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New? Really?

Friday’s AHIP Solutions SmartBrief had this item:

New AHRQ campaign focuses on patient empowerment
The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is rolling out a new campaign called “Questions Are the Answer,” designed to help patients be more involved in their care to avoid preventable harm. The program offers a Web site that includes video, checklists and advice for patients and providers on asking and answering questions. The Boston Globe (6/26)

The Boston Globe story from Thursday didn’t make mention of this being a new campaign; only the Spanish component is new. And that’s accurate. Readers of this blog would know that “Questions Are the Answer” is not new. I wrote about it on April 23, 2007.

On another subject, last week’s Health Wonk Review was one of the best I’ve seen to date—and not just because health IT got top billing. Kudos to Jaan Sidorov of the Disease Management Care Blog for his excellent and detailed commentary.

The link to the “Ultimate Guide to Google Health” was particularly useful. It’s nice to have time to put together such a comprehensive list. Or so I’m told.

June 30, 2008 I Written By

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

FierceHealthIT

Just a quick note: I’m the guest host, as it were, of FierceHealthIT this week. I wasn’t sure until it was too late if I was supposed to write a commentary, so I didn’t, but four of the top five story summaries this week carry my byline:

The one I didn’t write, “Top P4P hospitals to score $7m in bonuses from CMS,” ran in the daily FierceHealthcare last Thursday.

June 23, 2008 I Written By

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

Bad data mining

Recently I received a flier in the mail from Bausch & Lomb, offering me a free sample of an over-the-counter allergy drug called Alaway (ketotifen fumarate ophthalmic solution). “Don’t suffer through another allergy season. Stop itchy eyes,” the mailer said.

How did Bausch & Lomb know I have hay fever? It could only be from my history of purchasing OTC decongestants like Claritin-D and Alavert-D (both are loratadine/pseudoephedrine combos). And the reason why drug companies know I was taking this medication is because federal law now requires a photo ID and a signature to purchase any products containing pseudoephedrine. (Thanks, meth heads, for inconveniencing millions of innocent people.)

Clearly, pharmacies are selling their pseudoephedrine purchase logs to pharma marketers. Some might call this legitimate use of my personal information for disease management purposes under the treatment/payment/operations exception to HIPAA. It feels more like a violation of my privacy.

Anyone else have similar thoughts?

June 20, 2008 I Written By

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

Mystery solved

A couple of weeks ago, I e-mailed some friends and colleagues in the biz wondering who originally said that installing an EMR without considering workflow redesign was just automating chaos. I surmised it was likely Don Berwick, David Brailer or Bill Stead.

One response said that, just like with Yogi Berra or Winston Churchill, I could always attribute it to Berwick and people would believe me. As it turned out, it was none of the above—not even Churchill.

In fact, the originator of the quote was Larry Weed. Weed even used the “automating chaos” line in an interview he did with me in 2004. In fact, he’s one of the most quotable people I’ve ever had the privilege of interviewing, which I also did in 2006.

June 17, 2008 I Written By

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

Say what?

The following press release crossed the wire this morning:

SOURCE: Aperture Health, Inc. (flexSCAN, Inc.)
Jun 12, 2008 08:00 ET

Aperture Health Announces Sweepstakes

MISSION VIEJO, CA–(Marketwire – June 12, 2008) – Aperture Health, Inc. (OTCBB: APRE) announced today that it will raffle off its wellness360 Wellness RV to one of its lucky members. Tom Banks, founder and CEO, stated that the RV “is beautiful and will be ideal for family vacations.” Members will receive one (1) entry in the Road-to-Wellness sweepstakes for every friend they invite to become members of wellness360.com. There’s no cost to enter. Entries must be received by August 31, 2008 for the September 15, 2008 drawing. Visit the website for the sweepstakes Official Rules. Members also earn ten (10) points for every invitation sent. Banks added, “We think everyone should join wellness360. It’s easy and you will earn points that are redeemable for cash. Our unique proposition is that you get paid to get healthy and you may even win a $40,000 RV.”

About Aperture Health, Inc.

Aperture Health generates revenues from advertisers by providing highly granular health and wellness targeting. Aperture Health never divulges individual information to advertisers, sponsors, employers or any third parties and they back their promise with a $1 million Privacy Guarantee. wellness360™ empowers people to take action with their health and wellness with a robust suite of online services including; diet and fitness management tools, research tools to stay informed on issues related to their personal health and wellness needs and an online medical resource library and state-of-the-art search engine. More importantly, wellness360.com also allows individuals to electronically store their personal health records as well as all their “paper” medical records from their doctors. As an added benefit, members can create a wellness360′s Emergency Medical Record enabling emergency responders to quickly and easily dispatch key medical information to emergency personnel.

That’s right, Aperture Health, a PHR company, is giving away a $40,000 RV (photos here), to drum up referrals to its advertising-supported product. Yes, the service relies on ads based on patient-entered personal health information, with a promise of 33 percent cash back to users.

The fact that virtually no consumer is taking the time to enter data into any sort of PHR notwithstanding, this ought to raise hackles of privacy hawks everywhere.

As I type this, I’m in Washington, listening to Paul Wallace, M.D., of Kaiser Permanente speak to the 7th Annual Information Therapy Conference about patient-centered care and health IT. He just came out with a line that fits pretty perfectly right here: “I would argue that no consumer has ever had a hand in developing consumer-directed healthcare.”

For the record, Aperture stock closed at 6 cents a share today.

June 12, 2008 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 strong case for personal health records

Regular readers of this blog know I am a skeptic when it comes to personal health records, but I guess I’m just a skeptic of the promises vendors are making. A story that aired on CNN Thursday tells how a patient found out he had cancer by reading his own medical records. His doctors completely missed it.

Click here to read the story or here for the video.

Consumer empowerment can be a wonderful thing. But the question remains, when will the masses take control of their own health information?

Interestingly, the reporter, Elizabeth Cohen, found her own medical records online at a site hosted by her health plan. She called the discovery a “big wow” for her. Yes, the information is out there, but how many people are really aware of this? And how secure are the records?

June 6, 2008 I Written By

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