Humedica, Harvard Bring Continuing Medical Education To Trenches

Harvard's Joslin Diabetes Center uses Humedica's analytics capabilities to make patient care part of a continuous learning process.
9 Mobile EHRs Compete For Doctors' Attention
9 Mobile EHRs Compete For Doctors' Attention
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The Harvard Medical School-affiliated Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston is teaming up with clinical analytics vendor Humedica to apply big data in an effort to redefine diabetes care, prevention and continuing medical education (CME).

"This is the new CME," Julie Brown, Joslin's director of professional education, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "What CME used to be was a pharmaceutically financed marketing tool," Brown said. It later became updates at meetings and conferences, she said. "Now what it is and I think what it should be is a tool at the center of practice for quality and clinical improvement. Now it's all about results," she said.

CME actually becomes a form of clinical decision support, said Brown. "It really puts training and education at the center of practice," she said. "If you graduated from medical school 20 years ago and didn't learn anything new, then where would you be?"

Humedica, a Boston-based clinical analytics firm, is supplying technology that extracts relevant clinical information from multiple sources. "The deal with Humedica is key," Brown said, because good data in leads to good data out. "You can't manage if you can't measure it."

[ For more on the role of EHRs in clinical research, see Health IT's next challenge: Comparative Effectiveness Research. ]

The Humedica platform has a natural language processing engine to help quantify data. This is particularly handy for tracking the efficacy of medications of the same therapeutic class, according to Brown.

Joslin and Humedica are starting the partnership by teaming with the American Medical Group Association (AMGA), a professional organization representing large group practices, for an analysis of retrospective data to determine baseline measurements.

They have educational grants from pharmaceutical companies to study four areas related to Type 2 diabetes: Assessment of physician practice patterns; insulin initiation and management; barriers to better care for patients with postprandial hypoglycemia; and cardiovascular risk in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

"We will customize existing educational processes based on gaps identified in analytics," Brown said. Joslin would like to be able to present data to its independent physicians -- are doctors properly starting a patient on insulin, for example. "And we say, 'Here's how you do that," said Brown.

A few months later, Joslin will go back to Humedica and look for patterns in the practice of medicine. "Hopefully it's a continuous process in which we close gaps and discover new ones," said Brown.

The insulin and postprandial glycemia programs qualify for American Board of Internal Medicine certification maintenance requirements, said Brown. Physicians have to show self-assessment and improvement in order to retain board certification.

The new CME initiative will be part of the Joslin Professional Educational Continuum, a resource to help direct primary care physicians toward proper care pathways. It might also include live or video training, according to Brown.

Clinical, patient engagement, and consumer apps promise to re-energize healthcare. Also in the new, all-digital Mobile Power issue of InformationWeek Healthcare: Comparative effectiveness research taps the IT toolbox to compare treatments to determine which ones are most effective. (Free registration required.)

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