One of the most interesting new Health 2.0 companies is Carol–a Minnesota start-up that is aiming at the heart of the health care system. It’s trying to create "care packages" that will in the end (if it works) change how people buy care, and how providers organize to deliver it.
Ambitious and very interesting stuff. In one of the first interviews with Carol CEO Tony Miller since their launch last week, I asked him what the company was hoping to do and why he felt that they had a shot at changing the world! Here’s the interview part 1 & part 2
This podcast I did with Michael O’Neil who is the founder of GetWellNetwork. Michael had an episode of cancer relatively early in his adult life and although he was the recipient of great medical care from one of our nation’s leading academic medical centers, he was also very upset about the quality of the in-room patient experience. The result is a new system of using the TV to improve patient care in hospitals. You can hear much more in the interview.
On a technical note: this interview was conducted in the middle of a significant California winter storm, so there will be occasional tricky patch. Thanks for your patience and thanks to Michael too for his.
I am so so far behind getting my transcripts of podcasts up here that it’s not funny. But this was one of the most recent and one of the most fun that I’ve ever done. It was a discussion with Shannon Brownlee. author of Overtreated, of which everyone in America should be forced to read at least the Cliff Notes version. (Warning, it’s long and the two of us had far too much fun talking with each other….)
Matthew Holt: It’s Matthew Holt with the Health Care Blog, and I’m back with yet another podcast. This time I’m talking with Shannon Brownlee. Shannon is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and, more importantly, has just written a great book called "Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer." Shannon, first of all, thanks for coming on The Health Care Blog. I’m really excited to have you here.
Shannon Brownlee: Oh, I’m delighted to be with you.
Matthew: My feeling about reading this book is that I thought I knew all this stuff. I’m sure in the last 15 years of hanging out in healthcare, I know all the Wennberg stuff, and I’ve known all this and I’ve known all that. I pretty well read all the studies. I’ve got to confess that when I read the first chapter, and you can introduce the first chapter in a little bit, it’s kind of like a homage to Jack Wennberg. You went and hung out at Dartmouth and it’s kind of almost like a folksy introduction to his character.
And I guess I started reading this and going, yeah, but is this is a serious way to treat a health policy issue. So why did you go about starting in that fashion?
Shannon: I started it that way because I found Jack Wennberg to be one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met, and the fact that he kept plugging away at this idea that started, oh gosh, almost 40 years ago, now 40 years ago, that he saw this enormous variation in practice patterns in the state of Vermont, and sort of puzzled over it and puzzled over it and puzzled over it. And then he finally started to say, "Yeah, this is real, there’s a variation in practice patterns. It’s not driven by how sick patients are. It’s driven by what the doctors are doing."
AthenaHealth’s Jonathan Bush was patient enough to talk through two interviews with me. The first died in a software flameout–the second crashed my computer, but thankfully the recording was still there after my very fearful restart! Jonathan explains AthenaHealth’s business model, why software is "nearly dead", and why he might just send a detective to your house if you want a job with him!
The rumors are true–he’s entertaining and "provocative". And he’ll be coming (assuming his schedule clears up) to the Health2.0 conference. So take a listen to the interview
JD Kleinke is always one of the more controversial and fun people in health care policy and health care IT. He doesn’t just write about stuff–he also gets really involved. From his early days at HCIA to his more recent roles at Healthgrades. And now of course he’s the head of Omnimedix — which was developing the technology for the employer based PHR Dossia, funded by WalMart, Intel et al. But apparently not funded enough.
When I was contacted by the PR folks representing BenefitFocus I found out that they’d quietly put into place the original 1995 business plan of Healtheon–connecting employers and health plans electronically around enrollment and billing. (Remember The New New Thing?) Ironically enough some of the plans that announced that Healtheon was going to do that with them in 1996 are just getting online with BenefitFocus now! So I thought that it would be pretty interesting to talk with Shawn Jenkins, BenefitFocus’ CEO about their core business, which has been growing like crazy in the last couple of years.
Then I found out that they were also launching a Web2.0 media group including a new health care YouTube-type video site called ICYou (get it?), hiring a star local news anchor from Charleston SC, Nina Sossaman-Pogue, and creating a PHR, and that they also wanted to come sponsor and video the Health2.0 Conference. So then I really wanted to talk with Shawn!
Here’s the interview. (We had a slight technical hitch in the middle but I think my editing skills have overcome it!).
Gordon Norman is Exec VP and Chief Science Officer at Alere Medical, formerly head of DM at Pacificare and a font of knowledge and opinion about disease management, technology, the role of health plans, and the chances for overall change in the system. We agree much more than we disagree, but if you have any interest at all in the restructuring of health care, I’m sure that you will enjoy our conversation.
You’ll also enjoy Gordon’s recent talk at Healthcare Unbound–his slides are here
A while back I got a rather unusual email from MEDecision– an interesting tech company I’ve interviewed before on THCB. It was actually quoting their CEO David St Clair who’d just seen Malcom Gladwell and it said this:
Picasso was able to produce his greatest masterpieces by the time he was in his
mid-twenties. After that, it seems the quality of his output leveled off, or may
have even dipped a bit. Cezanne was kind of the opposite. He learned from
trial-and-error and leveraged a half-century of life experience, development and
growth to create his best art after the age of 50. I think Mr. Gladwell is dead-on in his assessment that
proposals to fix our health care system can be categorized as taking either
Picasso or Cezanne approaches. Like Picasso, a lot of folks are focused on
finding that one, major, “big bang” idea that will comprehensively solve every
problem. While this methodology may work in certain circumstances (it certainly
worked for Picasso for awhile), I have to agree with Mr. Gladwell that health
care is far too large and complex a system for us to realistically think that
some monumental “burst of innovation” is going to cure its every ill and set it
back on course. No, my money is on the Cezanne approach. After 20 years in the
health information technology business, I truly feel that there isn’t a single
magical solution – even if Michael Moore seems to think there is. It’s got to be
a lot of little solutions building momentum toward larger, system-wide reform.
And we need to engage as many people as we can in the process and give them the
means and resources they need to keep trying new approaches that might work.
Like Cezanne, we need to build on our experiences and develop and grow our ideas
before we can expect the masterpiece to emerge.
As you might imagine, I’m not a fan of incremental piecemeal change in health care, even though I’m not in complete agreement with Michael Moore–whatever certain of my readers might think. And it’s not often that a health care tech company CEO goes off the tech-only reservation (so to speak) So yesterday I had a long chat with David. It certainly was spirited, and I hope you’ll be interested in the outcome!
Shiftwise wants to become the Travelocity or the Orbitz of the nurse staffing business by bringing web-based solutions to a field that has been dominated for years by agencies using outdated technology. By allowing HR managers to match available staff and allowing staff to bid for available shifts, the company says its technology allows hospitals — and agencies too — to save big bucks on the process of dealing with temporary staffing. I had a chat with founder Jason Lander about the company’s model and plans for the future.
Kelsey-Seybold, the big multi-specialty group in Houston, TX, has plunged into direct contracting with employers in recent years. You wouldn’t expect that type of activity in Texas from a physician group, so I talked to Dr Patrick Carter, the medical director, managed care to find out more. Here’s the interview