News 4/6/11

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Epocrates announces the private beta launch of its EHR, built for ambulatory practices, as well as a partnership with Nuance to integrate Nuance’s cloud-based medical speech recognition software into the Epocrates EHR. The speech offering, which Epocrates is calling SpeechAnywhere, allows providers to enter data into the EHR via voice from multiple locations and across multiple devices.

TRICARE Management Activity (TMA) announces that it has contracted to provide its formulary to Epocrates subscribers. In addition to information about medication preferences within different classes of meds, providers will also be able to link to the TMA prior authorization website to lower time to approval for certain medications.


Google selects Kansas City, KS, as the pilot for its Google Fiber project. The project will bring gigabit connection speeds to households at retail prices and will serve as a test bed for new broadband applications. One of Google’s collaborators is the Kansas University (KU) Medical Center, leading many to predict that we’ll see telemedicine as one of those new applications. Roy Jensen, director of KU’s cancer center, calls the broadband pilot “paradigm-shifting” for KU, saying it hopes to develop a new standard of care around the connectivity.

During a talk last week, Andrew Barbash, MD, stated that mHealth tools exist to make a real impact on the practice of medicine and the care of patients, but it is now up to providers to take advantage of them.  “At the end of the day, the problem isn’t the technology, the problem is our workflow,” which is a great point.  “If we understand what our accountabilities are, I think clinicians can drive a lot of change here … including aligning with what consumers need us to do as well.”  This, too, is a very valid point, but further off in terms of real-world practice.

A new meta-analysis conducted by the VA finds that eICU lowers mortality by 20% and reduces length by 1.26 days in the ICU over in-person ICU care. The findings were a bit less powerful because of study limitations, not to mention the finding that eICU showed no overall benefit for hospital mortality or length of stay. It’s interesting that outcomes can be so much better in one setting like the ICU but muted in the broader inpatient environment where virtual care is not being used.  

The new iPad 2 commercial features two medical applications, both geared towards providers — AirStrip and an imaging app, though I’m not sure which one.  Anyone know?


More AirStrip news. The mobile company announces a partnership with GE to view data from GE’s MUSE Cardiology Information System on the AirStrip Cardiology app, which is a very cool platform for viewing ECGs. This opens the door to some large health systems to start using AirStrip Cardiology, including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CA).

Community Health Network (IL) shares its experience developing and rolling out online scheduling and registration for its non-urgent care clinics. Patients making their appointments online are being seen within three minutes of the scheduled time, while walk-ins wait for an a average of 90 minutes.

Hospice provider SouthernCare is using CellTrack’s mobile, GPS-linked platform on Android phones to improve the way its field workers operate and deliver care.  The mobile phones are connected to both clinical and financial systems, providing education and navigation tools while also ensuring compliance.


The new Mini Microscope for iPhone 4 fits over the phone’s camera and turns the device into a 60x microscope. I wonder how well this works and when we’ll see a grant-funded pilot to test its use as an mHealth device? Cost is around $50.

Salient Surgical Technologies builds a custom iPad app to empower its sales force to make better pitches to providers. The app has educational content and also calculates the ROI of using its products.

Novarus Mobile launches the Hospital Finder app for Android and iOS. It sounds exactly like iTriage but without the backing of major health systems and national urgent care organizations.

Another facility locator app, this one from The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), helps uses find and research HRSA-funded health centers.  HRSA is a federal agency that provides funding to facilities to improve access to care.

Dabbling in social media can be easy for providers, according to this article. I’m not sure it’s as simple as the article makes it out. Providers need to avoid HIPAA issues and it’s a big leap from creating a Facebook page to effectively using social media to engage patients. That said, maybe the authors are right that providers just need to do the basics to at least be familiar with services like Twitter and Facebook.  

Travis Good is in his final year of an MD/MBA program and is involved with multiple health IT startups.

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