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EHR Partner Programs

Posted on May 22, 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.

Amazing Charts just announced a new EHR partner program. This isn’t something that’s particularly new for EHR vendors. They all have lots of partners. Some have formalized them into a program like athenahealth has done with their More Disruption Please (MDP) program. Others are much more quiet about the partners they work with and how they work with them.

What’s clear to me in the EHR industry is that an EHR vendor won’t be able to do everything. There are some that like to try (See Epic), but even the largest EHR vendor isn’t going to be able to provide all the services that are needed by a healthcare organization. This is true for ambulatory and hospitals.

Since an EHR vendor won’t be able to do everything, it makes a lot of sense for an EHR vendor to have some sort of partners program. The challenge for an EHR vendor is that a partner program comes with two major expectations. First, the partner has a high quality integration with the EHR software. Second, that the partner is something that the EHR vendor has vetted.

The first challenge is mostly a challenge because most EHR vendors aren’t great at integrating with outside companies. This is a major culture shift for many EHR vendors and it will take time for them to get up to speed on these types of integrations. Plus, these integrations do take some time and investment on the part of the EHR vendor. When there’s time and investment involved, the EHR vendor starts to be much more selective about which companies they want to be working with long term. They don’t want to spend their time and money integrating with a company which none of its users will actually use.

The second challenge is that EHR users assume that an EHR partner is one that’s been vetted by the EHR vendor. Even if the EHR vendor puts all sorts of disclaimers on their partner page, the EHR vendor is still associated with their partners. The written disclaimers might help you avoid legal issues, but working with shady partners can do a lot of damage to your reputation and credibility in the marketplace. I actually think this is probably the biggest reason that EHR vendors have been reluctant to implement partner programs.

I think over time we’ll see the first problem solved as EHR vendors work to standardize their APIs for partner companies. As those APIs become more mature, we’ll see much deeper EHR integrations and the costs to an EHR vendor will drop dramatically when it comes to new partner integrations.

The second problem is much harder to solve. My best suggestion for EHR vendors is to create a platform which allows your users to help you vet potential partners. Not only can they participate in the vetting process, but it can also help you know which partners would be useful to your users. Is there anything more valuable than user driven partnerships? It also puts you in a good position with potential partners if you already have users interested in the integration.

However, an EHR vendor shouldn’t just leave potential partnership requests to their users. Many of their users don’t know of all the potential partner companies. Users are so busy dealing with their day jobs that they often don’t know of all the potential companies that could benefit their practice or hospital. Certainly you should accept user input on potential partnerships, but an EHR vendor should also seed the potential partner feedback platform with a list of potential partners as well. The mix of an EHR vendor created list together with user generated partner lists is much more powerful than one or the other.

We’re just at the beginning of companies partnering and integrating with EHR vendors. I expect that over the next 5 years an EHR vendor will be defined as much by the organizations it chooses to partner with as the features and functions it chooses to develop itself.

What’s the Story on 21st Century Cures Legislation?

Posted on May 21, 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 just saw that the 21st Century Cures legislation passed the house committee process. Word on the street is that Congress probably won’t take this up even if the house passes it this summer. The legislation looks pretty interesting for those of us in healthcare IT. Blair Childs, Premier’s senior vice president of public affairs, offered the following statement on the legislation:

Members of Premier wish to thank House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Representative Diana Degette (D-CO) for their leadership to advance interoperability standards as part of the landmark 21st Century Cures legislation. With today’s vote, the vision for a fully interoperable health information technology ecosystem is one step closer to becoming a reality.

We also wish to thank Committee members Joe Pitts (R-PA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Gene Green (D- TX), Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Doris Matsui (D-CA) for their support of interoperability standards in the legislation, and for their efforts to ensure that the technology systems of the future will be built using open source codes that enable applications to seamlessly exchange data/information across disparate systems in healthcare.

Today’s vote is an essential step to optimize HIT investments, improve the quality of care across settings and avoid the cost burdens associated with the work around solutions that are needed today for systems to “talk” to one another. We strongly urge the full House of Representatives to support these interoperability standards and to vote in favor of moving the legislation forward as it stands today.

Many of the comments he offers about ensuring interoperability is open source and support for standards of healthcare interoperability are great things. Although, as I think we learned with the meaningful use regulations, the devil is in the details and the 21st Centure Cures legislation is not simple. I’d love to hear from people who are following the legislation. Is this a good piece of legislation? Should it be passed? Are their hidden land mines? What are the unknowns or uncertain outcomes of the legislation?

When I saw this legislation hit my email inbox it has me asking how people keep up with legislation. Not to mention, what’s the process for creating this legislation? Just thinking of the process makes me tired and overwhelmed. Is it any wonder that lobbyists are so powerful? It really takes someone whose full time job it is to track and influence legislation to really get something done. The process and legislation is so complex that a casual follower just can’t keep up. I think that’s really unfortunate. I’m not sure the solution though either.

HIMSS15: Adoption Still a Problem for Organizations Swapping EHRs – Breakaway Thinking

Posted on May 20, 2015 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Todd Stansfield, Instructional Writer from The Breakaway Group (A Xerox Company). Check out all of the blog posts in the Breakaway Thinking series.
Todd Stansfield

Each year the Health Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) annual conference is the Super Bowl of health IT. No other conference boasts more attendees ranging from health IT innovators and collaborators to pioneers. This year 40,000 plus participants descended on Chicago, all eager to learn about the new direction, trends, and solutions of the industry.

As always, buzzwords were aplenty—interoperability, care coordination, patient experience, and value-based care, to mention a few. During her keynote address on April 16, Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for the ONC, called the current state of health IT the “tipping point.” In 2011 the ONC released its four-year strategic plan focused on implementing and adopting electronic health records (EHRs). Now, DeSalvo says the industry is changed and ready to move beyond EHRs to technologies that will create “true interoperability.”

Enlightening conversations were happening among the crowded booths, hallways, and meeting rooms between organizations looking to ‘rip and replace’ their current EHR for a new one. While some organizations are struggling to unlock data across disparate systems, others are looking to upgrade their current system for one compatible with ICD-10, Meaningful Use, analytics solutions, or a combination of these. Still others are looking to replace systems they dislike for lack of functionality, vendor relationships, etc. In many cases, replacing an EHR is needed to ensure interoperability is at the very least viable. This buzz at HIMSS is a strong indicator that EHRs are still an important and essential part of health IT, and perhaps some organizations have not reached the tipping point.

In addition to the many challenges these organizations are facing—from data portability, an issue John Lynn wrote about in August 2012, to the cost of replacing the system—leaders are agonizing over the resistance they are facing from clinician end users. How can these organizations force clinicians to give up systems they once resisted, then embraced and worked so hard to adopt? How can leadership inspire the same level of engagement needed for adoption? The challenge is similar to transitioning from paper to an EHR, only more significant. Whereas the reasons for switching from paper were straightforward—patient safety, efficiency, interoperability, etc.—they are not so clear when switching applications.

Clinicians are also making harsher comparisons between applications—from every drop-down list, to icon, to keyboard shortcut. These comparisons are occurring at drastically different phases in the adoption lifecycle. Consider the example of an end user needing to document a progress note. In the old EHR, this user knew how to copy forward previous documentation, but in the new system she doesn’t know if this functionality even exists. Already the end user is viewing the new system as cumbersome and inefficient compared to the old application. Multiply this comparison by each of the various tasks she completes throughout her day, and the end user is strongly questioning her organization’s decision to make the change.

This highlights an important point: Swapping one EHR for another will take more planning, effort, and strategy than a first-ever implementation. The methods for achieving adoption are the same, but the degree to which they are employed is not. Leadership will not only have to re-engage end users and facilitate buy-in, they will have to address the loss of efficiency and optimization by replacing the old application.

Leadership should start by clearly outlining the reasons for change, a long-term strategy, as well frustrations end users can expect. They should establish a strong governance and support structure to ensure end users adhere to policies, procedures, and best practices for using the application. The organizations that will succeed will provide end users with role-based education complete with hands-on experience completing best practice workflows in the application. Education should include competency tests that assess end users’ ability to complete key components of their workflow. Additionally, organizations must capture and track performance measurements to ensure optimized use of the system and identify areas of need. And because adoption recedes after application upgrades and workflow enhancements, all efforts should be sustained and modified as needed.

While HIMSS15 brought to the stage a wealth of new ideas, solutions, and visions for the future of health IT, the struggle to adopt an EHR has not completely gone away. Many organizations are grappling with their current EHR and choosing to replace it in hopes of meeting the triple aim of improving care, costs, and population health. For these organizations to be prepared for true interoperability, they must overcome challenges unseen in paper to electronic implementations. And if done successfully, only then will our industry uniformly reach the tipping point, a point where we can begin to put buzzwords into practice.

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

Emerging Health Apps Pose Major Security Risk

Posted on May 18, 2015 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.

As new technologies like fitness bands, telemedicine and smartphone apps have become more important to healthcare, the issue of how to protect the privacy of the data they generate has become more important, too.

After all, all of these devices use the public Internet to broadcast data, at least at some point in the transmission. Typically, telemedicine involves a direct connection via an unsecured Internet connection with a remote server (Although, they are offering doing some sort of encryption of the data that’s being sent on the unsecured connection).  If they’re being used clinically, monitoring technologies such as fitness bands use hop from the band across wireless spectrum to a smartphone, which also uses the public Internet to communicate data to clinicians. Plus, using the public internet is just the pathway that leads to a myriad of ways that hackers could get access to this health data.

My hunch is that this exposure of data to potential thieves hasn’t generated a lot of discussion because the technology isn’t mature. And what’s more, few doctors actually work with wearables data or offer telemedicine services as a routine part of their practice.

But it won’t be long before these emerging channels for tracking and caring for patients become a standard part of medical practice.  For example, the use of wearable fitness bands is exploding, and middleware like Apple’s HealthKit is increasingly making it possible to collect and mine the data that they produce. (And the fact that Apple is working with Epic on HealthKit has lured a hefty percentage of the nation’s leading hospitals to give it a try.)

Telemedicine is growing at a monster pace as well.  One study from last year by Deloitte concluded that the market for virtual consults in 2014 would hit 70 million, and that the market for overall telemedical visits could climb to 300 million over time.

Given that the data generated by these technologies is medical, private and presumably protected by HIPAA, where’s the hue and cry over protecting this form of patient data?

After all, though a patient’s HIV or mental health status won’t be revealed by a health band’s activity status, telemedicine consults certainly can betray those concerns. And while a telemedicine consult won’t provide data on a patient’s current cardiovascular health, wearables can, and that data that might be of interest to payers or even life insurers.

I admit that when the data being broadcast isn’t clear text summaries of a patient’s condition, possibly with their personal identity, credit card and health plan information, it doesn’t seem as likely that patients’ well-being can be compromised by medical data theft.

But all you have to do is look at human nature to see the flaw in this logic. I’d argue that if medical information can be intercepted and stolen, someone can find a way to make money at it. It’d be a good idea to prepare for this eventuality before a patient’s privacy is betrayed.

Hospital EHR Adoption Chart

Posted on May 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 always love a good chart and this one illustrates what those of us in the industry have know for a while. EHR incentive money absolutely increased EHR adoption in hospitals. I think it also did in ambulatory environments as well, but not quite to the extent of hospitals.

Can we just put the discussion of whether HITECH helped EHR adoption to rest? It increased EHR adoption.

To me that’s not the question that really matters. What really matters is whether the EHR incentive money has incented adoption of the right EHR software. It’s great that we’ve adopted EHR software, but have we just locked ourselves in to the wrong software for the next 5+ years? Or have we implemented a great EHR foundation that will prove to be extremely beneficial to healthcare for decades to come?

I look forward to a deep discussion in the comments.

Deep Thoughts from Einstein Applied to Health IT

Posted on May 13, 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.


Ok, to be honest, I don’t really want to fact check if Einstein really said this or not. You might know how quotes from famous people were often not said by said famous person. However, that doesn’t really matter to me since the above quote was too interesting not to share.

I really like the idea that the key to solving really challenging problems is to stay with the problems longer. The biggest challenge I think we face in healthcare IT is that far too many people are running around like chickens with their head cut off. I understand completely why it’s happening. The regulations and stimulus have created this maniacal set of requirements that require a bit of running around like crazy people.

I don’t think the major problems of healthcare can be solved through a maniacal chasing of incentives and regulations that we see in healthcare today.

If we want to really go after and solve major problems, then we have to stay with the problems a little longer and not head off to the next problem too quickly or even ignore a problem that seems challenging or even impossible. I realize that this is much easier said than done. We easily let the fires of today prevent us from preventing the fires that will come tomorrow, next month, and next year. It’s natural to do.

The thing that gives me most hope is the amazing people working in healthcare. The majority are great people trying to make a difference for good. Now we just need those good people working in healthcare IT can take a bit more time and stay with the problems of healthcare a little longer before they move on to put out the next fire.

ICD-10 Preparedness

Posted on May 12, 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 following is some email comments from Richard D. Tomlinson, RN and Founder of Nuclei Health Consultancy, in reply to my post on ICD-10 Business Areas of Concern. They weren’t intended for posting, but I thought they were quite insightful and so Rick gave me permission to share them.

Wonderful post (as always) relative to our issues driving yet another future-state condition in healthcare, namely ICD-10. If I may, I would like to approach ICD-10 from another perspective.

While everyone knows that ICD-10 is (eventually) a reality for U.S. healthcare organizations, I convey there is much more to addressing ICD-10 CM/PCS than simply “making the conversion” or “dual coding” as benchmarks towards success. My own list of preparedness relative to ICD-10 is somewhat different than yours and designed to combine strategic as well as tactile integration to address ICD-10 CM/PCS.

1. Clinical Documentation Improvement process.
2. Roust education via clinical case studies showing the BUSINESS CASE IMPACTS downstream of inadequate clinical documentation & coding.
3. ICD-10 Gap analysis current-state to include clinical and financial gaps.
4. Validation testing of via test patient build/coding.
5. EHR optimization specific to ICD-10 (MORE is NOT BETTER).
6. Evaluation of CAC (Computer Assisted Coding).
7. Evaluation of alternative coding resources (e.g. outsourcing).
8. Viability Reporting to C-Suite (not simply “on track” reporting. It’s not a project; it’s an initiative. Establish and report on critical success factors).
9. Establishment of robust clinical documentation/ICD-10 ad hoc committees. Include CMIO or provider champion/HIM/financial/quality/informatics/IT
10. Establishment of robust analytics to reverse engineer denials (where/what/whom) and specific identification of mitigation actions (e.g. education, CDI, etc) and processes.

The bottom line in my view is this; any organization treating ICD-10 as a “conversion” is headed for significant problems in terms of denials and missed revenue capture. ICD-10 should be viewed by the C-Suite specifically as a platform to improve patient safety/care, to improve clinical documentation, improve quality measures, and a specific strategy to reduce costs and increase potential revenue capture. Properly deployed, ICD-10 initiatives can actually accomplish all of this. My suggestion to my clients is to approach ICD-10 strategically, not merely as a conversion process, and develop a plan incorporating the measures I’ve indicated above. Serious Measurement of these factors will be required, regardless of facility type or size.

Lastly, I think some organizations are mistakenly treating this not only as a “conversion” but also siloing this to the small HIM or coding backroom as a problem for the coders. This approach will paint the coders into an unfortunate corner, and may create a situation where optimum revenue capture opportunities are lost…forever. For example, improper coding of a patient acquiring bed sores while inpatient may result in denials and reduce certain quality scores inappropriately. When you consider that coding is the final life blood touchpoint of revenue generation, it’s time for the C-Suite to leverage ICD-10 as a strategy to place importance of improved clinical documentation as a business case, and measure the clinical, financial, and operational impacts to the organization.

An Important Look at HIPAA Policies For BYOD

Posted on May 11, 2015 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.

Today I stumbled across an article which I thought readers of this blog would find noteworthy. In the article, Art Gross, president and CEO at HIPAA Secure Now!, made an important point about BYOD policies. He notes that while much of today’s corporate computing is done on mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets — most of which access their enterprise’s e-mail, network and data — HIPAA offers no advice as to how to bring those devices into compliance.

Given that most of the spectacular HIPAA breaches in recent years have arisen from the theft of laptops, and are likely proceed to theft of tablet and smartphone data, it seems strange that HHS has done nothing to update the rule to address increasing use of mobiles since it was drafted in 2003.  As Gross rightly asks, “If the HIPAA Security Rule doesn’t mention mobile devices, laptops, smartphones, email or texting how do organizations know what is required to protect these devices?”

Well, Gross’ peers have given the issue some thought, and here’s some suggestions from law firm DLA Piper on how to dissect the issues involved. BYOD challenges under HIPAA, notes author Peter McLaughlin, include:

*  Control:  To maintain protection of PHI, providers need to control many layers of computing technology, including network configuration, operating systems, device security and transmissions outside the firewall. McLaughlin notes that Android OS-based devices pose a particular challenge, as the system is often modified to meet hardware needs. And in both iOS and Android environments, IT administrators must also manage users’ tendency to connected to their preferred cloud and download their own apps. Otherwise, a large volume of protected health data can end up outside the firewall.

Compliance:  Healthcare organizations and their business associates must take care to meet HIPAA mandates regardless of the technology they  use.  But securing even basic information, much less regulated data, can be far more difficult than when the company creates restrictive rules for its own devices.

Privacy:  When enterprises let employees use their own device to do company business, it’s highly likely that the employee will feel entitled to use the device as they see fit. However, in reality, McLaughlin suggests, employees don’t really have full, private control of their devices, in part because the company policy usually requires a remote wipe of all data when the device gets lost. Also, employees might find that their device’s data becomes discoverable if the data involved is relevant to litigation.

So, readers, tell us how you’re walking the tightrope between giving employees who BYOD some autonomy, and protecting private, HIPAA-protected information.  Are you comfortable with the policies you have in place?

Full Disclosure: HIPAA Secure Now! is an advertiser on this website.

The Magic of Community

Posted on May 9, 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.

Today was the final day of the Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference (HITMC) which I organize. The event is a lot of work, but the community that it’s created is absolutely golden. I really happened upon a unique community that had never been brought together before. Before this conference, healthcare marketing and PR professionals really didn’t have a place to go and learn and connect with people doing the same work they do. As Brian Mack mentioned at the end of the conference “This is the first conference where I didn’t have to explain to people what I did for work.” Someone else commented on how every person they talked to at the conference was someone who spoke their same language.

There’s really something magical about growing a community of like minded individuals. There’s value in expanding your horizons and hearing people from outside of your niche as well. Both can be valuable, but when you’re dealing with challenging problems, it’s great to be able to work with people who have seen those challenges before. That’s something that’s really hard to replace and is golden when you find it.

I think that’s why in healthcare websites like PatientsLikeMe have been so successful. Last year one of the HITMC attendees described his experience like “finally finding his tribe.” Patients have that same need. For example, my wife has hashimoto’s and whenever she meets someone who has the same issue, there’s an instant bond of shared experience. It’s a beautiful thing.

What’s going to be interesting as healthcare evolves is what new online healthcare communities will come to be. Will hospitals create communities for their patients? Will primary care doctors in an area create a community of users interested in being healthy? Will an ACO require these types of healthy communities?

Don’t underestimate the power of bringing together people facing similar challenges. There’s a magic in community that’s really special. Back to the HITMC community, I feel lucky to be part of such a caring group of individuals who really want to improve healthcare.

Videos of EHR Usability Suggestions

Posted on May 6, 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.

One of my readers sent me a link to a new site they’re developing called SaveTimeMD. This website was created as a response by an internist and EHR developer that was tired of seeing so many EHR usability problems. He decided that he’d take usability problems from users and make videos explaining how he’d resolve the EHR usability issue.

I think the concept is quite interesting. Many might ask why he doesn’t just build the perfect EHR if he’s so good at solving the usability problems. That’s the way my entrepreneurial mind would work. However, some people don’t approach problems with that entrepreneurial mindset. I’m not sure this doctor’s motivation, but I think the concept is quite interesting.

Here’s one of the videos he’s created that talks about intuitively navigating an EHR:

What do you think of the video? More importantly, what do you think of the idea of someone offering answers to your EHR usability challenges which you could take back to your EHR vendor?