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Social Network for Prescription Drug Consumers

Posted on March 27, 2008 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

About a month ago I got an email that I just got around to reading today. Essentially it was someone announcing a new social network for prescription drug consumers. Here’s a part of the release that I was sent about the prescription drug social network:

I’d like to invite you to try out the eDrugSearch.com Community — a brand new social network for prescription drug consumers. To join, just go to www.edrugsearch.com/register and sign up; it takes only a couple of minutes.

Why a social network for drug consumers? At eDrugSearch.com, we believe that online communities will forever change the face of healthcare — by giving consumers the information and resources they need to ask better questions of caregivers, to support one another, and to save money on treatments and medications.

Prescription drug consumers, in particular, have shown a strong interest in social networks on general health sites, indicating an unmet demand for a niche community. U.S. drug consumers relish the opportunity to share their experiences — their discoveries, their frustrations, their solutions. These Americans are turning to each other rather than relying solely on pharmaceutical company advertising or rushed doctor’s appointments.

We want the eDrugSearch.com Community to be a place you can come for help, reassurance and advice.

Of course, this really begs the question of if we need a social network around prescription drugs. Of course, my gut reaction is that prescription drugs sounds like much to small of a category for a social network. I’m certain that a lot of niche social networks are going to do very well (in fact, I’m working on a sports one myself), but can prescription drug consumers support a social network.

Seriously, when I’m taking prescription drugs I want to get off them as soon as possible. Are people going to just visit the site for entertainment. Certainly there are people who have chronic illnesses that take drugs for a long time, but won’t they stop visiting the site after taking the same drug for so many years? I guess maybe they’re hoping for advancements or alternatives to that drug, but that still feels like a stretch.

The other part of me thinks that something like this might work. I’ve always felt like one of the advantages of my job is that I had access to not only a bunch of doctors, nurse practioners and PAs, but I also support a pharmacy. In the past three years, there have been a number of times where I make the rounds of doctors, APNs and the pharmacist to learn about the drugs that were prescribed to myself or my family. To me this illustrates the need for information that people have when they are prescribed a drug.

Of course, the biggest challenge of this all is can you trust the information that this prescription drug social network provides? How do you know when someone is qualified in the area or not? Not to mention I could see the drug companies really abusing this site with false information. I think we all have been to hotel sites where the ratings just sounded too good to be true. Sounds pretty easy for the drug companies to do the same thing.

Now, if they had a way to certify providers (MD, DO, APN, PA), then you could give some credibility to what was being said. In fact, a social network for these providers to discuss the various drugs is something that could be very strong and useful. That sounds pretty Health 2.0 to me.

EMR (or EHR) or HIPAA

Posted on March 24, 2008 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. 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 think that Google is confused about my blog. I don’t think it knows if it should categorize me as an EMR blog or as a HIPAA blog. In fact, sometimes it even thinks I’m an EHR blog which is perfectly fine by me. Right now I think that Google thinks that I’m a HIPAA blog, but quite honestly I think I’d rather be an EMR blog. Sure, I cover HIPAA and some of the various HIPAA related news on here. In fact, it’s kind of hard to cover EMR and not cover certain aspects of HIPAA. However, I think at the end of the day I’m more interested in EMR and EHR and I really don’t care about HIPAA. It’s a necessary evil.

I guess I’ll have to focus more of my posts on EMR and EHR and stop using that naughty H word since Google seems to like to classify with that H word when I want to show up for EMR and EHR. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter too much, but as a tech person I always think it’s fun to see what the Google bots see in my content. It’s kind of a way to justify myself that the bots are happy and classify me as an authority on a subject.

Are you listening Google bots? I’m an EHR and EMR blog. Make sure I make it to the top of searches related to EMR and EHR. That’s really where I’m meant to be. I can feel it in my bones. Well, at least that’s who I want to be.

Discharge Summaries by Email from an EMR

Posted on March 21, 2008 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Think about how wonderful the ability to send a discharge summary by email to a patient straight from your EMR. I think it’s pretty easy to see the tremendous benefits of this type of communication. Send the patient information to one place they probably visit every day and where they can read and process the information away from the hustle and bustle of the clinic. Certainly many doctors have been doing this with little pamphlets or handout sheets with clinical information. Unfortunately, too many of these sheets never get read. Certainly that same thing could happen with an email, but at least the next generation of patients are going to want this information in their email box.

Of course, the problem with sending this information in an email is that email is not secure. Email encryption hasn’t taken hold fast enough to make it encrypted. Is a user’s email box really a secure location where they want their health information? I personally don’t have a problem with it, but I would expect that many people wouldn’t want their health information in their email any more than their regular mailbox. Either way, without the encryption it wouldn’t be difficult for someone to sniff out what’s being sent in an Email containing for example a patient’s discharge. It would be going across the internet in basically plain text.

This situation actually happened in Austrailia a little while back in an article I read called “Unsecured email sparks dispute.” I know I wouldn’t be happy if a clinic just decided to send these unsecured emails. Not so much because I was personally worried about my information being lost. I personally have nothing to hide (yet anyway). However, I would feel uncomfortable patronizing an organization that would deal so flippantly with my information.

I’m sure that someone will chime in that this is the whole purpose of a Patient Portal or EHR interface that allows people a secure method to receive and send protected health information. This is all well and good, but from what I’ve seen this usually requires the doctor’s EMR company to support this type of interaction. Plus, even more serious of an issue is that you’re giving your patients one more login and password that they’ll need to remember. Certainly not a deal breaker, but one more inconvenience for our users and the staff that have to support our users when they forget their password. Unfortunately, I think that this is the future of secured messaging, but I can always hope that there’s something better that we’re just missing.

We should also realize that this isn’t going to get any easier. In fact, I think we can reasonably say that this is going to get harder and harder. Don’t be surprised if soon some patient would like their health information somehow incorporated into some site like Facebook. It’s really only a matter of time until some developer creates a health interface into Facebook.

It might not make sense to most people, but the next generation of patients are going to grow up living and breathing their online life in some sort of social network (Facebook is just one example of these). They are very comfortable with transparency and will be interested in being able to track and compare health information with other people. Not to mention interact in a social network with other people who have similar conditions. It seems like this isn’t a question of if, but when this type of interaction will happen.

Even if you think that health information on a social network like Facebook is far fetched, we are already seeing health information propagating to the web in Microsoft’s HealthVault and Google Health. Is this going to be ok? Will it become as synonymous as online banking has become to the banking world? It’s not that far of a stretch to think that Google Health could easily be tied into Google’s OpenSocial platform which would allow a patient’s health information to do all sorts of cool things.

The convergence of Health Care and IT is going to be really interesting. It’s taken health care a while to get going with IT, but I think almost everyone agrees that IT could do amazing things to better the health care a person receives.

A Misplaced Box of HIPAA Information

Posted on March 10, 2008 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I found a really interesting article in Utah’s local paper the Deseret Morning News. In the story, a box of medical charts was lost by UPS after being sent from a Hospital to somewhere in Las Vegas for a medicare audit. You can read the article for all the facts, but essentially the box somehow got misdirected and ended up being bought by a Utah school teacher purchasing some “scrap” paper.

I was kind of surprised by how long it took the hospital to get in touch with UPS after the box was lost. Ok, so I’m not really surprised that the hospital is not watching all of the HIPAA information they sent out to make sure that it arrives safely, but maybe it should. UPS has some pretty incredible tracking tools these days that really aren’t that hard to use.

The other interesting thing to consider is how these types of audits/information transfer happens in an electronic world. I know that we transfer eligibility lists to insurance companies using Secure FTP and that works quite well. We’ve worked with a scanning company who is scanning our old paper charts and when we need to access one of those old records, they send us an encrypted file through email. That works pretty smoothly.

Unfortunately, I think if a patient wants a record right now or if we needed to send some health information out for an audit (not sure why we would need to) then we’d have to pretty much just print out the electronic record like we do when a patient makes a . In fact, we’ve even made a request to our EMR software company to give us a one click method that will allow us to print the entire chart. It’s a pain to print out everything in the paper chart from what’s scanned in, to prescriptions, to lab results, to referrals, etc etc etc. Any EMR companies have a better way to do this?

Biometric Authentication Using Typing Behavior

Posted on March 5, 2008 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com 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 InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. 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’ve been pretty outspoken about my love for biometrics in healthcare. In particular I couldn’t imagine my computer without facial recognition, but I’ve also enjoyed playing around with biometric fingerprint readers and proximity readers too. Sorry, no retina scans yet. Anyone willing to send me one?

Today I came across a new biometric authentication method that recognizes a person’s typing behavior. Techcrunch described it as folows:

It’s a Flash-based interface that compares your typing style against a list of known styles and logs you in based on your individual typing fingerprint. To enroll you simply type a sentence nine times and then the system senses the pauses, mistakes, and speed of your hunting and pecking. Obviously, this doesn’t work if you have a broken hand or, presumably, you’re under duress so it’s fairly hard to crack a system using physical coercion. A cool way to add biometrics to web-based forms.

They have a test on their site, but the registration process seemed a bit onerous. Haven’t they realized the first key to a website is to let me test the product with no registration. Then, let me register when I like it? Maybe if I have some free time later I’ll register and try it out.

I wonder if something like this could merge with the OpenID movement and make this one other method of authenticating yourself to an open id enabled site. Could be pretty interesting I think.