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The HealthBlawg- Celebrating 10 Years of Ideas, Insights and Innovation

Recently, we learned from HIT “aficionado” John Lynn that his friend and colleague, David Harlow, is celebrating the 10th anniversary of his HealthBlawg. To mark the occasion, David has begun what he’s calling, “The Festschriff of the Blogosphere,” inviting other bloggers to contribute posts.

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Some of the blog posts John identified in his recent posting happen to be among our favorites as well. There are two in particular that we would like to call out: 

Channeling Churchill to deal with innovation, impatience and chaos in healthcare,” was artfully written by Nick van Terheyden, MD. Dr. Terheyden provides a brilliant look into the current state and not-too-distant future of healthcare, and its impact on patients, payers, healthcare executives and providers.

Upfront, we should note that the reference to Churchill, which isn’t provided until the end of the blog, has to do with the anxiety and chaos Dr. Terheyden says most organizations will experience having to deal with the cultural changes required by all the coming progress. He explains that, “If the CEO and executive teams stay calm and focused, the people they lead will be less anxious and more able to think creatively.” He likens this thinking to Winston Churchill’s perspective during the Nazi bombings in London. The Nazi’s thought they would shake people up through their bombing campaign but an even and confident Churchill’s advice to his fellow countrymen and women was, “Keep calm and carry on.” They did, and overcame the Nazi’s advances with relative sanity and composure.

So – what is all this anxiety-producing change about, anyway? Dr. Terheyden explains that a combination of new technology and demand by payers and consumers for more value for their money has created an environment rich in both innovation and impatience. He says that consumers are expecting – and for the most part, have – 24/7/365 digital access – although healthcare is playing catch-up in this area. Of particular concern is this: while consumers can research answers to their most pressing health concerns around-the-clock to bypass providers, many of the answers found online may be dangerously wrong. The solution: physicians need to do a better job answering their patients’ questions (and by the way, with the growth of Clinical Decision Support, this should not be a problem!)

He also writes that technology will change the way healthcare is delivered, citing analytics and what he calls “augmented intelligence. “While artificial intelligence has a long road to travel to match the thinking abilities of the human brain, technology can now augment our capabilities…and take over the tedious task of searching for data and looking for patterns, giving us an invaluable assistant.”

In another post, “Gimme my DaM Data: liberating to patients, scary to some,” a blogger identified as E-patient Dave sets about to answer the question, “In the culture of medicine, whose data is it?” So begins his quest to obtain his healthcare data while a cancer patient, the obstacles he faced and feedback he received. In the process, his experiences made him somewhat of celebrity and ultimately, placed him in the career choice of his dreams. Today, E-patient Dave (Dave deBronkart) is an advocate for the patient’s perspective and patient rights. He states that “ultimately, each one of us will have to get our data, organize it ourselves and take it with us.”

These are just a few of the insightful and interesting blogposts that are part of The Festschriff of the Blogosphere.

Happy anniversary, HealthBlawg!