Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Update on Modular EHR Technology: Harvard’s SMArt Research


ONC awarded four Strategic Health IT Advanced Research Project (SHARP) grants earlier this year to

”...address well-documented problems that have impeded adoption of health IT and to accelerate progress towards achieving nationwide meaningful use of health IT in support of a high-performing, learning health care system.” 

One of these grants was awarded to a Harvard group led by Drs. Ken Mandl and Isaac Kohane, based in Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School. This research team is tackling the problems associated with developing an ecosystem of modular, plug-and-play medical applications, what we have referred to as Clinical Groupware. (Disclosure: DCK is on the Harvard SHARP grant’s advisory board.) 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Healthy Eats For Data-Hungry Doctors


Imagine that an innovative health plan - aware that half or more of health care cost is waste and that physician costs to obtain the identical outcome can vary by as much as eight fold - hopes to sweep market share by producing better quality health care for a dramatically lower cost. So it begins to evaluate its vast data stores. It’s goal is to identify the specialists, outpatient services and hospitals within each market that, for episodes of specific high-frequency or high value conditions, consistently produce the best outcomes at the lowest cost. Imagine that, because higher quality is typically produced at lower costs - there are generally fewer complications and lower incidences of revisiting treatment - the health plan will pay high performers more than low performers. Just as importantly, it will limit the network, steering more patients to high performers and away from low performers.

Suddenly, it will become very important for physicians and other providers to understand, in detail, how they compare to their peers within specialty, and how to provide the best care possible. And if they find the results aren’t so positive, they may want to figure out where their deficiencies lie, and how they can improve.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Keeping An Eye On The Health Care Prize

Published on Kaiser Health News, 9/20/10

Many reformers undoubtedly believe that passage of the health overhaul law laid the issue to rest. But policy's wheels continue to turn, and the process is anything but over.

Decades of fee-for-service reimbursement became the health industry's article of faith, encouraging virtually everyone in the system to do as much as possible to every patient, with half or more of all expenditures wasted or unnecessary. But it was also a recipe for national disaster. Over the last decade, nearly all U.S. economic growth was absorbed by health care.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Beyond Meaningful Use: Three Five-Year Trends in the Uses of Patient Health Data and Clinical IT


Finally, we have a Final Rule on the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs. The rules and criteria are simpler and more flexible, and the measures easier to compute. But they are still an “all or nothing” proposition for physicians, who will have to meet all of the objectives and measures to receive any incentive payment. Doctors who get three-quarters of the way there won’t receive a dime. And a lot of uncertainty remains about dependent processes that CMS and ONC must quickly put in place, like accreditation of “testing and certifying bodies,” and the testing schemas for certification. All in all, we expect most physicians in small practices to sit on the sidelines until the dust settles, likely in 2012 or 2013.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Why The FMA Is Off-Base On Reform


At an Orlando meeting last week, Florida Medical Association (FMA) members fumed that their parent, the AMA, isn’t adequately representing Florida’s private practice doctors. After talk of secession and forming a new group, they settled for writing a stern letter urging the AMA to straighten up.

The FMA dustup began with a resolution written by Douglas Stevens MD, a Fort Myers cosmetic surgeon – you can’t make this stuff up – complaining that the AMA’s support for recent reforms was “a severe intrusion in the patient-physician relationship and allows government control over essentially all aspects of medical care.” He wrote that it will “relegate physicians to the role of government employees…and essentially end the profession of medicine as we know it.” A St. Petersburg neurological surgeon, David McKalip, added, “Without (AMA) support, the whole thing (i.e., reform) would have died.”