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Proposed 2016 Budget to Build on Benefits of Meaningful Use |

Proposed 2016 Budget to Build on Benefits of Meaningful Use | | Healthcare and Technology news |

Several divisions within the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) are charged with making use of the federal agency’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget to expand the benefits of meaningful use by ensuring interoperability and health information exchange.

As part of the President’s FY 2016 budget request proposal, HHS will receive $83.8 billion in discretionary funding which is for the most part directed at implementing and sustaining the Affordable Care Act. That being, meaningful use is a priority for three departments within the federal agency, with $92 million dollars earmarked to support interoperability and meaningful use.

First in all, the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality is tasked with devoting $20 million of its total $23 million FY 2016 budget to 55 grants focused on providing evidence to justify the sizeable national investment in health IT to improve the quality, safety, and effectiveness of healthcare across the country.

“This portfolio operates in close coordination with other federal health IT programs in order to leverage resources and maximize their impact,” the authors of the HHS budget brief explain. “For example, this research creates the evidence base and data that are utilized by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to inform Meaningful Use Stage 3.”

Speaking of the ONC, that federal agency has the greatest number of meaningful use-related obligations to fulfill during the next fiscal year with its $92 million in funding. “In FY 2016, ONC’s investments will reflect a greater focus on interoperability through standards development, certification, and governance structures to support the requirements of Meaningful Use Stage 3,” the brief indicates

The ONC’s responsibilities fall into five categories:

Standards, interoperability, and certification: Focusing on the investments the federal agency must make into health IT standards development, certification, and pilot testing of interoperability initiatives with an emphasis on leveraging Stage 3 Meaningful Use.

Policy development and coordination: Expanding of ONC’s certification program to provide regulatory guidance for healthcare organizations and providers ineligible for meaningful use incentives.

Governance of health information exchange: Transitioning to a governance approach to ensure that HIEs and the exchange of health information adhere to a common set of policies, standards, and practices that a consistent with health data security and privacy.

Adoption, utilization, and meaningful use: Providing technical assistance federally through rather than through local resources.

Consumer eHealth: Enabling consumer access to electronic health information in a convenient and secure way.

Although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are the architects of the EHR Incentive Programs, their role in promoting the benefits of meaningful use is not as pronounced as either AHRQ’s or the ONC’s.

With a FY 2016 budget of $970.8 billion, meaningful use only features as a part of the major planned activities for CMS under the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014. The EHR Incentive Programs are intended to help improve prevention coordination and patient outcomes.

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Get that Hospital Trending - How to Make an Impact on Social Media -

Get that Hospital Trending - How to Make an Impact on Social Media - | Healthcare and Technology news |

Is it going to be Twitter or Facebook? How about Pinterest or Instagram? Clearly, social media must continue to play a role in the current consumer-driven healthcare arena, but how do marketers manage this growing field? With over a billion active users on Facebook alone, according to The Guardian, effective leverage becomes a necessity.

The goal for most businesses today goes beyond just staying active in social media. Most want to get something trending, because it garners attention for the brand. For hospitals, that means making an impact both in the community and in the industry.

Deliver Incentives
Perhaps the analogy is a little overused, but people jump at carrots. What they don’t do is give the local hospital priority on their social media pages. Hospitals looking to add users can benefit from dangling the preverbal carrot. Create incentives that get patients liking the hospital’s pages such as a drawing for gift cards for everyone who shares a post. Marketers might start a hashtag campaign and enter everyone who posts using the hashtags.

Make It Easy
Patients can’t follow a page they don’t know exists, so make it easy to find. Put links to all your social media sites on blogs, web pages and in email signatures. Put address information on print material like brochures and business cards. It should be a permanent part of invoice and stationary letterheads, as well. Increase awareness through brick and mortar locations just as much as through digital channels. Adding “Follow Us on Facebook” to printed marketing materials, front desk signage, ER waiting rooms will increase your social media channels exposure. It’s not unheard of for people waiting to see a doctor to be on their phone and scrolling through their social media accounts. When they see your hospital is on Facebook,Twitter etc…chances are they will follow/like your social media pages. Make a commitment and follow through on your social strategies as part of your branding efforts.

Get Others Involved
Ask your staff and any healthcare professional associated with the hospital to follow the social media pages. If each staff member has at least 100 “friends,” then every post will be seen, and potentially liked, by thousands of people.

Stay Current
Don’t just post marketing tidbits about the hospital on social media sites. Make the page trend by creating discussions about things that matter to the readers. Post about healthcare news, provide tips on things like weight loss and stay current on community news. Scott & White Health Care provided social media updates when they were treating victims of the Ft. Hood shooting.

Make It Personal
Mayo Clinic is a stellar example of this in action. They have their own social media network that sponsors health promotion campaigns, including one specifically about heart health. Their doctors post regularly on their pages about trending health topics, too. Nebraska Medical Center provides QR codes, so patients can watch videos to get to know their physicians.

Provide Good Customer Service
Social media can offer assistance in this area, as well. Invite community members to provide feedback about the hospital via a Facebook page. This shows the followers that you care about what people think and, also, localizes the complaints. An unhappy consumer is going to go online and vent. This opens up a line of communication, so you can deal with the problem before it becomes a fire.

For hospitals, social media is a tool that can make or break the brand. Use it wisely to ignite your hospital marketing and get the hospital trending.

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2015 Forecast: A True Healthcare Market Takes Shape | The Health Care Blog

2015 Forecast: A True Healthcare Market Takes Shape | The Health Care Blog | Healthcare and Technology news |

2014 was the year of the Affordable Care Act.  There were other profound and important developments in health, but for consumer interest, media attention, and impact on the health business, the ACA dominated the picture.

2015 is expected to be different.  This increasingly wired, consumer-oriented, and innovative health industry is poised for profound transformation: 2015 will be the year that a true, industry-wide healthcare market begins to take shape.  To help navigate this emerging market, we’ve identified ten Top health industry issues of 2015 driving transformation.

Three issues coalesce around consumer–centric digital health technology:

Do-it-yourself healthcare        
U.S. physicians and consumers are ready to embrace a dramatic expansion of the high-tech, personal medical kit. Our Health Research Institute (HRI) surveys show that clinicians may be more open to using these tools than consumers. One-third of consumers said they would use a home urinalysis device. But more than half of physicians said they would use data from such a device to prescribe medication or decide whether a patient should be seen.

Making the leap from mobile app to medical device        

The proliferation of approved and portable medical devices in patients’ homes, and on their phones, will make diagnosis and treatment more convenient, redoubling the need for strong information security systems. Regulatory approval may provide a competitive edge — 20 percent of consumers and 26 percent of clinicians said FDA approval was important when deciding to use apps.

 Balancing privacy and convenience  

As consumers increasingly make their demands known to the market, the balance between privacy and care convenience will shift to fit those demands.  More than 65 percent of consumer respondents told HRI data security was more important to them than convenient access for imaging, test results, and other medical information. But, more than half of survey respondents also said they would be willing to share data to improve care coordination.

Health costs for those patients who consume a disproportionate share of U.S. health spending, and for costly specialty drugs and medical products, underlie two other Top Issues:

1. High-cost patients spark cost-saving innovations          

There are approximately 9.6 million “dual eligible” individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.  In 2010, Medicare spent an average of $19,418 on each of these patients, compared to $8,789 spent on other beneficiaries.

Consequently, health systems experimenting with creative care delivery systems will be key to bringing these patients’ costs down while improving their outcomes.   For example, one Midwest hospital system identified 30 frequent visitors to its Emergency Rooms.  Offering those patients medical and case management interventions, such as finding primary care physicians close to their homes, cut emergency room visits by 90%.  The cost of treating those patients fell from $1.1 million a year to under $130,000.

2. Putting a price on positive outcomes  

High-priced new products and specialty drugs will hit the market in 2015, increasing demand for new evidence of results and perhaps even redefining the term “positive outcome” along the way.   From a long term standpoint, a high drug price may pale in comparison to eliminating decades of ongoing medical treatment, but first the industry will demand more and better evidence of positive outcomes.

In 2015, we’ll see wider application of new tools to make those determinations.  Data on subsets of patients with specific diseases – drug histories, hospital admissions, etc. – can help pharmaceutical companies predict which patients will have the best experiences with specific drugs.  And our research shows that consumers are willing to pay for value delivered.

Separately, the terabytes of data being churned out around healthcare – information about the millions of newly insureds, about drug testing and development, and data from devices and monitors – shape three other crucial Top Issues:

Open everything to everyone  

New transparency initiatives targeting clinical trial data, real-world patient outcomes, and financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical companies will improve patient care and open up new opportunities.

One initiative, the FDA’s Open Payments law, went live in September, making public the financial relationships between drug and device companies and physicians.  Consumer attitudes about physician payments are mixed. But HRI’s research shows that some consumers will continue to trust their doctors regardless of drug industry payments.  That said, the research also shows that organizations that can demonstrate value to patients and physicians by improving care and outcomes will continue to form mutually-beneficial and positive relationships with customers.

  Getting to know the newly insured  

As healthcare companies learn more about the millions of newly insured healthcare customers, they’re developing more nuanced approaches to the expanding market.   For starters, as knowledge of the new exchange and Medicaid populations grows, the number of healthcare insurers offering coverage on the ACA’s public exchanges increased by 25% over 2014.

 Physician extenders see an expanded role in patient care  

Consumers tell us they are ready to embrace this shift. Three-quarters of survey responders would be comfortable seeing a nurse practitioner or physician assistant for physicals, prescriptions, treatment of minor injuries and ordering lab tests. Meanwhile, more than one-third of doctors surveyed say extenders could handle up to half of their patient encounters.

As the consumer base shifts to more economically-empowered millennials, and innovation becomes more competitively important, go-to-market strategies and health industry business structures will both see change in 2015:

Redefining health and well-being for the millennial generation    

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that in 2015 millennials will be the majority in the U.S. workforce and by 2030 they will make up 75% of it.   Millennials expect to be marketed to differently – seeking out more engaging and supportive end-to-end experiences, and in health, with a greater focus on overall well-being.  In 2015, insurers and providers will develop new approaches to motivate millennials with meaningful incentives to buy health insurance, and offering services and products designed to help millennials achieve their goals. That requires convenient access to resources, personalized and timely feedback and support with aligned programs and seamless processes.

Partner to win  

For healthcare companies, it is no longer enough to partner just to stay in the game. HRI found that 40% of Fortune 50 companies –20 out of 50 – pursued new healthcare partnerships in 2014. Consumers also see value in these new alliances; 58 percent told HRI they would choose a healthcare company that partnered to improve services.

With consumers leading the way, bearing more costs and making more decisions, change is erupting through the health industry.  Established healthcare companies, new entrants, and other sector players are rapidly developing cost-efficient products and services tailored to consumers.  We’ve seen such transformative change before – in banking, in retail.  Our Top Health Industry Issues for 2015 highlights the revolution taking place, as Healthcare aligns around a consumer market model.

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Social Networks In Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers To Change | EMR and HIPAA

Social Networks In Healthcare: Breaking Down Barriers To Change | EMR and HIPAA | Healthcare and Technology news |

As U.S. hospitals, professionals, and patients from coast to coast grapple with a daunting maize of healthcare challenges that’s growing more complex each day, it’s easy to forget that the solutions we need might just be sitting in someone else’s back yard.  And no matter who might own those great ideas, harvesting their value depends upon finding the best ways to share and make the most of them.

Both of these themes were at the heart of an exceptional two-day event I attended in Copenhagen recently, hosted by Healthcare DENMARK.  Called “The Ambassadors’ Summit,” each participant was invited to attend based upon his or her lifetime healthcare-industry contributions.  The Summit provided our group the opportunity to compare ideas and benchmark best practices with peers from around the world.  And while every national representative had something valuable to offer, some of the best thinking came directly from our hosts themselves.

Denmark has long stood out among nations for its health system, which is differentiated by its fundamental focus on the patient.  The Danish system functions by placing the patient in the center of its care-delivery circle.  Patients’ involvement in their own care is essential for the system to work.  And while few argue that patients should have a greater say in their own care, in Denmark they really do.

Because the Danes have made healthcare a true national – not political — priority, there’s a team mentality country-wide to support it – to improve it continuously over time.  It was this commitment that led Healthcare DENMARK to hold the Summit in the first place: they recognized that every country around the world has its own best practices to offer for consideration.  For example, Summit Ambassadors from Germany brought participants their expertise in international healthcare systems, managed care, integrated care, secure data transfer, and theoretic medicine, among others.  Colleagues from the United Kingdom shared insights from their roles in organizations like the World Health Care Congress and in subject areas such as healthcare analytics and health system financing, to name a few.

At the end of the Summit, we all agreed to return a year from now having advanced our own care systems by harnessing and developing the rich ideas we’d shared in just 48 hours.  Easily said, but what will prove the best means of connecting all the ideas in all those back yards?  The answer is social media used smartly – in a way that establishes closely defined social networks that engage communities interested in solving very specific problems.

As I left the Summit, I could already envision a new group of social communities that could invite the participation of the leaders who contributed so much to the Ambassadors Summit – effectively creating real-time conversations around the key issues that concerned each one of us.  For example, we could launch a new community with a “Danish voice” to advance our nation’s work to increase patient centricity.  Another smart social network could consider the construction of new hospitals and the consolidation of existing ones.  Other smart social healthcare communities could focus on medical homes, the roles of primary-care physicians, and the true connectivity of personal health records.

The possibilities are energizing because they are so clearly within our reach.  With the smart use of social platforms, global boundaries lose relevance, great meetings like the Ambassadors Summit never have to adjourn, and our power to drive a world of better care increases exponentially.

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