Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Create WV Conference 2009: A personal invitation to attend . . .

Over the last few years I have been involved in Create West Virginia, an organization affiliated with Vision Shared whose mission to create and stimulate new economy growth and empower West Virginians to grow creative communities in West Virginia. Communities centered on innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, education, quality of life and arts/culture.

Each year Create WV holds an annual conference. The first annual conference was held in 2007 and attracted approximately 250 attendees. Last year’s event held at Snowshoe Resort and attracted 395 attendees. This year’s Create West Virginia 2009 Conference is set for October 18-20 in Huntington, WV at the Big Sandy Arena.

I want to personally invite you to attend the Create West Virginia Conference 2009. Check out the keynote speakers and sessions.

A special attraction this year will be a live Mountain Stage performance on Sunday evening at the Keith Albee Theater featuring West Virginia native, Kathy Mattea, and The Songcatchers, The Ahs, Shannon Whitworth and Or, The Whale.

Click here for more information about the conference including how to register.

Feel free to forward a link of this invitation to others who you think might be interested in attending the conference.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

West Virginia's Statewide Health Information Technology Strategic Plan

Over the past several months I have been involved with a group in developing West Virginia's statewide strategic plan for health information technology.

The final draft of the West Virginia Health Information Technology Statewide Strategic Plan, September 2009 is now available for review and comment. Additional comments and feedback on the strategic plan are welcome.

The strategic plan is a part of West Virginia's efforts to position itself as a national leader in implementing and adopting health information technology to improve our health care system. The strategic plan will be a part of the the state's efforts to submit applications to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) for funding under the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program and the Health Information Technology Extension Program: Regional Centers Cooperative Agreement Program, both programs developed under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Title XIII - Health Information Technology, Subtitle B.

The project has been lead by the Adoption of Health Information Technology Workgroup under the West Virginia Health Improvement Institute. Both private and public stakeholders from across West Virginia have collaborated and provided input into the development of the strategic plan.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Mandatory Reading Before President Obama's Speech Tonight On Health Care

This morning I finally got around to reading the article by David Goldhill, CEO of the Game Show Network, in the Atlantic. How American Health Care Killed My Father is a thought provoking look at the failure of our current health care system.

On the eve of President Obama's speech to Congress on health care I hope he and his advisors have taken time to read the article. The article eloquently highlights much of what I have come to believe over the last few years is missing from health care. It is a time to step back from the existing complex system and refocus on the health consumer and make fundamental changes to the existing system. Incremental change treating the symptoms and not the underlying disease will only solidify the current "insurance based, employment centered, administratively complex" system now in place.

There are too many great thoughts in this article to quote them all here -- so go read the full commentary.

Some of the quotes that caught my attention:
. . . Why, in other words, has this technologically advanced hospital missed out on the revolution in quality control and customer service that has swept all other consumer-facing industries in the past two generations? . . .

. . . All of the actors in health care—from doctors to insurers to pharmaceutical companies—work in a heavily regulated, massively subsidized industry full of structural distortions. They all want to serve patients well. But they also all behave rationally in response to the economic incentives those distortions create . . .

. . . Accidentally, but relentlessly, America has built a health-care system with incentives that inexorably generate terrible and perverse results. Incentives that emphasize health care over any other aspect of health and well-being. That emphasize treatment over prevention. That disguise true costs. That favor complexity, and discourage transparent competition based on price or quality. That result in a generational pyramid scheme rather than sustainable financing. And that—most important—remove consumers from our irreplaceable role as the ultimate ensurer of value . . .

. . . But health insurance is different from every other type of insurance. Health insurance is the primary payment mechanism not just for expenses that are unexpected and large, but for nearly all health-care expenses. We’ve become so used to health insurance that we don’t realize how absurd that is. We can’t imagine paying for gas with our auto-insurance policy, or for our electric bills with our homeowners insurance, but we all assume that our regular checkups and dental cleanings will be covered at least partially by insurance. Most pregnancies are planned, and deliveries are predictable many months in advance, yet they’re financed the same way we finance fixing a car after a wreck—through an insurance claim . . .

. . . My dry cleaner uses a more elaborate system to track shirts than this hospital used to track treatment . . .

. . . But my father was not the customer; Medicare was . . . Of course, one area of health-related IT has received substantial investment—billing. So much for the argument, often made, that privacy concerns or a lack of agreed-upon standards has prevented the development of clinical IT or electronic medical records; presumably, if lack of privacy or standards had hampered the digitization of health records, it also would have prevented the digitization of the accompanying bills . . . In case you wonder who a care provider’s real customer is, try reading one of these bills . . .

. . . Keeping prices opaque is one way medical institutions seek to avoid competition and thereby keep prices up. And they get away with it in part because so few consumers pay directly for their own care—insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid are basically the whole game. But without transparency on prices—and the related data on measurable outcomes—efforts to give the consumer more control over health care have failed, and always will . . .