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Category: Health Tech

Kamen: Healthcare Debate “Backward Looking”

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Segway inventor Dean Kamen thinks the wonkish debate over healthcare reform in Washington is largely missing the point. In an interview with Popular Mechanics editor-in-chief James Meigs and deputy editor Jerry Beilinson, Kamen tells the magazine:

“We now live in a world where technology has triumphed, in many ways, over death. The problem with that is that it’s enormously expensive. And big pharmaceutical giants and big medical products companies have stopped working on stuff that could be extraordinary because they know they won’t be reimbursed, according to the common standards. We’re not only rationing today; we’re rationing our future. ““If you project forward these horrific costs of treating everybody and you want to assume we are not going to respond to that by making the therapies better, simpler and cheaper and in some cases completely wiping out the [diseases], well you know what? We might actually get to that situation—if we stop investing in technology, if we stop believing that the future ought to be better than the past. ““If somebody in this country wants to explain to me that we ought to be spending about twice as much supporting sports as on all of our pharmaceuticals, then stop spending.”  “I think this debate shows a fundamental lack of vision, a lack of confidence, a lack of understanding of what’s possible.”

Practice Fusion gets investment from Salesforce.com

We’ve been keeping tabs on Practice Fusion since the early days and THCB regulars will have noticed several comments and an article from CMO Robert Rowley. CEO Ryan Howard’s been hinting for a while that they were going to be getting into bed with a major software player, that shared their SaaS approach, and today they announced an investment from Salesforce.com, who we also know has been sniffing around health care too. This will include Practice Fusion becoming part of the Force.com (kind of an app store for the Salesforce.com ecosystem, although my guess is that few physicians are going there right now to look for records (not sure they’re going to Wal-mart either, though)

Practice Fusion is claiming that 19,000 users are already on its system which includes basic practice management, as well as a pretty complex EMR workflow. Coming soon will be a greater ability to share information with patients and other physicians over the platform—which allows it to spread via viral marketing. i.e. I’m referring you this patient, click here to get their data and sign up for this free EMR too. It’s not yet CCHIT certified, but Howard is aiming to be eligible for “meaningful use” money when the criteria are finally established.Continue reading…

Senate Healthcare Bill Amendment Allocates Your Tax Dollars To Quacks

With healthcare costs spiraling out of control, and major rationing efforts under consideration – can we really afford to allow purveyors of pseudoscience to use up scarce Medicare/Medicaid resources? It’s hard to imagine that Obama’s administration would approve of extending “health professional” status to people with an online degree and a belief in magic – but a new amendment would allow just that. What happened to our “restoring science to its rightful place” and why are we emphasizing comparative effectiveness research if we will use tax dollars to pay for things that are known to be ineffective?I hope someone reads and removes this amendment pronto (h/t to David Gorski at Science Based Medicine):Here’s the language that Sen. Harkin has slipped into the 615 page Senate version of the health care reform bill:

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Online behavioral health on American Well’s platform, and a hint at Cisco/UHG

As usual I am way behind on tech and Health 2.0 news but here’s one that was “thrown out with the trash” late last week because the service went live on Saturday. American Well has has added TriWest Healthcare Alliance as a client on its online service. Most significantly this is for behavioral health care (psychological counseling et al) for military families covered under Tri-Care—the program for the families of service personnel.

Given what the military has been through in the last decade you can imagine how badly this is needed. And it’s an extension of the current primary and urgent care services already being delivered online.

In fact beyond American Well there are a number of even smaller companies starting to aim at the behavioral health online market—which has a strong tradition of success in telemedicine and is ripe for expansion into the online arena.

However, where I’m really late is that a couple of weeks back Cisco—which does higher-end telemedicine—announced a program with United Healthgroup to provide its HealthPresence technology in mobile trucks for underserved populations. United’s Optum unit also recently announced that it too would be using American Well. So we’re seeing an extension of the use of both higher tech and web-based online care, and that for the first time health insurers are taking this very seriously.

Continue to watch this space as it looks like finally the technology is ready and the payers are finally coming on board. And (ahem) you’ll hear much more about this at the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on October 6–7.

Sunday mumbles

If you can’t quite remember why we’re doing this health reform stuff, here’s a very amusing defense of the current health care system by Jonathan Adler at Newsweek (hat-tip to Jon Cohn).

Meanwhile by any measure July was the most read month on THCB with sitemeter telling us that there were some 129,000 visits. Thanks to everyone for coming, but to be fair while we could expect health reform month to ramp up the visits a little, this shows the power of Google. If you search “Obama health care”, this excellent article by Bob Laszewski comes up near the top of the front page… Hopefully some of the new readers will see that it’s 18 months old and stick around to catch the new developments. But kudos to Bob L for doing such a great job here and of course on his own blog Health Care Policy & Marketplace Review.

Two rules by which to judge a health reform bill

Right now we have sausage-making going on in DC and lots of uninformed opinions and outright lies being strewn across the front pages and on cable from newly declared experts. I sat in an airport last night and heard 5 Wall Street pundits spewing rubbish about health reform on one cable show. It even included an aging upper-class British twit declaring that government health care was more expensive than private systems. Clearly he’d managed to miss comparing the 8% of GDP his (and my) original homeland spends on health care versus the 17% we spend here. Later on CNN had 4 random people including Christine Hefner—yes one of those Hefners—talking about it. I suspect that if you know something about health care and your name’s not Michael Cannon you’re just not allowed on cable TV.

But all the hot air aside, even those of us in the punditocracy who know something about the subject matter (i.e. anyone reading THCB) seem to be so deep in the weeds that we have lost the basics about what we should be looking for from a health care bill. So it’s time to make that very clear, and here in my not so humble opinion are the rules by which to judge reform.

Rule 1 A health care reform bill needs to guarantee that no
one should find themselves unable to get care simply because they
cannot afford it. Neither should anyone find themselves financially
compromised (or worse) because they have received care.

Rule 2 A health care reform bill needs to limit the amount of
GDP that is going to health care to its current level, with an overall
aim of reducing the share of health care going to GDP.

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IDEO and Ix Innovation Design

Ionescu_Arna_217pxNext week Matthew will be in a workshop with the folks from design firm IDEO and our friends from the Ix Center. In preparation we’re posting this article from IDEO’s Arna Ionescu who was at the recent joint Health 2.0 Meets Ix Conference on a panel moderated by the Center for Information Therapy’s President Josh Seidman. And if that wasn’t all incestuous enough, this post was originally on Josh’s blog over at Ix.

Thank you to those of you who participated in our interactive webinar last Tuesday. During the webinar we used IDEO’s design approach to tackle the challenge of providing effective Information Therapy (Ix) to a fictional character named Vernon, who has minimal resources and was  recently diagnosed with high blood pressure.

To inspire solutions for this challenge, members of the IxAction
Alliance submitted images of unexpected learning moments in their daily
lives. These images spanned from public service billboards to Snapple
caps and restaurant placemats. In advance of the webinar, the IDEO team
synthesized the images into brainstorm questions.

The webinar attendees voted and selected the brainstorm question,
“How Might We leverage curiosity to prompt Vernon to engage with Ix?”
Following IDEO’s brainstorm rules attendees submitted ideas using the webinar software.

More than 30 ideas were generated in the ten minute brainstorm, and
a second vote allowed the attendees to select which idea to pursue
further. Attendees selected the “High Blood Pressure Club.” We
discussed “$10, 10 minute prototypes” – an approach that allows us to
try out fast and cheap experiments to gain insight before costly design
and implementation efforts.

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Sermo, malpractice, and Howard Dean

Sermo’s Daniel Palestrant got on TV with Howard Dean. It was an amusing (and short) little debate which you can find here.

The best moment was at the start when Dean claimed that Sermo was just a poll. Palestrant pointed out that Dean spent last week explaining how reflective online communities were about what their members thought. Given how Dean rose to national prominence I’m a little surprised that he’s trashing the Internet!Continue reading…

Live from Aspen: the moderates’ view on Obama health reform

6a00d8341c909d53ef0105371fd47b970b-320wi Paul Krugman’s article today excoriates the Blue Dogs and a former dog Billy Tauzin in particular. He also (as I did a week or so back) wonders where the Dogs were when the Bush tax cuts were bumping the deficit more than the proposed health reform bill will and redistributing wealth from future poorer taxpayers to the very rich in the process.

Funnily enough I’ve been at the Aspen Health Forum where the self-same Billy Tauzin used his not inconsiderable Cajun charm and a dollop of PhRMA’s money to buy me (and a bunch of others) a whisky and a s’more on Saturday night, and took part in a couple of panels I watched on Sunday. We had a couple of brief chats, one about his cancer treatment and another about getting big Pharma to behave better. He claims some progress there (voluntary restrictions on DTC, better posting of clinical trial data, reductions in marketing excess to docs). I suggested that there was more progress required both in pricing policy and PR. He said it was hard, I told him that was why they paid him the big bucks.

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Interview with Jonathan Bush, AthenaHealth CEO

In this interview Jonathan Bush explains the nation’s major problem: a severe shortage of MUMPS programmers. Well not exactly, but as always the AthenaHealth CEO is well worth watching. And of course he’ll be at Health 2.0 on the same panel as Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman. That will really be worth watching, and of course you can sign up to come to Health 2.0 in October here.

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