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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.

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.

Apple highlights Skyscape, Health eVillages, other health apps

As you may know, I am on the advisory board of Health eVillages, The program got a huge honor Monday by being featured in a video shown at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference — you know, the annual meeting that’s always a hot ticket among Mac-heads and app developers because Apple usually unveils its latest products there. (Last week was no exception. Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced iOS 7, albeit to mixed reviews.)

In the video, called, “Making a difference. One app at a time,” Apple highlighted Skyscape, the company that makes the mobile medical reference software that Health eVillages, and sent a camera crew to a Health eVillages pilot site in rural Lwala, Uganda. A nurse from the clinic showed how he visits patients by motorcycle, using an iPad to help treat and educate the area’s residents. (Skyscape parent company Physicians Interactive provides operational support to Health eVillages, and CEO Donato Trumato, also featured in the video, co-founded the program with Kerry Kennedy.)

Two of the other three apps that Apple chose to include also are related to healthcare: Galileo, an app from Orthocare Innovations that helps amputees adjust prosthetic limbs; and Proloquo2Go, a product from AssistiveWare that in the video helped an apparently autistic child learn to speak.

June 13, 2013 I Written By

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

Technology changes faster than you think

How much do things change in seven-plus years? Perhaps more than you think.

According to Wikipedia, the following happened in April 2005:

  • Google doubles the storage space of its Gmail service to two gigabytes.
  • Pope John Paul II passes away at the age of 84.
  • A group of at least 40 Iraqi insurgents attacks Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison, using car bombs, grenades, and small arms. At least 20 American soldiers and 12 Iraqi prisoners are injured, but the US Army says it has put down the assault.
  • American newscaster Peter Jennings states that he has lung cancer and will begin chemotherapy.
  • Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams appeals to the IRA to stop violence.
  • Eric Rudolph agrees to plead guilty to four bombings including the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in exchange for four life sentences.
  • Prince Charles marries Camilla Parker Bowles
  • Adobe Systems buys Macromedia for $3.4 billion.
  • Victims and families observe 168 seconds of silence on the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
  • YouTube is founded and launched.
  • Pope Benedict XVI is formally installed as pope of the Catholic Church in an inaugural mass.
  • Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez ends military cooperation with USA, claiming that US Army training officers in the country have been agitating unrest against him.
  • The new Airbus A380 performs its maiden flight, in Toulouse, France.

And smartphones were not exactly common in healthcare. How do I know this? I just unearthed the following program from AMIA’s 2005 Spring Congress:

Yes, indeed, that’s a Pocket PC, a personal digital assistant without a phone. Microsoft dropped the name in 2006 in favor of Windows Mobile. A year after that, Apple introduced the iPhone, and the rest is history.

I’m about to go on a long-overdue vacation for the rest of the year, including a week of staycation to catch up on everything I’ve neglected at home in this difficult year. You probably will see my byline in MobiHealthNews and InformationWeek Healthcare next week, but I won’t be on the job. I have a couple of pieces of multimedia I’ve put off for months, and I may get around to processing and posting them before the end of 2012. If not, I’ll see you in January.

December 13, 2012 I Written By

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

HIMSS12 sets record for tweets

The folks at HIMSS are claiming that the 2012 conference in Las Vegas a couple months ago set a world record for the most tweets at a health conference. (I’m checking to see who keeps such records.)

By the numbers, according to HIMSS:

  • The #HIMSS12 hashtag was used 28,434 times.
  • HIMSS12 averaged 167 tweets per hour.
  • HIMSS12 was mentioned 33,247 times in social media, more than double HIMSS11 (which itself was more than double HIMSS10).
  • The keynote by Twitter co-founder Biz Stone generated 7,595 tweets, beating out the 7,047 tweets from Dr. Farzad Mostashari’s keynote.

This infographic from HIMSS tells more of the story about the whole conference.

 

I am not surprised Brian Ahier and Regina Holliday had so much influence on social media at the conference. Ahier moderated the Meet the Bloggers panel I was on.

I was, however, surprised to the breakdown of mobile devices accessing the HIMSS conference’s mobile site. Apple with 70 percent sounds right, particularly when you consider how many iPads were in evidence, but I would have guessed Android would have more than 14 percent share because it’s so popular for smartphones and BlackBerry more than 2 percent because a lot of enterprises still use that platform. I guess I’m one of the few people left in health IT with a BlackBerry.

UPDATE, Friday, April 27: It was healthcare social media consulting firm Symplur that tracked the tweets and announced the record. There’s more data here, though my head starts spinning when someone discusses stuff like slopes of equations.

April 26, 2012 I Written By

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

Will Healthbox launch offer true innovation, or just more flash?

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes.

My controversial piece on Silicon Valley missing the point of healthcare last summer doesn’t seem so controversial now, as I recently got some validation from others closer to the action than I am. First, reDesign Mobile analyst Rocky Agrawal wrote in VentureBeat that Silicon Valley might be “too smart for their own good,” building products more suited for highly educated techies than for the masses. Last week, former Apple and PepsiCo CEO John Sculley suggested at the Digital Health Summit at 2012 International CES that technology for its own sake is rather useless if you don’t understand the market you’re targeting.

“”The thing that is missing is getting the people with the domain expertise aligned with the people with technological know-how to turn ideas into branded services,” Sculley said, as I report in InformationWeek Healthcare and in tomorrow’s MobiHealthNews.

After raking Rock Health over the coals in my commentary last summer, I offered qualified praise to the San Francisco-based investor/business accelerator for healthcare start-ups last month on this blog. “I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of the 15 companies are aimed at either healthcare providers—an important constituency largely missing from the first Rock Health class—and on treatment of truly sick patients.” I wrote.

“I never thought I would say this, at least not before the end of 2011, but kudos to Rock Health for making a real effort to figure out the complex healthcare industry and to add some substance to what heretofore had been all style.”

Tomorrow, I am planning on attending the kickoff event for Healthbox, a similar healthcare business accelerator that differs from Rock Health in at least one key way: it is not in Silicon Valley, but right here in down-to-earth Chicago. Does that make a difference? Well, the kickoff isn’t at a hotel ballroom or Healthbox’s office, it’s in an artsy space called the Ivy Room, in the heart of River North, an area usually populated by more tourists than locals.

I sure hope I’m not in for an over-the-top extravaganza that will highlight cool, direct-to-consumer apps with a snowball’s chance of catching on with the entities that actually pay the bills for healthcare. I want to believe there’s something real here, which is why I’m giving up at least a couple hours of my time to see the presentations. Please tell me that Chicago isn’t becoming a Silicon Valley clone, but rather the hub of health IT innovation it could be.

For what it’s worth, here is the list of companies scheduled to present tomorrow: UnitedPreference, DermLink, SwipeSense (“a comprehensive hand-hygiene solution,” whatever that means), The Coupon Doc, CareWire, Iconic Data, PaJR-Patient Journey Record (helping hospitals avoid 30-day readmissions, possibly making it a Big Deal), CareHubs, Corengi (linking diabetics to clinical trials) and PUSH Wellness. I see real potential in at least four of those, possibly more.

 

January 18, 2012 I Written By

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

Leslie Saxon explains ‘iPod of medicine’

Since everyone is posting Steve Jobs tributes, I might as well join in. I’ve always been a PC person, not a big fan of the Mac, but I’ve had two iPods, the first-generation Nano and now the fourth-generation Touch, the one with front and rear cameras. I thought the design, even the design of the packaging, was second to none.

Here’s something from cardiologist Dr. Leslie Saxon, director of the USC Center for Body Computing, about what she calls the “iPod of medicine.” It’s from a 2010 TED conference in Los Angeles.

October 6, 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.

iPad 2 may hit Android, but wait for BlackBerry PlayBook

Looking for more commentary about another aspect of health IT? Don’t forget that I’m now a regular contributor to MobiHealthNews. This week, I comment on the rave reviews coming in for the iPad 2, particularly from the healthcare sector, and note the significance of Microsoft discontinuing its Zune digital music player, the product that never did gain much traction against Apple’s ubiquitous iPod.

While it looks as if the Android platform may be losing out to the iPad in healthcare, I say don’t call this one for Apple just yet, at least not until Research in Motion comes out with its BlackBerry PlayBook next month.

I also recently wrote a special report for HFM, the magazine of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, on the subject of optimizing and enhancing healthcare revenue-cycle performance with IT. Download the PDF here.

March 16, 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.

Apple to make a push into healthcare

It seems inevitable, given the success of the iPhone in healthcare, but I’m hearing that Apple is getting ready to make a full-scale push into healthcare. I understand that the company invited several vendors to a meeting at an Apple office in Chicago this week. I have no further details on what was said or who was present, but I know that there are a couple of EMR vendors out there who have tailored their products for Macintosh, even if it’s just optimizing the view over the Internet for the Safari browser.

There is this little matter of the billions of dollars in federal money being funneled into health IT over the next eight years, and Steve Jobs would be an idiot if he didn’t go after some of the cash. Steve Jobs is no idiot.

September 11, 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.

‘This is not the iPhone’

There was a great line in a New York Times story over the weekend about electronic health records and the economic stimulus.

In talking about the difficulty of implementing EHRs in physician offices, the Times quoted Dr. Farzad Mostashari, assistant commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and head of the city’s Primary Care Information Project: “There’s no way small practices can effectively implement electronic health records on their own. This is not the iPhone.”

Good point. Make something easy to use and with some cachet, and people will use it. So why exactly hasn’t Apple gotten into healthcare just yet?

(Props to Candid CIO Will Weider for showing me this story.)

March 2, 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.