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4 Health IT and EHR Blogs

As I’ve been putting together these blog posts about other Health IT and EHR bloggers, I’ve been astounded how many former bloggers have stopped blogging. I guess I was write to post one of my first blogger features as “EHR Blogger Attrition.” I imagine many previous bloggers are still sharing content, but have likely moved to other social media which is much easier to sustain. A tweet can be generated much more quickly than a blog post.

With that in mind, I feel grateful that I’m still able to blog and that enough people come and read my blog posts that I can provide for my family with my blogging. While some might define my blogging as micro blogging, I think there’s more value in a blog post than a tweet. You don’t have to dig into subjects in a tweet. People don’t go looking through your old tweets like they do blog posts.

Those musings aside, here are some other Health IT and EHR bloggers you might find interesting:
Health Blawg – David Harlow has a fascinating blog covering many of the various healthcare regulations that encumber our lives. Many lawyers are afraid to blog, but David has overcome that fear and created regular healthcare content that’s well worth following.

The Health Care Blog – While this blog isn’t exclusively health IT, a large portion o the topics are Health IT related. This blog never ceases to amaze me at the number of people they have contributing quality content to their site. It doesn’t have one voice, and that’s what makes the site so great. You might read a post about healthcare analytics and then one on value based contracts. Plus, it has one of the most active communities for comments. In fact, I often find myself more interested in the comments than the post itself.

Phil Baumann – While Phil is an RN by training, he’s more of a healthcare communicator and marketer than anything. Phil’s been doing this long enough that he doesn’t pull any punches. He just says it the way it is and isn’t afraid of saying things others aren’t comfortable saying. That makes for a good blog.

Galen Healthcare Solutions – I always like to feature at least one health IT company that’s creating great blog content. Galen Healthcare Solutions is definitely one of the best out there and they’ve been doing it consistently for a long time. Looks like their first blog post was in July 2008. I’m not sure who’s behind their consistency, but they deserve a lot of credit for the work they’ve done. It’s a great blog.

August 12, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Population Health Polls

I was thinking about population health today. It’s become a hot topic of discussion now that a lot more healthcare data is available for population health management thanks to EHR adoption. Although, in many ways, the various value based reimbursement and ACO programs are a form of population health. I guess, for me I classify all of these efforts to improve the health of a population as population health.

I just wonder how many organizations are really working on these types of solutions and how much of the population health is just talk. Let’s find out in the poll below.

I’ll be interested to hear how organizations are approaching population health. Also, let’s do another poll to see how much people will be working on population health in the future.

I’d love to hear more details to your responses in the comments. If you are working on population health, what programs are you doing and what IT solutions are you using to support it?

August 11, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Publicly Traded Health IT Companies

I keep forgetting how good of a resource Quora is. For those not familiar with Quora, it’s a Q&A platform. If you have a question, you can get answers from the community of users. While asking questions is interesting, it’s also fun to just browse other people’s questions and answers. In some ways it’s an active and opinionated Wikipedia.

Here’s a good example. Someone asked about Healthcare IT companies or digital health companies that are publicly traded and here’s the list they generated:

  • Allscripts (NASDAQ: MDRX) builds electronic health records and practice management solftware
  • athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) provides cloud-based billing and clinical software to medical group practices
  • Benefitfocus (NASDAQ: BNFT)
  • Careview Communications (OTCBB: CRVW) high speed data network system deployed in a healthcare facilities using existing cable television infrastructure.
  • Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN) develops EMR software to support clinical practice in hospitals, worksite clinics, physician practices and pharmacies
  • Computer Programs and Systems (NASDAQ: CPSI) Develops an EMR system specifically for rural, community and critical access hospitals
  • Epocrates (NASDAQ:EPOC) is a mobile health app publisher for medical professionals
  • Greenway Medical (NYSE: GWAY) builds electronic health records and practice management solftware
  • HealthStream (NASDAQ: HSTM) develops a learning management system for healthcare providers
  • iCAD (NASDAQ: ICAD) CAD solutions for digital and film-based mammography systems
  • MedAssets (NASDAQ: MDAS) provides cloud-based software for clinical spend management and revenue cycle management
  • Medidata Solutions (NASDAQ: MDSO) provides a cloud-based clinical trial data management solution
  • Merge Healthcare (NASDAQ: MRGE) builds “enterprise imaging” software company
  • Omnicell (NASDAQ: OMCL) automated solutions for hospital medication and supply management
  • Quality Systems (NASDAQ: QSII) develops practice management and EHR solutions as well as HIEs for medical and dental group practices and hospitals
  • Simulations Plus (NASDAQ: SLP) simulation software for use in the pharmaceutical research and in the education of pharmacy and medical students
  • Streamline Health Solutions (NASDAQ: STRM) workflow and document management technology solutions for hospitals and physician groups
  • Vocera (NASDAQ: VCRA)  wearable voice-controlled communication badge and software platform for hospitals
  • WebMD (NASDAQ: WBMD) provides health information services for consumers and healthcare professionals through its public/private portals

Pretty interesting to look through the list. Of course, it doesn’t include publicly traded companies that have a big footprint in healthcare, but do a lot of other things as well (GE, Siemens, Dell, CDW, Canon, etc etc etc).

When I saw the list of publicly traded health IT companies I wondered if something cool could be done to track these companies. I’ve noticed that HIStalk has been following the publicly traded companies a lot closer lately. A lot can be learned about the healthcare IT market by following these companies.

How many of you use Quora on a regular basis? Do you just consume content or do you ask and answer questions too?

August 8, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Karen DeSalvo’s Sit Down Interview with Shahid Shah at the Health Privacy Summit

At the 2014 Patient Privacy Summit, Shahid Shah had a “Fireside Chat” with Karen DeSalvo. The interview was really great because it was the first time that I’ve seen Karen DeSalvo talk in a more casual and less scripted setting. In the interview you learn a lot about the leader of ONC and what’s on her mind and how her and ONC plan to approach healthcare IT in the future. Of course, since it’s at the Patient Privacy Summit, there’s a specific emphasis on privacy, but they also cover a lot of other related topics. Enjoy!

August 7, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

If You Were an EHR, Which Would You Be?

I was recently watching a video of Derek Hough, Dancer on Dancing with the Stars (and much more). In the interview Derek was asked which dance best fit various periods of his life. As an #HITNerd, I thought we could do something similar with EHR vendors. So…

If You Were an EHR, Which Would You Be? Are you…

Epic – Single minded, focused and dominating in their sphere. Closed to outside discussions, but very thoughtful and caring of those in your inner circle. A bulldog if someone comes after something you consider important. Built on an aging system that’s done well, but many question how much longer they can be successful on top of such an old platform.

Cerner – The second child who’s done really well for themselves, but wonders why the older brother gets all the attention. They’re successful, well educated, built on a strong foundation, open to improvement. They’ve recently taken on a little bit of baggage. They decided to marry someone who’s been divorced and has four children. We’re not sure how this new marriage is going to work out and how it’s going to impact the family structure.

MEDITECH – This is the middle child. Ahead of their time, but no one notices them anymore. They’re quiet and mostly stay to themselves in their corner. Sure, they’d like to be noticed and get more attention, but they don’t mind too much since they’ve been so successful.

Allscripts – Flashy. Exciting and unpredictable. They’re the one that wears the flashy green jacket to the party. They’ve worked on so many things in their life that it’s hard to really place who they are and what they do. They’ve seen a lot of success, but don’t make us predict what they’ll do next. They seem to have a clear vision of where there going (albeit different than it was 2-3 years ago), but that could change so you have to stay on your toes.

athenahealth – Despite some ADD tendencies, they’ve largely stayed the course on what they want to do and what they want to become. They’re always interesting to be around, because they’re never shy to say what they think or feel about anything. While not as successful as some other people, they still have a lot of potential that could blow up for good or bad. If nothing else, they’re the life of the party and always keep things interesting.

I could keep going, but that’s a good start using a few of the larger or more well known EHR vendors. Which one is most like you? Also, I really hope that many of you will join me in the comments and revise/improve upon what I’ve written or do something similar for another EHR vendor. Let’s have some fun and learn about people’s perceptions of these companies in the process.

Note: Cerner is an advertiser on this site.

August 6, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Reputation Management – Doctors and Health IT Professionals

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the challenge of reputation management. In the work I do, reputation management is a really big thing for both doctors and healthcare IT professionals. As part of my Healthcare IT job board and career resources, I wrote about managing your personal brand and the benefits of blogging. Both of them do a good job digging into some of the reasons why and ways you can manage your brand as a healthcare IT professional.

The reality is that many people don’t think of themselves as a brand. Maybe we’re not brands in the purest form, but we all have a profile whether we like it or not. What’s really interesting about the digital age is that our profile, “brand” if you will, is becoming more and more public and much easier for people to find. Plus, the age of social media means that other people are defining your personal brand whether you’re participating in the conversation or not.

Turns out that all of these principles apply to a doctor as well. In fact, there are dozens of companies that are creating online profiles for every doctor out there. They’re gathering hordes of publicly available data about your schooling, your location, your online profiles, your Medicare data, and much much more. Plus, we’re just getting started.

Many of these websites are also asking your patients to rank, rate, and review you. I’ve previously written my thoughts on these ranking and ratings websites. Despite my own views on the lack of value these websites provide, many patients don’t know the difference and so they can be a major driver to or away from your practice.

With all these changes, it’s becoming more and more important that doctors don’t ignore their online reputation. This doesn’t mean that the doctor has to be the one managing their online reputation. Some doctors enjoy doing it and so that’s great. However, this could very well be your office manager or you could even work with an outside company that’s skilled in managing physician’s online reputation. Just be careful on the later that they’re actually doing something to manage your reputation and not just saying they’re doing something.

As in most things in life, this concept isn’t new. We’ve always had to be conscious of what other people saw, said, and thought about us. It’s just the communication tools that people use to spread that information that have changed.

What are you or your organization doing to manage your reputation?

August 5, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

1300 Blog Posts and 3.5+ Million Pageviews

I need to try and remember to celebrate each blogs accomplishments more often. I just noticed that EMR and EHR just passed 1300 blog posts and 3.5 million pageviews since we started this blog on April 30, 2009 (Note: The full Healthcare Scene network is well over 6000 blog posts). I just came across this tweet and it seemed fitting to describe what I’ve done with EMR and EHR.

I guess one could argue that the Ark was built with help from THE EXPERT, but let’s not get dig into Bible doctrine here. No doubt this is the ark. People ask me all the time if I have a background in journalism. Short Answer: No. Long Answer: I was the guy that avoided any kind of English class in college and so I only took one business writing class my whole college career. After that they also ask me if I have a background in healthcare. Short Answer: No. Long Answer: I interviewed for my first job in healthcare about 9 years ago and when asked about my experience in healthcare I replied, “I’ve been to the doctor.” For those wondering, I do have an IT background. That’s why I’m appropriately @techguy on Twitter.

Why then has EMR and EHR been such a success? I’ll admit that my timing was good. The $36 billion in EHR stimulus money really helped this site grow. Although, this site wouldn’t have the thousands of email subscribers and regular readers that it has if there wasn’t something more.

At the end of the day, I think there are two major things that have made EMR and EHR a success: passion and community.

I love healthcare IT. More specifically, I love the impact of technology on systems. I love how you can use technology to improve something (yes, I know we could argue whether EHR improves something or not, but that’s another post). I have a deeply held belief that technology can improve processes. Luckily that belief is deeply rooted and proved out in millions of ways. Sadly, only a few of those are in healthcare, but to me that just means there’s so much opportunity. This passion is what makes 1300 blog posts possible. Any blogger can tell you that about 50 blog posts in, the low hanging fruit is gone. Passion is what gets you past 50 blog posts and why there’s a never ending well of content that can be written.

While passion is important (especially at the beginning when no one is reading), the real reason EMR and EHR is a success is because of the community behind it. The regular readers who comment publicly and privately make it something special. The readers who forward a post to their colleagues and friends are all apart of the makeup of the blog. The people who tweet and share these posts on social media are what make this blog tick. Thanks to all of you who contribute in some small or large way to the community.

Thanks for letting me muse for a minute about EMR and EHR. I’m looking forward to the next 1300 blog posts and 3.5 million pageviews. I think we’re entering one of the most exciting times for healthcare IT. I see a bunch of grunt work ahead, but the results of that grind are going to provide solutions we would never expect.

August 4, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

EHR Change Doesn’t Always Mean Better

In the comments of my post “EHR Replacement Roadmap to Success“, John Brewer provided a great reminder that changing EHR software doesn’t always mean that you’ll change to a better EHR. You might change to something worse. At least that’s my summary of his comments. You can read his full comment if you want.

I’ve learned this lesson over and over in my career. Sometimes you need to be content with what you have. One example of this was when I was working at a University in Hawaii. I was quite disappointed with the CIO and thought that he could do a lot of things different. Well, I got my wish and the CIO was replaced with someone else. Considering the topic of this blog post, you can imagine what happened next. The replacement CIO was so much worse than the previous CIO. Lesson learned.

Change doesn’t always mean a change for the better. It can certainly mean a change for the worse.

This applies fully to EHR replacement, which is quickly becoming a hot topic as many people regret their EHR purchase decision. You do need to be careful that you’re so afraid of change that you never change. In many situations change is the right decision. Plus, unlike my story where I had little control over who was hired as the new CIO, when you switch EHR software you can have some impact on the selection and end results. In many cases, you might even discover that you shouldn’t switch EHR before it’s too late.

I expect most people who think they need to switch EHR need to be careful to not set a predetermined course early in the process. Instead of saying, “Which EHR should I switch to?” I believe that many should dig deeper into the question, “If I switched EHR software, what would improve?”

As I replied to John Brewer in the post linked above, it is often (but not always) the case that the second EHR selected goes better than the first. I’ve found that the first “failed” EHR implementation usually teaches some great (albeit costly) lessons that they’re able to avoid the second time around. However, there is a tendency the second time around to focus too much on the first EHR issues that can cause different trouble the second time around. As in most things, there’s a balance to be had.

My best suggestion is to not do anything too impulsive. Let the idea sit and germinate a little before you do anything too drastic. Emotional decisions with EHR software selection (and quite frankly many other decisions) often leads to bad outcomes.

August 1, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

EHRs Don’t Make Errors, People Do

An intriguing blog title, I know. I saw it on Bill Crounse, MD’s blog post and couldn’t resist extending the discussion. This is a really challenging topic and so it’s definitely worth of discussion.

On the one hand it’s clear to me that EHR software isn’t perfect. However, paper charts weren’t perfect either. On the other hand, people aren’t perfect either. Unfortunately, we don’t want to admit our imperfection and our society has gotten to the point that imperfections are unacceptable.

In the blog post mentioned above, Dr. Crounse offers the following suggestions and I’ll add my own commentary for each:

Involve the Patient Right from the Start – I’m hopeful that some of the companies working on this problem will get widespread adoption. The patient could definitely be more involved in entering their patient data before the visit even happens and thus relieve the burden on the clinician. This is a challenging problem to solve though when you consider the vast array of physician preferences.

Ease the Documentation Burden on Clinicians – This is mostly a knock on our current billing system. If we make the switch to value based reimbursement can we ease the documentation burden on clinicians? That’s worthy of its own post and some deeper thought. Sadly, I think in the short term it likely means more documentation burden for clinicians. I don’t see this happening soon, but it’s a noble goal.

Prohibit Templates, Cut and Paste – I generally disagree with this one. Ironically, the title of the post illustrates my issue with it, “Electronic Health Record solutions don’t make errors, people do.” It’s not templates and cut and paste that’s the problem as much as it is rushed physicians who don’t use it appropriately. I think one word describes most of the issues: laziness. I know. When I use a template for my blog posts or email blasts, I get lazy on them sometimes too. Fortunately, my blog posts or emails don’t have people’s lives hanging on them. So, maybe Dr. Crounse has a point. It’s just too easy to screw up templates and copy/paste.

Share Information with Patients – I’ve long been a proponent of the patient being aware of the information in the paper chart. I know that many doctors fear this. Usually they reference the fear that patients won’t understand the information that’s in the chart. I’ve just not seen this to be the case in practice and the benefits of the patient being able to be involved in their chart is so much more valuable than any perceived risk. The harder part is that I haven’t seen any system which creates a simple way for the patient to update/correct/verify information in a chart. Access is a great step forward, but the next steps is to empower the patient to assist in the patient chart quality control process.

As long as we have imperfect humans using imperfect EHR software, errors are going to happen. However, we can do better than we’re doing today. I like the ideas that Dr. Crounse suggested. I’d love to hear any ideas you have as well.

July 31, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.

Rep. Phil Gingrey Comes After Healthcare Interoperability and Epic in House Subcommittee

On July 17th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Communications and Technology and Health (that’s a mouthful) held a hearing which you can see summarized here. Brought into question were the billions of dollars that have been spent on EHR without requiring that the EHR systems be interoperable.

In the meeting Rep. Phil Gingrey offered this comment, “It may be time for this committee to take a closer look at the practices of vendor companies in this space given the possibility that fraud may be perpetrated against the American taxpayer.”

At least Rep. Gingrey is a former physician, but I think he went way too far when he used the word fraud. I don’t think the fact that many EHR vendors don’t want to share their healthcare data is fraud. I imagine Rep. Gingrey would agree if he dug into the situation as well. However, it is worth discussing if the government should be spending billions of dollars on EHR software that can’t or in more cases won’t share data. Epic was called out specifically since their users have been paid such a huge portion of the EHR incentive money and Epic is notorious for not wanting to share data with other EHR even if Judy likes to claim otherwise.

The other discussion I’ve seen coming out related to this is the idea of de-certifying EHR vendors who don’t share data. I’m not sure the legality of this since the EHR certification went through the rule making process. Although, I imagine Congress could pass something to change what’s required with EHR certification. I’ve suggested that making interoperability the focus of EHR certification and the EHR incentive money is exactly what should be done. Although, I don’t have faith that the government could make the EHR Certification meaningful and so I’d rather see it gone. Just attach the money to what you want done.

I have wondered if a third party might be the right way to get vendors on board with EHR data sharing. I’d avoid the term certification, but some sort of tool that reports and promotes those EHR vendors who share data would be really valuable. It’s a tricky tight rope to walk though with a challenging business model until you build your credibility.

Tom Giannulli, CMIO at Kareo, offers an additional insight, “The problem of data isolationism is that it’s practiced by both the vendor and the enterprise. Both need to have clear incentives and disincentives to promote sharing.” It’s a great point. The EHR vendors aren’t the only problem when it comes to not sharing health data. The healthcare organizations themselves have been part of the problem as well. Although, I see that starting to change. If they don’t change, it seems the government’s ready to step in and make them change.

July 30, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus. Healthcare Scene can be found on Google+ as well.