Dr. Matthew Hahn blogs about the current state of today’s EHR’s and rightly points out many of the same reasons that I have identified in my previous posts:
- The negative impact of Meaningful Use (MU) since 2009
- Poor usability of EHR’s
There are several other important concerns that have been left unanswered by our current Health IT offerings.
- Patient privacy and control of their health records
The solution Dr. Hahn proposed is one that hinges on the hope that government will abandon MU (unlikely given this political climate), and create a whole new EHR development program based on a national competition and then for the government to subsidize the cost of that winner EHR for physicians to use.
Subsequently, this national competition will engage physicians so that they have control over their destinies in designing the EHR of their dreams. But is it realistic to hope that government will support such an endeavor? Although I’m a believer that government should and ought to play a role in setting fair rules and be accountable to the public (for the many and not the few) and not to be overrun by lobbyists and those with the most money and influence who can rig the system, I doubt this solution will see the light of day with our currently polarized politics and the continued, large influence of big money interests in government today.
Movements as Inspiration
Here is my proposal that leverages existing platforms and technologies (but that most physicians may not be aware of) without hoping for the government to intervene today (or yesterday). Only until a community of patients, physicians, and developers that have a common goal of creating an EHR that works for both physicians and patients, that we ultimately compel the government to support (financially) the further development and adoption of this type of system. Those who have studied previous movements (such as the LGBT social movement, thee Civil Rights movement, and the women’s suffrage movement) took a group of like-minded individuals from different walks of life who struggle together, make their voices heard, participate, and ultimately control the cultural narrative to the point that government had no choice but to abide to the sea change that has already taken place. This is where physicians and patients have to start. And we have the tools to start the change as we see fit.
For now, the answer is “we don’t know”.
But… the question is very important and worth tracking over the coming months. Let’s not assume that open source will equate to “open”.
What is ResearchKit?
Apple’s press release provided an overview of ResearchKit:
Apple® today announced ResearchKit™, an open source software framework designed for medical and health research, helping doctors and scientists gather data more frequently and more accurately from participants using iPhone® apps. World-class research institutions have already developed apps with ResearchKit for studies on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
…With hundreds of millions of iPhones in use around the world, we saw an opportunity for Apple to have an even greater impact by empowering people to participate in and contribute to medical research,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of Operations. “ResearchKit gives the scientific community access to a diverse, global population and more ways to collect data than ever before.”
Many members of the research community have had high praise for ResearchKit. For more details and perspectives about ResearchKit, see the list of articles appended at the bottom of this post.
Health care for veterans has been all over the news. At the same time, the DoD is moving to procure a replacement EHR system. So it seems there is no time like the present to review a recent RAND case studies report entitled “Redirecting Innovation in U.S. Health Care: Options to Decrease Spending and Increase Value.”
The case studies include a chapter comparing America’s two most broadly deployed EHRs: The VA’s VistA and Epic. The tale RAND tells is not one of different EHR technologies, as both VistA and Epic both employ the MUMPS programming language and file-based database. Rather, it is about how different origins, business models and practices have dramatically influenced the respective systems. As the report itself says, the contrast offers “useful insights into the development, diffusion, and potential future of EHRs.”
VistA, “the archetype of an enterprise-wide EHR solution,” supports the Veterans Health Administration, “the largest integrated delivery system in the United States.” Initial VistA development was a collaborative, distributed, grass-roots effort where individual VA medical centers built out new clinical functionality on a common platform.
In the mid 90’s, VistA became the instrument of change at the VA.
The pace and scope of EHR adoption increased dramatically under the leadership of Dr. Kenneth W. Kizer, who served as the VA’s Undersecretary for Health from 1994 through 1999. Dr. Kizer considered installation of a major system upgrade to be a core element in his effort to transform the organization …Continue reading…
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.
Over four years of Congresses, Sage Bionetworks has drawn together leading thinkers and doers throughout the fields of genetic research and drug development. For two days each year, the conference floor is colonized by clumps of eagerly networking PhDs from academic, pharma, government, non-profits, biotech firms, and patient advocacy groups–people who often glide from one domain to another within this tight-knit cohort.
A cohort, certainly, we can characterize this group of attendees, sharing as they do a mysterious language drawn from years of research most of us will never understand. But is it a community? That will be tested over the following year as Sage Bionetworks lets go of the Congress. Founder Stephen Friend says it is up to others to create the next Congress, and its success or failure will be a measurement of the sweat and passion that Friend and Sage have put into attempts to build a community.
Why should a reader look further at this struggle among a tiny elite, rather than clicking on the next article? Well, first, if you’re one of the 48% of Americans who took a prescription drug this month, you should be concerned about where new breakthrough drugs will emerge. If you visit this web site because you want a more responsive health care system that can match patients to treatments more quickly and cheaply, recognize that new methods are important nowhere as much as at the foundation of the system where new treatments are discovered. And if you are just curious about the potential for global cross-institutional teams and loose networks connecting experts with ordinary members of the public to find creative solutions to old problems, this article will provide insights.
Don’t get too close, you don’t know what I have
The premise on which Friend founded Sage is that research and drug development have stagnated and cannot progress without more collaboration and data sharing. Therefore, with all due regard for the presentations at the recent Sage Congress on cancer research projects and other individual experiments, the real theme of the conference is in the keynotes about open source, the use of social media, and crowdsourcing. The challenge of this community–if we find that it has indeed become a community–is to analyze and deal with the particular challenges that genetic research and drug development inject into trends toward open collaboration.
In these politically polarized times, Americans expect Republicans and Democrats to disagree on every detail right down to what day of the week it is. This is especially true in the posturing hurly-burly of the House, where members can appeal to the few select priorities of a gerrymandered district to win re-election.
So it’s remarkable and unexpected when any legislation exits a House committee with unanimous bipartisan support. It’s even more surprising when the legislation potentially threatens the status quo for established corporate interests—in this case information technology companies.
The Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITAR)—sponsored by California Republican Darrell Issa along with Virginia Democrat Gerry Connolly, and supported by every member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee—threatens to put open-source software on par with proprietary by labeling it a “commercial item” in federal procurement policies. The proposal wouldn’t give open source a privileged position, just an equal one.
[youtube width=”475″ height=”300″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ESWiBYdiN0[/youtube]
TED Fellow Salvatore Iaconesi released this video along with his digital medical records – everything from CT and MRI scans to lab notes. He posted the health files to invite the online world to participate in the process of treating his brain cancer. As he wrote on his website:
This is my OPEN SOURCE CURE. This is an open invitation to take part in the CURE. CURE, in different cultures, means different things. There are cures for the body, for spirit, for communication.
Grab the information about my disease, if you want, and give me a CURE: create a video, an artwork, a map, a text, a poem, a game, or try to find a solution for my health problem. Artists, designers, hackers, scientists, doctors, photographers, videomakers, musicians, writers. Anyone can give me a CURE.
Create your CURE using the content which you find in the DATI/DATA section here on this site… All CURES will be displayed here.
Ten existential questions will make the difference between stumbling into the future and thriving
The questions have changed. The key strategy questions that the C-suite must be asking—and getting answers to—are different now than they were in the past, even from what they were last year. Most of today’s health care CEOs and C-suite leaders are missing many of the key questions they need to ask to drive strategy now, this year, this budget, in order to survive the next three to seven years. Which ones are you missing?
A New Mind-set
Today and for the next few years the weather of this industry will be dominated by pervasive, discontinuous change. Structures, revenue streams, relationships of every level: All are shifting in fundamental ways. Specifically, the weather will be driven by:
- invention and propagation of new business models;
- shifting risk onto both the provider and the patient, accompanied by building of new risk-based relationships, contracts and alliances;
- smart primary care coming to the fore as the foundation of health care, driving most business models;
- digitization and automation going wall to wall and beyond the walls—accompanied by powerful new info-capacities, from “big data” strategic analysis to new ways of reaching and bonding with customers; and
- a striking new need for efficiency and effectiveness in response to rapidly rising demand as the baby boom ages, the baby boom health care workforce ages and disengages, and the newly insured increase their use of health care facilities.
Most of these factors, except the very last, are not dependent on the health care reform act, and will not change much if the act is altered or set aside.Continue reading…
Programmable self is a riff on the Quantified Self (QS). It is a simple concept:
Quantify what you want to change about yourself + motivational hacks = personal change success.
There are several potential “motivation hacks” that people regularly employ. The simplest of these is peer pressure. You could tell all of your co-workers every morning whether you kept your diet last night, for instance. Lots of research has shown that sort of thing is an effective motivator for change. Of course, you can make peer pressure digital by doing the same thing on Facebook/Twitter/Google+/whatever. Peer pressure has two components: shame and praise. It’s motivating to avoid shame and to get praise. Do it because of a tweet and viola, you have digital peer pressure motivation.
Several books have recently popularized using money, in one form or another, as a motivational tool. There is some evidence, for instance, that people feel worse about losing $10 than they feel good about earning $10. This is called loss aversion, and it can easily be turned into a motivational hack. Having trouble finishing that book? Give 10 envelopes with $100 each to your best friend. Instruct them to mail the envelopes to your favorite (or most hated) charity for each month that you do not finish a chapter. Essentially, you’ve made your friend a “referee” of your motivational hack.
I just received another email from another EHR Vendor pandering to physicians to implement their technology so that the physician so they can access some usability incentive to use technology that they should already be using. Here is the offending language:
“State Medicaid providers across the country have an unprecedented opportunity to collect over $21,000 in EHR incentives in the last few weeks of 2011. If you’re already using Xxxxxxxx Xxxxxx, there are a few easy steps you can take to earn your incentive.“
This is just so wrong on so many levels to me. First, I find it completely incongruous that we have to incent physicians to use a simple tool that is designed to make their life easier, their practice more efficient, and their care more effective. I can’t recall, but I didn’t see the need to incent the stethoscope, antibiotics, or any other health innovations.
Second, the offer itself is just dripping with the grease and slime of “taking” something “while the getting is good”. Does anyone care that this “stimulus” money is subject to the grossest abuses? That it will be misapplied? That most of it is being doled out to people who have already implemented these technologies and now are getting a little gloss on top? Does anyone care that our country is broke and this is just another program that is unsustainable, unnecessary, and incapable of producing its intended results. Is there any evidence that this is having an impact?Continue reading…