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Social EMR And “Teh” Three Internets

There are three Internets. Here’s some Venn goodness (note  that “The” was spelled “Teh” on purpose):

When it comes to “sEMR” (Social EMR), we are somewhere in the middle of the Web of “People” and the Web of “Things,” in case you’ve been wondering. Read the rest of the story over on Health Is Social.

*This blog post was originally published at Phil Baumann*

Doctors And Work-Life Boundaries: Keeping An EMR In Its Place

I’ve had a longstanding policy in my office that routine prescription refills will only be addressed during regular office hours. No evenings; no weekends; if you need a refill of your long-term chronic medications, you need to call during regularly scheduled office hours, five days a week. You can leave a message if you like, but you should not expect us to call in the medication until the office is open.

The main reason for this policy has always been medical: prescription medication requires appropriate monitoring. From the moment I hung out my shingle, I’ve made it my habit always to write enough refills on your medication to last until the next time I need to see you. In all likelihood if you need a refill, what you really need is a visit.

The logical reason for the policy is the need to consult the medical record before authorizing refills. And when those records are contained on bits of dead trees on shelves in the office, there’s no way I can access them if I’m not physically there. I’ve been known to drive out to the office at decidedly odd hours for the express purpose of consulting those records so that I can provide appropriate care to my patients. That has always been the bottom line for me, and always will. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Dinosaur*

Notes From The Connected Health Symposium 2010

I [recently] attended the Connected Health Symposium in Boston. I enjoyed many of the sessions (sometimes wished I could have attended two simultaneously, though the livetweeting — #chs10 — helped on that front), and as usual enjoyed the hallway and exhibit floor conversations too. As is often the case at conferences these days, I had the opportunity to meet several online connections in real life for the first time. 

(I will not attempt to give a comprehensive report of the symposium here. Please see the livetweeting archive and other reports to get a sense of the rest of the event.)

This year’s exhibit floor included a diverse mix of distance health tools. Most striking from my perspective was the fact that most of these tools do one of two things: Enable patient-clinician videoconferencing, or upload data from in-home monitoring devices. The best of the second category also trigger alerts resulting in emails or PHR/EHR alerts to clinicians if vital signs are out of whack, or phone calls to consumers or their caregivers if, for example, meds aren’t taken on time (one company had a pill bottle with a transmitter in the cap that signals when it’s opened; another had a Pyxis-like auto-dispenser, that looked like you’d need an engineer — or a teenager — to program it). One tool — Intel’s — seemed to combine most of these functions, and more, into one platform, but it’s barely in beta, with only about 1,000 units out in the real world.

The speakers this year seemed to return again and again to several major themes: (1) Is any particular connected health solution scalable? (2) Who will pay for connected health, or mobile health (mHealth)? and (3) Does it work? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*

Implementing An EHR: 5 Quick Tips

Dr. Jay Anders, the CMIO of EHR vendor MED3000, offered a few tips during a Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) session on implementing an EHR successfully:

1. Make a clear communication pathway. Everyone needs to know what’s going on, from the physicians to the receptionist.

2. Clearly identify the needs of every physician who is going to use the EHR. The needs of an internal medicine doctor aren’t the same as a dermatologist. Make sure the EHR meets those needs.

3. Get a physician champion for the EHR who will be responsible for talking about the project to peers and answering questions, and be the first person to implement it. Pay that person for his or her time spent in championing duties.

4. Some people need more time than others. Don’t let a resistant doctor stop the implementation. Develop a plan for dealing with resisters that includes how you’ll respond to negative comments, how to implement other colleagues despite the resister, and how to sell the benefits of the EHR to the resister.

5. Expect the EHR implementation to be time-neutral. Most EHRs don’t save time; their value is in improved patient care and documentation, which leads to better reimbursement.

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

Too Much Data: Can It Overwhelm Doctors And Harm Patients?

One of the supposed strengths of electronic medical records is better tracking of test data. In theory, when using more sophisticated digital systems, doctors can better follow the mountains of test results that they encounter daily.

But a recent study, as written in the WSJ Health Blog, says otherwise. Apparently, a study performed in 2007 found:

VA doctors failed to acknowledge receipt of 368 electronically transmitted alerts about abnormal imaging tests, or one third of the total, during the study period. In 4% of the cases, imaging-test results hadn’t been followed up on four weeks after the test was done. Another study, published in March in the American Journal of Medicine, showed only 10.2% of abnormal lab test results were unacknowledged, but timely follow-up was lacking in 6.8% of cases.

Consider that the VA has what is considered the pinnacle of electronic systems — their unified, VistA program that permeates all their hospitals and clinics. Apparently the problem is one of alert overload:

Hardeep Singh, chief of the health policy and quality program at the Houston VA’s health and policy research center, led both studies. He tells the Health Blog that doctors now receive so many electronic alerts and reminders — as many as 50 each day — that the important ones can get lost in the shuffle.

This is not unlike the alarm fatigue issue that I recently wrote about. Too much data — whether it is written or on the screen — can overwhelm physicians and potentially place patients at harm. Curating test results by prioritizing abnormals will really be the true power of electronic test reporting.

*This blog post was originally published at KevinMD.com*

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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