Friday, March 13, 2015

Talk About Everything Old Becoming New Again! Just Amazing.

This appeared in the Wall Street Journal last week:

The Next Marketing Frontier: Your Medical Records

Startup’s electronic-patient records alert doctors when vaccines are needed, with a nudge from Merck

By  Elizabeth Dwoskin
March 3, 2015 1:50 p.m. ET
When Allan Treadwell views patient charts on his computer, a yellow alert sometimes pops up—a handy feature that tells him when a patient is due for vaccines for hepatitis B, influenza or other ailments.
“It’s a nice safety net,” said Dr. Treadwell, an internist in San Francisco.
Dr. Treadwell isn’t the only one who is pleased with the alerts. So is Merck & Co., which pays for the notifications sent to Dr. Treadwell and 20,000 other health-care providers. Medical-record software startup Practice Fusion Inc., which sells the alerts and displays them through its software, said that during a four-month study period ending in August, it observed a 73% increase in vaccinations—amounting to 25,000 additional treatments—compared with a control group. The company didn’t disclose its fees for delivering sponsored alerts but said it doesn’t take a cut of sales that result.
Practice Fusion, which has raised $157.5 million from investors, is pioneering a new type of data-driven business. Health-care providers increasingly use software to keep patient records. Many of these programs alert doctors when the information stored there indicates that a patient needs a particular treatment. Practice Fusion has taken the opportunity to sell sponsorships for alerts to drug companies and others.
The startup, which gives its software to clinics free of charge, crunches 100 million patient records it has stored remotely in an online database to alert providers when treatments or tests might be needed. Some of those messages are sponsored, letting marketers deliver the ultimate nudge: a subtle pitch to the right doctor, about the right patient, at the right moment.
Some experts worry that Practice Fusion’s sponsored alerts blur the line between promoting health and marketing medicines.
The software Practice Fusion gives away “would otherwise cost you $30,000,” said Dr. Robert Wachter, associate chairman of the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Anti-kickback laws forbid drug companies from paying doctors directly or indirectly to prescribe their products. Free software subsidized by drug companies could be seen as an undue incentive, he said.
Lots more here:
Somehow all I could do was be reminded of the same approach used my Medical Director many years ago. For free software you used to get adds for prescription medicine on the doctor’s prescribing screen.
A campaign by some Colleges and I seem to remember Dr Ken Harvey eventually had the adds removed and the support costs of MD increased.
The whole affair distorted GP software development and support for many years and the free software led to a near monopoly which has since rather diminished.
Talk about déjà vu!


Oliver Frank said...

I believe that the advertisements for medicines that appeared in Medical Director while the prescription was printing were not linked in any way to the medicines that had been prescribed, but were simply appeared in some fixed rotation. Whether this was an acceptable practice from a quality use of medicines point of view is another question, keeping in mind that most paper and many online publications seen by GPs also carry advertisements or other promotions for medicines.

Opportunistic reminders that are presented during consultations have been shown to have the most consistently positive effects of all strategies to change doctors' behaviour. Where the reminders are for care that is indicated for the patient, this is a good thing. The issue about this report of immunisation reminders is that the reminders hopefully were for people for whom those vaccines were indicated or likely to be indicated.

Dr David More MB PhD FACHI said...

Thanks Oliver,

The alerts were only pretty general based on age etc. and were brand specific!