Category Archives: EMRs

Better Medicine thru Better Medical Histories

“When you live with a life-altering health condition – like an autoimmune disease, chronic illness or developmental disorder – there are bad days and good days without hows or whys. Maybe there’s a pattern to what hurts and what helps, but you haven’t found it.   Yet.

Betterpath is a free service that combines what’s happened in your medical history with what’s happening in your life, so you can find connections between what you do and how you feel.”

BETTERPATH.COM

APRIL 17, 2015

“OUR PAST AND PRESENT [PATIENT] DATA IS A FOUNDATION FOR BETTER [MEDICAL] CARE IN THE FUTURE.” 

BETTERPATH.COM

          The information required by the phrase, “medical history,” is inherent to the various “forms” which must be completed in order to be treated by healthcare professionals in medical practices and hospitals. Yet, even chronic patients typically have very little meaningful recall of the logistical and medical specifics pertaining to fairly recent, but significant, medical or surgical events which occurred in their lives.  Common rhetorical questions uttered by these patients when trying to reconstruct their medical histories include:  “What was the name of that growth taken out of my colon a couple of years ago?”  “Where’d I put the pathology report?” “What was the doctor’s name?” “I remember they put me on a very strong antibiotic after the procedure and I had a bizarre reaction to it, what was the name of that drug?” “When was my last colonoscopy?”

           Additionally, when annual or new physician “forms” require disease-specific information regarding medical histories of our siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., we find ourselves in physician waiting rooms actually saying out loud to our wives, husbands, mothers, or to whomever else accompanied us to the physician’s office: “Honey, does anyone on your side of the family have heart, lung, gastrointestinal or psychological problems?” But then we realize our trusted companions are not exactly using scientific techniques to “access” this information so, we guess; and we try to remember if our long-deceased, and sorely missed, heavy-set uncle talked more about his heart or his lung problems, when he regularly took us kids to Yankee games and made us swear we wouldn’t tell our aunts how many jumbo hot dogs he ate at the ballgame.  Equally worrisome is how “accepting” many medical facilities have become of such inexact determinations of family medical histories when science has proven how valuable this information can be as predictive evidence of serious, and even life-threatening, medical conditions which can possibly be prevented or mitigated with the appropriate medical surveillance methods, diets and exercises.

           At one time or another, especially if we have chronic, autoimmune illnesses like Crohn’s Disease, which cause hospitalizations, surgeries, and require interactions with numerous non-gastrointestinal medical specialists to treat its peripheral manifestations, we all ask ourselves questions like these and wind up being content with “trusting the healthcare system,” especially since the recent federal mandate of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and propagation of “digital” record-keeping, but hospitals and medical practices are not designed to keep chronological and comprehensive files of our respective medical histories. It is simply too much to ask of an industry replete with inefficient and bureaucratic business systems. Moreover, at some point, accountability for one’s health becomes a personal responsibility and that begins with maintaining one’s own medical history and becoming “the expert in you.”

“BE THE EXPERT IN YOU”

BETTERPATH.COM

          Becoming the medical “expert in you” seems to be an easy chore for a normal healperson but it can be overwhelming for chronic patients like me because thirty (30) years of Severe Crohn’s Disease has resulted in approximately two-hundred (200) hospitalizations, twenty-five (25) major surgeries and running the gamut through all Crohn’s Disease medications, from the comparatively benign “Azulfidine,” to the potent capabilities of “biologics” such as “Remicade,” “Humira” and “Cimzia.”  If I’m not busy dealing with the disabling gastrointestinal effects of Crohn’s Disease, I might also have to contend with the consequences of its peripheral manifestations such as two (2) cataract surgeries, chronic dental complications, annual bouts with “sacroiliitis,” iron deficiencies, pain management and many other painful and systemic “inflammatory-based” medical woes.

            As I’ve gotten older, I’ve also learned the “price to pay” for years of treating Crohn’s Disease “symptoms” with steroids and the aforementioned biologics (as opposed to focusing treatments on its “cause,” which has not yet been specifically defined) and for me that has included very serious medical problems ranging from a Left Hip Replacement (with a Right Hip Replacement likely necessary way too soon) to an inflammation-based lung condition which caused such severe shortness of breath that only T-cell-based chemotherapy was successful in restoring my ability to breathe normally, and, in one (1) extreme flare-up, save my life.  This lung condition has become chronic, but thus far manageable, and surgical lung biopsies have revealed necrotic tissue; samples of which have never been seen before by the top pathologists in the United States.

         Mine is likely more of an extreme case but I’ve also been somewhat lucky in that I have not been affected by the more typical day-to-day, prolonged but less talked about complications of Severe Crohn’s Disease (and side effects to its medications) such as fistulas, abscesses and pancreatitis, each of which can cause even more frequent and more frustrating hospitalizations than I have experienced. Still, becoming “the medical expert in me” was never easy as it first felt like an extension of the disease so I tried to ignore it in my defiant youth and then when I matured and “accepted” my fate and tried to better understand my particular “brand” of Crohn’s Disease, it was overwhelming especially when some of my experiences were unprecedented, at least prior to the proliferation of health care social media, when strange reactions to IBD medications or bizarre Crohn’s Disease manifestations and compilations became topics bandied about in various Tweetchats.

    More serious from a medical records perspective, however, are the informational gaps typically present in the patient histories caused by chronic diseases like Crohn’s Disease which greatly affect young adults who are normally not yet established in a particular community due to their understandable aspirations to go to the most appropriate graduate school, no matter where it is located, and/or to pursue professional career opportunities for which they are trained, also often requiring relocation to a different state, wherever, and whenever such opportunities exist.  Keeping track of all the different doctors, hospitals and medical tests along the way becomes secondary to enjoying the healthy times and such a painstaking record-keeping routine can also be psychologically stinging and the result is incomplete patient histories for a subset of patients who arguably need them the most.

         That’s exactly what happened to me as the aforementioned hospitalizations, surgeries and medical mishaps have occurred while I was living in New York, New Jersey, Boston, MA, Austin, TX and Los Angeles, CA. As is also the case with most other Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients, the unpredictability of Crohn’s Disease and the medical mayhem it has wreaked in my life also interrupted business trips and planned vacations necessitating the creation of some type of hospital, clinic or medical practice “patient record” in places such as Portland, OR, Dothan, AL, Amarillo, TX, South Lake Tahoe, NV, Reno, NV and in many other places, both foreign and domestic.   

“BETTER CARE STARTS WITH BETTER INFORMATION. THAT’S WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE YOUR HEALTH RECORDS ON HAND.”

BETTERPATH.COM

      Please understand I’m sharing an overview of my medical history to demonstrate the voluminous amount of documentation required to become “the medical expert in you.”  As I’ve always believed the aggregation of individual patient data represents the “missing link” medical researchers need to finally develop safer and more efficacious treatments which attack the CAUSE of Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis and not its SYMPTOMS, I began more seriously “becoming the medical expert in me” in 2005 just prior to relocating to Los Angeles, California, for a new job.  This “major life event” triggered a brief but profound reflective period in my life and it began to bother me that pieces of my small bowel could be anatomy prank fodder for some wise-ass (e.g., my much smarter doppelganger) in a medical school somewhere or just lying in the freezer in any one of many different hospitals around the country.   I also didn’t have the Operative or Pathology Reports of my numerous Crohn’s Disease surgeries, which at that point in time had left me with approximately six (6) feet of my small bowel (by way of reference, a healthy adult has approximately twenty-one [21] feet of small bowel) so I wasn’t exactly “playing with the house’s money” and that made me feel irresponsible and excessively exposed.

     The great singer, songwriter, performer and writer, Jimmy Buffet once wrote:  **Scars are just permanent reminders of temporary feelings.”  This is relevant here because by moving to California at that time in my life to pursue a professional endeavor, I had created a situation in which I had possibly made myself much more medically vulnerable than was necessary.  More specifically, the only way I could reliably stave off additional intestinal surgery in an emergency situation to an “LA surgeon” (assuming it was not Mr. Jimmy Buffet) who knew nothing about ME, other than his or her stark first impression after seeing my zipper-like abdominal scar and surmising I likely had an aggressive case of “obstructional” Crohn’s Disease which was now about to be bi-coastal, I had to demonstrate “the medical expert in me” and quickly communicate Mr. Buffet’s sage observation to buy myself a few days of conservative treatment. Displaying that empowered patient “persona” would only be effective if I traveled with some type of “official-looking” chronological listing of all my surgeries or I possessed a detailed note from my lifelong gastroenterologist which conveyed the nuances of my disease.

        Despite my pronounced scar, such precise paperwork would give me that rare second chance at a first impression with the LA surgeon. In fact, I was an engaged patient and “on top” of my disease (sort of, as you will read below) because knowledge really is power when dealing with an illness as mercurial as Crohn’s Disease.  Mr. Buffet’s line only goes so far in spite of its dead-on portrayal of a patient with a pretty damn positive attitude.  Accordingly, I had performed some research on the Internet prior to making the cross-country sojourn to my new apartment in Santa Monica, California and then mailed out signed Authorizations to several hospitals and medical practices in at least seven (7) different states and crossed my fingers hoping the names of hospitals hadn’t changed and any applicable medical records retention laws were properly followed and /or certain facilities planned on keeping all medical records forever.

“HAVING COPIES OF YOUR MEDICAL RECORDS IS GOOD. UNDERSTANDING WHAT’S IN THEM IS BETTER.”

BETTERPATH.COM

       A few weeks later, just prior to “leaving town” [ok, it was New Jersey, but you’d never see that reference in an Eagles’ song], I began to accumulate huge stacks of medical records which needed to be scanned into my computer; my plan all along.  That’s when I “hit the wall” and “punted” because I simply did not have the time to carefully and methodically carry out my plan.  But before the ball was snapped, I made sure I devised organized piles of the medical records and securely stored them in an easily accessible place (i.e., my basement) in case I needed them in the future. I did, however, familiarize myself with the present state of my gastrointestinal system after so many surgeries so that I could converse intelligently about it with my new gastroenterologist in California. Although I do still try to obtain all of my medical, surgical, laboratory and pathology reports and then scan them into my computer (this includes simple blood tests, the precise pharmaceutical makeup of my chemotherapy, radiology reports, etc.), I have no idea what they all mean but at least I feel as if I can readily participate in helping medical researchers find safer and more efficacious Crohn’s Disease treatments, when I am summoned to do so.

“BUILDING A BETTER HEALTH STORY.”

BETTERPATH.COM

          When I returned to New Jersey in 2010 [Don Henley I was not, but “Mighty” Max Weinberg, perhaps, as I was very friendly with his wonderful mom, Ruth, and somehow  it seemed more realistic], I knew much had changed in the past 5-7 years regarding incremental advancements in healthcare technology and in the development of precise healthcare data analytics, but I was still waiting for the smart entrepreneurs and technologists to focus their formidable talents on the enormous amount of opportunities which lie in fixing the grossly inefficient healthcare industry, including what I like to refer to as “the crowdsourcing of patient data” for the purposes of developing safer and more effective treatments, or even cures, to diseases which were once thought to pose forever unanswerable questions. But I think I only truly realized the new “digital” healthcare possibilities after receiving the honor of recently being appointed by the US Department of Defense (DOD) to be a “Consumer Reviewer” in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP), Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program (PRMRP).  As a consumer reviewer, I was a full voting member, along with prominent scientists, at rather intensely focused meetings in Washington, D.C. to help determine how the $200M for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) will be spent for the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program and its twenty-five (25) topic (i.e., disease) areas of research.

         The knowledge I gained about the overall United States medical research process was invaluable and that was just from listening to the country’s brightest scientists “talk shop” during our lunch and dinner sessions. Just like these scientists were fascinated by the few participating patient “consumer reviewers” who added “seasoning” to the festivities with their “tales of reality” about living with a particular disease compared to the otherwise bland boring research proposals, I could tell how much more prolific these scientists could be if the patient data they routinely reviewed instead told a “story” of that patient’s daily heroic battle with an often disabling disease.  Logically, it seemed as if these scientists were “close” to discovering more efficient, effective and precise treatments for each of the twenty-five (25) diseases such that all they needed to break the next barrier was large numbers of some type of standardized patient histories from which to analyze commonalities and other comparative algorithmic results.  But scientifically, the frustration of the elusiveness of this type of consistent patient history was palpable in my conference room. These men and women were DRIVEN and “obstacles” were looked upon more as “challenges.”  I left Washington, D.C. absolutely inspired about the medical breakthroughs sure to result from many of the brilliant, dedicated scientists I was privileged to meet as a DOD CDMRP PRMRP consumer reviewer.

“BETTER TREATMENT STARTS WITH BETTER DATA.”

BETTERPATH.COM

          Then, a few months later, I received an unsolicited email through LinkedIn from Alexandra Sinderbrand, the Engagement Ambassador from a company called “Betterpath.”  Alexandra had reached out to me based on my active presence in the various Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis health care social media platforms.  She also knew I founded and operated a patient-support charity called the “Crohn’s Disease Warrior Patrol” [the “CDWP“] which was predicated on the simple premise: Patients helping other IBD patients, can be the best medicine.”  Her email indicated she had Crohn’s Disease and her experiences with the disease made a huge impact upon her dad, Gary Sinderbrand, such that he started Betterpath to generate better data that actually improves treatment outcomes and to empower people with their own information so they can manage their own care.  I thought those were incredibly sound and forward-thinking reasons to start a company and if proven possible, I wanted to learn more.

         I am also of the belief that the conventional treatments for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis are relatively archaic and seemingly frozen in methods and technologies from the past as many IBD doctors still seem to play “not to lose” when I think it is fair to say that many current patients wish they were more positive and “played to win.” I recognized that optimistic approach in Alexandra’s description of Betterpath.  I had become familiar with it when I met the highly motivated scientists in Washington, D.C., as each scientist ultimately demonstrated an understanding of the impending possible achievements of the application of technology to medicine.  Betterpath seemed predicated on that same logical and inevitable “positivity” of mixing technology with medicine and it was much welcomed news.  She also emphasized how Betterpath focused on better treatments through better data which started with understandable patient histories which told the patient’s “story” instead of merely listing his or her vital statistics.  Given the seemingly individualized manner in which IBD affects different patients, I couldn’t agree more with everything she wrote and our email exchange soon turned into a long phone call.

“WE FIND THE FACTS THAT MATTER, AND SUMMARIZE WHAT’S HAPPENED.”

BETTERPATH.COM

          As they say, she had me at “Hello” because what she was saying helped me understand the value of the stacks of medical records “securely” piled up in my basement.  Through Betterpath, it is now possible for me to “own” those “stacks” of medical records and to quickly and comprehensively understand my medical history and for my doctor to easily understand the Crohn’s Disease “story” actually told by those stacks of records.  Betterpath makes medical histories “come to life” by way of a “better [digital] health story” which any doctor could easily understand.  It seemed so fresh of a take on the value and precision-potential of patient data, I think even Jimmy Buffet would approve.   I became further convinced of this after watching the three (3)-minute video below from Betterpath, featuring Alexandra Sinderbrand explaining how Betterpath obtains, secures and analyzes patient medical histories.  In the video, Alexandra uses her own medical history to illustrate the capabilities of Betterpath, some of which are still in beta phase.

 

 THE PATIENT PERSPECTIVE:

BETTERPATH “PATIENT SUMMARIES”

SIGN UP AT NOW AT BETTERPATH.COM

         When I explained the innovative service which Betterpath currently provides to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) patients to my longtime New York City gastroenterologist, Dr. Mark L. Chapman, who is 1 of only 3 or 4 gastroenterologists still practicing who were trained by Dr. Burrill Bernard Crohn (the first doctor to identify Crohn’s Disease in 1932), he said something to the effect of: “Michael, if they can organize your 30 years of medical records into a comprehensive and easily understood digital file by which an experienced gastroenterologist reviewing that file could quickly be brought up-to-speed on YOUR case, THAT would be very impressive.”  THAT, seems to be exactly what they are doing. I have been so impressed with the process and “product” thus far that I am recommending it to all of the Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis patients who’ve been members of the “Crohn’s Disease Warrior Patrol.” The CDWP is also working with Betterpath to create a “Summer Meetup” in New York City on a date, and at a venue, soon to be announced so that IBD and IBS patients in this area of the United States could ask questions of the Betterpath Team and review MY Patient Summary, even if only for entertainment purposes. :)

       Whether you are a member of the CDWP, you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or you have any type of IBD such as Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis or Indeterminate Colitis, I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE YOU TO visit Betterpath.com and sign up to receive your digital Medical History and “Patient Summary.” If you have ANY questions about Betterpath, please contact its “Engagement Ambassador,” Alexandra Sinderbrand. [It is my understanding Betterpath plans to gradually expand its services to OTHER PATIENT SUBSETS but at this early-phase Betterpath is mastering the application of its proprietary technology to IBD and IBS patient histories since it first began analyzing IBD and IBS patient histories because of the aforementioned personal family connection to them.]

IMPORTANT TAKEAWAYS:

  • Betterpath collects your medical records – paper and electronic  – before building your “Patient Summary” – FOR FREE;
  • They “summarize” your medical history with Betterpath proprietary algorithms which convert your patient data into meaningful information conveyed via Betterpath’s “Patient Summaries” which more vividly describe your disease, all the while linking back to sources in your original medical records;
  • They are able to provide this service for FREE to you and your doctor by selling access to de-identified (anonymous) data generated by the medical histories of all the patients who sign up at Betterpath;
  • Betterpath uses state-of-the-art cryptography techniques to protect all patient data such as two (2)-factor authentication and encryption;
  • Betterpath meets or exceeds all applicable standards regarding medical information privacy, as it is classified as a “healthcare clearinghouse” under “The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996” (HIPAA), which establishes national standards for electronic health care transactions and medical information privacy; and
  • If you sign up and later decide to leave Betterpath, you can permanently delete your personal information from their system, at any time, for any reason.  You can also download your medical records and “Patient Summary” before your delete your account.

**A Pirate Looks at Fifty,” by Jimmy Buffett.  [GREAT BOOK]

 

Please share your thoughts and comments about Betterpath and its innovative objective to collect, securely store and analyze your medical records for the betterment of patient care.

Please share your thoughts and comments about Betterpath and its innovative objective to collect, securely store and analyze your medical records for the betterment of patient care.

From Managed Care to ObamaCare to “Smartphone Medicine”

Healthcare Hashtags & Social Media Analytics

Healthcare Hashtags & Social Media Analytics

After suffering through Managed Care and now living through remedial intended ObamaCare, the United States has entered the first truly exciting times of global healthcare.  The innovative spirit prevalent in the United States is due to the convergence of eHealth and mobile health, the emergence of healthcare entrepreneurs combined with the proliferation of global health care social media platforms such that technology has democratized the practice of medicine for healthcare professionals, patients, institutions, pharmaceutical companies and health insurers.  Given the role of the Smartphone in this transformation, I think it is apropos to refer to this pioneering period of healthcare as “Smartphone Medicine.”    

Managed Care

Pardon my candor but Managed Care sucked.  It sucked for patients, doctors and hospitals.  Other than that, it worked just fine.  More seriously, if you did not obtain the appropriate “referral” prior to seeing a specialist (even in an emergency), the cost of seeing that specialist was either not covered by the health insurer or it was reimbursed at a significant lower amount than the actual charges you had to pay.  There were also pre-defined “in-network” physicians and a formulary of drugs, and with few exceptions, your medical universe was defined by various managed care contracts, the negotiation of each you did not participate in.   If you had surgery, it was common for your managed care insurer to have “in-network” contracts with some, but not all, of the anesthesiologists working at that hospital.  However, you had no control over which anesthesiologist treated you. Therefore, the actual cost of your surgery wasn’t determined until the medical bills started piling up in your mailbox. If you tried to politely request a specific anesthesiologist within your managed care health insurance network to somewhat control the cost of your surgery, you were taken as seriously as Kim Kardashian showcasing her acting chops on “The Kardashians” as her audition tape for a new Martin Scorsese Oscar buzz-worthy movie.

If you had a long-standing relationship with your primary care provider, there was no guarantee you’d be able to continue that relationship.  It all depended upon whether or not he or she “participated” in your insurance plan and was considered an “in-network” physician.  Some devious physician staffers would address such telephone queries with the vague declaration that their physician “participated” in your plan but they passively omitted the detail that he or she participated in your plan as an “out-of-network” physician!

Then there were similar passive “omission deceptions” on your health insurer’s website such that you’d be confident the post-operative occupational therapist you chose from your insurer’s website was “in-network” only to find out later her contract had expired and your insurer had not yet updated its website when you made your selection.  Despite this material error by your health insurer, you were nevertheless liable for the total cost of the occupational therapy, as if you purposely chosen someone “out-of-network” due to their unique high level of expertise, and were willing to pay extra for that added benefit.

The physician “con job” referred to above stung me only once when I had a very expensive Crohn’s Disease surgery based on that deceptive representation.  It wasn’t until I formally alleged “Criminal Fraud” in one of the MANY appeals I had to pursue seeking 100% reimbursement of the cost of the surgery (i.e., as if the doctor was, in fact, “in-network” with my health insurer) when I finally prevailed and exposed this misleading representation.  But many smart patients were directly or indirectly taken advantage of by money-hungry or irresponsible doctor offices and health insurers who banked on the arduous hassles of the appeals process being too steep a barrier for the patient to initiate, and keep pursuing, a meaningful appeal seeking reimbursement based on fraudulent representations.

There were also financial limits on how sick you could be, as if knowing these actuarial generated projected financials would impact your decision to, for example, undergo chemotherapy, when it was recommended by your doctors as the only way to save your life, and by doing so you would surpass your lifetime allocation of financial health benefits and be liable for the balance.  Finally, if you had a chronic illness prior to obtaining your managed care health insurance plan, it was probable that any charges accrued in treating that “pre-existing condition” would be excluded from your health insurance coverage.  Since the increasing costs of managing that pre-existing condition was likely the primary reason you sought health insurance, the fine print of many managed care health insurance plans made as much sense as selling Sexual Harassment Insurance to radio personality Howard Stern’s female sidekick, Robin Quivers.

ObamaCare

ObamaCare, a/k/a, The Affordable Care Act (the “Act”), identified the aforementioned Managed Care issues and sought to improve upon them so that more people could obtain more reasonable health insurance coverage at a more affordable price.  ObamaCare also sought to correct the gross inefficiencies present in American healthcare as a result of a Managed Care system which was largely unaccountable to any laws or governmental agency.  The Act utilizes market forces to stabilize the cost of health insurance policies and mandates that all health insurance plans include reasonable wellness provisions.  Finally, as a self-policing measure, ObamaCare created “Accountable Care Organizations” (“ACOs”) to ensure that larger medical practices and institutions routinely examined their costs and expenditures in a practical attempt to eventually reduce the aforementioned gross inefficiencies prevalent throughout the American healthcare system.

The Act seems to be making a substantial improvement in restructuring and regulating what was one of America’s fastest growing but difficult industries in terms of tracking and appeasing its diverse stakeholders.  However, there are political influences which prevent ObamaCare from being universally implemented and that likely affects its projected initial performance.  This largely remedial Initiative was also hampered by a slow and glitch-filled roll-out which has affected its acceptance by Americans as “the law of the land” and, instead, in some parts of the United States it is viewed by many as a law in effect because of the current political party running the country.  That said, even the most skeptical of patients and doctors would have to agree that ObamaCare is better than Managed Care and it has at least identified American Healthcare as a viable and potentially profitable industry.

Practical changes, as opposed to political “considerations,” must be made to the Act, however, to refine it, just like with any other remedial official government measure.  But at least ObamaCare is a start in the right direction and it also has the good fortune of being implemented at the same time technology and electronic medical records have improved convenience and enhanced quality of healthcare experiences and opportunities.  These experiences and opportunities have attracted healthcare and technology entrepreneurs who have combined their efforts to, in essence, create “American Healthcare 2.0” which includes innovative electronic (“eHealth”) and mobile health (“mHealth”) products and services.

Smartphone Medicine

The aforementioned eHealth and mHealth opportunities seem to be driven by the technology enhanced Smartphone because it has become the tool which has democratized the practice of medicine to the point where the doctor-patient relationship is now one of collaboration and mutual respect.  The proliferation of different global health care social media platforms has created empowered patients who conceivable use their Smartphones more to engage in healthcare Tweetchats than in telephone conversations.  Furthermore, there has been an explosion in the number of useful and generally accepted “Medical Apps” available on the different Smartphone operating systems like the Hospital Patient Picture-Sharing Medical “App,” “HospitalPIX,” which was developed by Dr. Jacques Durand (pictured below) [you can click thru the picture and watch my interview with Dr. Durand from this year’s “Doctors 2.0 & You” in Paris, France].

HospitalPIX Medical Smartphone App

Additionally, bold and innovative initiatives like “The Healthcare Hashtag Project,” by the company Symplur  [you can click thru the picture above, before the first paragraph and watch my interview with Thomas Lee of Symplur from this year’s “Doctors 2.0 & You” in Paris, France], have transformed the Twitter experience when it is used for healthcare purposes so that it’s more accessible and more time efficient for healthcare providers and for the healthcare community as a whole.  Since people tend to use their Smartphone to tweet and use Twitter, this is another example of Smartphone Medicine.

Smartphone Medicine enhances the Lifestyle of the Chronically Ill

For a chronic patient like me with the autoimmune illness Crohn’s Disease, using my Smartphone in conjunction with hashtags creates a global support team to whom I can turn with questions about new treatments for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (“IBD”), side effects of new drugs, recommended doctors for a specific procedure, a list of hospitals with IBD Centers and recommended IBD specialists in an area of the world where I might be vacationing, etc.  Moreover, I can load my Smartphone with all of my electronic medical records along with years of blood test results, Operative Reports from my 25+ surgeries and a list of the drugs I am currently taking.  I can also always use my Smartphone to contact my doctors whose information is always only a few strokes away.

The Power of the Hashtag in Smartphone Medicine

In terms of the use of hashtags on Twitter, according to Symplur: “By lowering the learning curve of Twitter with a database of relevant [healthcare] hashtags to follow, we hope to help new and existing users alike to find the [medical] conversations that are of interest and importance.”  Accordingly, whether directly or indirectly as a result of Symplur’s extraordinary success simplifying Smartphone Medicine through the use of hashtags, the hashtag is now routinely used in powerful global social media platforms such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter and Instagram.

Conclusion:

Because of Smartphone Medicine, the Prognosis for Global Healthcare has never been more Promising

The bottom line is that the convenience of Smartphone Medicine is liberating for patients who suffer from chronic, serious or autoimmune conditions which would otherwise require substantial record-keeping in different locations. Thanks to the efforts of companies like Symplur, the hashtag simultaneously encourages the use of global connections and conversations while also arranging them so they are directly on-point and easy to access.  Smartphone Medicine appeals to healthcare professionals because it is innovative, efficient and makes for better educated professionals who then can service their patients to the best of their abilities.  It has certainly been a long, strange trip from Managed Care to ObamaCare to Smartphone Medicine, but isn’t it always about the journey and not the destination?  In that regard, we don’t know what will come next but at least we do know that the prognosis for global healthcare has never been more promising.

Smartphone Medicine

Smartphone Medicine

Doctors passing onto Patients the cost of adopting EHR systems

 

For so many years, the business of healthcare was managed pursuant to the handwritten notes of medical professionals.  However, the advent of technology and recent legislation has made the adoption of “Electronic Health Records” or “EHRs” mandatory.  It is my contention that medical practices adopting EHR programs are simply a “cost of doing business.”  So, why are some Doctors sending out letters to their patients asking them to choose an EHR “plan” and pay accordingly?  Also, is it fair for Doctors to pass on the cost of adopting Electronic Health Records to their patients when all they are really doing is bringing their medical practices into the 21st Century Age of Technology?  This 2-3-minute Video examines these questions from my personal Patient experience.

“The Medical Minute” (“TMM”) is a Continuing Series of Short Videos produced by veteran Crohn’s Disease Patient, Michael A. Weiss, which highlight informative aspects of chronic illness, healthcare and healthcare reform.  Mr. Weiss’ TMM Videos can also be found on the following YouTube Channels:  The Medical Minute, Health Care Reality and Pro Patient TV.

REAL Healthcare Reform = ObamaCare + eHealth + mHealth

ObamaCare is looked upon both positively and negatively as the end-all / be-all of Health Care Reform in the United States.  It is politically charged and subject to nationwide debate and likely repeated judicial challenge.  However, it need not be so divisive as it seems to have actually inspired and triggered other significant Healthcare reforms and Healthcare entrepreneurial advancements via legitimate Free Market Solutions, namely, “eHealth” [Electronic Health] and “mHealth” [Mobile Health].  This 4-Minute Video explains this interesting and ongoing technological development in Healthcare Reform.

 This is part of my “Two Minute Drill” Series of Healthcare Videos.  The phrase is taken from the NFL, i.e., United States Professional Football, and refers to that intense time of the last 2 minutes of the end of the 1st Half, or of the Game, when teams use a no-nonsense carefully timed 2-Minute Drill to most efficiently move down the field to score points.  With Television Commercials, the 2-Minute Drill often takes 10-15 minutes of “Real Time” and thankfully that affords me the ability to still use the phrase when my succinct Videos are sometimes 4 to 5 Minutes in length.  I hope you enjoy the Healthcare Content and that it provides you with mental stimulation and creative inspiration.

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Healthcare Reform = Combination of ObamaCare, eHealth and mHealth

ObamaCare is looked upon both positively and negatively as the end-all / be-all of Health Care Reform in the United States.  It is politically charged and subject to nationwide debate and likely repeated judicial challenge.  However, it need not be divisive as it seems to have actually inspired and triggered other significant Healthcare reforms and Healthcare entrepreneurial advancements via legitimate Free Market Solutions, namely, “eHealth” [Electronic Health] and “mHealth” [Mobile Health].  This Video explains this interesting and ongoing technological development in Healthcare Reform.

This is part of my “Two Minute Drill” Series of Healthcare Videos.  The phrase is taken from the NFL, i.e., US Professional Football, and refers to that intense time of the last 2 minutes of the end of the 1st Half, or of the Game, when teams use a no-nonsense carefully timed 2-Minute Drill to most efficiently move down the field to score points.  With Television Commercials, the 2-Minute Drill is often takes 10-15 minutes of “Real Time” and that affords me the ability to still use the phrase when my succinct Videos are sometimes 4 to 9 Minutes in length.  I hope you enjoy the Healthcare Content and that it provides you with mental stimulation and creative inspiration.

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WegoHealth.com asked: “What does ‘Health Technology’ mean to Me?”

This Picture was originally Published on the following Blog:  http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2009/06/government-healthcare-review-reprint

Kudos to the Folks at WegoHealth.com for asking the Right Question at the Right Time.

First off, I think this is an incredibly TIMELY “Topic” and excellent Discussion Starter because I find that too many people and diverse groupings of Medical Professionals are trying to quickly figure out “Health Care Social Media” (“HCSM”) simply to monetize it and capitalize on what they think are its capabilities.  IMHO they are making the same mistakes made by the music industry when the Internet first made Digital Music so easy and enticing to download.  In hindsight, a “Wait and See” attitude would have been more prudent and served those music executives and litigious artists much better in the long run as the “newness” of instant digital 24/7 access initially made for a hot consumer commodity but soon wore off. Nevertheless, more open and technologically-savvy minds than the groovy cats  in the music industry, who incidentally made more money than they should have off of the creative work of others without taking anywhere near the career risks, grew the new medium availability of music into a viable business model.   This new iTunes-dominated business also changed Buying Behaviors and Consumer Consumption of Music.  “Collaboration” for maximum benefit to all interested parties (i.e., Fans, Bands, Writers, Music Publishers, Record Companies, Apple, iTunes, etc.) seems to have been the Lesson and still  drives the end-game even if the per-song percentage payout is less than that previously generated by retail.  But adapting to, and THEN learning how to utilize, new technology are keys to survival and profitability.  That Lesson needs to be carefully  monitored with respect to HCSM, especially at this point in time when it seems to be  purely a Patient-Driven medium.  Therefore, while the end-game for HCSM and its capabilities is not yet defined, I think the more productive conversation is about “Health Technology” since THAT is what we are really talking about.  What is it?  How can we use it?  Is it different for Patients and Medical Professionals?  Is HCSM the industry of “Health Technology” or just an Application of it?

Accordingly, when posed with the question, “What do the words Health Technology mean to Me?” I instantly make a Separation between Health Technology for Patients and Health Technology for Medical Professionals.

As somewhat of a “Professional Patient” having battled Crohn’s Disease for the past 25 years with 200 hospitalizations under my belt, I first think of Health Care Social Media and the various Patient Technology Tools that are derived from “Health Technology.”   That said, however, I think the medium of HCSM will evolve into “THE” Game-Changer of Health Technology by bringing “Efficiencies” back to both the business of Health-care and to the Practice of Medicine.  The almost instantaneous database-like availability of Patient information and experiences created through HCSM allows Patients around the Globe to access what they need, when they need it, directly from other Patients in similar circumstances.  Thus, HCSM could become a Behavior-Changing medium much the same way the creation of Amazon.com changed the way we purchase Books after first reading about them in The Sunday New York Times.

In the “old days,” we’d jot down the Book Title and eventually make it to the Bookstore to purchase the book but now we spark up the Computer and with just a few clicks the book is on its way to our homes.  Audio-books have even improved upon that “Purchasing Experience Efficiency.” This type of impact would be extraordinary with HCSM and I think it is entirely possible since no one but Patients can participate in HCSM in any meaningful way for fear of Ethical, Legal and Licensure Constraints no matter how well-intended they are or how up-to-date their respective Professional Licensing Boards are with respect to the possible perils of Social Media and Health Technology.  HCSM, and some aspects of Patient-driven Health Technology “Patient Tools,” are simply moving too fast for Medical Professionals to be adequately protected from the perils of a Global Patient Population seeking medical advice 24/7.  So, if Patients take their HCSM  “Credibility” responsibilities seriously, Health Technology will have created an Amazon.com-like Clearing House of Information and Experiences which Patients can utilize to more efficiently manage their Health-care issues which in turn will assist Physicians and Hospitals in treating a much better informed and prepared Patient Population.

By way of example, I use “Health Technology” every day when I Tweet about HCSM, or seek input about the side effects I am having to Crohn’s Disease medications or ask for  recommendations about Doctors.  This use of Health Technology often leads me to Niche Health-care Facebook Pages where I learn even more detailed information.   As a Patient, I also “Subscribe” to Disease-specific email Yahoo or Google Groups which bring individual Patient stories and queries to my email in-box every day.  I try to participate in the dialogue so that I don’t “take” more than I “receive.”   I also do this with Medical “Key-Word” searches on Yahoo and Google so that at the end of each day I am up-to-speed on the latest research on Crohn’s Disease.  I also Subscribe to several Medical Podcasts and even Host my own which focuses on Living with Chronic Illness.  This helps me stay current with the latest issues I may be faced with either regarding my illness or regarding Health-care in general.  I also participate in a variety of “Tweet Chats” which are medical-related and usually comprised of such a diversified audience of folks involved with Health-care that I come away ALWAYS learning something new or at least made aware of a different perspective.  It is also fascinating to converse with people in Australia, for example, about how Health-care is faring in their country.   I also read certain Blogs and maintain one myself (Voila!) and this gives me the opportunity to share with others what I’ve learned from the above and/or it offers me the chance to share information and experience that might help others.

When I think about “Health Technology” from a Medical Professional’s point of view, I think about an exchange I had last evening with a Physician who wondered how Patients can get the best Health-care without having a Smart-phone!!  Perhaps I am narrowing the point she was making but I am trying to illustrate that we are talking about Two Completely Different Worlds when we try to explain “Health Technology” and what it means to Patients as opposed to its purpose in the day-to-day lives of Doctors, Nurses, Technicians, Medical School Professors/Students, etc.  I happen to think that is a GOOD THING because HCSM seems to be a Patient-Driven Medium whereas the Mobile Phone (and many other Technology Gadgets) seem to be efficient and effective Health Technology Tools for Physicians and Hospitals.  I do think a Smart-phone can be a GREAT aid to Physicians who are always pressed for time and thus anything which provides them with more clarity is betterment to Health-care and that is good for Patients.  Electronic Medical Records (“EMRs”) also come to mind in this side of the “Health Technology” discussion as it is an Eventuality because we must break away from the Inefficiencies seemingly favored by behemoth Health Insurance Companies and other Payors who utilize Oil Cartel-like business practices hoping that Health-care is never made Efficient such that it becomes more affordable, more effective and therefore more accessible to more people.  There is much debate about the adoption of EMRs and at this point in time I think ANY argument against them is ridiculous because if we are routinely doing Banking on the Web, and with no problems, then there is no longer a viable excuse not to use EMRs.

Other than that, I think of “Health Technology” for Medical Professionals as any Gadget or Tool which enables them to Diagnose/Treat faster and more accurately and which generally enables them to do their jobs in the most safe, effective and efficient manner.