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Ensure the Health of Your Information with a Backup Plan

Posted on October 31, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The following is a guest post by Aidan Finley.

Aidan Finley, Backup Exec Product Marketing Manager, has been with Symantec for 16 years, concentrating on data protection. He has extensive experience implementing, creating, and designing data protection solutions as part of the Backup Exec software engineering and product management teams, prior to joining Product Marketing.

Like overworked parents with their children, healthcare facilities can be so caught up in serving their patients that it’s easy to overlook their own needs. Keeping the business healthy will enable better service, and one of the most important areas requiring focus today is information. With the deadline approaching for electronic health records system adoption, and ever-increasing regulations regarding personal health information, the industry is beginning to take notice of the need for better information management. What is still missing, however, is sufficient discussion among healthcare entities on the need for backup as part of an overall data plan.

For most businesses, implementing a backup solution (and using it on a regular basis) is like going to the doctor for a regular checkup. We don’t typically go to the doctor unless something is wrong with us. But just as a doctor would tell you that eating right and exercising would be excellent advice to prevent a heart attack, waiting until patient data is lost or stolen before implementing a backup plan is unwise.

Several ongoing trends in technology are making the need for information protection even more apparent. The first is that threats to information continue to rapidly evolve, and are not only being directed at large enterprises – in fact, in the first half of 2012, more than one-third of all targeted attacks were directed at businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Mobile devices are also having an impact on information security, as more employees use devices such as smartphones and tablets to access business information, including patient data. The result is that a large amount of information is being stored and accessed from outside the business, creating potential data loss and compliance issues.

Meanwhile, the adoption of electronic health records is changing the IT side of healthcare even more, giving clinicians and staff members access to more information in more ways. But while this presents new challenges in security and compliance, it is also an opportunity to implement an effective backup program as preventive care for the business. As you look for a backup solution that will meet your facility’s needs, consider the following:

Keep it simple: With more disparate technologies than ever used by companies to access their information, there are a large number of backup products that are specifically designed for different environments – one for traditional computers, one for tablets, another for smartphones and yet another for virtual desktops or servers. In order to keep backup tasks and costs manageable (and increase the likelihood that you will perform regular backups), look for an integrated solution that will keep your information safe regardless of the environment or device from which it is being accessed.

Rethink retention: Industry regulations demand that you retain information for a certain period of time, but too many businesses have a “save everything forever” mentality that leads to increased storage costs and challenges organizing their information. Look for a backup solution that will allow you to search effectively for eDiscovery requests and set policies regarding the expiration of information.

Keep it safe: In the healthcare industry it is critically important to ensure patient files are kept safe from prying eyes.  Data protection solutions often include encryption capabilities that are required by regulation; ensure your data protection solution can includes strong encryption and can safely encrypt data whenever that data is backed up, moved, or stored.

Go for speed: A recent survey conducted by Symantec revealed that nearly three-quarters of businesses would switch their backup products if it doubled their speed. And while we tend to think of backups as slow, resource-intensive processes, the latest generation of solutions is much better at performing fast backup and recovery tasks.

Find the right platform: There are three basic types of backup solutions: software, appliance and cloud/hosted. Backup solutions are available in three different deployments: software, appliance and cloud.

  • Backup software allows you to retain your information on the premises, which makes compliance easier and helps speed information recovery time. It can also be used with existing infrastructure elements. The flip side is that someone on-site is required to set up and manage the backup on an ongoing basis.
  • Appliances provide the same on-site retention and recovery abilities, in an all-in-one machine that contains both the hardware and software. This works well for businesses with more limited IT staff, and especially in remote office deployments. Unifying the software and hardware also allows for efficiency as both are updated together.
  • Cloud-based backups work best for businesses that have no onsite IT staff or where their time is limited. This model provides continuous backup of files, hosted offsite by a secure service provider. This eliminates the need to work with hardware or software onsite, as it is all done through a Web-based interface. Cloud-based backup also works well for multi-site businesses, creating a unified backup resource.

The key is to stop putting it off and begin now to create a plan for protecting business information. Regardless of how much we try to limit the information we create, most organizations are having to deal with increasing information even as budgets shrink. Backup shouldn’t be a luxury, especially for the healthcare industry where data loss can have severe consequences. Consider your organization’s needs and evaluate your options, then choose the best backup tool for your business. A backup a day keeps information loss away.

HIE Waste

Posted on October 30, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a post on LinkedIn, David Angove offered this comment on government HIE funding:

The biggest waste of the new program I’ve seen is the HIE (Health Information Exchange) part. It got much more money than the EHR/MU part (5-10 times) and much of it ended up in the pockets of universities who just absorbed it as personal funding. Just look to see how many HIEs are actually functional in the US now almost 4 years after the grants were awarded. Most of the working HIEs were done by private groups who got tired of waiting for the groups who got all the grant money to do something.

It should be clear that David’s comparing the money spent on HIE’s as compared with RECs (he refers to it as EHR/MU). If you take in the larger EHR incentive money that doctors will receive, then it blows the HIE portion of the funding away.

Instead of focusing on the comparable amounts, I think the question of whether the HIE money the government put out as part of ARRA and the HITECH Act has been generally a waste. I started to think through the successful HIE projects out there. David’s right that the most successful ones I know of (see Indiana’s HIE, Maine’s HIE, and Arizona’s HIE) would have happened regardless of whether the government money came. Does anyone know of government funded HIEs that are seeing success and wouldn’t have without the government money?

The hard part of this question is that we’re not likely to know exactly how well the HIE funding has gone until we see how many HIEs survive post government funding.

Related to this was how many hospital CIOs I’ve talked to that don’t believe that HIE is the future of health information exchange. As one hospital CIO told me, he didn’t think that the HIE was a viable model. Instead he suggested that point to point exchange of information is going to be the winner when it comes to exchanging health information. Considering the issues related to HIE, I have a hard time arguing against that thought.

CMS May Revisit Patient Engagement Rules – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on October 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Health Data Management has a fascinating quote from Travis Broome, specialist at CMS, during a presentation on meaningful use Stage 2 at MGMA 2012.

Stage 2 electronic health record meaningful use requirements that at least five percent of patients conduct secure messaging with physicians, and view, download, or transmit their ambulatory and inpatient data came at the insistence of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. And those requirements might not be set in stone.

The patient engagement requirement has long been one of the most talked about challenges with meaningful use stage 2. The problem is easily seen. Doctors EHR incentive is being held hostage by something they don’t control. If patients don’t want to access their health information, are doctors suppose to coerce them into doing so?

An article in Fierce Health IT also has a money quote on what’s wrong with this MU stage 2 provision:

As Jeremy Tucker, medical director of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown, Md., told FieceHealthcare, better patient experience comes from cultural change across all levels of the organization. “If the reason for doing patient experience is simply to get a better score on a test, you will fail,” he said. “It only takes one cold meal tray or a roll of the eyes by a staff member to derail the patient experience.”

While I love the intent of patient engagement, I don’t love it as a requirement for EHR incentive money.

Another great comment from Broome from the Health Data Management article above is in regards to meaningful use audits:

Answering a question about meaningful use payment audits, Broome acknowledged that the audits have begun. He declined to give many specifics other than saying that providers falling into certain “risk profiles” might be asked to justify their attestations. One practice, for example, attested to meaningful use and supplied identical statistics across multiple criteria, all but inviting suspicion. When challenged, that practice returned the money, Broome said.

UPDATE: Travis Broome sent me this clarifying tweet:


Of course we know he can’t do anything without the secretary approval. Hopefully the bar is a little more than everyone failing. How about almost everyone failing or most people failing?

New Philippines EMR, Machine Tasks, and The EMR Impact

Posted on October 28, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I had an interesting experience with healhcare social media that I’m writing up for Hospital EMR and EHR. It had such an impact on me, that I’ve started creating a deep presentation on all of the various benefits of social media in healthcare. It was amazing how quickly I could put together benefits and potential benefits of using social media. With that said, if you have a story or example of how social media has benefited you, patients, others, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share it on my Contact page if you prefer.

Now on to some interesting insights I’ve found on Twitter related to EMR…


At first when I saw this tweet I kind of rolled my eyes at another EMR software being rolled out. However, as I dug into it more, it seems that this new EMR is marketing to the Phillipines physicians. Maybe I’m wrong on this assumption, but the press release and the peso pricing seem to indicate this.

I’ll admit that I’m not that familiar with the Phillipines EMR market, but I’m always interested to see how an EMR is going forward in another country. I had a discussion on Friday with someone from India who told me, the concepts of privacy and security of health information is not even considered in many parts of India. I guess when you live on very little, you don’t have anything to lose if your health information isn’t kept private. It was an interesting thing I’d like to learn more about.


Dr. Webster is always pulling out special tweets that cause me to think. This is no different. We need to delve a lot deeper into which EMR processes are best done by humans and which are best done by machines.


This made me laugh so hard because of the impact it’s had on the doctor. Reminds me of my post back in 2009 that called EHR the Heart of a Practice. This tweet is a great example of this, but it’s also interesting to observe how the EMR does funny things with the mind as well.

Access To Clinical Data Too Easy Via Phone

Posted on October 26, 2012 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Lately, I’ve had reason to be in touch with my health insurance company, my primary care doctor and multiple specialists.  In speaking with each, what I’ve noticed is that the data they collect to “protect my privacy” isn’t likely to do a good job. And I’ve been wondering whether an EMR can actually help tighten up access.

When I called to discuss clinical matters, both the payer and providers asked for the same information: My date of birth, my street address and my name. As far as I know, folks, you can get all of that information on a single card, a driver’s license.  So, anyone how finds or steals or has access to my wallet has all the info they need to crawl through my PHI.

So, OK, let’s say providers and payers add a requirement that you name the last four digits of your social security card.

There’s a few problems with that approach. First, anyone who has your wallet may well have your Social Security Card.  Second, storing patients’ SSNs in the clear in an EMR is an invitation to be hacked, as the SSN is the gold standard for identity theft. Third, if you want to store them in a form that only allows the last four digits to be read, that’s another function you need to add to your system.

So, what’s the solution? Would it work to have patients identify which doctor they see (something a thief wouldn’t know) or a recent treatment or procedure they’d had?  Probably, although some patients — forgetful elderly, or the chronically ill with multiple providers — might not remember the answers.

Seems to me that when there’s universal use of patient portals by both providers and payers, this problem will largely go away, as patients will be able to be looking at their own records when talking to providers. This will make a more sophisticated security screening possible.

But in the mean time, I’m troubled to know that my payer and several of my doctors use a security method which can be so easily compromised.  Do any of you have suggestions as to what those offices might do in the interim between now and when they have a useful portal to offer?

New Open Source (Free) EHR Offering Developed by A Doctor

Posted on October 25, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In a recent comment, a physician told me they were developing their own open source EHR called New Open Source Health (or NOSH) ChartingSystem. As a huge fan of open source and also since I consider myself a Physician advocate, I had to learn more about what this doctor was doing. The following is an interview with Michael Chen, MD who is developing this new open source EHR.

Tell us a little about yourself and your open source EHR software.

Briefly, I’m a board-certified family physician and I spent 9 years as
a solo practitioner in a low-overhead, micropractice model where it is
just me without any additional ancillary staff. I was not able to
make this possible without the maximum use of technology to help me.
That is why having a robust EHR system was vital for my practice from
the beginning.

I began development of my own open source EHR software in 2009 in
response to the changes in the EHR landscape following the 2009 HITECH
Act and the pending changes to Medicare reimbursement that would
directly affect my practice.

My open source EHR software is called the New Open Source Health (or
NOSH) ChartingSystem. It is a web-based EHR where the user interfaces
the program through any web-browser that is connected to the network
where the NOSH ChartingSystem is installed. It is a based off a MySQL
database and programmed using PHP, HTML5, and Javascript. Many of the
components are based off of other open-source code (the PHP framework,
Javascript framework and plug-ins) It is meant to be run on an Apache
web server.

Why did you choose to develop your own open source EHR software instead of going with the other open source EHR out there?

I initially started work on contributing to the OpenEMR open-source
EHR that has been in development since the late 1990’s. However, over
time, I became disillusioned with the underlying project and the fact
that no matter how I wanted to improve the user interface (which was
my ultimate criticism of the project, even though the rest of the
project was exemplary), it required that I entirely “redo” the whole
system – you can’t fix a user interface as a piecemeal project. I
began to understand that the user interface (like the adage that form
follows function) really starts from the fundamental core of how the
system is developed. OpenEMR, like the other EHRs that I have used,
is designed with the hospital administrator and biller in mind and the
physician interface was a mere afterthought.

My other job before I embarked on my EHR project, besides being a solo
physician, was a medical director of a child abuse assessment center.
Part of my job is to review chart notes from other physicians in the
community and I can tell you that the ones that used EHRs were very
difficult to read at a glance. Even though the information appeared
complete, it was difficult to sort out all the “useless” information
that was contained in the record and to get to the core of clinically
relevant information. That really speaks to where the focus of EHRs
are designed. It really was not for the physician in mind.

After my frustration, I decided to expend my energy more wisely in
starting a new project from scratch as it was already envisioned in my
own practice and in my experience as a physician how a electronic
health record should be.

How far along are you in the development of your EHR software?

It is fully developed for real-world use right now. The Ubuntu
installer and source code has been available to be downloaded and
installed since October 15, 2012. Of course, with all projects, there
are new features, updates, and specific modifications that are a part
of the project life cycle.

Do you think that an open source EHR software can keep up with the well funded EHR vendors out there? Will your EHR software be able to keep up with the changing EHR landscape?

I think there is one specific challenge that will determine if an open
source project can keep up with the well funded EHRs. That challenge,
of course, is the financial means to maintain a project. There is a
second challenge that I’ll go over in more detail regarding your
question about certification.

Regarding the financial component, this project for me started out as
a pro-bono thing for me, with the aim that I could practice medicine
the way I want. I didn’t initially envision that I would release it
for others, but after I spoke to a few other physician colleagues and
saw my project, they were in awe with the simplicity and
user-friendliness of the system and wished they could use an EHR like
mine…of course, they were working in larger organizations that
already have an EHR implemented already. However, as I re-looked at
the landscape of physicians who were satisfied with their EHR system
since the meaningful use incentives began (after I came out of my
developer’s “hole” for a couple of years), I realized that there was a
“great divide” among physicians and the health IT community. If you
look at the Sermo forums and even talking to physicians one-on-one,
many are not happy with the EHR systems they are using. Most feel
that the EHR’s they used affected their workflow negatively and they
have to recoup their cost and efficiency in other ways, all in trying
to not affect patient care, which is very stressful. Most doctors
are angry that this is somehow being “forced” on them and they have no
choice but to comply. This leaves many of my colleagues
disillusioned, not just in the EHR realm, but for the whole profession
as well. Many keep asking (most without any answers, unfortunately),
“why can’t Steve Jobs build an EHR for them”? The key part of that
question, to me, is “for them”. That has been the missing piece that
no amount of incentives can rectify. The process of incentiviation
for lackluster products to doctors is going to lead to a dissolution
of the profession (especially those in primary care) and throwing out
the talent that is out there who really want to make a difference in
healthcare…unfortunately, it is already happening.

One thing that a vibrant, community-supported open source project can
do (that is a significant advantage compared to other EHR products) is
that the open source EHR can be continuously improved upon and adapted
to the needs of physicians, not just now, but in the future. There
are many examples of open source projects that have really done well
over the life-span of the project (Linux and its distributions, but
also Firefox, Android, Drupal and Puppet). I hope and envision NOSH
ChartingSystem to head in the same trajectory with the community
support coming from medical providers and developers alike.

The best open source software projects involve a community of developers and users. How far along are you in building the Nosh EHR community?

Since I just released my project in October, 2012; building my
community is at its infancy stage right now. I hope that having
medical professionals actually try out my project, know that it is
“real” and that they too can be a part of a movement and a project
that will work for them, will continue to build that community.

I’m also planning on working with individuals who are in the forefront
of health care reform to see where this project can go and how it can
work towards those goals. I feel that the EHR, if implemented with
the medical provider in mind, can transform health care in subtle, but
also profound ways, with physicians in the driver’s seat instead of in
the back seat.

Does the trend of hospitals acquiring physician practices concern you since there will be fewer doctors who can use your products? Or do you plan to scale your open source EHR for acute care?

Yes, the trend that there are few and fewer smaller or physician owned
practices does limit my project potential, but on the flip-side, I see
this as a possible way that my EHR can impact health care reform in a
bigger way, if the community support grows significantly and
physicians have voice again.

My focus right now is to make sure EHRs are accessible to the doctors
least able to afford them, even with incentives programs out there.
Those would be the smaller and solo-practice doctors, likely in the
primary care sector and also those in the rural setting, or any
physician or clinic that does not have the means to afford one. That
was why I ended up making my own EHR…because I couldn’t afford the
one I used to have since certification was “needed” for meaningful use
incentives, and even thought I met all the meaningful use criteria
with my older system and my own “modifications”, I would not have been
able to get reimbursement because my system was not “certified”.

I am betting that if a physician sees a truly user-friendly EHR, it
doesn’t need to take incentives for them to jump on board. Because I
feel that most physicians are already ready to jump on board…there
just isn’t something for them to jump on board to that they feel good
about.

One key point, and one that physicians who have implemented an EHR or
thinking about implementing an EHR have noticed, is that the EHR is
not just a product…it’s creating a level of service to make sure a
transition to the EHR is as minimally disruptive as possible to their
practice. It’s not realistic to assume that any switch will not
impact, but I think most physicians have been given a false hope that
with one EHR product is claimed to be overly superior to another that
it would not cause those impacts. I think that too many physicians,
hospital systems, and statewide health systems have been “burned” by
the process and so I’m focusing on offering this EHR project (which
does not cost anything to use and that one can modify it to their
heart’s content without penalty) alongside with consultation services
(which would be my source of revenue) to best incorporate my system to
their practice. EHR implementation is definitely not a
one-size-fits-all approach, so I think the value of these consultation
and personalization services in addition to the physician being a part
of a community, will make happier physician clients overall.

How do you balance the need for an EHR to complete sophisticated tasks, but still keep the interface simple?

It really goes back to the adage of form follows function. You don’t
have to sacrifice function for form. In fact, most of the functions
that NOSH ChartingSystem has is very much what most other EHRs have,
its just presented in a very different way and in a way that (I think)
makes sense to most physicians. Even though I designed this system
for physicians, I know that there are certain non-clinical information
that is important. For instance, if you’re a clinic administrator or
a solo physician like me, there is information in NOSH ChartingSystem
that shows monthly statistics for how many patients have been seen and
how much each insurance company is reimbursing for each visit type or
what has not been paid yet so you can keep track of those accounts
receivables. You can also quickly query a list of all active patients
who are male and have diabetes so you can keep track of your practice
quality.

It’s not just even what type of information is being presented or how
it is entered, the whole system was meant to evoke the feeling of
calmness. As a physician, the last thing I need is a system that
looks like you’re operating a military-grade dashboard with
multi-colored panels with tons of information, and I have decide at
that moment what is important or not without fearing that I’m going to
do something catastrophic with the system. I don’t want to be playing
the “Where’s Waldo” game when I’m working one-on-one with a patient.
As a physician, I’m there to listen, examine, and diagnose…not
figure out minute-by-minute how to enter this finding or locate a
medication allergy or issue for this patient. It just has to be,
almost literally, at my fingertips.

What is the best feature you’ve created in your EHR that others don’t have?

I think I mentioned it before, but it bears mentioning again, a user
interface that is familiar to physicians. One that does not need a
book, tutorial, or class to learn how to use. That is the best
feature of my EHR. For busy doctors, the last thing they need is to
learn something new that takes a lot of time to learn. My philosophy
is that the EHR should be an everyday tool, like a pen, so that
physicians can do the work of physicians. If a patient that you treat
does not know that you are using an EHR while you’re in the middle of
an encounter, that is an example and a testament of a great EHR. If I
can do my part to let physicians be physicians again, I can say that I
successfully accomplished my goals with my EHR project.

What features are still on your EHR roadmap that you haven’t been able to create yet?

My next priority is to port my project to a mobile application; it’s
not a daunting task given the structure and framework that this system
already has, but it just takes a little more time. I think there are
always different customizations one physician would like over another,
which one could consider them as features, but I like to present them
as options rather than adding unnecessary overhead to the core project
over time.

Do you plan on getting your EHR certified? Can a doctor show meaningful use and get the EHR incentive money with your open source EHR?

That is very good question. At this point, I’m hesitant for getting
my EHR certified for the following reasons. I feel that the current
EHR certification process, at its core, is not compatible to the
open-source philosophy. Certification, in it of itself, is a good
idea for any software or service, but the devil is in the details. If
an open-source developer cannot afford certification (like myself),
there’s something to be said about exclusion and giving the upper hand
to already established entities that have a foothold in the EHR
marketplace. For instance, the cost of certfication only applies to
the specific version that is being tested. Updates need to be re
certified, at the same cost of initial certification. Over time, that
can be very costly to a small developer. Certification ought to
promote and encourage innovation (which the current process does not).
I see this issue as a potentially huge challenge for my project as
meaningful use incentives are tied to certified EHR products. I think
there are many examples where a practice or physician is able to meet
meaningful use in a defined and measurable way, but because they
didn’t use a “certified” product, they will get penalized (like me
when I was in practice). What is the point? All the process did was
to disincentivize me into using EHRs as it would cost me nothing if I
used a paper and pen and I stopped seeing Medicare/Medicaid patients.
Is that really want the government wants? Is that good public health
policy?

I believe most physicians are unaware that certification means that
the costs get passed down the physicians and practices. I knew that
it happened to me in 2009 before I started my own project. But most
physicians don’t own their own practice so the issue isn’t even in
stream of consciousness. But as they become more disillusioned with
the MU incentives program as time goes on, it’ll be clear to them that
the real winners here are the established EHR system providers and the
certification bodies and not to the doctors and the patients. This is
where I am actually outraged, from a physician standpoint.

So, I’m not sure I’m going to go the certification route (both
financially and philosophically).

Like I’ve said before, I think a good EHR product should stand on its
own merits without incentives. Physicians are savvy enough to know
what works and most have already caught on to smartphone technology.
Why? Because it’s intuitive to use. Like other human beings,
physicians don’t like to be patronized and told to adapt to a system
that doesn’t make sense to them. Physicians are really looking for
something that works for them. There are just not many options out
there, but I’m offering mine to see where it goes.

What do you see as the future of EHR in healthcare?

Recently, I came across these “10 Commandments of Healthcare
Information Technology” by Dr. Octo Barnett, who penned these way back
in 1970. You can see them on my project website. I found it
fascinating that these concepts are very much what I envision
healthcare information technology to be even now. I found it
disturbing, though, that a lot of what has been happening in
healthcare IT, unfortunately, goes against these concepts. I feel
that for EHRs to succeed in healthcare, we really have to go back to
these concepts. Only then, will EHRs be accepted and used by
physicians. After all, the physicians are the ones that enter the
information in these systems. The value of EHRs and the information
provided is only as good as how the information is entered. We’ve
totally missed the boat on this, from a health IT standpoint in my
opinion…leaving the physicians behind so to speak, but I don’t think
it is too late to change course and start over again. Generations of
younger physicians are craving for a good functioning EHR (I was
astounded that my first job over 20 years ago as a cash attendant at a
cafe involved these touch screen systems that were really easy to use
and then to find that my stint as a medical student, I had to resort
to using paper charts and pens…it’s really telling how far behind we
are on EHR implementation…and that was 15 years ago!). I think it’s
about time that there is something real for physicians to use.

SXSW Accelerator Event for Health IT Startup Companies

Posted on October 24, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Each of the past two years I’ve had a growing desire to go to SXSW. This desire has been fueled by the growing healthcare IT section of SXSW. In 2013, SXSW will have a whole campus dedicated to healthcare IT. That’s a great thing for healthcare and should make for an amazing event.

Also, of major interest to me has been the healthcare portion of the SXSW Accelerator. This is the fifth edition of the SXSW Accelerator which showcases some of the web’s most exciting innovations. The healthcare IT companies that were part of SXSW Accelerator last year are: Medify, Jiff, BodiMojo, CellScope, Simplee, Beyond Lucid Technologies, VitalClip, and Ginger.io.

For those health IT startup companies that are interested, the application deadline is Friday, November 9, and the event itself will be March 11-12, 2013 in Austin, TX. You can apply and find more information on the SXSW Accelerator page.

Past judges of the event have included Tim Draper of DFJ, Chris Hughes of Facebook and Jumo, Paul Graham of Y Combinator, Craig Newmark of Craiglist, Robert Scoble of Rackspace and Scobleizer, Jeff Pulver of 140 Conference, Chris Shipley of Demo and Guidewire, and Tom Conrad of Pandora to name a few. I’ve been honored to be part of the SXSW Accelerator board and looking at the names of who they’re planning to be involved in 2013 is impressive. Plus, I’m doing my part to make sure that healthcare IT is well represented and that the SXSW accelerator is as good a launching pad for health IT startup companies as possible.

Those companies that participate can improve their product launch, attract venture capitalists, polish their elevator pitch, receive media exposure, build brand awareness, network, socialize and experience all that SXSW Interactive has to offer.

Let me know if you’re a health IT company that applies and we’ll have to be sure to catch up at the event.

ICD-10 Benefits to Patients

Posted on October 23, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In March I asked why we haven’t seen stories of all the benefits of ICD-10 to patients. Considering many other countries around the world have been using ICD-10 for years and years, I wondered why we hadn’t heard more stories of the benefits of ICD-10 to patients.

In the following video I asked Doris Gemmell, BSc, MBA, CHIM, Director of Coding Services at Accentus Inc. this same question and she provided a simple but thoughtful example of how ICD-10 could benefit the patient.

I’m also a big fan of Doris because she blogs about ICD-10 on her blog. I always love when smart people share their knowledge on a blog.

OIG to Include Meaningful Use and EHR Incentive Reviews – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on October 22, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We all knew that meaningful use audits were on their way. Healthcare IT News is reporting that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) will undertake a review of ARRA which will include probes into the EHR stimulus program.

“We will review Medicare incentive payments to eligible health care professionals and hospitals for adopting electronic health records (EHR) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) safeguards to prevent erroneous incentive payments, the OIG’s states in its work plan for fiscal year 2013.

In its plan OIG states it will look at incentive payments CMS made beginning in 2011 to identify payments to providers that should not have received incentive payments – those that did not meet the meaningful use criteria.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Considering meaningful use is a self attestation process, then it’s just common sense that the self attestation will receive an audit to help ensure that people attested to meaningful use properly.

Plus, if you’re a regular reader of this site, you might remember that we’ve written about meaningful use audits a few times before. I don’t know anyone that likes audits, but Lynn Scheps provided a good list of suggestions on what documentation you should keep from your meaningful use attestation.

If you’re part of a meaningful use audit or hear about what’s involved in the meaningful use audits, please do let us know in the comments. We’d love to learn from those who have first hand experience with the process.

EMR Uptake, Windows 8 Based Tablet, and Medical Errors – Around HealthCare Scene

Posted on October 21, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Hospital EMR
EMR Uptake By Doctors Slowed By Lack of Time And Knowledge, Not Just Cash
Small practices are the ones having the hardest time implementing EMR. However, it isn’t just because of the hefty cost involved. Lack of time and knowledge also appears to be a big issue. There is a lot of time that has to be invested when selecting an EHR, and small-practice doctors have their hands full with other projects. There is also a lack of HR personnel available to help implement EHR as well.

Attending CHIME 2012 Fall CIO Forum
John recently attended the CHIME 2012 CIO Forum and was able to listen to Farzad Mostashari speak. He spoke on health IT, and why it needs to be used. John describes this event as the “Who’s Who” Of Health IT.

Vendor Hopes To Create Market For Windows 8-Based Tablet EMR
Microsoft has been hard at work creating a Tablet called Surface. There is an EMR that has been developed for Surface as well, and the big news is that it will be loaded with Windows 8. While most healthcare IT is run by either iOS or Android, Microsoft may be stepping up their game with Windows 8. Only time will tell how successful this will be, but so far, things look positive.

Meaningful Health IT News
Medical harm explained, in graphics and Farzad style

Medical errors cause far more deaths than many people realize. This gripping post describes how medical harm ranks in comparison to other causes of death in the US, talks about the story of Dr. Farzad Mostashari’s mother, and how correction is needed in hospitals and the care of ill patients.

Smart Phone Health Care
Managing Pain With New WebMD App

WebMD has recently released a new app that is designed to help people figure out where they have pain, and what might be triggering it. This is an innovative way for patients to be able to tell their doctors what they are experiencing, with evidence backing it up. The app is free and available for the iPhone.