Sounding a bit like his former running mate, Vice Admiral James Stockdale, in the 1992 vice presidential debates, Ross Perot recently espoused on the future use and potential of microscopic robots.
During his keynote address at the annual Health Information and Management Systems Society meeting in Dallas last month, Perot told attendees that soon, "we'll be able to put robots into people that will alert physicians to problems long before our current technology can. I'm telling you, this is all going to happen."
Perot did not mention, but was surely thinking of, all the ways the CIA could spy on him using those microscopic robots.
The best medicine. So you think there's no humor left in healthcare. You just haven't been looking in the right places.
With just a phone call or a click of the mouse, you can book Dr. Sam & the Managed Care Blues Band, Patch Adams or the original Doc Hollywood through Medical Entertainment Services, an affiliation of physicians and other healthcare professionals who are also entertainers.
"During the last three years, I discovered that there was no single venue for physicians and other healthcare professionals to find entertainment that provided an inside perspective for their concerns," Dr. Sam says. "Dr. Sam" is Sam Bierstock, M.D., the leader of his band of "preferred music providers" and founder of Medical Entertainment Services.
Formed in 1998, the company provides "peer entertainment" to society meetings and healthcare conferences.
According to a statement: "You won't find any amateurs or garage bands with Medical Entertainment Services. The group has formed a board of advisers to evaluate and audition any entertainers who seek to join the organization. Entertainers must have national radio, television or movie credentials in addition to being a healthcare professionals by training."
Thank heavens. We were beginning to think medicine had lost all standards.
Put up yer dukes. The ongoing feud between America's doctors and health plans turned nasty last month when the AMA publicly chastised the American Association of Health Plans over a recent advertising campaign.
The AMA was up in arms over an AAHP television ad that begins with the statement, "Medical mistakes can kill," and goes on to state that litigation is not the solution to the patient safety problem. "Lawsuits don't save lives, doctors do," the ad says.
"Your recent ad campaign sets a new low," AMA Executive Vice President E. Ratcliffe Anderson Jr., M.D., wrote in dramatic tone equal to that of the advertisement in a letter to Karen Ignagni, the AAHP president and CEO.
"Your sudden interest in patient safety is quite remarkable," Anderson wrote, reminding Ignagni that the AAHP refused to become a founding a member of AMA's National Patient Safety Foundation three years ago. "It is time to reallocate all of the millions of dollars you are spending on public relations to direct patient care services. That would be a big first step toward cleaning up your image problem."
Stay tuned to see if the AAHP's next move will be to "settle this outside."
Tomorrow's regs today. At the HIMMS meeting in Dallas, every other vendor was hawking "HIPAA compliant" products. The HIPAA regulations will set standards for the security and privacy of electronic transactions and communication.
One astute speaker, however, noted that those tech companies are doing a bang-up marketing job, seeing as the HIPAA regulations have yet to be issued. Meaning it is quite impossible to be "HIPAA compliant."
Journals for dummies. Don't have the time or the patience to wade through those long, annotated journal articles? Check out the Cliffs Notes version of the New England Journal of Medicine, available online. The abbreviated version of one of the nation's leading healthcare journals, which is published by the Massachusetts Medical Society, is targeted at patients. At www.healthgate.com, the briefing is billed as "the latest research from the world's top medical journal summarized in language that nonphysicians can understand."
The controversy surrounding this deal contributed to the departure of long-time journal editor Jerome Kassirer, M.D., and the resignation of a medical society board member who is a major investor in healthgate.com.
The project moved forward after ethical questions were answered, and now healthgate.com visitors can access the same clinical material and research as physicians.
Maybe they're on to something. Perhaps they can summarize those lengthy, boring managed care contracts as well.