Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and HIPAA for FREE!!

Ensure the Health of Your Information with a Backup Plan

Posted on October 31, 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.

The following is a guest post by Aidan Finley.

Aidan Finley, Backup Exec Product Marketing Manager, has been with Symantec for 16 years, concentrating on data protection. He has extensive experience implementing, creating, and designing data protection solutions as part of the Backup Exec software engineering and product management teams, prior to joining Product Marketing.

Like overworked parents with their children, healthcare facilities can be so caught up in serving their patients that it’s easy to overlook their own needs. Keeping the business healthy will enable better service, and one of the most important areas requiring focus today is information. With the deadline approaching for electronic health records system adoption, and ever-increasing regulations regarding personal health information, the industry is beginning to take notice of the need for better information management. What is still missing, however, is sufficient discussion among healthcare entities on the need for backup as part of an overall data plan.

For most businesses, implementing a backup solution (and using it on a regular basis) is like going to the doctor for a regular checkup. We don’t typically go to the doctor unless something is wrong with us. But just as a doctor would tell you that eating right and exercising would be excellent advice to prevent a heart attack, waiting until patient data is lost or stolen before implementing a backup plan is unwise.

Several ongoing trends in technology are making the need for information protection even more apparent. The first is that threats to information continue to rapidly evolve, and are not only being directed at large enterprises – in fact, in the first half of 2012, more than one-third of all targeted attacks were directed at businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Mobile devices are also having an impact on information security, as more employees use devices such as smartphones and tablets to access business information, including patient data. The result is that a large amount of information is being stored and accessed from outside the business, creating potential data loss and compliance issues.

Meanwhile, the adoption of electronic health records is changing the IT side of healthcare even more, giving clinicians and staff members access to more information in more ways. But while this presents new challenges in security and compliance, it is also an opportunity to implement an effective backup program as preventive care for the business. As you look for a backup solution that will meet your facility’s needs, consider the following:

Keep it simple: With more disparate technologies than ever used by companies to access their information, there are a large number of backup products that are specifically designed for different environments – one for traditional computers, one for tablets, another for smartphones and yet another for virtual desktops or servers. In order to keep backup tasks and costs manageable (and increase the likelihood that you will perform regular backups), look for an integrated solution that will keep your information safe regardless of the environment or device from which it is being accessed.

Rethink retention: Industry regulations demand that you retain information for a certain period of time, but too many businesses have a “save everything forever” mentality that leads to increased storage costs and challenges organizing their information. Look for a backup solution that will allow you to search effectively for eDiscovery requests and set policies regarding the expiration of information.

Keep it safe: In the healthcare industry it is critically important to ensure patient files are kept safe from prying eyes.  Data protection solutions often include encryption capabilities that are required by regulation; ensure your data protection solution can includes strong encryption and can safely encrypt data whenever that data is backed up, moved, or stored.

Go for speed: A recent survey conducted by Symantec revealed that nearly three-quarters of businesses would switch their backup products if it doubled their speed. And while we tend to think of backups as slow, resource-intensive processes, the latest generation of solutions is much better at performing fast backup and recovery tasks.

Find the right platform: There are three basic types of backup solutions: software, appliance and cloud/hosted. Backup solutions are available in three different deployments: software, appliance and cloud.

  • Backup software allows you to retain your information on the premises, which makes compliance easier and helps speed information recovery time. It can also be used with existing infrastructure elements. The flip side is that someone on-site is required to set up and manage the backup on an ongoing basis.
  • Appliances provide the same on-site retention and recovery abilities, in an all-in-one machine that contains both the hardware and software. This works well for businesses with more limited IT staff, and especially in remote office deployments. Unifying the software and hardware also allows for efficiency as both are updated together.
  • Cloud-based backups work best for businesses that have no onsite IT staff or where their time is limited. This model provides continuous backup of files, hosted offsite by a secure service provider. This eliminates the need to work with hardware or software onsite, as it is all done through a Web-based interface. Cloud-based backup also works well for multi-site businesses, creating a unified backup resource.

The key is to stop putting it off and begin now to create a plan for protecting business information. Regardless of how much we try to limit the information we create, most organizations are having to deal with increasing information even as budgets shrink. Backup shouldn’t be a luxury, especially for the healthcare industry where data loss can have severe consequences. Consider your organization’s needs and evaluate your options, then choose the best backup tool for your business. A backup a day keeps information loss away.

Bandu: Can Monitoring Your Stress Levels Help Lower Them?

Posted on October 30, 2012 I Written By

The older I get the more stress I seem to have in my life.  Between work, education, family, and hobbies there is always something else I should be doing, but simply don’t have the time for.  The world we live in is increasingly filled with more demands than we could ever possibly meet.

We have amazing new technologies that help make our lives better, but there is little that can be done for how overwhelmed our society has become.  With all of the added stress that our lives bring, maybe the only way to really reduce our stress is to realize where it is occurring and then look to reduce it.

Neumitra is a company that is working to do just that.  They have developed a new wearable device that can monitor your stress levels in order to help you lower that stress and improve your life.

The Bandu looks similar to a wristwatch and tracks your stress levels tying them to specific locations so that you can physically see where your highest stress levels are.  Once you realize where those locations are you can take steps to lower your stress there.  In tandem with tracking your stress the Bandu can also alert you to when your stress level is rising and provide suggestions for ways to lower that stress.

This seems to be the next step in these types of devices.  We have been able to monitor various health indicators for quite awhile, but now these devices are also providing solutions to those problems.

For more information about the Bandu, including screenshots and a demo video, you can visit their indiegogo site.

You can also read an interview with the company’s founder, Robert Goldberg, at MedGadget.com.

HIE Waste

Posted on 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 post on LinkedIn, David Angove offered this comment on government HIE funding:

The biggest waste of the new program I’ve seen is the HIE (Health Information Exchange) part. It got much more money than the EHR/MU part (5-10 times) and much of it ended up in the pockets of universities who just absorbed it as personal funding. Just look to see how many HIEs are actually functional in the US now almost 4 years after the grants were awarded. Most of the working HIEs were done by private groups who got tired of waiting for the groups who got all the grant money to do something.

It should be clear that David’s comparing the money spent on HIE’s as compared with RECs (he refers to it as EHR/MU). If you take in the larger EHR incentive money that doctors will receive, then it blows the HIE portion of the funding away.

Instead of focusing on the comparable amounts, I think the question of whether the HIE money the government put out as part of ARRA and the HITECH Act has been generally a waste. I started to think through the successful HIE projects out there. David’s right that the most successful ones I know of (see Indiana’s HIE, Maine’s HIE, and Arizona’s HIE) would have happened regardless of whether the government money came. Does anyone know of government funded HIEs that are seeing success and wouldn’t have without the government money?

The hard part of this question is that we’re not likely to know exactly how well the HIE funding has gone until we see how many HIEs survive post government funding.

Related to this was how many hospital CIOs I’ve talked to that don’t believe that HIE is the future of health information exchange. As one hospital CIO told me, he didn’t think that the HIE was a viable model. Instead he suggested that point to point exchange of information is going to be the winner when it comes to exchanging health information. Considering the issues related to HIE, I have a hard time arguing against that thought.

Mitochon EHR – 5 Questions with EHR Vendor Execs at HIMSS 2012

Posted on I Written By

5 Questions with EHR Vendor executives series at HIMSS 2012 in Las Vegas. This video is 5 questions with Dr. Andre Vovan founder of Mitochon systems.

This is the first in a series of videos from HIMSS 12 in Las Vegas interviewing EHR vendor executives. These interviews brought to you by http://www.healthcarescene.com

 

 

Watch the video.

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?

Where You Live Affects What You Eat Infographic

Posted on I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Ever wonder about the eating habits of people that live in San Francisco or Philly? How about Tokyo or Sao Paulo? This infographic takes a look into what people in different cities around the world eat, and assign them a “health rating,” which shows the average percentile of fit/fat health ratings on the Eatery. For Tokyo, the creators of this infographic said they weren’t sure why their rating was so low. That perplexed me a little bit as well, seeing as their top foods include fish, curry, and tofu. I couldn’t overall relate to one specific city, but felt more like my eating habits were a mix of all these cities. Another great infographic from Massive Health.

Improving Regional Health Care Markets: Insights from AF4Q

Posted on I Written By

For six years, Aligning Forces communities have worked with local health care stakeholders — the people who give, get and pay for care — to improve their health system. Local leaders and national experts explain how different communities are making fundamental changes to enhance care by:
• Using data to measure and report on the performance of local doctors
• Measurably improving the quality of care delivered
• Engaging patients in their health care
• Exploring ways to pay health care providers based on quality of care

 

 

Watch the video.

New Philippines EMR, Machine Tasks, and The EMR Impact

Posted on October 28, 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.

I had an interesting experience with healhcare social media that I’m writing up for Hospital EMR and EHR. It had such an impact on me, that I’ve started creating a deep presentation on all of the various benefits of social media in healthcare. It was amazing how quickly I could put together benefits and potential benefits of using social media. With that said, if you have a story or example of how social media has benefited you, patients, others, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to share it on my Contact page if you prefer.

Now on to some interesting insights I’ve found on Twitter related to EMR…


At first when I saw this tweet I kind of rolled my eyes at another EMR software being rolled out. However, as I dug into it more, it seems that this new EMR is marketing to the Phillipines physicians. Maybe I’m wrong on this assumption, but the press release and the peso pricing seem to indicate this.

I’ll admit that I’m not that familiar with the Phillipines EMR market, but I’m always interested to see how an EMR is going forward in another country. I had a discussion on Friday with someone from India who told me, the concepts of privacy and security of health information is not even considered in many parts of India. I guess when you live on very little, you don’t have anything to lose if your health information isn’t kept private. It was an interesting thing I’d like to learn more about.


Dr. Webster is always pulling out special tweets that cause me to think. This is no different. We need to delve a lot deeper into which EMR processes are best done by humans and which are best done by machines.


This made me laugh so hard because of the impact it’s had on the doctor. Reminds me of my post back in 2009 that called EHR the Heart of a Practice. This tweet is a great example of this, but it’s also interesting to observe how the EMR does funny things with the mind as well.

Striiv Ups the Standard for Pedometers — Games, Challenges, and Charity Incorporated

Posted on October 26, 2012 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

The amount of pedometers I have owned in my life is a bit ridiculous. Granted, most of them have been free, or cost less than five dollars…but the fact of the manner is — I usually end up losing them as a result of forgetting to use it in the first place.

Striiv, a company that aims to create products that get people walking, has recently come out with two new products to achieve that goal. The first, a $99 pedometer that has tons of features. And the second? Something that anyone who tends to lose pedometers will appreciate.

Both the pedometers were created with activity based games with one goal in mind — to get people moving. The actual pedometer “turns 10,000 steps a day into playing a game, donating to charity, and competing with friends,” according to the Strivv website.

It really looks like a lot of fun. The device is pretty small, and looks like a cell phone. It tracks steps, mileage, and has challenges and tournaments. One of the coolest things about the device is that the more the user uses it, the more customized the experience becomes. It starts to learn habits and adapt to lifestyles. And instead of simply just showing the amount of calories burned, or miles walked, the device shows food items that have been burned, and shows distances like walking across the golden gate bridge.

Every step a person walks while using the Striiv Smart Pedometer, money gets donated to charity. This is a free service to the user, and goes to a great cause.

It also has a fun fitness game called “My Land.” Here is the description of it from the website:

MyLand is the first ever fitness based game on a pedometer. The concept is simple. You start with an enchanted island and your goal is to bring back the animals that inhabit the island by planting the building trees and places to live. Everything you build is based on how much you walk, run, and take the stairs though. So the more you move, the more you progress.

For anyone that likes games or is competitive, this sounds like the perfect motivation!

Now for those who can’t afford the $99 price tag, or just simply want to incoporate a pedometer into their phone, the free app from Striiv is a great idea. I mean, I always have my phone with me. Almost no chance of losing it, right?

The app creates customized challenges to “hit throughout the day.” It keeps track of distances and calories burned (Striiv actually teamed up with MyFitnessPal to help track nutrition.) Users can compete against friends, or even people they don’t know, for some added motivation. It also creates graphs about weight loss and distance walked.

“MyLand” is also available on the app, so you won’t be missing out by just getting the free app. I wasn’t able to figure out if walking goes toward charity, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does.

I’ve often heard that walking is the first “step” toward becoming healthier. And it looks like Striiv is making great strides to making that easier and more enjoyable. I’d love to try out either of these, but I’ll just have to wait and see if the app comes out for Android.

Download the app for free here
Striiv Smart Pedometer can be purchased here

Access To Clinical Data Too Easy Via Phone

Posted on 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.

Lately, I’ve had reason to be in touch with my health insurance company, my primary care doctor and multiple specialists.  In speaking with each, what I’ve noticed is that the data they collect to “protect my privacy” isn’t likely to do a good job. And I’ve been wondering whether an EMR can actually help tighten up access.

When I called to discuss clinical matters, both the payer and providers asked for the same information: My date of birth, my street address and my name. As far as I know, folks, you can get all of that information on a single card, a driver’s license.  So, anyone how finds or steals or has access to my wallet has all the info they need to crawl through my PHI.

So, OK, let’s say providers and payers add a requirement that you name the last four digits of your social security card.

There’s a few problems with that approach. First, anyone who has your wallet may well have your Social Security Card.  Second, storing patients’ SSNs in the clear in an EMR is an invitation to be hacked, as the SSN is the gold standard for identity theft. Third, if you want to store them in a form that only allows the last four digits to be read, that’s another function you need to add to your system.

So, what’s the solution? Would it work to have patients identify which doctor they see (something a thief wouldn’t know) or a recent treatment or procedure they’d had?  Probably, although some patients — forgetful elderly, or the chronically ill with multiple providers — might not remember the answers.

Seems to me that when there’s universal use of patient portals by both providers and payers, this problem will largely go away, as patients will be able to be looking at their own records when talking to providers. This will make a more sophisticated security screening possible.

But in the mean time, I’m troubled to know that my payer and several of my doctors use a security method which can be so easily compromised.  Do any of you have suggestions as to what those offices might do in the interim between now and when they have a useful portal to offer?