SureScripts: Vermont most improved for e-Prescribing, MBA HealthGroup recognized

At a ceremony in Washington D.C. this afternoon, Vermont was announced by SureScripts as the most improved State for e-Prescribing activity in 2008. Alongside Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, MBA HealthGroup founders Sandra Bechtel and Lauren Parker were recognized as one of two organizations responsible for this dramatic increase in e-Prescribing. We're excited to accept this recognition and proud to be playing such an important role in decreasing costs, and improving patient safety and care in Vermont. We've been helping to roll out e-Prescribing solutions since 2005, and we process roughly 6,000 scripts monthly from Vermont physicians through our hosted EHR.

Vermont law restricts vendor gifts to physicians

In Vermont, almost $900,000 was spent in 2008 on meals alone provided to physicians from drug companies and medical equipment vendors. Drug reps are going to have to get more creative with their sales techniques now that it will be against the law to bring in those free sandwich platters and take-out. Not only that, but companies will also be required to disclose the payments made to healthcare professionals. The penalty? Up to $10,000 per incident.

Apple shows new iPhone Apps for Healthcare

As Apple unveils their new iPhone 3.0 features today at their World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, I'm excited to see them demonstrating some uses in healthcare. As you can see, the screenshots are of the iPhone being used for monitoring patient heart rates from anywhere you have cell coverage. The company that developed this software is Airstrip Technologies who first announced their Airstrip OB software at HIMSS. Apparently you can define the parameters you want to see on your iPhone, and the vitals are displayed.
It won't be long until physicians are able to document entire visits on their iPhone through the mobile version of their electronic health record. Allscripts Remote EHR is a product that I've been able to play with and while it doesn't allow you to get every piece of documentation in for a visit, it's certainly a great start. It will take more applications like this to really increase EHR adoption.

Starting a Medical Practice: 4 Reasons to Start a Practice in a Struggling Economy

How often are you encouraged to start a business in one of the worst economic downturns in the history of the United States?  While healthcare hasn't been hit as hard by this economic downturn as other industries (travel, auto, etc.), we're certainly not immune to the economic fluxuations in healthcare.  When patients have high deductible health savings accounts (HSA) or copays, they may choose to just wait out that fever they've had until it goes away rather than going in to see their doctor.  So while there are some reasons for not starting a practice when the economy is in turmoil, I believe there are more benefits than most people know.

  1. Interest rates are at historic lows.  It may not be as easy to get startup financing from a bank as it was a few years ago, but if you do, you'll be paying less interest.  If you're looking for capital from the SBA (Small Business Association), you'll find that their loan fees have been reduced dramatically due to their access to stimulus funding.
  2. Real estate is inexpensive and easy to find. Not only have the costs of leasing space dropped, but if you were looking to buy that dream office across the street a year ago and it wasn't an option, there's a good chance the owner would consider it now. There is an abundance of office space on the market.
  3. Good help isn't as hard to find. There is a silver lining to a high unemployment rate.  The employment market is competitive.  You can find good people at a reasonable salary everywhere you look.  The key to a successful business (that includes medical practices) is to employ only the best people.  Hold out for the most qualified candidate at the most reasonable wage.
  4. Hospitals may foot the bill. It used to be common for hospitals to offer an income guarantee for physicians to start a medical practice in the hospital's community.  While that still happens, it's more likely now that rather than income guarantees, that the hospital will pay for you to start a practice including all of your setup costs and consulting fees if you choose to hire a consulting firm like MBA HealthGroup.
If you didn't read my post "Starting a Medical Practices: Top 5 Mistakes Physicians Make", that will be a good starting point for getting the ball rolling.