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90 posts categorized "Consumer-Directed Health"

October 26, 2009

Connected Health Symposium 2009 Wrap-up

I attended the Connected Health Symposium last week in Boston and got a healthy dose of the past, present and future in health care connectivity, connectedness and connections.  As always, I enjoyed connecting in person with a whole host of folks I know online -- including those who know my twitter handle, @healthblawg, better than my name.

The conference was kicked off by Stuart Altman, who regaled us with tales of his days with the Nixon Administration, and made a couple of key points:

  • The health care spending crisis is cased by rising prices, not rising utilization
  • Any federal health insurance reform will cause cost-shifting to the privately insured, the states, the young
  • Therefore the key to successful reform lies in reforming the payment system as well as the delivery system; otherwise we're "trying to grow flowers in a toxic environment."
  • Value-based purchasing (P4P), gainsharing, global payments are reasonable options for payment reform
  • Incentives for providers to use home-based systems will help heal the system at large, and promote connected health, which in turn promotes quality and efficiency
(But n.b.: while remote monitoring and home care will improve quality and reduce cost overall, it is not necessarily cost-effective for every patient.)
The conference closed the next afternoon with the official launch of the Journal of Participatory Medicine, presented to the group by members of the editorial board, re-emphasizing the need expressed in the intervening two days of sessions for clinicians to include patients in all aspects of managing their own care.  (On this theme, see the JOPM kickoff on-line conference from earlier in the week, including e-Patient Dave's webcast How Great EHRs Empower Participatory Medicine; free registration required). 

In between these two sessions, we heard from a wide range of speakers, panelist and vendors.  I offer here an idiosyncratic sampling of some of the many overlapping sessions.  (Please see the archived tweetstream from the conference, a couple of audio recordings of panel discussions on EHRs and PHRs, and please post links to other blog posts about the conference in comments below.) 

Ed Markey, via videolink from DC, preached to the converted that the health care system needs CPR - connectivity, privacy and research (as the Center for Connected Health's Director, Joe Kvedar, tweeted, Markey has a terrific speechwriter).  Markey has been delivering, having had a hand in building the national broadband network from his seat on the telecom committee, and in beefing up HIT privacy and security in the HITECH Act.

Jim Mongan, CEO of Partners, made the poignant comment that liberty, on the one hand, and justice for all, on the other hand, may be at odds with each other, and the unsurprising comment (from his perch atop a large IDS)  that large IDS's are the way to go.

"It's the Network." Verizon's Rajeem Kapoor pitched his company's big entry into health care connectivity, noting that of 100,000 preventable errors per year in the US, 20% are due to the lack of immediate access to patient data.

A recurring theme: health care plans are designed by negotiation between payors and providers ... they need to include patients

Tom Lee, also from Partners, said that payors and providers are engaged in co-evolution, and that they need to work together or else chaos will result.  Lee also said: Global payment isn't about bending the cost curve, it's about enhancing value -- a different perspective than Altman's, but not unexpected from a large delivery system representative.  The "alternative contract" offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is a global payment contract with risk adjustments, quality bonuses, and other bells and whistles, per Andrew Dreyfus (from BCBSMA) designed to fairly compensate and avoid perverse incentives for providers.  The global payment system to be rolled out in Massachusetts over the next five years (maybe) is intended to separate insurance risk (not to be passed onto providers as it was in capitation's bad old days) and performance risk, or quality risk, which lies appropriately with the providers.

Since the current health care system is straddling the past and future, fee for service reimbursement in an age where a more holistic approach to care is recognized as preferred, Partners is paying physicians participating in a medical-home-like program a management fee to replace some of the lost FFS income.  A panel on patient incentives yielded the observations that silos within health insurance companies lead to irrational decisions: a cost to one division could yield a many-times-larger savings to another division, but the first has no incentive to incur that cost.

In a panel discussion called The Futurists, Jay Sanders of WellDoc said we need to bring the exam room to where the patient is, and to personalize medicine (i.e., normal for me is not normal for you).  Roy Schoenberg of American Well described his company's next step, plans to allow PCPs to bring specialists into the in-person patient visit; he also cited a Gartner prediction: By 2013, 25% of all health care encounters that can happen virtually, will.  We also heard about implantable wireless sensors that will be able to transmit a stream of data and household robots from Microsoft. 

In an interesting back-to-the-future answer to the question: What's the killer app? we heard this answer from Paul Williamson of Cambridge Consultants: Family-provided, wireless-enabled care.  This vision of the future was echoed later in the day by Joe Kvedar, who posited as an ideal a world in which the patient coordinates self-managed care with a clinician as coach and an employer as enabler.  A related recurring theme: The need to move to more of a team approach to care.

Some of the toys in the exhibit hall (some called it vaporware) seemed more geared to the futurists (e.g., Intel's offering, a wired home hub for communication among providers, case managers, family members and patients, now being put through its paces in a few demos), but some are ready to go now, sporting tags signifying their compliance with Continua connectivity standards (the Continua Alliance is a standards organization jump-started by Joe Ternullo, assistant director of the Center for Connected Health, who, along with director Joe Kvedar and the Center's staff, put on a terrific conference) -- and some are positively old warhorses already in widespread use, like Honeywell's offering, with interfaces for automated home monitoring and communication of data directly into interoperable EHRs or standalone software.
The Myca/HelloHealth presentation highlighted the robustness of the Myca platform (employee health programs -- Qualcomm was featured at length; are there others?), medical home programs for small physician practices with "fractional use" of physician extenders -- a new twist on the Vermont and South Carolina medical home pilots), PHR integration already there or on the way, lab results integration coming soon (Quest); reiterated the slow rollout of HelloHealth (12 practices so far); and demonstrated (in part via BCBS Ventures' investment in the company) that Jay Parkinson & Co. may not be able to put as much space between themselves and third-party payors as they may like.  (This issue is not limited to HelloHealth, of course; the retail clinic sector, also founded on the premise of dissociation from third-party payors, has had to retrench; and some of the speakers also pointed to insurance companies as players not to be overlooked, due to the Willie Sutton factor . . . that's where the money is.)

Linda Magno, head of demonstration projects at CMS highlighted experiences with some demos and shared the podium with a couple of physician demo sites.  Key takeway from her presentation was that payors (beyond government payors) are just not willing to pay more for improved quality.  (Putting the Medicare managed care program / fiasco in the best possible light, her comment is consistent with the dismantling of that program, which pays higher prices, theoretically in exchange for more comprehensive care, because it was costing more than traditional FFS Medicare.)

Mark Bard, of Manhattan Research, shared some of his data re: physician internet use (doubled on-line work hours in past five years, and 2/3 of docs use smartphones in their practices -- using apps 15-20 times a day), and patient use of "Health 2.0" tools (doubled to 80 million in past two years).  This demonstrates that moving health care to the cloud will not leave all providers and patients behind. 

More than one speaker concluded that we need to subsidize healthy choices as well as tax unhealthy ones (e.g., tax the Big Mac and subsidize the salad). 

John Halamka and John Glaser presented interesting personal counterpoint on the issue of changing behavior, Halamka saying he easily chose diet and exercise over putting "poison" (Lipitor) into his body, Glaser saying he went for the stent and still enjoys his hamburgers.

Other keynoters:

Nicholas Christakis (looking at obesity as a social network epidemic, using Framingham Heart Study data - see NY Times magazine treatment), offered a couple of terrific analogies: First, carbon makes coal, graphite and diamonds - the difference depends on the interconnections between carbon atoms.  Second, the form of the network yields its function: are you finding the mastodon, or killing the mastodon?  As Christakis was winding down, I tweeted: "Unanswered Q: How do we design health care interventions to leverage IRL social networks?"  The immediate, slightly tongue-in-cheek, response from @cascadia (Sherry Reynolds), tweeting from the Pacific Northwest: "Ask women with actual friends."

Jason Hwang (co-author of The Innovator's Prescription, applying principles of disruptive innovation to health care) spoke about technology as enabling decentralization in health care as in other industries, through commoditization of historically valuable and expensive expertise, and the need to replace the hospital-centric model with new types of networks.  This shift is already under way, of course.

Bottom line: Given the crushing cost of hospital-based health care services, the current and growing primary care physician shortage, and the expectation of high-quality health care services accessible to all, the Center for Connected Health is letting us all know that the road to the future is the information superhighway, paved with intelligent payment reforms -- but that the nodes in the network will always be human beings.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

October 22, 2009

PHR Panel at Connected Health Symposium 2009

Another very interesting panel at Connected Health Symposium 2009 - this one on PHRs, with Peter Neupert from Microsoft, Roni Zeiger from Google Health and Phil Marshall from WebMD, moderated by John Moore of Chilmark Research (post linked to is relevant to this panel discussion).  Have a listen: 

PHR Panel at Connected Health Symposium

(Warning: this is almost an hour long. Content is better than sound quality ... It was pretty muddy in person, too.)

Please be sure to have a listen to an earlier panel discussion on EHRs, incentives and more and check out the archived Connected Health Symposium 2009 tweetstream.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

Connected Health Symposium 2009 - One interesting panel ...

Here's the audio of a very interesting panel discussion at the Connected Health Symposium.  The audio quality isn't the greatest, but the content is terrific. Listen/Download.

Moderator: Robert Hanscom, JD, Vice President, Loss Prevention and Patient Safety, CRICO/Risk Management Foundation
  - John Glaser, PhD, Vice President and CIO, Partners HealthCare
  - John Halamka, MD, CIO, CareGroup Health System; Dean for Technology at Harvard Medical School; and Chair of the US Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP)
  - Peter Neupert, Corporate Vice President, Health Solutions Group, Microsoft

  - Jim Tosone, Director, Pfizer HealthCare Informatics

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

October 20, 2009

Connected Health Symposium 2009

Here's the tweetstream for the Connected Health Symposium 2009, happening October 21-22 in Boston.  Check back throughout the conference to see what's going on, and jump in on twitter if you like; the hashtag is #cch09.  Hope to see you all there.  The tweets will be archived here.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

June 24, 2009

A Declaration of Health Data Rights: Can't argue with it, but it's only a first step

I'm joining the party a day or two late, and am supporting:

A Declaration of Health Data Rights

In an era when technology allows personal health information to be more easily stored, updated, accessed and exchanged, the following rights should be self-evident and inalienable. We the people:
  • Have the right to our own health data
  • Have the right to know the source of each health data element
  • Have the right to take possession of a complete copy of our individual health data, without delay, at minimal or no cost; if data exist in computable form, they must be made available in that form
  • Have the right to share our health data with others as we see fit
These principles express basic human rights as well as essential elements of health care that is participatory, appropriate and in the interests of each patient. No law or policy should abridge these rights.

So, my first reaction: This is obvious stuff, right?  Say what you will about The People's Republic of Massachusetts, local law requires prompt provision of medical records to patients at nominal cost, and in the vast majority of cases, the rules are followed and everyone's happy.  In my own little world here in Boston, MA, The Hub of the Universe, I've never had a problem getting health data -- or pathology slides, or anything else -- released to me or shared with other clinicians when needed.  But, then, I suppose I'm an outlier: my physician is part of a totally wired multispecialty group practice, which has been wired for years and years; and I'm both an industry guy and a lawyer, so I know how to speak up when I need something, and perhaps folks are more apt to listen.  (Reminds me of the semi-apocryphal story of a classmate of mine who saw the "law student" stamp across the top of his medical chart at Mass. General years ago.)

Upon reflection, I realized that not everyone -- whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere -- has the same ease of access, and while the declaration is sort of a no-brainer, it is important to put it out there, and I'm happy to join the folks who got this thing going, including Adam Bosworth, David Kibbe, Jamie Heywood and Gilles Frydman (forgive me for leaving other names off this short list).  I discussed the Declaration with Gilles Frydman, who agreed that it is just a first step, but a critically important one to take while the national dialogue is focused on electronic health records.

Additional steps down the path will have to include other common-sense guarantees that are already enacted into law here and there, including guarantees concerning the rights of patients to obtain test results through their physicians or otherwise, the ability of patients to correct errors in their records (so we don't have easily-accessible garbage), as well as easy access to interoperable electronic health records and non-tethered personal health records.

There are good reasons why some physician notes in some patient records should not be shared with patients or family members (a subject for another day), but this Declaration is focused on data -- not free-text notes -- so those notes would not be covered.

What other rights along these lines would you like to see guaranteed?

Update 6/27/09:  Many supporters have signed onto the Declaration.  One notable exception: Jen McCabe, who was in on some early drafts, but feels strongly that the darn thing doesn't go far enough.  Jen has blogged about her thoughts on the subject and has laid out her own more comprehensive patients' healthcare information rights manifesto.

I agree with Jen's sense that the Declaration is a first step, a baby step, and that there's a lot farther to go.  However, I see this first step less as a near-futile gesture, and more a real first step, a way to to get the conversation moving at a time when it can converge meaningfully with parallel conversations about implementation of ARRA / HITECH Act / Son of HIPAA provisions.  As the old saying goes: A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.

Here's what I would like to see providers who are prepared to sign onto the Declaration do as a next step: Without waiting for government action, initiate a campaign to amend their HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP) (perhaps now, perhaps as part of the NPP amendment that will have to be rolled out once the Son of HIPAA regs are finalized by next February) to incorporate into a standard form contract that binds the providers the next steps that Jen calls for now and that most, if not all endorsers of the Declaration would also agree are necessary and important.  This simple, yet far-reaching step, would have a greater impact than an endorsement by a provider organization.  These should include guarantees of the "common sense" rights articulated above as well as the following patient rights:

  • The right to correct erroneous data -- and a mechanism for noting disagreements with clinicians
  • The right to control access to data -- access for all purposes: care, payment, secondary use (including clinical research and marketing)

In the past, non-standard NPPs were drafted and distributed by patient advocacy groups for patients to use and add to their providers' NPP forms.  However, patient-specific NPPs are unadministrable.  In order for this to work, there needs to be adoption form the provider side, either as a result of new regulation, or as the result of a populist follow-on to the Declaration.

As I wrote above: Please join in; what other rights would you like to see guaranteed as part of the Declaration?  What are your thoughts on this approach?

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

June 02, 2009

Grand Rounds Vol. 5, No. 37: The June Is Bustin' Out All Over Edition

June is bustin' out all over . . . .  Lord knows my nose knows it, thanks to all the pollen in the air these days.  Check out the classic movie rendition of this set piece (well worth the eight-minute investment), let your coffee and/or antihistamines kick in, and then let's dive into the past week's medblogging, loosely categorized into insights of patient bloggers, provider bloggers, bloggers I've met in real life (the number keeps growing), bloggers following the money trail through the health care thicket, and bloggers who are or should be dancing and/or shirtless (watch the whole movie clip . . . on second thought, let's leave it at dancing).


Last time I hosted Grand Rounds, we delved into the origins of Valentine's Day, so even though we're a couple weeks shy of the vernal equinox, since June is bustin' out all over, the historian in me feels the need to touch on an ur-Spring nugget or two before we get going.  Where do these celebrations of Spring come from?

Attis was a Phrygian god, whose annual death and resurrection were mourned and celebrated at a Spring festival.  (On the other hand, the death and rebirth of the Sumerian Tammuz was a summer solstice thing rather than a vernal equinox thing.)  James Fraser, in The Golden Bough, wrote:

The annual death and revival of vegetation is a conception which readily presents itself to men in every stage of savagery and civilisation: and the vastness of the scale on which this ever-recurring decay and regeneration takes place, together with man's most intimate dependence on it for subsistence, combine to render it the most impressive annual occurrence in nature, at least within the temperate zones. It is no wonder that a phenomenon so important, so striking, and so universal should, by suggesting similar ideas, have given rise to similar rites in many lands.

What I best remember from The Golden Bough, though, is the tale of the king-for-a-year, who ascends the throne as a result of a cultic regicide, and ends his term the same way.  Great stuff.

For further reading linking The Golden Bough, The Holy Grail, Wagner's Parsifal, and T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, check out Derrick Everett's article on The Waste Land.

I'm not certain that Rogers and Hammerstein had these themes in mind when writing Carousel.  Heck, who knows what they had in mind; they threw in a happy ending that wasn't in their source material (but hey, that's show business).  You, dear reader, certainly didn't have these themes in mind when you tuned in to today's edition of Grand Rounds.  Nevertheless, on with today's show.

Provider Bloggers

At Musings of a Distractible Mind, Dr. Rob discusses Atul Gawande's recent New Yorker piece on health care cost variations across the country (a good read, well worth the time), which focuses on McAllen, TX, a small border town that consumes far more than the average annual per capita amount of health care services.  Gawande loops in the Dartmouth Health Atlas folks, asks the hard questions about physician-owned facilities and financial incentives, and concludes that outfits like Geisinger, Intermountain, Kaiser Permanente and Mayo -- not-for-profit integrated delivery systems with salaried docs -- have the model we should strive to emulate systemwide.  Dr. Rob recounts his own experience with physician-owned facilities.  His conclusion is a folksy twist on Gawande's:

How do we fix it?  There are lots of good answers, and lots of dumb ones as well.  The bottom line is the bottom line, though.  How you pay docs will determine what happens.  It’s America, after all.  It’s what makes us great.  Right?

Right.  The thing is, guys, we've known this for at least forty years.

ACP Hospitalist reports on Sid Wolfe's new Public Citizen campaign to get hospitals to step up reporting of physician wrongdoing.  Bob Wachter, at Wachter's World, delves deeper into the problem, and says:

I’m proud to say that over the past five years, my hospital (UCSF Medical Center) has taken Leape’s challenge to heart, withdrawing clinical privileges (and filing accompanying NPDB reports) in several cases for behavior that, I’m quite confident, would have been tolerated a decade ago. This is progress. As Kissinger once said, “weakness is provocative.” As more hospitals take this tougher stance, I think we’ll see the boundaries of acceptable behavior shift everywhere. And patients will be safer for it.

Bongi, at other things amanzi, recalls a suboptimal experience in his training, when the "see one, do one, teach one" approach was reduced to "read an article about one, do one immediately afterwards."

At Providentia, Romeo Vitelli looks at the historical precursors to Jenny McCarthy and the current crop of anti-vaccinationists. 

Ken Cohn, a physician and consultant
(who I know in real life [IRL]), recounts a (positive) experience in asking health care administrators to consider ethics in physician-hospital relationships.

I take a baby aspirin a day, and Doc Gurley says I should keep on doing so, because I'm better off puking up blood than having a heart attack.

Seizures and how they have been misunderstood (epilepsy vs. demonic possession) is the subject of this week's selection from Mind, Soul and Body.

Suddenly becoming a first responder at 35,000 feet? On Your Meds' Barbara Olson takes you there.  (The blog is part of Medscape, so free registration is required).

NurseAusmed recounts difficulties in handling patient communications and managing patient expectations at Nursing Handover.

How to Cope With Pain takes a page from a book offering guidance to those who have lost their spiritual way and turns the advice to use for those facing physical, rather than spiritual, pain.

Web 2.0 meets the health care establishment, and KevinMD [IRL] observes that since health care is largely a business, this should not be surprising.  For a window into social media use by health care provider organizations, check out healthsocmed.

The anonymous author of Notes of an Anesthesoboist says it's hard for women doctors to make friends . . . perhaps they should introduce themselves as drug pushers instead?

John Crippen wants to, but the NHS Blog Doctor just can't look away from the kids pushed onto TV talent shows by 21st century stage mothers.

Paul Levy [IRL] goes another round with SEIU Local 1199 at Running a Hospital.

At UDM Solutions, David Siwicki provides a clinical perspective on deciding whether to prescribe opioids for chronic pain patients who use marijuana.

Nancy Brown offers sound advice on talking to teens about alcohol at Healthline's Teen Health 411.

Follow the Money

DrRich, at the Covert Rationing Blog, always follows the money, and this week the trail leads to the following unlikely destination: the American College of Surgeons encouraging malpractice suits -- against overseas surgeons offering services to medical tourists.

Big Pharma also always follows the money, and David Williams, at the Health Business Blog, remains perplexed over Pharma's failure to engage with the public via twitter.  (GSK has already responded to David's post, but in a way that doesn't exactly undercut his point.)  For a window into Pharma's engagement with social media, look no further than Shwen Gwee, who organized the Social Pharmer unconference in conjunction with the HealthCamp Boston unconference I co-organized in late April.  Speaking of social media, feel free to follow me on twitter: @healthblawg.  

Last week, I took a look at the proposed Medicare Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) updates for FFY 2010.  Among other things in the rule (including payments cut to the bone), I was surprised to see tucked away in there a tacit acknowledgement that the whole "no pay for never events" thing isn't really saving anybody that much money.

Lots of hospitals are touting new private rooms these days.  Seems to help patient care (lower infection rates, better sleep, more privacy), but despite the benefits, Jeffrey Seguritan at nuts for healthcare observes that the private room is being pushed by the AIA, and wonders whether health care dollars really ought to be spent these days on capital projects such as these.  (My brief response: these days, they really aren't, given the tight financial markets).

In a medblogosphere first, The Happy Hospitalist has publicly described an entry in the $10 million X Prize competition:

How do you [reduce health care costs dramatically]?  Here's my theory.  You can do more to affect health care costs by getting 10,000 people to change their lifestyle habits than you can by getting a few hundred docs to change how they document and collect data and prescribe some pills.

So here's what you do.  You bribe the public.  People are inherently lazy, but they respond well to piles of money.

For a fuller introduction to the X Prize competition: Scott Shreve [IRL] posted his twitterview on the X Prize with Bertalan Mesko (@berci) at Crossover Health Learn more about it there.

The big HITECH Act pot of money that everyone in health IT is itching to get their hands on is going to have some strings attached: chief among them are going to be definitions of "meaningful use" and "certified EHR."  Them that are likely to be certifying -- CCHIT -- have been the target of some possibly well-deserved pot-shots, and the gloves have come off.  See Gilles Frydman's [almost met IRL at the Health 2.0 conference in Boston a month or so ago] framing of the debate at and John Moore's [IRL] take at Chilmark Research.  

Health technology research and development yielded two bits of news this week: FDA approval of a handheld ultrasound unit, via Vijay Sadasivam's scan man's notes, and Ves Dimov's post at Clinical Cases and Images on the Rovio - a WiFi-enabled mobile webcam, which may be more attractive to medical users given the recent study that found patient satisfaction, physician satisfaction and diagnostic agreement (measured both between face-to-face and virtual vists, and between two face-to-face visits) to be similar for face-to-face and virtual visits.  (Yesterday's Boston Globe took a closer look at this study, virtual visits in general, and American Well in particular.)    

The health IT crowd is working on interoperability and portability of health information.  Google Health is one of the platforms that may enable folks to reach this holy grail.  Brian Dolan at mobihealthnews says that Google Wave, an open-source tool for communication and collaboration, looks like a killer tool for enabling Google Health to do more in terms of provider-provider and patient-provider collaboration.

Evan Falchuk's observation at See First on prevention: it ain't cheap; treatment of preventable disease is more expensive than the savings from avoided disease and complications, so we need to be talking about more than cost-effectiveness.  [Supposed to meet IRL soon.]

Patient Bloggers

For some reason, diabetics are very well-represented among Grand Rounds' usual suspects.  This week, they're turning into media critics as well, following President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supremes.  Amy Tenderich [who I also almost met IRL at Health 2.0] touched on the media frenzy regarding the nominee's Type 1 diabetes at The Diabetes Mine, as did Six Until Me's Kerri Morrone Sparling.  Not to leave Type 2 diabetes unattended, Rachel Baumgartel offers tips for the newly diagnosed Type 2 diabetic at Diabetes Daily.  (For those who care to immerse themselves in The Politics of the Sotomayor Nomination, the good folks at SCOTUSblog say come on in, the water is fine.)  For a taste of the difficulties faced by some diabetics traveling through airports with needles and curious liquids, head on over to Tim Brown's post at Shoot Up or Put Up

At Getting Closer to Myself, Leslie offers her reflections as a twentysomething with auto-immune disease, specifically a feeling of how she can't go home again to an idealized summer retreat.

Barbara Kivowitz describes a good day at In Sickness and In Health, and invites all of us to do the same.

Bloggers Who Are or Should Be Dancing

Val Jones [IRL] is pretty pleased with her high-deductible health plan (HDHP) - cash-only PCP combo.  I hope her husband is dancing after the office procedure scheduled on a dime last weekend . . . and I hope Dr. Val has all the releases for those photos stashed away somewhere.  It's a good solution for those with no chronic conditions, young kids, or other sources of regular interactions with the medical-industrial complex.  And no less a luminary than Clay Christensen says we're 5-6 years away from the tipping point (to mix metaphors) on HSA/HDHP combos, at which time we're likely to see a significant change in the economics of healthcare (with or without significant movement in DC).  For one example of where this may play out, see my recent post on retail health clinics.

No dancing for you if you're susceptible to one of the side effects of Cipro and its relatives (fluoroquinolones): tendon rupture.  There's a black-box warning regarding this, but many clinicians and patients are unaware, says Paul Auerbach at Healthline's Medicine for the Outdoors.

InsureBlog's Bob Vineyard shares good news for Cuba's pre-op transsexual population: coverage is here.  Surely cause for someone (patients, if not bloggers) to dance.

Well, that's the last dance . . . for this week.  See you around the medblogosphere, and next week at the next edition of Grand Rounds

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

May 26, 2009

Grand Rounds is up at See First; next week's edition right here at HealthBlawg

This week's edition of Grand Rounds is up at Evan Falchuk's See First.  Welcome to the party, Evan. 

Next week's "June Is Busting Out All Over" edition will be right here at HealthBlawg.  Please write your post's URL on the back of a twenty-dollar bill and mail it to the address on my home page (apologies to Click and Clack) or send it to me via email at david AT harlowgroup DOT net with "Grand Rounds" or "Twenty Bucks" in the subject line.  Please include the post title, blog title and URL, and your name or nom de blog (or that of the author if not you) as well.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

April 21, 2009

HealthCamp Boston / SocialPharmer Boston Twitterstream via Cover It Live

HealthCamp Boston and SocialPharmer Boston are taking place today.  For those of you on site, please live tweet using hashtags #hcbos or #socpharm.  For those of you following along at home, please follow those hashtags in your reader of choice, or right here.  Separate windows are provided for #hcbos and #socpharm (each will have more than one thread, so mashing them together seemed too unwieldy).  The twitterstream will be archived here for future reference.  Information on audio and video archives will be available via the event website at some point in the future.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

April 20, 2009

HealthCamp Boston April 21 - Come join in the fun, or follow along at home

HealthCamp Boston and SocialPharmer Boston are happening tomorrow, April 21.  If you can't make it in person and would like to follow the events of the day, check back here at HealthBlawg for CoverItLive windows: one will be set to follow the #hcbos twitterstream, the other, the #socpharm stream.  If you are on twitter, use your reader of choice.  The tweets will be archived here for future reference.

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting

April 06, 2009

CVS and Google Health: adding lots of prescription data to PHRs

Users of Google Health can now import their CVS prescription data into their PHRs.  Not the first pharmacy to hook up with Google Health, but perhaps the largest.  The more info there is in a PHR, the better; incomplete records only lead to misinformation or lack of information, and when we're talking about prescription medications, that can lead to unfortunate interactions and an additional burden of illness.  Until human nature and the medical-industrial complex can both be sufficiently tweaked to yield more rationality most of the time, the aggregation and sharing of data in this fashion (if it can be done in a comprehensive, secure, and auditable manner since, after all, we don't trust people to remember what color their pills are and report accurately to a string of docs and pharmacists, much less to update their own prescription drug data on line) is, on balance, a positive development.  Google Health does not have access to all pharmacy data in the country yet, but give them time, and they will. 

TechCrunch recognizes that privacy issues abound here, as they do for the rest of Google Health.  For me, these issues are heightened by the fact that, as far as I know, Google still insists that it is beyond the reach of HIPAA and the ARRA/HITECH son-of-HIPAA provisions.  For me (as for most), these risks may well be outweighed by the benefits.  (I think my medical records are of less interest to inquiring minds than those of Britney Spears or the "octomom" -- but I recognize the concerns of folks with medical conditions that info on chronic conditions may get into the wrong hands/be used inappropriately, e.g., for employemnt decisions, though I think the solution to that problem should be in improvements to employment discrimination law.)

The privacy nuts and technophobes out there won't sign up for this service, despite the (mostly) good privacy track record of the financial industry; at the other end of the spectrum, the early adopters are already all over this.  My expectation is that general adoption is going to depend more on easy porting of medical records beyond prescription histories.  As e-Patient Dave so vividly demonstrated recently, unfortunately, we're not quite ready for prime time in that department.  The porting may work, but the data that gets ported may or may not be accurate and up to date.  I'd be interested in learning more about the accuracy of the data that gets imported to the Google Health from the various pharmacy systems before being willing to rely on this system as an improvement over the status quo.

A tip of the hat to Richard Dale, the Venture Cyclist, for pointing me to the TechCrunch post today.  

David Harlow
The Harlow Group LLC
Health Care Law and Consulting