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Yes, the Stage 2 ‘meaningful use’ proposal will be out before HIMSS

There have been a lot of reports of late that HHS will publish its notice of proposed rulemaking for Stage 2 of the “meaningful use” EHR incentive program some time in February. That information is based on an e-mail update from CMS.

I can go one better than that: The proposal will be out in the next three weeks or so, before the start of the annual HIMSS conference on Feb. 21. How do I know this? Check out educational session No. 90 from the HIMSS 12 program, set for the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 22. Speakers haven’t been announced yet, but here’s the description: “An overview of the recently published Stage 2 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the EHR Incentive Programs, including changes to Stage 1 requirements, new meaningful use requirements for Stage 2, and changes to clinical quality measure reporting for eligible professionals and eligible hospitals.”

Yep, the NPRM will have been “recently published” by the time HIMSS rolls around.


January 30, 2012 I Written By

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

EHR disadvantages disappear from Wikipedia

According to the Health Care Renewal blog, which chronicles some of the myriad problems in American healthcare, editors of the Wikipedia page for “electronic health record” keep deleting or changing the section about EHR disadvantages. Drexel University medical informatics professor Scot Silverstein, M.D., who contributes to the Health Care Renewal blog, says that the following text has been removed from the Wikipedia page in the past week: Read more..

January 29, 2012 I Written By

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

Gingrich on EHRs in the 2009 stimulus

I don’t like to get political on this blog, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how the Newt Gingrich we’ve seen on the campaign trail of late is quite different from the Newt Gingrich who was a tireless advocate for health IT and EHRs from about 2004 to 2009.

Lately, Gingrich has, as primary candidates are wont to do, been pandering toward the more ideologically pure elements of his party, not addressing the center, as will be necessary during a general election. Notably, Gingrich has jumped on the “repeal Obamacare” bandwagon, essentially making the ridiculous argument that America does not need healthcare reform. That’s interesting, because Gingrich, after he left Congress, founded the Center for Health Transformation to push for technology-enabled health system improvement.

Back in 2004, Gingrich joined with strange bedfellow Hillary Clinton to advocate for a national, government-funded strategy to support adoption of health IT. That idea eventually morphed into the HITECH Act section of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama’s $787 billion stimulus legislation. Gingrich, like most Republicans, opposed the bulk of the stimulus, but he was an ardent supporter of HITECH. Here’s the proof: Read more..

I Written By

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

New technology for the 90-plus set

Meet my grandmother.

She is less than two weeks away from her 93rd birthday. She lives alone, in the same apartment she and my grandfather retired to in 1984 (my grandfather died in 2001). Her closest relative is 100 miles away. Her children and her grandchildren all live more than 1,400 miles away.

Her bones are brittle from osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. She is losing her hearing. Her vision has been bad for as long as I’ve known her. She lives on the second floor of a walk-up building, with no elevator.

Last weekend, she had to be hospitalized for a fall she took when the car she was getting out of moved slightly while she was removing something from the back seat. She had had another fall in her home less than two months earlier. She is out of the hospital now, in a rehab facility, where she is supposed to stay for as long as three weeks while she gets physical therapy so she can stand and walk without pain. But what happens after that?

In the past, she has flat-out refused to move to be closer to one of her children because she doesn’t want to deal with winter weather anymore, and, as she says, “This is my home.” She has also said she does not want to go into assisted living or nursing home because she has always been stubbornly independent.

I know this story is not unique to my family. I’m sure many of you have faced similar dilemmas with elderly relatives.

My mom and my aunt have both suggested that my grandma get some sort of “panic button,” more formally known as a personal emergency response system. They were thinking of the old “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” variety, which requires the user to push the button to summon help. Of course, that does no good if the wearer is unconscious or is disoriented.

I explained, based on my coverage of health IT and wireless health technologies, that there are some new types of personal emergency response devices that are passive, i.e., they can automatically detect a fall and call for help, no matter what condition the user is in. Some more comprehensive systems monitor vital signs and movement.

Most of my family did not know about these options.

When I visited back in December, I showed my grandma videos of a few technologies. She wasn’t interested in anything that looks like a computer or a touch-screen tablet because, frankly, new technology is confusing. I mean, she doesn’t even know how to use her DVD player, and has no interest in learning. Caller ID was a big step for her.

She also did not seem too interested in wearing a vitals monitor, even something as simple as a chest strap. Her heart is fine. While she did survive cancer twice in the past 15 years (!), I am not aware of any chronic ailments other than the arthritis and osteoporosis. There is no Internet access in her home, and she does not have a cell phone. She begrudgingly said that she would be OK with wearing a sort of panic button. I have a feeling she would also agree to have a motion sensor installed in the apartment, but only if the landlord would allow it. (I’m pretty sure the landlord would, and that she was just making excuses.)

So, what would you suggest? Vendors, whatcha got?

I’m not looking for any handouts or freebies here by virtue of the fact that I have this public forum. My family would be willing to pay the regular price for your products and services. But I am going to use my soapbox to do the right thing for my grandma.

January 26, 2012 I Written By

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

Will Healthbox launch offer true innovation, or just more flash?

Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, or so the saying goes.

My controversial piece on Silicon Valley missing the point of healthcare last summer doesn’t seem so controversial now, as I recently got some validation from others closer to the action than I am. First, reDesign Mobile analyst Rocky Agrawal wrote in VentureBeat that Silicon Valley might be “too smart for their own good,” building products more suited for highly educated techies than for the masses. Last week, former Apple and PepsiCo CEO John Sculley suggested at the Digital Health Summit at 2012 International CES that technology for its own sake is rather useless if you don’t understand the market you’re targeting.

“”The thing that is missing is getting the people with the domain expertise aligned with the people with technological know-how to turn ideas into branded services,” Sculley said, as I report in InformationWeek Healthcare and in tomorrow’s MobiHealthNews.

After raking Rock Health over the coals in my commentary last summer, I offered qualified praise to the San Francisco-based investor/business accelerator for healthcare start-ups last month on this blog. “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.” I wrote.

“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.”

Tomorrow, I am planning on attending the kickoff event for Healthbox, a similar healthcare business accelerator that differs from Rock Health in at least one key way: it is not in Silicon Valley, but right here in down-to-earth Chicago. Does that make a difference? Well, the kickoff isn’t at a hotel ballroom or Healthbox’s office, it’s in an artsy space called the Ivy Room, in the heart of River North, an area usually populated by more tourists than locals.

I sure hope I’m not in for an over-the-top extravaganza that will highlight cool, direct-to-consumer apps with a snowball’s chance of catching on with the entities that actually pay the bills for healthcare. I want to believe there’s something real here, which is why I’m giving up at least a couple hours of my time to see the presentations. Please tell me that Chicago isn’t becoming a Silicon Valley clone, but rather the hub of health IT innovation it could be.

For what it’s worth, here is the list of companies scheduled to present tomorrow: UnitedPreference, DermLink, SwipeSense (“a comprehensive hand-hygiene solution,” whatever that means), The Coupon Doc, CareWire, Iconic Data, PaJR-Patient Journey Record (helping hospitals avoid 30-day readmissions, possibly making it a Big Deal), CareHubs, Corengi (linking diabetics to clinical trials) and PUSH Wellness. I see real potential in at least four of those, possibly more.


January 18, 2012 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: Merge Healthcare

Other locales may get more press in this industry,  but the Chicago area has a surprisingly strong community of health IT vendors.

It is well known that Allscripts is headquartered at the Merchandise Mart. GE Healthcare, while based just outside Milwaukee, maintains a large IT center in northwest suburban Barrington, Ill. CDW, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., runs its healthcare division from a downtown Chicago office. Numerous smaller vendors dot the area, too. And then there is Merge Healthcare, a medium-sized firm that historically has specialized in software for medical imaging.

Last week, I visited Merge’s home office in the Aon Center, an iconic skyscraper previously known as the Amoco Building and, before that, the Standard Oil Building. There, CEO Jeff Surges gave me a history of the company and talked about changes in the company and in the health IT field in general. Then, I turned on my video camera so Surges, sporting an orange necktie, could explain why Merge has adopted orange as its company color.

Following my interview with the CEO, Gilbert Gagné, also wearing an orange tie, gave me a demo of Merge iConnect Access, an image viewing system than works through any Web browser. I got the iPad portion of the demo on video, too.

I shot this in 720p high definition, but only uploaded it at 360p to save time. Let me know if you want HD so the iPad screen appears a little sharper.

January 8, 2012 I Written By

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