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Podcast: Blogging hospital CEO Nick Jacobs

From the Department of Better Late Than Never comes this podcast with Nick Jacobs, CEO of Windber Medical Center in Windber, Pa., who’s well known in some circles for being perhaps the first hospital chief in the country to write his own blog.

Nick’s Blog has been around since May 2005, and Jacobs also contributes to Hospital Impact and to the World Health Care Blog. Paul Levy at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston has been writing his blog since August 2006. (I’ve got them both beat, as my blog dates to May 2004. But I am not going to brag until I get the kind of traffic that HIStalk does. That blog, which I’ve heard referred to as the “National Enquirer of health IT,” recently passed 1 million visitors. I’m still looking up at 30,000.)

Speaking of historical records, I’ve been sitting on this recording since September, when Jacobs was in Chicago for the third Healthcare Blogging & Social Media Summit. I’ve got an even older recording in the podcast pipeline, and who knows when I’ll get to that? I did write about Jacobs in Digital HealthCare & Productivity in early October, but now you can hear what he’s all about.

Podcast details: Interview with Nick Jacobs, CEO of Windber (Pa.) Medical Center. MP3, mono, 64 kbps, 9 MB. Running time 19:34.

0:49 Genesis of the blog
2:02 How blogging helps a small hospital compete with larger hospitals
2:50 His message
3:45 Early blog posts and how he started taking more risks
4:50 Motivating employees via the blog
5:40 Keeping local mass media honest
6:40 The global reach of the Internet: “You can never be a prophet in your own home town.”
8:00 Why other hospital CEOs don’t blog
9:20 Being the first to take the plunge
10:00 Why healthcare is so slow to turn to IT
10:40 Windber’s cancer research for the military
11:30 National recognition and local indifference: “reverse urban snobbery”
12:30 Transparency in healthcare
13:45 Flaws in public reporting requirements
15:30 High tech at small hospitals
16:20 Using the Internet to build a reputation
17:30 Market challenges for a small hospital
18:04 The future and his passion for change in healthcare

November 29, 2007 I Written By

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

Tasteless joke, but kind of on the mark

Since it’s Thanksgiving here in the states, you’d rather laugh than work, right? In case anyone was wondering if the Wal-Mart retail clinic idea is getting any traction, here’s a joke from an e-mail recently forwarded to me. (File this under clinical decision support.):

One day, in line at the company cafeteria, Joe says to Mike behind him, “My elbow hurts like hell. I guess I’d better see a doctor.”

“Listen, you don’t have to spend that kind of money,” Mike replies.

“There’s a diagnostic computer down at Wal-Mart. Just give it a urine sample and the computer will tell you what’s wrong and what to do about it.

It takes 10 seconds and costs $10 — A lot cheaper than a doctor.”

So, Joe deposits a urine sample in a small jar and takes it to Wal-Mart. He deposits $10, and the computer lights up and asks for the urine sample. He pours the sample into the slot and waits.

Ten seconds later, the computer ejects a printout:

“You have tennis elbow. Soak your arm in warm water and avoid heavy activity. It will improve in two weeks. Thank you for shopping @ Wal-Mart.”

That evening, while thinking how amazing this new technology was, Joe began wondering if the computer could be fooled.

He mixed some tap water, a stool sample from his dog, urine samples from his wife and daughter, and a sperm sample for good measure.

Joe hurries back to Wal-Mart, eager to check the results. He deposits $10, pours in his concoction, and awaits the results.

The computer prints the following:
1. Your tap water is too hard. Get a water softener. (Aisle 9)
2. Your dog has ringworm. Bathe him with anti-fungal shampoo. (Aisle 7)
3. Your daughter has a cocaine habit. Get her into rehab.
4. Your wife is pregnant. Twins. They aren’t yours. Get a lawyer.
5. If you don’t stop playing with yourself, your elbow will never get better!
Thank you for shopping @ Wal-Mart.

November 21, 2007 I Written By

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

Just wondering

Will the death of Kanye West’s mother, possibly from surgical complications, be what it takes to get the masses to pay attention to patient safety?

November 13, 2007 I Written By

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

Scoop: AMIA’s 10×10 going global

CHICAGO—This is just a quick post to draw your attention to a story posted on Digital Healthcare & Productivity this morning: The American Medical Informatics Association is expanding its 10×10 program internationally, with the goal of training 20,000 informatics professionals outside the U.S. by 2020.

AMIA chief Dr. Don Detmer will make the announcement during his annual “state of the association” speech at 12:30 pm CST today. But you heard it here (or at DHCP) first.

Also coming in today’s DHCP newsletter is news from today’s American Health Information Community meeting here in Chicago that the Federal Communications Commission will award $400 million in grants over the next three years to connect small and rural healthcare facilities in 42 states and three territories.

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 new gig!

Ladies and Gentlereaders,

I am proud to announce that I have a new gig. I am writing a monthly supplement to the weekly Part B News called Physician Office Technology Report. It’s published by Decision Health of Rockville, Md.

The title pretty much speaks for itself, and the audience is primarily physician practice managers, similar to my last full-time job at a publication that shall remain nameless because I don’t want them to have the publicity.

So yeah, there was a good reason why I was in Philadelphia last week for the Medical Group Management Association‘s annual conference and yet another reason why my blogging has been rather spotty of late.

The first issue of the Part B News Physician Office Technology Report came out this week. Look for it the first week of each month.

Speaking of conferences I’m covering, I will be at the American Medical Informatics Association confab here in Chicago next week. The last time I saw Don Detmer’s crew was in Australia for MedInfo in August. Let’s see, 17 hours of flying vs. 25 minutes on the bus. Discuss.

The AMIA meeting at the Sheraton overlaps with the AHIP Business Forum, which is at the Renaissance Chicago about five blocks away, so it’s unlikely I’ll spend much time with the health insurers.

I did go to the AHIP annual meeting in Las Vegas in June (much warmer than Chicago in November, or, for that matter, Chicago in October 1871), but I’m not sure how much I’d get out of next week’s meeting.

A poll question in an AHIP “SmartBrief” last week asked which of the following trends was most significant in 2007:

1. CMS ruling not to reimburse costs for preventable errors.
2. Expansion of walk-in clinics in retail health settings.
3. Efforts to provide more insurance options for young people.
4. Obesity epidemic continuing.

Notice that health IT didn’t register. It’s not a top-tier issue on the national healthcare scene at the moment, a point further driven home at another event I dropped in on last week: the 25th anniversary celebration for Health Affairs. There, representatives from nine or 10 presidential campaigns participated in a roundtable discussion of healthcare issues.

The way it sounded to me was: “Access. Cost. Access. Cost. Medicare reform. Access. Cost. Health savings accounts. Access. Cost. Access Cost.” John McCain’s representative did mention health IT and, at the very end, Barack Obama’s guy alluded to quality. And you wonder why national HIT legislation hasn’t gone anywhere?

Want another sign that physicians are lagging on the IT front? I’m going to scrape the very bottom of the barrel for some evidence contained in a spam e-mail. Yeah, I know.

Someone trying to sell physician mailing lists said there were 788,974 total licensed physicians in the U.S. That sounds about right. This particular outfit claimed to have e-mail addresses for 17,042 of them. That works out to about 2 percent. Even if you consider only the 600,000 or so practicing docs, you’re only taking about 3 percent.

OK, enough with the spam. Here’s a public service for some people I’ve worked with, either directly or indirectly: Job listings.

First, blogger Matthew Holt is looking for 2-3 unpaid interns for the next health 2.0 conference, scheduled for San Diego next March. He’s based in San Francisco, and I assume most of the work is too. (Maybe I shouldn’t mention that the current issue of another pub I contribute to, Inside Healthcare Computing, has a commentary headlined “Our Take: Health 2.0 Is Really Advertising 2.0.”)

Also, E-Health Media in the UK, publisher of E-Health Insider, is putting on a healthcare IT careers forum in London on Nov. 30.

If you go to the latter, bring me back some British pounds. They’re worth about $2.11 as of this writing. Heck, I’d settle for Canadian or Aussie dollars, euros, yen, whatever.

November 5, 2007 I Written By

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