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Blumenthal will return to Harvard in April

According to former U.S. Sen. Dave Durenberger (R-Minn.), national health IT coordinator Dr. David Blumenthal will return to Harvard in April, and Blumenthal, as has been widely rumored, is leaving to keep his tenure.

So far, Blumenthal and HHS have been saying he would leave his current post at an unspecified point in the spring. But, as Durenberger writes in his weekly commentary about health policy, “David told me he was planning an April return to Harvard when his two year leave to serve the new administration is up. … David’s departure to keep his tenure at Harvard apparently came as a surprise in D.C. where he’d become widely respected for aligning the Office of National Coordinator with the ‘meaningful use’ of health IT.”

Durenberger also notes that Blumenthal is the brother of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). I wondered if there was a relation. Now I know.

Durenberger chairs the National Institute of Health Policy and serves as a senior health policy fellow at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

February 14, 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: SRSsoft CEO Evan Steele

One of the more interesting figures in health IT is Evan Steele, the outspoken CEO of ambulatory EMR vendor SRSsoft. For years, Steele pushed his Montvale, N.J.-based company’s “hybrid” EMR as a product that won’t slow down “high-performance” physicians. After passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, Steele openly boasted that his customers—mostly specialists—were prepared not to receive bonuses for “meaningful use,” a program he believes is skewed toward primary care.

Recently though, Steele has shifted his stance. SRSsoft has rebranded “hybrid” EMR as SRS EHR and now is seeking certification so customers can qualify for the federal incentive program. What makes Steele tick and what led to his change of heart? This podcast provides some answers.

I apologize for the audio quality. I was using a new telephone recording device, and clearly don’t have the settings right. I edited this on an airplane, and the recording was tolerable. Just listen with a bunch of background noise and it’ll be fine. :)

Podcast details: Interview with Evan Steele, CEO of SRSsoft. MP3, stereo, 128 kbps, 27.8 MB. Running time 28:22.
0:57
“Hybrid” EMR and physician productivity
1:40
Change in direction for the company with certification
2:15
What has and hasn’t changed with the product itself
3:10
Still targeting “high-performance” physicians
5:25
Why he says SRS EHR won’t slow physicians down
6:40
Documentation options
7:30
Why he believes Stage 1 meaningful use is skewed toward primary care
9:40
Changes in final regulations that focus on specialists
10:35
Why SRS is seeking certification now
13:00
Differences between SRS and other vendors
14:00
Physician confusion about meaningful use
15:40
“Unnatural” elements for specialists in meaningful use
16:30
Innovation being “sapped” from marketplace
17:00
Gamble of the stimulus
18:15
How SRS is innovating within the confines of the new rules
20:00
Expectations for HIMSS11
22:05
What SRS gets out of going to HIMSS
23:30
SRS’ niche among large, enterprise systems vendors
26:20 Message for HIMSS attendees

February 13, 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.

MTIA changing its name

I’ve just learned that the Medical Transcription Industry Association will be changing its name to the Clinical Documentation Industry Association. This change reflects the fact that the transcription profession is evolving into an editing function with the advent of EMRs.

The new name and expanded organizational mission will be introduced Feb. 21 at the HIMSS conference. The CDIA will focus on the human interaction necessary to make electronic documentation more usable, a process likely to grow more complicated as the healthcare industry migrates to ICD-10 coding.

The cynic in me knows that the public (or mainstream media) won’t notice much of a difference because there’s still the widespread perception that medical transcription is a booming industry. All those “work at home transcribing medical records” offers can’t possibly be misleading, could they?

I guess it’s up to those of us who really understand healthcare to spread the word that transcription is dying and that the real growth potential is in higher-skilled editing of clinical documentation.

February 8, 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.

Is the National eHealth Collaborative still necessary?

I’ve been wondering the last few days if the National eHealth Collaborative still serves a useful purpose. This group, you may remember, is the private-sector outgrowth of the American Health Information Community, the public-private board set up by the Bush administration to advise the Department of Health and Human Services on various health IT issues.

The plan all along was to spin AHIC off into the private sector, and that happened in 2008. With the advent of the Obama administration, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 set up the Health IT Policy Committee and the Health IT Standards Committee as official advisory panels, consisting of leaders from both government and the private sector. And in the private sector, numerous groups, notably the eHealth Initiative, had been well established before NeHC came along.

Do we really need a group like NeHC? For that matter, the eHealth Initiative seems less relevant than it was, say 3-4 years ago.

February 7, 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.

Video: Overview of mobile healthcare technologies

I haven’t done much with my YouTube page since I launched it last month, but here’s some new video of me, courtesy of Nuesoft Technologies. Nuesoft hosts a podcast series, and they recently invited me, along with Health Data Management Editor-in-Chief Greg Gillespie to discuss mobile healthcare technologies. We all had webcams, so the result is this YouTube video.

In a bit of serendipity, Gillespie happened to be looking for freelance help with HDM’s HIMSS Microsite, a collection of articles previewing HIMSS11. My first story should be up within the next hour.

February 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.