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Health Orgs Were In Talks To Collect SDOH Data From Facebook

Posted on April 9, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

These days, virtually everyone in healthcare has concluded that integrating social determinants of health data with existing patient health information can improve care outcomes. However, identifying and collecting useful, appropriately formatted SDOH information can be a very difficult task. After all, in most cases it’s not just lying around somewhere ripe for picking.

Recently, however, Facebook began making the rounds with a proposal that might address the problem. While the research initiative has been put on hold in light of recent controversy over Facebook’s privacy practices, my guess is that the healthcare players involved will be eager to resume talks if the social media giant manages to calm the waters.

According to CNBC, Facebook was talking to healthcare organizations like Stanford Medical School and American College of Cardiology, in addition to several other hospitals, about signing a data-sharing agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the healthcare organizations would share anonymized patient data, which Facebook planned to match up with user data from its platform.

Facebook’s proposal will sound familiar to readers of this site. It suggested combining what a health system knows about its patients, such as their age, medication list and hospital admission history, with Facebook-available data such as the user’s marital status, primary language and level of community involvement.

The idea would then be to study, with an initial focus on cardiovascular health, whether this combined data could improve patient care, something its prospective partners seem to think possible. The CNBC story included a gushing statement from American College of Cardiology interim CEO Cathleen Gates suggesting that such data sharing could create revolutionary results. According to Gates, the ACC believes that mixing anonymized Facebook data with anonymized ACC data could help greatly in furthering scientific research on how social media can help in preventing and treating heart disease.

As the business site notes, the data would not include personally identifiable information. That being said, Facebook proposed to use hashing to match individuals existing in both data sets. If the project were to have gone forward, Facebook might’ve shared data on roughly 87 million users.

Looked at one way, this arrangement could raise serious privacy questions. After all, healthcare organizations should certainly exercise caution when exchanging even anonymized data with any outside organization, and with questions still lingering on how willing Facebook is to lock data down projects like this become even riskier.

Still, under the right circumstances, Facebook could prove to be an all but ideal source of comprehensive, digitized SDOH data. Well now, arguably, might not be the time to move ahead, hospitals should keep this kind of possibility in mind.

#HIMSS18: Pushing Inpatient Care Out

Posted on March 9, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

At present, we need acute care hospitals. Despite the fact that many types of care can now be delivered in outpatient settings, and chronic conditions managed remotely for connected health, there are still some treatments and procedures which can only be done in a big, expensive building.

That being said, some of what I saw at HIMSS18 has convinced me that the drive to push hospital-type services into the community has begun to pick up speed. While nobody seems to have a completely mature solution to decentralizing acute care, I saw some tools that might begin to solve the problem.

Perhaps the most direct example of this trend was offered by a Taiwanese company called Quanta Computer. (The booth was staffed with five company representatives who had flown here all the way from Taiwan, which may suggest that they are not fooling around.)

Quanta was here to pitch QOCA, whose capabilities include offering a “smart hospital at home.”  QOCA Home, an eldercare/assisted living solution including a central, easy to use terminal supporting a wide range of telehealth and connected health services. While the idea is not completely new, the way this blends a smart home approach with connected health intrigued me.

Other vendors took a different approach to some of the same core problems, i.e. managing the patient effectively outside of the hospital. For most exhibitors, this seemed to involve a blend of connected health, care management and patient/provider collaboration.

For example, vendor Virtual Health promises to deliver “whole person health” by tying together providers, healthcare execs, patients and care coordinators. Two points of interest: its solution include a collaborative workflow tool which seems to include patients, something I don’t believe I’ve seen before. Its platform, which is designed to support patients with highly complex medical needs, also addresses social determinants of health, including financial concerns and nutrition.

Now, I’m not here to tell you that any of this is revolutionary. The industry has been kicking around concepts like virtual hospital care, care coordination platforms and the integration of social determinants of health for quite some time, and I’m not suggesting that any of the vendors I saw seem to be all the way there.

Still, what I saw suggests to me that tech vendors are further along in delivering these options than they have been. If you haven’t looked into new platforms that address these issues, now might be the time. They may not be completely ready for prime time, but they’re well on their way.

Connecting Data with Effective Interventions

Posted on September 9, 2016 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently had a chance to talk with Robert Slepin, Executive Vice President and Chief Product Officer at Axispoint Health. They’re doing some fascinating work in population health management. During our conversation he pointed out what I think has been the missing connection in most of the health analytics solutions I see on the market today. Most healthcare analytics doesn’t connect the data to the intervention. Obviously, Robert and Axispoint Health are striving to fix that disconnect.

I think most of us agree that data is going to drive many costs savings and health benefits in the future. This is true with the limited data sets that are available today and is only going to get better as the data becomes higher quality and more comprehensive. It’s great that we’re collecting all of this data and understanding what it means, but then what?

The same is true for the many interventions that are available to improve someone’s health. There are a plethora of solutions on the market, but many of the patients that need these solutions don’t know their options. If you missed Melissa Adams VanHouten’s story on Gastroparesis, you’ll see first hand what I mean. There were solutions available, but the data that said she had Gastroparesis wasn’t connected to the possible interventions that could help her.

The moral of the story is that we need to better tie the health solutions with the data if we’re going to move the needle in healthcare. It’s not enough to just know what’s wrong with someone or which patients are going to cost the most money. We have to do something with that data and connect those patients with the assistance they need. Otherwise we’re going nowhere fast.

This also came up in a conversation I had with Mandi Bishop from Aloha Health. We were talking about SDOH (Social Determinants of Health) and pushing that data to the point of care. While it would be great to inform a doctor about the various SDOH that are impacting a patient, what next? What’s the doctor suppose to do with a patient who has a fever because they can’t afford heat in their home? That’s right. It’s not enough for us to push the data to the provider. We have to also connect them to the tools and interventions that can impact the patient.

Are 3 Square Meals the Key to Avoiding Hospitalizations?

Posted on July 16, 2015 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.

We’d like to welcome a new guest blogger to our ranks. If you’re on social media, you probably know Colin Hung (@Colin_Hung), Co-Host of #hcldr. Colin is also head of Marketing for @PatientPrompt, a product offered by Stericycle Communication Solutions. We look forward to many posts from Colin in the future.

On our weekly #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat, we had two special guests who have done pioneering healthcare work – Leonard Kish (@LeonardKish) and Dave Chase (@chasedave). Together Kish and Chase authored the #95Theses, a wonderful call-to-action for those of us in healthcare that’s written in same style as the seminal Cluertain Manifesto.

The first topic of last night’s #hcldr chat was “What are some creative/effective ways patients can use to avoid hospitalizations?”. There were many interesting and insightful answers, but one tweet from Chase really caught my eye:

The first statement was fascinating – Meals on Wheels as a way to reduce hospital admissions.

This concept is at the heart of the discussion around Social Determinants of Health (#sdoh) – a topic that has gotten a lot of buzz over the past couple of years. There is a really great definition of SDOH on the WHO website. I’d also recommend this blog post from John Lynn on a similar topic from earlier this year.

As we move towards a system that is based on wellness rather than sickness, I wonder if healthcare providers and organizations will look to preventative measures such as providing meals or teaching basic nutrition as a way to keep their communities healthy? Will the day come when this type of service will become necessary for a provider to remain relevant?

I doubt that most providers and healthcare organizations will reach this point by their own volition. However, I do believe that some innovative organization and entrepreneurial companies will emerge that will make this a reality in specific communities.

I would love to see a future where we will have community wellness centers where we used to have hospitals – places where local people can gather to learn about how to stay healthy and get social as well as emotional support from their peers. These centers would be helped by a network of technologies that combine an individual’s personally tracked data with insights gleaned from “Big Data” analytics resulting in a personalized wellness plan. A plan that includes recommendations for 3 square meals each day that would optimize a person’s health and has the facilities to then create those meals and a mechanism to deliver them (especially to elder adults who lack mobility).

I am excited and intrigued by the possibility that something as simple as a meal can be the key ingredient in reducing healthcare costs while improving health.

Know anyone who is doing this already?