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Aw, shucks

This blog has just made the Top 10 Favorite Health IT Blogs list of the EMR and HIPAA blog. Thanks for the accolade.

I have not had time to blog this week because of the just-concluded TEPR conference. Although the Medical Records Institute maintains that this year’s event in Baltimore had record attendance, crowds seemed sparse in most of the sessions. I do think the conference had more space in the Baltimore Convention Center than the 2005 edition had in Salt Lake City, but the exhibit hall seemed pretty empty.

I do know that the room was way less than half full for the opening plenary, but we got plenty of insight from Phil Sissons, former vendor liaison for the English National Program for Health IT. Let’s just say he is no friend of program director Richard Granger. I wrote something for E-Health Insider in the UK, finishing at 3 a.m. EDT for a London deadline.

My Health-IT World coverage of the opening session is here. I also wrote a story on the raucous town-hall meeting of the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. I was lucky enough to be sitting right in the middle of the crossfire between two unhappy vendor reps.

I heard some talk that the future of TEPR is uncertain. It usually is a good conference, but some of the luster seems to be wearing off. Maybe that has to do with people getting serious about technology instead of going over the top with their exhibits, maybe not. I just calls ’em like I sees ’em.

May 25, 2006 I Written By

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

HIMSS to Chicago in ’09

I just heard that the annual HIMSS conference is making its way to the organization’s home town (and mine) of Chicago in April 2009. Read the press release from the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau here.

In fact, Chicago is joining the regular rotation of HIMSS cities, along with New Orleans (nice to have the Big Easy back!), Las Vegas and Orlando.

As much as I like going to a warm-weather destination for the conference, it’s going to be nice having it in a real city on a more regular basis. San Diego this past February was great, but the conference got so big this year that hotel rooms were scarce. I stayed at a Super 8. I understand exhibit space was at a premium, too, even in a huge hall like that one.

Dallas last year didn’t do it for me, either, and the convention center in Orlando really is in the middle of nowhere if you don’t rent a car. Vegas I’m good with.

OK, OK, I know there aren’t too many hotels within walking distance of McCormick Place—a complaint I had with Dallas—but there are now dedicated bus lanes that make the trip from the convention hall to all the North Michigan Avenue hotels a very quick one. If the weather’s lousy in April, oh well. I promise you will find plenty of ways to enjoy yourselves here.

Register now if you want to crash on my couch.

May 17, 2006 I Written By

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

Anonymous commenter, time to come clean

I just received a comment that is highly critical of Dr. David Brailer based on his time as CEO of CareScience, a company he sold to Quovadx before he started consulting with the Bush administration a year before being named national health IT coordinator. I’d love to publish the comment, but first, I’d like the person responsible for it to identify himself or herself, or at least show me some proof of the statements made. Call it journalistic ethics, but I have a problem with trashing someone anonymously.

FYI, I do moderate the comments as a way of preventing spammers from advertising things like Viagra and penny stocks. The comments come to me as e-mails from Blogger, the blog service I use, so if a person wishes to remain anonymous, I have no way of figuring out a would-be poster’s identity.

And now, I want to lose my objectivity for a moment and wish a speedy recovery to Scott Wallace, CEO of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, who suffered a heart attack a couple of weeks ago. From what I understand, he is progressing and is expected to be at the Alliance’s annual meeting next week.

May 11, 2006 I Written By

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

Kodak selling, Micromedex buying and teens forging Vicodin scripts

I just got a series of press releases about a broad corporate restructuring at Eastman Kodak Co., strongly suggesting that the company’s Health Group is on the block.

An excerpt:

“‘Our stated corporate goal is to be among the top three in each of the businesses in which we compete,’ [Kodak Chairman and CEO Antonio M.] Perez said. ‘While the Health Group is enjoying strong organic growth in elements of its digital portfolio, such as digital capture solutions and healthcare information solutions, we have been observing for some time consolidation in this industry. Given our valuable assets and the changing market landscape, we feel that now is the time to investigate strategic alternatives.'”

Though Kodak has been in medical imaging and radiology information systems for many years, it just got involved in enterprise-wide health IT in early 2005. So much for that.

This news comes just two days after Thomson Micromedex confirmed reports that it has reached an agreement to acquire mobile healthcare software vendor MercuryMD. Terms still have not been announced.

In other recent news:

The National Alliance for Health Information Technology has concluded that the healthcare industry must convince the public that electronic records are important before tackling the technical challenge of electronically identifying and connecting patients. According to a statement, “Armed with this information, consumers will be more likely to understand the role of patient identification in realizing that value rather than constituting a threat to confidentiality of medical records.”

In yet another setback to the effort to computerize healthcare, a HealthDay story from Wednesday is headlined, “Hospital Computer Keyboards May Spread Danger. They’re a reservoir for bacteria that staff could pass to patients, study finds.” See if that doesn’t end up scaring away a hospital CEO or two.

Last week, however, health IT officially became a campaign issue in the Massachusetts gubernatorial race. The Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Tom Reilly, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the state’s highest office, says that IT is critical in the wake of the new Massachusetts law mandating health insurance for all residents. Reilly is calling for greater use of EHRs and computerized order entry to improve healthcare quality and save money. Read the story here.

Here in Illinois, a front-page story in the Chicago Tribune reported how a 17-year-old recovering heroin and crack addict was able to forge numerous presecriptions for Vicodin, and got the scripts filled as many as 30 times, without being questioned by pharmacists. We’re talking about a minor obtaining a Schedule II narcotic, no questions asked!

The part of the story that got me was this paragraph: “Though you need to show a photo ID to buy cold medicine in Illinois, addictive medications can be obtained with nothing more than an easily faked prescription slip. Pharmacists aren’t legally obligated to verify an order is genuine, and tamper-proof prescription pads, a security measure used in other states, are not required here.”

I showed the story to executives from e-prescribing vendors ZixCorp. and Allscripts. Both had pretty much the same reaction as I did: Vigilance from pharmacists notwithstanding, secure electronic prescribing with real-time authentication and eligibility and formulary checking would prevent this.

May 4, 2006 I Written By

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