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Podcast: mHealth Alliance Executive Director Patty Mechael

Patricia Mechael is the newly installed executive director of the mHealth Alliance, a joint effort of the United Nations Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation. The mHealth Alliance this week is joining with the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health to put on the third annual mHealth Summit in National Harbor, Md.

I first met Patty in 2008, at the mobile health week of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Making the eHealth Connection conferences in bucolic Bellagio, Italy, when she was m-health advisor to the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, a post she continues to hold. I was impressed by her international credentials in applying mobility to public health.

She was chosen in September to lead the mHealth Alliance, and joined just a few weeks ago. I interviewed her by phone last week in anticipation of the mHealth Summit. This is the result. (I’ll have a companion piece in MobiHealthNews in the next day or two.)

Podcast details: Interview with Patricia Mechael, executive director of mHealth Alliance. Recorded Dec. 1, 2011. MP3, mono, 64 kbps, 5.1 MB. Running time 11:05
0:40 Roots in Bellagio meetings
1:30 mHealth Summit
2:05 Vision for mHealth Alliance and mHealth Summit
3:50 Legacy of Bellagio
4:45 Global reach of mobile phones
6:45 Multiple communication channels to account for literacy differences
7:25 Smartphones in global health
8:20 Separating hype from reality in low-resource environments

December 5, 2011 I Written By

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

Australia considers huge fines for EHR snooping

How’s this for a deterrent against unauthorized snooping into patient EHRs? Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon recently proposed whopping fines of A$13,200 for individuals and A$66,000 for companies that illegally access patient records. The Aussie dollar is nearly on par with the greenback these days, so the numbers are virtually equal when you convert to U.S. currency. That’s a lot of money.

Now, Australia doesn’t actually have much in the way of EHRs just yet, so this is somewhat speculative, but I think those numbers will get people’s attention. At least it will make records clerks think twice before peering at the records of people like Hugh Jackman or Nicole Kidman, right? The celebrity snooping at UCLA Health System cost the organization $865,000 in a legal settlement, and two employees were convicted of crimes, but I’m not aware of an individual being fined more than $2,000.

Would the threat of automatic big-dollar fines prevent unauthorized peeking at EHRs, or are lawsuits like the one the HHS Office for Civil Rights filed against UCLA more of a deterrent?

October 11, 2011 I Written By

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

Announcing Health eVillages

I’m involved in this project that’s being announced right now. I’ll have my perspective in MobiHealthNews.

Physicians Interactive and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Launch Health eVillages mHealth Initiative

First-Ever Consortium of Healthcare and Human Rights Organizations Providing Mobile Medical Technology to Challenged Regions Worldwide

MARLBOROUGH, MA, Sep 26, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Today marks the official launch of a historic healthcare and human rights advocacy consortium, Health eVillages, which aims to bring mobile medical reference and decision support technology to clinicians fighting to save lives in underserved regions worldwide. Physician’s Interactive Holdings, with its subsidiary Skyscape.com, Inc., in partnership with the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, will formally announce the creation of Health eVillages during this year’s Health 2.0 Conference. Health eVillages will be assisting healthcare professionals practicing medicine in the most challenged clinical environments, by providing them with mobile clinical reference and decision support tools for medical training, diagnostics and clinical references.

“Putting these devices in the hands of healthcare professionals who require access to current treatment guidelines and references for chronic diseases, drug interaction guidance and medical specialties will help save lives,” said Donato Tramuto, founding partner, CEO and vice chairman of Physicians Interactive Holdings. “Health eVillages will arm clinicians with a ‘gold standard’ medical reference tool-kit, so they are prepared for any situation and are able to properly treat even the most unique medical conditions.”

“For four decades, the RFK Center has been working on the cutting-edge of social change with human rights activists around the world,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights. “Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to healthcare. With this new program, we’re harnessing the capacity of cutting-edge technology to bring healthcare to the neediest people on this earth — people in Kenya, Haiti, Mexico and in the poorest places of the United States.”

Health eVillages is comprised of leading international healthcare advocacy organizations, mobile healthcare solution providers, health information technology companies, communication providers and public health foundations. They will provide healthcare professionals in disadvantaged areas with new and refurbished mobile phones and handheld devices that do not require Internet access and are preloaded with clinical decision support reference tools to ensure caregivers and patients have access to updated medical references in remote locations. All devices include drug guides, medical alerts, journal summaries and references from over 50 medical publisher resources powered by Skyscape.com, Inc.

To date, Health eVillages has conducted pilot projects in several regions, including Haiti, Kenya, Uganda and the Greater Gulf Coast. The Health eVillages advisory board is comprised of accomplished executives that have played a critical role in the healthcare industry throughout their careers and bring vast knowledge, dedication and insight to the Health eVillages program.

Members of the Health eVillages Advisory Board include:

        
        --  Kerry Kennedy, co-founding partner and president of the RFK Center for
            Justice and Human Rights
        --  Donato Tramuto, co-founding partner, CEO and vice chairman of
            Physicians Interactive Holdings
        --  John Boyer, chairman of the board of directors for Maximus Federal
            Services
        --  Glen Tullman, chief executive officer of Allscripts
        --  Steve Andrzejewski, former chief executive officer of NycoMed, Inc.
        --  Alexander Baker, chief operating officer of Partners Community
            Healthcare
        --  Dr. Mary Jane England, former president of Regis College
        --  Neil Versel, freelance healthcare journalist

For more information about Health eVillages, please visit www.HealtheVillages.org .

The following are suggested tweets announcing the news. For more information regarding Health eVillages via Twitter, please follow along at @PI_Posts and at @SkyscapeInc.

        
        --  New healthcare consortium to provide clinicians w/ Internet-free

http://ow.ly/6C2RQ                (5 Characters)
        --  RT @SkyscapeInc Breaking from #health2con: @rfkcenter & @PI_Posts

http://ow.ly/6C2RQ                Characters)
        --  @HealtheVillages announced at #health2con to bring vital #mHealth

http://ow.ly/6C2RQ                Characters)

About Physicians Interactive Holdings Physicians Interactive Holdings, with its subsidiary Skyscape.com, Inc., is the leading resource for healthcare information, medication samples and mobile decision support tools to medical professionals everywhere. We use the full power of our network to bring clinicians and Life Sciences Companies together in ways that will change the practice and business of medicine, for the better. Physicians Interactive Holdings has developed a foundation of user-generated, proprietary and public data that powers a networked suite of transactional applications, including eSampling, interactive learning programs and mobile solutions. Physicians Interactive Holdings is owned by Perseus LLC, a merchant bank and private equity fund management company. For more information about PIH, visit http://www.physiciansinteractive.com

About the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights was founded in 1968 by Robert Kennedy’s family and friends as a living memorial to carry forward his vision of a more just and peaceful world. Through long-term partnerships and cutting-edge methods at the Center for Human Rights, we engage in long-term partnerships with human rights activists who have won the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award to initiate and support sustainable social justice movements. We support authors and investigative journalists who bring light to injustice through the RFK Book and Journalism Awards. Our Speak Truth To Power program educates the public and provides students with a toolkit for action to create change in the classroom, the community, nationally, and internationally. The RFK Compass Program works with institutional investors to advance a discussion of the connections among investment performance, fiduciary duty, and public interest issues to optimize risk-adjusted rates of returns and address current and future global challenges. Partnering with RFK Europe, we provide human rights education advocacy programs to schools and communities across the continent. With RFK Children’s Action Corps, we urge legislative reform of juvenile justice systems. The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit charitable organization.

September 26, 2011 I Written By

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

Canadian town sets new standard for EMR resistance

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.

 

August 2, 2011 I Written By

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

CMIOs wanted in the UK

I’m getting ready to head west for, among other things, the annual AMDIS Physician-Computer Connection in Ojai, Calif., a high-level gathering of chief medical information officers. After years of fighting for a seat at the table, CMIOs now are being held up as a model, at least overseas.

Specifically, my friends at E-Health Insider in the UK have embarked on a mission to have every NHS hospital hire a chief clinical information officer, the British equivalent of the CMIO. Read more about the British perspective on the American CMIO here.

July 10, 2011 I Written By

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

An American conquers France

For the Fourth of July, how about a little story of an American conquering France, with a health IT spin?

Smith College in Amherst, Mass., is still an all-female school, so, needless to say, I did not go there. But a graduate I  know showed me the most recent issue of the alumnae magazine, Smith Alumnae Quarterly. There, on the cover of the Summer 2011 edition is a familiar face, Paris-based health IT consultant Denise Silber, a 1974 graduate.

You may recall, I did a podcast with Silber in 2007. We talked about health IT initiatives in Europe in general and in France in particular, and compared progress there to that in the U.S. Since that time, though, Silber has brought the health/medicine 2.0 movement to Europe, in the form of the Doctors 2.0 and You conference. I also learned through the Smith article that Silber in April was admitted to the French Legion of Honor, an order founded by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte, apparently becoming only the second Smith grad to be so recognized. The first was Julia Child.

How cool is that?

July 4, 2011 I Written By

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

Bellagio follow-up in ‘Health Affairs’

There’s been a lot of work done in the field of global e-health since the Rockefeller Foundation‘s series of conferences in Bellagio, Italy, in July and August 2008. I had the distinct honor of attending for the third of four weeks, which focused on electronic health records and on mobile healthcare, two subjects that even more up my alley now then they were a year and a half ago.

I’ve had intermittent contact with some of the participants in those conferences since then, most recently at the AMIA annual symposium last month, and I’ve tried to report on progress from those meetings toward applying information technology to addressing health issues in developing countries. A wider audience will get a chance to read more about some of the projects in an upcoming issue of Health Affairs.

From what I understand, in mid-February, Health Affairs will publish nine papers on global e-health issues related to the work done at and as a result of Bellagio. I’m not privy to any further details, though.

December 6, 2009 I Written By

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

Peter Murray named acting director of IMIA

The International Medical Informatics Association has named Peter J. Murray as acting executive director. The appointment follows the April 12 death of Executive Director Steven Heusing. (I posted an obituary for Heusing earlier this month.)

Murray, who had been serving as IMIA associate executive director for the last few months, also was the organization’s vice president for strategic planning. He is an independent health informatics and telematics consultant in Nocton, England. He holds a Ph.D. in nursing informatics and educational technology and teaches health informatics at both the University of Winchester (UK) and Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, South Africa.

April 29, 2009 I Written By

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

WHO e-health report finally goes online

The World Health Organization today put its global, biweekly “eHealth Intelligence Report” online. Right now, you can only get 2009 issues from the site, but the WHO is promising to have the archives, dating to 2005, up by April.

Seriously, what took so long? The WHO site has Russian, Arabic, Chinese, French and Spanish versions, but this report seems to be available only in English.

March 3, 2009 I Written By

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

What’s in a name?

Just a couple of weeks after the Medical Records Institute launched its mHealth Initiative—quietly admitting failure of its plan to get 10 million people using their cell phones to transfer health information by this spring—a program called the mHealth Alliance has launched in Europe.

The Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the UK-based Vodafone Foundation made the annoucement Tuesday at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The global project is an outgrowth of the UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation “mHealth for Development” report and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Making the eHealth Connection conferences in magnificent Bellagio, Italy, last summer. I was present for the third week, which included the mobile health track.

I am, of course, available for all your conference coverage needs in bucolic European resort towns.

February 19, 2009 I Written By

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