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Comprehensive coverage of WTN Media’s Digital Health Conference

As you may know from at least one of my earlier posts, I was in Madison, Wis., last month for a great little health IT event called the Digital Health Conference, a production of the Wisconsin Technology Network and the affiliated WTN Media. In fact, WTN Media hired me to cover the conference for them, so I did, pretty comprehensively. In fact, I wrote eight stories over the last couple of weeks, seven of which have been published:

I still have an overview story that should go up this week.

Why do I say it’s a great little conference? The list of speakers was impressive for a meeting of its size, with about 200 attendees for the two-day main conference and 150 for a pre-conference day about startups and entrepreneurship.

Since it is practically in the backyard of Epic Systems, CEO Judy Faulkner is a fixture at this annual event, and this time she also sent the company’s vendor liaison. Informatics and process improvement guru Dr. Barry Chaiken came in from Boston to chair the conference and native Wisconsinite Judy Murphy, now deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at ONC, returned from Washington. Kaiser Permanente was represented, as was Gulfport (Miss.) Memorial Hospital. IBM’s chief medical scientist for care delivery systems, Dr. Marty Kohn, flew in from the West Coast, while Patient Privacy Rights Foundation founder Dr. Deborah Peel, made the trip from another great college town, Austin, Texas. (Too bad Peel and Faulkner weren’t part of the same session to discuss data control. That alone would be worth the price of admission.)

July 2, 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: IBM Distinguished Engineer Scott Schumacher envisions the ‘clinical hub’

In part two of my series from month’s IBM Exchange 2011, my guest is IBM Distinguished Engineer Scott Schumacher. In this lively podcast, Schumacher discusses Watson, disease management and the concept of the “clinical hub,” which envisions bringing together clinical decision support and case management.

As with my previous podcast with IBM’s Lorraine Fernandes, I set my mic too low. I boosted the level during editing, but that introduced more background noise than I’d like. Schumacher mostly comes through nice and clear, though.

Podcast details: Interview with IBM Distinguished Engineer Scott Schumacher, recorded Sept. 14, 2011, in Chicago. MP3, stereo, 128 kbps, 13.2 MB. Running time 14:25.

0:30 What the IBM Exchange is
1:38 The “clinical hub”
2:30 Population analytics and individual patient analysis
4:20 Applying Watson intelligence and other medical knowledge
5:40 Target customers for clinical hub
7:10 Technical challenges
8:15 Potential for the technology
9:00 Video/image mining
10:00 Plans for testing and deployment
11:35 Mining of clinical notes and patient history
12:30 Incorporation of genomics and predictive treatment plans

October 23, 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.

Podcast: IBM’s Lorraine Fernandes talks HIE, public health, health reform

From the Department of Procrastination comes part one of a two-part podcast series from last month’s IBM Exchange 2011, an event the vendor put on to display its wares in health information exchange. The two-day conference took place in Chicago, home of the former Initiate Systems, which IBM acquired in early 2010. Here, I talk with Lorraine Fernandes, global healthcare ambassador for IBM (yes, that’s really her title), about how HIE enables healthcare reform and improved public and population health. (In part two, which I’ll post later this week, I discuss Watson with IBM’s Scott Schumacher.)

As usual, I had a minor technical glitch. Since it was a local event, I schlepped my bag downtown and set up a mixing board with two mics. I didn’t notice until the very end that I had my mic set way too low. I tried to fix that during editing, but raising the level just introduces more background noise. Ah, at least Lorraine’s words are clear.

Podcast details: Interview with IBM Global Healthcare Ambassador Lorraine Fernandes, recorded Sept. 14, 2011, in Chicago. MP3, stereo, 128 kbps, 22.0 MB. Running time 23:50.

1:00 Global problem of public health
1:45 Renewed focus on population health
3:00 Early successes and a search for better models
4:00 Private HIE in competitive U.S. markets
5:00 “Lowest common denominator” of EHR
6:30 Barriers to HIE
7:00 Building trust with consumers
11:30 Engaging people in the healthcare system
12:30 HIE for care coordination
13:30 Planning and executing ACO plans
15:15 Experiments in healthcare reform
16:00 Explaining healthcare innovations to the general public
18:05 Home monitoring for preventing hospital readmissions
19:45 IBM analytics, including Watson
21:10 Addressing continued physician resistance
22:30 Healthcare and American competitiveness

October 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.

Not so elementary, my dear Watson

In just the last few hours, I’ve seen a huge wave of pushback and doubt about Watson, the IBM supercomputer, being used for clinical decision support.

Yesterday, I covered a “healthcare leadership exchange” at IBM’s new Healthcare Innovation Lab in downtown Chicago. I posted some of my observations on the EMR and HIPAA blog, and made the case for diagnostic decision support.

I also wrote a story for InformationWeek, but that hasn’t run. Instead of posting my story, InformationWeek healthcare editor Paul Cerrato wrote a column about Watson already being “beaten in the medical diagnostics race” by Isabel Healthcare, a diagnostic decision support tool that’s been available for years. I have to admit, he’s right. I first interviewed Isabel founder Jason Maude probably in 2002 or so, and I first blogged about the company in 2005. I mentioned Isabel in a 2007 post that, interestingly, also alluded to the work of Don Berwick and Larry Weed.

Cerrato mentioned Jerome Groopman’s 2007 book, “How Doctors Think,” which discussed, in part, how IT could help doctors avoid many types of cognitive errors. “[D]octors tend to lean toward diagnoses that are most available to them in their day-to-day routine,” Cerrato wrote (emphasis in original). That’s exactly what Weed has said for decades, and exactly what Atul Gawande talked about in his groundbreaking book, “Complications.” Computers should not make decisions for physicians, but rather should help them reach the right conclusions, particularly when they see rare cases.

Wouldn’t you know, “e-Patient” Dave deBronkart commented on my EMR and HIPAA post to say he just finished reading Groopman’s book. He tweeted a link to my post, which a few of his 6,500 other Twitter followers noticed. They also noticed EMR and HIPAA grand poobah John Lynn’s comment that the example in yesterday’s Watson demo, a 29-year-old pregnant woman being prescribed doxycyline was “pretty weak.” (He’s right, by the way.) Aurelia Cotta, who blogs about issues such as infertility and adoption, started this thread that also got South Carolina nurse Sunny Perkins Stokes interested:

@ @ @ I can see great uses for this, but I find it funny the example they give of doxy in pg is wrong.
@AureliaCotta
Aurelia Cotta
@ @ @ because it's still using the FDA's pg categories, which are 30 years out of date. GIGO anyone. Heh
@AureliaCotta
Aurelia Cotta
RT @: @ @ @ find it funny the example they give of doxy in pg is wrong.| How so?
@sunnystill
Sunny Perkins Stokes
@ @ @ sorry to reply late--but FDA is binary, and Motherisk is risk vs reward ratio. Critical difference
@AureliaCotta
Aurelia Cotta
@ @ @ doxy is an excellent drug, and cheap. Lyme disease can cause m/c + stillbirth. What if pt needs it?
@AureliaCotta
Aurelia Cotta
@ @ @ baby teeth that have a line on them as a remote chance, might be worth the risk to a pt with no $
@AureliaCotta
Aurelia Cotta
RT @: @ @ @ baby teeth might be worth the risk to a pt with no $ ?Amoxicillin not just as good?
@sunnystill
Sunny Perkins Stokes
@ @ @ maybe to you, but what if the pt is allergic? Or they've already tried amoxicillin, and it didn't work?
@AureliaCotta
Aurelia Cotta
@ @ @ context matters is all, and I just think any sources used should be good, not "lawyer endorsed"
@AureliaCotta
Aurelia Cotta

 

Well, there’s a reason why I call myself a “healthcare” reporter and not a “medical” reporter. I don’t know the science, and I do occasionally get myself in trouble when I start talking about things like whether doxycycline is contraindicated during pregnancy. (To my credit, I did attribute the statement to IBM’s chief medical scientist, Dr. Marty Kohn.)

As I was reading the above tweets and contemplating this blog post, I came across a link to some tongue-in-cheek pushback against Watson in healthcare. An anonymous radiologist who blogs about PACS as “Dr. Dalai” compared Watson to HAL, the diabolical mainframe in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Dr. Dalai wrote: “Watch out, boys and girls, Watson is headed to a hospital near you, and he (it?) may challenge you as much as he did Ken Jennings.” Jennings, of course, is the Jeopardy! champion whom Watson beat earlier this year.

At first glance, I thought Dr. Dalai was yet another whiny physician clinging to the status quo. But he hit on the real issue: application of knowledge. Quoting from an interview with one of Watson’s programmers, Dr. Dalai noted that the supercomputer is being loaded with all kinds of medical reference material in preparation for “learning” human physiology and ultimately gathering experience in medicine. “This isn’t fair!  If I could just take a text book, stick it up my, ummmm, brain, and have it instantly memorized, I would be whiz, too!” he wrote.

Yeah, isn’t that the whole point of clinical decision support?

June 3, 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.

Poll for new national coordinator is rather laughable

Leave it to those in the ivory tower of Modern Healthcare to screw up something as simple as an unscientific poll about who should be the next national coordinator for health IT.  The poll lists a whopping two dozen names, ranging from the obvious—Dr. John Halamka, Dr. Paul Tang, current deputy national coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari—to the dark horse—Dr. Robert Hitchcock of T-System, Paula Gregory of the “Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicince” (sic)—and even a few laughable listings.

For one thing, Dr. David Brailer is on the list. The first national coordinator (2004-06) left Washington because he wanted to be with his family in San Francisco. He’s currently running a $700 million equity investment firm and couldn’t possibly want to get back into the political game, could he? Besides, he’s a Republican. Dr. William Hersh, CMIO of Oregon Health and Science University, would make a good choice, but he’s already said he doesn’t want the job.

Another choice is current CMS Adminstrator Dr. Donald Berwick. Dirty politics is about to force him out, and if that happens, you can bet he won’t want to be within 400 miles of Washington. (Hey, that just happens to be the distance to his home in the Boston area.) I’m really steamed about the Berwick situation, and am preparing  a separate post that hopefully will go up tomorrow.

Modern Healthcare also includes Janet Marchibroda, who’s identified as chief healthcare officer of IBM. Sorry, but Marchibroda, former CEO of the eHealth Initiative, left IBM last year. My sources tell me she’s now working at ONC, serving as de facto chief of staff to current coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal. (Blumenthal, as you no doubt know, is leaving in April.)

Missing from the long list of names is Johns Hopkins CIO Stephanie Reel, who won in a landslide the equally informal, unscientific poll that HIStalk ran a couple weeks ago. HIStalk did report, though, that Allscripts effectively stuffed the ballot box. Also not included is Blumenthal’s predecessor, Dr. Robert Kolodner, but he doesn’t want to go back, either.

I’m not going to run another survey here (hey, I doubt I have the readership to make it worthwhile anyway), but I’m curious if people think a non-physician could or should be national coordinator.

March 10, 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.

The definition of irony

ORLANDO, Fla.—Today in the press room at the HIMSS conference was the following media advisory:

IBM Unveils Healthcare Island on Second Life
3:30 p.m. EST, Feb. 27, 2008
IBM Booth # 5563—HIMSS
Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida

IBM will unveil its Virtual Healthcare Island on Second Life at this event. The IBM Virtual Healthcare Island is a unique, three-dimensional representation of the challenges facing today’s healthcare industry and the role information technology will play in transforming global healthcare-delivery to meet patient needs. Visiting “avatars” experience the private and secure creation of a functioning Personal Health Record as they progress through the island’s various stations, including a medical laboratory, clinic, pharmacy, hospital, and emergency room.

All this is from IBM. You know, the company that paid millions to air the following commercial during the Super Bowl:

There you have it, the definition of irony. Either that, or yet another reason to believe PHRs in their current state are mostly vaporware.

February 27, 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.