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Latest Posts

AMIA: Why The “Hold Harmless” Clause In EMR Contracts Is Unethical

Last Friday the board of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) published a position paper in its journal saying that the “hold harmless” clause is unethical. One of the paper’s authors is Dr. Danny Sands, currently President of the Society for Participatory Medicine. I hope to write more about it this week, after attending the AMIA conference in DC, but here’s the basic issue:

— For ages, makers of electronic medical record systems (EMR) have insisted on a “hold harmless” clause in the contracts a system buyer must sign. It says, in essence, that if any harm comes to anyone because of a system problem, the buyer (the hospital) will hold the manufacturer harmless.

— In other words, if anything goes wrong with the system and someone gets hurt, it’s not the manufacturer’s fault. The reasoning has been: “Hey, you doctors are smart. If our system displays a wrong value, you’re supposed to notice it.”

I’m told this policy has been one big impediment to adoption of EMR systems, because it removes all motivation for vendors to fix things that make their product hard to use: If there’s a bug or the system slows someone down, and a patient gets hurt, the hospital gets sued, not the vendor.

If you were a hospital, wouldn’t that make you eager to buy? What would that do to your trust of the vendor? Patients, how do you feel about that? Providers? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at e-Patients.net*

Luddism And Internet-Based Medicine

My recent post on the subject of email from patients raised more eyebrows than I expected. It also put me in a position I’m unfamiliar with: Looking like a luddite.

Perhaps I’m not forward-thinking enough in my reluctance to embrace this advance. Perhaps I’ve gotten conservative as I’ve grown grey. Electronic communication is a great idea (I’m doing it right now), so why not apply it to my medical practice? Has Ned Lud gotten into my circle of influence?

This is, of course, extremely ironic. I lived so much on the cutting edge that my butt developed calluses. The calluses, however, were not just put there by the edge, they also came from occasional kicking.

The problem is I have an addiction: I’m addicted to change. I’m constantly looking for new and perhaps better ways to do things, then impatiently going after anything new and shiny. This served us well in the sense that I got us on EMR, got it working well, and have continued to keep us away from repeating mistakes too often. If something doesn’t work, I’m quick to look for the cause, and more importantly, how to fix it. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

Security Of Patient Records: The Weakest Link

The Queen of Soul famously wailed about being a link in a “chain of fools.” The lead story in the August 13th Boston Globe tells us about another sort of link in the chain — the weakest link in the chain of custody of patient records.

In brief, a pathology billing service bought out by another service apparently dumped all records more than a year old in a town dump. A Globe photographer taking out his own trash noticed that the paper records (which he was looking at because he thought they ought to be recycled rather than dumped) had identifiable patient data and represented at least four hospitals from across Eastern Massachusetts. Clearly, these records ought to have been shredded or otherwise destroyed before disposal. Read more »

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

“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*

Electronic Medical Records: What Is “Meaningful Use?”

Quiz:  What does the term “meaningful use” mean?

A.  Using something in a way that gives life purpose and leads to carefree days of glee.

B.  It depends on your definition of the word “term.”

C.  It’s not mean. It’s really nice.

D.  A large number of rules created by the government to assess a practice’s use of electronic medical records (EMRs) so that they can spur adoption, give criteria for incentive rewards, and have physicians in a place where care can be measured.

E.  Job security for those making money off of health IT.

The answer, of course, is D and E. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

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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