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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.


Better Security Solutions Build Trust

The importance of building and maintaining trust among entities that are collaborating or exchanging goods & services is paramount. Without trust, markets where imperfect or asymmetrical information exists won’t operate efficiently. Whether we like it or not, “imperfect” and “asymmetrical” define the current mechanisms used to exchange personal health information.

At the same time, new levels of collaboration are being introduced between providers, payers, researchers, and patients within tightly or loosely-defined networks that participate in the care of a patient. All of this collaboration requires multi-directional exchange of data. In a guest commentary post on Health Data Management Magazine, I emphasize the importance of employing appropriate security solutions to help build and maintain trust in the integrity of data partners.

To accompany the post, below are links to recent news on the companies I mention in the article:

Amcom Software Enhances Physician Communication With Release of Amcom Care Connect

Imprivata Launches Secure Texting App

PerfectServe Secures $10.9 Million in New Financing

Samsung Selects Voalté Clinical Communications Solution of Choice

TigerText Secures More than $8 Million in New Funding

Vocera Introduces Vocera Connect for Leading SmartPhones and Cisco Wireless IP Phones


See also this video interview with Perficient from HIMSS:



Video Interview from HIMSS12

For those looking for the Women in HealthIT video, see:

What has now become an annual event: an interview between Liza Sisler from Perficient and me at HIMSS. This year, I talk about 1the effect of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and value-based purchasing in general on the healthcare industry and the underlying theme of trust and security in health information exchange.

I’ll post more on the topic of trust and security of personal health information (PHI) soon.


Gleaning the Future at HIMSS12

In my write-up of HIMSS11, I summed up the theme of last year’s event by describing how the need to meet Meaniningful Use (MU) stage 1 requirements had produced the foundation for all sorts of value-add applications and analytics. Dashboards that illustrated how providers were ready for population health analysis based on stage 1 MU measures were on display everywhere.

This year, I’ll be on the lookout for higher-level dashboards and will have a specific interest in learning more about health IT software that helps bridge the business and clinical sides of medicine. After all, with accountable care organizations (ACOs) on the horizon, providers will need to establish links between their clinical performance and their financial performance. It sounds strange, but it’s not really a stretch to say that providers have to worry about how clinical outcomes affect their bottom lines for the first time in a long time.  

Staying focused at HIMSS is difficult. There’s an excess of topics being discussed in education sessions, too many exhibitors for any one person to visit (approximately 1,100) and so many people to meet up with that it’s impossible to see it all and it’s very easy to get distracted. But, with a core set of meetings and sessions that cover clinical decision support, analytics, and collaboration between stakeholders, I’ll try to stick to my plan.


Please contact me if your company has something new and interesting in clinical decision support or business intelligence solutions that align clinical and financial performance. My schedule is already packed, but I’m prepared for a week of sensory overload!



Realizing the Potential of Personalized Medicine

Imagine a world where we’ve all had our complete genome sequenced and where every individual can receive real-time feedback on how their actions and environment affect his or her body. Drink an espresso and understand the effects it has on your heart rate, endocrine system, etc. With a growing base of genomic knowledge contributed by billions of people (yes, this requires a very large N), this scenario isn’t science fiction. But, it does require that health IT progress at a faster rate in order to meet the needs of predictive personalized medicine models.

The MIT Enterprise Forum hosted a fascinating panel discussion on the future of the personal genome last evening (Feb. 8).  Hosted by Kevin Davies, editor-in-chief of Bio_IT  World and author of The $1,000 Genome, the panel included Dr. George Church of Harvard, Colin Hill, CEO of GNS Healthcare, Jamie Heywood, Co-founder of PatientsLikeMe, and Dr. Michael Pellini, CEO of Foundation Medicine.

The advancements in treatments made possible through understanding an individual patient’s genome are awe-inspiring. With specific examples from cancer therapies, Dr. Pellini described progress we’ve made in moving from a trial-and-error approach to treating cancer toward models that take the genomic and molecular structure of an individual’s tumor into account before narrowing down the treatment options to home in on the optimal therapeutic “cocktail”.

But the discussion underscored that the continued lack of real-world outcomes data to help build models of what works remains a big hurdle in advancing personalized medicine. Recording and aggregating outcomes data are the domain of EHR and EMR systems, in other words, the world that will be convening at HIMSS in 10 days. (See accompanying post)

The rates of adoption of EHR systems that have sufficient functionality to facilitate personalized medicine are too low and some doctors still complain that they don’t see enough benefit in transitioning from paper to electronic records.  Clearly, it’s not the patients’ benefits that these naysayers are considering! Granted, current EHR platforms have a ways to go in improving their usability, functionality, and interoperability. And there’s still too little emphasis on the importance of providing data directly to patients and accepting patient-reported sources of data. But, the failure to recognize benefits of digitized records over paper-based records for advancing the knowledge base in medicine needs to be overcome.

Panelists at last night’s forum also spoke of regulatory hurdles, overcoming privacy concerns, and the need to develop new models for evaluating longitudinal outcomes data to build into predictive models. Changes in reimbursement policies were noted, too.

The good news, however, is that computing power and complex analysis of huge amounts of data are not the factors that are holding back progress in personalized medicine.  The field of genomics has experience with big data and Moore’s law is on track to allow for the soon-to-be $1,000 genome to become the $10 or even $1 genome in another generation. All in all, the availability of longitudinal real world outcomes data stands out as the biggest problem.

How long will it take to overcome the remaining barriers to personalized medicine? That’s difficult to predict. But, the panelists presented an optimistic view of the future where a personalized approach to medicine can lead to a data-driven focus on maintaining wellness, not just treating illness.


For more on the Personalized Genome panel, see: