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London Doctors Stage Protest Over Rollout Of App

Posted on April 18, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

We all know that doctors don’t take kindly to being forced to use health IT tools. Apparently, that’s particularly the case in London, where a group of general practitioners recently held a protest to highlight their problems with a telemedicine app rolled out by the National Health Service.

The doctors behind the protest are unhappy with the way the NHS structured its rollout of the smartphone app GP at Hand, which they say has created extra work and confusion among the patients.

The service, which is run by UK-based technology company Babylon Health, launched in November of last year. Using the app, patients can either have a telemedicine visit or schedule an in-person appointment with a GP’s office. Telemedicine services are available 24/7, and patients can be seen in minutes in some cases.

GP at Hand seems to be popular with British consumers. Since its launch, over 26,000 patients have registered for the service, according to the NHS.

However, to participate in the service, patients are automatically de-registered from their existing GP office when they register for GP at Hand. Many patients don’t seem to have known this. According to the doctors at the protest, they’ve been getting calls from angry former patients demanding that they be re-registered with their existing doctor’s office.

The doctors also suggest that the service gets to cherry-pick healthier, more profitable patients, which weighs down their practice. “They don’t want patients with complex mental health problems, drug problems, dementia, a learning disability or other challenging conditions,” said protest organizer Dr. Jackie Applebee. “We think that’s because these patients are expensive.” (Presumably, Babylon is paid out of a separate NHS fund than the GPs.)

Is there lessons here for US-based healthcare providers? Perhaps so.

Of course, the National Health Service model is substantially different from the way care is delivered in this country, so the administrative challenges involved in rolling out a similar service could be much different. But this news does offer some lessons to consider nonetheless.

For one thing, it reminds us that even in a system much different than ours, financing and organizing telemedicine services can be fraught with conflict. Reimbursement would be an even bigger issue than it seems to have been in the UK.

Also, it’s also of note that the NHS and Babylon Health faced a storm of patient complaints about the way the service was set up. It’s entirely possible that any US-based efforts would generate their own string of unintended consequences, the magnitude which would be multiplied by the fact that there’s no national entity coordinating such a rollout.

Of course, individual health systems are figuring out how to offer telemedicine and blend it with access to in-person care. But it’s telling that insurers with a national presence such as CIGNA or Humana aren’t plunging into telemedicine with both feet. At least none of them have seen substantial success in their efforts. Bottom line, offering telehealth is much harder than it looks.

Should Apps with Personal Health Information Be Subject to HIPAA?

Posted on April 10, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Erin Gilmer (@GilmerHealthLaw).

With news of Grindr’s sharing of user’s HIV status and location data, many wonder how such sensitive information could be so easily disclosed and the answer is quite simply a lack of strong privacy and security standards for apps.  The question then becomes whether apps that store personal health information should be subject to HIPAA? Should apps like Grindr have to comply with the Privacy and Security Rules as doctors, insurance companies, and other covered entities already do?

A lot of people already think this information is protected by HIPAA as they do not realize that HIPAA only applies to “covered entities” (health care providers, health plans, and health care clearininghouses) and “business associates” (companies that contract with covered entities).  Grindr is neither of these. Nor are most apps that address health issues – everything from apps with mental health tools to diet and exercise trackers. These apps can store all manner of information ranging simply from a name and birthdate to sensitive information including diagnoses and treatments.

Grindr is particularly striking because under HIPAA, there are extra protections for information including AIDS/HIV status, mental health diagnoses, genetics, and substance abuse history.  Normally, this information is highly protected and rightly so given the potential for discrimination. The privacy laws surrounding this information were hard fought by patients and advocates who often experienced discrimination themselves.

However, there is another reason this is particularly important in Grindr’s case and that’s the issue of public health.  Just a few days before it was revealed that the HIV status of users had been exposed, Grindr announced that it would push notifications through the app to remind users to get tested.  This was lauded as a positive move and added to the culture created on this app of openness. Already users disclose their HIV status, which is a benefit for public health and reducing the spread of the disease. However, if users think that this information will be shared without explicit consent, they may be less likely to disclose their status. Thus, not having privacy and security standards for apps with sensitive personal health information, means these companies can easily share this information and break the users’ trust, at the expense of public health.

Trust is one of the same reasons HIPAA itself exists.  When implemented correctly, the Privacy and Security Rules lend themselves to creating an environment of safety where individuals can disclose information that they may not want others to know.  This then allows for discussion of mental health issues, sexually transmitted diseases, substance use issues, and other difficult topics. The consequences of which both impact the treatment plan for the individual and greater population health.

It would be sensible to apply a framework like HIPAA to apps to ensure the privacy and security of user data, but certainly some would challenge the idea.  Some may make the excuse that is often already used in healthcare, that HIPAA stifles innovation undue burden on their industry and technology in general.  While untrue, this rhetoric holds sway with government entities who may oversee these companies.

To that end, there is a question of who would regulate such a framework? Would it fall to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) where HIPAA regulation is already overseen? The OCR itself is overburdened, taking months to assess even the smallest of HIPAA complaints.  Would the FDA regulate compliance as they look to regulate more mobile apps that are tied to medical devices?  Would the FCC have a roll?  The question of who would regulate apps would be a fight in itself.

And finally, would this really increase privacy and security? HIPAA has been in effect for over two decades and yet still many covered entities fail to implement proper privacy and security protocols.  This does not necessarily mean there shouldn’t be attempts to address these serious issues, but some might question whether the HIPAA framework would be the best model.  Perhaps a new model, with new standards and consequences for noncompliance should be considered.

Regardless, it is time to start really addressing privacy and security of personal health information in apps. Last year, both Aetna and CVS Caremark violated patient privacy sending mail to patients where their HIV status could be seen through the envelope window. At present it seems these cases are under review with the OCR. But the OCR has been tough on these disclosures. In fact, in May 2017, St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center Inc. paid the OCR $387,200 in a settlement for a breach of privacy information including the HIV status of a patient. So the question is, if as a society, we recognize the serious nature of such disclosures, should we not look to prevent them in all settings – whether the information comes from a healthcare entity or an app?

With intense scrutiny of privacy and security in the media for all aspects of technology, increased regulation may be around the corner and the framework HIPAA creates may be worth applying to apps that contain personal health information.

About Erin Gilmer
Erin Gilmer is a health law and policy attorney and patient advocate. She writes about a range of issues on different forums including technology, disability, social justice, law, and social determinants of health. She can be found on twitter @GilmerHealthLaw or on her blog at www.healthasahumanright.wordpress.com.

CES Really Scared Me. Will HIMSS Make Me Feel Any Better?

Posted on February 22, 2018 I Written By

Mike Semel is a noted thought leader, speaker, blogger, and best-selling author of HOW TO AVOID HIPAA HEADACHES . He is the President and Chief Security Officer of Semel Consulting, focused on HIPAA and other compliance requirements; cyber security; and Business Continuity planning. Mike is a Certified Business Continuity Professional through the Disaster Recovery Institute, a Certified HIPAA Professional, Certified Security Compliance Specialist, and Certified Health IT Specialist. He has owned or managed technology companies for over 30 years; served as Chief Information Officer (CIO) for a hospital and a K-12 school district; and managed operations at an online backup company.

Are Consumer Health Care Products Accurate & Safe Enough for Your Healthcare?

At CES, the monstrous electronics show, I saw lots of consumer devices advertised for personal fitness and healthcare. There was even a Digital Health Summit, with a wide range of industry experts.

Some companies were promoting their ability to send data to healthcare providers. That’s scary, since there are no standards governing many of these devices.

A clear message from CES is that the divisions between ‘technology’ and ‘devices’ are diminishing. Alexa, Google Home, and Siri, won’t be tied to stand-alone devices for long. They will be integrated into a wide range of consumer products across a home network, your car, portable devices, and the Internet. It’s not a big leap of the imagination to think that you will be telling Alexa, in your refrigerator, to reset the alarm clock in your bedroom, for an early meeting. And that Alexa will be telling you that you gained a pound, and send that data to your doctor.

Considering the recent news about Amazon getting into healthcare, with Warren Buffet and JP Morgan, it’s logical to think that Amazon will be delivering our healthcare along with our packages. Will you get a colonoscopy notification from Amazon because someone orders a 50th birthday card for you? (Will they only use lubricant if you have Prime? Ok, that might have been a little harsh.)

Loud and clear from CES is the consumerization of healthcare, and it’s scary.

Will data from your consumer products be accurate enough for a health care provider to form a professional opinion?

Will your devices be safe from hacking and interference?

Who will be liable if something bad happens to you because your data wasn’t accurate, or was delayed in transmission?

Should there be a government or industry-based organization setting standards and certifying devices?

ACCURACY

Valencell makes biometric sensor chips for companies to use in their consumer products. They displayed stylish brand-name smart watches that imbed their biometric-sensor chips.

Valencell’s President, Steven LeBoeuf, said that there are no standards for consumer heart monitors. His chips are voluntarily lab-tested and certified for accuracy. He said that some of their competitors’ products can confuse a person’s steps, as they are walking or running, as a heartbeat.

While that might not matter too much to a person casually checking their own vitals, what will happen if incorrect data is sent upstream to your healthcare provider?

This diagram, produced by iHealth, a company that makes ‘consumer-friendly, mobile personal healthcare products that connect to the cloud’, clearly shows their expectation that your data will be communicated to hospitals.

iHealth aptly describes this as a Systematic Framework. Think about how many vendors will be involved in the system. Device manufacturers, chip manufacturers, software designers, programmers, computer companies, communication networks, Internet service providers, cloud services, and more, all before data gets to the hospital.

What if there is a failure? What happens to you if your healthcare is depending on a consumer device? Who is responsible for the security and accuracy of the data through the system? Wanna bet that everyone will be pointing their finger at someone else?

SAFETY

What will protect you from your devices? There are an increasing numbers of stories of consumer products and autonomous cars – the Internet of Things (IoT) – being hacked.

In August, 2017, the FDA issued a warning that a pacemaker was vulnerable to hackers who could remotely kill the battery or modify the performance of the pacemaker. Killing the battery could kill the patient. Remember that this recall occurred because a pacemaker is a medical device governed by the FDA, which doesn’t govern consumer healthcare products.

The Equifax breach, the Spectre and Meltdown flaws in computer microchips, and hackers hijacking baby monitors and surveillance cameras, all show the importance of being able to apply software and firmware patches and updates.

It took a long time for the government to require car companies to recall vehicles for safety problems. How many people will be hurt, or die, before consumer health care products get regulated?

LIABILITY

At CES, AIG Insurance presented this graphic of survey results showing who is liable for a driverless vehicle crash.

Imagine personal injury attorneys salivating over consumer health care product failures. Imagine new types of insurance coverage – or new types of policy exceptions – related to managing healthcare based on consumer product data.

STANDARDS & REGULATIONS

What’s the difference between a medical device and a consumer health care product? What defines a heart monitor? How accurate is a scale? How will a consumer health care product receive security patches? How will consumers be notified their health care products aren’t safe?

Do we want the federal government involved? In 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act required auto manufacturers to notify the government and consumers of safety defects, and recall vehicles. Could our dysfunctional Congress ever agree on a plan to regulate consumer health care products?

What about the industry policing itself? At his annual briefing at CES, electronics industry veteran Shelly Palmer made his case for a Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) to create and enforce standards to protect consumers from risks associated with the Internet of Things.

The model for this could be PCI-DSS, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards, that govern organizations that accept and process credit cards. This standard is self-regulated by a council founded by the credit card companies, and is not overseen by federal or state agencies. It covers credit card processing from end-to-end, from certifying the swipe device on the store’s counter all the way through the merchant processors and banks.

According to its website, the council “provides critical tools needed for implementation of the standards such as assessment and scanning qualifications, self-assessment questionnaires, training and education, and product certification programs.

If you are a healthcare professional, isn’t this the level of integrity and security you want for consumer products sending patient data to you?

Who would take on the responsibility, not to mention the liability, of policing consumer products sending data to healthcare organizations? The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), or the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS)?

Will it take a disaster for us to find out?

Maybe I will find some answers at the HIMSS health IT conference. I sure hope so.

Hospitals Still Lagging On Mobile

Posted on January 18, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

One would think that these days, when the desktop computer is an extension of mobile devices rather than the other way around, hospitals would have well-defined, mature plans in place for managing mobile technology. But according to one survey, that’s definitely not the case.

In a study sponsored by Spok, which provides clinical communication services, many healthcare providers are still in the early years of developing a mobile strategy.

The study, which drew on contacts with more than 300 healthcare professionals in the US, found that 21% had had a mobile strategy in place for less than one year, 40% for one to three years,14% for 3 to 5 years and 25% for more than five years. In other words, while one-quarter of organizations had settled in and developed a mobile approach, an almost equal amount were just getting their feet wet.

Not only that, many of those who do have a mobile strategy in place may be shooting from the hip. While 65% of those surveyed had a documented mobility strategy in place, 35% didn’t.

That being said, it seems that organizations that have engaged with mobile are working hard to tweak their strategy regularly. According to Spok, their reasons for updating the strategy include:

* Shifting mobile needs of end-users (44%)
* The availability of new mobile devices (35%)
* New capabilities from the EHR vendor (26%)
* Changes in goals of mobile strategy (23%)
* Challenges in implementing the strategy (21%)
* Changes in hospital leadership (16%)

(Seven percent said their mobile strategy had not changed since inception, and 23% weren’t sure what changes had been made.)

Nonetheless, other data suggest there has been little progress in integrating mobile strategy with broader hospital goals.

For example, while 53% wanted to improve physician-to-physician communications, only 19% had integrated mobile strategy with this goal. Fifty-three percent saw nurse-to-physician communications as a key goal, but only 18% had integrated this goal with their mobile plans. The gaps between other top strategies and integration with mobile plans were similar across the strategic spectrum.

Ultimately, it’s likely that it will take a team approach to bring these objectives together, but that’s not happening in the near future. According to respondents, the IT department will implement mobile in 82% of institutions surveyed, 60% clinical leadership, 37% doctors, 34% telecom department, 27% nurses and 22% outside help from consultants and vendors. (Another 16% didn’t plan to have a dedicated team in place.)

The whole picture suggests that while the hospital industry is gradually moving towards integrating mobile into its long-term thinking, it has a ways to go. Given the potential benefits of smart mobile use, let’s hope providers catch up quickly.

iOS vs Android Infographic

Posted on June 7, 2017 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.

The iOS and Android debate is a good one that never seems to end. The good news is that the debate is really only iOS and Android now. However, the reality in my mind is that most healthcare app developers need to do both regardless.

That said, I think that this infographic illustrates some differences in the culture of the iOS ecosystem and the Android ecosystem. It’s not really surprising when you realize that there are only expensive iOS devices and so it’s no surprise that people with iOS devices have more money. Whereas there are high end Android devices and there are low end Android devices. I wonder if the numbers would be very similar between those who have high end Android devices and iOS. I bet those populations would be very similar.

What are your thoughts on the debate between iOS and Android? Does it really matter at this point?


Via: InvestmentZen.com

Could the Future of Healthcare Not Include Telemedicine?

Posted on May 3, 2017 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.

Recently the ATA (American Telemedicine Association) held their annual conference which looks at the telemedicine and telehealth industry. I’ve always wanted to attend the event, but they’ve never had it at a time or a location that worked out well for me. One of these days I’m going to add it to my schedule of healthcare IT conferences. Until then, at least I can follow along with the conference on Twitter.

Coming out of the opening plenary session was this really interesting quote about telemedicine tweeted by the ATA twitter account:

I’d probably add that Telemedicine is the natural evolution of healthcare and technology. In fact, it’s clear to me that there’s no practical reason we shouldn’t be doing telemedicine for a large portion of our interactions with the healthcare system. It won’t replace all of them, but it should replace a lot of them.

The title of this post asks the question “Could the Future of Healthcare Not Include Telemedicine?”

My answer to that question is that I see no healthcare future where telemedicine doesn’t play a major role. It’s taken us forever to figure out telemedicine reimbursement. We’ve made progress but still have a long way to go. However, I don’t see any reason why telemedicine would not be a part of the future of healthcare.

Or as Andrew Watson, MD said, “Telemedicine is the natural evolution of healthcare.” We’re going to naturally go there whether people like it or not. It’s hard to kick against evolution and that’s true for telemedicine too.

Digital Health, Mobile Health, mHealth, etc Is Just Health?

Posted on April 26, 2017 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.

Last week, the big news in the world of healthcare IT was that HIMSS acquired Health 2.0. You can check out the great writeup of the acquisition by Andy Oram. This acquisition was interesting since Health 2.0 had largely tried to be the anti-HIMSS for so long. There were others doing so as well like the mHealth Summitt and the Connected Health Conference, but those have all been acquired by HIMSS as well.

It’s no surprise that running a conference focused on startup companies doing innovative things in healthcare is a hard business. Startup companies have no money and so they can’t spend on oversized booths like the large vendors at HIMSS do. Indu and Matthew did what they could with Health 2.0, but it’s a challenging business. It will be interesting to see how things go under the HIMSS umbrella.

I know that Matthew Holt who started Health 2.0 has been beating the drum for a long time that there’s no such thing as mobile health or mHealth or Digital Health. There’s just healthcare. So, in some ways it makes sense for something like Health 2.0 to be part of a healthcare IT organization like HIMSS.

For the most part, I agree with Matthew on there not being a difference. However, I think that what this misses is that within the healthcare IT world there are companies at different stages of development. I divide these companies into 3 categories: Large Enterprise Companies, Middle Tier Companies, and Startup Companies. We could slice and dice some more, but I think this is a good framework for thinking about the industry.

Whether you liked the description of digital health or mobile health or mHealth, those terms came to represent what most people would consider startup healthcare IT companies. That’s what Health 2.0 and a few other conferences came to represent. Despite many efforts on their part to expand in other ways, HIMSS has largely come to represent the large enterprise companies. They’ve done so in a really fantastic way, but these large enterprise companies kind of suck the wind out of events like the HIMSS Annual conference.

What’s interesting to me is that the middle tier healthcare IT companies haven’t really had a place to go. Sure, they might go to HIMSS, but they generally do smaller booths and they go to show they’re a player in the space versus going to attract customers and do business deals. Same goes for Health 2.0. They might attend Health 2.0 to see what’s happening in the market, but it’s not a great event for their businesses generally either.

Along those same lines, I think that most middle tier hospitals and healthcare organizations get left out as well. They’re too small to be able to be the pilot site for a startup company and they get lost at an event like HIMSS. These middle tier healthcare organizations are interesting because they have money to spend if they can find something that works. However, they don’t have the bandwidth to be someone’s innovation center for something that might work.

No doubt, digital health is just becoming part of the overall healthcare system. However, the division between size of companies and the maturity of their products is not going to change. Not to mention the needs of the various sized healthcare organizations. It will be interesting to see what happens to Health 2.0 under HIMSS and how the market continues to evolve to better serve its stakeholders.

Fewer But Better – Connected Health at #HIMSS17

Posted on March 3, 2017 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.

Since I go to so many connected health related conferences, seeing the latest in connected health at HIMSS is not really a huge deal. In most cases, I’ve already seen it somewhere else in a less hectic environment. With that said, I thought I’d see a real explosion of these devices at the conference. Certainly, there were many there, but I didn’t see the explosion that I had expected.

While there was a concentration of them in the Connected Health area, most of the rest of the show floor didn’t have many that I noticed. No doubt we each have our own unique experience at a 40,000 person and 1200 exhibitor conference. So, I’d be interested in hearing what other people’s experiences were at the event.

Even though I didn’t see an explosion of connected health devices (In fact, I may have seen fewer!), I do think that the devices that were being demonstrated are going a lot deeper and doing much more than previous years. That’s a good thing because these devices need to be medical relevant for the healthcare establishment to really care about them.

One example was a demo I saw at the DellEMC booth. They had an incredible dashboard of data that was pulling in a number of different health devices. One tracking pill that you swallow was particularly intriguing. The pill showed that the guy demoing the software had been pretty stressed that morning when the demo wasn’t working quite right. Luckily when I was there he was doing better.

Another feature of these connected health devices that hit me was how far they could reach. At the same demo with DellEMC, they had devices that could be tracked for nearly the entire HIMSS Exhibit hall (All of the Orlando Convention Center). While that’s not needed for home applications where wifi is basically ubiquitous, this is a very valuable tool to connect devices in a hospital setting.

As I mentioned, I hadn’t seen many new things, but we’re seeing the natural evolution of these connected health devices. They haven’t really broken out at HIMSS, but they are definitely getting more mature and that’s a good thing.

Connected Health at #HIMSS17

Posted on February 17, 2017 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.

One of the big growth areas at the HIMSS Annual Conference has been around digital and personal connected health (Formerly called mHealth or Mobile Health or Digital Health, etc). At HIMSS 2017 we see that trend continue. If you’re interested in connected health, then you’ll be busy at HIMSS this year.

To start off, they have an entire specialty education summit on the Sunday before the regular conference and the Monday of the conference that’s focused on Digital and Personal Connected Health (Costs $545 to attend now). You can find more details on this event and other education, exhibition and networking around Connected Health here. This Connected Health social hour looks pretty interesting.

Along with the Connected Health Summit, HIMSS Attendees can browse through a wide variety of Connected Health sessions on the education schedule and programming at the Connected Health Experience in the exhibit area.

If you’re looking for exhibitors working on Connected Health solutions, you can check out this list of HIMSS 2017 exhibitors. No doubt there are other exhibitors at HIMSS that just didn’t classify themselves that way, but they’re working on Connected Health solutions.

Along with the Connected Health sessions and exhibits, they also have a Wellness Challenge for all HIMSS attendees. If you’ve ever wanted a Free Apple Watch, then you might want to participate. I always love the idea personally but wish that the competition was virtual. I can never make it at the time specified.

Finally, if you’re not going to be at HIMSS or if you’re there and you want to share in the Connected Health conversation, there’s a special #Connect2Health hashtag you can follow and use.

I know in the past the Connected Health vendors have been some of the more interesting and innovative companies at HIMSS. I’ll be sure to report back on any that I find.

Possible Healthcare Chatbot Use Cases

Posted on February 1, 2017 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.

As I posted in November, I’m extremely interested in chatbots as the next evolution of patient communication. In fact, I’m expecting to see a lot of chatbot talk at HIMSS 2017 in a couple weeks. I should have scheduled a healthcare chatbot meetup at HIMSS17, but didn’t. However, I expect the concept will come up in my other HIMSS 2017 meetups. The idea is finally catching on.

As part of my chatbot learning, I came across David Hawig from Germany who has created a healthcare chatbot named Florence. Florence is still in the early stages, but you can already talk with Florence over Facebook Messenger, and David has an early Skype version and web version as well. I personally used the web version for my tests, but David said that the only real publicly released version is the Facebook Messenger version of Florence because Facebook “messenger has the best chatbot integration so far.”

What I find really interesting and inspiring are these chatbot screenshots that David sent me. I liked them because they inspire me and hopefully you to start thinking about all the ways a healthcare chatbot could help us. Here’s a quick run down of the examples he shared with me:

Daily Health Tips

Doctor Finding Service (with Connection to past record)

Medication Reminder and Tracking

Health Tracker

Health Literacy and Education

Symptom Checker

What do you think about all of these possible uses for chatbots? Are there any others that are missing? Which chatbot uses make the most sense to implement right away?