A Dream of Creating a New Health Care Paradigm

Among my activities, I organize a Meetup group: San Francisco Integrative Health Networking. On September 30th, I held a meetup in which I described a bit about my dreams for the group. I recorded the meeting so that those who were interested, but unable to attend would still be able to see what was discussed. I am also looking for feedback to help refine these thoughts.

One person participated in the discussion with me, but did not wish to be on camera, so the video portion is just me.

I’ve embedded videos of the presentation & discussion below the fold.

Here’s the link to view this playlist on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=BEFB57FDA82BD3CD

Continue reading “A Dream of Creating a New Health Care Paradigm”

Testing an Electronic Health Record System for My Practice

For several years, I’ve maintained my massage practice records on a Tablet PC. I like being able to take my notes by hand, and once in a while include a rough sketch to note a specific problem area. My notes have been practical and functional for me, but are not a medical record.

Later this year, my goal is to turn my degree in Chinese medicine into a license to practice acupuncture. As both an acupuncturist and as a massage therapist, I want to be able to work with other health care providers where appropriate. I’d also like to see modalities like massage therapy and acupuncture better represented in mainstream quantitative and qualitative clinical research. In addition to their benefits in streamlining and improving patient care, Electronic Health Records (EHRs), also known as Electronic  Medical Records (EMRs) offer potential for improved communication between practitioners as well as expanded  research opportunities.

Many recent developments have made EHRs available to practitioners even if they don’t belong to a large  hospital or medical group. For me and others like me, the most significant development is that several vendors are offering high-quality, low-cost or even free EHRs. This gives me an opportunity to test EHR solutions for my massage practice even before I add acupuncture to my practice. This in turn presents an opportunity for new clients.

While I can’t offer free massage as incentive to help me test Electronic Health Records, I will offer special discount packages. I am looking for 10 new  clients who will commit to a package of 10 massage sessions of either one hour or 90 minutes each. The packages will be $600 or $750 respectively – savings of  $200 or $250. At this stage, I’m not looking for any special qualities other than a willingness to sample the EHR for 10 sessions.

If you are interested, you don’t have to make a  commitment without being comfortable with me and my message style. We will set up an initial appointment that will include an intake of about twenty minutes. The initial massage will essentially be an assessment like I would do for any new client, after which we will check in for a few minutes to give each of us the opportunity for feedback. Assuming you are comfortable with your massage experience, I will offer some details on what I hope to learn from the trial and what would be different from a regular massage appointment. You may then choose to participate in the trial or not. If you choose not to participate, you will still receive the discount on the single massage, saving $20 or $25 off the regular one hour or 90 minute rate as appropriate.

If you choose to participate, I would prefer that you pay for the package up front. I understand that might make it difficult for some who would otherwise be interested in participating. Among my goals with this trial is to evaluate some of the patient and practice management tools of the EHR. Having the 10 visit commitment makes that possible, and paying up front makes it more likely both parties will follow through on the commitment. If paying for ten visits at once is not possible for you, we might still be able to work together to include you by working out a payment plan.

For more information, feel free to use my Contact page to see how to contact me. If you would like to get started right away, you can use the Book Now link available on any page of my site.

For this trial, I will be testing Practice Fusion‘s Electronic Health Record, and hopefully it’s Personal Health Record (PHR) component as well. Practice Fusion’s EHR system is fully compliant with all relevant privacy laws, including HIPAA. Your personal information will be secure and will not be shared without your permission.

Health Care Reform by Reconciliation if Necessary

On Friday, there was news that health care reform is going to be subject to a process called budget reconciliation to get through congress. What this means is that if a health reform package is not agreed to by October 15th, only a simple majority will be required to pass one. Therefore, reform will not be subject obstruction by filibuster. This greatly increases the chances that major health care reform can happen this year.

Obama Tactic Shields Health Care Bill From a Filibuster

Published: April 24, 2009

WASHINGTON — At the prodding of the White House, Democratic Congressional leaders have agreed to pursue a plan that would protect major health care legislation from Republican opposition by shielding it from last-minute Senate filibusters.

The aggressive approach reflects the big political claim that President Obama is staking on health care, and with it his willingness to face Republican wrath in order to guarantee that the Democrats, with their substantial majority in the Senate, could not be thwarted by minority tactics.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times briefly expresses his support for this process on his blog. Steve Benen takes note of it in the Washington Monthly blog Political Animal.

Also this week, the nation’s largest health insurer, WellPoint, began making automated calls to customers on the health care debate. While I hesitate to say this is definitively a good thing or a bad thing, you can certainly color me very skeptical. After all, the influence of business in the financial services industry certainly created a wonderful mess there.

Big health insurer’s calls to members draws criticism | Sacramento Bee.

Published: Friday, Apr. 24, 2009

WellPoint, the nation’s largest health insurer, has launched what could be the start of a campaign for the hearts and minds of the American public as the country prepares for debates over reshaping its much-maligned health care system.

The company, which operates in California as Anthem Blue Cross, made 3 million computer-generated phone calls last week to gauge the public’s appetite for overhauling health care – and to enlist, critics say, a grass-roots army to voice concerns about the sweeping proposals developing on Capitol Hill.

“This was our first step,” said WellPoint spokeswoman Cheryl Leamon. “Obviously, the debate over health care reform is heating up.”

Half Moon Bay clinic abruptly shuts its doors

Half Moon Bay clinic abruptly shuts its doors. From SFGate, The San Francisco Chronicle Online

Because Coastside cared for the insured and uninsured, it did not qualify for a federal program that offers significant reimbursements to clinics serving the poor. Of Coastside’s 8,000 patients, 6,000 had private insurance, with the remainder uninsured or receiving Medicare or Medi-Cal. Rising costs of health care, coupled with a drop in donations and grants, finally did the center in.

“This was the largest provider of care in Half Moon Bay,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon. “They were a nonprofit clinic that kept closing the gap with grants and contributions.”

Gordon said that in an attempt to keep the clinic open, the county had taken over Coastside’s lease in August, not charging any rent.

“In the end, there was a critical gap between income and expenses,” Gordon said. “I’m saddened that this happened and I know there’s a huge emotional toll.”

One more reminder of the urgency of reforming our health care system.

Obama pushes centers as one focus of health reform | Reuters

Obama pushes centers as one focus of health reform | Reuters.

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama has been vague about details of his healthcare reform efforts, but he provided a hint on Monday of one direction he could take — community health centers.

As he announced the nominations of his two top health executives, Obama highlighted the allocation of $155 million to 126 community health centers as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus package.

“These health centers will expand access to care by helping people in need — many with no health insurance — obtain access to comprehensive primary and preventive health care services,” Obama told a news conference.

Community health centers should provide an effective and economical alternative to hospital care, and especially emergency room care as a primary health care model. Used properly, our focus can be on preventative and health care maintenance rather than urgent an emergency care, thus theoretically reducing the burden and cost of urgent and emergency care services.