Young physicians will become the champions of technology

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While medicine changes slowly with the adoption of new technology, younger physicians are taking more initiative in affecting positive changes in the arena.

 

They are indeed the connected generation and use technology by choice in all facets of life. It is part of their fabric. Those entering the field of medicine would logically desire and expect to carry that over to their professional lives. However, there are multiple barriers to the continuity of this facet of their personal lives to their professional ones as they embark on what is perceived as an otherwise high-tech journey into the healthcare world.

 

What are found are EHRs which are often not intuitive, high pressurized short patient visits involving complex medical issues and a system in which connectivity is an adversarial roadblock among commercial technology companies rather than an opportunity for better patient care. Young physicians are met with teachers and mentors experiencing burnout (it is estimated that 75% of all physicians today experience burnout) and bitterness fueled by regulatory pressures and the resulting decreased face time with patients.

See on www.kevinmd.com

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When code can kill or cure

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SMART pumps deliver drugs perfectly dosed for individual patients. Easy-to-use defibrillators can bring heart-attack victims back from the brink of death. Pacemakers and artificial hearts keep people alive by ensuring that blood is pumped smoothly around their bodies. Medical devices are a wonder of the modern age.

 

As these devices have become more capable, however, they have also become more complex. More than half the medical devices sold in America (the world’s largest health-care market) rely on software, and often lots of it. The software in a pacemaker may require over 80,000 lines of code, a drug-infusion pump 170,000 lines and an MRI (magnetic-resonance imaging) scanner more than 7m lines.

See on www.economist.com

New venture uses social media to share stories of patient harm

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There has been a lot of talk and debate regarding the utility of social media platforms for the health care industry. Its proponents point to it as an easier medium of communication between physicians and patients, providing a greater level of transparency and accessibility. Others see social media platforms as an inappropriate place for sensitive information, and question what tangible benefits they actually bring.

 

An interesting new venture from ProPublica, a non-profit news outfit, could prove to be a useful test case. The company, using Facebook, has created an environment for patients who have suffered from injury or infection while undergoing medical treatment and for others concerned about the problem of patient harm.

 

In the past, ProPublica has conducted previous health care reporting focused on gaps in nursing oversight, patient abuse and drug company/doctor payments. With this leap into the world of social media, the company is hoping to “build a community of people — patients as well as doctors, nurses, regulators and health-care executives and others — who are interested in discussing patient harm, its causes and solutions.”

 

ProPublica is counting on the personal nature of Facebook accounts to help reduce the level of anonymity that usually comes with online forums and to promote a more genuine interaction.

See on searchhealthit.techtarget.com

mHealth’s Problems Are More Psychological than Technological

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Medical device inventor, investor, and electronics engineer Mir Imran once told me “problems don’t care about technology.” As it turns out, many innovators and entrepreneurs tend to be so enamored by technology that they neglect to spend sufficient time understanding the market needs that their products are meant to address.

 

This tendency is rather widespread in the domain of mobile health (or insert “digital health,” “connected health” or any other nomenclature you prefer), which, if you listen to some accounts, is a field set to explode in importance. I agree that the time is ripe for transformation in medicine, which hasn’t been revolutionized by electronics nearly as dramatically as many consumer industries. But the pace of change might be disappointing to those who are most enthusiastic about the prospects of a short-term mobile revolution. And not just because of expense of investing in it and the fact that regulation tends to slow down the introduction of new technology…

 

For a product to find success in the marketplace, not only does it need to be easy enough to use that it is unobtrusive, but the user must be inspired enough to use it to fix their problem.

 

On a related note, a recent piece by device designer Stuart Karten explains that “technology must come together with meaning to be successful.” Only products that “connect with people’s values and mindsets—their ceremonies, behaviors, rituals, motivations, and preferences” are truly successful, he explains.

 

See on www.medicalelectronicsdesign.com

mHealth presents growing opportunity to mobile operators

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The GSMA today announced that mobile operators are driving significant value for the healthcare industry by improving access, reach and quality to care across the entire patient pathway.

 

The findings come from a new report by the GSMA looking at the wider healthcare ecosystem, “Integrating Healthcare: The Role and Value of Mobile Operators in eHealth,” which was released at the Mobile Health Summit in Cape Town on 30th May 2012 and is supported by data from the GSMA mHealth Tracker.

 

“Over the past few years we’ve seen mobile operators delivering end-to-end healthcare solutions which have typically been provided by the traditional systems integrator but there is clear evidence supporting operators’ emerging role in eHealth,” said Chris Locke, Managing Director, GSMA Development Fund.

 

The healthcare industry is undergoing a fundamental shift as demand from patients for services outside of traditional healthcare settings, such as hospitals and clinics, increases. This in turn is driving increased demand for mHealth services, with the mHealth market estimated to be worth US$23 billion by 2017.

 

In addition, operators are also developing ICT capabilities that enable them to serve the larger eHealth market, such as cloud-based medical records and imaging as well as in the provision of health information exchanges. This larger eHealth market is estimated to be worth up to USD$160 billion in 2015.

 

Leading mobile operators are expanding beyond their core capabilities in consumer voice and data, to global business integration capabilities. They are now integral to areas such as cloud computing, enterprise collaboration, machine-to-machine integration and integrated payments to support core clinical and operational processes.

See on www.itnewsafrica.com

6 ways providers can meet patients’ needs with social media

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six things patients want from social media.

 

1. To find information quickly. As a patient advocate and someone running a nonprofit, Gruman said, social media was a “bright spot,” and she was “dazzled by how easy it was to find basic information about a disease.” Once she started treatments, though, Gruman said her need for social media slightly shifted. “I was really weak and sick and feeling bad; it snuffed out all my curiosity in any form,” she said. “I looked for specific answers to specific questions online – I wanted to spend as little time as I could getting answers. I was cautious but I wasn’t curious.”

 

2. To have information streamlined. When turning to the Internet for information, Gruman said an organization’s ability to streamline information – making it easy to find and understand for the patient – was key. “I only need to know what I need to know when I need to know it,” she said. “It’s representative of many people in this country.” She added that organizations need to not “be seduced” into believing because there are more people online, that means a “slam dunk” for social media. Instead, she said, “the opportunities are there, but they’re strategic and focused and require energy and resources to realize.” Access, she concluded, is just one part of the puzzle, and having clear, concise information readily available will make all the difference. “Those of us who lack literacy skills, cognitive capacity, experience, enthusiasm, and confidence may have trouble with this and may not be adapting to it anytime soon,” she said.

 

3. A clear understanding of the aging population. The assumption that older patients have adult children tointeract with via social media and be on mobile phones is dangerous, said Gruman. “Be careful with this assumption. It’s true for some, but not a lot…we need to reconsider that as we have this large group of people who are still kicking and using a lot of healthcare; they’re struggling to get good care when it’s difficult to navigate.” People are going to age out, along with the doctors who won’t use email and still chart notes with pens, she said. “It’s the older of us using healthcare the most. What’s social media going to do for us?”

 

4. To be engaged. Patients “live and die by HCAHPS,” Gruman said. “HCAHPS scores indicate to you whether we think it’s important that we engage in care, that’s it’s possible for us to do so, and it’s safe for us to do so. Good HCAHPS scores indicate that we believe hospitals and clinicians are all of these things.” Yet, only one third of patients actually consider themselves engaged, she noted. In reality, patients don’t track changes in healthcare and aren’t up-to-date on, for example, new drugs, procedures, etc. “One lesson I draw from listening to people talk is there’s opportunity to use social media tools to target those of us who are online to help understand how to get good care,” said Gruman. “And in the process of doing behavior engagement, [it’s about] offering the kinds of information people need to get their care and knowing the basic barriers.”

 

5. To help with the practical parts of care. “Payment and paperwork is amazing,” said Gruman, and they act as perfect examples as to why patients simply aren’t engaged. “They’re not sexy topics, not lively, but they really are practical and they’re necessary; they correspond with big gaps and the ability for many of us, who are well educated and savvy, face these gaps in understanding how to use the services of a specific hospital.” Gruman added that healthcare tends to be a last resort for patients, and by the time a patient does reach out to a health professional, they’re looking for specific information – not general answers. “There’s urgency in our need, and we don’t associate clinicians with general health information. We can get that anywhere,” she said.

 

6. To help with the healing process. Finally, said Gruman, being sick is “serious business for us … embedded in enthusiasm for social media, there’s a sole assumption that being actively engaged with new technologies can somehow substitute for the pain and discomfort of illness.” It doesn’t, Gruman said, and instead, the experience and value of social media, for a sick patient, is more tactile and less transformative. “It’s part of all our lives; all of us want to feel energetic and happy. We don’t want to be distracted by pain, discomfort, sadness, but keeping ourselves alive is serious business. We don’t want to learn new IT on the off chance it’ll help us – we want IT to be efficient and useful and help us take care of ourselves and our loved ones, so we can live lives that are fun.”

See on www.healthcarefinancenews.com

Cancer Patients Share Online Data To Gain Doctors’ Insight, Advice

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A study finds that most cancer patients who discuss online health information with their doctors are seeking insight into the data. Researchers offered ideas for responding to patients who bring up such online data.

 

Study Findings

When researchers asked the 145 survey respondents about why they discussed online health information with their doctors, they found that:

 

37% said they wanted to learn more about a condition or treatment;

 

19% said they sought their physician’s opinion or advice about the online information;

 

13% said they wanted to manage their doctor’s impression of them or be seen as an active patient;

 

13% said they sought to test their physician’s knowledge or find out why their physician’s advice differed from the online information; and

 

10% said they wanted to verify the accuracy of the online information

 

 

See on www.ihealthbeat.org