Telehealth Enhancement Act takes Important Step

Telehealth KioskAs a member of the American Telehealth Association (Austin chapter), I too support the Telehealth Enhancement Act, however I see it as just a baby step and think much more is needed. Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

The proposed bill would modernize the Medicare program by allowing Medicare patients to be cared for remotely by a licensed healthcare provider from any state. That way, if you need medical help while on vacation, you could connect online or by phone with your own doctor back home without requiring that they be licensed in the state you traveled to. I urge Congress to adopt this bill and expand it beyond Medicare, to other federal agencies and health benefit programs.

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FDA won’t regulate these mobile apps

FDA LogoThe FDA final guidance lists several types of apps that may meet the definition of a medical device, but that pose lower risk to the public and will not be regulated. That should free developers to innovate and allow useful consumer products to come to market more quickly while ensuring that the mobile health apps are not only convenient, but safe.

The following list of apps (from mobihealthnews) highlights the 21 types of apps that the FDA called out in their guidance, saying it “understands that there may be other unique and innovative mobile apps that may not be covered in this list that may also constitute healthcare related mobile apps.” The agency says this list is not assumed to be or meant to be exhaustive, but rather is intended to provide some clarity. Read More …

Why Health Care Costs are Obscenely Expensive (Infographic)

Health Care Spending

 

Americans spend more on health care
but live sicker and die younger. Why?

 

We’ve published dozens of articles addressing that issue and have accumulated thousands of statistics in hundreds of Infographics. But today we include an important infographic that combines 12 charts created by Jan Diehm for The Huffington Post. Afterwards is a video description, a counter-point argument, and my own view of how Obamacare will address some of the issues.

 

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Every Patient is Unique

Lowering Health Care Costs Is Hard Because Every Patient Is Unique — That’s Bull $hit.

Drug MoneyBelow is my scathing response to this recent article in The Atlantic, by Dr. David A. Shaywitx, director of strategic and commercial planning at a San Francisco based biopharmaceutical company.

COMMENT:

I’m not surprised that this article was written by someone representing a biopharmaceutical company who sees every cure as a new drug and has a profit motive to find ways to justify high costs – in this case the “complexity of patients.”

This is exactly what’s wrong with our health care system – it’s actually a sick care or disease management system that has nothing to do with keeping people well and healthy and that treats symptoms to keep patients alive but coming back as paying customers. Read More …

FDA issues Guidance on Mobile Medical Apps

FDA LogoWASHINGTON – Sept. 24, 2013 – The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) is encouraged by the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) release of guidance on mobile medical apps.
[Modern Health Talk is encouraged too.]

“The FDA has chosen wisely to target its strict regulatory efforts on mobile applications that could pose a significant risk to consumers if used improperly.” said Jonathan Linkous, chief executive officer of ATA. “Their regulation will help reassure patients and consumers that mobile health applications are not only convenient, but safe.”

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Understanding Obamacare in Three and a Half Minutes

Main CAHCBy Wendell Potter, Author, consultant, columnist at Center for Public Integrity and healthinsurance.org

Since 2010, the year President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, more than $400 million has been spent by the law’s opponents to turn Americans against it, according to an analysis earlier this summer by the Campaign Media Analysis Group at Kantar Media. That compares to just $75 million spent by supporters to defend and explain the legislation.

The vast majority of that anti-Obamacare advertising has been misleading and in many cases downright false, but, hey, this is a free country and truth-in-advertising rules don’t apply. People who have an agenda, motivated by political or financial gain, just make stuff up. And then they use TV ads and the Internet to make sure the made-up stuff is repeated often enough so that gullible Americans eventually accept it as truth. Or at the very least grow confused and skeptical. Read More …

16-year old makes Cancer Breakthrough with Open Access

In this video interview, Dr. Francis S. Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health, talks with 16-year-old Jack Andraka about how he researched journals online to invent a breakthrough cancer diagnostic test that won the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

As Jack said in the video, the test costs just $0.03, takes just 5 minutes, can discover certain cancers earlier, and is 100% accurate in clinical trials so far. Read More …

Moore’s Law and The FUTURE of Healthcare

By Wayne Caswell, Founder of Modern Health Talk
Which Future

This article examines a future driven by Moore’s Law and the trend of circuits and components getting smaller, faster and cheaper exponentially over time and the eventual blending of science and technology (INFO + BIO + NANO + NEURO). I approach this topic from the unique perspective of an IBM technologist, market strategist, futurist, and consumer advocate. See About the Author and About Modern Health, below, to better understand what shaped this view of the future. You can also see my slide presentation and related articles & infographics at the bottom.

Which Future?

Futurists regularly consider alternative scenarios and examine factors that can steer the future in one direction or another. That way, clients can select a preferred version of the future and know what they might do to make that future happen.

It’s relatively easy to extrapolate past trends, assuming that nothing prevents those trends from continuing at the same rate, but will they? One can also look at what’s possible by tracking research lab activity and then estimating how long it will take to bring those new technologies to market.

But a potentially better approach is to start with a solid understanding of market NEEDS and what drives the development of solutions for them, or factors that inhibit solutions. Changes in politics and public policy, for example, can be a huge driver, with Obamacare as an example, or a huge inhibitor. That’s why I’m so interested in various healthcare reforms that accompany tech innovation. Read More …

OBAMACARE – a moving infographic

Obamacare does so many things to give people better access to affordable, quality health care. The folks at Colorado Consumer Health Initiative just like to say THANKS OBAMACARE with this moving infographic about President Obama’s healthcare plan and how it actually helps people. Nothing is perfect, but we think there are a lot of positives that came out of this whole thing, and politicians focus only on negative talking points. ugh.

Obamacare: What’s at Stake if it’s Repealed

Obamacare Pre-existing ConditionsBy Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services

More than three years ago, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act and President Obama signed it into law. Last year, the Supreme Court upheld it. Millions of Americans have already benefited from its provisions, and millions more are looking forward to benefits that will soon go into effect. And in November, the American people re-elected the president as an affirmation of the law’s promise that no person should go broke if they get sick.

Yet today, for nearly the 40th time since it’s been the law of the land, House Republicans staged yet another repeal vote in their latest attempt to turn back the clock on progress and deny Americans health insurance coverage they can count on.

For the 37th time, Congress is voting to repeal the health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
Learn what’s at stake for Americans if the law were repealed.

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Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Pharmaceuticals

Drug MoneyGuest article by Ray Collins

The FDA has tolerated, regulated, and now seems to favor direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies, apparently as part the the judicial and regulatory trends toward corporate free speech. Susan Schwartz McDonald posts at National Analysts about her company’s view

The very fact that this particular [FDA] survey [of health care professionals] is on the docket speaks volumes about what many FDA-watchers have already concluded: that the agency has morphed from wary and grudging to comfortable and upbeat about the benefit of allowing pharma to converse with patients. After several decades of experience, the FDA seems ready to conclude that direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) can do more than bring relevant therapies to broader awareness.

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Innovating Healthcare is Hard

 

I added this comment to Innovating Healthcare is Hard, an article on MedCrunch by Eugene Borukhovich.

Healthcare Innovation shows a stethoscope on a lightbulbDISRUPTIVE innovation is especially hard, because entrenched stakeholders stand to lose lots of money if things change. Even though there’s plenty of opportunity in healthcare innovation, resistance to real change is the biggest obstacle developers face.

Our nation wastes well over a trillion dollars each year, because we pretend to have a healthcare system but actually have an insurance-based, fee-for-service Disease Management system with perverse incentives (and a legal requirement) to maximize corporate profits for shareholders rather than serve society.

Follow the money, and you’ll see that our “system” doesn’t want you to die but doesn’t profit when you get well either, or when you are healthy and don’t need care. So, we treat symptoms and view patients as paying customers with the real objective of keeping them paying.

To implement disruptive change in this broken system, we should start with the most important stakeholder, the patient, and get them engaged in (1) managing their own health and (2) pressuring elected representatives to change policies that benefit corporations over individual citizens.

Wayne Caswell, Founder & Senior Editor, Modern Health Talk

Please browse our other articles on the Future of Healthcare and Health Reform and share your own perspectives below. You’ll see byline articles from many different perspectives (doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, public policy experts & pundents, and futurists).

A Place at the Table – about Poverty, Hunger & Health

Spread the word today! This important documentary is coming to movie theaters, YouTube and on-demand on March 1.

A Place at the Table shows us how hunger poses serious economic, social, health and cultural implications for our nation, and how the problem of hunger can be solved once and for all, with your help.

Now think about the dramatic role that a proper diet can play in decreasing obesity, diabetes, chronic illness, food allergies, and healthcare costs by improving the health of Americans.

As Dr. Wahls says in her TED video, “Hunter-Gatherer diet feeds Mitochondria & Brain Cells.”  “You’ll pay one way or another” – either pay now for a nutritious diet that improves your productivity and quality of life, or pay more later for medical intervention and long-term healthcare. This concept applies individually or nationally as portrayed in A Place at the Table.

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Why High Medical Bills Are Killing Us

TIME magazine coverIn his 38-page TIME magazine special report, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills are Killing Us,” Steven Brill dives into our health care system to understand why things cost so much, avoiding the more traditional question of who pays for what. What he found was both disturbing and telling. (His 3:38 min video introduction is at the end.)

His first story starts with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, a nonprofit facility of the University of Texas, as he follows a patient who had to prepay $48,900 for six days of testing just to determine his cancer treatment regimen, which could easily run half a million dollars. An analysis of the itemized list of confusing charges showed that they were inflated as much as 100 times over retail prices, even before the hospital’s leveraged buying power. Those costs were also way higher than what Medicare would pay for the same tests, procedures and drugs.

MD Anderson, with its 19,000 employees, is one of the city’s top-10 employers, and its CEO last year was paid $1,845,000. Four other hospitals in the 1,300-acre Texas Medical Center are also in the top-10. Clearly, healthcare is a big business, but who’s making the money if it’s not doctors, nurses and technicians? It’s the hospitals, insurance companies, drug companies, equipment providers, and testing companies. Read More …

Americans are sicker and die younger (with VIDEO)

Being American Is Bad for Your Health

By Marty Kaplan, Director, Norman Lear Center and Professor at the USC Annenberg School

“Americans are sicker and die younger
than people in other wealthy nations.”

That stark sentence appears in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, and it comes from the authors of a landmark report — “Shorter Lives, Poorer Health” — on differences among high-income countries. (Editor: This WHO Interactive Chart compares mortality rates from different causes.)

You probably already know that America spends more on health care than any other country. That was one of the few facts to survive the political food fight pretending to be a serious national debate about the Affordable Care Act.

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CES 2013 prominently features HealthSpot Station

“Real doctors. Real medicine. Really convenient.”

HealthSpot Station was prominently featured in the central lobby just as you entered the Las Vegas Convention Center during CES 2013, an honor that only the most interesting companies get.

Doctors and patients meet face-to-face like they always have, only in this case, the face-to-face is virtual: the doctor is in his home or office; the patient is seated in the kiosk; and the kiosk is located in a retail store. The HealthSpot Station kiosk allows board-certified doctors to conduct remote diagnosis and treatment using high-def videoconferencing and digital medical devices that appear behind locked doors when needed.

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Where’s Real Reform in Health Care?

Money-Driven MedicineThe Patient Accountability and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a reasonable first step in health reform, but much more needs to be done. That’s primarily because Obamacare is still dependent on health insurance, which turned health care into an industry that profits from the perverse incentives of treating patients as paying customers. This health care industry  often works to keep patients as paying customers by treating their symptoms rather than providing real cures, and prescribing drugs, performing procedures, and doing unnecessary tests. Since that’s how practitioners are paid, it’s what they do.

The following videos explain how our money-driven system of medicine works, and what’s wrong with it. The video series then ends with an easy-to-understand animated explanation of Obamacare. Read More …

Health Care Opportunities That Can Make a Real Impact

Refocusing on Health Care Opportunities That Can Make a Real Impact

Acute vs Chronic ConditionsBy Kenneth Thorpe, Chairman, The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease (original on Huffington Post)

Now that the campaign smoke has cleared, we can expect a refocusing of the nation’s arguments from the question of who will get elected to what will be done about hot-button issues like health care. Expect pitched debates to begin imminently on battlegrounds including, but certainly not limited to, Medicare reform, revisiting the Affordable Care Act, the Independent Payment Advisory Board and medical device taxes.

The fact is though, the more time policymakers spend wrangling over these issues on which there are clear, and not easily bridged partisan divides, the more we’re missing the fundamental steps that can and must be taken if we’re going to contain health care costs without compromising the quality or accessibility of care.

It begins with acknowledging what we don’t know about improving health care, and what we need to do to broaden our knowledge base. And it has to do with the more than 75 million Americans who have not one, but multiple chronic illnesses. Our health care system in this country is quite adept at treating people who have a single disease. We don’t have an effective set of best practices, or an essential foundation of research, to know how to take care of those who are coping with more than one condition.

We have the opportunity to improve this situation, and it should begin with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI.org), the entity created by Congress to evaluate different prevention and treatment therapies and offer scientifically-supported evidence on how to provide patients with the most effective care.

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Obamacare Fact vs. Fiction (Now that you Voted)

voteBy Wendell Potter, Analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, author of Deadly Spin (original on Huffington Post, slightly modified after the election)

Wouldn’t it be great if our candidates had to take a dose of truth serum every morning before hitting the campaign trail? If they did, those of us who recently voted wouldn’t be nearly as confused about what Obamacare is and what it isn’t, what it will do and what it won’t.

Since there is no such truth serum requirement, I believe that many of us actually voted against our own best interests and for candidates who scared them into believing that Obamacare is a government takeover of health care that will bankrupt the country while slashing Medicare benefits. Read More …

Social Media in Politics

Social Media In Politics - an InfographicI’ve posted several articles about social media in HEALTHCARE, including:

This article is about social media in POLITICS. While I try not to subject you to my own political views, they probably shows sometimes when I discuss things Obamacare, Medicare, regulatory oversight, and the future of medicine. But no matter what side of the issues you’re on, you may enjoy this infographic, because so many health-related issues are at stake in this year’s election. And if you feel  compelled to do so, share your thoughts below and justify your views to others.

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