Three related columns in HealthcareITNews caught my attention recently.
The headlines pretty much say it all:
1. Satisfaction with HIE solutions drops.
2. Vendors missing boat on HIE needs.
3. CommonWell names 3 biggest HIE hurdles.
Over the years, I’ve written more than a few HealthBlog posts on the topic of health information exchange (HIE) and why I feel so strongly that most of the initiatives currently underway are missing their mark.
As I’ve stated before, during my worldwide travels I haven’t yet come across a country that has accomplished a truly national, interoperable, bi-directional, fully functional HIE.
Those few countries that come close are more like a large American city or small state in size, perhaps mirroring some of the moderately successful regional or state-wide exchanges currently operating in America. Over the years I’ve also watched implosions of national HIE attempts in several countries that have failed miserably despite billions of dollars being spent on the efforts.
Reading each of the articles referenced above, I once again reach the conclusion that what I have been evangelizing as a better model for HIEs still rings true.
Microsoft and GE Healthcare announced a joint venture yesterday (as-yet unnamed), trumpeted as bringing together the best of both companies’ offerings in the health care provider market. (More from the NY Times.) Late in the day, I spoke with Brandon Savage, Chief Medical Officer at GE Healthcare, and Nate McLemore, General Manager of Microsoft Health Solutions Group. They had a great deal to say about the companies’ shared vision of the use of platform technology to enable care teams to deliver the right decision at the right time, noting that their core products complement each other rather than overlap.
The centerpiece of the collaboration will be an amalgamation (so to speak) of the two companies’ strengths around Amalga (the Microsoft product) and Qualibria (the GE product). Brandon and Nate described the challenges facing these products thus: Qualibria needs to be able to pull in data from multiple sources better (Microsoft can help), and Amalga needs to be able to share best practices across sites better (GE can help).
Put another way (to quote John Moore at Chilmark Research), Amalga is “more a toolset than a product.” McLemore acknowledged that provider organizations need to make a substantial investment in customization in order to realize benefits from using Amalga, and noted that one of the keys to the synergy with GE is that GE can build the applications needed to unlock the value from Amalga for customers who can’t or won’t do it themselves. While there have been some providers that have walked away from Amalga, there are some notable success stories (e.g. New York Presbyterian’s dramatic reduction in DVT thanks to information extracted and interventions facilitated by Amalga’s analytical tools). (We should note that there a number of products that carry or have carried the Amalga brand; one of them, Amalga HIS, was sold to Orion Health in a deal that should close soon.)
Greetings from Alaska flight 3, Reagan National to Seattle-Tacoma, seat 16C.
I’m on my way home after a great day at the Institute of Medicine’s Digital Learning Collaborative workshop. The overall goal behind the conversation was to identify core gaps and opportunities around creating feedback loops in the health system — how can we accelerate capturing learning about what works, and then integrate it back into general practice.
The room was full of smart folks and there were a ton of great observations, but the two themes that really stuck with me were:
- It’s clear that to make real improvements we have to reach beyond the office visit and find ways to bridge between the “real lives” of citizens/consumers and the traditional healthcare world.
- There is a ton of research and pilots running on either side of this bridge, but not a lot that reaches across it — and there is a perception that doing that work is really difficult.
Interestingly, not very long ago I was at the USENIX workshop on Health Security and Privacy*** — a very different conference (much longer hair than at IOM) — but exactly the same themes emerged from those sessions.
This is another in the numerous “death of Google Health” stories that have been appearing since Friday when the Google blog announced the pulling of the plug. I must admit to being more than a little pissed off with Larry Page or whomever it was within Google that made the decision. After all, Google Health was only introduced a tad more than 3 years ago (premiered at HIMSS in Feb 2008; launched officially later that year). And just nine months ago they hired a new product manager and debuted some interesting new features connecting to the new wave of personal sensors. I know that Wall Street has been telling Google to focus on fewer products and that Page as new CEO has decided to do that but for a company as rich as Google the effort involved in keeping Google Health alive would be trivial. And props here to our friends at Microsoft who are integrating HealthVault into their wider health care business.
The sunsetting of Google Health has meant an outpouring of articles from the factual (Deb Linton at Health 2.0 News), to the historical (John Moore at Chilmark) to the winners/losers assessment (Fred Trotter) to the mega-quotes including mine (Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb). There’s also been a steady stream of both sad and (sadly) happy people commenting on the Society for Participatory Medicine listserv, and Mr HISTalk was his cynical self–basically saying that tech know-nothings should stay out of our complicated health care business. He’s wrong and now Google is wrong, and here’s why.
With the very notable exception of HealthVault and (hopefully) some new innovation from Dossia, we are now dependent on a number of small companies to maintain the emerging data utility layer. The data utility layer in health is the place that is going to collectively store all the data that is being generated. Apparently Google didn’t have the real patience for two rapid developments.
First, with a combination of the Direct Project and the stipulation in the meaningful use regulations that EHR users share data with other providers and with patients, individuals are going to find that more and more data about themselves is available and easily accessible. Whether or not it’s a Farmville-type hit, the ability to capture all that information in one place is very important. Currently it’s also very time consuming to put together so very few people do it. But I do know of instances where people have laboriously entered lab values into Google Health just to store them. Sooner rather than later that data will be available much more easily in machine readable format, and as those barriers to use fall so the desire to look at that data will increase.
I’m still catching up with my HIMSS interviews. This is Chris Sullivan and Mike Raymer from Microsoft who are talking about the evolution of the Amalga product—the business intelligence engine—and the current state of HealthVault.
Kent Dicks from MedApps does a very nice job on Fox Business News. Kent explains what his company’s cell(phone)-based transmission solution does, why it’s not a privacy threat, who else is in the market, and what the upside is—cheap consistent device data from patients stored in Healthvault or other record systems.
Here’s the link
Meanwhile can anyone tell me why every business anchor these days is an incredibly hot model type?
Continuing my tour around Microsoft’s HealthVault team I met with Bert van Hoof. Bert is the devices guy who showed me lots of ways to get data into HealthVault. If you’re interested in how a power user links devices and data (and if you excuse my amateurish video work), you’ll like this one!
If you’re having trouble with this video in IE, you may need to download the latest FlashPlayer version. (Sorry, our video service Vimeo is having some problems that appear to need the latest version of FlashPlayer. You can do that here. Alternatively Firefox seems to work fin (but don’t let the folks at Microsoft know that I told you that!)
Last week I went to a search summit in Seattle where Microsoft told us all about Bing, their latest attempt to do something about Google’s Windows-like market share in search. After a quick chat with Health search guru Alain Rappaport, I ducked out early to go meet with the healthcare team in Redmond—focusing mostly on HealthVault.
Here’s the first of four interviews that THCB will be showing over the next four days. This is Bill Reid, who’s the Director of Product Management for HealthVault. (Excuse the shaky handheld!). Bill gives the latest view from Healthvault about how the roll out is going and what we can expect.