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Save the Date: First of Its Kind Health IT Marketing and PR Conference

Posted on December 19, 2013 I Written By

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

Healthcare IT Marketing and PR Conference
I’m really excited to let readers know about a first of its kind event that I’m putting together called the Health IT Marketing and PR Conference. The conference is happening April 7-8, 2014 in Las Vegas, NV. I wrote a bit of the story behind the conference over on EMR and HIPAA and its shaping up to be an incredible event.

The conference is focused on helping marketing managers, PR professionals and health IT company executives refine their marketing and PR efforts. There is a lot of noise in the health IT space right now and it’s a real challenge for many HIT organizations to cut through that noise. The great part is that there are so many more tools available to us today to get our message out there. Plus, we’ll be bringing in a number of marketing and PR experts from outside healthcare to provide a well rounded view of what’s happening in the industry.

You can find out more details about the event on the conference website. Plus, you can register as a Founding Attendee for the event.

I also want to mention our four Founding Sponsors for the event. Each company supported this conference when it was just an idea and we’re glad to have their support in making this event a success.

Agency Ten22

Billian

Dodge Communications

Aria Marketing

We’ll be announcing more event details over the coming months. If you have any thoughts or feedback about the event, we’d love to hear it as well. We’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s a high quality event that sets the standard for how to conduct business in health IT.

Patient Engagement Strategies Must Start with the Patient

Posted on December 18, 2013 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Matt Adamson, vice president of product management for ACO and value-based health at ZeOmega

Healthcare providers are preparing to engage patients at a deeper level than ever before as they strive to achieve quality and savings metrics required of accountable care models being implemented across the country. However, a critical, lingering question remains – will patients participate? Patients have grown accustomed to seeking out healthcare information on their own, with the top five healthcare websites logging more than 78 million unique visitors monthly.[i] While this is clearly a positive sign that must be leveraged to move the needle even further, the answer could lie with the addition of the care coordinator that exists in most accountable care and medical homes.

A patient portal is seen as the most likely way that care providers will interact with patients outside of resource intensive office visits or telephone conversations, but any technology adoption must be accompanied by monumental shifts in attitudes among both physicians and patients in order to be successful. Physicians already are strapped for time and few are reimbursed for patient engagement beyond the traditional face-to-face interaction. Likewise, patients may hesitate to “bother” their doctors with questions or access their personal healthcare information online.

Care coordinators could serve as the bridge that connects physicians and patients, bringing them together at a clinical connection point. Relatively new in the healthcare system, care coordinators generally are nurses with care management experience who can help put conditions and diagnoses into the appropriate clinical context while speaking with patients on their level. The patient portal would provide another avenue for patients to communicate with the care coordinator, who would serve as the liaison to the physician when appropriate.

Meaningful Use Drives Push for Patient Engagement

Patient engagement will be a critical consideration in achieving Stage 2 Meaningful Use. Now extended through 2016, Stage 2 includes objectives to improve patient care through better clinical decision support, care coordination and patient engagement. Patient engagement metrics will require that more than 5% of a practice’s patients send secure messages to the provider and more than 5% of the patients access their health information online.[ii]

The Medicare Shared Savings Programs (MSSP) and the Partnership for Patients community-based care transitions program both have measures related directly to demonstrating an enhanced communication experience between patients and physicians that can lead to recognition and additional revenue for practices and hospitals. The NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home certification also includes elements related to patient engagement. One of the critical certification factors requires contact with at least 50% of patients to develop and document self-management plans and goals.[iii]

Beyond regulations and certifications, patient engagement is also being shown to help meet the cost savings aspects of accountable care. Patients who are more engaged have fewer hospital stays, adhere more often to prescribed medical treatments, recover faster and are more satisfied with their care.[iv]

Engaged patients are also more successful at managing chronic illness than those who are not. More than 40% of Americans are living with at least one chronic disease, which overall cause seven in 10 deaths each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Getting Patients Involved in Their Own Health

As clinicians work more closely with patients who are trying to manage chronic illness, it is important to note that the time patients spend with physicians, nurses and other care providers represents a very small percentage of the overall time spent managing conditions or treatments. The patient and other caregivers are largely responsible for adhering to care plans and making the necessary lifestyle changes to accommodate chronic conditions. Patients who are educated about their conditions and engaged in the process will more likely succeed in keeping their chronic conditions in check.

So using a patient portal or similar technology would seem a rational, logical way for patients to learn more about their conditions and interact with care providers in a secure, HIPAA-compliant environment. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as that. With all of the rules, metrics and evidence that are mandated for the clinician community, there are no such rules in place that require compliance for patients.

A portal would allow patients to contact their doctor any time, day or night, to ask a question or relate treatment information. But few doctors are trained for or desire that type of high-touch interaction, especially since reimbursement for that type of interaction is rare. The United States also is facing a rather serious primary care shortage in many areas, one that will be exacerbated as up to 30 million uninsured obtain coverage under the Affordable Care Act. So what’s the best use of physician time – diagnosing and treating an increasing number of patients or answering questions by secure email?

Patient portals and other technologies that Meaningful Use is bringing into common usage will not move the needle toward smarter health choices on their own. The technology has to be helpful and interesting for patients, providing them with an easy way to connect with care providers when they need help and to get updates and reminders when needed.

This is why the idea of using care coordinators in the role of engaging patients when not in the physician office or receiving direct care is gaining traction. The goal of care coordinators would be to guide patients and help them to navigate the healthcare system so that they stay on track with their treatments between physician visits. Care coordinators would have a direct link to a patient’s physicians, bringing them in only when needed.

Secure messaging and emails could provide an easy way for patients to submit questions or take action when they are ready to do so. Platforms that can connect and share the nursing care plans between the care coordinator, caregivers and the patient could be highly effective, especially if there are issues resulting from chronic or acute conditions. This seamless connection would allow the care coordinator to pass along educational content and become part of a two-way mechanism for tracking medications in a manner that allows patients to update and print the list.

From there, embedding incentive management and gaming features into the portal would provide a reason for the patient to keep coming back to continue the engagement.

Technology platforms built to enable the connection between the patient and the care coordinator could be the missing pieces of the puzzle that would allow patients to become more involved in their health and allow the promise of patient engagement to become a reality.

Creatively Awesome Video – Caregiving for Santa Clause

Posted on December 17, 2013 I Written By

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

I’m always a fan of a company that uses a little creativity to promote what they’re working on. There’s nothing like giving someone a good laugh while also educating them on what you do. A great example of this just hit my inbox. It’s brought to us by CareTree in the form of a video called “CareTree Is Everywhere: Even at the North Pole!”

The video gives a humorous look at what it must be like for Mrs. Clause to deal with Santa Clause’s various health issues. My favorite part of the video is when Mrs. Clause refers to the healthcare exchanges and says, “They’re on the naughty list in case you were wondering.”

Enjoy the video below:

A List of Key Insights for EHR Data Conversion

Posted on 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.

Healthcare Scene sat down with Sean West, VP of Data Conversion at HealthPort, to discuss EHR data conversion. EHR data conversion is quickly becoming a hot topic for many organizations that rushed their initial EHR selection and implementation. In our video discussion embedded below, Sean West offers a number of key insights including the following:

  • Convert the Data Close to the EHR Conversion
  • Ensure You Have Enough Time to Make the Conversion
  • Consider How Much Data Needs to Be Converted
  • Look at the Impact on Performance of Converting All EHR Data
  • Evaluate Your Legacy EHR Vendors Willingness to Work with You on Data Conversion

Check out the following video for all the details:

We also asked Sean West about when an organization would want to consider a vendor neutral archive for their EHR. While the vendor neutral archive is incredibly popular with PACS systems, we’re just now starting to see the idea crop up with EHR data. In the following video, Sean West provides some good insight into when an organization might want to consider a vendor neutral archive for their EHR data.

How Far Does Great Customer Service Go Towards EMR Loyalty?

Posted on December 16, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I’ve had my fair share of customer service lately – the over-the-phone, on hold for ages kind of customer service experience that I try to avoid. My first occurred when all of the Apple mobile devices in our house decided to go kaput due to user error. My husband and I had neglected to update our operating systems, and so our phones and tablets went dark in protest. The call to Apple customer support was lengthy, but not as painful as I had expected. We spent a good three hours over the span of two evenings on the phone with Ellie (sp?), perhaps the most patient, good natured call center rep I’ve ever encountered. She took us step by step through the update process for four separate devices, and was fast friends with my husband by the end of the second session. (The words “friendly” and “outgoing” don’t do him justice.) I went to sleep that night ready to wake up via the new alarm feature my update and Pandora upgrade would now allow.

My second experience occurred during the North Georgia Digital Economy Conference, where keynote speaker General (Ret.) Larry Ellis spoke about Vetconnexx, a program that recruits, trains and hires returning disabled veterans for work in call centers. General Ellis, who is also CEO of Vetconnexx, used a phrase any customer can relate to: “de-escalate.” As he playfully noted, not many people call customer support to chat. Most have a problem, and some level of anger and frustration built up as a result. Thus, call center reps are trained to de-escalate calls. I assume it helps when they begin calls by letting customers know they are speaking with a veteran.

Surely EMR end users often find themselves in the same boat. A quick Google search of EMR popularity based on customer support/service (after go live) yielded no clear resources. Perhaps it’s part of KLAS vendor assessments, but I couldn’t tell based on a visit to their website. I wonder what sort of difference great customer support makes to a provider who is trying to decide whether to adopt, or rip and replace.

While the importance of my Apple devices to my lifestyle is in no way comparable to the importance EMRs play in the care of patients, I can’t help but assume that great customer support increases brand loyalty in both cases. I’d like to hear what providers have to say about this. Have you stuck with a particular vendor because of their outstanding customer support? Have you bypassed a lower-cost option in favor of an EMR known for its customer service capabilities? Please share your thoughts, recommendations and advice in the comments below.

EMR & EHR Jobs

Posted on December 15, 2013 I Written By

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

While it might seem counterintuitive, the holidays are some of the best times to search for a job.  If you’re looking to improve on your current position, you can search for a health IT job or check out some of these popular searches:

This month we’ve had almost as many jobs posted as last month and we’re only half way through the month. The other great part is that if you don’t see a job you like you can set up a job agent to notify you when certain types of jobs are posted.

CommonWell Announces Sites For Interoperability Rollout

Posted on December 13, 2013 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.

Nine months after announcing their plan to increase interoperability between health IT data sources, the CommonWell Health Alliance has disclosed the locations where it will first offer interoperability services.

CommonWell, whose members now include health IT vendors Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, CPSI, Greenway, McKesson, RelayHealth and Sunquest, launched to some skepticism — and a bit of behind-the-hand smirks because Epic Systems wasn’t included — but certainly had the industry’s attention.  And today, the vendors do seem to have critical mass, as the Alliance’s founding members represent 42 percent of the acute and 23 percent of the ambulatory EMR market, according to research firms SK&A and KLAS.

Now, the rubber meets the road, with the Alliance sharing a list of locations where it will first roll out services. It’s connecting providers in Chicago, Elkin and Henderson, North Carolina and Columbia, South Carolina. Interoperability services will be launched in these markets sometime at the beginning of 2014.

To make interoperability possible, Alliance members, RelayHealth and participating provider sites will be using a patient-centric identity and matching approach.

The initial participating providers include Lake Shore Obstetrics & Gynecology (Chicago, IL), Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital (Elkin, NC), Maria Parham Medical Center (Henderson, NC), Midlands Orthopaedics (Columbia, SC), and Palmetto Health (Columbia, SC).

The participating providers will do the administrative footwork to make sure the data exchange can happen. They will enroll patients into the service and manage patient consents needed to share data. They’ll also identify whether other providers have data for a patient enrolled in the network and transmit data to another provider that has consent to view that patient’s data.

Meanwhile, the Alliance members will be providing key technical services that allow providers to do the collaboration electronically, said Bob Robke, vice president of Cerner Network and a member of the Alliance’s board of directors.  CommonWell offers providers not only identity services, but a patient’s identity is established, the ability to share CCDs with other providers by querying them. (In case anyone wonders about how the service will maintain privacy, Robke notes that all clinical information sharing is peer to peer  — and that the CommonWell services don’t keep any kind of clinical data repository.)

The key to all of this is that providers will be able to share this information without having to be on a common HIE, much less be using the same EMR — though in Columbia, SC, the Alliance will be “enhancing” the capabilities of the existing local HIE by bringing acute care facility Palmetto Health, Midlands Orthopaedics and Capital City OB/GYN ambulatory practices into the mix.

It will certainly be interesting to see how well the CommonWell approach works, particularly when it’s an overlay to HIEs. Let’s see if the Alliance actually adds something different and helpful to the mix.

Epic Hit With Class-Action Suit Over Worker Pay

Posted on December 12, 2013 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.

A former employee has filed a class action suit against Epic Systems, arguing that the EMR vendor has been violating labor laws by denying some of its workers overtime pay.

The suit, which was filed by a former QA employee Evan Nordgren, contends that he and as many as 1,000 former and present QA workers should have been paid time-and-half for overtime hours. (Nordgren is now enrolled in the University of Wisconsin’s law school.) The suit concerns hours worked over a three-year period taking place prior to the filing of the lawsuit.

Epic, of course, disagrees with the suit’s assessment. It argues that state and federal law “make it clear that employees in computer-related jobs who primarily test software are appropriately classified as salaried professionals,” making them exempt from overtime pay.

Epic certainly has enough money to pay its employees whatever they’re due. The company had revenues of $1.5 billion in 2012, according to Forbes. Judy Faulkner, who founded Epic in 1979, has a net worth of about $2.3 billion and was ranked number 243 on Forbes 2013 list of the richest 400 Americans, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

On other hand, if Epic is forced to cough up overtime pay to past and present QA employees, it seems likely — to me at least — that other suits of this type will follow, something no company wants to take on.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see on this one.

More Details From Study: Health IT Could Cut Demand For Physicians

Posted on December 11, 2013 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.

Earlier, we wrote up the following study, which strongly suggests that health IT can boost physician productivity. But we didn’t include some of the details you’ll see below — and we thought they were important enough for a follow-up.

Much of the talk about health IT in physicians’ offices addresses the struggles doctors face when adopting new technologies, and the effort it takes to get productivity back to normal levels. But this study takes things a step further, asserting that if health IT was fully and widely implemented, it could reduce demand for physicians substantially.

The study, which originally appeared in Health Affairs, concluded that if health IT were fully implemented in 30 percent of community-based physicians’ offices, efficiency improvements would cut demand for physicians by 4 percent to 9 percent. What’s more, using health IT to delegate work to midlevel practitioners and from specialists to primary care docs could reduce demand for physicians by 6 percent to 12 percent, according to a story in Information Week.

Meanwhile, growing the amount of IT-enabled remote and asynchronous care could cut the volume of overall care that physicians provide could  have a big impact as well. Remote care could cut the percentage of care that physicians provide by 2 percent to 5 percent, and asynchronous care by 4 percent to  7 percent, Information Week reports.

And that isn’t all. If 70 percent of office-based docs adopted comprehensive IT support, including interoperable EMRs, clinical decision support, provider order entry and patient Web portals with secure messaging, the drop in demand for physician services would be twice as large, the Health Affairs study concluded.

That being said, the comprehensive use of health IT by even 30 percent of office-based doctors is at least five years and maybe as much as 15 years away, according to one of the study’s authors, Jonathan Weiner, professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Homegrown EMRs with Joel Kanick, InterfaceMD

Posted on December 10, 2013 I Written By

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

I had a chance to sit down with Joel Kanick, President and CEO of Kanick And Company and Lead Developer and Chief Architect of interfaceMD. In this video we discuss the story behind interfaceMD and their custom EHR solution. We talk about meaningful use and the EHR incentive money. We also talk about healthcare interoperability and exchange of patient data. Joel and interfaceMD have a really unique approach to EHR that I think many will find interesting.

I was really interested to hear the story behind how interfaceMD came to be. I wonder if people would be interested in a whole series of videos with EHR founders that cover the background story of EHR companies. Let me know in the comments.