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SCOTUS Decision and Healthcare IT

Posted on June 28, 2012 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.

For those living in a hole that haven’t read about the SCOTUS supreme court decision that was issued today, here’s a good one paragraph summary of their decision from a post by The Atlantic:

In Plain English: The Affordable Care Act, including its individual mandate that virtually all Americans buy health insurance, is constitutional. There were not five votes to uphold it on the ground that Congress could use its power to regulate commerce between the states to require everyone to buy health insurance. However, five Justices agreed that the penalty that someone must pay if he refuses to buy insurance is a kind of tax that Congress can impose using its taxing power. That is all that matters. Because the mandate survives, the Court did not need to decide what other parts of the statute were constitutional, except for a provision that required states to comply with new eligibility requirements for Medicaid or risk losing their funding. On that question, the Court held that the provision is constitutional as long as states would only lose new funds if they didn’t comply with the new requirements, rather than all of their funding.

There have been a lot of interesting reactions to the SCOTUS decision. Many of them revolve around the politics of the decision. We’ll obviously avoid the political side of the discussion for the most part. I did find HIMSS response to the ACA Supreme Court decision quite interesting. They are mostly grateful that some of the uncertainty is gone so we can move forward in healthcare. Plus, they remind people that health IT has had bipartisan support in Washington despite Obamacare’s obviously partisan issues.

Personally, I think that this decision (regardless of which way it went) will not have a major effect on the healthcare IT and EHR world. Most of the major happenings in healthcare IT and EHR aren’t related to Obamacare. There are a few places that impact it, but most are relatively innocuous.

My biggest concern with the SCOTUS decision is how it will impact healthcare reimbursement in general. Plus, the ACA uncertainty is still there since if the Republicans take control in Washington, then you can be sure that they’re going to repeal ACA as one of the first things they do. This uncertainty could affect the health IT decision making by many institutions.

I’d be interested to hear what other impacts people think the SCOTUS ruling will have on healthcare IT. I do agree with HIMSS that I’m glad we have a decision and can at least move forward with that knowledge.

New Technology Being Designed to Better Diagnose Mental Health Problems by Observing Emotions

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Sometimes, when a patient suffering from a mental illness talks with their doctor, they may say that everything is going well, even if it’s not. How does a doctor know if this information is correct or not? Without talking with a family member or close friend, it might be hard. According to mhimss.com, “the premise behind a new wave of startups and entrepreneurs looking to make an impact in healthcare” is mobile technology that will, essentially, be able to analyze emotions through a variety of factors, such as vocal, visual, and psychological cues. The hope is for this analysis of emotions will be administered a long side other vital signs.

The article at mhimss.com said that upwards of 85 percent of people who are “diagnosed with a chronic condition aren’t correctly diagnosed with depression.” And of those that are experiencing depression, less than 1/4 are getting the correct treatment for their condition. This technology that is being developed will hopefully help with this problem.

There have been several companies developing different things. One company, Cogito, is focusing on “vocal clues in phone conversations or visual signals in face-to-face meetings.” Another company, Affdex, are using webcams to read facial expressions. Other systems that will be available will involve mobile sensors that will sense physiological responses to different situations.

While these innovations will hopefully help better diagnose people and monitor their condition, it is important to remember that the technology is not a lie detector or mind reader, said Joshua Feast, CEO of Cogito:

What this technology can do is replicate the observations of an observer. You’re focusing on how people speak and interact, not what people say.

Love this idea. I could see how it could be extremely useful. I mean, if it’s mobile and can monitor someone for a long period of time, that would probably a lot more accurate in determining a person’s mental status than just visiting with them for a few minutes, as some doctors might. I couldn’t believe that so many people are mis-diagnosed and given the wrong treatments for mental illnesses. Having known many people with mental illnesses, I have observed  how people act when they have the correct treatment versus one that might not be quite right. It’s drastic. The companies that are developing these sensors and monitors could help increase the quality of life for patient’s dramatically if the technology actually works. With so many developments coming forth with medical technology, I agree with what Dr. Joseph Kvedar, the founder and director of the Center for Connected Health, said.

It’s the dawn of time for that particular technology. There’s so much sensitivity to the role that mental health plays in our healthcare.

The possibilities are endless. Feast said that he could see it being used to diagnose PTSD and mental disorders, to spotting stress in employers and preventing work-burnout before it begins. I’m very excited to see where this goes in the near future and makes me grateful that we live in a time where so many developments for the bettering of life are being made.