The infographic below popped up in my Twitter feed when an e-patient colleague from the multiple sclerosis community tagged me with a “what the HELL is this!?!” … and the excrescence below.

Let me set the scene for you – this is digital collateral from a software company, Medrio, that on its website landing page says it provides “simple, fast, and affordable tools for the collection of data in clinical trials.” It appears that the company is all about the cartoon animals, since they’ve got a cartoon cat in a lab coat welcoming you to their digital litter box domain. It also appears that Medrio is happy to think of clinical trial subjects – you know, the ones called “patients,” or, alternatively, “people” – as sus scrofa. If you don’t speak Latin, that’s the species classification for … PIGS.

This points up a pernicious, perpetual problem in too many precincts in healthcare. People/patients are seen either as dumb – possibly even dumb animals – and treated with the same level of respect. It’s not often, though, that an organization that actually thinks of patients this way fully uncloaks, and shows their wrong-headedness in full color.

OK, you’ve waited long enough. The infographic I’m talking about is pasted below. PLEASE make some very loud noise online, show the world that this jerkbaggery will not stand.

medrio patient-pigs infographic


Triple aim shoots wide, film at 11?

By · Comments Comments Off on Triple aim shoots wide, film at 11?

triple aim logoPaul Levy, the former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, put up a post last week saying that the Triple Aim – improving population health, improving the experience of care, improving per capita healthcare cost – was poorly aimed, and totally missing its “make healthcare better” mark. It’s a chewy, tasty read, with an even chewier and tastier thread of comments.

The money shot for me: “the real battles over power, money, customer choice, and cost” are indeed still happening far, far away from the point of care, and compromising the patient’s experience, the community’s health, and the ability to control spiraling costs. Of the three legs of the Triple Aim stool, the cost piece is the biggest barrier to its implementation.

Can you think of any US industry that would willingly transform itself outta $1T+ in revenue per year?

That’s the ultimate economic outcome of the Triple Aim, and I can hear and feel the resistance of the medical-industrial complex to ending their arms race toward “market dominance” via daVinci systems, proton beam facilities, soaring marble lobbies, and equally soaring temples full of hospital beds … when what we really need is hundreds (thousands?) of small clinics across the landscape helping people get or stay healthy via great primary care, not tertiary hospital resurrections.

Payers and big health systems, EHR vendors, policy wonks all negotiate over the patient’s supine form (and the heads of most clinicians, to be fair) to determine how to divide up the $3T+/year their arms race serves up.

Do we have a prayer of Triple Aim in this landscape? I dunno, but I’m fighting a ground war alongside my patient-side band of guerilla compatriots to see if we can drive some revolution from the grassroots. ‘Cause the folks in suits ain’t moving fast enough toward change.

Comments Comments Off on Triple aim shoots wide, film at 11?
qr code tattoo

(c) Mighty Casey Media

tl:dr – click here

I’ve been heard here on the topic of getting a barcode tattooed on my neck to avoid having to fill out another one of those damned forms-on-a-clipboard at a medical provider’s office. I’ve also been heard all over the interwebz (mostly Twitter) on the excrescence that is poly-portalitis syndrome (PPS), caused by the plethora of portals presented by providers under current EHR adoption drive.

In late 2013, I had a V-8 forehead slap moment, realizing that a QR code – I have created several of those, including the one (different than the tattoo!) on my business card – would be a great way to accomplish my objective. QR code reader smartphone apps are in relatively common use, and I also figured that a tattoo would be a conversation starter in the rooms where I work to shift the medical-industrial complex’s thinking on patient engagement and participatory medicine.

Even though it took me over six months to find a tattoo artist willing to do this – and I live in the 3rd most tattooed city in America, according to a Today Show story in 2010 –  and then another couple months to gather the shekels to pay for it, almost a year ago, on June 18, 2014, I presented myself at Graffiti’s Ink Gallery for my inkapalooza.

This was not my first tattoo rodeo. I had done what I thought was required due-diligence in researching the size and pixel resolution on the QR code itself, and had had a couple of meetings with the artist to make sure we were on the same ink dot. I created a page on this site, password-protected it, created a QR code that linked to that page, and we were good to go.

On that page, after you plug in the password that’s inked at the bottom of the tattoo (and is not fully visible in any picture of it that has been shared online, anywhere), you see two documents:

  • My Microsoft Healthvault export document in PDF, which has
    • My full health history back to Year 1 of my life
    • Medication record, past and current
    • Allergies
    • Emergency contact
    • Primary care MD info
    • Insurance info
  • My Advance Directive (everyone should have one – build your own by clicking this link)

I think I scared the artist-kid during the actual tattooing process, by the way. For the uninitiated, getting a tattoo on a bony part of your body – skull, spine, STERNUM – can hurt like a mother. I have a large, 5 color tattoo on my right shoulder blade that, 20+ years later, I can still recall hurting pretty hard during its application. I knew going in that this would be ouch-y, but at [redacted] years of age, after navigating cancer treatment and other slings and arrows of outrageous medical fortune, tattoo ouch-ies ain’t a thing in my world.

The artist had, I discovered later, booked out 3+ hours on his schedule for me that day, figuring that I’d be asking for frequent breaks due to the pain of application. I didn’t stop him once, and he finished up in just over an hour. He looked at me in a way that made me think he was waiting for me to eat some broken glass, or a couple razor blades. Again, given my time on the planet and my life experience, 60+ minutes of having my sternum hammered by a tattoo needle wasn’t a big deal.

Why did I do this? Because I’ve been waiting for the medical-industrial complex to deliver on their promise of health information exchange (HIE), the promise that they’ve been making for years, but have yet to fork over. I can, and do, securely move money around the globe at the click of a mouse. I do it via bank accounts, purchase agreements, contracts with clients. Most people do. But my healthcare record – which is MINE, as much as it is the property of the medical providers who gave the care it describes – is in fractured bits and pieces all over ever’where.

So I rolled my own, and nailed it to my sternum. Any questions?



People and Doctors and Money (via Up Goer Six)

By · Comments Comments Off on People and Doctors and Money (via Up Goer Six)

Comments Comments Off on People and Doctors and Money (via Up Goer Six)

womens-trollsSpending one’s days on the advocacy beat out here on the Wild Wild Web can be hugely rewarding. Like, say, when you start getting recognized by organizations like the WHO as a strong voice for people-who-are-patients.

Then there are the days when you get called f***ing a**hole by strangers for simply speaking up.

This is not a unique problem for patient advocates – this happens to anyone who speaks up in service of changing a cultural norm. Just ask MLK, who was trolled by none other than the FBI, who told him he should just kill himself. Imagine the fun the FBI could have had on Facebook, if MLK vs. FBI on Facebook had been a possible-thing in 1964.

It can happen in the e-patient game, too, as shown in the Bill Keller/Emma Gilbey Keller/Lisa Bonachek Adams/NY Times dustup over whether or not patient blogs, particularly those about cancer, are TMI (Too Much Information – translation: “ew, gross”).

Just being a woman online (guilty as charged) can be enough to draw the gimlet eye, and ire, of a mob of trolls. The #gamergate mess – if you click that link, pack a lunch, a raincoat, and some serious antibiotics – is an example of that.

I recently tripped over a compelling piece on the Guardian’s site. The piece, by Lindy West, was about how she had been hard-trolled by someone who had gone so far as to create a Twitter handle that mimicked Lindy’s recently dead father, who she grieved for deeply. And who used that Twitter handle to troll her about her stance on rape threats.

My dad was special. The only thing he valued more than wit was kindness. He was a writer and an ad man and a magnificent baritone (he could write you a jingle and record it on the same day) – a lost breed of lounge pianist who skipped dizzyingly from jazz standards to Flanders and Swann to Lord Buckley and back again – and I can genuinely say that I’ve never met anyone else so universally beloved, nor do I expect to again. I loved him so, so much. ~ Lindy West

Lindy West is no stranger to the experience of being trolled. She’s a prolific, funny writer who’s talked openly about being a fat girl at the gym, about the toxicity of the “men’s rights movement,” about sexuality, about comedy … the girl’s got content. And trolls love to gang up on women on the web.

So put yourself in the place of a young woman, who recently lost her beloved dad, who suddenly finds a stranger co-opting her dad’s name and image, and then aiming threats of physical violence at her via the handy-dandy trolling tool known as The Internet.

What made this piece stand out was the payoff – after she shared on how much this Twitter troll had wounded her by making rape jokes, and threats, using a handle whose avatar was a photo OF. HER. DAD. … she heard via email from the troll himself. I won’t put any spoilers here, because I want you to read the piece yourself. And maybe even listen to the recent This American Life episode that features a story about Lindy + the Troll.

My point? I think Lindy’s right – feed the trolls until they explode. Advocacy requires disturbing the status quo, which risks some serious pushback from those who are in that status quo’s driver’s seat. Ask any woman who’s blazed a trail outside “the woman’s place” – Boudicea, Susan B. Anthony, Golda Meir, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell – what it’s like to take on the boy Mafia status quo. Push for change, and be aware you’ll need all the ordnance you can muster.

Because what the haters really want is for us to shut up. What trolls want is our silence. We have to meet that with a serious, and steady, “THAT’S. NOT. OK.” chorus.

Comments (3)