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Value Based Care: Successes, Challenges, and Changes – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on November 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, 11/16 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Matt Fisher (@Matt_R_Fisher) on the topic of “Value Based Care: Successes, Challenges, and Changes”.

The transition of the healthcare industry from fee for service to value based care (or alternative payment methodologies) garners significant attention from regulators, providers, vendors and many others in the industry. To frame the discussion, value based care generally refers to payment for quality, or in other words trying to focus on outcomes. The change represents a substantial shift in the approach to paying for healthcare services in the United States.

While value based care refers to payment for quality as an overarching concept, there are a multitude of means of structuring payment arrangements for quality. Examples include capitated agreements, bundled payments, pay for quality, and others. Common themes around the structures are not paying based on the volume of services, which arguably drives collaborations to break down siloes.

With a few years of value based care under the belt, how have efforts gone and where are those efforts heading? Join the chat to weigh in with your thoughts.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: Which value based care models have been successful to date and how do you define success? #HITsm

T2: How are new and/or developing #healthIT tools helping or hindering the ability to transition to value based care? #HITsm

T3: What are misperceptions that have developed around value based care models and how are they inaccurate? #HITsm

T4: What role do Medicare and Medicaid programs have in pushing the industry to value based care and how does the recommitment of CMS impact the change? #HITsm

T5: What changes do you see on the horizon for value based care programs? #HITsm

Bonus: What type of value based care program not currently existing should be developed or implemented? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
11/23 – No Chat – Thanksgiving Break

11/30 – The Global Impact of Health IT
Hosted by Vanessa Carter (@_FaceSA)

12/7 – TBD
Hosted by Michelle Currie (@mshlcurrie)

12/14 – TBD
Hosted by Claire Pfarr (@clairepfarr) from @OneViewHC and the @Savvy_Coop Community

12/21 – Holiday Break

12/28 – Holiday Break

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.

Combatting Communication Problems in Community Healthcare Clinics

Posted on November 7, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Tom Downes, CEO of Quail Digital.

The notion of a community healthcare clinic is constantly evolving from the traditional model of a local clinic staffed by general practitioners and nurses, serving mainly rural populations. There is now a renewed interest in these organisations and their potential to deliver a more integrated care service within the community. However, in order to successfully make this transition, there is a need to better equip these clinics with the tools to ensure they’re able to cope with the extra demand and the ever-evolving medical treatments that are being practised.

With an estimated 33 million people visiting community healthcare clinics each year, these organisations are an essential part of the healthcare system. Whilst they are investing vital time into evolving their structure and delivering a focused range of medical services, without the right technology in place staff productivity will suffer, hindering their ability to make the most out of not only the current resources available, but any new, innovative resources they decide to invest in.

A collaborative approach

To foster a more productive, collaborative environment, communication should be implemented across the entire team. From diagnostics to preventive treatment, clinical procedure and rehabilitation, delivering a diverse set of services can create a stressful environment, if the team, from receptionist to clinicians, are wasting valuable time trying, without success, to communicate. But as services expand, enabling staff to speak easily with one another to seek answers to questions, locate the right individual and better manage the flow of patients through the appointments process, has become even more important.

Community healthcare clinics traditionally rely on telephones to communicate internally, but these can often go unanswered. Additionally, this device commonly only works when just two people want to communicate with each other, restricting the ability to send messages, updates and instructions to the whole team. Naturally, therefore, the likelihood of missing key information or mishearing a fellow colleague is increased, creating unnecessary stress and delays.

And this dated communication tool will not be able to facilitate the growing numbers of staff working in these clinics. As nearly 62 percent of all community healthcare clinics are in an urban setting they are providing services for extremely dense populations, therefore they require a greater amount of staff to help accommodate this demand. Team this up with the intense competition these urban clinics have with multiple clinics and medical centres serving the same geographic, and the need for a better communication tool that will help them provide a positive experience is even more important.

Clear Communication

Providing clear, discrete communication to all members at reception and in the clinics will have an extremely positive impact on the running of the community healthcare clinic. Lightweight headset technology will help the team working in these clinics to reduce unwanted hold-ups, improve workflow and offer a much improved experience for each of those patients who walk through the door. And with the ability to coordinate easily with one another, the team can become more productive and efficient to ensure they’re prepared for the demands felt by this expanding healthcare system.

Critically, in this most challenging of jobs, adopting a headset system that operates on a single channel will ensure all members of staff are in permanent communication. This way, doctors, nurses or receptionists are able to approach their colleagues who are working in another part of the clinic with any urgent query or question they may have. This immediate and non-obtrusive communication method is particularly important during times of expansion and innovation, as every team member will be learning and adopting new methods and structures.

Conclusion

Community healthcare clinics are evolving and there is now a growing need to implement digital solutions to provide staff with the ability to hear everything clearly, at all times. There are also other daily practices that can help facilitate a more tranquil environment. Along with headset technology, eliminating unnecessary, frantic noise across the clinic will drastically reduce the distractions all doctors, nurses and receptionists have to face. Not only will this have a positive impact on stress-levels, but it will also make it a lot easier to communicate effectively amongst the team. Daily team meetings are also vital for every member of staff in a community healthcare clinic. With a better understanding of everyone’s workload for that day the team will have greater visibility of who is available to assist with other tasks and enquiries.

By implementing communication tools and ensuring greater visibility across the team clinical operational efficiencies will be increased while staff stress levels will be reduced and their wellbeing improved.

About Tom Downes
Tom Downes founded Quail Digital in 1995 to design headset systems for ‘team’ communication. The philosophy being that the easier and more freely a team can speak with each other in the workplace, the better their outcomes, wellbeing and productivity. Quail Digital designs and manufactures systems for the healthcare, retail and hospitality sectors, and has offices in Dallas, TX and London UK. Quail Digital is the leading provider of communications systems in the OR, and a sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

AI in Healthcare – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on November 6, 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, 11/9 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Jon White @technursejon on the topic of “AI in Healthcare”.

The idea of Artificial Intelligence (AI) isn’t new. We’ve seen robots and intelligent computers in film and on television for decades, and read about them in science fiction novels for even longer. As the processing power of computers and computing devices has taken off, and more and more data is captured from all facets of our lives, the science fiction from our parents’ generation is becoming the reality of today.

Though we may be far from witnessing the androids popularized in film and TV, there are elements of AI that are currently in use in many industries. AI has the potential to drastically change the way we live and work.

In this #HITsm chat, Jon White (@TechNurseJon) will lead a discussion on AI in healthcare, exploring its potential and pitfalls.

Check out the questions for this week’s #HITsm chat below.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: Artificial intelligence (AI) is a broad term, covering a variety of technologies. What does “AI” mean to you? How do you define it? #HITsm

T2: What impacts can AI have on healthcare, and how soon do you expect to see it? #HITsm

T3: What impacts do you see AI having on the healthcare and health IT workforce? #HITsm

T4: How can AI be integrated with other technologies to improve the delivery and effectiveness of healthcare? Where would you like to see it integrated? #HITsm

T5: AI relies on a significant amount of data. For many applications in healthcare, much of that data is derived from patient records. How will privacy concerns affect adoption? #HITsm

Bonus: What barriers are there to full-scale AI adoption in the healthcare environment? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
11/16 – Value Based Care: Successes, Challenges, and Changes
Hosted by Matt Fisher (@Matt_R_Fisher)

11/23 – No Chat – Thanksgiving Break

11/30 – The Global Impact of Health IT
Hosted by Vanessa Carter (@_FaceSA)

12/7 – TBD
Hosted by Michelle Currie (@mshlcurrie)

12/14 – TBD
Hosted by Claire Pfarr (@clairepfarr) from @OneViewHC and the @Savvy_Coop Community

12/21 – Holiday Break

12/28 – Holiday Break

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.

Decommissioning Legacy EHRs

Posted on November 5, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Sudhakar Mohanraj, Founder and CEO, Triyam.

Every product has a lifecycle. The lifecycle of Electronic Health Record (EHR) software begins when it is implemented at your facility and ends when it’s no longer in use. When a facility decides to move to a new EHR, it’s natural to focus planning around the new software system.  However, not considering the legacy EHR can leave you wondering what should happen to all of the historical patient financial and medical data. You have many choices. This article will discuss some of the challenges and options that will influence your cost, legal compliance, and stakeholder satisfaction.

Three common mistakes to avoid when moving to a new EHR

  1. Hanging on to the legacy EHR

Some say: “we will worry about shutting down the old system later after the new EHR is up and going.” Taking that path is risky and expensive.

Consider the cost. Until you get all your historical data off the legacy system, you need to pay vendors licensing and support fees. You may infrequently be using the old system, which makes these fees particularly unwarranted.  In addition, you continue to pay your employees to operate and maintain the old system.

To learn more about retiring Legacy EHRs register for this free live webinar. Industry experts will share Key lessons and Best Practices on data management strategies for EHR system replacements. You can also get answers to your questions about any specific requirements.

Some say, “I will stop paying my old vendor.  I don’t need any more updates or support.” However, sooner or later, hardware and software will break or become incompatible to newer technology. Older systems are an easy target for hackers and thieves.

Over time, your employees will forget passwords, how to navigate the old system or leave for other jobs. Then, when you, a patient, or your boss needs some report from the old system, you are caught short. Over time, data retained on an old, unsupported, infrequently used system increases the risk of being lost, stolen, corrupted, and not accessible by newer technology.

Bottom line: keeping an old, infrequently used system will needlessly eat up your time and money.

  1. Migrating all historical data from the legacy system to the new EHR

Some facilities are surprised to learn that the new EHR vendor will not convert all the historical data to the new computer system.

The new system is organized differently than the legacy system with different data elements and structures. There is never a one-to-one match on data mapping between the old and new systems.

It is difficult to validate the accuracy and completeness of data you want to import from the old system. The new EHR vendor doesn’t want to risk starting with an inaccurate database.

This is a golden opportunity to start with a clean slate. For example, you can take this time to reorganize, re-categorize, re-word codes, and tables. Now is the time to set up master files properly, and to make the system more efficient.

The new EHR vendor will lobby for you to start with a clean slate and populate the new database with only current patients, current balances, and current information.

  1. Ignoring Legal Compliance Requirements

Federal and state laws require healthcare facilities to retain medical and financial reports for 5 to 15 years and make these reports available to patients and others upon request. Keeping these records will help to avoid penalties, fines, and loss of certifications. Consult your compliance office, accountant, and HIPAA director to know Federal, IRS, and state-specific requirements.

Use this Data retention tool to find the retention requirements for your state.

Why data archival is an excellent choice

What are the best practices to deal with historical data? Data from the old system needs to be organized in a safe, secure place so that the information can be found and made readily available to those who need it in a timely fashion. In other words, it needs to be archived.

An archive is a separate system from your new EHR. It contains all your historical data and reports. When users sign into the archive program, depending on their user rights, they may see all or some of the historical reports. The most common functions of the archive system include:

  • Search and query clinical and financial data for “Continuity of Care.
  • Download, view, print, and share reports for “Release of Information.

Archival is a new concept. KLAS research is creating a new product category for this.  Listen to this on-demand webinar from the head of EHR Archive studies at KLAS Research.

In the archive, you can see all patients and their previous charts, medications, treatments, billings, insurance claims, payments, and more.  You will also see the historical vendor, employee, and accounting records.

What type of data goes to the archive? All sorts. You can retain discrete data or non-discrete data, structured data (like SQL, XML, CCDA), or unstructured data that is logically grouped and presented in a human-readable form like pdf reports, Excel spreadsheets, CCD, jpeg, or mp3 files.

Mergers and data consolidation

Archival is essential even when there isn’t a transition to new EHR. During a merger, the new entity frequently wants to consolidate patient financial and clinical data from multiple legacy systems into a common platform. Data archiving may be the best solution for dealing with multiple EMR/EHRs. Archival is less expensive than complex conversion and transformation efforts. Besides lower costs, it allows users to research on consolidated data using business intelligence and analytics tools running on one common unified database.

Outsourcing and vendor selection

Outsourcing has become an increasingly popular option for archival solutions for three reasons – cost, experience, and convenience. IT managers are already stretched to limits of time, resources, and budget.  Outside vendors can save the day by offering services for less cost.

When searching for an archival vendor, consider the following:

  • Experience in extracting data from your legacy systems which are no longer supported
  • Complete turnkey solutions – planning, pilot testing, data conversion, user acceptance, and decommissioning
  • Archival product features and ease of use
  • Great customer references
  • Cost of archiving should only be a fraction of the cost of retaining legacy system

The number one failure when implementing a new EHR is procrastinating the archival of legacy data. Hopefully, you can use a few of these ideas to maximize the benefits of your historical data, minimize costs, and best serve your user constituents.

About Triyam
Triyam delivers expert solutions in EMR / EHR Data Conversion and Archival.

Triyam’s data conversion services help hospitals and clinics to freely migrate from one EHR vendor to another without losing any historical patient data. Triyam’s EHR archival product, Fovea is a vendor neutral, innovative and intuitive platform to store all your legacy data. Fovea includes a powerful search engine and extensive reporting for Business Intelligence and Analytics. Triyam is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

Scripps Research Translational Institute Partners To Develop AI Applications

Posted on November 2, 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 Scripps Research Translational Institute has agreed to work with graphics processing unit-maker NVIDIA to support the development of AI applications. The partners plan to forge AI and deep learning best practices, tools and infrastructure tailored to supporting the AI application development process.

In collaboration with NVIDIA, Scripps will establish a center of excellence for artificial intelligence in genomics and digital sensors. According to Dr. Eric Topol, the Institute’s founder and director, AI should eventually improve accuracy, efficiency, and workflow in medical practices. This is especially true of the data inputs from sensors and sequencing, he said in an NVIDIA blog item on the subject.

Scripps is already a member of a unique data-driven effort known as the “All of Us Research Program,” which is led by the National Institutes of Health. This program, which collects data on more than 1 million US participants, looks at the intersection of biology, genetics, environment, data science, and computation. If successful, this research will expand the range of conditions that can be treated using precision medicine techniques.

NVIDIA, for its part, is positioned to play an important part in the initial wave of AI application rollouts. The company is a leader in producing performance chipsets popular with those who play high-end, processor-intensive gaming which it has recently applied to other processor intensive projects like blockchain. It now hopes its technology will form the core of systems designed to crunch the high volumes of data used in AI projects.

If NVIDIA can provide hardware that makes high-volume number-crunching less expensive and more efficient, it could establish an early lead in what is likely to be a very lucrative market. Given its focus on graphics processing, the hardware giant could be especially well-suited to dominate rapidly-emerging radiology AI applications.

We can certainly expect to see more partnerships like this file into place over the next year or two. Few if any IT vendors have enough scientific expertise in-house to make important gains in biotech AI, and few providers have enough excess IT talent available to leverage discoveries and data in this arena.

It will be interesting to see what AI applications development approaches emerge from such partnerships. Right now, much AI development and integration is being done on a one-off basis, but it’s likely these projects will become more systematized soon.

Health Tech Startups, Innovations, & Consumers – What’s the Future for HealthIT? – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on October 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, 11/2 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), host of WTF Health on the topic of “Health Tech Startups, Innovations, & Consumers – What’s the Future for HealthIT?”.

Is the ‘tech revolution’ – you know, the one that started with smartphones changing the way we live our daily lives – finally about to overthrow healthcare? For years, tech giants and tech startups alike have fought for their piece of our $3 trillion dollar industry. They’ve battled for more open access to data, suffered through years of Interoperability Showcases, and waited for patients transform into a market of ‘healthcare consumers’ with dollars and expectations that demand more from healthcare than fax machines and siloed patient portals can ever provide.

Is 2018 the year that tech has finally arrived? Busted the borders and crossed over to the other side?

Already, investment in digital health startups has blown past last year’s record-breaking $5.7 billion total to $6.8 billion invested through Q3 alone. Apple Health Records are deployed in more than 75 health systems, and Amazon up and decided to just start its own healthcare company with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan. The FDA is evaluating and approving digital therapeutics. Uber rides are reimbursed by Medicare. Even the AMA, who just two years ago condemned digital health as the “snake oil of the 21st Century,” has moved past their fears to issue a Digital Health Playbook that proactively helps clinicians make sense of the way tech is transforming care. Oh, Healthcare, our world is on FHIR…

With responsibility for data privacy, data exchange, security, and a slew of other issues that need to be resolved before our upgrade-to-a-better-tomorrow can start downloading, Health IT is on the front line (or is it bleeding edge?) of our industry’s transformation. In this #HITsm chat, Jessica DaMassa, the executive producer and host of the health innovation interview series ‘WTF Health – What’s the Future, Health?’ asks us to take a look at how health tech startups and consumer tech companies are starting to change WTF is going on in Health IT.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: For myriad reasons, healthcare is struggling to keep pace with tech innovation. From your perspective, is the tech industry failing healthcare by not doing more to meet the system where it’s at? Or, is it the healthcare system that’s failing technology by being unable to adapt? What’s the hold up? #HITsm

T2: As Apple, Amazon, Google, and Uber bring their consumer-focused thinking and design into healthcare, what are you most excited to see change? #HITsm

T3: I’ve interviewed 100s of health tech startups, and each one has their own take on how to engage with patients, use data to identify trends, etc. With so many different needs, systems, and solutions, do you think health tech startups are helping change Health IT for the better, or is this just the beginning of ‘interoperability 2.0’? Why? #HITsm

T4: Whether it’s a big tech company or a seed-funded health startup, what’s your best advice for successfully integrating new tech into the established healthcare system? #HITsm

T5: Last year’s fervor about blockchain has turned into confusion, AI and machine learning are seeing real uses cases, and voice is THE thing everyone is buzzing about this week. What tech do you think has the greatest chance of being integrated at-scale in the near term? (In healthcare, ‘near term’ being next 5 years.) #HITsm

Bonus: What’s hot and what’s not? What’s the coolest health innovation you’ve seen so far this year? What current tech trend do you think will be a non-factor 5 years from now? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
11/9 – AI in Healthcare
Hosted by Jon White @technursejon

11/16 – Value Based Care: Successes, Challenges, and Changes
Hosted by Matt Fisher (@Matt_R_Fisher)

11/23 – No Chat – Thanksgiving Break

11/30 – The Global Impact of Health IT
Hosted by Vanessa Carter (@_FaceSA)

12/7 – TBD
Hosted by Michelle Currie (@mshlcurrie)

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.

Will UnitedHealth’s New Personal Health Record Make An Impact?

Posted on October 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.

Though the idea of a personal health record was a hot thing for a while, it didn’t become the fixture of the healthcare market that pundits had predicted. In fact, as many readers will recall, even deep pockets like Google and Microsoft couldn’t get their users to sign on to their PHRs en masse.

One of the main reasons the PHR model didn’t take is that people simply didn’t want to use them. In fact, at least at the time, the PHR was almost entirely a solution in search of a problem. After all, if a health data power user and patient advocate like myself didn’t want one, what hope did PHR backers have of interesting your average Joe Blow in aggregating their health data online?

Over time, however, the personal health data landscape has changed, with patient records becoming a bit more portable. While consumers still aren’t beating down the doors to get their own PHR, those who are interested in pulling together their medical records electronically have better access to their history.

Not only that, wearables makers like Apple and Fitbit are sweetening the pot, primarily by helping people pull self-generated data into their health record. Arguably, patient-generated data may not be as valuable as traditional records just yet, but consumers are likely to find it more interesting than the jargon-laden text found in provider records.

Given recent developments like these, I wasn’t entirely surprised to learn that UnitedHealth Group is picking up the PHR torch. According to an article in MedCity News, the giant payer plans to launch what sounds like an updated PHR platform next year to its 50 million benefited plan members.

Apparently, on an earnings call last week UnitedHealth CEO Dave Wichmann said that the company will launch a “fully integrated and fully portable individual health record” in 2019. Notably, this is not just a data repository, but rather an interactive tool that “delivers personalized next-best health actions to people and their caregivers.”

The new health record will be based on UnitedHealth’s Rally health and wellness platform, which the insurer picked up when it acquired Audax Health in 2014. The platform, which has 20 million registered users, works to influence members to perform healthy behaviors in exchange for the incentive dollars,

Over time, Wichmann said, UHG intends to build Rally into a platform which collects and distributes “deeply personalized” health information to individual members, MedCity reported. The idea behind this effort is to highlight gaps in care and help patients assess the care that they get.  Wichmann told earnings call listeners that the platform data will be packaged and presented to clinicians in a form similar to that used by existing EHRs.

UHG’s plans here are certainly worth keeping an eye on over the next year or two. I have no doubt that the nation’s largest commercial payer has some idea of how to format data and make it digestible by systems like Cerner and Epic.

But while patients have become a bit more familiar with the benefits of having their health data on hand, we’re not exactly seeing consumers stampede the providers demanding their own health record either, and I’m far from convinced that this effort will win new converts.

My skepticism comes partly from first-hand experience. As a recent UnitedHealth beneficiary, I’ve used the Rally application, and I didn’t find it all that motivating. Honestly, I doubt any online platform will make much of an impact on patient health on its own, as the reasons for many health issues are multifactorial and can’t be resolved by handing one of us a few Rally bucks.

Personal gripes aside, though, the bigger question remains whether consumers think they’ll get something valuable out of using the new UHG tool. As always, you can never count on them coming just because you built it.

AMA Releases Great Guide To Digital Health Implementation

Posted on October 25, 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.

In the past, I’ve been pretty hard on the AMA when it comes to digital health. Last year I gave the organization a particularly hard time when it rolled out its Physician Innovation Network platform, which is designed to help physicians network directly with health tech firms, as it seemed to be breaking little to no ground.

However, to be fair the AMA has been a relatively quiet but solid presence in health IT for quite some time.  Its health IT efforts include cofounding Health2047, which brings together doctors with established health IT companies to help the companies launch services and products, serving as one of four organizations behind mHealth app standards venture Xcertia and managing a student-run biotechnology incubator in collaboration with Sling Health.

But what it hasn’t done so far, at least to date, has been to offer physicians any hands-on guidance on using emerging health IT. Now, at long last, the AMA has taken the plunge, releasing a guide focused on helping physicians roll out digital health technology in their practice. At least this time around, I have to give the organization a high five.

The new guide takes a lifecycle perspective, helping practices work through the digital health implementation process from preparations to rollout to gathering data on the impact of the new technology. In other words, it lays out the process as a feedback loop rather than a discrete event in time, which is smart. And its approach to explaining each step is concise and clean.

One section identifies six straightforward steps for choosing a digital health technology, including identifying a need, defining success early on in the process, making the case for political and financial buy-in, forming the team, evaluating the vendor and executing the vendor contract.

Along the way, it makes the important but often-neglected point that the search should begin by looking at the practice’s challenges, including inefficiencies, staff pain points or patient health and satisfaction problems. “The focus on need will help you avoid the temptation to experiment with new technologies that ultimately will result in tangible improvements,” the guide notes.

Another offers advice on tackling more immediate implementation issues, including steps like designing workflows, preparing the care team and partnering with the patient. This section of the report differs from many of its peers by offering great advice on building workflow around remote patient monitoring-specific requirements, including handling device management, overseeing patient enrollment and interactions, and assuring that coding and billing for remote patient management activities is correct and properly documented.

The guide also walks practices through the stages of final implementation, including the nature of the rollout itself, evaluating the success of the project and scaling up as appropriate. I was particularly impressed by its section on scaling up, given that most of the advice one sees on this subject is generally aimed at giant enterprises rather than typically smaller medical practices. In other words, it’s not that the section said anything astonishing, but rather that it existed at all.

All told, it’s great to see the AMA flexing some of the knowledge it’s always had, particularly given that the report is available at no cost to anyone. Let’s hope to see more of this in the future.

Finding Quick Wins by Creating Amazing Patient Experiences

Posted on October 24, 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 this tight environment, it is important to demonstrate quick wins for your HealthIT projects. One of the best ways to do this is to demonstrate improvements in patient experience. Don’t worry, even infrastructure projects can help patients.

Patient experience is very important right now. Competition is intensifying and patient experience is one of the key factors influencing where people go to receive care. The better your organizations’ patient experience ratings, the more likely patients are to come through the doors. Improving patient experience is, therefore, one of the best ways to help your organization improve its bottom line.

There are many ways that patient experience can be improved:

  • Minimize wait times
  • Offer “consumer-like” conveniences – like online appointment booking, electronic communication with clinicians, video discharge instructions, etc.
  • Provide convenient access to medical records
  • Treat patients with empathy and respect
  • Streamline administrative workflows/processes
  • Reduce stress and frustration on clinical staff

The last two items in the list are often overlooked by healthcare organizations, yet I would argue they represent some of the biggest opportunities to improve patients’ experience. Luckily streamlining workflows and reducing staff frustration are two areas where Healthcare IT departments can have a positive impact.

With healthcare budgets under pressure from changing reimbursement models and rising operating costs, it is harder than ever to build and sustain support for HealthIT projects. IT leaders need to show that their project will have a positive impact and demonstrate quick wins or risk having their projects cut. Thankfully, linking your project to improved patient experience isn’t difficult. It just requires a little forethought and elbow grease.

As an example, consider the “lowly” single-sign-on project (SSO) – implementing a tool that consolidates user credentials into a single platform. In most organizations this type of project is met with glazed eyes and is viewed as purely an endeavor by IT to upgrade the hospital’s infrastructure. As such, it is an easy project to cut. However, this project does have an impact on clinical staff. SSO can eliminate the need for users to log into each application separately, a significant frustration and time waster. Even better, most SSO platforms today include biometric user log-on, eliminating the need to remember complex passwords, another common frustration. When you reduce staff frustration and save them time, it means they are in a better position to provide a better patient experience. It is therefore not a stretch to say that SSO can improve patient experience.

If you look at your HealthIT projects with a patient experience or staff-relief lens, my bet is that you’ll find many can have positive benefits on both. It may take a bit of digging to find the connection but I believe it is there.

Having said that, not all projects will have the same positive impact for your organization. Thus, what’s needed is a way to compare the relative impact of each project so that you can easily see which would provide the biggest bang for your investment.

One way to do this is to use a relative score to compare projects. Below is an example of a simple scoring mechanism you can use.

For each HealthIT project rate them on 0-5 scale with ‘0’ = no impact whatsoever and ‘5’ = a bottle of champagne will be waiting for you at your desk from end-users or patients who are ecstatic with the improvement. To what degree does this project:

  1. Improve patient wait times while in the facility?
  2. Increase access to medical records for patients?
  3. Help patients gain access to information or individuals on their care team?
  4. Promote empathy and/or respect for patients?
  5. Decrease the total length of stay in the facility?
  1. Decrease the paperwork required by staff?
  2. Eliminate unnecessary steps in an existing process?
  3. Remove a long-standing end-user frustration
  4. Give time back to clinicians that they can put towards more productive use?
  5. Help improve the work environment for staff?

The first set of numbered questions are directly related to the patient experience, while the second set of lettered questions are related to staff improvements. Each project should have two scores, one for direct patient impact and the other for staff impact.

The questions above are by no means exhaustive and you should include criteria that is most relevant to your organization. For example, if your organization has placed an emphasis on 5-star online ratings, then you should add that question to the set of numbered questions.

Please keep in mind that this scoring mechanism is only meant to help you compare projects relative to one another. It is not meant to be a universal standard for scoring IT projects in healthcare.

Once you have scored your projects, rank them in descending order and you will get a sense as to which ones potentially provide the biggest patient experience impact. Those are the ones that will be more easily justified AND are the ones most likely to gain inter-departmental support. PRO TIP: Don’t just evaluate the projects yourself, ask other department leaders/stakeholders to score your projects too and incorporate their scores into the overall rankings.

Assessing the impact on patient experience and staff stress is just the first step. Once your project gets green-lit you now have to show your project can produce quick wins. This is where the elbow grease comes in. Take the questions where the project scored 3 or higher and turn those questions into a survey. Have patients and staff use the same 0-5 scoring system to provide feedback to you BEFORE the project starts so that you have a baseline. Then use the same survey to get feedback on the project at appropriate milestones (you don’t always have to wait until the end).

You may encounter some resistance to polling patients, but the survey need not be a formal document. You could simply ask staff to ask patients what they think of the project (ie: Mr. Smith, on a scale of 0-5, what do you think of our new portal’s ability to give you access to your medical record?).

Use the collected data to show the progression of the project and the impact it is having on patients and staff. It is important to share as much information as you can about your project, even if the results aren’t glowing, show that you are taking the feedback and making adjustments.

To learn more about how to assess your HealthIT projects for quick wins and improvements to patient experience, join me on this free upcoming webinar Thursday November 8th at 2pm ET. This webinar is hosted by AAJ Technologies. Together, myself and Murry Izenwasser of AAJ will be diving deeper into this topic. Register today!

AAJ Technologies is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

The Health IT Education Landscape – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on October 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, 10/26 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by @bigdatadavid13 on the topic of “The Health IT Education Landscape”.

As the marriage of IT and healthcare continues to evolve, the workforce has to evolve with it. Today’s health IT professional has to be able to bridge technical knowledge with clinical application, care environments and boardrooms where numbers are crunched and technological solutions are scrutinized.

As that workforce evolves, educators are working on the front end to increase the size of the talent pool and develop professionals that can handle the challenges health IT faces. But measuring their success is easier said than done.

Many of you work in settings where new graduates of health IT programs, both undergraduate and graduate, are taking on roles within your organization. In this #HITsm chat, David Rice, a writer and editor working on behalf of the University of South Florida’s graduate informatics and healthcare analytics programs will lead a discussion that looks at where educators fall short and what they should be doing to create a workforce capable of handling health IT’s biggest challenges.

Join us for this week’s #HITsm chat where we’ll discuss the topics below.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:
T1: What areas are new workers in health IT lacking skills? i.e. understanding of tools or processes, misconceptions of regulatory landscape, etc. #HITsm

T2: Are universities positioned better for developing the health IT professional than professional associations or trade schools? Or vice versa? #HITsm

T3: Have you or anyone you work with received certification from professional association or certificate provider? Was the experience worth the investment in your opinion? #HITsm

T4: Is there an area of health IT that you think educators need to focus more when developing their students? i.e. operations, workflow, real world application, regulatory and compliance, etc. #HITsm

T5: In your opinion, do educators do a good enough job of helping people transition into health IT careers from other fields such as traditional IT, cybersecurity, project management, etc? #HITsm

Bonus: What’s a lesson you’ve learned in your work that no amount of education could have taught you? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
11/2 – Health Tech Startups, Innovations, & Consumers – What’s the Future for HealthIT?
Hosted by Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), host of WTF Health

11/9 – AI in Healthcare
Hosted by Jon White @technursejon

11/16 – Value Based Care: Successes, Challenges, and Changes
Hosted by Matt Fisher (@Matt_R_Fisher)

11/23 – No Chat – Thanksgiving Break

11/30 – The Global Impact of Health IT
Hosted by Vanessa Carter (@_FaceSA)

12/7 – TBD
Hosted by Michelle Currie (@mshlcurrie)

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.