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Interview With Ocra Health CEO: The Future Of The Company’s Interactive Health Apps

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Post image for Orca Health crafts new level of sophistication in patient education apps, interview with CEO Matt Berry #mHS11

Orca Health has had quite a year. Launching their first app in in 2010, they now have a suite of ten apps with–we are promised–even more on the way. By combining stellar art work, three-dimensional interactive graphics and high-end native programming for the iPad, they have created and may well be en route to cornering the market for perioperative patient education apps.

Recent milestones for the company include winning the startup competition at Health 2.0 Europe, having two apps, EyeDecide & FootDecide, included in the iTunes App Store’s Apps for Healthcare Professionals. Until recently, Orca Health’s EyeDecide was ranked as the #1 downloaded free medical app on the App Store, and three other other apps (FaceDecide, BreastDecide & ENTDecide) are in the Top 25. To top it off, the iTunes App Store just included EyeDecide among the best the iPad / iPhone apps in its App Store Rewind 2011. It is interesting to think about the different places, and there are many, they could go from here.

Orca Health was among those selected for the StartUp Mobile Health Pavilion at the recent mHealth Summit (check out our full coverage), along with about two dozen other great mobile healthcare companies. There, I got to meet CEO & founder Matt Berry and publicist whiz Jake Lybbert (follow on Twitter). I talked with Matt about the (short) history and future of Orca Health, and his thoughts on the potential for tablets to improve the patient experience.

First, I have to ask – why the name Orca? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at iMedicalApps*

Can The Approval Process For Cancer Drugs Be Accelerated?

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If you’ve read my blogs for a while, or look up some past blogs, you’ll see I have been frustrated at times with the FDA. Yes, they have a tough job protecting us from medical products that are unsafe and/or ineffective. But when it comes to cancer, where we have few “homerun” therapies, I wish they were a bit more liberal. A “bunt single” might be good enough. You may have read how I have been critical of Dr. Rick Pazdur, the FDA leader for oncology drug approval. Some desperate patients and family members have referred to him as “Dr. No.”

Just the other day I interviewed a respected breast cancer survivor and patient advocate who has high respect for Dr. Pazdur.  Musa Mayer of New York City is a 22-year breast cancer survivor and author of three books about breast cancer. She’s devoted her life to educating other patients about cancer and also playing a role in public policy. She has become a favorite patient representative on FDA cancer advisory boards and regularly weighs in when breast cancer drugs are being considered.

In my interview with Musa, she explained Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Europeans Open To Innovations In Their Healthcare System

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Pascal Lardier, International Director of Health 2.0 asked me for an interview about the future of health 2.0. Here is the interview and an excerpt:

Basically, the medical acts remain the same: doctors will continue to receive their patients. But both stakeholders need to adapt and be able to deal with the rapidly growing amount of information available online. As the patient’s motivation is clearly more important (their health is at stake), they are more open to these innovations/developments while medical professionals use the internet and social media for other purposes: education, collaboration, diagnostic technologies, etc… Patients and doctors basically use the same type of technologies for different purposes. I’m sure social media, used with strategy and caution, will help fill the gap between patients and their physicians.

*This blog post was originally published at ScienceRoll*

Despite Her Demanding Work, This Nurse Is Glad She Never Threw In The Towel

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Mark Lamers from Online Nursing Degrees.org contacted me for an interview. Mark, I’m flattered. People tell me that I give good interviews because I’m very opinionated. Mark asked some thought provoking questions and one of them really stood out. He asked me about something that I wrote on my blog a long time ago. The post read, “I was also taught that anyone willing to work long, hard hours could obtain the American Dream. I’m a nurse for life, which means I’m not going to retire. In other words, I’m going to die with my Nurse Mates on.” Mark asked, “At this point in your career, it is safe to say you’ve worked long hard hours as a compassionate caregiver. In retrospect, is that American Dream now your story? What would provide the happy ending? What were the necessary steps to get there?

Answer: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

Hospital CEO Is Diagnosed With Cancer While Building A New Cancer Center

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Pat Elliott, me and a HUGE cactus at Banner MD Anderson!

I am just back from the Phoenix-metro area. It’s now the 5th largest in the United States and despite home foreclosures, there is still a feeling of growth in many areas. Gilbert, a nearby suburb, has expanded to over 200,000 people and a growing major medical center. I spent several days interviewing patients and staff about the soon-to-open, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. The hope is that by bringing MD Anderson’s world-renowned expertise, clinical trials and processes to this new center, cancer care around Phoenix and the southwest will be improved. Look for my video interviews coming soon.

But, in the meantime, one interview stuck out for me; the one with the Banner Health President and CEO, Peter Fine. Peter is in his late 50s and is a health care industry professional who has been guiding Banner Health and its 23 hospitals well for over a decade. For the past several years, Peter has been strategizing the building of a major cancer center on one of his hospital campuses. Peter knew he would need a renowned partner to make it successful and three years ago he chose MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, consistently ranked as the nation’s #1 cancer center (and where I was treated in a leukemia clinical trial).

Even before the partnership contract was inked, a strange thing happened. Peter found a swollen lymph node in his neck and it didn’t go away. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Latest Interviews

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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How To Make Inpatient Medical Practice Fun Again: Try Locum Tenens Work

It s no secret that most physicians are unhappy with the way things are going in healthcare. Surveys report high levels of job dissatisfaction burn out and even suicide. In fact some believe that up to a third of the US physician work force is planning to leave the profession…

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Latest Cartoon

Richmond, VA – In an effort to simplify inpatient medical billing, one area hospitalist group has determined that “altered mental status” (ICD-9 780.97) is the most efficient code for use in any patient work up.

“When you enter a hospital, you’re bound to have some kind of mental status change,” said Dr. Fishbinder, co-partner of Area Hospitalists, PLLC. “Whether it’s confusion about where your room is located in relationship to the visitor’s parking structure, frustration with being woken up every hour or two to check your vital signs, or just plain old fatigue from being sick, you are not thinking as clearly as before you were admitted. And that’s all the justification we need to order anything from drug and toxin screens, to blood cultures, brain MRIs, tagged red blood cell nuclear scans, or cardiac Holter monitoring. There really is no limit to what we can pursue with our tests.”

Common causes of mental status changes in the elderly include medicine-induced cognitive side effects, disorientation due to disruption in daily routines, age-related memory impairment, and urinary tract infections.

“The urinalysis is not a very exciting medical test,” stated Dr. Fishbinder. “It doesn’t matter that it’s cheap, fast, and most likely to provide an explanation for strange behavior in hospitalized patients. It’s really not as elegant as the testing involved in a chronic anemia or metabolic encephalopathy work up. I keep it in my back pocket in case all other tests are negative, including brain MRIs and PET scans.”

Nursing staff at Richmond Medical Hospital report that efforts to inform hospitalists about foul smelling urine have generally fallen on deaf ears. “I have tried to tell the hospitalists about cloudy or bloody urine that I see in patients who are undergoing extensive work ups for mental status changes,” reports nurse Sandy Anderson. “But they insist that ‘all urine smells bad’ and it’s really more of a red herring.”

Another nurse reports that delay in diagnosing urinary tract infections (while patients are scheduled for brain MRIs, nuclear scans, and biopsies) can lead to worsening symptoms which accelerate and expand testing. “Some of my patients are transferred to the ICU during the altered mental status work up,” states nurse Anita Misra. “The doctors seem to be very excited about the additional technology available to them in the intensive care setting. Between the central line placement, arterial blood gasses, and vast array of IV fluid and medication options, urosepsis is really an excellent entré into a whole new level of care.”

“As far as medicine-induced mental status changes are concerned,” added Dr. Fishbinder, “We’ve never seen a single case in the past 10 years. Today’s patients are incredibly resilient and can tolerate mixes of opioids, anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and benzodiazepines without any difficulty. We know this because most patients have been prescribed these cocktails and have been taking them for years.”

Patient family members have expressed gratitude for Dr. Fishbinder’s diagnostic process, and report that they are very pleased that he is doing everything in his power to “get to the bottom” of why their loved one isn’t as sharp as they used to be.

“I thought my mom was acting strange ever since she started taking stronger pain medicine for her arthritis,” says Nelly Hurtong, the daughter of one of Dr. Fishbinder’s inpatients. “But now I see that there are deeper reasons for her ‘altered mental status’ thanks to the brain MRI that showed some mild generalized atrophy.”

Hospital administrators praise Dr. Fishbinder as one of their top physicians. “He will do whatever it takes to figure out the true cause of patients’ cognitive impairments.” Says CEO, Daniel Griffiths. “And not only is that good medicine, it is great for our Press Ganey scores and our bottom line.”

As for the nursing staff, Griffiths offered a less glowing review. “It’s unfortunate that our nurses seem preoccupied with urine testing and medication reconciliation. I think it might be time for us to mandate further training to help them appreciate more of the medical nuances inherent in quality patient care.”

Dr. Fishbinder is in the process of creating a half-day seminar on ‘altered mental status in the inpatient setting,’ offering CME credits to physicians who enroll. Richmond Medical Hospital intends to sponsor Dr. Fishbinder’s course, and franchise it to other hospitals in the state, and ultimately nationally.

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Click here for a musical take on over-testing.

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Latest Book Reviews

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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Unaccountable: A Book About The Underbelly Of Hospital Care

I met Dr. Marty Makary over lunch at Founding Farmers restaurant in DC about three years ago. We had an animated conversation about hospital safety the potential contribution of checklists to reducing medical errors and his upcoming book about the need for more transparency in the healthcare system. Marty was…

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