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Key Insights from Healthcare B2B Social Marketing Strategies #HITMC Twitter Chat

Posted on June 30, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I previously posted the topics for the first #HITMC Twitter chat that was supported by @billians and @porterresearch. Billian put together a recap of the Twitter chat using storify which is worth checking out. My partner in Influential Networks, Shahid Shah (The Healthcare Guy), took notes during the Twitter chat and put together this really great discussion summary for the 5 questions.

Topic 1: How can healthcare B2B marketers use social selling to their advantage?

  • Most healthcare sales are “local” and selling is inherently social; using social to identify trends and implications is great start. #HITMC
  • When selling socially, audience development is key; use local topics/trends to draw community attention before discussing solutions. #HITMC
  • When selling socially, don’t try to broadcast messages applicable nationally – focus locally on what matters to specific audiences. #HITMC
  • When discussing products, draw clear lines from real customer problems to your solutions including how to operationalize. #HITMC
  • When describing solutions, figure out what kind of audience participation around objections and clarifications is necessary. #HITMC

Topic 2: What suggestions do you have for healthcare B2B marketers beginning on social?

  • Imagine creating an event and consider what kind of audience you’d like to talk with; develop messaging around that audience. #HITMC
  • In the imagined event think about why people would come to your event (social is about “events” and “audience”). #HITMC
  • Craft a simple marketing messaging document that considers audience participation and what you’d like to hear from them. #HITMC
  • Don’t just figure out what you want tell the audience, that’s not social. Community participation is social. #HITMC
  • Once you know your audience and how you’d like them to participate then choose medium – FB, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogs, etc. #HITMC
  • Don’t choose medium first, create audience development and community participation plan, topics, trends, etc. first #HITMC

Topic 3: How can Facebook be of use to healthcare B2B marketing strategies?

  • FB is best used for B2C (patient) as opposed to B2B but is useful in certain B2B circles when dealing with healthcare staff. #HITMC
  • To reach healthcare company staff, FB is great to start audience-specific discussions around specific jobs and problems. #HITMC
  • B2B is still a person to person sale but the person you’re selling has an organizational responsibility to be considered. #HITMC
  • Once you know the organizational responsibilities and purchasing decision, budgeting, then use that to inform FaceBook content. #HITMC

Topic 4: How can healthcare B2B marketers ensure the success of content on social?

  • News & views content is less useful and not as evergreen as actionable advice or content meant to teach something. #HITMC
  • In B2B, focus on content that is meant to help someone get their job done, not entertain or enlighten to just give news. #HITMC
  • Successful content will saved, e-mailed, or shared in some way. If your content isn’t saved or shared consider it a failure. #HITMC
  • If you know your audience, their roles, their responsibilities, etc. you can teach them something or lighten their research load. #HITMC
  • All of us have jobs to do during the day; the content that helps eliminate some research we have to do or finish a job wins. #HITMC

Topic 5: Why is social listening an important factor in successful B2B marketing?

  • There is no such thing as social marketing or social selling without listening.  #HITMC
  • If you don’t listen, you’re talking. Usually when you talk without listening you focus on the wrong person (yourself). #HITMC
  • Listening allows you to demonstrate authenticity, which builds confidence in your brand, which makes you believable. #HITMC
  • People, especially B2B, only buys from you when you’re authentic and believable because mission critical jobs are at stake. #HITMC
  • Recognize that nobody cares about you or your company. Not listening confirms people’s suspicions about your inauthenticity. #HITMC
  • Listening allows you to develop a better audience and find out their problems; you can solve issues or provide better content. #HITMC
  • Listening allows audiences to inform your marketing calendar, event participation, tell you about problems, solutions sought, etc. #HITMC

Thanks to everyone who participated in the chat and contributed to the conversation. I was excited that the chat produced 279 tweets and almost 1.4 million impressions. You can find the full transcript of the chat here. If you have other comments on these subjects, please add them to the comments of this post.

Allscripts And Team Battle Epic and IBM for DoD Contract

Posted on June 27, 2014 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Earlier this month,we shared the news that Epic and IBM had gotten together to fight for the DoD’s massive Healthcare Management Systems  Modernization project. The project is to replace the current Military Health System, which should serve some 9.7 million beneficiaries.  The winning team should make about $11 billion to do the work.

So it’s little wonder that another group of health IT giants have stepped up to fight for such a juicy prize.  A group lead by Computer Sciences Corp., whose partners include Allscripts and HP, has announced that it intends to compete for the contract.

The HMSM project is extremely ambitious. It’s intended to connect varied healthcare systems across the globe, located at Army hospitals, on Naval vessels, in battlefield clinics and more, into a single open, interoperable platform serving not only active-duty members, but also reservists and civilian contractors.

Before you burst out laughing at the idea that any EMR vendor could pull this off, it’s worth considering that perhaps their partners can.  It’s hard to argue that CSC has a long track record in both government and private sector health IT work, and HP has 50 years with of experience in developing IT projects military health and VA projects.

That being said, one has to wonder whether Allscripts — which is boasting of bringing an open architecture to the project — can really put his money where its mouth is. (One could say the same of Epic, which frequently describes its platform as interoperable but has a reputation of being interoperable only from one Epic installation to the other.)

To be fair, both project groups have about as much integration firepower as anyone on earth. Maybe, if the winner manages to create an interoperable platform for the military, they’ll bring that to private industry and will see some real information sharing there.

That being said, I remain skeptical that the DoD is going to get what it’s paying for; as far as I know, there is no massively interoperable platform in existence that meets the specs this project has.  That’s not an absolute dealbreaker, but it should raise some eyebrows.

Bottom line, the DoD seems determined to give it a try, regardless of the shaky state of interoperability in the industry overall. And its goals seem to be the right ones. After all, who  wouldn’t want an open platform that lends itself to future change and development?  Sadly, however, I think it’s more likely that will be shaking our heads over the collapse of the project some years from now.

EMR/EHR: The Good, The Bad & The Uncertain

Posted on June 26, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The following is a guest blog post by Abby Norman from BHM Healthcare Solutions.
Abby Norman
One of the hottest topics in healthcare right now is the great debate about electronic health records. Ideally, the “one patient, one record” dream would create a healthier population, but with many false starts, unforeseen complications both technological and financial and an overarching resentment to change, it seems that the implementation is off to a rocky start. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons, as heard in the trenches of medical life.

The Pros

Availability

No matter where you are, or where your physician is, your health information could be accessible in the event of a health emergency. It takes the pressure off you to try to remember your doctor’s phone number, or insurance information, if you’re in a serious accident or land in the hospital while on vacation. On the flip side, when you get home and follow up with your own doctor, you don’t have to try to conjure up all the details of your treatment – they’ve already got it, in real time. Furthermore, your care is better coordinated, in theory. If your vacation doctor can see your record and run their treatments against your history, they’ll be able to make informed choices about how to treat you, while avoiding any adverse reactions or allergies, much faster than if they had to attempt to call your physician. Another benefit to escaping paper records is that, in the case of a natural disaster, the information is stored electronically, in cyberspace, and is immune to fire or flooding.

Reduced Errors

If a doctor can have real-time views of your health information, it’s less likely that they’ll overlook an allergy or contraindication, something that could be missed in the paper chart, especially if it’s misfiled. While there is still room for human error in preliminary EMRs, ideally, there would be less data input by human hands. It’s also much faster to get a longitudinal look at your health care on a computer than in a chart. Some patients who have complex medical needs have volumes upon volumes of paper charts. When I worked in medical records, it was not an uncommon sight for a single person to have as many as eighteen volumes of paper charts. Imagine being a physician, or a nurse, and trying to find something from several years ago.

Tracking and Auditing

Another benefit of the electronic record is that it’s much easier and more intuitive to audit access to the documentation. With a paper chart, it’s hard to keep track of how many hands it passes through- and what, exactly, those hands are flipping to in the chart. With the EMR, you know exactly who looked at what, and when, and for how long. This not only discourages “snooping” but can help direct investigators to the origin of identity theft.

Less Duplication

In the paper chart, if it is misfiled or missing from the file room, there’s always a chance you’ll end up with a duplicate chart. Furthermore, when it comes to creating a medical record number, by which the patient will be identified in the system, EMRs have stopgaps to prevent duplications. Having two medical record numbers can be problematic, not only for health information but billing as well. If there are programs in place in the EMR to “catch” an attempted duplicate, or combine previous duplicates, it will cut back on missing information in the record and inappropriately billed services.

 

The Cons

Advances 

In the last few decades, increasing availability of technology in healthcare has lead to some amazing advances, both for physicians and patients. Documentation for physicians is well on its way to becoming more streamlined, thanks to the interconnectivity of electronic health records, and the potential for “One patient, one record” only becomes more of a reality with each new innovation. Patients who use computers, tablets or smartphones have more access to their health information than ever before, with many patient portals available through participating healthcare systems. With these advances, however, comes risk. Technology is heavily safeguarded, particularly in healthcare, but it’s imperfect. As technology advances, so do the hackers who attempt to find loopholes into healthcare systems. After all, in terms of identity theft, what holds more useful information than a medical record? Perhaps that’s why, in the last year, of all identity theft claims, 43% were medical related. So, when thieves are perusing vulnerable spots, almost half the time they’re looking to healthcare organizations, hospitals and these online portals. So, what are some of these vulnerabilities that you should be safeguarding against?

Insecure Browsers 

Just this last week, Microsoft warned consumers of a vulnerability in Internet Explorer that made users particularly vulnerable to hackers looking to insert malware into their computer systems. While the bug was patched relatively quickly, it was the first time that the United States government actually told users to cease using a browser. A bug that big could easily have made patient portals vulnerable to malware, as based upon consumer statistics, IE has more than 1 billion users; more than any other browser currently on the market.

Unsupported Operating Systems

Microsoft has also recently announced they will no longer support older versions of their Windows operating system (OS). As they are progressing more toward the chic, Mac-like appearance and functionality, it didn’t come as much of a surprise that they are all but abandoning older OS’s. The problem is, smaller healthcare organizations, as well as patients and consumers, may take the “don’t fix it if it isn’t broken” mentality and continue to use an unsupported Windows OS to avoid the costly upgrade. This leaves them vulnerable to malware, loss of data, and many other inconveniences that could potentially cause enormous problems if they store or access personal data through their computers.

Electronic Records

Even though most EMRs on the market claim that they are “bulletproof”, they are clearly not immune from serious threats of patient information seeking hackers. This risk intensifies when physicians and patients use third-party applications to access electronic records, or email, on iPhones and tablets. Handheld devices may not be under the same amount of scrutiny as hospital or office computers. Particularly in the case of “remote” work, there might be technological vulnerabilities that go virtually unrecognized until a threat is made.

Inside Threats

Again, with EMRs, comes the potential for hacking — but from within an organization. Not that this is vastly different from the information that could be gleaned from a paper chart by a snoop, but with technology making it much easier to capture and send data, the breaches can now happen faster — and reach a greater distance. Where an “inside hack” of days past might have jotted down names, dates of birth, and social security numbers–not to mention billing and insurance information– from a few paper charts, now, someone who intended to breach an organization’s data could obtain hundreds of patient charts with much less effort. Audits at an organizational level need to be done routinely to safeguard against this, and users of the electronic records need to be made aware of access policies. Those policies may need to be revisited several times a year, and adjusted, to meet the demands of healthcare’s ongoing reliance on information technology.

Lack of Upper Level Understanding

Healthcare leaders are overburdened as it is by the growing demands and changes necessitated by healthcare reform. IT security needs to be higher on their list of priorities, but it’s easy for it to fall through the cracks. CEOs of 2014 were not educated during a time in history when technology pervaded every element of one’s personal, professional and social life. Quite frankly, the general lack of understanding in upper level management stems both from disinterest and lack of exposure. While the education is there, technology is vast and can’t be grasped overnight, or through one seminar. To understand and to use efficiently the technological advances available to medicine are two completely different arenas, and many healthcare CEOs who are at the end of their tenure may not see the point. But the reality is, technology is quickly becoming the foundation for many industries, not just healthcare, and to continue to place it lower on one’s priority list is a grave mistake that will have financial ramifications.

The future of EMRs is uncertain, but one thing remains clear: we ultimately still want to pursue the “one patient, one record” ideal and in order to achieve that we might need to head back to the drawing board.

Abby Norman is a writer and health guide living and working in Maine. She writes for BHM Healthcare Solutions and has had work featured in The National Medical Records Briefing, HuffPost UK, SALTArtists and The Almost Doctor’s Channel, as well as many international print and online publications.

Healthcare B2B Social Marketing Strategies #HITMC Twitter Chat

Posted on June 25, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’m really excited to be hosting a twitter chat with the great people at @billians and @porterresearch. You’ll find me participating in the Twitter chat using @ehrandhit and @techguy. If you’d like to join in on the conversation, follow the hashtag #HITMC on Thursday, June 26th @ 1pm ET.

Using the link above you can follow along with the chat, but even better is for you to join in on the conversation. Just add #HITMC to your tweet and you’ll be part of the conversation. Nothing to it.

We’ve put together the following 5 healthcare B2B topics for tomorrow’s Twitter chat discussion. There are some meaty ones in there for those that care about healthcare B2B marketing.

Topic 1: How can healthcare B2B marketers use social selling to their advantage? 
Suggested Reading: Social Media in Healthcare Marketing: Making the Case

Topic 2: What suggestions do you have for healthcare B2B marketers beginning on social?
Suggested Reading: 5 (Relatively Simple) Steps To B2B Social Media Marketing Success

Topic 3: How can Facebook be of use to healthcare B2B marketing strategies?
Suggested Reading: Using Facebook for B2B Healthcare Marketing: 5 Top Tips

Topic 4: How can healthcare B2B marketers ensure the success of content on social?
Suggested Reading: Strategies for Effective B2B Healthcare Marketing Content Creation

 Topic 5: Why is social listening an important factor in successful B2B marketing?
Suggested Reading: Why Social Media Listening is Important for Brands

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the above topics. Should be a lively conversation similar to what we started at the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference.

Safety Issues Remain Long After EMR Rollout

Posted on June 24, 2014 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

The following is a bit depressing, but shouldn’t come as a surprise. A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association has concluded that patient safety issues relate to EMR rollouts continue long after the EMR has been implemented, according to a report in iHealthBeat.

Now, it’s worth noting that the study focused solely on the Veterans Health Administration’s EMR, which doubtless has quirks of its own. That being said, the analysis is worth a look.

To do the study, researchers used the Veterans Health Administration’s Informatics Patient Safety Office, which has tracked EMR safety issues since the VA’s EMR was implemented in 1999.  Researchers chose 100 closed patient safety investigations related to the EMR that took place between August 2009 and May 2013, which covered 344 incidents.

Researchers analyzed not only safety problems related to EMR technology, but also human operational factors such as workflow demands, organizational guidelines and user behavior, according to a BMJ release.

After reviewing the data, researchers found that 74 events related to safety problems with EMR technology, including false alarms, computer glitches and system failures. They also discovered problems with “hidden dependencies,” situation which a change in one part of the EMR system inadvertently changed important aspects in another part of the system.

The data also suggested that 25 other events were related to the unsafe use of technology, including mistakes in interpreting screens or human input errors.

All told, 70% of the investigations had found at least two reasons for each problem.

Commonly found safety issues included data transmission between different parts of the EMR system, problems related to software upgrades and EMR information display issues (the most commonly identified  problem), iHealthBeat noted.

After digging into this data, researchers recommended that healthcare organizations should build “a robust infrastructure to monitor and learn from” EMRs, because EMR-related safety concerns have complicated social and technical origins. They stressed that this infrastructure is valuable not only for providers with newly installed EMRs, but also for those with EMRs said that in place for a while, as both convey significant safety concerns.

They concede, however, that building such an infrastructure could prove quite difficult at this time, with organizations struggling with meaningful use compliance and the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

However, the takeaway from this is that providers probably need to put safety monitoring — for both human and technical factors — closer to the top of their list of concerns. It stands to reason that both newly-installed and mature EMR implementations should face points of failure such as those described in the study, and they should not be ignored. (In the meantime, here’s one research effort going on which might be worth exploring.)

The Random Results of Clinical Trials

Posted on June 23, 2014 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Andy Oram, writer and editor at O’Reilly Media.

For more than a century, doctors have put their faith in randomized, double-blind clinical trials. But this temple is being shaken to its foundations while radical sects of “big data” analysts challenge its orthodoxy. The schism came to a head earlier this month at the Health Datapalooza, the main conference covering the use of data in health care.

The themes of the conference–open data sets, statistical analysis, data sharing, and patient control over research–represent an implicit challenge to double-blind trials at every step of the way. Whereas trials recruit individuals using stringent critirea, ensuring proper matches, big data slurps in characteristics from everybody. Whereas trials march through rigid stages with niggling oversight, big data shoots files through a Hadoop computing cluster and spits out claims. Whereas trials scrupulously separate patients, big data analysis often draws on communities of people sharing ideas freely.

This year, the tension between clinical trials and big data was unmistakeable. One session was even called “Is the Randomized Clinical Trial (RCT) Dead?”

The background to the session is just as important as the points raised during the session. Basically, randomized trials have taken it on the chin for the past few years. Most have been shown to be unreproducible. Others have been repressed because they don’t show the results that their funders (usually pharmaceutical companies) would like to see. Scandals sometimes reach heights of absurdity that even a satirical novelist would have trouble matching.

We know that the subjects recruited to RCTs are unrepresentative of most people who receive treatments based on results. The subjects tend to be healthier (no comordities), younger, whiter, and more male than the general population. At the Datapalooza session, Robert Kaplan of NIH pointed out that a large number of clinical trials recruit patients from academic settings, even though only 1 in 100 of people suffering from a condition gets treated in such settings. He also pointed out that, since the federal government require clinical trials to register a few years ago, it has become clear that most don’t produce statistically significant results.

Two speakers from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory pushed the benefits of big data even further. Georgia Tourassi claimed that so far as data is concerned, “bigger can be better” even if the dat is “unusual, noisy, or sparse.” She suggested, however, that data analysis has roles to play before and after RCTs–on the one side, for instance, to generate hypotheses, and on the other to conduct longitudinal studies. Mallikarjun Shankar pointed out that we use big data successful in areas where randomized trials aren’t available, noticeably in enforcing test ban treaties and modeling climate change.

Robert Temple of the FDA came to the podium to defend RCTs. He opined that trials are required for clinical effectiveness–although I thought one of his examples undermined his claim–and pointed out that big data can have trouble finding important but small differences in populations. For example, an analysis of widely varying patients might miss the difference between two drugs, which may cause adverse effects in only 3% versus 4% of the population respectively. But for the people who suffer the adverse effects, that’s a 25% difference–something they’d like to know about.

RCTs received a battering in other parts of the Datapalooza as well, particularly in the keynote by Vinod Khosla, who has famously suggested that computing can replace doctors. While repeating the familiar statistics about the failures of RCTs, he waxed enthusiastic about the potential of big data to fix our ills. In his scenario, we will all collect large data sets about ourselves and compare them to other people to self-diagnose. Kathleen Sebelius, keynoting at the Datapalooza in one of her last acts as Secretary of Health and Human Services, said “We’ve been making health policy in this country for years based on anecdote, not information.”

Less present at the Datapalooza was the idea that there are ways to improve clinical trials. I have reported extensively on efforts at reform, which include getting patients involved in the goals and planning of trials, sharing raw data sets as well as published results, and creating teams that cross multiple organizations. The NIH is rightly proud of their open access policy, which requires publicly funded research to be published for free download at PubMed. But this policy doesn’t go far enough: it leaves a one-year gap after publication, which may itself take place a year after the paper was written, and the policy says nothing about the data used by the researcher.

I believe data analysis has many secrets to unlock in the universe, but its effectiveness in many areas is unproven. One may find a correlation between a certain gene and an effective treatment, but we still don’t know what other elements of the body have an impact. RCTs also have well tested rules for protecting patients that we need to explore and adapt to statistical analysis. It will be a long time before we know who is right, and I hope for a reconciliation along the way.

Don’t Blame Providers For Variations In EMR Use

Posted on June 20, 2014 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association has documented what we all already know  — that providers have idiosyncracies in how they use EMRs. The question that remains unanswered is whether this is a bad thing.

According to iHealthBeat, researchers dug into a massive amount of data which painted a picture of how 112 physicians and nurse practitioners working in federally qualified health care centers in New York City used their EMRs. To conduct the study, the researchers looked at 430,803 visits by 99,649 patients who came to the centers.

After analyzing the data, the study found that providers varied in several key habits when using their EMRs, including how often the updated patient problem lists, when they would respond to clinical decision support alerts, whether the appointment was with a new patient or an established one, and the use of the meaningful use objective metrics, iHealthBeat reported.

Why were providers vary so widely and how they conducted these tasks? Researchers said that there are several reasons for this variation, including the providers overall familiarity with the EMR system, the familiarity with the patient’s medical problems, and workflow differences due to staffing differences at the health centers.

According to the researchers, significant variance among providers’ EMR use suggests that it’s a good idea to measure individual level measures of usage, as such studies might improve research on quality and cost outcomes of EMR use. In other words, the study suggests that variance in EMR usage might lead to positive or negative outcomes, and that standardization — once best practices are determined — might improve outcomes.

The problem with this logic, though it sounds  good on the surface, is that providers are struggling hard enough already to develop routines which make EMRs work for them. And as with any other technology, those workarounds are going to vary depending on who you’re talking about and what they’re trying to accomplish.

I’d argue that while tracking sources of variance in EMR use might have some value in improving outcomes, it’s no excuse to force standardization in professionals’ EMR habits, as long as their overall outcomes are appropriate. What’s more, a push to standardize how providers use EMRs puts the struggle to make them workable on providers, not the vendors whose product quirks are almost certainly responsible for this dilemma.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that while this research is useful, it should raise a red flag on vendors, whose usability levels are still far from where they should be. When you give providers a highly usable, well-thought-out interface to use which suits their daily routines, then it might be time to streamline their work habits. Until then, give  them a break if you don’t want to spark a revolution.

P.S. If you’re curious about what the best thinking on EMR usability is out there, check out this list.

Epic Joins IBM To Pitch DoD Contract

Posted on June 19, 2014 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Hoping to be the lucky vendors that win a massive pending DoD deal, Epic Systems has team up with global technology giant IBM to compete for the DoD’s Healthcare’s Management Systems Modernization contract.

The new project comes after years of  struggles and changes of direction by the DoD, which has worked for years to integrate its system with the VA’s EMR. Back in 2009, the two giant federal agencies kicked off an effort to create an integrated medical record, the iEHR, which would offer every service member the ability to maintain a single EMR throughout their career and lifetime. But those efforts failed miserably, and the iEHR project was halted in February 2013.

Since then, the DoD has announced that it’s moving along with its iEHR plans once again, a sprawling project which the Interagency Program Office estimates the cost somewhere between $8 billion and $12 billion.

Meanwhile, the DoD Healthcare Management Systems Modernization is moving ahead, slated to replace the current Military Health System. The DHMSM should serve some 9.7 million beneficiaries.

The two partners certainly bring a strong bench to the table. Epic offers an interoperable platform which is one of the most adopted EMR systems in the country, and according to company officials,its open architecture supports more than 20 billion data transactions between systems every year.  Epic says that its customer community, which currently includes 100 million patients, exchanges more than 2.2 million records each month with of the EMR vendors, HISPs, HIEs, the VA, DoD and Social Security Administration.

IBM, meanwhile,is contributing its system integration, change management and expertise , ad experiments in delivering large-scale solutions in partnership with complementary software and services providers. IBM’s Federal Healthcare practice will lead the effort, backed by IBM global information technology,research and health care organizations which already collaborate with Epic in support of EMR solutions internationally.

Without a doubt, IBM is the grandfather of all big iron providers, so they don’t have a lot to prove.  And Epic is a clear leader in the enterprise EMR space, by some measures leading the pack by a considerable margin. It’s likely they’re a top contender for the job.

If the DoD does indeed choose the partnership of Epic and IBM to make its health IT transition, it seems likely that they’ll have recruited more than enough firepower to get the job done — though there’s always the question of whether Epic, which is used to bossing hospitals around, will function as well when the big bureaucracy of the DoD is calling the shots.

But what’s more worrisome is whether the DoD will work effectively with these two private sector companies, assuming t hey win the bid. As noted, the DoD’s track record with change management is nothing to write home about, to say the least, and bureaucratic waffling could conceivably undermine even the most expert efforts to bring DoD’s healthcare architecture into the future. As big and powerful as they are, IBM and Epic may be in for one heckuva ride. In fact, John’s even suggested that the best thing for Epic might be for them to not win the DoD EHR contract.

Farzad Mostashari Launches New Startup Company Aledade – A Physician-Led ACO in a Box

Posted on June 18, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I know when I first heard that Farzad Mostashari landed at the Brookings Institution after leaving his position as National Coordinator, I couldn’t imagine it being Farzad’s long time home. However, it was a really smart short term landing spot that would give him the opportunity to prepare for his next adventure.

We just learned that Farzad is now entering the startup world with the launch of a new company called Aledade which partners with primary care doctors to form ACOs. In a blog post introducing the startup, Farzad said “The world of start-ups may not be the usual path for those leaving a senior federal post, but it’s the right decision.” I’m not sure the career path of former senior federal employees, but I think the startup world is going to fit Farzad really well. Plus, who would you rather have leading your ACO efforts than Farzad?

Maybe we should have been able to predict this move if we’d listened closely to Neil Versel’s interview with Farzad Mostashari at HIMSS. As Neil comments, “Always the champion of the little guy in healthcare, Mostashari also brought up the notion of physician-led ACOs, or, as he called it, the “Davids going up against the Goliaths.””

Aledade has received $4.5 million in investment from Venrock and the company is targeting four areas of the country: Delaware, Arkansas, Maryland and the metro New York area (not surprising considering Farzad’s past connection to NYC).

What’s also interesting is that Aledade is building their financial model on a performance model. They aren’t requiring any up-front cost to physicians and instead are opting to make money when the physicians realize savings. I’ll be really interested to see how this works out in practice. Many of the savings that ACOs have realized could be considered fuzzy math. Although, maybe Aledade will just take a percentage of the additional ACO payments the physician ACO receives.

I’ll be interested to see what technologies come out of Aledade. I can’t imagine them launching a full EHR and so they’ll have to integrate whatever they do with dozens of EHR companies. This will be a tremendous challenge. Will they build the technology in house or just partner with an outside vendor?

I’ve heard Farzad say that the move towards value based reimbursement was happening quicker than most of us realize and that the fee for service and value based reimbursement models can’t happen at the same time. The launch of Aledade is a great example that he’s not just paying lip service, but he’s fully committed to this change.

How Doctors Can Make Use of Social Media?

Posted on June 17, 2014 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Alex Tate.
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By using the right strategy doctors can gain a lot by making a proper use of social media to market themselves, share their rich experience and knowledge and carry out discussions with the colleagues in the industry.

Many of the doctors are afraid of the unknown and thus decide to remain silent over the social media due to privacy concerns. It is possible to create a good balance between having a transparent communication and matching to the necessary limitations of the industry.  Around 24% of physicians use social media at least once a day to post, share and seek medical information. The use of social media is still in its early years and it is a great opportunity to take advantage of these digital platforms and build credibility for your career as a doctor or a physician. The medical industry is very less saturated online as compared to other industries mainly due to the fear and apprehensions of health care organizations and professions as they would want to avoid liability issues related to social media related platforms.

As a doctor it is possible to make an effective and profitable social media strategy to market your practice and career. It will require a lot of time and effort but the results can have a far reaching effect for the long term success. If you are a physician or a doctor there are many ways you can make yourself stand out among others and effectively reach the right people in your social media.

  1. Set up personal account in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

Having social media accounts is one of the ways to increase your social footprint and expand it. Make a personal profile in all these three networks and optimize them to the fullest.

  1. Make Use of Visuals

Visuals are more effective in engaging people than text therefore include more pictures in your social media profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. This is one of the important things to implement on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. When you are sharing content make sure you use original and non copyrighted photography in order to boost your engaging posts. Another way is to make use of photos in the blog posts, videos and articles when you are posting things on these networks.

  1. Share the knowledge

It doesn’t matter that which platform you are sharing your content on but make sure you whatever you are saying is helping you to make connections, followers and friends. Make use of your unique expertise and share the relevant information about what you know best.

Apart from joining the existing twitter chats, LinkedIn groups and relevant online discussion related to your area of expertise and industry, plan and start your own sharing hub on social media in order to bring the depth of knowledge to your professional interests.

Whether your knowledge hub is a LinkedIn Group, Twitter chats, Google plus profile or other relevant discussions online related to your industry, it is an important way of sharing what you know and build your credibility as you educate others.

As doctors it is important that you follow the rule of thumb to make sure you are providing the value to others and making use of your time spent on the social media networks. Doctor’s job is to make sure they share their expertise and execute their advice.

  1. Frequency of posting on LinkedIn

As one of the largest network of professionals online LinkedIn allow doctors to highlight each aspect of their career path using text and visuals. LinkedIn can offer lots of benefits to doctors because of its professional nature and a large network of likeminded people sharing and connecting with others. Begin by sharing the content from your profile that reflects your expertise and knowledge as a healthcare professional.

On LinkedIn content needs to be of a professional nature and little more reserved than the one shared on Facebook or Twitter. Share the links to those articles and other information that can be of some value to your connections and at the same time adding your own perspectives through commenting on posts.

  1. Follow other Healthcare Professionals on Social Media

Using Facebook and Twitter you can reach out to existing network of your contacts that you already know and you can find them by searching for colleagues, peers and friends working in the healthcare field. Follow and make connection with these individuals. After that you can use each networks search feature for to look for individuals in the similar role or industry. By connecting with a large number of people on these platforms you will have the like- minded people to interact with and share your views and experiences.

  1. Participate in conversations on twitter

Twitter is the best social media platform for having a public one to one conversation at the basic level. Start your conversation with doctors and medical professionals and discuss current trends in healthcare industry or new findings.

You can also find the conversations from other you have followed by searching through hashtags or keywords related to your interests a physician

  1. Join Useful Twitter Chats

In twitter chats, on particular topics and hash tags occurs weekly, monthly or quarterly. Search and discover what chats Twitter chats are available for medical professionals and join these conversations with other participants and learn new things. When participating in the twitter chat answer some of the questions asked by participants or posted by moderators by adding your views and opinions. Follow other participants and moderators in the chat and include proper hash tags in all of your tweets.

  1. Go For Accuracy

There is a large amount of misinformation online when it comes to medical field that confuses consumers and dilutes the effectiveness of accurate medial insights. As a doctor it is important that you act as the voice of reason when sharing important information about healthcare online. Go for accurate coverage of information on social media that could affect your credibility for the long term.

Spend a limited time on social media at a certain part of the day or few times a week to help you make your efforts to be more accurate. Again it needs to be quality over quantity when it comes to content sharing and the discussions that you are having online.

  1. Ask Questions

One of the benefits of having social media is the ability to have actual conversations online with your friends, family, peers and other connections in your network. As a doctor you should ask questions from your audience in order to get their feedback on some decision or a perspective on industry news.

As you will ask questions you will be able to learn the insights of your network. No one knows everything but still someone has something to share with others. Make use of your network on social media to get more insights and establish your credibility as respected and reputed doctor.

About Alex Tate

I am a health IT consultant with experience in management and training consultants across private and public sectors. I frequently write on Health IT for various blogs and websites. I am currently managing ehrsoftware.info website that helps practices and physicians select the right EHR. If you wish to connect with me follow me at https://twitter.com/alextate07