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Visit Digital Health Space to learn more about health information technology, EHRs, HIX, new IT infrastructure that will empower you to communicate with other providers and patients Learn about advances in Telehealth, Remote Monitoring and the changes social media is bringing to health care comunication.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In transition

Todd Park, the former CTO in the Obama administration has been replaced by Megan Smith, following his resignation several months ago.  Todd, during the rapid growth of HIT including Health Information Exchanges, and in conjunction with the Office of the National Coordinator of HIT (ONCHIT) was responsible for the successful role out of Health Information Exchanges, and later with the challenge of implementing .

Megan Smith Named CTO of the United States!

Today +Megan Smith (formerly VP at Google[x]) joins President +Barack Obama as the Chief Technology Officer of the United States of America. Megan co-founded Women Techmakers in 2012 with +Stephanie Liu, and seeing the potential for building on the movement to empower women in technology, Megan and I created my current role as Google's Women in Technology Advocate. Megan has been an advisor to Women Techmakers despite her busy schedule advocating for women and children globally, and I'm honored to have worked side-by-side with her to enact change. I'm proud of my friend and mentor, and look forward to seeing the impact she'll make in her new role.

More from +Barack Obama and the White House blog

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Covered California Executive Director Gets $52K Bonus for Role in Exchange Launch


Covered California has announced it will give Executive Director Peter Lee a one-time,  $52,528 bonus related to the launch of the state's health insurance exchange. Anne Gonzales, a spokesperson for the exchange, said that an estimated 1.2 million state residents enrolled in coverage through the exchange during its first open enrollment period.


$52,528 for his role in launching the Golden State's exchange? That's tax payer money, folks, and, you know what, I would have thought that the roll-out of the exchange would be part of the job description of the director, and his annual salary would cover that. Furthermore, the roll-out wasn't without its problems, though not as bad as the federal exchange. Just imagine, if it had been that bad, Mr. Lee might have had to be content with just his meager $262,644 pay packet.

You will find additonal information about Covered California 2015 on Digital Health Space today

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Black Box for the Operating Room

Surgical 'black box' could reduce errors According to Dr. Chethan Sathya, Special to CNN ;

Airliners have them, trains have them, and now,even automobiles have them. How many 

times have we heard about the search for the black box?

It may be coming to an operating room near you.

Researchers in Canada have created a surgical "black box" that tracks surgeons' movements during an operation

  So far, Grantcharov's black box has been tested on about 40 patients undergoing laparoscopic weight-loss surgery.  Teodor Grantcharov, a minimally invasive surgeon at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. Unlike the so-called black boxes in aviation, which are used after disasters occur, the surgical black box Grantcharov is creating will be used proactively to prevent major patient complications.

 Inside the operating room, video cameras track every movement. Outside, a small computer-like device analyzes the recordings, identifying when mistakes are made and providing instant feedback to surgeons as they operate.

A work in progress
Grantcharov's black box is a multifaceted system. In addition to the actual box, it includes operating room microphones and cameras that record the surgery, the surgeon's movements and details about team dynamics.
It will allow surgeons to hone in on exactly what went wrong and why.
The black box will eventually assess everything from how surgeons stitch to how delicately they handle organs and communicate with nurses during high-stress situations. Error-analysis software within the black box will help surgeons identify when they are "deviating" from the norm or using techniques linked to higher rates of complications.
So far, Grantcharov's black box has been tested on about 40 patients undergoing laparoscopic weight-loss surgery.
The surgical black box will be tested in hospitals in Canada, Denmark and parts of South America in the next few months. Talks are also under way with a number of American hospitals.
If doctors accept it, implementation in U.S. hospitals could happen quickly since the surgical black box isn't considered a medical device and doesn't require approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
But the litigious medical environment may make its implementation problematic. If the recordings were used in court, they could open the floodgates to a new wave of malpractice concerns, which would be counterproductive to surgeons and patients, Grantcharov says.
"We have to ensure the black box is used as an educational tool to help surgeons evaluate their performance and improve," he says.
Bottom line, Grantcharov says, is that even after years of practicing medicine, the black box "made me a safer surgeon and a better teacher."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hidden Costs of the Affordable Care Act

"The federal government issued sixty contracts from 2009 to 2014 in efforts to build, the federal insurance marketplace. According to a report issued today by the inspector general (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the government had already paid out just under half a billion dollars by February 2014, five months after the beginning of open enrollment. The government is already under obligation for another $300 million, and the estimated value of the sixty contracts totals $1.7 billion. The OIG provided a summary of its findings:
“The 60 contracts related to the development and operation of the Federal Marketplace started between January 2009 and January 2014. The purpose of the 60 contracts ranged from health benefit data collection and consumer research to cloud computing and Web site development. The original estimated values of these contracts totaled $1.7 billion; the contract values ranged from $69,195 to over $200 million. Across the 60 contracts, nearly $800 million has been obligated for the development of the Federal Marketplace as of February 2014. As of that date, CMS had paid nearly $500 million for the development of the Federal Marketplace to the contractors awarded these contracts.”
A few familiar names appear on the list of contracts, such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. Also appearing are CGI Federal, widely blamed for the botched roll out of the site last October, and Accenture Federal Services, which has taken over for CGI in hopes that this year’s open enrollment will go better than 2013.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

An Analysis of the Affordable Care Act Enrollments

Health insurance exchanges in 2015: 

Health Insurance exchanges are very new in to the marketplace. Previous exchanges were largely private and individualized without strict guidelines.  The Affordable  Care Act mandated a total revision and set rigid giuidelines for these exchanges and  great emphasis was placed on the initial enrollment deadline without a mature online registration system.  The rush led to frustration, disappointment, and worse, a total lack of faith and trust in the Affordable Care Act.

How to boost success

We must thank those volunteers who were and still are essential to this process. Many are from non-profit organizations who were not  formerly involved with healthcare.  Our government placed much of the enrollment process on volunteers.

Health Train Express will outline plans to improve enrollment and the functioning of health exchanges

A Webinar sponsored by Enroll America #soe2014 and supported by  

State of Enrollment: Getting America Covered 2014

More than 800 health coverage leaders came together for our State of Enrollment: Getting America Covered conference in June 2014 to share, learn, and plan after the first open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act.
We took a critical look at what worked, what barriers consumers continue to face, and how we could all work together to sustain and build momentum for the ongoing effort to get America covered (click here to download the full conference program).

A compilation of resources for Getting America Covered 2014

Watch the Plenary Webcasts

Click here to watch recordings of the five plenary sessions.

Download Slides from the Workshop Presentations

Volunteers Matter: Building and Sustaining a Volunteer Program

Health Insurance Literacy: Helping Consumers Understand Their Coverage Options As it turned out this was one of the most important issues for a previously uninsured population totally unfamililar with terms and the workings of health insurance coverage 

Evaluate Your Outreach: Efforts to Improve Results

Referral Networks: Essential for Enrollment Success

Using Personal Stories to Motivate Consumers

Phonebank Your Way to Success: Consumers Need to Hear from You Over the Phone

Getting to Yes: Resources, Tips, and Lessons for an Effective Fundraising Pitch

Facilitating Productive Coalition Communication – The North Carolina Model

Outside the Box: Innovative Ways Tax Preparation Can Maximize Enrollment

Equipping Enrollment Assisters to be Successful

Keys to Enrollment: Leading States Speak Out

Effective Outreach and Organizing Strategies in an Open Enrollment Environment

Strategies to Fast-Track Medicaid Enrollment

What Worked and How Do We Know?

The Conference Agenda: (Downloadable pdf)

All or most of these actions took place during the initial enrollment period of  2013-2014. The next open enrollment period will beginning October 2015.

Supported  by   

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Doctors would rather be Penalized than go along with Meaningful Use

 HHS defines Meaningful use              Wikipedia defines Meaningful Use

Meaningful use is a term (MU) coined by CMS and HHS to describe their mandated information system for analysis of electronic health records.   Meaningful use has nothing to do with patient care or the usefulness of electronic health records for care givers. The term is highly misleading, implying something which it is not, nor designed to accomplish. In additon, it's mandated use is required to gain incentive patients for purchasing electronic medical record systemsThe main components of Meaningful Use are:
  • The use of a certified EHR in a meaningful manner, such as e-prescribing.
  • The use of certified EHR technology for electronic exchange of health information to improve quality of health care.
  • The use of certified EHR technology to submit clinical quality ot
In other words, providers need to show they're using certified EHR technology in ways that can be measured significantly in quality and in quantity.[131]
The meaningful use of EHRs intended by the US government incentives is categorized as follows:
  • Improve care coordination
  • Reduce healthcare disparities
  • Engage patients and their families
  • Improve population and public health
  • Ensure adequate privacy and security
The Obama Administration's Health IT program intends to use federal investments to stimulate the market of electronic health records:
  • Incentives: to providers who use IT
  • Strict and open standards: To ensure users and sellers of EHRs work towards the same goal
  • Certification of software: To provide assurance that the EHRs meet basic quality, safety, and efficiency standards
The detailed definition of "meaningful use" is to be rolled out in 3 stages over a period of time until 2017. Details of each stage are hotly debated by various groups.[132
Thousands of eligible providers are working diligently toward EHR incentive payments, but some practices are choosing a different route: abandoning meaningful use altogether in favor of their own solutions, and finding ways to make up for the penalties they’ll incur down the road.
Some 6 percent of physicians, in fact, will be “abandoning meaningful use after meeting it in previous years,” according to the Medscape report on EHR use in 2014. In surveying nearly 20,000 doctors, Medscape found another 16 percent admitting that they would never be attesting to meaningful use in any capacity. 

More about Meaningful Use and why physicians find it counterproductive and a barrier to patient care.
The Barriers to Meaningful Use  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Arguments about Physician Reimbursement

Medpage Today posted an interesting commentary about how Physicians are reimbursed. Their conclusion was that physicians can make more money speaking,and/or consulting for pharmaceutical companies, as well as in executive positions. Why treat patients?

CardioBuzz: Toward the $500 an Hour Physician