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Healthcare IT Cartoons – Fun Friday

Posted on June 23, 2017 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 had a lot of people say that they love when we do Fun Friday. The work we do in healthcare is serious, but we can’t take ourselves too seriously. This cartoon really made me laugh and highlighted how impacted our lives and likely our health are by this notification world we live in. I think we’re all familiar with that addiction. Ironically, that’s why I turn off all notifications on my phone unless I’m waiting for a specific call.

This one seems timely given all the health reform news. Some might consider it controversial, but I’ve never shied away from controversy. This topic is complicated, but those of us in healthcare can appreciate this “medical condition.”

Compromise Assessments & Penetration Testing in Healthcare

Posted on June 21, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Steven Marco, CISA, ITIL, HP SA and President of HIPAA One®.
Steven Marco - HIPAA expert
As healthcare providers continue to embrace technology, are patients being left vulnerable? If a recent incident involving patient portals is any indication, then the answer is a resounding “yes.”

True Health Diagnostics, a Frisco, TX-based healthcare services company recently became aware of a security flaw in their patient portal after an IT consultant logged in to view their test results and accessed other patient’s records by accident.  Upon investigating the issue it was determined that because True Health uses sequential numbers on their patient record PDF files, users of the patient portal could easily alter a digit in the URL and therefore view the medical information of other patients (also known as Forceful Browsing).

This recent event should serve as both a reminder and a warning to healthcare organizations using patient portals that in order to prevent a similar disclosure, implementing (and testing!) safeguards is necessary. There are two different actions an organization can take to either understand the scope of a breach and/or assess their level of security to prevent a disclosure.

Compromise Assessment: Due-Diligence Task

A compromise assessment is a due-diligence task used to verify that an organization hasn’t experienced a security breach. Essentially, it answers the question: “Have we been breached?”

Completed by a group of whitehat hackers or IS professionals, the goal is to access an organization’s various systems and verify if/when they were comprised and estimate the damage/exposure that has/could be done on their customer’s data. By gaining an understanding of the extent of the breach, the organization can in turn create a plan to remedy the issue and notify the appropriate parties of the disclosure.

Penetration Testing: Proactive Approach

In simple terms, conducting a penetration test is a proactive approach to finding any security deficiencies before a breach occurs or hackers find a way in. A penetration test answers to the question “How secure are we?”

By performing an authorized simulated attack, organizations can gain a much greater understanding of their security infrastructure. Although penetration testing alone will not ensure a network is compliant or secure, it will identify gaps between the existence threats and controls that an organization has in place.

Penetration testing has many other benefits, including:

  • Revealing where procedures may be failing – Especially if insecure services are being used for administration or if critical security patches are missing due to inadequate configuration and change management processes/procedures.
  • Exposing poor password policy – Including the use of default or weak passwords, password reuse and use of incremental passwords.
  • Justification to management – For approval of additional security technologies. For example: Showing upper management that penetration testers were able to hack into the system and email the entire customer database.
  • Acts as a “second set of eyes” – Critical if using an independent provider when hosting ePHI/PII.

Interested in more details on penetration testing? Check out HIPAA One’s penetration testing blog post.

About Steven Marco
Steven Marco is the President of HIPAA One®, leading provider of HIPAA Risk Assessment software for practices of all sizes.  HIPAA One is a proud sponsor of EMR and HIPAA and the effort to make HIPAA compliance more accessible for all practices.  Are you HIPAA Compliant?  Take HIPAA One’s 5 minute HIPAA security and compliance quiz to see if your organization is risk or learn more at HIPAAOne.com.

Clinical Intelligence – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on June 20, 2017 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’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 6/23 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Megan Janas (@TextraHealth) on the topic of “Clinical Intelligence.”

The word “Intelligence” is on the move in organizations. Creeping out from a corner of business that was once reserved for planning, strategy and competitive analysis- the intelligence of today is found in departments and teams and increasingly in the software suites that assist people with work. In hospitals and healthcare, clinical intelligence has deeper meaning than just “what AI programs are on the horizon and which one might we use.” Clinical Intelligence is dynamic, requiring multiple decisions and multiple steps to drive the sweeping change needed to usher in a new era of work and patient care. Healthcare will face challenges with next generation tech. However, with the right teams, forward thinking, and change agents, professionals can acquire meaningful Clinical Intelligence to transform their organizations and the patients they serve.

Let’s look at what defines Clinical Intelligence in order to break it down. An article from HIMSS describes Clinical Intelligence as:

“Clinical & Business Intelligence (C&BI) is the use and analysis of data captured in the healthcare setting to directly inform decision-making. It has the power to positively impact patient care delivery, health outcomes and business operations.” –Source

Clearly, Clinical Intelligence is in every level of a healthcare organization. That’s important, because for Clinical Intelligence to impact all areas, it has to be intentionally networked into each department. Clinical Intelligence thrives with interoperability, data, and analytics converging to help organizations make informed decisions from patient care to financial assessments. Teams need to evaluate their current capabilities, plan, and employ leaders with strong communication skills to convey the vision and objectives. This begins with a snapshot of where an organization falls on the data analytics spectrum. Descriptive, Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics make up the spectrum. Descriptive analytics tell a team about what has already happened from data collected around clinical documentation, claims, surveys, and lab tests. Predictive analytics takes the Descriptive data to make conclusions about future events. Lastly, Prescriptive analytics goes beyond prediction to reveal what steps to take should a prediction materialize. Moving through the data spectrum is an objective healthcare organizations will need to tackle to achieve CI.

In order to apply analysis to data sets, teams need to make sure the data that they have is relevant and large in scope to help guide their decision making. Additionally, professionals need to ask questions about data sets including, the type of data needed, the sample size, the available data, the bias that could be baked in, and if there are other sources of comparable data. The availability of public data is widely growing with resources including the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Furthermore, the world of machine learning is assisting like never before, offering help by allowing teams to skip over data prep to pre-packaged data sets collected from a variety of sources. IBM Watson and IPsoft Amelia are just two examples of artificial intelligence machine learning making huge advances in several industries.

The data hospitals and others amass through their collective workings, build upon strategies organizations can deploy to reduce costs, improve care, assist with safety and patient outcomes. Suddenly, using data becomes an advantage, a competitive resource edging a health entity over their peers. The pursuit of Clinical Intelligence results in cross departmental learning and knowledge not previously available. Examples of Clinical Intelligence are found in a variety of healthcare settings. Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina used analytics to assist in their oncology infusion center to assist with patient flow. The results were felt across the center with nurses less rushed and the pharmacy processing requests faster. Patients had fewer delays and overall the work environment improved. Montefiore Health System uses a predictive analytics tool to help identify patients at high risk of death or intubation within 48 hours of admittance. Mayo Clinic has additional tools to catch sepsis and treat it faster. These examples are just some of the ways in which analytics become valuable transformational assets.

The time to begin moving towards organizational Clinical Intelligence is presently with the preparation of data collection. Machine learning, and analytics offer health systems a new frontier of discovery; benefitting the decision making of every person involved in patient care.

Resources and Other Clinical Intelligence Reading:

  1. Clinical and Business Intelligence
  2. Turning Healthcare Big Data into Actionable Clinical Intelligence
  3. Four Keys to Successful Digital Transformations in Healthcare
  4. Better Questions to Ask Your Data Scientists
  5. The Most Valuable Resource is No Longer Oil, but Data
  6. Does Your Company Know What to Do with All its Data?

Please join us for this week’s #HITsm chat focused on Clinical Intelligence. We’ll use the following 6 questions as the framework for the discussion:

This Week’s Topics
T1: What are some benefits and obstacles to Clinical Intelligence? #HITsm

T2: How can health organizations best prepare for machine learning & AI? #HITsm

T3: Data has been described as “digital oil”. What’s its value and worth to a healthcare org? #HITsm

T4: How can leaders convince skeptics that Clinical Intelligence is valuable to an organization & patients? #HITsm

T5: How long do you estimate it will take for Clinical Intelligence to be within a healthcare system? Why? #HITsm

Bonus: Do you have an example of healthcare using analytics to learn? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
6/30 – EHR Optimization
Hosted by Justin Campbell (@tjustincampbell) and Julie Champagne (@JulieEChampagne)

7/7 – International EHR Adoption: Challenges and Solutions
Hosted by Stefan Buttigieg, MD (@stefanbuttigieg)

7/14 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

7/21 – Meeting the Patient Where They Are
Hosted by Melody Smith Jones (@MelSmithJones)

7/28 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

8/4 – TBD
Hosted by Alan Portela (@AlanWPortela)

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

Jabba the Hutt EHRs Are Alive And Well

Posted on June 19, 2017 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.

If you follow @ehrandhit on Twitter, then you might have noticed that we’ve set it up to tweet out links to articles from Healthcare Scene’s database of 11,000+ blog posts. Sometimes I see these tweets and I remember amazing posts like the one I saw today about Jabba the Hutt EMR.

Here’s the concept of the Jabba the Hutt EMR as I described it back in 2011:

Many long time readers of EMR and HIPAA will know I like to call big, bulky, old EMR software systems, Jabba the Hutt EMR. I think comparing these old legacy EMR software to Jabba the Hutt is a great comparison. For those that don’t know Star Wars that well (and I’m no expert), Jabba the Hutt was a very powerful figure. Although, over time he’d grown so big that he wasn’t very nimble (to say the least). So, despite his power and prestige, there was little to admire about him.

Does that sound a bit like some legacy EMR software? They’re big and powerful figures in the industry. However, their software has grown to the point that it’s clunky and not very nimble. Getting something changed on it is difficult and it’s built on a platform that makes it hard to add new features. Thus, they are Jabba the Hutt EMR.

I love that I had “long time readers” in 2011, but I digress. Does this still sound like a lot of the EHR vendors out there? The cynic might suggest it’s every EHR vendor. Good thing I’m not cynical.

In that post I went on to list things that might be characteristics you could look for to identify the Jabba the Hutt EMR software. It has some good ones, but I think it’s time to update the list. Here’s an updated list that you might find beneficial (and a little entertaining).

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you’re part of every interoperability organization, but not actually interoperable.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
it costs as much for consultants to implement your software as your software.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you hard coded 16 RXNorm codes to pass certification.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you EHR certification is your EHR innovation plan.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
your programmers have never spent time in a clinic or hospital observing users.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you’re afraid to talk to the media.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
your patient portal is your patient engagement strategy.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
HL7 and FHIR are your API strategy.

You might be a Jabba the Hutt EHR if…
you put AI and machine learning in a press release after implementing basic slicing and dicing analytics.

As I said in 2011, the more of these your EHR has, the more likely they’re a Jabba the Hutt EHR. I’m sure many of you could add to the list. Please do so in the comments.

Inspector General Says CMS Made $729 Million In Questionable EHR Incentive Payments

Posted on June 16, 2017 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.

A new report from the HHS Office of Inspector General has concluded that over a three-year period, CMS made roughly $729.4 million in EHR incentive payments to providers who didn’t comply with program requirements.

To determine whether the incentive program was functioning appropriately, the OIG audited payments made between May 2011 to June 2014.

After sampling payment records for 100 eligible professionals, the agency found 14 EPs, who received payments totaling $291,022, who didn’t meet incentive criteria.  The auditors found that the 14 had either failed to meet bonus criteria or didn’t provide proof that they had.

Then, the OIG used the data to extrapolate how much CMS had spent on invalid payments, which is how it arrived at the $729 million estimate. In other words, given the margin of error across the sampled incentive payments, the OIG assumed that 12% of all incentive payments were in error. (The analysis also concluded that CMS mistakenly paid $2.3 million to EPs switching between Medicare and Medicaid programs.)

Not surprisingly, the OIG has recommended that CMS recover the $291,000 in payments made to the sampled providers. It also suggested that the agency review EP payments issued during the audit period to see what other errors were made. Of course, the ultimate goal is to get back the approximately $729.4 million the agency may have paid out in error.

In addition, the OIG  called on CMS to review a random sample of self-attested documentation from after the audit period, to determine whether additional inappropriate payments were made to EPs.

And to make sure the EPs don’t get payments under both Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs for the same program year, the report urged CMS to conduct edits of the National Level Depository system.

As part of this report, the OIG noted that allowing providers to self-report compliance data leaves the incentive payment program open to fraud, and recommended keeping a closer eye on these reports. CMS seems to have had at least some sympathy for this argument, as it apparently agreed partly or fully with all of the OIG’s suggested actions.

One side effect of the OIG report it brings back attention to the Meaningful Use program, which has been eclipsed by MACRA but still clings to life. Eligible providers can still report either Modified Stage 2 or Stage 3 in 2017, the main difference being you need a full year of data for Stage 2 but only 90 days for Stage 3.

But MACRA does change things, as its performance standards will test providers in new ways. This year, providers have a chance to get situated with either the MIPS or APM track, and those who jump in now are likely to benefit.

Meanwhile, the future of Meaningful Use remains fuzzy. To my knowledge, the agency has no immediate plans to restructure the current incentive program to audit provider reports in depth. In fact, given that providers are more concerned about MACRA these days, I doubt CMS will bother.

That being said, it’s fair to assume that incentive payouts will get a bit more attention going forward. So be prepared to defend your attestation if need be.

Why Small Medical Practices Are at Great Risk for a Cyber Attack

Posted on June 14, 2017 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 good people at ClinicSpectrum recently shared a look at why small practices are at risk for a cyber attack. They label it as why your EHR is at risk for a cyber attack, but I think their list is more specific to small practices as opposed to EHR. Take a look at their list:

Each of these issues should be considered by a small medical when it comes to why they are at risk for a cyber attack. However, the first one is one that I see often. Many small practices wonder, “Why would anyone want to hack my office?”

When it comes to that issue, medical practices need to understand how most hackers work. Most hackers aren’t trying to hack someone in particular. Instead, they’re just scouring the internet for easy opportunities. Sure, there are examples where a hacker goes after a specific target. However, the majority are just exploiting whatever vulnerabilities they can find.

This is why it’s a real problem when medical practices think they’re too small or not worth hacking. When you have this attitude, then you leave yourself vulnerable to opportunistic hackers that are just taking advantage of your laziness.

The best thing a medical practice can do to secure their systems is to care enough about having secure systems. You’ll never be 100% secure, but those organizations who act as if they don’t really care about security are almost guaranteed to be hacked. You can imagine how HHS will look at you if you take this approach and then get hacked.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on June 13, 2017 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’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 6/16 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Danielle Siarri (@innonurse) on the topic of “Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).”

As technology continues to evolve, the clinicians’ skill set will need to continue to keep up with the health tech evolution. Virtual reality actually stimulates our senses together in order to create the illusion of reality. Augmented reality (AR) is a blend of virtual reality (VR) and real life. AR users are able to interact with virtual contents in the real world and to distinguish between the two. A new term Mixed Reality is a hybrid reality that merges real and virtual worlds to produce new environments /visualizations where physical/digital objects co-exist then interact in real time. Currently VR and AR are being used to simulate and support medical and nursing training as well therapy for patients for anxiety and pain control.

Clinical practitioners are using VR prior to surgery instead of sedation. In Sweden, pharmacist are using VR for pain control. At a California hospital VR is being used for children with terminal cancer to “transport” them during long hospital and facilitate end of life care. Physiologist are using VR for agoraphobia and treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to expose patients mentally without physically putting them in challenging environment.

Join us for the #HITsm chat for the topics of VR/AR in healthcare technology.

This Week’s Topics
T1: What are some ways you have seen VR/AR used to improve the patient’s experience? #HITsm

T2: What are some uses of Mix Reality that could be applied to clinical education? #HITsm

T3: What are implications of using 360 videos and VR with patients with limited mobility? #HITsm

T4: What are some of the future implication of AR, VR, MR in healthcare technology and why? #HITsm

T5: What are the barriers to implementing and widespread adoption of VR/AR into practice? #HITsm

Bonus: What efforts are in place to improve the divide in education and digital health literacy with VR/AR? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
6/23 – Clinical Intelligence
Hosted by Megan Janas (@TextraHealth)

6/30 – EHR Optimization
Hosted by Max Stroud (@MMaxwellStroud), Justin Campbell (@tjustincampbell), and Julie Champagne (@JulieEChampagne)

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

E-Patient Update:  I Was A Care Coordination Victim

Posted on June 12, 2017 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.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been recovering from a shoulder fracture. (For the record, I wasn’t injured engaging in some cool athletic activity like climbing a mountain; I simply lost my footing on the tile floor of a beauty salon and frightened a gaggle of hair stylists. At least I got a free haircut!)

During the course of my treatment for the injury, I’ve had a chance to sample both the strengths and weaknesses of coordinated treatment based around a single EMR. And unfortunately, the weaknesses have shown up more often than the strengths.

What I’ve learned, first hand, is that templates and shared information may streamline treatment, but also pose a risk of creating a “groupthink” environment that inhibits a doctor’s ability to make independent decisions about patient care.

At the same time, I’ve concluded that centralizing treatment across a single EMR may provide too little context to help providers frame care issues appropriately. My sense is that my treatment team had enough information to be confident they were doing the right thing, but not enough to really understand my issues.

Industrial-style processes

My insurance carrier is Kaiser Permanente, which both provides insurance and delivers all of my care. Kaiser, which reportedly spent $4 billion on the effort, rolled out Epic roughly a decade ago, and has made it the backbone of its clinical operations. As you can imagine, every clinician who touches a Kaiser patient has access to that patient’s full treatment history with Kaiser providers.

During the first few weeks with Kaiser, I found that physicians there made good use of the patient information they were accumulating, and used it to handle routine matters quite effectively. For example, my primary care physician had no difficulty getting an opinion on a questionable blood test from a hematologist colleague, probably because the hematologist had access not only to the test result but also my medical history.

However, the system didn’t serve me so well when I was being treated for the fracture, an injury which, given my other issues, may have responded better to a less standardized approach.  In this case, I believe that the industrial-style process of care facilitated by the EMR worked to my disadvantage.

Too much information, yet not enough

After the fracture, as I worked my way through my recovery process, I began to see that the EMR-based process used to make Kaiser efficient may have discouraged providers from inquiring more deeply into my particulalr circumstances.

And yes, this could have happened in a paper world, but I believe the EMR intensified the tendency to treat as “the fracture in room eight” rather than an individual with unique needs.

For example, at each step of the way I informed physicians that the sling they had provided was painful to use, and that I needed some alternative form of arm support. As far as I can tell, each physician who saw me looked at other providers’ notes, assumed that the predecessor had a good reason for insisting on the sling, and simply followed suit. Worse, none seemed to hear me when I insisted that it would not work.

While this may sound like a trivial concern, the lack of a sling alternative seemed to raise my level of pain significantly. (And let me tell you, a shoulder fracture is a very painful event already.)

At the same time, otherwise very competent physicians seemed to assume that I’d gotten information that I hadn’t, particularly education on my prognosis. At each stage, I asked questions about the process of recovery, and for whatever reason didn’t get the information I needed. Unfortunately, in my pain-addled state I didn’t have the fortitude to insist they tell me more.

My sense is that my care would’ve benefited from both a more flexible process and more information on my general situation, including the fact that I was missing work and really needed reassurance that I would get better soon. Instead, it was care by data point.

Dealing with exceptions

All that being said, I know that the EMR alone isn’t itself to blame for the problems I encountered. Kaiser physicians are no doubt constrained by treatment protocols which exist whether or not they’re relying on EMR-based information.

I also know that there are good reasons that organizations like Kaiser standardize care, such as improving outcomes and reducing care costs. And on the whole, my guess is that these protocols probably do improve outcomes in many cases.

But in situations like mine, I believe they fall short. If nothing else, Kaiser perhaps should have a protocol for dealing with exceptions to the protocols. I’m not talking about informal, seat-of-the-pants judgment call, but an actual process for dealing with exceptions to the usual care flow.

Three weeks into healing, my shoulder is doing much better, thank you very much. But though I can’t prove it, I strongly suspect that I might have hurt less if physicians were allowed to make exceptions and address my emerging needs. And while I can’t blame the EMR for this experience entirely, I believe it played a critical role in consolidating opinion and effectively limiting my options.

While I have as much optimism about the role of EMRs as anyone, I hope they don’t serve as a tool to stifle dissension and oversimplify care in the future. I, for one, don’t want to suffer because someone feels compelled to color inside of the lines.

Healthcare Password Cartoon – Fun Friday

Posted on June 9, 2017 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’ve become a fan of @drmaypole on Twitter. He’s a cartoonist pediatrician and regularly tweets out cartoons like the following one:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve become really efficient at the password reset process on a number of websites that I only use once or twice a month. They set such restrictive policies on their passwords that I can never remember them since I use them so rarely. It’s just easier to reset it and create a new one. This cartoon captured the password issue really well.

Value-sizing The Patient Experience

Posted on June 8, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Sarah Bennight, Marketing Strategist for Stericycle Communication Solutions, as part of the Communication Solutions Series of blog posts. Follow and engage with them on Twitter: @StericycleComms

In health IT, we talk about the patient experience all the time. Many of us have dedicated our entire careers to improving the patient experience. It has become so central to improving healthcare that patient-reported experience results determine a significant portion of reimbursement.

But today’s patient experiences do beg the question: are they a pie in the sky dream or something tangible that can be addressed in our organizations?

To tackle the patient experience, we have to audit all contact points to determine areas of weakness. A great way to start is by creating a healthcare consumer journey map. Identifying each point a patient could potentially interact with your organization is key to ensuring their experience will be great. Once you have identified each potential encounter, mystery shop that experience as if you were the patient to test your brand’s current performance. When determining whether or not your organization provides a great brand experience, you may find yourself comparing your performance to the top brands you work with on a daily basis.

For example, I recall a time when I studied abroad in the United Kingdom. Upon arriving in a foreign country after 22 hours of travel with little sleep, I needed to eat. I vaguely recalled passing a familiar restaurant sign on the way to my flat: McDonalds. And though I didn’t really love the golden arches at the time, I chose to eat there. Why? Because I knew what to expect. I knew how to order, what menu items would be available, and what it would taste like.

By focusing on consistent interactions and expectations for their customers, McDonalds has created a strong brand. In fact, when asked about introducing new products during a 2010 CNBC interview, former CEO James Skinner said “[McDonald’s doesn’t] put something on the menu until it can be produced at the speed of McDonalds.”

Can your healthcare consumers count on a consistent experience when contacting your organization? Your brand experience should encompass the entire health system to build confidence and loyalty in your brand. Creating consistency across each encounter begins with simple questions. Was their initial call met with a timely, sincere, and welcoming voice? Was parking convenient? Are average waiting times reasonable? Do Center A and Center B provide the same quality support? Is their bill easy to understand? If your answers are all yes, it’s more likely that patients will continue to choose your organization.

When patients feel confidence about provided services and perceive value in the care you provide, brand loyalty is achieved. What’s more, many studies show that patients who have great healthcare experiences and are confident in the level of care they receive will have better clinical outcomes. Value-based care demands consistent, evidence-based clinical interactions. But we can’t leave out the important patient experience outside the walls of the exam room.

After my exhaustive travels, I certainly had a better outcome by relying on my trust in McDonalds’ brand. I chose to value-size my meals frequently throughout my England journey – not because it was the best tasting food, but because I could always rely on consistently convenient and quality experiences. The healthcare industry can certainly learn a lot more from cutting edge commercial companies when it comes to creating loyalty. To learn more about the patient journey and loyalty, download our e-book.

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality call center & telephone answering servicespatient access services and automated communication technology. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media: @StericycleComms