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InformationTechnology in Health Care: Coming Soon (er)

Posted Apr 12 2010 4:24pm

Once again I am amazed at how money is misspent in health care, even though mucho technology is out there to cut costs.

Arizona Health-e Connections Summit is a conference/trade show for people interested in linking disparate bits of data into meaningful information for both payers and providers (never mind the patient–she comes last).

Roaming around the trade show floor,  I saw two great examples of health IT misadventures:

In an era where almost everything has an API, a company called Certify Data Systems is selling a literal “black box” to create a “secure handshake” between Cerner’ s data, which is in use by enterprise health systems and hospitals, and the  simpler products used by physician practices.  But in the era of OAuth and Facebook Connect, why do we need a black box to bring data from one software application to another? Don’t answer; that was a rhetorical question.

Second example: Intel is demonstrating a device similar to a tablet with a kiosk-like touch screen, meant for the home night stand of the chronically ill.  The device can transmit data from peak flow, blood sugar, or blood pressure monitors back to a doctor’s office, initiate a call to a nurse through a simple command button (Call My Doctor), or a prescription refill through another button (I Have Run Out of Medicine.) This is the opposite of the black box in its user experience.

But it costs about $100 a month to lease, and as a patient you can’t have it unless both your payer and your provider agree, because they are in charge of your records. And who will pay for this if you can’t afford it? Unless it becomes part of the attempt to control costs put forth by the new legislation, it will never get into the market.

On the other hand, it just might, because buried in the bill we all love to hate is a provision that if a doctor admits a patient to the hospital and that patient gets discharged and re-admitted within 30 days, the hospital and the doctor both won’t get paid. So there will be an incentive to monitor those chronically ill patients at home. In addition, the speaker from CMS said that Medicaid and Medicare were looking for expanded definitions of “meaningful use” for health information technology products, and to that end were examining the medical home concept and other drivers of quality and value (effectiveness) rather than mere quantity of services.

Wouldn’t that be cool? I’d love to have the convenience of remote monitoring as a patient, and my absence from my doctor’s office for routine matters of chronic illness (blood pressure monitoring) would free him up to see other, more interesting  patients.

 

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