Today, we are featuring Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld from the American Medical Association (AMA) on THCB Spotlight. Matthew Holt interviews Dr. Ehrenfeld, Chair-elect of the AMA Board of Trustees and an anesthesiologist with the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. The AMA has recently released their Digital Health Implementation Playbook, which is a guide to adopting digital health solutions. They also launched a new online platform called the Physician Innovation Network to help connect physicians with entrepreneurs and developers. Watch the interview to find out more about how the AMA is supporting health innovation, as well as why the AMA thinks the CVS-Aetna merger is not a good idea and how the AMA views the role of AI in the future of health care.
Zoya Khan is the Editor-in-Chief of THCB as well as an Associate at SMACK.health, a health-tech advisory services for early-stage startups.
We missed our chance to do a Happy Hour Health in 2 Point 00 at Connected Health in Boston (but let’s be honest, those are usually not the most cogent pieces of information in health and technology). Join Jessica DaMassa as she gets my take on the conference starting with #S4PM’s event, where I met some incredible people, including Patty Brennan and Doug Lindsey, who spoke about their experiences with health care knowledge (deploying it and creating it!). Danny Sands and e-Patient Dave even had quite the musical performance there, singing about e-Patient blues. Susannah Fox, Don Berwick, Don Norman were at Connected Health 18, presenting their new initiative, L.A.U.N.C.H. I even interviewed Jesse Ehrenfeld, the chair elect of AMA, and his spoke to him about the digital health play book that the AMA just released. A company to take note of that wasn’t at #CHC is Devoted Health, who just raised $300m. Devoted is looking at building a better Medicare Advantage “payvider” for seniors. If you are interested in Guild Serendipity’s conference which empowers and engages female CEOs and Cofounders, come join us in San Francisco October 26-27, SMACK.health is sponsoring the women’s health houses – Matthew Holt
“That’s why we’re investing so heavily in the innovation space…we look at physicians and how they’re spending their days. The amount of time they’re spending clicking away on their EHRs, wasting time – we think we can help fix it. It’s been a lot of years of other people not fixing it. We think it’s time for physicians to actually be in the rooms helping to make those solutions.” — Dr. Jack Resneck, Chairman of the Board, AMA
Sounds to me like physicians are a little disappointed in health tech. Don’t get me wrong. This is not another ‘digital health snake oil’ controversy. (Although we do go there…)
Instead, my main takeaway from this conversation with Dr. Jack Resneck, Chairman of the Board for the AMA, is that physicians don’t exactly feel included or engaged in the tech revolution happening in healthcare.
In short, while docs are excited about innovation, it seems they don’t feel heard. So much so that the AMA has created its own Silicon Valley-based ‘business formation and commercialization enterprise’ called Health2047 to prioritize solution development for what physicians have deemed the biggest systemic issues in healthcare. What’s out there is just missing the mark and, in more instances than not, says Dr. Resneck, the practicing physician’s perspective on what problems need to be solved in the first place.
I open this interview by asking what digital health entrepreneurs and health tech startups can do to work more effectively with physicians. The answer, it seems, might be as simple as ‘just ask your doctor.’
Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health.
CMS just released their proposed MACRA regs (Cliff Notes version), and as you could expect, every specialty society and interested party dug in and critiqued. The rule runs a thousand pages and will have a substantial effect on the future of provider payment. In case, you have not heard.
Each organization will cut their sections of interest out, parse them, synthesize their analysis, and return a long letter to CMS. They will offer the correct paths on which the agency should proceed–lest they go forward uninformed taking down entire blocks of the healthcare system on account of willful neglect and ignorance. The letters will start with a friendly salutation along the lines of, “We commend the Secretary on her wisdom and hard work….BUT, we have an eensy weensy problem on some issues,” and so the turn goes.
The inpatient docs will hit the rough patches as they relate to fitting hospital-based practitioners into an outpatient focused model; the nephrologists will sound off on integrating dialysis payments within a medical home; the surgeons will focus on attribution of adverse post-op events weeks after patients leave the hospital; and the pathologists will just throw their hands up and say, “huh, should we just skip this party.”
Mayo Clinic announces it will replace its existing Cerner and GE systems with Epic’s EHR and RCM system.
The prestigious Mayo Clinic name and clinical reputation make the win especially sweet for Epic, which is in the running for the DoD’s $11 billion EHR contract. Analysts estimate that Mayo will pay Epic “hundreds of millions” over the next several years.
Google Glass Confusion
Earlier this month Google announced the end of its Glass Explorer program and sales of its existing version of Glass. Many mainstream publications carried “Glass is Dead” headlines, which is certain attention-grabbing, though not entirely true.
Individual consumers had the option to pay $1,500 to purchase Google Glass through the now-defunct Glass Explorer program. Enterprise businesses, such as HIT vendors Augmedix and Pristine, are still able to buy the existing version of Glass through Google’s Glass at Work program. In other words, if you’re interested in using Google Glass in a healthcare setting, that option is still available through a Glass at Work partner.
Meanwhile, Google says it is working future versions of its Glass product – though no one is saying when the next release will be.Continue reading…
The 2015 federal budget includes about $60.4 million for the ONC, which is less than the $75 million requested and on par with the 2014 budget. Congress allocated an additional $38.8 million to the HHS Office for Civil Rights, the agency that enforces HIPAA. Also in the bill: a controversial requirement for the ONC to decertify products that block health information sharing.
Appalling Meaningful Use Penalties
CMS reports that more than 257,000 eligible professionals will face penalties in 2015 for failing to meet Meaningful Use requirements. The AMA quickly announced it was “appalled by the news.”
Another Call to Cut Reporting Period
A group of 30 Republican House members call on HHS to shorten the 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period from 365 days to 90 days. A number of professional groups, including the AAFP and CHIME, support the extension.
From Foes to Financiers
Former Allscripts executives Glen Tullman and Lee Shapiro invest in Lightbeam Health Solutions, a population health management solution provider. Pat Cline, the founder and former president of NextGen, is currently Lightbeam’s CEO.
ATA Offers Accreditation
The American Telemedicine Association launches an accreditation program for providers offering online, real-time consults to patients.
If I had to capture the main shortcoming of electronic health record (EHR) technology in one word, this would be it: Usability.
As we’re observing National Health IT Week through Friday, I can’t think of a better time to call for EHR systems that better serve physicians and our patients. That’s why the AMA just released a new framework for improving EHR usability.
As a chief medical officer for a health IT company and a former deputy national coordinator in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, I understand the complexities of what’s required to make EHRs first and foremost usable systems for the medical practice. When I say “all” I want for Health IT Week is an EHR overhaul, I realize that’s no simple request.
But it is a basic request. Usability should be the driving quality of all health IT. Unless health IT functions in a way that makes our practices more efficient and facilitates improvements in our patient care, it isn’t doing what it was intended to do.
The federal government’s announcement last week that it would begin releasing data on physician payments in the Medicare program seems to have ticked off both supporters and opponents of broader transparency in medicine.
For their part, doctor groups are worried that the information to be released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will lack context the public needs to understand it.
“The unfettered release of raw data will result in inaccurate and misleading information,” AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in a statement to MedPage Today. “Because of this, the AMA strongly urges HHS to ensure that physician payment information is released only for efforts aimed at improving the quality of healthcare services and with appropriate safeguards.”
On the other hand, healthcare hacker Fred Trotter has raised concerns about CMS’ plan to evaluate requests for the data on a case-by-case basis. That isn’t much of a policy at all, he wrote, giving federal officials too much discretion about what to release.
A likely unanticipated consequence of the AMA’s decision to label obesity a disease, even though their own scientific council said not to, is that this might serve as the macguffin leading to furtherance of a protected class of people. This has serious implications not only for employment discrimination, but also for wellness programs, which often hinge vastly overblown claims of being able to help the obese who they almost universally label as “high risk” people.
Well, what if people who are obese, who are no doubt tired of being condescended to, first by wellness companies, and now by the AMA, decide that they are going to seek medical approval to opt out of wellness programs? A study recently published in the journal Translational Behavioral Medicine reports on a highly coercive, electronically monitored walking program for obese people: 17% opted not to participate and another 5% actually got their physician’s approval to opt out. The physician approval to opt out is key to any resistance strategy.
Under the final wellness rules issued by the federal government earlier this year, physician certification that it is medically unadvisable for an employee to participate in a wellness program creates a burden for the employer and wellness vendor. They must provide reasonable alternatives that do not disadvantage the employee in terms of either time or cost and that address the physician’s concerns.
Further, if the employee’s physician disagrees with offered alternative, the employer and wellness vendor must provide a second alternative. The coup de grace is that “adverse benefit determinations based on whether a participant or beneficiary is entitled to a reasonable alternative standard for a reward under a wellness program are considered to involve medical judgment and therefore are eligible for Federal external review.”
Targeting people based on body mass index (BMI) is an intellectually, morally, scientifically, and mathematically bankrupt approach. The AMA’s decision will actually help obese people and advocates for their dignified treatment in the workplace and society start to understand that they can refuse to opt in to these insulting programs and, simultaneously, be protected from penalties. Clearly, this is the opposite of what unsuspecting employers expect when vendors (and their own brokers) sell them these programs: more useless doctor visits, less leverage with penalties…and more employee disgruntlement. Not just the obese will be disgruntled, but also those who have to pay the penalties because their BMI is too high to get the reward but not high enough to get a doctor’s note.