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Tag: David Harlow

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 75 | Rounds & IPOs, Health Datapalooza, & the Facebook Controversy

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are at 10th annual Health Datapalooza in Washington D.C.! Jess talks to me about Xealth’s $11 million round to develop out its company, and Change Healthcare is applying for a $100 million IPO. The big takeaways from Health Datapalooza are that many people and companies have integrated data into their systems, but they haven’t been able to gain many actionable insights from it. Also, if you haven’t heard of the complaint Andrea Downing, Fred Trotter, and David Harlow wrote to the FTC concerning the privacy and data that can be downloaded from Facebook’s groups, you better check it out. It details out the concern that Facebook is not protecting the data of patients as anyone can download sensitive data from the groups and use it — Matthew Holt

Crowdfunding: Careful What you Wish For

flying cadeuciiThe SEC has finally finalized its crowdfunding rule (presser) under the JOBS Act. The health innovation crowdfunding crowd has been waiting for these rules for quite some time, as has the rest of the crowdfunding fan club. (It’s only taken three and a half years.)

So, was it worth the wait?

The crowdfunding rule (full text) sets the stage for broader participation in early-stage investing and may empower crowdfunding platforms (“intermediaries,” in SEC-speak) to compete with angel funding platforms servicing “accredited investors” (SEC-speak for high net worth folks who can afford to lose their entire investment in a startup). It is a democratizing move consistent with the ethos of the internet and digital innovation.

Let’s look at some of the particulars and then think about whether this is a good thing for startup companies (“issuers”) that might want to sell securities rather than their products or promotional T-shirts, and for intermediaries — such as Kickstartr etc. — that might want to have a role in matchmaking individual investors with issuers. (Kickstartr itself has reportedly said it’s not interested in going down this path; IndieGoGo is interested, though.)

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The Fine Print: In Which We Go over the SGR Fix Line by Line with a Yellow Highlighter

The Sustainable Growth Rate mechanism creating a zero-sum game for Medicare Part B reimbursement rates (dropping rates as volume picks up) has long been unsustainable, and so Congress has been messing around with short-term SGR fix legislation for years now. Every six to twelve months we’ve been hearing about the impending 20% or 30% Medicare pay cut about to hit physicians’ pocketbooks, and the likely exit of physicians from the rolls of participating providers.

However, the stars are now aligned in such a way that real progress seems likely: multiple powerful Congressional committees have signed off on a deal to replace the SGR rule with something more workable: A unified approach to financial incentives to physicians and other medical professionals who are Medicare participating providers intended to promote quality and enrollment in alternative payment arrrangements.

The full text of the bill will be available here: It’s H.R. 4015. Check out the SGR fix section-by-section-summary and the websites of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and the Senate Finance Committee too. The substance of the proposal is discussed below.

How has this happened?

One of the sticking points involved in fixing this problem is that the price tag for a permanent SGR fix has long been seen as too high. How do we know the price? and How high is too high? you may ask. Well, Congress looks at CBO projections of the cost of implementing legislation over a ten-year planning horizon. When physician cost trends are on a steep increasing slope, that ten-year budget number looks bigger. When the trends flatten out a bit, the big number gets smaller. At present, that ten-year cost projection is “only” $125 billion, and Congress has spent over $150 billion on short-term fixes. So the time is right.

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Hacking HIPAA

Join me in attacking an endemic problem in health care today by Hacking HIPAA. I am crowdfunding the development of a new legal form to be used on and after September 23, 2013 to allow patients to opt-in to easier health care communications – a Common Notice of Privacy Practices that is patient-focused. (Text me, please! Email me, please! etc.)

Depending on how much support this project garners, we can attack some related problems as well. Contributions at any level are welcome; contributions at the levels designated on the Hacking HIPAA Medstartr page get you a seat at the virtual table, voicing your concerns that need to be met in the CNPP and in follow-on projects.

I’m working on this project with two leading health care open source software developers, Ian Eslick and Fred Trotter. Check out Fred’s video intro to the project on the Medstartr page – you can find Ian and Fred online via the links on the project page, too.

Here’s an excerpt from the crowdfunding project page:

The Problem

Right now we have the worst of all worlds with regards to patient privacy in healthcare. Patients are frequently subject to sub-standard security and privacy practices AND healthcare innovators are unable to deliver solutions that would be useful to patients because their technical approaches are uncomfortably novel for health care bureaucrats. Patients end up getting poor security and no innovation, the worst of all options. This problem is going to get worse before it gets better, since the new Omnibus HIPAA Rule will make cloud hosting of health care projects untenable very soon. 

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Massively Open Online Medicine

The new darling of the online educational community is Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The example which figures most prominently in the popular imagination is the Khan Academy, though its founder says otherwise, noting that MOOCs are merely online transplantations of traditional courses, while Khan Academy offers something different.

Others would take issue with his conclusion, or characterization. A “connectivist” MOOCis based on four principles:

  • Aggregation. The whole point of a connectivist MOOC is to provide a starting point for a massive amount of content to be produced in different places online, which is later aggregated as a newsletter or a web page accessible to participants on a regular basis. This is in contrast to traditional courses, where the content is prepared ahead of time.
  • Remixing, that is, associating materials created within the course with each other and with materials elsewhere.
  • Re-purposing of aggregated and remixed materials to suit the goals of each participant.
  • Feeding forward, sharing of re-purposed ideas and content with other participants and the rest of the world.

Sounds great, but is it working? Can it work? A piece in the current issue of The Washington Monthly took a look and concluded:

Given the current 90 percent dropout rate in most MOOCs, an 8-point gap in completion rates between traditional and online courses offered by community colleges, the 6.5 percent graduation rate even at the respected Western Governors University, and the ambiguity of many other higher education reform ideas, there’s good reason to think that an unbound future might not be so great.

The best American innovations in education were the Land-Grant College Act of 1862, which helped create a system of public universities, and the GI Bill of 1944, which ensured that an entire generation had the money to attend college. This widespread access to the college experience enabled people from working-class backgrounds to advance en masse into professional jobs that required reasoning and logic and extensive knowledge of the world. The question is whether or not we will continue this trend or simply give up and say that a few online classes and specialized training are good enough for the majority of Americans.

In other words: Democratization of higher education – good; MOOCs – not so much.

Why is this relevant to you, gentle reader?

The question is whether the promise of MOOCs, or their inability to deliver, will characterize MOOM — Eric Topol’s neologism, “Massively Open Online Medicine,” used in his HIMSS 2013 keynote.

In health care, a perfect implementation of big data and data analytics, combined with open access for clinicians and patients, would yield a success in MOOM along the lines of a connectivist MOOC.

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Dude, Gimme My Damn Data. Seriously.

The latest news story to examine the issue of patient access to implantable cardiac defibrillator data (a variation on the theme of “gimme my damn data”) is an in-depth, Page One Wall Street Journal story featuring Society for Participatory Medicine members Amanda Hubbard and Hugo Campos. They have garnered attention in the past – one example is another piece on Hugo on the NPR Shots blog about six months back. The question posed by these individuals is simple — May I have access to the data collected and/or generated by the medical device implanted in my body? — but the responses to the question have been anything but. It is important to note that not every patient in Amanda’s or Hugo’s shoes would want the data in as detailed a format as they are seeking to obtain, and we should not impose the values of a data-hungry Quantified Self devotee on every similarly-situated patient. Different strokes for different folks.

The point is that if a patient wants access to this data he or she should be able to get it. What can a patient do with this data? For one thing: correlate activities with effects (one example given by Hugo is his correlation of having a drink of scotch with the onset of an arrhythmia — correlated through manual recordkeeping — which led him to give up scotch) and thereby have the ability to manage one’s condition more proactively.

We can get copies of our medical records from health care professionals and facilities within 30 days under HIPAA — and within a just a few days if our providers are meaningful users of certified electronic health records (it ought to be quicker than that … some day). In some states now, and in all states sometime soon (we hope), we can get copies of our lab results as soon as they are available to our clinicians.

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HealthCamp Boston 2012: Brainstorming the Future of Health Care

HealthCamp Boston is a forum for people with interest in all areas of health and wellness to gather, to generate ideas, and to take practical steps towards building the future of health care. HealthCamps are different from traditional conferences where speakers talk at you. At HealthCamp Boston, an “unconference,” attendees set the agenda, and all contribute to the event according to their interests.

The Boston area is a center of innovation for all aspects of health care, so you can be certain that people at HealthCamp Boston will be discussing things like:

· Big Data in health care

· Improving engagement and outcomes through mobile devices and social media

· Personalized medicine and translational medicine

· Empowered patients

· Practical impacts of health care reform

· and more…

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How Much Will a Data Breach Cost You?

The going rate for a compromised medical record seems to be $1000 (well, at least that’s the asking price) as seen in papers filed in the eleven class action lawsuits against Sutter Health following the theft of a desktop computer last fall.  The computer contained unencrypted protected health information on about 4.24 million members.  The eleven class action suits are likely to be consolidated for ease of handling by the courts.

For an outfit whose most recently reported year-end financials show just under $900 million in income on just over $9 billion in revenue, a $4.24 billion claim certainly qualifies as a big deal.  The data breach claims against Sutter Health were filed last year following its self-reporting of the computer theft, and are in the news again due to the potential consolidation.

The company had reportedly begun to encrypt its data last year, starting with more vulnerable mobile devices, and moving on to desktop computers, but had not gotten to the desktop in question by the time of the breach.  It remains to be seen how these facts end up affecting the final damages awarded in this case.

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Are We Ready for Global Payments?

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley released her office’s second annual report, An Examination of Health Care Cost Trends and Drivers (PDF; see also press release), which contains a wealth of critical data analysis — and also highlights how little we know about certain things — providing some important context for the discussion of the proposed Part III of Massachusetts health reform, a bill filed by Governor Patrick which would create all-payor ACOs and a system of global payments.

At this late date, few would argue against a move a way from fee-for-service reimbursement for health care, or adding quality metrics to the mix, and tying financial rewards to providers to their performance measured against these metrics.  (Consider the Massachusetts Blue Cross Blue Shield ACQ (alternative quality contract) experience.)  The AG’s report, however, highlights the wide disparities in payments to providers based on negotiating strength, rather than quality or cost of care (as noted in last year’s AG report; check out the 2009 special commission report, too).

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Is the ACO DOA? Reasonable Minds Can Improve the Draft Regulations

In the current all-ACO, all the time, health care policy news cycle, we’ve been inundated with declarations that the ACO is dead, because a handful of big boys say they don’t want to play.

Today, CMS announced that it is tinkering with the proposed ACO rules by offering three variations on the ACO theme (link to press release; see also CMS ACO fact sheet).  From the fact sheet:

  • Pioneer ACO Model: The Innovation Center is now accepting applications for the Pioneer ACO Model, which will provide a faster path for mature ACOs that have already begun coordinating care for patients.  The Pioneer ACO model is estimated to save Medicare as much as $430 million over three years by better managing care for beneficiaries and eliminating duplication.  And it is designed to work in coordination with private payers in order to achieve cost savings and improve quality across the ACO, thus improving health outcomes and reducing costs for employers and patients with private insurance.
  • Advance Payment ACO Initiative: The Innovation Center is seeking public comments on whether it should offer an Advance Payment Initiative that would allow certain ACOs participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program access to a portion of their shared savings up front, helping providers make the infrastructure and staff investments crucial to successful ACOs.  Comments should be submitted by June 17th, 2011.
  • Accelerated Development Learning Sessions: Providers interested in learning more about the steps necessary to become an ACO can attend an upcoming series of Accelerated Development Learning Sessions.  These convenient and free sessions will help providers learn what steps they can take to improve care delivery and how to develop an action plan for moving toward better-coordinated care.

Together with the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the initiatives announced today give providers a broad range of options and support that reflect the varying needs of providers in embarking on delivery system reforms.

CMS has recently hinted that it will be rejiggering the rules to encourage physician-led ACOs, too (an approach I have previously endorsed).Continue reading…

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