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Top 7 Hottest Health IT Jobs

Posted on December 21, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

HIMSS recently sent out a message to their LinkedIn group which listed CIO.com’s list of top 7 hottest health IT skills (and I’d say jobs):
7. Quality Assurance
6. Data Architecture
5. Application Development
4. Program Management
3. Project Management
2. Healthcare Analytics
1. EMR Build Specialists

They also said, “As JoAnn Klinedinst, HIMSS’ Vice President, Professional Development, noted “There’s something for everyone at HIMSS13.””

JoAnn is absolutely right about HIMSS 2013. If you’re in healthcare IT, then there’s definitely something for you at HIMSS 2013. I describe it like being a kid in a candy store. Everywhere you look there is something interesting that you want to learn about.

I did find the list of hot health IT jobs interesting. Not surprising to see EMR at the top of the list. Seems like all of the jobs are EHR related or healthcare BI/Big Data related. Seems like this should give us a good idea of where healthcare IT is going.

Some Interesting EMR Usability Ideas

Posted on December 20, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Not long ago, I wrote a piece slamming the lack of EMR usability standards out there today, arguing that the industry was pretty much going to stay in a rut until we got some.  One of our readers, Prasad Patankar, posted a very thoughtful response which I felt deserved more exposure and discussion.

Here’s his ideas, in italics, with my comments interspersed:

* EMR systems should have a consistent hierarchy for navigation so
  that it is easy for users to locate information.

This is hard to argue. Unfortunately, given the vendor turf wars going on out there, I think we’re going to be stuck with proprietary systems and proprietary hierarchies for some time to come.  But what Prasad suggests here is just common sense, not that we can expect to see a lot of that on display.

* Error messages should be clear. They should explain why the error
  occurred and explain what the users should do next. Definitely not
  any programming language errors.

Again, I agree with Prasad here. This kind of consistency would do much to orient users. The problem is, these systems are still driven largely by developers, who best understand the nasty programming language error codes.  Expecting them to make their EMR products speak plain English is a bit of a stretch, sadly.

* For screens that contain too much information, there should be an
  option available for the users either to see the summary or a
  detailed drill-down capability. Some EMR vendors have started
  incorporating this functionality into their reporting modules.

Beautiful — a function vendors already understand. That’s enough to sell me on the notion that it can be more widely implemented, and soon. In this case, there’s no excuse for vendors to obfuscate;  just go ahead and make the data easier to read already!

* Consistency should be followed in displaying allergies and current
  medications in one single location. Users should not have to click
  multiple windows to get to this. This also applies to past
  encounters(progress notes) which have been migrated prior to
  implementation of the new EMR system.

This is a very good idea. When Your Editor recently read up on research into errors made using EMRs, medication slip-ups were by far the most common event. (And the only event that created serious harm was administration of a drug to which the patient was allergic.  Past notes might not be as urgent, but useful, definitely.

* It would also be interesting to see if EMR vendors could incorporate
  the cultural context and meaning of a color in that context before
  they use the entire color palette in their software.

This is an intruiging idea, though I can’t imagine the big enterprise vendors giving it much thought.  Perhaps if Apple designed their interface… But that’s a tale for another day.

Glen Tullman Steps Down as CEO of Allscripts (NASDAQ:MDRX)

Posted on December 19, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The news is just coming out that Glen Tullman has stepped down as CEO of Allscripts (NASDAQ:MDRX) along with Allscripts President Lee Shapiro.

Paul M. Black has been selected by the Allscripts board as the new President and CEO. Mr. Black was COO at Cerner for 12 years before he retired from Cerner in 2007. He has served on the Board of The Truman Medical Centers for 12 years, most recently as Chairman, and as a director of Haemonetics Corporation (NYSE:HAE). Plus, Mr. Black is currently sitting on the board of Allscripts.

It’s an understatement to say that it’s been an incredibly tumultuous year for Allscripts. Allscripts chose to discontinue their Allscripts MyWay EHR, Allscripts sued NYC after losing an EHR deal, and then Allscripts started looking for a private equity buyer.

This latest round of firings was predicted by Anne Zieger when she wrote about the previous Allscripts Management Shakeup and the investors desire to fire Glen Tullman a while ago.

I imagine the board was waiting to see if any of the strategic alternatives (ie. Private Equity buyouts) could save Glen’s job, but Allscripts also announced that “the Board has formally concluded its evaluation of strategic alternatives.”

Usually there’s a lot of shakeup after a change like this, but Allscripts EHR users have already been through a lot. It will be interesting to see what Mr. Black does with Allscripts going forward.

Here’s the details of the Conference Call that will be held tomorrow about the changes:

Conference Call

Allscripts will conduct a conference call tomorrow, Thursday, December 20, 2012, at 8:30 AM Eastern Time to discuss today’s announcement. Investors can access the conference via the Internet at http://investor.allscripts.com. Participants also may access the conference call by dialing (877) 303-0543 (toll free in the US) or (973) 935-8787 (international) and requesting Conference ID #83012880.

A replay of the call will be available two hours after the conclusion of the call, for a period of four weeks, at http://www.allscripts.com or by calling (855) 859-2056 or (404) 537-3406 – Conference ID #83012880.

“Fat Finger Syndrome” Not Just a Google Problem

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.

In trying to keep things light this week, I’ve taken inspiration from two very different sources – NPR and Homer Simpson. A recent Morning Edition piece on “Fat Fingers Blamed for Mobile Ad Clicks” highlights the problem many smart phone users face –  large fingers on a small screen usually result in the occasional misspelling, accidental click on a field or image, or unintended dial.

The story concentrated on “Google’s launch of a new type of mobile ad that aims to combat the ‘fat finger’ problem. As the smart phone market grows, mobile ads have become more important to the tech giant, which makes most of its revenue through advertising.”

homeriphone

Listening to the piece, which started off with a hilarious sound bite from the Simpsons, made me wonder if EMR developers face this same type of problem when developing their software for mobile devices. What sort of consequences do providers face as a result of unintended clicks or incorrect data entry?

I polled a few friends who work in healthcare IT user experience (coincidentally, a topic that I heard come up quite often during the fall conference season), and they brought up numerous cases – some with dire consequences – of mistaken medication administration because of very similar patient names.

I also came across the ubiquitous drawback of using tablets in healthcare: “The iPad is difficult to type on, [one provider] complains, and his “fat fingers” struggle to navigate the screen,” according to a Kaiser Health News story last year.

But, providers, as they so often do, are creating workarounds. One family practice in particular has “introduced a stylus since some people occasionally suffer from ‘fat finger syndrome’ (some people just have an innate ability to miss the buttons in the questionnaire when they use their fingers).”

How have you, your practice or your colleagues dealt with pleasantly plump pads of the finger? Please share your anecdotes in the comments section below.

Big Data Analytics vs Focused Patient Analytics

Posted on December 18, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the most common buzzwords in healthcare right now is “big data.” Everyone is talking about how to leverage big data in healthcare. There is little doubt that there are a whole list of opportunities that are available to healthcare using big data analytics.

When it comes to big data analytics, most people see it as healthcare business intelligence. In other words, how do we take all the data from within the organization and leverage it to benefit the business. Or in the case of a health insurance company, how can we use all the healthcare data that’s available out there to benefit our business. This is really powerful stuff that can’t be ignored. A lot of money can be made/saved by a business that properly leverages the data it holds.

However, I think there’s another side of healthcare big data that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. Instead of calling it big data analytics, I like to call it focused patient analytics.

What is focused patient analytics? It’s where you take relatively small elements from big data that are focused on a specific patient. In aggregate the data that you get is relatively small, but when you consider all of the data is focused around one patient it can be a significant amount of valuable data. Plus, it requires all the healthcare big data silos be available to make this happen. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet, but we will get there.

Imagine how much smarter you could make the EHR if the EHR could tap into the various silos of healthcare data in order to create focused patient analytics. Unfortunately, we can’t even design these type of smart EHR software, because too much of the data is unavailable to EHR software. I love to think about the innovation that would be possible if there was a free flow of data to those that needed it in healthcare.

Certainly there are plenty of security risks and privacy concerns to consider. However, we can’t let that challenge be an excuse for us not to create focused patient analytics that will benefit patients.

The Future of Physician – Patient Interaction

Posted on December 17, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

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

EHR Holiday Giving, Teen EMR, and Doctor Emails

Posted on December 16, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

We’ve got some really power packed tweets this week. Some really important and terribly challenging topics. Although, first let’s begin with a holiday season EHR tweet:


I always love when EHR is given to clinics for free. As long as they don’t blind side them with support fees. I’ll assume that TECNEX is doing it the right way. I’d love to hear what other healthcare IT vendors are doing to help others this Holiday season.


Sticky doesn’t even begin to address the issues associated with a teen’s patient record. This is a HUGE problem for HIEs as well. This deserves its own post, but answering the question of who controls a teen’s patient record is ugly and complicated in our current cultural climate.


Elin is definitely not alone in this. Very few docs email their patients. This likely won’t drastically change until reimbursement becomes available for that type of communication. Although, if we can simplify the secure email connection enough to help doctors avoid phone calls they’re currently making, we could make some headway. I’m partially working on this problem in my new company Physia. We don’t have the details on the website now, but I’d love to talk with some doctors, practice managers, or hospitals about what we’re working on if you’re interested. Just drop me a note on the EMR and EHR contact page.

Why 2013 Will Be A Good Year For EMRs

Posted on December 14, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Recently, I wrote an article listing some unpleasant, stubborn EMR problems that are likely to cling to the industry like sticky burrs in 2013. Being a fair-minded gal, I also wanted to stop and reflect on what’s likely to work in favor of EMR adoption, maturation and success next year, so here goes:

*  Consolidation will lead to a more-stable vendor market:  With the (in my opinion) wave of new EMR vendors beginning to recede, the shakeout will begin. Vendors that remain may not be the best, sadly, but they’ll be better funded and hopefully better situated to take care of customers.

*  We’ll have a good amount of Meaningful Use experience under our belts:  Starting out with Meaningful Use has been nerve-wracking for all. But by 2013 the industry will have begun to acclimate itself not just to meeting MU standards, but making them work for their particular clinic or hospital.

*  Vendors are likely to offer more mobile options:  Right now, EMR vendors are offering minimal efforts around mobile EMR applications. My gut is that in the coming year, we’ll see some definitive progress on Android and iOS-natve EMR apps. There’s just too much demand to ignore.

*  Template medicine will get more sophisticated:  When templates merely inconvenienced doctors, nobody seemed that worried about their potential side effects. Now that it appears that templates encourage costly upcoding, however, it’s likely that vendors will be forced to make them smarter and less prone to encouraging cut-and-paste documentation. (How, I  haven’t a clue, but the pressure will force something to happen.)

Now, none of these are exactly raving endorsements of the EMR climate for next year. I’m not suggesting that adopting EMRs will suddenly become easy, training a breeze or ROI will magically appear.  But I do believe that we’re going to be seeing a nice uptick in EMR maturity.

Study: Drug Problems Most Common EMR Safety Event

Posted on December 13, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

When the phrase “EMR problems” comes to mind, most of us get a  mental image of hardware flaws, software bugs or integration problems. But according to a new study, the majority of EMR-related patient care problems stem from issues in how people interact with their system, specifically in documenting and administering medication.

In recent research, the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority queried the state’s patient safety reporting database to identify EMR-related events. After sifting out events that didn’t truly appear to be EMR-related, analysts were left with 3,099 patient safety issue reports. The events were then classified by the harm score assigned by the reporter.

As it turns out, the great majority of events (89%) resulted in no harm to the patient. Ten percent of events were reported as “unsafe conditions” but also resulted in no harm to the patient.  Fifteen events actually resulted in temporary harm to the patient:

* Six cases of entering wrong medication data
* Three cases of administering the wrong medication
* Two cases of ignoring a documented allergy
* Two cases of failure to enter lab tests
* Two cases of failure to document

The only event that resulted in significant harm stemmed from failure to properly document an allergy, analysts said:

Patient with documented allergy to penicillin received ampicillin and went into shock, possible [sic] due to anaphylaxis. Allergy written on some order sheets and “soft” coded into Meditech but never linked to pharmacy drug dictionary.

All told, medication errors were the most commonly reported event (81 percent), largely wrong-drug, dose, time patient or route errors (50 percent) or omitted dose (10 percent).

It’s worthy of note that according to the researchers, the narrative reports of EMR-related reports dug up from the Pennsylvania database differed meaningfully from reports found in FDA database MAUDE and Australia’s Advanced Incident Management System, which have different reporting requirements.

It seems that there’s a lot more work to be done in exposing the types of patient safety errors that may be unique to EMRs, but this looks like a good start.

Wireless Healthcare IT Could Hold the Key to Preventable Readmissions

Posted on December 12, 2012 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.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, CardioMEMS was the winner of this year’s Intel Innovation Award, presented at the Health IT Leadership Summit earlier this month. CardioMEMS has a number of development firsts to its credit, bolstering its recent claim to innovation fame:

  • First wireless communication system for the human body
  • First medical implant completely wafer fabricated
  • Only FDA-approved, permanently implanted wireless sensor

Essentially, the company has developed a first-of-its kind wireless (and battery-less) heart failure monitoring system. As Richard Powers, Vice President of Information Systems, explained to me on my field trip to CardioMEMS’ relatively new offices in Atlanta, the company has figured out a way to, in the least traumatic way possible, implant a cardiac sensor that monitors pressure and wirelessly transmits that data directly to a patient’s physician via a Web-based portal.

When I first came across the company nearly two years ago, the term “Big Data” hadn’t quite gained the buzzy reputation it has now, so I feel confident in saying that CardioMEMS’ analytics team were a bit ahead of the game – not surprising, given that the company was founded by Dr. Jay S. Yadav, its current CEO and still a consulting cardiologist.

In talking with Yadav, I realized he and his colleagues recognize not only the importance of back-end data, but also the value of simplicity.  As Powers pointed out, the sophisticated technology isn’t in the device itself, but comes after on the receiving end. Ideally, physicians will use data transmitted from the sensor to gauge cardiac pressure changes and adjust medication accordingly.

The timing of this technology couldn’t be better, in my opinion, since so much attention is being paid to preventing readmissions, increasing quality outcomes and improving patient satisfaction scores. Benefits of the sensor in clinical trials include fewer hospitalizations, lower cost of care and an increase in quality of life. And I do believe the CardioMEMS team has even figured out the reimbursement angle with CMS, which should make provider adoption of the devices that much more likely.

Pending FDA approval is the only thing holding up a full-court product marketing press, which may, when that approval comes, be aided by partnership with a select provider organization.

I couldn’t leave the CardioMEMS offices, of course, without asking about its plans to integrate into an EMR. According to Powers, integration of the physician portal into an EMR is in fact on the drawing board yet. They are also looking at ways to pull a patient’s EMR data into the CardioMEMS portal. The company is currently working with the Enterprise Innovation Institute at Georgia Tech to look into EMR interoperability.

I’m confident we’ll be seeing some really interesting developments from this company in the near future.