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Multiple Patient Portal Logins

Posted on June 29, 2012 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.

A long time reader, first time e-mailer recently emailed me some really interesting questions and comments about meaningful use. One thing that they pointed out in that email is the issue of multiple patient portal logins. It was a good point that I think is worth discussing.

When you look at the market for patient portals, you quickly realize that at least in the current environment we’re not going to get close to having one patient portal for all the doctors. Think about an elderly patient that goes to 5 different doctors. This would likely mean that this one patient will have 5 different patient portal logins. That’s a lot of logins just to manage your healthcare. Not to mention, you have to learn 5 different portals. Some you can schedule an appointment online. Some you can pay online. Others you can get refills. Others you can’t. Yep, it’s going to get really confusing really fast.

I’m sure many reading this are thinking, we’re already juggling multiple logins in our life so why does it matter if we have a few more. While annoying, I actually agree with this statement for the younger generation. I probably have a few hundred logins that I use regularly (I’m probably at the high end) and I’m able to manage without too much trouble. In fact, lately I’ve learned how to reset my password quickly on those that I’ve forgotten and/or don’t use regularly. It’s rarely been an issue for me.

However, remember that many of those that are patients aren’t part of this younger, tech savvy generation. I think about my mom and the fear she has of trying something new on the computer. If she’s never done it before, she’s literally afraid to screw something up. As much as we try to convince her otherwise, you can sense the fear and trepidation she has when she’s never used a website before. I should also add, that my mother isn’t even that old. I think you can see the challenge that these patient portals are going to face with the not so tech savvy patient population (which is the majority of the patient population).

I think most of us agree that the meaningful use stage 2 measure that requires patients to interact with the patient portal is going to be taken out or modified. Everyone I’ve talked to agrees that it would be a huge mistake for ONC to hinge meaningful use dollars on something the physician doesn’t control: patient actions. I expect and hope that it will be modified appropriately.

With that said, I still think there will be a push by ONC towards patient portals. The idea of one login per doctor has me a little concerned. I wonder if more patient portals shouldn’t start more fully embracing Facebook logins or other unified logins like OpenID for their portals. Although, I’m sure many of the patients don’t have Facebook logins either so that won’t solve all the problems.

Am I overstating the challenge? Is there a solution out there? Am I wrong about their being so many portals that patients will have to log into? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Companies Agile Diagnosis, ESO Solutions, Shareable Ink, and Valence Health Receive Fundings This Week

Posted on 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.


A graduate from the Rock Health incubator has recently raised $2 million in funding. The mobile health start up, Agile Diagnosis,developed a “mobile clinical decision support service”, that they hope will be even better than other medical reference apps. The company hopes to raise an additional $1 million in funding to help with this program.

Agile Diagnosis claims that their product will “make clinical guidelines and medical information easier to digest,” and not so text-heavy, as many other services currently available are. The app has specifically been created for the iPad, however, an iPhone app will likely be released later this year and will be offered through a subscription.

The Austin-based health care software creator and distributor, ESO Solutions, received $4 million in funding from Austin Ventures. Because of the great demand from emergency medical services and fire and hospital markets for the software from ESO Solutions, this funding will help to expand the company and its sales and marketing efforts.

The most well-known product offered by ESO Solutions is EMR software that “enables pre-hospital patient care providers to effectively and efficiently document patient care while giving administrators tools to manage personnel, oversee operations and review patient care for quality improvement purposes. The company is also set to release a communication platform that will allow EMS and hospitals to coorespond immediately as well as “aggregate pre-hospital data for use in health information exchanges nationwide.” The funding from Austin Ventures will allow ESO to expand these current products and create new ones.

Shareable Ink, a Nashville-based company, has raised $5 million in series-B funding from Lemhi Ventures. The money raised is meant to go towards more research and development. The CEO of the company, Stephen Hau, said this funding “will be used to expand business operations as well as explore new technology” such as being able to convert hand gestures made into data or implementing voice activation.

An iPad version of the technology produced by Shareable Ink will be relased this year to HCA hospitals.

And finally, Valence Health received a $30 million minority investment from North Bridge Growth Equity. Valence Health is a provider of clinical integration and health plan services, and the money will be put toward accelerating the company by “adding seasoned healthcare talent; investing in strategic sales and marketing initiatives; and expanding its integrated suite of solutions aimed at providing healthcare and lowering costs through clinical integration, quality management, and risk assumption.”

Beyond the investment from North Bridge, the company has helped Valence Health create its Board of Directors by bringing in top healthcare industry figures, including Chris Kryder, Bob Sheehy, George Lynn, Phil Kamp, Todd Stockard, Bill Geary, and Mike Pehl.

$34 Million Series C Funding for Practice Fusion

Posted on June 28, 2012 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.

Artis Ventures led the Series C funding round for Practice Fusion. They raised $34 million in this round with them now having raised over $64 million total. The full list of investors joining the Series C round includes long-time investors Felicis Ventures and Band of Angels, plus Glynn Capital, Ali and Hadi Partovi, Founders Fund, Morgenthaler Ventures, Scott Banister, SV Angel, Ghost Angel, and several other institutional and individual investors.

Some other good stats from the Techcrunch article on the EHR investment:
*Currently 170 employees, and expect to reach 250 employees by year’s end
*Added 4x a many users as Allscripts last quarter (Who Ryan Howard considers their largest competitor)
*2012 Q1 Revenue was “comfortably in the seven figure range”
*Hosts 40 million patient records
*150,000 doctors signed up (This is their signed up user number, not their active user number)
*7 months ago they were at 25 million records and 130,000 signups

I also found this Techcrunch quote fascinating: “Howard was careful choosing Artis Ventures to lead the round, telling me “it’s a wedding. You’re married to that investor. Artis is a hedge fund with a venture fund. It’s preparing us. It’s who would be buyers in a public market” indicating the company has its sights on an IPO.”

It’s worth noting that the founding doctor/CMO (Chief Medical Officer), Robert Rowley, MD, also recently left Practice Fusion. He’s still actively blogging about healthcare IT on Robert Rowley, MD and he tells me it was an amicable departure. I think it’s noteworthy though since Dr. Rowley was the physician face of Practice Fusion since the start of the company.

There’s no doubt that Practice Fusion is now a major player in the EHR world. Although, I’m still interested to see if they can live up to a $64 million financing at around a half a billion dollar valuation. I wonder how quickly things like having their software built using Flash will catch up with them. Plus, Practice Fusion was designed with the small doctor office in mind. Will it be able to evolve its platform to be able to support larger group practices?

I do think they have the right culture when it comes to opening up their data to other outside developers that will be required for them to have a widely adopted healthcare platform. We’ll see how the healthcare ecosystem responds to that type of open platform. They now have plenty of money in the bank to be able to find out.

Full Disclosure: Practice Fusion is an advertiser on a couple Healthcare Scene websites.

HFMA ANI Las Vegas: That’s a Wrap

Posted on 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.

Though it was only my second time attending the annual HFMA ANI show, I think it’s fast proving to be my favorite when compared to HIMSS – at least when both are held in Las Vegas. The shorter exhibit hall hours; a smaller, more manageable venue; and a general feeling of being less rushed to accomplish every task I set myself was a welcome contrast to the breakneck speed at which we all seem to attend HIMSS.

Though the ANI show had a more laid back vibe, it was by no means any less meaningful to its attendees and exhibitors. Some of the exhibitors I spoke to noted that while booth traffic wasn’t as brisk as they’d have liked, they were having deeper, more meaningful conversations with the folks that did stop by. Others told me that it didn’t seem like many members of the hospital C-suite were in attendance, and decided to send their seconds-in-command instead. (Perhaps they were too busy back home attending to projects related to any of the following healthcare IT acronyms – EMR, HIE, ACO, CPOE, ICD-10, SCOTUS.)

I didn’t get a chance to attend any educational sessions, but from the tweets that I saw, most folks really enjoyed keynotes from Olympian Carl Lewis and renowned pilot Sully Sullenberger. Speaking of tweets, the volume of chatter on Twitter was pretty dismal. There were a few devoted tweets around the #ANI2012 hashtag of course, but for the most part, Twitter (and social media in general) was non-existent.

I walked the show floor Tuesday to see if I could spot any technologies tied into EMRs, and didn’t find much to choose from – at least not as many as I came across last year. I did have some interesting conversations with the folks at Nuance about new solutions being sold under the Dragon Medical umbrella.

Population health management was a phrase I heard (or saw) a number of times, as was predictive analytics and the ubiquitous “Big Data” – all three of which tie together in the world of hospital CFOs. In my mind, it seems that it will be necessary from a financial standpoint for hospitals to get a firm grasp of what “Big Data” means to their organization, and then how to use predictive analytics to derive meaning from that data in their population health management programs, especially if they plan on successfully participating in any sort of coordinated or accountable care program. MedAssets is doing some interesting work around this concept that I hope to learn more about once I get back home and settled.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the show, especially if you were an attendee. How did it compare to last year? Did you think, like me, that many folks were seduced by the lure of the pools at Mandalay Bay to the detriment of folks working the exhibit booths? Gather your thoughts while you peruse a few pictures I took on the show floor:

I stopped by the MedAssets booth to talk population health management with Carol Romashko, Director of Marketing.

AfterHours UR intrigued me with its pleasant logo and hospital utilization review service founded by nurses.

The folks at Executive Health Resources had a catchy come-by gimmick with a caricaturist creating portraits on etch-a-sketches.


EnableComp definitely had kid-friendly schwag. I'm still kicking myself for not going by there during the last hour of the show.

Emdeon's Cash Stacker games seemed to be a big hit on the show floor.

HumanArc knows that creativity really does pay off, at least when it comes to attracting passers by with Lego-inspired logos.

It was interesting to me, being an Atlanta native, to note how many Georgia-based revenue cycle management clients MediRevv has.

My favorite part of the Nuance booth was the tag line "Use it for Good."

Objective Health, formerly known as McKinsey Hospital Institute, had a very inviting booth. It was nice chatting with their CEO, Dr. Russ Richmond.

I didn't see any "whack a mole" type attractions, but this game from PNC definitely grabbed attendees' attention.

I didn't get a chance to stop by the Premier booth, unfortunately, but it was certainly eye-catching.I heard several interesting customer success stories from the Protiviti team, which I hope to cover in greater detail in the near future.

The VisiQuate booth impressed me with its high-tech feel.

It certainly wasn't all work and no play. I enjoyed Dell's evening event at the Shark Reef Aquarium with Stephen Outten, Content Marketing and Social Media Strategist at Dell, and Amanda Woodhead, Manager of Corporate Communications at Emdeon.

Treating Healthy Patients

Posted on June 27, 2012 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.

Almost a year ago I started writing about what I call Treating Healthy Patients. In my discussions with people in the healthcare IT industry this topic keeps coming up. In any discussion on the cost of healthcare, the idea of treating “healthy” patients comes to the forefront.

At the core of the treating healthy patient problem is that if a patient feels that they’re healthy, then they don’t see any need to be treated. Turns out that many of us think and feel that we’re healthy when in fact our body has indicators that we are heading in the wrong direction. The real challenge is that we don’t have a personal health dashboard which lets us know that our indicators are headed in the wrong direction.

As most of you know, I’m a website stats addict. I check how my blogs are doing all of the time (and most other bloggers do the same). If we love looking at the health of our blogs so much, why don’t we have a way to look at the health of our body? With this in mind, you can imagine I was intrigued by this quote I found on the WellnessFX website:

WellnessFX is like Google Analytics for your own body. It totally changes the way you think about taking control of your health through measurement and ongoing experimentation with different diet, exercise, and supplements.
-Mike Maples, Floodgate Ventures

That’s exactly what I would love. A Google Analytics (that’s a great website stats program) for my body. Sadly, I’m not able to use WellnessFX to see all the details of how it works. It’s currently only available in California, Oregon, and Washington, and they say they’ll soon be available in Texas, Colorado, and Massachusetts. I’ll have to wait until they make it to Nevada to try, but I love the concept.

It seems that WellnessFX uses a series of blood tests to set the baselines for your health dashboard. I’ll be interested to see how they integrate physicians into their product. While it’s great to have a service that’s monitoring my health, I also want to have a doctor involved in the process as well. They have a physician involved on at least the front end analysis of your health data which is great. However, for this to be really valuable the doctor needs to have some involvement throughout your experience. They need to treat you even if you’re a “healthy” patient.

One thing I do think we have to be careful with in the idea of treating healthy patients is not driving unneeded paranoia about a person’s health. The companies that go after this concept are going to walk a fine line between warning you of things that really matter and causing emotional harm and paranoia for something it finds that really doesn’t matter. One thing patients aren’t very good at is understanding the context of the results. There’s a definite balance there. However, that balance can be achieved if done properly.

I myself look forward to the day when a tab on my browser includes my health stats and the health stats of my family. Imagine things like diabetes that are preventable. If we had a better understanding of our risks of diabetes, I think many of us (certainly not all) would change some of our behaviors. What a great outcome that would be!

Patients Want Electronic Health Care Services

Posted on I Written By

Dr. West is an endocrinologist in private practice in Washington, DC. He completed fellowship training in Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. West opened The Washington Endocrine Clinic, PLLC in 2009. He can be contacted at

Guest Post by Ken Harrington, Practice Manager at The Washington Endocrine Clinic

In my last posting, I explored the idea of whether having access to a patient’s chart and lab work empowered the patient to be more proactive with their healthcare.  In that posting, I remained skeptical as to whether the chart sharing feature in our EMR accomplished this.  In this post, however, I want to continue exploring this feature of chart sharing and what effect it seems to be having on our patient population.

I start by saying that, generally, our patients like the chart sharing feature, regardless of how they use the data.  Initially, we did not use this feature when we adopted our EMR because it was limited in what it could actually share with the patient.  However, as the EMR has developed over time and labs began to be integrated into patient charts, the obvious benefit of this feature became more valuable, if for no other reason than stopping the printing out of labs, using paper and ink, for many of our patients.  Not to mention that the patient could no longer lose said paper and ink lab reports.

On any given day, we enroll about 8-10 patients into the chart sharing feature that will enable them to have access to their chart.  Through this feature they can see previous and upcoming appointment times, a list of prescribed medications, diagnoses, and lab results from lab companies that send back their results as integrated into the EMR.  Interestingly, not one patient so far has declined the invitation to gain access to their medical chart.  At the start, we e-mail all patients a brief overview of what to expect in the enrollment process, what they will find in their chart, and a temporary PIN to allow them to gain initial access.  Only one person has been dissatisfied with the results thus far, and the access was subsequently deactivated at their request.  Whether or not this is empowering the patients to be more proactive with their healthcare, the bottom line is that the patients like it!  In fact, I wish we could give the patient even more access to their chart as many of the uploaded documents that are not integrated into the chart sharing feature.  Interestingly, a recent story explored this over at Fierce Health IT.

One aspect that this shows is that the internet is an integral part of healthcare today.  This is no longer so revolutionary to say in the healthcare industry.  A recent article I read discussing smart phones said that only 20% of the current US population was using a smart phone, but that industry leaders expected this to increase to 80% by the year 2020.  I think the same is true for how patients will use the internet in regards to their healthcare.  As more doctors adopt EMRs for their practices, and as more EMRs allow for chart sharing, more patients will find that they will need access to the internet to gain access to their medical history and records. Many patients are already indicating that they want this access.

The integration of EMRs into our patient’s lives is helping to create a population of patients that understand that one way to be plugged into their doctor’s office is through the internet. We constantly have patients wanting to e-mail our doctor for advice, to report symptoms, or to request test results. It’s baffling that EMR companies have yet to figure out how to form a financially beneficial relationship with the insurance companies to provide better and faster healthcare through the internet. Many businesses and academic institutions have already figured out how to integrate the use of the internet into their business models to achieve efficient and cost-cutting results. From internet-conferencing, to document sharing applications, businesses and schools have embraced the internet with much creativity. This is only just beginning to happen in healthcare – but I believe it is coming.

I know that insurance companies are reluctant to pay for healthcare administered through an internet exchange, and some of those reasons are very good. But imagine this: the integration of Google video chat or Skype with an EMR that will allow for the doctor and patient to login to the same EMR where the patient’s chart is located and have a discussion about lab tests or radiology results. Not all patient-physician interactions include a hands-on physical exam. If the doctor finds something in the results or discussion that warrants a more through physical exam, then one could be set up for the patient at the end of the “e-visit”. Maybe the reason insurance companies are reluctant to pay for healthcare in this way is that they know the patients will embrace the ease of access and begin using the insurance policy more. Hmm… The less people use healthcare access, the more premiums the insurance company gets to keep. But I digress…

The EMR is changing not just the relationship between the physician and patient, but it is changing the patient themself. Patients in our office are slowly becoming used to the integration of electronic medicine. They have learned to expect to find their electronically sent prescriptions waiting for them at their pharmacies, or to find access to their labs, list of medications and upcoming appointment times in their online chart. Patients in our office are slowly being taught to fax their records to the office because our online fax will automatically turn their documents into a PDF file, which can then be uploaded easily to their chart. Patients are learning to expect all bills from our office to be e-mailed to them rather than physically mailed. Patients are learning that during the visit, for the doctor to “look back in the chart at previous notes,” requires waiting for the doctor to click through an electronic record at the computer on the doctor’s desk rather than flip through a paper chart. Some patients are even learning that to have a summary of what the doctor recommended can now be e-mailed to them upon their request.

The patient that is the least frustrated with the technology integrated into the healthcare we provide in our office is the patient who can adapt to this technically changing environment. We certainly have patients who get frustrated adapting or who do not even use e-mail, but these are only a few. Unfortunately, there is no way for patients who cannot adapt to an electronically based medical office to survive in our office. We do not have special paper charts for a few selected group of patients, and our doctor rarely writes paper prescriptions anymore.

Is our office just the sign of the times? Perhaps. But we have found that having an electronically-based medical office is more efficient, cuts down on staff requirements and helps us to compete with a stronger financial footprint in today’s marketplace. We are not turning back in this office, and I’m not sure the majority of our patients want us to. In fact, I think they are waiting for the next level of technical innovation to come out that will enable them to get their healthcare needs taken care of in an even more efficient way.

My Presentation Submission to 2012 mHealth Summit.

Posted on June 26, 2012 I Written By

Dr. Michael J. Koriwchak received his medical degree from Duke University School of Medicine in 1988. He completed both his Internship in General Surgery and Residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Koriwchak continued at Vanderbilt for a fellowship in Laryngology and Care of the Professional Voice. He is board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. After training Dr. Koriwchak moved to Atlanta in 1995 to become one of the original physicians in Ear, Nose and Throat of Georgia. He has built a thriving practice in Laryngology, Care of the Professional Voice, Thyroid/Parathyroid Surgery, Endoscopic Sinus Surgery and General Otolaryngology. A singer himself, many of his patients are people who depend on their voice for their careers, including some well-known entertainers. Dr. Koriwchak has also performed thousands of thyroid, parathyroid and head and neck cancer operations. Dr. Koriwchak has been working with information technology since 1977. While an undergraduate at Bucknell University he taught a computer-programming course. In medical school he wrote his own software for his laboratory research. In the 1990’s he adapted generic forms software to create one the first electronic prescription applications. Soon afterward he wrote his own chart note templates using visual BASIC script. In 2003 he became the physician champion for ENT of Georgia’s EMR implementation project. This included not only design and implementation strategy but also writing code. In 2008 the EMR implementation earned the e-Technology award from the Medical Association of Georgia. With 7 years EMR experience, 18 years in private medical practice and over 35 years of IT experience, Dr. Koriwchak seeks opportunities to merge the information technology and medical communities, bringing information technology to health care.

I decided to turn my rant on the 2011 mHealth Summit into something productive and submit a talk to the 2012 Summit.  A description of the proposed talk follows, as it appears on the application.

We’ll see what happens…


Why are doctors so apparently reluctant to embrace mHealth?

It is easy to appreciate the mHealth community’s frustration regarding this question. Clearly the physician community and the mHealth community do not understand each other very well.  The purpose of this presentation is to establish a mutual understanding and better lines of communication between practicing physicians and the mHealth community.

The first part of the presentation addresses practicing physicians’ concerns about mHealth:

1.  What is mHealth?  Has it been clearly defined?

2.  The safety and efficacy of mHealth / HIT products are not proven.  Technology always has unintended consequences.  In medicine such unintended consequences can increase costs and can harm patients.

3.  There is no widely accepted business model that establishes the return on investment for mHealth / HIT products.

4.  Government regulations and incentives may also have unintended adverse side effects.

Many of these concerns originate from the cultural differences between the physician and HIT communities. Each of these cultures sees the health care system and the role of mHealth / HIT differently.  The second part of the presentation addresses the cultural differences between these two communities and how these differences impede the adoption of mHealth / HIT.  Examples of cultural differences will include e-prescribing, health information exchanges and telemedicine.

The final part will outline the concessions both physicians and the HIT community need to make in order to facilitate communication, promote adoption of mHealth and improve the quality of mHealth products.  This will be difficult but worthwhile for both sides.

My First Impressions from ANI 2012

Posted on 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’m in the middle of my first time attending the ANI 2012 conference in Las Vegas. For those not familiar with ANI, it’s HFMA’s (Healthcare Financial Management Association) National Institute. It’s kind of like HIMSS for the financial side of healthcare. I must admit that I was mostly driven to attend ANI because a number of advertisers and other connections I had started emailing me asking me if I was going to be at ANI since it was conveniently located in Las Vegas. I have to admit that I’m really glad I’ve been able to attend.

Some of my initial reactions are that ANI has a very different audience than most of the other healthcare IT conferences I’ve attended. Sure, many that attend ANI are at the other conferences, but when I first got to the ANI reception I tweeted that I bet the average age of ANI attendees was about 20 years higher than the other healthcare IT conferences I attend. When you think about healthcare financial management (the people who hold the purse strings) it makes some sense that the audience would be a bit older.

I sent the following tweet late last night which also captures my initial impressions of ANI 2012 quite well:

I can tell that many of the same people at ANI were also at HIMSS. Although, the pace feels more relaxed at ANI and I’ve been able to connect with some of the very same HIMSS people on a much deeper level. I think both things have their place, but I’ve enjoyed some of the deep conversations and understanding that’s come from ANI.

Another great story from my ANI experience was from this tweet that I sent:

While waiting in line for a Joe Montana signature, I struck up a conversation with a CFO who was in line next to me. Upon learning that I was a blogger, he asked if I was the one that tweeted about all the tweets coming from vendors and not attendees. How funny that indeed I was the one and what a great lesson. Many of the CFO attendees aren’t tweeting, but it was a great illustration that many are still reading and following the tweets. The power of social media to bring people together.

One final observation before I head back to the ANI exhibit floor. Maybe it’s just me, but there’s a palpable sense of money flowing at ANI. Maybe it’s because it’s a healthcare financial management event, but I think if we dug into the underpinnings of the event we’d see a lot of financial transactions happening. One illustration of this was in a meeting with Craneware where they talked about one of their hospital clients who found $6.2 million in previously unfound revenue.

Direct Project Should Reach Most US States By Summer

Posted on June 25, 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 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.

It’s looking like a victory for the Direct Project, the clinical messaging protocol designed to make information sharing easier for providers. ONC reports that state HIE grantees in almost 30 states are using the Direct Project protocol, with a dozen more planning to kick off Direct within the next month or two.

As many readers may know, providers can send Direct Project messages using traditional e-mail.  Messages are packaged using MIME extensions, protected by S/MIME encryption and signatures.  Messages are authenticated on both ends using X.509 digital signatures.  All told, it’s not only a “direct” way of sharing information, it’s a relatively simple one too.

How are providers using Direct?  Here’s a few examples, courtesy of FierceHealthIT:

  • In Florida, hospitals are using Direct to send newborn hearing screening test results to a state agency, which sends back confirmation of the state-mandated screening tests by the same route.
  • In California, Redwood MedNet, an HIE in northern California, and St. Joseph Health System in Orange County are collaborating on a project to use Direct to improve care coordination for newborns
  • In Guam, the Guam HIE and the Department of Veterans Affairs are employing Direct to refer patients to providers for mammograms and are looking to expand the use of the protocol to all referrals.

Enthusiasm for Direct seems to vary across different parts of the country. For example, none of the northeastern states have gone live on Direct yet, while Wisconsin, Delaware, Arkansas Illinois, California, Florida and West Virginia have already signed up 300 or more providers, FHIT notes.

Don’t know about you folks, but I’m excited by this news. I think we’re seeing the beginnings of some really significant change. Yes, like most of us, I’d like to see full-scale, enterprise-class data sharing, but billions of bucks and years of development lay between us in that goal in many cases.  Let’s appreciate what we’ve got, eh?