Better Living Through Technology
Articles in this Spring 2011 TMIS eNewsletter:
The Human Health Project (HHP) was inspired by one doctor’s personal struggle to diagnose his own illness. For three years he went doctor to doctor but the answers were elusive and the process was frustrating, even with access to modern healthcare and his own background in medicine. This experience was telling of the lack of integration among the medical sciences.
Since its launch in 2006, the Human Health Project has now grown into a fully developed, web-based, social networking platform to medical professionals anywhere in the world to exchange information and remotely discuss rare and unusual health problems, free of charge. Members of HHP (medical professionals, patient advocates and other allied health specialists) introduce the cases of actual patients. These cases are reviewed by website moderators, who are also medical practitioners, prior to being posted for discussion. This process is kept completely anonymous as it relates to both doctors and patients. Cases are categorized and searchable by HHP users so that all medical specialties are included. Discussion is conducted in a team approach centering on members with specialties most pertinent to the case. It may begin with a discussion among primary care physicians and other specialists for possible diagnoses for the patient’s medical condition. Other HHP members may advise on issues such as dietary implications for a condition, while others may suggest alternative holistic treatments or psychological issues involved with the condition, but the progression in each case is unique.
After treatment has been implemented and the outcome has been finalized, the HHP member submits an analysis and summary of the case. Besides the obvious initial benefit to medical professionals and their patients is another more far reaching benefit for the greater good. All information will be collected in a Knowledge Database available to HHP members. Over time, relevant trend information will emerge. For example, a specific medication may be successfully combined with acupuncture, psychological counseling and physical therapy for the best possible outcome in a particular type of case.
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has launched their new online service, AAFP Physicians Direct, a digital solution destined to make slow, fragmented and cumbersome patient referrals and follow-up care a thing of the past by improving communication among primary care physicians, subspecialists and other health care providers. This new service supports secure electronic communication between physicians and solves the next critical step to accelerate digital transformation of our nation’s health care system, clinical interoperability.
Clinical interoperability will no longer be blocked due to incompatible technology and standards among our nation’s healthcare providers. Also, AAFP Physicians Direct supports all federal and state policies for health information exchange, including privacy and security standards (HIPAA and state laws) and other standards such as HL7, CCR and CCD.
Subscribers to AAFP Physicians Direct will be able to securely exchange messages with any other provider on the network. Also, as a way to make clinical interoperability as universal as possible, participants will be able to send message alerts to any other provider, including non-subscribers. Message recipients will retrieve messages from a secure Web page within the Physicians Direct portal and reply to messages for free. The days of family physicians having to fax, mail or hand deliver patient files to specialists are over.
Intermedia, the premier provider of communication services, including hosted Microsoft Exchange, to small and mid-sized businesses, has announced that secure compliance templates for HIPAA are now available as part of its email encryption service. Encryption is added automatically in appropriate cases to assure email messages are secure and read only by the sender and recipient, making it possible for healthcare firms to meet strict regulatory requirements to safeguard sensitive information. The templates include a set of pre-determined compliancy code sets, keywords and policies built from the most current industry information, and these are automatically updated for most current information each quarter.
OrganizedWisdom is an expert-driven mobile technology platform for health and wellness whose makers say they are on a mission to close the “Online Health Gap” – the scary space that exists between a doctor visit and the Internet, where people are left alone with an empty search box and millions of computer-generated results – by inspiring doctors and health experts to embrace the power of digital media and share their wisdom. Their ongoing initiative aims to connect the mobile phones of people interested in specific health and wellness information with the wisdom of vetted health practitioners and patient advocates.
Starting this year, the first of 78 million baby boomers will become eligible for Medicare benefits, and for the next 19 years, a startling average of 11,000 people will turn 65 years old every day. An online tool called Plan Presenter exists to help baby boomers make the right decisions about their coverage during their initial Medicare open enrollment period.
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From the Front Page of TMIS News
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Human Health Project Launches Social Network for Physicians, Medical Practitioners to Exchange Case Information on the Internet for Diagnosis of Difficult Medical Cases
Los Angeles, California
The Human Health Project (HHP), a non-profit organization based in Los Angeles, London and Dublin, today announced the launch of its web-based social network platform for medical professionals anywhere in the world to exchange information and remotely discuss rare and unusual health problems, free of charge.
The new website is www.humanhealthproject.org. It is designed exclusively for medical professionals of all types -- in both conventional and alternative medicine -- to help each other diagnose and resolve difficult cases, according to Phil Harrington, M.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer.
"This new site combines the latest technology in social networking via the Internet with the old-fashioned idea of practitioners sharing and discussing unusual medical cases in order to arrive at a real solution -- even when patients and doctors are located in the most remote of locations," Harrington said.
"The platform is organized so that medical professionals of different types and medical traditions can simply come to the website and enroll as members," he added. "Once their membership information is validated, they then can submit online cases for review and discussion among all the network participants. This provides members with access to the collective expertise of health professionals throughout the Human Health Project network whose comments may help lead to a resolution for the patient.
"We expect that this project will be of great benefit to the medical communities in the United States and around the globe, since there are about four million medical professionals just in the U.S. and more than 40 million elsewhere in the world," he noted.
Leading-Edge Collaboration Aims to Improve Communication Among Providers, Enhance Continuity of Care, Support Achievement of EHR Meaningful Use and Advance the Patient-Centered Medical Home Model of Care
The American Academy of Family Physicians has announced AAFP Physicians Direct, a new service that supports secure, electronic communication between physicians. Built on the Surescripts Network for Clinical Interoperability, this new AAFP service is part of a larger program to help physicians more easily and securely share information such as referrals, patient summaries, discharge summaries and lab results when providing their patients' care. The innovative collaboration will make the nation's leading health information network available to nearly 75,000 family physicians across the United States.
AAFP physicians will be able to connect to the Surescripts network and share information securely through the new AAFP Physicians Direct web portal or a choice of electronic health record systems. Amazing Charts, e-MDs and SOAPware has also announced that they will connect their EHR systems to the Surescripts network and collaborate in the Physicians Direct program.
With this new service, AAFP will leverage the Surescripts network to provide electronic clinical interoperability among providers, allowing them to break down communication barriers due to incompatible technology and a lack of interoperability standards. Clinical interoperability between health care providers is viewed by experts as the next critical step to accelerate the digital transformation of the nation's health care system. The advance of clinical interoperability plays a central role in a number of important national health care initiatives: improving continuity of care; supporting the "meaningful use" of electronic health records; and advancing the patient-centered medical home model of care.
"We are proud to empower physicians with a digital tool that will make their practice run more efficiently while improving the overall quality of care they provide," said Glen Stream, MD, MBI, president-elect of the AAFP. "AAFP Physicians Direct will enhance communication among health care providers, and patients likely will experience more seamless coordination and continuity of care. Patients will benefit, and that's always a 'win.'"
Intermedia Adds HIPAA Compliance Templates to Its Hosted Exchange Email Service Helps Healthcare Firms Meet Regulations Without Taking on High Costs and Complexity
New York, New York
Intermedia, the world's largest Microsoft Exchange hosting provider, has announced that compliance templates for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are now available as part of its email encryption service. Healthcare firms can not only outsource their Exchange email to Intermedia, but can also use the company's email encryption capabilities and HIPAA templates to set and enforce policies for regulatory compliant email communication.
HIPAA requires healthcare firms to safeguard patient information, including the transmission of that information over email. Using Intermedia's HIPAA templates, healthcare firms are able to select from a pre-built list of rules to determine whether emails contain protected health information (PHI) and need to be encrypted. PHI is defined as any personal health information that can be linked to a specific individual and includes any part of the patient's medical record or payment history. Encryption is added automatically in appropriate cases to assure emails are secure and read only by the sender and recipient.
"Healthcare firms deal with sensitive information and have strict regulatory requirements to safeguard that information," says Jonathan McCormick, Intermedia's chief operating officer. "The challenge is that managing email and HIPAA compliance in-house creates serious cost and complexity implications. With Intermedia's integrated offerings, healthcare firms can outsource their email and configure it to help assure HIPAA compliance. This saves on costs and better protects patient data."
The templates include a set of pre-determined compliancy code sets, keywords, and policies built from the most current industry information.
OrganizedWisdom Partners With Xtify to Offer Mobile Health Notifications and Close the Online Health Gap
New York, New York
OrganizedWisdom, an expert-driven platform for health and wellness, has announced a partnership with Xtify, Inc., a leading provider of smart notification technology for mobile applications, to build a series of mobile health applications. The ongoing initiative aims to close the 'Online Health Gap' by connecting the mobile phones of people interested in specific health and wellness information with the wisdom of vetted health practitioners and patient advocates.
The first application, titled "Healthy Bites," will deliver nutritious eating notifications from health experts directly to consumers' smartphones. Currently available on Android phones nationwide, the application will soon launch on other smartphone platforms. Similar applications relating to common health conditions such as exercise, diabetes, weight loss, heart health, healthy diets, and more will launch in the coming months. The applications are enhanced with exclusive push notification technology provided by Xtify, Inc., which delivers vetted content selected by health experts to consumers' smartphones at the time and place it is most useful, even when the application is closed.
"OrganizedWisdom is on a mission to close the 'Online Health Gap' -- the scary space that exists between a doctor visit and the Internet, where people are left alone with an empty search box and millions of computer-generated results," said Unity Stoakes, president and co-founder of OrganizedWisdom. "This mobile initiative represents an important step in advancing our mission of connecting patients, wherever they are, with the most credible health and wellness experts."
The number of medical professionals actively engaging online has been rapidly increasing, but until now there has not been a reliable method for organizing these contributions. OrganizedWisdom is building a comprehensive Expert Health Graph to collect, organize, and promote these online contributions of thousands of vetted health experts and advocates now actively sharing wisdom across the Web.
Enrolling in Medicare: PlanPrescriber Offers Recommendations for Baby Boomers Turning 65
PlanPrescriber, a wholly-owned subsidiary of eHealth, Inc., published advice for baby boomers enrolling in Medicare benefits for the first time. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, for the next 19 years, an average of 11,000 people will turn 65 years old every day, making them eligible for Medicare benefits. This means that starting this year, the first of 78 million baby boomers will begin educating themselves about their Medicare coverage options for the first time.
To help baby boomers make the right decisions about their coverage during their initial Medicare open enrollment period, newcomers to Medicare should consider the following recommendations.
1. Take it easy. You are not locked into the same Medicare plan forever. Each year you're able to change your Medicare Advantage coverage and/or your Medicare part D prescription drug coverage. Some Medicare Supplement (also called MediGap) plans only allow you to enroll without medical underwriting during your initial enrollment period (the first six months that you become eligible for Medicare), but others allow you to enroll at any time. If you begin researching Medicare before your 65th birthday, the decision-making process should be easier.
2. Do some basic training. Medicare can be confusing. It's a different type of health insurance coverage than most people are used to, so before you get inundated with sales pitches and unsolicited advice, try to understand your basic coverage options.
There are three basic Medicare coverage configurations you can choose from: The first is to go with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), plus a Part D prescription drug plan; the second is Medicare Advantage, which can include vision, dental and prescription drug coverage; and the third is a Medicare Supplement, or MediGap, plan coupled with Original Medicare (A and B) and Medicare Part D.
Each year during the annual enrollment period, it's a good idea to review and update your Medicare Part D prescription drug plan. Or, if you have Medicare Advantage coverage, you should review the prescription drug coverage on your Medicare Advantage plan at that time.
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