Entries in healthIT (15)


Health Data Meaningful Updates

I’ve been so busy with guest posts and speaking engagements in the past couple of months that I’ve neglected updating my own site. I’ll try to rectify that now with condensed versions of some recent activity below.

       I.            Navinet Expert Interview Series, March 2013

Laura McCaughey and I discuss big data, population health, health IT, shared decisionmaking, the Accountable Care Act and medical cost trends, all in under 2 pages! A few outtakes:


Laura: What do you see as the biggest developments in HIT in the next year?

Janice: “I think the biggest developments will occur as provider organizations build upon the population health analysis that got its start with the foundation laid by the Meaningful Use framework. In particular, we’ll see more analyses of treatment plans, costs, and outcomes by segments of patients. The segmentation possibilities are almost endless. When combined with genomic data and other nontraditional types of data, they will bring us a long way toward the goal of personalized medicine.”

Laura: There’s been so much talk around big data for a variety of industries, but what does it mean for the healthcare industry?

Janice: “…to benefit from many of the existing Big Data technologies and modeling that are being used in retail, financial services, and other industries, the health care industry needs to improve the amount of collaboration at the level of sharing data sets and sharing results from previous analyses. Obviously, there are some limitations on how patient registries can be shared, but there is good progress in creating large research datasets that include de-identified patient data. In fact, the Agency for Healthcare and Quality recently released a registry of patient registries (RoPR).”

Laura: Last year you identified the accountable care organization (ACO) model as one of the major factors to shape care collaboration. How much of that has happened, and how much further do we need to go? 

Janice: “I think most ACOs have just scratched the surface in establishing a new model of providing care and involving patients in decisions about their care. It will take some time for the culture of physician-patient communication to change. Furthermore, the tools that have been available to educate and support clinicians and patients haven’t kept up with the organizational changes. In particular, patient education/patient information tools and materials are sorely lacking for patients who want to take a more active role in their health and medical care. I cringe every time I hear that patient education materials have to be prepared to meet the reading level of the “lowest common denominator” in the spectrum of patients. While I understand that some public health messages must be understandable to a very broad spectrum of the population, the same rationale doesn’t apply to all information made available to patients.”

Laura: What are some of the key components that a HIT platform needs in order to be successful in today’s changing healthcare landscape? 

Janice: “ACOs and the so-called patient-centered medical home (PCMH) concept should put a high priority on configuring their systems so that patients can both contribute information and download information from their records. This way patients can act as their own up-to-date “mobile record.” Not all patients are ready to take on this role, but that’s not a good reason to prevent those patients who are ready from improving access to information that can improve the quality of care they receive and possibly reduce the cost. The early innovators among the patient populations who actively track, update, and analyze their personal health records can serve as models for the “laggards” who will wait until the benefits become more obvious and the tools become easier to use.

Laura: The Accountable Care Act (ACA)will soon be implemented, and millions of newly insured Americans will be receiving care that did not previously. How are payers planning to handle this? 

Janice: “Apart from having designed new plans that are ready to be promoted and sold on health insurance exchanges (now called health insurance marketplaces), I can only make an educated guess on how payers are planning to handle the new populations of patients who will be insured as a result of the ACA. Note, I have a different view on how much the newly insured will increase the demand for medical services, compared with the conventional wisdom, which estimates that the previously uninsured will flood primary care physicians with pent-up need for medical care. I agree that physician practices will enroll many new patients in areas where there had been a large number of uninsured. However, I think that a large number of the newly insured patients will have so much experience managing their own care that they won’t overburden the provider organizations as much as some analysts predict. Plus, many of the insurance plans available to these populations will include significant co-pays (significant is in the eye of the beholder in this case!). With high co-pays, I predict that populations that were unable to afford insurance coverage in the past will not be able to afford most co-pays and will find ways to reduce their costs of care whenever possible by using retail clinics and other lower-cost options, such as telehealth.”

Laura: The medical cost trend has slowed considerably in the past few years. What can providers and payers do to help keep costs from rising?

Janice: “The best advice I have to keep costs from rising is to provide more information about costs to patients before they choose a course of treatment. Providing more information about the likely benefits and risks of treatment plan options under consideration to patients will also increase the patient’s level of commitment to the chosen treatment plan. Moving to this “shared decision-making” model will likely reduce costs in the short term, although that’s not a sure bet, since cost is not the only criterion that patients will consider.

As I consider the topics we’ve just discussed, it occurs to me that the most significant move that payers could make to slow the rise in costs would be to simplify health insurance plans so that costs are far more transparent. Some payers are ahead of others in offering data on costs. For instance, Aetna offers an average estimated cost by region in its Aetna Navigator tool. Although not complete, Aetna’s move in the direction of providing cost information is a step in the right direction.”

 See full interview at:

     II. Making Health Data Healthier: How to Determine What’s Valuable and How to Use It

A dialogue between Geeta Nayyar, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Information Officer at AT&T, and me about managing and leveraging health data for the benefit of providers and patients.

On the topic of Meaningful Use:

Geeta: In your opinion, how does Meaningful Use help advance the value of data in medical research and clinical applications?

Janice:  “The Meaningful Use incentive program has jump-started the adoption of electronic health records and set the framework for coordinating a fragmented group of providers, health IT vendors, and analytics companies. The common sets of data to be collected, tracked, and analyzed set the stage for greater collaboration between providers/clinicians, payer organizations, medical researchers and patients.


Frankly, I wish the value of data standards and collaboration were so obvious that providers and payers would develop industry standards without external pressure. Since that wasn’t the case prior to the Meaningful Use program, I would say that we’ve seen great strides in enhancing the value of data available for medical and clinical applications in a short period of time.”


See full interview at:


   III.            Webinar on Meaningful Use for Medical Librarians

I recently gave an hour-long webinar, Meaningful Use: A Means to an End, to the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), New England Region.  Along with providing some context to the Meaningful Use program, the webinar focused on roles for medical librarians in implementing meaningful use programs, especially elements that relate to patient engagement, quality measures, and clinical decision support.

Please contact me ( if you are interested in a customized version of the webinar/presentation for another audience.


Secondary Data Usage in Healthcare

I was guest speaker at the March 22, 2012 “Let’s Talk HIT” series hosted by Scratch Marketing & Media in Cambridge, MA. The topic I chose was Secondary Data Publishing in Health. Health Content Advisor’s parent company, InfoCommerce Group, has a long history of guiding business media companies in constructing data products, but increasingly we are finding interesting examples of secondary data products that develop as a by-product of technology companies. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) represents one of the more compelling examples of information technology that has the potential to spawn a new generation of data products.

Scratch Marketing has posted the video of the talk, which was structured as an interactive group discussion, in 8 parts. See their YouTube page for the list of segments:

See the event recap by Lizzie McQuillan at Scratch Marketing here:

Also, for a provocative view, read Marya Zilberberg, MD, MPH’s takeaway from the evening’s discussion:

Thanks again to Scratch and the many Boston-area (stretching all the way out to the Berkshires!) health IT, public health, healthcare publishing, entrepreneurs, and marketing experts who attended and participated in the discussion. Scratch Marketing added Twitter handles to the video, which helps tremendously in identifying each speaker.


Event Planning for 2012

At this eventful time of year, I thought I would hold off from sending a long post and instead focus on conference and event schedules. Don’t worry, the year-end review/look ahead post will be forthcoming after the 1st of the year.

There are so many good events to choose from, especially in the healthcare and health IT spaces, that it’s difficult to decide where to devote time-constrained resources. The Events page that we added to the Health Content Advisors site earlier this year lists all major events that I or my colleagues will be attending. At this point, only past 2011 events are listed, but we’ll update the list over the holiday period.

Somehow, I chose a fantastic mix of live events to attend last year and I hope to make a repeat appearance at all of these events in 2012. I’m making plans for #HIMSS12, February 20-24 in Las Vegas now and hope to add the SIIA IIS conference, January 24-25 in New York to the list for 2012.

When we update the Events page, we’ll add links to blog posts, pictures and videos from the events. As a preview, here’s a short video interview I did with at the Health2.0 conference in San Francisco:

Also, please check out my previous post on Using Game Dynamics that includes a link to a video of my session at Data Content11 that focused on using game dynamics in market research and provides examples from healthcare research, including PatientsLikeMe.   

That’s it for now. Happy holidays and best wishes for a 2012 that exceeds your expectations!





Stay Tuned for Health 2.0 Coverage

This blog took a hiatus in August, but will be back in force for the remainder of September. I’ll be attending the annual Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco next week and look forward to some related events starting on Friday, September 23 (HealthCamp SF Bay), the Rock Health BootCamp on Saturday, and the pre-conference Patients 2.0 meeting on Sunday.

Health Content Advisors is a media sponsor of Health 2.0 this year, so watch for daily updates to this blog, along with my Twitter feed @janicemccallum that will post more frequent updates from the meetings.  Follow the conference hashtag #health2con for updates from the entire group of attendees.

On the topic of conferences, the InfoCommerce annual event, Data Content11, is coming up soon (November 2-4) in Philadelphia. As always, some healthcare companies will be represented on the program, but the focus is on the broader issue of how to build successful data publishing businesses. This year’s conference program theme is: Cloud, Crowd, and Curation.  Join us for B2B data publishing’s best networking event and to learn from our Models of Excellence companies how to create and sustain high value data businesses.

For those who want to know more about Data Content11, please contact me at  Or, drop me a line if you want to meet up in San Francisco.


Will Health IT Mergers Help Drive Productivity in Healthcare?

Healthcare insiders –and even casual observers—know that the health IT sector is overcrowded with too many vendors that have overlapping functionality. This fragmented and crowded health IT market confuses buyers and leads to costly and inefficient implementations of technology that is intended to improve efficiencies.  A recent blog post by John Lynn (@techguy) provides a useful illustration of how the fragmentation affects provider networks and alliances.  Personally, I wouldn’t want to be the CIO who had to deal with multiple IT vendors within a single institution, never mind dealing with the entire mosaic of vendors by function and across institutions in a formal or informal network of providers.

So, it is easy to predict consolidation between competing players that serve the same functions.  Just last week there were two acquisitions within the medical transcription sector that illustrate this trend: Nuance Communications acquired WebMedx and MedQuist acquired M*Modal.

IT won’t deliver true workflow efficiencies—and accompanying productivity gains—unless vendors  take a systems view of processes and focus on improving the workflow instead of simply digitizing existing paper-based processes.  I’m not saying anything new here. Anyone who has read Clayton Christensen’s Innovator’s Prescription or has lived through a disappointing EMR implementation project understands the problem.  We need a rationalization of vendors and solutions across the entire system. Vertical consolidation within each subsector reduces the confounding number of options for buyers, but doesn’t necessarily solve the larger problem of improving productivity (and by productivity I mean better outcomes and improved efficiency).

In a tangentially related event last week, the Society for Participatory Medicine (#S4PM) held a tweetchat that included some discussion of doctor-patient communication when the doctor is facing a computer screen. Unfortunately, existing EHR/EMR systems haven’t been optimized for the doctor-patient encounter. Voice input, touch screens, direct-from-device input, and even Kinect-style input all represent technologies that could vastly improve the data collection process during, before and after patient visits. Although it’s a small step, I am hopeful that the recent acquisitions in the medical transcription segment allow the consolidated companies more leeway to formulate a wider range of productivity-enhancing voice-data solutions and are representative of future merger activity to come.