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Patient engagement: Check me out in ‘US News’

I’ve just had my first story published in a major national magazine, or at least the online version of one, namely US News and World Report. It’s about patient engagement strategies for hospitals and medical practices in the context of EHRs, for the magazine’s “Hospital of Tomorrow” feature, and I’m getting good feedback so far. Needless to say, I’m pretty excited. Check it out here.

Also, I’ll be presenting on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. EDT at the American Telemedicine Association’s Fall Forum in the non-American (but very North American) city of Toronto. It’s there because this year’s ATA president is Dr. Ed Brown, president of the Ontario Telemedicine Network, right there in the T.O.  Steve Dean of Falls Church, Va.-based Inova Health System’s Inova Telemedicine Program and I will be counting down a top 10 of mobile apps we deem to be prominent, successful or highly useful. (The description in the online program is wrong as of this writing.)

September 7, 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.

Podcast: Carrie Handley on patient empowerment with an iPad

Did you happen to catch my story in MobiHealthNews on Thursday about Carrie Handley, the IT consultant-turned-cancer patient? She got frustrated with first a misdiagnosis and then the hassle of lugging around a binder full of paper records that she had to go to multiple sites to collect to assure continuity of care during her treatment and surgeries. So Handley digitized all her records.

Initially, she transported the information on a USB drive, but that got lost in a doctor’s lab coat. Then, her son brought over an iPad. The tablet provided the right balance of portability and shareability. In this interview, Handley, a resident of Waterloo, Ontario (you know, the home of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion), describes the process and shares her thoughts in general on mobility in healthcare.

We wouldn’t have connected if she hadn’t read my tribute to my dad last month. After reading Handley’s story in the e-mail she sent me, I knew we had to do this podcast to help spread the idea that communication can help foster the kind of patient-centric care that eluded my dad, that initially eluded her and that probably eludes millions of people every year.

This Sunday is Father’s Day. I miss my dad terribly. But I take comfort in knowing that I’m doing a small part to raise awareness of multiple system atrophy (MSA) — the rare neurodegenerative disease that killed him — and perhaps advancing the cause of patient safety ever so slightly.

Podcast details: Interview with health IT consultant and cancer survivor Carrie Handley about mobility in healthcare. MP3, mono, 128 kbps, 26.7 MB. Running time 29:13.

June 14, 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.

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.

News and notes: Cool healthcare tech, telemed pushback and more

It’s Friday afternoon, and I realize it’s been days since I’ve posted here. (Make sure you catch my posts on EMR and HIPAA every Thursday, including my latest on Dr. Larry Weed and his critiques of current health IT systems.) I think it’s time for a rundown of some interesting developments this week.

Weed apparently is not the only one who’s disappointed in the pace of change in healthcare. Dr. Bill Crounse, senior director of worldwide health for Microsoft, was at the World of Health IT conference in Budapest, Hungary, to deliver some scathing remarks at about North American health IT. According to Canadian Healthcare Technology, Crounse called the U.S. and Canada the “worst of the worst in the industrialized world in the use of IT in healthcare.”

He explained: “I see physicians in perhaps less developed countries bypassing all that legacy technology and using commodity off-the-shelf contemporary solutions, using tablets and speech recognition and doing their discharges, all with technology that costs pennies on the dollar, and then I come home to America and look at these $150 million systems and say, ‘wouldn’t we be better spending that on patient care instead of IT?'”

EMRs just store health information, Crounse said. “It’s really what you do next that counts. Once we have information digitized, that doesn’t buy you value. It’s what you do with the information, how you use it to manage care, and to collaborate.”

While we’re talking about overseas events, Hello Doctor, a telemedicine service in South Africa, apparently is on hold less than a month after its April 17 launch. In an e-mail newsletter (not available on the Web, as far as I can tell), Telemedicine & E-Health reported:

Under fire from South Africa’s healthcare bureaucracy, Hello Doctor has suspended its telemedicine services, pending a meeting between representatives of the company and the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). The council referred to its undesirable business practice committee Hello Doctor and two companies that have announced plans to offer a joint telemedicine service later this year, MTN Group and Sanlam. HPCSA has alleged that the companies violated rules that require a healthcare practitioner to do a physical examination and assess a patient before a diagnosis can be made. [News Alert, May 6 ]. HPCSA is drafting its own guidelines for telemedicine, an emerging competitor to nationally-licensed doctors.

The South African Medical Association also is fighting the service. “”It is no different from blind-dating. How sure are you whether you are getting the real doctor or not?” SAMA Chairman Dr. Norman Mabasa told Independent Online. Hmm, aren’t these the same kinds of objections we see in America? When will the medical establishment wake up and see that telemedicine is not a threat to their authority?

Well, at least some physicians are embracing new technologies. That’s the subject of a feature I just had published on Medscape,  “10 Totally Cool and Incredibly Useful Medical Gadgets: Technology That’s Changing Medical Care.” Feel free to argue with me and add your own.

And speaking about telehealth and arguing with me, I was the victim of intimidation of the media this week. A certain story I wrote about a telemedicine technology vendor was pulled from the Web yesterday after the company threatened to sue the small company that published it. The company accused me of writing a “defamatory” story and wondered if a competitor didn’t actually help me write the piece. Sorry, but I have a lot more integrity than that. I also was accused of mischaracterizing the state of the deactivated ambulance telemedicine service in Tucson, Ariz., which I said was “failed.”

The accuser referred to an April article in Telemedicine & E-Health written by Dr. Rifat Latifi, one of the driving forces behind Tucson ER-Link, and several colleagues that showed the efficacy of ER-Link in performing remote intubation. That’s great, but there needs to be a working network to support the “videolaryngoscope.” Tucson, unfortunately, no longer has one.

 

May 20, 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.

More on the eHealth Ontario scandal

If you’re interested in a more detailed report on the scandal at eHealth Ontario, I blogged about it last week for BNET.

I’m spending this sunny Sunday in a series of windowless rooms at the AMA annual meeting, and will have some reports on it tonight or tomorrow. Expect a healthy dose of cynicism.

June 14, 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.

Scandal in Canada

A juicy scandal is brewing north of the border, as one-time whiz kid Sarah Kramer has been fired as CEO of eHealth Ontario, a provincial agency that is leading an effort to bring EHRs to everyone in the province of Ontario by 2015.

According to CBC News, Kramer has been accused of signing off on numerous no-bid contracts to friendly consultants and has come under fire for hefty expense reports.

Some political opponents also are calling for Kramer’s boss, Ontario Health Minister David Caplan, to resign.

For anyone wondering what it would take to put health IT on the front page, here’s your answer.

June 8, 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.

Microsoft gives Telus exclusive HealthVault rights in Canada

Canadian telecommunications firm Telus has signed an exclusive deal with Microsoft to market the HealthVault platform in Canada. This marks the first expansion of HealthVault outside the U.S.

According to both companies, Telus is licensing HealthVault and will brand it in Canada as “Telus Health Space, powered by Microsoft HealthVault.” The Toronto-based telecom says in a press release that it will develop a consumer-focused service and Telus Health Space to organizations such as governments, health regions, hospitals, insurers and employers, but apparently not directly to consumers.

Telus says it will store all data in Canada. There has been some concern among Canadian companies in the past that using U.S.-based servers or databases for health information would make them subject to the USA Patriot Act and open them up to all sorts of reporting requirements and other bureaucratic hassles.

May 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.

Memorial for Steven Heusing

COACH, Canada’s Health Informatics Association has announced a memorial service for founder Steven Heusing, who died April 12 at the age of 64. Heusing also was executive director of the International Medical Informatics Association.

The service will take place Wednesday at 2 p.m. MDT in Edmonton, Alberta. The COACH site has details.

Dr. Peter Murray, IMIA representative in the UK, informs me that an IMIA announcement about commemorating Heusing is forthcoming.

April 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.

Steven Heusing, IMIA executive director, dies at 64

Canadian medical informaticist Steven Heusing, executive director of the International Medical Informatics Association, died Sunday. He was 64. Mr. Heusing had been in declining health for a number of years and reportedly had had two kidney transplants.

Mr. Heusing, a resident of Edmonton, Alberta, was founding president of COACH, Canada’s Healthcare Informatics Association and co-founder of the Canadian Healthcare Information Technology Trade Association (CHITTA), now called ITAC Health. He was editor and publisher of Healthcare Information Management & Communications Canada, the official journal of COACH and ITAC Health.

To recognize his service, COACH established the Steven Heusing Scholarship in 1999 for students in Canadian health informatics or healthcare information management programs.

Current AMIA President Dr. Reinhold Haux, director of the Peter L. Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics at the University of Braunschweig Institute of Technology and Hannover Medical School in Germany, issued this statement:

Steven Huesing was an outstanding person and professional. As Executive Director of the International Medical Informatics Association, he has for many years provided significant and global contributions to the progress of our field. It is through his tireless work that IMIA has developed into the leading international association that it is today. Since the start of his career, in the 1960s, he has been a pioneer and ambassador to the advancement of computers and information technology in healthcare. Among the many recognitions of his contributions, he was honoured for his exceptional work with the prestigious Canadian Health Informatics Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Additionally, Michael Martineau posted his thoughts on the eHealth Musings blog.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

April 13, 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.

Medicine 2.0, day two

Travel and deadlines got in the way of me posting about the second day of last week’s Medicine 2.0 Congress in Toronto, but I saved my notes.

Something super-cool I saw there: Medting.com, a “global” repository of medical images, developed in Spain and soon to branch out to the U.S. Is it another YouTube for medicine? Not exactly. Miguel Cabrer, president of the company, sees it as more like a Snomed for multimedia.

In Canada, they’re getting interactive with physicians.

Late last month, the Canadian Medical Association launched a social networking portal called Asklepios—named after the Greek god of medicine—on its site. Access is limited to physicians, but CMA online content director Pat Rich says it’s partially in response to doctors who bemoan the demise of the staff lounge.

In the spirit of Facebook and MySpace, it is more than just a professional site; physicians can use Asklepios for blogging, discussing hobbies, posting photos and even, theoretically, dating.

Rich says the CMA is staying pretty hands-off when it comes to content. He also says the association made sure the site was hosted in Canada and not the U.S. because physicians otherwise might be subject to surveillance under the USA Patriot Act. Really. This is not the first time I’ve heard of Patriot Act concerns in healthcare outside the U.S., and it’s a topic I’d like to explore some more.

Physicians in Ontario specifically have another networking option for professional issues, as the OntarioMD.ca point-of-care resource portal recently added a “groups” function. Groups can create a public Web presence and also set up a private members area for sharing files and calendars. Jason Aprile, web contact manager for the government-run OntarioMD site, says there are 8,400 registered physician users now.

Dr. Chris Paton, a UK native who now is at the University of Auckland, says the Next Big Thing might just be social networking for mobile devices. He’s particularly bullish on the mobile clinical assistant and PDAs and smartphones with Wi-Fi capability. One of the benefits of Wi-Fi is that users can connect to more powerful computers, such as for image manipulation, overcoming one of the long-standing shortfalls of PDAs, Paton says.

September 11, 2008 I Written By

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