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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 12/28/15

December 28, 2015 Dr. Jayne No Comments

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I must have been very good because Santa brought me a new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 to play with. As much as Windows 8 gave me fits last year, the transition to Windows 10 has been just about seamless. I’m enjoying its small size and the touch screen even though it has run through a couple of upgrade cycles in the few days I’ve had it.

The only downside has been that I haven’t been able to get my Outlook .pst file to import into Office 2016. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m making a large jump in versions or because I’m going from regular Office to 365, but it’s going to be a non-starter if I can’t get it done before my next client engagement.

I can’t believe 2015 is coming to a close. It’s certainly been an interesting one, with lots of ups and downs for everyone. Many of us have bonded through the trials and tribulations of ICD-10, although more than a few people have expressed their happiness that they’ll likely be retired before another version of ICD goes into use.

Depending on how fast that becomes a reality, I can probably arrange to be in that category if I keep picking up extra shifts at the urgent care and invest well. I’ve spent so much time on the road this year that my living expenses have been lower than usual, so once I finish my taxes, I might be able to make a pretty good contribution to my nest egg.

I knew I had been on the road a lot since going the consultant route, but it really hit me when I started receiving the year-end summaries from my frequent traveler programs. I gained status on one airline and lost it on another – too bad we can’t use accumulated miles to buy our way up because I’d be able to keep status for a long time. I rarely use my free miles since I’m usually out with clients.

Since I was in quite a few smaller towns, I ended up splitting my hotel nights among three major chains, so I didn’t have enough nights at any of them to keep the highest reward tier. Two are merging, though, so we’ll have to see what happens with that. My favorite summary was from National Car Rental, which not only listed the number of rentals for the year, but also the total miles driven. I’m very glad I wasn’t putting that mileage on my own car!

Also in my mailbox were some year-end messages from vendors. Although most were of the folksy greeting variety (pine trees, snow, fireplaces) one was extremely salesy and seemed to have the undertone of a company desperate to meet quarter-end numbers. It probably would have been OK a month or two ago, but in the flurry of holiday niceties, it stuck out like a sore thumb. It wasn’t surprising, though, because this particular company has been in a relative tailspin for some time and constantly misses the mark on knowing its audience and managing social media and other communications channels. If you think this might be your company, I know some tremendously savvy PR people who could help if you’re interested in making a change.

Just for entertainment, I did a random sampling of the 100-odd pieces I wrote for HIStalk this year. There were definitely some consistent themes across the year, including data breaches far and wide and the push for interoperability. Hackers have also been big news, although it feels like they’ve been busier with other industries besides healthcare. Our harm is more likely to be self-inflicted although no less alarming. If hackers decide to consciously target healthcare rather than banking or other industries, it’s certainly going to be a wild ride.

There was also a consistent theme of market consolidation through vendor mergers, acquisitions, and closures. That can often be bad news for physicians and hospitals, although I suppose it could be a good thing if you have a bad vendor and are the kind of group that has to be pushed in order to jump.

Even among customers that aren’t struggling, there have been quite a few de-installations and it’s obvious that Epic will continue to dominate in the large health system space. My former employer is knee deep in migrating to a single vendor system and I enjoyed catching up with some of my old colleagues last week. The project is already behind and over budget in the first year after contract signing with the first go-live being almost a year in the future. It should be interesting.

Other big news included the repeal of the SGR payment system through the so-called “Doc Fix” bill. In addressing other new payment models, it’s going to add complexity for many customers and vendors who will have to add code to address new requirements and the need for additional robust reporting around shared risk arrangements. Less-prominent government-driven news included reporting from the Open Payments law, which is still less accurate than needed, but a good start.

The end of 2015 also saw the final state approving e-prescribing of controlled substances. Although it’s legal in all 50 states, that doesn’t mean it’s well-adopted. Most of my clients don’t have it live due to lack of pharmacy participation, but maybe we’ll do some projects around that in 2016.

In consumer news, the topic of whether wearables have peaked was fairly big news, as was the rise and fall of Theranos. The latter should continue to be an interesting topic in 2016 and I expect we’ll hear more tales from the inside as some of the investigations continue.

Interoperability was a huge buzzword and there has been a lot of push around it, but I’m not sure it’s making a huge difference in the lives of the average physician unless you’re just referring to being able to see data across your entire health system or hospital platform. I’m certainly not seeing competing hospitals doing any data sharing at all and it looks like RHIOs and HIEs are on their deathbeds in some parts of the country.

This year gave me several things to celebrate, including being able to practice my way from multiple part-time and locum tenens gigs to a steady one working for people I not only respect, but have a lot of fun with. Their decision to opt out of the Meaningful Use program (and the subsequent removal of many time-consuming and sometimes useless clicks from the EHR workflow) was one of the highlights of my year. I also made it to AMIA and caught up with old friends, made some new ones, and learned a few things along the way.

This is the close of my fifth year writing for HIStalk, which has been a tremendous experience. It seems like just yesterday I was sending Mr. H my humorous “Top 10” list of reasons he should hire me. It’s been exciting to watch us grow beyond the blogs to hosting webinars and supporting the next generation through the DonorsChoose projects. I’m looking forward to another year of healthcare IT news and opinion.

What are you looking forward to the most for 2016? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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