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Newt Gingrich’s Take On Facebook Saving A Woman’s Life

I’ve seen at least half a dozen links to the op-ed coauthored by Newt Gingrich and neurosurgeon Kamal Thapar about how the doctor used information on Facebook to save a woman’s life. (It was published by AOL News. Really.)

In brief, a woman who had been to see a number of different health care providers without getting a clear diagnosis showed up in an emergency room, went into a coma and nearly died. She was saved by a doctor’s review of the detailed notes she kept about her symptoms, etc., which she posted on Facebook. The story is vague on the details, but apparently her son facilitated getting the doc access to her Facebook page, and the details posted there allowed him to diagnose and treat her condition. She recovered fully.

Newt and Dr. Thapar wax rhapsodic about how Facebook saved a life, and sing the praises of social media’s role in modern medicine. (I’m not sure how this really fits in with Newt’s stance on health reform, within his 12-step program to achieve the total replacement of the Left…but, hey, nobody has the patience these days for so many details anyway.)

Regular readers of HealthBlawg know that I would perhaps be the last to challenge the proposition that social media has a role to play in health care. However, I think Newt got it wrong here. Read more »

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

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*

Medical Information Shared Machine-To-Machine

Check out John Halamka’s post on some of the excellent work one of the workgroups convened by the feds is doing. Here’s the complete quote:

Imagine if every EHR could send data to every other EHR using a simple addressing mechanism like email, a consistent REST implementation or a well described SOAP WSDL. Interoperability would follow rapidly because novel packages of data will be sent to support real business needs without any barriers of how to get the data from endpoint to endpoint.

The “addressing” part of the NHIN (Nationwide Health Information Network) Direct specifications is almost complete. The “implementation” workgroup is part of the fast moving NHIN Direct project which is developing lightweight standards for machine-to-machine communication of medical information. Read more »

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

Personal Health Record Service: Who Does It Best?

A personal health record (PHR) has been touted as a way for patients to better keep track of their health information. Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault lead the way. But what happens if the company storing your data gets bought, goes bankrupt, or simply decides to discontinue their system?

Well, those who stored their data with Revolution Health are finding out first hand. The troubled company, which started off with so much fanfare yet died in a whimper, recently announced they’re shutting down their personal health record service. According to American Medical News: “Industry insiders say Revolution joins a long list of vendors who launched PHRs with a big splash, only to find little interest from consumers.”

Most of my patients don’t use a personal health record, and prefer that I enter the data in myself, or export it from from my electronic record system. The problem is: a) there isn’t enough time in a 15-minute patient visit to help patients enter in their data (apart from what I already do in my own system), and b) many online personal health record sites aren’t compatible with the systems doctors are using.

Leaving the data entry to the patient is inefficient, and a sure way to minimize the adoption rate. Indeed, “the most successful PHR-type systems have been created by healthcare organizations and have benefits to patients, such as e-mailing with physicians, online appointment scheduling and the ability to look at information entered by their physicians.”

That means a successful personal health records have to be well-integrated with or designed by existing hospital and physician systems, making it harder for a third-party system, such as the defunct Revolution Health service, to gain traction.

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

Physicians, Technophobia, And Costly Communication Gaps

I was talking to a fellow physician about a mutual patient.  I had information  that would help him in their care and he was taking the unusual step of asking me for my information.  I was impressed.

“Could you fax me those documents?” he asked.  ”Here’s my fax number.”

I scrambled to get a pen to write down his number.  Then I had a thought: “I could email you those documents much easier.  Do you have an email address?”

Silence.

After a long pause, he hesitantly responded, “I would rather you just fax it.”  He said no more. 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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