Philadelphia-Bound: ISDS 2014

Several HMS staff members are headed to Philadelphia next week for the 2014 ISDS Conference.

You can hear from us at the following talks:

Impact of Demographics on Healthcare Utilization
Who: Dr. Andrew Walsh
Where: Columbus Ballroom C
When: 10:30am to 10:50am on Wednesday December 10th*
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Big Changes in EpiCenter 3.0

As we’ve mentioned previously, the Health Monitoring Systems team has been hard at work on incorporating extensible data types into EpiCenter. These extensible data types include Triage Notes and Observations. Now that EpiCenter 3.0 has been released, we’re excited to share these new enhancements with our users.
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The Future is Now

“In a recent article on, an online publication covering tech news, Bryan Sivak, CTO of the Department of Health and Human Services, was quoted as saying: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the CDC could be immediately alerted if a patient showed up at a clinic somewhere with a temperature of 104 degrees, and who recently traveled to West Africa?'”
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The Peculiarity of Ebola Policy

The impulse to implement a travel ban to African countries is understandable. Essentially, it is taking the concept of quarantine to what seems like to be its logical conclusion.

In 2003, the SARS outbreak provided a deadly precedent to the Ebola threat that we now face, and the handling of the SARS outbreak provides an excellent example of how to combat a deadly and more contagious disease than Ebola.
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Visualizing the Cost of Health Care

We’ve written a lot about health care spending in the US, and about the ways we could lower costs and improve outcomes.

This nicely-designed widget from the Institute of Medicine creates  visualizations that further clarify the exorbitant costs of healthcare in the US, and also provides information on lowering costs and improving outcomes. Take a look:
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Panicked About Ebola? It's Lonely Being One in 500,000

We’ve been hearing a lot recently about Americans  panicking over Ebola concerns. Ebola is highly infectious, and the outbreak in Africa has been met with sensational media reports about both the African outbreak and the (unlikely) possibility of a similar outbreak in North America. Following news of the confirmed case of the affected man in Houston, you might have expected emergency departments to be overwhelmed with hypochondriacs obsessed with the disease.
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Enter the Enterovirus

The recent outbreak of human enterovirus 68 (EV-D68) poses several challenges to syndromic surveillance. Its presentation can resemble any number of other upper respiratory infections of varying severity. The timing coincided with the end of school summer vacation, a time of year when respiratory illnesses are always spread. Differentiation based on key symptoms is theoretically possible, but also highlights where the assumptions of surveillance on chief complaints can break down. And while the outbreak received national media coverage, the lack of a memorable consensus on what to call the pathogen may have limited patients’ and registrars’ ability to ask for it by name.
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Demonstrating Success: How to Improve Care and Pay Physicians More While Reducing Costs

The cost of healthcare in the United States is staggering. This is well-documented but bears repetition. In 2012, healthcare in the United State cost $2.8 trillion. Of this, 75% was related to chronic conditions.

That 75% amounts to $2.1 trillion spent annually on treating chronic conditions.
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Could Data Help Us Save One Million Hearts?

Around 600,000 people die of heart disease in the US annually. Another way of putting it: One in every four American deaths is caused by heart disease. And according to the CDC, about half of all Americans (49%) have at least one of the key factors of heart disease. In addition to endangering lives, heart disease also puts a strain on the economy. The total cost of health care services, medication and lost productivity related to coronary heart disease is estimated at $108.9 billion each year.
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How Do Doctors Treat Patients When Only 6% of Them Like Their Jobs?

Last week when we wrote about the US’s exorbitant healthcare expenditures we mentioned that spending on physicians constitutes only about 10% of the nation’s healthcare spending. We also noted that the U.S. has only 2.4 practicing physicians per 1,000 population—putting us significantly below the OECD average of 3.1.
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