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Major Healthcare Issues I Think IT Could Help Solve

Posted on November 16, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Yesterday and today I spent my time at the Accountable Care Expo in Las Vegas. It was a small intimate event, but those that were there were some really smart people who knew a lot about healthcare and about accountable care organizations. It was quite the education for me. Plus, as with most learning, as I learned more about ACOs I realized how much more I still don’t know.

During the conference I started to think about something I’d heard quoted quite a few times. At this conference they said, “3% of patients are consuming 60% of healthcare dollars.” I’ve heard a lot of different numbers on this. I remember hearing that 10% of patients have 80% of healthcare costs. Regardless of the exact numbers, I’ve heard this enough to believe that a small number of patients drive a abnormally large portion of the healthcare costs in this country.

When you think about this, it becomes quite clear that these “expensive patients” are likely those with chronic conditions. That’s the easy part. The harder part is that I’ve never seen anyone analyze the makeup of the 3-10% that are driving up healthcare costs. For example, what if 90% of those “expensive patients” are chronic patients over the age of 65. Solving this problem would be very different than if we found that 50% of expensive patients are diabetics under the age of 20.

How does this apply to health IT? First, health IT should be able to sort through all the big data in healthcare and answer the above questions. How is anyone going to solve the problems of these “expensive patients” if we don’t really know the makeup of why they’re so expensive?

Second, I believe that some health IT solutions can be implemented to help lower the costs of these chronic patients. I’ve seen a number of mHealth programs focused on diabetes that have done tremendous things to help diabetic patients live healthier lives. That’s a big win for the patients and healthcare. We need more big wins like this and I think IT can facilitate these benefits.

Since this post has taken a slight diversion away from my regular topics, I wanted to look at another thought I had today about healthcare. This tweet I sent today summarizes the idea:

All of the numbers I’ve seen indicate that hospitals are the most expensive part of healthcare today. Hospitals are just expensive to run. They have a lot of overhead. They work miracles regularly, but they come at a cost. While more could always be done, I feel safe saying that many hospitals have squeezed out as much cost savings they can out of the hospital. This means that in order to save money in healthcare we can’t strip more cost savings out of hospitals. Instead, we need to work to keep patients from going to the hospital.

There are a lot of ways to solve this problem (I heard of one payer putting instacare clinics next to ERs to save money), but the one I hear most common is the need for primary care doctors to have a more active role in the patient care. If they had a more active role once a patient is discharged from the hospital, then fewer patients would be readmitted to the hospital.

How then can we structure a program for primary care doctors to be paid to keep their patients from being readmitted to the hospital? That’s the million dollar question (literally). Everyone I know would happily pay a primary care doctor a half a million dollars in order to save millions of dollars in hospital bills. That extra money might also help us solve the primary care doctor shortage that I hear so many talk about.

I can’t say I have all the solutions here, and I don’t expect these things to change over night. Although, I think these will be important changes that will need to happen in healthcare to lower costs. Plus, I think IT will facilitate an important role in making these changes happen. Imagine something as simple as an HIE notifying a primary care doctor that their patient was admitted or discharged from the hospital. This would mean the doctor could go to work. Now we just need to find the right financial mechanism to be sure they act on that notification.

I’ll be chewing on these ideas this weekend. I look forward to hearing other people’s thoughts on these issues.

Hospital Mergers EHR Data Migration Challenge, Smart Phone HIPAA Security, Healthcare Interoperability and Patch Adams Video

Posted on June 17, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Time again to take a look around the EMR and healthcare IT twittersphere at some of the best tweets. We’ve got some really interesting tweets to consider along with a tweet that includes a video of the real Patch Adams (many I love that movie) in his element. If I ever get a chance to meet Patch Adams, I’m going to jump at the chance. I’m certain that he’s endless entertainment.

Also, you can check out the Around Healthcare Scene post on EMR and EHR.

Now on to the EMR and Healthcare IT tweets:


I’ve talked quite a bit about the challenge of EHR mergers. I’ve definitely not talked about the challenge to EHR when hospitals merge. I can see this being a great future topic for Hospital EMR and EHR. There are a lot of intricacies involved in the subject and will be a very important topic as EHR becomes more widely adopted.


This is an interesting tweet. I guess my challenge with the idea is that I bet off-the-shelf laptops and desktop computers meet few HIPAA, meaningful use requirements either. The important difference is that more can be done on a desktop to secure it than most smart phones. Although, I think this will continue to change over time.

On this topic, I’ve seen more and more people making the argument that a virtual environment is the key to good security on a smartphone. This is a good way to secure a smartphone, but it also is a good way to kill the usability of a smartphone. I’m still not sure exactly how we’re going to bridge the divide.


I’d love to see and hear of examples of this happening. I’d be happy to do my part in providing more visibility if I just knew where interoperable health IT was happening.


This video is outrageous, hilarious and fantastic. I’m not sure what the medical world thinks of Patch Adams, but I welcome fresh takes. No doubt Patch Adams is a unique individual that’s not afraid to stretch the cultural norms.

iMPak Health with NoMoreClipboard – Healthcare Gadget Friday

Posted on April 27, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Our next entry in Healthcare Gadget Friday is the iMPak Health Journals from Meridian Health and NoMoreClipboard. You may remember that I called the iMPak Health Journals the most creative technology I found at HIMSS 12. As such I wanted to write more about how they worked.

Here’s a picture I took of the iMPak Health Journal:

It certainly looks pretty simple and it is. That’s done by design. You basically use the iMPak health journal by pressing down on the blue and red circles. Pressing these “buttons” kind of reminds me of the musical greeting cards you get. When you’d press it down the music would start playing. This works very similar. Although, you push the red button to start and then each of the blue buttons represent a response to a healthcare question. It’s as simple as that. You hold down the buttons and it records your answers.

Then, the next time you go for an appointment or through an NFC (near field communication) connection to your cell phone (almost all new cell phones will have this technology) the data is uploaded electronically to the NoMoreClipboard website. From there all of the data can be processed and seen by yourself and your doctor.

I’d hoped to have a video where you could see the use of the iMPak journal, but I wasn’t able to get one that did a nice demo. What I found so creative was how simple it was to collect data from a patient. They didn’t need to download an app. They didn’t need to buy an expensive device that they’re only going to use for a limited time.

Turns out that there are a lot of potential uses for these journals. Some areas that might find them useful are: Insurance Companies, Hospitals / Health Systems, Pharmacy Benefit Management, Pharmaceutical Companies, Employer Benefits Management, and Retail Pharmacies. Here’s a video which shows how it can be used:

One challenge that still exists with this device is getting patients to remember to use the device. A built in alarm that would go off to remind them to answer the questions could help to solve that problem. Although, the journal is so portable, I’d hate to have the alarm go off as you carry it around in your purse or something.

I’ll also be interested to see how many patients lose their iMPak journal or just forget to bring it to the office for their appointment. This isn’t an issue if they’ve been uploading their data using their own cell phone, but would be an issue in those cases where they’re uploading the data in the office.

The biggest competitor to this product is the various mobile health apps that are cropping up. One day I can see the mobile health apps really taking over this space. However, there are still many patients who don’t carry a smart phone or that can’t/won’t go to the hassle of downloading an app to track this stuff. In those cases, I find the iMPak Health Journal a really creative solution to getting the data to be able to provide better patient care.


Full Disclosure: NoMoreClipboard is an advertiser on this site.

GammaTech’s Durabook U12C Review – Healthcare Gadget Friday

Posted on April 13, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

As I mentioned in last week’s post about the PhoneSoap – Charge and Sanitize Your cell phone (UPDATE: The Kickstarter project is fully funded and PhoneSoaps are going to production.) post, I’m going to try and reserve Friday for what I’m calling Healthcare Gadget Friday. Today we’re going to look at the GammaTech Durabook U12C.

Here’s the official description of the GammaTech Durabook U12C:

GammaTech’s Durabook U12C is the perfect companion for mobile power users on the go. The U12C features a 12.1″ WXGA Touch Screen with Digitizer and LED backlight display that quickly converts into a Tablet PC. This lightweight convertible style Tablet PC features I/O covered ports to protect from the hazards of dirt and dust. Powered by the Intel Core i5 processor, the U12C has maximized speed and data management. In addition, the U12C comes with a hard handle making portability a snap. It offers a number of sophisticated I/O modules that can encompass everything from a RS232 port or GPS to an optional second 2M-pixel auto focus camera. An optional vehicle docking station is also available.


I received a demo Durabook U12C to be able to do this review. I was quite pleased with the Durabook U12C in general, so I’ll be a little sad when I have to ship it back to Durabook. It’s a really solid offering if you’re looking for a nice Durabook.

My good experience with the GammaTech started when I opened the package and saw the really well designed packaging for the Durabook. While a box doesn’t really matter when it comes to the quality of the computer, it does say something about the company and their concern about even the smallest of details.

I won’t go into all the gory details of the specs on the machine. The Durabook U12C was running the Windows 7 operating system and so you can compare its detailed specs with any other similarly specked laptop on the market today. With that said, I used it for a few weeks and never had an issue with any of the specs in the ways I used it.

When you look at it, it seems like the 12″ screen feels a little small. However, in actual use the 12.1″ screen was never a problem for me. I know GammaTech has another model that only has a 10″ screen. I think the 10″ screen might be too small for me, but I really had no issues with the 12.1″ screen. Plus, when you add on the extra Durabook casing to protect the machine you really don’t want a screen bigger than 12.1″. If you went even to a 14″ screen the Durabook gets way too unwieldy.

I didn’t do any real specific tests as far as drop resistance, shock resistance, spill resistance, dust resistance, and battery protection since I didn’t want to break the machine if something didn’t work quite right. You can see the tough features specs on the GammaTech website. Needless to say, the machine feels very solid in every component. In fact in some cases almost to a fault.

An example of this is the latch to open the machine. The latch is pretty hard to open. Partially because it secures the lid so well and partially because the easy carry handle makes it awkward to maneuver the latch. I actually handed it to my wife and asked her to open it. A few minutes later (and a few laughs) she finally figured out how to open it. Of course, once you figure it out it’s not that bad, but it does require a kind of awkward angle to unlatch it. I’m sure the solid latch was an intentional part of the design. I know I’ve seen A LOT of broken latches on laptops in my time working in healthcare IT and with EHR software. This latch will never have that problem.

I was also a little disappointed with how responsive the track pad was to my touch. It’s a really hard touch pad that left a lot to be desired. I imagine this probably has to do with durability as well, but it was pretty disappointing to use. Good thing that it’s a tablet as well so you could always use the pen instead.

The Durabook U12C had the best fingerprint scanner placement of any laptop or Durabook that I’ve seen. Maybe there are others that have similar positioning, but I loved the fingerprint scanners nice placement in the middle on the right side of the screen for easy thumb scanning. It just felt right since I often hold my screen in just the right position to be able to scan when I open it up. Very well done.

I spent a fair amount of time playing with the tablet features of the Durabook U12C. Obviously many of the features are dependent on Windows 7 more than the Durabook U12C itself. On that subject, if you haven’t tried the Windows 7 tablet stuff yet, it’s quite good and so much better than its predecessor. We’ll see what Windows 8 brings. The Durabook U12C performed well and the pen storage was really convenient.

My biggest pain point with the Durabook U12C was the placement of some of the quick buttons on the screen. They weren’t an issue in laptop mode, but when I converted to a tablet and was using the stylus I kept accidentally hitting the buttons. It got really annoying when I was trying to write something on the tablet and then the screen just rotates because the palm of my hand brushed the rotate button. I tried to even rotate the screen into the notebook position, but I still hit some other buttons that were on the screen. This certainly would have deterred me from using the tablet very much.

Overall I was quite pleased with the Durabook U12C. The biggest downsides from my experience were the lackluster track pad and the poorly placed on screen buttons. However, the rest of the features were really well executed and provided a really solid Durabook. I can see a number of cases where a durabook could make sense in the healthcare IT world. This would definitely be one worth trying. It’s built to last and your IT administrator will love you since it has Windows 7 which won’t have any issues with your IT security requirements.

PhoneSoap – Charge and Sanitize Your Cell Phone – Healthcare Gadget Friday

Posted on April 6, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Many of you know we have our regular Meaningful Use Monday series that we’ve been doing for almost a year now. Today I decided that it would be fun to create a new series I’m calling Healthcare Gadget Friday. I’m not sure I’ll do it every single Friday, but I’d like to do it most Fridays.

I’m kicking off this series with a gadget a friend of mine emailed me about called: PhoneSoap. You can read all about PhoneSoap and pre-order one on this kickstarter page (If you haven’t seen Kickstarter before it’s a pretty amazing website). Here’s the overview of the PhoneSoap product:

PhoneSoap is a small box that simultaneously charges and sanitizes your cell phone using UV-C light. UV-C light is electromagnetic radiation that’s used in hospitals and clean rooms around the world. This short wavelength of light penetrates the cell wall of the bacteria and disrupts its DNA, effectively killing it. It is 99.9% effective in killing bacteria and virus’. Best of all it is completely safe.The UV-C light is only on for 3-5 minutes at a time and there is no heat or liquid involved so there is no risk of damaging your phone. There is a UV-C light on the top and on the bottom of the box so that the UV rays surround your phone for complete sanitization. Take a look at our before and after pictures to see how powerful PhoneSoap is:

I’ll admit that I’m no expert on UV-C light and its uses in healthcare, but I hope that some of our readers are familiar with it. I’d love to learn more about what you know about its ability to sanitize.

With that said, I think it’s a pretty creative product. I could see healthcare people putting their cell in this when they get home after a day in the hospital or even on the drive home from work. I’ve seen long discussions online about the best wipes or other awkward solutions to use to clean and sanitize devices in healthcare. I wonder if this could be a better solution…at least for cell phones. I imagine they could later make one for iPads as well.

What do people think of this idea? Could this be beneficial in healthcare? Are you guys worried about carrying around a germ infected cell phone that doesn’t ever get clean?

Considering the number of devices that have entered the healthcare environment and will continue to become part of healthcare, we’re going to need something that does a good job cleaning these devices. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the PhoneSoap device.

15 Rock Health Startup Companies, Hospital Communication, Lack of EMR Features

Posted on December 18, 2011 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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 hope everyone has started to enjoy their holidays. I may go a little light on the content this Holiday season. Although, I’ll still be publishing plenty during the holidays. The funny thing is that this website was first created over a holiday break. Now on to my usual Sunday Twitter roundup.


This is a pretty interesting list of 15 Rock Health startup companies. It’s their second batch of startup companies in the healthcare space. I talked to one of the other health startup incubators (and I know some don’t like to be called incubators) who said that they got about 100 applications. I wonder how many applications Rock Health got before they narrowed it down to this 15.

There’s definitely a lot of interesting momentum happening in the health startup area. In fact, I’m working on something related to it that could be really interesting. More on that in the new year.


I hadn’t really thought about the impact of hospitals buying up all the primary care physicians on interoperability of healthcare data. On face it seems to me that more sharing would happen since it is easier to share health data within the same company than between two different companies. However, these tweets make me think I need to do a little more thinking ont he subject.


Doctors are wondering why EMR software doesn’t have a lot of things. I’m not sure I have a good answer to why EMR products don’t have some of the things that Arjun Maini talks about. I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on it.

More Comments from Marc Probst’s Talk on EMR

Posted on September 30, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

If you’ve had enough of my posts from a talk Marc Probst gave, then you’ll be glad to know this is the last one. There’s no hiding my respect for Marc and hearing him in person did nothing but elevate that respect for him. Some of the comments below will feel a bit random, but I thought they were interesting enough to share with you all.

Meaningful Use and Certified EHR Overlap
I asked Marc about the challenge of reconciling the overlap between the certified EHR criteria modeled after the meaningful use matrix and meaningful use itself. It seemed that they were measuring basically the same thing. Marc’s response was, “That’s a battle I lost.” Then, Marc muttered under his breathe something about certifying the software versus the users. Basically, he was in agreement and under the same confusion I’ve had in regards to the value of certifying the software related to MU versus you actually meaningful using your EMR.

Challenge for Hospital Systems
At one point Marc talked about the challenge of a hospital to adopt an EHR if they haven’t started this already. He started listing off things like a data center and encryption. The data center for a hospital is a significant challenge that takes time. I’ve been a part of the design, creation and building of a couple of data centers and infrastructure like this takes time to implement. I still believe it’s premature to purchase an EHR, but I don’t think it’s premature to plan for things like network infrastructure, data centers, etc.

Certification and Procurring the Right EMR
I had to smile when Marc, co-chair of the EHR certification workgroup, said point blank, “EHR certification is not about procuring the right EHR system.” If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you know how I feel about this subject. Glad to hear Marc say it too.

Funding and EHR Adoption
Marc was really honest when he described that IHC had 0 doctors doing CPOE. I was surprised by this since my childhood doctor was from IHC and had an EHR back then. That said, Marc made an interesting point after saying that IHC had 0 doctors doing CPOE. He proceeded to say he didn’t think the reason they hadn’t adopted CPOE yet was because of a lack of funding. It was all the other things that took time to figure out which has delayed adoption.