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News 10/3/14

October 2, 2014 News 4 Comments

Top News

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CMS will miss its planned dates to move Healthcare.gov’s hosting to HP and instead will leave the site on Verizon’s infrastructure through the November to February enrollment season. CMS signed a contract last year to move off Verizon after a series of outages. Verizon has upgraded its servers and will offload some of the processing to Amazon Web Services, but testing suggests that users will still be forced into “waiting rooms” during peak use times.


Reader Comments

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From Disruptured: “Re: athenahealth’s More Disruption Please annual conference. This is my first time attending the conference. I’m here as a newly established partner in athena’s MDP program. Didn’t know what to expect when I signed up. The meeting has turned out to be a great blend of athena folks, customers, investors, and CEOs from young companies. Helpful sessions and a great opportunity to connect with investors, customers, and possible partners in a small, intimate environment. Athena has been a pleasure to work with, especially compared to other big PM/EMR companies.” 

From LND Generis: “Re: Allscripts. This is being emailed to clients. ‘Yesterday we communicated that there was a potential for affected data between FollowMyHealth and Allscripts EHRs. This would affect the Stage 2 View / Download / Transmit measure by indicating that some patients had viewed their chart, when in fact they had not.’” The purported support email says the information has been fixed but an urgent report update needs to be applied for those who are applying for MU Stage 2 for the first time.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

This week on HIStalk Practice: WRS Health introduces new products for pediatric practices. Philips gains FDA clearance for new digital health applications. Quillen ETSU Physicians goes live on Allscripts. The Hutchinson Clinic implements a new telemedicine program. Code for America makes open-source health data a priority. Thanks for reading.

This week on HIStalk Connect: Rock Health reports that the digital health sector has raised $3 billion in VC funding so far in 2014. Basis unveils its next-generation activity tracker, called the Basis Peak. WiserTogether, a consumer health startup focused on pricing transparency, raises a $9 million Series B.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Cohealo raises $9 million in financing. The Boston-based company allows hospitals to share medical technology among multiple locations with online resource booking and equipment transportation.   

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Specialty EHR vendor Nextech acquires ophthalmology EHR vendor MDIntelleSys.

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Silicion Valley-based precision medicine data platform vendor Synapse will open a Philadelphia office.

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Israel-based MedAware, which offers machine learning-powered CPOE drug warnings, raises $1 million in Series A financing. Its self-learning product (“a spell-checker for medical prescriptions”) analyzes prescription databases to identify deviations from normal treatments prescribed for similar patients, although it’s not clear to me how it connects to the prescribing system.

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Athenahealth unveils its 60,000-square-foot Atlanta office that will house 200 employees initially and hundreds more later.

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A poorly sourced rumor, resurrected from a few months ago, suggests that Samsung may be talking to Nuance about acquiring the company, which would give Samsung control of the speech recognition technology used by Apple’s Siri.


Sales

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Scottsdale Lincoln Health Network (AZ) chooses Premier’s solutions for supply chain, performance, and technology solutions.

Greater Baltimore Medical Center (MD) selects Access web-based forms and patient signature capture.


People

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Nick Bonvino (CTG) is named CEO of Greater Houston Healthconnect.

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Peter Witonsky, formerly president of iSirona, is now president of the Ionic Division of St. Louis-based Asynchrony. The company seeks 100 engineers who know Ruby, Scala, C#.NET, Java, and mobile programming.

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Huffington Post profiles Laurie McGraw, president and CEO of Shareable Ink, in its “Women in Business” Q&A series.

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Consulting firm ICF Internation names John Guda (CSC) as SVP/GM of its commercial healthcare business.

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I missed this from the new Forbes 400 list of richest Americans: Terry Ragon, founder of InterSystems, is #390 on the list with an estimated net worth of $1.58 billion.


Announcements and Implementations

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The Memphis business paper profiles S2 Interactive, which sells software that optimizes tray setup and instrument sterilization in the OR. The company was founded by Larry Foster, RN.

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NextGen will offer its customers the Plexus IS Anesthesia Touch anesthesia documentation system.

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Two Philips chronic care management telehealth applications developed with Salesforce.com (care coordination and a patient portal) receive FDA 510(k) marketing approval.


Government and Politics

The VA says it will go live on a new commercial patient scheduling system by 2017 – originally announced as 2020 — and will choose a vendor that can meet its aggressive deadlines.

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CMS’s Open Payments database is live, but doctors are finding errors in the information submitted by drug companies. Glaxo admits that incorrectly assigned huge payments made to the National Cancer Institute to a single physician who says he is “shocked by the enormity of this mistake.” Glaxo says it fixed its error in September 2013, but CMS chose to bring Open Payments live with data (including corrections) covering only the first five months of the year. Critics also observe that the system is slow, doesn’t provide total payments, has no search function, doesn’t group corporate entities within a single drug or device manufacturer, and requires a lot of scrolling since the on-screen spreadsheets aren’t sized correctly for a browser. Commenting about the traditional tendency for CMS to make a mess of just about any technology project it undertakes, a former aide to Sen. Chuck Grassley whose bill created the database said, “It’s so complicated that it’s almost useless. It looks like data bombing and I don’t think the average American will find it useful. It’s disappointing.” I’ll go out on a fairly sturdy limb in stating that CMS might be the least competent of many incompetent federal agencies in putting in-house career bureaucrats in charge of opportunistic contractors (Healthcare.gov comes to mind).

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FDA releases a cybersecurity guidance document for medical device manufacturers.

Walgreens announces a partnership with the VA in which it it will immunize veterans and share its Greenway EHR information with the VA.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gives the military’s underperforming hospitals six weeks to submit improvement plans, adding that military hospitals offer care comparable to the civilian health system but that’s not good enough. Hopkins patient safety expert Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD said hospitals in general are better at managing their bottom lines than patient care: “This is not unique to them. If you miss your budget, within a week you are in someone’s office. We have not applied that kind of rigorous discipline to quality and safety.”

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ONC posts a chief medical officer position. Jacob Reider, MD says in an internal memo that he will remain deputy national coordinator and that hiring a full-time CMO (Reider’s job before he became acting national coordinator and then deputy) is a commitment clinician relevance. People forget that it’s a sacrifice to work for ONC – the job pays a maximum of $157K per year (although there’s a potential unstated extra allowance for physicians), unreimbursed relocation to DC is required, and the application and selection process is tougher than in the private sector. I was thinking last week that I am too critical of government employees and politicians – if they stick with the job I call them career trough-lappers, but if they leave for the private sector I label them as opportunistic sellouts trading their influence for cash. 

ONC also lists the open position of director of the office of consumer ehealth, vacated in July by Lygeia Ricciardi.


Technology

This is bizarre, assuming it’s not a hoax. A company called Pavlok (a nod to the dog-testing Pavlov) will produce the ultimate fitness wearable, a $129 fitness band that delivers an electrical shock when the wearer misses fitness goals. The pain-loving founder’s experience includes hiring a woman off Craigslist to slap his face every time he launched Facebook, admitting that, “I have a weird slapping thing.”

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This is brilliant: a startup is developing an affordable sensor to warn people that food contains items to which they are allergic. It must be terrifying  for people who are highly sensitive to peanuts or other foods to have trust a restaurant waitperson’s assurance that a given menu item is OK for them to eat.


Other

Rock Health tweeted an exuberant message Wednesday that Kleiner Perkins was visiting, proudly observing that “none of these digital health entrepreneurs have a healthcare background.” I can’t decide if it’s sad or just insulting when the techno-weenies brag on their ignorance of the industry into whose face they brashly thrust their VC money and technologies fully confident that they’ve figured it all out from the cheap seats. My consolation is that their contempt will likely turn into humility (or more precisely, a quick redirect to some other seemingly lucrative bright shiny object) when, like their predecessors, they find that healthcare is a lot more complicated than a bunch of arrogant child-entrepreneurs can even begin to understand. I suspect that any of the rumpled CEOs or besuited VC schmoozers would run for the hills when faced with an actual patient or consumer whose medical needs can’t be identified or ameliorated by cute, imitative phone apps that lust to be the Uber or Facebook of healthcare in exploiting some minor niche while dodging the big problems that matter. The healthcare IT burial pit is full of companies both large and small that smugly concluded, “How hard could it be?” and later found out as they ran into one business-killing obstacle after another: insurance companies, the government as both the dominant payer and regulator, privacy, misaligned incentives, and even the most basic question: who is the healthcare customer? Most of us long-timers welcome humble newcomers with fresh ideas that focus on patients, but instead we seem to draw obnoxious brats and their rich uncles who have big iPhone-powered hats but no cattle.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (CA) revises its estimate of the number of patients whose medical records were stored on an unencrypted laptop that was stolen in June from 500 to 33,000.

JPMorgan says that a cyberhacking attack this summer exposed the data of 76 million households and 7million small businesses, although the stolen information was mostly benign, such as email addresses. The company had said previously that its increased security efforts would require 1,000 employees and $250 million per year.

Here’s a great Ebola-inspired EHR idea from Linda Pourmassina, MD: when a patient presents with fever, trigger a reminder to ask about travel history. At least Ebola gives otherwise health-indifferent consumers something to obsess over as the latest TV-touted epidemic du jour gains their engagement far more than the daily habits that will likely kill them (see: avian flu, swine flu, H1N1, and Legionnaire’s).

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The CEO of Clark Memorial Hospital (IN) announces that the hospital has no choice but to merge with Norton Healthcare because of huge losses causes by bad debt patients and the cost of unnamed software that I assume is its Allscripts Sunrise system.


Sponsor Updates
  • Voalte will integrate its Voalte One mobile communications solution with Spectralink’s Android-based handset and will sell and support the offering.
  • Impact Advisors is ranked as the top Enterprise Implementation Leadership Epic Partner by KLAS.
  • Verisk Health creates an infographic about the cost of claims errors.
  • Health Catalyst is offering a free PDF copy of its eBook, “Healthcare: A Better Way.”
  • Castro County Healthcare-Plains Memorial Hospital (TX) is implementing Holon’s CollaborNet HIE.
  • Forbes discusses how UnitedHealth’s acquisition of MedSynergies will strengthen its Optum division.
  • Nuance will participate in the Health Connect Partners Hospital & Healthcare IT convention in Chicago October 13-15.
  • Royal Solutions Group announces the integration of its kiosk platform with Merge RIS and OrthoEMR.
  • NoteSwift joins Allscripts developer program with a bridge between Allscripts Pro EHR and Dragon Medical.
  • ICSA Labs certifies HIStalk sponsors Healthtronics, Iatric Systems, Medseek, PatientSafe Solutions. Quest Diagnostics, Shareable Ink, and Wellsoft in September.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

October 1 has come and gone, forcing many organizations to make hard decisions about their participation in the Meaningful Use program. Several of our recent acquisitions are planning to attest for Stage 1 and this quarter is their last chance. It’s been quite a battle to even get them live on EHR in the most rudimentary fashion. Saying that we ran out of time to deliver the kind of workflow redesign needed for true clinical transformation is an understatement.

Our organization was a fairly early adopter of EHR. Our original employed practices went through an intense program of workflow analysis, development of policies and procedures to support new workflows and technologies, and continuous process improvement. We were “doing EHR” for all the right reasons and were seeing good outcomes. Practices that weren’t ready for the transition progressed through more slowly or chose to leave the group. Along came Meaningful Use, however, and we were forced to push everyone through the same funnel.

At this point we’re dealing with a subset of physicians who don’t care and aren’t ready, yet our administration has made it clear that we must make them succeed at any cost. Our operations team has responded by “reporting” them to death. They’re delivering a full spread of Meaningful Use reports to each physician, office manager, and practice lead every Friday in the effort to ensure compliance.

Unfortunately, what they’re not delivering is support for operational and practice policies and workflows to actually lead to a successful outcome. It’s the hospital administrator equivalent of yelling at your teenager for having a loud party, but refusing to stay home on Saturday night to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

My favorite nonsensical example of the week is a practice that is documenting in two EHRs as of Wednesday. Their old system isn’t certified and our employer refuses to pay for a data conversion, so they’re continuing to see patients in the old system while documenting the barebones data needed for Meaningful Use in the certified system. Penny wise and pound foolish – discovery alone on a single lawsuit from this patient safety nightmare would easily cost triple the amount we’d have spent on the conversion. Instead, we’re relying on the practice to abstract patient data on its own and transition “when the practice is ready.”

In other CMS-related news, the first round of Open Payments data has been released to the public. By the time I made it to the website, there were over 21,000 hits on the General Payment Data for 2013. I wanted to dig more deeply in the data, but the website was painfully slow and I didn’t have time to download the dataset before I had to run off to meetings. Some weekend entertainment, perhaps?

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As many of you know, my second language is Administralian. I have to admit this reader submission is a puzzler, and not the fun kind heard on Car Talk:

Our recently announced operating model reflects our transformation to an integrated technology company dedicated to building a software-defined network with an engaged, agile workforce whose well-being is a top priority.

I asked the reader what that might mean and received this response: “I wish I knew, because I’m being transformed into it, whatever it is.”

That, dear readers, is what happens when you allow buzzword-happy consultants to write communications snippets. I even tried to use my old-school English class skills to diagram the sentence but couldn’t make a go of it. Is the company using their engaged, agile workforce to build the network, or are they building a network that has the engaged, agile workforce as its members? Whose top priority is the well-being of said workforce and how will it be supported?

I feel bad for the employees at this company. If leadership is willing to economize the use of words to the point where they no longer make sense, leadership is also likely to over-economize in other areas.

Do you have a favorite example of Administralian? Email me.


Lorre’s Healthcare Analytics Summit 14 Report

Being a bit of a data and analytics geek, I looked forward to attending Healthcare Analytics Summit 14. I have attended enough conferences over the years to keep my expectations realistic since I have almost always been disappointed. Admittedly, I have a short attention span and often end up thinking about better uses of my time, but that wasn’t the case at HAS14.

Opening keynote presenter Billy Beane is an excellent speaker and the type of storyteller that I can connect with. He injected humor and anecdotes while taking the audience through formulating his hypothesis about using data and analytics to win baseball games to the outcomes and validation of his theory. He was a brilliant choice by Health Catalyst in creating optimism, a longing for similar outcomes in healthcare IT, and a vision that it is possible.

The next two speakers — Glenn Steele, Jr. MD, PhD, president and CEO of Geisinger Health System, and James Merlino, MD, chief experience officer, Cleveland Clinic — described how their organizations use analytics to transform healthcare and transform the patient experience, respectively. Their case study-like narratives reinforced that not only is it possible to improve outcomes with analytics in healthcare, it is already happening.

Google’s Ray Kurzweil rounded out the day with an enthusiastic discussion about the acceleration of technology is the 21st century and how we can expect that to impact healthcare and medicine.

Day Two brought fresh speakers with more case studies to reinforce the overarching message — data and analytics can transform care and improve outcomes. Breakout sessions were mostly interesting, but I didn’t leave any of them feeling like I learned anything I could use.

Before Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton delivered the closing keynote, we viewed a 30-minute documentary, From the Heart: Healthcare Transformation from India to The Cayman Islands. It was impressive to see what health systems in other countries have been able to accomplish. It tugged at my heartstrings when one of the Indian cardiologists said, “The first question a mother asks is how much it (open-heart surgery to save her child’s life) is going to cost. The doctors are putting a price on human life.” After learning about how they were able to cut the cost of the surgery in half and maintain it, another physician drove the message home when he said, “The object of technology should be to bring cost down … In healthcare, technology takes the cost up. That can change only by a data-driven, facts-driven medicine where the decision making process itself is driven by technology.”

The logistics of the summit were unlike any I have ever experienced. There were genius bars staffed with technical people to help with everything from installing the custom application to providing directions. My HAS14 app froze and I raised my hand and had a technical person at my side within seconds. Pre-charged chargers the size of playing cards were placed at every seat to keep mobile devices running through the day

Analyst teams were present in every in every session to present real-time data gathered from participants. Attendees voted ahead of time on their seating preference at Wednesday night’s dinner – sitting with similar attendees, sitting with dissimilar attendees, or open seating. Table assignments were pushed out via the app before dinner. It seems like a small thing, but it demonstrated how gathering data could allow for real-time decision making and the ability to create a more desirable outcome based on it.

When Dan Burton took the stage during the opening keynote, he told us we would have the opportunity to learn from innovators in and out of healthcare and he promised there would be no long-winded CEO speeches. That was what Health Catalyst delivered. It was a fun, engaging, and informative summit. I left with a copy of their book, “Healthcare: A Better Way,” a few new connections, and excitement about the future of data and analytics in healthcare.

(Presentations and recordings from the conference are available to all online.)

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 Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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October 2, 2014 News 4 Comments

News 10/1/14

September 30, 2014 News 5 Comments

Top News

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UnitedHealth Group’s Optum division acquires MedSynergies, which offers physician practice billing and quality services. MedSynergies was founded in 1996 by a group of Texas ophthalmologists. Its board chair is Joe Boyd, whose history includes being GM of the healthcare practice of Perot Systems, board chair of Healthlink until it was sold to IBM in 2005, and board chair of Encore Health Resources until it was sold to Quintiles earlier this year. I interviewed him in 2012.


Reader Comments

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From CloudedCare: “Re: CareCloud. Recently laid off a number of their implementation team and the senior leader running that department. The venture debt must be creating pain or their onboarding process needs a revamp.” The company provided this response to my inquiry: “CareCloud is increasingly gaining traction among larger medical group clients, and optimizing our organization to best support their needs. This includes an expansion of professional services offerings and realignment of the team to deliver them.”

From Bloomington Onion: “Re: health system bond downgrades following EHR implementation. They always blame billing issues and reduced productivity due to revenue loss. I wonder how many of them expect it going in?” I would imagine most health systems expect a short-term jump in AR days, but not to the extent that would cause bond raters to question their financial outlook. Hospitals can’t seem to survive without constantly borrowing money and downgrades mean they pay higher interest rates.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Zynx Health, healthcare’s pioneer and leader in evidence-based clinical solutions. Solutions include ZynxAnalytics (pinpoints opportunities to reduce care variation), ZynxOrder (evidence-based order sets), ZynxCare (patient-focused plans of care), ZynxAmbulatory (evidence-based order sets for primary care), and ZynxEvidence (online library of clinical evidence guidelines, and quality measures). A brand new product is ZynxCarebook, a mobile platform that connects care team members and guides them to best practices with clinical evidence while making communications more efficient (the “virtual huddle” capability is a cool idea) and eliminating HIPAA concerns related to text messaging. ZynxCarebook stratifies discharge risks and suggests interventions as it supports care transition plan collaboration – clients have experienced a 22 percent reduction in 30-day readmissions, an 18 percent improvement in HCAHPS scores, a LOS decrease of 0.5 days, and a 40 percent increase in referrals of high-risk patients to post-discharge care management. Zynx is part of Hearst Health, which also includes First Databank, MCG, and Homecare Homebase. Learn more by signing up for a demo. Thanks to Zynx Health for supporting HIStalk.

I found this new Zynx Health video on YouTube, which features customer testimonials.

Listening: new from Sloan, an underrated Canada-based power pop band that’s been around for almost 25 years with no lineup changes and with all four members writing hook-heavy songs that sometimes sound like the Beatles (and still sound good even when they don’t).


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Hospital financial management software vendor Healthcare Insights will merge with NOMISe Systems, which offers hospital cost accounting and analytics software. Business will continue under the Healthcare Insights name.

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Forbes names its 400 richest Americans, with Microsoft’s Bill Gates leading the list at $81 billion of net worth. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg jumps to #11 as the company’s share price increase boosts his wealth to $34 billion, while the founder of the GoPro wearable video camera clocks in with $3.9 billion. New to the list is Elizabeth Holmes, the 30-year-old Stanford dropout who founded lab testing company Theranos and owns half of the company, which is valued at $9 billion. Patrick Soon-Shiong of NantHealth is #39 with $12 billion, while Epic’s Judy Faulkner is listed at #261 with an estimated worth of $2.4 billion. Cerner’s Neal Patterson comes in at #395 with $1.55 billion.

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Google Glass healthcare telepresence vendor Pristine raises $5.4 million in Series A financing.

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The state of Ohio offers CoverMyMeds $482,000 in incentives to execute its plans to add 116 jobs, move to a larger Columbus office, and create a $2 million training program for software engineers.


Sales

Christopher Rural Health Planning Corporation (IL) selects eClinicalWorks EHR for its 13 locations.

In England, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust chooses Allscripts Sunrise.


People

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Connie D’Argenio, RN, MSN (Philips Healthcare) joins Huron Consulting Group as managing director of its healthcare practice.

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PerfectServe names Travis Hiscutt (CRI) as sales director for the southeast.

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Bimal Shah, MD, MBA (Duke University Health System) joins Premier Research Services as VP.

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Katherine Schneider, MD (Medecision) is named president and CEO of the Delaware Valley ACO (PA).

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The Cal Index HIE announces two new board members: Mark Savage (National Partnership for Women & Families) and Beth Ginzinger, RN, MBA (Anthem Blue Cross – above).

Morris Collen, MD died last week at 100 years old. He was the last of the seven original partners who created Permanente Medical Group, founded its Division of Research more than 40 years ago, and later embraced a second career as an a medical informatics expert after developing a health assessment tool in the 1950s that was automated as a patient screening tool. He said on his 100th birthday that his proudest accomplishment was his involvement with Kaiser’s EHR. AMIA’s annual excellence award is named after him.


Announcements and Implementations

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Cerner announces that its HealthyNow app with newly added Apple HealthKit integration is available to Sharp Health Plan members. It allows users to set health goals, earn rewards, share information with providers, and manage medication schedules.

MModal announces availability of computer-assisted physician documentation for its Fluency Direct speech recognition system. The cloud-based solution gives physicians feedback about possible documentation deficiencies as they type or dictate. 

Beaumont Medical Group (MI) goes live on Wellcentive’s PQRS Enterprise Solution, aggregating information from its Epic EMR.

Nuance expands its consulting services to include coding and abstracting compliance monitoring.

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HCA International will distribute physical therapy and pathology images using Picsara from Sweden-based Mawell. A pilot project found savings of up to an hour per day per clinician when physical therapy sessions were recorded and reviewed using video instead of writing and reading notes.

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Two North Carolina-based HIEs, Carolinas HealthCare System CareConnect and Mission Health Connect, will share their 3.5 million patient records. They will fill a need in the western part of the state since North Carolina’s first HIE, WNC Data Link, will shut down on September 30 after running out of money.

AirWatch debuts AirWatch Video, an enterprise application integrating content delivery network operators to secure companywide video initiatives.


Technology

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Dartmouth College will use a telehealth robot from Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Center for Telehealth on the sidelines of home football games as part of a remote concussion assessment program.

HITRUST warns that the newly discovered Shellshock Unix shell vulnerability could be even more dangerous than Heartbleed since it gives hackers complete control of a server and thus the network on which it resides.

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Intel introduces the Basis Peak smartwatch that includes step counting, an optical heart rate sensor, sleep tracking, and smart phone notifications. It has a Gorilla Glass touch screen, works with both iOS and Android, is waterproof, claims a four-day battery charge life, and costs $199.

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Bizarre: Microsoft decides to name the new Windows release Windows 10, skipping a number. Every other Windows version is problematic, so maybe it’s hoping to dodge the bullet even though Win 8 was the disappointing follow-up to Win 7. The new version downplays the much-reviled Metro tile interface, brings back the start menu, and finally shows evidence that Microsoft understands that few users have or want touch screen laptops and desktops no matter how convenient it might be for Microsoft to design one OS for all platforms.


Other

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Alabama’s medical association registers its displeasure with ICD-10 with its “Top 10 Craziest ICD-10 Codes” social media campaign.

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The local TV station covers the rollout of the MedaVet app by Washington State University’s veterinary hospital, which allows pet owners to have around-the-clock access and review their care plans. The company’s site says the cloud-based service includes a customized site for the veterinary practice, creation of templates and health plans, incorporation of promotional and wellness information, a calendar of daily tasks with learning material and appointments, a shared health journal that shows task status with an optional photo, and a social support network. It costs $239 for up to three vets. What’s interesting is that the same company – MedaNext – offers care plans for humans, too.

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The local paper highlights the implementation by Floyd Memorial Hospital (IN) of CrossChx, a fingerprint-based biometric solution for spotting patient identity theft. Founder and CEO Sean Lane was an Air Force captain and NSA Fellow, serving five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq before founding Battlefield Telecommunications Systems. CrossChx, which is based in Columbus, OH, says its solution is live in 28 health systems (of 61 signed) and that it has verified 6 million identities. 

The New York Times interviews Epic CEO Judy Faulkner in covering the challenge of EHR interoperability. She says the government should “do some of the things that would be required for everybody to march together,” adding that Epic created Care Everywhere only when it became clear that the government wasn’t going to go far enough.

A Toronto study finds that assigning patients to a post-discharge “virtual ward” (at-home care coordination, visits, care plans, home care, and follow-up) failed to improve the rate of readmission or death compared to just sending the patients home as usual. The authors suggest these issues caused the surprising failure of all that clinical attention to make any difference: (a) it was hard to get in touch with the patient’s PCP and their in-home support workers; (b) the variety of EMRs used made it hard to figure out who was doing what; and (c) the intervention was started after discharge instead of before.
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Amazing Charts apologizes for long customer support wait times, blaming a Meaningful Use services rush. Users unhappy after the company’s 2012 acquisition by Pri-Med are venting their frustration on the company’s discussion boards, with one summarizing, “AC has created these logjams by being unable to prioritize what is important, continuing to partner with NewCrop, releasing buggy new versions, and offering unlimited support for a flat price which may create abuse.” Users are also upset that the company is charging them to watch Meaningful Use webinars.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka tells a local business group that, “The academic medical center is a dying beast,” urging those systems to reinvent themselves in the face of competition from retail clinics and community-based hospitals and practices.

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Walgreens CIO Tim Theriault, speaking at Oracle OpenWorld this week, says the company has distinct IT strategies for the retail and healthcare sides of its business. The retail initiatives are focused on a customer loyalty program, determining what items each store stocks, and using analytics and personalization to connect more closely with customers. For its healthcare business, the company plans to perform in-store lab tests and to exchange information with doctors and hospitals collected through its health cloud.

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Former Kaiser Permanente CEO George Halvorson says in a Health Affairs interview by healthcare expert Jeff Goldsmith that the organization spent $6 billion implementing Epic:

Halvorson: When I got to Kaiser Permanente, one of the things that I told the board was that we were going to do what I did when I helped build health plans in Uganda. We were going to have every single element of the care system connected electronically, so there would be no paper record.

Goldsmith: So you told them you wanted to catch up to Uganda?

Halvorson: I’m not kidding.  I actually learned in Uganda that to strip the whole process down to its most elegant essence was to have no paper anywhere. In Uganda, we couldn’t afford to pay a claim or for patients to show an ID card.

A New York Times article highlights hospitals that use out-of-network ED physicians who stick patients with huge bills even when the patient is careful to use an in-network hospital’s ED in a crisis. Texas lawmakers found that the state’s three largest insurance companies had no in-network ED doctors at all. The article points out that 1980s emergency medicine board certification pushed hospitals to contract out their ED coverage and bill the physician services separately. One patient observes, “It never occurred to me that the first line of defense, the person you have to see in an in-network emergency room, could be out of the network. In-network means we just get the building? I thought the doctor came with the ER.”

Weird News Andy says he plays golf like this, too. A previously profanity-hating grandmother recovering from a stroke finds herself swearing involuntarily when things upset her, including poor performance on the golf course. WNA also notes this story, in which coroners are determining whether high chlorine levels in the water supply of England’s second-largest hospital caused the deaths of two dialysis patients. Meanwhile, an anonymous WNA-wannabe contributes this story, in which surgeons saved a teen whose hair-eating psychological disorder caused her digestive system to be blocked by a world record nine-pound hairball.


Sponsor Updates

  • DataMotion announces that 37 EHR vendors have used its Direct secure messaging service to achieve 2014 ONC-ACB certification.
  • PatientSafe delivers three areas of consideration for bringing contextual communication to clinicians in a follow-up blog regarding clinicians struggling to find the context.
  • PMD announces that its mobile patient status verification is accelerating hospital reimbursements.
  • GetWellNetwork’s O’Neil Center publishes an e-book entitled“Patient Engagement: Beyond the Buzz” including ten interview and articles with provider perspectives and insider insights.
  • HealthEdge partners with NTT DATA to offer a migration program from TriZetto Facets technology due to Cognizant’s acquisition of TriZetto.
  • Judy Starkey (Chamberlin Edmonds & Associates) joins Streamline Health’s board of directors.

Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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September 30, 2014 News 5 Comments

Readers Write: EHR Divorce Rates on the Rise – Four Factors that Predict Electronic Health Record Adoption Success

September 29, 2014 Readers Write No Comments

EHR Divorce Rates on the Rise – Four Factors that Predict Electronic Health Record Adoption Success
By Heather Haugen, PhD

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Despite healthy growth in the implementation of EHRs, the lack of effective adoption plans is impeding their intended purpose of helping healthcare providers improve care.

In 2013, nearly six in 10 hospitals have adopted at least a basic EHR system. But not all EHR users are happy with their purchase. In fact, 30 percent of hospital executives admit they are dissatisfied with their system, and 30 percent of current EHR solutions are replacements of another product.

Research reveals that a myopic focus on the go-live event is the root cause of low EHR adoption rates and increases the chances of organizations’ divorcing their EHR vendor. In contrast, those healthcare leaders who focused on the processes and discipline required to achieve adoption and maintain it over the long run were more likely to achieve the clinical and financial outcomes they expected from the EHR.

EHRs have the potential to improve both patient care and work efficiencies in delivering care, but these outcomes are only possible when clinicians adopt the best practices and workflow needed to continually improve how the system serves the organization.

The research published in “Beyond Implementation: A Prescription for Long-Term EHR Adoption” revealed four key factors that predict EHR adoption:

Engaged Clinician Leadership

Engaged clinician leadership is the most important predictor of successful EHR adoption. IT leaders are often given primary responsibility for the organization’s EHR system. While their skills and experience are necessary for functionality of the EHR system, the input and expertise of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and other clinical staff is essential to driving staff’s proper use of the EHR and improved clinical and financial outcomes.

Moreover, leaders of EHR adoption efforts need to be highly engaged through and beyond go-live. While this may seem like a given, competing priorities make it difficult to maintain the degree of engagement required after the go-live event. When comparing organizations with successful implementations and those who have become dissatisfied with their system, our research shows that engaged leaders:

  • are well informed and aligned in how they communicate the value of the EHR;
  • empower clinicians to make decisions about how the EHR should be implemented and used;
  • understand the degree of change required and set priorities appropriately; and
  • stay engaged for the life of the application.

Effective Training to Ensure Proficient Users

The way in which clinicians and users are trained impacts their level of proficiency. In healthcare, we often use traditional methods – one-time “training events” that occur at a certain time and place. The trainers focus on teaching the hundreds of features and functions available in the system over multiple days with the goal of reaching “mastery” by the session’s end. But this is an ineffective, insufficient, and unrealistic method.

Bill Rieger, CIO of Flagler Hospital (FL) originally thought that implementing his health system’s new EHR would include traditional, classroom-style training. This approach required training sessions to begin a full six months prior to go-live due to limited classroom space and a large clinical staff. By making the switch to using scenario-driven simulations – a hands-on method – the hospital was able to begin the initial training program just six weeks prior to go-live, resulting in increased retention and a more successful launch.

Simulation-based training that focuses on helping users become proficient in new workflows and best practices results in dramatically better outcomes compared to traditional training and takes about half the time. This style emphasizes an accumulation of experience over time. It happens continuously in the specific work environment and leverages role-based content to provide a level of individualized fluency. Critical thinking skills and retention of content improve significantly when the goal is proficiency, in contrast to attending a more passive training event.

Measuring for Improvement

Defining metrics to track proficiency in EHR use and communicating them with clinicians is another critical step for adoption. Without it, improper use of the system is more likely to continue. Through a process of peer-to-peer auditing and regular progress reports, clinicians can track their performance and improve in necessary areas – ultimately enhancing patient care in the process.

In addition to providing feedback for clinicians, measurement can help optimize the EHR platform. For example, if simulation reports reveal that a large percentage of users click in the wrong area when completing a certain task, it would indicate a point of non-intuitive design. Armed with such data, the EHR vendor may be able to modify the system for improved use.

Adequate Resources and Prioritization Beyond Go-Live

A focus on the people, processes, and evaluations to improve adoption over the lifecycle of the application is required for long-term success, yet very little attention is typically paid to sustainment efforts.

Even when a new EHR is well accepted by clinicians and they become proficient in the application, adoption is a process that can never be finished for two reasons:

  • There will always be new clinicians and residents entering the healthcare organization. An organization with a successful EHR program will ensure that these individuals receive every bit of guidance and have the ability to be just as successful in their use of the EHR as those clinicians who had been present at the go-live event.
  • EHR systems will always be subject to upgrades and changes. While the changes are meant to enhance the system, they will do more harm than good if end users do not receive the appropriate level of guidance when being introduced to new workflows and processes. 

Too often, people that are recruited to work on EHR adoption efforts eventually revert back to their previous roles and work on their former projects, leaving the organization without proper resources to account for this inevitable cycle brought on by time and turnover. Flagler Hospital overcame this tyranny of time by keeping implementation committees in place and by focusing on long-term, ongoing education even through multiple EHR upgrades.

Moving from an EHR implementation focus to an EHR adoption focus requires a significant overhaul in how we think, how we lead, and how we behave. Now is the time for healthcare leaders to evaluate their organization’s performance in these four key areas that predict EHR adoption.

Heather Haugen, PhD is managing director and CEO at The Breakaway Group, A Xerox Company of Greenwood, CO, which recently delivered an HIStalk webinar on this topic that can be viewed as YouTube replay.

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September 29, 2014 Readers Write No Comments

DoD EHR Update from Dim-Sum 9/26/14

September 25, 2014 News 2 Comments

 

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Between 2000 and 2003, Harvard Business School published a case study on Toyota industrial engineering processes in a hospital. Toyota collaborated with Beth Israel and LEAN Healthcare was born – now that was a great and interesting collaborative. Well defined and the results were quantifiable!

Collaboratives can add value; even ones that may not sound great at first could prove to define and refine standards, improve care, and actually enable better quality controls for care. If you like collaborative approaches, take a look at what has been done between Deloitte and Northern New England Accountable Care Collaborative (NNEACC). The solution is called Insight. After mentioning that new collaborative, I cannot help but remember a strange and poorly constructed one. How can anyone forget the ill-fated relationship between Philips and Epic that ended in 2006?

I can think of one specific collaborative that has promised the world and delivered almost nothing (see NwHIN). However, after a cursory read of the DHMSM Team Leidos article about a collaborative effort linking Cerner’s mega client Intermountain Health on governance structure, I began to think of what other collaboratives I would want to accentuate and/or at least commoditize so that I might differentiate my team to compete for the DHMSM opportunity. IBM will certainly throw in an Epic-esque client that has provided the groundwork for improvements across the Epic stable of solutions. I even think CSC and Allscripts might find their favorite client pet co-development.  I think I like Collaboratives.

One has to wonder, what was the primary edict for the collaborative, and what measurable outcomes have been reported – indicating value? To what extent have the monies invested into the collaborative been shown to improve profitability or improve PQRS results? I am not against collaboratives so much as I have a real desire to understand how some of them were stood up and made financially viable, why some dissolved, and most evolved with grand entrances into the market only to die a death of irrelevance. I think I like Collaboratives.

I for one like the New York eHealth Collaborative and the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, and not just because they have the word collaborative in their name. I think they are practical entities that leveraged historical regional extension centers, where money was initially provided by public funds and, through attrition and maturation of models and adoption challenges, the collaboration actually had to collaborate. They had to collaborate to survive. These collaboratives had to figure out smart ways to make their collaborative viable. Their challenge, unlike Intermountain Health (for Cerner) or Kaiser (for Epic), is that they had to work with disparate and competing entities, clinicians that were not incented by what their crosstown rivals did. The collaborative’s cross regions that did not in and of themselves support huge populations, and yet they wanted to know how their colleagues worked in other parts of the state, in rural, suburban, and urban environments.

Sounds remotely like the military HIT that we have grown to appreciate and fear. I like those collaboratives because they have to work together even though they are in a “coopetition” mode. (They were built to compete, to differentiate their medical specialty, and yet they know that cooperation has to occur for a peaceful co-existence and patient-first mentality. Thus the term “coopetition.”)

Honestly, I wish Team Leidos, Accenture, and Cerner would chat up their HealtheIntent population health tool, and what can be done to improve care coordination, quantify targeted chronic-disease management, improve appropriate care measurements, lower readmissions, and provide dynamic quality measures that actually act as a catalyst for patient engagement. Maybe Team Leidos could express its thoughts on how to turn prescriptive, descriptive, and predictive analytics into actionable analytics – impacting care and quality of life? Why not share its philosophical thoughts on data liquidity and how that could be the conduit for improved EHR and research data mining? Take the time to share their approach to research – we know IBM will reference Judith’s Cogito – so compete.

Maybe I am being harsh. I guess I am all too aware of how collaboration in the federal government has not always worked out very well. The best example of a collaboration was between the VA and DoD to share – or rather to transition – the EHR for a service member en route between active duty into veteran’s care. The best analogy: “Imagine spending the day as a cub scout during a camp out, eating gummy bears, enjoying hot dogs roasted over an open flame and masticating pounds of beef jerky on the three-hour canoe trip!” That was the planning for the debacle between DoD health and VA health – now imagine being stuck in the tent all night with those boys – that is pretty much the result of DoD/VA EHR interoperability – a smelly tent!  Not sure if there is a lesson in that story, but after reading it aloud, I smiled.

The good news is that at least DHMSM competing teams are looking to grab practical experience and applying it to the DoD HIT environment. Any collaboration with organizations that embrace HIT standards is a great thing. Any collaboration that shows that the HIT development vendor actually possesses a veracious understanding of governance structure – bully for them. Any collaboration that can accentuate the divine path to full-on proactive adoption, well then … that is Heaven. I like the move, and expect to see a lot more collaborating.

Inasmuch as I like the collaboration with Intermountain Health, I really would like to hear more about lessons learned from Accenture’s effort in Singapore. Cerner should express lessons learned from its NHS efforts. After all, Cerner had to work with Fujitsu (sort of the equivalent of our service integrators in and about the Beltway). Fujitsu is a less-than-stellar example of HIT consulting talent that was appointed by the NHS to implement, integrate, and manage the regional program. Maybe a white paper on nexus process and data touch points that could improve continuity of care with an eye on improving outcomes and lowering readmissions would be helpful and germane.

DHMSM is about transition and data liquidity. The DoD will not get excited with the commercial version of efforts to move from fee-for-service to value-based care. However, the DoD will perk up and pay attention to care coordination – so focus on the client and similar client experience and their deficits, lessons learned, and what new approaches improved adoption and workflow. One should remember that the DoD has stated on several occasions – mostly during Hill meetings – that the DoD does want to be more innovative like Kaiser (code for Epic). Cerner probably sees Intermountain Health as its Kaiser, so why not leverage that as a collaborative? I just hope Cerner can provide the depth of white papers and analysis of pre- versus post-Cerner in Utah and a lesser extent Idaho. That would be good news for the DoD.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

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September 25, 2014 News 2 Comments

News 9/26/14

September 25, 2014 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Intermountain Healthcare (UT) joins Cerner and Leidos in their bid for the DoD’s new EHR system. Intermountain will provide clinical governance of solutions and workflow to be proposed for the $11 billion Defense Healthcare Management Modernization Initiative (DHMSM). Intermountain is in the process of implementing Cerner’s EHR and revenue cycle solutions across its 22 hospitals and 185 clinics. The move is no doubt yet another feather in the cap of Cerner President Zane Burke, interviewed this week in the local paper: “It’s a really interesting time. We have a lot of work left in front of us, but I love the position we’re in and the clients that we have on the journey with us. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

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Dim-Sum, HIStalk’s intrepid DHMSM insider, shares always entertaining and thought-provoking insight into the Intermountain “collaborative.” A snippet:

“After a cursory read of the DHMSM Team Leidos article about a collaborative effort linking Cerner’s mega client Intermountain Health on governance structure, I thought of what other collaboratives I would want to accentuate and/or at least commoditize so that I might differentiate my team to compete for the DHMSM opportunity. IBM will certainly throw in an Epic-esque client that has provided the groundwork for improvements across the Epic stable of solutions. I even think CSC and Allscripts might find their favorite client pet co-development. I think I like collaboratives.”


Reader Comments

From Chris Jaeger, MD: “Re: Sutter Health’s HIE discussions with Orion Health. As Sutter Health’s CMIO and executive sponsor of its HIE efforts, I can state without a doubt that the following post is false:
From Deal Breaker: “Re: Sutter Health. Stops discussion with Orion Health after its HIE project goes on for nine months. …”
Our collaborative relationship with Orion and related HIE efforts have never stopped – to the contrary, we continue to make great progress while also actively planning the next phases of establishing robust data exchange with those that share in the care of our patients.”


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

This week on HIStalk Practice: Athenahealth looks for the next great startup. TekLinks partners with Greenway. Doximity goes live in Utah. Physician practices in Texas take home quality improvement award for use of HIT. Physicians feel slighted by CMS thanks to attestation "glitch." Healthcare.gov costs more than originally thought. Physician executives have options when it comes to standing desks. Thanks for reading.

This week on HIStalk Connect: Dr. Travis analyzes the non-traditional roles that cloud-based computing has found in healthcare thus far, and speculates on its future. Researchers in Paris are working with 3-D video cameras to create virtual reality-based surgical training aids. Virtual visit provider Teladoc raises a $50 million Series C.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Allscripts and Citra Health Solutions (formerly Orange/MZI) announce a partnership to make their services available to each other’s customers. Citra, which provides consulting services and technologies for providers and payers, unveiled its new name and branding at the Allscripts user group meeting last month.

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ZirMed acquires predictive analytics vendor MethodCare and announces plans for a Chicago-based Healthcare Analytics Center of Excellence led by MethodCare staff. Moving forward, MethodCare will operate under the ZirMed name.

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Conifer Health Solutions agrees to acquire physician practice business solutions vendor SPi Healthcare for $235 million. SPi CEO John O’Donnell will join Conifer’s senior management team, reporting to President and CEO Stephen Mooney. The transaction is expected to close in Q4 2014.


Sales

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North Philadelphia Health System (PA) selects Medhost’s inpatient EHR for implementation at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Girard Medical Center.

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Beaufort Memorial Hospital (SC) selects the Access Passport online forms solution to take its paper-based accounts payable, human resources, and administrative documentation processes digital.


Announcements and Implementations

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Community Hospital (NE) goes live on a patient portal from Relay Health.

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Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta joins the Georgia Health Information Network. CHOA has integrated GaHIN’s Georgia ConnectedCare product into its Care Everywhere HIE application, which it launched earlier this year to facilitate data sharing with other providers using Epic.

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Kennedy Health System (NJ) adopts the MedAptus Professional Charge Capture Solution for hospitalists at its three acute-care facilities.

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Sightseeing.com announces the availability of the MyMedicalRecords PHR to its customers. The PHR will offer travelers access to their medical records and such documents as passports, birth certificates, immunization records, and insurance policies.

Practice Fusion announces that its customers will soon be able to order, manage, and receive lab test results within its EHR through Quest Diagnostics. Physicians will also have the option to share test results with patients through the Patient Fusion portal.


Research and Innovation

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A survey of 62 ACOs reveals that poor interoperability between organizations remains a big barrier to improving clinical quality. Additional findings include:

  • 100 percent of respondents find access to data from external organizations challenging.
  • 95 percent find interoperability of disparate systems to be a significant challenge.
  • 90 percent feel the cost and ROI of HIT has become a key barrier to further HIT implementation.
  • 88 percent face significant obstacles in integrating data from disparate sources.
  • 83 percent report challenges integrating technology analytics into workflow.

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WEDI releases the results of its ICD-10 Industry Readiness Survey, which finds that vendors, payers, and providers have made some progress in preparing for the October 1, 2015, transition, but not nearly as much as likely needed for a glitch-free switch.


People

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Jim Dowling (QuadraMed) joins Qpid Health as vice president of sales.

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Michael McDermott, MD (Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg) takes on the role of CEO at Mary Washington Healthcare (VA) beginning January 1, 2015.

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Bob Taylor, DO (Greenway) joins Clinical Architecture as CMIO.

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Ryan Witt (Juniper Networks) joins ClearDATA Networks as vice president of growth and innovation.

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Steven Steinhubl, MD (Scripps Translational Science Institute) joins Vantage Health as chairman of the board.


Technology

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This article covers the debut of Spruce, an app that lets users privately share photos and medical information with dermatologists, and then receive in-app treatment. Baseline, Cowboy Ventures, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers contributed $2 million to the launch in initial seed round financing.


Other

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Samsung, the Children’s Fund, and Columbia University announce at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting a two-year partnership to develop the Samsung Innovation Center at the Children’s Health Fund. The center will focus on advancing access to and quality of healthcare for medically underserved children through telehealth and other strategies.


Sponsor Updates

  • Intellect Resources describes Ochsner Health System’s (LA) challenges and results of its Epic implementation.
  • Connance will share how the University of Rochester Medical Center increased its charity care dollars while reducing bad debt during the HFMA Region 2 Fall Annual Institute October 22-24 in New York.
  • ReadyDock discusses the vulnerability of mobile devices to virtual and pathogenic attacks in a recent blog post.
  • Aprima and First Databank offer electronic prior authorization through Surescripts connection.
  • Etransmedia shares how a pediatric cardiology practice was able to reallocate resources after working with Etransmedia’s RCM team to automate its front office.
  • Billian’s HealthDATA shares 10 recent healthcare CIO placements.
  • CareSync rolls out V2.5, which combines wearables data with medical records using integrations through Validic partnership.
  • Craneware will host its first Revenue Integrity Summit October 14-16 in Las Vegas.
  • Greenway becomes the first ambulatory information provider to have a solution recognized as a Validated System by Healtheway’s eHealth Exchange Product Testing Program.

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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

Our hospital recently hosted a healthcare career day for middle school students. We’re in an economically depressed part of town with some serious socioeconomic issues, yet fully realize we’re going to need dedicated and well-educated healthcare workers to deal with the challenges we’ll continue to face. The goal of the day was to expose them to various opportunities either directly in or supporting healthcare. They were able to visit various areas of the hospital, including sterile processing, the laundry, patient care floors, engineering, and an operating room.

Some students were grossed-out by the idea of direct patient care, but were interested in engineering or IT, which is a good thing. It takes an army of people to keep an institution of our size going and often those jobs are independent of patient census or case mix, which is a good thing for job security. The highlight of the day for many was being able to see one of the air ambulances land and speak with the flight crew.

As a member of hospital administration, my role was to shepherd a group of students through various stations set up throughout the hospital, where they could talk directly to staff and learn about their jobs and how they contribute to the healthcare team. As is predictable with students in that age group, frequent questions included: “What’s the grossest thing you’ve ever seen? What’s the worst injury you’ve ever seen?” My favorite question was, “Is the stuff that happens on Grey’s Anatomy really true?” which made me wonder why a parent was letting a 10-year-old watch a show about sex-crazed doctors.

At one point, the air ambulance pilot received a question about emergency situations. He told the student his question was in the top 10 list of things he didn’t want to experience, to which the student responded “What’s number one?” I had to give him full credit for that one. I kind of tuned out after that because I was thinking about what I’d put on my own top 10 list of things of things I never want to happen.

I’ve experienced some things in my IT and practice careers that would definitely make that list:

  • Someone accidentally activated the fire suppression system at our corporate data center. Because we were using Halon, the building had to be vented by the local fire department with their positive-pressure ventilation equipment. This took about eight hours for a building the size of our data center. Unfortunately, our “hot backup” failed due to a defective network switch, requiring all practices to go to paper.
  • A local road crew cut the T1 line to my office. Luckily, we equipped key staff with wireless cards and network hot spots, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.
  • With my first EHR, the clinical documentation workflow went through a “locking” process as the provider finalized the note. This was after the provider reviewed the documentation on screen. Unfortunately, during the locking process some kind of character limit went into effect, causing the documents to truncate. When patients returned for their follow-up visits, their plans (at the bottom of the documents) were missing critical elements. Nothing makes your blood run cold like reading “Counseled patient on…” and having that be all that remains of your highly detailed patient plan.
  • Vendor sunsets a product that actually supports your workflow and that your staff likes, transitioning you to a product that is not yet ready for prime time. This has now happened to me twice.

None of these are quite as scary as having rotor failure on your helicopter or having the landing pad collapse underneath you, but in our world they’re pretty unnerving. What’s on your top 10 list of things you never want to happen? Email me.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

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September 25, 2014 News 1 Comment

Morning Headlines 9/25/14

September 24, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

New report projects a $5.7 billion drop in hospitals’ uncompensated care costs because of the Affordable Care Act

HHS claims in a report that hospitals will see a $5.7 billion drop in uncompensated care in 2014 due to the ACA, “based on an estimated 10.3 million decrease in the total number of uninsured and an estimated 8 million increase in the number covered by Medicaid.”

DMH may be on the hook to repay $900K: Government audit uncovers failures of compliance for year 2011-12

Drew Memorial Hospital of Monticello, AK will likely have to pay $900,000 of its Stage 1 MU incentive money back to the government after failing to pass an MU attestation audit.

Hospitals Cut Costs by Getting Doctors to Stick to Guidelines

Researchers from Christiana Care Health System (DE) found that they were able to cut costs associated with non-recommended use of cardiac monitors by 70 percent after embedding American Heart Association protocol reminders in their EHR.

A Health Care Success Story

Farzad Mostashari, MD and his investment partner Bob Kocher, MD co-author an op-ed in the New York Times highlighting the cost savings and improved outcomes seen in the small community of McAllen, TX, once famously pinpointed as the most expensive place in the US to receive healthcare, since its physician practices formed an ACO.

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September 24, 2014 Headlines 1 Comment

News 9/24/14

September 23, 2014 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Hospital operator HCA announces that it will acquire privately held physician systems vendor PatientKeeper. Terms were not disclosed. I spoke to PatientKeeper President and CEO Paul Brient ahead of the announcement. “HCA is a longstanding customer of our view-only portal, our clinical review tool,” he said. “Now HCA will deploy all of our software – CPOE, clinical documentation, and medication reconciliation – over top of their Meditech systems. They will invest to make it even more useful to their doctors.” Brient will serve as CEO of PatientKeeper, which will be operated as a wholly-owned subsidiary of HCA. Its 160 employees will continue to work from company headquarters in Waltham, MA, supporting the company’s 58,000 physician users. The acquisition is expected to close by the end of the year.


Reader Comments

From Garbanzo Being: “Re: HCA. Will remain on Meditech and not transitioning to Epic or Cerner as has been rumored. PatientKeeper helps extend the life of Meditech for HCA.” HCA didn’t say that specifically, but PatientKeeper President and CEO Paul Brient hinted to me that HCA likes PatientKeeper over Meditech better than Epic, suggesting that its Epic experiments have concluded and the go-forward platform will be Meditech. He didn’t mention whether HCA will do a Meditech 6.0 upgrade, the challenge of which sent them sniffing around Epic in the first place.

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From King Biscuit: “Re: Office Practicum. Announced to clients that they acquired EHR/PM vendor Workflow.com. Odd since OP is a small company and it’s a competing product. The email suggests a move away from a pediatrics-specialty product and possibly a wholesale platform change.” I don’t know anything about Workflow.com except that it founded by Packy Hyland, who also founded Hyland Software (now Onbase by Hyland).

From Shannon: “Re: 3M’s CAC 360 Encompass R2 (Release2). Has numerous major problems. Coders not happy using it. 3M is currently merging their 2 NLP platforms — will this be too late for ICD-10 implementation date? Will the other CAC vendors be able to capitalize on this weakness?” Unverified.

From Deal Breaker: “Re: Sutter Health. Stops discussion with Orion Health after it HIE project goes on for nine months. Is this the reason there are not any US reference sites for Orion all accounts travel to Canada and New Zealand?” Unverified. I think a site visit to New Zealand would be pretty great since I’ve heard it’s spectacular there and they (unlike much of the world) love Americans.

From All Hat No Cattle: “Re: Cernover. Don’t forget that Integris in Oklahoma (12 hospitals) is moving to Epic, too. Care New England in RI now Epic outpatient. How long until CHI moves across to Epic for their remaining sites on Cerner like KentuckyOne?” I tried to muster an argument that at least some sites have moved from Epic to Cerner, but I was just speculating since I couldn’t name any. The Cernover list is a bit one sided, so chime in if you know if an Epic-to-Cerner move that wasn’t triggered by a health system acquisition and standardization.

From Bob White: “Health 2.0. Lots of innovative companies there, although they all start to sound alike after a while.” The conference gets lots of people excited even though 95 percent of the startups there will sink without a trace because they aren’t that sharp, are underfunded, are poorly managed, or let their technology arrogance override their healthcare ignorance. I wish them all well, but I don’t have the patience to watch Darwinism in action as they desperately try to find pilot sites, customers, or acquirers before they run out of runway. My interest picks up once they hit $5 million in annual revenue because once they get that big they probably won’t disappear entirely.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests 

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor ZeOmega. The Plano, TX-based company, founded in 2001, offers the Jiva population health management platform to payers, providers, and value-based care organizations. A recent client success is Indiana health plan MDwise, which reduced readmissions by 66 percent and length-of-stay by 65 percent, saving $6.5 million per year with Jiva. Jiva is scalable and stable with redundancy and recovery built in and the new release adds more capabilities to support accountable care and value-based health delivery models in integrating workflow, analytics, content, and communication capabilities. The folks there would be happy to do a demo for you. Thanks to ZeOmega for supporting HIStalk.


Webinars

September 25 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. Using BI Maturity Models to Tap the Power of Analytics. Presented by Siemens Healthcare. Presenters: James Gaston, senior director of maturity models, HIMSS Analytics; Christopher Bocchino, principal consultant, Siemens Healthcare. Business intelligence capabilities are becoming critical for healthcare organizations as ACOs and population health management initiatives evolve in the new healthcare marketplace. The presenters will explain how BI maturity models can help optimize clinical, financial, and operational decisions and how organizations can measure and mature their analytics capabilities.

September 26 (Friday) 1:00 ET. Data Governance – Why You Can’t Put It Off. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Steve Morgan, MD, SVP for IT and data analytics and CMIO, Carilion Clinic; Randy Thomas, associate partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. In this second webinar in a series, “It’s All About the Data,” the presenters will review the pressing need for data governance and smart strategies for implementing it using strained resources.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Royal Philips NV announces plans to split into two companies – one devoted to lighting, the other to healthcare and consumer goods that will operate under the HealthTech name. The announcement follows in the footsteps of similar moves made by rival Siemens last year.


Sales

Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas and Health Partnership Clinic (KS) select eClinicalWorks EHR and RCM for their 12 combined clinics.

Catholic Health Services of Long Island (NY) chooses Connance predictive analytics and vendor management technology.

Sheltering Arms Rehabilitation Center (VA) deploys Strata Decision’s StrataJazz as its financial platform.


Announcements and Implementations

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North Country Hospital becomes the first in Vermont to go live on the state HIE. Larger hospitals like Fletcher Allen Health Care will be online by the end of the year.

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Waterbury Hospital (CT) integrates TigerText secure messaging into its Cerner EHR. The hospital has also been in the news due to rumors of a possible takeover by Tenet Healthcare Corp.

Surescripts announces the addition of four pharmacies and three EHR vendors to its Immunization Registry Reporting service.

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The Bronx RHIO selects Direct secure messaging services from DataMotion for its affiliated healthcare organizations. The Visiting Nurse Service of New York and SBH Health System (NY) are among the first to use the service.

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Zynx Health launches the ZynxCarebook mobile platform to help streamline coordinated care efforts between inpatient and after-care providers.


Government and Politics

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White hat hackers from the HHS inspector general’s office report that their attempts to break into Healthcare.gov earlier this year alerted them to a “critical vulnerability.” Their attempts to exploit it were thwarted due to defenses already in place.

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Representatives Diane Black (R-TN) and Peter Welch (D-VT) introduce the ACO Improvement Act. If passed, the act would permit ACOs to use remote-patient monitoring and store-and-forward technologies for delivery of images to providers far away.

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Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services files a lawsuit against Xerox for "failing to timely and adequately implement the [Medicaid payments] system and failing to timely and accurately pay Alaska providers." The state is seeking $46.7 million in damages, and has already shelled out $154 million in advance payments to providers to help see them through the Xerox delay.


Research and Innovation

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Ali Parsa, MD creator of the UK-based Babylon subscription health service, announces that he is prepared to take the Babylon app to the Middle East and Africa to reach populations with little reliable access to healthcare, but high adoption of smartphones. "We are now looking at parties who have a large customer base, such as supermarkets, big public institutions, mobile phone companies, and newspapers,” he says. "If people can go into Tesco and by an iTunes card, why can’t they buy a Babylon access card?"


People

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Mark Hyman, MD (The UltraWellness Center) joins the Cleveland Clinic as director of its new Center for Functional Medicine. Patrick Hanaway, MD (Institute for Functional Medicine) will serve as the center’s medical director.

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Jeff Pate (W Squared) joins Aegis Health Group as executive vice president of business development.

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White House CIO Steve VanRoekel resigns to join the USAID, where he will work as a senior adviser in the fight to halt the Ebola outbreak.

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Doximity hires Emily Peters (Uncommon Bold) as VP of marketing communications and Peter Alperin, MD (Kelvin) as VP/GM of connectivity solutions.  

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Bruce Brandes (Valence Health) is named managing director of Martin Ventures. 

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ONC Chief Science Officer Doug Fridsma, MD, PhD resigns to become president and CEO of AMIA.


Announcements and Implementations

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Billings Clinic (MT) is implementing just-released Caradigm Quality Improvement to identify gaps in care and make improvements in clinical workflow at point of care.


Other

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Construction company DIRTT makes news for using open-source software from the classic video game Doom to design hospital wings and office spaces. CEO Scott Jenkins says the system will help hospitals that want to reconfigure a room’s wall panel quickly for patients with different needs, or to accommodate new technology.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook announces that the company’s new “spaceship” headquarters in Cupertino, CA, will be the “greenest building on the planet.” Scheduled to open by the end of 2016, the new HQ will be powered exclusively by wind and solar energy.

CompuGroup Medical locks Full Circle Health Care (ME) out of its EHR system in a billing dispute. The financially struggling practice admits that it stopped paying its maintenance fees 10 months ago after CompuGroup bought its original vendor HealthPort and increased monthly fees from $300 to $2,000. The practice has moved to a new EHR and wants access to its old system for 48 hours to copy patient records that will otherwise be unavailable, putting patients in danger, but says CompuGroup installed a “phone home” kill switch without its knowledge that won’t let the practice log on even in read-only mode. CompuGroup makes the analogy that people who don’t pay their electric bill have their power shut off eventually. Meanwhile, the patients get to enjoy being used as human shields as the vendor and customer bicker. Someone should have read their contract more closely before signing it, I suspect.

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Weird News Andy summarizes this story as “Three’s a Crowd.” A Florida woman pays $20,000 to have a third breast added, saying she wants to make herself unattractive to men so she wouldn’t have to date any more (as WNA says, hasn’t she heard of just turning men down?) The real reason is likely her stated dream of starring in an MTV reality show, with possible titles being rich in punning opportunities. WNA notes that the story has been declared a hoax (not surprising given the obviously ‘shopped picture), but that shouldn’t stand in the way of its entertainment value.


Sponsor Updates

  • Arcadia Healthcare Solutions will demonstrate a new version of its Arcadia Analytics solution at Health 2.0 this week. It uses Informatica technology to integrate information from 20 EHR and claims systems to report on reporting for performance management, cost and utilization analysis, and patient outreach and care planning.
  • Amerinet signs a new agreement to offer VitalWare revenue cycle technology to its members at negotiated pricing.
  • Alan Rosenstein, MD, an expert in disruptive physician behavior, posts a PerfectServe article titled “Emotional Intelligence – Understanding Patient, Staff, and Physician Needs.”
  • DocuSign publishes a blog post titled “BAAs and Beyond: Meeting the September 22 HIPAA Deadline.
  • Shareable Ink will work with students from Bentley University on user interface design.
  • Park Place International achieves SSAE 16 Type II standards compliance for OpSus Cloud Services.
  • EClinicalWorks CEO Girish Navani joins a panel discussion at Health 2.0’s annual conference to discuss how technology is improving the patient experience.
  • US News and World Report indicates that 96 percent of Honor Roll hospitals in its “Best Hospitals and Best Children’s Hospital’s 2014-2015” use Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information.
  • Gritman Medical Center (ID) is live on AtHoc’s emergency communication solution.
  • Validic announces a 20 percent increase in its digital health ecosystem with new integrations including hospitals, health systems, payers, pharma, and wellness companies.

Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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September 23, 2014 News 1 Comment

HIStalk Interviews Michael Oppenheim, MD, CMIO, North Shore-LIJ Health System

September 22, 2014 Interviews 3 Comments

Michael Oppenheim, MD is CMIO at North Shore-LIJ Health System of New York, NY.

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What is North Shore-LIJ doing with interoperability and HIE?

I’ll start at the end and then I’ll back up and explain the thinking that led us in this direction. 

We are making a huge investment — time, personnel, and focus — into developing an internal HIE, health information exchange. The reason we’ve done that — and I think a lot of other large integrated delivery networks have come around to this way of thinking — we were very eager participants when New York state initially put out the request for proposals to develop a number of RHIOs within the state. They’ve since consolidated — the HIEs, the RHIOs from across the state — into a single structure, SHINY, the State Health Information Network of New York. 

In the beginning, when you talked about doing internal HIE within an organization, everyone assumed that you were somehow trying to be exclusionist or not participate in the HIE. That’s far from the case. I think the state has come around on that, and many other IDNs have come to the realization that the kind of interoperability that we want to do goes much beyond what the mission and goals of the RHIOs are. 

The RHIOs are very, very much focused on getting as broad a look at patient information as they possibly can. That’s great because they help broker the politics and provide a common playing field for organizations that may be competitors in the marketplace, but are willing to jointly share data through the third party of the RHIO. You create a huge, consolidated record that people can go to and get a comprehensive look at the patient beyond just what they know from their four walls.

But there are a couple of things that HIE has come to mean to some of us that is beyond the scope of what the RHIOs or HIEs are focusing on today. One is around actionability of the data. The second is around not just aggregating and displaying data, but actually literally moving data from point to point without human intervention. 

The user experience with the standard type of HIE implementation is that the clinician first goes to the HIE or the RHIO to look up what history is there about this patient who I’ve never seen before. Then you go and you actually do your clinical documentation and order entry and everything else, in whatever transactional system, whatever EMR you happen to be using for your environment where you’re caring, whether it’s an office- or a hospital-based practice. 

There are two limitations to that in my mind. One is the intrinsic dissatisfaction with having to go to two places to look at data. The second being that the data out in the HIE is not necessarily actionable. I’m ordering a medication in my EMR and there’s a lab test that hasn’t been drawn in my office or hospital, but it’s known in the RHIO. Based on that lab test, I need a dosage adjustment or there’s a contraindication to the medication. My decision support engine doesn’t see that external data. 

Our focus has been on looking at how an HIE can bring data right to the clinician so that he or she can have one place where they do all their work, as well as have more of that data available for a decision support engine or for any rules or analytics or other things that you want to do on your data set, and have it all consolidated. 

We look at the HIE opportunity because internally, we can do a lot more. There’s a lot tighter integration and have a lot more actionability of the data by having an internal HIE that we control, that’s covered by our consents, and any number of other things that are facilitated by having an internal HIE.

We’re an Allscripts shop. We’re using Allscripts TouchWorks in the practice environment and  Sunrise in the hospital environment. We made this decision before the dbMotion acquisition and before some of the newer interoperability tools that they produced. Let’s put that off to the side for a moment.

The workflow that we wanted to enable was what we built so that when a patient comes to the emergency room, we pull a summary from the ambulatory environment. We place it into the Sunrise record, so it’s available and visible to the docs in the hospital. They don’t have to go out and look somewhere else. They don’t have to look at the HIE’s viewer, don’t have to look in the ambulatory record. It’s right there in the hospital environment.

At the same time, we use the data in some actionable ways. We’ve certainly done more sophisticated things than this, but even on the most basic level, we can fire off a notification. We can put a task notification in the task list of the primary care doc to say, do you know your patient is in the emergency room? If and when that patient gets admitted, we fire off a second notification saying, by the way, not only were they in the emergency room, they have been admitted to the hospital.

We begin to start to getting into what’s really business process management around the transition of care and moving the data for the user. Not requiring them to push it via Direct or something else — by sending off alerts and notifications to the primary doc so they can communicate with the hospitalist. That’s just one of the more basic examples.

To us, the HIE is much more of a process orchestration engine, not just simply a repository of data that someone can look at. It’s actionable. It’s delivered to the clinician when they need it, where they need it. That’s been the driving philosophy behind having an internal HIE rather than simply rely on RHIOs or outside entities.

The example I gave involves an ambulatory practice and a hospital. Certainly in some environments where you have a consolidated platform, maybe that’s not the most important use case. But even in hospitals that are using systems that share a record with their ambulatory facility, there’s always going to be other facilities in a large, integrated delivery network that’s not going to be on the common platform. We have nursing homes. We have a home care company. We have numerous other types of business entities that are relying on this flow of data so that their providers can work most efficiently in what we call the home system.

Whatever you’re used to work in, that’s where we want the payload delivered. That’s where we want alerts and notifications and things to arrive. That will be orchestrated through our HIE.

 

Will HIEs be challenged to provide business value to offset the cost?

If you look at where our future revenue opportunities are going to be, we’re moving away from our fee-for-service world and very much moving to the risk-based contract in a capitated world. We have numerous risk contracts with commercial partners. We’ve just launched our own insurance company, North Shore-LIJ CareConnect.

To us, orchestrating business process, eliminating redundancy by making sure that everybody’s got full access to the full corpus of clinical data, having a decision support engine that sits and looks at data and reacts to data across the entire health system … I couldn’t hand you a document today that says, “Here’s the amount of dollars I expect to improve my pay-for-performance and here’s how much I expect to cut my readmissions and here’s how much I expect to XYZ.”

But conceptually, we are all bought in that our entire financial success of the health system depends on the successful conversion to be able to do capitated and risk-based contracting. We don’t think we can do that without an HIE to coordinate the transition to healthcare managers and care navigators who identify patient activity, figure out who’s been where, get notifications when things happen that shouldn’t have happened, or get notifications when things that should have happened didn’t.

The HIE, for example, has in it the full ambulatory providers schedule. We can find if a patient has an appointment that’s been missed. We can fire off a notification out of the HIE. The HIE is so much more than information exchange.

The HIE platform also has registry function that allows us to load programs into it. If we have a heart failure program, we can either manually or automatically load in that these are all patients with heart failure that are part of this program. Or patients coming in with a certain payer. We can go into that payer registry and then we can make sure we do the right notifications to the right coordinators of those programs as either activity that should happens but doesn’t happen, or activity that shouldn’t happen but does happen, like unexpected specialist visits or ED visits or things like that. 

As an article of faith, we fully believe that in order to truly be able to coordinate care as an integrated delivery network and provide population health and be able to be financially and clinically successful in capitated arrangements or among our own insured population, the HIE has to be a critical enabler of that. I don’t have a specific financial ROI sheet that I can wave and say, “This dollar is going to be offset by that dollar,” but absolutely the direction of how the health system expects to care for patients in a longitudinal way and a holistic way requires this kind of technology.

 

Do you think the demands of population health management have turned the expectations for HIEs upside down? I’m referring to the RHIO-type organizations.

I’ll answer that in two ways. We’ve always had this intrinsic discomfort, as I started off by saying, that I’m going to look in point A and then point B and then point C, which is why we use the HIE as central consolidation point  to create a single, consolidated, comprehensive record which we can then push forward to the provider just in time as an encounter is about to happen. We anticipated that that kind of clinician reaction had to be overcome. That’s exactly why we did the things we did — get it in their face and not make them go hunt for it.

But how and when will the RHIOs retool? I think they have to. It’s really not as much their onus as it is the onus of the providers who are going to be held to different types of accountability standards to take on the responsibility to go search and find all of that data. That really is putting a tremendous burden on your providers. The value proposition goes up, but it’s on the back of the provider more than it’s on the back of the RHIO to do anything different.

The one thing, though, that I will say … I’ll editorialize a little bit … is that the RHIOs are being fundamentally pulled in the wrong direction on a lot of this stuff. Because at least in New York state, the privacy concerns around the RHIOs are, if anything, driving more and more and more restrictive rules around access to the data, sharing of the data, then sending us data. Within the context of a single organization that we control, we manage the consenting process end to end. There’s a lot more we can do.

When you get out into the state level or eventually the national level, a lot of the good intentions and the good clinical opportunities are potentially going to be stymied by the restrictive practices and policies that are being built around the RHIOs because of the patient privacy concerns. I don’t mean to minimize the privacy concerns. They’re certainly real and legitimate. But what they ultimately translate into from a regulatory statutory perspective, at least in New York state, runs a little bit counter to what we’re trying to accomplish by saying, hey, wherever this patient goes, we’ve got to be able to assure that everyone’s on the same plan of care. Everyone knows what’s already been done. It’s going to be very tough in the governmental RHIOs because of the privacy concerns and what they’re driving from a policy and practice perspective at the RHIO level.

 

You mentioned your Allscripts implementation earlier. I’m curious about how that’s going, especially now that they’re retooling into a population health management company.

It’s going well. We made this decision before they came forward with their dbMotion acquisition and some of the new tools that they’re bringing forth, which we’re very excited about. We just met with a number of them a few weeks ago. We have a whole bunch of folks coming on site.

We’ve been talking about population health management, trying to understand the respective roles for our internal HIE for what they’re trying to do to bring their products together. The newer front end that they have been talking about which fuses dbMotion with their front end products to make the community data and the local data appear seamlessly to a clinician look like a very, very attractive set of work flows. We are in detailed discussions with them about how we merge some of the things that we’ve done or are doing internally with some of the things that they’re doing, because we did set off on this track a little bit ahead of them.

 

What are your biggest challenges and opportunities as a CMIO over the next several years?

The HIE is probably one of the biggest. People think of it as a technology — and there is a lot of very, very valuable technology – but the HIE alone, just simply “data comes in, data goes out,” doesn’t accomplish the mission unless you build lots of clinical workflows over it and around it. You’re supporting any number of clinical programs or any number of potential patient flows or workflows. I have a big team focused just on that, which is working on how we take the power of the HIE and apply it to all the various different programs that are growing up around the system. That’s probably one of the biggest.

The other major area for us as a health system is the development of a data warehouse, which we don’t have today. We have a lot of individual analytic tools and products attached to our various EMRs, plus other types of warehousing — cost accounting, things like that.

We still have work to do with our EMR rollout. We still haven’t put physician documentation out beyond the inpatient space, beyond the admission and discharge documents. We still have to build out progress notes, consult notes, and a couple of other things. We still have about 30 percent of our medical group to whom we still have to roll out our ambulatory EMR. Those are all still in progress.

But my overall goal is to look at, as we make this transition to a different model of care, how do we orient everything we’re doing in the EMRs, align it with everything we need to do in the data warehousing space to provide the analytics that are needed to support these programs, and align all that with all of the clinical workflows that we’re building in the HIE to support the population health types of initiatives that we’re doing with the HIE? Making sure that all these three things work together properly, that they don’t overlap each other in what they’re doing, that we don’t leave gaps where I thought the HIE would do that or the other warehouse would do that. To make sure that all of these things align together to support all of the population health programs that we’re engaged in.

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September 22, 2014 Interviews 3 Comments

Monday Morning Update 9/22/14

September 20, 2014 News 4 Comments

Top News

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”Behind the Curtain of the Healthcare.gov Rollout,” a report from the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (the committee is wildly anti-Democrat, but still interesting) contains fascinating details of the internal panic once CMS realized they were in way over their heads right after Healthcare.gov went live and failed. It concludes that infighting between CMS and HHS forced the development team to work through US CTO Todd Park, with CMS attempting to hide security exposure, keep HHS in the dark, and insist on a full site launch instead of a phased approach. Some fun snips from internal emails the committee dug up as HHS and CMS people duked it out electronically, sometimes using their private rather than government-issued email accounts:

  • [Unidentified HHS employee]” “Your leadership only wanted to hear beautiful music … clearly these people are not smart enough to pull it off … you could definitely see the CYA moves coming a mile away.”
  • [Unidentified HHS executive, referring to CMS Deputy Director of IT Henry Chao]: “I grow wear of the bull#### passive/aggressiveness of Henry … the other way to do this is through a complete covert ops mission to unseat the CMS FFE rules engine.”
  • [HHS CTO Bryan Sivak, pictured above]: “It’s all negative. I’m going to embark on a campaign to declare victory without fully launching.”
  • [HHS CTO Bryan Sivak, responding to an email in which CMS admitted that the site could not handle more than 500 concurrent users]: “Anyone who has any software experience at all would read that and immediately ask what the f## you were thinking by launching.”
  • [HHS CTO Bryan Sivak, responding to US CTO Todd Park’s claim that the site’s problems were all related to user volume even though officials knew that wasn’t the case]: “This is a f###ing disaster. It’s 1am and they don’t even know what the problem is, for sure. Basic testing should have been done hours ago that hasn’t been done.”
  • [HHS CTO Bryan Sivak]: “1. Bad architecture. 2. Not enough testing. Pretty simply really.”
  • [HHS CTO Bryan Sivak, replying to the former HHS employee who transferred to CMS and suggested she might not be much help]: “If you don’t get access, I’m probably going to start being a little bit of a d###, which will give you ample opportunity to badmouth me and gain the trust of people at CMS.”
  • [CMS employee, in urging that Healthcare.gov code be removed from open source repositories]: “This Github project has turned into a place for programmers to bash our system, submit service requests (!), and now people have started copying Marketplace source code that they can see and making edits to that.”

Reader Comments

From LL Fauntleroy: “Re: Cerner shops. The number of major ones that have pulled the plug to go with Epic (the industry term is ‘Cernover’) is the best-kept secret in health IT since neither the company nor clients announce it. Some I know from the last couple of years. Loma Linda, Dallas Children’s, Stanford Children’s, University of Utah, John Muir Health System, Connecticut, etc. There are also hospitals pulling the Cerner plug in Australia (Royal Children’s) and elsewhere around the world. There are also a number of shops that run Cerner inpatient but Epic outpatient, or Epic rev cycle, and are rumored to be considering switching, such as Northwestern. Why doesn’t HIStalk write about this?” I’ve written about those of which I’m aware, which is most of these, but I have to depend on readers to tip me off since I’m not omniscient. HIMSS Analytics could verify this trend (if it is one) or identify other Cernovers (or “Epicstinguishes” since surely a few health systems went the other direction), but they aren’t about to tell me for free.

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From SoCalSurfLegend: “Re: Prime Healthcare. Three of their southern California hospitals are implementing Epic. Prime is adamant that they will not use consultants. How long before they realize it can’t be done? I’ll set the over/under at three months considering that Prime’s ownership group is the cheapest bunch around.” Unverified. Prime Healthcare’s majority owner is Prem Reddy, MD, an India-born cardiologist who has made a fortune buying and operating financially aggressive hospitals and is known as a generous philanthropist. His wife, daughter, and son-in-law are doctors.

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From BJ Hunnicutt: “Re: BJC. My sources say Cerner won the demo round. Allscripts lacked functionality and the reps interrupted their own demo team to inject irrelevant information, while Epic seemed stale and self-important. BJC uses Allscripts inpatient at two academic campuses, Allscripts ambulatory for the medical school faculty clinics, the FollowMyHealth portal, NextGen for employed physicians, McKesson Horizon at the community hospitals, both Cerner and Horizon lab, and Soarian financials. They also have a homegrown clinical data repository and a massive interface support staff to keep it running. The McKesson Horizon situation is probably a key driver. I make Cerner the favorite because of their strong demo and existing relatively new Soarian backbone, plus the two other major health systems in town (SSM and Mercy) have Epic and BJC won’t want to look like they’re jumping on the bandwagon late.” Unverified. BJC’s site says the IT department has a $200 million annual combined budget and 800 employees who specialize in “clinical-based software solutions, integration of disparate systems, and expert systems intended to support caregivers in clinical practice.” Headcount assigned to that middle one seems entirely justified given the apparently lack of appetite for standardizing systems.

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From The PACS Designer: “Re: Windows 9. Microsoft announces September 30 as Win 9 day, with a new Start menu, a virtual desktop feature, and a notification center.” Better get out early to camp out a spot in line. Oh, wait, that’s Apple. It’s pretty bad when the most exciting new feature of a highly touted new release is to restore functionality idiotically removed in the previous one.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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It’s a 55-45 respondent split on whether Apple will have any influence on health and healthcare. Steven Davidson, MD added this comment to his vote: “Apple is the baby boomer tool of choice. Consumers, aka activated, engaged patients are growing in number and power and will adopt tools that enable/enhance their power. Apple wants to be that tool vendor and is the first major (well maybe Nike, but they’re giving up) consumer brand to offer a mostly complete as it is tool set. I think their presence is important and I think the hospitals still don’t get it–with a small number of notable exceptions.” New poll to your right or here: should the MU 2015 reporting period be reduced to 90 days?

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Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor Phynd. The Kearney, NE-based company offers a cloud-based platform that synchronizes provider data from all of a hospital’s IT systems into a single profile, allowing hospitals to accurately answer the question, “Who are your doctors?” that includes billing address, communications preferences, licensing, internal system IDs, exclusionary lists, and contracting. It uses a patent-pending Universal Provider Profile (UPP) for all 3 million US providers, making it easy for frontline users to add a new provider on the fly, also supporting custom fields and taxonomies on any topic and from any IT system. Data quality can be easily determined by each provider’s UPP Score. Folks at Yale-New Haven Health recently did a presentation on how Phynd solved their problems involving 7,000 Epic users and 40,000 referring physicians: outdated credentialing information, endless calls to get updates, manual lookups, and lack of auditability of updates. Thanks to Phynd for supporting HIStalk.

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Mr. Fraustro, the California teacher whose classroom got a 3-D printer courtesy of HIStalk readers, provided some photos of it in use. He says the students were excited when they fired it up for the first time and saw the flashing lights, heard the sounds, and smelled the printing filament and realized it exists beyond YouTube videos.

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Andy Spooner, MD of Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center wrote another great “CMIO Rant” posts on HIStalk Practice, this one rebutting the AMA’s list of EHR problems with things they could be doing instead of complaining about technology.

Listening: new from Train, complete with their trademark clever lyrics despite a dangerous turn into “background music for work” territory. Extra points for the jangly “I’m Drinkin’ Tonight.” Decent for a band that’s been plugging away for 20 years and is down to just two original members.


Last Week’s Most Interesting News

  • Congresswoman Renee Elmers (R-NC) introduces a bill that would allow providers to choose any three-month reporting period in 2014 for Meaningful Use reporting instead of the full-year mandate otherwise scheduled to begin October 1.
  • Apple pulls HealthKit-dependent apps from the App Store after finding unannounced bugs in HealthKit that will take at least two weeks to fix.
  • The American Medical Association and then its president take shots at poor EHR design and usability.
  • Former Kaiser Permanente CIO Phil Fasano joins insurance company AIG in the newly created position of EVP/CIO, with KP VP named as interim CIO as the national search for Fasano’s replacement begins.
  • Outsourcer Cognizant announces plans to acquire TriZetto for $2.7 billion.
  • An app developer trade group asks HHS via Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) to make it easier for them to understand and comply with HIPAA requirements, some of which predate the iPhone.
  • Epic holds its UGM with over 18,000 attendees on hand in Verona, WI.
  • Illinois-based systems Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem will merge to form the state’s largest health system, with a stated expected benefit being the sharing of electronic medical records between their respective Cerner and Epic systems.

Webinars

September 25 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. Using BI Maturity Models to Tap the Power of Analytics. Presented by Siemens Healthcare. Presenters: James Gaston, senior director of maturity models, HIMSS Analytics; Christopher Bocchino, principal consultant, Siemens Healthcare. Business intelligence capabilities are becoming critical for healthcare organizations as ACOs and population health management initiatives evolve in the new healthcare marketplace. The presenters will explain how BI maturity models can help optimize clinical, financial, and operational decisions and how organizations can measure and mature their analytics capabilities.

September 26 (Friday) 1:00 ET. Data Governance – Why You Can’t Put It Off. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Steve Morgan, MD, SVP for IT and data analytics and CMIO, Carilion Clinic; Randy Thomas, associate partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. In this second webinar in a series, “It’s All About the Data,” the presenters will review the pressing need for data governance and smart strategies for implementing it using strained resources.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Providence Health & Services launches Providence Ventures, a $150 million venture capital fund that will invest in companies focusing on online primary care access, care coordination and patient engagement, chronic disease management, clinician experience, analytics, and consumer health. It will be led by a former Amazon publishing executive. Providence will also create an internal innovation group to help it collaborate with early-stage companies, run by newly hired VP Mark Long (above), who was formerly CTO of Zynx Health.

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Identity and access management technology vendor Ping Identity receives $35 million in venture funding, bringing its total to $110 million.  


Announcements and Implementations

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The Tel Aviv, Israel-based McKesson Cardiology development group earns CMMI Maturity Level 5, the only FDA-regulated medical device software organization to achieve the highest software process improvement rating. I assume that’s the former Medcon that McKesson acquired for $105 million in 2005.


Other

Cerner and athenahealth say they, like Epic, are working on integrating their systems with Apple’s HealthKit. People seem excited about that for some reason.

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A New York Times article calls out “drive-by doctoring,” where surgical patients receive bills from clinicians called in without the patient’s approval, often billing them at out-of-network rates. A disk repair patient was billed $117,000 by an out-of-network “assistant” neurosurgeon he had never met. Another patient complained that plastic surgeons billed him $250,000 to close an incision and a “parade of doctors” dropped by regularly post-op without mentioning that they were billing him every time they said hello. The article points out that the US has more neurosurgeons per capita than other countries and Medicare is paying them less, so they attend seminars on “innovative” coding and convince other surgeons to fraudulently declare emergencies that require their services. This is bizarre to me: the hospital sent a surgical patient’s blood tests and ECG to an out-of-network lab.

New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal, who is a Harvard-educated physician (and who also wrote the article above about drive-by doctoring), rightly calls out the silliness (and profit-seeking motivation) of entrepreneur Vivek Wadhwa proclaiming that, “I would trust an A.I. [artificial intelligence]” over a doctor any day” since AI provides “perfect knowledge.” Leave it to technologists to utter some of the stupidest imaginable statements about healthcare, exhibiting their lack of knowledge about medicine and putting unwarranted faith in the inaccurate perception that given endless amounts of unaudited data and enough computer horsepower to churn through it, better outcomes will automatically be obtained (let’s match Watson against a skilled physician instead of a “Jeopardy” contestant in treating an elderly patient with multiple chronic conditions and see who wins). Rosenthal makes great points: (a) slick technologies, including fitness trackers, haven’t affected outcomes or costs; (b) “health” can’t be easily defined with the knowledge we have today; (c) it’s easier to collect data than to know what it means, such as whether low testosterone levels in men are relevant; (d) people die even when their data points are perfect; and (e) it’s easy to find measurable abnormalities in patients who are fine, leaving the choice of treating the measurement or the patient. She concludes that some but certainly not all medical outcomes can be affected by collecting more information:

One central rule of doctoring is that you only gather data that will affect your treatment. There are now devices that track the activity of your sympathetic nervous system as a measure of stress. But what do you do with that information? Other devices continuously monitor breathing for wheezing that isn’t noticed or audible. Does that matter? Some studies have shown that continuous monitoring isn’t useful for children hospitalized with bronchial infections.

If you were dieting, would stepping on the scale 1,000 times a day help you lose weight? Or consider the treatment of an abnormal heart rhythm. It’s true that constant monitoring for a few days can be highly useful to identify the pattern and what provokes the attacks. After that, though, for many patients a wearable cardiac tracker might simply record normal beats that normal people experience all the time, increasing anxiety for many patients.

The Minneapolis paper profiles Peter Kane, founder of two failed healthcare IT businesses (ProcessEHR and Phase-1Check), who since started  a co-working space.

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Weird News Andy has thoughts about this story, in which a since-fired 33-year-old female nurse is accused in a lawsuit of initiating “unsolicited sexual relations” with a 60-year-old male ICU patient waiting for a heart transplant, which the man claimed had happened with other patients. WNA’s analysis: “Was she so inept that his heart rate didn’t go up, or did alarm fatigue prevent someone from investigating?”


Sponsor Updates

  • Validic will announce new clients, integration partners, and connectable fitness devices at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference this week. The company will sponsor a Codeathon and participate in panel discussions.
  • Wellcentive will demo its population health management solution at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference.

Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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September 20, 2014 News 4 Comments

News 9/19/14

September 18, 2014 News 14 Comments

Top News

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Apple removes HealthKit-powered apps from the App Store on iOS 8’s launch day Wednesday, stating that an unspecified HealthKit bug will keep those apps offline for at least two weeks. Some app developers are reportedly scrambling to remove HealthKit dependencies from their products to avoid loss of momentum.

I upgraded my iPhone 5 to iOS 8 Thursday hoping to fix an ongoing “no SIM installed” error. While the Health app is present, it only supports basic data entry (body measurements, sleep, vital signs) until connected to source apps, so nobody’s going to get excited about that. It does offer a new Medical ID option so that users can enter emergency information (allergies, meds, contacts) that can be displayed on the iPhone’s emergency dialer screen when needed. Reader Is-It-The-Future-Yet says that feature could have “more impact than anything HealthKit or the silly watch is going to do to actually impact care,” although my observation is that you would still need a medical alert bracelet since first responders aren’t going to check your phone on the off chance you’ve entered something important there.


Reader Comments

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From St. Louis Cardinal: “Re: BJC. Looks like they’ve gone out to the market for EMR replacement. Order of demonstrations: Allscripts, Cerner, Epic.” Demos were completed four weeks ago. I don’t remember what they’re using, although I know they chose several Siemens Soarian apps a few years back and I think they have some Allscripts products as well.

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From MD Backle: “Re: Amazing Charts. Thought you might enjoy this email ad, in which they misspell EHR three times (twice as ERH, once as HER) plus misspell ‘it’s’ as ‘its.’ They need some proofreading!” Hopefully their programmers are better keyboarders than their salespeople.

From A Reader: “Re: KLAS report on Epic consulting, released as hordes of consultants are at Epic UGM. It would be great to hear your input on the report.” I don’t have access to KLAS reports, so I generally don’t bother mentioning them since there’s not much I can say having read only the teaser press release that intentionally discloses little of the expensive report’s contents.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

We’re already planning for HIStalkapalooza at HIMSS15 in Chicago. We’ve booked an amazing (huge) venue, hired a band, and started planning the details that will ensure that this will be the best and biggest HIStalkapalooza ever. Contact Lorre if your company wants to participate as one of five sponsors who will get great benefits like event recognition, a private hosting area, a welcome/display space on the main floor, and a bunch of invitations to share with prospects, customers, or employees. We needed to exert more control and decided to forego the “single sponsor” approach, although we might still consider it if a company agrees to our terms in making it a great experience for attendees. I like this approach (which companies have suggested for years) because the event’s sponsors can make a big impression in front of a huge audience without having to bear the full effort and expense.

This week on HIStalk Practice: One family physician sticks up for EHRs. Dr. Gregg provides perspective on Meaningful Use. Alisha Smith shares last minute prep tips for the HIPAA Omnibus deadline. Research shows Apple won’t reach critical mass for world healthcare domination any time soon. Elation EMR CEO Kyna Fong discusses the importance of physician shadowing. New Jersey Physicians ACO goes with eClinicalWorks. Brad Boyd offers strategies for onboarding financial systems. Thanks for reading.

This week on HIStalk Connect: Keas raises a $7.4 million Series C to help expand its employee wellness platform. 6Sensor Labs announces a $4 million seed round for a portable food analyzer that can detect gluten and potentially other allergens. Researchers at the European Respiratory Society’s International Congress present study findings suggesting that lung cancer patients have measurably warmer breath, a characteristic that may lead to innovative new screening tools. 


Webinars

September 25 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. Using BI Maturity Models to Tap the Power of Analytics. Presented by Siemens Healthcare. Presenters: James Gaston, senior director of maturity models, HIMSS Analytics; Christopher Bocchino, principal consultant, Siemens Healthcare. Business intelligence capabilities are becoming critical for healthcare organizations as ACOs and population health management initiatives evolve in the new healthcare marketplace. The presenters will explain how BI maturity models can help optimize clinical, financial, and operational decisions and how organizations can measure and mature their analytics capabilities.

September 26 (Friday) 1:00 ET. Data Governance – Why You Can’t Put It Off. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Steve Morgan, MD, SVP for IT and data analytics and CMIO, Carilion Clinic; Randy Thomas, associate partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. In this second webinar in a series, “It’s All About the Data,” the presenters will review the pressing need for data governance and smart strategies for implementing it using strained resources.

Our secretive government health IT expert Dim-Sum delivered an amazing webinar Thursday on the Department of Defense’s $11 billion EHR project. We had large attendance and lots of questions in covering the EHR vendors and prime contractors that are bidding, the military health system’s structure, the opportunities for companies to do business as subcontractors, and the strengths and weaknesses of the competing teams (CSC-HP-Allscripts, IBM-CACI-Epic, Leidos-Accenture-Cerner, and PWC-GDIT-DSS.) It’s more like a conversation since we didn’t use slides, but it held my attention throughout and I highly recommend it to anyone with even a casual interest in how several billion of our taxpayer dollars will be spent or how our military members will be cared for. Thanks to the brilliant Dim-Sum for delivering a frank, funny, and highly useful presentation. 


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Medseek changes its name to Influence Health to reflect its mission to influence consumer choice, brand loyalty, and health behaviors before, during, and after healthcare encounters.

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Larry Ellison will step down as CEO of Oracle. The 70-year-old company founder will be replaced by co-CEOs promoted from within, Mark Hurd and Safra Catz.

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China-based Internet and e-commerce vendor Alibaba conducts the highest-yielding IPO in the history of American stock exchanges, raising $22 billion and valuing the company at $168 billion. The company made tentative moves into healthcare IT in the past few months with an investment into a Hong Kong-based pharma software vendor.

Perceptive Software, fresh off a move to a new headquarters building, announces layoffs and the closing of  its offices in Beverly, MA and San Francisco.

Cerner gets Federal Trade Commission approval to acquire Siemens Health Services with early termination of the waiting period, keeping the acquisition on track for Q1 2015.


Sales

Central Clinical Labs selects Liaison EMR-Link to integrate lab results into the PointClickCare long-term care EHR.

People

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Kaiser Permanente names SVP of Enterprise Shared Services Dick Daniels as interim CIO, replacing Phil Fasano.

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Baptist Health System (AL) promotes CMIO Chris Davis, MD to CIO/CMIO. He has served as interim CIO since June.


Announcements and Implementations

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Sunquest and Partners HealthCare establish a strategic alliance to develop a next-generation genomic information system. Sunquest will make an investment in GeneInsight, a Partners-owned company that offers software for genetic testing reporting, results delivery, and collaboration.

The Denver Office of Economic Development names Aventura as a Denver Gazelle high-growth company.

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Holyoke Medical Center (MA) goes live on T-System’s EV physicians documentation system.

Dallam-Hartley Counties Hospital District (TX) implements Holon’s CollaborNet HIE.

Identity and access management solutions vendor Tools4ever will use technology from Boston Software Systems to automate its solutions.

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High Point Regional Health (NC) begins its implementation of Epic, which will replace Allscripts outpatient and McKesson inpatient now that the health system has merged into UNC Health Care. According to High Point’s COO, “This is one of the main reasons we sought out and merged with UNC, that is, to be able to take advantage of centralized resources, and high on that list was Epic. For us, it’s a great opportunity because it is becoming the default, go-to system in the state.”


Government and Politics

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Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) introduces the Flex-IT Act that would allow providers to choose any three-month quarter for 2015 Meaningful Use reporting, explaining,

Healthcare providers have faced enormous obstacles while working to meet numerous federal requirements over the past decade. Obamacare has caused many serious problems throughout this industry, yet there are other requirements hampering the industry’s ability to function while threatening their ability to provide excellent, focused care.

The Meaningful Use Program has many important provisions that seek to usher our health care providers into the digital age. But instead of working with doctors and hospitals, HHS is imposing rigid mandates that will cause unbearable financial burdens on the men and women who provide care to millions of Americans. Dealing with these inflexible mandates is causing doctors, nurses, and their staff to focus more on avoiding financial penalties and less on their patients.

The Flex-IT Act will provide the flexibility providers need while ensuring that the goal of upgrading their technologies is still being managed. I’m excited to introduce this important bill and look forward to it quickly moving on to a vote.

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Mikey Dickerson, the former Google engineer brought on as administrator of the White House’s US Digital Service, says Healthcare.gov was a mess when he was called in to fix it as part of the “tech surge.” There was no system status dashboard, so “there was no place to find out whether the site was up or down except for watching CNN,” none of the project’s 55 contractors were tasked with maintaining uptime, and nobody seemed surprised or anxious that the site was down since government projects fail regularly. He explains his job change: “We have thousands of engineers working on picture-sharing apps when we already have dozens of picture-sharing apps. These are all big problems that need the attention of people like you. These problems are important, and fixable, but you have to choose to take them on. This is real life. This is your country.” I noticed that his LinkedIn profile lists his previous government-related service as “No Fancy Title, Thanks.”


Technology

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The Portland, OR business paper profiles startup ReelIDX, which offers platform for creating, managing, and sharing medical video content. It emphasizes recording the patient encounter for patient education and clinician review.


Other

Three North Carolina health systems – WakeMed, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, and Vidant Health – create a shared services company to reduce costs, with WakeMed’s CEO saying the systems hope to reduce their individual Epic operating costs and training efforts.

The Helsinki, Finland newspaper writes up “Apotti – a patient data system that costs more than a children’s hospital.” The government chose CGI and Epic as vendor finalists to develop the new system and expects to name the winner in early 2015. Total costs are estimated at $555 million.


This tweet from Epic’s UGM seemed to polarize the Twitterverse – do the disproportionate Epic-to-Epic numbers support or dispute Epic’s interoperability claims?

AMIA joins the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education to develop accredit master’s programs in health informatics.

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Faculty of the School of Biomedical Informatics at Texas Medical Center don hats to celebrate National Health IT Week.

A clickbait Venture Beat article titled “EHR giant Epic explains how it will bring Apple HealthKit data to doctors” takes 16 paragraphs to state the obvious: user information from iOS’s HealthKit can be grabbed by Epic’s MyChart (with the patient’s permission) and then populate Epic. It misses the real challenge as to what happens on the Epic side, not only in the form of alerts or actions, but what clinicians are supposed to do as a result. The challenges aren’t technical:

  • The data that an iPhone can collect is basic and not all that useful diagnostically except perhaps trended over time (such as a gradually increasing weight).
  • Most app developers won’t get FDA approval to add logic that would find the one piece of potentially useful information out of thousands of data points, so that means tons of useless and unreviewed junk will get dumped into Epic.
  • Providers aren’t paid to watch consumer-captured information. Even now patients could email their doctor with logs of weights, blood pressure, and blood glucose, but doctors aren’t paid to read them. It’s also not clear who should be watching the information – PCP, specialist, nurse, or someone else?
  • Healthcare is designed around encounters, not monitoring. App developers don’t understand that medicine isn’t as digitally right or wrong as their world – most of us as patients want to be treated as individuals, not worksheets of measures limited by the convenient availability of sensors.
  • Hospitals and practices may decline to allow patients to send them information since that accepts responsibility for doing something with it. Nobody wants to get sued for malpractice for missing one abnormal measure.

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Steven Stack, MD, president-elect of the AMA, says EHRs are immature, expensive, and poorly designed. He adds that poor EHR usability is a significant driver of physician dissatisfaction. He doesn’t explain why AMA’s members greedily and voluntarily bought those systems despite their faults hoping to pocket a few dozen thousand dollars in free MU money. The market is where it should be, at the intersection of supply and demand, and perhaps the AMA should be convincing its members who are providing the demand as customers instead of scolding the companies that meet it. It’s like complaining that you hate Taco Bell while waiting in line to get your daily bean burrito. Stack has done committee work for ONC, was involved with the PCAST Report (that mostly touted Microsoft as the answer to all healthcare IT problems), and is on the board of eHealth Initiative (which includes quite a few vendor members). He’s always been a usability critic.

At least 15 children die in Syria after receiving UN-provided measles vaccine, with a preliminary WHO report speculating that medics accidentally gave the muscle relaxant atracurium instead of the vaccine since the drugs are packaged in similar vials and were stored in the same refrigerator.

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A security publication finds medical records on sale in bulk on a black market Internet site, apparently stolen from a Texas life insurance company’s applicant database. The writer bought records and verified their accuracy, with prices as low as $6 for each “fullz,” slang for a complete set of records that the buyer can use to open fraudulent credit card accounts, access bank accounts, or take over someone’s identity.

UCSF surgeon Wen T. Shen says he’s embarrassed for patients to see his lack of typing skills, but doesn’t like the alternatives:

Wait until after the patient leaves to start charting (impractical given our clinic workflow); hire a medical scribe to do my documentation for me, as detailed in a recent New York Times article (not happening with recent budget cuts); use the nifty speech-to-text dictation device provided to all clinicians (feels extremely weird and off-putting to do this in front of patients); actually learn to type (old dog/new tricks, dwindling brain plasticity).

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Weird News Andy says, “I <3 this password,” although he adds that it might be tough to get into your phone to dial 911 during a heart attack. Researchers develop an authentication method that uses wristband-detected ECG patterns as “the perfect password,” although people with fibrillation might not be ideal users.


Sponsor Updates
  • Nordic announces that it has earned the top ranking among Epic implementation support and staffing consulting firms in a new KLAS report. Also named in the report is Orchestrate Healthcare, the highest ranked vendor-agnostic consulting firm in the implementation support and staffing category.
  • ADP AdvancedMD’s EHR earns ONC-ACB certification as a Complete EHR.
  • Huntzinger Management Group recognizes its clients and IT professionals for National Health IT Week.
  • Access provides Normal Regional Hospital (OK) with giveaways to help celebrate National Health IT Week.
  • EClinicalWorks names several ACO clients that are generating savings after deploying its CCMR.
  • ESD’s Phil Sierra discusses the value of healthcare IT in a recent blog.
  • Etransmedia shares a video about its success and growth.
  • SRSsoft is participating in the American Society for Surgery of the Hand conference in Boston this weekend.
  • Truven Health Analytics and National Business Group on Health partner to facilitate an improved Employer Measures of Productivity, Absence and Quality program.
  • AirWatch by VMware offers instant support for devices running on iOS 8.
  • An Imprivata survey finds that 65 percent of hospitals will use Virtual Desktop Infrastructure within two years and 84 percent of those will add single sign-on.

EPtalk by Dr. Jayne

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The physician lounge was buzzing this morning with the news of HR-5481, the “Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act.” If passed and signed into law, it would allow providers to report 90 days rather than a full year in 2015.

I have to say my pulse quickened when I saw it. Congress set precedent with their ICD-10 push. This one might have less of a chance, however, since it’s not being tacked onto another high-profile bill. Maybe we can hook it to a bill everyone can get behind, such as the “We Love Mom, Apple Pie, and America Act.” If this passes, it just might defibrillate Meaningful Use, moving it from “mostly dead” to “slightly alive.”

In other bandwagon-jumping news, the American Medical Association releases a paper on setting “Priorities to Improve Electronic Health Record Usability.” I’m not a big fan of the “blame the EHR” game since there are so many more factors that influence usability, user behaviors, and generally how the health system runs. Rather than putting all of our eggs in the proverbial basket and assuming that if we just “fix” the EHR everything will be awesome, let’s look at the other issues that cause slowness and waste in health care.

My laundry list includes E&M Coding, obnoxious precertification requirements placed on physicians without good reason, The Joint Commission requirements, RAC audits, payer audits, Meaningful Use, other certification body requirements, and numerous non-value-added steps throughout the day. I could go on, but it would be aggravating. Although some of these have been shown to improve outcomes, many are just nuisances. Let’s take a multi-pronged approach and stamp out ALL poor usability, not just that of the software variety.

Back to the AMA, they again sent Medicare reimbursement codes for end-of-life care discussions to CMS for consideration. I’m in favor of efforts that would actually help physicians be paid for non-procedural work. We don’t die well in the United States. TV and media paint a picture of heroic lifesaving measures where everyone recovers fully, but don’t ever show patients with poor outcomes. The last time this came up, the scare tactics around “death panels” crushed any hope of approval.

As a primary care physician, one of the best things I can do as part of our partnership is talk to you about end-of-life care, getting your wishes out in the open and ensuring you have a support system that can carry them out when the time comes. Unfortunately, this isn’t for just Medicare patients. We need a national dialogue (heck, our EHRs all have prompts for it anyway) for patients of all ages. Young women die in childbirth, people are in horrific accidents, and overall stuff just happens.

I had some nurses make fun of me when I rolled into an outpatient surgical procedure with my healthcare power of attorney and living will at the tender age of 31. As a physician, I don’t want “everything” done and am firmly convinced there are things worse than passing on. Unfortunately, there’s no way commercial payers will cover this service until Medicare takes the lead or until patients pay out of pocket.

Until then it’s just one more thing we have to do without compensation, like keeping your diagnosis list maintained in both SNOMED and ICD-9 and explaining ethnicity to elderly people who have no idea why we would need to gather that type of information. I’m expected to share all data, but patients can pick and choose what I see, potentially placing them at risk. Proponents of MU argue that the potential of up to $44K worth of incentive payments effectively compensates us for all the extra work, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface.

I’m interested to hear what else we should ask Congress to fix for us while they’re at it. Got an idea? Email me.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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September 18, 2014 News 14 Comments

Readers Write: The Elephant in the Waiting Room: Healthcare Organizations Can No Longer Afford to Look the Other Way on Patient Pay

September 17, 2014 Readers Write 6 Comments

The Elephant in the Waiting Room: Healthcare Organizations Can No Longer Afford to Look the Other Way on Patient Pay
By Sean Biehle

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In the past five years, patient payment responsibility has risen dramatically and continues to increase with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. More people insured means more people who don’t understand their health insurance and many of the plans on the healthcare exchanges are high-deductible plans. At the beginning of the year, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini projected patient pay responsibility to climb to 50 percent of the healthcare dollar by the end of the decade.

The New Normal: High-Deductible Plans

Once considered a last-resort alternative for those with limited income, high deductible (HDP) or “catastrophic” plans have gone Fortune 500. As a result, self-pay now includes a lot of the people who have insurance with HDPs.

  • A 2012 Rand research brief estimated that half of all workers on employer-sponsored health plans could be on high-deductible insurance within a decade.
  • The average deductible in employee sponsored health plans was $1,100 in 2013, but deductibles in the healthcare exchanges average between $3,000-$5,000.
  • A report released by S&P Capital IQ estimates that 90 percent of S&P 500 companies will shift their workers from employer-sponsored insurance plans to health exchange plans by 2020.

As more Americans are paying a greater proportion of their healthcare costs out of pocket, getting reimbursed for the patient pay segment could now be the most important number to a healthcare organization’s bottom line. Collecting from patients is estimated to cost up to three times more than collecting from payers. 

Focus on Education

Healthcare organizations should make it their mission to help patients understand their bills, educate them on payment options, and help them navigate any insurance issues. Seventy-five percent of patients say that understanding their out-of-pocket costs improves their ability to pay for healthcare.

Plus, the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) portion of the Affordable Care Act returns higher Medicare reimbursements based on patient experience scores. The payment process is integral to the patient experience. Patients who don’t understand their bills, what they owe, and why they owe it tend to give lower scores on patient satisfaction surveys. Last year, 2013, more hospitals were penalized than bonused, leaving millions on the table.

Create a Consumer-Focused Culture

Because patients are paying more, they are using social media and other online tools to shop around for physicians and hospitals that not only provide the best care, but also the best service. Service is more than having a good bedside manner. Service means providing frequent and transparent patient communications, especially as it relates to billing.

  • Emphasize patient satisfaction over collections.
  • Create a consumer-focused culture – align staff incentives with patient satisfaction.
  • Perform patient satisfaction surveys to help identify potential problems before they escalate and determine reimbursement rates.

Be There When and Where It’s Convenient for the Patient

Many patients work and they have to take off work to visit their office or facility. Don’t make them take more time off when it comes to having to figure out their bills.

  • Offer extended call center hours, including open evenings and weekends, to optimize patient access.
  • Offer online payment platforms to provide 24/7 access for making payments, arranging payment plans, and viewing and updating demographic and insurance information.
  • Offer services in multiple languages so no patient gets left behind.

Make It Convenient and Easy for Patients to Pay

Connecting with patients in a meaningful way helps them understand the how and the why eliminates any confusion when it comes to their bills. Show patients how easy paying their bills can be.

When possible, consolidate payments and balances across the entire patient care continuum. This makes it easy for the patient to pay everything in one place and drastically simplifies the patient pay process.

Provide multi-channel patient communications and payment options:

  • Point-of-service (POS) payment portals make it easy to collect balances at the time of service.
  • Automated phone/IVRS options enable payment over the phone.
  • Online payment processing for debit and credit cards and electronic checks provides 24/7 access for patient payments.

Additionally, a number of provider organizations have developed pricing transparency tools for consumers to access clear and easy-to-understand billing information.

Offer Payment Plans Upfront

Medical bills can be daunting and patients are far less inclined to pay on larger balances, especially over $400. However, informing patients of their payment options at the time of billing greatly increases the odds of getting paid.

Offer Incentives for Self Pay

Unlike insurance companies, patients don’t get to negotiate adjustments to what they are charged for a procedure. Sweetening the pot by offering payment incentives can greatly increase reimbursement and patient satisfaction.

Treat Patients with Dignity and Respect During the Billing Process

Patients aren’t just numbers. In fact, we’re all patients, so it’s easy to see how frustrating it can be in the absence of clear, reliable, and efficient patient billing communications. Healthcare is one of the very last vestiges of American culture in which the consumer doesn’t have access to complete transparency to what they will owe before they incur the costs

Until the continuum of patient communications can be fixed from the inside out, it’s imperative to treat each individual with the respect and dignity they deserve throughout the entire billing process. Help them avoid collections at all costs using the strategies above and show them that the care provided continues beyond the bedside.

Expected Results

When focused on patient education and satisfaction, physician groups and hospitals can expect stronger reimbursement on patient balances. Educated patients pay their bills. Satisfied patients translate to higher Medicare reimbursements. Many organizations have seen their reimbursement rates increase by more than 30 percent after adopting patient education and satisfaction programs.

Emphasizing customer service can also help verify insurance and uncover secondary or additional insurance. This can dramatically streamline the revenue cycle process. Many organizations find after talking to their patients they discover additional insurance on accounts originally categorized as patient pay.

Lastly and perhaps most importantly, providing clarity of communications builds patient loyalty and increases trust over time. Patients who are highly satisfied with an organization’s billing process are twice as likely to return. Plus, over 80 percent of patients who are satisfied with their billing experience are likely to recommend an organization to their friends.

Sean Biehle is marketing manager for MedData of Brecksville, OH.

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September 17, 2014 Readers Write 6 Comments

News 9/17/14

September 16, 2014 News 5 Comments

Top News

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Several member organizations — including HIMSS, CHIME, AHA, and AMA — urge HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell to shorten the 365-day 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period to 90 days. The groups say they are “incredibly concerned” that the full-year reporting period will kill the Meaningful Use momentum, pointing out that only single-digit percentages of providers are ready for Stage 2 with only 15 days remaining. Meanwhile, Burwell focuses on more important issues – writing her first HHS blog post, in which quite a bit of Presidential butt is kissed.


Reader Comments

From Hospital IT’er: “Re: GE Centricity HIS. We have been getting calls from GE asking us when we’ll get off their platform. It is clear to me that they are going to abandon the product line sooner rather than later.” Unverified.

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From Teddy Lemur: “Re: Tuesday’s CMS/ONC Meaningful Use webinar. One of the most confusing I’ve attended. If you were to try and create a decision tree based on whether the site is an EH/EP/CAH, their Stage, their Year, site’s first year of attestation, date of attestations, site’s mix of certified EHRs, EHR’s level of certification,  etc., etc., it would rival the family tree of European royalty for the last 700 years. How would you like to be a MU auditor and try to judge a site’s 2014 attestation a year or two from now? It’s time to figure out how to best achieve the MU program’s future goals. Better patient care, anyone?”  


Webinars

September 18 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. ET.  DHMSM 101: The Hopes, Politics, and Players of the DoD’s $11 Billion EHR Project. Presented by HIStalk. Presenters: Dim-Sum, an anonymous expert in government healthcare IT, military veteran, and unwavering patriot; Mr. HIStalk. The Department of Defense’s selection of a commercially available EHR will drastically change the winning bidders, the health and welfare of service members all over the world, and possibly the entire healthcare IT industry. The presentation will include overview of the military health environment; the military’s history of using contractors to develop its systems vs. its new direction in buying an off-the-shelf system; its population health management challenges in caring for nearly 10 million patients all over the world, some of them on the battlefield; and a review of the big players that are bidding. This presentation will be geared toward a general audience and will be freely sprinkled with humor and wry cynicism developed in years of working in two often illogical industries that hate change.

September 25 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. Using BI Maturity Models to Tap the Power of Analytics. Presented by Siemens Healthcare. Presenters: James Gaston, senior director of maturity models, HIMSS Analytics; Christopher Bocchino, principal consultant, Siemens Healthcare. Business intelligence capabilities are becoming critical for healthcare organizations as ACOs and population health management initiatives evolve in the new healthcare marketplace. The presenters will explain how BI maturity models can help optimize clinical, financial, and operational decisions and how organizations can measure and mature their analytics capabilities.

September 26 (Friday) 1:00 ET. Data Governance – Why You Can’t Put It Off. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Steve Morgan, MD, SVP for IT and data analytics and CMIO, Carilion Clinic; Randy Thomas, associate partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. In this second webinar in a series, “It’s All About the Data,” the presenters will review the pressing need for data governance and smart strategies for implementing it using strained resources.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Outsourcer Cognizant will acquire TriZetto for $2.7 billion in cash from its majority owner, London-based private equity firm Apax Partners. I reported on August 19 that Apax was hoping to flip its 2008 investment of $1.4 billion in TriZetto, which earns $190 million in annual profits, for $3 billion.

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Craneware announces FY2014 results: revenue up 3 percent, EPS $0.34 vs. $0.33.

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Readmission software vendor RightCare Solutions raises $4 million in funding.

QPID Health will move to a larger Boston headquarters building and open a West Coast office in Carlsbad, CA.


Sales

Flagler Hospital (FL) chooses Allscripts dbMotion to connect community EHRs.

Oncology device and software vendor Varian Medical Systems will deploy the Infor Cloverleaf Integration and Information Exchange Suite.

In England, Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust names Allscripts as its preferred EHR vendor. Allscripts acquired Oasis Medical Solutions in July 2014 to improve its position as a single-source vendor to NHS Trusts in pairing that company’s patient administration system with Allscripts Sunrise.

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Willis-Knighton Health System (LA) selects Merge’s enterprise cardiology and interoperability solutions.


People

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Phil Fasano (Kaiser Permanente) joins insurance company AIG in the newly created position of EVP/CIO. His pre-Kaiser background was in the financial sector.

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Joining Phil Fasano in leaving Kaiser Permanente for AIG is Madhu Nutakki, KP’s VP of digital health, who has taken the role of CTO of data, innovation, and advanced technology at AIG.

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Brad Allen (Lumeris) joins ESD as regional VP, as does Aaron Johnson (The Morel Company).  

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Patientco names Jared Lisenby (Greenway Health) as VP of sales.

John Volanto, VP/CIO of Nyack Hospital (NY), is named interim CEO after the resignation of David Freed.


Announcements and Implementations

Surescripts adds four pharmacy benefit management companies and six EHRs to its electronic prior authorization service.

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Registration for HIMSS15 is open along with hotel booking. Early bird registration (through the end of January) is $745. A new (and somewhat odd) option is the free Conference Plus Pass, which allows Sunday pre-conference attendees to move from one session to another during breaks, which would be a benefit primarily if the one you paid $325 for is a dud and you’re willing to roll the dice.

Billian’s HealthDATA makes its searchable Vitals hospital news and RFP feed available at no charge.  

Siemens will offer its customers patient financing programs from CarePayment.

InstaMed and Coalfire release a white paper covering the security of payment cards in healthcare.

Infor announces CloudSite Healthcare, providing its solutions via Amazon Web Services as a subscription service.


Government and Politics

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A trade group for healthcare app developers asks Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) to influence HHS to change HIPAA regulations, saying they are “mired in a Washington, DC mindset that revolves around reading the Federal Register” or “hiring consultants to explain what should be clear in the regulation itself.” It adds that small-scale app developers have few resources to help them understand their HIPAA responsibilities. The letter asks HHS to (a) publish a HIPAA FAQ for app developers; (b) update HHS’s HIPAA technical documentation, which in some cases pre-dates the iPhone; and (c) participate in developer-focused events.

A GAO report will call out security vulnerabilities in Healthcare.gov, warning that they will persist until fixed. GAO says CMS didn’t finish security plans, didn’t perform adequate security testing, failed to enforce password strength requirements, didn’t secure some of its infrastructure from Internet access, and failed to create a failover site.


Technology

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Stanford University Hospital and Duke University Health System will pilot the use of Apple’s HealthKit for tracking patient information. Stanford will send two pediatric diabetic patients home with an iPod Touch to record blood glucose levels, while Duke will track basic vital signs for some unannounced number of cancer and cardiac patients. Both health systems use Epic, with Stanford saying it hopes to be able to trigger alerts from the patient-provided blood glucose levels that will be sent back to the patient via Epic’s MyChart. It’s not much of a commitment by either organization and little detail was provided, so I assume it’s just a couple of university people playing around with Apple’s technology just because they can, possibly (or not) to eventual patient advantage.

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IBM is desperately seeking new nails for its Watson hammer that has failed to hit its sales numbers, now packaging it as Watson Analytics.

In Canada, volunteers at Bruyere’s Saint Vincent Hospital develop a headband-powered computer navigation system for quadriplegics using open source tools and consumer-grade parts. A quadriplegic resident of seven years says, “It makes life interesting. When you are in bed, it’s boring. If you can go online, you can go anywhere. With Google Maps, I can go on virtual tours.” She also uses the technology to connect with family via Skype.


Other

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The American Medical Association lists eight recommendations to make EHRs better:

  1. Design systems to enable physician-patient engagement, with fewer pop-up reminders and complicated menus.
  2. Allow physicians to delegate tasks.
  3. Track referrals, consults, orders, and lab results automatically.
  4. Modularize system design for easier configuration.
  5. Create tools that provide more context-sensitive, real-time information beyond overly structured data capture.
  6. Open up systems for interoperability.
  7. Link EHRs to patient apps and telehealth to support digital patient engagement.
  8. Build in capabilities for users to send product feedback and problem reports to vendors.

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HL7 tweeted out this photo of the brilliant and always-entertaining “Father of HL7,” Ed Hammond of Duke University.

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Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (ME) will eliminate 43 IT jobs, about 12 percent of the department’s headcount, hoping to avoid a $100 million shortfall by 2019.  

Kaiser Permanente Hawaii launches an internal medicine residency, touting in the announcement its HealthConnect system.

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A Wisconsin newspaper is amused in its coverage of Epic UGM, reporting that Judy Faulkner joked that health IT acquisitions will accelerate and Epic will buy GE and rename it General Epic. She said, “The greatest users of electronic health records are the patients.” The photo above was tweeted out by David K. Butler, MD.

Weird News Andy says this is one of his “pet” peeves among vets of the animal kind. A Colorado veterinarian pleads guilty to charges of unauthorized practice for using creams on humans.


Sponsor Updates

  • PerfectServe will exhibit at MGMA and the ACPE Fall Institute.
  • Impact Advisors is included in Modern Healthcare’s “Largest Revenue Cycle Management Firms.”
  • MedAptus announces that approximately 4,000 charge capture and management suite end-users have rolled out its ICD-10 software upgrade.
  • Allscripts offers a short list of dos and don’ts of clinical IT deployment based on a new Alberta Health Services case study.
  • Consulting Magazine names Aspen Advisors, Deloitte Consulting, and Impact Advisors to its “2014 Best Firms to Work For” list.
  • The Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative receives ONC HIT 2014 Edition Modular EHR certification from ICSA Labs.

Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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September 16, 2014 News 5 Comments

Morning Headlines 9/16/14

September 16, 2014 Headlines No Comments

 Factors Affecting Physician Professional Satisfaction and Their Implications for Patient Care, Health Systems, and Health Policy

A new RAND report conducted with the American Medical Association finds that EHR use is a direct contributor to physician burnout. Physician survey respondents  cite poor clinical notes, interruption of face-to-face time with patients, time consuming data entry, and less fulfilling work as EHR-related drivers of their dissatisfaction.

Apple HealthKit Trials Spearheaded By Duke And Stanford University Hospitals: Report

Stanford University and Duke Medicine announce plans to use Apple’s HealthKit to streamline data capture in support of their population health initiatives. Stanford Children’s Hospital will track blood sugar levels in its type 1 diabetes population, while Duke will capture weight, blood pressure, and other values to monitor heart disease and cancer patients.

Glitch in health care law allows employers to offer substandard insurance

A known bug in the validation tool that Healthcare.gov uses to ensure each plan listed on the market meets the minimum requirements outlined in the Affordable Care Act has resulted in employers flooding the site with cheap substandard insurance plans that do not offer basic protections, like hospitalization coverage.

AIG Raises Profile for Technology With Creation of CIO Job

Former Kaiser Permanente CIO Philip Fasano has been hired to a newly created CIO position with insurance giant American International Group.

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Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 9/15/14

September 15, 2014 Dr. Jayne No Comments

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I was having a pretty pleasant week until one of my group’s more challenging physicians walked into my office with a copy (printed, of course) of an article entitled, “Physicians report losing 48 minutes a day to EHR processing.” Once again, Medical Economics uses an eye-catching headline to remind us why EHRs are evil.

When looking at patient care, my colleagues will sit in Journal Club and rip scholarly articles to shreds, dissecting them and discussing why they do or do not apply to our patient population and care paradigm. They’ll argue about the composition of the study population as well as the methodology. Only when they’re fully convinced as to the integrity of the data and the statistical analyses performed will they agree to add the paper’s recommendations to their clinical protocols.

When there’s disparagement of EHRs to be had, however, they take the article as gospel without a single moment of review and pass it all around the physician lounge. This is the same physician who barged into a meeting last year with a survey of EHR satisfaction, demanding we replace our system. He didn’t both to notice that fewer than 20 respondents use the same EHR as us and are likely not in the same situation.

He took the same approach with this article and wouldn’t listen to anything I had to say, ultimately storming out when I wouldn’t feed into his negative energy. For anyone who does want to listen, however, here is my critical review of the article.

First, the article cites a survey by the American College of Physicians as the source of the data. Key points cited in the Medical Economics article included:

  • 89.9 percent reported at least one data management function was slower with EHR
  • 63.9 percent reported that note writing took longer
  • 33.9 percent said data review took longer
  • 32.2 percent said it took longer to read electronic notes

In digging deeper, the survey results were published in a letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine. They weren’t published as part of a peer-reviewed study, which is an important distinction.

In looking at the letter itself, I’m not following the math. They said they sent the survey to 900 ACP members and 102 non-members. That’s 1,002 people by my math. In the next paragraph, they talk about “845 invitees.” Since 485 opened the email, that gives them a contact rate of 62.5 percent. But if you divide by the original 1,002 people to whom the survey was sent, I get 48 percent. Either way, only 411 of the responses were valid.

The survey also found differences in the time “lost” by residents vs. attending physicians differed – 48 minutes vs. 18 minutes, respectively. They suggest “better computing skills and shorter (half-day) clinic assignments” as possible contributing factors. I found the last sentence of the results section particularly interesting: “For the 59.4 percent of all respondents who did lose time, the mean loss was 78 minutes per clinic day.” Pulling out my handy math skills again, that would seem to indicate that 40 percent of respondents did not lose time.

The fact that this data was self-reported makes it less reliable than observer data. Their methodology relies on physicians remembering what their days were like a year ago (or two, or three, depending on when they went live on EHR) and comparing it to the present. I don’t know about you, but my clinical time is significantly harder for a lot of other reasons other than the fact that I’m on an EHR.

I’ve used EHRs for more than a decade and have to say that the Meaningful Use program (with its many required data elements) alone increased the time I spend charting. It wasn’t due to the EHR per se, but due to the required data. It’s kind of like when E&M coding was introduced – notes took longer because the volume of required data increased.

They authors seem to acknowledge this with their statement: “The loss of free time that our respondents reported was large and pervasive and could decrease access or increase costs of care. Policy makers should consider these costs in future EMR mandates.”

I also find it interesting that they didn’t mention results of any questions asking about how many data functions were faster with EHR. From my own experiences (across eight or nine different platforms) there are always areas that work faster and better in EHR and others that were faster on paper. But faster doesn’t equal safer, more reportable, or higher quality – it simply means faster. You can’t look at speed alone as a marker of EHR value, but I’ll take my EHR’s telephone message system over chart pulls and little pink pieces of paper any day.

When our medical group initially went live on ambulatory EHR, we actually did the time and motion studies pre-EHR and at multiple points post-EHR. We had data that showed that the EHR was neutral for time as well as for revenue. It didn’t matter that we had good data, however, because physicians naturally assumed that we “cooked the books” on it to show the EHR in a favorable light. That kind of bias is hard to overcome.

Looking at some of the raw data from our observations, we found the presence of a computer during documentation to be a confounder. Physicians were more likely to access other resources, such as UpToDate,  formulary information, or our system’s clinical repository, while reviewing data and documenting. Those resources were simply not available to them in the paper world. It’s hard to separate that kind of computer use from the actual use of the EHR product when you’re considering how long it takes to complete your notes.

I would much rather take a little longer because I spent a few minutes validating something in UpToDate than to simply finish faster. I also spend time in the EHR making sure patients get appropriate personalized education handouts, which I couldn’t do in the paper world. A survey cannot control for these other types of computer usage within the context of the EHR. Because of single sign-on and CCOW, half of my physicians would be unable to tell you where the EHR proper ends and the rest of our data universe begins.

What’s the bottom line? Although this survey has scholarly trappings, if other research was conducted this way, it would have holes like a block of Lorraine Swiss. The fact that review and documentation takes longer may not necessarily be a bad thing.

I’m interested to see what readers thing about the publication of this letter. Have thoughts about it? Or a favorite Swiss of your own? Email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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September 15, 2014 Dr. Jayne No Comments

Morning Headlines 9/15/2014

September 14, 2014 Headlines No Comments

Advocate, NorthShore merger means 16 hospitals, 3 million patients

In Illinois, Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University Health System announce merger plans that will result in a 16 hospital, 45,000 employee organization with a $6.5 billion combined revenue.

State abandons search for new health exchange company

Nevada abandons its search for a new health insurance exchange contractor, after firing Xerox in May, and announces that it will join Healthcare.gov instead.

Docs frustrated with transition to electronic medical records

A local paper covers the frustrations that clinicians at Community Health of Central Washington are experiencing as they transition to a new EHR that has fallen short of their expectations. CMO Michael Schaffrinna is quoted saying “It reads like a translated Russian novel. It doesn’t flow, and that means it takes a lot longer for people to find the information they’re looking for to care for the patient.”

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Monday Morning Update 9/15/14

September 13, 2014 News 6 Comments

Top News

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Illinois-based Advocate Health Care and NorthShore University HealthSystem will merge to form the state’s largest health system with 16 hospitals, 45,000 employees, and $6.5 billion in annual revenue. The CEOs of both systems say more mergers or acquisitions are likely as hospital consolidation continues. They also touted the benefit of shared electronic medical records and future plans to roll out more patient-facing technologies. I would bet that NorthShore’s Epic will eventually become the new standard, replacing Advocate’s Cerner system.


Reader Comments

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From Core Consumer: “Re: Apple and Epic. Apple used Epic screen shots in their HealthKit presentation. There’s no doubt that the companies signed a partnership agreement. Just because details weren’t announced doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.”

From The PACS Designer: “Re: Office 365 Garage Series. With the focus these days on security, Microsoft in their Garage Series wants everyone to know where the Office 365 improvements will be to enhance user performance, collaboration, and connectivity.” I’m surprised Microsoft hasn’t crowed more loudly about Apple’s iCloud breach.

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From Smooth Operator: “Re: Kaiser CIO Phil Fasano. Kaiser confirms that Phil has resigned. There’s all sorts of internal discussion on who will be named interim CIO.”


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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HIMSS and CHIME are the organizations most often joined by poll respondents. New poll to your right or here: what influence will Apple have on health and healthcare? Vote and then click the Comments link on the poll to elaborate further.


Webinars

September 18 (Thursday) 1:00 p.m. ET.  DHMSM 101: The Hopes, Politics, and Players of the DoD’s $11 Billion EHR Project. Presented by HIStalk. Presenters: Dim-Sum, an anonymous expert in government healthcare IT, military veteran, and unwavering patriot; Mr. HIStalk. The Department of Defense’s selection of a commercially available EHR will drastically change the winning bidders, the health and welfare of service members all over the world, and possibly the entire healthcare IT industry. The presentation will include overview of the military health environment; the military’s history of using contractors to develop its systems vs. its new direction in buying an off-the-shelf system; its population health management challenges in caring for nearly 10 million patients all over the world, some of them on the battlefield; and a review of the big players that are bidding. This presentation will be geared toward a general audience and will be freely sprinkled with humor and wry cynicism developed in years of working in two often illogical industries that hate change.

September 25 (Thursday) 1:00 ET. Using BI Maturity Models to Tap the Power of Analytics. Presented by Siemens Healthcare. Presenters: James Gaston, senior director of maturity models, HIMSS Analytics; Christopher Bocchino, principal consultant, Siemens Healthcare. Business intelligence capabilities are becoming critical for healthcare organizations as ACOs and population health management initiatives evolve in the new healthcare marketplace. The presenters will explain how BI maturity models can help optimize clinical, financial, and operational decisions and how organizations can measure and mature their analytics capabilities.

September 26 (Friday) 1:00 ET. Data Governance – Why You Can’t Put It Off. Presented by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Steve Morgan, MD, SVP for IT and data analytics and CMIO, Carilion Clinic; Randy Thomas, associate partner, Encore, A Quintiles Company. In this second webinar in a series, “It’s All About the Data,” the presenters will review the pressing need for data governance and smart strategies for implementing it using strained resources.

We ran a couple of great, well-attended webinars in the last few days. Here’s “Meaningful Use Stage 2 Veterans Speak Out: Implementing Direct Secure Messaging for Success.”

This is last week’s “Electronic Health Record Divorce Rates on the Rise- The Four Factors that Predict Long-term Success.”


Sales

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The Amerigroup Texas Medicaid health plan will use analytics from Treo Solutions, which was recently acquired by 3M Health Information Systems.


Announcements and Implementations

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Australia’s leading interactive patient care vendor, Hills Health Solutions, will distribute patient engagement technology from Lincor Solutions. The agreement was signed during a trade mission visit to Australia by officials from Ireland, where Lincor is based. The company’s touch-screen offerings for both wall-mounted and mobile devices include clinician EMR access, audio and video patient calling, entertainment, patient education, surveys, and meal ordering.

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Visage Imaging is sponsoring the full-day New York Medical Imaging Informatics Symposium this Thursday, September 18 at New York City’s Marriott Marquis. The $70 registration fee includes a sushi lunch and up to 6 AMA PRA Category 1 credits.

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National Decision Support Company releases an Epic version of its ACR Select evidence-based imaging appropriateness module that includes not only the decision support rules, but also recording utilization data that can be reported from Clarity and Reporting Workbench.


Government and Politics

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Nevada votes to shut down its Nevada Health Link health insurance exchange and move to Healthcare.gov after a problematic rollout and the firing of contractor Xerox, who had a $75 million contract to build the site. The state announced plans in May to use Healthcare.gov for at least a year, but decided last week to make the switch permanent.


Other

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The weather this week in Verona, WI for Epic UGM attendees: highs in the mid-60s, lows in the low 40s, sunny all week other than a chance of rain Monday morning.  The local paper and TV stations are warning commuters of significant traffic delays through Thursday. The folks at Madison-based Nordic wrote up “10 ways to make the most of your 2014 Epic UGM experience.”

The Yakima, WA paper covers EMR use by doctors who aren’t thrilled by it. One is the chief medical officer of Community Health of Central Washington, who says doctors are using up to half of the already-brief patient encounter to work on the computer and complains that EHRs weren’t designed by doctors. Another doctor says EHRs can improve care and patient relationships if doctors stop their foot-dragging and give patients the benefit of real-time lab results and e-prescribing. 

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Bonds of SoutheastHEALTH (MO) are downgraded with a negative outlook after the hospital loses $39 million in 2013 because of revenue cycle problems caused by its Siemens Soarian implementation.

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”The Onion” covers telehealth.

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The Permanente Medical Group CEO Robert Pearl, MD lists five reasons healthcare IT isn’t widely embraced:

  1. Developers focus on doing something with a technology they like rather than trying to solve user problems, such as jumping on the wearables bandwagon despite a lack of evidence that they affect outcomes.
  2. Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and patients all feel that someone else should pay for technology they use.
  3. Poorly designed or implemented technology gets in the way of the physician-patient encounter.
  4. EHRs provide clinical value, but slow physicians down.
  5. Doctors don’t understand the healthcare consumerism movement and see technology as impersonal rather than empowering.

My list might instead be:

  1. People embrace technology that helps them do what they want to do. Most healthcare technology helps users do things they hate doing, like recording pointless documentation and providing information that someone else thinks is important.
  2. Technologists assume every activity can be improved by the use of technology. Medicine is part science, part art, and technology doesn’t always have a positive influence on the “art” part.
  3. Healthcare IT people are not good at user interface design and vendors don’t challenge each other to make the user experience better. Insensitive vendors can be as patronizing to their physician users as insensitive physicians can be to their patients.
  4. Technology decisions are often made by non-clinicians who are more interested in system architecture (reliability, supportability, affordability, robustness, interoperability) than the user experience, especially when those users don’t really have a choice anyway.
  5. Hospital technology is built to enforce rules and impose authority rather than to allow exploration and individual choice. Every IT implementation is chartered with the intention of increasing corporate control and enforcing rules created by non-clinicians. That’s not exactly a formula for delighting users.

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California HealthCare Foundation covers the Cerner implementation of Los Angeles County’s Department of Health Services, which will replace several siloed systems that require photocopying paper charts to transfer a patient from one of the county’s hospitals to another. Harbor-UCLA Medical Center goes live first on November 1.

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Tampa General Hospital (FL) fires an employee who it identified from audit logs as having printed the facesheets of several hundred surgery patients without authorization.

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An oral surgeon in Pennsylvania creates a public outcry when he lays off an employee of 12 years because he says her cancer (ovaries, liver, and pancreas) will leave her unable “to function in my office at the level required while battling for your life.” The doctor claims his intentions were noble: he laid her off so she could collect unemployment during treatment, he says, after which time she’s welcome to come back to work.

A hospital in England bans use of the term “computer on wheels” or “CoW,” fearing that patients might be insulted in hearing a nurse ask a colleague to “bring that CoW over here.” They like “workstation on wheels” better. A cynical employee said patients weren’t the problem, but rather hospital executives tired of hearing employees complain that the computer system is a “right cow” to use.

Here’s another example, along with bathroom scales in the homes of obese people, that having health data is not the same as using it: McDonald’s admirably posts calorie counts for every menu item and offers low-calorie choices like salads, apple slices, yogurt parfaits, and bottled water, but nobody buys the healthy items – they’re lining up for 600-calorie milkshakes masquerading as coffee and the 1,200-calorie feed trough known as the Big Breakfast. It would be interesting to calculate the annual death toll from both kinds of malnutrition – over and under.

Weird News Andy declares this story to be “efficient drug operation.” Federal agents arrest two employees of the Bronx VA hospital for using its mailroom to receive packages of cocaine mailed from Puerto Rico.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis.

More news: HIStalk Practice, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk updates.
Contact us online.

 

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September 13, 2014 News 6 Comments

Readers Write: The Engaged Patient – Are They Really?

September 12, 2014 Readers Write 8 Comments

The Engaged Patient – Are They Really?
By Helen Figge

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Sorry to be the bearer of mediocre news, but despite the growing conversations around the value of engaging patients in their own healthcare, the term “patient engagement” is a really cute flavor of the month healthcare buzz phrase.

Many seem to be confused by what “patient engagement” means. It lacks a standardized approach to its interventional aspects or for a better sense rules of engagement.

The major thrust for patient engagement legitimacy comes in most part to the expansion of health insurers rewarding providers based on services that support the improvement of a patient’s health and wellbeing. Likewise, the anticipation that engaging the patient will reduce the utilization of healthcare resources plays into this concept. Finally, healthcare providers were vocal concerning the 10 percent patient engagement threshold originally mandated in Stage 2 of Meaningful Use and these “squeaky wheels” enabled a pushback to 5 percent.

The legitimacy behind engaging the patient appears evident because investing in the healthcare consumer who utilizes our healthcare resources (you and me) and turn creating healthier assets is the overarching goal of better health. This in turn fundamentally assumes we lower costs of healthcare. So, from this point of view, “investing” in consumers of healthcare and helping them to be more effective partners in our own care makes good sense practical sense, right? 

One would think and hope so. Based on several research sources, it is indeed possible to meet the requirements to support these patient initiatives through various technologies on the market today, like the patient portal, yet only a small percentage of providers are currently supporting these efforts.

The basic question is how do we engage patients to want to stay in control of their own health’s trajectory? What motivates and stimulates and excites someone to want to get and keep control of his or her own health destiny?

This is the one question gone awry, because the majority of consumers consistently participating in their health is quite low, with the majority of less than 5 percent consistently engaged if at all in their healthcare. Many practitioners are finding out that each and every one of us is motivated by something different when it comes to our own healthcare.

My dad was a great example of a non-compliant chronic disease sufferer who, when he felt better stopped taking his meds. Only when his blood glucose reading recordings were hooked up to his senior citizen daily calendar for dating (he was 87) did he remember to record his blood sugar readings for his care coordinator. One could say my dad’s health was directly stimulated by his desire to see which eligible senior citizen lady friend was going to the senior center that night for bingo.

In order for any patient engagement opportunity to be successful, each and every engagement might have to be customizable with each step in the care process to create a meaningful role for patients and their families and specifically tailored in such a way that helps patients acquire the knowledge and skills they need to effectively manage their health and do so in a consistent manner.

We also need to realize that some patients are not prepared to take on any type of role in their healthcare and might not be able to cope with their various illnesses regardless of the enticement. This is oftentimes a concern with those suffering from chronic diseases, where they will need to engage for the duration of their lives to keep and maintain their health.

I equate this type of patient engagement to eating your favorite food every day until after a while, boredom sets in. Your favorite food loses its luster. You just stop eating it and substitute another. When patients are unable to manage these types of often complex tasks, the result is less control over a person’s health and well being and ultimately higher health care and human costs.

If patient engagement has a chance to really hit the numbers we hope it will, it is important to tailor the care and instructions a patient has to support that care. In healthcare, we tend to provide the same amount of support regardless of the patient population or skill set at hand. We always try to standardize approaches, which 99 percent of the time is great, but patient engagement is that 1 percent where it just can’t be done. This is the reason for the low numbers in patient engagement we are seeing firsthand today. Each patient needs to be motivated in his or her own way to accomplish the empowerment needed for successful personal intervention.

Finally, another point to consider in all of this when trying to motivate a patient to “engage” in their own care is that it cannot be monetarily based. Patients are not motivated by financial incentives direct or otherwise for long-term behavior change. It is documented that highly engaged patients with the skills and knowledge respond better to the monetary gains of engaging in their healthcare, while some less than enthusiastic patients accept defeat much easier and accept their disease states and the sequelae of them regardless of intervention and assume it is what it is and thus accept any increased cost incurred by the disease state to be inevitable.

So when considering patient engagement, consider the patient first and foremost because patient engagement is based on the patient’s active and sustained participation in managing their health. It is a marathon race, not a sprint. Only through this mechanism will this lead to better health outcomes.

Proactive action to change and maintain our health into productive health behaviors is the mainstay of the effort. At its center is the concept of taking an active role in our own health and healthcare. We know objectively it can be measured using various tools like the Patient Activation Measure (PAM). This testing helps to identify a patient’s engagement level and used as a tool for improving activation for health and wellness, although I’m not sure how helpful it is right now given the lower-than-expected statistics of patient engagement overall.

The evidence suggests that increasing a patient’s engagement in their own health trajectory can have an impact on controlling costs and helping patients to become healthier – to live longer with fewer complications. The problem is that no one has come up with a standardized approach as to how to engage a patient for long-term success to any disease resolution. 

Maybe we need to interview each patient and see what drives him or her to wake up each morning. For my 87-year-old dad, it was trying to find a date for bingo night at the senior citizen center. Only after he answered his blood glucose reading did the senior citizen screen pop up. Maybe we need to do something like this for each and every patient. 

Helen Figge, PharmD, MBA is VP of clinical integrations of Alere Accountable Care Solutions

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September 12, 2014 Readers Write 8 Comments

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Reader Comments

  • Keith McItkin, PhD.: #medical_errors And I thought that medical errors were to be cured by EHRs. Dumb me! I had nothing to do yesterda...
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