Archive for September, 2011

Give Me My Dang Lab Results! OK. What? Thanks!

September 19th, 2011

As a dutiful patient, one week prior to my doctor’s appointment I got my requisite blood tests done.   I use Lab Corp instead of going to the hospital lab because I can make convenient appointments online, get email confirmations, and quick access to the results.   In a surprising turn of events I actually received a call from my doctor’s office with the results 3 days later.  I say surprising because normally I have to beg, plead, call, or at least charm a nurse to get my results at all.  The caller announced that the results were “fine”.  Now in 27 years with a chronic disease “fine” is not a word I usually heard in conjunction with my bloodwork, so I asked if I could see them.  (note: every patient should do this)  “OK” was the quick answer.  I could fax or email them to you.  Yee Haw!! Now we were getting somewhere.  Of course there were abnormal results and some tests that should have been conducted that were not  (one way to get “fine” results is apparently to omit tests I don’t do well on), but the liver enzymes were solid.  So, fine.  We discussed the other issues when I got to my appointment.   But let’s not miss the point here people, the big cultural shift, the message received, at least this one institution – I had the right to see my blood test results.

To ensure that all patients, not just the lucky few with enlightened physicians have this crucial information, last week at the launch of the HHS/ONC Consumer Engagement in HIT campaign a proposed rule was announced to allow patients direct access to their results from the lab.  This is an enormous step forward in the annals of patient engagement and participatory medicine.  Please submit comments to make sure that this rule passes at  www.regulations.gov  or by following the directions in the Federal Register Announcement.

HHS Proposed Rule Allowing Direct Access to Lab Results http://www.ofr.gov/%28X%281%29S%28cp53mc3sjd3cbdfu4r32fhcj%29%29/OFRUpload/OFRData/2011-23525_PI.pdf

Center for Democracy & Technology http://cdt.org/blogs/harley-geiger/139under-proposed-rule-patients-will-receive-clinical-test-results-directly

Beyond the ACO – Creating the Well-Being Society

September 8th, 2011

 

I have spent the past two rainy days with senior executives from the Adventist Healthcare System and a range of integrative medicine and community leaders as part of an effort called Next Century Health. Next Century Health is a visionary initiative of the Adventist Healthcare System, a  large integrated  network of hospitals, rehab facilities, home health, and other health services, to respond to the key trends and drivers transforming healthcare today in something more than a pro forma fashion.  I, along with such notables as former HHS Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan, former FDA Commissioner Dr. David Kessler, and former Senator Dr. Bill Frist, are committed members of the Next Century Health Leadership Council.  Below are 5 reasons I think that Next Century Health may actually achieve its ambitious goal of advancing whole-person health and healing across the greater community.

  1. It’s in their culture.  The Adventist HealthCare System has its roots in the Battlecreek, Michigan  health resort of Kellogg’s corn flakes fame.  It flourished with a focus on connected mind, body, and spirit for healing purposes.  Discussions of whole-person health and well-being are authentically part of their DNA as an organization.
  2. They have a track record.  The five-year and counting Center for Health Disparities established by Adventist is a create model of addressing tough issues, working with community leaders, and keeping long-term commitments.
  3. Vision before bricks and mortar. The system has several large-scale building projects in the works, including a massive White Oak Campus adjacent to the FDA.  Integrating elements into every building and campus expansion plan that actively promote fitness, restoration, and connection from the start rather than as an afterthought greatly increases their chances of adoption and execution.
  4. Partnership, Structure, and Sustainability.  The two days of discussion included very tactical and tangible planning for the best partnerships, structures, communication loops, and policies to sustain the effort for decades.  This could have been so easily just a PR opportunity, but the time commitment of the hospital and system presidents to a multi-hour roll-up-your-sleeves  brainstorming and options weighing lent a great deal of credibility.
  5. Stewardship.  The second day of the Next Century Health meeting was a forum on Whole Person Health, Scientific Advancements & Ending Obesity with panelists including former AARP CEO Bill Novelli and Partnership for a Healthier America CEO Larry Soler.  A robust conversation on the root causes and potential solutions  (active, passive, and sanction-based) for the obesity crisis was held for several hours, but what impacted me most was the last comment of the morning, made by Dr. Alan Handysides, Director of the Department of Health Ministries, and a member of the Next Century Health Leadership Council, that core to the Adventist approach is the belief that stewardship of health has value.  From roots that strong a mighty tree can grow.

Learn more about Next Century Health at http://www.nextcenturyhealth.org/