Tag: "health IT"

Is Patient Scheduling Software Valuable to Doctors?

I am a huge fan of entrepreneurs who want to make medical care more productive and consumer friendly. I wish all of them the best of success. Unfortunately, I am concerned that one of the trends attracting venture capital is chasing a shrinking market. That trend is patient-scheduling software in physicians’ offices.

I was at an angel investor pitch off in Arlington, Virginia, yesterday where one such firm was seeking investors. Two great incubator/accelerators, StartUp Health in New York and Rock Health in San Francisco (and, now, New York) have invested in Arsenal Health, inventor of Smart Scheduling.

Firms like this promise algorithms that use data to predict cancellations and no-shows. I suppose this is the flipside of ZocDoc, the remarkably successful business that doctors use to find new patients to fill appointments that have been cancelled.

These are all great ideas. I am just not sure they make sense in the future environment, where there will be surplus of patients and a shortage of doctors. A few years from now, when the U.S. has Canadian-style waiting lists to see specialists, why would a physician invest in technology to manage cancellations and no-shows?

Such technology would be very valuable where there is a surplus of doctors competing for a limited number of patients. But I don’t think anyone anticipates that for U.S. health care. I hope I am wrong.

Health IT Juggernaut is Stumbling

The gold rush in Health Information Technology (HIT) appears to be winding down. Mercom Capital Group, LLC, reported that venture funding in HIT dropped 35 percent in the first quarter to just $785 million. Well, no trend lasts forever. Still, I have to wonder if investors aren’t getting a little concerned about putting so much capital into a space so dominated by government.

The Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC), which has an overly ambitious 10-year strategic plan that needs to be rolled back, has pretty much confessed that the $30 billion taxpayers’ dollars spent on Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has been wasted.

Unconnected Medical Devices Harm Patients

The federal government’s dominance of health information Technology (HIT) has been most apparent, and most harmful, in electronic health records (EHRs). However, the hand of government must lie heavily in other parts of health care, too.

An example is medical devices hooked up to patients at the hospital. Remarkably, these devices do not talk to each other, requiring nurses to waste time transcribing data from one device to another. This infographic summarizes a survey of 500 nurses commissioned by the West Health Institute:

Copyright: West Health Institute (2015)

Copyright: West Health Institute (2015)

 

These are appalling figures. I don’t know about you, but I figured out how to connect my VCR to my TV sometime during the 1980s. Medical devices are heavily regulated by the FDA. The fact that devices critical to hospital patients’ health are still not connected strikes me as a likely consequence of over-regulation.

Hits and Misses

Women jogging

Jogging may be good for your heart: But endurance runners are more likely to die from heat stroke than a heart attack.

Big shrink is listening: A smart phone app that monitors your voice for signs of manic/depression.

There’s little reliable evidence that fish oil helps prevent heart disease.

Ridiculous study or common sense? Eating fruit and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life.

Your dog wears a watch: Why your dog seems to know what time it is.

Hits and Misses

Pediatrician Examining ToddlerA medical student wants “to do the greatest good for the greatest number.” What kind of doctor should he/she become? Tyler Cowen answers. So does David Henderson.

The health co-ops are failing.

Can teledentistry actually work?

Eli Lilly’s answer to fake drugs: A $110 million bar code system with secret codes.

Hits and Misses

Laptop and StethoscopeFederal government has seven different definitions of “health information technology“.

More evidence that medical homes don’t work.

A $295 spoon can detect and counter tremors in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

$175 million worth of worker output lost during first two days of college hoops’ “March Madness“.

Hits and Misses

Milton Friedman’s legacy.

Tom Miller is disappointed in the Coburn/Burr/Hatch health reform bill.

South Korea will not regulate Samsung’s Galaxy S5 (a smartphone with a heart-rate sensor) as a medical device. (See also previous blog entry)

Medicare Advantage cuts: Insurers’ advocacy campaign contradicts Wall Street analysts’ rosy outlook.

Hits and Misses

More evidence: The larger your waist, the higher your risk of dying.

Could robots replace optometrists in giving eye exams?

More lies about ObamaCare?

Up to 70 percent of doctor visits can actually be handled over the phone.

Hits and Misses

How the iPhone will radically change the practice of medicine. (Fascinating video)

Finding: Being really rich makes you very happy.

Health Wonk review is up.

Only 1.6% of climate scientists believe that humans are the main cause of global warming.

Digital Medicine

Today, all the physiological data monitored in a hospital intensive-care unit — including ECG, blood pressure, pulse, oxygenation, sugar level, breathing rate and body temperature — can be recorded and analyzed continuously in real time on a smartphone. A small piece of hardware, either the size of a cellphone, or one integrated with a cellphone, held against your body, functions as an ultrasound device. It can deliver information instantly to you or anyone you designate, and the information rivals that collected in a physician’s office or hospital setting. It can do so when you are experiencing specific symptoms — no appointment necessary — and at virtually no additional cost.

Thanks to more than 20 Silicon Valley startups and advances in microfluidic technology, smartphones will soon be able to function as a mobile, real-time resource for rapidly obtaining all the studies done currently in a medical laboratory, including chemistries, blood values and microbiological studies. A device worn on the wrist, called Visi, has been approved by the FDA for hospital use that can measure your heart’s electrical activity, respiratory rate, blood oxygen and blood pressure (without a cuff), and transmit the data wirelessly. Many other such devices are coming out that could be used by patients in their own homes. (WSJ)