Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Impact of the Electronic Health Record on Patient Safety: An Alberta Perspective


Alberta is at the leading edge in developing its electronic health record (EHR), a provincial initiative to provide healthcare providers with immediate access to a patient's medication history and laboratory test results, regardless of where they are in the province, or where the patient's drugs or other treatments were ordered. The Alberta EHR was launched in October 2003. So far 6,000 healthcare providers have voluntarily signed on to use it, and benefits to patient safety have been reported. The EHR is an important part of healthcare renewal that is required to improve patient safety. Read the whole article by clicking here.

Wal-Mart partners with hospitals to rapidly expand in-store clinics

Analysts say the giant retailer wants the good will a trusted hospital name can provide. Hospitals, meanwhile, say they don't intend to compete with physicians.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan, AMNews staff. Feb. 25, 2008.

As big-name national retailers and pharmacy chains continue to open in-store clinics, a familiar face soon may enter the fray as well -- your local hospital.

Wal-Mart recently announced plans to partner with community hospitals across the country to open up 400 new retail clinics inside its stores by 2010, in addition to the 55 it already houses. Thirteen of those are owned and operated by hospital systems.

The rebranded "Clinic at Wal-Mart" also will sport the name of the partnering health system providing the nurse practitioners and physician assistants dispensing care, as well as the doctors overseeing them. But Wal-Mart would standardize the clinics so they have a similar look and feel, such as having each clinic post a price list and keep similar hours.

To continue reading this report please click here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A First Comparison of Google Health and MS HealthVault

[Posted (on his own blog) by Vince Kuraitis on March 2, 2008. Intro only. To see the complete entry click on the title above.]

While details are thin, here’s a first pass at comparing and contrasting Google Health (GH) and Microsoft HealthVault (HV). Overall, there are many common features, some differences, and many common challenges between these two platforms.

A High Level Comparison
Google Health and Microsoft HealthVault
Personal Health Information (PHI) Platforms

There’s still not much information available about the specifics of GH, although they did release sketchy information on the Official Google Blog. I’ll comment on a few of the particulars.


Both are patient controlled — data is released only with patient permission.
For more,
click here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Google vs. Wal-Mart in Electronic Health Record Battle for Consumers

The most powerful consumer Internet company in the world and the world's most powerful consumer retailer seek to control consumer WEB access to the powerful health care industry.

Microsoft vs. Google for consumer health care dominance is the typical battle cry.

Nevertheless, in the fight to “consumerize” health care via technology, major U.S. employers are powerful stakeholders in their own rights, as they battle to control medical insurance costs for their workers on a daily basis.

How about Dr. Google vs. Dr. Wal-Mart? Click on the title and read on . . .

Canada Takes a Closer Look at Personal Health Records

April 17, 2008 – As the Internet has enabled consumers to manage important aspects of their personal lives from the relative comfort of their home, it is no surprise that Canadians are becoming increasingly intrigued by the prospect of being able to view and manage their health information using emerging personal health records (PHR) technologies.

Recent announcements by major players in the IT industry suggest such capabilities are just around the corner. Recognizing developments in this area are moving quickly, Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial health ministries have expressed support for Canada Health Infoway’s (Infoway) plan to discuss personal health record solutions with interested vendors and to explore how these technologies could be made available to Canadians in a secure manner.

According to Richard Alvarez, President and CEO of Canada Health Infoway, the federally-funded, independent, not-for-profit organization that is leading the adoption of electronic health records across Canada: providing Canadians and their health care providers with appropriate and secure access to their health information has been Infoway’s goal from the onset. The agency wants to ensure appropriate level of trust to protect the privacy and security of health information.

The government anticipates that the onset of personal health record solutions can accelerate the reality of electronic health records.

Microsoft, Wal-Mart and Google have been actively developing this technology. In February, 2008, Google launched a pilot with a medical institution committed to giving patients access to their own medical records: The Cleveland Clinic. A large academic medical center, Cleveland is one of the first partners to integrate on the Google platform.

For more on the Google initiatives see:

Google Conversations about Health & Records

A pilot with the Cleveland Clinic for health information access

Warning on Storage of Health Records. The New York Times Comments on Article from The New England Journal of Medicine

Published: April 17, 2008

In an article in The New England Journal of Medicine, two leading researchers warn that the entry of big companies like Microsoft and Google into the field of personal health records could drastically alter the practice of clinical research and raise new challenges to the privacy of patient records.

The authors, Dr. Kenneth D. Mandl and Dr. Isaac S. Kohane, are longtime proponents of the benefits of electronic patient records to improve care and help individuals make smarter health decisions.

But their concern, stated in the article published Wednesday and in an interview, is that the medical profession and policy makers have not begun to grapple with the implications of companies like Microsoft and Google becoming the hosts for vast stores of patient information.

The arrival of these new corporate entrants, the authors write, promises to bring “a seismic change” in the control and stewardship of patient information.

Today, most patient records remain within the health system — in doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, health maintenance organizations and pharmacy networks. Federal regulations govern how personal information can be shared among health institutions and insurers, and the rules restrict how such information can be mined for medical research. One requirement is that researchers have no access to individual patients’ identities.

For the full article click on the title of this blog entry.

Google Conversations about Health & Records

A pilot with the Cleveland Clinic for health information access

2/21/2008 07:46:00 AM

I suffer from poor eyesight and intense seasonal allergies, but I'm thankful that health issues occupy just a small portion of my life. Even though I'm rather healthy, I sometimes find myself needing access to accurate health information. I can get a long way by searching for health facts online, but I also need to incorporate what I find with my own history of conditions and treatments. I didn't even realize I had allergies until my early twenties -- for more years than I care to admit, I'd forget that the "cold" I came down with in April was suspiciously similar to the one I had at exactly the same time the year before. I've often been overwhelmed when trying to determine or track a condition, because my personal record of health information is either nonexistent, or it's spread on forms and receipts from (at least) a dozen doctors and five insurance companies.

Working as an engineer here on the health team, I've been excited to participate in building tools that will help me and others manage our personal health information more effectively. Many innovators in the healthcare industry have worked hard to make results of doctor visits, prescriptions, tests and procedures available digitally. By using the GData protocol already offered in many Google products, and supporting standards-based medical information formats like the Continuity of Care Record (CCR), our health efforts will help you access, store and communicate your health information. Above all, health data will remain yours -- private and confidential. Only you have control over when to share it with family members and health providers.

This week, we hit another important milestone. We launched a pilot with a medical institution committed to giving patients access to their own medical records: The Cleveland Clinic. A large academic medical center, Cleveland is one of the first partners to integrate on our platform. Because of their size and reach with patients who already have access to their medical records online, Cleveland has been a great partner for us to test out our data sharing model. Patients participating in the Cleveland pilot give authorization via our AuthSub interface to have their electronic medical records safely and securely imported into a Google account. It's great to see our product getting into the hands of end users, and I look forward to the feedback that the Cleveland patients will provide us.

Cleveland is just the first of many healthcare providers that will securely send medical records and information via Google APIs at your request. We've been hard at work collaborating with a number of insurance plans, medical groups, pharmacies and hospitals. While this pilot is open initially to just a few thousand patients, I see it as an important first step to show how Google can help users get access to their medical records and take charge of their health information.

Links to this post

Google Health: the beginning or the end of ehealth as we know it?