Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Misguided Attempt at Influencing Patient and Political Behavior

So Kevin, M.D., applauds the great idea that physicians use big-screen TVs in their waiting rooms to warn and educate patients on the impending physician shortage, as well as educating the public on the malpractice crisis.

He refers to an article in The New York Sun -- "Captive Audience: MDs Fighting Back on Malpractice" by staff writer E.B.Solomont. So like any responsible reader, I followed the link to the original article.

Fed up with the state's medical malpractice insurance crisis, some New York City doctors are airing televised messages in their waiting rooms that warn patients of a looming physician shortage.

One 60-second spot describes a scarcity of radiologists in the Bronx who are willing to perform mammograms because liability costs are too high. The message aims to change the way patients think about malpractice, doctors said, adding that by airing the advertisements they aim to shore up legislative support, and to inform patients that higher insurance costs could mean they'll have to pay higher fees.

"I don't think it's going to keep anyone from suing, but I think
the public has to know where the health care dollars are going," a Manhattan internist, Dr. Margaret Lewin, said. "My objective is to educate the patient as to what's going on politically, so if they can join us in making some changes that would be terrific," Dr. Lewin, who is president of the New York County Medical Society, said.

So far, more than 100 offices in Manhattan and in the Bronx have been outfitted with $4,000, 40-inch television sets that were donated to members of New York's medical societies by a Long Island company, MedLink International. The company also sells products such as electronic health records.

Forget the idea of malpractice for just a moment. Why is a healthcare IT company donating large flat-screen TVs for use in physicians' waiting rooms?

On December 6, 2007, MedLink International, Inc. announced that the Bronx County Medical Society ("BCMS") has officially endorsed MedLink International and its products and services, including MedLink TV.

More than 800 physician members of BCMS will be offered MedLink TV as a benefit of membership with the New York County Medical Society.

BCMS members will receive the 40" flat-screen MedLink TV for free, as long as they are in good standing with the BCMS. Physicians can sign up for the service at http://www.medlinktv.com/, in addition to finding out more information about the program.

MedLink TV, a partnership between MedLink and DynaTek Media, in cooperation with industry leading physicians, strives to provide patients with thought-provoking, entertaining and informative healthcare related programming. Physician members of BCMS, by supporting MedLink TV and providing this programming in their waiting rooms, are encouraging thoughtful communication between patients and healthcare providers, with the goal of providing the very best in healthcare for their patients and their families.

This announcement followed on the coattails of the October 15, 2007 announcement in which the New York County Medical Society ("NYCMS") officially endorsed MedLink International's MedLink TV.

More than 8,000 physicians in Manhattan will be offered MedLink TV as a benefit of membership with the New York County Medical Society.

MedLink representatives recently met with NYCMS in September to discuss MedLink offerings that can be a benefit to the Society's members. After careful consideration, the Executive Committee of NYCMS voted to endorse MedLink TV.NYCMS members will receive the 40" flat-screen MedLink TV, a more than $5,000 value, for free as long as they are in good standing with the NYCMS. Physicians can sign up for the service at http://www.medlinktv.com/, in addition to finding out more information about the program.

On August 16, 2007, MedLink International, Inc. formally announced the signing of a consulting agreement with the leading healthcare law firm of Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato & Einiger.

The affiliation will be spearheaded by one of the firms Senior Partners, Scott Einiger, general counsel to The New York County Medical Society.

Medlink CEO Ray Vuono states “We have established this strategic alliance with the preeminent Healthcare Law firm in New York State, one that has a longstanding relationship with organized medicine, hospitals and nursing homes. We at MedLink are extremely pleased to have entered into this new relationship as we continue our efforts to bring our simple, secure and affordable electronic medical record and practice management solutions to the medical community nationwide.” said CEO of Medlink Ray Vuono.

Through his 20 years as a healthcare legal advocate, Mr. Einiger has worked extensively with medical societies associations, and organizations. In addition to Mr Einiger, Gary Gatza will be bringing his many years of experience to the relationship. Mr. Gatza has practiced law for over 25 years and prior to joining Abrams, Fensterman, he served as General Counsel and Executive Director of the New York County Medical Society.

Mr. Einiger stated “MedLink has expressed a true desire to partner with and support organized medicine while providing practicing physicians with the tools to succeed in an extremely competitive environment. MedLink’s cutting edge technology provides an extremely cost effective solution for the practicing physician. Health care consumers will also receive a tremendous benefit from MedLink TV, a healthcare network that provides relevant healthcare programming right in the physicians waiting area”.

Scott Einiger is senior partner and director of the New York City Health law practice at Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Greenberg, Formato, & Einiger, LLP. Mr. Einiger has extensive experience in healthcare law. A leader in his field, Mr. Einiger is Special Counsel to The New York County Medical Society and General Counsel to The American Academy of Psychoanalysis. He has recently been named counsel to the New York Society of Gastroenterology. He was also part of a comprehensive risk management/quality assurance program designed to reduce liability risks for health care professionals and hospitals insured with the Medical liability Mutual Insurance Company, where he was counsel for 15 years.

Abrams, Fensterman, et al. is one of the largest health care law practices in New York State representing their clients in a variety of complex health care related matters. "Our health care lawyers understand the demands of the market and have broad legal experience with a wide range of issues facing our valued clients."

Back to MedLinkTV where patients will be exposed to 60-second spots warning of the dangers in the rising malpractice crisis and the looming doom of physician shortages at least once during each half hour.

On March 21, 2007, MedLink International, Inc. announced that it...

...has expanded its relationship with DynaTek Media Corporation to form MedLinkTV, which will deliver content and advertising to a digital screen network in the waiting rooms of physician offices and outpatient clinics.

Ray Vuono, CEO of MedLink, stated that, "MedLink is very excited to provide patients with informative health care information through MedLinkTV LLC, which we have formed with DynaTek Media, our content delivery partner. DynaTek will provide and deliver entertaining health-based information and advertising from pharmaceutical companies and consumer product companies to the consumer while they wait for procedures and examinations."

Mr. Vuono continued, "MedLinkTV LLC offers advertisers a captive audience of viewers who can be reached through targeted messaging. Consumers will be in an environment where they will be receptive to hearing about health and wellness issues, and products that can enhance their wellbeing and lifestyles."

Ron Gross, CEO of DynaTek Media, Inc., added that, "DynaTek is looking forward to deploying MedLinkTV, which will ultimately be able to bring product information to consumers, ranging from prescription drugs to over the counter items, such as headache and allergy remedies, as well as informative content that promotes health and wellness. MedLink TV content will help make the patient experience during doctor and clinic visits a more positive one for consumers."

Now we're finally getting to the heart of the matter, the root of the problem, and the motivation behind the education being offered....product placement and advertising.

I went to the DynaTek Media website and watched some examples of their work. Their MedLinkTV demonstration certainly looked like a 'fake news' report accompanied by commercial advertising.

In the New York Sun article, public service announcements created from news broadcasts were mentioned.

"We want patients to begin to think about the potential in the future for them, that their physician may not be able to afford to be in practice," the president of the Medical Society of the State of New York, Dr. Robert Goldberg, said.

The doctor of osteopathic medicine said he has several colleagues who are no longer able to afford their insurance premiums. "This is very real," he said. "There are ramifications to the frequency and severity of these lawsuits," he said. "One of them is, will there be a doctor to take care of you?"

In one public service announcement, which was adapted from a news broadcast in Oregon, a woman is forced to drive several hours to see an obstetrician because of a shortage of doctors in her town.

Now you can ask me, but probably can already guess my opinion.

Did the Oregon news broadcast truly arise from relevant news in that particular locale or was it produced merely for it's future propaganda value?

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