November 13, 2008

Unique culture of EPIC Systems Corporation

Very interesting article in June's Healthcare Informatics:

September 19, 2008

Variability in the care of chronically-ill adults

A premise of my lecture on 9/18/08 was that care of patients varies across providers (eg., MDs), and that some of this variability is inappropriate. Here's an article to back that up, you can get the full text at, go to "Search e-journals:"

McGlynn EA et al. The Quality of Health Care Delivered to Adults in the United States. N Engl J Med 2003;348:2635-45.

If the care of patients is inappropriately variable, we can make a case that reminders and alerts, embedded in an EHR, can improve the quality of population health.

September 11, 2008

Need help with the medical content in HInf 5430? Content versus structure

One of the core concepts of this course is that medical informatics is the study of the structure, NOT the content of medical information. To that end, I try not to use medical content that will bewilder non-medically trained students.

At least, that is the intent.

One of you has already told me that the medical content of today's lecture (9/11/08) was too medically advanced for non-medically trained people. My apologies if that affected you. Usually, when one person brings up a problem, they are unintentionally speaking for several others.

So, I'd like to use this space to give you a place to ask specific questions about the medical content in my lectures and case studies. The basics of todays case study:

A busy hospital unit caring for patients with leukemia and lymphoma (cancers of the white blood cells and lymph glands, respectively). Two main modes of treatment:

1. Chemotherapy: powerful drugs destroy cancer cells but also depress production of red blood cells (carry oxygen), white blood cells (fight infection), and platelets (allow blood to clot).

2. Radiation therapy: high energy radiation is directed at cancerous lymph glands, or for some patients, to the whole body, to destroy cancer cells that are widespread.

Both therapies can leave patients with severe complications. The one addressed today is thrombocytopenia (low platelet counts in the bloodstream). This can lead to catastrophic bleeding episodes.

Best treatment is platelet transfusion (plateletes are suspended in fluid). Decision support system aimed to improve the quality of platelet transfusion decision-making.

Please post questions in the "Comments" field.

June 25, 2008

Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day

I'm Jeff Hertzberg, a physician and health informaticist on the Adjunct Faculty in the University of Minnesota's Health Informatics Division. But I have a hobby too: artisan bread baking. I co-authored Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking." It's all about baking great yeast bread, in a hurry, and our website makes it the world's first interactive bread cookbook. The book's become a baking bestseller, and I've started to use this experience as a teaching tool for students. Don't get boxed in by career; use your interests and talents as a jumping-off point for great life experiences.

If you have the book and have questions, come visit us at where you can post questions into any "Comments" field, or into the "Bread Questions" field on the left side of the homepage.