ONC Plans for the Future
The ONC releases an updated five-year strategic plan that stresses interoperability, patient engagement, and the expansion of IT across the care continuum. The document updates the previous strategic plan released in 2011that focused heavily on the Meaningful Use program. Maybe the ONC is not quite dead yet after all.
McKesson Ventures Into Startups
McKesson announces the creation of McKesson Ventures, a venture capital fund that will invest in early-stage and growth-stage healthcare companies attacking healthcare business challenges. Tom Rodgers, who was most recently with Cambia Health, was named managing director of the fund’s investment portfolio.
Stage 2 Attestations Still Lagging
Fewer than four percent of eligible physicians and 35 of hospitals have attested to Stage 2 Meaningful Use, according to the newly released numbers from CMS. The AMA, CHIME, HIMSS and MGMA quickly reiterated the call to shorten the reporting period for 2015 to 90 days. As of November, 2014 CMS has paid $16.6 billion in EHR incentives since the program’s inception.Continue reading…
I’m a nerd. Instead of watching Hollywood movies, I watched the entirety of Google’s 3.5 hour keynote from their recent developer conference, Google IO. I really appreciate watching and learning from technology companies operating at spectacular scale. They put on quite a show (at least for geeks like me).
One hour and eighteen minutes (the link should take you the right spot in the video) into the keynote, Google executives unveiled new discovery and curation features for the Android Play Store for apps for teachers to use in class. Google hired a team of educational content experts to review and curate in-class apps. Google will release certified apps to a special section of the Android Play Store that educational IT staff and teachers can peruse.
Google will also provide tools for educational IT admins to centrally manage and distribute those apps throughout the school per teacher, class, grade level, and more. Google is dramatically simplifying IT management in large bureaucratic organizations that can’t attract top IT talent. This is a godsend for teachers who have wanted to deploy apps in class, but who haven’t had the necessary IT support.
This is a brilliant concept. In highly regulated, slow changing industries such as healthcare and education, the biggest barriers to adopting and integrating third-party apps into the core workflows are fear of inaccurate information and IT distribution and management challenges. Google is doing a tremendous favor for the educational system. This move will materially improve the uptake of in-class apps.
Obviously, this begs the question, “Why doesn’t Google do the same thing for healthcare?” Happtique and Healthtap recognized this need some time ago. They’re curating apps and providing IT infrastructure services to help manage and distribute those apps to employees along different job functions, roles, locations, etc.
Dr. Leslie Kernisan recently wrote a great piece about app prescribing, asking, “Should I be prescribing apps, and if so, which ones?” Since Happtique is all about integrating apps into clinical practice, I jumped at the chance to add to this important discussion.
Dr. Kernisan is right to be concerned and somewhat skeptical about app prescribing. More than 40,000 health apps exist across multiple platforms. And unlike other aspects of the heavily-regulated healthcare marketplace, there is little to no barrier to entry into the health app market—so basically anyone with an idea and some programming skills can build a mobile health app. The easy entry into the app market offers incredible opportunity for healthcare innovation; however, the open market comes with certain serious concerns, namely, “how credible are the apps I am (or my patients are) using?”
Should I be prescribing apps, and if so, which ones?
I recently came across this video of Happtique’s CEO Ben Chodor describing his company to Health 2.0’s Matthew Holt. In it, the CEO explains that Happtique is creating a safe and organized space, to make it easy for doctors to prescribe apps and otherwise “engage with patients.”
Because, he says “we believe that the day is going to come that doctors, and care managers, are going to prescribe apps. It’s going to be part of going to the doctor. He’s going to prescribe you Lipitor, and he’s going to give you a cholesterol adherence app.”
He goes on to say that they have a special process to make sure apps are “safe” and says this could be like the good housekeeping seal of approval for apps.
Hmm. I have to admit that I really can’t imagine myself ever prescribing a “cholesterol adherence” app. (More on why below; also found myself wondering what it exactly meant for Happtique to say an app was safe. What would an unsafe cholesterol app look like?)
Happtique has been spending a lot of effort cataloging all the health, clinical and fitness Apps in the Apple App Store, Google Play and more. Their goal is to create prescribable apps, and proprietary app stores for providers. The idea is that a hospital or clinic can help its physicians suggest the right apps to patients by giving them a select group to choose from, and by having them cataloged in a way that is far more detailed than Apple or Android can do.
That in itself is a big advance, but even though they’ve cataloged 15,000 of the approx. 40,000 health apps out there, they don’t think it’s enough. Happtique is introducing a new certification program today. The idea is to have all apps assessed both for technical proficiency and also for content. Happtique will be reviewing the applications for technical, security and privacy–in other words, where any data goes and whether the app does what it says it does. In addition it’ll assess whether the app links properly to a particular devices or a particular EMR–something that presumably is pretty important to users. (I had an Android phone once which a major tracking device could not link to, even though the device had an Android app!). Here’s the release.
Happtique’s partners (academic med center group AAMC, nurse credentialers CGFNS International & testing lab Intertek) will provide clinicians and other experts who will review the apps for content. The idea here is not to rate or review the content but to see whether the content is from a valid source, and is true to what it says it is.