Did you happen to catch Tuesday’s “Dilbert”? Could this be the first documented use of an EMR in a major comic strip?
First came blogging, then podcasting. Now I’m venturing into vodcasting with my very own YouTube channel.
Here’s my first short video, with me cleaning out my filing cabinet and riffing on the evolution of the health IT industry over the last 10 years, focusing on Physician Micro Systems. The company, which dates to 1983, changed its name to Practice Partner and later was bought by McKesson.
The video is in HD, thanks to my new Kodak PlaySport ZX3 camera (no, I didn’t get the purple). I may be a bit hard to hear when not looking at the camera because the microphone is built into the camera. At least there’s not a lot of background noise. I’m learning, and the videos will get better.
So, without further ado, here is my short video.
Now, who wants to teach me how to embed ads in the videos so I can make a little money with it? The blog and the podcasting sure don’t produce much income.
Here’s an idea so radically simple, it just might work.
All the new fees airlines have imposed in the last few years seem to be as popular as a trip to the doctor. But healthcare should follow at least one example to make trips to the doctor a bit more palatable–and safer, too. Plus, practices can benefit from greater efficiency if not also a little extra revenue.
When booking a ticket, airlines now charge somewhere in the range of $15-$25 to speak to a live person, either on the phone or at the airport. That’s because they want you to use their automated, online reservation systems. Customers generally don’t mind doing the work because they get to pick the flights, routings, times and prices most suited to their own needs and they enter all their personal data themselves. It’s more accurate and it saves time and money for the airlines. If customers want the added assistance of a real human being, they can pay for the service.
A medical practice should operate the same way. Let patients book appointments online. Let them fill out their medical histories online, too. Link the data they enter to practice systems so appointments go right to the practice management system and patient history goes to the EMR that most physicians will have (right?) by 2015 or so. You save staff time–even some physician time in the case of medical histories–and avoid errors that come from having to interpret patient handwriting and key their information into the system.
Give patients a financial incentive to use these automated options. Some practices already charge administrative fees to handle the paperwork our inefficient health system often requires. Waive those fees for anyone willing to enter data online rather than making an appointment over the phone or filling out the dreaded clipboard while sitting in the waiting room.
If you’re not comfortable charging an administrative fee, consider waiving co-payments for patients choosing the self-service option. Many of those charges go uncollected anyway.
Regular readers of my work for FierceMarkets know that the newsletters usually hit your inboxes in the early to mid-afternoon. Today, many of you will get FierceEMR early as part of a little experiment to see when people open the newsletter and click through to stories.
It’s 9:35 a.m. here in Chicago and 10:35 a.m. at Fierce headquarters in Washington, and today’s issue is done. I’m exhausted from a late night and an early morning trying to meet the early deadline. All the stories are up on the FierceEMR site already, awaiting your perusal. Check them out, while I go get another cuppa–and ponder going back to bed.
This will be the last you’ll read of mine from Fierce until Monday, Aug. 30, as I’m taking a week off. Not a vacation, mind you, but a week off just to catch up on things like sleep, housework and sanity, and hopefully start on a long-delayed home improvement project. I can’t guarantee I’ll blog next week, either, but then again, I haven’t exactly been on a regular schedule here in a while. Paying gigs come first. :)
Remember about 16 months ago when I shared the experience of my own internist’s practice struggling to adopt an EMR?
I went back to the doctor this week for a routine checkup and found that some progress had been made. For one thing, my own doctor charted the encounter electronically. And, much to my pleasant surprise, the practice had started up a patient portal. I discuss my experience with the portal in FierceEMR today.
As a side note, a practice manager from, of all places, Guam, recently contacted me about the original blog post, wanting for me to get him in touch with the practice I wrote about because he was considering the same Sage Intergy system. I was happy to oblige, as was the office manager of my physicians’ practice.
I’ve occasionally explored some of the nomenclature in health IT, particularly how the term “personal health record” is something distinct from “electronic health record” and how some news reports confuse the two. I’ve been known to laugh at the use of “personal electronic health record,” which I think was an uninformed reporter’s way of saying that each person should have an EHR.
Over the weekend, I saw a distinct term from, I believe, Australia: “patient-controlled health record.” That makes a lot more sense to me and tells me the purpose of the record. A Google search on that term actually turned up a Harvard Medical School meeting on “personally controlled health record infrastructure” target”= new” that took place in 2006 and 2007. But the term seems to have disappeared from the U.S. radar.
Monday in FierceHealthIT, I wrote a commentary about a new study from the California HealthCare Foundation that found that consumers still equate more care with better care. The study, published in Health Affairs, concluded that evidence-based medicine is a foreign concept among the general public.
In my commentary, I derided the whole premise of the report. I mean, many people in healthcare aren’t completely clear about what evidence-based medicine is. I also criticized mass media for not doing a good job educating the public about quality of care, particularly in the sham of a debate over health reform in the last year or so. It’s not the first time I’ve said something to this effect.
Within three hours of my commentary being posted, one anonymous coward posted the following comment on the FierceHealthIT page: “So Neil, instead of the snark, how about some solutions? You’re a journalist – isn’t the public’s ignorance your failing?”
Well, Mr. or Ms. Coward, no, the public’s ignorance is not my failing. If I had had access to mainstream news outlets, I would have asked the tough questions of the politicians, policymakers and lobbyists, not fueled the red herring of a debate over whether healthcare reform was about government control or not. It’s quality, stupid. I continue to try to pitch mainstream media about freelance gigs, but, alas, everyone’s either cut their freelance budgets to the bone or they won’t give the time of day to someone they don’t know or who doesn’t have some kind of insider connection.
And, to Coward’s other point, I have offered some solutions. If you weren’t so knee-jerk in your anonymous condemnation of my snark, you would know that I recently wrote a piece for journalists about covering EHRs and related health IT topics.
It’s over on the site of the Reporting on Health project at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication.
While you’re at it, you might want to check some of my other Fierce columns about how people both in the media and the health IT industry need to do a better job of communicating the issues. They’re not hard to find. In fact, here’s one to get you started.
Next time, don’t be such a coward. And an uninformed one at that.
Regular readers know I’ve not been shy about criticizing other media when they misunderstand health IT. Possibly because of my outspokenness, the Reporting on Health project at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication asked me to write a piece to help other journalists cover health IT and EHRs.
Three months after I turned it in, my story is finally up. I’ve also included a glossary of key terminology that I hope helps stop the confusion between EMRs, EHRs and PHRs, particularly the use of heinous terms like “personal electronic medical records.”
If I reach just one local news reporter, I’ll feel like I’ve succeeded.
Mainstream media still don’t get it. Personal health records and electronic health records/electronic medical records are not the same thing. Yet, on the agenda for next month’s annual Association of Health Care Journalists conference is a panel entitled “Personal electronic medical records: What will consumers need to know?”
The meeting is here in Chicago next month, but I already have plans to be out of town. I’m debating whether to change those plans to attend this meeting, because there are some sessions that could be of value to me. I may want to go just to be a voice for reporting on health IT. The lack of focus on health IT was what made me quit AHCJ four years ago.
Every time I see the phrase, “electronic personal health records,” my blood boils. Last time was this Dec. 2, 2009, article in something called eSecurity Planet that erroneously said the federal stimulus was paying for “electronic personal health records.” I used this story as an example for a yet-to-be published piece I’ve written for Reporting on Health, a project of the USC Annenberg School and California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowship.
For the record, I define an EHR as, at least in theory, a comprehensive digital collection of information about an individual’s health and medical status that encompasses multiple care settings. EMR means a record tied to a single facility or organization. The two phrases often are used interchangeably, and I think that’s OK for now.
A PHR, to me, is a record that patients can view, update and control access to. It is a subset of an EHR, not a synonym.
I saw this ad in Terminal 3 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport last week:
It’s a simple and powerful message, but I wonder how many people truly understand it?
I don’t know when this ad went up, but it could be something left over from HIMSS in April. I see a lot of healthcare ads at O’Hare since there are so many health and medical conventions here, but many are out of date, such as from last year’s Radiological Society of North America event, generally held in late November. Few are this large or have such visibility, right between a gate and an in-terminal restaurant in the heart of a major hub for American Airlines. Perhaps Siemens is trying to influence people in town to meet with Allscripts downtown or GE Healthcare in the northwest suburbs, or maybe it’s targeted at the many Obama-ites who shuttle between Chicago and Washington? Rahm Emanuel, please give me a call.