A "HealthTweep" Pulse Check

Exploring transformational potential of social media

HealthCamp San Diego Line-up Growing!

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With San Diego County’s emergence as a global center of health care innovation and its recent recognition by the state as an official California Innovation Hub focusing on wireless health, you should consider coming out to San Diego a day before the mHealth Networking Conference to participate in grass-roots health care innovation at the HealthCamp “unconference”.

HealthCamp San Diego is Tuesday, September 7 at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center. Event sponsors are Kaiser Permanente San Diego, West Wireless Health Institute, Health 2.0, Pacific Oncology and several others.

The “unconference” begins with peers in health care and technology introducing topics and discussing innovations that will advance consumer-centric health care in the health 2.0 world.

Inspirational session leaders and participants include: Joe Smith, MD, Chief Medical and Science Officer of the West Wireless Health Institute; Vince Kuraitis of e-CareManagement; John Mattison, MD, Chief Medical Information Officer and Assistant Medical Director of Kaiser Permanente Southern California; Ted Chan, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine, Medical Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, UC San Diego Medical Center, and leader of the San Diego Beacon Community initiative; Jeffrey Benabio, MD, (aka @DermDoc) a Kaiser Permanente dermatologist and leader in social media and patient care, and Michael Yada of Life Technologies.


Representatives will also be available to discuss the successful data exchange program in San Diego between Kaiser Permanente and the VA through the National Health Information Network (NHIN).

If this September 7th “unconference” event is of interest, please scroll down for more information.  We have only a handful of free spaces for journalists and bloggers, so if you are interested in attending, please let me know soon.

Join us! For more information or to register, click here.

Direct Provider Access Networks: DIY Healthcare Reform Now! – A SxSW Panel Picker Entry

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Thanks to the initiative of Alex B. Fair, founder, CEO and chief evangelista of FairCareMD, the priceline for matching doctors to patients ‘one deal at a time’; an impressive roster of healthcare innovators have teamed up to carry the message on alternative forms of healthcare delivery and finance at SxSW 2011.

The program description reads:

Doctors, Employers, and most Americans are unclear on how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) will work for them but a few million of us are not waiting to find out. With over 100 million Americans paying directly for a large portion of their care themselves, the need for a better way to Go Direct for care has never been greater.


In the past year over 2 million Americans and thousands of doctors have started using “Direct Provider Access” networks (DPAs) rather than traditional insurance-based medicine alone. This is because these new websites and physician practice models allow for DIY Healthcare Reform NOW and provide better care at reduced costs compared to insurance-based medicine.


Patients are taking charge of their own healthcare, paying directly, and using insurance for emergencies only. Doctors love DPAs too because being paid directly lets them put the Care back into Healthcare. Direct Pay medicine reduces overhead costs by up to 40% allowing them to spend more time on giving great care. This significant mindshift is changing the healthcare landscape.


In 2010 DPAs have been the fastest growing networks in America and they have even been written into the Healthcare Reform legislation. In a short, interactive play starring some of the leaders of the DIY Healthcare Reform/ Patient Empowerment movement we will show how DPAs are changing the ‘patient experience’ and improving care.


1. What are Direct Provider Access networks and what can they do for me?

2. How do/ will DPAs interact with the healthcare reform act of 2010?

3. Why did these not exist before? Isn’t this the same as old fashioned doctors? How does this tie in with Social Media?

4. Why can’t we have true pricing transparency in healthcare and what needs to change in order to get there?

5. What is the future of DPAs – will they just be swallowed up again by Insurance companies?

Confirmed panelists include:

Please consider voting us into the first ever healthcare track at SxSW, here!

‘Direct Practice’ Medicine Gaining Increased National Visibility

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A recent clip featuring Garrison Bliss, MD, founder of Qliance was profiled on NBC Nightly News under the title of ‘Flat-Rate Health Care A Viable Option?’

As this form of innovation is a niche, and largely unknown part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), I include it, here.

Kudos to Dr. Bliss and the Qliance crew!

w00t! Inaugural HealthCamp San Diego Scheduled For 9/7/10

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I must say, after my first meeting with Mark Scrimshire, HealthCamp evangelista extraordinaire, at the ‘cocktail party’ for the World Health Congress held in Carlsbad, California, in February of 2009, I became an inspired ‘healthcamper’. My participation and experience with HealthCamp for the next several months was ‘virtually’ via Twitter, and the periodic live streaming of HealthCamps’ on uStream. I got to experience my first HealthCamp ‘in the flesh’ at HealthCamp SFBay in October on my way to the Health 2.0 in San Francisco. Since then, I have adopted the charge to seed a HealthCamp in the city of San Diego.

Only recently did the generosity of Kaiser Permanente permit this vision to be fully realized. At a ‘pre-Barcamp’ San Diego social hour of life sciences and bio-tech tweeps including Mary Canady, aka @marycanady, I met Dr. Jeff Benabio, aka @dermdoc on Twitter. We discussed the granular and un-conference nature of HealthCamp, which he immediately ‘got’, and embraced as a practitioner of the social media arts, and bang! HealthCamp San Diego was borne! Thank you Dr. Benabio! Thank You Kaiser, especially, Danielle Cass aka @daniellecass.

So San Diego Tweeps, the inaugural meeting of HealthCamp San Diego will be held at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center, in Mission Valley, on September 7th, prior to the 2nd Annual mHealth Inititative Conference on September 8th & 9th, 2010.

HealthCamp is a collaborative experience that typically tethers to how interactive digital or social media, open source and the best of the Internet, mobile (mHealth) web, and process innovation can enable better health(care) outcomes via more effective patient or consumer engagement, and incidentally further evolve developers in health technology applications and/or platforms.

HealthCamp is a user-organized ‘un–conference’ that brings together consumers (aka e-patients), health providers, payors, health industry experts and technology professionals for a one (1) day session to exchange ideas informally, locally, openly. Participants themselves provide the content, with break-out sessions they develop themselves and plug into a schedule grid on the day of the event. Anyone can present and host a session in nearly any format.

Past HealthCamp’s have been held in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Nashville, Oakland (the SF Bay area), Maryland, and the UK. For a brief overview of HealthCamp, click here.

HealthCamp San Diego is coordinating with the 2nd mHealth Networking Conference to be held at the same location following HealthCamp San Diego on September 8th and 9th, 2010.

Please consider joining us for this inaugural ‘un-conference’ experience. Among the many topics likely to be presented in the tech-enabled consumer empowerment conversation is emerging health information technology (HIT) capabilities, with an emphasis on new communication patterns enabled by mobile technologies for:

– patient communication by text and email
– clinician collaboration systems
– use of apps on mobile devices; and
– aspects of user-generated care

Fee: $25.00, $5.00 for full time students.

For more information, or to register, click here:

About HealthCamp

HealthCamp is a collaborative experience designed to create open space for peer-to-peer learning, group process collaboration and creative expression. As an ‘un-conference’ all session content is participant-generated, many of which tether either direct or indirectly to the promise of emerging interactive digital or social media, to improve health(care) outcomes via more effective patient and/or consumer engagement with their health. Particular focus is paid to the dynamic mHealth (mobile) market due to the exploding use of iPhone, Droid and other mobile devices.

7th Annual Healthcare Unbound Conference in San Diego – July 19th & 20th

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A quick note to call your attention to the 7th Annual Healthcare Unbound conference which begins tomorrow, Monday, July 19th through Tuesday July 20th, in San Diego at the US Grant Hotel.

This is an impressive event that brings together many stakeholders in the consumer empowerment and evolving participatory medicine space from telehealth to the explosive mobile health aka mhealth markets.

Conference Keynotes by:

A hat tip to both Vince Kuraitis at the e-care management blog and Kristi Durazo aka @krash63, futurist at the American Heart Association.

I will be tweeting from the conference and will be using the hashtag #hcu10 for my posts.

The ‘Medical Aggregators’: Are We Entering Round Deux?

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First a little historical context:

For those with a healthcare ‘event horizon’ slightly more seasoned than the current health reform and related social media data frames, you might remember the initial round of aggregation in medicine lead by disruptive nameplates such as MedPartners (now operating the PBM CareMark), PhyCor, FPA Medical Management, and their second or third tier physician practice management ‘me too’ copycats.

They all emerged from a robust round of venture capital backed industry determination tagged as ‘PPMC’s’, i.e., physician practice management companies. These ‘aggregators’ were the darlings of Wall Street for a while, though with some exceptions, i.e., US Oncology (formerly Physician Reliance Network), most witnessed relatively short life spans, from IPO to unwinding in perhaps a 10 year run (see: MedPartners collapse and Aftermath).

Yet, despite the promise outlined in the offering prospectus’, why did these entities fail so miserably as the ‘white knight’ consolidators or aggregators of a multi-trillion dollar ‘cottage medical industry’? Their business model proferred essentially three core benefits:

  1. Centralized, standardized and more efficient back office medical administrative management
  2. Scale of market asset concentration and therefore increased sophistication and leverage (improved pricing) with third party payor negotiation, and downstream contract management; and
  3. Serve as an ‘anchor play’ with respect to the broader design and implementation of rational though market based local delivery organization and financing, i.e., PPMC’s would harness and more effectively articulate a business culture among physicians that valued clinical integration, medical risk management, and ultimately the allocation of limited health care resources

At least this was the longer term expectation from a ‘win/win’, i.e., payor and provider perspective, of the more established players. Most however, in an effort to demonstrate value (i.e., earn their management fee) to their physician boards, focused on short term margin improvement (better rates, focus on more profitable services via improved payor mix, maximizing the contract revenue/recovery cycle, and reduced overhead, etc.), vs. the strategic focus of managing the risk (both quality and cost) of their local population (i.e., enrolled members).

So rather quickly the strategic basis of the PPMC appeal was subordinated to a short term focus (i.e., increasing net revenues) due to a rising chorus of claims that at its core the business model was merely a third party ponzi scheme which introduced another mouth to feed from an increasingly constrained health care supply chain.

Net/net, the PPMC industry flamed out big time and did not fulfill its ‘roll-up’ promise of the practice of medicine. Now many years later, we are at another tipping point. Witness the current round of promising vehicles with a similar vision of organizing physicians. These candidates include: hospital systems, health plans, integrated delivery systems, emerging ACOs, medical homes,  and even niche play organizers in the concierge, or direct practice space including SignatureMD, MDVIP, HealthAccess Rhode Island, CarePractice, Qliance, and HelloHealth, as well as the rapidly emerging series of retail pharmacy sponsored primary care clinics, e.g., CVS/CareMark Minute Clinic, etc.

Too many docs are unwilling to risk the capital of private practice, and instead are looking to hook-up with one or more of these institutional or VC backed entrepreneurial sponsors. Will they succeed where their predecessors failed? If so, why?

From my perspective, it will clearly depend on the business model chosen to enable competition of the right variety, and the degree to which the venture embraces, nurtures and expresses physician culture that values collaborative group practice. Top down, corporate strategies dependent upon an over worked and out gunned medical director or VP of medical affairs will miss the mark. The more likely way for these ventures to succeed is by ‘baking’ the culture from the ground up. In other words, ‘seed it and they will come’. One of my mentors (Ernest Holmes) once wrote long ago: ‘the soil can’t argue with the seed’. Lets nourish the soil first, then make sure we plant the seeds with the right constitution and vision.

‘Health Geek Radio’ is on the web!

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Ok, this is definitely a report from the ‘lean and agile’ department, and a granular sign of the ‘interactive digital’ times we’re in.

This idea is about ten (10) days old. The genesis came from Susannah Fox, e-patient and Associate Director of Digital Strategy, of the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Susannah apparently caught my broadcast of Adam Bosworth who was keynoting at the Alliance for Healthcare Foundation’s Innovation Initiative in San Diego. While acknowledging the visuals weren’t best in class, she noted the content Adam offered was worth a listen and bucketed the event in the ‘health geek radio‘ domain.

When I first heard the name ‘health geek radio’ I thought, how cool is that? And certainly there’s a lot of interest in emerging technologies all dialed into the patient or consumer empowerment cause. So, I queried the domain and also checked to see if that account ID was available at BlogTalkRadio; to my surprise, both were open, so I promptly grabbed them.

Today, I recorded a brief introduction as to the genesis and forward value of creating such a health geek community focus. Take a listen here.

The first official broadcast is yet to be confirmed, but I will invite thought leaders and change agents into the conversation. Several who I have spoken with already have indicated an interest in participating, including: Matthew Holt, Dave DeBronkart (e-patientDave), Phil Baumann, and Dr. Danny Sands, to name a few.

Written by 2healthguru

May 14, 2010 at 3:12 PM