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More health IT comedy means the public is taking notice

I often share jokes and humorous videos here, sometimes because a product is worthy of ridicule, but also to illustrate how some health IT is going mainstream. I’m going to do it again today because two things happened in the last week that I had not seen before.

First, though Stephen Colbert has made fun of digital health and fitness products before, last week he took it upon himself to do so on consecutive nights.

On Sept. 8, he took down the forthcoming Pavlok fitness bracelet, a product that sends an electrical jolt to the wearer’s arm as a reminder to exercise. It also debits the user’s bank account and posts an embarrassing message on Facebook. No, really. “When you’re in a dark place, alone at home, out of shape and too tired, overweight or depressed to work out, it’s probably because you weren’t getting enough public humiliation,” Colbert said.

 

A night later, Colbert, like the rest of the world, was talking about the Apple Watch. After cheering wildly about the announcement, Colbert asked, “What does it do?” He then showed a picture of himself from high school and said it was finally cool to wear a calculator watch.

 

Then, on Friday, no less than America’s Finest News Source, The Onion, got into the act with its “American Voices” feature, in which common people (actually, the same five or six headshots recycled for years with different names and occupations) give their fake opinions on a newsworthy topic. That day, the subject was, “Patients Making Record Number Of Telehealth ‘E-Visits’ With Doctors,” with a reference to an actual Deloitte study on that very topic.

As one “commenter” said, “Until doctors can email me painkillers, I don’t see the point.”

 

September 16, 2014 I Written By

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

EHRs and patient safety

If you wonder where I’ve been, I’ve, for one thing, been blogging a bit for (very little) pay over at Forbes.com and writing a lengthy cover story for the September issue of Healthcare IT News.

The Healthcare IT News piece actually breaks down into a fairly short lead story and several sidebars, which aren’t all that evident from the traditional Web version. (The digital edition has everything.) For the sake of convenience, here are links to all elements of the cover package:

Main story: “Patient safety in the balance: Questions mount about EHRs and a wide range of patient safety concerns”

Sidebars:

The issue also contains a reprint of my May 2012 blog post, written just a week after my father’s death: “Medical errors hit home.”

Happy reading, and happy Labor Day weekend.

August 29, 2014 I Written By

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

Colbert pokes fun at Fitbit and other digital trackers

“We live in a golden era of digital toys,” noted comedian Stephen Colbert on “The Colbert Report” last Monday.

Indeed, some of the digital health and fitness products out there are rather ridiculous, even the popular ones, and we’re hearing just that at some actual health IT events. At last month’s WTN Media Digital Healthcare Conference in Madison, Wis., Adam Pellegrini, vice president of digital health at Walgreens, poked fun at programs that reward people for allegedly exercising. “You could put a pedometer on your dog and get 10,000 steps while watching TV,” Pellegrini joked.

Colbert, who certainly was not present at that Madison meeting, got the same idea about the Fitbit activity tracker. “Last week, I wanted to run a marathon, so I strapped this bad boy to a paint shaker for about 20 minutes,” he said.

Colbert then addressed the Vessyl digital cup, which records data on the beverages each user consumes. “That level of information was previously available only on the can you just poured it out of,” he said. He then pointed out that Vessyl only tracks half of the hydration equation, the input, so he announced the pre-release of his own “product,” Toylyt.

Watch the clip below.

 

 

July 20, 2014 I Written By

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

Health eVillages, Qualcomm ‘move the needle’ on global health

I’m back from an extended break, though hardly a vacation. I spent 11 days this month cycling from Chicago to Washington to raise awareness of multiple system atrophy, the rare neurodegenerative disease that killed my father in 2012. For my first post in more than two weeks, I’ll keep it simple but important, namely with an update on Health eVillages, the program I sit on the advisory board of, as well as some vaguely related news from Qualcomm.

First off, Health eVillages this week officially welcomed five new board members: Brad Fluegel, Spencer Warden, Mike Hamilton, Lorri L. Jean and Ulya Khan. Here’s the press release in full:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Health eVillages Welcomes Five Renowned Executives to Advisory Board
Will Provide Strategic Guidance to Bring Quality Healthcare to People in Underserved Areas

READING, MA – (July 16, 2014) -Health eVillages , a program founded by Donato Tramuto andPhysicians Interactive in partnership with the not-for-profit Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights (RFK Center), has appointed five new members to its Advisory Board.

Health eVillages provides iPod®, iPad® and other handheld devices equipped with specialized reference and clinical decision support tools to improve primary and preventive healthcare in underserved areas around the world.

“We are proud to announce the addition of these five fantastic non-profit and corporate executives to our Advisory Board,” said Donato Tramuto, the Founder of Health eVillages. “As HealtheVillages continues to grow its presence across the globe, we are excited to be able to mine the breadth and depth of experience that Brad Fluegel, Spencer Warden, Mike Hamilton, Lorri L. Jean and Ulya Khan bring to the table. We look forward to using their guidance to help shape innovative, strategic approaches to bringing quality healthcare to people in some of the most underserved areas around the world.”

Since its inception in 2011, Health eVillages has made a significant impact in improving access to critical, live-saving medical information worldwide, launching programs in Africa, Central America, Pacific nations, the Caribbean and areas of Louisiana affected by the Gulf oil spill.

The most recent additions to the Health eVillages Advisory Board include:

Brad Fluegel is the Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at Walgreens Co. Prior to coming to Walgreens in 2012, Fluegel was an executive at several prominent healthcare companies, including Wellpoint, Aetna, Inc., United Health Group and Tillinghast-Towers Perrin. He also serves on the Board of Directors of Metropolitan Jewish Health System in New York City,Health Integrated, Inc., and Performant Financial Corp.

Spencer Warden is the Provider Engagement Lead at Dabo Health Inc., which provides a community healthcare platform to view and track improvement in key performance metrics and allows for collaboration across hospitals and healthcare systems. Spencer’s responsibilities at Dabo Health include business development, corporate strategy, and strategic partnerships in the Hospital and Payer marketplace. He previously worked for Eli Lilly as a Sales Representative in San Francisco’s Neuroscience sleeve.

Mike Hamilton , President of Engagement at Blood: Water Mission, has received numerous honors for his work with youth and children, especially for orphan crisis issues and healthcare needs in Africa. Hamilton came to Blood: Water after 26 years in intercollegiate athletics at Clemson University, Wake Forest University, and the University of Tennessee. He also served on the board for Show Hope and chaired the Knoxville Chamber Partnership and the local United Way Chapter in Knoxville.

Lorri L. Jean is a nationally recognized leader in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (“LGBT”) civil rights movement.  She serves as CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the world’s largest LGBT organization.  Previously, Jean served as the Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.  Jean was the first openly gay or lesbian person to receive a top secret security clearance from the Central Intelligence Agency, and with her appointment in 1989 as Deputy Regional Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), she became the highest-ranking openly gay or lesbian person in the Federal government. OUT Magazine has twice named her one of the 50 most powerful gay people in the nation and Los Angeles Magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in Los Angeles.

Ulya Khan, the Chief Operating Officer at Physicians Interactive, has more than 20 years of experience in technology, data and operations. Prior to joining Physicians Interactive, Khan held several leadership positions including Chief Operating Officer and Chief Of Staff at Thomson Reuters in London and New York City, where she was instrumental in building and exponentially growing several businesses and managing global teams across Asia, Europe and the Americas.

Additional members of the Health eVillages Advisory Board include:

Donato Tramuto, Founder, CEO and Vice Chairman of Physicians Interactive

Steve Andrzejewski, Chief Executive Officer of Spiritus Pharmaceuticals

John Boyer, President and General Manager of MAXIMUS Federal Services

Dr. Tim Bristol, Nurse Educator

Caleb DesRosiers, Healthcare Counsel at Foley Hoag LLP

Greg Divis, President and CEO of KV Pharmaceutical

Dr. Mary Jane England , Professor at Boston University School of Public Health

Mark Friess, CEO and Founder, WelVU, Inc.

Dr. Antoinette Hays, President, Regis College

Kerry Kennedy, President of the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights

Devin Paullin, Executive Vice President of Corporate Business Development of Physicians Interactive

Derek Rago, Vice President of Marketing & Strategy, McKesson Patient Relationship Solutions

Glen Tullman, Managing Director, 7Wire Ventures

Neil Versel , Freelance Healthcare Journalist

About Health eVillages
Health eVillages, a program of the not-for-profit Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights and Physicians Interactive, provides state-of-the-art mobile health technology including medical reference and clinical decision support resources to medical professionals in the most challenging clinical environments around the world. For more information about Health eVillages, please visit http://www.healthevillages.org/.

About Physicians Interactive
Headquartered in Reading, MA, PI aspires to use the power of worldwide networks of healthcare professionals and life sciences companies together in ways that will change the practice and business of medicine for the better. PI’s value proposition is to offer the life science industry a low-cost, virtual, multi-channel marketing approach that can be used to supplement currently promoted products, as well as non-promoted and orphaned products, that deliver benefits to physicians and patients. A key focus is providing services that fit into physicians’ and healthcare professionals’ daily workflow at the point-of-care when they make diagnosis, treatment and prescribing decisions. More information can be found at www.PhysiciansInteractive.com.

# # #

 

Interested in seeing the kind of difference Health eVillages is making in remote parts of the world? Check out this short video about “moving the needle on global health.”

In somewhat related news, Qualcomm Wireless Reach and Trice Imaging reported last week how their mobile ultrasound technology saved significant amounts of money, time and, ultimately, lives in prenatal care, at three small, rural health clinics in Morocco. Click here to read the case study.

July 16, 2014 I Written By

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

Video: StartUp Health co-founder talks Health Datapalooza on CNBC

Unity Stoakes, co-founder and president of entrepreneurship academy StartUp Health, was in Washington this week for Health Datapalooza. Tuesday morning, with the Capitol dome serving as a picturesque background, he appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to talk innovation in digital health. Stoakes used more than a couple of buzzwords, such as “revolution” (see my commentary for Forbes on Apple’s just-announced HealthKit mocking the notion of a revolution) and “creative destruction,” and CNBC added a few more, like “disruptive” and “tectonic shift”

But he did temper the enthusiasm with a reality check. “To be quite honest, there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Stoakes said when asked about who the losers would be in the new healthcare world. Have a look, and share with your friends outside of healthcare so they get a bit of a sense about what digital health is and where true healthcare reform might come from.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

In case you missed it, I interviewed Stoakes last month for a story in Healthcare IT News about breaking down data silos in digital, mobile and “connected” health.

June 5, 2014 I Written By

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

Palomar Health innovation officer Portale stepping down June 30

Late word from the West Coast on Thursday is that Orlando Portale, chief innovation officer of Palomar Health in San Diego County, Calif., for the past seven years, is leaving at the end of June.

According to a quick e-mail from Portale, “I’m going to focus on advising health technology companies, private equity firms and healthcare organizations.” He already has dabbled in some of those areas, helping Palomar start up Glassomics, which he calls the world’s first incubator for healthcare applications and technology that run on wearable computers, including Google Glass.

Qualcomm Life provided an operating grant to Glassomics, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Portale ends up at that San Diego-based venture. Then again, Portale has a deep résumé, including senior positions at the former Sun Microsystems, health insurer WellPoint and government IT contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).  I’m sure he will have plenty of opportunities coming his way in short order.

In an e-mail to Portale — and copied to executives and board members — Palomar CEO Michael Covert said: “I want to personally thank you for everything that you have done for Palomar Health. Your efforts have put us on the map in the world of innovation and technology. We had a vision of what we could be and you helped to make it a reality. I am forever in your debt. Please let me know if I can be of support or help to you in the future. … I wish you only the best. Let us stay in touch as your career moves forward.”

 

May 29, 2014 I Written By

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

Check out my new MSA bike tour site and blog

As I hinted a couple of months ago, I’m planning a rather epic cycling tour this summer to raise awareness of and funds for multiple system atrophy, the disease that killed my dad. Since this is a health IT blog, I don’t want to keep going off-topic to promote that effort, so I’ve set up a tour site, blog and Facebook page just for that purpose. The Multiple System Atrophy Coalition also put out a press release on my behalf. Check those links out, like the Facebook page and please share freely.

I could still use some sponsors for the tour, particularly a hotel chain that has locations in places such as Valparaiso, Ind., Kokomo, Ind., Celina, Ohio, Kettering, Ohio, Columbus, Ohio, Waynesburg, Pa., Grantsville, Md., and Hagerstown, Md. Jersey/t-shirt printers would be welcome, too.

Thanks for your attention. And now back to health IT. Hey, here’s a health IT connection: If any quantified selfers want to help me track my health and performance during the tour, please let me know.

 

I Written By

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

Some truths about health IT and innovation

This morning at the annual SAS Health Analytics Executive Conference in Cary, N.C., former national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari dubbed Dr. Eric Topol “the high priest of personalized medicine.”

That reminded me of an e-mail I received a couple weeks ago, suggesting that someone should start a blog called, “What’s Eric Saying?” As this correspondent explained it, all you need to do is read Topol’s Twitter stream to know where health IT and the practice of medicine are headed. I checked it out. It’s true.

Some examples:

 

 

 

And that’s just since Monday.

Meanwhile, Mostashari added some truisms himself this morning. “Med speed is slow. Tech speed is fast,” he said, apparently paraphrasing current TEDMED owner Jay Walker. Then, speaking as a physician, Mostashari said, “Most of what determines our outcomes isn’t what happens in our office.” Which is kind of what Topol has been trying to get across for several years.

If only the financial incentives would encourage care outside the office, we might be getting somewhere. It’s starting to happen, but, as it says above, med speed is slow.

May 14, 2014 I Written By

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

Still no consensus on digital/mobile/connected health

A while back — three months, to be exact — I asked readers if they had a preferred term to describe “the application of new, personalized technologies to healthcare.” I gave you the choice of digital health, connected health, wireless health, mobile health and telehealth, and surmised that the results would not be conclusive. On that part, I was right:

digital health poll resultsHowever, I was surprised that connected health, a relatively underutilized term, did so well and that telehealth got but one vote. Wireless health certainly has kind of become passé, but I was surprised nobody picked it at all.

In any case, these results, however unscientific they may be, are representative of the fact that it is so hard to reach consensus on anything in health IT. They also are symbolic of the silos that still exist in newer technologies.

May 6, 2014 I Written By

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

HIMSS gossip

ORLANDO, Fla.—Two days of HIMSS14 have come and gone, and I’m not bouncing off the walls just yet. But I did bounce off the pavement Monday night when I tripped exiting a shuttle bus, and have some facial scrapes to show for it. You will see the evidence whenever Health Innovation Media gets around to posting a video interview I conducted Tuesday afternoon.

Health Innovation Media’s Gregg Masters and Dr. Pat Salber have been camped out near the HIMSS press room since Sunday with their video equipment, querying various newsmakers on various health IT topics, and occasionally having guest interviewers. As I walked out of the press room on my way to the exhibit hall, I said hello to former national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari, who looked like he was just hanging around, but was actually waiting to be interviewed. Masters and Salber asked me if I’d be interested in interviewing Mostashari right there on the spot with no preparation, and with just 15 minutes to get down to the show floor.

If you recall, I did a live interview—yes, streamed live on the Web—last year with Athenahealth honcho Jonathan Bush, beers in hand, for the Health Innovation Broadcast Consortium that Masters and Salber were involved in. (I don’t know the status of that project, as there’s nothing new on that site since last July.) So of course I said yes, and I think it went pretty well. Well, there were a couple of hiccups, as in me thinking we needed to wrap up earlier than we actually had to. And then there’s this:

 

Followed by this:

 

Yes, the Twitterverse catches everything.

Now about that facial injury. I think I just need to avoid Orlando. In 2011, the last time HIMSS met here, I needed six stitches above my right eye after I banged my face against the edge of the bathtub in my hotel room. As I arrived for the 2008 conference here, I turned on my phone after landing and got the message that my grandfather had passed away. Just for good measure, I passed through Orlando on my way back from Europe in 2009. As the flight pulled to the gate, the skies opened up with a violent summer thunderstorm, prompting the airport to close the ramp, preventing the ground crew from unloading bags for nearly an hour. I was stuck in the no-man’s land of U.S. Customs for that whole time, where cell phones are prohibited. It was not until I cleared security, took the airport tram to a different terminal, then hustled to the gate that I knew I would make my connecting flight. So yeah, it’s become a pattern.

Anyway, speaking of Jonathan Bush, he is not at HIMSS14 because he is on sabbatical to write a book and who knows what else? Well, here’s a clue. He was spotted at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, last week with his more famous brother, Billy, host of “Access Hollywood.” (Hat tip to HIStalk for showing this video at HIStalkapalooza Monday night.)

I also heard that Bush is considering a run for political office of some kind, perhaps because it’s, you know, the family business. Anyone care to confirm this?

I do know for a fact that at least one HIMSS attendee is actually seeking office. That would be Dr. Steven Daviss, CMIO of startup M3 Information, maker of a mental health screening app called My M3. Daviss is running for Democratic Central Committee in Baltimore this year. If he wins, he plans on seeking a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates in 2018, in part because he says there is only one other physician among the state legislature.

Daviss himself is on sabbatical from his job as chairman of psychiatry at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore Washington Medical Center in Glen Burnie, Md.

February 25, 2014 I Written By

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