2007-10-22 00:00:00

Week in Review: Healthcare Retail Therapy

Our recent webinar on Healthcare Trends for 2008 sparked a lively debate on the force of consumerism — or retail orientation, as some call it — in healthcare. One presenter predicted it will go the way of the capitation movement. A participant said the industry hasn’t gone far enough in incentivizing consumers to change unhealthy or costly behaviors.

Whether you’re a hospital, health plan, physician or service provider, this issue has likely changed your job description and your organization’s processes and bottom line. As open enrollment begins for many consumers, we’ll see lots of tools and technology to support the consumer through the benefit selection process. In this week’s news stories, SAMHSA awards grants to draw consumers into the transformation of this country’s mental health system. Another grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will create a database for consumers on hospitals??? and physicians??? cost and quality of care.

How is consumerism transforming your work, and what other trends will impact your organization in the next 12 months? There’s still time to take HIN’s third annual e-survey on healthcare trends for the year ahead and receive a complimentary e-summary of the results.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-22 00:00:00
2007-10-22 00:00:00

Pre-Paid Healthcare: Concierge Medicine for the Un- and Underinsured

Soon you may be choosing your healthcare plan the way you choose cell phone coverage: pre-paid vs. fee-for-service. The Wall Street Journal Health Blog reports that several hundred primary care physicians around the country are offering pre-paid plans for unlimited primary and urgent care, including office visits, lab work, X-rays and certain generic drugs. One West Virginia doctor charges $125 a month.

It???s not supposed to replace insurance ??? the deal doesn???t include any specialist or hospital care, and it doesn???t cover branded drugs or serious procedures. But for those without insurance, the pre-paid approach could represent an affordable stopgap.

Though still experimental, proponents argue that the pre-paid approach tackles two problems in U.S. health care: a decline in the number of primary care doctors and the growing number of Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-22 00:00:00
2007-10-18 00:00:00

Move Toward an End to Alzheimer’s

As two of my colleagues just completed the 40-mile Avon???s Walk for Breast Cancer in New York last week, it’s easy to see why we at HIN have pink on the brain. But while the month of October is well-known as the time to wear pink and show your support for breast cancer, the Alzheimer’s Association is also doing something special this month to move toward an end to that disease.

The Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk is the nation’s largest event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer care, support and research. The 2007 Memory Walks — admittedly no 40-mile walk — are two to three mile walks that take place on weekends during the fall in over 600 communities across the country.

So this fall, wear your pink breast cancer ribbon proudly, but add a second ribbon to your collection — the purple Alzheimer’s Awareness ribbon. You might look pretty in pink, but purple’s not so bad either.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-18 00:00:00
2007-10-18 00:00:00

SCHIP Debate Airing on YouTube

On the day of a Congressional veto override vote on President Bush’s rejection of the State Children???s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) reauthorization bill, the Campaign for America’s Future uses YouTube and some compelling kids to deliver its message.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-18 00:00:00
2007-10-17 00:00:00

Death of Cartoon Character to Breast Cancer Stirs Emotions

The New York Times Well blog reports on reactions from the cancer community to the breast cancer-related death of cartoon character Lisa Moore of Funky Winterbean fame.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-17 00:00:00
2007-10-17 00:00:00

What’s for Dinner? Healthier Food, with or without Commercials

The New York Times reports on the latest study touting the benefits of of family dinners. Add healthier meals to higher SAT scores and lowered behavior risks.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-17 00:00:00
2007-10-16 00:00:00

LinuxMedNews interviews new Medsphere CEO Michael Doyle

Those of us pursuing open source in healthcare IT always like to keep our eyes on what’s going at Medsphere and WorldVistA. It was great to see this interview with the new CEO of Medsphere.

These were my favorite questions:

LMN: It has been said that: “Medsphere could have been the “RedHat of Medical IT” that our community desperately needs. Instead they are the “Enron of Medical IT”.” because of the lawsuit against its founders Scott and Steve Shreeve. What are your thoughts on that?

MD: I can???t really comment on the lawsuit because it is an ongoing lawsuit. I???m not part of it and I will not be part of it. I hope that it gets settled soon. That???s the intent, or I hope that is the intent of all involved. I don???t know what you mean by Enron. I absolutely believe that this company has the ability to be the Redhat of Health IT.

LMN: Medsphere can play the Free/Open Source software card, reaping the goodwill of Free/Open Source while locking in customers by partially using proprietary products. What is your stance on this? Under your control will Medsphere be a ‘pure’ Free/Open Source company or a hybrid Free/Open Source and proprietary software company?

MD: It???s too early. I???ve been on the job for a week so it is too early to definitively answer that question. Most companies run a hybrid model. That???s something we are looking at. I have to spend some time researching this.

So, basically, he dodged the most important questions that have been keeping people from really embracing Medsphere. Lets hope Michael gets Medsphere back on track soon. There’s so much promise there.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-16 00:00:00
2007-10-16 00:00:00

Study Finds Chemo Unnecessary for Young Breast Cancer Patients

The Money Times reports on a European study that found that women under 40 with breast cancer who have chemotherapy in addition to lumpectomies or radiotherapy may not benefit from the drugs.

Developing breast cancer at a young age is very worrying in terms of survival, but some young women may be undergoing not only unpleasant but also unnecessary chemotherapy, which can be avoided, the researchers at the Leiden University Medical Center, in the Netherlands said.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-16 00:00:00
2007-10-15 00:00:00

Guest Article: Rich Internet Applications for Improved Healthcare App User Experience

I’m a huge fan of thin-client systems but the thinner the client, the less functionality it seems to support. A pretty smart colleague of mine, Fran??ois Jean, is an engineer at Cardinal Health working on a bed side information system and he has some suggestions for healthcare IT systems that need to stay thin for deployment but remain just as functional as a desktop app. Fran??ois has more than 10 years of experience in the computer science field and is interested in simplifying and improving the quality of software for a faster time to market while maintaining a stellar customer experience. He’s in Cardinal’s Operational Excellence program where he’s training to become a Lean/Six-Sigma Green Belt. Fran??ois has a master’s in Artificial Intelligence, a baccalaureate in philosophy and another one in computer science/mathematics. All that means he’s very well qualified and you should take his advice. -) . He writes:

Shahid, your article about SaaS was very interesting. I???m a big fan of web based applications for the following reasons: available from almost everywhere, do not necessitate any installation on the client side, are always up to date and the client does not have to worry about backup or hardware maintenance. However, your article highlights two very important issues related to these types of applications: availability and privacy. Both of them are VERY important in healthcare and we should address them in every implementation of SaaS.

A very good but often undervalued option for SaaS applications is the RIA (Rich Internet application) model. RIA can be used to bridge the gap between the rich API interface provided by the SaaS application and desktop-style user experience. RIA are basically web applications that have the features and functionality of traditional desktop applications. In other words, you experience the feeling of a desktop application in a web based application. Freely available examples of this include Google mail, New Yahoo! Mail, Google docs, Google Maps, etc.

Different frameworks are available to develop these applications; currently at my company we are exploring OpenLaszlo. We’ve use it to create Flash applications but it can also be used to create ???lighter??? applications (DHTML) for less powerful devices. OpenLaszlo can seamlessly generate applications supporting a wide array of browsers (including the safari browser on the iPhone!).

In our case, we wanted to replace a very simple JSP based application with a more RIA based solution to improve the user experience, we wanted the ability to refresh the content of a page without reloading it, have drag and drop functionality, have a fast response time on the client and more important to be free from any HTML and JavaScript limitation.

Since our OpenLaszlo application was able to talk to our backend using standard SOAP Web Service calls; no effort was lost in updating our backend. There is a learning curve before becoming efficient with the OpenLaszlo framework but the productivity gain from this framework rewarded the effort we put into.

Our application succeeds in delivering a desktop like experience to the user. In fact, once the application is running in full screen, you cannot tell it???s a Web application. There are many advantages:

  • No need to install anything on the client;
  • The client has always the most recent version of the application;
  • Very light weight (compare to a Java applet);
  • Fast and no flickering while updating the content of a page (unlike many web based application).
  • Run everywhere in almost every browser;

Some disadvantages:

  • A network problem could stop everyone (but desktop application tends to depend more and more on networks); 
  • Data are stored remotely, privacy issue must be addressed; 
  • Requires a solid backend infrastructure to prevent any downtime;

In our case, we could also have used the Adobe Flex framework to develop our Flash application. We choose OpenLaszlo mainly because it enables us to deliver our application on a variety of platforms (I must admit that we only deliver our application under Flash).

You would like to add multimedia, video conference or voice chat to your RIA? OpenLaszlo support it through the ???red5??? open source Flash Server. We had no use for it in our application, but we did some tests and were able to have a video chat application running in our browser in less than one day.

I personally believe in RIA for healthcare applications and our experience shows us that we can create a web application with a very good user experience. The user experience in health care is very important; we must be able to give the best feedback possible to the user and let him do his task the most naturally possible. The interface should never be an obstacle between the healthcare personnel and the reality they try to describe/comprehend through the interface they have between them and the data.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-15 00:00:00
2007-10-15 00:00:00

Week in Review: States vs. Feds in SCHIP Legal Challenge

Children are our nation’s most precious resource, so it’s natural that we want to protect them and keep them healthy. In this week’s Healthcare Business Weekly Update, a federal-state partnership is doing just that by bringing to an all-time low illegal sales of tobacco to minors. Closer to home, New Jersey (our bricks-and-mortar location) is taking President Bush to task???and to court??? for what it terms the “kicking out” of 10,000 children from the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Six other states are also posing legal challenges to this decision, and we’ll be watching developments in this area.

Where does your state and organization stand on this directive? Post your comments here.

Filed under: — @ 2007-10-15 00:00:00
« Previous PageNext Page »