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Tag: Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Eric Topol: The Patient Will See You Now …

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Moore’s Law is coming to medicine. And it will look and feel a lot like Uber: with rich technology underpinning,  consumer-service oriented and friendly, and shaking up the professionals at the front line of the business (from taxi drivers to physicians).

Eric Topol, physician and editor-in-chief at Medscape, told a standing-room-only audience at the kickoff of the 8th annual Health 2.0 Conference that the democratization of health care is coming based on consumers’ use of eight drivers: sensors, labs, imaging, physical exams, access to medical records, transparency of costs, and digital pills.

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HealthcareDIY: An Old Idea Made New

My wisest and longest-time friend in health care, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn has a new project, new research and a new website called HealthcareDIY out today. I encourage all of you to look around her new site and consider the stories she is telling, as they matter to all of us.–Matthew Holt

We’re DIY’ing home renovations, photo development, music playlists, personal financial management, and travel reservations. Increasingly, we’re also DIY’ing health. Think: Maker Faire-Meets-Health.

My thinking about HealthcareDIY was first inspired by my mother Polly, who died 34 years ago this month. She was my first role model for an engaged patient. When she was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in 1971, there was no internet for her to tap into for a patient network, a clinical trial, or a directory of oncologists or centers of excellence that were Top Doctors for treating the condition.

Polly did, however, absorb the books of Adelle Davis and her Let’s Get Well series on nutrition and health. Polly’s good friend, a librarian with whom she worked, tapped into the Index Medicus on her behalf and retrieved abstracts of articles on blood cancers that he printed out from the microfiche. Polly partnered with her doctor, an internist with a keen interest in hematology, for her care. She also had a huge and diverse social network (offline, of course) that surrounded her with a whole lot of love. Her M.O. was informed by Dr. Bernie Siegel, who started Exceptional Cancer Patients in 1978 and evangelized about patient engagement, living fully with cancer, and dying in peace, which she did, in October 1979.

Among many legacies Polly left me was her can-do attitude when faced with a six-month-prognosis upon diagnosis with Hodgkin’s. Mom worked full-time until the last two years of her life, wore beautifully tailored clothes and put on lipstick every day, and project-managed her health through eight years of treatment: primarily, radiation and blood transfusions. Polly figured out how to take control where she could, and she did it with grace, humor and sheer human will.

She DIY’d her health given the resources she had at-hand between 1971 and 1979: books, cassette tapes, in-person support groups, medical journals in print, a specialist and internist, and lots of love.

In the three decades since Polly’s death, two seismic forces have structurally changed consumers in America: the Great Recession beginning in December 2007, and the near-universal use of the internet in health. Ogilvy’s report, Eyes Wide Open, Wallet Half Shut, found two countervailing forces re-shaping U.S. consumers: re-trenching and re-imagining. On the retrenching side of behavior, people began to do more binging: in media consumption, drinking, and eating.

On the re-imagining front, some people looked to re-invent themselves, reconnect with others, and re-train to re-tool careers. This group of people has sought to be more active and more deliberate, and accept more complexity in daily living. These people are more mindful, more frugal, and open to trading down. 9 in 10 use coupons, shop at discount stores, and buy more store brands and generics.

For this latter group, Ogilvy said, “Self Reliance is the new insurance policy,” with a group ethos believing that, “Americans need to be strong, get their house in order, and protect themselves,” per the report.

That’s where HealthcareDIY comes into play.Continue reading…

The New Bioterrorism? The Hacked Medical Device

A time-and-technology challenged FDA, proliferation of software-controlled medical devices in and outside of hospitals, and growth of hackers have resulted in medical technology that’s riddled with malware. Furthermore, lack of security built into the devices makes them ripe for hacking and malfeasance.

Scenario: a famous figure (say, a politician with an implantable defibrillator or young rock star with an insulin pump) becomes targeted by a hacker, who industriously virtually works his way into the ICD’s software and delivers the man a shock so strong it’s akin to electrocution.

Got the picture?

Welcome to the dark side of health IT and connected health. Without strong and consistently adopted security technology and policies, this scenario isn’t a wild card: it’s in the realm of possibility. This is not new-news: back in 2008, a research team figured out how to program a common pacemaker-defibrillator to transmit a “deadly 830-volt jolt,” according to Barnaby Jack, a security expert.

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3 in 5 Physicians Would Quit Today If They Could

Being a doctor isn’t a happy profession in 2012: 3 in 5 doctors say that, if they could, they’d retire this year. Over three-fourths of physicians are pessimistic about the future of their profession. 84% of doctors feel that the medical profession is in decline. And, over 1 in 3 doctors would choose a different professional if they had it all to do over again.

The Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of doctors, sent a survey to 630,000 physicians — every physician in the U.S. that’s registered with the AMA’s Physician Master File — in March-June 2012. The Foundation received over 13,000 completed surveys back. Findings from these data are summarized in the Foundations report, A Survey of America’s Physicians, published in September 2012.

Morale among physicians is much lower than it was in 2008, as shown in the first chart. Five years ago, less than 1 in 2 doctors would opt to retire; that’s up by over one-third. What’s driving doctors toward pessimism are the least satisfying aspects of practicing medicine in 2012, including:

Concerns about liability, 40%
The hassle of dealing with Medicare, Medicaid and government regulations, 27%. Over 52% of doctors said they’ve limited access to Medicare patients to their practices, or they’re planning to do so.
Lack of work/life balance, 25%
Uncertainty about health reform, 22%
Paperwork, 18%. The survey found that physicians spend over 22% of their time on non-clinical paperwork, resulting in a huge clinical productivity loss.
EMR implementation as a “least satisfying” aspect of work is quite low on the roster of concerns, with only 9% of doctors noting that as a prime concern in 2012.

As a result of uncertainty due to health reform, regulation and finance/reimbursement, the percent of physicians who remain independent will drop to 33% in 2013, Accenture forecasts, from 57% in 2000, 49% in 2005, and 43% in 2009. Aligning with a health system/hospital gives doctors more economic security and fewer administrative hassles.

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Safe Skyping: The Evolving Doctor-Patient Relationship


Skype and videoconferencing have surpassed the tipping point of consumer adoption. Grandparents Skype with grandchildren living far, far away. Soldiers converse daily with families from Afghanistan and Iraq war theatres. Workers streamline telecommuting by videoconferencing with colleagues in geographically distributed offices.

In the era of DIY’ing all aspects of life, more health citizens are taking to DIY’ing health — and, increasingly, looking beyond physical health for convenient access to mental and behavioral health services.

The Online Couch: Mental Health Care on the Web is my latest paper for the California HealthCare Foundation. Among a range of emerging tech-enabled mental health services is videoconferencing, for which there is a growing roster of choices for platforms that market a variety of features beyond pure communications.

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Pre-Conferences kick off Health 2.0

We were coding up a storm yesterday (Saturday) at the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge Code-a-thon and that goes on today–you can even stop by the PariSoma Loft to see the live judging at 3pm — with $13,000 in prizes on the line.

But the main act is starting up TODAY with 4 fabulous pre-conferences.  Don’t forget these are FREE to anyone registered to attend the main conference and to doctors, patients and employers as appropriate for their sessions. There’s also an Innovation Exchange with the Beacon Communities which has some public availability.

The Pre-Conferences: Patients 2.0 brings together more than 150 patient activists. Doctors 2.0 has several leading physicians on stage and in the audience, and more than 15 demos and active panel discussions. Employers 2.0 has leading employers again on stage and in the audience (Wanna meet Facebook’s head of benefits? -scan the badges!) and more demos than you can shake a stick at–as long as some cool case studies from Pfizer on wellness and Cisco on worksite clinics.Continue reading…

The Doctor is Social

Doctors and hospitals are going social, adopting social media for professional and clinical use, based on surveys conducted in mid-2011 by QuantiaMD and Frost & Sullivan and the Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2).

In Doctors, Patients & Social Media, dated September 2011, QuantiaMD and the Care Continuum Alliance report a high level of physician engagement with online networks and social media. Two-thirds of physicians are using social media for professional purposes, and see potential in the use of these channels to facilitate patient-physician communication. The survey found a cadre of “Connected Clinicians” who use multiple media sites to positively impact patient care. Over 20% of clinicians use 2 or more sites.

Only 1 in 10 physicians is familiar with one or more online patient communities, as the first chart illustrates. Among those who know about at least one community, a majority believe the sites have a positive impact on patients (either very positive or positive in the survey response). This is true across various condition categories, especially for rare diseases, cancers, chronic conditions, maternal and child health, and wellness/prevention. As one physician shared anecdotally, “Patients can share their stories, learn from others, spread knowledge, and instill hope.”

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U.S. Hospitals Face Gloomiest Economic Outlook in 20 Years


Revenues = volume x price. This is the financial reality for every organization that makes its money serving customers, whether for-profit or not-for-profit.

For the U.S. hospital sector, both volumes and prices are falling, leading to a depressed top-line. Reimbursement reductions from Medicare, Medicaid and commercial health plans are all under pressure: that’s the ‘price’ part of the equation. On the volume multiplier, the recession economy has caused patients to delay care, such as elective surgeries. Hospitals are forced to scrutinize every aspect of operations, according to Hospital Revenues in Critical Condition; Downgrades May Follow, from Moody’s Investors Service.

Moody’s points to declines in inpatient admissions, and falling outpatient indicators including ER visits, outpatient visits, and outpatient surgeries, all due to the “sluggish economy,” the agency wrote.

Exacerbating the negative bottom-line impact is the continued growth of uncompensated care: that is, health services provided to patients who leave the hospital without paying their bill.

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Most Americans Don’t Yet Perceive the Benefits of EHRs

Consider all the stakeholders with something to gain by moving from paper health records to digital electronic records. Who do you think would gain the most from EHRs, and who the least? A survey from Xerox finds that the among all the groups American adults say have the least to gain through EHRs is, the most common response is…patients.

29% of people aren’t really sure who’s to gain from moving to EHRs.

To better understand Americans’ views on electronic health records (EHRs), Xerox polled 2720 adults 18 and over in May 2011.

The topline finding is that 83% of people have concerns about digital medical records.  The most concerning issue is that “my” personal health information could be hacked, cited by two-thirds of people. The second most common concern is that  digital medical record files could be lost, damaged or corrupted (noted by 54%)  and that personal health information could be misused (52%). Another worry is that a power outage or computer problem could prevent providers from accessing health information, cited by 52% of people surveyed.

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Prospecting for Gold

3 in 4 of the Fortune 50 companies are part of the U.S. health economy in some way. Only 1 in 3 of these is in traditional health industries like pharmaceutical and life science companies, insurance, and businesses in the Old School Health Care value chain.

2 in 3 of the Fortune 50 companies involved in health are in new-new segments. In their report, The New Gold Rush, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) identifies four roles for “prospectors” in the new health economy which will represent 20% of the GDP by 2019:

  • Fixers
  • Connectors
  • Retailers, and
  • Implementers.

These are the disruptive roles that will be played by new, non-traditional entrants seeking their piece of the health care economy.

Jane’s Hot Points: This week marks the second annual Health Care Innovation Week in metro Washington, DC. Each day held a different meeting addressing some aspect of disruptions in health care. Today marks the second annual Health Care Data Initiative meeting, to be held at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD, where I will participate in a health data-palooza organized by the Health 2.0 Conference.

“Connectors” will play an all-important role today and in the new-new health economy. PwC says that Connectors succeed “by linking information and technology across the health system. They provide meaningful analysis and context so that clinicians and consumers can make better decisions about health behaviors.”

As physicians and providers continue to adopt electronic health records, and use them more deeply and smartly, consumers will be doing the same in their world via USB-connected blood pressure devices, digital glucometers for managing diabetes, WiFi weight scales, and a score of mobile health apps to track real-life, personal data. Without interoperability and connectivity between these siloed applications, the “gold” can’t be mined. Providers won’t optimize clinical decisions at the point of care, and consumers won’t be empowered to stay as well as they could or manage chronic conditions as effectively as they would in a data-liquid health world.

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn is a health economist and management consultant that serves clients at the intersection of health and technology. Jane’s lens on health is best-defined by the World Health Organization: health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. She blogs regularly at HEALTHPopuli.

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