Weekend update

Congress resumes its work here in DC this week according to the Hill’s Floor Action blog

On the health care quality front, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services added quality measure scores related to the treatment of diabetes and heart disease for 66 group practices and 141 accountable care organizations to its Physician Compare website. Here are links to Modern Healthcare and Kaiser Health News reports on this development. Here is a link to the quality reporting page on the Physician Compare website.

This coming week, the big healthcare technology conference known as HIMSS will be held down in Orlando. As if to kick off that conference, yesterday’s Wall Street Journal offered an op-ed on digital medicine which included the following prognostications:

In a very real sense, your smartphone, loaded with a heuristic medical algorithm, is poised to become an avatar physician. You wake up at 3 a.m. on Christmas morning with a bout of chest pain. Your smartphone reads your ECG and reassures you that you are not having a heart attack—or tells you to call an ambulance and places the call, meanwhile instantly transmitting all the data to a hospital ER. And while you are at the hospital receiving treatment or care, your avatar doctor remains at your side as a constant adviser and ombudsman.
In the very near future, your avatar doctor may be able to warn you days in advance that you are going to have a heart attack by sensing certain genomic signals circulating in your blood stream and sending you to your cardiologist or to the ER. It can tell you if that sore throat you feel coming on is strep, and if it is, automatically send a prescription by email to the local pharmacy for an appropriate antibiotic. And with so many routine exams, labs, and aches and pains and handled by the avatar, your flesh-and-blood primary care physicians will have more time to talk to you when you do need to see them.
The other large benefit from this new world of digital medicine will come in lower costs. 

Hope springs eternal.