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More on health IT and Katrina, plus universal patient ID

My latest commentary on the astoundingly rapid deployment of health information technology after Hurricane Katrina appears in a new online publication called HealthDecisions. Check it out at http://healthdecisions.org/News/default.aspx?doc_id=24108.

It’s a publication of America’s Health Insurance Plans, though I received reasonable enough assurance that it is editorially independent from AHIP policymakers to not have any qualms about contributing. To me, it’s no different than writing for Health Forum, which is a subsidiary of the American Hospital Association.

I’m in Nashville, Tenn., for the Medical Group Management Association meeting, which wraps up today, but the real news in health IT this week comes from Washington, where the Commission for Systemic Interoperability recommended yesterday that the federal government develop some sort of universal patient identifier. The 1996 HIPAA law calls for a national patient identification number, but Congress in 1999 specifically voted not to fund any work related to such an ID.

Apparently, times have changed. Recently, Cerner boss Neal Patterson came out in favor of a national patient identifier and apparently is positioning himself as an Official Thorn In The Side of Dr. David Brailer by criticizing the notion of regional health information organizations. For his part, Brailer last week stayed in line with Bush administration policy by declining to endorse a national patient identifier.

Stay tuned. This promises to get interesting.

October 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.

Clinical IT goes wiki

The folks at The Informatics Review, namely clinical informatics specialists at the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS), have posted a wiki on the topic they know best.

Journal editor Dean Sittig, the director of applied research in medical informatics at Northwest Permanente Medical Group, started the Clinical Informatics Wiki (Clinfowiki) in July. I heard about it yesterday.

So far, the wiki is limited to a handful of topics, including CPOE, clinical decision support, personal health records and regional health information organizations. The EMR section only addresses clinical sign-out applications.

The great thing about a wiki is that it’s open and constantly changing and growing. Anyone can contribute—subject, of course, to fact-checking. Given some of the misinformation that’s been promulgated of late, e.g., “free” EMRs from CMS, fact-checking is a good thing. So is an online database of clinical informatics topics.

October 16, 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.

Daylong AHIC meeting to be Webcast

Here’s some good news and bad news:

HHS confirms that the first meeting of the American Health Information Community (AHIC) will be Webcast live Friday at http://www.videocast.nih.gov/. But be forewarned that this might be for hardcore C-SPAN junkie types only, as the meeting runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT.

If you happen to be in the Washington area and want to see all the action in person, the meeting is open to the public in Room 705A of the Hubert Humprhey Building, 200 Independence Ave., S.W.

Either way, you might want to make an extra pot of coffee Friday morning.

October 5, 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.