Monday, December 10, 2007

Mass Health Policy Forum - By Mass Health Data Consortium

I recently attended a Mass Health Data Consortium Health Policy Forum discussing the adoption of EHR and Health Information Technology in Massachusetts. It was a good meeting and provided me with insights into what is currently occurring around the state, such as the eHealth Collaborative status and standardization initiative occurring at CareGroup Healthcare.
Below is a list of the speakers at the conference:
· John Glaser – VP & CIO, Partners HealthCare System
· Micky Tripathi – CEO, Mass eHealth Collaborative
· John Halamka – CIO, CareGroup Healthcare & Harvard Med School; CEO,
· Janet Marchibroda – CEO, eHealth Initiative & Foundation
· Senator R. Moore – Senate Chair Joint Committee on Health Care Financing
· Judy Ann Bigby – Secretary, Mass Exec Office of Health & Human
· James Roosevelt, Jr – President & CEO, Tufts Health Plan
· John McDonough – Exec Director, Health Care for All
· David Blumenthal – Director, Institute for Health Policy, Mass General

The key points I got from the discussion centered on:
· The digital divide that is occurring between the mid to large
practices/tertiary hospitals vs. the small practices/community hospitals.
· PHR (patient health record)
· Population based medicine
· Aligning financial incentives
· Managing privacy, security & confidential principles
· Governmental involvement through
a. Data standardization
b. Addressing why many EHR implementations fail on the small practice
c. Possibility of providing low interest or 0% loans to push out EMRs to
small practices
· Will Massachusetts as a state be in leading this as a statewide initiative of following the pack?

The issue concerning the digital divide was brought up by more than one speaker. To put it is simply the small practices/community hospitals often lack the resources (money) to be able to implement a lot of this new technology. However, most of our patient health care is centered on these very institutions. So we’re in a chicken versus egg situation of which should come first.

This argument alone is a reason for greater state involvement at different levels. I’m not saying that the state/federal government should be the 800lb gorilla, but should act in greater partnership with the private sector to nudge along a greater adoption of EHR. The bottom line is that we all agree in concept, this is good for delivering better health care to our patients, the hard part is figuring out a way to do this that is financially feasible for all the health care institutions.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

MCMP ( Medicare Care Management Performance)

Its been a while since I've posted a blog. It hasn't been for not wanting or yearning to do so, since my last blog posting I've moved and things have finally settled down to the point where I can now strart blogging again.

Anyway, I wanted to say for all practices that are a part of the MCMP program there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and this can be done in an automated fashion from your Electronic Health Record application.

On October 13, 2006 the CMS Administrator Mark B. McClellan spoke about a new demonstration program being implemented in 2007 in the following states: Arkansas, California, Massachusetts and Utah.

The program is a "pay-for-performance" demonstration requiring eligible practices to send 26 quality measures to CMS involving patients with diabetes, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and preventive care.

To find out more information about the quality measures please refer to the url listed below:
Quality Measures

This is a three year program starting in 2007, and would reimburse physicians in smaller medical practices with financial incentives ranging from $10,000/physician to a max of $50,000/practice per year for three years.

For the first year each practice is required to send CMS baseline data of the 26 quality measures mentioned above, and I was able to develop a program to extract this data from G.E. Centricity EMR application, and allow easy import into the MCMP application provided by CMS.
As it turns out the practice I did this for was the only one in the state of Massachusetts to do so within the CMS deadline. Please note this would not have been accomplished without a lot of help from G.E. tech support and the practice's EMR application expert who made the mapping of the fields easy.

For more information about the program, please feel free to post questions, or refer to the url below: Medicare Demonstrations

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Application Review - Secure Email

I recently went to a conference concerning secure email, and found the ZixCorp ( solution to be really interesting.

From a health care perspective, its becoming increasingly apparent that more emails between payors (eg: Blue Cross/Blue Shield; Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Tufts Health Plan) to providers & providers to patients should be sent via a secure methodology that is not a hindrance to people receiving or sending emails.

The ZixCorp solution uses two different methodologies to send secure emails:

The Pull Method (ZixPort secure portal) requires the recipient who doesn't use zix to log onto the Zix secure email servers to retrieve messages.

1. No client software to download
2. Automated authentication process
3. Secure reply capabilities

The Push Method - (ZixDirect) assumes the email is being sent to a zix member, and will encrypt the email over the internet, then decrypt it automatically when loading the message into your email application.


1. Internal/outboard encryption
2. Encryption of message body & attachments
3. Integrated with Outlook versions
4. Sent/received emails are stored encrypted

A final note, there are also other secure email vendors like Tumbleweed (, I will check into as well.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Intro - Diving Into the Deep End

I'm not certain exactly where to start, so how about we take a dive in the deep end of the river and follow the current.

You may ask why am I discussing health care or better yet what was I thinking when deciding to go into this as a career.

The answer to the first question is simple; I should have died in June of 1986, but for the diligent work by some tenacious doctors/nurses am here to celebrate my 4 year old son's and 15 months old daughter's birthday. Since recovering from my illness I've promised myself to do something/anything in the health care field.

After coming out of coma, I realized:
A) I'm incredibly lucky (That's what my wife thinks).
B) Having health care should be important to all of us.
C) Some day we will all partake from the fountain called "health care" in some form.

(Hey Love, a list that I created on my own, maybe you’re rubbing off on me! (NOT, just kidding))

Now onto more serious thoughts, as a reasonably sane person, who has a brother, sisters, nephews & nieces all who at some given point in the future may require health care services, we should always be striving as a society to provide low cost QUALITY health care to all of our citizens.

I decided to go into health care I.T. as a profession because I'm what you would call a "cool geek" and let's leave it at that. Please note I've been called a "geek/nerd" before and forced to retaliate in a totally I.T. kind of fashion. I leave the rest up to your imagination.

This may be a little long winded but now you'll never have to ask the question as to why/what be him thinking.
So, going forward I will endeavor to add a weekly posting discussing I.T. solutions or critiques of things I've encountered or read.