Have you taken the challenge yet? “What challenge?”, you ask. The Health 2.0 Developer Challenge or those on Challenge Post. These sites take advantage of the recent US initiative to make health databases available to the public.
Since 2010, both sites have hosted challenges sponsored by organizations, corporations, and the government. Some have monetary prizes, some just offer recognition. The goal is to bring software programmers, designers, and health care experts together for rapid application development. There are two types of developer projects: 1) challenges, which overseas team collaboration to build specific requested tech solutions, and 2) code-a-thons. Code-a-thons are typically one day or weekend events that spur teams to rapidly create new applications and tools to improve health care.
Health 2.0 and Challenge Post make it easy to form teams with their community boards and resources. Check out the wide array of challenges posted on their sites. Compare goals, deadlines and prizes. Make new contacts, enjoy the thrill of creativity, and the pride of helping find real solutions to health care issues. Several have December 31, 2011 deadlines, so check out the fun and competition, and register today!
containers that ring, play music and send emails to remind people to take sixteen different medications when loaded only once in two or three months. Another medication lid glows when it is time to take a pill and then records the time the bottle is opened and the pill was taken.
Multiple pedometers and sensors track steps, galvanic skin response, brain waves, and pulse and are easily synched with smartphone apps that forward reports to your doctor. Sensors can be placed in carpets, slippers, kitchen drawers and refrigerators to track movement of elders living alone. Reports can be sent to specified caregivers. One sensor tracks sleep patterns when placed in an arm band and then placed under your smartphone in the morning to sync and download and email the report. Airstrip Tech links doctors with EMTs in ambulances to follow monitors as the patient travels to the hospital. Two 5 minute Rapid Fire product demo sessions reviewed over 25 new products.
Several websites help patients track their medical information. Patients determine what they want to share and with whom. Some are open source; some are created by private companies. Patient groups like ePatient Dave and Patients Like Me encourage sharing collective medical information to foster a faster learning curve to how to best treat patients and diseases in the US and abroad.
I had the distinct honor of speaking on a panel about game play.
My expertise comes from creating and consulting on multiple smartphone apps related to food and nutrition. Gamification was a hot topic in multiple sessions, mentioned frequently as a terrific means to engage and educate patients. Interesting to me was the fact that some telemedicine products and apps already include game play. This is mostly in the form of Q&A or true/false questions. To celebrate Breast Cancer Month in October, a colleague, Nadine Fisher, MS RD LD, and I created the Apple app Breast Cancer Care. We included five true/false games and one food photo match game.
Many of the products I saw at Connected Health are first generation this year. One company rep said there were only a handful of tech vendors exhibiting last year. This year there were five exhibitor rows lining a hotel ballroom. This business is exploding. I have seen the future of medicine, and it is exciting and often fun. Games are a great hope to advance the health of the world for patients, caregivers, and professionals.
Here’s a link to a blog post about the panel on which I spoke. I was the only RD on the program.
Games for Health Project originated in the United States in 2004.
Ben Sawyer was instrumental in its foundation and development into the force that it is today. It’s annual meeting draws hundreds of global participants each year in Boston.
So it was exciting news this year when Games for Health announced a European partner. It’s first meeting will be held in Amsterdam on October 24 and 25. The central theme is: How games and simulations can improve health(care) and make it affordable. The program is dynamic includes topics on five core tracks:
Cognitive and emotional health
Exergaming, active gaming and fitness
Medical/Education and training
So if you are looking for an excuse to visit Amsterdam, the Games for Health Europe conference is a must do. It will be exciting to watch this innovative group develop and deliver fresh ideas and research on health games for the European health community.
Nick Yee, PhD, a research scientist at the PARC (the Palo Alto Research Center) has published studies that show how people’s behaviors change when they use avatars. One study notes how players engage when offered tall, attractive avatars, versus shorter, less attractive ones. He suggests that people will exercise longer and better when offered fit looking avatars.
James Watt, PhD is a serious games researcher at the University of Connecticut. He explains that social interaction is relative to masked identity. Group communication is best when there is also social interaction. So how about creating an avatar-likeness with body movements that still provides anonymity? Microsoft Xbox recently released Avatar Kinect that scans participants and then creates a general look-alike avatar of themselves – including body movements.
Players might not mind sharing personal attributes with friends, but would players feel comfortable revealing their size, hair color, and mannerisms to strangers, too? This remains to be seen, as medical professionals brainstorm about health applications. Consider in-home avatar group therapy sessions, patient education classes, addiction support groups, or parent clubs. Now layer on a health gaming twist. How about a virtually engaging game of Nutrition Jeopardy? The possibilities are tremendous! What kind of avatar health games do you envision? This field is wide-open for development. Game on!
Strong research is the foundation of the health professions, and health game development is no different. When a person’s health is being manipulated, then people expect the method or product to be well researched before being recommended. After all, the physician’s oath is, “First, do no harm …”
From the start, early thought-leaders recognized that progress in this emerging industry needed to rely on health professional collaboration based on sound, scientific research to prove efficacy. This is what researchers call, “the scientific method.” Developers, designers, funders, and players want to see supportive data. Multiple colleges and universities have stepped up to take the task, and many privately funded developers eagerly share their methods and results to further the cause. Unfortunately, researchers publishing their results has been a problem. Traditional scholarly journals do not target video games for health — until now.
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc, publishers of scores of well-respected peer-reviewed scientific journals have announced plans to publish Games for Health: Research, Development, and Clinical Applications this fall. Games for Health will be a peer-reviewed journal and has a stellar editorial board line-up. The Liebert press release stated the journal would be published bi-monthly and would be “dedicated to the development, use, and applications of game technology for improving physical and mental health and well-being. The Journal breaks new ground as the first to address this emerging, widely-recognized, and increasingly adopted area of healthcare.”
The Games for Health journal and it’s accompanying online presence is a welcome home for the health video games community. For more information check out www.liebertpub.com
Organized by the the IU School of Informatics at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the 2nd annual Midwestern Conference on Health Games conference will be held in Indianapolis on October 28, 2011. Abstracts are being accepted now. The submission deadline is June 1. 2011. For more information please contact Vicki Daugherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-278-4123.
Ahem….what do we say about privacy and data selling…bingo it appears as if you read through the entire article why else would this type of data be shared with Wall Street Investors to make a market for selling some new analytic algorithms. Now get this the investors got to see this “private” information that a patient can’t even get access to see. This reminds me of ePatientDave, “give me my damn data” and this is a total abuse here as the data is not being used for better care but for “better money”.
Now this also says something about access to revenue cycling too, payers and integrators might want to visit this scenario and make sure that it stays on a server for one and what levels of access will be granted. Now this gets worse as the types of information and patients were related to mental health, HIV, Parkinson's and more. How many investors glazed over these records? Accretive gets paid on the revenue boost is provides. There are a lot of these types of 3rd parties around in healthcare and here’s another one used by Blue Cross who had some bad algorithms.
Actually when it comes down to payer disputes you wonder did the hospital bill erroneously on purpose or did they get some bad algorithms and a bunch of promises? If I were one of these patients, court might be on my mind and I would want to know what investors on Wall Street potentially or did see my data! On their website they talk about bringing increased discipline to the revenue cycle so is that the revenue cycle on Wall Street?
Well Fargo just dumped one of these types of companies recently and remember the big data breach at Stanford, also the fault of a 3rd party, so with history being built here who wants to trust a 3rd party today if you don’t have to as patient records end up on the web and in the hands of investors on the street. The 3rd party folks are the algorithm makers though that promise better profits and use of money. This whole scenario though is kind of sad as they were supposed to be helping a couple non profits boost their revenue but the hospitals probably had no clue on the methodologies like showing patients records was in the plan.
“The screen shot also includes numeric scores to predict the “complexity” of the patient and the probability of an inpatient hospitalization, and a box to describe the “frailty” of the patient.”
Tine to start licensing and taxing those data sellers and have a federal disclosure site so we all know what’s going on, beginning to make more sense every day! The link below will describe a bit of this brainstorm. BD
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has filed a lawsuit against a debt collector accused of failing to protect the confidential information of 23,500 hospital patients after a company laptop was stolen from a rental car parked in the Seven Corners are of Minneapolis.
The lawsuit filed Thursday alleges Accretive Health, Inc., a debt collection agency that is part of a New York private equity fund conglomerate, failed to protect the confidentiality of patient health care records and failing to disclose its involvement in their health care.
Last July, Accretive lost a laptop computer containing unencrypted health data of about 23,500 patients of two Minnesota hospital systems -- Fairview Health Services and North Memorial Health Care.
Under both contracts, Accretive controls and directs the work of hospital employees and “infuses” its own employees into the staffs of the hospitals. Accretive gets base compensation and incentive pay for helping the hospitals boost revenue or cut costs.
“The debt collector found a way to essentially monetize portions of the revenue and health care delivery systems of some nonprofit hospitals for Wall Street investors, without the knowledge or consent of patients who have the right to know how their information is being used and to have it kept confidential,” Swanson said.
The state seeks an order requiring Accretive to fully disclose to patients:
- What information it has about Minnesota patients
- What information it has lost about Minnesota patients
- Where and to whom it has sent information about Minnesota patients
- The purposes for which it amasses and uses information about Minnesota patients.
One more the mergers and acquisitions speak out again on how health insurance companies have diversified their portfolios and are no longer “just an insurance company” with numerous subsidiaries both in the Health IT area and even others in what you might consider “unrelated” businesses. Here’s one example below with a diversified interest with a new division created to distribute hearing aids and offer incentives for those in certain areas of the us to sign up for insurance plans. I sometimes wonder how other insurers view this?
Here’s another example of what one might consider a business outside of what we might normally consider a related business with low incoming housing investments in New Mexico. One thing to keep in mind today is all the aggregated data that flows and the algorithms and SQL statements that bring some of this together. Data is big business.
Just a couple weeks ago we read about the investment with mobile health and again we venture down into the data business here again as the Optum division which has many subsidiaries has a huge focus on data, and part of the renamed group was the old “Ingenix” company that has consulted and provided data services for years and last year settled their case with the AMA with short paying providers for out of network services.
This kind of brings me around again to what I call the “Alternative Millionaire’s Tax” with companies that buy and sell data and this seems to be a good place for a mention here as the Optum Division has been making money for years with aggregating and selling prescription and other data. With big profits as such we certainly could entertain a license and tax situation for those making billions on the data selling business. As a short comparison from another Healthcare company, Walgreens has estimated their data selling business to be valued at just under $800 million, so again something to give some thought to as hospitals, providers, and patients struggle to afford medical care today.
Another good article to read about the over sell and naïve and gullible nature of the US with both government and consumers, read what Nanex has to say as they are the folks that monitor and study rogue algorithms in the stock market and look for indicators of the “next flash crash”. A couple paragraphs are below and will the SEC be suckered in to this huge expense of programmers who want to make big dollars writing code convince a naïve and gullible SEC? It’s all over the place with digital illiteracy, steroid marketing and algorithms for huge profits only and they have teeth. At a certain point in time we might need to REALLY think about the value of some of the data we analyze today and the cost and this is worth a mention as this is the big growth area for United, algorithms and software analytics via consulting services. It is also worth a note that United last year hired the former Assistant Attorney General for the State of Minnesota for their general counsel.
Below is one example of the algorithm/software business as the company created a clearinghouse business and collaborated with an medical records company to integrate the services with Epic and of course this means more data revenue for the company and puts a bit of stress on other smaller existing clearinghouse businesses in the US as well.
One more thing too is let’s not forget that they also own a bank with over $1 billion on deposit with health savings accounts and I would guess this also leaves them open to lend money on monies held here and somewhat compete with other banks. As you can read in the quote below the funds are largely generated by employers, in other words large US corporations so they seem to go hand in hand, right?
“OptumHealth offers three types of HSAs, as well as tax-advantaged health care savings and spending accounts, debit-card services, benefits administration services, and payment products. About three-quarters of the bank’s 1.6 million accounts are employer-generated, while the other quarter are individual accounts.”
There’s also the Chinese investment the company bought early in 2010.
If you were to stop and look you might also notice one more subsidiary that can consult with biotech and device companies to introduce new products to the FDA and you know when you think about it they might just have a subsidiary to handle the entire process from FDA approval all the way down to provider reimbursement too.
One other related item too is the purchase of physicians groups which is growing and the acquisition of Monarch in Orange County is one big example of buying a huge managed care group.
Again, in summary with such large profits and a lot coming from the data end of the business, this looks like one company where licensing and taxing the data sold for huge profits could fit and there are many more as Hedge Funds, Facebook and tons of other companies are cashing in royally and this all leads to bottom line profits for running algorithms on servers 24/7 that you can’t see, touch or talk to as far as the consumer is concerned, but automated algorithms for data mining and selling are yielding huge profits for corporate USA while as consumers we are becoming “data chasers” to fix a lot of the flawed data that is out there today. It’s a good idea today to read up and see how the corporate USA scene has changed tremendously due to the huge array of mergers and acquisitions as companies are not the same ones they were 2 to 3 years ago by any means. BD
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE:UNH) today reported fourth quarter and full year 2011 results, highlighted by strong enrollment and revenue growth in each of UnitedHealthcare’s benefits businesses and strong revenue growth at all Optum business units. Full year and fourth quarter 2011 net earnings were $4.73 per share and $1.17 per share, respectively. Cash flows from operations were $7 billion in 2011.
The Company continues to estimate 2012 revenues in the range of $107 billion to $108 billion and net earnings in the range of $4.55 to $4.75 per share.
Is there money in those algos? This story might answer that. Why would this employee who was a contracted programmer take this code? It’s worth money and if you read often enough you know I discuss those algos and software is nothing more than a group of algorithms, words of Bill Gates.
A co-worker said the employee said the accused confused he lost the drive containing the code and get this, it’s the software (aka algorithms) that cost $10 million to develop to track the billions of dollars that the US government dispenses “daily” to government agencies..these are some pretty commanding algorithms…so the programmer apparently took the code and who knows where it would go next? A lot of government code is open source but don’t think that is the case here…what’s the next security breach to occur? BD
Bo Zhang, 32, of Queens, New York, worked as a contract programmer at the bank. He was accused of illegally copying software to an external hard drive, according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. district court in Manhattan.
Authorities said the software, owned by the U.S. Treasury Department, cost about $9.5 million to develop.
A New York Fed spokesman said in a statement that the bank immediately investigated the suspected breach when it was uncovered and promptly referred the matter to authorities.
Zhang told investigators he took the code "for private use and in order to ensure that it was available to him in the event that he lost his job," the complaint said.
The code, called the Government-wide Accounting and Reporting Program (GWA), was developed to help track the billions of dollars the United States government transfers daily. The GWA provides federal agencies with a statement of their account balance, the complaint said.
This is kind of an alarming incident but when you read further it does not stop the treatment process and the secondary outbursts are surgically removed. This affects about half of those treated to be on alert, but not all of those develop the secondary skin cancer, only about a quarter of the 50% risk group.
This sounds like a big step in recognizing undesired side effect with oncology treatments. BD
Drug Used to Treat Melanoma with One Mutation Sets off a Cascade that Results in a Different Type of Skin Cancer in Cells with Another Mutation
Patients with metastatic melanoma taking the recently approved drug vemurafenib (Zelboraf®) responded well to the twice daily pill, but some of them developed a different, secondary skin cancer.
Now, researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, working with investigators from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, Roche and Plexxikon, have elucidated the mechanism by which vemurafenib excels at fighting melanoma but also allows for the development of skin squamous cell carcinomas.
The very action by which the pill works, blocking the mutated BRAF protein in melanoma cells, sets off a cellular cascade in other skin cells if they have another pre-disposing cancer mutation and ultimately accelerates the secondary skin cancers, said Dr. Antoni Ribas, co-senior author of the paper and a professor of hematology/oncology.
About 50 percent of patients who get melanoma have the BRAF mutation and can be treated with vemurafenib, Ribas said. Of those, a fourth of the patients develop skin squamous cell carcinomas. The squamous cell carcinomas were removed surgically, and vemurafenib was not discontinued for this side effect.
“We wondered why it was that we were treating and getting the melanoma to shrink, but another skin cancer was developing,” said Ribas, who studies melanoma at the Jonsson Cancer Center. “We looked at what was likely making them grow and we discovered that the drug was making pre-existing cells with a RAS mutation grow into skin squamous cell cancers.”
The 18-month study appears in the Jan. 19, 2012 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The combined research team performed a molecular analysis to identify the oncogenic mutations in the squamous cell lesions of patients treated with the BRAF inhibitor. Among 21 tumor samples studied, 13 had RAS mutations. In a different set of 14 samples, eight had RAS mutations, Ribas said.
“Our data indicate that RAS mutations are present in about 60 percent of cases in patients who develop skin squamous cell cancers while treated with vemurafenib,” Ribas said. “This RAS mutation is likely caused by prior skin damage from sun exposure, and what vemurafenib does is accelerate the appearance of these skin squamous cell cancers, as opposed to being the cause of the mutation that starts these cancers.”
Ribas’ group found that blocking the non-mutated BRAF in cells with mutated RAS caused them to send signals around BRAF that induced the growth of the squamous cell cancers.
The discovery of the squamous cell cancer mechanism has led to strategies to inhibit both the BRAF mutation with vemurafenib and block the cellular cascade with a different drug, a MEK inhibitor, before it initiates the secondary skin cancers, said co-senior author Professor Richard Marais from the Institute of Cancer Research in London, who developed the animal model for the study.
“By understanding the mechanism by which these squamous cell cancers develop, we have been able to devise a strategy to prevent the second tumors without blocking the beneficial effects of the BRAF drugs,” Marais said. “This may allow many more patients to benefit from these important drugs.”
Ribas said that this is one of the very few times that oncologists understand molecularly why a side effect to cancer treatment is happening.
“The side effect in this case is caused by how the drug works in a different cellular setting,” he said. “In one case it inhibits cancer growth, and in another it makes the malignant cells grow faster.”
Studies currently are under way testing BRAF and MEK inhibitors in combination in patients with metastatic melanoma, Ribas said.
“Our data provide a molecular mechanism for the clinical toxicity of a targeted oncogene inhibitor that apparently contradicts the intended effects,” the study states.
The study was supported by Roche, Plexxikon, the Seaver Institute, the Louise Belley and Richard Schnarr Fund, the Fred L. Hartley Family Foundation, the Wesley Coyle Memorial Fund, the Ruby Family Foundation, the Albert Stroberg and Betsy Patterson Fund, the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation and the Caltech-UCLA Joint Center for Translational Medicine.
UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has more than 240 researchers and clinicians engaged in disease research, prevention, detection, control, treatment and education. One of the nation's largest comprehensive cancer centers, the Jonsson center is dedicated to promoting research and translating basic science into leading-edge clinical studies. In July 2011, the Jonsson Cancer Center was named among the top 10 cancer centers nationwide by U.S. News & World Report, a ranking it has held for 11 of the last 12 years. For more information on the Jonsson Cancer Center, visit our website at http://www.cancer.ucla.edu.
Jon goes back to Foxconn-revisited…in his usual style and he says we need to make our factories look more like those in China. Workers live in dormitories and don’t know each other, cuts down on commuting and friendship.
Workers are finding ways of improving their conditions, hotlines with trying to stop suicide and put nets around buildings to catch jumpers…I think we remember this from a year ago and he says in the US we call this “treating the symptoms”.
“It’s me, Siri, in your pants pocket working on giving you testicular cancer”…If it works for those factories, electronics would cost more..modern work fare…a game to the rescue…this is great humor but there are somethings I does make one ponder…there’s just one level and this is it…(the middle class) as algorithms are marketed and designed and sold to consumers.
He shows the work of the algorithms in place for sure in a humorous way. Why are health insurance companies getting into the low income housing business though? I hope this is not a Foxconn plan to create communities with jobs that pay little and have medical care on campus? What is up with this?
The same company owns a subsidiary that will basically give you a free hearing aid made in China if you sign up for their health insurance…more below…and the subsidiary they built to distribute and coming to Walmart soon as I understand…
He moves on to the next part, a game that has one level…hmmm…we another insurance company banking on this too…data to sell? Will this make you healthy? I prefer real knowledge.
I just ask is there where we are headed with mining and selling data today and big corporations taking over our day to day decisions? The more information they have to judge and discriminate, the ability to control and humiliate the middle class grows.
At any rate with the use of algorithms today that have teeth and the amount of flawed data out there, are we going in this direction? I put this out for an awareness and perhaps to generate some though processes. I like technology and the good things it brings but am not oblivious to how it can also be abused as well and a NYU professor says it even better than me, read and listen up.
I sure hope Richard Cordray understands math and the power of the algorithms when used both in an intuitive and good manner and the reality of those who design for pure profit that hurts consumers. You can see, smell or touch them, but they are running on server 24/7 every day making like impacting decisions, crafted by some of the smartest programmers and developers that the money on Wall Street can buy.
Another good article to read about the over sell and naïve and gullible nature of the US with both government and consumers, read what Nanex has to say as they are the folks that monitor and study rogue algorithms in the stock market and look for indicators of the “next flash crash”. A couple paragraphs are below and will the SEC be suckered in to this huge expense of programmers who want to make big dollars writing code convince a naïve and gullible SEC? It’s all over the place with digital illiteracy, steroid marketing and algorithms for huge profits only and they have teeth. BD
“Wall street hires the best software developers money can buy. They write clever algorithms. These algorithms will only get more clever as time goes on. Which means they will always be changing. Now, writing software to detect what other software is doing is 100 times more difficult. Which in the software world means 100 times more expensive. Which means hiring people that do not exist, since Wall Street already snapped up the best, and you need the best times 100 (you can't make it up in quantity and just get 100 times more wizards, because many will have poor social skills, and you need these people to communicate).”
“You see the folly of trying to regulate the markets in real-time? Real-time raises the cost exponentially times a million. To a level that all the kings in the world couldn't afford. It would be one thing to track in real-time, things that had known behavior. Like your checking account being overdrawn. Maybe credit card fraud in the making (which, by-the-way, hasn't been perfected yet, despite lots of money and time thrown at the problem). “
To go back a little bit in time the chip was also set up to communicate with personal health records like Healthvault. The latest development on the chip was the ability to communicate real time glucose readings. The FDA has approved the product and the HealthLink software.
In addition, Medcomp who makes vascular access catheters will use the chip in vascular ports for identifying the port in a patient for proper medication dispensing. As it read here though the use with Medcomp still needs to secure FDA approval. This chip keeps coming back around with many lives. BD
DELRAY BEACH, Fla., Jan 17, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- VeriTeQ Acquisition Corporation ("VeriTeQ" or "Company"), a marketer of implantable, radio frequency identification ("RFID") technologies for patient identification and sensor applications, announced today it has acquired the VeriChip implantable microchip and related technologies, and Health Link personal health record from PositiveID Corporation. VeriTeQ is majority owned and led by Scott R. Silverman, former Chairman and CEO of PositiveID and VeriChip Corporation. PositiveID has retained an ownership interest in VeriTeQ.
VeriTeQ will focus on three main areas: patient identification and personal health record (PHR) access through the VeriChip implantable microchip and Health Link web-based PHR; implantable sensor applications; and identification of medical devices within the body. VeriTeQ will also focus on identification and sensor applications for animals.
VeriTeQ's acquisition also includes the rights to a Development and Supply Agreement with Medical Components, Inc. ("Medcomp"), a leading manufacturer of vascular access catheters. Under the terms of the agreement, Medcomp will embed the VeriChip microchip in its vascular ports to facilitate identification of the port in a patient and proper medication dispensing.
The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there's no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible, the court said.Justice delayed is justice denied; get to stepping, Mr. Snow!
Three fiscal quarters into my new role at work I am pleasantly surprised to discover that CDHPs have quietly evolved from a disingenuous cost-sharing scheme foisted on workers by employers (see the Pollyannaish video, below) to a proactive, multifaceted approach intended to achieve “a pluralistic system that empowers patients and demands accountability from individuals and the health system, while adequately supporting the needs of the disadvantaged.”
Moreover, the criteria for determining whether or not these lofty goals are met are both simple and progressive:
Granted, the above is only Wye River Group’s take on the matter, but given that it comes directly from their An Employers’ Guide to Healthcare Consumerism which was published in 2006 I am inclined to take them at their word and note this as a sea change in suppliers’ attitudes towards the healthcare crisis in this country.
What Wye River Group refers to as healthcare consumerism is a synthesis of old and new ideas as well as delivery and payment models in the healthcare market. It encompasses consumer-driven health plans, value-based benefit design techniques, and good old-fashioned managed care (as opposed to managed access and/or managed costs).
Despite its name, healthcare consumerism isn’t mutually exclusive of government involvement. Indeed, the techniques it espouses could go a long way towards making the already superior healthcare model in place for US military veterans that much more cost-effective and efficient – not to mention portable to state and local governments and private industry.
There are few people as skeptical of for-profit payers as I am, but in light of this evolution of thought in the consumer-driven healthcare space I am open to – and hopeful at the prospect of being – proven wrong.
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It ain't so.
Every first-year high school debate student learns about fallacious arguments. It's a requirement and something you had better learn well unless you want your argument to fail, your proposal to lose, and what little social standing there is to be had from membership on the debate team to be negated by having your ass publicly handed to you by an even bigger geek at a public (albeit most likely unattended) public event.
I speak from experience here.
As the saying goes, things change.
In our modern era of corporate media, where a powerful and wealthy few dictate what constitutes both entertainment and news, as well as their bastard offspring - infotainment, the validity and coherence of one's argument doesn't matter; volume does.
Volume can be measured in decibels (talk radio), eyeballs (Drudge Report), Nielsen Ratings (Fox News, Desperate Housewives), circulation (The National Enquirer), or some combination thereof. Health Care News apparently knows how to pump-up the volume: according to their masthead they reach 53% of all healthcare professionals.
I know that healthcare is a business, and that even the most selfless non-profit organization has to figure the bottom line into the equation somewhere, but it is my sincere hope that when most healthcare professionals and the organizations they work for need to get a feel for the pulse of the nation on important questions of the day, they'll keep in mind that Charmin is a better quality paper than The Heartland Institute's propaganda organ is.
Why am I being so hard on Health Care News? For starters, they have a widget on their site that is a consistent part of their navigational structure that declares Crichton is Right! This is a reference to science fiction author and 2006 American Association of Petroleum Geologists Journalism Award-winner Michael Crichton, whose novel State of Fear denies the science of the greenhouse effect and slanders The New Republic Senior Editor Michael Crowley.
With both John McCain and Barack Obama in favor of joining some version of the Kyoto Protocols and enacting some sort of carbon cap-and-trade system, this ranks The Heartland Institute right up there with holocaust deniers and The Flat Earth Society in my book.
Is this unfair of me? Am I painting with an overly broad brush? Am I resorting to unjustified Ad Hominem attacks and throwing the baby out with the bathwater just because I think Michael Crichton is a despicable human being and corporate drama whore who is trading on name recognition in lieu of long-since-gone talent?
I don't think so.
Here's a critique of their three-article, red-letter Single-Payer expose'.
Better yet, read the original articles independently of my critiques, and decide for yourself.
Meanwhile, I will be tackling all three of Health Care News' extremely fallacious and biased articles one-at-a-time over three posts. First up:
This article attempts to paint a picture of what universal healthcare in the United States will look like by describing in lurid detail what's going on at the bottom of the barrel in Russia's healthcare system.
For this article alone, the fallacies include:
Many state-run hospitals, particularly in remote areas, do not have hot water, and some do not have running water at all. Even the most basic medicines are often in limited supply.This is an attempt to form a Post Hoc fallacious argument. It fails in this regard, however. Awful Facilities actually Confuses Causes and Effect - the Russian Federation is the successor to the collapsed Soviet Union and the product of more than a decade of economic decline before its recent economic stabilization. Consequently, it's healthcare infrastructure isn't a shambles because the country's national, single-payer healthcare model is a failure; the country's national, single-payer healthcare model is a failure because the country's healthcare infrastructure is a shambles!
Healthcare is far too important to leave to politicians - be the autocrats or Democrats [sic]," said John R. Graham, director of health care studies at the Pacific Research Institute.Did you spot the Ad Hominem fallacy? It's tricky because it's also an example of Guilt by Association. In the above statement, the poor state of the Russian healthcare system is the fault of the autocrats, who are synonymous with Democrats! Since all Democrats are autocrats, and autocrats can't be trusted to administer healthcare, then obviously neither can the Democrats.
"The Russian 'free healthcare for all' system is nothing of the sort," said Jeff Emanuel, research fellow for healthcare policy at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of health Care News. "Instead, it is simply another program built on governmental taking of taxpayer fund and mismanagement of the services it promises to provide."You see, in the neoconservative fantasy land that Jeff Emanuel lives in, any single failed government program from any government anywhere is proof that all government programs from all governments everywhere will fail! And be sure to take a good look at just who Jeff Emanuel is: the editor of the very publication the article appears in! While this isn't a logical fallacy, it certainly makes him a less than objective - and therefore credible - subject matter expert for this particular piece.
Despite the fact that there is currently no legislation before Congress to institute a national, single-payer healthcare system, nor a presidential candidate from either party intending to introduce one (a Factual Error), even if universal coverage and a national, single-payer system were the same thing (which they are not), citing only Russia as a representative example of such a system is not only a Biased Sample fallacy, it also grossly distorts the success of the many other national, single-payer healthcare plans of every other industrialized country, all of whose citizens enjoy a comparable or superior degree of health and wellness than the average American does from healthcare systems that universally consume fewer resources and produce comparable or superior outcomes to our own.
(It is also insulting to the intelligence of anyone who has been paying attention since 1991 and knows that for all of our problems, the United States and the keystone republic of the former U.S.S.R. have about as much in common as William McGuire and Mother Theresa when it comes to infrastructure and other assets to bring to bear on their respective national healthcare concerns!)
In fact, according to the CIA World Factbook, as of 2007, per capita GDP in the Russian Federation was $14,600 - less than .33% (one-third) of per capital GDP in the United States of American ($46,000) during the same period!
Despite the enormous differences between the two counties, the average life expectancy at birth for all Russians is 84.5% that of their American counterparts, a difference of only 15.5%. Based on these numbers, if the United States were to adopt the horrific Russian healthcare system in its current form in its entirety tomorrow, but maintain current U.S. healthcare spending levels, median life expectancy at birth for all Americans would exceed 129 years!
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Russian Federation||United States of America|
Now, I know that this is a Misleadingly Vivid example, but then again so is Health Care News' representation of the Russian healthcare system as a legitimate cautionary tale for healthcare reformers in the United States looking to implement some form of universal coverage or otherwise assure care is made available to nearly 50 million of their fellow uninsured citizens.As I pointed-out above, Rina Shah bases her entire article on a Factual Error when she presents the situation in Russia as an example of a failed universal healthcare system. However , Russia's implementation of universal healthcare is a national, single-payer universal healthcare system; there are no proposals for implementing such a system in the United States from either political party or presidential candidate.
Research conducted by Moscow's INDEM think tank in 2004 showed Russians spent some $600 million each year on under-the-counter payments to health care providers. The Russian Academy of Sciences' Open Health Institute more recently estimated rampant corruption siphons off as much as 35 percent of the money spent on health care nationwide annually.Do you see the Strawman here? The figures presented above only proves that Russia's healthcare market is inadequately policed; it doesn't prove that universal or single-payer healthcare systems are inherently corrupt or result in substandard wages for healthcare professionals. The average pay of Russian healthcare professionals is also something a Red Herring: compensation of individual healthcare practitioners is not an indicator of the likelihood of an overall healthcare market's ability to function efficiently, as the performance of healthcare markets from Canada to Cuba clearly show.
Low wages are another problem. Yearly salaries of physicians average $5,160 to $6,120, while nurses average $2,760 to $3,780. This often results in underpaid physicians accepting bribes for higher-quality care.
Reforms drafted this spring by the Russian Federal Assembly include placing higher emphasis on primary care, shutting down numerous substandard hospitals, scaling down the scope of free medical assistance guaranteed by the state, and increasing physician salaries by reimbursing doctors according to the number of individual treatments given instead of by the number of hours worked.Do you see what's going on here? The reforms proposed by the Russian government are never addressed. Instead, they are summarily dismissed.
"Instead of forcing people to pay into this failed program, Russia's government should allow the market to influence the health care system, which it can begin to do by allowing its citizens to choose how their own health care money is spent," Emanuel said.
So-called "universal" health care does not actually exist, says Graham.
"At best, in a functioning democracy like Canada or Britain, it results in unequal access to health care by government rationing, lack of investment in innovation, and shortage of medical professionals," Graham pointed out. "At worst, in a country with little democratic bona fides, it results in the situation we are seeing in Russia."The author has taken great pains to paint an unfavorable, ugly, and frankly prurient (from a healthcare policy perspective) picture of Russia's national, single-payer healthcare system. Having savaged the concept generally (i.e.: Poisoned the Well), Rina Shah sees no reason to bother backing up the claims made in the concluding paragraph about the failings of universal healthcare systems in functional democracies, which are better and more realistic models for potential universal healthcare solutions in the United States. Which was clearly her intention all along.
Just today we announced the expansion of HealthVault in China, specifically in the Jiangsu province of Wuxi. This is definitely a big step in the international expansion of HealthVault outside of the United States and joins the other international deployments in Canada (doc), Germany and the UK.
Microsoft Corp. and iSoftStone Information Technology (Group) Co. Ltd. have signed an agreement that enables iSoftStone to introduce Microsoft HealthVault technology to the Chinese market. HealthVault, a personal health application platform, enables individuals to store and manage their health information in a personal, online account. Initially focused on Wuxi, in the province of Jiangsu, the vision of the Microsoft-iSoftStone relationship is to enable citizens to connect to various health systems and services run by government organizations, physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and even fitness facilities for a comprehensive view of their personal health information. iSoftStone will be the exclusive operator of HealthVault in Wuxi and will develop and offer the HealthVault-based services to developers, application providers and device manufacturers to provide citizens with tools that will help foster dynamic, trusted and personalized healthcare.
Check the rest of the press release online.
Well, this is at least a partial excuse for my absence from this blog :-)
Today we announce the acquisition of Sentillion, Inc demonstrating again Microsoft’s level of commitment to the healthcare industry.
Many of you reading this are familiar with Sentillion and this acquisition is the culmination of years of successful partnership between the two companies. Our primary goal with the acquisition is to make it easier for healthcare professionals to deliver better patient care by streamlining access to multiple IT applications and patient data by combining Amalga UIS and Sentillion’s solutions for single-sing-on and context management.
So far we have received excellent feedback and I am really excited about the Sentillion folks joining the ranks of the Health Solutions Group and Microsoft.
For more detail please have a look at the press release.
The HealthVault Solution Conference that we did last year has evolved into a broader event that includes more of the solutions that Microsoft has to offer in Health.
The Connected Health Conference will be held on June 10-12 in Bellevue, WA and we’re going to feature a lot of content both around Amalga UIS and HealthVault and an exceptional lineup of speakers including David Kibbe, Governor Michael Leavitt, Uwe Reinhardt, Mark Smith and Peter Neupert. Lastly we’re going to have a few surprises in store both for HealthVault and Amalga UIS, so make sure you rush and register, we have limited space available and we expect a lot of people!
Recently we worked with Gartner Group on a webcast outlining the issues that healthcare provider organizations face when it comes to data integration and how solutions such as Amalga UIS 2009 can help address these issues and provide organizations with more tools and better ability to view, analyze and act upon information that they already own, but rendered inaccessible by the silos in which it’s locked.
The twenty minute long webcast features: GG’s Dr. Tom Handler and Vi Shaffer, two of our customers Brad Kappalman and Dr. Mark Smith (Medstar WHC) and Kim Pemble (WHIE), Jon Handler and Peter Neupert.
The webcast is available at this address. Enjoy!
Ok, I have been to a few HIMSS with Microsoft now, but I must say that this one, by all means exceeded my expectations.
We had two days of in-depth training with our field before the show and that was great. All the content was spot on (at least from my perspective :-), we had a great representation from across the company and an awesome session with two of our current customers.
The show was the busiest for Microsoft in all the 8 years I have been at HIMSS. I was there most of the time and I literally did not have the time to shut up for more than 2 minutes. I talked to our current customers about the new release for the product, prospect customer about the value of Amalga UIS and how that can be used to help address their problems and potential partners about what opportunities exist for them on Amalga UIS. All the demos rocked and the booth design was absolutely great.
The great thing was the response we got from the people there. Many heard about the product before or were referred by a friend or person they knew. It is amazing to see the difference one year makes in awareness. I must thank of course our customer for being great advocates and showing new and innovative uses for the product.
This is all happening before and while we announce two major pieces of news:
As part of the announcement we also announced three modules for Amalga UIS:
Each module has its unique value proposition, but each one of them leverages the ability for Amalga UIS to aggregate data in real time from multiple systems and present that in an amalgamated (pun intended :-) fashion. I will go into more detail for the modules in a future post.
We also released a new, improved version of the web site with more information and details about the product, in particular:
Other health groups at Microsoft have also been very busy and we released a new version of the Connected Health Framework – Architecture and Design Blueprint. Kudos to Teddy, Ilia and all the people that have contributed to this new version!
I look forward to share more of the exciting things we’re working on with you. Stay tuned!
At HiMSS09, the annual conference and exhibition for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), Microsoft Corp. will showcase in its booth (No. 1232) new solutions designed specifically for healthcare providers, caregivers and patients, as well as partner and customer success stories
Also check http://www.mshimss2009.com/ for more detailed info.
This is the topic of my new blog post on HealthWorks Collective. Already received lots of traffic on Twitter and lots of views. Would like to see more about mobile standards in health care from Motorcycle Guy and others.
I am glad that Delicious is still around and being enhanced. I have used it for years to organize and tag my bookmarks. Now with almost 1200 bookmarks and several hundred tags, I often search my links to find a resource for a presentation or article. Recent links include:
Like others (see Daniel Kraft) , I have my own opinions about what trends will be most influential for health IT in 2012.
There are many more but these are the primary one’s I will be following.
There are many top 10 predictions for 2012 out there. I could probably add my own for eHealth and mHealth.
These 10 Business Intelligence Trends for 2012 from Tableau Software apply to healthcare as much as any business.
In addition to having a great year traveling and presenting, I had additional accomplishments:
It was a big year for traveling to conferences: