondly remembering the teenage years

We get sent lots of rants to our tips line, most of which we ignore in an amused jaundiced way. But this one I found very amusing. I’m not sure it’s 100% accurate, but it is very funny and essentially details something that we know happens every day. So to have some fun with how to buy individual insurance in California, head over to this post on a blog usually concerned with selling you credit cards.

By the way, a close colleague of mine trying to buy a short-term stop-gap policy while her husband changed jobs got a very similar “we’re not selling you insurance and we’re not telling you why” just last week.

Don’t forget that virtually any form of the bills in Congress outlaws these shenanigans.

Morons like us

I still read the articles every day that Google and the rest of my searches spit into my inbox. But as the sausage gets made I despair for the country. Not so long ago the NY Times met the Rush Limbaugh fan who decries the government takeover of health care, even though his wife ran up $68,000 in care while she had breast cancer and no insurance. Somehow because his local hospital let him off the charges, he thinks that the system was OK, and drove for an hour to shout at a Democrat who wanted to change it! (Of course the taxpayer absorbed the costs).

Yesterday NPR reported about the Sacramento man who loves his current health insurance. He’s had six or seven surgeries in the past five years—in other words he would be completely uninsurable if he lost his job (post-COBRA). He even sort of understands that.

“I mean you hear horror stories about people who have insurance and then all the sudden get denied coverage down the line because they may have had a pre-existing condition,” Koenig says. He, too, worries that he’s one step away from being dropped from his plan or losing his job and not being able to afford coverage…..And that’s why Koenig is on board with parts of the big push to change the health care system.

And like about half of other Americans, he’s actually been uninsured.

In the early nineties he was laid off and went without insurance for several months. He says it was an uncertain time and he sympathizes with the millions of Americans who don’t have coverage — or could be dropped at any time

So what does he think?

he says the focus should be on regulating the insurance industry and not a government take-over, which he believes President Obama is pushing for.

Let’s quickly review here.

Obama/Baucus/HR3200 all basically keep employer-based insurance as is with a bit of expansion, keep Medicaid as is with some expansion to suck up a few of the uninsured poor, and change the regulations in the insurance market to prevent (some of) the problems the Sacramento man understands. Oh, and they sort of put in place a backstop public plan (well HR 3200 does anyway) which people could buy into if there wasn’t a private plan they liked.

So does this sound like “regulating the insurance industry” or is it “a government take-over”.

I hesitate to remind the Sacramento man that a government takeover means the communists collectivizing your farm and stealing your pigs, and shipping you off to Siberia. What Obama/Baucus/HR3200 is proposing is minor reform of the insurance market.

And yet, somehow that message cannot get itself into the thick skulls of people who those reforms would actually help.

Yet another reason to abolish the Senate

Ezra Klein, feeling a little soft, interviews Kent Conrad—he of the co-op feed stores for health care idea.

My take on the interview is that I seriously believe Conrad's entire knowledge of health care comes from his time being lectured on the vagaries of Medicare reimbursement by a local rural hospital lobbyist, his one visit to a co-op seed store where he found the farmers chatting happily, and his reading the cliff notes (prepared by his staff) of TR Reid's good but not too sophisticated book focusing on the Beveridge v Bismarck distinction—which is high school civics lesson stuff.

Yet he gets to meet 61 times with the Gang of six that was really going to get it all right before time ran out, and he gets to make policy!

And you wonder why the Senate should be abolished.

Interview: John White, Director IT, AHRQ

Last week I got to spend some quality time in Washington DC including moderating a panel looking at new research behind physician-patient communication at the annual AHRQ conference. AHRQ will play a significant role in comparative effectiveness research, as it basically is channeling the $1 billion or so in the stimulus package for that. But AHRQ is also pretty active in trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t in health care IT, and has an online resource center about that too.

The man running AHRQ’s initiatives in IT is John White, who’s affable, amusing and has an interesting point of view or two. So to let you know a little more about the mysteries of government, here’s my interview with John.

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