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A Chat with Barbara Duck of The Medical Quack – Diagnosis PR Interview

Posted Jun 18 2009 12:02pm

This was nice, the tables were turned and I was interviewed!  Why do I blog?   The people at DiagnosisPR, the blog from Racepoint Group, a public image relations agency were nice enough to dig in to what goes on at the Medical Quack and how it all got started, and a nice mention of a couple of my most memorable interviews with executives with Cook Medical and Microsoft and how I went from Sales to Marketing to Geek and and now I seem to do it all, life as a muti-tasking blogger.  BD

Thanks Racepoint…

Last week, we had the opportunity to interview Barbara Duck, a healthcare industry veteran who reports and comments on a variety of healthcare news through her blog,The Medical Quack.   Barbara shared with us her thoughts on EMR, Twitter and the future of healthcare with the Obama administration.

Here’s what she had to say…

We know your blog, The Medical Quack, has a loyal following and your posts have been featured in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and Reuters.  Could you tell us more about the blog and how you got started?

I have not spent my entire career in healthcare; rather I spent over 20 years in outside sales with Fortune 500 companies before making the jump.  I began programming and writing code which eventually led to me writing a medical records program.  That was my first introduction into the healthcare space.  I began a dialogue with physicians at EMR Update and they really encouraged me to start my blog.

The Medical Quack is somewhat of a “kitchen sink” meaning I cover just about anything that I feel holds interest.  I try to keep everything at a level where all my readers can understand.  I enjoy covering recent trends in the news, novel medical devices and speaking with a range of interesting, healthcare professionals.  I am pleased that the site seems to resonate with so many and I look forward to continuing this journey!

Around 11 years ago, you worked with a local family physician to create an electronic medical records (EMR) system.  In your opinion, how far have we come with EMRs since then?  How far do we have to go?

That was back when things in software were much more primitive and simple.  It was not a simple job, though as it started out with one module and one back end and grew to 4 front ends and 2 back ends for the entire process.  I learned that what looks good to the programmer is not always good for the end user – the physician.  We have certainly come a long way with EMRs – no longer is one person writing, developing, selling and maintaining systems for physicians.  Now there are entire teams of developers to do what one person may have done a decade ago.  We still have a ways to go in terms of adoption of EMRs, but it is a work in progress and the value of EMRs continues to be a hot topic in the media.

I wrote a post recently that explores the possibility of security loopholes in EMRs.  Given my background, I think this is a very important issue and I believe that thorough testing of medical software is vital and that rushing EMRs – or any kind of software – will not be useful in the long run.

What do you make of the strong emphasis on healthcare IT and reform by the Obama administration?  As healthcare is a field that is known to be slow to adopt technology, how do you see the industry overcoming this obstacle?

As I am a true “techie,” I think the focus on healthcare IT is incredibly exciting.  From an early stage, I realized how important organizing information was, and I was a very early user of the PDA.  I knew the benefit of saving time by not having to look through paper files was ultimately going to help me succeed.  I think this same idea can be applied to healthcare.  The more organized we can become as a nation, meaning everyone from hospitals to small practices, the more effective our system will be.  I think Obama’s emphasis on this task is wonderful and should prove to be very fruitful.

The healthcare industry has a reputation of being quite slow to adopt technology, but I think the best way to overcome that obstacle is for those who believe in the power of technology to be persistent and keep showing exactly how it is able to make the industry better as a whole.  The financial commitment from the Obama administration is certainly an enormous step and should contribute to the continued adoption of technology by healthcare professionals.

We see you have an active presence on Twitter. What type of impact do you foresee Twitter and other social networking sites having on the medical community? Do you think these sites can help in pushing adoption of other health IT tools?

I think Twitter is a fantastic resource and I am especially excited to see the impact it will have on the medical community, as it has already had a big effect on the way consumers gather and disseminate information in general.  I have nearly 1,500 followers, which goes to show that the average patient is taking an active role in the exchange of information and is interested in healthcare.

I absolutely believe social networking sites are having a positive impact on the adoption of health IT tools – it is simply another way to push information out to people.  As they say, knowledge is power and the more patients and healthcare professionals understand about what healthcare IT can do for them, the more likely they are to adopt the tools.

During the history of your blog, what has been your most memorable interview or post?

In every one of my memorable interviews, the fascinating part was being able to speak to individuals who had so much knowledge and information to offer, perhaps outside of the normal items and technology my readers see in the news, which is what I try to do: offer educational healthcare information that perhaps is not noticed or otherwise missed. 

Regenerative medicine is also something I discuss quite a bit as most people are not even aware of what it does or that it exists.  One memorable interview was with Mark Bleyer, President of Cook Biotech and Mike Hiles, Ph.D., VP of Research and Lead Research Scientist at Cook Biotech.   They helped me share with my readers some exciting healthcare information that is available and adds to the quality of life in so many instances.
http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2009/03/regenerative-medicine-and-how-it-works.ht

Another memorable interview was with Michael Naimoli, Industry Solutions Director for Microsoft’s U.S. Health & Life Sciences Group and a former biopharmaceutical scientist.  Life Sciences is a difficult and hard to understand topic for many, but hopefully I was able to explain some of what is done there in layman’s terms to where each reader came away with some knowledge. 
http://ducknetweb.blogspot.com/2009/05/deep-dive-into-microsoft-life-sciences.ht

Diagnosis PR examines the latest developments, trends and issues surrounding healthcare communications.  Diagnosis PR is the voice of imageRacepoint Group, a global PR agency with significant expertise in healthcare public relations including medical devices, healthcare informatics and new drug therapies.  We also offer our opinions on regulatory, legislative, legal and public policy issues surrounding healthcare.  Visit our blog often and of course we want to hear from you!

A Chat with Barbara Duck of The Medical Quack | diagnosisprblog.com

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