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BYOD And HIPAA Compliance: Can You Have Both?

Posted on December 7, 2012 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.

With doctors among the biggest fans of smartphones around, hospitals and medical practices are having to face the reality that Bring Your Own Device is here to stay. The question is, is BYOD so hard to manage that it all but guarantees HIPAA breaches?

On the one hand, BYOD seems to have arrived to stay. According to a recent report by KLAS Research surveying 105 CIOs, IT specialits and physicians, 70 percent said they used mobile devices to access their EMRs Even this small group was accessing virtually every major enterprise EMR via mobile, reports MobiHealthNews.

But the pressures on hospitals to corral BYOD security gaps are growing.  Hospitals will soon have to provide increased protection of patient health information under Meaningful Use Stage 2.  And the HHS Office of Civil Rights will be doing stepped up HIPAA-compliance audits, which gives hospitals even less leeway than they’d have had otherwise.

Of course, hospitals have been dealing with doctors bringing one device — a laptop — for quite some time. One might think this would have prepared hospitals for dealing with security-hole-ridden portable devices that staff and clinicians bring to work.  But as we all know, laptops have proven to be major sources of security breaches, most typically by being stolen when loaded down with unencrypted data.

BYOD on the mobile side is if anything a riskier proposition.  For one thing, doctors and executive staff are likely to own more than one device, such as a phone and a tablet, multiplying the risk that an unguarded device could be stolen and bled for information.  And managing mobile devices calls for IT to support two additional operating systems (iOS and Android) configured in whatever way the user prefers.

Folks, I know I’m not saying anything crashingly original, but I’d argue it’s worth repeating: It’s time for hospitals to stop waffling and develop comprehensive protocols for BYOD use. It’s clear that left alone, the problem is going to  get worse, not better.

How Integrating Medical Device Data Improves EMR Data’s Value

Posted on July 17, 2012 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 we’ve noted here before, connecting medical device data to EMRs is no walk in the park.  Hospitals have to invest in next-gen devices with new capabilities — such as wireless connectivity — and across their entire campus too, if they want consistent results. Then there’s the labor involved in initiating, completing and managing an array of newly-capable devices.  This will create hiccups, or possibly worse, even under the best of circumstances.

But I’d guess most of us would agree that there’s plenty of good reasons to go ahead and install more-connected devices.  Here’s five reasons to consider, laid out in a recent article by Sue Niemeier of connectivity tech vendor Capsule:

1.  EMR data becomes more accurate. Since it’s being collected automatically, the data won’t suffer from transcription errors or omissions.

2. With connected devices, measurement data is collected in virtually real-time. Otherwise, Niemeier says, it can be anywhere from two to twelve hours in her experience before the data gets into a paper chart, which might not even go with the patient if moved.

3. EMR data comes in as a steady stream rather than “batch” fashion, making it easier to check and submit as it arrives — rather than at the end of the shift.

4.  Data delivered directly by devices is concise, making it easier to track patient progress, while nursing notes may bury the data in paragraph form.

While all of this is great, we’re not likely to see a grand switchover in the near term. Right now, integration stats are very low; for example, according to a recent KLAS hospital study, less than 10 percent of respondents had adopted connected smart infusion pumps.

Still, it’s good to be reminded of where we’re (probably) heading, rather than just carping about what bogs down today. I believe Niemeier makes a lot of sense, and vendor rep or not, her points are worth considering.

Good Luck With That HIE Tech Purchase

Posted on June 21, 2012 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.

Want to buy HIE technology?  It’ll cost you. But more importantly, you’ll still be dealing with a bewildering array of choices, if a new report from KLAS has it right.

According to KLAS, which asked 95 providers about their HIE buying plans, there were a few clear leaders in the field.  Providers surveyed by KLAS reviewed 38 HIE vendor offerings.  Of those, five HIE vendors were considered in more than 10 percent of the providers’ buying plans, researchers found.

If there was a clear leader, it was Medicity, which was considered in 23 percent of HIE buying decisions, according to a report from Healthcare IT News.  Next was Axolotl, with 22 percent; RelayHealth, with 16  percent; ICA, with 11 percent, and Epic, also with 11 percent. (Note: Epic was only being considered seriously when providers want to tie together multiple Epic installations.)

Looked at another way — by vendors mentioned most frequently by providers — the leaders were Axolotl, Cerner, dbMotion (part owned by the University of Pittburgh Medical Center), Epic, GE, ICA, InterSystems, Medicity, Orion and RelayHealth.

If you want to really fit the HIE to your situation, consider the following criteria, the HIN story suggests:

  • Public HIEs – A public exchange may belong to official state agencies or may be semi-independent with direct and typically temporary government backing. Public HIEs demand solutions with strong potential scalability and need standards-based technology.
  • Cooperative HIEs – In this model, otherwise-competitive hospitals work together to form independent HIE organizations, generally with an open invitation to other hospitals, clinics and physician practices. These HIEs often struggle to establish long-term funding and look for vendor solutions that offer flexible and affordable cost alternatives while best adapting diverse EMR technologies.
  • Private HIEs – In some respects, private HIEs are designed to enhance relationships as well as exchange data. Often, a single hospital or IDN creates an HIE hoping to draw in community physicians while protecting or increasing revenues. Funding is less complicated and these HIEs are more likely to be satisfied with solutions that best work with their existing technology.

The truth is, though, that whatever model best fits your HIE purchase, narrowing things down to your short-list isn’t as easy as just picking from KLAS’s top contenders.  Even these leaders have a moderate to tenuous grip on the market, and may or may not have the solution that fits your model. (Note: I’m familiar with Axolotl and Orion, both of which have what may be some of the longest-deployed tech out there, but I can’t vouch that they’re exactly better than anyone else.)

If it were me, I’d look at lesser-known, strongly-backed folks focused directly on the problem. Then, I’d do a co-development program with them so both win.  Got other ideas to share readers?

Voice Recognition Set to Grow in Healthcare

Posted on February 17, 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.

In a recent Healthcare IT News article, they wrote about a KLAS research study that found that the speech recognition market is ready to grow. Here’s a small portion of the article:

Providers report a demonstrable return on their speech recognition dollars, according to a new report from KLAS. Participants of the study indicated benefits of speech recognition such as staff reductions, improved report turnaround times and increased physician satisfaction.

“The speech recognition market is ripe for healthy growth,” said Ben Brown, author of the report. “Currently, less than one in four hospitals use the technology, however, in light of meaningful use and the benefits providers point out in this study, we expect it will assume a more prominent place in the role of clinical documentation.”

It seems like a bit of journalistic spin to say that speech recognition provides a “demonstrable return.” My personal experience tells me that users either love or hate speech recognition. The article does aptly state that it requires some up front investment to learn voice recognition and access the long term benefits that voice recognition provides.

The other obvious part of the report is that Dragon still dominates the voice recognition landscape. I recently also got an email from Eric Fishman of EMR Consultant, EHR Scope, EHR TV, etc fame (and also an advertiser on this site) about a new voice recognition, dictation and transcription software they’re distributing called Frisbee.

They have a bunch of videos showing Frisbee transcription software in action on EHR TV. I found the one called Frisbee, Dragon Medical and EMR Workflow pretty interesting.

I could see this type of software providing the platform for the future of the transcriptionist. Neil Versel recently posted the news that the Medical Transcription Industry Association (MTIA) will be changing their name to the Clinical Documentation Industry Association. No doubt transcription companies are looking at ways to survive. One of those ways will be for the transcriptionist to go beyond just transcribing to assisting with the clinical documentation (including the complicated ICD-10). Seems like Frisbee’s voice recognition into the EMR with the Frisbee routing capabilities for doctors approval and sign off could be an interesting workflow.

I’m not quite as bullish on voice recognition as the report linked above, but there’s no doubt that voice recognition will continue to play a role in healthcare. Especially as it continues to improve its recognition ability and becomes integrated with mobile devices.

Meaning of KLAS Results

Posted on June 18, 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.

I’ve had this post in the hopper since HIMSS back in early March. Unfortunately, it got lost in my other 200 or so draft posts that I work from for future posts. We’ll see if people think I should have left the idea in my drafts or not.

During one my meetings with EMR vendors I discussed the value of KLAS and why this EMR vendor was so HIGH on CCHIT (they’re booth had it plastered all over) and why they chose not to have KLAS ratings plastered beside their CCHIT marketing plan. This really smart EMR vendor marketing manager had previously described the marketing value (note that I didn’t say technical or clinical value) of having the CCHIT certification. So, why not KLAS?

This EMR vendor had obviously done their homework and had considered getting the KLAS rating. The reason they didn’t go that direction was he asked an interesting question of KLAS. He wanted to know how many people actually went to KLAS and downloaded the ratings from their website. Obviously, if they had hundreds of thousands of doctors downloading the ratings from their website, then it could be a great marketing tool for the EMR vendor to sell more product.

Turns out only 5000 people actually downloaded the KLAS ratings. When you add in the EMR vendors and other people who don’t purchase an EMR, that’s such a small footprint. I’ll admit that I’ve seen the KLAS name around a lot of places, but I’ve seen it less and less lately. Does anyone care about KLAS anymore? I’m going to Utah later this month. Maybe I should stop in and say Hi. Seems like there’s such an opportunity in the EMR space right now and they might be missing out.