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The New Healthcare Team: GE & Microsoft

Posted on December 13, 2011 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.

Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post by Jeremy Bikman. You can read more about the GE and Microsoft Venture on EMR and EHR.

Guest Post: Jeremy Bikman is Chairman at KATALUS Advisors, a strategic consulting firm focused on the healthcare vertical. We help vendors grow, guide hospitals into the future, and advise private equity groups on their investments. Our clients are found in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Healthcare is being held hostage and it doesn’t even know it.

It is held hostage by burdensome regulations, by archaic practices, and (oddly enough) by technology itself. In this age of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, an age where anybody with internet access can connect to somebody else on the other side of the globe and share personal information and other data with the click of a mouse, it is impossible that you could visit a hospital in the next town over and they would be able to procure your personal health information as easily or as quickly.

Healthcare, globally and locally, is utterly huge and mind-blowingly complex, and thus absolutely needs the very best innovation of everybody involved. Yet, healthcare technology companies almost universally deliver products which are built on closed-minded concepts. They lock down their platforms, creating real barriers to interoperability, patient data exchange, and actual innovation. This is the present reality within, and across, practically every hospital on earth. The recently announced joint venture between GE and Microsoft offers hope of an alternate reality, one where hospitals can bring together data streams from all over the enterprise, while utilizing new innovations and technology as they see fit, including different best-of-breed sources.

Giving Hospitals a New Choice
There are huge flaws in how technology is delivered in healthcare today, flaws which impact quality of care within a hospital and across the entire industry irrespective of country or region. While the rest of the tech world is moving towards open platforms and collaborative delivery models, healthcare seems to be stuck in the dark ages of single-source solutions which compel all-or-nothing investments to the tune of millions and millions of dollars. Too often those investments fail. But, the more important question is why must hospitals be forced into all-or-nothing decisions in the first place? Why must they choose between integration and functionality, between a single platform, however mediocre, and a best-of-breed mix? We believe those are questions of the antiquated past and that brave new innovation can deliver a new avenue for hospitals who refuse to be painted into a corner. Hospitals shouldn’t have to choose between apples and oranges. They want, and should be able to get, both.

The Basics of the Joint Venture
Selected product lines from both companies’ health groups will be part of the new company. These products were chosen for their specific focus on “empowering connected patient-centric care.”

GE is contributing an interoperable clinical data model and decision support system via Qualibria. GE’s eHealth is an HIE solution in use at a large number of sites in North America. Microsoft is bringing Amalga to the table, which is a data aggregation platform which facilitates interoperability and a host of other advanced capabilities. Vergence and expreSSO come through Microsoft’s acquisition of Sentillion and provide strong context management and single sign-on solutions. The strategy appears to be one of leveraging Microsoft’s platform technology (Amalga) to underpin GE’s clinical depth (Qualibria, eHealth). Additionally, this model will allow hospitals and vendors to integrate best-of-breed 3rd party products into the ecosystem as they see fit. This mix of products and capabilities will enable a true best-of-breed environment emerge while still having the core elements of integration as well. This ecosystem will be powered by the partnership’s own applications and those built by ISVs. No other major vendor offers this unique model and set of abilities, although Allscripts is the one traditional EMR vendor that is building a strategy of accepting of 3rd party solutions.

Tackling the Big Problems

No one is saying that this joint venture is guaranteed to be a resounding success. However, we applaud the visionary model and risks this new team is taking. It looks like they want to address all the big hairy obstacles that every provider organization, region, and nation is facing. Big data? Absolutely. Enterprise analytics and business intelligence? Yes. Clinical decision support? For sure. Population management? You bet. Nobody else in the industry has shown they can tackle these issues even though every hospital is clamoring for this type of model. So why not this joint venture between GE and Microsoft? We say good luck, and more power to them.

The principals of KATALUS Advisors have worked with hundreds of healthcare organizations, vendors, and other consulting firms across the globe. The opinions expressed here are our own and are not intended to promote any specific vendor and do not reflect those of any other organization or individual.

EMRs, ICD-10 Pave the Way to Business Intelligence

Posted on June 16, 2011 I Written By

Two articles I’ve written in the last 24 hours have gotten me thinking that we’ve already entered the post-implementation era of EMRs, even as implementation remains in progress at so many healthcare organizations. While the vast majority of hospitals and physician practices in the U.S. still don’t have full-featured EMRs in place, many are already looking well into the future.

As you may already know, HIMSS on Tuesday released its first-ever survey on “clinical transformation.” According to HIMSS and survey sponsor McKesson, “Clinical transformation involves assessing and continually improving the way patient care is delivered at all levels in a care delivery organization. It occurs when an organization rejects existing practice patterns that deliver inefficient or less effective results and embraces a common goal of patient safety, clinical outcomes and quality care through process redesign and IT implementation. By effectively blending people, processes and technology, clinical transformation occurs across facilities, departments and clinical fields of expertise”

As I reported for InformationWeek, 86 percent of organizations surveyed had a plan for clinical transformation in place or at least under development, and just 12 percent of respondents called organizational commitment a barrier to reporting on quality measures. And though nearly 8o percent indicated that they still gather quality data by hand and 60 said they don’t capture data in discrete format, more than half already had software specifically for business intelligence. This tells me that analytics is here to stay.

I kind of knew that anyway, since the bulk of the program at last week’s Wisconsin Technology Network Digital Healthcare Conference was devoted to BI, data governance and advanced analytics tools, even in the context of Accountable Care Organizations. (My story about this for WTN News appeared this morning.)

“I’m ready to declare the era of business intelligence,” said Galen Metz, CIO and IS director for Madison-based Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin. Though he criticized the proposed ACO rules for being too “daunting” for the average provider, Galen and other speakers said that it’s time to harness all the new, granular data being generated by EMRs and, soon, ICD-10 coding.

It may seem “daunting” now in the midst of all the preparations for ICD-10 and meaningful use, but it’s good to know that many healthcare organizations see a light at the end of the tunnel and know that the future bring better healthcare information in exchange for all the hard work and investment today.


Using an EMR for Business Intelligence (BI)

Posted on May 12, 2008 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.

I just completed my very last class of my educational career (I’ll graduate with my Masters in IS on Saturday. Yeah Me!). My last class was a Business Intelligence class. While I wasn’t necessarily fond of this class or the teacher, I am definitely interested in business intelligence.

Business Intelligence to me is really just about being able to look at large amounts of data in really cool ways. EMR is basically synonymous with the concept of large amounts of data. Each and every day thousands of really interesting pieces of information are being entered into an EMR. Many times this data is organized in such a way that in can be easily accessed and reported on.

For my class, we’ve been using SQL Server 2005’s business intelligence components. While Microsoft may have its downfalls, they really have put some thought and effort into SQL Server 2005’s BI components. For my final project, I decided to extract some appointment data from my EMR (yes, I guess it’s really my PMS, except for things like the room for the appointment) and run some BI analysis on the EMR data.

I actually had to anonymize all the EMR data before using it, because I was working in a group where they weren’t allowed access to all the HIPAA related information. However, it wasn’t too big of a deal in the end. Although, it does lose some of the reporting ability when you do that.

Since we ended up only pulling out simple appointment data from the EMR database, we could only really run reports about appointments. Don’t get me wrong. There is some really cool stuff you can report on appointments. We reported on appointments by date (this includes day, month, quarter, year, etc), provider, gender, birthdate, ethnicity, etc. We also uploaded the room number that an appointment used so that we could measure the utilization of our exam rooms. Luckily our EMR stored all the information about exam rooms. We also pulled in the data that described when a patient arrived at the clinic, when the nurse started the intake and when the provider finally saw them. We haven’t actually built any reports on that time study data, but it would be really interesting.

That’s really just the beginning of what we were able to do with the EMR data, but I think you get the point. The real question at this point is what other EMR data could benefit from some quality BI analysis? Here’s a few of my thoughts:

-Blood pressure – Depending on how this is stored will determine how easy it is to report. However, it would be really interesting to see trends in blood pressure across our entire population. Add in a few filters for certain medications and you could see some amazing results
-Average Charge per Patient – Could be interesting to look at this and identify which patients are the most profitable. Wait, doctors aren’t about profit are they?
-Average Number of Visits per Patient – Would be interesting to see this grouped too.

Those are just a few off the top of my head. I’m sure there are a hundred more that could be done with diagnosis, prescriptions, charges, procedures, referrals, etc etc etc. Which reports would you find interesting from the data in your EMR?

The best part of this all is that in the next couple weeks I have planned to upgrade my EMR from SQL Server 2000 to SQL Server 2005. That means that I could really easily use all th SQL Server BI tools to create the various BI reports with all the data in my EMR.

Has anyone else done this type of EMR reporting before?