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Healthcare’s Facebook

[Recently] the Wall Street Journal‘s front page story exposed a significant privacy breech of online personal information via the world’s most popular social networking site, Facebook:

Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.

The issue affects tens of millions of Facebook app users, including people who set their profiles to Facebook’s strictest privacy settings. The practice breaks Facebook’s rules, and renews questions about its ability to keep identifiable information about its users’ activities secure.

How could they? Imagine the nerve of marketers using Facebook ID’s to develop profiles on people using little socializing games! Facebook has a privacy policy! I was assured that if I set my privacy settings to “maximum,” this would never happen! To which I say: “Duh!” When it comes to money, people get awfully creative.

So while Facebook grapples with its latest public relations nightmare, we should realize our electronic medical record app vendors are doing exactly the same thing. Worse, it’s perfectly legal, even though each of use has been assured our privacy settings are set to “maximum” through the reassurances of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the The Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

“Meaningful Use”: Does What You Do Qualify?

One doesn’t usually look to the Federal Register to define meaning or purpose (philosophers, yes, but bureaucrats?), but the federal government has officially ruled on what constitutes “meaningful use” — for the purposes of distributing dollars to clinicians for electronic health records.

The Wall Street Journal’s health blog has an excellent synopsis of the rule and the reaction from different interest groups and experts, and the New England Journal of Medicine has a very clear explanation and summary of its key elements by David Blumenthal, M.D., F.A.C.P., the federal government’s coordinator of health information technology. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The ACP Advocate Blog by Bob Doherty*

Patient Tests, EHRs, And Medical Homes: The Price Isn’t Right

Healthcare reform is forcing medical students to learn about the financial costs of the tests they order, as well as their clinical importance. Once a taboo topic, it’s being openly taught to students to prepare them for practice.

At Harvard, one physician in training duplicated television’s “The Price is Right” to keep his peers guessing at the costs of tests on a patient’s bill. Molly Cooke, FACP, a Regent of the College, encourages doctors to consider the value of the tests they order as they deliver care. (Kaiser Health News, New England Journal of Medicine)

The price isn’t right for electronic medical records. Even $44,000 in stimulus money isn’t enough to make doctors jump into using computers. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

A Not-So-Unforseen Complication of Electronic Health Records

[Here's a] good article [from] the New York Times written by a doctor [Pauline Chen, M.D.] about intrusive aspects of electronic health records (EHRs) on doctor-patient communication. An excerpt:

“…just because EMR improves information sharing and retrieval, it doesn’t necessarily follow that our communication with patients and colleagues will also be better.”

Read the rest of the article here.

*This blog post was originally published at a few thoughts from a tumor surgeon*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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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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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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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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