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ABC News names bloggers ‘People of the Year’

I can’t exactly take credit for saving the world, blowing the lid off a government cover-up or destroying the credibility of Dan Rather, but I thought I would end 2004 with a link to an ABC News story naming bloggers the “People of the Year.”

If you doubt the power of blogs, check out this one, the South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog to find links to the latest news on last week’s tragedy and discover many ways to help the victims. I am donating some unused Continental Airlines miles to AmeriCares to help transport medical personnel and supplies to affected areas.

December 31, 2004 I Written By

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

England learns from America

The good folks at E-Health Insider in London today posted a story I did on National Health IT Coordinator Dr. David Brailer’s view on the National Programme for Health Information Technology, the massive project to automate records for the British National Health Service and its 52 million patients in England. (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not part of this effort.)

“We’re learning how from them and they’re learning why from us,” Brailer said of the British effort.

My story notwithstanding, E-Health Insider is a worthwhile read for anyone in health IT.

December 22, 2004 I Written By

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

VA study: EMR improves quality, but there’s more to be done

There’s a new study in Annals of Internal Medicine this week, demonstrating measurable benefits in quality from the Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA) clinical records system.

VA patients in the study only got 67 percent of recommended care for their specific chronic conditions, compared to 51 percent among a non-VA population of patients with and without private insurance.

So what about the other 33 percent of recommended care that is not delivered? Is that the best the American health system can do, even with advanced clinical information systems?

Read the study abstract here.

December 21, 2004 I Written By

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

A smoking gun

Inside the registration packet at this week’s Institute for Healthcare Improvement annual conference on healthcare quality was a flier advertising the 4th Annual National Forum for Improving Children’s Health Care, sponsored by the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality. This event is scheduled for Feb. 28-March 2, 2005, at the tony Loews Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego.

How ironic it is for a healthcare organization—one dedicated to the health of children—to hold a conference at a Loews property. Loews Hotels is owned by Loews Corp. (NYSE: LTR), a publicly traded conglomerate that also owns Lorillard Tobacco Co., the third-largest cigarette maker in America.

This is not to single out NICHQ. Many other healthcare organizations have scheduled events at Loews hotels. Quorum Health Resources is planning its Foundations for the Future conference for Feb. 3-5, 2005, at Loews Vanderbilt Plaza, Nashville, Tenn., a place where Vanderbilt University Medical Center has held numerous conferences.

In September, the National Association of Healthcare Quality held its annual conference at the Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Universal, in Orlando, Fla.

If only these organizations had known of the Loews Hotels connection to Big Tobacco. Now they will.

By the way, Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. has no affiliation with Loews Corp., so feel free to enjoy movies at Loews Theatres and Cineplex Odeon cinemas without patronizing the tobacco industry.

December 15, 2004 I Written By

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

100,000 lives a year

ORLANDO, Fla.—As promised, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement today announced its 100,000 Lives Campaign, aimed at preventing 100,000 accidental deaths in hospitals between now and June 2006, and another 100,000 in each subsequent year, by enlisting an estimated 1,600 to 2,000 hospitals to adopt six specific quality-related interventions.

Details can be found at http://www.ihi.org/IHI/Programs/Campaign.

IHI CEO Don Berwick got hearty applause from the approximately 2,000 people in the ballroom here at the opening of the IHI’s 16th National Forum on Quality Improvement in Health Care. At least one person walked by the stage after the speech and flashed Berwick a hearty thumbs-up.

The crowd here seemed genuinely excited about the prospect of saving thousands of lives—an estimated one for every bed in hospitals that adopt all recommendations—by taking a few relatively simple steps. IT vendors are not playing a direct role, but some in participating organizations said that collecting the necessary data is all but impossible without technology.

December 14, 2004 I Written By

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

Kaiser gives $8 million to IHI

ORLANDO, Fla.—Kaiser Permanente today announced that it is setting up an $8 million endowment to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to fund scholarship programs.

Kaiser officials say that the scholarships will allow healthcare professionals to attend IHI programs, such as the 16th National Forum on Quality Improvement in Healthcare, taking place here this week. IHI, which just moved its headquarters to Cambridge, Mass., offers conferences and training in patient safety, access to care, patient satisfaction and other quality-related issues.

Tomorrow, IHI CEO Donald Berwick, M.D., will join representatives from other public- and private-sector organizations to announce a new national campaign to save lives in U.S. hospitals. Details are embargoed until 11 a.m. EST Tuesday. Check Health-IT World News for my coverage of that announcement.

December 13, 2004 I Written By

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