May 28,2013

(Editor's note: This guest blog was written by Cindy Doyon, RHIA, vice president, coding and client audit services, Precyse.) As the Oct. 1, 2014, ICD-10 compliance deadline looms, many providers are readying their coders for the magnitude and pervasive...(read more)

May 26,2013


I have this guy I hired about a year ago named Max. Max is awesome not only because of the work that he does on our marketing team, but also for things like his family (his mom is the super-woman Judy whom I love), his bow-ties, his ability to handle strange travel delays and his stories and wise sayings.  In honor of Max, and to make up for, in some small way, that his whole family is in London and he had to stay home because he has a JOB, this is a blog post about one of those bits of wisdom.  Somehow his single sentences hold clarity and meaning in a way that only Max can convey.  Why is it number 501? Because it can’t be his first (it's way to insightful) and I know it is one of many.

Recently we were working with a client and we had trouble getting them to be in the present.  There was all this talk and focus around what their system USED to do. No one wanted to think about what it was STILL doing or needed to do in the future.  No one was able to see that the goals of the retiring system were different now that it has been replaced by Epic. It was quite frustrating.

Then Max says:


it's like looking in the rear view mirror to drive forward 

And that is EXACTLY what it was.   When you put it like that, everyone lights up because THEY GET IT.  While looking in the rear view adds value, and lets you reflect on where you have been (which is important), you CANNOT look in the rear view to drive forward. You have to be looking at the front window in order to move on and get to where you eventually need to be.  You HAVE to face the reality of the road in front of you.  You have to remember that you have an ultimate destination and place you need to be.   Everyone needs to put away the map of what the old system used to do and get out the Archive Strategy Map.  It can hold some of the same sights, back roads, and detours of the original map, but it needs to be one that is driving your archive strategy forward.


Categories: All , News and Views

May 24,2013

(Editor's Note: This guest blog was written by Vicki J. Brown, director of HIM Solutions Marketing, Nuance Communications.) As we reflect on National Medical Transcription Week, May 19-25, 2013, I can't help but think about the waves of transition this...(read more)

May 21,2013

I’m sharing one of the slide deck which I used recently to introduce Product Management to few aspiring product managers.. Welcome your feedback & discussion on this. Product management shadzlog from Shadzlog
Source: Shadzlog
Categories: All , News and Views

May 20,2013


Portuguese and Spanish researchers in the field of social robotics are working on the use of robots to interact with children who are hospitalized for the treatment of cancer, thereby providing emotional support.

The researchers are keen to take robots out of the laboratory and place them in a real environment. Until now, most of the research on social robotics has taken place in very controlled environments. As Professor Salichs from UC3M points out, 'The introduction of a group of autonomous social robots into surroundings with these characteristics is something new, and we hope that the project will help us to advance in the development of robots that are able to relate to people in complex situations and scenarios.'


Another cause for guarded optimism about health care robotics? My hope is that it will augment the efforts of often overworked staff and allow them to better prioritize the focus of their precious attention and energy. In addition to their potential social value, robots could act as in situ surveillance devices to watch for nascent or emergent health crises. My fear is that they will be used as justification for cutting costs through staff reductions, as self-checkout lanes have done in supermarkets.

Thanks to ACM TechNews for the pointer to the CORDIS story.

Source: FutureHIT

May 18,2013


If you are reading my blog, you know what my company does.  Being the guys that are handling the “go dead” of an application, we are dealing with what is, agreeably, the most difficult and disappointing time for the vendor being retired.

I get it. The customers have passed you over. Putting you out to pasture.  Picked someone younger, fresher, nicer, better suited to their business.  Your revenues are impacted. Your market position is threatened.  It makes a statement about where you are in your product lifecycle.

What I DON’T get is the attitude that comes along with it.  Most HIT vendors today sell more than one product for more than one solution.  Why would you treat a customer badly just because they are choosing to de-install ONE of your products at their work site? Raising their support fees? Refusing to help them? NOT GIVING THEM THEIR DATA? I just don’t get it.  Its like you are 12 years old and breaking up with your first girlfriend.

Do you actually think this is the right way to treat these customers? That this WON’T come back to haunt you later?  Do you know how much these customers talk to each other? Have you READ HISTalk?

Think about the bigger picture here. If you are a vendor that plans to stay in business, you had better treat each and every customer or potential customer like you would want to be treated.   The good old Golden Rule applies here.

The decisions have been made. You were or were not asked to present or even attend the party. Suck it up.  Do the right thing.  Help your customer transition to the other vendor in a positive and supportive way.  Make their data accessible and understandable.  Help them through technical issues.  Use the opportunity to find out what you can do differently next time to be the vendor that is chosen.  MAYBE, just maybe, you will get a chance to present or sell something to this customer again. And MAYBE, just maybe, they will remember the positive and professional way you handled the prior system “end of life” and take that into consideration.

Because I can promise you this – the way some of these vendors are acting – they won’t even get in the parking lot, much less a ticket to the dance, even if they are the very best at what they do or sell.  They are not only burning those bridges, they are nuking them.

Categories: All , News and Views

May 15,2013


Robot Aids in Therapy for Autistic Children
Wall Street Journal (05/01/13) Shirley S. Wang

University of Notre Dame researchers will present study findings at the annual conference of the International Society for Autism Research showing promise in the use of robots for teaching social skills to autistic children. The study, involving 19 autistic children, is believed to be the largest trial to date using robots in this way. The children interacted with a two-foot-tall robot therapist that was programmed to ask novel questions and engage children in conversation. The study participants showed greater conversational improvement with the robot than with a human therapist alone, and parents reported more significant improvement at home as well. Children interacted in six sessions with the robot as well as with a human therapist, who provided instruction on specific skills when interacting with the robot, such as making eye contact or taking turns talking. Simplified social interactions with a robot might be beneficial to children with autism, who tend to be very interested in technology but find complex social interactions challenging. The researchers hope the children will carry over the social skills to interactions with people as well, rather than just interacting with the robot.


Monday's ACM TechNews produced this very brief but tantalizing summary of a Wall Street Journal article. 

This is one of those stories that leave me very ambivalent. In some ways, my automatic reaction to our collective desire to depend more on automation in direct patient care is fear. I am afraid we are going to abandon our elderly and otherwise hopelessly disabled kin to the unfeeling arms of robots, androids, whatever. This will spare us the feelings aroused by an out-of-control psychotic spouse, an incontinent and demented parent, or a profoundly developmentally disabled child, when we must intervene and our interventions are resisted, not appreciated, or insufficiently effective.

With this story, I see the situation is not so simple. Autistic children have difficulty relating to humans with whom they are intimately involved, and their difficulties are often reflected in others' responses to them. Machines are insensitive by nature, and can be programmed to reward positive behavior and ignore the negatives. This may be a situation, as the investigators assert, where robotic intervention is not only appropriate as an alternative but can even improve the patient's situation holistically.

I don't have a WSJ subscription so I can't follow the link ACM provides to the full story, and I don't have time at the moment to poke around on the Web for alternate sources of information about this research project. I would like to learn more, and will try to pursue this when I have more time.

Source: FutureHIT

May 11,2013

(This is a preview of a talk that I am going to give next week at Healthcare::Refactored, with Karen Herzog) There are two definitions of the word “Hacker”. One is an original and authentic term that the geekdom uses with respect. This … Continued
Source: Fred Trotter

May 10,2013


1.  I am loyal to a fault. You want me on your side. Even if you are wrong.

2. Don’t Wrong Me. That loyalty thing being said, don’t do me wrong. You don’t want to deal with that.

3.  I take it to heart.  All of it.  I have a tremendous sense of right and wrong, and if I have Wronged You, I am devastated. I will do anything to make it up to you.   If I am Right, you better be ready to convince me why you might be too.

4.  That being said, don’t take advantage.  See #2.

5.  You can trust me.  But be able to handle the truth, because I am going to give it to you.

6.  I love my dog. She is a Cavalier king Charles Spaniel and she is fat and I love her.

7.  I love my kids. More than my dog, most of the time.

8.  I love life and adventure and change and the next thing. I am always looking to learn more, do more, be better.  And there is nothing wrong with that.

9.  I worry. All the time. You can stop worrying, I have you covered.

10.  I love Prosecco.

Categories: All , News and Views

Physicians Spooked by Failure StoriesA significant portion of the physician market has still not adopted an EHR, despite the lure of government incentives and the fear of the penalties looming on the horizon. The stock prices of most publicly traded ambulatory EHR companies are down sharply, as sales are lower and earnings projections have not been met throughout the industry. How can this be, when the EHR incentive program has successfully increased EHR adoption and was expected to be such a boon to EHR vendors?

I know why, and it is not—as commonly thought—because the initial EHR-adoption rush fostered by the incentives has ended. Rather, it is because of rampant physician dissatisfaction that has reached a more-than-palpable level. I have noticed a dramatic change in the tenor of conversations with physicians, most recently at professional society conferences, where physicians who have not yet purchased an EHR are frozen in their tracks. They are worried by the horror stories they hear from colleagues—even from those who have succeeded at meaningful use—because many of those physicians continue to experience major workflow disruptions and significant productivity losses from which they see no potential to rebound. Recent surveys point to the number of physicians looking to replace their EHRs, and based on my company’s experience in the replacement market, that number is growing. A recent article summarized the findings of a large study on EHR satisfaction and presented an insightful analysis of the potential reasons for these disappointing results.

This heightened level of frustration has resulted from frantic, insufficiently researched EHR purchase decisions by physicians and rushed, inadequate implementations conducted by resource-strapped vendors. Massive EHR failures are exactly what I predicted in an EMR Straight Talk post on the unintended consequences of the EHR incentive program in February 2010:

After an initial peak in implementations, long-term EHR adoption will slow—particularly among high-performance specialists—and the current failure rate will escalate. Many factors will contribute to this: (1) Some physicians will rush into EHR purchases without conducting proper due diligence. (2) Products that were overly complex and did not work in busy specialists’ practices in the past will surely not succeed now, particularly since these same products must now be used in an even more structured and demanding way. (3) Sorely needed implementation and training will be provided by inexperienced and rushed implementation teams, further reducing the likelihood of success with providers, many of whom are less technologically savvy than the early adopters. (4) Where there was never a convincing economic justification in the past, the addition of data-collection requirements will further lessen the economic feasibility of traditional, point-and-click EHRs. . . . The result? The high failure rate will leave physicians “holding the bag” after investing large sums of money, failing to earn the anticipated incentives, and owning a system that doesn’t meet their needs.

So, what can physicians do to avoid falling victim to EHR failure, and to instead reap the benefits of successful EHR adoption—government incentives and practice productivity? I have written extensively about the importance of physicians doing thorough and objective reference checking—that advice is as valid now as when I first wrote about it, and perhaps is even more critical today. For guidance on how to conduct a thorough and fair evaluation of an EHR, read EMR Selection: How to Uncover the Truth or 100% EHR Success – A Clinical Approach.


Stop Saving the NHS cover (small).jpgWell I have done it. My book Stop Saving the NHS and Start Reinventing it has been published in Kindle and paperback. It's aimed at NHS leaders and managers, but will probably interest anyone who is interested in the shape of 21st century healthcare.

May 3,2013

(Editor's note: This guest blog was written by Julie A. Dooling, RHIA, AHIMA Director, HIM Practice Excellence.) People are powerless to control unexpected events. What we can control is our response. When an unexpected event occurs in healthcare, instincts...(read more)

April 19,2013


The FAQ related to the Implementation of EN 62304 with respect to MDD 93/42/EEC was released by Team NB, the association of Notified Bodies.
You'll find in this FAQ many hot subjects I already mentioned in this blog:

  • When software is medical device,
  • What is software validation,
  • SOUP and legacy software,
  • Software risk assessment.

This FAQ shows that the state-of-the-art is still evolving. But I think that it has reached a point of consistency and stability. Many questions in the FAQ hadn't clear answers one or two years back.

Keep going!

Categories: All

Senators Say Meaningful Use Program Needs RebootingThis week, six senators released a white paper, Reboot: Re-examining the Strategies Needed to Successfully Adopt Health IT, that argues that there is no evidence that the $32 billion in taxpayers’ money being spent on meaningful use is returning the results it was designed to deliver. Although it would be naïve to discount the political motivation of the authors—all six being Republicans—they raise some of the same criticisms and concerns that I have written about in the past. They also make some claims that I feel compelled to dispute.

The senators have it right on these issues:

  • The success of the EHR incentives program should not be measured by the amount of money spent, yet every month CMS issues a report boasting how many billions of dollars have been paid in incentives. This is, of course, a proxy for EHR adoption and meaningful use attestations, but it says nothing about the impact on quality or cost of care—the motivation behind supporting EHR adoption.
  • The program is being propelled forward too quickly. It was the right move to delay Stage 2 for a year, but the requirements were set in stone long before a detailed evaluation could be made of the successes, challenges, and failures of Stage 1.
  • Program sustainability will be a challenge. The costs of participation are increasing for providers, given the added demands of Stage 2; for example, they will have to pay for interfaces to registries and HIEs and they will need to purchase a portal, if one is not provided by their EHR. As out-of-pocket costs rise, incentives decrease. This, combined with the challenges posed by the program moving too fast, will cause many physicians to abandon participation, which will threaten the program’s ability to deliver results.
  • There is no question that the proliferation of government programs with which physicians must contend has made compliance a challenge. The legislation is so complex and the requirements so cumbersome that they are diverting physicians’ attention from patient care.

I vociferously disagree, however, with the senators’ criticism regarding interoperability. Of course, we are not there yet—and clearly they are frustrated by that fact—but progress is underway toward that universally supported goal. Contrary to their claim that there are no meaningful use measures that require interoperability, there are in fact several in Stage 2, including the requirement that physicians electronically send a patient care summary for 10% of patients transitioned to the care of another physician or provider. This exchange is facilitated by the fact that all certified EHRs must communicate using the same formats.

Not only does interoperability relate to provider-to-provider communication, but it also allows for easy integration between products of different vendors, without requiring additional programming. I was recently speaking with another HIT vendor about a potential partnership arrangement, and we both talked the same language—XDR Direct for transport protocol and CCDA or HL7 in terms of content. This conversation would neither have been possible, nor would we be able to create a tight, simple interface between our products, were it not for the standards promulgated by the EHR incentive program. This kind of interoperability will ultimately be better for physicians and for their patients. The EHRA (EHR vendor association of HIMSS) hit the nail on the head: the appropriate role for government is to set the standards, but then the vendors should be free to innovate and let the market take over from there.

Privacy considerations don't necessarily need to be a barrier to the use of big data in healthcare and can be respected as long as a transparent framework is established and the onus for remedying data breaches is put on the collector rather than the subject, a privacy expert said. Emma Hossack,
Categories: All

April 18,2013

The OIG released an updated self-disclosure protocol this week, about ten months after putting out a call for comments on the old protocol. The new protocol imposes some new burdens on the disclosing entity, such as a shorter timeline for...

You should follow me on Twitter: @healthblawg

David Harlow
Source: HealthBlawg
HealthBlawg is moving its RSS feed. If you ever read HealthBlawg in a feedreader such as Google Reader (which, by the way, is being shut down by Google July 1, so it's time to pick a new feedreader and migrate...

You should follow me on Twitter: @healthblawg

David Harlow
Source: HealthBlawg
“This is the end of the beginning,” Department of Health and Ageing deputy secretary Paul Madden told the Big Data 2013 conference in Melbourne during an update on the implementation of the PCEHR. Mr Madden, also DoHA's chief information and knowledge officer, was in a buoyant mood and excited about the
Categories: All
Former minister Kim Carr has opened the Health Informatics Society of Australia’s inaugural Big Data conference with an impassioned speech about freeing up public data, urging the nation not to “squander” the “great compact between government and researchers”. “I have taken the view that this should be an area in which
Categories: All

April 17,2013

The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) has won the Outstanding ICT Innovation award in the Asia Pacific Eldercare Innovation Awards 2013 for its Healthy, Happy and at Home telehealth project. The project involves nurse-led video conferencing with RDNS clients
Categories: All
Monash University and its partners in the Telephone-Linked Care (TLC) Diabetes ( program are looking at ways the technology can be offered to the broader community following the publication of successful results from a randomised controlled trial. The TLC system is an interactive computer-assisted telephone system that has proven successful
Categories: All

April 16,2013

The advent of digital technology has been quite a boon to healthcare industry, more so to radiology, whose role in clinical diagnosis and planning the right course of medical intervention continues to be more critical than ever before. Physicians and … Continue reading
The advent of digital technology has been quite a boon to healthcare industry, more so to radiology, whose role in clinical diagnosis and planning the right course of medical intervention continues to be more critical than ever before. Physicians and … Continue reading

April 15,2013

The American College of Physicians (ACP) Ethics, Professionalism, and Human Rights Committee, the ACP Council of Associates, and the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) Special Committee on Ethics and Professionalism spent eighteen months developing a policy statement on online...

You should follow me on Twitter: @healthblawg

David Harlow
Source: HealthBlawg
Medical practitioners, whose immediate concern has been quality patient care or clinical excellence, may be swayed away by a compelling healthcare regulatory compliance. ;While regulatory compliance may have been designed to rationalize the entire healthcare delivery, optimize medical expenditure, and … Continue reading
Medical practitioners, whose immediate concern has been quality patient care or clinical excellence, may be swayed away by a compelling healthcare regulatory compliance. ;While regulatory compliance may have been designed to rationalize the entire healthcare delivery, optimize medical expenditure, and … Continue reading

April 13,2013


I am writing a critique of a health information system for an academic essay. I am thinking about Cerner software. Any suggestions on where to get information on operational challenges on the deployment of Cerner in other countries?

Categories: All

April 12,2013


In the previous post, we've seen when it's mandatory to be compliant both with IEC 60601-1 and IEC 62304, and when IEC 60601-1 alone is enough.

But some manufacturers don't apply IEC 60601-1, mainly because their devices are not in contact with the patient or cannot be qualified are medical devices. We find in these categories in-vitro diagnosis instruments and laboratory instruments.
These instruments usually fall in the scope of IEC 61010-1. Let's see now the relationship between IEC 61010-1 and IEC 62304.

New Risks Section

IEC 61010-1 3rd edition was published in 2010. We're still in the transition between the 2nd and the 3rd edition. IEC 61010-1 3rd edition will become mandatory in Europe by october 2013.

A new section was added to the 3rd edition: Section 17 Risk Assessment, along with the informative Annex H. No risk management method is mandatory to address risks, but ISO 14971 is quoted in Annex H.
That makes the IEC 61010-1 closer to what medical devices manufacturers know. While ISO 14971 is mandatory for manufacturers of IVD instruments, it is fairly likely that manufacturers of laboratory instruments for medical purpose address risks with ISO 14971.

But that doesn't tell how to manage software.

When software appears in risks

Section 16 of the standard, titled Hazards resulting from application, requires to manage risks arising from software-based controls or ergonomics. And Section 17 requires to manage any other risks not addressed in the rest of the standard (including software, by extension). Here we are!

What is the standard that requires to manage software risks with ISO 14971, and contains other specific requirements to manage risks of software fro medical purpose?
IEC 62304, of course!

So, section 16 and 17 of IEC 61010-1 3rd edition advocate for IEC 62304. Yet, it is applied on a voluntary basis by manufacturers which instruments are for medical purpose, other than MD and IVD.

The diagram below represents the relationships between IEC 61010-1 and IEC 62304, inspired form the diagram shown in the previous post.
Software in Medical Devices - relationships between IEC 62304 and IEC 61010-1

On the IEC 62304 side

IEC 62304 is more straightforward about IEC 61010-1. In Annex C, the sub-clause C.5 makes it clear about the relationship between both standards.

It states that if IVD instruments contain software that can lead to a HAZARD, then IEC 62304 must be taken into account. A flowchart is given that helps manufacturers deciding wether IEC 62304 is required or not.

Once again, this is an informative section of IEC 62304. Thus, it is applied by IVD and laboratory instruments manufacturers on a voluntary basis. It provides "food for thought", at the very least.


The relationship between IEC 60601-1 and IEC 62304, on the one hand, and IEC 61010-1 and IEC 62304, on the other hand, is not based on the same criteria:

  • Hazards arising from software is the most important criteria to apply IEC 62304,
  • IEC 60601-1 adds the notion of software complexity in its informative section:
    • If software is very simple, then IEC 62304 is not necessary,
    • If software is complex enough to design a software architecture, IEC 62304 becomes mandatory,
  • IEC 61010-1 requires a risk assessment process with:
    • Specific software hazards in Section 16,
    • General-purpose risk assessment in Section 17 (including software),
    • Thus making IEC 62304 relevant for instruments with a medical purpose.

Categories: All

April 11,2013

I'm quoted in the current issue of Medical Economics, on the subject of the Medicare PQRS: Physician Quality Reporting System. I'm not a big fan of PQRS, since it rewards reporting of process measures, not outcomes, and the amounts at...

You should follow me on Twitter: @healthblawg

David Harlow
Source: HealthBlawg

April 10,2013

Healthcare Reforms or Obamacare that had been facing a few political hurdles may have finally broken through all shackles and assumed greater acceleration. While healthcare reforms or Obamacare are largely perceived to pro-patient, physicians or medical practices have no option … Continue reading

Follow Us: