Tag Archives: HHS

Patient Safety and Health IT

Further my blog post yesterday, I note that the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) was recently awarded $1M by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a one year study to ensure that health IT will “achieve its full potential for improving patient safety in health care”.   According the HHS news release, “the study will examine a comprehensive range of patient safety-related issues, including prevention of HIT-related errors and rapid reporting of any HIT-related patient safety issues.”

Given the Canadian debate regarding Health Canada regulations and their impact on patient safety issues, I was intrigued to note that study will include “discussion of existing authorities and potential roles for key federal agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)”.   Perhaps we need a similar study in Canada to address concerns raised regarding Health Canada regulations.



Health 2.0 Developer Challenge – Only in the US? Pity!

Check out the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge.  Launched on 2 June 2010,  with support from the Department of Health and Human Services,  the goal of the challenge is “continue the excitement of CHDI [Community Health Data Initiative] and to bring the Health 2.0 Community together for rapid application development”.  Imagine what we could do in Canada through a similar initiative?  If anyone shares this view, please contact me.  Perhaps we could find a few organizations willing to put up some money for similar challenges in Canada.


How to Promote Digitized Healthcare

Yesterday I watched a media conference at which the US Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the final rules associated with “meaningful use”.  Each of the five speakers used personal stories to illustrate the importance of electronic health records, starting with the HHS Secretary who related her experiences taking a friend to the emergency department and ending with an impassioned plea for patient access to their personal health information by a widow who literally fought with the healthcare system to get care for her dying husband.  Three of the presenters were medical doctors who are now in positions of significant authority and had experienced the transition from paper to electronic records firsthand.

What struck me most about the media conference was that while each presenter’s arguments stood on their own merit, they all fit together in way that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.   There were clearly common themes that tied the presentations together, both in terms of the words that they used and the techniques they used to convey their message.  One of the best collection of related presentations / speeches that I have witnessed in quite some time.

I encourage anyone who in some way or other is trying to convince others about the value of digitizing our healthcare system to watch the HHS presentation.   It offers a good example of how the value of electronic records can be explained in simple terms and will leave you wondering how anyone might consider not moving forward aggressively to digitize our healthcare system.


U.S. Posts Community Health Data Online

Although the term Web 2.0 is overused and over hyped, the basic concept behind Web 2.0 is still worth considering … user generated content, interaction, and engagement.  In addition to various on-line mechanisms to promote greater openness and transparency regarding eHealth standards and policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced that it will make federally generated community health data available through the Community Health Data Initiative (CHDI).     According to the HHS, CDHI is “turning to Web application developers, mobile phone applications, social media, and other cutting-edge technologies” to “put our public health data to work”.  According to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius:

“Our national health data constitute a precious resource that we are paying billions to assemble, but then too often wasting …. As a nation, we can and should harness the exploding creativity in our information technology and media sectors to help us get the most public benefit out of our data investments.”

Anyone aware of similar initiatives in other countries?  I continue to be amazed at the extent to which the US gov’t is aggressively pursuing an “open government” policy.   I wonder if the Canadian Institute for Health Information is considering a similar initiative?  Might be a policy for ITAC Health, on behalf of their members, to promote.


Use of Social Media U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

I have posted lately about the use of social media and other Internet technologies by Ontario LHINs to engage and inform their communities.  I noticed today that the US. Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology has added Twitter to their arsenal of tools for communicating and engaging various stakeholder communities.


Where are Canadian eHealth / healthcare IT organizations in their use of social media?  Infoway?  eHealth Ontario?  Manitoba eHealth?


First, do no harm

Just came across an interesting announcement from the US Department of Health and Human Services regarding an upcoming contract to “create and support a panel of experts and related work groups to identify and explore potentially undesirable or harmful “unintended consequences”” arising from US healthcare IT funding initiatives.  According to the contract award notice (https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=22633354ce0c9b300b832ff16c2658a7&tab=core&_cview=0&cck=1&au=&ck=):

“While we expect for these programs to help achieve the many desirable outcomes envisioned by Congress, a sense of responsibility for activities we support, historical experience, as well as mounting evidence of unexpected problems, demand that we consider potential downsides.”

“While some unintended consequences are desirable, the purpose of this contract is to identify and address those that are undesirable and potentially harmful.”

The contract notice defines “unintended consequences” as

“… outcomes that are not intended, even though, upon investigation and reflection, they are, at least in part, a natural consequence of the activities.”

I was intrigued by HHS’s decision to explore unintended consequences.  What do you think of their decision to do so? Any thoughts on unintended consequences arising from the application of IT in healthcare?