Category Archives: Blogs

Health Wonk Review: Half glass edition

Glasses half something

Welcome to the latest roundup of health care policy posts. The submissions for this edition seemed to naturally group themselves into the optimistic and pessimistic categories, so that’s exactly how I’m going to lay them out.

Glass half empty

I always assumed being a temp was tough. But Workers’ Comp Insider makes us aware of the high risks temps face, including a heightened likelihood of death during the first day on the job!

Electronic health records (EHRs) are intended to increase quality and reduce costs. But Disease Management Care Blog emphasizes a big downside: that EHRs are facilitating Medicare fraud by making it too easy to cut and paste patient records and to generate “zombie” diagnoses. (Hope I don’t come down with that!)

InsureBlog (never a big ObamaCare fan unless I missed something, which I doubt) is none too impressed with the Catastrophic Plan “relief” effort. Carriers aren’t likely to offer such plans to people over 30, even if it’s technically possible for them to do so.

Like it or not, if every HWR was organized the way this one is, Health Care Renewal would hit the half empty section every time. Maybe that’s just the way it is when you’re beat is, “addressing threats to health care’s core values, especially those stemming from concentration and abuse of power.” In any case, we learn that PharmaLot, a blog that didn’t pull its punches, is being shut down. Not only that, but we’re losing access to the archives, too. (Editor’s note: try using the Wayback Machine to see archived material for this site and others.)

Glass half full

The rest of our bloggers see some challenges in the system, but are inclined to look on the positive side.

As the “father” of Health Savings Accounts, John Goodman is partly to blame for the persistence of deductibles. That’s because federal law requires HSAs to be paired with high deductible plans. Nevertheless, Goodman opposes deductibles and has some clever ideas for how to improve insurance.

Wright on Health notes that Chicken Little hasn’t come home to roost, even if there have been problems with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Folks should be pleased with the elimination of discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, the expansion of Medicaid in many states, and the availability of affordable subsidized private insurance across the country.

Managed Care Matters reports that while there’s plenty of uncertainty going around in the health insurance industry in 2014, ObamaCare’s risk management tools should prevent a death spiral from taking hold.

Colorado Health Insurance Insider observes that some people are hopping mad that Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is excluded from their new insurance plan. The art on the walls there (including Picasso and Warhol) is definitely better than what you’ll find at other hospitals, but prices are much higher and outcomes are nothing special. So maybe folks should take the money they save on premiums and use it to visit one of the excellent art museums in the area. The artwork there is even better!

Interventions that target specific populations don’t seem to work that well, even when great rigor is used to identify the best targets. Rather than give up, HealthAGEnda suggests we should focus on helping patients achieve the improve targets they set for themselves.

Maggie Mahar’s piece debunking a major daily newspaper’s ObamaCare ‘horror stories’ has drawn vast media response, including an apology from the editor of the newspaper that drew her criticism.

photo credit: WxMom via photopin cc

By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.

Health Care Social Media Review #44: Antagonism Edition


It’s pretty darn cold outside. Therefore not a bad opportunity to stay inside and write about social media.

A number of our posts this time around focus on doctor ratings sites:

MD Whistleblower is emblematic of doctors who trash physician ratings sites without actually bothering to read what’s on them, in this case offering a number of hypothetical (i.e., fictional) comments as evidence that the sites are no good. Most people wouldn’t criticize a movie without seeing it or write a review of a car without driving it, but somehow many docs know –somehow– that doctor rating sites are no good.

Doctors aren’t the only ones to think bad thoughts about ratings sites. Some patient advocates feel the same way. In this post my Health Business Blog starts a quarrel with one such advocate, who is surprisingly dismissive of social media and surprisingly confident in public records to ferret out the peachy keen docs from the bad apples.

Online patient review sites are already prominent, yet their potential is far from fully realized. Healthcare Success Strategies reports on a Software Advice study on how patients are using online reviews. Only one in four patients is currently using online reviews to research doctors. The demographics skew younger –no surprise there. And the power of insurance rules is strong enough to keep most people in-network even when they find a stellar review of someone on the outside.

And now for something somewhat different.

Nicola Ziaday shares survey data on how health care professionals use social media. Most use it just like everyone else: for personal purposes. But more and more are bringing social media into their professional lives, e.g., for job searches and professional networking. I’d like to see health care professionals use social media more –and more effectively– to communicate their wisdom and experience to consumers and to engage in online communities that include doctors and patients.

Christina’s Considerations shares a doozy. A patient who sued a doctor for taking pictures of her (drunk self) in the emergency room and posting them on Facebook and Instagram. A security guard told the doctor (a fellow) to delete the photos, which were of an acquaintance. But did he listen? No. Instead he even included some uncharitable captions.

HealthBlawg delves into some of the finer points of doctor/patient interaction in social media. For example, a patient was taken off a liver transplant list when the transplant team located social media posts of the patient with alcohol. “As important as knowing how, when and where to post something is knowing where to look for information, when and where not to look, and when to take it off line.”

The cHealth Blog offers part IV in its series on making health addictive. People check their smartphones up to 150 times a day. So why not take advantage of that behavior to hit users with “personalized, relevant, motivational, unobtrusive” messages to “induce permanent behavior change?” Why not indeed?

And on that note, we’re done. Until my esteemed blogger colleagues from Colorado Health Insurance Insider take the wheel for Edition #45, that is.
photo credit: Photo Giddy via photopin cc

By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.

Health Wonk Review is up at Workers’ Comp Insider

Santa’s been busy but since he seems to have unlimited bandwidth Workers’ Comp Insider decided to send Letters to Santa as a theme for the last Health Wonk Review of the year.

Check it out. Health Business Blog will host the first edition of 2014 on January 16.

Cavalcade of Risk #198: Short and sweet edition

Welcome to edition #198 of the Cavalcade of Risk blog carnival, the last for 2013. We’ll keep it short and sweet for you.

Which way to the Cavalcade?

Which way to the Cavalcade?

Danger, danger!

It turns out that nursing is one of the riskiest professions when it comes to on-the-job injuries. Nurses and nurses aides are right up there with construction workers when it comes to danger. Julie Ferguson of Workers’ Comp Insider has the story.

Kicking while it’s down

Hank Stern is a real gentleman, and Louise Norris is a classy lady, but you wouldn’t guess it from the way they pile on the punishment to the much maligned ObamaCare sign-up website!

Norris’s Colorado Health Insurance Insider takes Secretary Sebelius to task for claiming that the new health insurance exchanges represent the “first time” that Americans have been able to make effective comparisons on insurance options. There have been other, private insurance marketplaces on the web for a long while, not to mention good old-fashioned insurance brokers.

Stern’s InsureBlog reports on serious security shortcomings on that could lead to customers and would-be customers having their identities stolen.

Disability insurance and you

When I started my own company my insurance agent told me disability insurance was crucial. After all, if I died my wife could claim my life insurance benefit and get remarried. But if I became disabled it would be harder to get a new husband, and I’d still need to be taken care of . So I’m glad to see Mom and Dad Money report on disability insurance. It’s easy to get stuck with lousy coverage if you’re not educated.

Quality and cancer

It’s bad enough to get cancer, but worse to find out that the quality of cancer care is not always up to snuff. Healthcare Economist provides thoughts on a recent Institute of Medicine report on the topic.

Risky donations

A recent controversy over the legality of payments to bone marrow donors made me think back on my own experience as a prospective donor. In the end I decided not to take the risk of donating bone marrow even though it could possibly have benefited a patient. I wrote up my moral dilemma on the Health Business Blog.

Wait till next year

The next Cavalcade of Risk will be hosted by Michael Stack at AMAXX, but not until January 2, 2014.

photo credit: kyz via photopin cc

By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group.