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Physician Group Cited For Sharing Patient Data Without Business Associate Agreement

Posted on December 12, 2018 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 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 @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

A group providing hospitalist physicians on contract has learned the hard way that sharing PHI with vendors is a no-no unless the vendor has signed a business associate agreement. The group, Advanced Care Hospitalists, which serves west-central Florida, has been fined $500,000 for this oversight along with other derelictions of its HIPAA duties.

Between November 2011 and June 2012, ACH farmed out medical billing to an individual identifying himself as a representative of a Florida-based company named Doctor’s First Choice Billings, Inc. (In an unusual twist, this individual apparently signed the ACH deal without knowledge or permission of First Choice’s owner, which raises other questions beyond the scope of this article.)

Later, in February 2014, a hospital let ACH know that patient information was viewable on the First Choice website, including name, date of birth and social security number. Of course, ACH’s first move was to ask First Choice to take the data off of the website. Then, it surveyed the damage done.

After assessing the situation, ACH notified the HHS Office for Civil Rights about the breach. The group eventually concluded that more than 9,000 patients could have been affected. In response, OCR conducted an investigation into the breach — and reviewers weren’t exactly happy with what they found.

The OCR concluded that ACH never entered into a business associate agreement with the individual, which HIPAA requires.

What’s more, it found that despite being in business since 2005, ACH didn’t have a policy requiring that it sign business associate agreements with relevant vendors until April 2014 (another HIPAA foul) and had neither conducted a risk analysis nor implemented security measures or other written HIPAA policies before 2014 (additional, major HIPAA fouls).

Given the extent to which its HIPAA compliance, well, didn’t exist, OCR is asking for more than the $500K.  ACH has agreed to a corrective action plan including the adoption of business associate agreements, a thorough risk analysis cutting across its entire business and the development of comprehensive policies and procedures needed to comply with HIPAA rules.

Perhaps if ACH had demanded that the unnamed medical billing contractor sign a business associate agreement, it might have avoided the patient data breach, or perhaps not. If nothing else, though, the hospitalist group might have stood a better chance of knowing with whom it had actually contracted with, which certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

Doctors Work 2 Hours on EHR Tasks For Every 1 Hour of Time With Patients – Are You OK With That?

Posted on December 10, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Wayne Crandall, President & CEO of NoteSwift.

At NoteSwift, we’re passionate about providing clinicians with the tools and workflow support they need so they can focus on delivering great care to their patients. It’s become increasingly clear over the past few years that EHR workflows are a big frustration for many doctors. This leads us to today’s question:

As a healthcare industry, are we satisfied with a system that forces clinicians to spend two hours inputting and completing EHR records for every one hour of actual time with patients? Is this the kind of health care we aspire to provide?

In thinking about this topic, I’m reminded of a blog I read a couple years ago which passionately addressed the issue of EHR time burdens from the perspective of a physician. Hear the passion in the author’s voice, and consider the tips and workflow adjustments he’s been forced to adopt in order to minimize the time they spend in EHR work.

The author calls the amount of time many EHRs require a “national disgrace” because it pulls doctors away from time with patients. We hear this story from nearly every clinician we talk to — it’s painful and frustrating to train for years to care for patients, yet feel forced to spend most of the day typing notes and clicking EHR check boxes.

A recent white paper looking at studies across the industry backs up this frustration with even more data. Doctors today are forced to spend two hours on EHR entry for every one hour of patient care. This EHR time burden is directly connected to the increase in physician burnout being reported across nearly every physician specialty. You can access this white paper here.

I believe it’s our obligation as an industry to continue improving our EHR workflows to better serve clinicians working on the front line of health care and who need more time to build relationships with patients, not EHR workflows.

At NoteSwift, we believe there is no reason for a clinician to spend 2 hours manually completing an EHR record, and we are working on exciting A.I. solutions to reduce the time doctors spend in their EHRs. Our solution, Samantha, the real-time EHR transcriptionist, allows clinicians to dictate the patient narrative one time; from there, powerful A.I. parses the narrative, creates structured data elements, adds those elements across the entire EHR, and offers the clinician a review screen to finalize the note. The entire process is automated, accurate, and efficient.

The author ends his blog with the following sentence: “Every day on my way into work I make a conscious decision to do everything possible to spend face-to-face time with patients.” I think this is a great mantra for doctors to adopt, and it’s the responsibility of all of us in health care to continue improving our EHR workflows to make better patient care a reality.

To receive your complimentary copy of this white paper, “Physician Burnout By The Numbers,” click here. You’ll receive instant access to the paper as a resource for you and your team.

About Wayne Crandall
Wayne Crandall’s career in technology spans sales, marketing, product management, strategic development and operations. Wayne was a co-founder, executive officer, and senior vice president of sales, marketing and business development at Nuance Communications and was responsible for growing the company to over $120M following the acquisition of Dragon and SpeechWorks.

Prior to joining the NoteSwift team, Wayne was President and CEO of CYA Technologies and then took over as President of enChoice, which specialized in ECM systems and services, when they purchased CYA.

Wayne joined NoteSwift, Inc. at its inception, working with founder Dr. Chris Russell to build the team from the ground up. Wayne has continued to guide the company’s growth and evolution, resulting in the development of the industry’s first AI-powered EHR Virtual Assistant, Samantha(TM).

NoteSwift is the leading provider of EHR Virtual Assistants and a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

When Patient Communication with Doctors Becomes Ridiculously Easy

Posted on December 7, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It’s always nice to talk about the value of improved communication between doctors and patients. It’s another thing to read a story about the impact of making that communication easy.

That’s what I found when I read this amazing story by Ethan Bechtel, Co-Founder and CEO of OhMD. For those too lazy to read his whole write-up, Ethan received a late night email from one of his pediatric customers that said the following:

This is the type of email that every healthcare IT company founder dreams of getting. As Ethan says:

I always believed that we could truly have a positive impact on healthcare if we just made patient communication ridiculously easy.

But I never thought I’d get an email quite like that.

Pretty spectacular way to frame it. Although, he does offer this important perspective:

The obvious truth is, OhMD didn’t save that child’s life, the doctor did. She devotes her entire life to her patients and goes above and beyond to provide incredible care at all hours of the day.

But if we can just play a small a role in helping great doctors be amazing doctors, then we’ll have a real impact on patient care.

It’s great to hear stories like this. Thanks to Ethan for sharing it. Certainly there’s a balance we have to reach in this regard. We can’t expect our doctors to be at our beck and call 24/7. They need to have a life too and to not feel responsible for every patient’s whim. However, it’s great to see what simple communication can do to improve the experience for both patient and doctor.

The Rise of Urgent Care and Retail Clinics – Or Is It The Rise of Convenient Healthcare?

Posted on December 5, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that primary care faces more challenges than it’s ever faced before. Not the least of which is being one of the lowest paid medical professions with rising medical school prices which encourages more doctors to choose specialty medicine and eschew primary care. What’s astounding is that this trend stands in stark contrast to what patients want from primary care. Patients want more convenience while the medical establishment is turning out fewer primary care doctors which creates a shortage of doctors and long wait times for primary care visits.

As Lydia Ramsey notes in her tweet below, urgent care offices are popping up everywhere. Combine that with retail clinics and the future of primary care is facing a lot of serious questions.

The reality is that most patients don’t want to go to urgent care or retail clinics. They’d much rather go to their PCP. Why don’t they go? The simple answer is convenience.

It’s much more convenient to hit the urgent care or retail clinic than it is to go to their primary care doctor. Some of this has to do with a shortage of primary care doctors which means long wait times to be seen. In other cases, it’s the really poor experience patients have had visiting their doctor in the past. I don’t need to list off the litany of bad patient experiences that we’ve all had when visting doctors. It’s like a universal PTSD experience that everyone has gone through.

Dave Chase offered his take on the rise of urgent care:

I’m not sure about his reference to the “devastation of primary care.” I’d be interested to hear why he thinks primary care has been “devastated.” Is he referring to over-regulation and underpayment? Is he referring to the shortage of docs I mention above? Is he referring to the rubber stamp PCP visits that are required to see a specialist in many insurance plans and in many ways ruined the PCP visit?

No doubt, primary care has been one of the least appreciated medical professions. However, primary care doctors didn’t do themselves any favors either. In many ways it reminds me of what Uber and Lyft have done to the taxi industry. Taxis could have embraced all the conveniences that Uber and Lyft provide, but they chose not to do so. Why not? Because they felt like they didn’t need to change since they had a virtually monopoly on the industry. Would I rather get a taxi? Yes, but I don’t because Lyft is more convenient. Sounds a lot like PCPs, doesn’t it? We’d rather go to a PCP, but an urgent care or retail clinic is more convenient.

Going back to Dave Chase’s comment that “If there’s proper primary care in a community and ethical hospitals, there’s no need for separate urgent care.” I might agree if he’d say there was less need for a separate urgent care. Urgent care does some really great work in off hours. However, the real problem is defining what he calls “proper primary care.”

I do think that if PCPs would have embraced better patient experiences, urgent cares and retail clinics would be much smaller. That said, does anyone think we can put that genie back in the bottle? I don’t think so. I believe our future healthcare system is going to have urgent care, retail clinics, and primary care.

The real question is what can PCPs do to make sure they thrive in this new mixed environment? I’d suggest that the first place to start is convenience.

A Reasonable Way to Look at Automation in Healthcare

Posted on December 3, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’ve all read the headlines that talk about how the doctor is going to be replaced by some AI bot. The predictable reaction from doctors is that they don’t see how this could be possible. The conversation then becomes pretty cyclical and nothing really gets accomplished from those discussions.

Instead, I like this graphic that David Chou shared about how we should think about automation in healthcare:

This graphic is fantastic because it shows the range of things that can be automated and what percentage of those tasks can be automated. This is a much more realistic picture of what we should expect from healthcare automation. Certainly, we could quibble over the percentages (for example, I think applying expertise will actually be much higher), but this illustrates much more clearly that humans are still going to be required, but that there’s a huge opportunity to automate healthcare

It is clear to me that automation is coming to healthcare. It’s more a question of whether an organization will embrace automation or not. Like in most technology, you probably don’t want to be the first adopter of automation, but there’s value in being one of the early adopters. That experience will give you the early learning experience which will help you shape the direction of your organization. Plus, it will take time for an organization to learn the value of automation so it’s ready to fully embrace it.

What’s your take on healthcare automation? Where are you seeing this happen already? Is there something in this graphic that resonates with you? Let us know on social media with @HealthcareScene or in the comments.

What’s in a Chart? – Fun Friday

Posted on November 30, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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 heard people say “What’s the difference between stats and lies? Nothing!” While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, there is something to say about stats that don’t share the real story. A good person with the right data can tell whatever story they want to tell.

I guess this fact is why this cartoon resonated so much to me and many others who shared it on social media.

The tweet is said from a marketer’s standpoint, but the same is true in healthcare as well. A nurse or doctor looking at a dashboard might miss something if the dashboards aren’t measuring the right thing. The same is true for any healthcare leader that spends time looking at dashboards. Dashboards are great…if you’re measuring and presenting the right things.

Don’t be WOWed by the fancy charts and graphs until you understand what the data really means.

The Extraordinary Value of Chronic Care Management As Seen Through The Lens Of The Patient

Posted on November 28, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Spencer Kubo MD, Chief Medical Officer at CareCognitics.

The concept of adding chronic care management (CCM) to primary care practices is appealing on many different levels, but implementation has been sporadic.  The dismal uptake is multifactorial and is largely based on the perception that the value (return) may not be worth the investment.  However, Wendi Capers, Practice Manager of Priority Health Group, a primary care practice in Las Vegas, Nevada, recently relayed to me three patient stories that are guaranteed to change your perspective.  This group was an early adopter of CCM and is using Cariatrix as their CCM provider.

Patient #1 is an 82-year-old male veteran who was becoming increasingly isolated, lonely and depressed after the death of his dog.  The patient did not have any family or friends.  He had no physical complaints that would have necessitated a call to his doctor and did not feel he had any reasons to request an appointment.  The Care Ally from Cariatrix noticed that the patient was not responding to the regular emails and texts that give reminders about upcoming preventative health measures. She called the patient and astutely picked up on the feelings of isolation. After their conversation, she found a program that could provide animal therapy for vets.  She also located a community center that held classes in Tai Chi, one of the patient’s favorite forms of exercise.  The patient is responding well to these interventions and has “turned around.”  Now the patient promptly responds to the emails/texts, and even calls the Care Ally every month just to check in, clear signs of greater engagement and well-being.

Patient #2 is a 62-year-old male with diabetes that was not well controlled, as evinced by a baseline A1C that was elevated to 11.9.  When asked about the suboptimal A1C result, the patient was taken aback, saying, “I can take care of myself.”  Again, this patient did not see the need to contact his doctor.  But the CCM team slowly won him over through multiple contacts.  The Care Ally then observed during medication reconciliation that there were extended periods between refills of his insulin and oral medications.  The patient at first did not acknowledge this gap, but then finally admitted that the co-pay had forced him to delay refills. He remarked, “I can eat and heat my home, or I can get my meds, but I can’t do both.”  The Care Ally was able to petition the manufacturers for hardship papers, and now there is no gap in prescription refills.  Most importantly, his A1C has been reduced to 7.9!

Patient #3 is an 83-year-old male who has a cognitive impairment.  After an annual wellness visit, the primary physician ordered home health care visits to help with the patient’s weakness and general limitations.  However, the patient became increasingly disoriented and refused to let the home health aide into the home, thinking she was a photographer.   As in the other cases, this patient was not responding to the regularly scheduled emails and texts that are standard components of CCM.  However, the Care Ally received an automated alert, read about his refusal to admit the home health aide in the EMR, and then called the patient directly.  The Care Ally immediately recognized the patient’s disorientation and called the police department to do a well check on the patient.  The police found the patient to be obviously confused and called an ambulance to take the patient to the hospital for an emergent evaluation.

You will notice some common themes in these patient stories.  The first is that the CCM program had established a digital two-way communication platform with the patient.  This is a game changer from the traditional paradigm of medical interaction, which is dependent upon the patient calling the office to report a problem.  None of these patients felt they had any reason to call the doctor’s office (in that they were unable to recognize that they were in need of any care). However, the lack of responses to email and texts served as an indicator to the Care Ally that something might be amiss. In the traditional paradigm, corrective actions are initiated only AFTER the patient contacts the doctor about a problem.  In the new CCM paradigm, there is outbound communication that can help detect problems even if the patient is not contacting the clinic.

Second, the CCM program could provide VIP services that truly made a difference in patient outcomes–these are simple yet extraordinarily effective.  One problem with the term “VIP Services” is that many think of limousines, suite upgrades and free meals.  But here we see that “VIP Services” can be low cost but directed interventions to resolve specific issues facing a patient.  Most clinical practices do not have the resources to contact patients who are not complaining, and most do not have the resources to respond to the cases above in the same proactive fashion that CCM allows.  A CCM program can truly provide that competitive edge and get medical practices paid for the effort!

Third, these examples point to the synergistic effects of technology and the human touch.  Technology is an answer because it can help us monitor patients for signals and provide additional communication channels.  But we need the human touch in many cases to really make the difference.  As a practicing cardiologist, I get excited about how much technology can help, but at the same time, I am humbled by how much technology still cannot do. It is the balance of technology and human touch that will be a game changer in healthcare.

Finally, it is important to assess the value of CCM in terms of revenue, improvement in quality scores and other hard metrics.  But there is a “softer” side to the value equation that makes CCM valuable and helpful to patient outcomes.  These stories from the “trenches” of CCM providers happen all the time–they form a compelling testament to the value of CCM!

About Spencer Kubo, MD
Spencer brings a diverse set of experiences and expertise to the chronic care management strategies of CareCognitics. Previously, he was Medical Director of the Heart Failure-Heart Transplantation Program of the University of Minnesota, where he authored over 250 original articles and abstracts. He has also been Chief Medical Officer or a consultant to numerous medical device companies developing breakthrough treatments to improve the lives of patients with cardiac diseases. He maintains a part time clinical practice and most recently was the Physician Lead of the Heart Failure Service Line for Allina Health. In that capacity, he leads a multidisciplinary group focused on improving outcomes of heart failure patients treated at any of the 12 hospitals and over 90 clinics in the Allina system.

Note: John Lynn, Founder of Healthcare Scene, is an advisor to CareCognitics.

Three Ways AI Can Improve Physicians’ Workflow

Posted on November 26, 2018 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 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 @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

For far too many physicians, EHRs and other important health IT seem to get in the way of getting the job done. But according to one pair of physician-authors, emerging AI technology has the potential to improve physician workflow instead.

“We see opportunities for AI to be a solution for—rather than a contributor to—burnout among physicians and achieving the Quadruple Aim of improving health, enhancing the experience of care, reducing cost and attaining joy in work for health professionals,” wrote AMA chief medical information officer Michael Hodgkins, MD, MPH and Shantanu Nundy, MD, director of the Human Diagnosis Project.

In an article for the journal Health Affairs, Drs. Hodgkins and Nundy outlined three ways in which AI could be used to make physicians’ work easier and more satisfying. They include:

  • Delivering educational information to the point of care: At present, most educational efforts targeting physicians don’t do a good job of keeping physicians up to date, as they aren’t targeted enough, the article asserts. However, by using AI, healthcare organizations can offer personalized content to physicians by reviewing their existing research habits. By analyzing practice data, online search queries and assessments, AI can provide a streamlined infostream offering only what they need.
  • Producing clinical documentation: The authors argue that AI will someday be able to complete clinical documentation tasks on the physicians’ behalf. In their view, these AI applications will analyze a given physician’s free-text narrative, extract relevant information and insert the information into the right data fields in their EHR. (Researchers are testing out some concrete approaches for doing this.)
  • Collecting information needed for quality-measurement reporting: Hodgkins and Nundy envision a scenario in which AI tools spare doctors the need to perform hours of redundant quality reporting duties. As in the documentation example, such tools would review clinical documents and extract needed information, though this time in search of meeting external requirements. They would then populate data fields in need of completion on submission forms.

These are comparatively straightforward applications of AI. In addition to the trio of possibilities suggested above, AI could eventually deliver clinical decision support on the fly, speed and improve the accuracy of medical image interpretation and more.

In the meantime, however, it’s hard to disagree with these authors that physicians could benefit a great deal from AI tools that make basic clinical workflow faster and less draining.

Program Gets Rid Of EHR “Stupid Stuff” Flagged By Users

Posted on November 21, 2018 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 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 @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Physicians at Honolulu-based Hawaii Pacific Health were optimistic that they could eliminate at least some of the documentation tasks they performed when using their EHR, which had been in place for more than 10 years,

To identify the changes that needed to be made, Hawaii Pacific launched a program dubbed “Getting Rid of Stupid Stuff” focused on getting rid of anything in EHR which didn’t work. Leaders asked employees to “look at their daily documentation experience and nominate anything in the EHR that they thought was poorly designed, unnecessary, or just plain stupid,” wrote Melinda Ashton, M.D. in a recent letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.

Starting in October 2017, employees began identifying problems with the EHR documentation workflow. These included documentation that was never meant to happen and would be easy to eliminate or fix; documentation that was needed but could be done more efficiently or effectively; and documentation that was needed for which clinicians didn’t understand the need or know about all of the tools available to complete it.

Some of the fixes employees recommended were more-or-less no-brainers, such as removing a requirement that nurses working with adolescent patients assess the cord, a feature which should only have applied to newborn babies.

In another case, the emergency medicine department was able to remove the requirement that clinicians print an after-visit summary, obtain the signature and scan it back in the system after learning that the step wasn’t necessary. The organization also reduced the frequency of required nursing assessments and documentation by nurses, from as many as several times in a 12-hour shift to solely when they assumed care of a patient.

In addition, they learned that Hawaii Pacific needed to do a better job of educating staff about the documentation tools that were available. This need was underscored by the fact that several requests came in from physicians asking for sorting and filtering capabilities to the EHR already possessed. The organization did have a physician-documentation optimization team in place already to help clinicians use the EHR efficiently, but most physicians had said that they didn’t have time to meet with the team.

Along the way, the team decided to remove 10 of the 12 most frequent alerts for physicians because they were being ignored, in addition to reviewing order sets by removing the ones that hadn’t been used recently.

In addition to getting a lot of useful feedback on improving physician workflow in the EHR, the Stupid Stuff program has put a process in place for continuing to improve EHR performance. Over time, it’s been embraced warmly by employees, Ashton reports.

“When the campaign was unveiled, it was largely met with surprise and sheepish laughter, then applause,” Ashton writes. “We seem to have struck a nerve. It appears that there is stupid stuff all around us.”

Voice Technology: A Disruptive Force in Healthcare

Posted on November 19, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Adam Sabloff, CEO of VirtualHealth.

Voice technology is a disruptive force across many industries, and healthcare is no exception. In sync with tools like Amazon Alexa and Echo, voice-user interfaces (VUI) have the potential to take care management to the next level, and the advantages extend far beyond simple conveniences for patients. 

The world of healthcare lives in siloes: patients, family members, doctors, care managers, and health aides, just to name a few. All are inputting valuable health information from disparate systems, devices, and other sources—resulting in a fragmented view of the patient’s health.

A growing number of healthcare innovators, myself included, believe that voice technology is one solution that can help bring all the pieces together.

I joked during a presentation at Amazon’s VOICE Summit, where I addressed the use of voice technology as a patient engagement tool, that I had received a late-night text from my sister-in-law that four flavors of Goldfish crackers – which she knows I love – were being recalled due to salmonella. Imagine if Alexa knew my ordering behavior, understood what I had in my pantry and alerted me immediately to the recall. Now imagine if Alexa also automatically sent me a box to return the bags in question or merely alerted me to throw out my Goldfish stash and arranged for my refund.

When you apply those “what ifs” to healthcare, they take on new, more significant meaning.

Transforming Care Delivery with Greater Insights

Driven by the massive popularity of Alexa and Google Home, VUI is transforming care delivery by empowering providers with greater insights like these and better engaging patients in behavior change that leads to overall better health and outcomes. Implementation of VUI can enhance process across a variety of use cases such as:

  • Prompting patients to schedule appointments and follow through with care plans
  • Reminding patients about medications
  • Guiding patients through procedure preparations
  • Standardizing care information provided before or after treatment.
  • Enable interaction to complete assessments

The sky is the limit when it comes to implementing VUI, but the immediate goal is identifying medium-risk individuals before they become high-risk. What if Jane just had knee surgery but lives in a 4th floor walk-up? Her care team knows that compliance with her discharge plan may prove difficult. Voice technology can be the intuitive, patient-friendly layer that allows data to flow into healthcare systems faster.

Aging at Home

One of the biggest topics being addressed these days is Medicare’s unprecedented push into the home—a shift driven by an aging population that is outgrowing the amount of available senior living beds.

By weaving VUI-based smart home products like Amazon Alexa and Google Home into the fabric of healthcare technology, we can provide a better quality of life to seniors while allowing them to age gracefully in the comfort of their own homes.

Last month,, an Amazon spokesperson told a reporter that the company frequently receives positive feedback from “aging-in-place” customers who use Alexa’s smart-home features as an alternative to going up and down stairs. Amazon’s Echo Show is another product that offers users Tap to Alexa, a screen interface that lets users who are deaf and hard of hearing tap common commands. Microsoft, for its part, recently launched an A.I. for an accessibility program to create inclusive, affordable technology.

While a number of aging in place-focused technologies like these are already available, more still are being explored. We are seeing seniors embrace today’s connected devices to stay safely independent. Everything from blood pressure and glucose monitors to motion sensors are making seniors’ homes safer and smarter. Furthermore, voice devices can serve as the central data hub for all the connected devices in a person’s home. 10 years from now, I anticipate that most seniors who live independently will do so in smart homes equipped with passive devices that continuously monitor vital signs and activities of daily living. I also foresee the use of other monitoring devices, such as food trackers that monitor inventories and replenish when needed.

Addressing Social Determinants

Social factors such as lower income, education level, or high-crime area have been shown to significantly affect health outcomes. Subsequently, social determinants can cause care gaps such as difficulties with transportation, proper nutrition, understanding educational materials on a specific condition, or lack of a support network to help ensure compliance.

According to Lyft, 3.6 million Americans have transportation issues that prevent them from getting to or from doctors’ appointments, and 25% of lower-income patients have missed or rescheduled their appointments due to lack of transportation.

That’s where voice technology can help.

If John Smith needs to go to the doctor and Medicaid will pay for the appointment, John can say, “Alexa, I need to go to the doctor next week.” Alexa might respond, “Your doctor is available at 10 am on Tuesday. I’ll arrange for a Lyft to pick you up.”

It’s the same with nutritional needs. If John says, “I need meals,” Alexa might say, “You’re on a low sodium diet. Your choices for this shipment include asparagus or carrots.” By making solutions easier to reach, VUI can close the care gaps more efficiently and effectively than a care manager reaching out via email or phone.

To be sure, there are a lot of lofty ideas out there when it comes to VUI and healthcare, but it’s not practical to boil the ocean; instead, it’s important to hone in on those aspects of healthcare where it can have the greatest impact in the shortest amount of time.  By engaging patients in their homes – particularly those who make up the most high-risk, complex populations – VUI applications can keep patients out of the doctor’s office or hospital, while still providing strong outcomes.

About Adam Sabloff
Adam Sabloff, CEO and Founder of VirtualHealth, is a nationally recognized leader and executive in the healthcare industry. Adam’s impact in the field can be traced back to the mid-2000s, when he co-created the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Baltimore and discovered a significant gap leaving seniors and the chronically ill without access to essential care delivery and technology.

That insight, coupled with the loss of a loved one to a late-stage diagnosis, led Adam to develop VirtualHealth, the first comprehensive care management solution purpose-built for integrated value-based care. Designed for use by payers and providers, the platform aggregates and normalizes patient data from multiple sources effectively providing healthcare organizations with the tools to provide proactive, quality care.

Adam is a frequent speaker at healthcare and technology events, including the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, Parks Associates’ Connected Health Summit, and the Amazon Voice Summit where he discusses topics including the need for advanced health IT solutions to achieve a true “whole-person” view of the patient.