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Another blog aggregator

There’s a new aggregation service for healthcare blogs that I believe just started this week. Actually, it’s more than a blog aggregator, it’s a blog summary. And it’s not just a blog summary, it’s a high-profile one, from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Specifically, the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report will highlight recent entries from various healthcare blogs every Tuesday and Friday in a segment called “Blog Watch.” The first one appeared earlier this week—with no mention of this blog. I’ll live, but someone please tell the Kaiser folks I’m out here. Please. :-)

Speaking of other media outlets, CNBC’s “Squawk Box” will have athenahealth Chairman and CEO Jonathan Bush as a guest Thursday at approximately 7:25 a.m. EDT, according to an athenahealth media advisory. Given that it is 1:30 a.m. CDT as I write this, we’re talking less than five hours from now. I guess I’ll catch it online.

Bush, a two-time guest on this blog (March 2007 and March 2008), will unveil the 2008 rankings of his company’s PayerView study of the health insurance industry.

And since my previous post was about mobile technology, I might as well mention the news from A.D.A.M. Inc.: the consumer health information portal has launched a new application for the iPhone called Symptom Navigator. It seems to be exclusive to the iPhone. That Steve Jobs sure knows how to work the cool factor.

May 28, 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.

Podcast: TEPR Cell Phone Project

The just-completed Towards an Electronic Patient Record (TEPR) conference featured the unveiling of the TEPR Cell Phone Project, an eight-month effort to study and prove the efficacy of the mobile phone as a hub of interoperability in healthcare. (You can read my Digital HealthCare & Productivity story about the project here.)

The Medical Records Institute, which puts on TEPR, is partnering with AllOne Health Group, a Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based health and wellness services provider, to conduct this test of bottom-up, consumer-controlled health information exchange. The study begins June 1, and results will be released at TEPR 2009 next February.

During Monday’s TEPR Cell Phone Project press conference, I peppered AllOne executives with some tough questions about their plans, and was not shy about voicing my skepticism about personal health records. In a rare show of tact on my part, I did so without offending anyone. In fact, Frank Avignone, director of business and sales development for AllOne Health subsidiary AllOne Mobile, agreed to join me the following day to record this podcast.

Podcast details: Interview with Frank Avignone, director of business and sales development, AllOne Mobile Health, about the TEPR Cell Phone Interoperability Project. Recorded May 20, 2008. MP3, mono, 64 kbps, 10.8 MB. Running time 23:37.

0:54 Background on the company and its technology
2:00 Interoperability study
3:30 Metrics being measured
4:00 Convergence of Dossia, Google Health and Microsoft Health Vault, and the subtle differences
5:50 Technology behind AllOne Mobile Health
6:49 Phone requirements and registration process
8:25 Continuity of Care Record
8:50 Why consumers might accept this technology
10:25 Data input options
11:50 Provider access to data
12:37 Workflow considerations
14:10 Pragmatic approach to uptake
14:35 Logistics of the study
16:25 Study participants
17:30 Mobile phone carriers
19:30 ROI for end users
21:00 Marketing strategy
22:18 Study goals

May 23, 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.

Another black eye for EHRs

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.—Sitting in my hotel room the night before the end of TEPR, I just received an article from NextGov, a publication I had not been familiar with, but which seems to have a good amount of health IT coverage. (I might have to pitch some ideas of my own the editor.)

This particular story is alarmingly headlined: “Cyber criminals overseas steal U.S. electronic health records” According to the report, “medical records are a ‘platinum card’ for organized crime, which can rake in millions of dollars from false billings, said Pam Dixon, executive director of the World Privacy Forum.”

Another source is quoted as saying stolen U.S. health data, including diagnoses, medical histories, prescriptions, insurance information and Social Security numbers, was found on a Russian-registered server in Malaysia.

Happy reading!

As for TEPR, the conference itself is really small, particularly when compared to the last time in Fort Lauderdale in 2004, when David Brailer delivered his first major speech as national health IT coordinator, and the opening session also included Bill “Dr. HIPAA” Braithwaite and the legendary Dr. Larry Weed.

This year’s conference has been truncated from four days to three, and Cerner and NextGen are among the vendors who are conspicuously absent from the trade show. In fact, Mark Anderson’s AC Group had a bigger booth than McKesson.

For that matter, Google not only was not here, the company held its own event on the opposite coast on Monday to launch Google Health.

However, the educational presentations I’ve been to have been very good, though the compressed schedule means that some time slots had two dozen concurrent sessions, so I missed a few I would have liked to have seen.

I recorded a new podcast here on Tuesday, and hope to have it up soon.

May 20, 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.

And they ask me why I drink

Here’s a recent e-mail exchange I had:
I have redacted the name of the other person to protect the ignorant.

—– Original Message —–
From: [redacted]
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 9:42 AM
Subject: Link to’s recent article heart stints research

Thought you and your readers might be interested in’s recent article on a report that 72% of journal articles on heart stints in 2006 failed to note who funded the research draws sharp criticism of disclosure practices:

Feel free to link to this and let me know if you need anything else.


[name redacted]


From: “Neil Versel”
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 10:45 AM
To: [redacted]
Subject: Re: Link to’s recent article heart stints research

Why exactly would I be interested in a story like this?

From: [redacted]
To: Neil Versel
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 10:48 AM
Subject: RE: Link to’s recent article heart stints research

I just thought you might want to link to it on your Healthcare blog.

From: “Neil Versel”
To: [redacted]
Subject: Re: Link to’s recent article heart stints research
Date: Monday, May 12, 2008 10:53 AM

You mean my blog about health IT?
This is about a clinical trial. When have I ever covered that. And FYI, the word is “stents.”
You haven’t been doing this very long, have you?

I didn’t get a response to the last message.

Oh, and by the way, you didn’t hear this from me, but Ricoh will be building some of the underlying PHR technology for Google Health. Oh wait, you did hear that from me. But you won’t hear that from Google. In fact, try asking them simply for the name of their Google Health partners and you’ll get a link to a YouTube video of Eric Schmidt’s speech (the same one I posted at to the HIMSS conference and instructions to fast-forward to about 28 minutes to try to read the logos on the screen from Schmidt’s PowerPoint presentation. The company’s reasoning? They haven’t launched the product yet.

Yeah, their CEO showed the product to thousands of people at the largest health IT meeting of the year, but the company hasn’t introduced it.

The story gets worse, but if I say any more, the situation turns personal between myself an a Google employee I shall not name.

And they ask me why I drink!

P.S., Marissa Mayer, please call me. Your press people are not very cooperative. You are not the Google employee I shall not name.

Addendum, 5/20/08:
I just realized the unnamed pitch-person has won, since I did indeed link to the BW article on my blog. Know anyone in Fort Lauderdale who delivers crow to hotel rooms?

May 18, 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.

Out of hibernation

It’s been since March 29 that I’ve updated this blog. That was much longer than I had anticipated. I know it’s been too long when I start getting e-mails wondering what happened to me. Honestly, I didn’t realize this blog was that popular. Aw, shucks. I know some people have noticed that I haven’t been writing much lately for Digital HealthCare & Productivity either. I will have stories there next week, however.

As I mentioned nearly two months ago, I was buried in a huge assignment from Doctor’s Digest. I’m actually still working on some loose ends. I also took 10 much-needed days for a vacation in Italy. (Thanks, Jane Sarasohn-Kahn for your tips on Florence.)

What’s the occasion of this post? I have plenty of material saved up that will not make it into Doctor’s Digest, and I do plan on posting some of it here once the copy is finalized, likely sometime in June. For now, I choose to comment on next week’s TEPR Conference.

The sponsoring organization, the Medical Records Institute, is expecting just 2,000 people and little more than 100 exhibitors this year. That’s half what the conference drew at its peak three or four years ago. As of today, some of the invited speakers had not even been confirmed.

The spin I’m getting is that the number and quality of educational sessions have been increased. I’ll buy that one because last year featured presentations only from actual users, not vendor representatives.

Also, MRI is planning some special things for next year, the 25th edition of TEPR. First off, it will be Feb. 1-5, 2009, rather than the spring, on account of HIMSS ’09 being in April to accommodate the Chicago weather. (FYI, it was 48 degrees on the shores of Lake Michigan yesterday, May 12. Consider yourself warned.) I will be happy to go to Palm Springs, Calif., for a February TEPR next year.

Secondly, MRI is planning to pump up attendance next year by rolling back prices on registration and exhibit space to the level of the first conference in 1985.

A major focus of this year’s event is going to be the cell phone as a conduit for interoperability. The iPhone certainly is a big part of that. Somehow, I don’t expect Dr. James Mault of Microsoft to mention the iPhone during his TEPR keynote next Tuesday, however.

Speaking of Microsoft, this is the first time I’ve blogged on my new HP Pavilion notebook, running Windows Vista, and it’s really slow when I want to highlight blocks of text for hyperlinks. At least one other site I’ve used recently recomments the Mozilla Firefox browser for a Java application. I wonder if I’m having a similar problem here. Any thoughts?

May 13, 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.