Archive for March, 2012

FDA Impact on Health Information Exchanges

The bi-partisan Federal policy incentivizing healthcare providers to adopt, upgrade and implement electronic medical record systems is fostering Health Information Exchanges (“HIE”) throughout the United States. The HIEs are developing at local and national levels to exchange patient information between providers regardless of the patient or provider’s location. Among other benefits, HIEs generally permit a patient living in a remote region to receive consultations from specialists without leaving his or her home because the patient information may be electronically exchanged between providers and made available through the HIE. The value of an HIE varies depending upon how many sources of information are being exchanged and the region that it is serving. Depending upon the sources of the information, the HIE structure may also trigger additional regulatory controls.

Electronically exchanging data requires either a regional or national database to maintain patient …

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The Year of the mHealth Evolution

NOTE:  Written by guest columnist, Marcus Gordon, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Atlanta Medical Center

If 2011 was the year of the mHealth “Revolution” then 2012 will become known as the year of the mHealth “Evolution” – that is, the actual deployment of mobile (and wireless) devices on a mass scale to track, monitor, and influence health decisions. The tipping point has arrived. . .

Evolution can be defined as “a motion incomplete in itself, but combining with coordinated motions to produce a single action, as in a machine.” The confluence of players and participants in the game – physicians, patients, providers, payers, technology companies, device companies, etc. – have all come together for a singular purpose – to make it easier and more effective for a patient to take control of their own health. The ubiquity of mobile devices in a healthcare setting has fostered the rapid development of a wide variety of initiatives aimed at allowing patients to track …

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Health Care Costs and The Uninsured

I had the uncomfortable experience of having a statement I generally agreed with evaluated by Politifact Georgia. (link below)  The statement made by State Senator Judson Hill as that a “one percent increase in the cost of health insurance today causes about 30,000 Georgians to be uninsured.” When I was called by Politifact about that statement I responded with the appropriate caveats about the difficulty in arriving at that precise relationship given all the confounding factors determining health insurance coverage but that “If someone put a gun to my head, I’d say he’s pretty close.” Politifact went ahead and rated Sen. Hill’s (and by extension my) statement as “mostly false”.

It does not require a sophisticated economic analysis to see that the basic relationship is true: cost increases lead to fewer people with coverage. Politifact argued that the Senator Hill’s stated magnitude of the effect was too large. They cited some national studies and then …

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Balancing Life and the New Technology

Technology does many great things in our lives but  “Technology overload” may lead to some unhealthy results. Maybe I should say information overload facilitated by technology. I recently read  new information on Cyberchondria which may be the star wars version of hypochondria. People, including me, use the Internet to search for their symptoms and find diagnosis without any professional direction. When you think about how often physicians can misdiagnose patients imagine how often an untrained or trained person can misdiagnose themselves.

Cyberchondria is defined in Wikipedia as “the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomatology based on review of search results and literature online”. Studies have confirmed that Americans are using the Internet more than ever to search for information on all sorts of things including their health. While little Johnny is looking up his home work on the Internet, Mom is looking up her symptoms on some web based health site. …

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The Individual Mandate is a Great Thing for Georgia (and the Rest of the Country)

Joining the ranks of 25 other states (including Montana, Texas, Louisiana, and Florida), Georgia has yet to setup an online insurance marketplace for small businesses and uninsured individuals.  The Affordable Care Act (“Act”), passed in 2010, requires that health insurance exchanges be operational in the states by 2014.  Governor Deal’s spokesman cited the uncertainty over the fate of the Act, which is set to be ruled upon by the Supreme Court later this year, as a reason to wait to begin the process.

One of the most controversy parts of the Affordable Care Act is the individual mandate that requires all Americans to purchase insurance.  The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear remarks on March 25, with a final decision expected in June.  This has been a very divisive and partisan issue for the country.  For my part, though, I believe a strong argument can be made for the mandate and its ability to cut healthcare costs and improve health for Georgia …

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Outlawing Smoking on Hospital Campuses

Many Georgia Hospitals have outlawed smoking on their campuses. Many others have even gone as far as to state they will no longer hire employees who smoke, and they will discipline their current employees who are caught smoking. This topic really is not directly related to what I do. However, the issue has hit many large facilities in our State, and it is very interesting from a legal and moral standpoint.
Georgia is a particularly easy State to enforce these sorts of bans in, because it does not have a smoker’s rights statute, as 29 other states do. In addition, smokers are not currently considered a protected class by Federal Law, so none of the Federal employment discrimination laws seem to apply. The facilities that have these bans feel that banning smoking, a practice proven to increase your chance of disease and death, is part of their overall mission to promote the wellbeing of their patients and staff. They take a lead by example approach.
It does not appear that …

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Metrics: Creating a New Model in Healthcare

Whether it is a patient centered medical home (PCMH) or an accountable care organization (ACO), we have all seen or read accounts on how we should change health and healthcare in the United States. And, quite frankly, we must change the dynamics in the healthcare sector to improve patient outcomes, decrease medical errors and lower healthcare costs.

But how do we go about improving the quality of care provided and patient satisfaction? First, it takes measureable data. Once the information is secured, it requires data analytics to set performance goals or metrics. After all, we have to have a way to measure the metrics that drive how and where we can improve medical care and patient satisfaction.

Many of us read the book or saw the critically acclaimed movie “Moneyball” starring Brad Pitt as the Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane. What was the basis of “Moneyball?” Metrics: using data to put the best possible team on the field at the lowest possible salary. …

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New Facebook Format Offers Health Care Brands a New, Vibrant Canvas to Tell Their Story

As readers of my blog will know, I’m a big believer that technology will be the driving force towards a healthier, more efficient and effective healthcare system. The rise of social media, led by Facebook, has been once such technology. Social media has helped to breakdown the traditional walls that separated businesses from consumers. Healthcare brands can leverage social outlets like Facebook and Twitter to engage with and respond to consumers in a personal, two-way manner never seen before. This past week, at Facebook’s first marketing conference, fMC, the social media bar was raised yet again with the rollout of timeline for brands, essentially providing a completely new format and presentation for a brand’s Page on Facebook.

Although Facebook announced more at fMC, including a new ad platform and mobile optimization, the star of the show was timeline. The key takeaway is that the new Page is all about visual engagement—and the importance of creating engaging …

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