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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.

Not All EHR Clicks Are Evil

There’s a great blog post on HIStalk that is a beautiful CMIO Rant. He provides some really needed perspective on the issues with EHR software. In many ways, the post reminded me of my post titled “Don’t Act Like Charting on Paper Was Fast.” In that post, I highlight the fact that far too many people are comparing EHR against doing nothing versus comparing EHR against the alternative. Those are two very different comparisons.

The money line from the CMIO rant was this one:

If we insist that all clicks are wasted time, then we can’t have a conversation about usability, because under the prescription pad scenario, the only usable computer is one you don’t have to use at all.

I love when you take something to the extreme. It’s true that we all want stuff to just happen with no work. That’s perfect usability. However, that’s just not the reality (at least not yet). If we want the data to be accurate and to be recorded, then it takes human intervention (ie. clicks). Some clicking is necessary.

The CMIO goes on to say that the key to EHR usability is expectations. I thought that was an interesting word to describe EHR usability. I’ve written about this topic before when I compared the number of EHR clicks to the keys on a piano. In that article I suggested that the number of clicks wasn’t the core issue. If we could create EHR software that was hyper responsive (like a piano key), was consistent in its response speed, and we provided proper training, then having a lot of EHR clicks wasn’t nearly as big an issue.

Not that this should be an excuse for EHR vendors to make crappy software. They should still do what they can to minimize clicks where possible. However, the bigger problem is that we haven’t achieved all three of these goals. So, we’ll continue to hear many people complaining about all the EMR clicks.

April 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.

What We Can Health IT Learn From Dancing with the Stars

A lot of my readers probably don’t know that along with creating the Healthcare Scene blog network, I also have a network of talent reality TV blogs. For some reason, people don’t understand how a techguy could start a health IT blog network and also cover shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. There’s so much synergy between the two networks. Ok, not really, but I’m always surprised how many people in healthcare IT watch these shows as well.

Since last night was the premiere of Dancing with the Stars, I thought I’d apply some of the things I’ve seen in Dancing with the Stars (DWTS) to healthcare. For those not that familiar with the show, this is the 18th season of DWTS and that’s a great run for any show. However, the ratings have slowly started to dip for the show. DWTS has always done well when it came to total viewers (10+ million), but has always had issues attracting the viewers advertisers want to pay for (adults 18–49). The past couple seasons they’ve made some tweaks to the show, but this season they’ve made quite a few major changes to the show to try and engage a new audience and reach that special adults 18–49 demographic.

Now let’s compare this to healthcare IT. How many healthcare organizations are found doing a balancing act between the younger tech savvy crowd and the more risk averse older crowd? I think a lot of them are and more will be doing so in the future. On the one hand you have the doctor who is ready to retire early because she doesn’t want anything to do with EHR and health IT. On the other hand you have the resident who hates going to a practice that doesn’t have an EHR because he can type faster than he writes.

Much like in DWTS, if you cater to the one, you alienate the other. It’s a tough balance. Last night on the premiere of DWTS the show made a number of major changes to try and cater to the younger demographic. I have dozens of emails from the older demographic complaining about the changes. Most are crying for the good old days when they had something that was familiar and the way they liked the show to be. Many of them felt alienated and wondered if the show cared about them.

Does this sound a bit like what some of the health IT therapists (sometimes called CMIOs) feel when they’re talking with some of their older colleagues? They feel alienated by the new technology and long for the good old days. I’ll never forget the nurse who told me she hated EMR because she couldn’t draw the male and female gender symbols. For some reason it was so much better than the Male/Female drop down box (which is ironic because I’m not sure how she drew Male to Female Transgender, but the dropbox handled it just fine).

Much like Dancing with the Stars, there comes a point where you have to do some things that will alienate some of your most ardent fans in order to grow and continue to be viable. Finding the balance between too much alienation and too much catering to the new crowd is a very tough challenge. However, every organization needs to take these risks.

The key to all these changes is creating a culture around change at your organization. Most organizations try the big bang style of healthcare IT implementation. Sometimes it’s necessary, but it’s not the best way. The better way is to create a culture where the organization takes a thoughtful approach to implementing great technology as part of the normal business method. Make sure that whatever changes are implemented have a purpose and it’s communicated well. The combination of multiple small changes made in your organization can accomplish far more in your organization than the big bang IT implementation. Plus, all those small changes add up to a big change for your organization without the same end user alienation.

March 18, 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.

Helping the Small Practice Physician Survive with Dr. Tom Giannulli

In case you haven’t seen, I’ve been doing a whole series of video interviews over on EHR Videos. There are some really great videos in the series chock full of insights into what’s happening in the world of EHR and Healthcare IT.

The following video is an example of the type of great video interviews we’ve been doing. In this interview, I talk with Dr. Tom Giannulli, CMIO of Kareo about how a well done EHR vendor can help a small practice physician survive. This has become a really popular topic for a number of ambulatory focused EHR vendors. Along with these topics, I ask Dr. Giannulli about the former Epocrates EHR he helped create which is now owned by Kareo and is offered as a Free EHR.

What do you think about Dr. Giannulli’s comments about helping the small practice physician survive? Will EHR vendors play an important role in making this happen? I look forward to seeing your thoughts in the comments.

November 19, 2013 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.

Ideas, Insights and Predictions from Healthcare Social Media Thought Leaders

I thought it would be fun to experiment with a new type of blog post. I came up with the idea during the recent #HITsm chat. I decided I’d ask 5 of the #HITsm participants to share an idea, prediction, insight, or thought that I could share in a blog post. I didn’t give them a topic, direction, or ask any questions. I just asked them to share something that thought would be useful or interesting. I found the results quite interesting.

I asked 5 people to tweet something. Only 4 of the 5 responded (probably a lost Twitter DM), but one of the people sent two tweets. So, the following are the 5 tweets with a little bit of commentary from me.


This is a really interesting insight. Chad has a really good point. I’m not sure I’ve seen a truly open HIE that just wanted to be the company sharing the data. I think a few have that goal in mind, but they haven’t gotten there yet. It will be a real game changer when an HIE just wants to be the pipes and not the faucet as well. I will say that most healthcare organizations aren’t quite ready to implement the faucet though either.


Thank you Dr. Nan for bringing some humor to the post. I love it! Although, maybe it’s not that funny since it rings far too close to the truth. I might also share this with my wife so she understands age appropriate behavior for our children.


This was the other tweet that Dr. Nan sent. You can tell it comes from a raw place. I’m actually surprised we don’t talk about doctor depression more. I read a lot of entrepreneur blogs and there’s been a real increase in discussion around entrepreneur depression. I expect that doctors could really benefit from this discussion as well. For some reason there’s a fear of discussing the real challenges and pressures of the job.


Would we expect anything other than workflow from Dr. Webster? I’m not sure I like his prediction. I hope he’s wrong. I don’t want a workaround for EHR workflow. I want something drastically different.


I love this concept and refer to it as treating healthy patients. Although, I love Ryan’s approach of patients taking responsibility for their own health and engaging with those they love in health-generating behaviors. Sure, doctors are miracle workers, but we as patients should be much more involved in our health as well.

That’s all she wrote. If you like this idea, let me know. If you’d like to participate in a future post, be sure to tweet me @ehrandhit.

July 16, 2013 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.

CMIOs Bridge the Clinical & IT Gap

It’s been interesting to see the evolution of conversation around healthcare IT at the provider-focused events I’ve attended over the last two years. Panels of hospital executives at first spoke about the benefits they were likely to see as a result of the HITECH Act and their facilities’ subsequent plans for EMR implementation. One-year later, it was all about best practices for go lives. Today, conversation has reached the “now what?” phase.

This was definitely top of panelists’ minds at the recent Georgia HIMSS Lunch & Learn, which offered attendees a hearty Italian meal and the chance to hear area CMIOs converse around the topic of “CMIO 2.0 – Leading Healthcare Transformation.” While “transformation” tends to be a bit overused, I think it was an apt word based on the remarks from moderator Debbie Cancilla, Senior VP and CIO at Grady Health System; Julie Hollberg, MD, CMIO at Emory Healthcare; Daniel Wu, part-time CMIO at Grady; Roland Matthews, MD, physician champion at Grady; and Steve Luxenberg, MD, CMIO at Piedmont Healthcare.

I hate to play favorites, but Wu was my favorite panelist. Calling himself the “least tech savvy CMIO in the country,” he was engaging and a good sport when it came to verbal sparring with his Grady colleague, Cancilla. No one in the audience was fooled by his self-deprecation, of course. Wu, who is also Assistant Medical Director at Grady’s Emergency Care Center, and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Emory University’s School of Medicine, knows a thing or two about healthcare IT, having put in an EMR for Grady’s emergency department. He continues to serve as a physician champion for the hospital.

Several telling themes emerged from panelists’ comments and audience questions, which I’ll share in part 1 of this post. I’ll cover challenges specific to each panelist and their facility next week in part 2.

gahimssCMIOpanel

Left to right: Julie Hollberg, MD, CMIO, Emory Healthcare; Roland Matthews, MD, Physician Champion, Grady Health System; Steve Luxenberg, MD, CMIO, Piedmont Healthcare; Daniel Wu, part-time CMIO, Grady; and Debbie Cancilla, CIO, Grady. Photo courtesy of Georgia HIMSS

Shining a Light on CMIOs
This was the first all-CMIO panel I’d ever seen, which may be indicative of their general reluctance to be put in the spotlight, and perhaps the increasingly important role they play in HIT implementations of all kinds. (I also wonder if the title of CMIO is growing. If anyone has statistics on that, please share.) Cancilla noted it was time for CMIOs to get in the healthcare transformation conversation, and while these four seemed at no loss for stories to tell and pain points to share.

CMIOs Don’t Play Favorites
When it comes to the clinical side of the house versus the IT side of the house, the panelists agreed that sometimes the two just don’t understand each other. And that’s where the CMIO steps in, acting as interpreter, smoother of ruffled feathers, and occasionally spokesperson for both departments to the higher ups. In describing his role, Luxenberg described himself as an objective third party, coming in to finesse sticky situations between clinical and IT staff. I got the impression from him that CMIOs often have more success in resolving disputes because they don’t have allegiance to one particular department, but rather the hospital as a whole.

(Sidenote: Wu mentioned a hilarious cartoon by Atlanta-based anesthesiologist Michelle Au that highlights the delicate verbal dance CMIOs must do when talking with various medical specialties. Check out “The 12 Medical Specialty Stereotypes.” It’s worth noting Wu would be considered a “cowboy.”)

Getting it Done for the Patient’s Benefit
Because they represent the interests of the hospital, these CMIOs ultimately hold themselves accountable to the patient, and benefiting the patient is a big part of the message they have to convey to clinical and IT folks, especially during times of implementation. Luxenberg noted that he gets better EMR buy in from different departments when he highlights the benefits to patient care, rather than focusing on details specific to one department in particular.

Talking with different departments does mean, however, that CMIOs must step out of their comfort zones and really get familiar with the pressures of each area within their facility. Conveying this information is where a great relationship with the CIO comes in. For the CMIO’s objectivity to truly be valuable, that assessment must be meaningfully discussed with the CIO. As Cancilla mentioned, CIOs need to step up and strengthen relationships with their CMIOs. All the panelists and Cancilla agreed the communication from the top down and bottom up is key to successful adoption of healthcare IT.

February 27, 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.

The Future of Physician – Patient Interaction

I’m hearing more and more people cry foul about the physician patient interaction trend. The obvious complaint is that more and more physicians are spending time in the exam room focused on the computer as opposed to the patient. There are a number of people doing really interesting things to try and solve this problem. In the following video Dr. Nick van Terheyden, CMIO of Nuance, discusses one view of how the future physician – patient interaction will happen.

December 17, 2012 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 Upcoding, Meaningful Use Stage 2, Interoperability, EHR Consolidation, and ACOs Video – Burning Topics with Dr. Nick

I recently sat down with Dr. Nick van Terheyden, CMIO of Nuance to talk about some of the Burning Health IT topics. In the following video Dr. Nick and I talk about EHR Upcoding, Meaningful Use Stage 2, Interoperability, EHR Consolidation, and ACOs. Enjoy and I hope you’ll extend our conversation in the comments.

October 24, 2012 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.

Doctor Describes 15+- Year EMR Integration Project

Wouldn’t it be great if you rolled your EMR and, bam, all of the problems you hoped to solve were solved, just like that?  Sure, but in most cases the technical rollout will do little to solve workflow problems unless you have them analyzed in advance, according to one doctor who’s taken part in a long, slow rollout. Here’s a quick overview of his organization’s progress: see what you think.

Going live is a far cry from having truly adopted an EMR,  and getting to adoption is a very long, drawn-out process, said Dr. Fred M. Kusumoto, who spoke at a recent meeting of the Heart Rhythm Society.

Dr. Kusumoto, who’s with the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville Electrophysiology and Pacing Services, conceded that EMRs can help smooth communication between systems. The thing is, he noted, integrating systems won’t happen over night. After all, the workflow of doing integration is very complex, so much so that years hardly suffice.  His organization began serving as “guinea pig” for its EMR vendor in 1996 and will as of 2013, will have one database using structured data, he said.

So, the million-dollar question is this: Has all of this effort been worthwhile?  Dr. Kusumoto actually didn’t say, if the CMIO article I reviewed is accurate.  Interesting. But he’s clearly learned a great deal, regardless of whether his rollout works out for Mayo. Here’s some of his suggestions on how to improve returns from your maturing EMR:

*  Make sure all stakeholders are involved as the EMR migration, including administrators and IT staffers.

* Bear in mind that EMR rollouts are at their most flexible in the first few years, so don’t miss your chance to get involved early.

* EMR implementations (typically) involve a scanning phase where the institution captures written records and plans for turning the records into structured data. Make sure you leave enough time to do this right.

May 11, 2012 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 @annezieger on Twitter.

Epocrates EMR Killed Immediately After Launch

Back in 2010, Epocrates had its EMR ducks in a row. The company, known best for a very popular smartphone-based drug interaction database for physicians, announced plans to release a mobile SaaS EMR.  While Epocrates was jumping into a market more crowded than a barrel full of monkeys, one could see where leaders might see an EMR as an extension of the relationship it already had with physicians.

Now, Epocrates leaders have said “oops” and announced that they were killing the product,  telling investors and the public that building the darned thing was distracting it from its core business.  It does seem that the company was struggling with the EMR rollout process:  it didn’t roll out its first-phase product until August 2011 and didn’t get its Meaningful Use certification until February of this year. But this is the first time I’ve seen a company kill a product at this stage of development, particularly in such a high-profile manner.

It must have been more than a bit embarrassing to make the announcement during HIMSS12 when, of course, companies traditionally kick off products they’re planning to sell vigorously. As Epocrates was making plans to dump or sell their EMR, the company’s CMIO, Tom Giannulli, MD, was pitching the company’s new iPad EMR to editors.

As Epocrates itself pointed out, there aren’t too many dedicated iPad EMR offerings out there. So in theory, this should not have been a waste of the company’s time.  On the other hand, with the iPad still a new frontier for EMRs, we still don’t know whether it will ultimately work as a platform of choice for physicians.  As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, the iPad seems to be a pretty good medium for reading data but a very awkward one for entering data. Whether that’s a fatal flaw remains to be seen.

Truthfully, this looks like a failure of execution from start to finish, rather than a product that couldn’t possibly work. But these are tough times. Even the best execution may not work; and if so, Epocrates was probably wise to fold its cards before further damage was done.

March 15, 2012 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 @annezieger on Twitter.