Home Technology EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 7/14/22 – HIStalk

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 7/14/22 – HIStalk

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I spent some time on Wednesday attending a deep dive on “The Platform Revolution Comes to Healthcare” as part 2022 MIT Platform Strategy Summit, which is taking place in the Boston area this week. The initial speakers, Vince Kuraitis and Randy Williams, spoke to what they described as four healthcare platform megatrends:

  • Synergy. Platforms advance (and are advanced by) four key healthcare trends – value-based care, consumerism, interoperability/data sharing, and home/virtual care.
  • Investment in digital health is fueling platform growth.
  • Platforms are shaping new operational ecosystems.
  • Platforms are transforming the competitive landscape in healthcare.

One of the highlights was the keynote fireside chat with Jonathan Bush, who described his experiences in building healthcare platforms. He had an interesting analogy about Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter books, likening healthcare to Dudley. Healthcare isn’t evil, but it still kills people every year, so “we jack the safety net up so far” that “there’s no ability to move about the cabin” and trying to figure out how to innovate without violating the social safety net.

He refers to his former clients at Athenahealth as “kooks” with great affection. He notes that in healthcare, the demand curve doesn’t function the way that it does in conventional businesses, because there really isn’t a choice to not buy the service and keep the money. He notes two things that have shifted the demand curve – the COVID pandemic, which has shifted acceptance of virtual-first approaches, and the ability to assemble robust tech stacks.

I chuckled when he described in-person care as “lumbering in and taking your pants off and sitting on waxed paper every three months.” Jonathan has certainly mellowed over time, and I always enjoy hearing his thoughts. It will be interesting to see how Zus Health plays a role moving forward.

Speaking of healthcare transformation, we’re approaching the point at which health plans and insurers have to provide pricing information to the public. As of July 1, CMS required those organizations to provide machine-readable files for in-network rates and allowed amounts respective to various medical charges. Starting in 2023, they must also provide online price comparison tools to allow patients to estimate their individual payment portion for a list of over 500 items and services. In 2024, they will have to provide price comparison tools covering all services. Organizations that fail to comply face a fine of as much as $100 per day for each violation for each affected enrollee.

I’m all for empowering patients to understand the costs and options for various services, but publishing this data doesn’t take into account the differences between the same services performed at different facilities. These nuances often inform how physicians order their tests. For example, I am extremely high risk for breast cancer, to the point where I could easily qualify for preventive surgery. Prior to undergoing consultation with an expert, I used to have my mammograms at an independent general imaging facility because it was convenient, the costs were low, and a preliminary reading was provided before I left the building.

However, after having multiple consultations with nationally known experts in the field, coupled with genetic testing, I switched to having my mammograms (and now MRIs) performed at a more costly facility that has subspecialty radiologists interpreting all the studies. The average patient doesn’t understand that subtlety, and with the devaluing of comprehensive primary care in the US, I doubt those kinds of conversations are going to be happening in the exam room.

Speaking of genetic testing, I was excited to see the announcement that Myriad Genetics has partnered with Epic to make genetic testing more nearly seamless for patients and providers. My own Myriad testing several years ago was ordered with a daunting-looking triplicate paper form, where the medical assistant had to transcribe dozens of data points that already existed in the EHR. Results came back on paper, which the office had to scan into the chart. They were supposed to mail me a paper copy, but somehow couldn’t get it out the door, so after weeks of delay and begging on my part, I finally received a PDF version of the scan, minus the pretty color that I’m sure was in the original paper result. Less than ideal, but I’m excited that future patients will have better options for receiving their results and that physicians will be able to fully explore the value that discrete data brings.

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Once upon a time during one of my work trips, I became a patient at Mercy. They recently sent an email to patients with “MyMercy” MyChart accounts asking them to take a survey about a new feature. Apparently  they are evaluating the possibility of implementing Epic’s MyChart Bedside capabilities and wanted patient input.

Having been on the health system side of healthcare IT, it’s often difficult to prioritize initiatives unless they are regulatory or otherwise mandated. Understanding how patients would use or not use a potential new feature seems prudent given the limited resources available to most IT teams. Survey participants were asked to rank a list of features based on how useful the participants thought they would be during an inpatient stay. I’m not a regular consumer of care through Mercy, but I did appreciate the outreach. I’ve got some contacts from residency that work there so will be interested to see if I can find out how the results are being used to make decisions.

Former telehealth darling (and now telehealth pariah) Cerebral tried unsuccessfully to recruit me before its fall, but I’ve ended up on one of their mailing lists. The company is conducting an all-out messaging campaign to explain its new focus on clinical quality and its vision for comprehensive mental health care. Putting on my primary care hat, I’m unimpressed by their messaging. It’s going to take a long time for them to overcome the perception that they have been prescribing controlled substances like someone giving out candy at Halloween.

Since I care for children, another physician recently asked me for my thoughts regarding the “right” age for her personal child to get a cellphone. This is often a hot topic around the neighborhood as well, with every child seemingly stating that “everyone else has one but me.” There’s a growing body of data demonstrating that mobile devices are harmful to mental health. One physician I refer to stated that smartphones are little more than “dopamine dispensing slot machines.” Discussions  at the recent Endocrine Society meeting highlighted issues with smartphone-associated behavioral issues, sleep disruption, and obesity.

Most adults I know don’t have the ability to separate from their phones, so it’s not realistic to think that the relatively underdeveloped brains of children would make it any easier for them. The article links to a number of publications in the medical literature regarding cell phone and screen use. If you’re a parent of children or adolescents, or if you are concerned about your own dependence on mobile devices, it’s worth a read.

Do you think that constant smartphone access and the prevalence of social media is making the world a better place or consigning us to a dreary future? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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