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!!

Healthcare Dashboards, Data, and FHIR

Posted on March 30, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog by Monica Stout from MedicaSoft

We live in a dashboard society. We love our dashboards! We have mechanisms to track, analyze, and display all sorts of data at our fingertips any time of the day or night and everywhere we turn. We like it that way! Data is knowledge. Data is power. Data drives decisions. Data is king.

But what about healthcare data? Specifically, what about YOUR healthcare data? Is it all available in one place where you can easily access it, analyze it, and make decisions about your health? Chances are, it’s not. Most likely, it’s locked up inside various EHRs and many tethered (read: connected to the provider, not shareable to other providers) patient portals you received access to when you visited your doctors for various appointments. In some cases, the information that is there might not be correct. In other cases, there might not be much data there at all.

How are you supposed to act as an informed patient or caregiver when you don’t have your data or accurate data for those you are caring for? When health information is spread across multiple portals and the onus is on you to remember every login and password and what data is where for each of these portals, are you really using them effectively? Do you want to use them? It’s not very easy to connect the dots when the dots can’t be located because they’re in different places in varying degrees of completeness.

How do we fix this? What steps need to be taken? Aggregating our health information isn’t just collecting the raw data and calling it a complete record. It’s more than being able to send files back and forth. It’s critical to get your data right, at the core, as part of your platform. That’s what lets you build useful services, like a patient dashboard, or a provider EHR, or a payer analytics capability. A modern data model that represents your health information as a longitudinal patient record is key.

Many IT companies have realized HL7 FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) is the preferred way to get there and are exploring its uses for interoperability. These companies have started using FHIR to map health information from their current data models to FHIR in order to allow information exchange.

This is just the beginning, though. If you want robust records that support models of the future, you need a powerful, coherent data model, like FHIR, as your internal data model, too.  Then take it a step further and use technologies similar to those used by other enterprise scale systems like Netflix and LinkedIn, to give patients and caregivers highly available, scalable, and responsive tools just like their other consumer-facing applications. Solutions that are built on legacy systems can’t scale in this way and offer these benefits.

Our current healthcare IT environment hasn’t made it easy for patients to aggregate their health information or aggregated it for them. If we want to meet the needs of today and tomorrow’s patients and caregivers, we need patient-centric systems designed to make it easy to gather health information from all sources – doctors, hospitals, laboratories, HIEs, and personal health devices and smartphones.

About Monica Stout
Monica is a HIT teleworker in Grand Rapids, Michigan by way of Washington, D.C., who has consulted at several government agencies, including the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). She’s currently the Marketing Director at MedicaSoft. Monica can be found on Twitter @MI_turnaround or @MedicaSoftLLC.

About MedicaSoft
MedicaSoft  designs, develops, delivers, and maintains EHR, PHR, and UHR software solutions and HISP services for healthcare providers and patients around the world. MedicaSoft is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene. For more information, visit www.medicasoft.us or connect with us on Twitter @MedicaSoftLLC, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

Cybersecurity Report Card:  Better Performance, But Not Great

Posted on March 29, 2018 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 research report from HIMSS has concluded that while healthcare organizations are improving their cybersecurity programs, there’s still a number of things they could do better.

The study drew on responses from 239 health information security professionals. Their responses were gathered from December 2017 to January 2018. While respondents came from a number of settings, the largest number (31.5%) were with hospitals, multi-hospital systems or integrated delivery networks.

One key point made by the study was that significant security incidents are projected to continue to grow in number, complexity and impact. That’s reflected by responses from survey participants, 75.7% of whom said that their organizations experienced a significant security incident in the past 12 months.

The top threat actors attacking these organizations included online scam artists deploying phishing and spear phishing attacks (37.6%), followed by negligent insiders (20.8 %) or hackers (20.1%). In many cases, the initial point of security compromise was by email. Time it took to discover the incident included less than 24 hours (47.1%), one to two days (13.2%) and 3 to 7 days (7.4%).

Despite these risks, and the effort required to protect their data, healthcare organizations with cybersecurity programs are improving their performance. They’re devoting more resources to those programs (55.8% of current IT budgets), responding to problems identified by regular risk assessments (with 83.1% adopting new and improved security measures in the wake of those assessments) and regularly conducting penetration testing and security awareness training.

On the other hand, HIMSS found that most healthcare organizations, cybersecurity programs still need improvement. For example, staffers face major obstacles in remediating and mitigating security incidents, particularly having too few cybersecurity personnel on board and a lack of financial resources. HIMSS also noted that educating and testing “human components” for security vulnerabilities is critical, but may not be included in many efforts.

In some cases, organizations don’t have formal insider threat management programs. While many respondents (44.9%) said they do have insider threat management programs and policies in place, another 27% said those programs were informal. And 24.2% said their organization had no insider threat management program at all.

In addition, risk assessments vary widely across the industry. Popular sources used to gather cyber threat intelligence include US CERT alerts and bulletins (60%) and HIMSS resources (53.8%), but many others are used as well.

The net of all of this seems to be that while healthcare organizations have gotten smarter where cybersecurity is concerned, they need to invest more in specialized personnel, improve staff training, remediation and risk assessments and stay alert. As the number of attacks continues to grow, nothing else will get the job done.

Health IT M&A Video Interview with Dexter Braff

Posted on March 28, 2018 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 number of mergers and acquisitions that happens in healthcare is really quite astonishing to me. This is true for healthcare organizations, but also for healthcare IT companies who continue to consolidate. No doubt this isn’t going to change since it’s the nature of business.

Considering many of our readers are impacted by all this M&A activity, I thought many would find it valuable to learn from a real expert in healthcare M&A, Dexter Braff. Dexter is the President of The Braff Group who has done over 300 healthcare M&A transactions. Needless to say, Dexter has a lot of stories to tell.

The Braff Group only works on the sell side which means they only represent companies trying to sell. If you’re interested in the world of healthcare M&A, then you’ll enjoy this video interview. Also, in the interview Dexter and I talk a bit about the marketAlert he wrote called “In The Land of Unicorns, How Do you Value a Health Care IT Company?” It’s a great read if you want to learn about oversized valuations and why companies pay premiums for “unicorn” companies or as Dexter calls them, “minicorns.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m on The Braff Group’s advisory board for healthcare IT and The Braff Group is sponsoring the Health IT Expo conference I organize. In fact, if you want to hear more from Dexter and ask him your own questions about M&A, you can join us at Health IT Expo where he’ll be presenting a session.

If you have other questions for Dexter, leave them in the comments and we’ll be sure they get answered. Plus, as we mention in the video, as big health IT M&A events happen we’ll be sure to hop on video again with Dexter to talk about those events.

What is Patient – Centric Care? – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on March 27, 2018 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, 3/30 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Linda Stotsky (@EMRAnswers).

There was a lot of discussion about patient-centric care at #HIMSS18. What is it? Have we changed our approach to patient-centric design and communication?

Enabling patients to feel respected, valued as a person, is a multi-faceted task that involves more than HIPAA compliance. “Being treated with dignity and being involved in decisions are independently associated with positive outcomes”, according to a 2005 abstract in the Annals of Family Medicine. We talk about best practice guidelines and principals, yet how far have we come in the last 13 years since that statement was released?

Patient-centric care is defined as “respectful of and responsive” of individual patient preferences, needs and values. These values guide shared decision making, communication and treatment options, balancing clinical knowledge with patients’ wants, needs, and opinions. There is no “one size fits all” approach.

Patient-centric healthcare changes the paradigm from information and interactions that emanate with the provider, to information and interactions that begin and end with the patient, respecting his/her cultural values, practices and autonomy. Processes of care, progress and prognosis, plus an ability to recognize and respond to a patient empathically, communicate a desire to understand the patient perspective.

Do our present systems limit involvement from a time perspective?  Are we too busy clicking data boxes that we forget to pull away from the screen to engage in a two-way discussion?

Key patient-centered principals include:

  • Respect for the patient voice
  • Care coordination
  • Educational resources
  • Physical and emotional support (empathy)
  • Patient Safety
  • Access to all aspects of care (data, physical access, and communication)

Please join us for this week’s #HITsm chat as we discuss the following:

T1: What is a persistent patient centric approach? #HITsm

T2: Why are we still struggling to meet the educational needs of all patients? #HITsm

T3: How can we close the gaps in care management? #HITsm

T4: Who should carry the patient-centric care flag and lead the progress forward? Payers? DPC? HC Orgs? #HITsm

T5: What are a few “short wins” we can do NOW to improve patient-centric care? #HITsm

Bonus: What do you do when you experience care that is less than patient centric? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
4/6 – Apple’s Full-Court Move Into Healthcare – Game Changer or Flash In the Pan?
Hosted by Joe Babaian (@JoeBabaian)

4/13 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

4/20 – TBD
Hosted by Burt Rosen (@burtrosen) and the #WTFix team

4/27 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

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.

AHA Health Forum – A Valuable Potential Partner for HealthIT Companies

Posted on March 26, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

In the hyper-competitive HealthIT market, getting to your target audience within healthcare organizations is critical to success. Cutting through the noise and gatekeepers, however, is difficult. One effective strategy is to partner with an organization that has a trusted relationship with healthcare organizations and collaborate with them to leverage those connections.

The team at the AHA Health Forum has been helping companies for years do just that. I had the chance recently to sit down with Kathleen Wessel, Vice President of Business Development at AHA Health Forum. I asked her about the Forum and what recommendations she has for breaking through the noise in HealthIT.

Kathleen will be a panelist and a sponsor at the 2018 Healthcare IT Marketing & PR Conference.

Tell me about AHA Health Forum and the work it does.

Kathleen: Health Forum is a strategic business enterprise of the American Hospital Association, dedicated to providing insights, resources and innovative services to support our hospital members . This position makes us an indispensable resource for businesses seeking to engage the hospitals we serve.

Can you give an example of how a company might work with AHA Health Forum?

Kathleen: In addition to event sponsorships, conferences, and networking opportunities that connect you with the c-suite, we offer a level of program sophistication and service that isn’t seen elsewhere in the health care space. This includes opportunities such as multi-channel behavioral campaigns to nurture highly targeted audiences, trusted health care data to identify market opportunities, intimate executive events with attendees who have pain points aligned to a vendor’s solution, and lead assist programs to pre-qualify sales ready leads.

What are three things Health IT marketers should do to help identify and deliver messaging to hospital decision makers more effectively? 

Kathleen:

  1. At a high level, educate yourself on latest health care trends and challenges. In account-based marketing, know what is important to the hospital or hospital system. Annual reports, press releases and other public information sources provide a good starting point for individual hospitals.
  2. A closer focus on data can help you learn more about your audience. Leveraging your own internal client data and trusted external health care industry data can lead to breakthrough thinking—helping you grow markets, uncover new opportunities, and can help sales engage in higher value conversations with prospects.
  3. This brings me to my next point. A solutions provider that knows its audience inside out can use this intel to make content that is relevant. As health care leaders face unprecedented change, they don’t just need any content, they need quality content and are looking for solutions.

How is Health IT marketing changing?

Kathleen: Marketers have their work cut out if they’re going to get their message and brand noticed by hospital leaders. In the age of content and information overload, to be heard, you have to be credible and intentional. Health care leaders pay attention to information coming from their peers and institutions they trust. This will require marketers to cultivate client champions and integrate their stories and voice into their marketing campaigns. Marketers would also be wise to make investments in co-branding with trusted associations.

Being a “partner” vs a “vendor” is something we hear a lot about in health care, what does that exactly mean? What makes a company a good partner? 

Kathleen: Vendors focus on why their solution is best in the category; and if the challenge doesn’t fit, a ‘vendor’ tells the client to change to accommodate their solution. In contrast, a partner understands what is important to the hospital and focuses on how their solution can help the hospital achieve its strategic objectives. A partner will work to adapt to a specific challenge. In addition, the hospital looks at the partner for thought leadership, as a trusted advisor who can help guide them through the changes and disruption taking place in the industry.

“I Don’t Want to Be Portal’d” – The Need for Untethered Patient Portals

Posted on March 23, 2018 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.

Always great when people who work in healthcare IT bumped into it in their own personal lives. That’s what makes this tweet from Steven Posnak so interesting:

For those not familiar with Steven Posnak, he’s the Director of the Office of Standards and Technology at ONC. He’s very familiar with these challenges on a policy level and now he’s gotten a first hand look on a personal level. I think most patients understand the idea of being portal’d.

One great thing about Steven Posnak’s tweet was that it inspired Arien Malec to share this tweetstorm about the need for an untethered patient portal:

This is some great analysis of why we have tethered portals today. I don’t see EHR vendors ever fully committing to an untethered portal and public API for all portal functions. Can you see it happening? I can’t. The future of healthcare portals is tethered portals, until we leapfrog way past it.

The Win-Win of Today’s Telemedicine Technology for All Practices

Posted on March 22, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Sean Brindley, Product Development Manager, Kareo Telemedicine

The healthcare profession has been talking about telemedicine and its potential benefits almost as long as there have been phones. Over the last five years, adoption of telemedicine programs has increased steadily, but for some practices, particularly smaller, independent offices, the questions loom larger. How disruptive will adopting telemedicine be to office workflow? Will telemedicine overburden office staff? What are the risks involved in trying it? How will they get reimbursed for the investment? And, most important, what benefits can telemedicine bring to the individual practice that offset the impact of the learning curve?

Unlike even one or two years ago, today’s answers are mostly positive.

Reimbursement Is Real

Let’s tackle the big question first – reimbursement. Starting at the simplest point, most practices today give away a lot of practitioner time in telephone consults that are not reimbursable. Finding a way to generate revenue on even some of those would be a boon to most practices. But the news is far more positive than that. Thirty-five states, plus eight more pending, have enacted telemedicine parity requiring certain payers to pay for telemedicine consultations just as they would reimburse face-to-face visits. Private payers have been at the forefront of telemedicine adoption, likely recognizing telemedicine as a highly cost-effective delivery system for healthcare.  At the same time, a recent bill (The Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017), has relaxed the restriction on Medicare reimbursements for telemedicine, and while Medicaid reimbursement varies substantially from state to state, there are places where the reimbursement practices go further than Medicare. All practices should carefully review the rules and regulations in their states. Parity doesn’t always mean parity. This is why it’s an advantage to have a telemedicine visit option that’s built into the EHR and practice management system, not a separate application. This ensures a smooth reimbursement process. For example, in Kareo when a video appointment is scheduled, the system automatically verifies that the patient is covered for telemedicine. This removes much of the burden from the office staff and greatly increases the chances that the telemedicine program will provide a revenue stream for the office.

What’s In It For Practices?

Beyond the potential for reimbursing telemedicine visits, how will telemedicine impact the operation of offices? First, telemedicine can increase the number of daily or weekly visits without increasing the practitioner’s work hours because visits conducted via most well-designed telemedicine systems take less time than an in-person visit. For example, a practice with three providers who each add two video visits per day, at an average reimbursement of $72, will earn an extra $103,680 in revenue over the course of a year. Telemedicine also greatly reduces the number of no-shows and cancellations. Patients with a telemedicine appointment are less likely to cancel because of work issues, transportation, child care, or just plain forgetting. An office appointment that has to be cancelled at the last minute can even be changed to a video visit, keeping the patient on track and not wasting the practitioner’s time. Having telemedicine available makes a practice more competitive against the rising number of “convenient” healthcare outlets like urgent care, walk-ins and on-demand care.

What’s In It For Patients?

Perhaps most important, telemedicine has the potential to improve patient health and increase quality outcomes since it provides an easy way to stay in ongoing touch with patients. The best use cases are for routine follow-up care where the appointment does not require a physical examination. For example, ideal cases for video visits are ongoing care for chronic conditions, observing treatment plans, reviewing slightly abnormal lab results, providing prescription updates, and discussing lifestyle changes for weight loss, smoking cessation and much more. Better quality outcomes also mean better reimbursement under today’s quality-driven healthcare system. Some of the specialties regularly using telemedicine are:

  • Primary Care
  • OB/GYN
  • Neurology
  • Nephrology
  • Mental/Behavioral Health
  • Gastroenterology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cardiology
  • Dermatology
  • Pulmonology
  • Infectious Disease
  • Urology
  • Hematology/Oncology

How Much Impact on Staff?

Traditionally, many providers have offered separate applications for telemedicine, which required additional steps and training for office staff, making it more difficult to implement, especially for small practices. However, telemedicine is now more feasible for all practices because new technology from Kareo integrates telemedicine seamlessly into the EHR platform. For example, our customers can schedule telemedicine appointments directly in their practice management system, maintaining current office workflow for scheduling, charting and billing with no extra steps or training required. The automatic eligibility verification removes much of the financial burden and produces on average 10 times the provider’s cost per visit.  Patients can request appointments online and conduct the visit through a mobile device or desktop.

Removing the Risk

In busy practices, all changes can feel risky in terms of impact on staff, patients and investment costs. The integration of telemedicine with popular EHR platforms removes much of the impact on staff. Since more than 64 percent of patients say they would be happy to have a telemedicine video appointment, the offering to patients is far more positive than negative. Finally, the investment risk has dropped to minimal. EHR providers that offer software-as-a service, such as Kareo, are now giving practices a chance to pay per telemedicine visit, thereby being charged only for what they use. These low per-visit fees reduce the start-up burden on small practices, so the financial risk drops to negligible. In this way the office can implement a telemedicine practice at its own pace, allowing reimbursements to keep pace with usage.

Chances are good that even the overworked independent practice can use today’s telemedicine technology as an opportunity to increase revenue, unburden staff, and enhance patient satisfaction with the most minimal of investments. After years of promise, telemedicine has become a win-win

About Sean Brindley
Sean Brindley is product development manager for Kareo Telemedicine. More information can be found on Kareo’s Go Practice blog.  Kareo is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

Healthcare Identity and Interoperability – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on March 21, 2018 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, 3/23 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Julie Maas (@JulieWMaas) from EMR Direct on the topic of “Healthcare Identity and Interoperability”.

There is a lot of discussion about healthcare identity in the industry recently, since:

  • Patient data is now available via public APIs from Health IT vendors that are moving into production with 2015 Edition compliant software
  • Patient matching problems persist, with no national identifier on the horizon
  • New NIST 800-63-3 identity proofing requirements and GDPR are coming onto the scene
  • Now even Jared Kushner is demanding patient access to data
  • Apple and Google are starting to take healthcare data seriously and a new class of third party “Client App” developers, managing health data, is emerging
  • TEFCA

All health data managed by healthcare providers carries legal (both federal and state) restrictions about who can access it. Data holders want to be sure they are making health data available to the right patients (who have rights to that data or have been made an authorized patient representative) and to the right providers and payers (certain assertions simplify this).  Initiatives like TEFCA and consumer-mediated exchange and the underlying technologies they typically reference are helping to clarify and expand the ways that better use of health data can improve health care delivery. What this translates to is a huge ask on the part of technologists to dramatically expand the volume of digital data that can be shared as well as the entities with whom it can be shared, while maintaining patient privacy and data security.

Important considerations that need to be addressed in the immediate short term to handle these developments are:

  • How to manage the identity and associated credentials of a querying entity (patient, provider, or payer) that is accessing their own personal health data or large volumes of data and what minimum bar is necessary to authorize such a transaction?
  • Similar question but for a patient app developer
  • Similar question for the patient who either through an in-person visit ONLY or alternatively via an entirely online interaction, obtains a credential for access to their own data
  • How do all of the above change, if at all, when 800-63-3 is brought under the lens? Can the above credentials still be generated through an online-only process considering the hefty restrictions of 800-63-3?

Please join us for this week’s #HITsm chat as we talk about the following questions:

T1: What does interoperability mean to you? Big asks/personal stories? #HITsm

T2: Ever heard (from a friend) of health data leaving 1 health system and being utilized in a different EMR? How did this help the patient? What personal information would patients be willing to make shareable between orgs in order to help providers “make sure you’re you”? #HITsm

T3: Does every provider already have the exact interoperability they want? Why or why not? If not, what is the biggest gap? #HITsm

T4: What do patients need to know about a patient facing application before allowing it to access their health data through an open API? #HITsm
(Want to really get into the weeds? See this and this)

T5: Is it a useful first pass for a patient to be able to share all health data from a given provider, or are special “valet keys” to limit sharing to certain data categories needed? #HITsm

Bonus: Do you have any ideas to improve measure reporting in order to reduce the burden on providers? #HITsm
(See this)

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
3/30 – What is Patient – Centric Care?
Hosted by Linda Stotsky (@EMRAnswers)

4/6 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

4/13 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

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.

Hopes for Big Impact from Validic: Making Use of Consumer Device Data

Posted on March 20, 2018 I Written By

Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in open source, software engineering, and health IT, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. His articles have appeared often on EMR & EHR and other blogs in the health IT space. Andy also writes often for O'Reilly's Radar site (http://oreilly.com/) and other publications on policy issues related to the Internet and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business. Conferences where he has presented talks include O'Reilly's Open Source Convention, FISL (Brazil), FOSDEM, and DebConf.

Validic, a company that provides solutions in data connectivity to health care organizations, came to HIMMS this year with a new platform called Impact that takes a big step toward turning raw data into actionable alerts. I talked to Brian Carter, senior vice president of product at Validic, about the key contributions of Impact.

Routinely, I find companies that allow health-related monitoring in the home. Each one has a solution it’s marketing to doctors: a solution reminding patients to take their meds, monitoring vital signs for diabetes, monitoring vital signs for congestive heart failure, or something else fairly specific. These are usually integrated solutions that provide their own devices. The achievement of Validic, built through years of painstakingly learning the details of almost 400 different devices and how to extract their data, is to give the provider control over which device to use. Now a provider can contract with some application developer to create a monitoring solution for diabetes or whatever the provider is tracking, and then choose a device based on cost, quality, and suitability.

Validic’s Impact platform actually does many of the things that a third-party monitoring solution can do. But rather than trying to become a full solutions provider for such things as hospital readmissions, Validic augments existing care management systems by integrating its platform directly into the clinical workflow. With Impact, clinicians can draw conclusions directly from the data they collect to generate intelligent alerts.

For instance, a doctor can request that Impact sample data from a sensor at certain intervals and define a threshold (such as blood sugar levels) at which Impact contacts the doctor. Carter defines this service more as descriptive analytics than predictive analytics. However, Validic plans to increase the sophistication of its analysis to move more toward predictive analytics. Thus, they hope in the future not just to report when blood sugar hits a dangerous threshold, but to analyze a patient’s data over time and compare it to other patients to predict if and when his blood sugar will rise. They also hope to track the all too common tendency to abandon the use of consumer devices, and predict when a patient is likely to do so, allowing the doctor to intervene and offer encouragement to keep using the device.

Validic has evolved far beyond its original mission of connecting devices to health care providers and wellness organizations. This mission is still important, because device manufacturers are slow to adopt standards that would make such connections trivial to implement. Most devices still offer proprietary APIs, and even if they all settled on something such as FHIR, Carter says that the task of connecting each device would still require manual programming effort. “Instead of setting up connections to ten different devices, a hospital can connect to Validic once and get access to all ten.”

However, interconnection is slowly progressing, so Validic needs to move up the value chain. Furthermore, clinicians are slow to use the valuable information that devices in the home can offer, because they produce a flood of data that is hard to interpret. With Impact, they can derive some immediate benefit from device data, as the critical information is elevated above the noise while still being integrated into their health records. They can contract further with other application developers to run analytical services and integrate with their health records.

The Human Side of Healthcare Interactions

Posted on March 19, 2018 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

The week after HIMSS is certainly a rest and reflect (and catch up) time period. So much information is crammed into five short days that hopefully fuel innovation and change in our industry for the next year. We hear a lot of buzzwords during HIMSS, and as marketers in general. This year my biggest area of post-HIMSS reflection is on the human side of healthcare. Often, as health IT professionals, we can be so enamored with the techie side of things that we lose sight of what adding more automation does to our daily interactions.

The digital revolution has certainly made life easier. We can connect online, schedule an appointment, Uber to our destination, order groceries online, and pick them up on our way home with limited interactions with any real human. While the convenience for many far outweighs any downside, the digital world is causing its own health concern: loneliness.

Research by Holt-Lunstad found that “weak social connections carry a health risk that is more harmful than not exercising, twice as harmful as obesity, and is comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being an alcoholic.” But the digitization of our lives is reducing the amount of human interaction and our reasons to connect in real life. I keep hearing the phrase “we are more connected than ever, but we are feeling more alone”.  How do we avoid feeding another health issue, such as depression, while making healthcare more accessible, cost-effective, and convenient?

In healthcare communications, I want both technological convenience and warm, caring human interaction depending on what my need is at a given moment. If I need to schedule an appointment, I’d better have the option to schedule online. But in the middle of the night, when my child has a 104F fever and I call my doctor, I want a real person to talk and ask questions to, who will listen to the state my child is in and make the best recommendation for their health.

I had the privilege of discussing this balance of human and tech in a meet up at HIMSS last week. We learned that my colleague and friend learned the gender of her baby via a portal while waiting patiently for the doctor’s office to call. This is pushing the line of being ok in my opinion. But what if it was something worse, such as a cancer diagnosis or something equally scary? Is that ok for you? Wouldn’t you prefer and need someone to guide you through the result and talk about next steps?

As we add even more channels to communicate between health facility and patient, we need to take a look at the patient interaction lifecycle and personalize it to their needs. We should address the areas where automation might move faster than the human connections we initiate to ensure we are always in step with our tools and technology. Healthcare relationships rely on confidence and loyalty, and these things aren’t so easily built into an app. Online interactions will never replace the human, day-to-day banter and touch we all need. But I believe that technology can create efficiency that allows my doctor to spend more quality time with me during my visits and better engage me in my health.

So the question stands: how do you think the healthcare industry can find the right tech and human balance?

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