Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and EHR for FREE!

Making JustShowMeTheDoctorNetwork.com A Reality

Posted on December 17, 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.

Ok, that website really isn’t a project, but a website that has that functionality would be awesome. I recently had this problem. I was getting new health insurance and I wanted to know if our regular doctors would be part of the new insurance plan’s network. What a pain in the butt. Even the health insurance companies website made it difficult to know if they accepted the plan. The networks were named different than the insurance. Just plain ugly!

Turns out that Fred Trotter is doing what he can to help solve the “out of network” insurance game. Since it’s Fred Trotter you know it’s based on freeing the data. The post is well worth a read, but highlights why figuring out if your going to an in network or out of network provider is important and how the insurance companies are making it difficult to get access to this data.

Fred also points out a possible solution to a problem found in the text of the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2016 (don’t you love how quickly the government works?). This new rule would essentially require insurance companies to provide an updated directory of providers and possibly requiring that they provide it in a machine-readable format. Seems like a small thing, but it would make a big difference.

However, this is the money quote from Fred about the government proposal above:

This would solve the problem. Anyone who wanted to could create a website that showed what plans any given provider accepted, would be able to easily do so.

But they key word here is “propose”. Insurance companies in this country benefit greatly from the confusion about in network and out of network, and so do some unethical healthcare providers. There will be lots of people who oppose this proposal.

I hope that I have made the case that this information needs to be open and machine readable. If your convinced, then you can find the comment page to support this policy here. If you disagree with us, and you still want to submit a comment, you can use this page.

Comments on this rule are due by 12/22 which doesn’t leave people much time to chime in. As someone who’s had to deal with this challenge recently, I hope that this rule is passed. I can’t wait for an entrepreneur to take this data and create a beautiful map overlay of the doctors in my network. Would make searching for a doctor in your insurance plan so much easier.

Are Limited Networks Necessary to Reduce Health Care Costs?

Posted on September 10, 2014 I Written By

Andy Oram is an editor at O'Reilly Media, a highly respected book publisher and technology information provider. An employee of the company since 1992, Andy currently specializes in open source, software engineering, and health IT, but his editorial output has ranged from a legal guide covering intellectual property to a graphic novel about teenage hackers. His articles have appeared often on EMR & EHR and other blogs in the health IT space. Andy also writes often for O'Reilly's Radar site (http://radar.oreilly.com/) and other publications on policy issues related to the Internet and on trends affecting technical innovation and its effects on society. Print publications where his work has appeared include The Economist, Communications of the ACM, Copyright World, the Journal of Information Technology & Politics, Vanguardia Dossier, and Internet Law and Business. Conferences where he has presented talks include O'Reilly's Open Source Convention, FISL (Brazil), FOSDEM, and DebConf.

Among the dirty words most hated by health care consumers–such as “capitation” and “insufficient medical necessity”–a special anxiety infuses the term “out-of-network.” Everybody harbors the fear that the world-famous specialist who can provide a miracle cure for a rare disease he or she may unexpectedly suffer from will be unavailable due to insurance limitations. So it’s worth asking whether limited networks save money, and whether they improve or degrade health care.
Read more..

Patient Accountability and Responsibility

Posted on February 22, 2013 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 think you can add this post to my series of posts on the Physician Revolt that I talked about earlier. The following message is from a doctor who emailed me. Obviously, they didn’t realize it would be published, so ignore some of the grammar errors, but the message is a good one that we should be discussing.

The doctors are going to be graded on the health outcomes but yet patients are going to do whatever. Nowhere in the law it states that patient is responsible for anything.

So while the ACOs are going to offer coverage…… there is going to be no immediate access due to shortage of MDs and the current MDs whose slots are overfilled are going to be dinged with penalties for not taking care of their patients completely (ie. all time coverage for all patients all the time). which means the MD has to refund the already reduced reimbursements back to the government because patients will complain about this.

Of course, the patients themselves will not tighten their belt and become personally responsible for their health so that they take up less appointment slots……..

So the significant question is Where are the patients held accountable in all these free health care reforms?

This is an important question as we shift to an ACO model. I think the above narrative places a little too much blame on the patient for the higher healthcare costs. Certainly there are things that doctors and our health system can do to lower costs that are outside of the patient. A simple example is 2 doctors ordering duplicate tests. If they just transferred the data, they’d provide the same care for a much lower cost. Plus, I think there are ways that a doctor together with a clinical care team can improve the overall quality of care of a patient population regardless of the patient’s choices. Another example of this is the hospital to PCP hand off. Doing this right can lower healthcare costs by reducing hospital readmissions.

While much can be done by doctors and the healthcare system as a whole, the doctor does raise a good question about patient responsibility. In what ways could we incentivize patients to take some accountability and responsibility for their healthcare as well?

The first thing that popped in my head was the way car insurance companies are doing it. One of the insurance companies is tapping into your car’s computer to monitor safe driving and then they provide discounts to you for being a safe driver. Are we going to have the same models in healthcare? In some ways we do, since if you’re a non-smoker your health insurance costs a lot less. Will health insurance companies start lowering a patient’s health insurance costs based on data from a wearable device that monitors your activity?

I’m honestly not sure how it’s all going to play out, but I am sure that healthcare IT is going to play a role in the process. We’ll never totally solve the issue of patient responsibility and accountability. That’s a feature of life, but I think that technology can help to hold us all more accountable for our health choices. What technologies do you see helping this?

Some Interesting Thoughts from the EHR Summit

Posted on November 17, 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 enjoyed all day at the EHR Summit that’s being held by HBMA in Phoenix. It’s been a really interesting event for me. I had some sound bites from the Ron Sterling keynote queued up, but it’s not connecting to Twitter. So, I’ll see if I can post those tomorrow. Today, I thought I’d post some of my other tweets from the other session. I think you’ll find them interesting, enlightening, thought provoking or some other adjective. I really look forward to the discussion on this post.

EMR software has many versions of the same data. #interesting #EHRSummit11 Think about an HIE as well. They have a version of the data too

HIE’s aren’t good at getting the receiving doctor the second version of a clinical document. #interesting #EHRSummit11

Think about the records retention issues when you switch EHR software companies. Good thought. #EHRSummit11

If you haven’t lost a client to a hospital this year….you will next year. #EHRSummit11 #HBMA

How many EHR companies are billing companies? They have 7 listed on screen. Do you know of others? #EHRSummit11
They have MED3000, Allscripts, Greenway, NextGen, Athena, GE Centricity, Ingenix. Any other EHR companies do billing as well? #EHRSummit11

Shame on you if you hire an EHR Company and don’t check the references. Ask for a list of 10 in that specialty and size. #EHRSummit11

Pre-existing conditions, No lifetime maximum and kids on parents plan for longer are going to increase our insurance costs. #EHRSummit11

Definitely interesting to consider how the healthcare billing industry will be affected by things like ACO’s and concierge. #EHRSummit11

Super bills are going to go away once we get ICD-10. #EHRSummit11 #HBMA

The healthcare billing sales cycle is 12-18 months. #EHRSummit11

Since I’m putting some of my tweets. I also enjoyed a number of the tweets coming out of the ONC Meeting today. Here’s one that really hit me:

RT @INHSbeacon If you’ve seen one CCD, you’ve seen one CCD. Everyone interprets different, we need to find a standard to succeed #ONCMeeting

Medical Care and Primary Care without Insurance Allows Technology to Flourish

Posted on June 30, 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’ve previously posted that I believe the real EMR innovation will likely have to come together with healthcare innovation. The basic premise being that our current insurance reimbursement system is a weight on the backs of EMR software. The insurance requirements cause much of the unwieldy interfaces that are put out by EMR software and insurance requirements and limitations are a huge limiter on the technology innovation that could occur in healthcare.

Imagine how much more streamlined the EMR interface could be if EMR companies worried about patient care and not reimbursement. Imagine the new technologies that would be implemented if you weren’t so worried about the office visit reimbursement model we have today.

This premise is why I was so intrigued by this post on the popular Tech Startup blog, Techcrunch, called “The Most Important Organization in Silicon Valley That No One Has Heard About.” In the article, Dr. Samir Qamar has been putting together a different model for healthcare. “For only $49 per month and $10 per visit, MedLion is able to provide high quality medicine at a price point nearly any family can afford.”

How is he able to do this? Here’s a quote for part of how he’s able to accomplish it:

Part of MedLion’s value proposition has been availability to its patient base. Like many direct primary care practices, they find more than half of their patient interaction is via electronic means, as they aren’t forced by reimbursement rules to have a patient come to their office for something that could be done simply over phone or email. We want to be available for our patients whether they are in the Bay Area, Bali or Boise.”

I’m not sure if Dr. Qamar has found all the healthcare Innovation secret sauce, but I’m grateful for pioneering entrepreneurs like Dr. Qamar that are willing to try something different. Plus, there’s no better place for the application of technology than in these new models for healthcare. It’s exciting to consider what technology could really do when it’s not shackled by the 100 pound gorilla.

Health Plans And EMRs: Do They Mix?

Posted on April 9, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Even if the best hopes of EMR supporters come true, the truth is that widespread adoption won’t touch one of the key contributors to healthcare waste and inefficiency.  As long as the health insurance companies continue to stand to one side and stay aloof from the EMR adoption process, they’ll effectively undermine providers’ best intentions.

OK, maybe this is a bit confusing.  Let me be a bit clearer. As long as EMRs are designed to control and even improve healthcare quality — but not necessarily to address other health plan priorities — there will be a difficult and (to my mind) embarassing clash of wills involved.

But wait, you say, isn’t the Accountable Care Organization supposed to bring everyone together into a single happy group of cheerleaders?  You know, health plans dole out money in manageable flat bundles, doctors and hospitals work together to create streamlined programs of care and EMRs document that the whole arrangement is working out?

Well, that’s the idealized picture. But let’s face it, for the foreseeable future, only a small percentage of well-funded, well-organized providers will create successful ACOs.

And that leaves the rest of providers on the tiresome modified fee-for-service track, one which forces them in to Dances With Insurance which could eat away at or even cancel out any productivity gains an organization makes from their EMR investment.

Let’s face it:  in reality, health plans aren’t just interested in clinical care, they’re interested in cheap care.  It’s hard to integrate their methods for saving money — such as the ever-so-popular need to pre-authorize expensive procedures — with the efficiencies one would hope for in an EMR-based organization.

I hope insurance companies find ways to work towards quality that draw on EMRs’ capabilities, such as population management, better care for chronically-ill patients and data sharing.  At the moment, however, I don’t think they’ve come nearly far enough in that direction. When will the health plan business find a way to make money in a way that actually takes advantage of EMRs’ strengths?