In trying to publicize my own blog, John Lynn, maestro of the Healthcare Scene network this blog is a part of, had a couple of interesting thoughts that he posted on the EMR and EHR site: Let’s try to convince Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, a keynote speaker at HIMSS12, to take audience questions via Twitter. Furthermore, how about trying to get Stone to attend the 3rd Annual New Media Meetup at next year’s HIMSS?
You know a topic has arrived in healthcare or medicine when there’s a peer-reviewed journal for it. Now officially here is the field of gaming as a tool for healthcare, legitimized by the presence of a new journal, Games for Health, from well-known publisher Mary Ann Liebert Inc.
The bimonthly journal launched in July, and the first issue is due out this fall. According to Liebert’s press release: “Games are rapidly becoming an important tool for improving health behaviors ranging from healthy lifestyle habits and behavior modification to self-management of illnesses and chronic conditions to motivating and supporting physical activity. Commonly used applications include mobile phone-delivered games that track daily exercise and ‘exergames’ that require physical exertion in order to play (e.g., on platforms such as the Nintendo Wii, Sony PlayStation Move, and Xbox Kinect). Games are also increasingly used to train healthcare professionals in methods for diagnosis, medical procedures, patient monitoring, as well as for responding to epidemics and natural disasters. ”
This is a tricky industry segment. If it’s something patients have at home such as a Wii or Xbox, they’ll use it. If it requires people to purchase new equipment or software, they may not, since the direct-to-consumer market for interactive healthcare technologies remains a tough sell beyond the hardcore fitness fanatics. If we’re talking about training clinicians, then we might be on to something.
I can’t wait to see how this develops.
It seems like there have been far too many untimely deaths of late. The most recent is a fellow healthcare journalist, Janice Simmons, who died suddenly last week at the age of 54. Here is an obituary from FierceEMR. She succeeded me as editor of that newsletter.
As long as there have been EMRs, there have been vendors selling aggregated, de-identified data. And there have been people worried about privacy.
That issue came up last week AHIMA Legal EHR Summit right here in Chicago, during a session exploring issues related to data ownership and stewardship in the era of cloud computing. (I’ll have a more complete rundown of the session Monday in InformationWeek Healthcare.)
Near the start of the panel, Daniel Orenstein, senior VP and general counsel of Athenahealth tried to put any lingering questions to rest right away. “I think data monetization is kind of a red herring,” Nussbaum said of people who criticize vendors for selling sensitive patient information. According to Nussbaum, de-identified data no longer includes any protected health information as defined by HIPAA, and only has value in the aggregate.
What he didn’t mention—and what nobody on the panel or in the audience brought up— is the possibility that data that supposedly were de-identified could be re-identified to a reasonable degree of precision. I’ve heard this for years, but I don’t know if anyone’s actually re-identified patient data outside of academia. Is this a real threat, or is Nussbaum right about it being a red herring?
UPDATE, August 22, 4:25 pm CDT: Here’s the InformationWeek story I referenced.
As I heard at AHIMA’s Legal EHR Summit earlier this week, clinical decision support isn’t a perfect science. (Check InformationWeek Healthcare for coverage on Thursday or Friday.) This is especially true when doctors rely too much on Google and don’t actually verify what they find on the Internet. This may sound hard to believe, but not everything posted online is true.
Now, the notion that doctors guess with Google has made its way onto the funny pages, specifically in the cartoon Sherman’s Lagoon. To wit:
Hopefully, your own doctor is more qualified than Hawthorne.
Back in June, I covered the Wisconsin Technology Network’s Digital Healthcare Conference in Madison. That conference featured a panel with Vi Shaffer, research vice president and industry services director for healthcare providers at Gartner, Judy Murphy, vice president of information services at Aurora Health Care in Milwaukee, and Epic Systems CEO Judy Faulkner, based in nearby Verona, Wis.
The panel discussed the question, “Is meaningful use a floor or a ceiling?” as I reported for WTN News. The conference also featured several sessions on how business intelligence and health information exchange can support Accountable Care Organizations.
A month later, I saw Shaffer again at AMDIS Physician-Computer Connection meeting in Ojai, Calif. There, she presented preliminary data from Gartner’s annual survey of CMIOs. After the conference ended, I got a chance to sit down with Shaffer for this podcast. Since the fog and clouds finally lifted on the final day, we decided to record this outdoors at the beautiful Ojai Valley Inn, which is why you will hear some birds and other (human) creatures in the background. We don’t care, it was too nice to sit indoors.
We mostly discussed how HIE can support ACOs, but we also touched on meaningful use and health reform in this lively interview. Enjoy.
Podcast details: Interview with Vi Shaffer, research vice president and industry services director for healthcare providers at Gartner. Recorded July 15, 2011, in Ojai, Calif. MP3, mono, 64 kbps, 7.9 MB. Running time 17:14.
1:35 ACO as a business model and a fundamental change in the needs of patients (chronic disease)
3:00 Interoperability for care coordination 3:50 Will ACO model be better than disease management as it exists today?
4:50 Nature of proposed rules
7:30 Importance of innovation because “meeting the metrics is average.”
9:05 Is meaningful use a floor or a ceiling? Is an ACO a floor or a ceiling?
10:46 Ambulatory services growing faster than hospital services
12:38 “Oligopolies” in healthcare building interoperability and continuums of care
14:40 How far can you go with interoperability in this changing healthcare climate?
15:19 Targeted panel management rather than population health
I’m rather shocked to hear tonight that Bernadine Healy, M.D., has died of a brain tumor.
Dr. Healy, who turned 67 on Thursday, was the first woman to head the National Institutes of Health (1991-93). She also served as president of the American Red Cross, was dean of the Ohio State University College of Medicine and was health editor of US News and World Report. Dr. Healy, a Cleveland Clinic cardiologist, was deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Policy under President Ronald Reagan. She was married to former Cleveland Clinic CEO Floyd Loop, M.D.
I met Dr. Healy once, after she spoke at the Medical Group Management Association‘s annual conference in 2003. For someone as busy as she was, she couldn’t have been more gracious. I lost my job just a couple of months not long after that conference, and was fishing around for freelance opportunities, so I called US News offices in Washington and left her a message. Wouldn’t you know, Dr. Healy called me back. She was more about setting the editorial direction of health stories in the magazine than day-to-day story decisions, but she did direct me to the proper editor there. Alas, my pitches ultimately were rejected, but thanks to Dr. Healy, I was able to open a dialogue with the person responsible for assigning freelance stories.
This news today came as a surprise, because I had no idea Dr. Healy had been sick. Rest in peace.
I really would not want to live in Sarnia, Ontario. And not because it’s a hardscrabble Rust Belt town directly across the border from the equally hardscrabble—and very depressing—Port Huron, Mich. I wouldn’t want to live there because it might as well be the capital of physician resistance to technology.
According to a story in Canadian Healthcare Technology’s Technology For Doctors, fully half of the 150 physicians in town will choose to retire rather than adopt EMRs. At least that’s what Dr. Kunwar Singh, president of the Lambton County Medical Society, predicts. (Needless to say, Singh is a “veteran” physician, someone who’s been in practice for 42 years.)
The government of Ontario, which runs the single-payer health system in Canada’s most populous province, is offering financial incentives for physicians to switch from paper to electronic records. But like the “meaningful use” program here in the states, the money won’t cover the full cost of EMR conversion. T4D reports that the province will pay for about one-third of the estimated C$75,000 price tag. Unlike here, though, there is almost zero chance private insurers might also come up with incentives of their own at some point in the future. (Yes, Canada does have private health insurance, but it’s supplemental.)
Maybe Sarnia is an exception, but the defenders of the status quo really seem to be digging in their heels. And the losers, as usual, are patients.