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Hospital CIOs Cutting Back on Non-Essential Projects

Posted on July 10, 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 @annezieger on Twitter.

Generally speaking, cutting back on IT projects and spending is a tricky thing. In some cases spending can be postponed, but other times, slicing a budget can have serious consequences.

One area  where cutting budgets can cause major problems is in preparing to roll out EMRs, especially cuts to training, which can lead to problems with rollouts, resentment, medical mistakes, system downtime due to mistakes and more.  Also, skimping on training can lead to a domino effect which results in the exit of CEOs and other senior leaders, which has happened several times (that we know of) over the past couple of years.

That being said, sometimes budgetary constraints force CIOs to make cuts anyway, reports FierceHealthIT Increasingly projects other than EMRs are falling in priority.

A recent survey of hospital technology leaders representing 650 hospitals nationwide published by HIMSS underscores this trend. Respondents told HIMSS said that despite increases in IT budgets, they still struggled to complete IT projects due to financial limitations. In fact, 25 percent said that financial survival was their top priority.

What that comes down to, it seems, is that promising initiatives fall by the roadside if they don’t contribute to EMR success.  For example, providers are stepping back from HIE participation because they feel they can’t afford to be involved, according to a HIMSS Analytics survey published last fall.

Instead, hospitals are taking steps to enhance and build on their EMR investment. For example, as FierceHealthIT notes, Partners HealthCare recently chose to pull together all of its EMR efforts under a single vendor.  In the past, Partners had used a combo of homegrown systems and vendor products, but IT leaders there  felt that this arrangement was too expensive to continue, according to Becker’s Hospital Review.

This laser focus on EMRs may be necessary at present, as the EMR is arguably the most mission-critical software hospitals have in place at the  moment. The question, as I see it, is whether this will cripple hospitals in the future. Eventually, I’d argue, mobile health will become a priority for hospitals and medical practices, as will some form of  HIE participation, just to name the first two technologies that come to mind. In three to five years, if they don’t fund initiatives in these areas, hospitals may look  up and find that they’re hopelessly behind .

Fall Healthcare Conferences: So Many Options, So Little Time

Posted on October 10, 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.

Fall conference season is in full swing, and while I didn’t have the opportunity to attend StrataRx or Health 2.0, I was able to follow along via very active tweet streams. I have had the opportunity to attend several regional events, and have several more lined up in the coming weeks. Here is a brief list of those, along with reflections and expectations.

mHealth: Engaging the Masses and Making It Work for Your Bottom Line
This evening event, put on by the Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society, featured panelists from Kaiser, Cigna, Intel and Accelarad. The back and forth between the four different stakeholders illuminated a number of challenges healthcare as an industry is facing when it comes to broad adoption and regular utilization of mobile health tools. They all want to fit those tools into a business model that not only helps to improve outcomes, but also generates revenue at the same time. (On a side note, I found it very interesting to learn from the Cigna panelist that Aetna is the payer with the best mobile health tools.)

Georgia HIMSS Trade Faire
This daylong event offered a variety of sessions, keynote speakers and an exhibit hall, all situated in Building C of the sprawling Georgia World Congress Center. My favorite session by far was “Georgia Leads the Way: Patient Engagement in Cancer Care.” Stakeholders from Georgia Tech, Cancer Navigators, and the Georgia Department of Community Health were on hand to explain how the ONC-funded program is helping providers engage their patients as full partners, and to show how those patients can actively participate in managing their cancer through the use of mobile technology. It was encouraging to me to know that programs like this are available to people that live north of metro Atlanta.

My day was topped off by a lovely reception hosted by the Health Forward Alliance at the Metro Atlanta Chamber’s scenic rooftop. The alliance is looking to bring innovative thought leaders to the healthcare community to inspire new ways of thinking. It’s a great idea, as I think sometimes healthcare folks get stuck in their healthcare bubble, rarely exposing themselves to fresh perspectives from different industries.

AHIMA
October 27 – 30 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta
I’m excited that AHIMA is in Atlanta this year. No flight delays or strange smelling hotel rooms for me this year. Being that I do technically live in North Georgia, I’ll unfortunately have quite a commute. In my mind, that is all the more reason to soak up as much of the conference as possible. I haven’t combed through the educational session descriptions yet, but I do know I’m looking forward to hearing on Tuesday about connected health from Travis Good, MD, who writes a terrific blog on the topic; and to the Henry Winkler/Marlee Matlin téte a téte Wednesday morning. I had no idea they had such an inspiring story to tell.

Health IT Leadership Summit
November 12, the Fox Theatre, Atlanta
Full disclosure: I’m part of the marketing committee for this event. Nevertheless, I am excited about hearing from WebMD founder and current Sharecare CEO Jeff Arnold. Sharecare is doing some interesting things in the consumer engagement space, effectively trying to bring it to the masses. I hope Arnold will touch on why he thought the time was right to get such an endeavor started, and how he keeps visitors coming back again and again. That seems to be a main sticking point with most engagement tools I read about these days.

I’d love to know of any events coming up I should make a point to attend, as well as your thoughts on any that I mentioned above.

Mulling Over EMR Market Consolidation

Posted on September 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.

I had the pleasure of attending a Technology Association of Georgia Health Society event last week on mobile health. It offered me a chance to chat with colleagues, and hear from a panel of payers, providers, startups and vendors on the current state of and predictions for mobile health. While networking beforehand, I found myself trying to succinctly answer a colleague’s question of, “Where do you see the EMR market heading in the next few years?”

My short answer was, “It is consolidating and will continue to consolidate.” I had more details and theories on the tip of my tongue, but didn’t get the chance to back up my statements before we were ushered in to the evening’s presentation. It was a big question – one that I think has only one correct answer, but also one that potentially has a variety of explanations behind that answer. Needless to say, I mulled it over that night and into the next day, when, coincidentally, I awoke to news of the Vitera/Greenway Medical deal.

If I had the chance to do it over again, I’d break my response down like this: Meaningful Use obviously provided incentive for businesses to get into the EMR game. Some were already in healthcare, while others were on the fringes. Combine those new industry entrants with companies that have provided EMRs since before HITECH, and you’re left with a crowded market.

Implementations and go lives coinciding with Stage 1 left many providers dissatisfied with the EMR experience thus far, but still willing to forge ahead. As they look to Stage 2, some realize their vendors – whom many are already disenchanted with – will not be up to the task of helping hospitals meet digital patient engagement quotas, among other Meaningful Use guidelines. And so began the rip and replace movement.

Vendors deemed not up to par looked at their options. Many took a step back and reassessed product development and strategy, deciding to either: get out of the healthcare game, close up shop altogether, merge with a competitor, or make themselves available for possible acquisition.

That’s one wave of consolidation. I’m fairly confident we’ll see another wave in the next 12 to 18 months, if it hasn’t already started. (I don’t think we’ll see too many Phoenix-type situations like Google.) As providers dive deeper into using technologies around Stage 2 engagement requirements, they’ll experience a second wave of acceptance or denial. At some point, the EMR replacement market will die down, providers will settle into the technology they’ve settled on, and purchases of new systems will stagnate. EMR sales will thus dry up a bit, forcing vendors to again look at their options. I would think that many will turn into consulting services once the demand for new software has died down.

Now that I’ve put pen to paper and laid out my thoughts, I wonder what readers predict. I encourage you to let me know whether I’m on the mark, totally off base, or somewhere in between.

Epic’s Reputation, Datapalooza, and Interoperability — #HITsm Chat Highlights

Posted on June 15, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Topic One: Do you honestly believe, when the clock runs out, CMS will dock non-#MeaningfulUse docs’ reimbursement? Why/Why not?

 

Topic Two: Explain in technical terms why Epic has such a bad reputation for interoperability.

What’s the data roadblock? How to fix? #HITsm — CapSite (@CapSite) June 14, 2013

 

 

 

Topic Three: In your opinion: Coolest thing coming out of D.C. last week with Datapalooza and the other health IT conferences/meetings?

Topic Four: Congress blaming EHRs & #MeaningfulUse for “upcoding” is like blaming screwdrivers for burglaries. Agree/Disagree/Your take?


Topic Five: Will ICD-10 be a non-problem we blew out of proportion like Y2K, or will it be a pretty rough transition? Explain.

Health IT and Worker Burnout — #HITsm Chat Highlights

Posted on June 1, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

We continue to test various methods to incorporate video into the #HITsm chats. This week a few of us got together to talk about what was said during the #HITsm chat. You can see the video embedded below. It was pretty fun to kind of wrap up what was tweeted during the #HITsm chat. Let us know what you think of the video below. We’re definitely interested in knowing if people like the videos or not. Plus, if you’re interested in participating in one, let us know as well.

Topic One: How might #healthIT CONTRIBUTE to #healthcare worker burnout (#EHR fatigue, etc.)?

 

Topic Two: How are #healthcare worker burnout factors tracked & measured today (or ARE they)?

 

Topic Three: How could/should #healthcare worker burnout factor into #healthIT design principles?

 

Topic Four: How could #healthIT improve the provider experience (reducing burnout risk)?

Topic Five: Should patients have access to #healthcare provider burnout factor ratings & mitigation plans?

Apps Open Up a New World of Health Value

Posted on May 16, 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.

Parents, do you remember the days before smart devices? The days before you could hand your kid a tablet or phone in exchange for at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted quiet? I hope I’m not alone in the personal love/hate relationship I have with smart devices. One minute I find myself using them as a virtual babysitter just to get through a conference call at home. The next, I find myself wishing I could program them to shut off after 20 minutes so that my kids (and my husband) don’t wind up looking like the “humans” in Wall*e. (I’ve heard the Kindle Fire has this option. Anyone know if an iPad can be made to do the same?)

Parental musings aside, I believe smart devices certainly do have their part to play when it comes to educating or even conditioning healthcare consumers, especially in the area of gamification. This point was driven home when I overheard my oldest say to my youngest as they played on the iPad, “Your health value isn’t high enough. You need to add more broccoli.”

smoothiemaster

“Smoothie Master” from TabTale was their game of choice. As the name implies, they were tasked with becoming masters of smoothie creation. I’m still not sure if this game is winnable in the traditional sense, but my seven year-old did explain to me that you could win points for adding healthy ingredients.

TabTale doesn’t seem particularly invested in promoting a healthy lifestyle, as it also has similar apps for mastering the art of making pizzas and hamburgers. But, their inclusion of a health value scoring system does make me wonder if this younger generation will grow up with an inherent sense of what behaviors will keep them healthy in real life. (The irony being that all the broccoli in the world won’t do them any good if they stay glued to the devices that are helping provide this type of education.)

Now, if I can just figure out a way to “gamify” the health value of the broccoli I fix at home so that my kids will eat it and think they have “won.” Let me know in the comments below if you’ve figured out a way to take virtual culinary successes offline and into the real world of kid-friendly cuisine.

Hoarding and Sharing Data in Health Care — #HITsm Chat Highlights

Posted on April 27, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Topic One: Looking in the rearview mirror, what has been the history and rationale for “hoarding” data in health care?

Topic Two: “Open” has varying meanings. What elements/aspects do you think are the most important for healthcare?


Topic Three: How can social media contribute to the transformation from hoarding to sharing? How should patients fit?

Topic Four: What providers/companies use open/collaborative technologies, pt care workflow, strategies, biz models, etc. Who are the stars?

Topic Five: What lessons can #healthcare learn about openness from other industries? What’s most likely to work in healthcare?

Secure Text and Email, Smartphone Physicals, and EMR Documentation – Around Healthcare Scene

Posted on April 14, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

There are so many types of mHealth apps and devices out there, it was inevitable that someone would try to have them work together. At TEDMED 2013, Shiv Gaglani and a team of physicians-to-be will be presenting the “smartphone physical.” Are these types of visits closer to becoming a reality than we may have realized?

One of the amazing technologies that have been developed is a smartphone that measures vitals — maybe this will be used in smartphone physicals someday! The Fujitsu Smartphone analyzes subtle changes in blood flow and determines vital signs, all by the user taking their photo with the phone’s camera. It goes to show that you don’t necessarily need fancy equipment to have incredible mHealth technology.

While some are concerned about the safety of email and texting for healthcare communication, it’s becoming a way of the future. Companies such as Physia and docBEAT are working specifically to make email and texts more secure. So which one is better? Both have their pros and cons – texting is quick and to the point, while email can take more time. Which would you rather receive?

Most doctors will agree, the current documentation options that EMRs offer are frustrating. There’s just too much clicking. However, the tide is shifting and it is very possible full keyboards will be needed. And the need for point of care EMR documentation will be more necessary than ever before.

With the current budget proposal by President Obama, EMR vendors might be impacted significantly. The ONC is suggesting that health IT vendors pay up to $1 million in fees. With the upcoming expiration of the ONC’s $2 billion appropriation from ARRA, the agency is needing some new funds. It also would help maintain ONC’s Certified Health IT Product List. Of course, vendors will not be happy to hear this news.

EHR and mHealth Successes and Fails: Around Healthcare Scene

Posted on March 31, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Patients are somewhat taught to fear sharing medical data. While privacy is important, especially when it comes to health, being more willing to share medical data can yield great results. The key is knowing who to share information with, and who to avoid. 

EHR vendors can be tricky when it comes to keeping clients around. Sometimes, they don’t really have a choice because the EHR holds client information “hostage” when the client says they are switching EHRs. However, this is a sneaky tactic, and there are many other ways to keep an EHR client longer — most importantly, providing a great product.

While many aspects of HIT have come to a halt, mHealth continues to flourish. There are many things that other parts of HIT can learn from mHealth’s success. First, mHealth doesn’t focus on every patient at once. Next, it is an unregulated industry. And finally, the projects are marketed directly to consumers and paid for by them as well. 

Are you a hospital leader and curious about what technologies you should be watching out for? Well, the ECRI Institute has compiled a list of technologies they feel executives should be looking at this next year. This list includes Electronic Health Records, mHealth, imaging and surgery, and more. 

When an EHR fails to work correctly, how do physicians deal with it? Researchers have observed clinical workflows to answer just that question. The observations concluded that while there was no correct answer, many use paper to record information. Hopefully, this study will show EHRs where their gaps are, and help them to correct them.

There are so many consumer medical devices out there. What makes one stand out from the best? And which one has the best form factor? Wrist bands or chest straps…hand held or pocket stored? Chime in over at Smart Phone Healthcare.

100% Interoperability, Quantified Self Data, and Data Liquidity – #HITsm Chat Highlights

Posted on March 30, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

Topic 1: Do you think the healthcare system WANTS 100% interoperability & data liquidity? Why/why not?

 

Topic 2: As consumer, what are YOUR fears about your health data being shared across providers/payers/government?

 

Topic 3: What do you think payers will do with #quantifiedself data if integrated into EHR? Actuarial/underwriting?

 

Topic 4: Could there be a correlation between your fear of data liquidity and your health?

 

Topic 5: What could assuage your fears? Education? Legislation? Regulation? Healthcare system withdrawal?