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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 9/2/21

September 2, 2021 Dr. Jayne No Comments


The American Medical Informatics Association is putting out a call for submissions for its 2022 Clinical Informatics Conference, scheduled for Houston in May. The CIC conference is known for being clinically focused, with lots of practical presentations about clinical informatics. Included focus areas are informatics-driven value-based healthcare; usability, efficiency, and user experience; clinical decision support and analytics; organizational challenges; emerging technology and technical infrastructure; and leadership, advocacy, and policy.

I’ve never attended, and while Houston isn’t one of my favorite cities, it might be on my list if we make it through this winter without crazy COVID and flu peaks. I can certainly appreciate any learning about organizational challenges since I seem to be having a number of them with my clients lately. Potential presenters have until November 30 to submit.

With all the stresses on healthcare organizations, mental health is at the forefront of many discussions. I was interested to read about Nike closing its corporate offices for a week to allow employees to take a break. While corporate office employees are receiving a week of paid vacation, retail employees didn’t get the same consideration. I would propose that the customer-facing retail employees probably need some bolstering of their mental health as well. If sick patients aren’t willing to mask and distance at their physician’s request, I can’t imagine being a retail employee who has to engage with people who don’t want to practice social distancing or wear masks. I’d be more impressed if they gave all employees extra time off, not just those in the corporate office.

Healthcare providers behaving badly: New York area hospital workers have been purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccination cards for $200 each. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office announced the filing of charges against a New Jersey woman for the cards and against a New York medical worker who would enter the person’s data into the New York state immunization registry for an additional $250. The co-conspirator is alleged to have entered fraudulent immunization records on at least 10 individuals. Those purchasing the fake vaccination records were also charged, and include workers at hospitals, medical and nursing schools, nursing homes, and other critical environments. The fraudulent documents were sold through Instagram accounts and prosecutors call on social media platforms to assist in the crackdown. The idea that someone would enter fraudulent data into the state registry is so offensive – I hope the penalties are severe.

For those of us who deal with search algorithms and learning systems on a regular basis, the report that the Amazon algorithm was directing users to ivermectin, and other COVID-19 misinformation sites is also offensive. CNBC reports that not only are user reviews listing false claims, but that since the autocomplete functionality on Amazon’s search field are driven by customer activity, searches that start with “IV” are bringing up ivermectin products due to high search volumes. Amazon is supposed to be blocking those autocomplete entries to help mitigate the issue. Users searching for “ivermectin for humans” and “ivermectin covid” should also receive a warning that the FDA has not approved ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19.

Several of my clients have added informational banners and callouts in their patient-facing platforms and websites, letting patients and potential patients know that the group will not prescribe ivermectin off label. It’s largely an attempt to avoid angry situations in the office which have been happening with increasing frequency, as well as to lower the volume of calls that patients are making in the hopes they get them.

One physician reported to me that an angry parent called wanting to interview her as a potential pediatrician for their child, but they had already called 20 pediatricians and didn’t want to see anyone who was going to try to recommend a COVID vaccine or who wouldn’t prescribe ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine. Since my client is squarely in the camp of evidence-based medicine, her practice opted to add banners to the website and informational posts on social media so that they could hopefully avoid other calls. I guess the fact that every pediatrician the parent had talked to had the same opinion had no sway on his thinking. When I asked my client about this, she noted that the caller told her she must be in the pockets of big pharma since she was a vaccine proponent and that he would keep calling around.

I’ve known a lot of front-line pediatricians and I can tell you that not a single one seems to be in the pockets of big pharma or any other financial influencer. When you stroll through the physician parking area at the hospital, you can pretty much predict that the well-loved Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys belong to the pediatricians, family physicians, or geriatricians. Primary care physicians tend to do what they do because they genuinely care for patients and want to see people lead longer healthier lives and are willing to make a lot less money than their colleagues to do so. Many of them have worked consistently through the pandemic with less-than-ideal personal protective equipment and have taken huge financial hits, so to accuse them of being compromised by some facet of industry is laughable.

Speaking of laughable, I receive a lot of emails asking me to look at new products or check out websites in the hopes that I’ll promote them. I would highly recommend that you spell-check and grammar-check all copy that you plan to put on your website, and then have at least two people other than the author read it to find anything that the computer missed. One recent request led to multiple errors in the first paragraph of copy on the website. As a physician, once I see that, I’m done. If you don’t have the attention to detail to make sure your copy reads well, I’m not about to consider using you as my patient engagement solution because I can’t trust that you won’t send nonsense to my patients.

Big hugs to my colleagues who are trying to get their practices back up and running after being hit by the recent hurricane and storms. Many can’t even practice remotely or via telehealth due to infrastructure issues and the level of helplessness that some of them feel is agonizing after everything they’ve been through in the last year and a half. Here’s to a speedy restoration and recovery effort.

Has your organization had to cope with storm damage or other recent natural disasters? How are things going from an IT standpoint? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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