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January-16-2012

11:33

By Sheldon Needle

The real problem of an established medical practice moving into the realm of EHR is not the cost of the medical software package; it is not the training necessary for staff; and it is not security and backups.

The real problem of moving into EMR/EHR is the problem of unstructured medical data.

If you are involved in a new or relatively new practice, this is a no-brainer. Begin with a serious search to compare medical software vendors who are available to answer your questions honestly. It is not truly so difficult to get on a friendly medical screen to enter your patient’s blood pressure or lab test values. You can get used to that.

Neither is it difficult to take notes on a notebook that upload to the EHR system.

The real problem is taking your notes and dictation on a patient that go back 15 years and finding a way to get his possible symptoms, his worry about IBS, his headache history, and his worries over his children into a metrically available rendition that that does not take you or a member of your practices days to decipher. These notes are usually on dictation, hand written notes, and referral letters.

The concerns are many: this can take what feels to be forever, and the anxiety issues and unclear symptoms may not translate easily into metrics but may be critically important in future diagnoses.

There are two critical questions here:

  1. 1) Is it worth it? and
    2) If it is worth it, what to do to make this work efficiently?

In the long run, it doesn’t even matter if it is worth it. It will happen. Medicine as well as the rest of our cultural world, is becoming electronically-based whether we like it or not. But in the long run, it is worth it. Think of a patient going in to the hospital after a car accident, all by himself, and having all his data available to the admitting doctor in an instant: blood type, history, etc.

Think of a patient being referred to you, the specialist, and having all his patient history available in less than a minute. What a time saver! What insight!

Medical informatics has a number of methodologies it is using to translate unstructured data into useful and structured data.

Three basic methodologies exist to accomplish this:

  • String matching
  • Natural language processing for Medicine (NLP), which uses syntactic rules in extracting data from text documents
  • Concept-based indexing which uses data base codes to group and relate medical concepts

These methods will be refined, utilized, and integrated in some way into most decent medical vendor software packages over the next few years. For you the physician or practice manager, this may start to pay off in a while, but you still have to get from hand written records into the database.

The obvious way to proceed makes use of our culture idea of, “going forward”:

  1. Start with today’s records being input into the database electronically – this is the easy part.
  2. Then get help in moving 1 year of back data scanned and automated. Get someone technically savvy and talk to the support people whose EHR software you are considering about OCR (optical character recognition) software that may be available from vendors.
  3. Most vendors of decent repute will have voice recognition software incorporated into their total EHR solutions. Have them demonstrate how well it works in moving data into their files.

The real message to practitioners moving to electronic health records is, don’t look at the top of the mountain when you start climbing, just put one foot in front of the other. Delaying the climb will not get you anywhere, but starting the march will move faster than you think!

Source:

January-10-2012

14:26

Having recently spent time as an observer in a hospital setting, I was struck by the lack of intelligent planning and forethought made for doctors trying to move into an EMR / EHR environment.

Though I saw a well-known EHR panel on the computer screens within an ICU, and the EHR being used to record certain patient data, doctors were taking their notes in long-hand. Later on the same day I saw the same doctors transcribing their notes onto their computers. The doctors, doing double duty on note taking were not available to their patients because they were acting as secretaries.

When a large clinical environment is incorporating an EHR it has to be done in a modular way that does not impact productivity any more than it has to. The task is hard enough. If you are using an EHR to record point of care patient information, give your doctors a Notebook so they can take their notes electronically. In fact, insist on electronic note-taking. Incorporate change with some forethought to peoples’ time and effort.

This real-life observation just underscores the need to plan for transition to an EMR rather than throwing an institution into the chaos of change for its own sake, or for the sake of Meaningful Use incentive payments. As in all things, the old US Coast Guard motto holds true: Semper Paratus! Always be ready and prepared.

Most good EMR / EHR systems can offer medical clients some guidance as to best practices in incorporating EMR / EHR systems within their practices.

December-29-2011

12:20

By Sheldon Needle

The prospects for EHR in the coming year are exciting but more than a little daunting.  The issue is really how to find an EMR/EHR system that will organize and centralize the functions of your practice, without bankrupting you and throwing your staff and yourself into turmoil.

If you look at the websites for EMR vendors today, you can see that the functions they describe within their system –the integration of clinical records with practice management data, e-prescription, patient portals — could conceptually do wonderful things for you and for your patients in the way you handle their individual cases, but many of the details are still not working smoothly.

Here are some of the things to be aware of:

  1. If you are getting a client/server system, make sure your internet connection has the bandwidth to support the sheer number crunching your system will need.  Otherwise your system may well freeze up on you or move at the speed of molasses.
  2. If you are a small practice and getting SAAS software, hurray for you!  This could be just the right way to move towards EMR.  But beware of sticker shock.  The prices quoted to you on-line for monthly subscriptions to SAAS may well not mention additional fees you need to pay for licensing, installation, initial training.  Make sure everything is clearly stated in your contract.
  3. Think hard about how you are going to transition your current paper based system to digital records.  Who will do the scanning?  What will you do with your dictation?   The whole issue of free form data (things like scanned documents that need to be OCR’ed in order to get into the database, your dictated notes, etc.).  It is not enough to just get everything on paper scanned.If you can afford to get a service that does transitions like this for a reasonable fee, consider this as a viable strategy.  It may save you lots of headaches.
  4. Not everyone can necessarily get the benefit of “Meaningful Use” incentive payments right away.  It will depend on the nature of your practice, your specialty, your patient base, as well as how many Medicare or Medicaid patients you service, just to name a few variables. Do not let “Meaningful Use” be the only criterion you use in evaluating EMR software.
  5. Find a company that will do serious training for you and your staff, and will not nickel and dime you for every question you have for them as you move into the implementation and use phase.

Remember, always read the fine print and ask every question you need to. Know that EMR software decisions is a very competitive business. The vendors need you just as much as you need them!

December-23-2011

14:42

By Sheldon Needle

5010 is not only a date 3,000 years in the future: ANSI 5010 is the newest version of the HIPAA transaction standards regulating electronic transmission of medical and healthcare transactions. The existing standard is called 4010, and 4010 does not support ICD-10 coding.

The current coding standard for diagnosis and procedure coding is the ICD-9, and it has outlived its possibilities –it limits the number of new procedure and diagnostic codes that can be created.

This is how the CMS.gov (center for Medicare and Medicaid services, at: http://www.cms.gov) defines the ICD-10:

About ICD-10
ICD-10-CM/PCS (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition, Clinical Modification/Procedure Coding System) consists of two parts:

  1. ICD-10-CM for diagnosis coding
  2. ICD-10-PCS for inpatient procedure coding

ICD-10-CM is for use in all U.S. health care settings. Diagnosis coding under ICD-10-CM uses 3 to 7 digits instead of the 3 to 5 digits used with ICD-9-CM, but the format of the code sets is similar.

ICD-10-PCS is for use in U.S. inpatient hospital settings only. ICD-10-PCS uses 7 alphanumeric digits instead of the 3 or 4 numeric digits used under ICD-9-CM procedure coding. Coding under ICD-10-PCS is much more specific and substantially different from ICD-9-CM procedure coding.

The transition to 5010 is supposed to happen by January 1, 2012. This means that electronic transmissions including claims, eligibility inquiries and remittance advices must be made in a 5010-compliant format. Healthcare providers, health plans and clearinghouses for transactions are all expected to upgrade their transmissions. Non-compliance may result in claims denied or slower payment.

Systems that are certified as ONC-ATCB for 2011/2012 are already 5010 compliant. If you are contemplating buying a system that is so certified, you do not have to worry about the software compliance, but you do need to educate your staff, including yourself, if you are the physician or the P.A., on what the differences between 4010 and 5010 mean to their everyday work.

If you are using old medical software that has not been updated, or are contemplating installing software that is not certified as ONC-ATCB for 2011/2012, you need to update to a newer version, or face delays and uncertainties in your billing and claims submission. In other words, do some serious upgrading, or else!

December-4-2011

8:47

By Sheldon Needle

November 30, 2011: Today HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced incentives to speed the adoption and use of health IT in the form of meaningful-use qualified EHR in doctors’ offices and hospitals nationwide, which will improve health care and create jobs nationwide.

The new administrative actions announced today, which will be made possible by provisions of the HITECH Act, will loosen requirements for doctors and other health care professionals to receive incentive payments for adopting and meaningfully using health IT.

“When doctors and hospitals use health IT, patients get better care and we save money,” said Secretary Sebelius.  “We’re making great progress, but we can’t wait to do more. Too many doctors and hospitals are still using the same record-keeping technology as Hippocrates. Today, we are making it easier for health care providers to use new technology to improve the health care system for all of us and create more jobs.”

The press release continues to state: “HHS also announced its intent to make it easier to adopt health IT.  Under the current requirements, eligible doctors and hospitals that begin participating in the Medicare EHR (electronic health record) Incentive Programs this year would have to meet new standards for the program in 2013.  If they did not participate in the program until 2012, they could wait to meet these new standards until 2014 and still be eligible for the same incentive payment. To encourage faster adoption, the Secretary announced that HHS intends to allow doctors and hospitals to adopt health IT this year, without meeting the new standards until 2014. Doctors who act quickly can also qualify for incentive payments in 2011 as well as 2012.”“ (The italics are ours.)

We need to understand what acting quickly means: buying in 2011? Incorporating EHR within the next month, so that meaningful use occurs in 2011? This is not yet clear.

HHS is redoubling its effort to reach out with information, education, and the possibility of incentive payments to doctors and hospitals and vendors about stepping up the pace of transitioning practices and HER software to meet standards of Meaningful Use. What Meaningful use means to the individual practice depends on size, degree of implementation of the EHR, and the nature of the client base (how many Medicare or Medicaid patients, for instance, figures into the formula of Meaningful Use.

The Obama Administration is working to create a nationwide network of 62 Regional Extension Centers, comprised of local nonprofits, to help eligible health care providers learn how to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and meaningfully use health IT.

See the HHS press release, at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2011pres/11/20111130a.html to learn more.

Keep your eyes on the newspapers, government announcements and on this blog to learn about EMR and EHR news and updates.

November-21-2011

11:30

By Sheldon Needle

You know that your medical practice will have to bite the EMR bullet sooner or later (actually, sooner). The digital handwriting is on the tablet, isn’t it? So what is it stopping you from moving ahead at a planned pace rather than being forced into converting your medical practice to an EMR at the 11th hour?

Here are some of the most common obstacles people face in converting their practices to the use of electronic medical record software, and here are some strategies to deal with them or get the process going:

1. How will we migrate from paper to digital images? Conversion of paper medical records to digital format: If you have your eye on an EMR, learn how tolerant it is of varying formats: does it accept PDF files? JPG format? Ascii text files? Extracts from excel files?

Don’t bit off more than you can chew to begin. If you are practice with reams of folders full of paper files to convert, decide how many years back you need to go in getting your EMR up and running. Perhaps you can start with one year of files via EMR? Or perhaps you need to go much further back?

Look into the possibility of having a consultant specializing in data conversion take charge of your files. There are companies that specialize in just such medical data conversions. If you are really desperate, hire your responsible college students, make the specs clear, and pay her decently!!

2. How will we train everyone in such a new system? Training your self and your staff: Once you have chosen your EMR system, engage the company’s own training staff; that way, you are sure you are being oriented in the current system, using the right documentation. Before you chose your EMR, see what kind of training options the company offers. You might go for a short orientation up front, with a good help desk that is available 24/7. Check reliable Electronic medical records ratings to see which companies provide good in person and on the phone / online support

3. Do we have to set up all the hardware and maintain the software? I don’t think we can manage that. Consider a cloud-based EMR solution: If you are reluctant to invest in a server and commit to the upkeep of hardware and software, consider a Web-based EMR solution, in which you log onto an EMR that worries about security, and updates to hardware and software.

4. How can I compare products so that my practice knows what it is getting into? How much can I trust referrals from other practices? Don’t put all of your EMR decision eggs into one basket: While personal referral are extremely helpful and reassuring, not all are meaningful for your unique EMR practice situation. There are many good EMR products to choose from, and each has its strengths, and its weaknesses.

The right choice will depend as much on the nature of your medical practice and the answers to many questions: What is your medical specialty? How many employees do you have? How expensive is the EMR, per year? How much money can you dedicate to investing in your EMR annually? Can you integrate your medical billing software with your proposed new EMR? Can you afford to hire a dedicated IT employee? How comfortable you and the others in your practice are with using an electronic device as the main source of medical input to your system. These are just a few of the many questions you need to ask yourself.

Talk to people in other practices, yes; but learn to ask the right questions and compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Great EMR comparison tools are available to you at no charge, and they can educate you to ask the right questions and maintain a solid baseline for comparison when choosing an EMR.

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July-22-2009

21:29

President Obama speaks to the nation about healthcare reform (AP photo)

President Obama speaks to the nation about healthcare reform (AP photo)

Tonight, President Obama spoke to the nation about his plans for healthcare reform. He outlined how he plans to reform the current system and how he plans to pay for it including cutting over $100 billion worth of subsidies to insurance companies as part of Medicare.

Few key points:

  • Wants to create an independent group of doctors and experts to eliminate waste in Medicare on an annual basis. (Obama gave credit to the Republicans for coming up with this plan–”Medpac“)
  • 2/3rds of the costs will come from cutting waste from the current system.
  • 97-98% of uninsured would be covered by his plan.
  • Open to tax increases on families with a combined income of $1 million or individuals making $500k or more per year–”millionaire’s tax
  • Medicare beneficiaries would not see any decline in benefits. “Here’s the thing I want to emphasize,” he said “It is not going to reduce Medicare benefits. What it is going to do is change how the benefits are delivered, so they are more efficient.”
  • The public option will match up with what is available to congress. Read Matt Miller in the NYT today on this one. Miller doesn’t believe that this is a good measure.
  • Wants to free doctors to make decisions based on evidence based medicine, not fee schedules. “Doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule right now.”

He also touched upon the need to increase health IT and move way a fee for service system to a team-based approach to deliver healthcare.

Full Video:

Full Text: Obama’s Remarks on Health Care

(without question/answer session)

Following is a text of the prepared remarks by President Obama before his White House news conference on Wednesday, as released by the White House.

Good evening. Before I take your questions, I want to talk for a few minutes about the progress we’re making on health insurance reform and where it fits into our broader economic strategy.

Six months ago, I took office amid the worst recession in half a century. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month and our financial system was on the verge of collapse.

As a result of the action we took in those first weeks, we have been able to pull our economy back from the brink. We took steps to stabilize our financial institutions and our housing market. And we passed a Recovery Act that has already saved jobs and created new ones; delivered billions in tax relief to families and small businesses; and extended unemployment insurance and health insurance to those who have been laid off.

Of course, we still have a long way to go. And the Recovery Act will continue to save and create more jobs over the next two years – just like it was designed to do. I realize this is little comfort to those Americans who are currently out of work, and I’ll be honest with you – new hiring is always one of the last things to bounce back after a recession.

And the fact is, even before this crisis hit, we had an economy that was creating a good deal of wealth for folks at the very top, but not a lot of good-paying jobs for the rest of America. It’s an economy that simply wasn’t ready to compete in the 21st century – one where we’ve been slow to invest in the clean energy technologies that have created new jobs and industries in other countries; where we’ve watched our graduation rates lag behind too much of the world; and where we spend much more on health care than any other nation but aren’t any healthier for it.

That is why I’ve said that even as we rescue this economy from a full-blown crisis, we must rebuild it stronger than before. And health insurance reform is central to that effort.

This is not just about the 47 million Americans who have no health insurance. Reform is about every American who has ever feared that they may lose their coverage if they become too sick, or lose their job, or change their job. It’s about every small business that has been forced to lay off employees or cut back on their coverage because it became too expensive. And it’s about the fact that the biggest driving force behind our federal deficit is the skyrocketing cost of Medicare and Medicaid.

So let me be clear: if we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit. If we do not reform health care, your premiums and out-of-pocket costs will continue to skyrocket. If we do not act, 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the consequences of inaction. These are the stakes of the debate we’re having right now.

I realize that with all the charges and criticisms being thrown around in Washington, many Americans may be wondering, “What’s in this for me? How does my family stand to benefit from health insurance reform?”

Tonight I want to answer those questions. Because even though Congress is still working through a few key issues, we already have agreement on the following areas:

If you already have health insurance, the reform we’re proposing will provide you with more security and more stability. It will keep government out of health care decisions, giving you the option to keep your insurance if you’re happy with it. It will prevent insurance companies from dropping your coverage if you get too sick. It will give you the security of knowing that if you lose your job, move, or change your job, you will still be able to have coverage. It will limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay for your medical costs out of your own pocket. And it will cover preventive care like check-ups and mammograms that save lives and money.

If you don’t have health insurance, or are a small business looking to cover your employees, you’ll be able to choose a quality, affordable health plan through a health insurance exchange – a marketplace that promotes choice and competition Finally, no insurance company will be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition.

I have also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade – and I mean it. In the past eight years, we saw the enactment of two tax cuts, primarily for the wealthiest Americans, and a Medicare prescription program, none of which were paid for. This is partly why I inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit.

That will not happen with health insurance reform. It will be paid for. Already, we have estimated that two-thirds of the cost of reform can be paid for by reallocating money that is simply being wasted in federal health care programs. This includes over one hundred billion dollars in unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies as part of Medicare – subsidies that do nothing to improve care for our seniors. And I’m pleased that Congress has already embraced these proposals. While they are currently working through proposals to finance the remaining costs, I continue to insist that health reform not be paid for on the backs of middle-class families.

In addition to making sure that this plan doesn’t add to the deficit in the short-term, the bill I sign must also slow the growth of health care costs in the long run. Our proposals would change incentives so that doctors and nurses are free to give patients the best care, not just the most expensive care. That’s why the nation’s largest organizations representing doctors and nurses have embraced our plan.

We also want to create an independent group of doctors and medical experts who are empowered to eliminate waste and inefficiency in Medicare on an annual basis – a proposal that could save even more money and ensure the long-term financial health of Medicare. Overall, our proposals will improve the quality of care for our seniors and save them thousands of dollars on prescription drugs, which is why the AARP has endorsed our reform efforts.

Not all of the cost savings measures I just mentioned were contained in Congress’s draft legislation, but we are now seeing broad agreement thanks to the work that was done over the last few days. So even though we still have a few issues to work out, what’s remarkable at this point is not how far we have left to go – it’s how far we have already come.

I understand how easy it is for this town to become consumed in the game of politics – to turn every issue into running tally of who’s up and who’s down. I’ve heard that one Republican strategist told his party that even though they may want to compromise, it’s better politics to “go for the kill.” Another Republican Senator said that defeating health reform is about “breaking” me.

So let me be clear: This isn’t about me. I have great health insurance, and so does every Member of Congress. This debate is about the letters I read when I sit in the Oval Office every day, and the stories I hear at town hall meetings. This is about the woman in Colorado who paid $700 a month to her insurance company only to find out that they wouldn’t pay a dime for her cancer treatment – who had to use up her retirement funds to save her own life. This is about the middle-class college graduate from Maryland whose health insurance expired when he changed jobs, and woke up from emergency surgery with $10,000 in debt. This is about every family, every business, and every taxpayer who continues to shoulder the burden of a problem that Washington has failed to solve for decades.

This debate is not a game for these Americans, and they cannot afford to wait for reform any longer. They are counting on us to get this done. They are looking to us for leadership. And we must not let them down. We will pass reform that lowers cost, promotes choice, and provides coverage that every American can count on. And we will do it this year. And with that, I’ll take your questions.

July-21-2009

15:28

The ONC policy committee on meaningful use has published an updated matrix on the subject. It can be found here.

July-15-2009

11:15

Someone in the GOP needs to learn how to use Microsoft Visio, or the Democrats need to come up with a better plan for improving our healthcare system.

Republicans immagination of Democratic Healthcare plan

Republicans imagination of the Democratic Healthcare plan

If you believe this nightmare chart created by Congressman Kevin Brady’s office (R-Texas 8th District), then you’ll need a PHD in obfuscation to figure out what the Democrats are planning. More likely, however, is that Brady is painting an overly bleak picture of what a government plan might look like.

Jokes aside, as this battle continues to play out, both sides are sticking to their guns; however, the Obama administration believes it has the trump card: 60 votes. Bloomberg News is reporting that “Obama Open to Partisan Vote on Health-Care Overhaul.”

We’ll follow how this plays out, and keep you apprised of any interesting happenings.

UPDATE July 22, 2009:

Corrected Visualization of the Democratic Healthcare plan

Corrected Visualization of the Democratic Healthcare plan (PDF)

A graphic designer, Robert Palmer, took it upon himself to “correct” the republican nightmare chart and made it significantly easier to understand. The updated chart, along with a PDF can be found on Mr. Palmer’s Flickr page. He also penned a note to Representative Boehner:

Dear Rep. Boehner,

Recently, you released a chart purportedly describing the organization of the House Democrats’ health plan. I think Democrats, Republicans, and independents agree that the problem is very complicated, no matter how you visualize it.

By releasing your chart, instead of meaningfully educating the public, you willfully obfuscated an already complicated proposal. There is no simple proposal to solve this problem. You instead chose to shout “12! 16! 37! 9! 24!” while we were trying to count something.

So, to try and do my duty both to the country and to information design (a profession and skill you have loudly shat upon), I have taken it upon myself to untangle your delightful chart. A few notes:

- I have removed the label referring to “federal website guidelines” as those are not a specific requirement of the Health and Human Services department. They are part of the U.S. Code. I should know: I have to follow them.

- I have relabeled the “Veterans Administration” to the “Department of Veterans’ Affairs.” The name change took effect in 1989.

- In the one change I made specifically for clarity, I omitted the line connecting the IRS and Health and Human Services department labeled “Individual Tax Return Information.”

In the future, please remember that you have a duty to inform the public, and not willfully confuse your constituents.

Sincerely,

Robert Palmer
Resident,
California 53rd District

July-1-2009

23:11

The Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT) has responded to the Office of the National Coordinator’s recently released Meaningful Use matrix [pdf]–and responded with a vengeance.

The bottom line: “CCHIT recommends that meaningful use measures be either simplified for 2011, or postponed until 2013.”

CCHIT Annotations to the ONC's Meaningful Use Matrix [PDF]

CCHIT Annotations to the ONC's Meaningful Use Matrix (PDF)


Its recommendation was formed by comparing the CCHIT 2008 criteria against the meaningful use matrix prepared by the National Coordinator’s Workgroup on Meaningful Use and finding that while many of the 22 proposed objectives are fully supported by the current certification, at least 8 have minor to major gaps with the CCHIT 08 criteria.

Why Postpone?

The commission argues that “the lag between a decision to invest in EHR technology and its full, meaningful use in a provider organization is 1 to 2 years at best, and more typically, 3 to 5 years,” and for this reason it recommends postponing the 2011 measures until 2013. It isn’t that some EHRs do not currently meet the standards drafted for 2011 (MTBC’s EMR does), it’s that CCHIT criteria does not currently cover or test for all of the proposed 2011 measures. Additionally, CCHIT does not believe that the marketplace is fully ready to support some of the reporting standards outlined in the draft.

CCHIT has prepared an annotated response to the ONC’s matrix which highlights the actual points in contention for 2011. CCHIT’s letter to the ONC further clarifies CCHIT position on the topic.

As always, we will continue to cover this story as new developments arise and as key shareholders continue to weigh in with comments and responses.

Why don’t you let us know what you think? Should the 2011 measures be postponed until 2013?

June-26-2009

18:04

When you buy a car, the manufacturer usually offers some kind of warranty on your purchase e.g. bumper-to-bumper coverage for 50,000 miles or 5 years, whichever comes first. Or coverage for 100,000 miles for the power train and 50,000 miles bumper-to-bumper. Some are now offering oil changes for life, free car washes, dry cleaning, or the salesman will pick up your kids from soccer practice if you make a purchase now.  Ok, maybe they won’t pick up your kids, but you will please! buy now?

Francois de Brantes

Francois de Brantes

Francois de Brantes, a nationally known advocate of health care quality, is hoping to bring warranties to healthcare. He and a few associates penned an article in Health Affairs describing the benefits of a new payment model for physicians which may inspire physicians to improve patient outcomes by putting their skin (and money) in the game.

The warranties which de Brantes proposes–Prometheus Payment as he’s called it–flip the current medical billing payment model on its ear. Prometheus Payment offers set fees to providers for recommended services, treatments and procedures. However, unlike the current system where all fees are covered by third-party payers, the provider now becomes a party in the payment process by assuming fiduciary responsibility for outcomes–should patients develop an avoidable outcome, providers become responsible for half the costs. The warranty is based on the costs of these avoidable outcomes and is risk adjusted for elderly or frail patients.

de Brantes and his co-authors explain that “the warranty concept has filtered into the self-pay portion of health care, such as corrective eye surgery, general cosmetic surgery, and dental care, which are often based on a global fee that includes any necessary rework by the provider. But it has taken much longer for warranties to appear in the third-party payer system.” They argue that with this global-fee model, overall costs in the healthcare can be reduced while improving outcomes for patients by making (and paying) the provider for any expenses before, during, and after the procedure.

The abstract to the Health Affairs article reads:

How health care providers get paid has implications for the delivery of care and cost control; the topic is especially important during an economic downturn with persistent growth in health spending. Adding “warranties” to care is an innovation that transfers risk to providers, because payment includes allowances for defects. How do such warranties affect patient care and bottom lines? We examine a proposed payment model to illustrate the role of warranties in health care and their potential impact on providers’ behavior and profitability. We conclude that warranties could motivate providers to improve quality and could increase their profit margins.

I find two points interesting.

  1. He named it Prometheus Payment. In Greek mythology Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals–Zeus repaid him by tying him to a large rock and having an eagle eat his liver every day only to have it grow back and be eaten again the next day. Are the insurance companies Zeus? Are the payments the fire? Who is stealing from whom? Do physicians even want this kind of fire?
  2. This plan was developed with the support of the Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a similar plan is already in practice at the Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania. These are not exactly small operations.

This whole idea adds a new wrinkle to medical billing. As your billing service, we’d not only be incentivized to help you collect more money but also provide you tools to provide better patient care. Great news for you, we have a CCHIT-certified EMR which provides just the tools you need. Find out more here.

We will keep you posted if this model crops up at any payers near you.

Read more about Prometheus Payment:

June-22-2009

17:57

On June 16 the Workgroup on Meaningful Use presented its recommendations on the definition of Meaningful Use. They prepared a preamble describing their overall path to this definition and a matrix to organize their recommendations for each year. For those who have been under a rock for the past 6 months, “meaningful use” is the defining measure by which the incentive payments included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will be determined.

With this working definition, vendors, physicians, and hospitals can better plan for implementation and delivery of technology and services to achieve the measurable goals outlined by the Workgroup.

HITECH Act Incentives as outlined by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

HITECH Act Incentives as outlined by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

Meaningful Use for Whom?

First it is important to note that “meaningful use” will have different meanings for hospitals and for groups in private practice. The preamble states “some features and capabilities will be recommended as required in an ambulatory setting before similar functions are expected to be widely used in the hospital.” This means that proving “meaningful use” will be a more rigorous exercise for private practices than it is for hospitals. However, private practices have a broader range of options and lower barriers of entry (cost, availability of technology, shorter implementation time frames, etc) when it comes to implementing technologies which can deliver “meaningful use.”

The Details

Let’s go over some of the measures which are planned for 2011 and look at some examples of each item. More details for each of the items below can be found in the matrix. John Halamka, MD of the CareGroup Health System of Harvard Medical School and the chairman of the US Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP) said in Healthcare IT News that this matrix still needs to be populated with the most up to date standards and an implementation guide. These details will help vendors and physicians alike ensure that their software meets these measures. Expect this in July.

Each of the items below has associated metrics which will need to be reported to verify meaningful use; for example, one of the objectives calls for reminders to patients for preventive/follow-up care. In order to prove meaningful use, the EMR application must be able to provide a reporting of the percentage of patients over 50 with annual colorectal screening. Keep in mind that each of the items below has an associated measure (found in the matrix) which will require reporting to an authorized agency.

Items marked with a Yes! indicate that the MTBC EMR helps your practice meet or exceeds these measures.

  1. Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities.
    1. Use CPOE (computerized physician order entry) for all order types including medications. Yes!
    2. Drug-drug, drug-allergy, drug-formulary checks. Yes!
    3. Maintain an update-to-date problem list. Yes!
    4. Generate and transmit electronic prescriptions. Yes!
    5. Record vital signs including height, weight, blood pressure. Yes!
    6. Generate list of patients by condition to use for quality improvement. Yes!
    7. Patient reminders for preventive/follow-up care. Yes!
  2. Engage patients and families
    1. Provide patients with access to clinical information (lab results, problem list, medications, etc.). Under development! Yes! A bit more information has filtered through on this point. It has to be “electronic” access i.e CD, flash drive, etc and not necessarily web-based access. We have this functionality and we are also working on web-based access to patient information which can be pushed through the EMR. (updated 7/1)
    2. Provide access to patient specific educational resources. Yes!
    3. Provide patients with clinical summaries for each encounter. Yes!
  3. Improve care coordination
    1. Exchange key clinical information among providers (problems, medications, allergies, test results). Yes!
    2. Perform medication reconciliation at relevant encounters. Yes!
  4. Improve population and public health
    1. Submit electronic data to immunization registries. Yes!
  5. Ensure adequate privacy and security protections for personal health information
    1. Compliance with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules and state laws. Yes!
    2. Compliance with fair data sharing practices. Yes!

What Now?

Now that you know the definition of Meaningful Use what should you do now? The answer is simple: get an EMR. Ok it is not that simple, but you will be happy to know that you have plenty of options in the marketplace. Dr. Halamka writes, “Hospitals and Clinician offices now know what is expected for 2011, so the time is now to begin your software implementations.” Never before have there been so many EMRs which provide such a high level of functionality and interoperability. Today’s major differentiators are not function, but price and service.

MTBC Can Help

MTBC’s CCHIT certified EMR (free to MTBC medical billing clients) can help your practice meet the goals of 2011. Click here to find out more about MTBC’s unified medical billing and practice managagement services.

However, if “free” is not your bag, you have plenty of other options beginning at the $1,000 range and your imagination as the only limit. Vendors have become very creative in their pricing with new options emerging such as monthly subscriptions, charges for each fax sent from the EMR, hosting fees for web-based applications, fees for technical support by email, server replacement plans (a la replacement plans sold by big box stores), 50¢ per 100MB of storage, and many others.

MTBC’s EMR rivals those of its competitors because it is implemented, supported, and updated completely free of charge of its premium medical billing clients. To find out more about how MTBC’s EMR can help you meet the goals of Meaningful Use, request a demo today and, if you are not currently an MTBC billing client, find out how you can download a free trial.

Watch this space for more information regarding meaningful use and its impact on the healthcare IT.

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MedTech and Devices

Medicine and Technology [part of HCPLive]

January-17-2012

22:59
The ePharma Consumer® study found that 42 percent of online adults agree that pharmaceutical companies should be involved in online health communities for consumers.


January-17-2012

22:22
Do you know how to monitor where your staff may be in terms of resistance or support for a new Electronic Health Records (EHR) system? Learn about the processes to ensure they have proper tools, training and support.


January-11-2012

17:46
To get the New Year off to a healthy start, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is launching the Healthy New Year Video Challenge, the first in a series of video challenges.


January-10-2012

21:15
AMA Insurance Agency Inc., recently announced its “Take a Trip with Timmy Global Health” contest. Two winners will be selected to spend 2-3 weeks with US and developing world medical professionals working to expand access to quality healthcare in Guatemala, Ecuador, or the Dominican Republic.


January-10-2012

7:01
Get ready for the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) annual conference where attendees will learn about topics like Meaningful Use, HITECH, HIE, standards, interoperability and more.


January-9-2012

7:01
In the New Year, save some time out of your busy schedule. Here are 3 simple tips from Doximity physicians that can help you do that.


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MedTech and Devices

EMR Medical Software Information and Resources

November-13-2008

0:42
Of the 36% of physicians with an electronic health record (EHR) system surveyed by Medical Economics, more than half (58%) have had their EHRs for more than two years. Only a small group (6%) of respondents said their practice had adopted an EHR within the past six months.


The survey also found that of the 65% of physicians without an EHR system in place, approximately one in three (30%) said they planned to adopt an EHR system within the next year.

What were the top three reasons for adopting an EHR system? Physician respondents cited better documentation, improved access to records and enhanced quality of care, according to the survey. The ability to defend a malpractice suit was ranked as the least important reason by survey respondents.

The results are based on a December 2006 survey of 548 physicians, and were published in Medical Economics.

November-13-2008

0:42
There are two schools of thought when it comes to implementing an electronic medical records (EMR) system.

One camp says you should take baby steps; learn to crawl before you try to run. We'll call this the incremental approach. The other group advises making the transition to electronic records all at once; face your fears, work out the kinks and enjoy your new software. Let's call this one the big bang approach.



Each implementation strategy has benefits and drawbacks, especially depending upon the size and type of physician office that will use the EMR. The incremental approach tends to lend itself best to larger physician practices, multi-specialty groups and environments where "office politics" runs high. It also works well when you're implementing a very complex electronic medical record system. The big bang approach, on the other hand, tends to work well with small (fewer than 10 physicians) practices, or offices where strong leadership exists.

Here are some of the pros and cons associated with both implementation strategies. If you're considering an electronic medical record purchase, think about which approach might work best in your practice.

The Incremental Implementation Strategy

The Pros
• Reduces "change shock" to staff and physicians
• Spreads out costs of software and implementation over a longer period of time
• Portions of EMR functionality are rolled out in phases across all units
• In many cases, the project is less likely to lose momentum

The Cons
• Total training, implementation costs may be higher
• Longer overall implementation of your electronic medical record
• ROI is not achieved as quickly
• Morale may decrease as implementation lags
• You may introduce a training lag if implementation phases are too far apart from training sessions

The Big Bang Implementation Strategy

The Pros
• Everyone goes live at once
• Paper processes cease shortly after the EMR is "turned on"
• You're less likely to end up with a dual system
• You'll shorten the parallel paper/EMR operation period
• ROI is achieved more quickly
• When it is over, it's over!

The Cons
• If you choose a complex electronic medical record system, there's a higher risk of blow up
• You'll likely encounter significant productivity reduction when you begin using the software system, and this could last for up to three months
• Inadequate planning may jeopardize full implementation
• Staff or physicians resistant to change may become overwhelmed

No matter the strategy you choose, it's important to stay focused (and committed!) to successfully implementing your electronic medical record system. Even the most affordable EMRs represent a considerable time and financial investment. With a little strategic planning, you'll get the most out of your software.

November-13-2008

0:41
A new survey by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) finds a majority of respondents believe electronic medical records systems (EMRs) offered by health insurance plans should have robust privacy and security features.

Survey respondents were most likely to believe that EMRs (also known as electronic health records, or EHRs) offered by insurance plans should include insurance company data, such as claims data. However, about two-thirds of respondents also said they believed that payer-offered EMR systems should include clinical data derived from hospital and ambulatory visits, as well as consumer-generated data, writes iHealthBeat.org


Twenty-four percent of survey respondents said they thought payer-offered EHRs would boost patient safety, while 21 percent said they expected them to verify insurance eligibility and benefits. Improved billing collections and improved quality of care each were selected by 18 percent of respondents.

The results were based on a survey of 101 physicians in July, 2007, by HIMSS.

November-13-2008

0:41
Election day is more than twelve months away, but the contest for president of the United States is already shaping up to be a fierce one. Many presidential candidates have either released or announced their intention to release a comprehensive plan for health care reform. Following is an attempt to summarize each candidate's position on health care information technology such as e-prescribing and electronic medical records. You are encouraged to visit each candidate's Web site on your own, as their positions may change in the future.

Joe Biden (D): His home state of Delaware is a leader in adopting new health information technology, and the candidate notes the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) is a state-wide health information and electronic data interchange network for public and private use. Biden says the potential savings to the health care industry from full adoption of electronic medical records is substantial. He notes that researchers at the RAND Corporation estimated that full adoption of electronic medical records could save $77 billion annually. RAND also determined that by 2004, 15 to 20 percent of U.S. physician offices had adopted electronic medical records systems.

To get to 100 percent adoption of EMR/EHR software, Biden says he would invest at least $1 billion dollars per year in moving to electronic health records systems, provide grants to states to develop electronic medical records and other health IT systems, and assist hospitals, medical facilities and doctors in upgrading to electronic record systems and implementing them in their practice.

Electronic Medical Records Information and Resources

Sam Brownback (R): Brownback advocates for lifetime electronic medical records. On his Web site, he notes that he is " ... the sponsor of a bill that would offer patients both ownership and control over their personal health information and ensure that personal health information is not used by third parties without the consent of the patient. This proposal would also offer patients debit-like cards containing their private and portable personal health information."

Hillary Clinton (D): In her comprehensive plan for health care reform, Clinton pledges to ensure that all health care providers and insurance plans use privacy-protected information technology. She says her proposal will give doctors financial incentives to adopt health information technology and facilitate adoption of a system where high quality care and better patient outcomes can be rewarded. Clinton also notes on her Web site that the Business Roundtable, SEIU and AARP estimate that “widespread adoption [of such IT reforms] raises the potential savings to $165 billion annually.”

Chris Dodd (D): In his plan, Dodd says health insurance premiums will be affordable based on leveraged negotiating power, spreading risk, reduced administrative costs and incentives for adoption of information technology and savings from better care. He implies that technology such as electronic health records and practice management software systems will help integrate clinical information tools, monitoring technologies and care management such that chronic diseases are kept under control.


John Edwards (D): Edwards advocates for universal health care, and healthcare information technology will be critical to ensuring his model delivers high quality care without breaking the bank. On his Web site, the presidential candidate notes: "Many insurers and hospitals still rely on cumbersome paper systems and incompatible computer systems. The outdated 'paper chase' causes tragic errors when doctors don't have access to patient information or misread handwritten charts. It creates needless administrative waste recreating and transporting medical papers, performing duplicative testing, and claiming insurance benefits. Edwards will support the implementation of health information technology while ensuring that patients’ privacy rights are protected."

Edwards pledges to support new technologies, such as handheld devices and electronic medical records, to give doctors the latest information at their fingertips. Edwards also promises to support public-private collaborations that reduce medical errors through electronic prescribing (e-prescribing).

Rudy Giuliani (R): Giuliani has pledged to invest in health information technology to reduce medical errors, improve efficient and detect health threats, noting that thousands of hospital deaths each year are attributed to preventable medical errors. He sais public-private partnerships to improve and set standards for health IT but without overbearing regulations can play a major role in improving quality of care and reducing health care costs.

Mike Gravel (D): It does not appear that Gravel has a position on the role of information technology in health care reform; if he does, we were unable to find it.

Mike Huckabee (R): Huckabee is famously known for losing 100 pounds after being diagnosed with diabetes, and for his steadfast support for preventive health care. He has not released a comprehensive plan for health care reform, but he does note that health care can be made more affordable by adopting electronic record keeping, among other strategies such as medical liability reform and health insurance portability.

Duncan Hunter (R): There's no mention of health care on his Web site, let along discussion of electronic medical records.
Kucinich's proposal is for universal, single payer health care plan completely funded by the government.

Dennis Kucinich (D): Kucinich has proposed a universal, single payer health care plan completely funded by the U.S. government, called the United States National Health Insurance Act (H.R. 676). In his proposal, he calls for the creation of a "standardized, confidential electronic patient record system in accordance with laws and regulations to maintain accurate patient records and to simplify the billing process, thereby reducing medical errors and bureaucracy," and that "notwithstanding that all billing shall be preformed electronically, patients shall have the option of keeping any portion of their medical records separate from their electronic medical record."

John McCain (R): He says that reforms to federal health care policy and programs should focus on enhancing quality while controlling costs, but we were unable to find any references to health care information technology in his campaign materials.


Barack Obama (D): In his Plan for a Healthy America, Obama calls for lowering costs through investment in electronic health information technology systems, acknowledging that paper-based medical records make it difficult to coordinate care, measure quality and/or reduce medical errors. He also says processing paper claims costs twice as much as processing them electronically.

Obama pledges to invest $10 billion a year over the next five years to move the U.S. health care system to broad adoption of standards-based electronic health information systems, including electronic health records. He will also phase in requirements for full implementation of health IT, and promises to "commit the necessary federal resources to make it happen." He also pledges to ensure that these systems are developed in coordination with providers and front line workers, including those in rural and under served areas.

Ron Paul (R): He's a Medical Doctor, but he has not proposed a plan for health care reform, and makes no mention of electronic medical records in his campaign materials.

Bill Richardson (D): To achieve health care for all, Richardson proposes streamlining health care administration by using "21st Century Health Care Bonds" to invest in health information technology, thereby saving the system $22 billion per year.

Mitt Romney (R): In August, Romney shared his health care reform plan with physicians in Florida, where he underscored the importance of bringing market dynamics and modern technology to health care. In his presentation, Romney supported the idea of federal incentives to foster more widespread adoption of electronic medical records technology.

Tom Tancredo (R): He has announced a very basic plan for reform, but there's no mention of electronic medical records or other types of information technology.

Fred Thompson (R): Thompson says he is committed to a health care system with five key attributes. One of those five guiding principles: "Modernized delivery and administration of care by encouraging the widespread use of clinical best practices, medical information technology, and other innovations."


For more information on each candidate's health care ideas, visit the Association of Health Care Journalists.

November-13-2008

0:41
We know the adoption rate of electronic medical records software is low among physicians, but what about e-mail? Are doctors e-mailing their patients?

It turns out there's not much difference between the percentage of physicians who use an EMR and the percentage of doctors who regularly e-mail their patients. Thirty-one percent of physicians in 2007 said that they communicate with their patients via e-mail, up from 24% in 2005, according to a January 2007 survey by Manhattan Research. However, the remaining 69% of physicians said that concerns -- such as liability, lack of reimbursement and technology integration -- still remain barriers to adopting the technology.


The survey also found that most physicians approve of patients bringing information that they found online to an office visit. Sixty-five percent of physicians said it is a good thing when patients bring in information they found on the Internet, while 34% of physicians said it was a bad thing, according to the survey.

Many more physicians (50%) reported using a personal data assistant (PDA), most often relying on the device to store a prescription drug reference database, according to the survey.

Results are based on a telephone survey of 1,353 physicians in Q1 2007.

March-31-2008

18:15
A new research study by Purkinje, a healthcare technology and services firm, finds that three out of four (75%) Americans would prefer to have their prescription(s) filled in their doctor's office instead of a retail pharmacy if given the choice. The research was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Purkinje.

The study examined consumer attitudes of an FDA-approved service known as in-office medication dispensing or point-of-care dispensing. The practice involves distributing pre-packaged medications directly to patients at the point of care, saving them a trip to the pharmacy and allowing them to immediately begin their treatment.

Overall preference for office-based medication dispensing appears to be driven by the prospect of saving time and improving quality of care, according to Purkinje. A majority of respondents (84%) said such a service would be more convenient, and 62% said it would help them better manage their health.

According to their media statement, "Thousands of progressive medical and dental offices around the nation are adding medication dispensing as a way to heighten the patient experience and create a new source of revenue," said Tom Doerr, M.D., chief medical officer for Purkinje and a practicing physician. "Patients like the comfort of having their prescription filled in the privacy of their physician's office, and the convenience of starting their treatment right away."

Purkinje says software programs are usually integrated with in office medication dispensing services to double check to ensure patients are receiving the right medicine, cross-check against known allergies and look for potentially adverse interactions. Medications arrive in safety sealed bottles, they say, prepackaged offsite under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Apparently, point of care dispensing can also be integrated with electronic medical records systems.

Our own brief research suggests the practice of in office medication dispensing (or point of care dispensing) has been around for more than 20 years, although it has failed to meet initial expectations. Although some 15,000 - 20,000 physicians dispense medications at the point of care, the vast majority of doctors do not offer this service.

This could mean one of two things. Either in office dispensing is a promising but untapped new service for physicians, or its promises don't hold up in real practice. Nevertheless, it appears a majority of Americans are receptive to this type of medication service in their physician offices.

Fair disclosure: Purkinje is currently a sponsor of this blog. (Note their advertisement)
Blog url: 
http://electronic-medical-record.blogspot.com/
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MedTech and Devices

EMR and HIPAA

January-19-2012

14:38


While I definitely had quite a bit of excitement over this year’s CES and Digital Health Summit, I have to admit that I ended up leaving CES a bit disappointed. I’m trying to decide if it being the fifth year I’ve attended CES is making me immune to the hype that surrounds the event or if I’ve just been going to too many conferences in general and so I’ve already heard much of the hype. At the end of the day, I describe this year’s CES as incremental versus trans formative.

There were a few exceptions of things that caught my eye while navigating the CES circus that are worth mentioning.

Ion Proton Genetic Sequencer
Probably the most amazing thing I saw for healthcare was the Life Technologies Ion Proton Genetic Sequencer. Plus, I’m not alone with this feeling. Dan Costa of PC Mag called it “The Coolest Thing I Saw at CES 2012.” To be quite frank, it is pretty amazing. It’s part of the amazing movement happening in bringing genomic data to healthcare.

The Ion Proton Genetic Sequencer (they need a better name) is awesome cause you can do a full genome in a day on a machine that costs about the same as an MRI machine. Plus, I personally think they’re just getting started on optimizing the technology. As they continue to improve the technology the cost of the machine and the time and cost to do the analysis will continue to drop. We still don’t know exactly how to use the genomic data in healthcare, but machines like this are going to make it possible for us to find new ways to use this data for good.

I still can’t help but imagine an EHR having all of our genomic data available to it.

Liquipel
Probably the coolest general technology and innovation that I saw at CES was called Liquipel. Liquipel is a technology that makes your device repel water using a nano coating. The best way to understand how it works is to check out some of the Liquipel videos and I’ll embed one below that gives a nice overview.

Of course, they have the disclaimer that it should never be submerged in water, but it was amazing to see it repel the water and still work. Plus, probably the coolest demonstration they did was with a Kleenex. They’d applied the nano-coating to a Kleenex and then they placed it in water. You’d think it would shrivel up and absorb the water. Nothing. I then asked if I could touch the Kleenex to see if I could feel the coating. Nothing. It felt like a Kleenex.

Many health IT people would love this technology. Then, it wouldn’t be such a concern to put your iPad next to the sink in the exam room. I wonder if the nano technology can do anything with infection control with devices. I imagine it doesn’t solve that issue.

I’m sure many are wondering how they can get their device treated with Liquipel. Right now they said you have to drop it by their office in California to get it done over a lunch or something. However, they’re working with phone manufacturers to get their technology in every phone. Pretty amazing stuff.

John Sculley
Another highlight of CES for me was the chance to hear John Sculley talk at the Digital Health Summit. I can’t say he said anything too groundbreaking. Although, he did say that health IT companies should stop focusing their revenue model on corporate health programs. I found that interesting. The most interesting comment came from colleague Dan Munro after John Sculley’s talk. He commented how interesting it was that so many of these older ex-CIO’s of major tech companies are getting into healthcare. I carried the thought through for Dan that as you age, you start to care about healthcare a lot more than you did when you were younger and healthier. I wonder if we’ll see this trend continue as more tech people get older and start to care more about healthcare.

Related posts:

  1. Healthcare Invades CES – Digital Health Summit
  2. No @ Sign for Healthcare
  3. Jeopardy!’s Watson Computer and Healthcare

January-18-2012

18:18


For that don’t know, there’s a really strong chat happening on Twitter each Friday morning around the hashtag #HITsm. The number of people showing up is growing and growing and quite frankly it’s almost impossible to be able to keep up with all the tweets that are flying around along with the back channel conversations with those participating in the chat as well. It’s an hour long Twitter chat where you’re flooded with interesting bits of health IT information.

Of course, some of you might be overwhelmed by the thought of a Twitter chat. The key is to realize that you don’t have to know anything about Twitter to participate. To get started, just visited this #HITsm twitter page and hit the reload as it tells you there are more tweets. This is like turning on the TV and watching what’s on. Nothing wrong with being a lurker of the #HITsm Twitter chats if that’s what you prefer.

Now for those like me who can’t keep their mouth tweet shut, you’re going to want to participate as well. It’s easy and free to sign up. I’m sure many of you are like my Health IT friend Stacey who is fantastic at Health IT, but was a little nervous on how to start down the Twitter path. I told her to just go for it and now you can find her @HealthITgirl.

I introduced her to 3-4 people on Twitter and she already has 19 people following her on Twitter. Those followers will get her started off right and then as she adds more people and interacts with more people she’ll start to find the real value of Twitter.

Let me repeat my most common comment about Twitter: Twitter is about connecting people.

Certainly Twitter can be used for other things, but Twitter’s most powerful function in my opinion is to connect people. The other thing to realize is that you can’t break it, you can’t break the rules, and there’s no right or wrong way to use Twitter. So, just start using it and testing what ways it can be valuable to you.

If you’re on Twitter or sign up for Twitter let me know @techguy and/or @ehrandhit. I’ll be happy to introduce you to some smart people on Twitter too.

Related posts:

  1. Thoughts on Top #HITsm Contributor Awards
  2. HIPAA and Football #HITsm
  3. Email and Twitter Follow Up With Patients

January-17-2012

13:13


I first heard about the new Secure, Branded App Store for Hospitals and Healthcare called Happtique in early December on Techcrunch. At its core, I think it’s an interesting idea to try and filter through what the article claims are “23,000 mobile health apps available for iOS and Android.” Helping physicians and hospital administrators filter through these apps could be valuable. Plus, most hospital administrators would love a way to have a phone that was limited on which apps it could download.

Well, it seems that the company has shifted gears a little bit. As Brian Dolan from Mobi Health News reported, Happtique is taking the first steps to setting up a certification for mobile health apps.

Happtique, a healthcare-focused appstore, announced plans to create a certification program that will help the medical community determine which of the tens of thousands of health-related mobile apps are clinically appropriate and technically sound. The company has tapped a multi-disciplinary team to develop the “bona fide mHealth app certification program” within the next six months. The program is open to all developers and will be funded by developer application fees.

It will certify apps intended to be used by both medical professionals and patients.

While I think that providing some way for people to filter through the large number of mobile apps, I think certification is a terrible way to go about it. Many people know I’ve written many an article about CCHIT pre-EHR incentive money and how screwed up the CCHIT EHR certification was for the industry. I think it’s just as bad news for Happtique to create a certification for the mobile health industry.

Turns out that Happtique seems to have agreed with this idea back in October 2010 where they said in a MobiHealthNews interview, “We are not in the business of opining whether an app is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ though. That’s not our role. Apple doesn’t do that and others don’t either. If the FDA indicates that an app is a medical device and needs to be regulated, well, that’s a different situation and we can take it out of the store.” Seems they’ve seen a different business opportunity.

They have a couple recognizable names on their board to create their certification including Howard Luks and Dave deBrokart (better known as e-Patient Dave), but I believe they’re going to find that it’s an impossible task. First, because they won’t have the breadth of knowledge needed to create certification requirements for every type of mHealth app. Second, what value will the certification really provide? Third, how do you make the certification broad enough to apply to all 20,000+ apps while still providing meaning to those using a very specific mHealth app? Plus, I’m sure there are many other issues I haven’t thought of yet.

The problem with these certification ideas is that they start with great intentions, but always end up bad.

Related posts:

  1. Around Healthcare Scene: The mHealth Summit, DentiMax PM Software, and Getting Physicians Onboard with mHealth
  2. CCHIT Certification as Default Certification
  3. CCHIT As The HITECH Certification Criteria Poll

January-16-2012

11:24


HITECH Answers recently posted a great post that gives a run down of the EHR Incentive program’s progress in 2011. Here’s their list with my own analysis and commentary of each point.

123,921 Eligible Professionals have registered for EHR Incentives, 15,255 have successfully attested to meaningful use in the Medicare program.
This seems like such a HUGE difference in numbers. That’s just over 12% of Eligible Professionals that registered attested to meaningful use. Does this mean that we’re going to see a tidal wave of meaningful use attestation in 2012? Possibly.

I believe that we’ll see more eligible professionals attesting to meaningful use in 2012. However, the question is how many of those other 108,666 will attest to meaningful use in 2012 and how many are like the Happy EMR Doctor who just registered to see the MU process. I wonder how many first hand meaningful use experiences by doctors will scare doctors away from MU attestation.

3.077 Eligible Hospitals have registered EHR Incentives and 604 of those have successfully attested to meaningful use.
This is almost 20% of hospitals that have registered that have attested to meaningful use. It’s not surprising that this number is a lot higher than eligible professionals. I still believe that the wave of meaningful use attestation will come from these other 2473 hospitals and probably many more that still haven’t registered. I haven’t seen a good number of how many hospitals are in the US. Does anyone know that number? The EHR incentive money that goes to hospitals will dwarf those of eligible professionals.

$2,533,689,145 has been paid out in Medicare and Medicaid Incentives.
$2.5 billion sent out in 2011. I just went back to the first time I tagged meaningful use on this site on April 3, 2009 (coincidentally I have 19 pages of 10 posts each tagged with Meaningful Use). Amazing to think that it’s taken basically 3 years to spend $2.5 billion on EHR.

277 hospitals have received payments under both Medicare and Medicaid and of those 12 were CAHs.
That’s about half of the hospitals that have attested to meaningful use under Medicare are also getting the Medicaid EHR incentive money as well.

22% of eligible professionals that have been paid EHR incentives are Family Practitioners and 20% are Internal Medicine.
I must admit that I would have thought that the percentage of family doctors that got paid EHR incentive money would have been a lot higher. I guess when you have so many other specialty areas I shouldn’t be that surprised. I also wonder why the internal medicine number is so high. These numbers actually make me believe that a lot of family practice doctors are sitting out when it comes to meaningful use.

41 States Medicaid programs were open for registration. Two additional States launched in January of 2012.
I wonder what’s holding back the other 7 states. From what I’ve seen all the states will eventually get there.

More than 1500 EHR products have been certified by ONC-ATCBs.
That’s a lot of EHR software. I still put the EHR company list at about 300 EHR vendors. 1500 includes multiple versions of the same software, partial EHR certification for products like data warehouses, ePrescribing, etc. The best thing that’s come from the ONC-ATCB program is that it has made EHR certification basically irrelevant in the EHR selection process. Every EHR vendor is certified now. This is much better than the false assurances that EHR certification provided before. I still dislike what EHR certification has done to the industry, but at least it’s not misleading doctors the same way it was before.

Related posts:

  1. Are You Ready for 2012? – Meaningful Use Monday
  2. How Critical is the October 1, 2011 Deadline? – Meaningful Use Monday
  3. Exemption from 2012 eRx penalties: The Process is Now in Place – Meaningful Use Monday

January-16-2012

0:18


Here is a quick look at some of the other articles recently posted on some of the other HealthcareScene.com websites:

EHR and EMR Videos

David Collins of HIMSS Discusses the Course of Global Health at the 2011 mHealth Summit- David Collins, Senior Director of Professional Development at HIMSS, speaks at the 2011 mHealth Summit about HIMSS’ involvement in this year’s Summit, and about how HIT X.0 is affecting the course of Global Health.

Cerner Smart Room Technology Overview Video- An updated view of Cerner’s Smart Room technology. The Cerner Smart Room incorporates technology and workflow software to improve consumer care and clinician efficiency. The Smart Room is powered by CareAwareTM device connectivity architecture.

EHR and EMR Screenshots

These three posts provide numerous screenshots from the DentiMax Dental Practice Management Software.  Are there special considerations for a dental practice as opposed to a regular medical practice when it comes to EHR/EMR/PM?

Screenshots from the DentiMax Dental Practice Management Software
More Screenshots from the DentiMax Dental Practice Management Software
Appointment Book Pro Screenshots from the DentiMax Dental Practice Management Software

Smart Phone Health Care

How to Get Physicians Onboard with mHealth- No matter how great an app or device may be, it will be difficult for any developer to be successful if they don’t get some level of buy in from physicians in general.  People will always resort back to their physician when it comes to the quality of medical products.

Axial’s Care Transition Suite Wins “Ensuring Safe Transitions from Hospital to Home” Mobile App Challenge- In a recent online discussion I had concerning an article I recently wrote, the point was raised that for an app or device to be successful it must fulfill a need.  While I don’t think that it is absolutely essential to success, it certainly makes the path to success much more realistic.

Related posts:

  1. The Healthcare Scene Writers
  2. EHR Summit by Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA)
  3. What Keeps EMR and HIPAA Running and New Healthcare Scene Service

January-13-2012

17:57


I recently started to think about some of the implications associated with multiple languages in an EHR. One of my readers asked me how EHR vendors correlated data from those charting in Spanish and those charting in English. My first response to this question was, “How many doctors chart in Spanish?” Yes, this was a very US centric response since obviously I know that almost all of the doctors in Latin America and other Spanish speaking countries chart in Spanish, but I wonder how many doctors in the US chart in Spanish. I expect the answer is A LOT more than I realize.

Partial evidence of this is that about a year ago HIMSS announced a Latino Health IT Initiative. From that today there is now a HIMSS Latino Community web page and also a HIMSS Latino Community Workshop at the HIMSS Annual Conference in Las Vegas. I’m going to have to find some time to try and learn more about the HIMSS Latino Community. My Espanol is terrible, but I know enough that I think I could enjoy the event.

After my initial reaction, I then started wondering how you would correlate data from another language. So, much for coordinated care. I wonder what a doctor does if he asks for his patient’s record and it is all in Spanish. That’s great if all of your doctors know Spanish, but in the US at least I don’t know of any community that has doctors who know Spanish in every specialty. How do they get around it? I don’t think those translation services you can call are much help.

Once we start talking about automated patient records the language issue becomes more of a problem. Although, maybe part of that problem is solved if you use could standards like ICD-10, SNOMED, etc. A code is a code is a code regardless of what language it is and computers are great at matching up those codes. Although, if these standards are not used, then forget trying to connect the data even through Natural Language Processing (NLP). Sure the NLP could be bi-lingual, but has anyone done that? My guess is not.

All of this might start to really matter more when we’re talking about public health issues as we aggregate data internationally. Language becomes a much larger issue in this context and so it begs for an established set of standards for easy comparison.

I’d be interested to hear about other stories and experiences with EHR charting in Spanish or another language. I bet the open source EHR have some interesting solutions similar to the open source projects I know well. I look forward to learning more about the challenge of multiple languages.

Related posts:

  1. Nuance and MModal – Natural Language Processing Expertise
  2. Think About the Problems with Paper Charting
  3. Customized EHR Content, 6 Week EMR Implementation, Redundant Charting, and Increased HIT Investment

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