Category Archives: e-health

Welcoming back insurance exchange expert Dave Kerrigan

David J. Kerrigan

David J. Kerrigan

Health insurance exchange expert Dave Kerrigan is back in the private sector after three years working for the Massachusetts exchange. As a result he’s reviving his A Musing Healthcare Blog. The first new post is about the potential of health exchanges in a world where healthcare costs fall on employees.

Welcome back!

Meaningless Use: Pediatric portal example

I love my family’s pediatrician. He’s an old school guy who keeps up with the literature, is a great diagnostician, has an informative and comforting manner, and uses the hospital system’s medical records and phone calls to track the progress of his sicker patients as they deal with specialists. He’s available for a call-in hour every morning.

The practice’s patient portal from eClinicalWorks is another matter. The “PHR-View” has tabs for Allergies, Vitals and Immunizations. The information appears to be complete, which is nice, but where is the standard form that I need for school, camp, etc? It’s nowhere to be found and I have confirmed with the practice that it isn’t available. The practice doesn’t like to use the secure message system, which anyway doesn’t allow attachments.

Bottom line? I obtain the forms the same way I did close to 20 years ago: Call the practice and ask them to fax the form. They are always happy to do it, but it seems a little silly. Surely we can expect more from patient and family portals in 2015.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Financial services shows the way for healthcare (again)

Seven hundred million people worldwide have obtained access to financial services for the first time over the past three years, according to a Gates Foundation funded institute. The big increase is due largely to the banking industry figuring out how to leverage low cost mobile phones and digital payments to improve accessibility of the previously “unbanked.” I’d like to see healthcare do something similar.

The USA Today points out some of the benefits consumers reap when they gain access:

“Financial inclusion, such as the ability to save money, access credit and keep money secure, is considered critical for reducing poverty and increasing economic growth. World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim called access to financial services ‘a bridge out of poverty.’

Visa is working with small merchants in developing countries to equip them with point-of-sale terminals that operate over mobile phones so they can process digital financial transactions, an endeavor that has good social impact but also makes business sense for Visa…”

Financial services was (and remains) way ahead of healthcare in applying technology and digital solutions to democratize the marketplace. Online customer portals at Vanguard and Fidelity are way ahead of what consumers can get from their hospitals and health systems.

I hope healthcare won’t take as long to take advantage of newer opportunities such as the spread of cellphones, the Internet, and the financial services industry itself. In the developing world the formerly “unbanked” and currently “untreated” could leverage technology for clinical decision support, remote monitoring, electronic prescribing and adherence, not to mention population health reporting and management.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Care transitions: Interview with Curaspan CEO Tom Ferry

Tom Ferry, Curaspan co-founder and CEO

Tom Ferry, Curaspan co-founder and CEO

When Tom Ferry co-founded Curaspan back in 1999, discharge planning wasn’t the sexiest arena for a Harvard MBA to jump into. But he was on to something because 15 years later “transitions of care” is a mainstream term, there is a major focus on readmissions prevention, and post-acute care is universally recognized as the greatest opportunity for cost savings. Curaspan is right in the thick of it.

Though we both live in Boston, I met up with Tom at the #HIMSS15 conference in Chicago. Curaspan is exhibiting at HIMSS for the first time, and its booth is seeing a steady stream of traffic. In this podcast interview, Tom discusses the importance of care transitions and how Curaspan plays a role in addressing the challenges.

  1. Why are transitions of care important? (0:08)
  2. How does the hospital discharge process typically work? How should it work? (0:42)
  3. There is tremendous variation in cost and quality in post acute care. Why? (1:23)
  4. What role are new payment arrangements such as ACOs and bundled payments having on the discharge process? (1:53)
  5. Hospitals are typically paid on a DRG basis for what happens in the hospital. If we move to an episode based system what will happen to post-acute providers such as skilled nursing facilities? (2:41)
  6. Do you plan to incorporate data and analytics to determine where a patient should go based on their individual characteristics? (3:42)
  7. How do patient and family engagement play into the discharge process? (5:16)
  8. Why did you start Curaspan? How has the concept evolved since then? (6:25)
  9. What products and services do you offer on the Curaspan platform? (7:23)
  10. What are your objectives for the HIMSS conference? (8:42)

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

See you at #HIMSS15

I’m packing my bags and heading to #HIMSS15 in Chicago as a Social Media Ambassador. I look forward to seeing everyone there.

I’ve been enjoying reading Scott Tharler’s HealthcareIT News profiles of the various social media ambassadors. The post about me went up Friday.

You can also read about:

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.


Digital pathology in action: Interview with Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye

Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye

Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye

Pathologists are physicians who play a critical role in disease diagnosis and treatment planning. Yet if you’re a patient, chances are you’ve never met one, because pathologists typically work in the hospital laboratory, analyzing slides and providing their reports to the treating physician.

Turns out pathology is also one of the last areas of medicine to embrace the digital revolution. That’s changing now as pathology discovers the benefits of digital solutions and connects more directly to the rest of the care team.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is a leader in the field of digital pathology, and has teamed with GE Healthcare in a joint venture called Omnyx. I interviewed Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye to learn more.

Here’s what we discussed. (Use the timestamps if you want to jump to specific questions):

  1. What role does pathology play? Why does it matter to the patient? (0:11)
  2. We’ve all heard the term “staging” but what does it mean? (1:25)
  3. How does a traditional hospital pathology lab operate? (2:06)
  4. What are the limitations of the traditional approach? How does digital help? (4:04)
  5. Why is pathology among the last to digitize? (7:13)
  6. What elements are digitized?  (8:06)
  7. When a pathology lab goes digital, what happens to all the physical specimens? (8:56)
  8. What impact does digital pathology have on patient care? (9:48)
  9. Why are UPMC and GE working together? (11:25)
  10. What is the long-term potential of digital pathology? (13:37)
  11. Is it possible to use digital pathology to extend the team beyond the walls of a single hospital? (14:44)

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.