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HCNN Delivers First Alert

by John Moore | October 29, 2008

Last month, wrote a post that outlined the new Health Care Notification Network (HCNN). The network is designed to replace the current, antiquated snail mail approach of delivering physicians important alerts regarding drugs they may be prescribing.

The first notification went out this week and in somewhat typical Medem fashion (Medem is responsible for running the HCNN) received some information, but certainly not as much as I had hoped. Note, though the Press Release came out on Oct 28th, the alert may have been sent several days prior as the Texas Medical Assoc. gave advanced warning of pending Alert on Oct. 16th

Here’s the scoop:

  • Email alert warned physicians of potential side effects from a common antibiotic. Quoting the notice I received:

This first alert is for the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics, as the FDA recently stated that this class is associated with an increased risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture. Manufacturers have updated their warning labels to include this information, and Bayer is the first manufacturer to issue a Patient Safety Alert via the HCNN.

  • As this is a broadly prescribed antibiotic, notice went to all physicians who have opted-in for this service. (Note this is a free service for physicians).
  • Medem would not disclose the number of physicians that received the notice. Can’t understand why Medem is reluctant to release such numbers. In such cases, experience leads one to assume the worst, in this case, Medem is struggling to get physicians to sign-up. Thus, I would put the number at ~40K physicians receiving this notice.
  • As this notice was associated with a Bayer produced antibiotic, clearly Bayer has contracted with Medem/HCNN to deliver such notices. J&J, who was quoted in the press release has also contracted to use the HCNN. Was told “several others” have also contracted to use the service but Medem would not provide a firm number. Conservatively estimate that they are now have at least 4 companies under contract. Hope to get some names in near future. I’m sure there are others who are on the fence waiting to see just how many physicians subscribe to the service before committing.

Physician adoption is crucial for the long-term success of HCNN as the attractiveness of the service to drug companies will increase with number of physicians “in network.” This is also critical for Medem as their pricing model is based on number of physicians. If they are not quite hitting their target for physician adoption, maybe they need to get a bit more creative and move outside of traditional professional societies and start tapping social networks like Sermo.

We do hope that HCNN does gain the traction it deserves as current physician notification processes are long overdue for an overhaul.  Leveraging ubiquitous email, HCNN can almost instantaneously get an Alert out as soon as agreement is reached between the FDA and a given manufacturer.  And unlike the FDA sponsored MedWatch, HCNN does not deluge the physician countless alerts that are irrelevant to their practice/specialty.

Looking ahead, hopefully HCNN/Medem will come out of their seemingly secretive shell and actually provide adoption numbers that signal that physicians as well are seeing value in this service and subscribing in mass.  Until such numbers are released, one can only assume that as good as it may potentially be, HCNN is something that physicians are just not getting that excited about.

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