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Let’s get Biz Stone to attend New Media Meetup at HIMSS12

As I first mentioned in August, John Lynn and I had the thought that it would be great if Twitter co-founder and HIMSS12 keynote speaker Biz Stone would show up at John’s 3rd annual New Media Meetup. Stone didn’t respond to our halfhearted attempt back then, but now the conference is less than two months away, and I have to imagine he will be making his plans soon, if he hasn’t done so already.

HIMSS social media guru Cari McLean also would love for Stone to meet and greet conference attendees at the HIMSS Social Media Center after his keynote on the morning of Tuesday, Feb. 21, per her tweet in response to one of mine:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/HIMSS/status/152809159644020737″]

That means that now is the time to put social media to work to get Stone to make a couple of appearances. Stone’s Twitter handle is @Biz. Tweet away, using the hashtag #BizatHIMSS12 and perhaps add #hcsm (for healthcare social media). Blog about this effort. Post on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Plus. I may even make a YouTube video. Let’s impress Stone with the power of social media and get him to mingle with the masses in Las Vegas.


December 30, 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.

Confusion with HIMSS12

Have you made your reservations for HIMSS12 yet? If you’re just starting to plan, you might not have noticed some quirks with the schedule and the venue this time around.

For one thing, the mega-health IT conference in Las Vegas is not at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center, but rather at the Sands Expo Convention Center and the adjacent Venetian hotel. Remember, the 2012 HIMSS conference was supposed to be in Chicago, but the organization switched it to Sin City a couple years ago after vendors complained about high costs at Chicago’s McCormick Place for HIMSS09. (The defection of HIMSS and one other large trade show actually prompted the Illinois General Assembly to legislate changes to some of the work rules at McCormick Place, after which HIMSS agreed to hold its 2015 and 2019 conferences there.)

The last-minute nature of the relocation is changing a lot of the dynamics.

I know that HIMSS has outgrown most of the convention centers in the country, to the point that only Las Vegas, Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans and Orlando can accommodate it, but the Sands was a surprising choice. Believe it or not, the Sands-Venetian claims to be the third largest convention facility in the nation, with 1.8 million square feet of exhibition and meeting space. However, many exhibitors will be put in Hall G, on the lower level, a 380,000-square-foot space with just a 13.5-foot ceiling height. The upper halls have 32.5-foot ceilings, so I’m guessing the downstairs space is going to seem awfully claustrophobic.

(On the other hand, the Venetian is a lot more luxurious than your typical conference hotel. Plus, I once saw Chuck Norris and his brother playing craps there. He graciously did not injure me.)

Also, HIMSS12 ends on Friday, Feb. 24, instead of the usual Thursday. When I booked my travel last week, I thought this meant HIMSS was adding an extra day to what already has become an endurance test. But I looked again today and noticed that everything has been moved back a day. The freakshow otherwise known as the vendor exhibition runs Tuesday-Thursday instead of Monday-Wednesday, and most of the preconference events, typically held on the Sunday prior to the start of the main conference, are set for Monday, Feb. 20. Alas, I’ve already booked my travel to arrive Saturday, and who knows what it will cost to change my plans? On the other hand, it gets me out of Chicago for an extra day in the winter.

Does anyone have any insight about this scheduling shift? Is it because of the venue change, or a result of the fact that Vegas hotels normally jack up the rates on Friday and Saturday nights?

Of note, though, the HIMSS travel service is a better deal in 2012 than in most years, based on my experience. Go through the official channel and you won’t pay more for staying a weekend night. You also won’t have to pay any resort fees at the many properties now adding this mandatory charge, and they’ll throw in free Internet access, too. That sealed the deal for me.


December 29, 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.

Rock Health seems to be learning

My first impression of healthcare startup incubator/accelerator Rock Health was not a favorable one. I wrote in MobiHealthNews last July that the San Francisco-based organization founded by some hotshot, young Harvard MBAs demonstrated “yet another example of Silicon Valley arrogance.” I said that Rock Health was mostly targeting the young end of the market with cool, fitness-oriented apps, not the elderly and chronically ill who account for the bulk of the nation’s $2.5 trillion annual healthcare spend. That group wants things that are easy to use rather than fun and hip.

Needless to say, I was not invited to Rock Health’s Christmas party. I did share a quick “hello” nod with Managing Director Halle Tecco when I saw her in a meeting room at the mHealth Summit last month, though.

Even then, I wondered if Rock Health had changed its attitude at all, seeing that even the executives were outfitted in company t-shirts in the buttoned-down world of (just outside) Washington, D.C. (I once had a Capitol Hill press pass early in my career. The rules require members of the media to conform to the same dress code as members of Congress. That means a coat and tie for men, while women have to have jackets if they choose to wear slacks. An unwritten rule of D.C. in general calls for women to wear stockings if they go with a skirt, even if it’s 95 degrees and humid, which it frequently is in the summer.)

Today, though, I saw a clear sign that Rock Health is starting to learn from its earlier mistakes. MobiHealthNews reported on the incubator’s class of 2012, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of the 15 companies are aimed at either healthcare providers—an important constituency largely missing from the first Rock Health class—and on treatment of truly sick patients. One startup, for example, helps people being treated for breast cancer prepare for doctor visits, while another produces an EHR for home-health agencies. Good stuff in my critical eyes, though really, enough with the social networking to get people to exercise. There are too many of these platforms and apps already.

I never thought I would say this, at least not before the end of 2011, but kudos to Rock Health for making a real effort to figure out the complex healthcare industry and to add some substance to what heretofore had been all style.

December 20, 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.

Mostashari, Chopra get down to ‘Meaningful Yoose’ rap

Now it makes sense.

A couple weeks ago, I got the latest update from fictional EHR vendor Extormity:

Extormity to Federal Health IT Leaders – ‘Take a chill pill, fellas.’

Brantley Whittington, fictional CEO of make-believe electronic health record vendor Extormity, is urging Aneesh Chopra, Farzad Mostashari and Todd Park to tone down their optimism and exuberance about the clinical benefits and cost savings associated with implementing health information technology.

Whittington, speaking to reporters from the offices of a K Street lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., expressed dismay at the unbridled enthusiasm exhibited by White House, ONC and HHS officials. “For years, vendors like Extormity have worked hard to cultivate a healthcare IT culture that combines complexity with closed-mindedness, creating a pervasive and stifling sense of futility.”

“Instead of the sober and staid leadership we are accustomed to, these gentlemen are inspiring new models of industry development,” added Whittington. “The Direct Project is a great example of supercharged public/private collaboration designed to simplify the flow of health information without spending a dime of taxpayer money. This may benefit patients and providers, but the lack of convoluted infrastructure does little for the Extormity bottom line.”

“While I have been known to muster up some counterfeit fervor for shareholder meetings, the consistent passion and zeal demonstrated by these officials is proving disruptive to those of us dedicated to proprietary and expensive solutions,” added Whittington. “I suggest dialing back the levels on the gusto meter to preserve the status quo, stifle meaningful innovation and ensure consistent and sizable returns to a handful of large healthcare IT vendors.”

Chopra, Mostashari and Park are exuberant, that’s for sure. The first time I saw Park and Chopra share a stage together, I labeled them the “anti-bureaucrats.” I have since added Mostashari to that category. But it was only over the weekend that I learned that Mostashari and Chopra were getting down to the “Meaningful Yoose” rap from Dr. Ross Martin at a recent ONC meeting.

Here is the video of that spectacle, courtesy of John Lynn. (Unfortunately, I cannot find an embeddable version.)

Perhaps this is why Mr. Whittington wants the anti-bureaucrats to tone it down. Or perhaps (more likely) extormity feels threatened by innovation. Yeah, let’s go with the latter.

N.B. I am writing this while 33,000 feet above northeastern New Mexico, just about to cross into the Texas Panhandle, on a flight from Tucson to Chicago. I love me some Wi-Fi in the sky!

December 19, 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.

Liability from Wikipedia?

On Monday afternoon, word got around on Facebook and, I’m told, on Chicago sports radio, that someone had altered the Wikipedia page of Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones to include the obviously false line, “His dad raped him every night after school.” (Click here for a screen grab.)

Within minutes of the publicity, someone had fixed the page. But before that happened, I mentioned in a Facebook discussion that this is additional evidence that Wikipedia should never be the primary source for any kind of research. But people rely on Wikipedia all the time when they look up information online.

Another participant in that discussion said that I should have corrected the information as soon as I had seen it. “I suspect there will be a case before long when a health professional spots an error on wikipedia and doesn’t correct it. A patient then takes notes of or acts on the information & the health professional could then be liable for not correcting the error – a part of professional practice?” this person said.

(Dramatic pause as a chill runs down your spine.)

Yeah, what happens when a patient gets wrong information from Wikipedia that his or her physician/nurse/family member saw but didn’t bother to fix? Medical error? Malpractice liability?

Has anyone ever thought this through? Am I reading too much into this or is this a real concern?

December 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.

How not to pitch me

As promised in my previous post, here is an example of a terribly misguided story pitch that I received last week. I can be rather mean to people who waste my time. Consider yourself warned (insert evil laugh here).

First, the pitch.

DECEMBER 7, 2011

SCA Urges Obama Administration to End Religious Discrimination Through Faith-Based Initiatives

CONTACT: Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA communications manager …….. 202-299-1091 ext. 205 or

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Secular Coalition for America stands with the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD) in calling for a transparent review process in how the executive branch’s faith-based offices are handling religious discrimination claims in the hiring of government-funded positions by religious organizations.

The religious discrimination in hiring exemption for religious groups is allowed as part of a multibillion dollar federal program called the faith-based initiative, and it is now active in 14 federal agencies and departments including USDA, Commerce, Labor, HHS, HUD, Education, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, EPA, SBA, USAID, Corporation for National and Community Services, and DOJ. Today CARD sent a letter to each of these agencies, calling for a transparent review process  of how religious discrimination in hiring complaints are addressed.

“In almost 3 years, the Obama administration has done little to address the consequences of allowing religious organizations to discriminate in hiring with taxpayer dollars, “ said Amanda Knief, government relations manager for the Secular Coalition. “We are asking for these agencies and offices to show us how they are handling these cases.”

Within the faith-based initiative, religious organizations may accept taxpayer funds in order to provide government-contracted social services, such as a soup kitchen or foster care, and use those funds to hire only those who also practice the same faith, whether or not the job itself has any religious function. An otherwise qualified individual who applies to a faith-based organization for a job may be rejected solely because he or she practices the wrong religion or has no religion at all.

In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama promised to restore anti-discrimination protections and end policies put in place by the George W. Bush Administration that permit the federal government to subsidize employment discrimination on the basis of religion. More than two years later, this issue has not been adequately addressed and the administration states it will make determinations on religious discrimination on a “case-by-case” basis without offering specifics about how individual cases will be addressed.

In July, Knief pressed President Obama at a town hall meeting about his failed campaign promise to end employment discrimination by faith-based organizations that accept taxpayer funding.

“Religious freedom is an individual right—it does not belong to an organization,” Knief said. “These groups that choose to use religious discrimination in hiring and other ways are imposing their ideology on others which means it cannot be defined as freedom.”

In particular, the CARD letter sent today calls for general transparency in the review process – including information on the cases previously or currently under review under this mechanism– as well as an explanation of review standards and protocols.

In 2007, the last year for which comprehensive numbers are available, $2.2 billion in federal grants were awarded to faith-based organizations by 11 federal agencies. That is about 11 percent of the $20.4 billion in federal grants that were awarded. By allowing these organizations to operate with tax dollars outside the federal guidelines that secular organizations are held to, the government is subsidizing religious discrimination.

“Religious and secular nonprofit groups should be treated the same under the law,” Knief said. “Taxpayer dollars should not be used to endorse any kind of discrimination.”

The Secular Coalition for America is a 501 c(4) organization that serves as the national lobby for atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheistic Americans. Composed of ten diverse member organizations, SCA works to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. For more information, please visit


And now, here is the e-mail thread that followed.

On Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 8:44 AM, Neil Versel <> wrote:

What exactly is the IT angle here?
From: Lauren Anderson Youngblood <>
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 10:28:17 -0500
Subject: Re: SCA to Obama Administration: End Religious Discrimination Through Faith-Based Initiatives

Hi Neil,

The list is populated based on the things you’ve written about in the past– perhaps you’ve written about a government administration that was named in the press release?

We apologize for any confusion or inaccuracies. If you wouldn’t mind forwarding the press release to the appropriate person on your team, we would be very grateful.

On Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 10:58 AM, Neil Versel <> wrote:
I don’t have a team. Do your homework. You clearly have no idea what I cover.
From: Lauren Anderson Youngblood <>
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 11:10:17 -0500
Subject: Re: SCA to Obama Administration: End Religious Discrimination Through Faith-Based Initiatives

As I mentioned in my last email, this list is not compiled by me personally. If you’d like to be removed, there is a link at the bottom of the original email you received.

Have a nice day!

On Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 11:11 AM, Neil Versel <> wrote:
So it’s on me to remove myself? Oh for f— sake!
From: Lauren Anderson Youngblood <>
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 11:15:27 -0500
Subject: Re: SCA to Obama Administration: End Religious Discrimination Through Faith-Based Initiatives

I’m sorry this is frustrating to you. Let me explain: Meltwater is a company that compiles lists of journalists based on what they cover. When you go to send out a press release, you tell them what you’re looking for and it compiles a list based on the terms you input and sends it. You probably were placed on the list due to something you mentioned in an article, and it make the mistake of thinking it’s something you cover on an ongoing basis.

I wouldn’t worry about removing yourself per se– this seems to be a mistake, but chances are, other lists they compile have been fine and that’s why you’ve never had this problem before.

On Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 11:17 AM, Neil Versel <> wrote:
And you’re too damn lazy to verify. Frankly, it’s insulting that you’ve never read a word I’ve written.
From: Lauren Anderson Youngblood <>
Date: Wed, 7 Dec 2011 11:20:54 -0500
Subject: Re: SCA to Obama Administration: End Religious Discrimination Through Faith-Based Initiatives

There are thousands of people on each list. You may be upset, but it’s inappropriate and unprofessional for you to sling personal insults at me. If you want to be removed from the list, you know who to contact, please don’t email me again. Have a nice day. Goodbye.

These aren’t personal insults. They are professional insults, thank you very much. I criticized her work, not her character. In any case, I hate those media directories that lazy PR people rely on to target their pitches, and I do find it insulting when someone pitches me without ever having read a word I’ve written.

In the words of a certain lazy PR person, have a nice day. Goodbye. :)

I Written By

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

Among docs, mobility is global

I’m thinking that the m0bile physician is a global phenomenon.

I get on a lot of ridiculously misguided mailing lists (I’ll post an example right after this). One I just received while up writing at 1:30 a.m. was an invitation to take part in a physician survey about mobile technology. Once again, I am not a physician. But before I click the unsubscribe link, I decided to take a look at the survey itself.

The survey, from a custom publishing house in the United Arab Emirates (yeah, I am on a lot of weird mailing lists), asks doctors about tablets, smartphones and their use of social media. I include the link only because I am interested in seeing the results. Are doctors in other parts of the world adopting mobile devices as quickly as U.S. physicians? Is this trend limited to industrialized countries, or do physicians in somewhat wealthy, non-Western lands such as the UAE and other oil-rich states also love tablets and smartphones?

If anyone else has any insight from outside North America, Western Europe and other rich countries like Japan and Australia, please share in the comment section.

December 12, 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.

Help free Warren Weinstein

As you may know, Warren Weinstein, the American kidnapped in Pakistan in August, is a family friend. I posted about him shortly after the kidnapping, but took the post down at the request of the Weinstein family. Now, with the chilling news that he is in the hands of Al-Qaeda, I am being encouraged to spread the word to put pressure on the U.S. government and others who might be able to save him.


1. Forward this message to your friends who can influence others.
2. Send letters to the editor of influential publications.
3. Write to your government and legislators.

The following is a note from my uncle, to whom Warren is a close friend and mentor:


Dear Friend,

A very dear friend of ours, Dr. Warren Weinstein, was brutally kidnapped from his house in Lahore, Pakistan on August 13, 2011, just a few weeks after celebrating his 70th birthday with his family back in Maryland, and just two weeks before he left Pakistan for good. Warren is an exceptionally talented and devoted man and during the five or so years that he was in Pakistan, he did a phenomenal amount of good for the people with whom he worked. Among other things, he used his extensive networking skills to open up new markets for Pakistan’s jewelers and to help increase value-added for Pakistani dairy producers. He spoke Urdu, the language of the people and he fit in to the society, exactly the way an excellent development worker should do. He was all about delivering good things to the people of Pakistan – to the best of his considerable ability.

That he was grabbed from his home – at 3 am during Ramadan, the holy month of fasting (which Warren, an observant Jew who respected others’ religious beliefs, probably was keeping in solidarity with his co-workers) was certainly a callous, cold-blooded and cowardly, if not infidel, act. Given that violence was (apparently) used upon him and his guards also underscores the brutal nature of his abductors. The Pakistani police were and have continued to be impotent in following through on Warren’s kidnapping. The Pakistani government has been absent.

And now, after four long difficult months of waiting, not hearing anything, the cowardly caliph of Al Qaeda comes forward with a valiant declaration, victoriously claiming that he and his henchmen are holding a good and righteous 70 year old man who has dared to try to help others less fortunate than he during his entire career, in fact his entire lifetime. As an American, and as a Jew, Warren believed strongly that by helping others he was doing what was right, and he always did it very well. Accusing Warren of the venal crime of working for USAID, Al-Zawahiri wants the West to give back all the Al Qaeda loyalists in return for Warren.

For those Al Qaeda loyalists, whose work is to destroy, to explode, to obliterate, to assassinate innocent men, women and children, of whatever creed or belief, simply to terrorize, they – so we are told – believe that they do this all in the name of Allah… How can that same Allah condone the work of Warren and the work of the Al Qaida contingent? I suppose that’s why Allah is indeed so wondrous…

In the few days following Al-Zawahiri’s announcement, I have seen NO official US government reaction. That is shameful, given that Warren was doing everything in his power to do good works so that America and USAID would be better-viewed by Pakistanis. Warren and his team were successful at expanding opportunities for Pakistanis’ businesses, using US taxpayers’ money. Perhaps there is some secret mission underway to bring Warren home, but the lack of even basic appreciation for what Warren has done is shocking. The Department of State released some benign diplomatic drivel to suggest that they had communicated with the Government of Pakistan….with whom we have very complex and rapidly deteriorating “relations”…and that they were working to get the hostage freed, or something to that effect. Is that it? Is that all one gets when one has devoted years of service and has the misfortune to be placed in grievous circumstances?

In an earlier incident, a redneck CIA hack who shot Pakistanis to death in some sort of traffic accident which ended in an altercation, claimed self-defense or some such thing, got wonderful treatment and laser-focus from the US government. He was subsequently released and repatriated to the US where he could get into trouble in his own country, and if I recall correctly, did indeed. US funds were used to pay blood money to the victims’ families. But for Warren, a contractor – not a US government direct-hire employee, since the US does not negotiate with terrorists (or so the tale goes), what will the US do for him????

I do not usually agree with the forum that I have cited below this appeal letter. In this case, the author is at least venturing something other than inaction, an alternative to doing nothing or benign business-as-usual phrases.

I ask you to think about Warren and his family and share this with others so that he may brought home as quickly as possible. He has beautiful grandchildren and daughters and a wife who all miss him like he most definitely misses them. And he has friends…lots of friends all over the world, from dozens of countries and with whom he communicates in their languages. If you would be so kind as to ask your Congressional representatives and Senators to get involved, maybe we can break through some of the bureaucratic malaise and get Warren home with his family.

This is a season of hope. Perhaps we can dare to hope that Warren can be set free as quickly as possible.

Thank you for reading this. Help free Warren Weinstein.

Best wishes,
Malcolm Versel


from: Family Security Matters
December 6, 2011
How Should the U.S. React to the Kidnapping of Warren Weinstein?

Ryan Mauro

On August 13, a 70-year old Jewish-American named Warren Weinstein was kidnapped from his home in Pakistan. Ayman al-Zawahiri has released a tape claiming he is in Al-Qaeda’s custody and his fate will be decided by whether the U.S. gives into his demands. He’s believed to be under the control of Pakistani Taliban commander Tariq Afridi, who operates out of the tribal town of Darra Adam Khel near Peshawar, but there are reportedly no credible leads on Weinstein’s exact location. What is the United States to do?

The first thing the U.S. must do is inform Pakistan that it will be held responsible for Weinstein’s fate. This would not have happened if Pakistan lived up to the same responsibilities that all of the world’s countries are expected to. If there is any intelligence service that can find Weinstein, it’s Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service. Should it fail to do so, Pakistan should receive just as much blame as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. There are specific, long overdue punishments that Pakistan must face if Weinstein’s life is lost.

The second action that must be taken is to ideologically pressure Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistan. This is an opportunity to bring attention to the goodness of America and the evil of the Islamist terrorists. Weinstein is not an enemy combatant. He is not even near the age to become a combatant if he wished. He is an aid worker who has devoted his life to helping others, especially Pakistanis. He set up scholarships for students in the tribal areas to study the gem trade. He’s helped improve the dairy market. His job was to develop Pakistan. His story should become known to all Pakistanis as an example of how America is helping them and the terrorists are hurting them.

The U.S. must also use the kidnapping to embarrass Al-Qaeda and the Taliban and to stop them from using it to try to appear strong. The U.S. and its allies must emphasize how cowardly of an act this is and depict it as an act of weakness. The fact that Al-Qaeda and the Taliban has to resort to kidnapping 70-year old aid workers should be used against them.

Muslim governments that covet their ties to the U.S. should be asked to pressure their imams to condemn the act. Again, Weinstein is not an enemy combatant and even some anti-American Islamists will view his kidnapping as uncalled for. Although I do not agree with all of his suggestions, former Egyptian terrorist Tawfik Hamid makes a wise recommendation. He says that Islamic scripture should be used to condemn Weinstein’s captors. It is important that the U.S. do everything it can to stir debate within the Islamic world about such events.

Unfortunately, the odds are not high that Weinstein’s life will be saved and so a response must be prepared should the terrorists kill him.

The U.S. must steal the headline from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The world’s headlines should not read, “Al-Qaeda Kills American Hostage.” They must read, “Al-Qaeda Kills American Hostage; U.S. Launches Massive Strikes on Terror Havens.”

When President Obama came into office, he was given a list of 150 terrorist camps inside Pakistan. Some have since been destroyed but plenty remain, along with safehouses, front businesses and other terrorist entities. The U.S. must immediately respond to the announcement of Weinstein’s death with military action that demonstrates our strength, makes terrorists (and those who do business with them, such as the kidnappers who may have sold Weinstein) second-guess the wisdom of their actions and raises the cost to Pakistan for taking the enemy’s side. By doing this, Al-Qaeda will be prevented from having any boost in morale or prestige. His death must be remembered as something that brought misery to Al-Qaeda and its allies, not joy.

The U.S. should also have a strategy that becomes incrementally more aggressive towards Pakistan. If there is any information indicating that Pakistan is protecting Zawahiri or Commander Afridi, it should be released. If a specific ISI operative is tied to them, his assets should be frozen. Further cuts in aid to Pakistan must happen. The target list for the drone campaign should be expanded and U.S. troops in Afghanistan should be permitted to return fire across the border. Our troops deserve to have the threat to their lives minimized and sites used to kill them should not have immunity.

If Pakistan’s behavior does not immediately change, the State Department should reverse its decision to not include the country on its list of “Countries of Particular Concern” for violations of religious freedom. The case of Asia Bibi, a mother who has been sentenced to death for criticizing Islam after converting to Christianity, should be taken up. There should be open discussion in Congress about designating the ISI as a terrorist group, as was done with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, or at least its S-Wing that is most involved.

Richard Miniter offers some additional ideas. He suggests eliminating our dependency on Pakistan by building a supply route to Afghanistan through India, preferably in secret. Allies in central Asia should be used to airlift supplies. The U.S. can also insist that AT&T and other companies change their business arrangements with Pakistan in order to financially punish the country.

The hard truth is that the U.S. isn’t doing everything in its power to save Warren Weinstein or our soldiers in Afghanistan. Pakistan must be forced to do everything it can to find him and if his life is taken, he deserves to be honored with more than condolences.

Ryan Mauro is the National Security Analyst for Family Security Matters. He is the Founde rof, a national security analyst at Christian Action Network, a Strategic Analyst for Wikistrat and a national security commentator for FOX News.


Thank you for your attention. And now, back to health IT.


December 9, 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: mHealth Alliance Executive Director Patty Mechael

Patricia Mechael is the newly installed executive director of the mHealth Alliance, a joint effort of the United Nations Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Vodafone Foundation. The mHealth Alliance this week is joining with the Foundation of the National Institutes of Health to put on the third annual mHealth Summit in National Harbor, Md.

I first met Patty in 2008, at the mobile health week of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Making the eHealth Connection conferences in bucolic Bellagio, Italy, when she was m-health advisor to the Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, a post she continues to hold. I was impressed by her international credentials in applying mobility to public health.

She was chosen in September to lead the mHealth Alliance, and joined just a few weeks ago. I interviewed her by phone last week in anticipation of the mHealth Summit. This is the result. (I’ll have a companion piece in MobiHealthNews in the next day or two.)

Podcast details: Interview with Patricia Mechael, executive director of mHealth Alliance. Recorded Dec. 1, 2011. MP3, mono, 64 kbps, 5.1 MB. Running time 11:05
0:40 Roots in Bellagio meetings
1:30 mHealth Summit
2:05 Vision for mHealth Alliance and mHealth Summit
3:50 Legacy of Bellagio
4:45 Global reach of mobile phones
6:45 Multiple communication channels to account for literacy differences
7:25 Smartphones in global health
8:20 Separating hype from reality in low-resource environments

December 5, 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.

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.