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Podcast: mHealth Initiative’s Peter Waegemann

In 2009, after 25 years of moving “Toward an Electronic Patient Record” (TEPR), the Medical Records Institute disbanded and its founder, Peter Waegemann, shifted his focus to mobile healthcare by creating the mHealth Initiative.

TEPR had grown into a rather substantial event, peaking at 3,800 attendees in 2004, when newly appointed national health IT coordinator Dr. David Brailer was the featured speaker. But attendance and vendor square footage rapidly declined after that, as much of the action in the realm of EMRs either moved to medical specialty societies or the huge HIMSS conference.

Taking a more content-driven than vendor-driven approach, the mHealth Initiative has tried its hand at conferences since last year. (I spoke and served on a panel at the organization’s 2nd mHealth Networking Conference last fall.) A week ago, the group held its third such event in that paradise for lovers of jet noise, Rosemont, Ill., and I sat down with Waegemann to record this podcast.

Podcast details: Interview with Peter Waegemann, chairman and founder of the mHealth Initiative. Recorded March 30, 2011, at the mHealth Initiative’s 3rd Networking Conference in Rosemont, Ill. MP3, mono, 64 kbps, 6.0 MB. Running time 26:02.

0:20     Transition from e-health to m-health after 25 years of running TEPR
1:50    “Total paradigm shift” for documenting and accessing information at the point of care
2:20     No country he’s seen has a complete, effective EMR yet
2:40    Movement from an industrial society to an “information society” of knowledge workers
4:40    Beyond voice communications
6:20    Behavior change in healthcare and adapting to technology
7:20    Lack of connectivity among mobile devices and shortcomings in current technology
8:55    The politics of standards for m-health devices and systems
10:40    Always “five years away”
11:20    Searching for the iPhone of home monitoring
12:00    iPad’s role in healthcare and its shortcomings
13:00    Apps
14:20    EMR vendors discovering mobile devices
15:25    Distinctions between wired health, wireless health and connected health
15:50    “Three pillars” of m-health
16:40     “Communication-enhanced healthcare”
17:35    Better care for less money
19:05    Cell phones in hospitals
20:30    Integration issues
21:00    Patients and younger physicians driving change
22:00    “Unified communications”
22:42    Payment for home monitoring
24:30    European approaches to m-health

April 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.

The Medical Records Institute is no more

Following a disappointing turnout at the 25th annual TEPR conference earlier this month, C. Peter Waegemann and Claudia Tessier are moving from the Medical Records Institute to the recently created mHealth Initiative, effectively ending the organization Waegemann founded in the mid-1980s.

“It is time to put our energy into the new and exciting field of cell phones in healthcare. This is where the action is. This is where the future is,” Waegemann says in a press release.

There was much speculation at the lightly attended TEPR that this might be the last year of the conference. Today’s announcement likely seals that fate. The mHealth Initiative will have meetings of its own, starting with a seminar and workshop March 31 in Boston.

Waegemann will serve as executive director of mHI and Tessier as president. Each has a new e-mail address: for Waegemann and for Tessier.

February 20, 2009 I Written By

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

What’s in a name?

Just a couple of weeks after the Medical Records Institute launched its mHealth Initiative—quietly admitting failure of its plan to get 10 million people using their cell phones to transfer health information by this spring—a program called the mHealth Alliance has launched in Europe.

The Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the UK-based Vodafone Foundation made the annoucement Tuesday at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The global project is an outgrowth of the UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation “mHealth for Development” report and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Making the eHealth Connection conferences in magnificent Bellagio, Italy, last summer. I was present for the third week, which included the mobile health track.

I am, of course, available for all your conference coverage needs in bucolic European resort towns.

February 19, 2009 I Written By

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

More commentary

Barack Obama doesn’t take office for nearly four more weeks, but already we’re seeing some pushback against his campaign proposal to ask for $50 billion over five years for health IT.

The federal checkbook, er, money-printing machine, has been busy of late. If the Wall Street and Detroit bailouts have shown anything so far, it’s that a billion dollars just ain’t what it used to be. There are some who are making the case that throwing more money at the healthcare problem might not be the wisest move.

Notably, Bill Yasnoff, M.D., Ph.D., had an op-ed published at BusinessWeek Online last Friday, in which he says electronic medical records must be part of any economic stimulus plan Obama introduces in 2009. Yasnoff pushes for his brainchild, the “health record bank” and calls for greater privacy protection than HIPAA currently affords.

The last point is not surprising, considering Yasnoff is allied with privacy guru Deborah Peel, M.D. For her part, Peel, founder of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, sent a letter to Congressional leaders this week complaining of the lack of regulation in recent health IT policy as well as accountability problems with the financial industry’s bailout.

Both Yasnoff and Peel suggest that any funding for health IT must include accountability measures and provisions to ensure sustainability.

C. Peter Waegemann, CEO of the Medical Records Institute also argues against simply throwing money at the problem. In an “HIT Status Report”, posted Dec. 9, cautions that nobody has yet proved that EMRs alone can save money.

“Cost savings can be achieved through a restructuring of healthcare, and EMRs may well be tools in the restructuring process, but they should not be perceived as the main tool or goal and we should not have such unrealistic expectations of them,” Waegemann writes. He also contends that recent federal efforts to promote health IT have failed.

Over at The Health Care Blog, Rick Peters, M.D., argues that the health IT industry is similar to the auto industry of the 1970s, and thus not suitable for a government “bailout.”

And from the Department of Negativity at Any Cost, the Cato Institute‘s Michael Cannon has a blog post entitled, “Blocking Obama’s Health Plan Is Key to the GOP’s Survival.” If so, we’re in for several more years of politics as usual.

December 26, 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.

AMDIS notes

OJAI, Calif.—I’m at the Physician-Computer Connection, the annual symposium of the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS), a high-level meeting of chief medical information officers and other leading medical informatics specialists. I’ll have a bunch on a couple of surveys on the attitudes, job functions and salary ranges of CMIOs and physician executives in IT, most likely in Digital HealthCare & Productivity in the next couple of weeks. (I need to pay for this trip, after all, and the recent run-ups in airfares, car rental costs and, of course, gasoline, are not helping my cause. But I digress.) Let’s just say a need for leadership skills is prominent.

I have plenty of other news and notes that are worthy of posting here, however.

For one, look out this fall for “Improving Medication Use and Outcomes with Clinical Decision Support: A Step-by-step Guide,” an update to the 2005 “Improving Outcomes with Clinical Decision Support: An Implementer’s Guide.” According to lead author Jerry Osheroff, M.D., chief clinical informatics officer of Thomson Reuters Healthcare (formerly Micromedex), this one defines CDS as “providing clinicians or patients with clinical knowledge and patient-related information, intelligently filtered or presented at appropriate times, to enhance patient care.” The guide will follow a modified set of the “five rights” for safe healthcare: The right information to the right person in the right intervention format through the right channel at the right point in the workflow, Osheroff says.

The new volume also involves many more industry stakeholders than the previous edition. It will carry the names of HIMSS, AMDIS, AMIA, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices and the Scottsdale Institute, and is sponsored by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, two clinical IT vendors and two health systems. Osheroff didn’t name the vendors or health systems, but it’s a safe bet Thomson Reuters is involved.

Contrary to rumors, healthcare executive recruiter Betsy Hersher is not retiring, but she is shutting down her Hersher Associates firm and moving into consulting. At least a couple of her employees have taken jobs at Witt/Kieffer.

Earlier this week, I reported in Digital HealthCare & Productivity about the recent reorganization at Sage Software Healthcare. I since have learned that the company will be hiring a new, permanent CEO sooner rather than later. I’m guessing that means within a few weeks. I have no idea about who the candidates might be.

While I’ve been out here on the West Coast, the Medical Records Institute published a scathing critique of the national EMR strategy. That organization is working hard to market itself and stay relevant after a poorly attended TEPR conference a couple of months ago. This article certainly is an attention-grabber, listing the optimism about meeting the goal of getting interoperable EHRs to most Americans by 2014 among a number of “health informatics myths.”

If you want an impassioned defense of the national health IT strategy, check this space in the next 24 hours for my podcast with national health IT coordinator Robert Kolodner, M.D., who spoke at this conference yesterday. This might be my biggest podcast “get” to date.

July 17, 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.