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Podcast: Personal health records

Here’s a podcast of a recent interview I conducted with Girish Kumar, founder and vice president of sales and marketing of eClinicalWorks, a vendor of ambulatory EMR and practice management software, on the subject of personal health records. This topic is particularly timely, given the effort to create rudimentary PHRs for many of the people displaced by Hurricane Katrina and now Hurricane Rita.

Click here to listen to the podcast on your computer. (Right click to save for listening on an iPod or other portable MP3 player.)

September 26, 2005 I Written By

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

The law of unintended consequences

This doesn’t have much to do with information technology but it is related to patient safety, so here goes.

In the August issue of Biotechnology Healthcare, a publication I have written for a couple of times, is an interesting analysis of how certain provisions of Medicare Part B and the new Part D drug benefit that goes into effect next year might compete against each other. According to the article, the choice between physician-administered infusion therapy and an at-home drug regimen might come down to money rather than what would produce the best outcome, especially if reimbursements for physician services continue to lag inflation.

I wonder if the government bean counters figured this into their Part D cost estimates?

September 19, 2005 I Written By

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

And here it is …

Here’s the CMS release on VistA Office EHR. This isn’t the last we’ve heard of this story.

I Written By

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

VistA Office is on its way

Here’s some breaking news: People at CMS just told me that they are expecting the OK to release VistA Office EHR within the hour.

Reports of the project’s demise were greatly exaggerated.

I Written By

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

HIMSS reaches out, AHIC members named

I was going to wait a few days before blogging again to let the previous post stay at the top of the screen for a while, but I figured I might as well get this out since it pertains to the same subject, namely Hurricane Katrina relief.

Last Friday, HIMSS sent a letter to its membership to help members and the general health IT industry displaced or otherwise impacted by the hurricane. The organization is soliciting ideas, donations and even requests for help through a special e-mail address, hurricanerelief@himss.org.

The HIMSS letter specifically mentions that one company, HealthMeans, wants to donate smart cards and related services to healthcare providers treating Katrina survivors, wherever they might be. Anyone with a need for such aid is asked to call 866-488-6633.

The offer seems to be in the same spirit of my dialog with Jordan Glogau of Preferred Health Resources last week.

I’ll continue to follow the story of how health IT companies are helping and do my best to make sure any information I find goes to the right places. The health and lives of many Americans are at stake.

Meanwhile, HHS on Tuesday announced the charter membership of the American Health Information Community. As previously disclosed, HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt will chair the panel, and the remaining 16 commissioners are split equally between government and the private sector.

The list includes some pretty big names, such as new Intel chairman Craig Barrett—though he is serving on AHIC as chairman of the Computer Systems Policy Project.

Other commissioners include Federation of American Hospitals chief Chip Kahn, CMS administrator Mark McClellan, M.D., CDC director Julie Gerberding, M.D., and Military Health System boss William Winkenwerder Jr., M.D.

AHIC will hold its first meeting on Oct. 7 in Washington.

There was no word of it in Tuesday’s announcement, but Leavitt previously indicated that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will provide “management and support” to the commission. Supposedly that means David Brailer, M.D., will preside at meetings when Leavitt is unable to attend.

September 13, 2005 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: A call to action

My post last week wondering if health IT was part of the massive response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster drew a very interesting e-mail.

Jordan Glogau, chief technology officer of Preferred Health Resources, a medical billing services company in Nanuet, N.Y., made the following suggestion:

“Why don’t people nationwide volunteer to put up servers that are running open-source PM/EMR software like VistA or ClearHealth. I am sure that what the Red Cross is doing won’t have enough resources to address all the needs of everyone in trouble in the Gulf Coast states.”

He added, “This would give everyone involved a chance to experiment with a national healthcare records system, under duress,” and said that his company was willing to offer some servers and bandwidth.

I wrote about this idea in a Health-IT World column on Wednesday, but I thought I could do more. So I got Glogau on the phone to talk about how the health IT community could help. This podcast is the result.

Please listen, pass the recording around, e-mail me with your thoughts and, if you have something to offer the hurricane relief effort, get in touch with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology or a trade group like the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, who are trying to formulate some sort of plan.

Podcast details:
Interview with Jordan Glogau, chief technology officer, Preferred Health Resources
MP3, mono, 64kbps, 6.5 MB, running time 14:16

1:05 Explanation of plan
2:45 Open-source software
3:10 Standards
3:40 Rude interruption by Call Waiting beep
4:40 Power of the Internet to solve problems
5:45 Disease surveillance
7:25 HIPAA
9:10 Urgency of situation
10:40 Interest from others in health IT
11:35 Quick deployment of technology
12:20 How to get in touch
13:30 Call for action

September 7, 2005 I Written By

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

My first podcast

I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and published my very first podcast. It’s an interview with Stephen Hau, founder and vice president of marketing and development for PatientKeeper, a Boston-based mobile healthcare software vendor. Naturally, we talk about the advancement of mobile technology and applications in healthcare, and future prospects for this market.

Comments, criticisms and suggestions are welcome. I have dabbled in radio over the years, most notably interning, way back in the day, in the newsroom of KMOX-AM in St. Louis, among the nation’s best-known news-talk-sports radio stations. It was a union shop, so I never went on the mighty, 50,000-watt airwaves of KMOX, and that may be evident from this podcast. That’s OK, I’ll work out the bugs in both the technology and my enunciation.

Click here to listen to the podcast on your computer, or right-click to download for playback on an iPod or other portable device.

For you techies out there, I’m using Liberated Syndication as my podcast host, an iRiver iFP-899 for digital audio recording, the freeware version of Audio MP3 Editor 1.2 for editing the recordings and a killer live rendition of “An Cat Dubh” by U2 for inspiration while typing this.

September 6, 2005 I Written By

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

IT for Katrina response?

Am I the only one wondering if any of the thousands of workers and volunteers providing medical care to the victims of Hurricane Katrina are making use of information technology to triage patients, find hospital beds and look for patterns of disease?

Health-IT World, which I am a regular contributor to, ran a story this week about how the American Red Cross was getting ready to deploy communications trucks, generators, satellite equipment and wireless computer networks into Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Among other functions, the mobile systems reportedly give the Red Cross the ability to keep electronic records of people it treats in the disaster area.

A government program called the Metropolitan Medical Response System, which was supposed to have a substantial IT component, got a lot of attention as officials gleaned lessons from the immediate response to the Sept. 11 attacks. However, I have not heard much about this program lately.

A year ago, the MMRS was transfered from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the Office for Domestic Preparedness, a program supposedly part of the Department of Homeland Security but the Web page has a Justice Department address. I just found out about this Thursday night when I was checking the MMRS site.

If anyone else has any information on the use of health-related IT in the Katrina recovery, please do share. I’m even going to take the nearly unprecedented step of inviting vendors to contact me. Would it help if I bribed you with an offer of beignets in New Orleans if and when Café du Monde re-opens?

No matter, I urge each and every one of you to give what you can to help the hundreds of thousands of people (and pets, too) whose lives have been destroyed or displaced by the hurricane. Network for Good has a fairly comprehensive list of charities to choose from.

September 1, 2005 I Written By

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