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ONC Leadership, EMR Popularity and Better Cost Transparency

Posted on August 8, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Farzad Leaves, HIT Grieves
While the term “legacy” might be a bit too weighty, many of those who work in healthcare IT are already singing the praises of Farzad Mostashari, M.D., who announced earlier this week that he will resign as head of the ONC in the fall once a successor is found. As I mentioned in a recent LinkedIn group discussion, it will be interesting to see what his next steps are. I, for one, found him to be a charismatic and convincing advocate for the benefits of healthcare IT. History will undoubtedly pronounce his achievements with the ONC as better and greater than current events do. I hope his successor has the same level of passion for improving patient care via HIT that he brought to the government table.

The goodbye letter he shared with his colleagues was not only compelling, as it outlined the amazing amount of progress the ONC made before and during his tenure, but it also was perhaps the classiest and motivational exit I’ve seen a professional make – especially one that has been wrung through the ringer of congressional hearings.

EMR Popularity Contests
A recent email arrived in my inbox calling for nominations for a list of top 100 EMR vendors. The list, categorized as an “exclusive ranking,” will “help physicians understand the market and make smarter purchasing decisions.” Are crowdsourced contests like these of any value to providers? I understand how they can serve as a marketing/publicity tool for the vendors mentioned, but do they truly offer potential purchasers accurate insight into this kind of technology? I suppose it depends on the write up given to each of the 100 companies. I would hope a user satisfaction rating would be given.

Software Analyzes Costs, Outcomes of Episodes of Care
As I try to keep up with all that is going on in the world of healthcare cost transparency, this press release from 3M piqued my interest. According to the company, its new software “defines over 500 episodes of patient care spanning inpatient and outpatient encounters as well as chronic and acute diseases. Unlike other analytic tools that focus on services related to a single disease, the software considers all of a patient’s conditions and treatments during a specified period when assigning episodes. By offering a patient-centric view into costs and outcomes, the software helps healthcare facilities analyze the effectiveness of care delivery, predict costs and refine patient treatment processes to improve outcomes.”

What I’d like to know is if, by “patient-centric,” they mean that this information can be made available to the patient at the time of prognosis, before treatment begins? To have that kind of information, and then to combine that with what my healthcare insurance will cover, would make for a much less financially frightening patient encounter.

What healthcare IT/EMR news interested you the most this week? Let me know via the comments below.

Accountable Care Organizations Becoming Action Thanks to Pioneer ACO Awardees

Posted on December 27, 2011 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 thought this blog post on the 3M blog made a good point about ACO’s finally having some action behind them thanks to the Pioneer ACO awards that were announced recently. Until now, we’ve basically just had people talking to each other about the idea of an ACO, how an ACO should take shape, etc etc etc. It’s nice to see us starting to move beyond discussion of ACO models and now starting to see some real people and companies that have to start taking some ACO action to see what they can create.

I have a feeling that much of this initial ACO work is going to be like most startup companies: failures. In the startup world, it’s just expected that at least 9 of 10 companies will fail. That’s part of the algorithm of innovation that has worked so well in the entrepreneurial environment we know as tech startup companies. I imagine we’ll see the same with a bunch of these ACO models in healthcare as well.

One major problem I do have with this comparison is that the ACO programs that we see now aren’t entrepreneur or market driven, but instead are driven by some sort of government money. This means that those that participate have a bunch of perverse incentives.

The blog post mentioned above provides some interesting suggestions on how to improve healthcare. In response I offered these thoughts in their comment section:

The suggestions you make are reasonable and interesting, but they seem to ignore the idea that what people are really going to do with ACO legislation is find the simplest way to extract the most amount of money out of the regulation. There will be some exceptions, but this is how it works with most government programs.

I imagine some will see this as a bit cynical. I personally just see it as realistic. If we want to talk about real solutions we have to talk about the stark realities that face us and not the idealized models that could happen “IF…” ACOs are no different. Enough with the IFs and let’s talk about action.