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Exec Tells Congress That New Health Data Threats Are Emerging

Posted on June 20, 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 senior security executive with a major academic health system has told Congress that in addition to attacks by random attackers, healthcare organizations are facing new threats which are changing the health security landscape.

Erik Decker, chief security and privacy officer with the University of Chicago Medicine, testified on behalf of the Association for Executives in Healthcare Information Security in mid-June. He made his comments in support of the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, whose purpose is to improve the U.S. public health and medical preparedness for emergencies.

In his testimony, Decker laid out how the nature of provider and public health preparedness has changed as digital health technology has become the backbone of the industry.

He described how healthcare information use has evolved, explaining to legislators how the digitization of healthcare has created a “hyper-connected” environment in which systems such as EHRs, revenue cycle platforms, imaging and ERP software are linked to specialty applications, the cloud and connected medical devices.

He also told them about the increasing need for healthcare organizations to share data smoothly, and the impact this has had on the healthcare data infrastructure. “There is increasing reliance on these data being available, and confidential, to support these nuanced clinical workflows,” he said. “With the adoption of this technology, the technical ecosystem has exploded in complexity.”

While the emergence of these complex digital health offers many advantages, it has led to a growth in the number and type of cybersecurity problems providers face, Decker noted. New threats he identified include:

* The development of underground markets and exchanges of sensitive information and services such as Hacking-as-a Service
* The emergence of sophisticated hacking groups deploying ransomware
* New cyberattacks by terrorist organizations
* Efforts by nation states to steal intellectual property to create national economic advantages

This led to the key point of his testimony: “We can no longer think of preparedness relative only to natural disasters or pandemics,” Decker said. “It’s imperative that we acknowledge the criticality of cybersecurity threats levied against the nation’s healthcare system.”

To address such problems, Decker suggests, healthcare organizations will need help from the federal government. For example, he pointed out, HHS efforts made a big difference when it jumped in quickly and worked closely with healthcare leaders responding to WannaCry attacks in mid-2017.

Meanwhile, to encourage the healthcare industry to adopt strong cybersecurity practices, it’s important to offer providers some incentives, including a financial subsidy or safe harbors from enforcement actions, he argued.

IT and Affordability, Care for the Poor, Population Health in Low-income Areas – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on June 19, 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, 6/22 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Lenny Liebmann (@LennyLiebmann) on the topic of “IT and Affordability, Care for the Poor, Population Health in Low-income Areas.”

Technology can do a lot for healthcare delivery. But can technology—and technologists—specifically improve delivery for the economically disadvantaged and under-served? Or are the financial incentives in our industry too heavily stacked against such efforts?

Please join us this Friday, June 22 from noon to 1PM Eastern time for an interactive online discussion about the role technology can play in democratizing healthcare as costs rise and income disparity widens.

The following are the questions we’ll discuss during the hour chat:

T1: What particular interest and/or experience do you have in the topic of better healthcare for lower-income families. #HITsm

T2: Should health technologists purposefully prioritize initiatives that improve care for the poor—or is improved care an innate result of the improved efficiencies and efficacies generally enabled by IT? #HITsm

T3: Can you share any specific examples you’ve seen of technology specifically helping lower-income patients achieve better health outcomes? #HITsm

T4: Any ideas about how healthcare providers can leverage tech to improve population health in low-income neighborhoods—above and beyond better serving low-income individuals and families? #HITsm

T5: Do the economics of healthcare appropriately incentivize the use of technology to benefit the poor? Or do those economics actually disincentivize such efforts? #HITsm

Bonus: Any other thoughts about the relationship between technology innovation in healthcare and the needs of low-income citizens? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
6/29 – How Nursing Informatics is Changing the Healthcare Landscape
Hosted by Cathy Turner (@MEDITECH_Nurses) and Ashley Dauwer (@amariedauwer) from @MEDITECH

7/6 – What’s the Future of Patient Communication?
Hosted by Lea Chatham (@LeaChatham)

7/13 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

7/20 – TBD
Hosted by Jared Jeffery (@Jk_Jeffery)

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.

CMS Wants Interoperability. Should Patient Data Access Champions Cheer – or Not? – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on June 12, 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, 6/15 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Janice McCallum (@janicemccallum) on the topic of “CMS Wants Interoperability. Should Patient Data Access Champions Cheer – or Not?.”

Earlier this year at HIMSS18 and HealthDataPalooza, Seema Verma, CMS Administrator, announced the MyHealthEData initiative that places a priority on interoperability of EHRs, a long desired objective of health data enthusiasts.

The MyHealthEData initiative proposes open APIs with common data standards that will facilitate access to EHR data for software developers, although the business terms for accessing the data aren’t yet clear. In today’s #HITsm chat, I’d like to focus on how the MyHealthEData initiative will—or will not– benefit patients directly. I have more questions than answers and look forward to input from a range of healthIT and data management experts, patient data access advocates, innovation enthusiasts, and more.

First, some background materials:

This is the official announcement of MyHealthEData: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Press-releases/2018-Press-releases-items/2018-03-06.html.  Note, the initiative is not intended to give consumers direct access to their data from their healthcare providers; rather, it gives them the ability to choose a “provider that best meets their needs and then give that provider secure access to their data, leading to greater competition and reducing costs. ” In this case, “provider” means a technology provider that will likely charge an initial fee and an ongoing fee for data management.

From ONC director, Don Rucker on interoperability, transparency and an API ecosystem: https://www.healthit.gov/buzz-blog/interoperability/apis-path-putting-patients-center/

Adrian Gropper, MD, in a comment on Rucker’s post on the Health Care Blog, questions whether patient-friendly and cost-effective developers will have full access to APIs:

The issue is fairly simple and was well documented by the API Task Force: Can a small, independent startup serving patients or physicians have access to the FHIR API if the patient says it should – period? http://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2018/04/24/apis-a-path-to-putting-patients-at-the-center/

Finally, some insights from the current state of the Apple Health app that may give us reason to question how quickly something close to full data access and ongoing data liquidity will occur: https://corepointhealth.com/apple-health-fhir

Join me for this week’s #HITsm chat. Let’s start the conversation.

T1 : Does anyone see any downside to the latest data and API standards? Is anything missing from CMS announcements and fact sheets? Or, should we all be cheering? #HITsm

T2: Health IT vendors that focus on patient engagement and patient data management should be happy about MyHealthEData. Who among the existing patient data app developers do you think will benefit most from an API ecosystem? Who might be hurt? #HITsm

T3: Do you think patient access to full health records will be more affordable due to MyHealthEData? #HITsm

T4: How long do you think it will take to make the apps useful to patients with complex conditions, given the current state of data availability via Apple Health app and early patient portals? #HITsm

T5: What’s the likely business model for the app developers? #HITsm
Here are some possibilities to discuss:
(1) app developers charge low price to patients; revenue will come from businesses that want to buy access to aggregate data.
2) Full fee paid by patients.
3) An advertising model?
4) Access to app is given as a benefit to existing customers, e.g., Google can afford to offer app for free/low cost to existing customers, because it sells other services; health insurers can subsidize costs to incentivize patients to better manage their health status via health data apps.
5) Other revenue/business models?

Bonus: How do you think healthcare providers will react to the requirement that they “ensure data sharing”? How will it affect small physician practices v. hospitals? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
6/22 – IT and Affordability, Care for the Poor, Population Health in Low-income Areas
Hosted by Lenny Liebmann (@LennyLiebmann)

6/29 – How Nursing Informatics is Changing the Healthcare Landscape
Hosted by Cathy Turner (@MEDITECH_Nurses) and Ashley Dauwer (@amariedauwer) from @MEDITECH

7/6 – What’s the Future of Patient Communication?
Hosted by Lea Chatham (@LeaChatham)

7/13 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

7/20 – TBD
Hosted by Jared Jeffery (@Jk_Jeffery)

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.

How Technology and Healthcare Should Gracefully Collide to Provide the Best Patient Experience – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on June 5, 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, 6/8 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Jeanne Bliss (@jeannebliss) and Michelle Chaffee (@mdchaffee) on the topic of “How Technology and Healthcare Should Gracefully Collide to Provide the Best Patient Experience.”

Enhancing patient engagement and improving patient experience are priorities for many hospitals and health systems. And customer experience in healthcare must be a balance of human care and technical care – only when it enhances and improved human care. In this chat we’ll discuss the critical balance of the two and how high tech must enable and support high human touch, as well as best practices and the companies who are enabling technology support for human care delivery.

Reference Materials:

What Is Patient Experience?

Association of Patient Experience

Healthcare Systems Should Start Thinking “Would You Do That to Your Mother?”

Next-gen patient engagement: Applied intelligence and omni-channel messaging

Join me for this week’s #HITsm chat. Let’s start the conversation.

T1: What strategies can healthcare patients, caregivers, clinical service providers, and payers employ to leverage technology to enhance the patient experience? #HITsm

T2: What are the touchpoints that can impact patient experience and what do you think are some of the best ways to utilize technology at each touchpoint? #HITsm

T3: What are some non-medical needs and opportunities for enhancing health outcomes and how can technology support these opportunities? #HITsm

T4: What are some examples how other industries outside of healthcare have used technology to support a good customer experience? #HITsm

T5: How can social media and the ‘sharing & collaboration’ tools that have grown so rapidly over the last 6-8 years enhance the patient experience? #HITsm

Bonus: What are some examples of the worst patient experience involving technology that you or someone you know has ever experienced? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
6/15 – TBD
Hosted by Janice McCallum (@janicemccallum)

6/22 – IT and Affordability, Care for the Poor, Population Health in Low-income Areas
Hosted by Lenny Liebmann (@LennyLiebmann)

6/29 – TBD
Hosted by Cathy Turner (@MEDITECH_Nurses) from @MEDITECH

7/6 – TBD
Hosted by Lea Chatham (@LeaChatham)

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.

Alexa Voice Assistant Centerpiece Of Amazon Health Effort

Posted on June 1, 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.

I don’t know about you, but until recently I had thought of the Amazon Echo is something of a toy. From what I saw, it seemed too cute, too gimmicky and definitely too expensive for my taste. Then I had a chance to try out the Echo my mother kept in her kitchen.

It’s almost embarrassing to say how quickly I was hooked. I didn’t even use many of Alexa’s capabilities. All I had to do was command her to play some music, answer some questions and do a search on the Amazon.com site and I was convinced I needed to have one. Its $99 price suddenly seemed like a bargain.

Of course, being a health IT geek I immediately wondered how the Alexa voice assistant might play a part in applications like telemedicine, but I was spending too much time playing “Name That Song” (I’m an 80s champ) to think things through.

But I had the right instincts. It’s become increasingly clear that Amazon sees Alexa as a key channel for reaching healthcare decision-makers.

According to a story appearing on the CNBC website, Amazon has built a 12-person team within the Alexa voice-assisted division called “health & wellness” whose focus is to make Alexa more useful to healthcare patients and providers. Its first targets include diabetes management, care for mothers and infants and aging, according to people who spoke anonymously with CNBC.

Of course, this effort would involve working through HIPAA rules, but it’s hard to imagine that a company like Amazon couldn’t buy and/or cultivate that expertise.

In the piece, writers Eugene Kim and Christina Farr argue that the mere existence of the health & wellness group is a clear sign that Amazon plans to bring Alexa to healthcare. As long as the Echo can share and upload data in a secure, HIPAA-compliant fashion, the possibilities are almost endless. In addition to sharing data with patients and clinicians, this would make it possible to integrate the data with secure third-party apps.

Of course, a 12-person unit is microscopic in size within a company like Amazon, and from that standpoint, the group might seem like a one-off experiment. On the other hand, its work seems more important when you consider the steps Amazon has already taken in the healthcare space.

The most conspicuous move Amazon has made in healthcare came in early 2018, when it announced a joint initiative with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan focused on improving healthcare services. To date, the partnership hasn’t said much about its plans, but it’s hard to argue that something huge could emerge from bringing together players of this size.

In another, less conspicuous move, Alexa took a step towards competing in the diabetes care market. In the summer of 2017, working with Merck, Amazon offered a prize to developers building Alexa “skills” which could help people with diabetes manage all aspects of their care. One might argue that this kind of project could be more important than something big and splashy.

It’s worth noting at this point that even a monster like Google still hasn’t made bold moves in healthcare (though it does have extraordinarily ambitious plans). Amazon may not find it easy to compete. Still, it will certainly do some interesting things, and I’m eager to see them play out. In fact, I’m on the edge of my seat – aren’t you?

How Health IT Helps and Hurts Patients – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on May 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.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 5/25 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Amanda (@LALupusLady) on the topic of “How Health IT Helps and Hurts Patients (Especially Those with Chronic Conditions).”

Health IT is a powerful tool. It has changed the way patients, especially people with chronic illnesses live with and manage their care. As a woman living with multiple autoimmune illnesses for over three decades, my perspective is unique as I have seen the shift and how providers have been eager to adopt technology into their practice and recently experienced a doctor’s office where the fax machine is still the primary means of communication.

In my patient experience, I have chosen to adopt and use Health IT to assist me in managing my chronic care. Whether I am tracking my symptoms, keeping a food diary, or putting on a VR headset to help me relieve my pain, Health IT has improved my patient experience. While at the same time, the fact that with all the advances in Health IT that not every advance is a step forward for healthcare. There is frustration by patients that (in 2018) EHR developers have not yet developed a way for various platforms and institutions to connect to create one complete healthcare record for one patient.

Next week, I am proud that I will be at #HITExpo to share my patient experience at Healthcare Scene’s inaugural event in New Orleans. Understanding the value and insight that patients have can build an empathy, which I feel will directly improve the way Health IT collaborations work together.

Join me for this week’s #HITsm chat. Let’s start the conversation.

T1: How is Health IT (Apps, Devices and New Technology) helping streamline the patient experience (especially for people living with chronic conditions)? #HITsm

T2: How is Health IT hindering (hurting) the patient experience (especially for people living with chronic conditions)? #HITsm

T3: What Health IT companies/developers have made a positive impact on your life? How? If you are a patient, what Health IT has directly improved your patient experience? #HITsm

T4: How can Health IT work together with patient communities to improve outcomes and engagement? #HITsm

T5: What can you do to support Health IT “collaborations that work” with patients, especially those living with chronic conditions? #HITsm

Bonus: What are you most looking forward to at #HITExpo? #HITsm

Wishing you a Healthy and Happy Lupus Awareness Month. Can’t wait to chat together.

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
6/1 – #HITExpo Hiatus
The #HITsm chat will be on hiatus this week with the Health IT Expo happening in New Orleans. Please join in on the conversation happening on the #HITExpo conference hashtag.

6/8 – How Technology and Healthcare Should Gracefully Collide to Provide the Best Patient Experience
Hosted by Jeanne Bliss (@jeannebliss) and Michelle Chaffee (@mdchaffee)

6/15 – TBD
Hosted by Janice McCallum (@janicemccallum)

6/22 – IT and Affordability, Care for the Poor, Population Health in Low-income Areas
Hosted by Lenny Liebmann (@LennyLiebmann)

6/29 – TBD
Hosted by Cathy Turner (@MEDITECH_Nurses) from @MEDITECH

7/6 – TBD
Hosted by Lea Chatham (@LeaChatham)

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.

Healthcare AI Needs a Breadth and Depth of Data

Posted on May 17, 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.

Today I’m enjoying the New England HIMSS Spring Conference including an amazing keynote session by Dale Sanders from Health Catalyst. Next week I’ll be following up this blog post with some other insights that Dale shared at the New England HIMSS event, but today I just wanted to highlight one powerful concept that he shared:

Healthcare AI Needs a Breadth and Depth of Data

As part of this idea, Dale shared the following image to illustrate how much data is really needed for AI to effectively assess our health:

Dale pointed out that in healthcare today we really only have access to the data in the bottom right corner. That’s not enough data for AI to be able to properly assess someone’s health. Dale also suggested the following about EHR data:

Long story short, the EHR data is not going to be enough to truly assess someone’s health. As Google recently proved, a simple algorithm with more data is much more powerful than a sophisticated algorithm with less data. While we think we have a lot of data in healthcare, we really don’t have that much data. Dale Sanders made a great case for why we need more data if we want AI to be effective in healthcare.

What are you doing in your organization to collect data? What are you doing to get access to this data? Does collection of all of this data scare anyone? How far away are we from this data driven, AI future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Practical Applications of EMR Optimization Through Clinical Decision Support – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on May 15, 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, 5/18 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Justin Campbell (@tjustincampbell) from @GalenHealthcare on the topic of “Practical Applications of EMR Optimization Through Clinical Decision Support”


As a primer for the upcoming Health IT Expo, we will be discussing practical applications of EMR optimization through clinical decision support. Optimization dominates Health IT leaders’ list of priorities as they seek to rationalize EMR investment and harness its capabilities for improving efficiency, care and outcomes. However, boil-the-ocean approaches to EMR optimization can be counterproductive and stifle progress. Instead, Health IT leaders would be best served to focus on practical applications of optimization – specifically through clinical decision support, which serves as a lynchpin to clinical quality improvement initiatives.

Clinical decision support (CDS) provides clinicians, staff, patients or other individuals with knowledge and person-specific information, intelligently filtered or presented at appropriate times, to enhance health and health care.

CDS has a number of important benefits, including:

  • Increased quality of care and enhanced health outcomes
  • Avoidance of errors and adverse events
  • Improved efficiency, cost-benefit, and provider and patient satisfaction

CDS encompasses a variety of tools to enhance decision-making in the clinical workflow. These tools include:

  • Computerized alerts and reminders to care providers and patients
  • Clinical guidelines
  • Condition-specific order sets
  • Focused patient data reports and summaries
  • Documentation templates
  • Diagnostic support, and contextually relevant reference information

The majority of CDS applications operate as components of comprehensive EHR systems, although stand-alone CDS systems are also used. Many modern EMRs contain CDS capabilities such as rule engines, predictive modeling languages, and alert and order set authoring. However, the development and use of effective CDS within the EMR requires significant clinical, IT, and knowledge management resources that many organizations do not possess. This has led an increasing number of organizations to use compartmentalized decision support platforms other than EMR to drive portions of their CDS programs.

Ideally, CDS tools will be readily accessible to a wide array of caregivers where and when they need them, irrespective of what electronic health record they’re using. One such initiative emerging to share CDS resources is the AHRQ-funded CDS Consortium Project, which has demonstrated successfully that CDS from Partners Healthcare could be delivered to disparate EMRs across the country.

In an age of overwhelming data access and rapid technological development, ensuring clinicians have the clinical decision support tools to sift through a sea of information to find what is most relevant to their patient’s needs is vital to optimizing health outcomes.

In this tweetchat, we will discuss types of CDS (including sepsis surveillance, risk calculators, drug interaction, among others), mechanisms to deliver CDS to the point of care, workflow and alert fatigue implications, and methods for sharing proven CDS libraries.

Resources and Other EMR Optimization & CDS Reading:

  1. EMR Optimization Whitepaper
  2. EMR Optimization Infographic
  3. HealthIT.gov Clinical Decision Support
  4. CDS in the Cloud: Deploying a CDC Guideline for National Use
  5. Almost 20 Percent of CDS Alert Dismissals May Be Inappropriate
  6. EHR vendors, AHIMA push use of clinical decision support to prevent patient falls
  7. EMR Sepsis Surveillance – Achieving Optimal Sepsis Sensitivity & Specificity
  8. Integrated Health Calculators Whitepaper

Join us for this week’s #HITsm chat where we’ll discuss the following:

T1: What experiences do you have with CDS implementation? What impacts (positive and negative) did it have? #HITsm

T2: How can CDS best be deployed to the point of care without exacerbating alert fatigue? #HITsm

T3: How are different types of CDS initiatives (VTE, sepsis detection & prevention; clinical pathways implementation; risk calculation) prioritized? #HITsm

T4: Is CDS best suited to be managed by EMR vendors or can CDS be shared across vendors? How? #HITsm

T5: What are strategies to manage to CDS code and clinical peer review and rating? #HITsm

Bonus: What are mechanisms for making knowledge artifacts for CDS shareable? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
5/25 – TBD
Hosted by Amanda (@LALupusLady)

6/1 – #HITExpo Hiatus
The #HITsm chat will be on hiatus this week with the Health IT Expo happening in New Orleans. Please join in on the conversation happening on the #HITExpo conference hashtag.

6/8 – TBD
Hosted by Jeanne Bliss (@jeannebliss)

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.

How Technology Helped My Family Receive a Better Healthcare Experience

Posted on May 10, 2018 I Written By

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

Brittany Quemby - Stericycle

When was the last time you had a truly outstanding patient experience? For my family, two healthcare facilities located hours apart recently teamed up to make our lives significantly more convenient. Without modern technology, however, our new reality may never have been possible. Let’s start from the beginning.

A few years ago, my family member suffered a heart attack that caused a traumatic brain injury. He was treated at a major facility about two hours away from his home for speech therapy, occupational therapy, neurological care, cardiologist support, and more. After a year of hard work, he was discharged from the hospital and was able to move back to his home town.

Unfortunately, his community hospital was not equipped to provide the specific care he required. So for the next two years, he and his wife, who is now his primary care giver, commuted to the city multiple times a week to ensure he received the care he needed.

Eventually, we all wondered the same thing: Isn’t there a better way?

After many meetings with the facility that treated my relative and our local hospital, we started discussing how digital health experiences and virtual care could augment my family’s patient and caregiver experience. We were determined to find a solution that provided care options and choice, and allowed them to continue receiving the necessary care without the exhaustion of “living on the road.”

A recent study by Accenture said it best: “Finding the best combination of traditional in-person services and making those same services available virtually can offer consumers the choice they want in deciding when and how they receive care and support.”

Fortunately, we learned that our local hospital was equipped to provide virtual care. However, many patients had not yet taken advantage of these technologies. After some coordinating between facilities, we were able to set up ongoing virtual appointments. These appointments enabled my family member to receive care in a much more convenient setting.

With virtual appointments, they can even:

  • Easily schedule virtual appointments
  • Participate in the appointments from the comfort of a boardroom at the hospital
  • Consult with the first hospital’s specialist and also an in-person care facilitator
  • Receive follow-up health reminders and education directly after the appointment

Now, almost half of his appointments have transitioned to virtual appointments. And my family is not the only one taking advantage of this care capability. Recent research explores the many reasons why healthcare consumers are making this virtual shift:

  • One of the top three reasons why consumers tried virtual health was convenience. 37% said it was more convenient than traditional, in-person health services
  • 76% of people would have a follow-up appointment (after seeing a doctor or healthcare professional)
  • 74% would get virtual follow-up care services in their home after being hospitalized
  • 73% would discuss a specific health concern virtually with a doctor or other healthcare people and
  • 72% would be open to getting virtual daily support to manage an ongoing health issue

Consumer willingness to demand choice and becoming more involved in their health is rising. Like my family, more patients are ready to collaborate with clinicians, embrace new technologies, and explore digital health experiences that can help manage our health and create more convenient and engaging patient experiences.

Learn more about how Stericycle Communication Solutions is helping create the optimal patient experience through a combination of human and tech-enabled communication services. Check out our service overview here!

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality live agent services, scheduling solutions, and automated messaging solutions.  Stericycle Communication Solutions provides unified human & tech-enabled communication solutions for optimized patient experiences.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media: @StericycleComms

Why You Shouldn’t Take Calculated Risks with Security

Posted on May 9, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Erin Gilmer (@GilmerHealthLaw).

Calculated risks are often lauded in innovation.  However, with increasing security breaches in the tech industry, it is time to reassess the calculated risks companies take in healthcare.

Time and again, I have advised technology companies and medical practices to invest in security and yet I am often met with resistance, a culture of calculated risk prevails.  To these companies and practices, this risk may make sense to them in the short term. Resources are often limited and so they often believe that they needn’t spend the time and money in security.  However, the notion that a company or a practice can take this chance is ill advised.

As a recent study conducted by HIMSS (and reviewed by Ann Zieger here) warns, “significant security incidents are projected to continue to grow in number, complexity and impact.” Thus in taking the calculated risk not to invest in security, companies and practices are creating greater risk for in the long run, one that comes with severe consequences.

As we have seen outside of healthcare, even “simple” breaches of user names and passwords as happened to Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal app, become relatively important use cases as examples of the impact a security breach can have. While healthcare companies typically think of this in terms of HIPAA compliance and oversight by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the consequences reach far wider.  Beyond the fines or even jail time that the OCR can impose, what these current breaches show us is how easy it is for the public to lose trust in an entity.  For a technology company, this means losing valuation which could signal a death knell for a startup. For a practice, this may mean losing patients.  For any entity, it will likely result in substantial legal fees.

Why take the risk not to invest in security? A company may think they are saving time and money up front and the likelihood of a breach or security incident is low. But in the long run, the risk is too great – no company wants to end up with their name splashed across the headlines, spending more money on legal fees, scrambling to notify those whose information has been breached, and rebuilding lost trust.  The short term gain of saving resources is not worth this risk.

The best thing a company or practice can do to get started is to run a detailed risk assessment. This is already required under HIPAA but is not always made a priority.  As the HIMSS report also discussed, there is no one standard for risk assessment and often the OCR is flexible knowing entities may be different sizes and have different resource. While encryption standards and network security should remain a high priority with constant monitoring, there are a few standard aspects of risk assessment including:

  • Identifying information (in either physical or electronic format) that may be at risk including where it is and whether the entity created, received, and/or is storing it;
  • Categorizing the risk of each type of information in terms of high, medium, or low risk and the impact a breach would have on this information;
  • Identifying who has access to the information;
  • Developing backup systems in case information is lost, unavailable, or stolen; and
  • Assessing incidence response plans.

Additionally, it is important to ensure proper training of all staff members on HIPAA policies and procedures including roles and responsibilities, which should be detailed and kept up to date in the office.

This is merely a start and should not be the end of the security measures companies and practices take to ensure they do not become the next use case. When discussing a recent $3.5 million settlement, OCR Director Roger Severino recently emphasized that, “there is no substitute for an enterprise-wide risk analysis for a covered entity.” Further, he stressed that “Covered entities must take a thorough look at their internal policies and procedures to ensure they are protecting their patients’ health information in accordance with the law.”

Though this may seem rudimentary, healthcare companies and medical practices are still not following simple steps to address security and are taking the calculated risk not to – which will likely be at their own peril.

About Erin Gilmer
Erin Gilmer is a health law and policy attorney and patient advocate. She writes about a range of issues on different forums including technology, disability, social justice, law, and social determinants of health. She can be found on twitter @GilmerHealthLaw or on her blog at www.healthasahumanright.wordpress.com.