Health IT Roundup—IBM Watson Health CEO out; Study shows EHR alerts reduce unnecessary testing

IBM Watson
IBM Watson Health CEO Deborah DiSanzo stepped down last week. (Wikimedia Commons)

IBM Watson Health CEO departs after three years

IBM Watson Health CEO Deborah DiSanzo has resigned after three years at the company’s helm, according to Stat News.

As the news outlet points out, it’s been a tumultuous three years for DiSanzo. IBM Watson was pitched as the technology that would change healthcare, but the company has weathered ongoing criticism and struggled to meet lofty expectations.

John Kelly, senior vice president for Cognitive Solutions at IBM Research will fill the role of CEO as DiSanzo joins the strategy team for IBM Cognitive Solutions. Last week’s third-quarter earnings showed IBM Watson Health showed growth despite the tech companies 6% decline in revenue. (Stat)

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Payers say automation is their biggest challenge

Health insurers say automation is their biggest pain point, according to a new survey by HealthEdge.

Two-thirds of payers say lack of automation or ineffective technology is their biggest pain point, far ahead of workforce issues or inefficient processes. More than half said improved technology held the most promise for reducing costs.

HealthEdge surveyed more than 100 health insurance executives to identify challenges around operational efficiency. While most say technology will make the biggest splash, more than one-third said any savings would go directly to their company’s bottom line. (Release)

Boston Medical Center alerts reduce testing

A new study out of Boston shows how built-in EHR alerts helped one medical center reduce unnecessary testing.

The study, published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety by researchers at Boston Medical Center, showed a 3.1% decline in chest X-rays and a 4% decrease in the proportion of labs ordered at routine times.

Total lab orders dropped by more than 1,000 per month but the changes did not impact several quality metrics, including pain prevention and urinary catheter days. The authors said that while the alerts were clearly helpful, additional education and training is necessary to make a larger impact. (Study)

Doctor on Demand partners with Walmart

In a new agreement with Walmart and the consumer health company RB, Doctor on Demand will offer free telehealth visits for anyone who purchases Mucinex, Airborne or several other over-the-counter drugs at Walmart.

The arrangement offers Doctor on Demand—and telehealth more broadly—additional exposure and furthers Walmart’s interest in the healthcare space.

The companies acknowledged that long wait times to see a doctor coupled with a lack of telehealth access for those whose health plans don’t provide coverage creates an opportunity to fill in a gap for people seeking treatment for common medical issues that make up 90% of Doctor on Demand’s business. (Release)

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