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Working with United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana and Walgreens

Posted on May 31, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Today I had a unique experience attending the Life At 50+ event that AARP puts on. It turns out that life at 50+ revolves around healthcare and wellness in many ways. Plus, they put together the AARP Live Pitch event for healthcare companies to pitch their companies to a board of judges and then to the AARP members. The later was quite interesting to watch and who doesn’t love hearing from real customers.

After lunch, they also had a panel with executives from United Healthcare, Aetna, Humana and Walgreens to talk about what they look for when it comes to working with healthcare startup companies. There were some predictable things like “we focus on the team” and also some off the cuff remarks like the tweet embedded above about “stuff that actually works.”

One thing was clear that these companies were all in an evolution from their core business to something else. As one panel member said they were moving from a claims processing company to a wellness company. Another panel member said they didn’t see themselves as providing healthcare as much as enabling healthcare.

I was most interested to hear these executives talk about what they looked for in a company. The general consensus seemed to be that they wanted companies that understood their gaps and could fill their gaps. Although, when they were asked to talk about their gaps, the executives seemed to have a hard time describing their gaps. I think this is the core challenge. If they really knew their gaps, they’d be filling it themselves.

With that said, I did pull out a couple areas that seemed of great interest to the panel. Those two areas were medication compliance and getting patients to the right doctor. If you can help with either of those things, then your company would likely be of interest to these companies. Although, as the tweet at the top says, you better make sure it works before you think they’re going to work with you.

I also found it ironic that some on the panel wanted an end to end solution while another described them as looking for point solutions. At the end of the day, I don’t think they’d mind either solution if that solution provided value and had seen some traction. For example, one panelist talked about coordinated care, but they also said they wanted to see proof of the coordinated care in action and implemented in a hospital system.

I guess none of these things are too surprising. Find something where you have traction and provide value and you’ll have lots of opportunities.

300 Automatic E&M Coders in EMRs

Posted on May 30, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Automated coding has been a popular topic ever since I first started blogging about EMR software 7.5 years ago. In fact, back then the discussion was usually around how great automated E&M coding was going to be for a doctor. Everything from increased coding levels to firing your billing person were talked about. However, I think the reality is that we’ve seen something much different happen.

Many people hate the automatic E&M coding in EMR because it is wrong so often. If they can’t trust it to do the right coding, then what savings are they really getting from the automation? To put it in the words above, they still need their billing person. Plus, the idea of coding higher is great because it can mean more revenue. However, it also can be seen as upcoding and give you plenty of grief as well. “My EMR told me to do it” isn’t a great defense for over coding a visit.

As I think about these automatic E&M coding engines, it makes me wonder why we don’t have someone who’s created a really great coding engine like we have with drug databases. Since there isn’t that means that every one of the 300+ EMR vendors has their own coding engine. That means we have 300 different E&M coding engines all with different ways to approach coding.

I imagine many would argue the reason the E&M coding engine needs to be part of the EMR is because it needs deep integration with the EMR data. This is true, but the same is going to be true as we enter the world of smart EMR software with deep CDS applications. EMRs aren’t going to build all of these pieces. They’re going to have to enable entrepreneurs to build some really cool stuff on top of their EMR. Why not do the same with E&M coding?

Although, it’s also worth consider, is medical billing one area where human touch is better than automated coding?

In The Trenches Tips for EMR Transitions

Posted on May 29, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Over on EMR and EHR recently, Anne Zieger wrote a post about three tips for EHR transitions. As is often the case, one of our passionate readers emailed me a response to the EHR tips that Anne wrote about. I don’t always post what people send me, but I do like to sprinkle in the comments of our readers to provide multiple perspectives on EHR. Especially when they’re passionate, heartfelt comments that may look at the issue different than I do.

The following comments come in response to Anne’s post from a pediatric office. Be sure to read the full post if you want the commentary for each EMR tip.

EMR Tip #1 – Make workflow changes gradual
Response:
Wake up and smell the coffee! If you have ever implemented an EMR, you know this isn’t possible. You are welcome to try, and I certainly recommend it, but get real. Your best bet is to hold on for dear life, remember that this too shall pass, and BRIBE THE STAFF LIBRALLY WITH GOODIES like (healthy) lunch and (healthy) snacks cuz it is cheaper than replacing staff.

EMR Tip #2 – Ask for feedback
Response:
Oh, believe me, you’ll get this — the trick is to make it specific and useful and then to execute on changes that will mollify providers and nursing. And it will all hit you at once, and a priority system is based on how loud the squeaky wheel is.

EMR Tip #3 – Educate patients
Response:
Ha! The frosting on the cake …

… thus leading to more patient phone calls, longer times in the exam room and as a result, more stressed-out staff. Just ask people to be patient and hope for the best…confusion is unavoidable.

Just keep saying to yourself “This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass…”

Are You Ready for ICD-10?

Posted on May 28, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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’ve been writing about ICD-10 for a long time now including the delay of ICD-10. Based on the CMS comments at HIMSS, there will be no more delays in the implementation of ICD-10. Barring something crazy, ICD-10 will go into effect on October 1, 2014. The question is, are you ready?

If you’re not ready or you’re not sure if you’re ready, check out this ICD-10 whitepaper. It’s a nice straightforward look at ICD-10 and provides 6 steps you can use to make sure you’re ready for ICD-10. Plus, it has some good background on ICD-10 and the basics of the ICD-10 code structure.

Of course, many of you might be wondering why I’m posting about ICD-10 if it’s still over a year away. If you’re asking this, then you must not have looked into ICD-10 very much. It’s not that I think the switch over from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is really that hard, but it takes some time to ensure that all of your systems are ready for the switch over and that your staff are trained.

As is discussed in the ICD-10 whitepaper I mentioned, the first step is to do an impact analysis so you know how you’re doing on your path to ICD-10. Maybe you won’t need a year to get there, but you’ll want to do that impact analysis now so you know either way.

I won’t be surprised if some EMR vendors aren’t ready for ICD-10. It’s kind of insane to consider, but I can see a few scenarios where this happens. Plus, you want to make sure your EMR is able to send proper ICD-10 codes to your billing systems. In some cases you may need to “ride” your EMR vendor to make sure they’re ready. This may take time.

The reality is that the provider is responsible for ICD-10 whether their various software and billing companies are ready or not. So each practice should be proactive in their approach to ICD-10.

ICD-10 Fact: We’ve been using ICD-9 since 1979 and ICD-10 was first brought to the US in 1994.

Memorial Day Tribute

Posted on May 27, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

Today I took my two older kids (9 and 6) to the store with me to pick up a few things for Memorial Day. When we walked into the store an older couple was sitting at the door collecting donations for veterans. I have a soft spot in my heart for veterans and the couple was so cute that on the way out I gave my kids some money to give to the couple. Plus, I figured it was a great lesson for my children and they loved it.

In fact, my daughter loved it so much so that she darted out of the store to make the donation. When I got there the lady was asking my children if they knew where the money was going. My son (9) replied that it was to a charity. The lady responded, “Yes, it was kind of a charity, but one for veterans. Do you know what a veteran is?” My son responded, “People in the military.” The lady then asked, “What do veterans do?”

At this point I’m on the edge wondering how my son might reply. He then responded, “The fight for Freedom.” I’m sure I was beaming after that response. I was really proud of him.

So on this Memorial Day I’m happy to honor and remember those veterans who fight for our freedom.

Healthcare IT and EMRs – Around Healthcare Scene

Posted on May 26, 2013 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.

There are different challenges that come with creating PHRs, especially with adolescents. Certain aspects of PHRs can be hidden from parents, such a pregnancy tests or information on reproductive health. Boston Children’s Hospital has created a special adolescent PHR, that will allow parent’s access to certain files, while keeping some available only for the eyes of the the adolescent.

EMRs are created to increase efficiency of care, eliminate paper records, and optimize care. However, when a person wants to access medical records, they often have to wait days, if not weeks, for the results. Is there a way to have EMRs help patients easily retrieve medical records?

There are many great EMR bloggers out there. John took a trip down memory lane to remember the blogs he first read when he started blogging 7.5 years ago. Do you recognize any of these legacy EMR bloggers?

Do you consider EMRs to be “cool” in the world of Health IT? In this light-hearted post, Jennifer reflects on different parts of Health IT, specifically EMRs, and what she would define as cool. Be sure to chime in on this conversation.

Some people really love their EMRs (or, at least, try to convince themselves that they do!) Two physicians from North Carolina made this clever video, as a way to express some of their frustrations with EMRs in a lighthearted, and fun way. You definitely won’t want to miss this!

The latest innovation from Google may have a big effect on the future of healthcare. Google Glasses, though not created specifically for the healthcare community, could prove to transform healthcare as we know it. From helping medical students learn material, to assisting in the ER, the possibilities appear to be endless.

Health IT and Cancer — #HITsm Chat Highlights

Posted on May 25, 2013 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.

Topic One: What are the unique #HealthIT opportunities to improve cancer patients’ experience during treatment?

Topic 2: How can technology improve the lives of post-treatment #cancer survivors?

 

Topic Three: Where do patients fit into emerging models of personalized medicine driven by #bigdata?

Topic Four: Is there a role that #HealthIT can play in cancer prevention and early detection?

Intermountain Uses EMR To Share Radiation Exposure

Posted on May 24, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger 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.

It’s a well-known and worrisome trend that patients are receiving potentially harmful doses of  radiation from tests such as CT scans. Generally speaking, though, neither patients nor clinicians know exactly how much radiation exposure an individual has received.

At Intermountain Healthcare, however,  they’re hoping to change this state of affairs. The Salt Lake City-based health system of 22 hospitals and 185 clinics is launching what the Wall Street Journal says is the first major effort to measure and report patients’ cumulative radiation exposure.

Intermountain’s effort is focused on the tests that produce the highest amount of radiation, including CT scans, nuclear medicine scans and interventional radiology exams of the heart, the WSJ reports.  As part of an effort to educate clinicians and patients about medical radiation, both will be able to access data on patient exposure levels through Intermountain’s EMR.

The idea behind listing a patient’s radiation exposure is to encourage both clinician and patient to consider the risks and benefits of a particular test and at times, avoid the test if the needed information can be obtained with a radiation-free test, the WSJ piece says.

In a typical year, Intermountain’s patients receive 220,000 CT scans and radiology procedures, so data that helps patient and doctor consider alternatives could conceivably have a meaningful effect, clinicians there say.

Intermountain is not the only hospital system to focus on tracking radiation doses. For example, Hospital Corporation of America, the largest for-profit hospital system, is kicking off a new “Radiation Right” campaign tracking patient doses, the newspaper reports. But it does seem to be the only chain sharing the data with patients via an EMR.

Realistically, these efforts are still in their infancy, as researchers don’t know how much of a cumulative dose of radiation directly increases cancer risk. Still, this does seem like an excellent use of the EMR as a collaborative tool engaging patients in making better-informed health decisions.

Don’t Act Like Charting on Paper Was Fast

Posted on May 23, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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.

One of the things I hear people talk about all the time is how much time they spend charting in their EMR. There’s little question that doctors, nurses, and front desk staff’s lives revolve around an EMR when one is implemented in an office. However, the same was true with the paper chart.

How many times have we hear doctors say, “I’ve got a stack of paper charts I have to finish.”? Or the phrase, “I’m drowning in charting.” It happened all the time even in the paper chart world. Why else would a doctor take a stack of paper charts home with them in their car. It wasn’t for some light reading at night. It was so they could catch up on their paper charting (yes, some took them home for their hospital rounds too).

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that we should give inefficient and poorly designed EMR software a pass. Absolutely not! I am saying that far too many people forget how inefficient paper could be and how the charting and documentation requirements took a lot of time before EMR as well.

In my EHR benefits series, I wrote about the efficiency benefits of Legible Notes and Accessible Charts. I’ve heard many doctors talk about how templates help make them more efficient when it comes to charting. I know many doctors who can touch type so quickly that they can’t imagine writing a paper chart anymore. I know many doctors who use a scribe and see amazing efficiency with charting.

On the other side, I know some who hate their EMR. Their EMR is so slow that they can barely chart in it. They get overwhelmed by the clicks. They spend hours trying to find the right diagnosis or code or template. They have stacks of EMR charts waiting for them to finish charting.

The reality is that you can paint the EMR picture either way. I’ve seen both sides of the story happen many times. However, far too many who ridicule the inefficiencies of EMR seem to forget the inefficiency of paper.

Healthcare IT Marketing

Posted on May 22, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 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’m often surprised by people’s reaction when I say that I’m a blogger. Most then believe that it must be a part time thing that I do for fun at nights. While it started that way, blogging is my full time job. If it weren’t for a large number of companies who’ve supported my work over the years, I’d probably have one blog that I’d post to a couple times a month. I can’t say how much these companies support means to me.

As my blogs have grown and the industry has changed (when I started people didn’t even know what a blog was), I’ve been working to evolve with the industry. While display advertising still does quite well for me and my advertisers, there are a number of shifts happening in healthcare marketing. That’s why I launched Influential Networks, an EHR Job board, EMR and EHR whitepapers, email blasts, and a number of other projects I’m still working to officially launch like my EHR and Health IT video series.

There’s a lot happening when it comes to healthcare marketing, and next week as part of my EHR and Health IT interview series, I’m going to be doing an interview with Don Seamons from Lumeno Marketing and Shahid Shah from Influential Networks. More details on that to come, but it should be a really interesting conversation on the changing healthcare marketing landscape.

With everything I do, my goal is to provide value to everyone involved. For example, those reading the site get value from the free content that’s available to them and also get introduced to companies they may not have known about otherwise. Those companies that advertise benefit from exposure to people reading the content we create. I don’t always nail this perfectly, but I’m sincere in my efforts to provide value all around. Plus, whenever there’s a financial interest involved in something I’m doing, I try to make that clear to the reader. That way everyone knows any bias I may have and can make their own judgement on the content I provide.

With all of this in mind, I want to take a second recognize the new and renewing EMR & HIPAA advertisers.

ZH Healthcare – As most of you know, my blog run on the backs of many open source software products. So, I’m really glad to have an open source EMR company supporting EMR and HIPAA. ZH Healthcare is built on the back of the most successful ambulatory EHR software to date, OpenEMR. If you want the flexibility of an open source EHR, check them out.

Caristix – I love the tagline from their ad, “HL7 interfacing 50% faster.” I think that pretty much describes what Caristix offers to those in healthcare IT. HL7 is going to be with us for a long time to come, so every institution and company should know a great HL7 company. Check out Caristix if you’re looking to do some HL7 integrations.

Chetu – Rather than me trying to describe Chetu, check out this interview I did with Craig Schmidt from Chetu. You can see the breadth of experience they have developing software for healthcare. If you’re looking to outsource some IT development work, check out Chetu.

Renewing Advertisers
The heart and soul of our support is in our renewing advertisers. So, a big thanks to all of the companies listed below for renewing their ads with us. It’s great to look over so many of these companies who have been supporting us for so many years. Here’s to many more years working together. If you enjoy what we do here at EMR and HIPAA, check out the advertisers below and see if they offer something you’re looking for.
Ambir – Advertising since 1/2010
Amazing Charts – Advertising since 5/2011
simplifyMD – Advertising since 9/2012
Canon – Advertising since 10/2012

A number of other exciting things coming in the future. Thanks to all the readers and supporters of EMR and HIPAA.