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Hyperbole doesn’t work in health IT

I’m still rather slammed with work, but I might as well take a few minutes to post on a Friday afternoon to call out someone else who’s pumping up the health IT hype beyond reasonable levels.

A publicist for UnitedHealth Group wanted me to attend yesterday and today’s New York eHealth Collaborative Digital Health Conference in New York City. Never mind the fact that I live in Chicago and the invite came in two days ago. To be fair, though, I was offered phone interviews. I declined based on the second paragraph in the e-mail:

This event is the first and only national summit dedicated specifically to advancing the role of health information technology (HIT). Hundreds of leading stakeholders and thought leaders from across the HIT space will gather under the same roof to discuss the latest technologies, achievements and challenges impacting the industry. HHS Chief Technology Officer Todd Park is the keynote speaker.

This is the first and only national summit dedicated specifically to advancing the role of health information technology, huh? Other than HIMSS, AHIMA, AMIA, AMDIS, CHIME, ANIA-CARING, iHT2, Health Connect Partners, HL7 and a few more, that is absolutely a true statement. Let’s not leave out the dearly departed TEPR, either.

I hope others didn’t fall for that ridiculous statement.

December 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.

EMRs at Sam’s Club

I have to say I’m bemused but somehow not surprised about the news that Wal-Mart Stores will sell EMRs at Sam’s Club warehouse locations.

Yes, the Bentonville, Ark., retail giant is joining with ambulatory EMR vendor eClinicalWorks and computer-maker Dell to sell systems at deeply discounted prices, reportedly less than $25,000 for the first physician and around $10,000 for each additional doctor in a practice. Maintenance and support will run about $4,000 to $6,500 a year, the New York Times reports.

Snicker, perhaps, but remember that the warehouse clubs offer a bit of everything. Sam’s Club rival Costco Wholesale sells caskets, after all. (Just don’t bundle those with EMRs. It might send the wrong message.) And remember that Wal-Mart has been talking about improving the quality of care and reducing healthcare costs with IT for several years and is one of the founding sponsors of the Dossia PHR project. I posted a podcast with Wal-Mart executive Linda Dillman in October 2006.

Wal-Mart already has a strong business in retail clinics and eClinicalWorks has a history of making creative business deals, such as with the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. So yeah, it makes sense. Whether doctors will shop for EMRs while picking up 5-pound jars of pickles and jumbo packs of toilet paper, we’ll have to see.

March 12, 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.

Oh really?

There’s a new venture in Buffalo, N.Y., billing itself as the “first national, electronic healthcare transaction network in the United States.”

The press release for the HealthTransaction Network says: “The initiative, under development for sixteen months since its announcement, is aimed at uninsured or underinsured individuals, who can’t afford coverage for even primary medical care. The goal is to enable them to get wellness services so they can prevent more serious conditions.”

OK, it’s a noble concept, but is it really national? The announcement makes it seem like it’s confined to Western New York state.

“The long-awaited program, started by electronic-transaction entrepreneur Joseph Wolfson, came to life last week with the launch of low-cost basic services at community health-care facilities, a new technologically advanced identification card, and an electronic transaction network to facilitate transactions between consumers and healthcare providers,” the release says. Again, these are some good ideas that can help transform care and save money for everyone involved. But a truly national network for electronic health transactions? It couldn’t be that simple, could it?

February 18, 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.

I don’t usually do this, but …

I’m experimenting with different kinds of posts. Here’s one I don’t often do: personnel announcements.

Denver-based Catholic Health Initiatives has taken the “interim” tag off Michael O’Rourke, naming him senior VP and CIO of the 77-hospital organization. O’Rourke, 56, had been interim CIO since August 2007. He previously led IT operations at Triad Hospitals, which became part of Community Health Systems in July 2007.

Also, health information exchange vendor Axolotl created a dedicated development team to assist the New York State Department of Health and the New York eHealth Collaborative in the building of the proposed Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY).

Sean Smith, developer of Axolotl’s Information Health Exchange (IHE) prototypes, will head the four-person team. Also named to the team was health information exchange expert Justin Pun. Axolotl did not identify the other SHIN-NY developers, but said that the team will report to Director of Application Development Lin Wan, Ph.D.

February 10, 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.

My dirty mind

When I first saw a news brief today about a statewide database for medical records in New York, I had to laugh. There was something about the name: Health Information Exchange of New York.

I thought there might be a reason that the state name came at the end, like perhaps to form an acronym. Then I realized that the initials, HIENY, might be pronounced as “hiney.” Talk about setting yourself up to be the butt of jokes (pun strongly intended)!

To my disappointment, I clicked on the link to the actual news story the brief came from and learned that the exchange is known as HIXNY.

Anyhoo …

Yet another health IT bill destined for inaction was introduced in Congress today, but at least this one seems to have some thought behind it. The proposed Independent Health Record Trust Act, from Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), calls for a national network of “trusts” to manage patient-owned health data.

“This forward-looking plan would utilize market forces to drive the creation of a fully interoperable, nationwide HIT network, while also taking additional steps to protect the privacy of sensitive medical information,” Moore said in a press release.

For those of you keeping score at home, Moore and Ryan had sponsored the Independent Health Record Bank Act in the last Congress, a bill that of course went nowhere. Perhaps there is greater political will this year. Perhaps not.

And speaking of National Health Information Network initiatives, there seems to be some opposition among RHIO leaders to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology‘s NHIN contracting procedures, as this letter illustrates.

July 11, 2007 I Written By

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