Happy Birthday Watson

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

Posted 2/21/12 on Health Populi

IBM is celebrating the first birthday of Watson this week. I had the opportunity to brainstorm some of the short- and long-term meanings of Watson in health care this week at HIMSS 2012 in Las Vegas.

When most people think of Watson, an image of the Jeopardy! game featuring the technology versus the legendary player Ken Jennings comes to mind. However, Watson has the potential to play a transformational role in health care, globally – for population health, and for the patient N=1.

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Lowe’s Cardiac Surgery Deal with Cleveland Clinic

I’m currently trying to highlight innovative arrangements between employers and health care organizations that reduce cost, make use of Centers of Excellence, and generally move health care in a better direction.

In early 2010, Lowes cut a deal with Cleveland Clinic for cardiac surgeries. Lowes pays a bundled rate that is lower than it would otherwise be. Employees or family members who need the surgery and choose Cleveland Clinic have their $500 co-pay waived – in other words, the surgery at Cleveland is “free” – and their airfare and local expenses in Cleveland are covered.

So far the program has been a success for Lowes, saving money and boosting employee morale. Cleveland Clinic obviously shines as well.

See the Lowes promo below.

Cleveland Clinic Announces Top Ten Health Care Innovations for 2012

Patricia Salber

Posted 10/07/11 on The Doctor Weighs In

Every year the Cleveland Clinic announces the top 10 innovations that their experts think will impact healthcare the most in the following year.  Here are the winners for 2012:

#1 Catheter-based renal denervation for resistant high blood pressure

People with hypertension (HTN) are at risk for heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure.  When high blood pressure cannot be controlled with three or more medications, it is considered resistant.  One-third of Americans have hypertension and 20-30% of these cases are considered resistant.  High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for death worldwide – worse than cigarettes.  Until the development of renal denervation, there was no effective treatment for resistant hypertension.  In a small randomized controlled trial, the Simplicity HTN study, 39% achieved target blood pressures and 50% had some measurable benefit compared to the controls, treated only with high blood pressure mediations that had no change from their baseline blood pressures.  Average decrease in systolic blood pressure was an astonishing 35 mm Hg with a 12 mm drop in diastolic blood pressures.  The procedure takes about 40 minutes and is performed in a hospital’s catheterization lab.  If the results hold up – and if there are no unintended consequences – this could be really BIG (which, of course, is why it won the #1 slot on this list).

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Comments on the Cleveland Clinic’s “Top Ten” Health Care Innovations

Dov Michaeli

Posted 10/08/11 on The Doctor Weighs In

Yesterday Pat Salber treated us to a list of truly great innovations compiled by the Cleveland Clinic. Let me say at the outset: each one of the innovations on the list is really a gee-whiz invention, and each promises to transform a specific field of medicine. But some of the inventions provoked some thoughts about our basic attitudes and beliefs.

Take the #1 innovation, catheter-based renal denervation for resistant high blood pressure. This is brilliant; resistant high blood pressure is just that –resistant to treatment. Disrupting the renal nerve seems to solve this vexing problem. So what’s my problem? Knowing the history of seemingly focused treatment “metastasizing” to totally inappropriate treatments, I am a bit cynical. How long will it be before surgeons see hypertension as a “profit center”? Stomach banding was designed for treating the morbidly obese. It is rapidly evolving as a painless way around the more demanding way of diet and exercise for weight reduction. Can renal denervation be far behind?

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A New Health System Data Collaborative Asks “What Really Works”

For decades, it has been clear that the clinical trial, as important as it is, is not the only way to prove that a particular approach works. As Jeanne Lenzer and Shannon Brownlee described this past weekend, many interventions are in use that have relatively little data supporting their efficacy.

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