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Weekly newsletter digest

by Hylton Jolliffe

A quick reminder about our email digest: for those of you who haven’t tuned in or are busy (who isn’t?) it’s a good way to stay on top of the best of the blog from the previous week.

Subscribe (by filling in your email address in the second column of this blog) and you’ll receive an alert that points you to interesting blog-posts, interviews, and podcasts from the previous week. As well, you’ll start to see pointers to upcoming events and offerings from World Congress, the sponsor of this blog, and other things we think you’ll find of interest.

Again, look to the right of this post, at the top of the second column, and you’ll see a small field into which you can type your email address - subscribe and you’ll join hundreds of other readers who are alerted to the week’s posts as well as special offers and offerings.

Top 100 Healthcare Blogs

by Tony Chen

If you’re enjoying this blog, check out this list of the top 100 healthcare blogs in the world based on googlerankings and # of subscribers. And yes, as of this writing, World Health Care Blog is #47.

In other news

by Tony Chen

Thanks to all my fellow bloggers for the great coverage of the conference. I’d be curious to hear if any key themes emerged from the conference. From my read of the 20 posts within the last 48 hours(!), it sounds like healthcare is heading towards a more collaborative future.

While you’ve been at the conference, a few tidbits that have surfaced in the last few days:
- Ezra Klein has a great piece The Health of Nations on the proven results of socialized medicine. Of course, our very own Matthew Holt pokes some holes in the piece.
- Keep your eye out on FierceHealthcare’s upcoming list of top hospital innovators to be published in a week or so. Their previous list of top Healthcare IT Innovators highlighted some undiscovered gems, and I suspect the hospital list will also. My vote is for Memorial Hospital & Health System in South Bend, Indiana. Got a product to test on patients? Give ‘em a call.
- A few weeks ago, it was diabetes that covered every front news page. This week, it seems to be obesity. A new study suggested that “the heaviest employees had twice the rate of workers’ compensation claims as their fit co-workers.” Epocrates issues their 2007 Obesity Report and stated that physicians believe obesity is America’s most severe health problem. One glimmer of good news: In a Swedish study, the number of obese kids dropped by 6% after banning buns, sweets, and soft drinks. US officials are finally looking at this now.
- The HealthAffairs blog has a great interview with innovation guru Clayton Christensen on what healthcare can learn from other industries

4th Annual World Health Care Congress about to kick off

by Hylton Jolliffe

A few administrative items and pointers while attendees flow in to the Washington Convention Center here in DC for the 4th Annual World Health Care Congress:

For access to the agenda, speakers bios, speakers’ presentations, photos, and more be sure to visit the conference’s Community Web Portal.

For access to podcasts from the conference visit WorldHealthTalks.com.

For those in attendance at the event, don’t miss the VisionTree tool for access to audience surveys and the ability to post questions and take notes.

For those posting from the conference or looking for related coverage please use the tag “whcc4″.

And for those looking to contact us please use the email “whcblog@gmail.com” - we welcome your suggestions, questions, and feedback.
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World Health Care Blog Roundup

by Tony Chen

A lot of good blogging has been going on here! There has been so much rich information shared in just the past few weeks. At the risk of “dumbing down” the insights of my fellow bloggers (or misquoting them!), here’s my attempt to roundup the last couple of weeks.

A few core themes unexpectedly emerged from our group. We mentioned a few innovations in healthcare that seem to be working in small pockets: complementary/alternative medicine and focusing on patients as humans. However, there were a lot of “innovations” in which we questioned their true sustainability and value. For example, CMS’s sexy disease management projects are stumbling. Even the sacred concept of academic medical research is being questioned. Employers are still deciding whether divest, disinvest, or divert their resources to health benefits, since the results are still mixed. The jury is still out on P4P. We’ve rightfully casted a grand vision about the promise of EHR, but maybe we’re overpromising. Disease management, in particular, has been victim to the inherent difficulty in measuring it meaningfully - the early results can be deceiving, partly due to a potentially non-representative sample group.

Beyond prognosticating the goods, bads, and uglies, much needed advice has been given. Healthcare is complex, and clear thinking is rare. So, let’s be clear that the next big disruptive force in healthcare may very well be the art of changing unhealthy human behavior. Yes, we humans are stubborn, even to the point of death. Thus, we need clear thinking about what’s really behind that stubbornness, and predictive medicine could very well be the way to figure it out. Changing behavior will require beautifully-designed proactive health management and disease management programs. And all the potential players (including hospitals) will need to define exactly what they are really managing and may have to utilize a more economically viable high tech/low touch approach.

Finally, we’ve blogged about getting more for less. Instead of spending money on end-of-life care, how about beginning-of-life care? Instead of asking your doc drug questions, why not visit your pharmacist for free? And instead of P4P paying for good intentions/processes, shouldn’t it pay for good outcomes?

And to think I only linked to half of the posts in the last two weeks! What other topics are you interested in? Please chime in!

WHC blog update and evolution…

by Hylton Jolliffe

For those of you just arriving at the World Health Care Blog, welcome! The blog has, to date, been a repository for Lloyd Davis’ numerous interviews and exhaustive notes from the World Health Care Congress Europe. The conference, which ran from Monday through Wednesday of this week in Barcelona, convened leaders of many of the continent’s most interesting and innovative health care-related initiatives as well as a few of their American counterparts for an intense discussion of how the industry’s evolving to advance health care quality, improve access, and contain costs. Among the many speakers whose talks Lloyd reported on:

  • Dr. Hans Jürgen Ahrens, Chairman, AOK-Bundesverband, Germany
  • Cor Spreeuwenberg, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, Professor, Department of Integrated Care, at University Maastricht, Netherlands

  • David Nicholson
    , Chief Executive of the UK’s NHS
  • Marina Geli, Minister of Health for Catalonia
  • George Halvorsen, the Chairman and CEO, Kaiser Foundation Health Plans and Hospitals
  • Walter Bergamaschi, General Director, Information Systems, Ministry of Health for Italy
  • Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Doctors Without Borders and of Médecins du Monde
  • Jennifer Dixon, Director of Health Policy at the King’s Fund in the UK and a board member of both the Audit Commission and the Healthcare Commission
  • Jack Lord, CEO of Humana

And be sure not to miss this exclusive interview with Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bangladeshi banker and economist who here discusses his prescription for reforming health care in his and other developing countries. We’ll be compiling all posts from the blog into a reference link in the next day or two - for now please take a look back at the last few days of coverage by scrolling down from this post.

With that said…

With that said we move on to the next, equally exciting phase of this new blog of ours: a group discussion, led by some of the field’s most insightful bloggers, on the broad theme of innovation in the industry. Tune in over the next few weeks and you’ll find an expanding cast of contributors discussing and debating the issues, challenges, and opportunities that face this massive and ever-changing sector of our economy and civil society.

Kicking off the discussion (they’ll be joined by others): Matthew Holt of the Health Care Blog, Derek Lowe of In the Pipeline, Emily DeVoto of The Antidote, and David Williams of the Health Business Blog.

If case you’re not familiar with them - they’re some of the blogosphere’s keenest observers, commentators, and reporters on health care and we’re thrilled they’ve agreed to join us here for what we hope will be an interesting and edifying discussion in the weeks leading up to the World Health Care Congress, the World Congress’ signature event (find out more about the event, which runs from April 22-24 in Washington, DC here). We encourage you to engage with them and the blog in general - some of them will be attending the event as well and our hope is that some of the discussions that start here on the blog will be continued at the event itself.

Did you vote? Would you like to see how others voted?

by Lloyd Davis

The PDAs for Audience ParticipationTwo innovations in the use of information technology were apparent at the conference. One was (*blush*) this blog, but the one that no-one who spent any time in the main hall can have missed was the interactive audience response system provided by Visiontree.

When participants at the conference were asked “How well did the interactive, PDA-based Audience Response
System enhance your experience?” on a scale of 1 to 5, two-thirds of them answered with 4 or 5. So if you enjoyed taking part in the audience response, you may find it interesting to have a look at the results of the surveys.

On the same site you can also download electronic versions of many of the slide packs from presentations throughout the conference.

All these files are made available in PDF format.

Introducing myself

by Lloyd Davis

Hi, my name is Lloyd Davis and I’m live-blogging the Congress in Barcelona. I’m very much enjoying being here and being part of this big conversation about healthcare. I’d hoped to introduce myself before, but I’ve been running around since I arrived!

I’ve focused so far on reporting direct from the plenary session - I’m hoping later today to get some interviews with key speakers and other delegates to give you a variety of perspectives on what’s going on here.

Right now, I’m listening to the last few questions to Viviane Reding, European Information Commissioner answering questions on her earlier speech about Creating the infrastructure for European Health Information Systems - I’m sorry to have missed reporting what she said.

If you’re here in Barcelona, do come and say hello - I’m the guy sitting on the floor with my laptop at the edge of the plenary room.

World Health Care blog launches!

by Hylton Jolliffe

With this post, this site officially goes live. Its mission in (blog)life: a broad look at the health care industry and how companies and organizations are reacting to evolving market forces and dynamics and working to develop innovative responses that advance health care quality, improve access, and contain costs. It’s a huge topic we know but we’ll be assisted in the endeavor by a talented team of observers that hail from across a broad spectrum of the industry as well as associated fields such as drug discovery and development. Please feel free to jump into the conversation, responding to posts, asking questions of our contributors, and generally engaging in what we hope will be a fruitful conversation about health care issues of importance to us all.

For those attending the conference please tag all posts, photos, etc., with the following tag - whceurope - so we can keep an eye out for them and possibly point to them.