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December 30, 2009 News No Comments

From DrLyle: “Re: Dr. Zurhellen interview.Great interview with this doc. Where do you find these guys??? More and more of us are saying what Dr. Zurhellen laid out in one simple sentence: ‘get a single data structure and let vendors compete on the user interface.’ When will the government start listening to this philosophy (increasingly called the ‘iPhone approach)?’” Here is a link to the interview, in case you missed it. Dr. Zurhellen is a pediatrician who wrote his own EMR and is a CCHIT expert panel member. He’s a straight shooter who shared his frank impressions on EMRs, CCHIT, and standardization. As to how we find these great interview subjects, most are recommended by readers. By the way, DrLyle shares some musings on the need for an iPhone-like interface here.

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CMS and the ONC release the much anticipated “meaningful use” definitions and other details related to the EHR incentive program, including its final rule for the initial set of standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for EHRs. An HIStalk summary is here. Download your version of the 556-page document here and hunker down for a good read. Stay tuned for more on HIStalk and HIStalk Practice over the coming days and weeks.

A study supported by the Commonwealth Fund concludes that EHRs are not adequately improving the coordination of care. Today’s current ambulatory EHRs facilitate care coordination within a practice, making information available at the point of care, but, are less helpful for exchanging information across physician practices and care settings. From one of the study’s co-authors: "There’s a real disconnect between policy makers’ expectations that current commercial electronic medical records can improve care coordination and physicians’ experiences with EMRs.” The study also warns that simply creating incentives to adopt EMRs as they currently exist may result in EMRs being designed for billing purposes primarily, rather than for clinical relevance to patients and care coordination.

In the UK, a three-year-old boy is denied treatment for tonsillitis because the father did not know the boy’s NHS number. The father took the child to a clinic where he was not a regular patient, only to be told his son could not be treated without the proper credentials. Over the weekend, the father called the NHS hotline, who advised against taking the child to the ER. Eventually the father found the card and the boy got treatment when the clinic reopened on Monday. I wonder if this was a single bad incident or a regular occurrence in the UK. In any case, it doesn’t sound much better what we’d offer the family (a long wait in a crowded ER.)

I bet this doesn’t happen enough. Methodist Sugar Land Hospital (TX) hosts a holiday luncheon in honor of the “unsung heroes” of medicine – office managers, PAs, NPs, MAs, and other professionals in physician offices.

Greenway Medical rolls out its PrimeSuite EHR, PM, and interoperability product to Bethesda Healthcare System (FL). So far 12 providers are operational and 550 more have the option to get on board.


Self-pay patients and physicians now have a new online tool to connect with one another. Patients needing a particular service can access the MediBid patient portal  and describe the services required. Interested physicians can then bid for the patients’ care on a case-by-case basis. The doctors set their own price, don’t have a “middle-man,” aka, insurance companies, and can selectively pick patients that “enhance” their practice.


A somewhat related trend: patients bypassing the doctor and going directly to the source for diagnostic tests. Storefront testing centers are popping up to provide screenings for STDs, cholesterol levels, wellness panels, and more. Any Lab Test Now operates 95 centers that offer 1,500 different tests and plans to open 200 more franchises in 2010. Most patients pay for the tests out of pocket.

A Texas woman sues Maybelline, L’Oreal, and Walgreen’s after their line of lip gloss caused her to go to have a severe allergic reaction and go into anaphylactic shock. The woman’s attorney claims that the defendants failed to identify the ingredients used to manufacture the products, which violated governmental guidelines applicable to the sale of “cosmetic devices.”

I’m glad to report I am back to civilization after a week in the backwoods. And excited to have a reunion with my combed Egyptian cotton sheets.


New Year’s Wishes Here

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