Category: Health Tech

Is John Goodman joking or just mean?

The uninsured numbers went down a touch because in 2007 Medicaid expanded. In 2008 they’ll go up as unemployment increases and S-CHIP coverage is cut. Really this doesn’t change too much.

Right-wing nut jobs all over the Internet are saying that uninsurance doesn’t matter. It’s surprising that one of the more sensible right-wingers has joined in and now says that the uninsured don’t exist.

But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain’s health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care).

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Cisco’s Frances Dare talks about Congressional action on health IT

Frances Dare is someone I’ve know for a long time in the health care IT world (sorry, Frances!). That means that she’s seen the painfully slow developments in many aspects of health IT since the 1990s, and has an experienced view of what’s coming along at what pace. These days Frances is a Director at Cisco focusing on health care, and more recently she’s taken an active role in Cisco’s health care lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

Given that we don’t spend much time on THCB talking about the impact of the Federal sausage-making process on health care IT, telemedicine, et al, I thought that getting the view of a major IT vendor about what they expect to come out of the current Congress would be pretty interesting. And it was. Here’s the Interview.

BTW, in the interview I get the name of Frances’ division at Cisco wrong, Frances is a Director in the ISBG which stands for Internet Business Solutions Group. (FD, I have done consulting work for Cisco in the past, even if I didn’t know the name of the group I was working for!).

The first one’s always free….but will you buy a kid a bike?

Many times because I’m an independent consultant, blogger or general self-appointed health care know-it-all people want to talk to me. And I’m always happy to talk. Sometimes these conversations turn into business for me or THCB or Health 2.0, but sometimes they don’t. What I tell anyone who wants my time is that the "first one is always free."


Meanwhile, as part of her return from a back injury my wife Amanda has bought a bike and is training for a triathlon later this Fall. It’s also renewal time for our favorite cause the Saigon Childrens Charity. Much of its resources are spent buying rice for poor families so that they don’t need to send kids out to work, and so the kid can go to school instead. With the price of rice doubling this year, things are getting tougher for the charity and the kids.

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Who’d be a pollster, eh

HSC says that the number of Americans going online for healthcare goes way up:

In 2007, 56 percent of American adults—more than 122 million people—sought information about a personal health concern from a source other than their doctor, up from 38 percent, or 72 million people, in 2001, according to a national study released today by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

Harris Interactive says it’s gone down ;

Ten years ago, in 1998, the Harris Poll began measuring the number of people going online for health care information. At that time we reported that 54 million people had done so at least once. Since then the number of those people, whom we labeled “cyberchondriacs,” have increased almost every year, reaching 110 million in 2002, and 160 million in 2007.

This year, the Harris Poll finds only 150 million who claim to have gone online to obtain health care information. Of course, 150 million is still a huge number and includes 66 percent of all adults and 81 percent of those who are online.

Extra points if you can spot the flaw in my reasoning. (Yes, it’s easy but I’ve been up late watching the Olympics….even though I said I wouldn’t)

Health IT policy: the fur is flying

Some fur is flying in the rarefied world of health IT policy geeks this morning. Health Affairs has three articles. The first from Markle’s Carol Diamond, writing with Here Comes Everybody author and Internet guru Clay Shirky, more or less says that obsessive attention to rigid standards is not helping and actually may be hindering the IT adoption process. And yes, in case you were wondering they do mean CCHIT and ONCHIT’s current policies and agenda which has been going for four years and which they’re accusing of “magical thinking.” Instead, we need new policies which target desired outcomes measured in improved patient care, instead of assuming that creating new technology standards will get us there. And by policies I think they mean money, and its redirection by current payers. After all, if putting in a RHIO costs hospitals operating revenue in reducing admissions and tests, why would they do it?

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Flacks peddle false “reality”

Such a pity that the NY Times has been so beaten up by the commies amongst us that it actually now feels that it has to point out where Peter Pitts and Janet Trautwein get their money. Although, as per the last time it let Pitts write an op-ed, it didn’t mention his day job as a PR man for pharmaceutical companies. After all, who could be opposed to “Medicine in the Public Interest” — after all it is in the interest of the public to pay for all and any medicine at any price that PhRMA chooses, right?

And let’s not get started on underwriters (for whom Trautwein is the main flack). After all Grace-Marie Turner thinks that they’re the health care heroes! Perhaps they’re heroes because they drive sick people into the uninsured population so that the under-paid clinical staff working in America’s public and community health system get to show their worth by caring for them —even if they’re less heroic than underwriters.

But that’s OK, Pitts & Trautwein can be printed in the NY Times cherry-picking problems with other countries health care systems. Because as we all know there’s absolutely nothing wrong with ours, eh?

And why should Pitts quote the peer-reviewed 2007 Commonwealth Fund study that showed that waiting times for surgery were longer in the US than in the communist hell-hole of Germany, when instead he was able to cite an 11 year old study about longer waiting lists for one specific type of surgery in the Netherlands, which has completely revamped its health care system since then. Something he and Trautwein have helped stop us doing — preserving a dismal status quo they obviously want to maintain.

Those two wouldn’t last 92 seconds in a debate with Uwe Reinhardt or Hillary Clinton.

On the other hand, there’s no letter from Karen Ignagni to make up the trifecta. Did she negotiate some summer vacation time along with her $1.3m salary?

Omnimedix still fighting Dossia owners

KleinkeJD Kleinke and Omnimedix are still in business and still fighting a pretty serious lawsuit
about the Dossia breakup. I talked with JD yesterday. The team is working on several super secret client projects, but it’s tough to run a small consulting shop and keep a protracted lawsuit open, so they’re passing the hat! Why keep the lawsuit going?

Well, there’s obviously stuff that JD couldn’t tell me, so this is speculation but it’s clear that this is much more than an a “vendor didn’t deliver/client didn’t pay” dispute. JD was always very vocal about an open nonprofit being the protector of the Dossia members’ employees’ data, so I surmise that contractual disputes about who got access to what data are at the root of this. It would be interesting (if practicably impossible) to compare Dossia’s contact with Omnimedix in their contract with Indivo.

More generally, JD and I talked about whether there’s a need for a Dossia-type entity when there’s Google Health and HealthVault. Here’s what JD said about Microsoft and Google’s privacy stance.

“In both cases they’ve violated their own operating principles as businesses to do the right thing.”

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Interview with Sandeep Agate, REACH Call

We don’t talk much about traditional telemedicine at THCB, but remote care is not just for consumers. There’s also huge possibilities for clinicians to use these technologies to tap into expertise that can make specialty care more available and improve care in dramatic ways.

REACH call, which is a 2-year-old company from Georgia has an interesting and relatively cheap technology that gets vital expert specialty opinion to emergency rooms and enables stroke care to be significantly improved. I spoke to Sandeep Agate, REACH’s CEO last week and it’s a pretty interesting interview.

Matthew’s top podcasts this year


The Health Care Blog is working hard to bring readers more excellent content, but
the downside of that is great posts and podcasts quickly get buried. Here’s a quick list of Matthew’s top podcasts this year.

Adam Bosworth speaks about Google Health, Keas and everything By Matthew Holt


After a long period of time I’ve finally wrestled Adam Bosworth to
the floor and forced the microphone to his mouth. Adam of course is the
software guru (he’s one of the originators of XML) who went to Google
to start Google Health,
and spent much of 2007 talking about how he hoped Google Health would
change health care. He then left Google Health (several months before
it launched in March 2008) and at the very end of 2007 founded Keas. Adam has very strong views on health technology, data, PHRs.
HealthVault & Google Health, and much much more. Listen to the podcast.

Cisco’s Frances Dare talks about Congressional action on health IT By Matthew Holt

Frances_dare_2Frances Dare has seen the painfully
slow developments in many aspects of health IT since the 1990s, and has
an experienced view of what’s coming along at what pace. These days
Frances is a Director at Cisco focusing on health care, and more
recently she’s taken an active role in Cisco’s health care lobbying
efforts on Capitol Hill. Here’s the podcast.

Interview with Trizetto & Eliza By Matthew Holt

I spoke this morning with Gene Drabinksi, who runs the CareAdvance unit of Trizetto, and Alexandra Drane, President of Eliza. They recently announced a partnership that integrates the care
management aspects of Trizetto’s services with the automated phone
outreach provided by Eliza. It’s another step in the evolution of
phone-based contact and personalization in health care — which, the
careful THCB reader will have noted, I think is an important channel
for delivering and capturing health information. Of particular importance, is making useful that vast glob of data
stored within a health plan by communicating about it with the members.
It’s also always good to hear from some experienced and passionate
players, and Alex and Gene certainly fit that bill. Here’s the podcast.

Interview with Kerry Hicks, HealthGrades CEO By Matthew Holt

HealthGrades has been busy. The publicly traded, pure-play provider
ratings company is changing the way it offers ratings, it’s publishing
a book, and it’s starting to rate drugs. It’s not alone. Last week,
Consumer Reports announced it also is getting into the business of
rating hospitals and using a model developed in conjunction with the
Dartmouth crowd. Plus, there’s the CMS effort. Given the way that
ratings are evolving and HealthGrades’ partnership with Google, (more
to come on Google from me separately soon) last week was a great time
to talk with HealthGrades Chairman & CEO Kerry Hicks. (Sadly it was before the Consumer Reports announcement but fascinating nonetheless). Listen to the podcast.

Kaiser tiptoes into HealthVault & tells THCB about it By Matthew Holt

Kaiser Permanente signed an extensive pilot with Microsoft, allowing
its 159,000 employees to copy their online health records into
HealthVault. This is a big coup for Microsoft and a fairly ambitious
move for KP which to this point hasn’t said much publicly about the
data transferability it was going to provide for its members. This is a
clear signal. Assuming that the pilot is a success, presumably all
Kaiser members using My Health Manager (over 2 million now and heading
to 3 million at years end) will soon be able to move their data to
HealthVault. We are potentially seeing the first real example of mass
scale data interoperability onto a platform not connected to a health
care organization. And obviously, Google is playing in this same space
too. Kaiser gave me a pre-release interview with with Peter Neupert, Corporate VP of Microsoft Health Solutions Group and Anne-Lisa Silvestre, VP of Online Services at KP. Listen to the Podcast.

The Long Baby Boom By Matthew Holt

I had a great chat with health care futurist Jeff Goldsmith
about his new book, the Long Baby Boom. We discussed the policy and
cultural issues of retirement, Medicare, Social Security, immigration,
end-of-life care and meaning… Listen to the podcast. & Trusera — two Health 2.0 newbies talk By Matthew Holt

Two of the more interesting newcomers in the Health 2.0 scene
gathered around the electronic water cooler, which is THCB’s podcast
series, to talk about what they’re up to and why they are worth looking
at. Andy Cohen is CEO of and Keith Schorsch
is CEO of Trusera. Some of you may have seen Keith at the March 2008
Health 2.0 Conference. Andy is providing content checklists and much
more for those who have sick or frail parents, which will be most of
us. Keith is providing a sophisticated place for story telling and
information exchange for those facing serious health conditions. Both
have serious ambitions. Interesting stuff — listen to the podcast.

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State regulators challenge the rights to your DNA

It is something of a surprise that it popped up this way, but the establishment
challenge to Health 2.0 was going to start somewhere. And it appears to have started with two big states, New York & California ordering 13 companies to stop Gene Testing.

Karen Nickel, from the California Department of Public Health, argues that these companies are operating without a clinical laboratory license in California. The genetic tests have not been validated for clinical utility and accuracy.”

But as those companies are outsourcing the testing anyway, that argument barely holds water. Here’s what Navigenics CEO Mari Baker said Navigenics uses a doctor to transit orders and review results, and it relies on a state-certified lab testing company to do the gene tests.”

So what this really is about, of course, is who has the right to order a test? Is it you or do you have to go through a doctor? Or put another way, is it your DNA or is it the state’s?

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