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See you at the HIT Marketing Conference in Vegas

After several years of trying, John Lynn — host of the Healthcare Scene blog network, of which this blog is a part — has finally gotten me to speak on a panel at his Health IT Marketing and PR Conference, April 5-7 in Las Vegas. I’ve had schedule conflicts or disinterested bosses in the past, but now that I’m mostly unemployed, hey, let’s do it!

I will be on the panel entitled, “The Best Ways to Interact with the Health IT Press,” along with some familiar names: Author and freelance journalist Dan Munro; Scott Mace of H3.Group, publisher of HealthLeaders, DecisionHealth, HCPro, Patient Safety & Quality Healthcare and ACDIS; conference host John Lynn; and session moderator Shahid “The Healthcare IT Guy” Shah. The panel takes place April 6 at 1:30 p.m. PDT at the SLS Las Vegas, which I’m told is far nicer than the hotel it replaced on the south end of the Strip, the Sahara.

Some of you PR and marketing types might find this ironic because I’m notoriously prickly when it comes to dealing with some of you, particularly in the weeks leading up to HIMSS each year. I can’t speak for the other panelists, but I’m hoping that this discussion can help shed some light on how I think when dealing with a seemingly endless flow of pitches, how journalists and publicists can make best use of each other’s time and how we can forge better working relationships.

I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to say yet because I’m still mostly flying by the seat of my pants, having lost my full-time job less than three weeks ago.

(Yes, I’m still looking for something full-time, but accepting freelance gigs for now, with a major caveat: I can’t take one-off gigs for vendors or anyone else I might cover because that creates conflicts of interest with other work I do. Here’s an idea of what I’m thinking. And while you’re at it, go read my posts at Forbes.com because I get paid by the click. So does Munro, another Forbes contributor.)

It will be a quick trip to Vegas, less than 24 hours on the ground, but it should be worthwhile. I hope to see you there.

March 21, 2017 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Video: AliveCor’s AI launch, plus $30M investment from Omron and Mayo

I did a video interview this week with AliveCor COO Doug Biehn about that company’s launch today of a physician-side artificial intelligence platform for mining ECG readings for signs of atrial fibrillation, a key early marker of stroke risk. AliveCor also announced it has closed a $30 million Series D investment round, led by Omron Healthcare and Mayo Clinic.

You can read my recap on my Forbes page, but here’s the full video interview.

I goofed in one spot as I was editing the video after midnight: I was in Chicago, not Silicon Valley, as you might be able to tell from the artwork behind me. The error is sorta fixed if you’re watching on a desktop computer, but YouTube annotations don’t show up on mobile devices. (In fact, YouTube is phasing out video annotations this month for that very reason.)

Your feedback is always welcome.

March 16, 2017 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Did Republicans just say they were fine with ‘death panels’ themselves?

Remember the “death panels” hysteria in 2009 or so when the Affordable Care Act was under development? (PolitiFact called “death panels” the “lie of the year” for 2009, not surprising, since the idea apparently originated with that truth stretcher extraordinaire, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.)

As you may have heard, that rhetoric resurfaced during town halls held by a few Republican members of Congress.

That idiocy came from language in the ACA that authorized Medicare to pay for voluntary end-of-life counseling. It was falsely projected as a “mandatory” activity every five years.

Some of the hysteria also stemmed from a specific clause in the ACA that said:

Establishes an Independent Payment Advisory Board to develop and submit detailed proposals to reduce the per capita rate of growth in Medicare spending to the President for Congress to consider. Establishes a consumer advisory council to advise the Board on the impact of payment policies under this title on consumers.

The fear, from the right-wing punditry was that bureaucrats would start to deny care to older, sicker Americans.

Well, the American Health Care Act leaves that provision in place, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation:

Other ACA provisions related to Medicare are not changed, including:
* Increase Medicare premiums (Parts B and D) for higher income beneficiaries (those with incomes above $85,000/individual and $170,000/couple).
* Authorize an Independent Payment Advisory Board to recommend ways to reduce Medicare spending if the rate of growth in Medicare spending exceeds a target growth rate.
* Establish various quality, payment and delivery system changes, including a new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to test, evaluate, and expand methods to control costs and promote quality of care; Medicare Shared Savings Accountable Care Organizations; and penalty programs for hospital readmissions and hospital-acquired conditions.

So, is the GOP plan embracing death panels, or is Republican leadership simply admitting that they were lying all along to whip up paranoia?

March 14, 2017 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

CMS is about to lose a top Medicaid official

Here’s the easiest prediction I will make this week: Dr, Andrey Ostrovsky, chief medical officer of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services, is about to lose his job after just six months.

How do I know this? Ostrovsky isn’t just privately opposed to the American Health Care Act — the newly released Republican “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act. He tweeted his opposition to the bill yesterday.

And he made the likely fatal mistake of citing outside opinions that don’t square with those of the Trump administration. Indeed, the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians and American Academy of Pediatrics have all come out against the first iteration of the AHCA.

We know that President Donald Trump pays attention to what gets said on Twitter. We also know what the Trump White House thinks of dissension within the ranks. Ask longtime U.S. Department of Justice attorney Sally Yates about that.

On Jan. 31, Yates, who was serving as acting attorney general before Jeff Sessions had been confirmed by the Senate, got canned for opposing Trump’s executive order that cut off immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

And she wasn’t just fired. The administration questioned her patriotism by saying Yates “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.”

Expect Ostrovsky to lose his job soon, in no small part because his tweet has so many likes and retweets. Perhaps it was a calculated move on his part?

March 9, 2017 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

I’ve finally joined The Walking Gallery

This isn’t exactly breaking news — that happened in the craziness of HIMSS17 a couple of weeks ago — but I am now a member of The Walking Gallery of Healthcare. The Walking Gallery is a series of paintings on jackets, mostly, but not completely, created by artist/patient advocate Regina Holliday, meant to spark conversations about healthcare.

Each painting depicts a difficult healthcare situation that the wearer or a loved one of the wearer experienced. In my case, it is the story of my late father’s terrible experience in a poorly run community hospital as he was dying of a rare disease called multiple system atrophy, and my own advocacy as a result of his ordeal.

Holliday calls this one, “Miles to Go Before I Sleep,” likely because I undertook a bike tour from Chicago to Washington, D.C., in 2014 in my dad’s memory, and, likely, because I am a notorious night owl/occasional insomnia sufferer. I think there’s also some meaning in the fact that I have been a restless advocate, via my writing, for better care since I had to witness his suffering nearly five years ago. (I didn’t get to see a draft of the painting until I received my jacket, which is only fair, since as a rule, I don’t let story subjects see copies of my work prior to publication.)

The painting of me as a child is based on this photo of me as a baby. My dad didn’t have a mustache for long, but he did when I was a toddler.

To this day, my mother will tell you I was the most beautiful baby she ever saw. That’s a completely objective statement because she has no inherent bias at all.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I absolutely love the final result of the painting, which includes purple, the color of MSA awareness, at least in North America. The jacket itself cost a whopping $50 at Marshall’s because I wasn’t sure if people sent expensive or cheap sportcoats to be painted.

 

March 7, 2017 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Here’s why everyone is mum after ransomware attacks

Did you see the news yesterday about the ransomware attack against Emory Healthcare in Atlanta?

According to Health Data Management, a hacker breached the appointment scheduling system at the Emory Clinic’s Orthopedics and Spine Center and the Brain Health Center, and demanded an unspecified ransom. The breach affected 79,930 patients.

Emory Healthcare said it learned of the hack on Jan. 3, and the organization submitted a breach report to the HHS Office for Civil Rights on Feb. 21.

But that’s all the organization said, and for good reason. It’s the same reason why MedStar Health in the Washington-Baltimore areas has not spoken to the press about its ransomware attack last March and April.

At a preconference symposium before last week’s HIMSS conference in Orlando, Florida, a security expert told attendees that the FBI instructs health systems not to talk publicly about such attacks, or disclose whether they have paid ransom. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles did confirm that it paid about $17,000 ransom a year ago, but as I wrote at the time, the hospital doesn’t seem to have much of a clue about a lot of things, including patient safety and public ratings.

But if you’re wondering why you haven’t heard much follow-up from hacked hospitals, it’s likely because of the FBI, which doesn’t much like to compromise criminal investigations.

March 2, 2017 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

I’m back (and looking for work)

Hey there, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged here. I will be doing more of it in the near future because I’ve just been unceremoniously let go from my day job in the immediate aftermath of me owning HIMSS coverage again and having the top two stories on the site on Monday and the top story on Tuesday. Their loss.

That means I will be posting daily in the short term, but it also means I’m looking for work. Here’s a link to my résumé, in case you know of any suitable opportunities.

I am thinking maybe my career in daily/weekly journalism has run its course after 25 years, including the last 16 in healthcare. I’m open to opportunities in research (after all, I have a history degree), analysis or maybe even consulting. I’d like to write books, but I have no real means of supporting myself while doing so.

If you have any ideas, contact me at nversel@gmail.com. I will say that I am not interested in freelance marketing gigs for specific vendors, because those would create conflicts of interest whenever I cover competitors. (If you have something full-time, let’s talk.)

In the meantime, enjoy the new posts on Meaningful HIT News (though the name is kinda dated now).

Thanks for your readership over the years.

March 1, 2017 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Podcast (but not mine): I discuss ACA, HIPAA, consumerism in healthcare

Longtime readers know how I’ve railed against how the mainstream media’s coverage of healthcare reform in general and the Affordable Care Act in particular, notably the fact that Obamacare addresses a lot more than just insurance coverage. I’ve also railed against how hospitals have used HIPAA as an excuse not to give patients copies of their medical records, when, in fact, the privacy rule says the exact opposite, something HHS finally saw need to provide guidance on just this month.

Those of you who have followed me to MedCity News know that I’ve also been covering the Get My Health Data effort since the beginning last summer — and its roots in the HHS decision to water down “patient engagement” requirements in the Meaningful Use EHR incentive program nearly a year ago.

With this in mind, I knew exactly what I was going to talk about when an old college friend, Missouri lawyer and published novelist Dale Wiley, asked me to be one of the first guests on his new podcast, the Dale Wiley Show. We talked for a good half hour, and probably could have gone on for longer, and I am especially grateful he let me talk about multiple system atrophy, the rare disease that took my dad’s life in 2012.

I do have to take Dale to task for picking a photo of me with my face bandaged from my injury at the 2011 HIMSS conference. He told me he picked more for pixel size than for aesthetic quality. Ah, well. I’m probably due for a new professional headshot anyway.

Click here for the iTunes link to the Dale Wiley Show. Music fans will especially like it, as Dale formerly ran an indie record label and knows a lot of people in the business.

January 18, 2016 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Health eVillages turns 5 with NYC awards ceremony

It’s hard to believe it’s been this long, but Health eVillages, which I am on the advisory board of, is nearly five years old.

Health eVillages will celebrate its fifth anniversary on Feb. 23 with a celebration at the Nasdaq MarketSite on Times Square in New York City from 5 to 7 p.m. EST. The event will feature the inaugural Health eVillages Heal-the-Villages Awards. These awards honor individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership — both professionally and personally — to drive forth significant social-good efforts. Honorees demonstrate “Collaborative IQ” by working with others to make a positive impact, and embodying “doing good to do well.”

Health eVillages is also honoring a “Frontline Hero.” This award honors someone who has advanced the health of his/her patients and community by employing the Health eVillages model of empowering clinicians through Health eVillages mobile devices, embedded with advanced medical reference materials and tools.

General tickets for the reception are $250, most or all of which is tax-deductible, and sponsorships start at $1,000. Those giving $5,000 or more will be eligible to help ring the Nasdaq closing bell that day, among other perks.

Click here to purchase tickets or sponsorships.

Thanks. I hope to see you there.

 

January 14, 2016 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Video: John Lynn talks CES and telemedicine

Since I took the full-time job at MedCity News last April, I haven’t been able to post a whole lot on this blog. Time certainly is one factor, but also there’s the little business of not wanting to compete with myself (and risk getting fired).

Finally, though, I have a reason to share something health IT-related on this blog. That’s because the esteemed blogger John Lynn, owner of the Healthcare Scene network that this blog is part of, appeared Friday on MedHeads, MedCity News’ weekly webcast. We discussed last week’s International CES, which John and one of my MedCity colleagues were at, as well as some telemedicine news I broke: HealthSpot ceased operations at the end of 2015.

Click here, then scroll to the bottom of the page to watch the archived video.

January 11, 2016 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.