Untangled Health

Consumers Unite To Drive The Changes We Need

Tag: Patient Safety

Open-Access Guidelines for Patient-Centered Care (The tools we need are here!)

patient logo

How do I find the best treatment for me? Is it my doctors choice? Do I have anything to say about it? Is it possible that my doctor is unaware of best treatments?

Taken from the British Medical Journal. Click link to view the Aortic Valve Replacement Guideline.“The BMJ launched an innovative strategy to promote patient partnership in 2014. It took this step because it sees partnering with patients, their families, careers and support communities, and the public as an ethical imperative, which is essential to improving the quality, safety, value, and sustainability of health systems.”


My suggestions:

Make sure you read the educational material your clinic gives you at the end of the visit then compare it with what you are able to find independently. This is most important when you are diagnosed with a new condition or your doctor recommends a diagnostic or surgical or therapeutic procedure. By the way, new medicines are therapeutic procedures.

Since errors happen…what I choose to call Therapeutic Misadventures I like to check out the current best practices and research outcomes published in Europe, Japan and the USA.

Cool Tools are here!  Everyone knows that I am a big promoter of physician-patient partnership when it comes to researching treatment methodologies and selecting interventions for our personal care-plans. I received notice today on the MAGIC projects publication of guidelines in the British Medical Journal. This particular guideline is for Aortic Valve Replacement. BMJ provides an online experience for doctors and patients called Partnering with Patients. The  content provided on the site includes best practice guidelines for many medical procedures. One source of the guidelines is MAGIC project.

This is an international group, originating in Oslo, Norway operating as the MAGIC project. Magic is an acronym for “MAking GRADE the Irresistible Choice,” where GRADE is a system to develop high-quality guidelines that consider the whole body of evidence on a certain therapy in an objective way, and incorporate patient values and preferences, as well as other considerations.

For the consumer this implies the MAGIC team applies a scientific rigor to weighting the evidence supporting the effectiveness of medical and surgical interventions. The real bonus is that they also employ the patient’s perception of effectiveness which can often be missing in research studies. A common example I like to use is change in mortality rate. Example: If I have emphysema and experience failure of my respiratory system I will die. However, there is a variety of life sustaining interventions available to me in the USA. These include: Supplemental Oxygen, inhaled and oral medications and mechanical ventilation. Virtually all people with severe emphysema are faced with making a decision as to the technologies they will use to extend their life. Many choose all three: Then again, I have had many patients in the past elect to not receive mechanical ventilation as the notion of being connected to a ventilator for the remainder of their life is not acceptable.

When any of us with chronic illness take advantage of a therapy I would hazard a guess that we should always take the pre and post treatment morbidity and functional status into account. Questions we need to ask must include the published guidelines reported changes in health related quality of life after treatment.

I hope these projects become the foundation for a curated library of best practice and treatment outcomes in the near future. Of course my preference would be to make them free for patients which might level the playing-field for those with low incomes in societies with huge disparities in care and health between the wealthy and impoverished. That said, as I learn more about the availability of the guidelines and find those that are free and unbiased by funding resource or error in design I will publish them here.

Have fun and educate yourself prior to making any decisions on how to manage your health.

Warmth to all of my friends along the way.


Here are link to Magic


The Onslow Magic Project for clinical guidelines



An advocate gets busy while every politician and “talking head” takes credit for healthcare model ideas published long ago.

Reconciling data in my six health portals

Reconciling data in my six health portals

I watched Barbara Starfield again last night. She passed away in 2011 but it seamed as though she was sitting in my living room telling me everything will be alright but many of us will never get our way. Barbara spent several decades studying the characteristics of health systems all over the world. Her final conclusions were simple and easy to implement as long as social agreements were made between consumers of healthcare services and their providers. The contract (sort of) is that my primary care doctor will be available when needed if I promise to contact his or her office before going to the ER for an earache or other non-emergent condition; my doctor also agrees to follow my care as I transition through life stages and address all mental and physical health conditions as they arise by assuring I connect with the correct specialist if required. The specialists in return are in constant contact with my primary care doctor so the primary care clinic is coordinating continuous and comprehensive care and reviewing all interactions between myself and other medical environments. Like I said earlier this week. Someone to watch over me. I first learned of Dr. Starfield in 2001 and followed her publications. Funny, she was never accepted to sit on any best-practice boards but the scientific community considered her work to be spectacular in terms of statistical approach and quality. In other words, she looked for the null hypothesis also.

Again…concerns over repeal and replace.

Some more diatribe with hope at sarcastic humor is written for you below. Please follow through to the end as I pasted a really cool graphic pointing you to a new society of consumers and professionals that might fix the system over the long run.

The conversation doesn’t stop at my dinner table, on my phone, through IM or Facebook. It seems as though my popularity index took a healthy bump after November 8th, 2016. I wish I could be happy about the reasons for the traffic.
“Jeff, you are on Medicare are you concerned?”

Well yes; you see, as we become older the likelihood of needing assistance from case managers, specialists, short stays in skilled nursing or rehabilitation facilities increases. Same with home health services which is always the preferred place to recover from the self-inflicted fractured hip that occurred while my masculine ego informed me of my capacity to clean out my gutters.
One of the most important changes to the clinical language coming from Obamacare is the right for all patients cared for by primary care doctors with Medicare contracts to receive “Coordinated, Comprehensive Care”. Lately you might have heard the terms: “Patient Centered Care” or “Medical Home”. You probably heard President Elect Trump mention “Patient Centered” or a new commercial by Humana presented by a handsome young doctor stating that Humana’s system of Patient Centered Care is superior because of their capacity to coordinate your care within their “medical community”. Then you will watch a local conservative pundit state: “those stupid narrow networks tried through Obamacare didn’t work: here is a toast to repeal and replace.
This stuff cracks me up for the same proponents of patient centered care realize that closely collaborating narrow networks can provide you with clinical personnel that understand your needs better than anyone else! In fact, they have the same attributes of a Patient Centered Care Team using a single medical record and plan of care to increase safety and minimize mistakes. Yet you will hear no one (perhaps save me and a few of us that are tired of scraping the poop off our boots) tell you that the words Patient Centered, Narrow Network, Accountable Outcomes, Value Added Payment, Medical Homes, and all other terms implying a tightly coordinated, error free clinical team surrounding all patients are not original concepts. In fact, they are in place in many of our successful neighbor nations who provide universal enrollment and have always demonstrated lower reliance on emergency room services for basic medicine, better health outcomes and no difference in treatment effectiveness for cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other leading causes of premature mortality. Our own CMS (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) have published the policy here July 2016:
So all of a sudden the administration of 2017 will be using terminology invented by others to describe care models that work after years of academic surveillance by healthcare policy analysists and already written into The Patient Protection Affordable Care Act or what the opponents call “Obama-Care”.
My prediction is we will keep the new payment systems for coordinated care and chronic disease care management. However, the credit for the success will fall under a new Trump label. My fears is that the same three insurance companies comprising the oligopoly of payers for American Healthcare will recoup their lost profits of mandated care without premium inflation for the chronically ill by shifting the premiums higher for those with pre-existing conditions. So here is another question from the week:
“Jeff, what will I do now I couldn’t get covered because of my history of cancer before the ACA?” “What if “Trump-care” requires coverage for pre-existing illnesses but allows insurance companies to include the illness in the premium pricing model? “ My response to this question was “not sure, my cost in the NC High Risk Insurance Pool for my diabetes prior to Obamacare was $1200.00 per month not including co-pays. Today it is $350.00.
More on Patient Centered Care AKA Medical Homes AKA Integrated Care AKA Chronic Illness Care.
I discussed the integrated care model and its payment adjustments to my Men’s group on Thursday night as they requested a primer on planning for their last ten years of life. Their hope was that our system of care had evolved and they would not have to lose their homes to cover the long-term care charges. Many of the guys in my group neglected to buy long term care insurance when they were young and healthy, had since suffered a chronic disease diagnosis and episode of treatment and no longer qualified for long term care insurance. They could however place $10 K per month into an account to pre-pay up to one year of long term care. This is what my father did: In 2006 he entered into a contract with a transitional care organization. He paid them $350,000 for full access to assisted living and long term care until his death. They also allowed him to live in the attached apartment complex for independent seniors for an additional rent of $3200 per month including one meal per day. Not a bad deal eh? Oh yeah…one more oversight: My friends ; all retired upper middle class professionals had no idea that Medicare didn’t pay for long term custodial care either in home or inpatient facility.
Now, like I said the other day, I am a bit tired of shouting the truth to those who were unfortunate enough to buy into the following promise: “Oh we will have the most wonderful healthcare system in the world” and “We promise to repeal the expensive policies and replace with something better.
We were on our way folks: The biggest mistake, President Obama’s team was denied the necessary Medicaid expansion for ALL not SOME States by our supreme courts. If you don’t understand the math I will be pleased to describe it in another column. Basically when the folks that would have had access to Medicaid don’t receive the insurance they still consume services. The loss of revenue winds up on the balance sheets of hospitals and providers and they respond by increasing their cost per service. The insurance companies pay more and your premiums increase. So… my neighbors policy (55 year old male) in NC costs $11,000 per year. The very same policy in New Hampshire where they expanded Medicaid costs $5,500 per year. As Mr. Obama leaves keep in mind that the rate of increase in health costs since the inception of Obama Care is the lowest it has been in 40 years.
Somehow, someway; we need to cover everybody. If we do not we cannot cover the losses incurred in the private sector without the Magical Thinking that has been sold you for so many decade. Hide the losses, get others to pay for the losses through modest increases in cost of living and blame the doctors, and hospitals who give away more free care than you could ever imagine.
What would happen if our incredible consumer driven internet harnessed the decision support technology that we use daily on Amazon and instantly brings the right service to you when needed should you or a loved one become ill? What if we harnessed IBM Watson to make the diagnosis thereby reducing error rates and reducing unnecessary utilization of expensive diagnostic procedures?
What if we didn’t need insurance companies any more to assess population risk and perform preauthorization services while we waited for our new medication?
Since we have all of the data connecting lifestyle, culture, nutrition, infection and the human genome can anyone appreciate where we are headed with our capacity to discover the cause of disease and effect of treatment? This is not decades from now my friends; it is within the reach of our children’s lifetime. I have wonderful friends with incredible scientific minds that are creating open source technologies to accomplish human collaboration like humankind has never witnessed. The only barrier to their success is a loss of priority to cure disease, increase well-being and expand the functional-years of human life.
Or…we can keep these technologies secret, forget those we have developed through the natural sequestration of competing private enterprise and traditional silo thinking. If this is where we are headed then the best investment to assure a painless end of life if you are not surrounded by humanitarian friends is my undying support for the second amendment. If you catch my drift.

Check out Right Care Folks!

Right Care Now

Right Care Now

More on the land of Oz (North Carolina)

Heck! With health insurance we can afford a cup of coffee!

Heck! With health insurance we can afford a cup of coffee!

It is so unfortunate that the Senate has demonstrated such ignorance of the systems in NC that have provided frequently cited information on the cost benefit associated with Medical Homes.

I came here in 2001 to work with Community Care of NC following the sale of my company to Aetna Health. The technology we sold allowed Medicare Advantage Programs to identify, target and engage at-risk seniors through referral to primary care case management. It was clear at that time that the lessons learned from the world of HMO managed care had reached the end of their useful life as physicians had learned about the concepts of cost control through limiting redundant procedures and using evidence based guidelines in the 1980’s. The 1990’s brought us minimal returns in Disease Management which was the initial model deployed by Carolina Access’s efforts in Asthma and Diabetes population management activities. Those in the US that were on the cusp of ‘the next big thing’ were organizing for Primary Care Case Management through regional networks. I had spent 1999-2001 making presentations to the likes of Aetna, United Health Care, PACE and Empire Blue Cross to sell our intellectual property. If the commercial insurance industry understood the value of the marriage of technology with Medical Homes in 2001 it was a sure bet that our entire delivery system was on the verge of major payment reform.

Having had these successes in the private sector, my wife and I moved to NC after learning about the evolving Medicaid program which ultimately was titled Community Care of NC. We had a sincere desire to see a replication of a successful private industry venture through the public systems of care.

Since I was from the ‘evil private sector ‘I often heard ridicule from folks working in public programs here in NC. However; the willingness of these people to adopt information technologies that would increase their understanding of the Medicaid population and facilitate the design of delivery systems to tackle specific risks for the State of NC and separate regionally-managed community centered action plans for twelve regional networks was undoubtedly supported by the experts and General Assembly alike. Since that time it has become clear to all who work in the field of population health and disease management that the involvement of local providers, patients, payers and institutions in the creation of these programs is critical to the success in terms of both return on investment and quality of care.

So here we are: Those of us fortunate enough to work with these teams learned many lessons. When I left CCNC in 2006 I worked nationally, implementing similar programs across multiple states. I frequently heard how impressed various leaders in healthcare were with North Carolina’s success at improving the health of persons with diabetes and asthma as well as making a significant dent in the inflation rate in NC Medicaid when compared with other States.

So why would the Senate disband a working solution. I witnessed the reports from various budget experts at the public forums held last spring and noted a general lack of proper methodology when reporting cost data. For example: There was no evidence of proper control group selection and illness burden adjustment. When I stated to a former Senate member who happened to be a surgeon the errors in the reports used by the committee to compare cost benefit he agreed with me and stated “We really are not sure what questions to ask”: Yet the citizens of NC place their trust in this group to reform Medicaid.

Of course, when the public was asked for input, the decision was made to keep the existing program. Obviously many became clearer on the benefits. Then, out of left field comes enough controversy and distrust to once again, throw out the baby with the bath water.

Now that I am retired the muzzle of political correctness is no longer relevant. So here is some more feedback that is based on actual happenings in my life since working in NC.

I returned two weeks ago from the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, a 10 year old group spawned from the private sector in response to the escalating costs of care in this country along with the fact that we are rated far down the line in healthcare outcomes when compared with at least seven other industrialized nations; few of whom conform to what we like to think of as traditional socialist thinking. I hold a co-chair position with this group and have gratitude for hearing the current thinking of the ‘best and brightest’   a club of economists and CEOs which I certainly do not qualify for membership.

During the conference a lead executive in a fortune 100 company along with several others from other organizations respected by all who read the Wall Street Journal told me that he had been asked to consult with the Governor’s office after the GA changed its mind about Medicaid outsourcing. He asked me what I thought and I gave him feedback on my personal observations of the successes achieved by Community Care of NC and told him a story about a similar plan assembled in Chicago in 2007 where I had a consulting contract. The Chicago plan failed since the commercial HMO and technology vendor had not developed succinct written requirements. I recall the meetings as if they were yesterday: Especially the frustration I exhibited in public when I found out that the HMO had not connected with the Medicaid primary care providers in Chicago prior to submitting their proposal. So here I had evidence of a public –private partnership success story in NC and private failure in Chicago.

My business friends that had reviewed the politics and business cases in NC for our Governor had all recommended that the State keep CCNC and the Accountable Care Organization models that had been promised only two months ago. Unfortunately their actual comment to me was: “Sorry Jeff, we do not understand the logic, the drivers appear to be something other than cost and quality. Perhaps it is time for you to leave.

What more can I say. The Senate’s budget is counter-intuitive yet those who are emotionally trapped by their opinions concerning the ACA seem unwilling to discuss the details as to why it makes no sense.

Does the GA realize that the Triad had a huge problem with mothers using the emergency room when their children became dehydrated from GI influenza and that the local CCNC network assembled a clinic to educate mothers to master the task of orally rehydrating their kids when they were sick which brought down the ER visit rate to almost nil?  How do they think an HMO will be able to address local needs with such specific detail and provide educational resources?

I have had diabetes for 48 years. I remember when Blue Cross sent my refrigerator magnets to remind me to have tests performed and monitor my blood-sugar. I have no idea how much my employer paid for that Disease Management Service but I do know that I had to argue for my insulin pump in 1984: The one tool that I attribute my lifespan to today.

I will close with this:

For the last six months I have been working with some private practice ophthalmologists who are willing to treat Medicaid diabetics. Many specialists will not treat Medicaid patients due to the lower reimbursement but these folks are a dream team. I assembled a program description and took it to the NC Medicaid Medical Home leadership to get their feedback. They were very pleased to see local people getting involved with creating specialty networks that would treat their patients. Why? Well we have a problem with diabetics becoming blind if they are on Medicaid due to inadequate access to specialty care. So here I was offering a bundled service at ½ the commercial rate charged by the hospital next door.

Unfortunately, I have had to place the project on hold. One of our major criteria for inclusion in the retina service for diabetics is that they are tethered to a Medical Home. As of a few weeks ago I can no longer assume we will have a relationship with a Medical Home enterprise.

A note to the NC Legislature on Compassion


 peace 2 you


A letter to the NC General Assembly




We seem to be evolving into a nation of binary people. Binary in the sense of our emotional, tactical and strategic response to our surroundings: On one end we have the Concerned and on the other we have the Unconcerned.


Of course you realize I say this in jest, but what if I was right? Are you willing to risk your comfort and explore a possible reality with me?

Please place your religious ideals aside for a few minutes and read on:




  • There is no God
  • No-one will inherit the earth, we have no idea what the future holds.
  • Human beings randomly crawled from the primordial soup some billions of years ago and have evolved to the most intelligent form of life on the planet. When I speak of intelligence I mean cognitive ability and nothing else.




Since we became self-aware we have been unable to escape our internal reality: That we are born alone and will die alone. All of the space in-between (a brief 70 +- years) is filled with experiences arising from the environment around us. We learn –or not that our actions influence our environment and well-being; receive –or not, instructions on how to behave in society and together: “Trudge the road of destiny”.


Non-sense you say: “we trudge the road together”!


Two weeks ago, as I flew home from a medical conference in Denver, this essay was tumbling around in my mind. I was not sure of the words, but I felt an overwhelming drive to write something about how I currently perceive my world: The one where I wake in Raleigh North Carolina each day, aching from diabetic neuropathy, reflexive sympathetic dystrophy and drained by my hepatitis C, a condition undoubtedly resulting from poor lifestyle choices in the 1970’s.


I am observing the adults in my Country of origin become firmly rooted in social belief systems. It appears they are evenly divided between the concerned and unconcerned. At the same time, few fall completely into one group as they seem to be willing to sacrifice their beliefs when under personal threat. The ruggedly independent who celebrate life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the absence of stringent regulation will sacrifice their black and white thinking to help a nephew or niece who has become dependent on drugs or alcohol. Those who consider themselves intolerant of in-equality and weep over those experiencing disparity in health-care or lack of opportunity will often appear to live up to their values until they too fear losing something of greater importance.


I have a friend who calls this: “Integrity in the moment”.


Since we are tolerant of a change in our own life circumstances to the point of willingness to think in numerous shades of gray when it comes to self-interest and the safety of our loved ones; how is It we cannot apply this flexibility to everyone?


My father asked me if I had ever sacrificed. His opinion at the age of 86 was that his was the last generation to truly be willing to have such willingness. He and his friends in WWII who walked from one end of the Philippines to the next risked their lives daily. I always thought this was for God and Country until I learned much-later that my Dad joined the Army –in his words “to find chicks”.


So what I consider the truth today is that few human beings are willing to strictly abide by their convictions. Yet, in my opinion; to ease the pain of ‘oneness’ we find some common characteristics that we share with others and join that group: Until we become threatened that is.


So, for all of you Republicans, Democrats, Tea Par-tiers; Independents; Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Agnostics, or (insert category here): Are you willing to try something new?


How about belonging to one group:

Human Beings.



How about owning some truth:

  • We are a fickle species.
  • We are capable of changing our behaviors and attitudes.
  • We are not God if there is one.
  • We believe in knowledge.
  • We believe that knowledge is best obtained through scientific methodology
  • We would like to live forever, never be hungry, never be lonely, and always be loved and recognized as an individual.
  • When we put our defenses down we realize that each one of us will die and we might experience times when if not dead, we will wish were dead.


Now, stop here for a moment. Yes I know you have an important business meeting but please stop for a moment and read on.


  • If you own these truths you might feel a bit uncomfortable right-now: Perhaps afraid for yourself, perhaps sad for others who might suffer. In fact, all of a sudden you realize that We All Suffer.
  • What separates you from those who you call entitled. What separates you from the arrogant wealthy movie star; very, very little; perhaps nothing at all?



So on the flight home from Denver, I met a guy who said his nephew had been living a year in North Carolina. He said he had just got a factory job but could not afford his medicine. He said he was a diabetic who did not have his insulin.


As my mind jumped between my judgment and intolerance of numerous human character defects; across a spectrum of political beliefs there was a man about to die from diabetic ketoacidosis.  He had lost 50 pounds in weight and for reasons that were none of my business no medicine.


I just hung up the phone after speaking with his aunt: I gave her the number of a community health center where the young man can access a primary care medical home and learn –if he desires- to take care of himself. That is the problem in the moment.


Realizing that I am one of those fickle human beings described above I needed to stop thinking and do the next right thing.


The next right thing will always be: To decrease suffering for another. When I am so sick that I am unable to help another or take care of myself then the next right thing is to?


Ask for help!!!!


So, as the North Carolina Legislature places health and well-being above all else, they will have my respect. That said, since they are human, and I am a human, if any one of them needs some groceries they are welcome to split what I have in my refrigerator.


You see:


At age 10 a man tackled my ‘entitled’ drunken mother as I jumped from our kitchen table on-to his back with a steak knife ready to cut his throat.


At the age of 13 I said “I will never drink alcohol or take drugs”


At the age of 19 I acquired hepatitis C (guess how)


At the age of 25 I had to borrow money for insulin (help of another)


At the age of 31 I stopped drinking and drugging (help of many and my higher power)


At the age of 36 I had asked a team of people to help people suffering with lung disease become more independent and comfortable: Literally healing people into their inevitable death. I did not have to ask: ten years later; the team simply told me how much they loved me.


There have been times in my life when others would throw me away and times when they called on me to feel safe. At what point should I be judged by others. Isn’t it our duty to love unconditionally in the moment: To believe in our truth that people change, life is precious and it is not ours to judge?


Moving forward NC Legislature, I hope you all will sit back and reflect on the importance of your actions. How many tomorrows are you sacrificing that do not belong to you.

diab expense nc cos





Patient Advocates! New tools to step up and remotely monitor emotional components of chronic disease along with standard physical indicators

As you all know: Disease or Dis…Ease… is comprised of four components to be addressed by patients and their care-giving support groups. These domains include: Disease, Impairment, Disability ad Handicap. For example: A blind diabetic presents as follows:

  1. Disease: Diabetic Retinopathy
  2. Impairment: Vision
  3. Disability: Blindness
  4. Handicap: Cannot read LCD screen on insulin pump.

If all are not considered as part of a treatment plan we tend to place our head in the sand and lose the patient to depression induced suicide while being fixated on BMI and A1C. Well here is something exciting!!!!!


The convergence of psychosocial data (adjustment scales, depression index, mood, pain etc.) with other digitized remote biometric data e.g. interstitial glucose will add great value to examining the correlation of emotional/behavioral patterns and glycemic control for diabetics as well as give insight into correlations in many other diseases.  This is a big deal for me as a diabetic and even bigger as I consider the research we could do. In the 1990s our team introduced patient-family group visits to our ambulatory COPD management program and reduced hospital in-patient days by 70% (N=300). In the virtual world we have a way to accomplish the same objective (Care, Share and Never be alone and afraid).

I have been reviewing various tools for self-management and secure communication for diabetes, heart failure, COPD, Addiction and so on as success in managing these conditions relates to social support and data vigilance. I am also trying to get large pharmacy providers off their feet and please consider adding a remote retinal camera and Apple I Phone to their diabetes management programs as a pilot. In NC I have a group of physicians willing to read the retinal photos if I can get a camera ($10K) and head out into the woods where our indigent are losing vision and functional capacity early in life due to lack of linkage to primary care. Imagine what could be done with bio-psycho-social monitoring. Of course we will need funding for interventions but we can drive off that bridge when we get to it.

So please take a look at this project THE GINGER IO COLLABORATIVE  http://ginger.io/the-platform/




Jeff Harris

Untangled HealthCare LLC

New comment added to Forbes tonight on “Direct Primary Care”


I suppose it’s worth the risk here as it appears many in the healthcare sector are insulted by logic. My colleagues and I have been saying for years that to make this high cost scenario simple for the common voter we simply need to use the “too many hands in the pie” use case. Jiffy lube works well. What would you do if you suddenly realized that the $24.95 you were paying for an oil-change was completely inconstant with your neighbors who worked at the John Deer plant down the road: Their cost; only $14.95, and your mothers cost: Well that’s a new ball game as hers is free.

So now we have Direct Primary Care. When I first started in this business we had Primary Care Gatekeepers, then we had Primary Care Case Management and now of course; the Medical Home. The best we have done is to bonus physicians on process indicators and…finally we are talking about clinical outcomes.

When I first arrived in NC in 2001 I went to work for the evolving Community Care Medicaid population and disease management folks. They “according to their data” have managed to carve significant costs out of the Medicaid budget through a model that includes a pmpm component for the PCP and additional pmpm components for what you might call Accountable Care Organizations who offer case management, poly-pharmacy review and an administrative infrastructure to make an attempt at transparency.

My learning from all of this: Transparency to one is not Transparency to another; so be sure you set your outcomes definitions before agreeing on a P4P model. Still, I like the physician-patient direct notion the best.

Now, here are some considerations which arise from my 30 years in population medicine and 45 years as a diabetic with complications.

Figure out the illness burden component if it is a bone of contention that will be used in the future by practitioners that don’t like statistics.

Create an all-inclusive global capitation rate that includes fee for service, pay for process (EBG) and pay for clinical outcomes which include improved quality adjusted life years. Also consider how to test for and measure non-compliance (see my blog on medication adherence today at www.untangledhealth.com).

For God’s sake get some buy-in from your specialty brothers and sisters and the facilities where you park your patients for procedures and care from time to time.

Let’s use me as a model: 55 year old male executive with diabetes X 45 years, non-smoker, non-drinker but other comorbidities including hepatitis C, arthritis, neuropathy and retinopathy. Kidneys are good but I am on an ACE.

So number of drugs =six; an insulin pump with continuous glucose monitoring due to lack of awareness of hypoglycemia. My co-pays and deductibles alone are $5000 per year and the insurance plan cost in the NC High Risk Pool is around $7000 per year at last glance.

I have lots of ideas about keeping me compliant (again check out the blog above). Step on up my doctor friends it is time you take your power back and re-assign wasted dollars to true health-care not new positions created to help patients “navigate” their way through this haunted house. Cripes, you can have an MA do that in your office if you provide some special training and get rid of all of the insurance business rules. GO FOR IT.

Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance – In 1798 | The Health Care Blog



God Help Us

Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance – In 1798 | The Health Care Blog.

Please take a peek at my response.

Here is the historical reference in my blog response to the responses to the author in THCB.

EMTALA requires hospital Emergency Rooms must triage, evaluate and treat uninsured patients that  show up in the ER. This means many folks get primary care services in the Emergency Room and if you look at hospital fiscal charge off expenses many are in this category due to non-payment.

DSH payments are Federally backed State payments currently received by hospitals that care for uninsured at a disproportionately high ratio to insured patients when compared to normal facilities.

Under PPACA mandatory enrollment will reduce DSH payments if not cut them completely.


The British Primary Care System and Its Lessons for America | The Health Care Blog

The British Primary Care System and Its Lessons for America | The Health Care Blog.


Great post today on UK system. Makes a nice follow up to my complaints yesterday.

This is my reply to MD as Hell who was noting many issues with attorneys.

YAHOO!!! Yes, a confirmation of what my dear friends from UK have told me for years: And of course if we look at Barbara Starfield’s work for the Maryland Commission on PCMH measures she concluded a need for universal enrollment, a single payer AND these clinical functions. The results, better health outcomes. More visits to GP, fewer to specialty, less cost, increased quality adjusted life years.


Her comments in 2008

At the clinical level

–the critical structural features are Accessibility, mechanisms of Continuity/Information Systems, and Range of Services available in primary care.

–the critical process features are Problem Recognition on the part of practitioners (both for initial problems and for reassessment) and Utilization of primary care services, both over time and for new problems as they arise.


Together, these features achieve the evidence-based FUNCTIONS of primary care: First contact, Person-Focused (not disease focused) care over time, Comprehensiveness, and Coordination.


MD as Hell, my good friend Steve is a board certified ER doc who busts his butt for fairly reasonable life. One Friday evening a well-known malpractice attorney was in a car accident and presented in Steve’s ER with enough trauma to require lots of volume replacement, head tongs etc. Steve told me the next day that it took everything he had to not bend down and tell the attorney that he would save his life if is surrendered 33% of his future income. We both had a good laugh at that. Of course Steve didn’t say that, the guy lived and this was 30 years ago.


So what do we do: Well here is what I am observing:

Physicians 50 and over are retiring all around me.

Physicians 35-50 are wishing they would get paid the amount that they projected for their sub-specialties’ procedure of choice: Stent, joint replacement, IOL etc. The physicians that are 35 to 50 (far too few) that are engaged in PCMH work are pleased with the new outcomes based incentive systems, those who are not are living in wealthy areas as concierge docs. The kids that I have worked with the last two years in FQHC’s actually enjoy what they do and are learning to lead teams.


Me, I am a program manager IT guy who started as a CV technologist so I never got used to huge incomes and have always enjoyed each craft I learned.


As a diabetic for the last 45 years I can honestly say that my feet were infrequently checked until the last few years when EBG training occurred in the primary care setting. Since I have a good buddy who is an ophthalmologist (see my blog on Dr. Jeffrey Taylor at www.untangledhealth.com) I have been closely observed and received the   best laser, scleral buckles and IOLs at an affordable price since he wrote of extensively high co-pays.


I figure I have 15 years left and do not want to throw in the towel but teach folks about the history of medicine, insurance and technology in our nation of addicts so they can make more informed decisions at the voting booth. Another guy, John Harrison on this blog is doing the same thing.


So I am asking you physicians to stay with us, be angry, sacrifice something important as we all need to do for re-engineering and build a new system for the future.


The docs, the nurses, the hospitals, the technicians, the pharmaceutical companies, the manufacturers of large magnets and ionizing radiation collectors have all had a pretty good run. But it is over; we can walk away, stick around and complain with no suggestions or create something that works for everyone.



Jeff Harris

Untangled Health




Donald Berwick | The Health Care Blog

We are dropped from the universe into loving hands (unfortunately not for all though)






Donald Berwick | The Health Care Blog.

I am losing hope. Dr. Donald Berwick has been an individual that I have followed since 1996 when I lived in Boston. He is foremost a dedicated servant to efforts involving improving the quality of healthcare in our country. I am not using the term quality as a market strategy here but from the perspective of a person with diabetes who would trust this man with his life. Dr. Berwick IS Dr. Safety. He is the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement where many of us policy and quality wonks spend our time learning new strategies to decrease medical error rates and prevent morbidity and mortality in hospitals. Dr. Berwick launched the save 100,000 lives campaign that focused on the National Institute of Medicine report from 2000 titled Crossing the Quality Chasm. In it they cited hospital acquired preventable infection, and many other issues as being unacceptable. We learned to quickly diffuse treatment guidelines for the prevention of ventilator acquired pneumonia and empowered fast response teams all over the country in demonstration hospitals. The fast response protocol allows any observant (family member, housekeeping staff etc. to hit a panic button if they sense a patient is in danger). Trust me folks, thousands of people have died who could have been saved if the patient’s family or nursing assistant who know the patient better than the attending physicians and charge nurses were allowed to activate a multidisciplinary rapid clinical evaluation.  I have experienced this as a clinician and personally when my niece Marianna passed away from  an asthma exacerbation that was observed hours earlier and reported by a respiratory therapist whose request to call for an emergency evaluation was disregarded by the local hospital’s charge nurse. She was 32 years old and NO ONE should die from asthma these days.

So Dr. Berwick was appointed to direct the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2009 due to his international respect and knowledge of our healthcare system. According to NPR he was asked to step down this week as congress would not re-confirm his appointment. Why? Because he had made a positive comment about the UK National Health Service.

Once again we have a completely biased and uninformed group of bureaucrats drawing conclusions that we are commie, pinko socialists using antiquated references and experiences from the cold war: branding individuals with outdated labels, selling their fear to the ignorant voter who by no means is stupid but simply uninformed as to the corruption and shell games that drive health care practice in our country.

I am having flashbacks from Archie Bunker in the All in the Family series from the 1970s.

Meanwhile, we have republicans and democrats (all of whom you and I elected) being exposed for their million dollar hypocritical business deals and appear to not care as we re-elect, re-elect and re-elect. So we are headed to slaughter.

I am not giving up: I have been screaming for consumer rights as a patient, provider and program manager for thirty years. I have evidence of direct commentary from State officials demanding a termination of my contract with one of my customers three years after I left the State’s employ. The information presented was false, I confronted the issue with proof which discredited the spurious information by my personal patents and documentation; received a tearful apology and had no recourse since the NC law has a one year statute of limitations on defamation of character. By the way, my client whose board member instructed her to beware of me immediately informed me of the conversation and kept me on to perform my strategic contract which they were quite pleased with.

The issues that we have here refer back to the discussion on finding the gold that we all have to offer as opposed to presumptive guilt of our industrial colleagues. I am disgusted at our species and sometimes wonder if we shouldn’t hit the reset button.

So, we have fired one of the most dedicated professionals in our clinical world who has given thousands of free lifetime hours during his most productive time in life as a simple act of service.  He was the wrong brand… for those who continue to believe that 2011 is no different from 1776 and use such arguments to convince you my friends that they actually know what they are doing.

I am begging you to take your country back in a peaceful manner by understanding where the shadow people are, following the dollar and asking yourself if it is working for you. I ask that you not blame a single party, institution or person but own the responsibility yourself and find strength in your numbers.

As history usually points out I imagine that nothing will change, the occupy wall street and tea party movements will become nothing more than marketing tools for democrats and republicans next year and all will be diluted when we experience some form of economic recovery and we continue to not engage the homeless “eye to eye”.

Are you familiar with the behavior of Tasmanian Devils AND have you seen the movie 13.

With love and respect to my readers:

Jeffrey Harris   Communitarian Republicrat with fiscal conservative beliefs.

So you all know: every one of my wealthy and successful friends who agree with my opinions keep telling me to shut up as they are frightened for my career. You see I presently have no job and they want me to keep a low profile. My defect of character here is that I can’t as to do so would be to abandon my hope for eliminating disparities in health outcomes.

Dr. Berwick, I apologize for every vote I cast save for the President in 2008. I have hope and will continue to follow you in your efforts to teach us all that we actually have a heart. Perhaps quick 2D echos on every citizen to help them identify with that piece of themselves that miraculously works itself to death to maintain each persons life.

A challenge to the Heritage Provider Network: Assess our history,risk an extra step, see what is emerging and take us to a new stage of compassion and success

Would someone clean this mess up? "Oh...that is our responsibility; never mind"

So this will be my last of three posts today on the Heritage Prize:

I have joined the activity not to win $3000000 although I could sure use it. I have joined to create a team. It is called: Change Agents and I created a topic titled Population Characteristics. I have already received a reply from “Sir Guessalot” a wonderful fellow asking me not to infer impossibility. Of course, this is not my intent. When I am critical I am counting on miracles happening through community collaboration. So here is what I want:

Models that extend across population geography, culture, socioeconomic status, living arrangements, insurance coverage, health status and behavioral health. I imagine we need a multivariate adjustable and adaptable framework as opposed to a fixed and constrained formula.

Here is an example: If we could use this man’s data as it emerges (now over 150,000 patients) we would see deeper into the matrix of humanity allowing for further correlation and determination of causation.

So imagine the combined talent of folks like Jamie Heywood, Chem Connector and others from the predictive modeling industry.

I would give my eye teeth to work on such a team.

Take care,