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The ‘Hospital of Tomorrow’

WASHINGTON—I’ve just finished 2 1/2 days of helping US News and World Report cover its inaugural Hospital of Tomorrow conference. My assignment was to sit in on four of the breakout sessions, take notes, then write up a summary as quickly as possible, ostensibly for the benefit of attendees who had to pick from four options during each time slot and might have missed something they were interested in. Of course, it’s posted on a public site, so you didn’t have to be there to read the stories.

Here’s what I cranked out from Tuesday and Wednesday:

Session 202: A Close-Up Look at EHRs — ‘Taking a Close Look at Electronic Health Records”

Session 303: The Future of Academic Medical Centers — “Academic Medical Centers ‘Must Become More Nimble’”

Session 305: Preventing and Coping With Infections — “How Hospitals Can Better Prevent and Cope With Infections”

Session 401: Provider and Patient Engagement — “Hospitals Grapple With Patient Engagement”

The one on infection control was particularly interesting, in large part due to the panel, which included HCA Chief Medical Officer and former head of the Veterans Health Administration Jonathan Perlin, M.D., Johns Hopkins quality guru Peter Pronovost, M.D., and Denise Murphy, R.N., vice president for quality and patient safety at Main Line Health in suburban Philadelphia.

The session on patient engagement was kind of a follow-on to my first US News feature in September.

If you want to read more about the whole conference, including US News’ live blog, visit usnews.com/hospitaloftomorrow

November 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.

Follow-up from ATA Fall Forum

Last week, I joined Steve Dean of Falls Church, Va.-based Inova Health System’s Inova Telemedicine Program on stage at the American Telemedicine Association’s Fall Forum in Toronto for what turned out to be a very well-received session on mobile apps and devices finding their way into clinical workflows. It was either a Letterman-style top 10, or, as Dean described it, a Siskel and Ebert-style discussion and review of 10 popular and/or interesting apps.

In one example, Dean noted that Aetna’s iTriage consumer app had been downloaded more than 9.5 million times. One audience member questioned the relevance of that number, suggesting that many people download an app, try it once and decide not to use it again. She asked if we had any actual usership statistics. I said I would contact Aetna and find out, then post the answer here on this blog.

An Aetna spokeswoman didn’t have data on the number of iTriage users, but told me that iTriage has nearly 60 million user sessions per year. (For what it’s worth, the app also passed 10 million downloads last week, she added.)

Here are our slides from that presentation. We alternated, with Dean presenting AirStrip OB, AliveCor, Asthmapolis (which changed its name last week to Propeller Health), iTriage and Welldoc. I opened discussion on DrawMD, mym3, Walgreens, Fitbit and various apps from the VA and CMS. Download ATA Fall 2013 v3.pdf

I realize context might be missing from just looking at these slides, but the ATA tells me video will soon be available online through the ATA Learning Center. (For now, access is restricted to ATA members, but the site promises non-member access “soon.”)

 

September 18, 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.

DoD-VA integration failure is no laughing matter, even to Stewart

Last week, I had a clip from “The Colbert Report” because Dr. Eric Topol appeared on the show to discuss digital health in a lively segment with Stephen Colbert. (I reported on it for InformationWeek Healthcare. The editors told me to have fun, so I did.) This time around, I’m going to give Jon Stewart equal time, not because I feel like having more fun with “fake news,” but because the host of “The Daily Show” had some insightful comments about the failure of the Military Health System and the Veterans Health Administration to get their EHRs to interoperate.

Though his job is to make people laugh—and ostensibly to upset conservatives—Stewart has been an outspoken advocate for America’s veterans, and when he heard the Obama administration has created a massive backlog for disabled veterans to receive VA health benefits, he went off. As far as I can tell, he got everything right, too.

April 1, 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.

Health 2.0 by Twitter

Here’s my version of Short Attention Span Theater (which is pretty much what Twitter is anyway), of the recently concluded Health 2.0 Fall Conference, as I reported via Twitter. Note the juxtaposition between observation, commentary and snark.

Preconference sessions on Sunday:

Irony: RegisterPatient is on same #health2con panel as DrChrono after DrChrono called its pt history collector "groundbreaking." #mhealth
@nversel
Neil Versel
RT @: Still waiting for a demo to blow me away or provide impressive insight on adoption rates at Doctors 2.0. #health2con #toosoon?
@nversel
Neil Versel

Monday plenary sessions:

Following thoughtful keynote from @ boss Mark Smith, live launch of HealthTap at #health2con threatens to turn mtg into pep rally.
@nversel
Neil Versel
This got someone from HealthTap to misinterpret what I had said:
So much enthusiasm on health! @ After keynote from @ Mark Smith, launch of #HealthTap at #health2con turns mtg into pep rally
@HealthTap
HealthTap
To which I replied:
@ @ That was meant as a caution, not as approval. Too much enthusiasm and you lose sight of reality. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
(For the record, @CHCF is not the correct handle for the California HealthCare Foundation. It’s @CHCFnews.)

I also had an important question for HealthTap, one that so far has gone unanswered.

@ says 5k docs signed up. I wonder about liability from giving #medical advice online to #patients they don't know #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

I retweeted/commented on many others’ tweets, too.

AMEN! RT @: Need #healthIT solutions to be more geared toward real source of need in our population: the elderly #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
RT @: stickK has users commit money toward their goal, spends it on their 'anti-charity' of choice if they don't meet #health2con
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
RT @: Love Mark Bertolini's comment that people should be able to fit healthcare into their lives & not other way around #health2con
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
RT @: RT @: Jim Hansen of Dossia: 85 year olds don't like sexy interfaces. Keep it simple #health2con
@ekivemark
Mark Scrimshire

I found quite a bit of news and lack of news being announced on stage.

Aetna will have #mhealth app for #patients to make #physician appointments next spring. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
Pls don't tell me about another untethered #PHR. Nobody uses them. #healthIT #health2con #fail
@nversel
Neil Versel

And don’t take kindly to vagueness about the word “solution.”

WTF is a solution? RT @: Or just solutions! RT @: Ppl dont want a PHR, they want tools 2 help solve health problems
@nversel
Neil Versel
I hate hate hate the use of "solution" as a synonym for "product" or "service." #health2con #healthit
@nversel
Neil Versel
Good health. MT @: WTF is a solution? RT @: Or just solutions! RT @: Ppl want tools 2 help solve health problems
@grapealope
Rachel Kalmar
@ @: ok! people want good health without having to invest time into it, that's the bottom line.
@grapealope
Rachel Kalmar
(I get the sense @grapealope is among the many Silicon Valley cheerleaders who came not to a conference but a pep rally. I bet the Kool-Aid tasted great.)

So true. RT @: How many social networks will people participate in? I find it hard to keep up with one. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
What about the unmentionable of the digital divide, that people who need help, can't afford the tools we are building apps for #health2con
@rdesain
Rachel de Sain

Then came the lamest presentation of them all, in a plenary session no less, a demo of an overly cutesy “life game” called Mindbloom. The presentation was accompanied by distracting sound effects of birds chirping the entire time, and the game itself featured a guide character called the “enlightening bug.” My impression?

More touchy-feely bs. Time for a group hug. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

Others weren’t so harsh, but at least had questions about the purpose and appeal.

Mindbloom interesting idea - just wondering how many people will take the time to manage this digital Tamagachi... #health2con
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
@ I say nobody. Too cutesy.
@nversel
Neil Versel
Some will use - will have high drop off rate... RT @: @ I say nobody. Too cutesy.
@pjmachado
Paulo Machado
@ Yeah, that sounds right.
@nversel
Neil Versel

I later asked fellow realist John Moore of Chilmark Research this question:

@ Ready to join hands and sing Kumbaya yet? #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

At least I wasn’t the only one worn out by having to separate the wheat from the chaff.

At odds with myself after a long day at #health2con. So much great stuff, but so much shiny hyped iVapor too. Let's make it REAL folks!

I did tone down my rhetoric a bit on Tuesday, though.

Lots of people seem to be gulping the #health2con Kool-aid. Is your enthusiasm realistic? As an objective observer, I'm seeing hits & misses
@nversel
Neil Versel

OK, maybe only a bit, especially after Microsoft’s Mike Raymer said, “It was good to have two companies create a marketplace,” in reference to Microsoft’s HealthVault and the soon-to-be-departed Google Health.

#MSFT #HealthVault and #Google Health didn't create #PHR marketplace. CapMed started in 1991. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel
GH didn't have any users. RT @: Love how Microsoft Health Vault has a welcome page to former Google Health users. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

I highlighted what I saw as good points:

RT @: Non invasive blood glucose monitor unveiled at #health2con in SF. very cool! Is it accurate? http://t.co/XIBm2i8f
@2healthguru
Gregg Masters
Sona Mehring of CaringBridge: #Facebook is the 3rd largest country in the world. #health2con
@nversel
Neil Versel

And I asked a question that I’d love to hear an answer to:

Deep Thought: Maybe there needs 2b differentiation between health 2.0 and fitness 2.0? #health2con #mhealth
@nversel
Neil Versel

I would be less likely to tune out certain sessions if there were more related to healthcare and less to personal fitness and wellness. Of course, others have different viewpoints, which is why it might make more sense to separate the two into different conferences or at least different tracks.

September 30, 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.

Park defends plain-text format of ‘Blue Button’

Todd Park

Well, I guess everything else pales in comparison to the news late Sunday night that Osama bin Laden has been killed and that his body is in U.S. custody, but I had been meaning to bring you something from another part of the government. So now, nearly three hours after I sat down to start writing, here goes.

Remember back in February how I reported that the Blue Button Initiative that HHS, the VA and the Department of Defense had been touting was much ado about nothing because the add-on outputs data in plain, unstructured text that’s essentially useless when imported into an EHR? Well, government officials continue to defend it.

At the Microsoft Connected Health Conference last Wednesday in Chicago, HHS CTO Todd Park extolled the virtues of Blue Button, saying that it was a conscious decision on the part of the people behind the idea—particularly ex-Google and Microsoft star Adam Bosworth and author/Internet scholar Clay Shirky—to export patient information in untagged text format as a quick means of “liberating” data from proprietary systems. It then is up to the patient and his/her providers to decide what do do with the exported record.

“We decided that the burden shouldn’t have to be on the vendor to parse the data,” Park told me offstage.

Well, what do you think of that? Should Blue Button follow some established protocol that organizes data in discrete format like the Continuity of Care Record, Continuity of Care Document or Clinical Document Architecture, or is raw, unorganized text good enough?

UPDATE, 10:50 pm CDT: I found the rest of my notes and see that Park said 270,000 unique users have downloaded data through Blue Button, an average of three times each, even though the government hasn’t done much in the way of marketing. “Simplicity is the key,” he said.

 

May 1, 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.

InformationWeek’s Healthcare CIO 25

I’ve been starting to contribute a bit to InformationWeek. One of my first projects was interviewing five of the publication’s first-ever list of 25 leading healthcare CIOs. I wrote the profiles on Stephanie Reel of Johns Hopkins Health System, Lynn Vogel of MD Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Paul Tang of Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Bill Spooner of Sharp HealthCare and Craig Luigart of the Veterans Health Administration.

The link above contains the full text, or you can download an abbreviated “print” edition in the form of the March InformationWeek Healthcare e-zine here.

It’s not the first time I’ve written about CIOs for a national publication not specific to healthcare, but I’m pretty proud of reaching the pages of InformationWeek.

Meanwhile, check the InformationWeek Healthcare home page on Wednesday for a story about how public health is a leader in health information exchange. I’m writing daily stories for that site now through the end of next week.

 

April 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.

Telehealth at the VA

If you only follow me via this blog, I’ve been incommunicado for some time. But I’ve been extraordinarily busy the last few weeks, churning out issues of FierceHealthIT, FierceMobileHealthcare and FierceEMR each Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, respectively. I’ve just returned from covering the Medical Group Management Association‘s annual conference in Denver and, just for good measure, did a piece for my favourite British health IT publication, E-Health Insider.

The E-Health Insider piece is an in-depth interview with Dr. Adam Darkins, chief consultant for care coordination and telehealth at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, about the vast telehealth infrastructure and programs at the VA. Darkins is scheduled to speak remotely to an EHI conference in Birmingham, England, next month, which explains EHI’s interest in the story. I also happen to think it’s an article people here in the States will find worthwhile.

October 15, 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.