09.28.09

Another Super Commentary

Posted in Brenda at 8:48 am by livefood

I’ve posted here on several occasion that I’m a big fan of HIStalk. I continue to be a fan and read the blog several times a week.

I also read FierceHealthIT. Sometimes I get something from it and sometimes I don’t. When I do get a gem, it’s the “Hope Diamond” of concepts. Today was one of the diamonds, particularly this paragraph:

“All the noise over the summer–and I mean all the noise–has been about the role of government in moving toward the universal insurance coverage. While I certainly believe universal coverage is an admirable goal, the problem with viewing coverage in isolation is that having insurance with fewer exclusions and less chance of rescission just means someone else will pay when you get care, subject, of course, to deductibles and co-payments. It does not mean you will get good care, nor does it mean you will get the appropriate services. It also perpetuates a convoluted system of reactive, sick care rather than promoting a culture of proactive prevention. It may not even change the habits of those who have become conditioned to going to an ER every time their children get a runny nose.” full post

I have not read many of Neil Versel’s pieces before, but found this particular post to be hitting the nuts and bolts of improved healthcare, not just insurance availability (let alone reform) or IT implementation (into an ailing health system) . His poke at preemptive health initiatives is subtle but an important topic that is passed over in the politically charged debate on insurance availability.

Whatever the direction taken in the “big debate,” HIT continues to be a side show in the big tent. But IT is and will continue to be an important component to any solution that the government will come up with. Whether they know it or not, well that’s another story. But they have put up money and the funding has stimulated activity in the HIT sector.

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09.23.09

People Fear This Sort of Thing

Posted in Brenda at 9:57 am by livefood

Every so often one reads about some object being left in a patient during surgery or a person ingests something than is over looked during physicals, but nothing compates to the follow story. The patient in this case was a trained medical professional and had personal experiences regarding his condition from previous situations. For some reason I am reminded of the old adage, “Garbage In - Garbage Out.”

‘A VA inspector’s report finds that the Hampton VA Medical Center misdiagnosed a man’s stroke that left him permanently disabled. The former paramedic told the ED clerk that he was having a stroke and presented with classic symptoms, but was sent home. Also noted was that another patient’s lab result had been posted to his EMR, leading to the incorrect assessment that his labs were OK. The doctor, whose contract was not renewed, had copied and pasted results from another patient. The whole story…

VA hospital ignored vet’s stroke, report finds

I am amazed at how far medical records have come. I’m think that the human error)s_ made in this case should cause some alarms to sound in the EMR world. It is obviously an unusual case, but never the less, it happened and could happen again unless EMR input is correct.

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09.21.09

Dell Has Cash

Posted in Brenda at 8:44 am by livefood

This has been brewing for a while, but Dell has announced that they are acquiring Perot. The AP story tells the tale of the facts, but the tale of the future of either party is yet to be known. Both are savvy players. The previously announced Dell/Walmart partnership on the EMR software/hardware now could have an installation component.

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09.18.09

Salaries Holding Their Own

Posted in Brenda at 9:53 am by livefood

We continue to be big fans of HIStalk. Sometimes the commentary is funny, sometimes not. But generally speaking he is pretty even keeled in who he beats up (or not). Very even handed. You can know where he’s coming from.

But perhaps the biggest reason we’re fans is the amount of information that he puts into his blog. Lots of linkage so that you can follow up on stories of interest. It’s a great one-stop-shopping experience.

We picked up some interesting news yesterday at a conference. The material was about salaries and employment trends in the IT sector. In almost all areas of the country, healthcare IT was either the second or the first listed in “growing” verticals. In ALL sections of the country salaries were suppose to have increased slightly (or very slightly) with a few local variation. Only Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana did have halthcare listed in the top three fasted growing sectors. The Pacific Coast was pointed out as having significant growth in the HIT sector. All-in-all, the information pointed to a pretty healthy (pun intended) future for HIT.

The rather sad news from the conference was hearing that some of the definitions and deadlines that were suppose to be finalized by the end of the year will now be available in the middle of 2010. Let’s hope that missing one series of deadlines does not make it easier to push back again.

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09.17.09

Good Enough or Just Goo?

Posted in Brenda at 1:59 pm by livefood

Will Congress ever get a Healthcare bill passed?

Sure they will. But the better question would be something along the lines of, “When Congress passes some kind of Healthcare bill will it be good enough?” If they don’t get it right and enough GOOD is not in the bill they might just end up with GOO instead.

We’re thankful that the bills proposed have some wording that will curtail the denials for pre-existing conditions. We can expect some hikes in the rates as we all know that a pre-existing condition in life insurance (like age) makes the policy cost more. But at least people will have access to the insurance…affordable? Who knows.

We continue to believe that the “affordable” part of the politicians all-to-common double speak is pure political jargon. They will talk in terms and about subjects to garner votes, when the practicality of what they say is just a tad different.

On the employment front, we continue to see improvement in the job market. We see “baby steps” for the most part, but at least folks are taking steps. We also continue to see some layoffs as firms re-align themselves for this upcoming period of economic growth.

Lately some economists have been talking about a unique recovery from the recession. Where in the past consumers would gain confidence and start to spend money, this time might be different. Apparently consumers are saving more, or at least trying too, and may not provide the cash to boost the economy as they have in the past.

In any event, our vertical is not fueled by consumers like most might be. Our clients are funded by venture money and institutional money. The ability to attract investors and/or to borrow on one side and for their clients to purchase the HIT solutions on the other side is what is needed to grow our vertical. While a few hundred dollars sent as a rebate or cash incentive by the government might eventually trickle towards HIT, that would certainly be the long road to get there.

The third quarter is just about on top of us. It is historically one of our strongest hiring quarters. We think it might be shaping up to be the strongest of the year in 2009 also.

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09.14.09

The Flat Got Fixed

Posted in Brenda at 2:06 pm by livefood

We’re back from a week in San Diego. It wasn’t about “fun” so don’t get too excited. It was a situation where, after four years of planning, Brenda was the Chairman of a convention of 4000 people. It was a busy (very) week. Here it is on Monday morning and I haven’t unpacked the car. We got home late on Saturday evening. Maybe I’ll unpack it later today…maybe.

Once the convention was in place and ready to register people, I was able to settle into a fairly normal work pattern. Brenda was able to fit calls into the nooks and crannies of the busy convention schedule. Technology really helped us. We have a cell based WIFI that allows us to work more-or-less like we would here in our office, although it is a tad bit slower.

We had a flat tire on the way down. It happened in very heavy traffic moving at about 5 miles an hour. We were four lanes over from the shoulder. By the time we figured out where we were and were firing up the phone to look for help, a knock on the window had us look up to see a gentleman standing there asking if we needed help. I could swear he had wings and a halo and there seemed to be a glow about him. He was from the State of California Emergency Road Repair…he had us up and running in 15 minutes. When I repacked the trunk of the car, even that went back together better than it was. What could have been a serious ordeal ended up being fine…I didn’t even complain too much about having to buy the new tires.

Good things do happen. I’m still hoping that President Obama, as head of the Economic Emergency Response Team, can fix the “flat tire” on the economy in that same relative/equivalent amount of time as the man with wings who helped us.

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09.11.09

Where Are My Posts

Posted in Brenda at 9:45 am by livefood

Today I do to the BLOG and find that the post from yesterday is not visible. I do some of this writing at rather odd times and then schedule the publication. Yesterday was a scheduled publication. It’s not there and the draft was not saved. It might be a strange internet day for us.

Brenda is trying to get into a particular web site and the web site kicks her out of Firefox. She is able to get into other sites as would be normal, but the site she wants to get into just bumbs her out (over and over). Now she is getting a message from Firefox that starts out, “Well this is embarrassing…”. Of course, that I can get into the web site in question without issues just makes it all the more curious. Nothing “might” about it, it IS a strange internet day for us.

I wonder how much of an issue the increasing use of the old net is going to create for the healthcare models being developed. It is one thing to be able to drop pictures taken while huckleberry picking in Montana onto the web (been there and did that) and quite another to try to access a patient’s medical information via a smart phone. If web access and phone access is compromised or bandwidth is not available there could be some significant issues rearing their ugly heads down the road.

I mean really, how would I get the pictures of the berry picking onto my Facebook page?

Maybe the time used on the discussion of “meaningful use” would be better invested in a meaningful discussion of use at all.

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09.07.09

Whether it’s a Dish or Cable You Get Billed For Healthcare

Posted in Brenda at 10:31 am by livefood

You know it’s time to reform the health care system when you get a bill for just watching “Dr. Phil.”

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09.04.09

Good News on September 4th?

Posted in Brenda at 2:00 pm by livefood

Newsweeks’ Rick MacDonald, in an article titled, “Jobs: Look for More Improvement in August…”Action Economics sees the drop in nonfarm payrolls moderating to 200,000 in the Sept. 4 employment report, while the jobless rate hits 9.5%

“We expect the U.S. employment report for August, scheduled for release on Sept. 4, to show a decline of 200,000 in nonfarm payrolls—vs. economists’ median forecast of a 236,000 drop—which would mark the best jobs reading since August of last year. The economy’s return to a positive gross domestic product growth trajectory in the third quarter should translate to a diminished pace of job market contraction.”

Dispite the rather lofty wording of the last sentence, MacDonald really is clear in the article. What we’ll be looking for would be how close the job losses come to the analysts best guess. We think that the analysts have been a tad bit over optimistic with their numbers during the year and feel that the number could very well be worse than estimated.

In general, the employment picture is improving. Also, the employment dips are still greater than the government estimates. Finding a growth in the overall employement numbers by the end of the year will depend on the results of consumers confidence and their spending. The confidence seems to teeter between the forces of good and evil.

We are currently experiencing a significant shortage of qualified applicants for some positions. We thought we would have this experience, we just thought it might be in 2010 or 2011.

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09.03.09

Virtual Surgery

Posted in Brenda at 10:30 am by livefood

Hospitals have developed a new oral surgery technique for poor people.

The surgeon describes the operation he would perform if you could afford it.

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