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E-Patient Update: Patients Need Better Care Management Workflows

Posted on March 10, 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.

Now and then, I get a little discouraged by the state of my health data. Like providers, I’m frustrated as heck by the number of independent data sources I must access to get a full picture of my medications, care and health status. These include:

* The medication tracker on my retail pharmacy’s site
* My primary care group’s portal
* My hospital’s Epic MyChart portal
* A medication management app to track my compliance with my regimen
* A health tracker app in which I track my blood pressure
* My Google calendar, to keep up with my health appointments
* Email clients to exchange messages with some providers

That’s not all – I’m sure I could think of other tools, interfaces and apps – but it offers a good idea of what I face. And I’m pretty sure I’m not unusual in this regard, so we’re talking about a big issue here.

By the way, bear in mind I’m not just talking about hyperportalotus – a fun term for the state of having too many portals to manage – but rather, a larger problem of data coordination. Even if all of my providers came together and worked through a shared single portal, I’d still have to juggle many tools for tracking and documenting my care.

The bottom line is that given the obstacles I face, my self-care process is very inefficient. And while we spend a lot of time talking about clinician workflow (which, of course, is quite important) we seldom talk about patient/consumer health workflow. But it’s time that we did.

Building a patient workflow

A good initial step in addressing this problem might be to create a patient self-care workflow builder and make it accessible website. Using such a tool, I could list all of the steps I need to take to manage my conditions, and the tool would help me develop a process for doing so effectively.

For example, I could “tell” the software that I need to check the status of my prescriptions once a week, visit certain doctors once a month, check in about future clinical visits on specific days and enter my data in my medication management app twice a day. As I did this, I would enter links to related sites, which would display in turn as needed.

This tool could also display critical web data, such as the site compiling the blood sugar readings from my husband’s connected blood glucose monitor, giving patients like me the ability to review trends at a glance.

I haven’t invented the wheel here, of course. We’re just talking about an alternate approach to a patient portal. Still, even this relatively crude approach – displaying various web-based sources under one “roof” along with an integrated process – could be quite helpful.

Eventually, health IT wizards could build much more sophisticated tools, complete with APIs to major data sources, which would integrate pretty much everything patients need first-hand. This next-gen data wrangler would be able to create charts and graphs and even issue recommendations if the engine behind it was sophisticated enough.

Just get started

All that being said, I may be overstating how easy it would be to make such a solution work. In particular, I’m aware that integrating a tool with such disparate data sources is far, far easier said than done. But why not get started?

After all, it’s hard to overestimate how much such an approach would help patients, at least those who are comfortable working with digital health solutions. Having a coordinated, integrated tool in place to help me manage my care needs would certainly save me a great deal of time, and probably improve my health as well.

I urge providers to consider this approach, which seems like a crying need to me. The truth is, most of the development money is going towards enabling the professionals to coordinate and manage care. And while that’s not a bad thing, don’t forget us!

CMS May Revisit Patient Engagement Rules – Meaningful Use Monday

Posted on October 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: Travis Broome sent me this clarifying tweet:


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

Two Stage Process for Meaningful Use Stage 2?

Posted on October 5, 2011 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.

An interesting piece of news (some might say rumor) is coming out of AHIMA as posted by Joseph Goedert on Health Data Management. Here’s an excerpt of what was said:

An idea floating around Washington could result in Stage 2 of the electronic health records meaningful use program being different in each of its two years.

That’s what Dan Rode, vice president of advocacy and policy at the American Health Information Management Association, told an audience during the AHIMA 2011 Convention & Exhibit in Salt Lake City.

So the scenario could be that Stage 2 starts in January 2013 with minor changes from Stage 1, such as raising meaningful use quality measures a bit. But any major changes or new requirements, such as requiring the use of SNOMED CT in certain parts of the medical record, would wait until 2014, Rode said.

I’m sure this would be welcomed by almost everyone in the healthcare IT and EMR industry. Doctors and EHR vendors in general want to do as little as possible to get the government EHR incentive money. Even if some will publicly say that they want to use meaningful use to raise the standard of care.

I purposefully created the title to highlight the irony of meaningful use stage 2 having 2 stages. I’m not sure if we’ll call it meaningful use stage 2.0 and meaningful use stage 2.5 for the second step of stage 2. Of course, they could just make meaningful use stage 2 a simpler model and then add a meaningful use stage 4 (assuming the legislation allows it). However, then we’d really confuse doctors more than they already are when it comes to EHR incentive money, meaningful use requirements and their various stages.

This to me is still just a rumor, but it will be interesting to see how they make it happen if in fact they do try and do it. I know many people who will welcome any watering down of meaningful use. Even if you won’t hear them saying it in public.

SureScripts Becomes ONC-ATCB EHR Certification Body

Posted on December 30, 2010 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.

In the weirdest news I’ve seen in a while, SureScripts has become an ONC-ATCB. Here’s the details from Health Data Management:

In a Dec. 23 announcement, the Office for the National Coordinator for Health IT said that Arlington, Va.-based Surescripts can verify that e-prescribing, privacy and security modules meet the standards laid out in the meaningful use requirements. Surescripts is the sixth authorizer to be approved by ONCHIT, but it’s the only one with limited certification abilities—the five others have ONCHIT’s blessing to certify Complete EHRs and EHR modules.

Doesn’t this scream conflict of interest? They run a nationwide e-Prescribing network, and yet they can certify ePrescribing for ONC. I guess you could make the argument that they know ePrescribing well and so they are qualified to do it. Although, it is just weird and awkward to consider them as an ATCB. I wonder which ePrescribing companies will actually use them. Why did SureScripts even go to the effort to become an ATCB?