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What’s Happening at MEDITECH w/ Helen Waters, VP @MEDITECH

Posted on January 25, 2016 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.

UPDATE: Here’s the video recording of my interview with Helen Waters from MEDITECH

MEDITECH - Helen Waters

Many in the large hospital EHR space have argued that it’s a two horse race between Cerner and Epic. However, many forget how many users MEDITEH still has using its healthcare IT products. Not to mention MEDITECH was originally founded in 1969 and has a rich history working in the space. On Friday, January 29, 2016 at 1 PM ET (10 AM PT), I’ll be sitting down with Helen Waters, VP at MEDITECH to talk about the what’s happening with MEDITECH and where MEDITECH fits into the healthcare IT ecosystem.

You can join my live conversation with Helen Waters and even add your own comments to the discussion or ask Helen questions. All you need to do to watch live is visit this blog post on Friday, January 29, 2016 at 1 PM ET (10 AM PT) and watch the video embed at the bottom of the post or you can subscribe to the blab directly. We’ll be doing a more formal interview for the first 30 minutes and then open up the Blab to others who want to add to the conversation or ask us questions. The conversation will be recorded as well and available on this post after the interview.

We’re interested to hear Helen’s comments about the culture and history of MEDITECH along with what MEDITECH’s doing with its products to change perceptions and misconceptions around the MEDITECH product. We’ll also be sure to ask Helen about important topics like interoperability and physician dissatisfaction (“Too Many Clicks!”). We hope you’ll join us to learn more about what’s happening with MEDITECH.

If you’d like to see the archives of Healthcare Scene’s past interviews, you can find and subscribe to all of Healthcare Scene’s interviews on YouTube.

Meaningful Use Is Going to Be Replaced – #JPM16

Posted on January 12, 2016 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.

Big news came out today during the JP Morgan annual healthcare conference in San Francisco. Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS, live tweeted his own talk at the event including this bombshell:


Technically meaningful use is not quite over, but it’s heading that way. We always read about lame duck head coaches in sports. I guess this is the version of a lame duck government program? Of course, this is just coming from the acting administrator of CMS. It’s not yet law. So, all those working on meaningful use reports, keep working.

The end of meaningful use as we know it will be generally welcome news to most in healthcare. Although, I’m sure that most will also take it with a grain of salt. Many in healthcare likely worry that the “something better” that replaces meaningful use and MACRA will actually be something worse. The cynics might argue that nothing could be worse, but I’ve never seen the government back down from that challenge.

What interests me is what levers they have available to them to be able to make changes. Can they do it without congressional action? Are doctors angry enough that congress will take action? What will happen to the remaining $10-20 billion allocated to meaningful use? What will hospitals and doctors that were counting on the meaningful use money do? Will they not get it anymore or will it be available in a new program? Obviously, there are more questions than answers at this point.

All in all, I’m glad to hear that Andy Slavitt is open to change. I suggested they blow up meaningful use a couple years ago.

Andy also did a tweetstorm to outline the 4 themes for reforming the MACRA and post-MU tech program:

These all seem surprisingly reasonable and mirror many of the comments I hear from doctors. However, the challenge is always in the implementation of these ideas. Some of them are very hard to track and reward. I can’t argue with the principles though. They highlight some of the major challenges associated with healthcare tech. It’s going to take some time to infuse entrepreneurship instead of regulation back into the EHR world, but these guidelines are a good step towards that effort.

UPDATE: Here’s the full text of Andy Slavitt’s talk at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Is Fitbit a Digital Health Solution?

Posted on January 6, 2016 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.

As I’ve been making the rounds of Digital Health at CES (technically the show officially starts today), I’ve run into an extraordinary amount of digital health sensors and tracking devices. Some of them are me too copycats of the already flooded fitness trackers. Others are doing really incredible stuff around ecg, muscle mass, respiratory, heart rate, and much more.

One conversation that I’ve had multiple times is that Fitbit and Fitness trackers like it really aren’t a digital health solution. This isn’t really said as a knock to Fitbit. Almost always this statement is proceeded by a comment about how Fitbit has done some really great things. However, the question really revolves around whether Fitbit is a healthcare application or whether it’s just a fun consumer device.

There’s no argument that Fitbit has been extremely successful. It’s also created mainstream interest in tracking your health. As a consumer application it’s been a big hit. The numbers don’t lie. However, many would equate what it’s accomplished in healthcare to something like the Wii Fit as opposed to something that impacts clinical care like a medical device. It’s more of a game that provides some health benefits than it is a clinical device. I even heard one person take it as far as to compare it to running shoes. If you did a study, running shoes probably improve the health of many people since it makes it easier to exercise. Does that make it a health solution?

Like I said, I don’t think anyone is arguing that what Fitbit is doing is bad. I also can’t remember Fitbit ever really claiming to influence clinical care. It’s the rest of the world that’s drawing that conclusion for them. Countless are the number of articles that talk about a patient sharing their Fitbit data with their doctor.

In response to those articles doctors have generally responded, why do I care about their Fitbit data? I think the reason doctors react this way is because the Fitbit data is limited and really doesn’t affect the clinical care for most people. Maybe there’s some isolated cases, but for the majority of Americans it wouldn’t change the care they receive.

While this is true for Fitbit, there is a wave of other tracking devices that could (and I believe will) impact clinical care. It’s easy to see how a continuous ecg monitor that’s FDA cleared (ie. Doctors trust the data) could impact clinical care. This is actually true clinical data that doctors will care about seeing.

At this point I think it’s true that majority of doctors don’t want to get your Fitbit data. It’s not clinically relevant. However, that’s going to change rapidly as health sensors continue to evolve. Maybe Fitbit will find some clinical relevancy in the data they produce. If not, a wide variety of other vendors are going to create clinically relevant data that doctors will not only want in their EHR, but they’re going to demand it.

The only question I have now is, should we be building the highways for that data now so that we can easily turn on these new sources of clinically relevant data?

Side Note: I’ll be doing a Digital Health video blab from CES 2016 if you’d like to join.

A 10 Year Old Child Shows Us Why A Direct Project Directory Is Unnecessary

Posted on December 15, 2015 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 recently hosted a panel of direct project experts. During the panel, Greg Meyers (@greg_meyer93) talked about why the need for a Direct Address directory was overstated. He argued that doctors could collect the direct addresses for the network of providers they refer to on their own quite easily. A directory would be nice, but you could still easily get value from direct without one.

To prove this point, Greg sent over this great story about his niece.

This past weekend, my wife’s family held their Christmas dinner and gift exchange, and the actions from my 10 year old niece were the highlight of my day. She has been desperately wanting a iPod Touch for quite some time for simple tween workflows such as taking pictures/video, downloading apps, and emailing/video chatting with her friends. With me being the corruptive spoiler of my sister-in-law’s children, I got permission a few months back to get her daughter the prized iTouch as a Christmas present.

From the moment she opened it, her excitement almost exploded out of her face. She spent the first hour asking Siri silly little girl questions, but the next hour was a display of simple intuition and what appears to achieve what some in the Health IT domain describe as almost impossible.

The tasks was simple: setup her email and FaceTime so she could start communicating with her family and friend immediately. Keep in mind this a child whose only electronic presence is her GMail account mandated via her 5th grade class; no Facebook, no SnapChat, no Twitter, no WhatsApp, and no access to a repository of electronic endpoints other than what she could find with a google search.

We went down the path of getting FaceTime associated with an AppleId and configuring the email app with access to her GMail account. What happened next was my moment of the year. She went around asking all her family members for email addresses and entering them into her contacts list. Anybody that had an apple device, she asked if they were on FaceTime and tried to initiate a test video conversation. If she had issues connecting to them, she would ask them to initiate a conversation by giving them her address and added them into her contacts after terminating a test chat. She tried adding some her classmates via the email addresses she knew, but when she failed, she said she would just call them or ask when she went back to school on Monday. By the time the day was over, she had built a respectable network (with validated endpoints) with her closest contacts and formed solid plan of how to continue to build her network. Oh, and she did this without the assistance of a directory; just plain old simple leg work.

I’m kicking myself for not following her with a video camera, but I think this poetically demonstrated the ability to build useful networks via the trivial thought processes of a tween girl.

Thanks Greg for sharing the story. Sometimes we seem to forget that not all solutions have to be technical and we don’t have to be hand fed everything. Here’s the video interview with Greg Meyers, Julie Mass and Mark Hefner for those that want to learn more about Direct Project:

A Healthcare Holiday Tale: Horace & the Messaging Miracle

Posted on December 9, 2015 I Written By

The following is a great health care holiday poem written by the team at DataMotion Health. Thanks to them for sharing their creativity with us. You can download a beautiful PDF version of the poem here.

Horace had health woes that were very much chronic,
His doctors were stymied, could not find a tonic.
It ruined his holidays last year, and worse,
He was never quite able to get rid of the curse.

He ran here for some blood work, scurried there for a scan,
The results never made it back to his primary’s hands.
Referrals were lost, prescriptions weren’t made,
If they’d contacted him, oh the time he’d have saved!
Horace Intro 1
Still the thing that pushed Horace right over the edge,
Was the breach that gave his data to hackers instead.
Now his rombosis was raging, his hacknoids inflamed,
Must he cancel his holidays at Aunt Esther’s again?

So with brimstone and ire he called Doc Minty B. Cone,
Even nursing heard cursing coming out of the phone.
“Egad,” moaned Doc Minty, “Is there a solution that’s near?
There’s no reason for this…I could so use a beer!”
horace yelling doc-minty-image 2
“A solution, need you?” quipped Tim Tan from IT.
“I’ve got one that you’ll love if you’ll listen to me.
It allows sharing data ‘cross the continuum of care
O’er the internet securely, there’s nothing to fear.”

“Each doctor would know what the other was doing.
Could a reaction to treatment be Horace’s undoing?
The blood work results, the hacknoidial scan?
With the click of a mouse, they’d be in your hands.”

“Not so fast,” said Doc Minty, “I know what comes next,
A list of techno to-dos that will leave us all vexed!”
Tim Tan smiled broadly and smugly replied,
“This can be done in the cloud – it’s not pie in the sky.”

“There are Health ISPs to get it set straight away,
No wires or briars, sometimes done in a day.
Encryption with ease, no security keys,
Works just like email, the whole thing’s a breeze!”
minty and tim-tan image 3
“And when you bring in the patient…when the info is flowing?”
“Better outcomes!” cried Minty, “I know where you’re going!”
“Exactly, good Doctor,” Tim Tan said with a smirk.
“Patient engagement’s the future!” and he started to twerk.

Minty had to admit it – there was nothing to fight.
This gyrating hipster was actually right!
Then Tim Tan settled down and without further defiance.
Discussed without thrust how it helps with compliance.

“What’s that?” came the voice of the new CCO.
“Our tracking not causing us any more woes?”
And when he detailed the subsidies of Meaningful Use,
The CFO burst in with the force of a moose.

Doc Minty looked up to see a crowd gathered,
More doctors, more staff, all worked up in a lather.
He knew what to do as they joined him in chorus,
“Secure communications – it’s time we saved Horace!”

Then they raced down the hallway and into the eve,
As Tan wiped away tears with the sleeve of his tweed.
They spilled out of the lobby into snow soft and white,
Crying “Better healthcare for all and to all a goodnight!”
Running into the night image 4
Later next evening, Horace gave out a shout.
A message from Minty, “Now what’s this about?”
An appointment was scheduled for Tuesday at three.
All his doctors were assembled and stifling their glee.

“Horace,” said Minty, “You were right on the money.
We weren’t on the same page, and while I know it’s not funny,
Communication amongst us is now done securely.
We’ve shared all the data and know why you feel poorly.”

Dr. Janacek started, “I prescribed Noodlerspec,
An anti-inflammatory that keeps hacknoids in check.”
“But the cream that I gave to grow hair on your head,
Can make them balloon!” Doc Grizzly Bales said.

“And the pressure resulting makes rombosis rage,”
Added a lab tech named Prudence, who preferred the name Paige.
Then Doc Minty leaned over and with a gleam in his eye,
Held a single pill out and said, “Now, give this a try.”
horace gets pill image 5
One giant gulp later Old Horace was well!
His rombosis gone! His hacknoids unswelled!
He went home, packed his bags and then hopped on a plane
To celebrate the holidays at Aunt Esther’s again.

The family gathered ‘round as Horace pulled up a site,
A new patient portal they viewed through the night.
They saw all his scans, test results and those files.
They were mostly grossed out but couldn’t help smile.

“It’s just as it should be – I know what’s going on!”
Horace even broke into a Festivus song.
And his hair spilled out grandly as he tossed up his hat,
Frightening Aunt Esther and all her eight cats.
horace-aunt-esther (003) final image 6
For Tim Tan, his advice had finally been heeded,
The practice ran better, that’s all that he needed.
The staff was more efficient and now had a way
To communicate securely and keep hackers at bay.

As for Minty, he smiled, though he scraped away ice.
Climbed into his car and checked his mobile device.
And there found a message from Horace of good cheer;
“Happy holidays Doc, and a healthy New Year!”

Happy holidays and a healthier new year from DataMotion Health!
Delivering secure health information, where and when it’s needed most.
Please visit www.datamotionhealth.com for more information.

Competitive Pressures Kill Interoperability…and Not Just in Healthcare

Posted on December 8, 2015 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.

The past few weeks I’ve been working to get a new cell phone unlocked and transferred from one network provider to another. There’s no need to name names of which networks since they’re all a pain from what I’ve read online. Needless to say, it shouldn’t take me weeks to get a cell phone unlocked and transferred to a new network provider, but it was a total pain.

Think about how much simpler the world of cell phones is compared to healthcare. There are really only 2 standards: GSM and CDMA. In the US that translates to 4 main providers: T-Mobile/AT&T and Verizon/Sprint. Sure, there are a number of smaller providers as well, but there are really only 4 major carriers in the US. You’d think it would be simple to transfer between them since people are doing it all the time. Not to mention there are laws that are passed that require you to be able to switch between providers.

While it seems to have gotten a lot better with these new laws, there are still a lot of competitive pressures for why one network doesn’t want to have someone transfer to another network. It’s in their best interest for it to be difficult for you to switch. That includes your phone not working on the new network even if your phone has all the chips and tech needed to work on it. It’s fair to say that if it was economically good to have that capability, we could seamlessly move between any cell phone provider and be just fine. This is absolutely not a technical issue, but it’s still a challenge to actually do it.

As I was thinking about my experience playing musical cell phones, I couldn’t help but think that the comparison to health care interoperability is really strong. There are competitive pressures for why health care organizations haven’t wanted to share data. New laws are starting to change that, but it’s happening slowly. Far too often I talk to people aghast that healthcare wouldn’t be sharing data with each other. This is far from a healthcare only problem as I saw first hand in the cell phone industry.

Plus, let’s be honest. Healthcare data exchange is at least an order of magnitude more complex (possibly two order of magnitude) than cell phone data. I’m sure the cell phone providers spent plenty of time talking about the technical challenges associated with transferring cell phones from one network to another even though it’s much simpler than healthcare. We all know we’ve had those same arguments in health care for years. I imagine cell networks have even pulled the privacy card that we hear so often in healthcare when you talk about data sharing.

I’m not sure it’s much of a consolation, but I feel it’s good to realize that interoperability is a problem in many industries and not just healthcare. No doubt healthcare has a unique culture and a number of idiosyncrasies. However, I think we have more in common with other industries than most of us realize.

It’s taken the right laws and incentives in place for my cell phone transfer to be possible at all even if it’s still not as easy as it should be. We’re seeing the same thing play out in healthcare. Competitive pressures made it impossible in the past, but that’s really changing. There’s still more work to be done, but we’re getting there.

We’re More Alike Than We Are Different – Day 2 at #RSNA15

Posted on December 1, 2015 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.

As I’ve continued my virgin journey at the massive RSNA (radiology) conference, I continue to be struck by how the challenges radiologists face are so similar to the challenges that are faced around healthcare IT. Here’s a look at some of them I’ve heard so far:

Data Standardization – In the EHR world we’ve been talking about data standardization forever. In the imaging world the challenges are very much the same. There are large and small vendors and the same challenge of trying to get them all on the same page. I do think imaging is a touch further along than the EHR world when it comes to standardization. However, they still have a ways to go too.

Workflow – Creating the right process for capturing and documenting the image is a major challenge. Getting the image to display at the right place and the right time is also a challenge. Sounds a lot like all the other EHR data doesn’t it?

Patient Engagement – This one really surprised me. In fact, some radiologists argue that the patient doesn’t want to interact with the radiologist, but only wants to interact with their referring provider. However, I’ve heard over and over from people about the opportunity for radiologists to really engage the patient. I think it’s a slightly different engagement, but all of healthcare IT is talking patient engagement.

Privacy and Security – The breach is just as strong in imaging as it is in all other health IT.

Smart Use of Data – There’s a feeling that we need new systems to process all the imaging data in a better way and that we should present only the data that’s relevant and necessary to the situation. In other words, exactly what we’re trying to do with the patient’s entire medical record. In fact, I think the smart use of data has to apply across all of a patient’s data from imaging to consumer collected data to EHR data.

Data Trust Issues – We trust radiology data, but as Kim Garriott, Principal Consultant of Healthcare Strategies for Logicalis Healthcare Solutions pointed out to me, the same isn’t true for a lot of other imaging data. There’s still a lot of work to do to ensure that the capture of other data from ultrasounds to scopes is done in a way that other providers can trust that data. Sounds exactly like our discussion around trusting EHR data.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the challenges are very much the same even if it sometimes feels like another world. We’re more alike than we are different. It’s just easy to focus on our differences. I think there’s a lot we can learn from each other.

We Share Health Data with Marketing Companies, Why Not with Healthcare Providers? Answer: $$

Posted on November 20, 2015 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.

For those who don’t realize it, your health data is being shared all over the place. Yes, we like to think that our health care data is being stored and protected and that laws like HIPAA keep them safe, but there are plenty of ways to legally share health care data today. In fact, many EHR vendors sell your health care data for a pretty penny.

Of course, many would argue that it’s shared in a way that complies with all the laws and that it’s done in a way that your health record isn’t individually identified. They’re only sharing your health data in a de-identified manner. Others would argue that you can’t deidentify the health data and that there are ways to reidentify the data. I’ll leave those arguments for another post. We’ll also leave the argument over whether all this sharing of health data (usually to marketing, pharma and insurance companies) is safe or not for a future post as well.

What’s undeniable is that health data for pretty much all of us is being bought and sold all over health care. If you don’t believe it’s so, take a minute to look at the work of Deborah Peel from Patient Privacy Rights and learn about her project theDataMap. She’ll be happy to inform you of all the ways data is currently being bought and sold. It’s a really big business.

Here’s where the irony comes in. We have no trouble sharing health data (Yes, even EHR vendors have no problem sharing data and lets be clear that not all EHR vendors share data with these outside companies but mare are sharing data) with marketing companies, payers and pharma companies that are willing to pay for access to that data. Yet, when we ask EHR vendors to share health data with other EHR vendors or with an HIE, they balk at the idea as if it’s impossible. They follow that up with a bunch of lame excuses about HIPAA privacy or the complexity of health care data.

Let’s call a spade a spade. We could pretty easily be interoperable in health care if we wanted to be interoperable. We know that’s true because when the money is there from these third party companies, EHR vendors can share data with them. The problem has been that the money has never been there before for EHR vendors to be motivated enough to make interoperability between EHR vendors possible. In fact, you could easily argue that the money was instructing EHR vendors not to be interoperable.

However, times are changing. Certainly the government pressure to be interoperable is out there, but that doesn’t really motivate the industry if there’s not some financial teeth behind it. Luckily the financial teeth are starting to appear in the form of value based reimbursement and the move away from fee for service. That and other trends are pushing healthcare providers to want interoperable health records as an important part of their business. That’s a far cry from where interoperability was seen as bad for their business.

I heard about this shift first hand recently when I was talking with Micky Tripathi, President & CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative. Micky told me that his organization had recently run a few RFPs for healthcare organizations searching for an EHR. As part of the EHR selection process Micky recounted that interoperability of health records was not only included in the RFP, but was one of the deciding factors in the healthcare organizations’ EHR selections. The same thing would have never been said even 3-5 years ago.

No doubt interoperability of health records has a long way to go, but there are signs that times are changing. The economics are starting to make sense for organizations to embrace interoperablity. That’s a great thing since we know they can do it once the right economic motivations are present.

The Future is Now – Physician Discontent and Adopting EHRs Today – Breakaway Thinking

Posted on November 18, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Carrie Yasemin Paykoc, Senior Instructional Designer / Research Analyst at The Breakaway Group (A Xerox Company). Check out all of the blog posts in the Breakaway Thinking series.
Carrie Yasemin Paykoc

In the movie Back to the Future II, a young man named Marty McFly and his time-traveling companion Doc Brown travel thirty years into the future—October 21 2015—to unite his parents and correct the space-time continuum. Although this “future” date occurred several weeks ago, the technological advancements presented in the movie are not far off from reality.  In the “future” Marty cruises around his home town on a new hoverboard and the sky is filled with mechanical drones. There are a few hologram images and people are dressed in brightly colored, plastic outfits. Aside from the fashion statement, many of these technological advancements are well under way. The future is now!

Not all technology has advanced as rapidly as depicted in the movie, though. From a health information technology (HIT) perspective, it often feels like we are back in 1985 dreaming of better technology.  Electronic health records (EHRs) present one of the biggest opportunities for improvement in healthcare.

A recent study published by the RAND Corporation and sponsored by the American Medical Association (AMA) examined how satisfied physicians are with their EHRs. It found that they approve of the concept of EHRs and are largely satisfied by the ability to remotely access patient information at any time. Most physicians, practice leaders, and staff also agreed that advancements in EHR technology such as improved interoperability and improved interfaces have great potential to improve care as well as physician and patient satisfaction. On the other hand, the current state of EHRs worsened overall professional satisfaction among respondents. Data entry, usability, inefficient workflows, and lack of interoperability were a few of the main pain points mentioned in the study.

A recent parody of Jay Z’s Empire State of Mind articulates many of these same frustrations. “Just a glorified billing system with patient info tacked on,” is one of the poignant lyrics mentioned in the video.  Many physicians are fantasizing about going “back to the future” or using a more sophisticated system.

In order to move forward in advancing EHRs and HIT, clinicians, support staff, and administration need to take responsibility for their organization’s initial technology investment. If data entry, usability, and inefficient workflows are causing pain, it is time to re-revaluate those clinical workflows and escalate system issues and enhancements to their vendors.

Each time I am onsite with a client preparing for go-live I am reminded of all the energy spent on implementing these systems. But it is equally important that clinical leaders re-evaluate their initial workflows and develop a plan for sustained use after the initial excitement has faded. And during this time, leaders must provide feedback and escalate system issues to their vendor.

Engaged clinical leadership is required to not only adopt the current state of EHRs but to transform the future of health information technology. How can clinical leaders do both? First, realize an EHR is not something you can throw-away or easily replace without enormous costs.  In our consumer-based culture, old technologies like cell phones or televisions are often thrown out for the latest advancements. Although EHRs are in many ways less sophisticated than some consumer-based applications, most of those applications (if not all) do not have the ability to improve patient care or patient safety. If using today’s EHR technology saves more lives than using paper alone, it is our collective responsibility to adopt these systems.

Once this paradigm shift has occurred and clinical leaders have made a sustained commitment to using EHRs, progressive and impactful change can occur. Conversations can begin to shift to improving clinical workflows, enhancing interfaces, improving interoperability, and utilizing health information exchanges. But these later conversations will never occur if the focus is on the initial difficulties and stress associated with implementing and using these systems. In order to live up to our vision of the “future,” we must accept the realities of today.

Xerox is a sponsor of the Breakaway Thinking series of blog posts.

The Benefits of Real-Time Locating Systems in Healthcare

Posted on November 16, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Stephanie Andersen, Managing Partner at ZulaFly.
Stephanie Andersen
“It is frustrating to not be able to find things you need when you need them.”

This is a recurring theme from professionals I interact with across the entire healthcare spectrum.

The healthcare industry is a setting where assets are seemingly in constant motion. With this movement comes increased possibility for assets to be misplaced or leave the building, creating unnecessary replacement expense that can negatively affect your organization’s bottom line.

Real-Time Locating System, or RTLS, has been on the scene as a dependable solution to tag and locate important, valuable assets that easily go missing and has increasingly become more important to a hospital’s bottom line.

Stop Replacing, Start Locating

Where are assets and how are they being utilized? RTLS answers this question in ways no other technology has been able to before.

In my conversations with healthcare leaders, many express concern over how often valuable assets walk out the door. RTLS possesses the strength to know if assets are moving at hours or in areas they should not be, as well as when assets reach the door.

In the healthcare industry, assets such as PSA and infusion pumps, beds, wound vacs, ventilators, Doppler systems, and workstations on wheels are just a few items staff members are tagging and keeping closer tabs on thanks to RTLS.

Staff can also use RTLS to evaluate whether an asset should be moved from one area to the next to increase utilization, compared to simply buying another one.

As a whole, replacement costs are reduced and the amount of dollars sunk into unused or forgotten rental equipment becomes remedied thanks to RTLS.

At ZulaFly, I am often asked if there is a way for hospitals to track ambulances and other care transport vehicles so that hospitals can have a 360 degree view of what is happening inside and outside of the facility. We have developed a GPS offering that combines with RTLS to create this comprehensive view.

Increased Staff and Patient Safety

A quality RTLS system gives staff members a device that allows them to easily call for help in real-time.

Additionally, RTLS affords patients a button-press solution in case of an emergency. Because the RTLS tag allows staff to quickly locate where the issue is occurring, the situation can be quickly attended to and remedied.

Industry leaders are seeing the value of RTLS within their healthcare facilities, quickly realizing how reduced replacement cost and time saved searching for assets create considerable return on investment.

About Stephanie Andersen
Stephanie Andersen is a 17+ year professional within the software industry, spending over ten of those years working at Microsoft. Through various roles and responsibilities that range from technical support, to project management, to driving sales, to business operations and even product development, Stephanie has become focused on sales, marketing, and business development. This strong skillset and unparalleled experience has been key in developing the go-to market strategy that has brought ZulaFly from concept to completion, and most recently to market.