Fri, 1 November 2013
Two weeks ago, I picked apart a terribly misleading, ideologically steeped Fox News story that wrongly linked the initial failure of the healthcare.gov Affordable Care Act insurance exchange to the Meaningful Use EHR incentive program. Among my many criticisms was the reporter's apparent confusion between an actual EHR and My Medical Records, the untethered PHR offered by MMRGlobal.
In that post, I said, "I haven’t seen a whole lot of evidence that MMRGlobal isn't much more than a patent troll."
Bob Lorsch, CEO of that company, posted in the comments that I should put my money where my mouth is and interview him. (I had interviewed Lorsch before, but never wrote a story because of my longstanding policy of not paying attention to untethered PHRs since none that I know of has gained any market traction, despite years of hype.)
As this podcast demonstrates, I took Lorsch up on his offer. It was at times contentious, in part because I challenged many of his statements in the Fox story and to me, and in part because he challenged some of mine.
He asked me a pointed question, whether I still thought he was a patent troll. Based on the fact that MMR actually earned patents on a product it actively markets and didn't just purchase someone else's patents for the point of suing others, it's hard to conclude that he is a patent troll.
Investopedia defines patent troll as:
"A derogatory term used to describe people or companies that misuse patents as a business strategy. A patent troll obtains the patents being sold at auctions by bankrupt companies attempting to liquidate their assets, or by doing just enough research to prove they had the idea first. They can then launch lawsuits against infringing companies, or simply hold the patent without planning to practise the idea in an attempt to keep other companies productivity at a standstill."
By that definition, MMR is not. I still don't think an untethered PHR is a good business model, a belief supported by the fact that publicly traded MMR is a penny stock, currently trading at less than 3 cents per share. I have said that patient engagement, called for on a small scale by Meaningful Use Stage 2 rules, could change the landscape for PHRs—with a better chance in pediatrics than for adult populations—but it certainly will take a few years.
I stand by my original statement that the Fox News story did health IT a huge disservice by latching onto one problem and trying to tie it to an unrelated issue simply because it fits an ideological narrative. As for MMR, well, take a listen and then judge for yourself. It's a long podcast, but I went through the trouble of breaking it down by discussion point so you can skip around as necessary.
Podcast details: Interview with Bob Lorsch, CEO of MMRGlobal, recorded Oct. 18, 2013. MP3, mono, 128 bps, 49.5 MB, running time 54:07
2:03 About My Medical Records
3:26 Why he believes his product is better than traditional EHRs
5:00 My skepticism of untethered PHRs
6:28 Lorsch's interview with HIStalk from February
6:40 MMR's user base
8:00 Why he thinks MMR could facilitate health information exchange
9:40 Health information exchanges vs. health insurance exchanges
10:15 Patient-centered HIE as an alternative to multiple patient portals
12:20 Physician trust of patient-supplied data, and other workflow issues
15:05 Emergency use case
15:50 How MMR is different from other PHRs
16:32 "Last mile" of connectivity
18:17 His assertion in Fox story that patients lose control of health information and privacy under ACA, despite HIPAA
24:15 MMR carries cyber liability insurance
25:00 Scope of MMR's patents
26:45 "Likely" infringement of patents
27:45 Lawsuits and licensing
29:30 Patent troll?
31:10 Negotiations with WebMD and others
33:00 MMR's reputation
35:00 "We build and sell what we have intellectual property rights to."
36:25 Other vendors ignoring patients?
36:50 Standardization in health IT
38:38 MMR's low stock price
39:20 Patient engagement boosting PHR use?
42:00 Interest from WellPoint
42:48 Payers building trust with PHRs
44:18 Other features of MMR's PHR
46:45 Segmentation of sensitive parts of medical records
49:08 Putting me on the spot
50:35 His objective in asserting patent rights
51:15 MMR's issue with Walgreens
52:25 Revenue sharing vs. licensing
Wed, 2 October 2013
Friday is the last day on the job for departing national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari, who is stepping down after four years with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, including the last two years as head of ONC.
I was in Washington two weeks ago and stopped by the HHS headquarters for ONC's Consumer Health IT Summit, the opening event of National Health IT Week, and got a few minutes with Mostashari. (I suppose that was good timing, because I imagine the government shutdown that took effect this week would have canceled the summit and even prevented me from entering the Humphrey Building.) I had the recorder rolling for a brief chat, which lasted less than 15 minutes before Mostashari's handlers ushered him out to his next appointment. But I did get something.
The interview actually goes on a bit longer than what's on this track, moving on to a discussion about Food and Drug Administration guidance on mobile medical apps. (You can read about that in this story I wrote for MobiHealthNews.) As it turned out, the FDA issued its final recommendations Sept. 23, which also happened to be the same day new HIPAA regulations—modifications called for in the HITECH Act—took effect.
I might get another chance to talk to Mostashari at the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives annual conference at the end of next week, after he officially leaves government service and is allowed to discuss his future plans and perhaps be more candid about his tenure; CHIME has confirmed to me that he will keep his speaking slot. For now, enjoy this short interview.
Podcast details: Interview with outgoing national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari, Sept. 16, 2013. MP3, stereo, 128 kbps, 7.1 MB. Running time 7:44.
Fri, 1 March 2013
Once again, as has become custom, I sat down with HIMSS CEO Steve Lieber at the organization's Chicago headquarters the week before the annual HIMSS conference to discuss the conference as well as important trends and issues in the health IT industry. I did the interview Monday.
Here it is late Friday and I'm finally getting around to posting the interview, but it's still in plenty of time for you to listen before you get on your flight to New Orleans for HIMSS13, which starts Monday but which really gets going with pre-conference activities on Sunday. At the very least, you have time to download the podcast and listen on the plane or even in the car on the way to the airport. As a bonus, the audio quality is better than usual.
Podcast details: Interview with HIMSS CEO Steve Lieber about HIMSS13 and the state of health IT. Recorded Feb. 25, 2013, at HIMSS HQ in Chicago. MP3, stereo, 128 kbps, 46.0 MB. Running time: 50:17.
1:00 Industry growth and industry consolidation