Category Archives: e-health

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.

Thomas Jefferson embraces telehealth

Just slightly ahead of their time

Just slightly ahead of their time

Thomas Jefferson was an innovative guy, so I guess it should come as no surprise that his namesake university in Philadelphia is embracing telehealth in a big way. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko is in a hurry to transform healthcare delivery, and sees telehealth as a key enabler. TJ has gone so far as to invest in American Well, the telehealth platform company I’ve profiled in the past.

Klasko is focused on keeping patients out of the hospital and especially the emergency department. He also sees the potential to make better use of specialists’ time –letting them quickly dispatch patients with minor issues and provide greater access for those with serious concerns.

Fifteen years after eVisits were commercialized, virtual care seems to be coming into vogue. Why now? As usual with major changes, there is a convergence of various factors.

  • Everyone –patients as well as doctors– has a high-powered smartphone in their pocket, which is capable of amazing things like full motion video. No need to go to a specialized facility or even to a computer
  • Patients have financial incentives to avoid costly care
  • Providers are facing overwhelming demand from newly insured patients along with new  value-based payment models that encourage efficiency
  • Consumers are coming to expect online interaction with healthcare that feels like how they interact in every other aspect of their lives. Doctors and nurses feel the same way

The next few years will be monumental for digital health. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

photo credit: Declaration Drafting Committee, after Jean Leon Gerome Ferris via photopin (license)

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

 

HIPAA compliance for healthcare apps: Interview with TrueVault CEO Jason Wang

Jason Wang, TrueVault CEO

Jason Wang, TrueVault CEO

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is designed to protect identifiable health information to preserve patient privacy. Compliance is an intimidating barrier for app developers, among others. TrueVault is a young company that provides an API to make HIPAA compliance more straightforward.

In this podcast interview, TrueVault CEO and founder Jason Wang answers my questions:

  1. What is HIPAA and who has to pay attention to it?
  2. What are the implications of HIPAA for developers of healthcare software?
  3. What additional challenges and opportunities arise from the shift from desktop to mobile devices and cloud storage?
  4. Apple is entering the healthcare app space, but it isn’t allowing personal health information to be stored on iCloud. What’s going on there?
  5. Is there a clear distinction between consumer health data and PHI? How do providers and app developers navigate that issue?
  6. How does TrueVault help?
  7. What role, if any do consumers have with HIPAA compliance?

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

Telehealth at Mercy Health: Podcast interview with CFO/EVP Strategy Shannon Sock

Shannon Sock, Mercy Health CFO & EVP of Strategy

Shannon Sock, Mercy Health CFO & EVP of Strategy

Today’s Center for Connected Health Symposium #cHealth14 featured a high-powered panel discussion with top executives from Wellpoint, American Well, and the VA along with Shannon Sock, CFO and EVP of Strategy at Mercy Health. The topic: Large Scale Connected Health Interventions –Lessons Learned.

After the panel, I sat down with Shannon to talk about Mercy’s 10-year journey in telehealth. The big, midwestern integrated delivery system has made telehealth a strategic priority since at least 2006. That commitment is ramping up further with the construction of a 120,000 square foot, $50 million virtual telehealth center, slated to open next year.

In this podcast interview Sock described Mercy’s telehealth approach and accomplishments as a first mover. He also touched on the challenges of getting his colleagues to approach telehealth as a strategic asset, the opportunity to diversify Mercy’s revenues by providing services to other systems, direct contracting with employers, and the exciting new possibilities of patient engagement arriving with Apple’s HealthKit and similar initiatives.

Sock also highlighted the competitive jockeying that’s taking place between health plans and large health systems. The plans are starting to insert themselves into primary care delivery (e.g., Wellpoint with American Well) while big systems are building the infrastructure that they hope will let employers bypass health plans entirely.

I would love to be the moderator for round 2 of this panel so we could dig into these competitive issues more directly.

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

 

Innovation at Aetna: Podcast interview with Michael Palmer, Chief Innovation & Digital Officer

Michael Palmer, Aetna's Chief Innovation & Digital Officer

Michael Palmer, Aetna’s Chief Innovation & Digital Officer

Michael Palmer, Chief Innovation & Digital Officer at Aetna, will deliver a keynote address (Leading Innovation in a Connected World) tomorrow at the Partners Connected Health Symposium in Boston.

I caught up with him today to get his perspectives on the following topics:

  • What innovation means for Aetna and how that differs from what it means for small companies or other industries
  • The extent to which Aetna’s customers are seeking innovation vs. more prosaic factors such as reliability, consistency
  • How Aetna is partnering on innovative approaches in genomics, cancer care and other areas
  • What Aetna thinks it can bring to the consumer market to beat innovators such as Humana and Oscar Health

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

 

iPad EHR Drchrono gears up for HealthKit

Apple's HealthKit and Drchrono's OnPatient will work together

Apple’s HealthKit and Drchrono’s OnPatient will work together

Drchrono bills itself as the “original mobile EHR built for the iPad.” With that in mind, I decided to ask the company’s co-founder and COO, Daniel Kivatinos for his thoughts on Apple’s entry into the healthcare space with its new Health app and HealthKit development tool. Here are my questions and his replies:

What is drchrono? How is it different and better than other EHRs?

Drchrono was the first to develop a native EHR solution for the iPad and Google Glass. Our technology is disruptive in that we fuel the easiest, most-innovative patient care experience on the market today. Our platform has dramatically improved the patient point of care experience by allowing doctors to communicate face-to-face with patients (rather than behind a PC), improved the flow of information between doctors and patients, and reduced the time spent on charting and other historically time-intensive tasks.

We have over 70,000 doctors and 3 million patients benefiting from our platform. That number continues to grow rapidly. We were voted the top EHR two years in a row by Blackbook Rankings, and recently joined the INC500.

What does it mean that Apple itself is moving into health? What are the broader implications for the market?

Apple has some of the best designers and engineers in the world, and having them put mindshare into healthcare is a big deal. Apple serves both business and consumers, but I think we’ll see the most evolution in consumer-facing technologies, namely those that make logging wellness data and taking action easier.

What is HealthKit and why does it matter? How does it relate to the Health App in iOS8?

HealthKit allows developers to plug into the “Health” app on iPhone. The iPhone “Health” app connects medical hardware and software alike, pulling in data from many sources. For example when an individual has an iPhone that connects to FDA approved devices such as blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, fertility monitors and glucose meter, the “Health” app can pull that data in if the person wants.

Drchrono just announced the launch of OnPatient, your personal health record platform. What is it and how does it tie in with HealthKit?

OnPatient allows patients to book appointments, fill-out forms, message their doctors and most importantly have access to their medical records at their fingertips. Our most recent integration with HealthKit lets patients import their wellness data (via Health) directly into OnPatient. Best of all, patients can share that wellness data in an easy-to-digest format directly with their doctors.

PHRs have never really caught on. What’s different about this new attempt?

People love their phones. They like being able to access banking, their social networks, email, and more in one place. Health information is no different. In the past, PHR’s generally required patients to enter their health data on the web manually. This took plenty of work…and busy people didn’t have the time to spend on data entry.

Our solution pulls in data from doctors, and now, information from Health…all without the patient manually entering a single piece of data.

How will it impact physician practice and specifically patient visits?

Our EHR impacts physicians every day by making their –and this will sound clichéd– lives easier. They have access to their entire practice’s data in one place, their iPad or laptop. Doctors can easily access patient data on the go, and as a result, provide better service to their patients.

Patients will have immediate access to their medical records, prescriptions, and now wellness data.

Does my doctor have to be using drchrono for a patient to use onpatient? If so, how do you overcome that barrier?

With this initial release, yes, but you can have your physician join Drchrono for free at your request.

The Apple Watch was announced but not yet released. What do you think of it? What will its rollout look like?

I am very excited about Apple Watch. It will be a great way to track more health data like heartbeat and steps. Doctors will be able to use the Watch in their practices: for example, to see a list of patients coming in for the day.

Big players, especially Epic, are gathering up more and more of the total EHR market. Is there room for a company like yours or is the battle hopeless?

Epic is going after a different market, they are going after hospitals. drchrono focuses is on smaller offices with one to 20 physicians.

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

 

 

 

 

Patient portals: Hiding in plain sight

Many physician offices have patient portals, since they’re a requirement for Meaningful Use Stage 2. But a new survey from Software Advice confirms what we knew intuitively – these portals don’t get much use. Patients don’t know they exist and doctors don’t use them a whole lot. That’s kind of odd considering that portals can be useful and efficient. They’re good for checking lab results, asking non-urgent clinical questions, renewing prescriptions, managing appointment schedules, patient education and paying bills.

Why then is uptake so low? I have a few ideas:

  • The systems are clunky -frustrating to navigate, often down for maintenance or for no explained reason, and slow
  • Workflows are awkward. For example a physician may have access but her admin may not
  • There’s often no value proposition for a physician who wants to use a portal
  • Messaging is inflexible with no access to attachments web links or other enhancements
  • Some of the more important communications, like sharing a diagnosis don’t lend themselves to asynchronous communications
  • Privacy and security remain concerns and the required safeguards create barriers

Contrast the weak state of portals, which have been available in one form or another for 20 years, with other changes in communication that have been embraced much faster. Think texting, Skype, and mobile commerce, all of which have rocketed to prominence since patient portals were invented. I do think we’ll get there, but it will take a new generation of doctors, patients, software developers and payment models to make it happen.

You can find the original item from Software Advice here.