From Bill Swerski: "Re: negativism. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to your news blogs. They just keep getting better and more informative. Your statement regarding not worrying about the economy and working harder is one of the most prolific statements I have heard in the past few months. The negativism to me is what is hurting the economy. This single quote needs to be plastered on billboards, bathroom stall walls, and anywhere else a Sharpie can be held! Our statement here for the bad times is ’Suck it up, cupcake!’"
With those kind words, let me say for the record that I’m just as hard-hit and discouraged as anyone else (my IRA and 401k are down 60%, so I’ll probably be working until I drop). I also don’t like the idea that I did the apparently unfashionable — paid my mortgage and taxes on time, lived within my means, and didn’t start crying for help because my house payment went up while its value went down, so there’s no bailout in my future (except paying for one to help the irresponsible people). Still, whatever degree of intelligence, ambition, and resourcefulness I had hasn’t seeped out of me just because others (some of them elected to high office) made truly boneheaded decisions. I’m knocked down, but not out. If your priorities were based entirely on accumulating wealth, it’s a great time to re-evaluate. One of my favorite sayings: I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul.
It may already be too late, but if you want to attend the Monday, April 6 HIStalk reception at HIMSS, please RSVP immediately as we are just about to hit the cutoff of 300 (or it may have been 400 — hopefully the Ingenix folks sponsoring kept better notes than I did of what we decided). Please don’t RSVP if you aren’t sure you’re coming since someone else will lose their chance. Pretty nice digs: the 92-story Trump International Hotel is right on the river at the Loop and North Michigan. We will be in the largest room, the Grand Ballroom, which has views of Lake Michigan and lots of historic buildings through 24-foot windows. If you are the sort that likes to hobnob with movers and shakers, the RSVP list includes 27 CEOs and presidents and 56 VPs so far, plus an assortment of financial types, media people (what are they doing attending a blogger’s event?), and friends of HIStalk (that’s all of you, of course, but some of these are names you would know from reading). Thanks to Ingenix and Ingenix Consulting for sponsoring and for everybody attending. If it’s a great event, it will be because of the cool folks who chose to be there.
Speaking of the reception, a reader informs me that the NCAA basketball championship tips off the same night at 8:21 Chicago time. I wouldn’t have known since the only sport I care about is college football, but I know people obsess over their brackets and all that. Hopefully it won’t be too much of a conflict. That reader suggested a post-party viewing event and is looking into underwriting a modest one (heck, all you need is some Chicago dogs, a keg, and maybe … just thinking out loud … a couple of cheerleaders).
Gwen at Healthcare IT Jobs was curious about the University of Illinois at Chicago’s online MS in Health Informatics program whose ad is running to your right and on Healthcare IT Jobs, so she assembled some information (warning: PDF) about it, just in case you are curious. People often decide to further their education when the economy is unfavorable, so it’s a timely topic.
CalRHIO and OCPHRIO will launch a statewide system providing secure access to patient information in 23 Orange County, CA EDs in July. The Orange County group will use CalRHIO’s electronic platform, which I believe (but the press release doesn’t say) is Medicity.
Hopefully your Daylight Saving Time switchover went OK.
Young adults ages 19-29 make up the larges group of uninsured citizens, all 13.2 million of them. One reason: they’re too old to stay on the plan of their parents, but their employers don’t offer coverage or they can’t afford it. These are the folks, of course, who will have to bail out Medicare, fund the retirement of all of us baby boomer geezers, and pay massive interest on the federal debt racked up trying to keep an economic balloon with a hole in it inflated. Somehow I’m not feeling real good about their willingness to do that when the time comes.
A New York Times op-ed piece called The Computer Will See You Now seems to have gripes about EMRs that aren’t really described too well, but seem to be: (a) using the computer in front of patients is intrusive; (b) standard questions must be asked in order even when they clearly don’t apply; (c) the doctor might swear in front of patients when the computer does something wrong; and (d) computers lose context because doctors can’t underline, write bigger, or otherwise highlight something important. From those observations, the author suggests further studies are needed and perhaps EMRs should be maintained only on tablet PCs. That’s a pretty big and unconvincing leap from the anecdotal experience of one user, but lay readers will unfortunately assume it is authoritative since the Times ran it.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul paper highlights Amcom and VisionShare, healthcare software companies that "are proof, even amid all this economic turmoil, that we can build growth companies by making health care and other industries simpler and more efficient." Probably true.
Lobbying experts say Nancy-Ann DeParle’s industry ties shouldn’t disqualify her from being health czar, saying experience "on the other side" is not a negative because you need people who have worked in the field. I would ordinarily agree, but much of the Obama stimulus and reform plan is prescriptive in specifically advocating and advancing EMRs and she has profited greatly from being involved with companies that sell them. Still, I agree that shouldn’t rule her out. I think some in the industry would have preferred someone who has actually worked in healthcare, but I suppose at high-profile levels you’re always going to have someone who has risen to heights above the majority of us who actually do the work as non-profit employees.
Healthcare expert Dennis Quaid revisits Cedars Sinai with Oprah’s TV people and cameras, "to see what steps have been taken to ensure a similar mistake won’t happen again." Apparently the best case study on medical errors involves his twins, who unlike some victims had no lasting ill effects whatsoever, and the best investigator for the job is their actor dad. I thought his movie Everybody’s All-American was pure dreck, so I plan to call up Oprah to film me as I meet with studio executives to demand an explanation of how they will make sure something that horrifying never happens again. Dennis, of course, can do whatever he wants at Cedars because he’s hanging a potential lawsuit over its head, so they have to grit their teeth and pretend he’s got insightful thoughts as he lords around the place with the TV crew catching his good side. He’ll be great at HIMSS in any case since actors can make you love them by just being whatever you want them to be (I bet actors would make great salespeople).
A Massachusetts doctor who writes best-selling novels says the inspiration for his latest, The Second Opinion (# 1,563 on Amazon) came from a visit to his own doctor, who was too busy entering information into the computer to make eye contact. "I started thinking about electronic medical records and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which requires standards for electronic medical records and also helps to ensure patient privacy.) So that’s what I wrote about."
Nuance announces that its SpeechMagic has been rolled out in 12 London sites of HCA.
GE and Siemens are upset that Obama’s plan calls for cutting government spending on MRIs and X-rays, so they’re threatening to turn the lobbyists loose to argue that it would deny seniors "life-saving medical services" (taking a cue from HIMSS in using the term "advocacy" instead of the much less noble-sounding "special interest lobbying"). Like everybody else, they’re all for cutting massive healthcare expenses as long as it doesn’t cost them anything. Another entirely impartial group, the American College of Radiology and its radiologist members, also doesn’t like the plan. Both like to raise the specter of "actuaries" making medical decisions.
Healthcare IT mecca Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is on track to lose $20 million this year and layoffs are apparently coming. The Most Wired folks are always stretching to try to correlate IT investment to outcomes, so I expect they’ll modestly look away.
Some highly insightful equities research: an analyst notes that AMICAS offered $1.82 per share to buy out Emageon, so his target price is $1.82.