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

Posted on March 23, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on March 22, 2018 I Written By

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

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

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

Reimbursement Is Real

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

What’s In It For Practices?

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

What’s In It For Patients?

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

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

How Much Impact on Staff?

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

Removing the Risk

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

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

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

Healthcare Identity and Interoperability – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on March 21, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 3/23 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Julie Maas (@JulieWMaas) from EMR Direct on the topic of “Healthcare Identity and Interoperability”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4/6 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

4/13 – TBD
Hosted by TBD

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

The Human Side of Healthcare Interactions

Posted on March 19, 2018 I Written By

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Communication Solutions Series of blog posts is sponsored by Stericycle Communication Solutions, a leading provider of high quality call center & telephone answering servicespatient access services and automated communication technology. Stericycle Communication Solutions combines a human touch with innovative technology to deliver best-in-class communication services.  Connect with Stericycle Communication Solutions on social media: @StericycleComms

Seven Types of HIMSS18 Attendees: An Exhibitor’s Perspective

Posted on March 16, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog by Monica Stout from MedicaSoft

The HIMSSanity is over and everyone’s departed Las Vegas and headed for home (or SXSW). This year, my company was an exhibitor in Hall G at HIMSS. Our booth was on the main aisle, or “the thoroughfare” as those of us in the booth liked to call it. As such, I noticed some trends in the types of booth visits we encountered this year during HIMSS. These visits can be summed up into seven different types.

Integration on the Brain. “I need something to connect my disparate systems together.” Whether it’s EHR-to-EHR, EHR-to-other systems, PHR-to-EHR, or many Health IT combinations, there was no shortage of requests at HIMSS for a system or platform to make these connections happen more seamlessly. Inquiries about integration and connecting various technologies came up more frequently at our booth than any other topic at the show. These conversations were great for MedicaSoft because we can help them solve integration problems.

Partnership Hustle. “I make APIs, products, or provide services to complement your software offering. I think we’d make great partners.” HIMSS is certainly a place to find synergies and begin conversations for potential win-win situations for companies who want to partner together and go to market. Sometimes these meetings are the start of a perfect “meet cute.” Other times, they fall short. Either way, there are lots of folks out there with a wide variety of products and services making their rounds and searching for perfect business partners.

Swag Gatherer. “I came here for the swag.” You know this person. This person has no desire to interact with you. They’re not sure what your company does and many times they don’t care to ask. This person wants to collect as much free stuff at the conference as possible. Sometimes they are annoyed when you don’t have a giveaway. You know you’ve encountered a swag gatherer by their refusal to make eye contact and how fast they exit your booth once they’ve snatched up whatever swag or tchotchke you have to offer.

IT Spy. “I must find out what the competition is doing right now, let me pretend I’m in the market for IT products and booth hop.” We’ve all seen it. We know when it’s happening. It can be hilarious when the spying company tries to act like they are NOT doing this. It’s pretty obvious. I’m on to you. My only request? Be nice about it. We’ll show you what we have. You don’t have to be obnoxious or play dumb. We are happy to share.

Things You Don’t Need. “You really need our product or service even if you think you don’t need our product or service.” Everyone has this happen at one point or another. Someone comes by and really wants to sell you something you don’t need. Sometimes they politely go on their way. Other times they linger on, refusing to acknowledge that you don’t need their product or service. Sometimes being upfront doesn’t help and they continue to launch into their sales pitch anyway. You have to give these folks credit, they really are trying to sell.

Neighborhood Friendly Booth Staff or First-time HIMSS-goer. “I just thought I’d say hello.” This could be neighboring booth staff coming over to say hello. It could also be an exhibitor or attendee who’s there for the first time. In either case, these are friendly people who want to ask questions. They are getting their bearings for the show and trying to learn as much as possible. Many times they ask for advice or directions.

Match Made in Heaven. “We’re looking to buy or replace our patient portal, PHR, EHR, or integration platform.” The crème de la crème of conference attendees. This person has done their research. They know what they want and what they want is what you offer! These types of meetings leave you jazzed for the rest of the conference and eager for post-conference follow-up. This type of conference attendee actually answers your emails and phone calls when you follow-up because they have a genuine interest in what you do and how you can help them solve their IT problems or challenges.

HIMSS18 exhibitors and attendees, what other types of booth attendees did you see this year at the show?

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

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

HIMSS Study Shows IT Pay Gaps Persist Between Genders, Races

Posted on March 14, 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.

It would be nice to think that, in a profession focusing on hard, measurable skills, that given the same experience level and skill set, HIT staffers would make more or less the same salaries. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case, according to data from the latest health IT compensation study by HIMSS.

Researchers found that as of previous years, race and gender seem to play a significant role in how much a health IT professional is paid. According to the study, females make 18% less than their male peers, and minorities make 12% less than non-minorities on average across all positions and number of years in a given position.

As the level of responsibility grows, the gap in pay seems to increase as well. The study found that women in executive roles actually face a larger salary gap versus their male counterparts than women at other levels in their organization. Moreover, that gap is growing. Meanwhile, minority females are particularly hard-hit, with the lowest average salaries of the four combinations of gender and racial groups studied, HIMSS reports.

Overall, respondents working in digital health reported being moderately satisfied with the current base salaries, while non-white respondents tended to be less satisfied than respondents who defined themselves as white.

Oddly, despite the substantial pay gap between them and their male peers, females in digital health appeared to be just as satisfied with their pay as their male peers. HIMSS researchers speculate that the reason women are satisfied with lower pay is that they simply don’t know they’re being under compensated. (Given my experience as a professional female, I’d also speculate that some women simply get tired of fighting to close the pay gap and make peace with what they’ve got.)

Having summed all of this up, HIMSS researchers made a few recommendations as to how health organizations can address pay gaps, such as accepting that these gaps exist, educating managers and why gender and racial equality is good for business and adopting strategies that help to reduce such disparities. The researchers also suggest making tools available that can help all health IT professionals understand what they’re worth and negotiate fair pay agreements.

As for me, I’d go a bit further. I’d argue that professionals whose gender and/or minority status have impacted their pay should speak out. It’s all well and good to have provider organizations recognize that their pay structure may not be fair and take action. But ultimately, drawing attention to these gaps both within and outside of the healthcare industry may have the biggest long-term effect.

A Look Back at #HIMSS18 – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on March 13, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 3/16 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by John Lynn (@techguy) from Healthcare Scene.

If you’re like me, you’ve come back from the HIMSS Annual Conference in Las Vegas and you’re experiencing what some people call the #HIMSSHaze or the #HIMSSHangover. It’s a bit of an overwhelming experience to attend a conference with 44k people and 1350 vendors. Plus, add in the lights and stimulus of Las Vegas and it’s no surprise why we all head home a little tired.

Hopefully you’re back home recovering from the event. This week’s chat we’ll do a kind of post-mortem on the event where we share our insights and experiences. What did we see? What didn’t we see? Were there any game changing announcements?

Please join us for this week’s #HITsm chat as we wrap up #HIMSS18 with the following questions:

T1: How would you describe your #HIMSS18 experience? Big Win? Bust? Meh? and why? #HITsm

T2: What topics were trending at #HIMSS18 and what does it mean for healthcare? #HITsm

T3: What did you wish you’d seen at #HIMSS18 but didn’t find it? Should HIMSS work to have it next year? #HITsm

T4: Most profound thing you heard or saw at #HIMSS18? #HITsm

T5: Share your favorite piece of content coming out of #HIMSS18 and why you found it valuable. #HITsm

Bonus: What’s next on your conference agenda for 2018 after #HIMSS18? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
3/23 – TBD

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

Strong Showing from Non-healthcare Technology Vendors on #HIMSS18 Exhibit Floor

Posted on March 9, 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.

The #HIMSS18 exhibit hall was proof of the growing trend of non-traditional healthcare companies entering the market. Along every aisle there were booths from consumer and B2B brands that are familiar outside the context of healthcare. There were mega-brands like:

  • Amazon
  • Cisco
  • Google
  • Microsoft
  • Oracle
  • Verizon
  • Salesforce

But it wasn’t just tech giants that made an appearance at #HIMSS18. Sprinkled throughout the exhibit hall were other organizations who were taking their products and expertise, honed in other industries and applying them to healthcare:

  • Zebra Technologies
  • Windstream
  • Pegasystems
  • Liaison Technologies
  • Microstrategies
  • Panasonic
  • OpenText

I found this second group of companies fascinating.

In recent weeks we have seen big announcement from companies like Apple and Amazon about their new healthcare initiatives. On a #hcldr tweetchat early last month, we solicited opinions in collaboration with HIMSS on whether the arrival of these companies was ultimately going to be good or bad for healthcare. The community’s reaction was one of “cautious exuberance”.

On one hand, many were very excited about the potential for these companies to spur innovation and improve user (aka patient) experiences. On the other hand many people brought forward concerns about how viable these companies could scale their healthcare initiatives.

Consider Amazon and Apple’s recent announcements. Both are working toward creating a private network of clinics that are available to staff that bypasses the traditional provider-payer ecosystem. The goal is to drive down healthcare costs for employees while simultaneously improving workforce efficiency. But both these tech giants have highly-skilled, highly-educated workforces and they both operate in a hyper-competitive talent market where health benefits could be a deciding factor. I’m not sure how this might scale to companies where wages are lower and competition is not as fierce. Would there be the same incentive?

It will be interesting to see how these do-it-yourself approaches work out in the long term. But what has me more excited are the non-traditional healthcare companies that are bringing their products and expertise from other industries to healthcare. Companies like Zebra Technologies (retail & transportation), Windstream (infrastructure & communications) and Pegasystms (financial technology) are quietly using their non-healthcare solutions to improve healthcare TODAY. This practical approach is exciting to see because of the immediate benefit to healthcare and because the solutions are proven.

Their outside-in perspective coupled with their significant resources is something that I will be watching closely in the months following HIMSS18.

*Windstream Enterprises, Pegasystems and Liaison Technologies are sponsors of Healthcare Scene.

Five Not-so-typical meetings at #HIMSS18

Posted on March 7, 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.

As the first day of the #HIMSS18 exhibit hall dawned, I had mentally prepared myself for a series of meetings where we would be discussing the product updates, client signings and releases of new thought-leadership content. Fortunately, the universe decided to throw a curveball and I ended up with no fewer than five meetings that were completely different than what I expected.

Meeting 1 – Nuance

I had the opportunity to sit down with Nuance at #HIMSS18. I wrote an earlier post about their #AI Marketplace and I fully expected to listen to an update on that effort plus learn details about the company’s recent announcement of a multi-year collaboration with Partners Healthcare. They surprised me by speaking instead about the importance of their work in the area of incidental findings.

Brenda Hodge, Chief Marketing Officer of Nuance Healthcare spoke passionately about the work that Nuance is doing to help ensure incidental findings are brought to the attention of primary care physicians. Through their AI prioritization algorithms and natural-language-processing capabilities, Nuance has plans to capture this potentially vital imaging information and highlight it so that the right clinical interventions can be applied sooner.

It was the fervor and fire with which Hodge spoke that was the not-so-typical part of our meeting. It was fun to share that moment with a kindred spirit, passionate about improving healthcare.

Meeting 2 – Voalte

The good folks at Voalte provided me the opportunity to do something I have never done at HIMSS – moderate a meetup. We assembled a fantastic group of panelist: @ShahidnShah @innonurse @drandrew76 and Angela Kauffman (from @Voalte) had a lively discussion about Physician Communications. The meetup was even better than I expected.

The conversation flowed easily. Online engagement was high. A good sized crowd gathered to listen. It was a fantastic way to start the day. We captured the meetup on video so watch for clips from the meetup on the Healthcare Scene YouTube channel once we recover from #HIMSSanity.

Meeting 3 – TigerConnect (Formerly Known as TigerText)

I stopped by for a quick chat with the team at TigerConnect – the company formally known as TigerText – to talk about their recent rebrand. This meeting was atypical of ones I have had at HIMSS because it was solely focused on their marketing rather than on their products. It was refreshing to have the chance to get a behind-the-scenes view of their recent rebranding initiative.

TigerText is a pioneer in the field of secure communications in hospitals and their brand had become well-established. Unfortunately the “Text” portion of their name was becoming a limitation as their company expanded into adjacent spaces and extended their platform’s capabilities. In just a few months, they made the decision to rebrand and executed it in time for #HIMSS18.

I’ll be writing a more in-depth piece on this after HIMSS, but felt it was worth mentioning because I have never had this type of frank, honest marketing conversation at HIMSS before.

Meeting 4 – Lenovo Health

I stopped by the Lenovo Health booth to see what new things were happening – especially since I had the chance to attend their HealthIT Think Tank event last year. I came for news and I ended up taking a selfie with a custom-made sign. It was energizing to just do something fun in their booth. It was 10 minutes of being creative and capturing a moment in their space. You can see how big our smiles are in the pictures we took.

Meeting 5 – Cerner

The team at Cerner reached out a few days ago and asked to get together. By pure chance, they suggested a time that had recently freed up on my calendar (one of the few open spots I had). I honestly did not read the request carefully before agreeing to it. I thought I was going to be part of a press briefing that was being broadcast. It turned out that the Cerner team wanted to me to be part of their onsite podcast.

We ended up have a wonderful conversation about Day 1 of the HIMSS18 exhibit hall. It was a free-flowing discussion that I was not expecting. You can listen to the podcast here.

It was so much fun that we continued chatting for 20min after we wrapped the recording. At the end I had the opportunity to officially welcome the Cerner podcasting/social media/marketing crew to #pinksocks. Like the Lenovo Health meeting earlier, it was a rare chance to create a lasting memory. I will not soon forget that #pinksocks gifting – the enthusiasm, surprise and good feeling was just incredible.

Day 1 takeaway – small moments, lasting memories

For me, Day 1 of the HIMSS18 exhibit hall was all about creating lasting memories from small moments. It wasn’t about the big splashy announcements, but the open/honest conversation. As I reflect on the day, I can’t help but smile at the how the stars aligned to give me a day at HIMSS that is the ideal we strive for in healthcare. Imagine if all across the healthcare ecosystem, clinicians were able to have small moments with patients that were open, honest, free-flowing as well as conversational and where both left the encounter feeling energized.

We need more days like this.

New Study Suggests That HIEs Deliver Value by Aggregating Patient Data

Posted on March 5, 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.

Historically, I’ve been pretty skeptical about the benefits that HIEs offer, not because the concept was flawed, but that the execution was uncertain. Toss in the fact that few have figured out how to be self-supporting financially, and you have a very shaky business model on your hands. But maybe, at long last, we’re discovering better uses for the vast amount of data HIEs have been trading.

New research by one exchange suggests that some of the key value they offer is aggregating patient data from multiple providers into a longitudinal view of patients. The research, completed by the Kansas Health Information Network and Diameter Health suggests that the Qualified Clinical Data Registries promoted by MACRA/QPP could be a winning approach.

To conduct the research, the partners extracted data from the KHIN exchange on primary care practices in which more than 50,000 patients visited toward 214 care sites in 2016 and 2017. This is certainly interesting, as most of the multi-site studies I’ve seen on this scale are done within a single provider’s network. It’s also notable that the data is relatively fresh, rather than relying on, say, Medicare data which is often several years older.

According to KHIN, using interoperable interfaces to providers and collecting near real-time clinical data makes prompt quality measure calculation possible. According to KHIN executive director Laura McCrary, Ed.D., this marks a significant change from current methods. “This [approach is in stark contrast to the current model which computes quality measures from only the data in the provider’s EHR,” she notes.

FWIW, the two research partners will be delivering a presentation on the research study at the HIMSS18 conference on Friday, March 9, from 12 to 1 PM. I’m betting it will offer some interesting insights.

But even if you can’t make it to this presentation, it’s still worth noting that it emphasizes the increasing importance of the longitudinal patient record. Eventually, under value-based care, it will become critical to have access not only to a single provider’s EHR data, but rather a fuller data set which also includes connected health/wearables data, data from payer claims, overarching population health data and more. And obviously, HIEs play a major role in making this happen.

Like other pundits, I’d go so far to say that without developing this kind of robust longitudinal patient record, which includes virtually every source of relevant patient data, health systems and providers won’t be able to manage patients well enough to meet their individual patient or population health goals.

If HIEs can help us get there, more power to them.