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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
I just read another report on healthcare reform. It pointed out some things you probably already know:
- Healthcare represents a huge and rapidly expanding portion of the economy, and spending continues to outpace inflation.
- Healthcare is not as safe as it can and should be.
- Many of the adverse events that result in injury or death are the result of systemic failure rather than human error.
- Either way, many are entirely preventable.
- Information technology likely will be a major force for healthcare transformation and improvement.
- IT can help empower consumers to make better choices about their own care.
The report makes a key point by quoting former HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, who said in 2004: “The most remarkable feature of about 21st-century medicine is that we hold it together with 19th-century paperwork.” The thing is, most people reading it have never heard of Thompson, a four-term governor of Wisconsin and a longtime Amtrak board member, since the intended audience is Australian.
“It’s an American problem requiring an American solution,” is how one TV commercial on the cable news channels goes right now. OK, but don’t discount an idea just because it came from beyond our shores.
The report, “A Pebble in the Pond: A Vision for E-Health Enabled Healthcare Transformation,” written by Louise Schaper for Australian health IT research firm CHIK Services contains some interesting arguments that seem relevant to the U.S. market right now, including engagement of public and private stakeholders, capable leadership, defragmentation of information, and, yes, substantial financial investment.
And Schaper even has the wisdom to quote from a story I wrote from MedInfo 2007 in Brisbane, Australia.
The American Medical Informatics Association will announce Monday that it has received a $1.2 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote health informatics and biomedical education and training worldwide, particularly in developing countries.
This will be the first project of a new program called 20/20, in which the International Medical Informatics Association and its regional affiliates, including AMIA, will attempt to train 20,000 informatics professionals globally by 2020. This is an outgrowth of the AMIA 10×10 program to train 10,000 people in informatics in the U.S. by 2010. IMIA and its partners will discuss details of 20/20 this week at the Wellcome Trust in London.
AMIA will use the Gates Foundation money to develop “scaleable” approaches to e-health education, including a replicable blueprint for training informatics leaders, including physicians, medical records professionals, computer scientists and medical librarians.
“We envision the program will train leaders in low-resource nations by linking them and their institutions to partner institutions affiliated with AMIA to build capacity for managing and improving high-quality, low-cost healthcare in the less-developed economies,” AMIA explains in a statement. AMIA President and CEO Don Detmer, M.D., says this element of 20/20 is aimed at career informaticians “so there won’t be a brain drain.”
Other elements of 20/20 will include individual and degree-track courses at colleges and universities—similar to existing 10×10 curriculum—and skills training, not necessarily specific to medical informatics. “We’re also looking at ways of creating seminars and executive training for people to advocate for this in their home countries,” Detmer says.
Detmer, who is retiring at the end of the year, says the skills training will happen in “bits and bites” to help build incremental capacity in the global e-health workforce. Some planning in this area has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation as part of a $500,000 grant the charity gave to AMIA to lead one of the Making the eHealth Connection conferences last summer in Bellagio, Italy.
The 20/20 program is chaired by N.T. Cheung, head of IT for the Hong Kong Hospital Authority. Other confirmed or likely participating organizations include the European Federation for Medical Informatics, the Asia Pacific Association for Medical Informatics and the Health Informatics Society of Australia.