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How Connected is Your Healthcare? – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on February 13, 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, 2/16 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Dr. Robert Wah (@RobertWahMD) from @DXCTechnology on the topic of “How Connected is Your Healthcare?.”

Healthcare providers are tapping into new tech solutions to connect patients, processes and data for better results. How is technology enabling a movement toward patient-center care?

Join us for this week’s #HITsm chat where we talk about connected health and where we still need work. We’ll look at disruptive innovations that are going to change everything and practical innovations that are going to have a huge impact on healthcare. Often it’s surprising how big a difference the small, creative changes can have on healthcare.

Topics for This Week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: What does #ConnectedHealth mean to you? #HITsm

T2: What do you think is the biggest benefit of disruptive technology in the healthcare space? #HITsm

T3: What technology will have the biggest impact on #healthcare? #HITsm

T4: What are the redundant, repetitive administrative tasks you would automate? #HITsm

T5: How secure is your digital ecosystem of communications and connections? #HITsm

Bonus: What is your digital transformation goal for 2018? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
2/23 – #HIMSS18
Hosted by #HIMSS18 Social Media Ambassadors

3/2 – Machine Learning and AI in Healthcare
Hosted by Corinne Stroum (@healthcora)

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.

Radiology Centers Poised To Adopt Machine Learning

Posted on February 8, 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.

As with most other sectors of the healthcare industry, it seems likely that radiology will be transformed by the application of AI technologies. Of course, given the euphoric buzz around AI it’s hard to separate talk from concrete results. Also, it’s not clear who’s going to pay for AI adoption in radiology and where it is best used. But clearly, AI use in healthcare isn’t going away.

This notion is underscored by a new study by Reaction Data suggesting that both technology vendors and radiology leaders believe that widespread use of AI in radiology is imminent. The researchers argue that radiology AI applications are a “have to have” rather than a novel experiment, though survey respondents seem a little less enthusiastic.

The study, which included 133 respondents, focused on the use of machine learning in radiology. Researchers connected with a variety of relevant professionals, including directors of radiology, radiologists, techs, chiefs of radiology and PACS administrators.

It’s worth noting that the survey population was a bit lopsided. For example, 45% of respondents were PACS admins, while the rest of the respondent types represented less than 10%. Also, 90% of respondents were affiliated with hospital radiology centers. Still, the results offer an interesting picture of how participants in the radiology business are looking at machine learning.

When asked how important machine learning was for the future of radiology, one-quarter of respondents said that it was extremely important, and another 59% said it was very or somewhat important. When the data was sorted by job titles, it showed that roughly 90% of imaging directors said that machine learning would prove very important to radiology, followed by just over 75% of radiology chiefs. Radiology managers both came in at around 60%. Clearly, the majority of radiology leaders surveyed see a future here.

About 90% of radiology chiefs were extremely familiar with machine learning, and 75% of techs. A bit counterintuitively, less than 10% of PACS administrators reported being that familiar with this technology, though this does follow from the previous results indicating that only half were enthused about machine learning’s importance. Meanwhile, 75% of techs in roughly 60% of radiologists were extremely familiar with machine learning.

All of this is fine, but adoption is where the rubber meets the road. Reaction Data found that 15% of respondents said they’d been using machine learning for a while and 8% said they’d just gotten started.

Many more centers were preparing to jump in. Twelve percent reported that they were planning on adopting machine learning within the next 12 months, 26% of respondents said they were 1 to 2 years away from adoption and another 24% said they were 3+ years out.  Just 16% said they don’t think they’ll ever use machine learning in their radiology center.

For those who do plan to implement machine learning, top uses include analyzing lung imaging (66%), chest x-rays (62%), breast imaging (62%), bone imaging (41%) and cardiovascular imaging (38%). Meanwhile, among those who are actually using machine learning in radiology, breast imaging is by far the most common use, with 75% of respondents saying they used it in this case.

Clearly, applying the use of machine learning or other AI technologies will be tricky in any sector of medicine. However, if the survey results are any indication, the bulk of radiology centers are prepared to give it a shot.

The Role of HealthIT in Driving Payer-Provider-Employer Collaboration – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on February 7, 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, 2/9 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Heather Lavoie (@HSLavoie) from @Geneia on the topic of “The Role of HealthIT in Driving Payer-Provider-Employer Collaboration.”

2018 is shaping up to be another year of healthcare change, disruption and consolidation. In the past three months alone, more than $140 billion in healthcare deals have been announced, most notably the CVS Aetna merger. The news Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan are collaborating to simplify employee healthcare dominated industry headlines and moved the market.

In the years since ACA was enacted, there has been increasing action towards payer provider convergence. ACOs and value-based care models continue to gain traction. The early success stories showing improved costs, quality and outcomes are characterized by greater alignment and collaboration among payers and providers. More recently, employers and employer coalitions are joining these efforts to work together with their payer and provider partners to reverse decades of increasing costs and declining employee health.

Reference Materials:

Join us for a robust discussion on the critical role of healthIT in successful payer-provider-employer collaboration and convergence.

Topics for This Week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: We’ve all seen the big announcements around collaboration and convergence such as @Aetna, @CVSHealth and @Amazon. What do you think this means for the future of healthcare? #HITsm

T2: To what degree is #healthIT an enabler and/or a barrier to the kind of collaboration envisioned by the architects of the Aetna-CVS deal? #HITsm

T3: There is increasing talk about payer provider collaboration. How do you see employers joining these efforts? #HITsm

T4: What needs to happen from a #healthIT perspective to simplify payer-provider-employer collaboration? #HITsm

T5: Who should be the driver of #healthIT efforts to connect payers, providers and employers? What role might the consumer/patient have in driving payer-provider-employer collaboration? #HITsm

Bonus: What’s the role of advanced #analytics is making payer-provider-employer collaboration easier? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
2/16 – How Connected is Your Healthcare?
Hosted by Dr. Robert Wah (@RobertWahMD) from @DXCTechnology

2/23 – #HIMSS18
Hosted by #HIMSS18 Social Media Ambassadors

3/2 – Machine Learning and AI in Healthcare
Hosted by Corinne Stroum (@healthcora)

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.

5 Ways Your Certified EHR Can Help Boost Your MIPS Score

Posted on February 5, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Lisa Eramo, a regular contributor to Kareo’s Go Practice Blog.

How did you do in the first year of reporting under the Quality Payment Program? Are you expecting a negative payment adjustment under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)? Or did you only submit the minimum data necessary in 2017 to avoid this adjustment? The good news is that you can get on track to report critical MIPS measures in 2018 that will safeguard and perhaps even enhance your revenue in 2020 and beyond.

In fact, your electronic health record (EHR) technology may already include various features that can help increase your MIPS score, says Marina Verdara, senior training specialist at Kareo. All you need to do is take advantage of them. Verdara discusses five ways in which medical practices should be able to capitalize on their EHR to improve performance under MIPS.

  1. Use an EHR Certified With the 2015 Criteria

Technology certified using the 2015 criteria supports interoperability across the care continuum, and it also enables physicians to earn additional revenue under MIPS, says Verdara. According to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act final rule, physicians earn a one-time bonus of 10 percentage points under the advancing care information (ACI) performance category of MIPS when they report objectives and measures using only 2015 edition certified electronic health record technology during calendar year 2018. In 2018, 25% of a physician’s MIPS score is tied to ACI.

“The federal rule indicates the clinician will earn a 10% bonus to their ACI score if they report using only a 2015 CEHRT, but they will determine this based on the measures submitted,” Verdara explains. “Therefore, a clinician can switch anytime during 2018 as long as they can report at least 90 days for the ACI category.”

In addition to this bonus, clinicians are eligible to receive a bonus of 10 percentage points applied to the ACI category if they report Stage 3 objectives and measures, says Verdara. They can do this if their certified EMR can document and track these measures. Refer to Table 7 in the MACRA final rule for more information about these measures.

  1. Choose Applicable Quality Measures

In 2018, 50% of your MIPS score is based on the quality measures you submit. Your 2015 Certified EHR should support your quality measure selection. “For instance, our physicians have an easy-to-use tool within our EHR that prompts them to narrow down measures that are most applicable for their specialty,” says Verdara. Customers can contact them directly for more information about each measure, its specifications, and what CMS is looking for when calculating numerators and denominators.

When using your EHR to choose measures, Verdara suggests running a report for all of the quality measures your vendor supports, including those you may not plan to submit for attestation. That’s because the data could reveal one or more measures you hadn’t anticipated as advantageous for your practice that could ultimately boost your score, she adds.

Examine the entire report, and identify your top 10 measures (i.e., those on which you’ve performed most effectively). Now dig into the data. Are each of these measures applicable for your specialty? If so, focus on data capture for those 10 measures. If some of your top 10 measures are in other specialties, eliminate those from your workflow and choose ones that are relevant. “Make sure you understand how to document and improve the score for that measure,” says Verdara.

Ultimately, submit all 10 measures to CMS even though only six are required, says Verdara. During the submission process, the CMS attestation website automatically scores each measure based on available benchmarks, and physicians have an opportunity to remove the measures on which they’ve performed most poorly prior to final submission.

  1. Don’t Overlook Reporting Opportunities

Your EHR should be looking out for reporting opportunities so that you can focus on patient care. Verdara provides the example of smoking cessation counseling. Physicians commonly perform this type of counseling but may not receive credit under MIPS because they don’t check the box indicating the work was done. “We have built-in guides to help physicians understand why they might be missing out on a particular quality metric,” says Verdara, adding that physicians should be able to look to their EHR to prompt and guide them to understand where missed opportunities may lie.

  1. Use Clinical Decision Support to Enhance MIPS Performance

Your EHR should also provide prompts to remind physicians about age- and condition-specific preventive screenings and care that, when provided to patients, can help improve MIPS scores. Physicians using Kareo, for example, can improve performance on MIPS measures related to influenza and age-specific immunizations as well as screening for clinical depression, high blood pressure, and more, all of which directly translate to higher scores, says Verdara. “It helps the physician provide better care,” she adds. “It’s a win-win for the clinician and the patient.”

  1. Run Clinical Reports to Pinpoint Opportunities for Care Improvement

MIPS reports not only allow for attestation, but they also help practices understand what they do well—and what needs improvement, says Verdara. For example, practices tracking patients whose hemoglobin A1C is greater than 9% during the performance period can use this report for MIPS attestation and to improve outcomes. More specifically, they can reach out to patients with a poor A1C to provide additional counseling and guidance. “This is a good one to track because diabetes is an epidemic,” says Verdara. “It helps practices target patients who are non-compliant.” The same is true for measures related to controlling high blood pressure and asthma.

To learn more about MACRA, visit https://qpp.cms.gov/.

About Lisa Eramo
Lisa Eramo is a regular contributor to Kareo’s Go Practice Blog, as well as other healthcare publications, websites and blogs, including the AHIMA Journal. Her focus areas are medical coding, clinical documentation improvement and healthcare quality/efficiency.  Kareo is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

Nearly 6 Million Patient Records Breached In 2017

Posted on February 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.

Just how bad a year was 2017 for health data? According to one study, it was 5.6 million patient records bad.

According to health data security firm Protenus, which partnered with DataBreaches.net to conduct its research, last year saw an average of at least one health data breach per day. The researchers based their analysis on 477 health data breaches reported to the public last year.

While Protenus only had 407 such incidents, those alone affected 5,579,438 patient records. The gross number of exposed records fell dramatically from 2016, which saw 27.3 million records compromised by breaches. However, the large number of records exposed in 2016 stems from the fact that there were a few massive incidents that year.

According to researchers, the largest breach reported in 2017 stemmed from a rogue insider, a hospital employee who inappropriately accessed billing information on 697,800 patients. The rest of the top 10 largest data breaches sprung from insider errors, hacking, and one other incident involving insider wrongdoing.

Insider wrongdoing seems to be a particular problem, accounting for 37% of the total number of breaches last year. These insider incidents affected 30% of compromised patient data, or more than 1.7 million records.

As bad as those stats may be, however, ransomware and malware seem to be even bigger threats. As the study notes, last year a tidal wave of hacking incidents involving malware and ransomware hit healthcare organizations.

Not surprisingly, last year’s wave of attacks seems to be part of a larger trend. According to a Malwarebytes report, ransomware attacks on businesses overall increased 90 percent last year, led by GlobeImposter and WannaCry incidents.

That being said, healthcare appears to be a particularly popular target for cybercriminals. In 2016, healthcare organizations reported 30 incidents of ransomware and malware attacks, and last year, 64 organizations reported attacks of this kind. While the increase in ransomware reports could be due to organizations being more careful about reporting such incidents, researchers warn that the volume of such attacks may be growing.

So what does this suggest about the threat landscape going forward?  In short, it doesn’t seem likely the situation will improve much over the next 12 months. The report suggests that last year’s trend of one breach per day should continue this year. Moreover, we may see a growth in the number of incidents reported to HHS, though again, this could be because the industry is getting better at breach detection.

If nothing else, one might hope that healthcare organizations get better at detecting attacks quickly. Researchers noted that of the 144 healthcare data breaches for which they have data, it took an average of 308 days for the organization to find out about the breach. Surely we can do better than this.

From Makerspaces to Virtual Spaces: How 3D Changes Everything… – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on January 30, 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, 2/2 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Chuck Webster, MD (@wareFLO) on the topic of “From Makerspaces to Virtual Spaces: How 3D Changes Everything…”

What do makerspaces, 3D-printing, and virtual & augmented reality have in common? Three-dimensional objects! Makerspaces, and their 3D printers, make 3D objects in the real world. Virtual & augmented reality are populated by virtual models of objects from physical real world.

At the recent RSNA meeting in Chicago, the same 3D models, of wounds, tumors, and proposed implants, could be viewed in either virtual or physical reality (via 3D printing). 3D printed models can be designed in virtual reality. Physical objects can be scanned and viewed in virtual reality.

What are the implications of this 3D printing / virtual reality connection? Well, for one thing, you’ll find a lot of virtual reality meetups in makerspaces (as occurs here in Columbus, at The Idea Foundary). Microsoft co-locates a “Mixed Reality” (VR + AR) space in its corporate makerspace.

But here is where I want to drive this. Makerspaces are inherently social, based on communities of peer-to-peer teaching and learning. However virtual reality has a loner stereotype, someone covering their eyes with electronics, and withdrawing from social interaction to explore, alone, fantastical, artificial landscapes.

The exception, in a big, big way, is social virtual reality. I wrote about this recently in my blog post Shared Social Virtual Reality Networking for Health, Healthcare, and Health IT Marketing. I won’t belabor the point here, except to say I am as excited about social virtual reality as a I was, and still am, about Twitter. In some ways, I’m reminded of the Blab and Firetalk group social video platforms (RIP!). A bunch of people, from anywhere in the world, can get together, virtually, to, well, do almost anything. Party in space. Watch movies underwater. Customize their avatars however they wish (yes, it can get freaky!)

If above seems like a bit of mishmash, I admit it does seem that way to me too. However, I didn’t want to call this HITsm tweet chat something like “Stuff @wareFLO Thinks Is Cool at The Moment.” So I thought hard, and came up with some connections!

PS. I’m bring my makerspace and virtual reality gear to HIMSS18! Look me up and check out this video preview!

Now for the topics we’ll be discussing during this week’s #HITsm chat. I hope you’ll join in on the discussion.

Topics for This Week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: Did you ever make something (perhaps out of readily available household items!) that solved YOUR unique problem. How did you feel? Is there something there, about everyday people making stuff, that healthcare needs? #HITsm

T2: Have you tried out a virtual reality headset yet? Which one? What did you see? What was exciting? What was disappointing? How about augmented reality? (Lots of AR apps now on iOS) Same questions… #HITsm

T3: I’m basically an engineer who happened to go to med school. It’s how I got interested in workflow. But now I’m getting back into “mechatronics” (building robots, for example) I’m happy to share my expertise. Anyone wanna build something together? What? #HITsm

T4: What if all of us, in this Twitter chat, right now, by just pushing a button, could appear to each other, in real time, as holograms (think Star Trek or Star Wars) anywhere in the real or imaginary world, what place & setting would you chose? #HITsm

T5: What questions would you like to get answered about 3D printing and virtual/augmented reality? #HITsm

Bonus: How might 3D printing and virtual (or augmented) reality be used for health IT marketing & PR purposes? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
2/9 – The Role of HealthIT in Driving Payer Provider Employer Collaboration
Hosted by Heather Lavoie (@HSLavoie) from @Geneia

2/16 – TBD

2/23 – #HIMSS18
Hosted by #HIMSS18 Social Media Ambassadors

3/2 – Machine Learning and AI in Healthcare
Hosted by Corinne Stroum (@healthcora)

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.

Federal Advisors Say Yes, AI Can Change Healthcare

Posted on January 26, 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.

The use of AI in healthcare has been the subject of scores of articles and endless debate among industry professionals over its benefits. The fragile consensus seems to be that while AI certainly has the potential to accomplish great things, it’s not ready for prime time.

That being said, some well-informed healthcare observers disagree. In an ONC blog post, a collection of thought leaders from the agency, AHRQ and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation believe that over the long-term, AI could play an important role in the future of healthcare.

The group of institutions asked JASON, an independent group of scientists and academics who advise the federal government on science and technology issues, to look at AI’s potential. JASON’s job was to look at the technical capabilities, limitations and applications for AI in healthcare over the next 10 years.

In its report, JASON concluded that AI has broad potential for sparking significant advances in the industry and that the time may be right for using AI in healthcare settings.

Why is now a good time to play AI in healthcare? JASON offers a list of reasons, including:

  • Frustration with existing medical systems
  • Universal use of network smart devices by the public
  • Acceptance of at-home services provided by companies like Amazon

But there’s more to consider. While the above conditions are necessary, they’re not enough to support an AI revolution in healthcare on their own, the researchers say. “Without access to high-quality, reliable data, the problems that AI will not be realized,” JASON’s report concludes.

The report notes that while we have access to a flood of digital health data which could fuel clinical applications, it will be important to address the quality of that data. There are also questions about how health data can be integrated into new tools. In addition, it will be important to make sure the data is accessible, and that data repositories maintain patient privacy and are protected by strong security measures, the group warns.

Going forward, JASON recommends the following steps to support AI applications:

  • Capturing health data from smartphones
  • Integrating social and environmental factors into the data mix
  • Supporting AI technology development competitions

According to the blog post, ONC and AHRQ plan to work with other agencies within HHS to identify opportunities. For example, the FDA is likely to look at ways to use AI to improve biomedical research, medical care and outcomes, as well as how it could support emerging technologies focused on precision medicine.

And in the future, the possibilities are even more exciting. If JASON is right, the more researchers study AI applications, the more worthwhile options they’ll find.

Patient Portals and Chronic Disease Management – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on January 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, 1/26 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Monica Stout (@MI_turnaround) from Medicasoft on the topic of “Patient Portals and Chronic Disease Management.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted a statistic stating that roughly 117 million people have one or more chronic health conditions. One in four people has two more chronic conditions. That is so many people! It’s 2018 and there are tons of innovative technologies out there. Why aren’t we doing a better job of managing our health conditions?

In a recent blog, I posted that chronic disease management represents one of the best opportunities for a personal health record or patient portal to link wellness and healthcare together to affect positive health outcomes. What changes in healthcare technology need to be made to more effectively treat and manage patients with chronic conditions?

Join us to talk about patient portals and chronic disease management during this week’s #HITsm chat.

Topics for This Week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: Would you (or do you) use technology to help manage your health and wellness? Why or why not? #HITsm

T2: Effectively managing chronic disease can involve changing habits and forming good habits. What are some ways IT can help patients form and maintain good habits? #HITsm

T3: What’s a feature you wish patient portals had that they currently do not? #HITsm

T4: If patient portals collected data so providers could participate in MACRA/MIPS more seamlessly, would you be more apt to encourage their use in your organization? #HITsm

T5: Does your employer provide you a PHR as an employee benefit? If so, does it motivate you to be an engaged patient? #HITsm

Bonus: What are the benefits of having a complete personal health record that you can access anywhere? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
2/2 – From Makerspaces to Virtual Spaces: How 3D Changes Everything…
Hosted by Chuck Webster, MD (@wareFLO)

2/9 – The Role of HealthIT in Driving Payer Provider Employer Collaboration
Hosted by Heather Lavoie (@HSLavoie) from @Geneia

2/16 – TBD

2/23 – #HIMSS18
Hosted by #HIMSS18 Social Media Ambassadors

3/2 – Machine Learning and AI in Healthcare
Hosted by Corinne Stroum (@healthcora)

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.

UPMC Sells Oncology Analytics Firm To Elsevier

Posted on January 22, 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.

Using analytics tools to improve cancer treatment can be very hard. That struggle is exemplified by the problems faced by IBM Watson Health, which dove into the oncology analytics field a few years ago but made virtually no progress in improving cancer treatment.

With any luck, however, Via Oncology will be more successful at moving the needle in cancer care. The company, which offers decision support for cancer treatment and best practices in cancer care management, was just acquired by information analytics firm Elsevier, which plans to leverage the company’s technology to support its healthcare business.

Elsevier’s Clinical Solutions group works to improve patient outcomes, reduce clinical errors and optimize cost and reimbursements for providers. Via Oncology, a former subsidiary of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, develops and implements clinical pathways for cancer care. Via Oncology spent more than 15 years as part of UPMC prior to the acquisition.

Via Oncology’s Via Pathways tool relies on evidence-based content to create clinical algorithms covering 95% of cancer types treated in the US. The content was developed by oncologists. In addition to serving as a basis for algorithm development, Via Oncology also shares the content with physicians and their staff through its Via Portal, a decision support tool which integrates with provider EMRs.

According to Elsevier, Via Pathways addresses more than 2,000 unique patient presentations which can be addressed by clinical algorithms and recommendations for all major aspects of cancer care. The system can also offer nurse triage and symptom tracking, cost information analytics, quality reporting and medical home tools for cancer centers.

According to the prepared statement issued by Elsevier, UPMC will continue to be a Via Oncology customer, which makes it clear that the healthcare giant wasn’t dumping its subsidiary or selling it for a fire sale price.

That’s probably because in addition to UPMC, more than 1,500 oncology providers and community, hospital and academic settings hold Via Pathways licenses. What makes this model particularly neat is that these cancer centers are working collaboratively to improve the product as they use it. Too few specialty treatment professionals work together this effectively, so it’s good to see Via Oncology leveraging user knowledge this way.

While most of this seems clear, I was left with the question of what role, if any, genomics plays in Via Oncology’s strategy. While it may be working with such technologies behind the scenes, the company didn’t mention any such initiatives in its publicly-available information.

This approach seems to fly in the face of existing trends and in particular, physician expectations. For example, a recent survey of oncologists by medical publication Medscape found that 71% of respondents felt genomic testing was either very important or extremely important to their field.

However, Via Oncology may have something up its sleeve and is waiting for it to be mature before it dives into the genomics pool. We’ll just have to see what it does as part of Elsevier.

Are there other areas beyond cancer where a similar approach could be taken?

Health IT and ROI (Release of Information) Vendor Sues HHS Over Patient Records Fees

Posted on January 19, 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.

Now here’s one for the ages – a vendor taking HHS head-on. The vendor, CIOX Health, has sued HHS in an effort to stop the agency from enforcing HIPAA rules limiting how much providers and business associates can charge patient records. While the vendor may not get anywhere, the lawsuit raises the important question of what patient record retrieval should cost.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the suit focuses on changes to the privacy law put into place in 2013 and 2016. The article notes that these modifications broadened the type of information providers and BAs must send while capping the fees vendors could charge for doing so. Specifically, the changes made in 2016 require that vendors that the costs associated with record requests for a reasonable or flat rate of about $6.50.

In its complaint, CIOX says the flat fee “was drawn from thin air and bears no rational relationship to the actual costs associated with processing such requests.” It contends that the HIPAA provisions in question established the limits “unlawfully, unreasonably, arbitrarily and capriciously.”

It’s hard to tell whether CIOX will get anywhere (though my guess is “not very far”). Government agencies are all but immovable, and HHS particularly so. I appreciate the spunk involved in filing the suit, the premise of which actually sounds reasonable to me, but I think the company has about as much chance of prevailing as a gnat fighting a combine harvester.

That being said, I think this suit focuses on an important issue, which is that the fee limits imposed by states and the federal government for providing medical records are all over the map. While such limits may be necessary to protect consumers, it’s probably fair to say that they aren’t exactly based on actual estimates of provider and vendor costs.

The truth is, the healthcare industry hasn’t come to grips yet with the cost of delivering healthcare information to patients. After all, while basic information delivered by a portal may be good enough for patients, these aren’t real medical records and they can’t be used as a basis for care.  And delivering an entire medical record can be expensive.

Plus, this issue is really complicated by the number of records requests that healthcare organizations are receiving from parties other than the patient. The number of records request from insurance companies, lawyers, and other third parties has increased dramatically. Not to mention how much of the record these organizations want to get. If it were just patients requesting their records, this question would be much simpler.

I can only think of a few ways to handle this problem, none of which are really satisfactory. For example, HHS or the states could create some sort of system which permits different fees depending on the difficulty of retrieving the information. Providers and business associates could submit their fees to some kind of review board which would approve or reject the proposal. Or perhaps we could just allow vendors to charge whatever the market would bear. None of these sound great to me.

If we want patients to manage their health effectively, they need to be able to share their records, and they must be able to access those records without paying a fortune for the privilege. At the same time, we can’t ask providers and business associates to share records at their own expense. Given the importance of this problem, I think it’s high time that healthcare leaders look for solutions.