Free Healthcare IT Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Get all the latest Health IT updates from Neil Versel for FREE!

An argument for automating medication administration

I was sent the following story today:


Woman killed by pet 13-foot python

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Oct. 23 (UPI) — A Virginia Beach woman appears to have been killed by a pet reticulated python while she was trying to give the 13-foot snake medication.

Amanda Ruth Black’s husband found her body Tuesday night when he came home, The Virginian-Pilot reported. She was lying in front of the snake’s empty cage.

Police said the 25-year-old woman died from asphyxiation. They found the python in the bedroom and described it as agitated.

The snake was in the custody of Virginia Beach Animal Control.

The reticulated python, native to Southeast Asia, can grow to be more than 30 feet long and competes with the heavier anaconda of South America for the title of longest snake. Pythons are not venomous and have become popular pets, but experts warn they can be dangerous if they are startled or if not fed correctly.

If that’s not an argument for automating medication administration, I don’t know what is.

October 26, 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.

Information overload

SAN FRANCISCO—Talk about irony: I’ve got tons and tons of great information to report, and very little time in which to do so. I’m currently at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco, fresh off the Medical Group Management Association annual meeting down the coast in San Diego. I’ll be at the Collaborative Communications Summit in Los Angeles early next week.

Aside from all the frequent-flier miles, I’ve collected much news from vendors, organizations, and others in health IT. At some point, I’ll actually get around to reporting the news. In the meantime, you can check out the story I wrote this week in Digital HealthCare & Productivity about MGMA’s desire for health plans to develop a standardized, machine-readable insurance card for all patients.

I also wanted to draw your attention to yet another celebrity medical error. According to the Boston Herald, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has had to have three follow-up procedures to contain an infection in the knee he recently had reconstructive surgery on. He’s currently on IV antibiotics to contain the infection.

Although the story doesn’t say so, my immediate thought is that Brady contracted the infection from something that wasn’t fully cleaned in the operating room at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles during the Oct. 6 surgery. In other words, Brady likely is the victim of yet another hospital-acquired infection.

Also, the counter in the bottom right of this page recently passed 40,000 visits since September 2004. There have been more than 52,200 page views. Traffic has accelerated since a slow start, and is now at about 1,000 visits and 1,300 page views a month. Thanks for reading.

October 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.

More on health reform proposals

Here’s some video from the California HealthCare Foundation

In a Sept. 16 event at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, McCain health policy advisor Daniel Kessler and Obama advisor E. Richard Brown explained and debated their respective candidates’ positions. It should come as no surprise that IT is but a small part of the discussion.

<!–

If you don’t want to watch all 66 minutes of this video, it’s broken into 13 chapters. Click on “Open Tools” in the video window to select.

October 11, 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.

Davies Award winners

I just got the word from HIMSS about the 2008 Davies Award winners.

Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor, Maine, is the only organizational winner this year.

Palm Beach (Fla.) Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oklahoma Arthritis Center, Edmond, Okla., and Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia won HIMSS Ambulatory Davies Awards of Excellence.

For the first time, HIMSS added a Davies Community Health Award this year. Four organizations took home those honors: The Columbia Basin Health Association in Othello, Wash.; the White River Rural Health Center, Augusta, Ark.; and the Community Health Access Network in Newmarket, N.H.

The New York Children’s Health Project, supported by the Children’s Health Fund, won in the category of Community Health Organizations (CHOs) and Member CHOs.

HIMSS previously announced that the Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority in Cherokee, N.C., and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services had won Davies Public Health Awards of Excellence for 2008.

October 10, 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.

Did you notice?

Both John McCain and Barack Obama mentioned electronic health records during last night’s presidential debate. Notably, this was the one debate held in a town-hall format, where the candidates ostensibly spoke directly to undecided voters.

October 8, 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.

Calling out a bigot

I was updating my blogroll today when I came across the Health Train Express blog. I have chosen not to add this to my blogroll at the moment, but rather to highlight one tremendously offensive post.

In commenting on the presidential campaign, the unidentified author lists personal criteria for choosing the next leader of the United States. One is: “I will not base it upon slick oratory, charisma, and/or rhetoric.” That’s fair. What’s not fair and what really really really pisses me off is the fact that right next to a photo of Barack Obama is a picture of Adolf Hitler. Seriously.

As 1980s punk legends Dead Kennedys so eloquently put it, Nazi punks f— off. No matter whom you support for president, there is no place for Hitler comparisons in American politics, and it’s certainly far out of bounds for a blog that purportedly is dedicated to health information technology.

However, I am all in favor of exposing bigots like the author of that blog.

October 7, 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.

Catching up

I’m slowly recovering from a tragic last few days, in which the Chicago Cubs, the best team in the National League this season, failed to show up for their three playoff games. I was among the more than 42,000–a number that surely had to violate some section of the fire code–jammed into Wrigley Field for Game 2 on Thursday night to watch a stinker for the ages. I suppose this doesn’t hurt as much as 2003, but maybe it will when it sinks in.

Alas, life goes on, and so does the backlog in my inbox. Baseball season may be nearing a close in Chicago (the White Sox are on the brink, but still alive), but the never-ending political season still has a month to go. It was brought to my attention recently that Hollywood may have anticipated the McCain-Obama matchup in a 2006 episode of The West Wing. The debate between Matthew Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda) even strikes a familiar chord.

A discussion of healthcare policy starts around 3:20.

Back in the real world, I’ve seen a bunch of commentaries of late on the health IT policies of the Obama and McCain campaigns, in part because I had to write summaries for both the Physician Office Technology Report of Part B News and for my British client, E-Health Insider. The most interesting analysis I’ve seen so far is from David Merritt, a longtime aide to Newt Gingrich who also is advising the McCain campaign. Despite this built-in bias, Merritt actually gives a mostly unbiased assessment of the plans. Mostly.

If you want to know more, check out the Kaiser Family Foundation’s health issues comparison tool on 15 areas of health policy, including IT.

I still think both candidates are really lacking in specificity when it comes to health IT. I am anxious to hear further details, though I don’t really expect to hear much before the actual election. More likely, the details will come when the new president names his secretary of Health and Human Services, and perhaps not until the full healthcare policy teams are in place.

Moving on, there’s a new professional certification program in health information exchange. It’s from the same people who developed programs to designate certified professionals in health information technology and certified professionals in electronic health records. I wrote about that in November 2004 and got one very pointed comment how certification courses like this were “a joke” because they convey a hoity-toity title after just a few days of training. Just like then, however, program has some highly respected names on its advisory board. Anyone know if this sort of thing is worth it?

While we’re talking about professional credentials, here’s a link to the newly redesigned EMR Jobs.com site (even though it defaults to a .net site). Now I have just set myself up for everyone with an IT-related Web site to demand a link. I’ve been good at ignoring e-mails in the past, and I can do it in the future.

I didn’t submit anything to the most recent Health Wonk Review, but host David Shafrin of the Healthcare Economist blog examines groups in need of bail-outs.

I figured it would be much ado about nothing when HIMSS circulated a letter it sent to Reps. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.) about the proposed “Health-e Information Technology Act of 2008.” Just a few weeks ago, I expressed my frustration with new legislation that stands almost zero chance of passing.

Apparently the response did strike a raw nerve with some people, including open-source advocate Fred Trotter, who accused HIMSS of being little more than a lobby group for vendors of proprietary systems. HIMSS subsequently published a “fact sheet” about its views on the Stark-Camp bill, including this statement: “HIMSS actively supports the industry’s exploration and utilization of open source software as one avenue for information technology solutions within the healthcare industry.”

Just how significant is this mini-spat anyway?

October 5, 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.