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Has Amazon Brought Something New To Healthcare Data Analytics?

Posted on November 29, 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.

Amazon’s announcement that it was getting into healthcare data analytics didn’t come as a major surprise. It was just a matter of time.

After all, the retail giant has been making noises about its health IT ambitions for a while now, and its super-sneaky 1492 team’s healthcare feints have become common knowledge.

Now, news has broken that its massive hosting division, Amazon Web Services, is offering its Comprehend Medical platform to the healthcare world. And at the risk of being a bit too flip, my reaction is “so?” I think we should all take a breath before we look at this in apocalyptic terms.

First, what does Amazon say we’re looking at here?

Like similar products targeting niches like travel booking and supply-chain management, the company reports, Comprehend Medical uses natural language processing and machine learning to pull together relevant information from unstructured text.

Amazon says Comprehend Medical can pull needed information from physician notes, patient health records and clinical trial reports, tapping into data on patient conditions and medication dosage, strength and frequency.

The e-retailer says that users can access the platform through a straightforward API call, accessing Amazon’s machine learning expertise without having to do their own development or train models of their own. Use cases it suggests include medical cohort analysis, clinical decision support and improving medical coding to tighten up revenue cycle management.

Comprehend Medical customers will be charged a fee each month based on the amount of text they process each month, either $0.01 per 100-character unit for the NERe API, which extracts entities, entity relationships, entity traits and PHI, or $0.0014 per unit if they use its PHId API, which only supports identifying PHI for data protection.

All good. All fine. Making machine learning capabilities available in a one-off hosting deal — with a vendor many providers already use — can’t be wrong.

Now, let’s look coldly at what Amazon can realistically deliver.

Make no mistake, I understand why people are excited about this announcement. As with Microsoft, Google, Apple and other top tech influencers, Amazon is potentially in the position to change the way things work in the health IT sector. It has all-star brainpower, the experience with diving into new industries and enough capital to buy a second planet for its headquarters. In other words, it could in theory change the healthcare world.

On the other hand, there’s a reason why even IBM’s Watson Health stumbled when it attempted to solve the data analytics puzzle for oncologist. Remember, we’re talking IBM here, the last bastion of corporate power. Also, bear in mind that other insanely well-capitalized, globally-recognized Silicon Valley firms are still biding their time when it comes to this stuff.

Finally, consider that many researchers think NLP is only just beginning to find its place in healthcare, and an uncertain one at that, and that machine learning models are still in their early stages, and you see where I’m headed.

Bottom line, if Google or Microsoft or Epic or Salesforce or Cerner haven’t been able to pull this off yet, I’m skeptical that Amazon has somehow pole-vaulted to the front of the line when it comes to NLP-based mining of medical text. My guess is that this product launch announcement is genuine, but was really issued more as a stake in the ground. Definitely something I would do if I worked there.

Precision Health 101: Understanding the Keys to Value – #HITsm Chat Topic

Posted on May 2, 2017 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, 5/5 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Bob Rogers (@ScientistBob) from @IntelHealth on the topic of “Precision Health 101: Understanding the Keys to Value”.

Precision health starts with personalized diagnosis and precision treatment planning. That’s why leading edge health systems are making health more precise at the individual patient level. This approach is a dramatic shift from the “one-size-fits-all” model of treatment and has shifted the conversation to the uniqueness of each person, down to “DNA fingerprint” that is fueling an individual’s disease.

In this Twitter chat, join the discussion with Bob Rogers, chief data scientist at Intel Corporation, about the definition of precision health, where it’s being utilized today, and what healthcare CIOs should be thinking about now to make personalized care a reality.

Join us on Friday May 5th at 12:00pm ET as we discuss the following questions on #HITsm:

The Questions
T1: What is your definition of precision health? #HITsm

T2: Where are you seeing precision health thriving? #HITsm

T3: What’s holding back our efforts in precision health? What changes need to be made? #HITsm

T4: What should an organization be doing to prepare for and participate in precision health?  #HITsm

T5: What benefits would a patient see from precision health? #HITsm

Bonus: How will data and analytics impact precision health? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
5/12 – Accelerating Decision-Making in Healthcare: How Health Systems Choose Innovative Decisions
Hosted by Bruce Brandes from Lucro Solutions

5/19 – Patient Education Using Healthcare Social Media
Hosted by Anne Zieger (@annezieger)

5/26 – TBD
Hosted by Chad Johnson (@OchoTex)

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always let us know if you have ideas for how to make #HITsm better.

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

EMR and Health IT Development – Interview with Chetu

Posted on April 25, 2013 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.

Craig Schmidt - Chetu
Craig Schmidt is the Director of Global Sales for Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals at Chetu. Craig’s focus at Chetu is understanding the top healthcare industry challenges, creating relationships with HIT leaders and developing Information Technology solutions to address those challenges. Craig has, for over 15 years, held a variety of Sales and Sales Management positions with increasing responsibility in the Healthcare and Information Technology Industries.

Tell us more about Chetu and your work in the healthcare market.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Chetu has experience in nearly every section of Healthcare IT. In our 13 years we have developed solutions for Providers, Payers, HIT Vendors and others. Just a few of the things with which we have helped customers include: complete EMR and Practice Management design and development, ePrescribing, Drug Database integration, Revenue Cycle Management (835/837 & 270/275 engines).

When does someone in healthcare look to Chetu versus doing the work in house?

The two main reasons are: they do not have the particular HIT experience in-house & they do not have enough “bandwidth” to develop in-house and do not want to hire and train permanent staff.

What’s the most challenging thing about developing applications in healthcare?

Healthcare in general and Healthcare IT are bound by many Federal, State and other rules and regulations, e.g., Meaningful Use, Affordable Care Act, HIPAA, etc. There are also a variety of standards for interoperability such as HL7, CCD/CCR.

Do you mostly do one off projects or long term contracts with your clients?

We strive to be the “Back End, Long-term” IT Partner for our clients. We offer complete solutions from application development and support to maintenance and management of applications and systems. In Healthcare we have many (over 60%) clients that have been working with Chetu for multiple years. Many of these have been with Chetu for over 5 years – which is very long-term in this market

What’s your view on SaaS vs. in house client server applications? Do you have a preferred technology stack? What do you see being used most in healthcare?

For the past several years organizations have been rapidly moving to the “Cloud.” And, there are obvious advantages for being cloud based. However, client server applications have advantages of speed and stability that can’t always be achieved with SaaS. We are now seeing a slight movement to applications that are hybrids – combining the best of both approaches.

In healthcare, there is no clear preferred technology stack. It is all over the place. We have worked in .NET, HTML5, Java, PHP, Native Mobile Apps (iOS, Android), Python, C++, Foxpro, VB, Mirth. Cobol, MUMPS and many more. Healthcare IT has traditionally seen a very fragmented approach. Chetu has the great advantage of being agnostic. We can and will work with nearly any platform or tool.

EMR usability (or lack thereof) has been a major topic of discussion. How do you manage this with your EHR clients?

We have had the opportunity to work with dozens of different EMRs; ambulatory and hospital based. Many of these EMRs are the product of individual physicians or physician groups that are unhappy with their current EMR and have not seen any existing EMRs that meet their usability needs. They have come to us with their ideas about developing an EMR from scratch. We have developed ENT, Ophthalmology, Plastic Surgery and other specialty focused EMRs stemming from this issue.

What are you seeing happening with mobile in healthcare?

There is a tremendous rush to mobile in Healthcare right now. Over the past several years our Healthcare mobile development has grown tenfold. There are many, many great mobile applications developed with patients, physicians, nurses, home health providers and others in mind. These apps have been and will continue to make providers, payers and patients lives easier and make delivering healthcare more efficient and productive.

You’ve worked with a lot of the various healthcare standards. How do they compare to the standards you work with in other industries?

There really is no parallel to the standards that guide healthcare in other industries. From my limited experience I would say that the Banking/Financial industry comes closest. But even then the amount and complexity of the standards are a fraction of what is found in Healthcare and Pharma.

Tell us about some of your work on the major hospital platforms like Siemens Soarian, Meditech and Epic. Is it a challenge working with these large companies?

These large companies have invested millions of dollars building and improving the very complex systems. So, they are rightfully concerned and selective about how and who is allowed to work in their systems. It can be a challenge, but not impossible to work with these companies. An added challenge comes from the hospitals themselves. There is the attitude that these systems are so unique that only company trained personnel have the capability to work in them.

Chetu, having worked in the Soarian, Meditech, Epic, Cerner, McKesson and other hospital platforms understands that the underlying technology in all of these systems are the same or very similar. Although each system may have unique capabilities – we recognize that the goal is the same for each. And, in getting past the UI or getting “under the hood” so to speak, we see mostly the same technologies at work.

What are the most innovative healthcare IT projects you see out there that you like working on?

Right now we are seeing a rush to capitalize on the tremendous amount of data that EMRs are generating. Data analytics using this great resource is helping pharmaceutical companies, scientists and researchers, Accountable Care Organizations – nearly everyone on the healthcare continuum provide better and less expensive patient care. This is an area that is in its infancy but we see growing rapidly.

What types of data analytics projects have you done in healthcare? Do you do just the programming component or can you do every part of a data analytics project?

Chetu has been involved in numerous healthcare analytics projects. We have helped our customers with data warehousing, data mining, OLAP, business analysis, automated report generation, multi-dimensional information “cubes”, custom reporting solutions using tools like Informatica, DTS / SSIS, Datastage and SSRS, SSAS, Cognos, Microstrategy, Crystal, OBIEE.

We have developed solutions across the complete data analytics process. From data mining and ETL to data cube and data modeling and report generation we have the experience and the people that can handle nearly any healthcare analytics project.

Full Disclosure: Chetu is an advertiser on EMR and HIPAA.

ACOs Want Advanced Analytics, Data Warehousing, But Are They Ready?

Posted on March 18, 2013 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.

ACOs are gunning to acquire advanced analytics tools and data warehousing capabilities, according to a report in iHealthBeat.  This conclusion comes from a new report from IDC Health Insights, which did a May 2012 survey of 40 hospitals and health insurance companies plus interviews with vendors and industry talking heads.

As part of the survey, IDC asked about ACOs’ top investment priorities, and found 50 percent most want advanced analytics capabilities, while 46 percent cited data warehousing.

The report also noted that ACO-involved entities are picking up analytics capabilities by acquiring infrastructure and software, as well as bringing informatics and data analysis experts on staff.

When asked what kind of information they’d like to review using analytics, they stated the following, according to iHealthBeat:

  • 73% of survey respondents cited clinical structured data
  • 70% cited care management data
  • 57% cited claims data
  • 42% cited data from mobile devices
  • 32% cited data from social media sources
  • 29% cited unstructured clinical data

And when asked what functions they’d put the analytics data to use on, they responded as follows, iHealthBeat said:

  • 66% of survey respondents cited identifying at-risk patients
  • 64% cited tracking clinical outcomes
  • 57% cited clinical decision-making at the point of care

All that being said, it’s not clear that the ACO participants know how to put these visions into action, argues John Moore of Chilmark Research. In a post-HIMSS wrap-up, Moore argues that the market for healthcare analytics tools is “hyped beyond imagination,” and that beyond the hype, many providers are actually clueless as to what they want from analytics.

At HIMSS, he says,  he found a “very immature” buyers’ market in which providers aren’t even sure what they’re asking for in analytics, or why they need these tools in the first place. In fact, Moore notes, he talked to many vendors who have stopped responding to “horrible” RFPs which suggest that institutions aren’t at all ready to pursue an analytics solution.

This wouldn’t be the first time that the hype factor exceeded the industry’s actual understanding of a product or technology.  But buying analytics tools before you have a clue how to use them is a particularly serious financial and strategic mistake, wouldn’t you say?