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Doctor Who? Reaction to Female Casting an Opportunity to Revisit Gender Equality in Healthcare

Posted on July 24, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

On Sunday, immediately after Roger Federer defeated Marin Čilić for his eighth Wimbeldon title, BBC One announced to the world that the next actor to play Doctor Who would be…wait for it…a woman! It is the first time in 13 iterations of Doctor Who (fans call it regenerations) that a woman will play the titular character.

Jodie Whittaker of Broadchurch and Attack the Block fame, will become The Doctor following the annual Christmas special later this year when current actor Peter Capaldi ends his run on the show.

The announcement of Whittaker set off a firestorm of tweets and online comments. Although many were supportive of the move, there were some who felt betrayed by the show’s producers in casting a woman to be The Doctor. Although many tweets came from women-hating trolls (I’m choosing not to give them more air time by highlighting them in this blog), there seem to be an equal number of comments about how this breaks too far from the tradition of the show.

These tweets got me thinking about what it was like for Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female physician in the US and Jennie Kidd Trout, the first woman to be a practicing physician in Canada. If we were to transport ourselves back in time (see what I did there?) I can easily imagine hearing the same “but the doctor has always been a man and always should be” refrain from the medical establishment.

Traditions have their place – like Thanksgiving dinners and ice-cream after baseball games – but traditions based on gender (or race for that matter) deserve to be torn down. Healthcare is steeped in tradition and it wasn’t that long ago when the idea of a female clinician was deemed ludicrous. It took courageous people like Dr. Blackwell and Dr. Trout to tear down the walls of medicine’s male-only traditions and blaze the trail for the many women that would come after them. Over the years women have had to fight become physicians, nurses, surgeons, administrators and CEOs. It has been and continues to be a difficult road when compared to their male counterparts.

The same is true for women in HealthIT. You would think that in 2017 gender bias would have gone the way of COBOL, but it lingers. Although it is no longer strange to see women in IT roles, they still have to put up with being bullied, belittled and objectified online and at industry events. There really is no place for this type of behavior. I applaud the efforts of people like Mandi Bishop, Jennifer Dennard, Linda StotskyMel Smith Jones and Regina Holliday who stand up for gender equality in healthcare, yet at the same time I’m sad that their efforts are needed.

If the reaction to the Jodie Whittaker as Doctor Who is any indication, we collectively still have a lot of gender equality work to do. We should take Whittaker’s announcement as an opportunity to revisit the issue of inequality in healthcare.



Smart Bottles, Incentives & Social Support Not Enough for Adherence

Posted on July 10, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The Journal of the American Medical Association recently released the results of a study that looked at the effect of technology and behavioral interventions on patient outcomes following a heart attack.

The researchers found no significant difference between the medication adherence or clinical outcomes of those in the control group vs those that were given a combination of technologies and incentives.

According to one of the study’s authors, Dr. David Asch, executive director of Penn Medicine’s Center for Health Care Innovation, “It was a surprise. We went into this study thinking that it would be effective and it wasn’t”. Fellow author, Dr. Kevin Volpp echoed that same sentiment: “What we found was a little bit surprising and a little bit disappointing”.

The study was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS) over a span of 12 months. There were 1,509 patients involved in the study; all hospital inpatients who had experienced a heart attack and had been hospitalized between 1 and 180 days. The average age of the study group was 61 and they were all insured with five carriers who had Medicare fee-for-service arrangements with UPHS. All of the patients had been prescribed at least two daily medications (statin, aspirin, beta-blocker or antiplatelet).

The control group of 506 patients was given the standard post-discharge medication instructions and treatment. The remaining 1,003 patients were given additional tools to help them post-discharge:

  • A smart pill bottle that tracked whether or not it had been opened at the prescribed intervals
  • Participation in a daily lottery with a 1 in 5 chance of winning $5 and a 1 in 100 chance of winning $50 each day medications were taken as prescribed
  • An option to enlist a friend or family member to receive notifications if the participant failed to use the smart pill bottle twice in any 3-day span
  • Access to social work resources
  • A hospital-based advisor to answer questions and reinforce medication adherence over the phone

On the surface, the failure of this level of support and intervention is disheartening for anyone developing medication adherence technology or involved with helping a loved one recover from being hospitalized. However, if you listen to the post-study podcast or spend time looking at how the incentives/technology was administered to the study group, important clues emerge as to why this failure may not mean abandoning hope for technology-based interventions.

First, only 878 of the 1,003 patients activated their smart pill-bottles and only 70% of that same group fully participated in the incentives and technology. This indicates that the lack of adherence may not have anything to do with technology when its working, but rather that there is a challenge to get patients using that technology in the first place.

Second, the fear of another heart attack may have been enough of an incentive to keep patients on their medication regimens. Put another way, perhaps the control group already had sufficient incentive to follow their prescriptions and thus technology would have little impact.

Third, and perhaps most significantly, an average of 41 days elapsed between the time the patients were discharged from the hospital and the time they were activated on the incentive/intervention program. This delay was attributed to the delay in the insurance process. According to Dr. Volpp:

If we had been able to engage these patients earlier, for example. If this had been a hospital-based intervention and this could have started at the time of discharge [rather than weeks later], then we would have had a greater opportunity to influence these patients and change the course of their care

I personally found this last point by Dr. Volpp fascinating. This study may have inadvertently shown that the timeliness of implementing post-discharge behavior and technology incentives matters as much as the types being implemented. 41 days after discharge is a long time – almost a month and a half.

Consider this example. Say you get caught for speeding and as part of the ticket-writing process the police officer activated a reminder system in your car that (a) warned you when you were 5 miles over the limit and (b) sent a message to your significant other whenever you receive two such warnings in the same day. From personal experience I can tell you that the week after I got a speeding ticket, I followed every posted speed limit. Why? Because the trauma of getting caught was still fresh in my mind.

Now imagine the same scenario but instead of immediately activating the warning system it took until 41 days after getting your ticket. By the time the system was in place you would have already fallen back into old habits and assured yourself that you were “fine” driving the way you were.

It would be interesting to see if analysis of this study’s data revealed a correlation between the length of time before incentive implementation and adherence. Even if it doesn’t, this study holds a cautionary tale for anyone in HealthIT – timeliness of implementation may matter as much as your solution itself.

Educational EHRs – A Void that Needs to Be Filled?

Posted on June 16, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Last week I had my eyes opened to the issue of EHRs in medical education at the #eHealth2017 conference in Toronto. Prior to last week, I had assumed medical schools in North America had incorporated EHRs into their curriculums a long time ago. I learned my lesson (excuse the pun) after attending a breakout session on the use of #HealthIT in medical education.

Lynn Nagel RN, PhD, assistant professor at the University of Toronto in nursing, gave me my first shock when she told the story of how no one raised their hands when she asked her final-year nursing class who had used an actual EHR before. My jaw hit the floor. This would be akin to a class of accountants who had never used a spreadsheet before or computer science majors who had never used a tablet before.

Nagel was not surprised to learn that there simply wasn’t any room for EHR training in the nursing school’s curriculum. Plus, there was a belief by the professors that the healthcare institutions would train these newly minted nurses how to use their EHR.

Later in the session Gurprit Randhawa, Manager of EHR Adoption, Use, Research & Development at Island Health in Victoria BC, told the story of recently graduated physicians who had been given minimal exposure to EHRs (less than 5hrs total).

Randhawa spoke about how she watched these new graduates struggle with actual patient encounters – not knowing whether to face the screen or the patient or both. The new physicians also did not know what to enter in the various fields and were confused over what to record in their clinical notes. Randhawa elicited a round of laughter when she talked about one physician who complained that he thought EHRs all came with a Siri-like interface so that doctors could just dictate their notes to the system.

Later in her presentation Randhawa spoke about how the institution eventually adopted an EHR to help acclimate medical students to the “real world”. They chose an EHR based on the US Vista system and it was well received by medical students.

Randhawa made specific mention of how lucky the medical school was in their choice of EHR. Not only did the vendor provide reliable technical support to the school’s IT department, they also took support calls from students free of charge (and often in the middle of the night before an assignment was due).

Cost, maintenance and support for the EHR are significant considerations for educational institutions, especially given their limited IT resources. Implementing a fully functional EHR is simply not an option.

In the Q&A scrum at the end of the breakout session, I listened to a former medical professor (now consultant) talk about the early days of EHRs and how they used the production system from their institution’s medical center to teach students. Although this provided the advantage of being “real-world”, it was difficult to find actual patient use-cases that matched the clinical criteria they were attempting to teach – partly because EHRs at the time lacked adequate search tools. This professor also mentioned how some of the health records used in class were a bit “too real” as the notes were rife with spelling mistakes, dosages in the notes that didn’t match actual prescribed medications and sometimes personal comments from the attending physicians.

Using actual patient data in an educational setting also raised privacy concerns. I can imagine that in some cases, patients were not made aware that their data could be used in this fashion.

In 2014 a study was published in the American Journal of Medicine that tracked 3rd year medical students and their use of EHRs. The study concluded that there was no correlation between EHR usage and academic performance, however, the early exposure to EHRs was deemed to influence attitudes and habits related to the technology as the students became physicians.

Despite the potential impact of the EHR on educational outcomes, no correlation could be identified between EHR use and clerkship performance. These findings suggest that EHR use habits may be learned early in medical training and certain specialties are more prone to increased screen time. More attention should be directed towards the interface between medical students and the EHR. Their experiences with the EHR during these earlier stages of training are likely to influence attitudes and habits later on as physicians.

One interesting solution to the educational EHR challenge is the Regenstrief EHR Clinical Learning Platform which features more than 11,000 clinically accurate but misidentified medical records. This EHR is the result of a collaboration between the Regenstrief Institute (associated with the Inidana University School of Medicine) and the American Medical Association. This EHR is designed specifically for the education of students.

As with everything in healthcare, the use of EHRs in medical education is a multi-faceted challenge. Although the answer seems obvious (teaching EHRs help prepare students for the reality of healthcare), the implementation of the solution is not straight-forward. Will the vendor support educational institutions and the students themselves? Will the cost to install and maintain the education EHR be within the means of the institution? Will the EHR itself be easy enough for students to use?

That last question was the most memorable moment of the #eHealth2017 breakout session. At the end of Randhawa’s presentation she flashed up a slide with student reactions to using an EHR as part of their course. Take a look at the comment on the right.

Since the goal of education is to prepare students for the real world, a sub-optimal EHR experience is about as real-world as it gets.

Vendor Involvement in Online Communities – Caution but Proceed Forward

Posted on May 22, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

At the Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit #HMPS17 (May 8-10 in Austin TX), I presented alongside Dan Dunlop @dandunlop President of Jennings and Cindy Price Gavin @cindypricegavin, Founding Executive Director of Let’s Win! Sharing Science Solutions for Pancreatic Cancer. The three of us will discuss Online Communities

The same week on the #hcldr tweetchat we asked the community for opinions on vendor involvement in online healthcare communities:

  • Should healthcare vendors join online communities or stay clear?
  • Should online communities like #hcldr #lcsm #LupusChat or #bcsm be accepting of sponsorships or would they lose too much credibility?

These questions generated a lot of discussion and a variety of viewpoints were shared.

In general, most people were favorable to vendors participating in online communities – as long as they didn’t try to push their products/services while interacting with community members.

One particularly interesting viewpoint was shared by Ken Gordon @quickmuse:

Ken’s point is well made: people want to connect with people, not faceless company avatars. In an online community, members want to interact with other members and get useful information. So if a company wants to participate, one easy path to success is to allow individuals from the company be the participant not the company account itself. The company “wins” twofold with this approach. First, employees will feel valued and trusted since the company is allowing them to express themselves online. Second, the company will gain goodwill be seen by the association to active members who are contributing to the conversation.

There are plenty of great examples from both the #hcldr and #HITsm communities. Just look at @TextraHealth, @OchoTex, @burtrosen, @MandiBPro, @drnic1 and @techguy – each represents the company they work for/at AND contributes to the community as unique individuals. They are all trusted individuals and by extension we look upon the organizations they represent more favorably.

One of the most important factors to vendor involvement in an online healthcare community is disclosure. This was brought up several times when #hcldr discussed the second question:

Many recommended that community leaders establish clear guidelines for how sponsorship money would to be used and to publish what vendors could expect/not expect in return for their $$$.

Other practical advice for community administrators and hosts included:

Personally, I believe vendors SHOULD get involved in online healthcare communities – even if just to listen to what their target audiences are saying. They could learn so much just by seeing what topics are being discussed and the frustrations people are experiencing. Product marketers and developers would have a field day with all the information being shared online.

One word of caution though – when vendors do decide to participate, they need to realize that many in the community will be very skeptical at the start. Online communities are typically outgrowths of individual passions and interests. As such, corporations can be viewed by many as “invaders” into a private space. So caution…but please proceed forward.

Enhance Your Conference Experience with Social Media

Posted on May 15, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The Healthcare Marketing and Physician Strategies Summit #HMPS17 has come to a close and I am reminded again of the power that social media has to enhance the whole conference experience. Pre-mobile, as an attendee, you could count on making 10-20 contacts during a conference…more if you really “worked the room” at the social events. Today it is entirely possible to meet 50+ new people at a conference by leveraging social media before and during the event.

At #HMPS17 I saw many examples of how social media has changed the attendee dynamics at conferences. I watched a group of 5 Instagram users meetup at the hotel restaurant (I’m pretty sure some food pics were taken!). I also saw two different groups of Facebook friends head out for a night on the town together. Of course, the #hcldr community had a meetup in the hotel lobby that attracted 8 people – 5 of whom came to the hotel just for the meetup (Thanks for driving 2hrs from Houston @JoeBabaian!)

During the conference itself I ran into at least 20 other people that knew from social media. All of these were first-time meetings (or what I call meeting old friends for the first time). This degree of networking would have been very difficult in the era before social media. You would have had to attend the same conference consistently for a number of years in order for people to get to know you. I would encourage fellow marketers and salespeople to get active on social media. There simply is no better accelerator for business relationships.

Since #HMPS17 spanned a Tuesday, I had the rare opportunity to organize a group session for the weekly #hcldr chat. Four of us gathered together and participated in the tweetchat while physically sitting beside each other. If you’ve never done this or seen it, it does look very strange. People are staring at their devices, madly typing and barely talking. Then all of a sudden someone will make a comment out loud about a tweet they have read and everyone chimes in with a verbal comment. Usually these side conversations last 1-2 minutes and then people go back to their devices. A few minutes later it happens again.

Through the one we held at #HMPS17 I now have two new friends: Alexis Todd and Tori Benick of UltraLinq. It was truly wonderful to see how much they enjoyed their first tweetchat. Dan Dunlop @dandunlop (who was the other in-person participant) commented to me how especially energizing it is to hear new perspectives and to see how excited newcomers get when they discover how educational a tweetchat can be.

If you are in healthcare marketing or involved with sales to healthcare organizations, I would really encourage you to join the conversations happening on social media. It doesn’t matter the social platform you choose – just pick one and dive in. Not only will you take your healthcare conference experience up a notch, but you as well as your organization will benefit through the connections you make.

See you on Twitter.

It’s a Good Thing #HealthIT Marketing is Diversifying

Posted on April 26, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

It’s been 3 weeks since 200+ Healthcare IT Marketers/PR experts gathered in Las Vegas for the annual HITMC conference and I just sorted through all the pictures I took of the event. As I was swiping through the photos, I was struck by the number of new faces at the conference. The prior two HITMCs that I attended were like reunions – everywhere you turned you would see HealthIT industry veterans. Everyone knew each other.

Seeing all the new faces in my photos was encouraging. To me the infusion of fresh faces signals that HealthIT companies are finally investing in Marketing – a sign that the industry is maturing. In the land-grab situation that marked the last 6 years of HealthIT, Sales was the primary focus…and rightly so. Incentive money was flowing freely and healthcare organizations were clamouring to adopt EHRs to take advantage of that government program before the well ran dry. In 2016 it finally did.

The end of incentives has had profound effect on the HealthIT industry and I believe that the shift to more investment in Marketing is one of the fortuitous consequences. HealthIT companies have to compete smarter and have to stand out from all the noise. Gone are the days when you could out-sell your competitor with more feet on the street. I for one am excited about this development (of course being a marketer I’m completely biased) and HITMC was a timely proof point.

It was not only the number of new attendees at HITMC that surprised me. As I got to know my fellow attendees, I was struck by how many had only recently entered the healthcare world. Quite a few had come from non-healthcare B2B technology companies and from agencies that were focused more in the commercial (non-healthcare) space.

In my blog “The B2B Vendors are Coming” I wrote how at HIMSS17 the presences of non-healthcare B2B vendors on the exhibit floor was noticeable. Companies like Samsung, Salesforce, Intel, IBM, Chase and Verizon all had big booths. To me this was proof that the HealthIT market was moving away from traditional Healthcare specific vendors to a more mixed set of vendors.

HITMC17 was further proof that HealthIT market is diversifying. As more and more marketers are hired with non-healthcare backgrounds we will see a change (dare I say evolution) of how HealthIT is positioned, marketed and pitched. HealthIT companies are going to start to look and feel like other B2B technologies, use more advanced marketing tactics and be much more commercial in nature.

I am looking forward to this evolution.

The B2B Vendors are Coming! The B2B Vendors are Coming!

Posted on March 10, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

It’s been a couple of weeks since the annual HIMSS conference wrapped up for 2017 and I’m just starting to emerge from the HIMSS-Haze of sleep deprivation. I doff my hat to those that recovered more quickly.

As usual there was too much to take in at HIMSS17. The keynotes were fantastic, the sessions educational and the exhibit hall had a buzz about it that was absent from last year’s event. Although the main take-away from HIMSS17 seems to be the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, I believe something else emerged from the event – something that may have far greater ramifications for HealthIT in the short term.

For me the big story at HIMSS17 was the arrival of mainstream IT companies. I have been going to HIMSS for 10 years now and I can honestly say this year was the first time that non-traditional healthcare IT vendors were a noticeable force. SAP, IBM (Watson), Intel, Google, Salesforce, Samsung and Microsoft were just a few of the B2B vendors who had large booths in the HIMSS17 exhibit hall.

Salesforce was particularly noteworthy. They made a big splash with their super-sized booth this year. It was easily five times the size of the one they had at HIMSS16 and featured a fun “cloud viewer” at its center along with a large theatre for demonstrations.

Salesforce, however, didn’t stop there. They also threw a HUGE party over at Pointe Orlando on Tuesday night. At one point, the party had a line of eager attendees that snaked out the front of the facility. Their party rivaled that of several large EHR vendors.

IBM was also back at HIMSS after an extended absence. Their “organic booth” was always busy with people curious to learn more about IBM Watson – particularly after the keynote given by CEO Ginni Rometty on Day 1.

So what does the arrival of mainstream B2B vendors mean for healthcare?

Consolidation. The EHR gold rush is over and yet companies like SAP and Salesforce are still electing to invest in healthcare. Why would they do that at a time when government incentive money has all but dried up? I believe it’s because they smell consolidation and optimization opportunities. These B2B players have large war chests and as HealthIT companies begin to struggle, they will be knights in shining armor waiting to swoop in.

More Consumer Technologies. One of the big trends in healthcare right now is consumerism. There is a drive by healthcare organizations to adopt consumer-centric technologies and workflows to service patients better. Patients are seeking providers that offer the conveniences that they are used to as consumers: online appointment booking, mobile chat, real-time price quotes, etc. Companies like Google, Samsung, IBM and Microsoft already have technologies that work well in the consumer world. With growing demand in healthcare it’s only natural that they are investing.

Standards. Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but when companies like TSYS (a very large financial transaction processor) show up at HIMSS for the first time, one can only hope that standards and interoperability will soon follow. After all, if cut-throat banks can agree on a common way to share information with each other, surely the same can happen in healthcare.

Cognitive Computing. Google, IBM, Microsoft and Intel have all made big bets on cognitive computing. I’m willing to bet that their investments in this area dwarf anything that a HealthIT company has made – including Epic and Cerner. IBM and Microsoft in particular have been aggressively seeking partners to work with them on health applications for Artificial Intelligence. Just ahead of HIMSS17, Microsoft and UPMC Enterprises announced that they would be working together to “create new products aimed at transforming care delivery”.

I’m very excited by the arrival of these B2B technology vendors. I think it signals the start of a maturation phase in the HealthIT industry, one in which consolidation and collaboration break down legacy silos. At the very least, traditional HealthIT companies like Cerner, Epic, athenahealth and NextGen will now have to step up their game in order to fend off these large, well-funded entrants.

Exciting times!

Searching for Disruptive Healthcare Innovation in 2017

Posted on January 17, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Disruptive Innovation has been the brass ring for technology companies ever since Clayton Christensen popularized the term in his seminal book The Innovator’s Dilemma in 1997. According to Christensen, disruptive innovation is:

“A process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.”

Disruption is more likely to occur, therefore, when you have a well established market with slow-moving large incumbents who are focused on incremental improvements rather than truly innovative offerings. Using this definition, healthcare has been ripe for innovation for a number of years. But where is the AirBNB/Uber/Google of healthcare?

On a recent #hcldr tweetchat we asked what disruptive healthcare technologies might emerge in 2017. By far the most popular response was Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning.

Personally, I’m really excited about the potential of AI applied to diagnostics and decision support. There is just no way a single person can stay up to speed on all the latest clinical research while simultaneously remembering every symptom/diagnosis from the past. I believe that one day we will all be using AI assistance to guide our care – as common as we use a GPS today to help navigate unknown roads.

Some #hcldr participants, however, were skeptical of AI.

While I don’t think @IBMWatson is on the same trajectory as Theranos, there is merit to being wary of “over-hype” when it comes to new technologies. When a shining star like Theranos falls, it can set an entire industry back and stifle innovation in an area that may warrant investment. Can you imagine seeking funding for a technology that uses small amounts of blood to detect diseases right now? Too much hype can prematurely kill innovation.

Other potentially disruptive technologies that were raised during the chat included: #telehealth, #wearables, patient generated health data (#PDHD), combining #HealthIT with consumer services and #patientengagement.

The funniest and perhaps most thoughtful tweet came from @YinkaVidal, who warned us that innovations have a window of usefulness. What was once ground-breaking can be rendered junk by the next generation.

What do you believe will be the disruptive healthcare technology to emerge in 2017?

6 Things EHRs Should Be Thankful For

Posted on November 25, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Tis’ the season for being thankful for the friends, family and bounty we have in our lives. It is a time to celebrate the end of the season with copious amounts of food and reflect upon the good things that have happened in our lives this year.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fun to give voice to what an EHR would be thankful for this year. So if I put my mind into that of an EHR here are the top 6 things I’d be thankful for.

  1. Meaningful Use. Thank you for five great years. It was only through the infusion of $35B that thousands of my brethren were adopted/implemented across the United States. Without MU, we EHRs would not have proliferated to the degree that we have. #forevergrateful
  2. Doctors. Absolute thankful for all the doctors who use us everyday. We love how much time and attention you are giving us in 2016. It’s almost embarrassing how you stare at our screens and don’t get distracted by the other people in the exam room with you (I think you call them patients…and I think I have a field for that). We look forward to more of the same next year. Thank you!
  3. Nurses. Thank you to all the nurses out there. Your constant clicking on our drop-down boxes and check boxes are like a daily “tickle”. We hope you aren’t too mad at us for making it difficult to get the information you want. It’s only because we want to spend more time with you. #love
  4. EHR Consultants. I am grateful this year for the army of EHR consultants that are out there. Without you, we EHRs would have been relegated to the scrap heap long ago. Thank you for working hard to optimize us, customizing us to better suit user needs and to teaching people how to use us effectively. We owe our longevity to you.
  5. Health IT Media. Thank you to the Health IT media for keeping the spotlight on EHRs in 2016 – despite it being the last year of the Meaningful Use program. Whether you like us or not, we EHRs have become the backbone of healthcare and there are a lot of things that can be improved – but only if people stay focused on their EHR journeys. Installation was just the first step. So all you columnists, writers, bloggers and Tweeters out there, please keep EHRs on the radar.
  6. EHR Vendors. I shudder to think of where we would be without our creators in 2016. It was exciting to watch you build “partner ecosystems” around us. These add-ons really helped to unlock the usefulness of the data we’ve been keeping safe. I know we wanted to work on something called “usability” but I’m sure we’ll get to it next year.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Olympic Polyclinics – the Future of Healthcare?

Posted on August 19, 2016 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The first Olympic Village was built in Los Angeles In 1932. To help ensure the health and safety of athletes, a small hospital was built in the Village and provided care free of charge to the athletes.

Since 1932, every Olympic Village has featured a dedicated 24-hour healthcare facility – now called the Olympic Polyclinic – that provides free healthcare to anyone involved with the Olympics. The Polyclinic at this year’s Games in Rio de Janeiro is once again a marvel of modern medicine, much like the one at 2012’s London Games represented the pinnacle of medicine four years ago.

At 3,500 sq ft, the Rio Polyclinic is the largest ever constructed. It features a state-of-the-art equipment including: MRI scanners, x-ray machines and even cryotherapy pools (for low temperature treatments). All the equipment and the EHR that holds it all together is donated by Olympic sponsors. The staff are all volunteers.

I find the Polyclinics fascinating and the more I read about them, the more I am convinced they are a providing us a glimpse into the future of healthcare.

Health-Aware Patients

The doctors and nurses at the Polyclinics see some of the most health-aware patients on the planet. Olympic athletes track everything from their diet to their sleep patterns to resting heart rates. When they show up at the Polyclinic they often have a very good idea of what is wrong and come armed with lots of baseline health data. The Polyclinic staff expect this and collaborate with their patients when they walk in the door.

As more and more people track their fitness through apps and trackers, we too are becoming more and more health-aware as patients. In the future we will have a lot of digital information about our own health – information that can and should be shared with our care team. Physician practices will have to learn to collaborate as the Polyclinic staff have learned – or they risk alienating potential health-aware patients.

Health-Abstaining Patients

The Olympic Polyclinics also see patients that are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. For many athletes (and support staff) from developing countries, the Polyclinics are the only opportunity they have to receive quality healthcare.

According to a piece in USA Today the MRI suite, x-ray machines and ultrasound machines at the Rio Polyclinic has been running non-stop. In addition, the Polyclinic has provided:

  • 1,000 dental checks
  • 450 dental x-rays
  • 300 specialized mouth guards
  • 1,730 eye exams
  • 1,410 sets of prescription glasses

…and it’s only the mid-point of the Games.

Due to lack of access and high cost, many Olympians are forced to forgo medical care. This is the same phenomenon that is happening in the United States as high deductible plans and increasing healthcare costs are forcing many to abstain from seeking care. Because of this, staff will see more and more patients with higher and higher acuities – something that the Polyclinic staff see often at the Games.

Completely Autonomous

The Polyclinics are self-contained healthcare facilities. They have an onsite lab, a full imaging suite and a full staff of specialists. It takes less than an hour to get blood test results and image readings. Short of major surgeries, the Polyclinics can handle most patient needs without need to refer them to another facility.

This one-stop approach is what patients want. They want to go to a single nearby facility and have access to all the specialists and equipment they need. It would be impractical to build Polyclinics in every rural town, but through the magic of telemedicine, it may one day be possible to access needed specialists without having to drive hundreds of miles.

With the advances in remote testing and telemedicine coupled with patient preference for one-stop shopping I expect to see more multi-specialty, completely autonomous clinics open in the next few years.

Culturally Aware

Being in the middle of Olympic Village, the staff at the Polyclinics have to be very culturally aware. Instead of insisting on a “Western Approach”, doctors and nurses are encouraged to listen to the patient and take into consideration their religion as well as cultural norms.

It will not be long until smart healthcare organizations realize that catering to cultural differences in their communities is a differentiator. The same has happened in the grocery industry with the rise of halal meats and ethnic food aisles. Being culturally aware will attract more patients.

Admittedly, the Polyclinics, like the Olympic Games themselves, exist within their own reality bubble. There is little concern over finances, there is no shortage of clinicians, they have a completely captive audience and they don’t have to care for their patients for more than two weeks.

Despite this, I see the Polyclinics as a barometer of things to come – especially in terms of the types of patients they see. It’s going to be fun to read more stories from the Polyclinic after the Rio Games end. Now back to watching synchronized swimming.

For an insider look at life inside the Polyclinic, I would highly recommend this post from Trisha Greenhalgh who documented her experience at the London Games Polyclinic in 2012.