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6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care

6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The fact that technology is rapidly transforming health care should come as no surprise to anyone. From robotic arms that perform surgery tonanorobots that deliver drugs through the bloodstream, the days of being tended to by the human country doctor seem to have fully given way to machines and software more in keeping with the tools of Dr. McCoy from “Star Trek.”

 

However, technology’s evolutionary impact on health care isn’t all shooting stars and bells and whistles. Some of health care’s most important changes can slip beneath the radar due to their more pedestrian presentation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as revolutionary as mini robots zipping through veins. Take the burgeoning field of health informatics, for example. A specialization that combines communications, information technology, and health care to improve patient care, it’s at the forefront of the current technological shift in medicine. Here are six ways it’s already transforming health care.

 

1. Dramatic Savings

Health care isn’t just expensive; it’s wasteful. It’s estimated that half of all medical expenditures are squandered on account of repeat procedures, the expenses associated with more traditional methods of sharing information, delays in care, errors in care or delivery, and the like. With an electronic and connected system in place, much of that waste can be curbed. From lab results that reach their destination sooner improving better an more timely care delivery to reduced malpractice claims, health informatics reduces errors, increases communication, and drives efficiency where before there was costly incompetence and obstruction.

 

2. Shared Knowledge

There’s a reason medicine is referred to as a “practice,” and it’s because health care providers are always learning more and honing their skills. Health informatics provides a way for knowledge about patients, diseases, therapies, medicines, and the like to be more easily shared. As knowledge is more readily passed back and forth between providers and patients, the practice of medicine gets better — something that aids everyone within the chain of care, from hospital administrators and physicians to pharmacists and patients.

 

3. Patient Participation

When patients have electronic access to their own health history and recommendations, it empowers them to take their role in their own health care more seriously. Patients who have access to care portals are able to educate themselves more effectively about their diagnoses and prognoses, while also keeping better track of medications and symptoms. They are also able to interact with doctors and nurses more easily, which yields better outcomes, as well. Health informatics allows individuals to feel like they are a valuable part of their own health care team, because they are.

 

4. The Impersonalization of Care

One criticism of approaching patient care through information and technology is that care is becoming less and less personal. Instead of a doctor getting to know a patient in real time and space in order to best offer care, the job of “knowing” is placed on data and algorithms.

As data is gathered regarding a patient, algorithms can be used to sort it in order to determine what is wrong and what care should be offered. It remains to be seen what effects this data-driven approach will have over time, but regardless, since care is getting less personal, having a valid and accurate record that the patient and his care providers can access remains vital.  

 

5. Increased Coordination

Health care is getting more and more specialized, which means most patients receive care from as many as a dozen different people in one hospital stay. This increase in specialists requires an increase in coordination, and it’s health informatics that provides the way forward. Pharmaceutical concerns, blood levels, nutrition, physical therapy, X-rays, discharge instructions — it’s astonishing how many different conversations a single patient may have with a team of people regarding care, and unless those conversations and efforts are made in tandem with one another, problems will arise and care will suffer. Health informatics makes the necessary coordination possible.  

 

6. Improved Outcomes

The most important way in which informatics is changing health care is in improved outcomes. Electronic medical records result in higher quality care and safer care as coordinated teams provide better diagnoses and decrease the chance for errors. Doctors and nurses are able to increase efficiency, which frees up time to spend with patients, and previously manual jobs and tasks are automated, which saves time and money — not just for hospitals, clinics, and providers, but for patients, insurance companies, and state and federal governments, too.  

 

Health care is undergoing a massive renovation thanks to technology, and health informatics is helping to ensure that part of the change results in greater efficiency, coordination, and improved care.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Why Doctors need an All-rounder Healthcare Solution?

Why Doctors need an All-rounder Healthcare Solution? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Every person loves technology just because it makes your life easy. Each day a new problem is discovered, a solution is also researched for. This is how the tech world is growing each day. Just like the synapses connecting neurons in the human body, every doctor would like an interface which connects his entire clinical workflow. It’s a common requisite that a single solution meets many problems simultaneously.

 

A doctor’s time table has a tight schedule where he would be meeting many patients a day and some days would have unexpected numbers too. As a doctor you have to be more service minded and attend patients whenever there is a need. The doctor would be desirous to have a system which can save his time as well as take a good record of his complete clinical workflow.

 

Any doctor would find it helpful if he finds a flexible system which is cost effective and easy to use. The doctor would be comfortable to control activities from patient scheduling to the inventory management on his own rather than depending on the admin alone. A doctor needs an all-rounder healthcare solution as it is tough to handle when there is a large volume of data. An organized connection will allow a smooth work flow which will reduce chaos and makes it easy for doctors as well as the patient. A doctor would want an all-rounder healthcare solution.

 

  • To keep a record of patient data and record of the day-to-day activities
  • To have a single ‘touch point’ for data access
  • To have a seamless control over the entire continuum of care
  • To be cost effective by using a single set up rather than purchasing many and connecting them
  • To be able to access data from any point of the world and also for easy sharing
  • To have an efficient space management

 

There is no wonder why doctors are shifting towards using EHS(Electronic Health Solution),Patient portals, etc. as they have found advantages in such systems which can an efficient interface connecting them with the patients. The advantages of using the internet connection and the cloud in the medical sector have helped them trust HITaaS which they have already accepted to be a part of their profession. The future will see doctors using more of systems like BlueEHS and completely move from their conventional methods so that their professional life becomes more easy and flexible.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

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CMS Finalizes 2016 Medicare Payment Rules for Physicians, Hospitals & Other Providers

CMS Finalizes 2016 Medicare Payment Rules for Physicians, Hospitals & Other Providers | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued final rules this week detailing how the agency will pay for services provided to beneficiaries in Medicare by physicians and other health care professionals in 2016 that reflects the administration’s commitment to quality, value, and patient-centered care. Payment rules for the 2016 calendar year for End-Stage Renal Disease Prospective Payment System, the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System, Home Health Prospective Payment System, and the Physician Fee Schedule were all finalized this week.


“CMS is pleased to implement the first fee schedule since Congress acted to improve patient access by protecting physician payments from annual cuts. These rules continue to advance value-based purchasing and promote program integrity, making Medicare better for consumers, providers, and taxpayers,” said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “We received a large number of comments supporting our proposal to allow physicians to bill for advanced care planning conversations and we are finalizing this rule accordingly.”

Key policies finalized in the 2016 payment rules include:

  • Finalizing the Home Health Value-Based Purchasing model. This model, authorized under the Affordable Care Act, is designed to improve health outcomes and value by tying home health payments to quality performance. All Medicare-certified home health agencies that provide services in Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, and Tennessee will participate in this model starting January 1, 2016. Compared to the proposed rule, the maximum payment adjustment in the first year of the model was reduced from 5 percent to 3 percent. This was part of the Home Health Prospective Payment System final rule.


  • Finalizing updates to the “Two-Midnight” rule. The rule clarifies when inpatient admissions are appropriate for payment under Medicare Part A. This continues CMS’ long-standing emphasis on the importance of a physician’s medical judgment in meeting the needs of Medicare beneficiaries by providing clearer guidelines and a more collaborative approach to education and enforcement. This was part of the Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System final rule.
  • Finalizing the End-Stage Renal Disease Quality Incentive Program. The End-Stage Renal Disease final rule will apply payment incentives to dialysis facilities to improve the quality of dialysis care. Facilities that do not achieve a minimum total performance score with respect to quality measures, such as anemia management, patient experience, infections, and safety, will receive a reduction in their payment rates. 
  • Beginning the new physician payment system post the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and supporting patient- and family-centered care. This is the first final Physician Fee Schedule final rule since the repeal of the SGR formula by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Through the final rule, CMS is beginning implementation of the new payment system for physicians and other practitioners, the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System, required by the legislation.
  • Finalizing provision to empower patients and their families regarding advance care planning. Consistent with recommendations from a wide range of stakeholders and bipartisan members of Congress, CMS is finalizing its proposal that supports patient- and family-centered care for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries by enabling them to discuss advance care planning with their providers.
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Could On Demand Medical Services Be Good for Doctors?

Could On Demand Medical Services Be Good for Doctors? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion lately about the peer sharing economy and how it applies to healthcare. Some people like to call it the Uber of healthcare, but that phrase has been applied so many ways that it’s hard to know what people mean by it anymore. For example, is it Uber bringing your doctor to your home/work or is it an Uber like system of requesting healthcare? There are many more iterations.


I’ll to consider doing a whole series of posts on the Peer Sharing Economy and how it applies to healthcare. There’s a lot to chew on. However, most recently I’ve been chewing on the idea of on demand medical services. In most cases this is basically the Skype or Facetime telemedicine visit on a mobile device. These models are starting to develop and it won’t be long until all of us can easily hop on our mobile device and be in touch with a doctor directly through our phone. In some cases it will be a telemedicine visit. In other cases it might be the doctor coming to visit you. I’m sure we’ll have a wide variety of modalities that are available to patients.


Every patient loves this idea. Every insurance company is trying to figure out the right financial model to make this work. Most doctors are scared at what this means for their business. Certainly there are reasons for them to be concerned, but I believe that this new on demand medical service could be very good for doctors.


In our current system practices do amazing scheduling acrobatics to ensure that the doctor is seeing a full schedule of patients every day. They do this mostly because of all the patient no shows that occur. This makes life stressful for everyone involved. Imagine if instead of double booking appointments which leads to all sorts of issues, a doctor replaced no show appointments with an on demand visit with a patient waiting to be seen on a telemedicine platform. Basically the doctor could fill their “free time” with on demand appointments instead of double booking appointments which then causes them to get behind when both appointments do show up.


I can already hear doctors complaining about them being “mercenaries” and shouldn’t they be allowed free time to grab a coffee. I’d argue that in the current system they are mercenaries that are trying to fill their schedule as full as possible. The current double booking scheduling approach that so many take means that some days the doctor has a full schedule of appointments and some days they have more than a full schedule of appointments. If doctors chose to back fill no-shows with on demand appointments, then their schedule would be more free than it is today. Plus, if they didn’t want to back fill a no show, they could always make that choice too. That’s not an option in the double book approach they use today.


In fact, if there was an on demand platform where doctors could go and see patients anytime they wanted to see patients, it would open up a lot more flexibility for doctors much like Uber has done for drivers. Some doctors may want to work early in the morning while others want to work late at night. Some doctors might want to take off part of the day to see their kid’s school performance, but they can work later to make up for the time they took off (if they want of course).


Think about retired doctors. I’m reminded of my pharmacist friend who was still working at the age of 83. I asked him why he was still working at such an advanced age. He told me, “John, if I stop, I die.” I imagine that many retired doctors would love to still see some patients if they could do it in a less demanding environment that worked with their new retirement schedule. If there was an on demand platform where retired doctors could sign in and see patients at their whim, this would be possible. No doubt this is just one of many examples.


Currently there isn’t an on demand platform that doctors could sign into and see a patient who’s waiting to be seen. No doubt there are many legal, financial and logistical challenges associated with creating a platform of this nature. Not the least of which is that doctors are only licensed to practice in specific states. This is a problem which needs to be solved for a lot of reasons, but I think it will. In fact, I think that legal issues, reimbursement changes, and other logistical challenges will all be solved and one day we’ll have this type of on demand platform for healthcare. Patients will benefit from such a platform, but I believe it will open up a lot more options for doctors as well.

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Could Well-Implemented IT Help Reverse Primary Care Physicians’ Skepticism Over the New Healthcare?

Could Well-Implemented IT Help Reverse Primary Care Physicians’ Skepticism Over the New Healthcare? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

It was fascinating to read a new issue brief from the New York-based Commonwealth Fund published August 5, on primary care providers’ (both primary care physicians’ and mid-level practitioners’) perceptions of new payment models in healthcare.


The Commonwealth Fund, a “private foundation that aims to promote a high performing healthcare system that achieves better access, improved quality, and greater efficiency, particularly for society’s most vulnerable, including low-income people, the uninsured, minority Americans, young children, and elderly adults,” had issued the brief, entitled “Primary Care Providers’ Views of Recent Trends in Health Care Delivery and Payment,” based on a survey of 1,624 primary care physicians and 525 mid-level clinicians (nurse practitioners and physician assistants).


The abstract to the issue brief notes that “A new survey from The Commonwealth Fund and The Kaiser Family Foundation asked primary care providers—physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants—about their experiences with and reactions to recent changes in health care delivery and payment. Providers’ views are generally positive regarding the impact of health information technology on quality of care, but they are more divided on the increased use of medical homes and accountable care organizations. Overall, providers are more negative about the increased reliance on quality metrics to assess their performance and about financial penalties. Many physicians expressed frustration with the speed and administrative burden of Medicaid and Medicare payments. An earlier brief focused on providers’ experiences under the ACA’s coverage expansions and their opinions about the law.”


The core findings of the survey were that primary care physicians, far more than mid-level practitioners, expressed considerable skepticism about the new healthcare delivery and payment models, in particular the two that were asked about specifically—accountable care organizations and patient-centered medical homes; though those PCPs who had worked under ACO or PMCH arrangements were far more likely to agree that they offered the potential for improving the quality of care delivery to patients being cared for under those types of arrangements.


As to why a strong plurality of primary care physicians have negative perceptions of the potential for the value-based outcomes measures embedded in ACO and PCMH arrangements to improve quality and efficiency, Melinda Abrams, The Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for delivery system reform, told me, “To be honest, we don’t know why they don’t like the quality measures; we only know there’s a fair bit of dissatisfaction with the quality measures. When we asked physicians whether they thought the increased use of quality measures was impacting their ability to provide high-quality care, 50 percent were negative on that, and only 22 percent were positive. We also asked, are you receive quality incentive-based payments? That reflected the entire group, but even among those receiving incentive payments based on quality, 50 percent felt it was negative, and only 28 percent felt it was positive.”


Still, as the issue brief’s abstract noted, “The survey results indicate that primary care providers’ views of many of these new models are more negative than positive. There are exceptions: health information technology gets mostly positive views and medical homes receive mixed opinions with a positive tilt. With regard to HIT, our study indicates that primary care providers generally accept the promise of HIT to improve quality of care even if previous research shows they dislike the process of transitioning from paper-based records.8 Our survey results also may reflect clinicians’ earlier exposure to certain models and tools. National adoption of electronic health records received a boost from the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of the federal stimulus package of 2009, while the four primary care specialty societies announced a joint statement regarding medical homes in February 2007, several years before passage of the Affordable Care Act.”


“Our results show that 50 percent of primary care providers say that healthcare IT is improving the quality of care they provide,” Abrams told me. “And what we’ve learned from other studies is this: other studies have found that providers generally accept the promise of HIT as a concept, even as they dislike the process of transitioning to electronic from paper. Our specific question was on the impact of their ability to provide high-quality care to their patients. It’s a more general question than about the transition. We weren’t asking about the transition. So half of physicians and two-thirds of mid-level providers see the advance of health IT as having a positive impact,” she noted.

What is inevitable is that clinicians, but most especially primary care physicians, will be demanding a great deal from the clinical and other information systems that are being implemented now to facilitate accountable care, population health management, and patient-centered medical home-based care.


As Abrams put it to me, “There’s nothing in the survey findings that would indicate that increased success with IT would improve their views of ACOs and medical homes; our findings don’t show that. But I would suspect that, to fulfill the promise of ACOs and PCMHs requires ease of use of IT and the data from that technology, the more they learn to use technology effectively to optimize patient care, yes, I believe they will become more positive about ACOs and patient-centered medical homes, yes. And more pieces will help them embrace ACOs and PCMHs.”


So such interpretations of survey data only help to reinforce what seemed apparent already: that healthcare IT leaders are facing a gigantic opportunity/risk proposition ahead of them, when it comes to clinical and other information systems supporting accountable care and population health management. Physicians, and primary care physicians in particular, are looking to those systems to carry them to the “promised land” of greater clinical effectiveness and practice efficiency, and to help them master the intricate challenges of succeeding in carrying out risk-based contracting in a high-pressure, high-stakes environment.


And this is in an environment in which we all know that the IT solutions offered by vendors, both major and smaller, still leave some things to be desired, and that tremendous amounts of customization are being required to make population health, analytics, clinical decision support, and other systems needed to make pop health and accountable care work, are being poured into those systems.


So the next few years inevitably are going to be filled with tension for healthcare IT leaders, as healthcare IT professionals work to get all the foundations, and the details, right, with those systems. But the light at the end of the tunnel is this: that, as primary care physicians become adept at using the increasingly-adept solutions that will be applied to population health- and accountable care-based clinical practice, primary care physicians’ perceptions not only of those tools, but of value-based care delivery and payment itself, will get better over time. And that will definitely significant for all of us, as we pursue the new healthcare in earnest.

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IBM and Merge: Here We Go Again!

IBM and Merge: Here We Go Again! | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Today’s announcement of IBM’s acquisition of Merge Healthcare might be called a deal changer.  In today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment, it would seem that merging IBM’s deep pockets and technological talent with Merge’s clinical technology and applications capabilities would be a good thing.  And, it may prove to be given the current environment. 


On the other hand, this is déjà vu, as I have personally seen IBM try to play in the healthcare space several times before.  Years ago, IBM developed a product and attempted to be a player in the Radiology Information System (RIS) business.  Eventually it was sold off.  IBM teamed with GE in the early 80’s to integrate RIS and PACS (Picture Archive and Communication System), only to exit amidst the company’s financial woes in the early days of Lou Gerstner’s chairmanship. 


There were also several failed attempts in the dictation/transcription business.  There was the IBM Executary line.  Then came the IBM VoiceType system.  And finally, there was IBM MedSpeak/Radiology, the first product to exploit IBM’s speech recognition technology.  Each time, IBM realized that the total medical market for such products could be measured in the thousands, not the hundreds of thousands of potential users.  In the end, IBM sold off these products on the basis of market dynamics versus disproportionate development and support costs.  It was unfortunate, as IBM had some of the best technology in the business!  Another part of the argument always was that IBM sold product to other healthcare vendors, and competing with them would jeopardize that business.


So, will the past repeat itself?  Or, have IBM and the market changed enough to make this a winning proposition for IBM?  I would have to say, only time will tell.  But, today, IBM is a different company than it was thirty years ago, as is the healthcare industry.  Much of the “big iron” emphasis is gone, and the company has much more of a services focus these days.  Cloud computing was never a factor in the past, and today, coupled with Watson, it offers much more potential for delivery of storage and analytics solutions.


In the age of past efforts, there were much larger barriers between Information Technology (IT) and clinical departments.  That is why IBM chose to partner with GE to address RIS-PACS previously, as the two complemented one another in terms of hospital administration emphasis.  Today, there is much more IT emphasis on clinical systems and their integration across the enterprise.  And, the healthcare environment today is radically different than in the age of past efforts, given increased regulation and greater provider consolidation.  An IBM-Merge combination should have much broader appeal to integrated delivery networks (IDN’s) who might benefit from greater interoperability and better business analytics.


Both IBM and Merge have sufficient technical expertise to make it work.  But, the glass is only half full.  Imaging informatics is a growing market, but it pales in comparison to the general healthcare IT market such as for EMR’s (Electronic Medical Record).  How well the market is willing to play with an IBM-Merge entity will be interesting to see.  Or, does IBM have more companies in its sights?  It’s ironic that an IBM spinoff (Lexmark) has positioned itself to be a formidable competitor in this space as well.  What will be the reaction of others such as HP and Dell that have had evolving healthcare strategies over the years?  IBM’s forays into the consumer market (remember the PC Junior or OS/2?) have not proven all that successful either. 


Here’s hoping that IBM has evolved and learned from its past, and will find ways to make this one work!  As always your comments and perspective are welcome.

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Apps, sites can't replace your doctor

Apps, sites can't replace your doctor | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

There's a warning out today for those who go online or to apps to figure out why they have an upset tummy or nagging cough or occasional chest pain. Symptom checkers, those tools that ask for information and suggest a diagnosis, are accurate only about half of the time.

The finding is from a Harvard Medical School study that reviewed 23 sites, such as WebMD, the Mayo Clinic and DocResponse. One third listed the correct diagnosis as the first option for patients. Half the sites had the right diagnosis among their top three results, and 58 percent listed it in their top 20 suggestions.

Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, one of the study's authors, urges patients to be cautious when using these tools.

"These sites are not a replacement for going to the doctor and getting a full evaluation and diagnosis," he says. "They are simply providing some information on what might be going on with you."

About a third of U.S. adults use the sites, although not necessarily in place of going to the doctor.

Some of the diagnostic questions are also used by nurse triage phone services.

    Mehrotra says, these online tools are about as accurate as the call-in lines offered by many insurers and physician groups. "[They are] better than just a random Internet search," he said.

    Researchers entered the symptoms of 45 patients from vignettes used to train medical students. The Mayo Clinic's first online diagnosis was right only 17 percent of the time, but had the correct diagnosis on a list of 20 in 76 percent of cases. Dr. John Wilkinson, who works on Mayo's symptom checker, says the tool directs patients to medical research and prepares them to talk to their doctor.

    "We're always trying to improve but if most of the time the correct diagnosis is included in the list of possibilities, that's all we're attempting to do," he says.

    The diagnosis accuracy rate for physicians is 85 to 90 percent. But Jason Maude, who runs a high performing tool called Isabel, says he does not want a Web versus doctor showdown.

    "The whole point is not to set the patient against the doctor or replace the doctor, but to make the patient much better informed and to ask the doctor much better questions, and then together they should do a much better job," he says.

    Isabel ranked well in the study, showing the correct answer more than 40 percent of the time in the first diagnosis and 84 percent in the top 20 answers. Those high results, Maude says, may be because the site lets patients type in their own description of symptoms. They might describe a "tummy ache" or "stomach cramps" rather than the more clinical choice of "abdominal pain" used by many online symptom checker tools. And Isabel asks just two or three questions before patients describe their problem, as compared to sites that ask patients to click through 20 questions — steps Maude said may discourage use.

    Clarifying how and why patients use these tools is critical, say the study's authors. They could reduce unnecessary office visits or inform patients as they talk with their doctors. But for some, the tools may encourage people to seek unnecessary care.

    Mehrotra says patients used symptom checkers more than 100 million times last year, a fact that may stun some physicians.

    "While most doctors know patients are going to the Internet to search for medical advice, in terms of these symptom checkers, I've been surprised that few of my colleagues even knew they existed," he says.

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    The Age of Fitness Trackers

    The Age of Fitness Trackers | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    Fitbit… AppleWatch… Jawbone — Oh my! The age of personal fitness trackers is upon us and judging by its rapid growth, it is here to stay. Worldwide, healthcare is experiencing a massive shift in the way patients and physicians are interacting with medical records and information. Technology and Federal Regulations are among the many driving forces serving to reshape the medical industry; growing technological innovations such as Cloud technology and fitness trackers are inspiring a new era characterized by interactive, patient-centered care. With home health technologies projected to skyrocket — jumping from 14.3 million worldwide in 2014 to 78.5 million by 2020 — the ability for patients to access images, information, and updates is no longer a luxury but a necessity. As fitness trackers, Cloud technology, and other innovations continue to improve upon the immediacy and ease with which patients can access personal medical records, physicians and consumers alike are being prescribed an entirely new patient care experience.


    Fitness trackers such as Fitbit’s “Charge HR”, Apple’s “Sport Watch”, and Jawbone’s “UP2” have made an enormous dent within an ever-expanding wearable technologies market. The Fitness tracker craze has transcended various demographics including age as both Millenials and older generations are exhibiting support for the use of wearable technologies within the fitness world and in other markets.


    Regarding fitness trackers specifically, consumers cite improved safety, healthier living, and ease of use when discussing the benefits of wearing such products. With features such as heart-rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and exercise progress reports, fitness trackers are redefining the ways in which consumers interact with and view personal health records. Currently, about 1 in 5 adults owns a wearable device. This number is expected to grow as healthcare and technology continue to fuse in an effort to bring patients’ needs to the forefront of EMR accessibility regulation.


    Many are projecting healthy growth for the future of fitness tracking wearable device technology markets. As stated in the PWC article entitled, “Wearable Technology Future is Ripe”, “As wearable devices gain traction over the next five to ten years, they can help consumers better manage their health and their healthcare costs.” The article continues to point out that, “ wearables’ potential in the $2.8 trillion US healthcare system will only be realized if companies engage consumers, turn data into insights and focus on improving consumer health.” As Meaningful Use and other Federal Government regulations continue to guide healthcare systems toward more efficient, patient-centered processes it seems likely that the growing fitness tracker market will undoubtedly impact the future state of healthcare in the US and beyond.


    Is your practice in shape for a health tech driven future?

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    Nicole Avarello's curator insight, July 16, 2015 1:35 PM

    Do you track your fitness? I have been considering about investing in a FitBit for quite some time now. The benefits seem nice and I am hoping it will motivate me to be more active and conscious of my decisions.

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    White House Announces New Precision Medicine Commitments

    White House Announces New Precision Medicine Commitments | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    The Obama Administration has announced new commitments to its precision medicine initiative (PMI) that it unveiled six months ago.

    The initiative, which President Barack Obama touched on in his State of the Union address in January, aims to pioneer a new model of patient-powered research to accelerate biomedical discoveries and provide clinicians with new tools, knowledge, and therapies to select which treatments will work best for which patients.


    This week, the Administration launched new commitments, which include:


    Guiding Principles for Protecting Privacy and Building Trust: The White House is unveiling draft PMI guiding principles that seek to build privacy into the design of the PMI research cohort, which will include one million or more Americans who agree to share data about their health. The White House is seeking public feedback on the privacy and trust principles online through August 7, 2015.


    New Tools for Patients: In collaboration with federal partners, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will work to address barriers that prevent patients from accessing their health data. OCR will develop additional guidance materials to educate the public and health care providers about a patient’s right to access his or her health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).


    Research Awards to Unlock Data Insights: The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) is announcing awards to support four research projects on key questions relevant to precision medicine using the rich data from the Million Veterans Program (MVP), the largest U.S. repository of genetic, clinical, lifestyle and military exposure data.

    Additionally, private sector commitments related to the initiative launched this week include:


    Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine: Duke has developed a platform called MeTree that helps individuals have challenging but necessary conversations with loved ones and care providers about family health histories, so that physicians can tailor care to patients’ unique risk profiles.


    Flip the Clinic: Flip the Clinic, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is announcing a collaboration with more than 160,000 clinicians and staff practicing at sites across the United States, who have pledged to inform patients about their right to get digital copies of their medical records.


    Genetic Alliance: Along with collaborators, such as Cerner, Genetic Alliance is launching new capabilities for Platform for Engaging Everyone Responsibly (PEER), a data registry that empowers participants to share their data with medical researchers, advocacy groups, and others.


    GetMyHealthData: The GetMyHealthData campaign is pledging to help thousands of consumers over the next 12 months access and download their own clinical health data, so they can use it to understand and improve their health, their care, and the system as a whole—including donating their data for research.


    Sage Bionetworks: Recognizing the importance of health-data liberation, and the role of data in driving research studies, Sage Bionetworks is announcing that it will support clinical studies that import electronic health-record information to its open source research platform and that it will release open-source informed-consent prototypes to support these studies.


    The White House also is honoring "Champions of Change" in precision medicine, which includes nine individuals who are working to use data and innovation to improve healthcare.

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    Sophia Nguyen's curator insight, July 24, 2015 7:55 AM

    I found this interesting because it shows how important the world of healthcare and how the president has taken notice that it's important for consumers to understand their health and take charge of it.

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    CVS Health quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce over tobacco stance

    CVS Health quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce over tobacco stance | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    CVS Health Corp said it was withdrawing its membership from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after media reports that the trade group was lobbying globally against anti-smoking laws.


    The No. 2 U.S. drugstore chain said it was "surprised" to read recent reports on the chamber's position on tobacco products outside the United States.


    The New York Times reported last week that the chamber and its foreign affiliates were lobbying against anti-smoking laws such as restrictions on smoking in public places and bans on menthol and slim cigarettes, mainly in developing countries. 


    "CVS's purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we fundamentally believe tobacco use is in direct conflict with this purpose," CVS spokesman David Palombi said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.


    The chamber, however, said that it did not support smoking and it called the report "a concerted misinformation campaign."


    "... we support protecting the intellectual property and trademarks of all legal products in all industries and oppose singling out certain industries for discriminatory treatment," the trade group said in an email.


    CVS was the first major U.S. drugstore chain to stop selling tobacco products last year.

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    Texas Gov. Signs Bill for Expanded Health Data Interoperability

    Texas Gov. Signs Bill for Expanded Health Data Interoperability | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill into law to promote improved and expanded health data interoperability for Texas public health.


    House Bill 2641 helps better define health information exchange (HIE) within Texas statute and aims to ensure that all public health systems are able to exchange health information securely, in accordance with applicable national data exchange standards. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Abbott on June 19 and will take effect September 1, 2015.


    Authored by state representative John Zerwas, M.D., an anesthesiologist from Houston, the new law also allows health-related information to be transmitted through local health information exchanges to the appropriate state public health agencies, a critical provision for technology innovators working to facilitate the secure exchange of health data.


    The bill is called “Ken’s Bill” after Dr. Ken Pool, M.D., who was president of the board of directors of the Texas e-Health Alliance when the bill was drafted. TeHA is credited with pulling together a broad coalition of stakeholders—hospital associations and medical associations, among others—that saw the bill through to passage.


    “HB 2641 is an important step towards making sure that we are empowering providers to get the most out of their investments in health information technologies, and in moving our state health care data systems into the modern era” Representative John Zerwas, M.D., author of the bill, said in a statement.

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    Getting a checkup will be very different in the not-so-distant future

    Getting a checkup will be very different in the not-so-distant future | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    Sometime in the not-so-distant future, getting a checkup will be very different.


    When the doctor writes down your symptoms, it will be cross-checked with others in your area, making it easier to identify outbreaks and epidemics sooner. If you complain of shortness of breath, your phone’s heart rate monitor will instantly report how well your heart has functioned over the last month. Those readings then could be aggregated with others in your community, revealing hidden trends. As your doctor thinks about the best treatment for you, big-data analysis will help her assess how various options have worked for others with similar histories and body chemistry.


    This is the promise of big data in healthcare. And, it’s not just while you’re at the doctor. Medical research and findings are now being combined into massive searchable databases, making it easier to assess and compare results. Databases can absorb terabytes worth of disparate data, including things like the weather. This will make it clearer whether it’s the drug — or something extraneous like humidity — that’s making people feel better.


    But all this is in its infancy, with the sector moving slowly and cautiously. The Affordable Care Act now mandates that doctors switch to electronic health records when they treat Medicare patients. So far, they’re not especially sophisticated.

    “Electronic health records right now are only collecting about 100 megabytes of data per patient, per year,” says Dale Sanders, senior vice president of strategy at Health Catalyst, an analytics firm. “Most patients, if they knew how poorly informed healthcare was from a data perspective, would be really disappointed.”


    Health Catalyst is one of a number of companies — big and small — working to change that, seeing the immense potential to both improve care and save money. US healthcare industry expenditures are approaching $3 trillion annually. The McKinsey Global Institute estimated in 2013 that deploying big data could create $100 billion in value every year across the healthcare industry.


    In Pittsburgh, a major hospital system teamed up in March with the city’s biggest universities to advance big-data analytics in healthcare. As part of a consortium, Carnegie Mellon University is working on artificial intelligence that draws on databases of studies and health records.


    Andrew Moore, Dean of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, imagines a day when his phone gives his doctor a more accurate report on his health than he can himself.

    “If he or she asks me, ‘have you been getting out of breath much lately?’ and I say, ‘I don’t think so,’ at that point I would like my cell phone to chime in and say, ‘yes, you have, actually, Andrew,'” he says. “That would be awesome for me and the physician.


    Moore expects the systems to be able to trace hospital-borne infections back to a specific piece of equipment or patient. Or, some might make it possible to diagnose a rash with a smartphone photo.

    The Pittsburgh Health Alliance plans to spend $10-$20 million a year on its big-data collaboration. Carnegie Mellon joins with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh on the project, and UPMC already takes in info from 200 sources.


    And big data has the potential to become big business. In 2013, investors put nearly $200 million into analytics and big-data startups, according to research firm Gartner. There have been similar size investments in digital medical devices and personalized medicine. The government is investing millions in analyzing medical databases, too. That’s not to mention health-tracking research and products from the likes of Apple, Google, and FitBit.


    “Hospital systems realize that healthcare is becoming more and more an information technology business,” Moore says.


    For all the excitement over big data’s potential for personalized medicine and better public health, it’s not without obstacles and risks. Moore worries about security, knowing that any breach of privacy will threaten public acceptance of the whole industry.


    Sanders of Health Catalyst thinks the real promise of big data is improving the basics of healthcare. “We keep attaching big data to these moonshot kinds of expectations,” he says. To Sanders, big data isn’t a revolution. It’s a way to improve the fundamentals of care, like reducing hospital-borne infections.


    “Reducing variability in care and reducing over treatment of patients is probably the most important place for any organization in healthcare to start,” he says.


    And perhaps the biggest challenge for big data is culture. Doctors and hospitals tend to be understandably cautious and skeptical about adopting new technology, waiting for it to be sufficiently proven safe and effective. But as analytics improve, and the pressure to bring down the cost of healthcare builds, most agree big data will become a big deal in medicine.

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    Digital health venture cash keeps pace with 2014

    Digital health venture cash keeps pace with 2014 | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    Venture capital for the digital health market is still holding its own, keeping pace with last year's "record-breaking growth," according to a new report from digital health startup accelerator Rock Health.

    In fact, this year's Q2 raked in $2.1 billion from investors for digital health startups, just shy of last year's mid-year number which reached $2.3 billion.


    "Now at the half-year mark, investors have spoken," wrote Malay Gandhi, managing director at Rock Health, in a July 6 post, unveiling the numbers. "Digital health isn't slowing down."


    Although the number of deals were fewer than last year at this time – 139 deals in 2015 compared to 146 in 2014 – the average deal size was $400,000 bigger this time around.


    One of the big changes this year was around the most funded digital health category. Last year, the winner was payer administration startups, which collectively scored $211 million. This year, wearables and biosensing companies walked away with the lion's share of funding, at $387 million. However, San Francisco-based wearable company Jawbone accounted for $300 million of that pie.


    Analytics and big data came in at No. 2 for most funded digital health category, bringing in $212 million by mid 2015. That represents a $16 million increase in this category from last year's numbers. Salt Lake City-based analytics startup Health Catalyst brought in $70 million.

    According to another digital health accelerator StartUp Health's mid-year report, however, analytics and big data came in third place, below wellness/benefits and patient/consumer experience. The company bills itself as the world's largest portfolio of digital health companies. 


    One category in Rock Health's report that failed to emerge as top theme last year – EHR and clinical workflow – brought in $74 million this time around. One of those startups, the San Francisco-based Augmedix, which integrates Google Glass with the electronic medical record, earned $16 million of that.


    This year, Rock Health officials also tracked digital health IPOs, which "outperformed" S&P 500 by the end of Q2.


    "Coming off a record-smashing year for digital health funding, where dollars into the space totaled more than 8 percent of all venture funding, it would not have been surprising if 2015 was a letdown," Rock Health officials wrote in the 2015 mid-year report. "However, 2015 has more or less kept pace with 2014."


    But this growth, as they explained, also comes with a drawback. And that's "noise." In other words, it's a tough, saturated market, with a record number of digital health companies "vying for the attention of both the industry and the consumer."

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    3 Ways Technology has Changed Healthcare

    3 Ways Technology has Changed Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    Technology is considered to be the driving force behind improvements in healthcare and, when you look at the rate of change and recent innovations, many find it hard not to agree with that observation.

    Graduates of health informatics will no doubt agree that technology is impacting many aspects of our lives as breakthroughs in data collection, research and treatments allow medical providers to use new tools and find fresh and innovative ways to practice medicine into the future.

    Better and More Accessible Treatment

    A number of industry analysts have observed that increased accessibility of treatment is one of the most tangible ways that technology has changed healthcare. Health IT opens up many more avenues of exploration and research, which allows experts to make healthcare more driven and effective than it has ever been.

    Improved Care and Efficiency

    Another key area that has grown and continues to do so is patient care. The use of information technology has made patient care safer and more reliable in most applications.

    The fact that nurses and doctors who are working on the frontline are now routinely using hand-held computers to record important real-time patient data and then sharing it instantly within their updated medical history is an excellent illustration of the benefits of health IT.

    Being able to accumulate lab results, records of vital signs and other critical patient data into one centralized area has transformed the level of care and efficiency a patient can expect to receive when they enter the healthcare system.

    An increased level of efficiency in data collection means that a vast online resource of patient history is available to scientists, who are finding new ways to study trends and make medical breakthroughs at a faster rate.

    Software Improves Healthcare and Disease Control

    The development of specific software programs means that, for example, the World Health Organization has been able to classify illnesses, their causes and symptoms into a massive database that encompasses more than 14,000 individual codes.

    This resource allows medical professionals and researchers to track, retrieve and utilize valuable data in the fight to control disease and provide better healthcare outcomes in general.

    Software also plays a pivotal role in tracking procedures and using billing methods that not only reduce paperwork levels, but also allow practitioners to use this data to improve quality of care and all around efficiency.

    Doctors report that they are deriving enormous benefits from the drive toward a total system of electronic medical records; patients enjoy the fact that software has created a greater degree of transparency in the healthcare system.

    We have seen many positive changes in health IT and expect to continue witnessing more exciting developments in the future!

    Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
    Contact Details :

    inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
    www.technicaldr.com

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    HealthIT Can Benefit From Internet of Things

    HealthIT Can Benefit From Internet of Things | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    Healthcare technology is growing leaps and bounds and with the inclusion of Internet of things in the equation, both patients and providers will benefit from it.  In a report by Forbes, by 2020, 40% of IoT-related technology will be health-related, more than any other category, making up a $117 billion market.  Internet of things can make a huge impact on the healthcare industry by increasing efficiency, focusing on patient care and also reducing costs. Internet of things in healthcare can help create an intelligent system that can capture real time, life critical data.

     

    How internet of things has benefited Healthcare

     

    The potential of internet of things in healthcare is wide; there is already a huge market for fitness tracking and soon the patients will be able to take more responsibility of their health. With the use of IOT devices, there will be a focus on taking hold of preventive measures thereby disrupting current care delivery and also help shape the future of healthcare.

     

    Below are the three most important uses of IoT in Healthcare

     

    • Chronic care management: Internet of things in healthcare has made a major impact especially in the chronic care management sector.  Healthcare technology has helped increase longevity with the tracking of health and chronic care conditions. Any change in vital or any questionable change in the health can quickly be reported to eth provider. Newer applications are now easily connected to wearables that can help transmit information to the a mobile application and thereby help stay connected to the provider. There are many new applications in the market like Healthkey that help in the management of chronic conditions.  Health Key monitors & tracks blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, BMI, body fat and a host of other measures using home health devices from FitBit, Withings and iHealth. Providers get real-time alerts and allow timely intervention.
    • Assisted living and remote monitoring: Assisted living and costs in nursing homes are rising and therefore pushing the providers to help encourage elderly to live independently while being monitored . This can be done in the comfort of the home and also helping in reducing the risk of staying alone. With the advent of sensors attached to the skin, clothing and other wearables. As per BCC Research  , in 2010 the healthcare global market for biosensors was $15.4 Billion and is expected to grow due to a rise is demand for point-of-care diagnostics and monitoring, aging of the population with its concomitant increase in the prevalence of chronic disease, increasing healthcare costs and unmet healthcare needs. It is predicted that this number is bound to increase, and the demand for biosensors in the United States alone will grow by 7.7% annually. 
    • Preventive care: The preventive healthcare is another benefit of Internet of things in healthcare . A lot of diseases and ailments can be managed with the touch of button, diseases like chickenpox; measles etc. can be easily managed with software applications setting reminders about the same. Also since the vitals are being constantly monitored, a lot many chronic diseases can also be prevented.
    • The only issue and problem at hand is the security of data that is being captured from devices connected to the patient monitoring system. The security of IoT is serious enough that a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security spoke about it at HIMSS 2015.

    Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

    Contact Details :
    inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
    www.technicaldr.com/tdr

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    Health risk assessments may benefit elderly

    Health risk assessments may benefit elderly | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    When healthy elderly people fill out health risk questionnaires and get personalized counseling, they have better health behaviors and use more preventive care, according to a new study.


    Eighteen percent of firms ask working-age employees to complete health risk assessments, but the use of these tools in older persons is relatively new, said lead author Andreas E. Stuck of University Hospital Bern in Switzerland.


    The personal health risk assessments covered multiple potential risk factors relevant in old age, and participants received individualized feedback and health counseling, lasting two years, Stuck said.


    “Thus, prevention in old age is likely effective, but only if risk assessment is combined with individualized counseling over an extended period of time,” Stuck told Reuters Health by email.


    In his team’s study, conducted in Switzerland between 2000 and 2002, 874 healthy adults over age 65 filled out questionnaires and received individualized computer-generated feedback reports, which were also sent to their doctors.


    Additionally, for two years, nurse counselors visited patients at home and called them every three to six months to reinforce what health behaviors they should be pursuing or preventive care they should be obtaining based on their individualized reports.


    About 85 percent of those assigned to the health risk assessment group returned their questionnaires, the researchers reported in PLoS Medicine.


    Counselors identified the most important risk factors for each person, and the interaction between risk factors was taken into account. For example, for a person with low physical activity who was having pain, the first step was to intervene on management of pain, then on physical activity, Stuck said.


    At the end of two years, the researchers compared the risk assessment group to another 1,000 similar adults who did not get the questionnaires or counseling.


    Seventy percent of those who completed the health-risk assessments were physically active and 66 percent had received a seasonal flu vaccine, compared to 62 percent and 59 percent of the comparison group, respectively.


    Long-term outcomes like nursing home admission or functional status were not available, but the researchers estimated that almost 78 percent of the adults in the health risk assessment group were still alive after eight years, compared to almost 73 percent in the comparison group.


    The health assessment, data entry and individualized feedback report takes patients about one hour to do and costs about $30, Stuck said, not including the cost of individualized counseling by the nurse counselor or a primary care physician.


    Health risk assessment should be offered to all older people starting between age 60 and 65, he said.


    “The authors report promising evidence that a complex intervention might improve longevity and functioning in older adults,” said Evan Mayo-Wilson of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Maryland, who was not part of the new study.


    “The team provided many services in addition to standard care, and we cannot tell if all of those services were important or if only certain activities would be necessary to achieve good outcomes,” Mayo-Wilson told Reuters Health by email.


    But only half of the people assessed for the trial were enrolled, while many weren’t eligible or refused, and some who were assigned to the health risk assessments didn’t return their questionnaires or otherwise didn’t engage with the program, he noted.


    “We should be cautious in interpreting the results of this study because previous studies found inconsistent effects of mortality and other health outcomes,” Mayo-Wilson said.

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    National Quality Forum Urges Providers Forward on Data and Analytics in Healthcare

    National Quality Forum Urges Providers Forward on Data and Analytics in Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    On Aug. 6, the Washington, D.C.-based National Quality Forum released a white paper, “Data Needed for Systematically Improving Healthcare,” intended to highlight strategies to help make healthcare data and analytics “more meaningful, usable, and available in real time for providers and consumers.”


    According to a press release issued on that date, “The report identifies several opportunities to improve data and make it more useful for systematic improvement. Specific stakeholder action could include the government making Medicare data more broadly available in a timely manner, states building an analytic platform for Medicaid, and private payers facilitating open data and public reporting. In addition, electronic health record (EHR) vendors and health information technology policymakers could promote “true” interoperability between different EHR systems and could improve the healthcare delivery system’s ability to retrieve and act on data by preventing recurring high fees for data access.”


    The press release noted further that “The report identifies actions that all stakeholders could take to make data more available and usable, including focusing on common metrics, ensuring that the healthcare workforce has the necessary tools to apply health data for improvement, and establishing standards for common data elements that can be collected, exchanged, and reported.”


    The report emerged out of an initiative supported by the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and spurred by a 2014 report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology that called for systems engineering approaches to improve healthcare quality and value.


    The press release included a statement by Christine K. Cassel, M.D., president and CEO of NQF. “Data to measure progress is fundamental to improving care provided to patients and their outcomes, but the healthcare industry has yet to fully capture the value of big data to engineer large-scale change,” Dr. Cassel said in the statement. “This report outlines critical strategies to help make data more accessible and useful, for meaningful system wide improvement.” 

    Following the publication of the report, Rob Saunders, a senior director at the National Quality Forum, and one of the co-authors of the report, spoke with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland about the report and its implications for healthcare IT leaders. Below are excerpts from that interview.


    What do you see as the most essential barriers to moving forward to capture and correctly use “big data” for clinical transformation and operational improvement in healthcare?

    There are sort of two buckets we looked at through this project. We looked at the availability of data, and we’re seeing more availability of electronic data. Interoperability remains a major challenge. But it wasn’t just about interoperability between electronic health records, but also being able to link in data from elsewhere.


    Does that mean data from pharmacies, from medical devices, from wearables?

    Some of these may be kinds of data from community health centers, or folks offering home-based and community-based services. So, getting a broader picture of people’s health, as they’re living their lives in their communities. And there are exciting things on the horizon, too, like wearable devices. But the first barrier we heard about was just getting more availability of data. Perhaps the harder problem right now is actually using more data, and turning that raw data into meaningful information that people can use. There’s so much raw data out there, but it so often is not actionable or immediately usable to clinicians.


    So what is the solution?

    That is an excellent question. Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet. We’ve looked at a wide range of possible solutions, but it will take action from healthcare organizations trying to improve their internal capacity, for example, creating more training for clinicians to use data in their practices, or even state governments taking action. I think it will require a lot of action from all the stakeholders around healthcare to make progress.

     

    The white paper mentioned barriers involving information systems interoperability, data deidentification and aggregation, feedback cycles, data governance, and data usability issues. Let’s discuss those.

    I think one of the challenges with all of those is that there are some big strategic issues around all of those, and some large national conversations around all of those, esp. interoperability, but there are also just a lot of large technical details to iron out. And unfortunately, that’s not something we can just solve tomorrow. But there’s opportunity with these new delivery system models, and that will hopefully be helpful.


    How might all this play out with regard to ACOs, population health, bundled payments, and other new delivery and payment models?

    What we’ve heard is that those new models are becoming increasingly more common, and because of those, clinicians and hospitals have far more incentive to look far more holistically at the entire person, and think about improvement, and to really start digging into some of this data.


    Marrying EHR [electronic health record] and claims data for accountable care and population health is a very major topic for our magazine and its readers right now. Let’s talk about those issues.

    We didn’t necessarily go into great depth on that particular challenge. But clearly, that’s one of the big issues in trying to link all these different data sources together, and it also speaks to the challenge in getting this data together.


    Is there anything that healthcare IT vendors need to do better?

    And we actually called out healthcare IT vendors and EHR vendors, because they’re a really important sector here. Promoting interoperability speaks to both policy and technical challenges.


    Are you also concerned about data blocking?

    Yes, that’s how ONC and HHS have characterized it. But yes, we’re really talking about data access. Clearly, that’s a barrier. And then there are still some technical pieces here around how to create APIs that can really start to allow more innovative ways to analyze the data that’s already in a lot of these EHR and health IT systems, and that will allow some customization and capabilities.


    What’s your vision of change for the use of data in healthcare?

    There are a number of folks doing really exciting work using data for systemic improvement. So we showcased Virginia Mason as a model. And some of their work involves manual collection of data. And that can produce really remarkable results; and as you become more sophisticated, you’re able to incorporate that data collection into the EHR [electronic health record]  and other systems. That speaks to what we said earlier, that availability of data is a good thing, but it’s the use of data that seems to be more of an issue. Premier Inc. has done some really good things, collecting data through some of their groups, to share; and oftentimes, that was data people didn’t even have before.  You can also activate clinicians’ professional motivation—many physicians, nurses, really want to make care better for their patients. And data really can make a difference in that.

    And the last point is the fact of the important role that brings this down to patients and consumers, involving the broader public in this. What we’ve talked about so far has been very technical. But patients have a lot of data about themselves, and they’re also able to help out with a lot of this.

     

    So you’re talking about patient and consumer engagement in this?

     

    Yes, I am, but it’s not just that. I’m also talking about patients as an untapped data resource, and an untapped resource in general of folks who are highly motivated and who want to make care better, if they have the tools available and are able to do so.

     

    The “blessed cycle” of data collection, data analysis, data reporting, the sharing of data with end-users and clinician leaders for clinical and operational performance improvement, and the re-cycling into further data collection, reporting, etc., is very important. Any thoughts on that concept?

     

    We didn’t necessarily talk about that concept per se, but we did talk about the general idea of this all being a process. And improvement needs to start somewhere, and oftentimes, you need to start small. And your data will be rough and dirty when you start; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The real pioneers in this area started out with rough, dirty data, and learned by using that data, and were able to increase their sophistication over time. So that’s part of the issue—bringing data together, oftentimes, you don’t know what data you need, until you start to use it.

     

    So what should CIOs, CMIOs and their colleagues be doing right now, to help lead their colleagues forward in all these activities?

     

    We really want to encourage more organizations to start doing this type of system improvement work. There’s more that can be done, so we want to encourage that. And the second message that permeated the entire project was not only making sure that more data should be made available, but also building up use, and to encourage more folks to get into systematic improvement.

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    lucy gray's curator insight, August 17, 2015 11:35 AM

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    Premier, Inc. acquires healthcare analytics leader Healthcare Insights, LLC

    Premier, Inc. acquires healthcare analytics leader Healthcare Insights, LLC | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

     Premier, Inc. (NASDAQ: PINC), a leading healthcare improvement company, today announced that it has acquired Healthcare Insights, LLC for $65 million in cash. Healthcare Insights is a privately-held,integrated financial management software developer that provides hospitals and healthcare systems with budgeting, forecasting, labor productivity and cost analytic capabilities.


    “As the healthcare industry becomes more complex, value-driven, and data-dependent, the need for health systems to clearly understand their performance in every arena is a top concern,” said Keith J. Figlioli, Premier’s senior vice president of health informatics. “It is not enough to have financial, operational and clinical data. Health systems must understand how to translate that information into effective cost containment strategies, as well as superior clinical outcomes.”


    The industry’s increased focus on cost is largely driven by the Affordable Care Act, which reduces overall reimbursement, and increasingly holds providers accountable for the total costs and quality of the care delivered. Coupled with the growing movement to value-based payments such as bundling or shared savings, healthcare providers need solutions that can help them understand cost drivers and opportunities for improvement in detail. Healthcare Insights is expected to enable Premier to offer a more complete solution that delivers additional value by adding budgeting, clinical financial management and productivity analytics to existing cost and quality applications, including the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution.


    Thomas Johnston, Healthcare Insights’ chief executive officer, said, “This strategic combination will allow us to offer a more complete ERP solution with an end-to-end view of cost management. We expect this to increase our hospitals’ and health systems’ understanding of their clinical, operational and financial performance, and help them deliver more efficient, higher quality care.”


    Founded in 2000, Healthcare Insights’ current customer base includes over 7,500 users across 200 facilities associated with 94 health systems, 49 of which do not currently have a relationship with Premier. KLAS, a leading research firm that provides ratings for more than 900 healthcare products and services, has ranked Healthcare Insights first place in budgeting for the past four years.


    The Healthcare Insights acquisition, which was effective July 31, is currently projected to be modestly accretive to Premier’s fiscal 2016 revenue growth and adjusted EBITDA. Expected revenue and adjusted EBITDA contributions from the acquisition will be incorporated into Premier’s fiscal year 2016 guidance, which is scheduled to be announced on August 24, when the company reports fiscal fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 financial results.

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    GE Foundation Awards $14 Million Grant to Project ECHO

    GE Foundation Awards $14 Million Grant to Project ECHO | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    As part of its goal to ensure that everyone can get quality healthcare regardless of where they live, the GE Foundation announced a three-year, $14 million grant to support Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), and its game-changing care delivery model that exponentially increases treatment capacity for common, complex conditions in medically underserved areas.


    The Foundation’s funding will help dramatically increase the number of U.S. federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) participating in Project ECHO nationwide. Through ECHO, community-based primary care providers train in a select specialty area, such as HIV/AIDS or behavioral health, so that patients can get the specialty care they need in their own communities.


    In addition, Project ECHO will partner with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement to design and implement a quality improvement ECHO program to support FQHCs in improving effectiveness and efficiency.

    According to Dr. David Barash, Executive Director, Global Health Portfolio, and Chief Medical Officer, GE Foundation, expanding the ECHO model™ across the United States will help ensure that more people with difficult-to-treat health problems can access the care they need, quickly and efficiently.


    “The ECHO model is transformative,” Dr. Barash said. “Instead of making patients travel to where care is available, as the current system does, ECHO makes care available to patients where they live. It empowers front-line primary care clinicians and creates new treatment capacity in rural and underserved communities. As a result, patients get the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”


    For millions of Americans, access to specialty care for common, complex health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or chronic pain is extremely challenging. Many patients must travel hours in order to see a specialist, while others forgo the specialty care they need.


    Project ECHO creates new capacity to treat chronic complex conditions in local communities by expanding the skill sets of the providers who are already there. It links community providers with specialist care teams at academic medical centers to manage patients who require complex specialty care. Using basic videoconferencing technology, they participate in weekly teleECHO™ clinics, where primary care providers from multiple sites present patient cases and work with a multi- disciplinary team of experts to determine treatment. The team mentors community providers to treat conditions that previously were outside their expertise.


    Unlike telemedicine, which facilitates one-to-one connections in order to provide patient care, Project ECHO creates one-to-many connections among providers to exponentially increase treatment capacity.


    An evaluation of the ECHO model published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that hepatitis C care provided by ECHO-trained community clinicians was as good as care provided by university specialists. The study also showed that the ECHO model can reduce – and even eliminate – racial and ethnic disparities in treatment outcomes by bringing more services to minority communities.


    Project ECHO launched in 2003 at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, with a focus on treating hepatitis C and has since grown significantly across the globe and across numerous other health conditions. In the U.S., dozens of academic medical centers operate teleECHO clinics that address more than 40 health conditions. Globally, teleECHO clinics are running in 10 countries. The Department of Veterans Affairs has its own version of Project ECHO, and the Department of Defense has a global ECHO chronic pain management program.


    “Everyone should be able to get the healthcare they need, when they need it, where they live,” said Dr. Sanjeev Arora, the liver disease specialist and social innovator who created Project ECHO. “This support from the GE Foundation will help make access to high-quality specialty care a reality for people in rural and underserved communities. In the process, it will save and improve many, many lives.”

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    NIH is asking for feedback on using smartphones and wearables to collect medical information

    NIH is asking for feedback on using smartphones and wearables to collect medical information | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    The NIH is currently asking for pubic feedback on using smartphones and wearables to collect health and lifestyle data for its Precision Medicine Initiative — an initiative that hopes to collect data on more than 1 million individuals. The NIH’s Precision Medicine Initiative is described as:


    a bold new enterprise to revolutionize medicine and generate the scientific evidence needed to move the concept of precision medicine into every day clinical practice


    What exactly that means is a bit nebulous, but a New England Journal of Medicineperspective sheds some light:


    Ultimately, we will need to evaluate the most promising approaches in much larger numbers of people over longer periods. Toward this end, we envisage assembling over time a longitudinal “cohort” of 1 million or more Americans who have volunteered to participate in research.


    Qualified researchers from many organizations will, with appropriate protection of patient confidentiality, have access to the cohort’s data, so that the world’s brightest scientific and clinical minds can contribute insights and analysis.


    The NIH is specifically asking the following:


    • Willingness of participants to carry their smartphone and wear wireless sensor devices sufficiently throughout the day so researchers can assess their health and activities.
    • Willingness of participants without smartphones to upgrade to a smartphone at no expense.
    • How often people would be willing to let researchers collect data through devices without being an inconvenience.
    • The kind of information participants might like to receive back from researchers, and how often.
    • Other ways to conveniently collect information from participants apart from smart phones or wearable devices.


    It’s exciting to see the NIH see the potential of digital health. They specifically mention how smartphones and wearables can be utilized to collect a wide variety of data: location information, mobile questionnaires, heart rate, physical activity levels, and more.


    There is already a robust discussion taking place in the comments section at the NIH website, and we encourage our readers to contribute.

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    Richard Platt's curator insight, July 30, 2015 7:37 PM

    The NIH is specifically asking the following:

    • Willingness of participants to carry their smartphone and wear wireless sensor devices sufficiently throughout the day so researchers can assess their health and activities.
    • Willingness of participants without smartphones to upgrade to a smartphone at no expense.
    • How often people would be willing to let researchers collect data through devices without being an inconvenience.
    • The kind of information participants might like to receive back from researchers, and how often.
    • Other ways to conveniently collect information from participants apart from smart phones or wearable devices.
    Lionel Reichardt / le Pharmageek's curator insight, July 31, 2015 1:31 AM

    The NIH is specifically asking the following:

    • Willingness of participants to carry their smartphone and wear wireless sensor devices sufficiently throughout the day so researchers can assess their health and activities.
    • Willingness of participants without smartphones to upgrade to a smartphone at no expense.
    • How often people would be willing to let researchers collect data through devices without being an inconvenience.
    • The kind of information participants might like to receive back from researchers, and how often.
    • Other ways to conveniently collect information from participants apart from smart phones or wearable devices.
    Heather Taylor's curator insight, August 31, 2015 10:33 PM

    #wearables #healthcare #wearabledevices

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    Pledges of $3.4 billion for Ebola recovery made at United Nations

    Pledges of $3.4 billion for Ebola recovery made at United Nations | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

     Some $3.4 billion in pledges were made at the United Nations on Friday to help Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea stamp out Ebola and begin rebuilding health systems and economies devastated by the worst outbreak on record of the deadly hemorrhagic fever.


    The United Nations had said that $3.2 billion was needed to support the three states' national recovery plans for the next two years. Liberia's President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf had said $4 billion was needed to cover a separate sub-regional plan.


    Helen Clark, head of the U.N. Development Programme, said the preliminary tally of pledges on Friday took the total amount allocated so far for Ebola recovery to more than $5 billion, which she described as "a great start."


    Johnson-Sirleaf also again appealed for international donors to cancel debt owed by the West African nations.


    "The world as a whole has a great stake in how we together respond to this global threat," Johnson-Sirleaf told the pledging conference. "Diseases, just like terrorism, know no national boundaries."


    The Ebola outbreak, which began in Guinea in December 2013, has killed more than 11,200 people across West Africa. Ebola re-emerged in Liberia last week, nearly two months after it was declared free of the virus, while neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone are still struggling to eliminate it.


    "The threat is never over until we rebuild the health sectors Ebola demolished, until we rebuild the livelihoods in agriculture that it compromised, until we shore up government revenues it dried up; and until we breathe life again into the private sector it has suffocated,"

    Sierra Leone's President Ernest Bai Koroma told the U.N. conference.


    Among the largest pledges were some $381 million from Britain, $266 million from the United States, $650 million from the World Bank, $220 million from Germany, $500 million from the European Union, $745 million from the African Development Bank and $360 million from the Islamic Development Bank.


    "We cannot yet breathe a sigh of relief. Instead, let us collectively take a deep breath and resolve to finish the job," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier on Friday.

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    Will the smartwatch be the key that unlocks connected health?

    Will the smartwatch be the key that unlocks connected health? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    The market for wearable technology devices is still in its infancy but consumers are already favoring health and fitness applications.

    New Parks Associates research published Tuesday shows that just 9% of US broadband households intend to invest in a smartwatch in 2015 and that 40% of shoppers have set a price limit of $100-$250.


    This is "roughly equivalent to a high-end fitness tracker," said Harry Wang, director, Health and Mobile Research, Parks Associates. "We are in the early stages in the likely merger of smartwatch and fitness tracker product categories."


    Fitness applications are already proving to be the most popular use cases for smartwatch owners and this could have a huge impact on the future of digital health. 


    "The smartwatch is a key entry in the connected health market, which is rapidly becoming more oriented toward the end user," Jennifer Kent, Director, Research Quality & Product Development, Parks Associates, said. "The adoption rate for connected health devices among U.S. broadband households increased from 24% to 27% over the last year, opening the door for connected device manufacturers as well as service providers to take advantage of the growing consumerization in healthcare."

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    Gerard Dab's curator insight, July 16, 2015 8:32 PM

    Watches or Cell phones for the connected health market.. #medicoolhc #medicoollifeprotector

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    Why Hasn't Mobile Moved Medicine Further Yet?

    Why Hasn't Mobile Moved Medicine Further Yet? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    The advent of the smartphone and mobile "apps" has opened the floodgates in hospital and clinic settings. With the ease of communication and newfound ability to access the web in the palm of our hand, the world has grown smaller for everyday users. Given its current host of systemic predicaments, the medical industry has justifiably shifted its attention to these new technologies to rectify inefficiencies.


    Mobile technology raises expectations for health care consumers with the obvious prospect of improved communication between providers and patients. From having your physician's prescriptions on-the-go to being able to rapidly authorize medical record transfers in emergent situations, a promising solution to chronic issues obstructing submaximal care is at our doorstep.


    Why, then, have we not reached our full potential? StartUp Health reported a burgeoning digital health sector with $6.9 billion in funding over 551 deals in 2014. Mobile health savvy health insurance company Oscar has captured significant market share with a whopping $320 million of funding and 40,000 members to date. While these strides prove consumer and investor belief in mobile technology, few applications have proven valuable to stakeholders' stringent criteria despite the sheer number of available applications.


    No single firm has demonstrated an intimate knowledge of the medical industry with delivery of high-quality tools that engage users. The lack of a clear winner in this noisy space has stunted broad adoption. For this reason, heavyweights in the technology industry like Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are exciting new entrants to the mobile health scene. In addition to the modular infrastructure offered by these established giants, the greatest value is their proven track record in customer validation and the user experience.


    Established technology firms are by no means a shoe-in to win. The inherently low barrier to entry in the mobile health space is a double-edged sword. Though sparse quality control mechanisms are responsible for the sheer volume of subpar apps, they are also the reason why no innovator can be excluded from disrupting the space with the help of hired digital development shops. Excluding the fundamental challenges of operating within the health care industry (i.e. security and compliance standards), the delay in realizing the impact of mobile health technology can be distilled to four fundamental failures.


    First, the end user is often forgotten. Often times, hospitals will excitedly reveal a mobile app that provides useful information but has such a poor interface that consumers fail to engage. Fewer apps have engaged users better than Instagram with over 300 million monthly active users. Instagram represents an exceptional product stakeholders in digital health care should not trivialize and learn from greatly. With two-thirds of the Americans owning a smartphone, the problem today is less so the access to digital tools than it is the actual engagement with them.


    Second, the balance scale tilts heavily towards "wellness" and less towards "care." Though the return on investment for a mobile app may be greater for a healthy user willing to pay to track health and fitness metrics, those who actually need the increased vigilance in our health system are patients suffering from chronic disease or recovering from surgery. From the perspective of optimizing health outcomes and preventing frivolous costs, the attention needs to shift to vulnerable populations stressing the system. Furthermore, some insurance companies incentivize members by providing mobile apps under the moniker of "mHealth;" this terminology runs the risk of misleading individuals into skipping preventive care visits with their doctor. These apps should optimize medical management in the appropriate clinical context through physician supervision with appropriate FDA regulation as an "mCare" effort instead. The FDA already applies a risk-based approach for assessing mobile medical apps considered accessory to regulated medical devices or transformational into a regulated medical device. More of this patient-centered innovation is needed to solve our system's real issues.


    Third, we fail to play to the strengths of smartphones in medicine. Smartphone technology is fundamentally advantageous because users have the freedom to move and communicate without restriction. Given that outcome metrics for the fields of orthopaedic surgery and rheumatology are predicated on physical mobility and patient-reported response to interventions, smartphone technologists should target these specialties first to realize benefits of afflicted patients in real-time. Joint replacement is one of the most common surgical interventions in the world, and being able to track steps taken, or the steps not taken, using the phone's native pedometer has the potential to alert a surgeon of post-operative complications in advance. The current strategy is focused on creating the best apps for the fittest individuals, but the most impactful technologies would be directed towards streamlining assurances of patient safety and physical activity for those with musculoskeletal conditions.


    Finally, collaboration is lacking. Smartphones track and store the "small data" of millions of potential patients. When put together, the data tells a greater story. Numerous insidious diseases, from major depression to ovarian cancer, could be detected earlier and managed better when sharing our stored mobile data. While there do exist standout organizations like Fitbit which offer an open developer API, the current landscape is not set up to exchange user data. One such organization that recognizes the meaningful macroscopic conclusions that can be drawn from sharing mobile data is Open mHealth. Founded on the value of facilitating the sharing, storage, and processing of mobile data using an open infrastructure, Open mHealth has already made great strides among individuals with diabetes and veterans with PTSD.


    Today, the smartphone is one of the greatest commercially available technologies. With emerging wearable devices like Apple Watch and Jawbone, who knows what our go-to device will be tomorrow? Thus, validation of mobile technology in medicine cannot hinge on today's version of devices. The evidence supporting application of mobile technologies to the medical workflow must maintain modularity and iterative capacity. One example of modular capacity is Apple's open source ResearchKit. Though in a perfect world Apple and Google would have partnered to cover nearly all smartphone users, ResearchKit has the laudable benefit of availability across all current and future iOS devices. Thus, validation is needed just once for survivorship of mobile technology in medicine to be ensured.


    The potential for mobile technology in medicine is great, but the current landscape is not yet set up to transform the health care industry. There exists no reliable winner in the marketplace because either our goals are misaligned or our focus has been misplaced. If the objective is to help the well become more well, then we are thriving. However, if we choose to unbridle the capability of mobile technology in medicine by remembering the end user, helping the suffering, playing to the strengths of our resources, and enabling collaboration, we are on the precipice of a truly transformational era in modern medicine.

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    In Colorado, a Collaboration Around Healthcare Technology

    In Colorado, a Collaboration Around Healthcare Technology | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    Across the country, technology and clinical leaders are figuring out ways to try to promote greater interoperability of healthcare data. For seemingly everyone, it’s been an uphill climb and a steep learning curve. In the U.S., there have been pockets of success; some states are at the forefront of true data exchange, while others aren’t quite as mature.


     In one of these pockets is Colorado, where the Denver-based Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) recently announced that its health information exchange (HIE) has grown in number of users by 111 percent, with the amount of data available in the network having grown by 118 percent in the past year. That marks the third consecutive year of triple-digit growth rates for the organization, which, as of a few months ago, encompasses 5,705 active providers/users, 47 connected hospitals, and with more than 223 million clinical messages having been sent.


    To this end, also in Colorado are the Englewood-based Centura Health (with hospitals also spanning across Western Kansas) and the Aurora-based University of Colorado Health (UC Health), two organizations that will be represented at the iHT2 Health IT Summit in Denver on July 21 (the Institute for Health Technology Transformation, iHT2, is a sister organization of Healthcare Informatics under our corporate parent organization, the Vendome Group LLC). At the conference will be a panel on “Strategies to Advance Interoperability,” where Steve Hess, CIO at University of Colorado Health and Dana Moore, senior vice president/CIO and managing director, service center, at Centura Health, among others, will address the most effective models and mechanisms for exchanging data.


    In Aurora, University of Colorado Health came together as a unified system about three years ago when all of its IT components collapsed into one core set which included the Verona, Wis.-based Epic Systems as the organization’s core electronic health record (EHR), Hess says, who says the health system’s HIE strategy is multi-faceted. “We do offer hosting Epic for independent community practices that want to use our EHR for their own continuity of care and clinical collaboration needs,” Hess says. “We also use a built-in HIE, Epic’s Care Everywhere, to exchange records, and that works very well for Epic-to-Epic health information exchange. We have exchanged records with systems in all 50 states using that methodology,” Hess says.


    UC Health is also a part of CORHIO, and that’s where a lot of statewide collaboration has occurred. “There is exchange of not only demographics, labs and discharge summaries, but also immunization and public health interfaces through the HIE,” Hess says. “We are on a journey of health information exchange, and we’re fairly early on that journey. Exchange is happening but the next generation functionalities of orders and results, exchanging CCDs (continuity of care documents), things like that, are still in the early stages,” he says.  “In the meantime, we collectively look at technology not as a competitive advantage but a way to help patient care, doctors, and nurses across the state and beyond. We know our organizations will compete in terms of quality and service and other things, but we’re trying out best not to compete with technology.”


    Meanwhile, at Centura Health, Moore says that the organization initially started its own private HIE in 2005 with a company that is now part of Cerner’s arsenal, but wasn’t even an established vendor at the time. Once CORHIO came around, however, Centura quickly migrated over. “We didn’t want to have a competing product and wanted to promote collaboration within the state. When CORHIO was in its infancy, Steve [Hess] and I were frequently helping them build its model,” Moore says. Then, in 2006, Centura installed the Westwood, Mass.-based MEDITECH EHR across its acute care facilities first, eventually expanding into ambulatory and home care. Now, Centura, which did receive Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Stage 7 designation, is in the process of switching over to Epic, Moore notes.


    Bringing the Data to the Doctor


    For both UC Health and Centura, the key to successful health IT adoption and electronic data exchange is that this time around, the HIE brings data into the physician’s workflow so he or she doesn’t have to leave that workflow to see the data. “Success is always relative, and one of the big issues with HIE in Colorado five or 10 years ago was workflow,” Moore says. “Clinicians had to go out of their workflow and try to find the patient. From a user standpoint, it wasn’t successful. The advancements we made getting HIE in their workflow have proven that we are leaps and bounds from where we were,” he says.


    Hess agrees that keeping clinicians in the workflow that they use predominantly is crucial. “With CORHIO’s and Epic’s tools, the idea is to bring the data within the workflow of the doctor rather than make them go out of it. There has been a lot of interface work around that,” he says. As such, UC Health has approximately 800,000 records exchanged electronically each year, Hess says, noting that examples of the data being exchanged include complete patient records, CCD summaries, electronic lab results, and immunization and syndromic surveillance exchange.


    Despite successes at both organizations, Hess and Moore understand that there is still a ways to go before true interoperability is achieved. For one, Hess says that not having universal patient identifiers will continue to be a struggle for everyone. “A big part in what all these things require is knowing which patient is which,” he says. “Having to pull our different medical record and encounter numbers and hope/make sure that we’re sending data on the right patient is a struggle that might never be solved in our lifetime.”


    Hess adds that if you think about the old way of exchanging records where one facility called another and got a 36-page fax of patient data sent over, oftentimes the person trying to pull the clinically relevant data from that fax wasn’t the doctor. “As a result, sometimes that data would go ignored,” Hess says. “So now our struggle will be separating the noise from the gold. If we get 10 CCDs on 10 different encounters across four different care settings, how do we take all that data and turn it into information for the clinicians? I don’t want to have a bunch of CCDs acting like a stack of a paper on a fax machine,” he says.


     This, Hess says, is the next big hurdle, what he calls “HIE 3.0.” He says, “We need to figure out how to stratify the data and present it in manner that allows clinicians to do the right thing with it. If we’re not careful we can overwhelm them and they could potentially ignore the data like they did with the faxes.”


    Moore adds that another pitfall is getting providers on board to the HIE. While he notes that most of the major hospitals in Colorado are on CORHIO, there are still some that are not, and that’s a problem, he says. “Also, we talk about CORHIO and that is great, but we have hospitals that border the state too; we actually have a hospital in Kansas right now,” he says. “It’s great that Epic talks across all 50 states, but getting all of these HIEs to talk to each other has been a big challenge, which is ironic since that’s what they’re designed to do.”

    Moving forward, a major part of the solution is collaboration on the part of providers as well as vendors, Moore says. “A lot of the onus is on the providers, as we need to be the ones at table bringing people together and removing roadblocks. Vendors respond to the market, so if we as providers—their ultimate customers—demand collaboration and exchange, then they’ll have to respond,” he says.  He adds that close-minded vendors are also part of the problem. “This vendor needs to exchange information with this one and you try to bring two competitors to the table. That’s not easy,” he says.


    As such, according to Hess, a lot of vendors see their technology as a competitive advantage. Organizations that do this, rather than use their service or quality as the advantage, are slow to the collaboration table because they don’t want to level the playing field, Hess says. “But we all need to do things in similar ways, and our service and quality will be what brings doctors and patients to us. We need vendors and providers to say ‘we need to level the technology playing field.’ We really need to push that. When someone who is influential goes off that path and starts to do things differently, we get in trouble,” Hess says.

    Moore adds that while nationwide interoperability efforts such as CommonWell have popped up, they might not be in it for the greater good as much as some people think. “I’m not necessarily buying that it’s for the greater good, but rather for a competitive advantage or a response to Epic’s Care Everywhere [product]. It would be great if all the vendors got together to make HIE transparent across all platforms without a third party, as that would make everyone’s life easier. But I don’t see that happening. I see them continuing to compete to try to gain market share,” Moore says.


    Nonetheless, Hess warns that complete consolidation on one EHR vendor such as Epic or Cerner wouldn’t good either, as that could stifle innovation. “Some of these vendors are expensive and will never get into the small hospitals, the moms-and-pops,” he says. “We have to come up with better ways to share data. This is a journey; if you look back on HIE five years ago compared with today, people would be amazed with the progress. At the same time, we all wish it would be easier,” he says.


    Back in Colorado, Moore notes that the healthcare IT leaders in the state meet quarterly, pick up the phone often, and collaborate to ensure the residents of the state get the absolute best care from a technology standpoint. “We want to make sure that the tools we provide our providers with are the absolute best,” he says. Hess, who has been in the state for six years after living in the Mid-Atlantic region, adds that the penetration of robust, mature adoption of health IT in care setting is pretty deep in Colorado. “Without that deep maturity level the collaboration conversations would be much harder,” Hess says. “The combination of the collaboration that goes on and the health IT adoption is a pretty powerful formula.”

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    Practices Should Prepare for Payer Consolidation

    Practices Should Prepare for Payer Consolidation | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

    We live in a very exciting time in the healthcare industry. Regardless of how you feel or think about decisions that are made on the government level, healthcare is in a period of controlled chaos right now.


    With the potential merger of Anthem and Cigna and Aetna and Humana, or Assurant closing its doors on its health insurance business, things are about to get really interesting for medical practices. Arming yourself with as much information as possible is key to not just surviving financially, but thriving in this new environment.

    Let's take Assurant, for example. They've decided that doing business in the healthcare arena and competing against the dominant healthcare insurance companies was far more expensive than expected. What does this mean for your practice? If you have patients that use Assurant as their medical insurance, it's a great idea to step in and take control of those accounts, now. Create a waiver for Assurant patients that explains what is going on, what to expect from their plan, and how they can still see you with a new insurance plan. The waiver should also state that in the event Assurant does not pay the medical claim, patients will be responsible for the allowed amount, and they will have to pay out of pocket if it is a PPO Plan. If the plan is an HMO, and Assurant does not pay, the practice is not allowed to place a PR (patient responsibility) to the patient and will lose that money.


    Aetna and Assurant have similar fee schedules, so suggest to your patients to look into individual Aetna plans, to ensure that you will retain those patients and not lose revenue if you are contracted with Aetna. You will also need to really follow up with those claims and make sure that Assurant is paying you. I have seen them use a delaying tactic of denying a claim with the code CO95 (plan procedures not followed), which basically means they are sending your claim to a different claim address than what was provided to you at the time of benefit verification.  


    As far as the pending mergers, I really love it when this happens. I'm particularly fond of the companies that have been courting each other lately. With the possible Aetna/Humana merger, Aetna will be able to add a lot more patients to their network. It will position them as a real player and earn them much needed respect within the market. I still have some overall issues with both Aetna and Humana, but merging them together should ease some of those issues.


    The Anthem/Cigna cat-and-mouse game going on is particularly interesting. Cigna claims they're worth more than $184/share, and said no to Anthem's last purchase attempt. But Anthem is not giving up. Cigna used to be a premium plan until they teamed up with American Specialty Health. They have basically cut reimbursements to providers in half (if you signed up under their new network, otherwise you are seeing Cigna patients out of network), and implemented a time-consuming authorization process that eats away at whatever profit your practice may have left over from the reimbursement cuts. They implemented this over the course of the last year, or so. Working with Anthem is pretty cut and dried: What you see is what you get, with no hidden agendas. Anthem requires few to no pre-authorizations, allowing you to see your patient and maybe make a few bucks.


    Just taking a few moments and reading up on what is going on in the healthcare industry today is really key to insuring your practice is not caught off guard. Always be learning, always be aware. There are multiple newsletters you can sign up for that will drop a daily or weekly e-mail into your inbox that will help you keep up.

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