Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and EHR for FREE!

When Patient Communication with Doctors Becomes Ridiculously Easy

Posted on December 7, 2018 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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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’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.

Social Diagnosis? – Fun Friday

Posted on November 9, 2018 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.

It’s Friday as we start to head into the holiday season. A lot of fun and a lot of stress. What an interesting juxtaposition when it comes to your health, no? The good news is that I’m back again with some Fun Friday humor for you. When I saw this cartoon, I loved it immediately:

What’s interesting is that there is so much potential for collaborating with other doctors around challenging diagnosis. I first realized some of the opportunities there when I learned some of what Health Tap is doing.

It’s still a little bit of a wild west for many, but the fact that a patient or doctor can go online and get help with challenging healthcare situations is a very good thing. Technology will continue to enable this. I just hope it’s not quite as depicted in this cartoon.

Doc Vader Rants on CHF Readmissions and Scribes – Fun Friday

Posted on November 2, 2018 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.

It’s Friday after a week full of candy from Halloween. Given all the candy that’s been consumed this week, I thought Doc Vader’s most recent rant on CHF Bouncebacks was quite appropriate for a Fun Friday post. Doc Vader takes a swipe at scribes at the same time too (literally if you count lightsabers to the head, but watch to see what I mean). Check out the video below to see what I mean.

Unfortunately, I don’t think shame is the answer. I’m not sure a video like this is the answer either though. However, the popeyes piece gave me a good laugh. Plus, the best part is the comments on YouTube. Go and check them out and you can see that ZDoggMD’s videos really resonate with doctors. Here’s a sample of one that was hard to believe:

One time, a scribe didn’t know a diagnosis so she went with what she “thought it sounded like” and we ended up getting a call from the CDC because what she “thought it sounded like” was varicella major

And this one that’s even harder to believe:

On the scribe note: we had a patient with the surname Noenglish. Because I am pretty sure the scribe just heard the patient say “No English” when he/she asked the patient their surname.

I guess it’s fair to say that not all scribes are created equal. Not all doctors are either which is obvious when you watch Doc Vader in action.

What’s the Breakout of Small vs Large Health Insurance Plans?

Posted on October 31, 2018 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.

It never ceases to amaze me how our perceptions of how large something is can be skewed. It’s easy for us to see a really large company and assume that it must have the majority of the market share. This perception might be even more skewed because of companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft which really do have the majority of the market.

It’s a well-known idea in the tech startup world that the big winner will win the majority of the market, a second company will own most of the rest and then a long tail of others will have a small share and then eventually disappear. A great modern example of this is Uber followed by Lyft and then everyone else.

While this is an interesting way to look at a market when investing in tech companies, I’m surprised how often it doesn’t play out the same way in healthcare. The first time I saw this was in the lab market. Everyone knows that the 2 dominant players in the lab market are LabCorp and Quest. While they are both large companies, they still don’t have even close to a majority of the lab market. There are so many other independent labs and every hospital and health system has their own labs as well.

While looking at a recent report on the SMB Health Insurance Market by edifecs, I saw the same situation in the health insurance market. We all know about the massive health insurance companies that dominate the headlines. However, this report highlights the number of small and medium sized health plans out there. It was also interesting to note how these small plans are more concentrated in certain states.

If you don’t want to read the full report, this infographic summarizes a number of the stats and findings:

Is this result surprising to you? What does this mean for healthcare? Is there an opportunity for these small to medium size health plans to disrupt healthcare? Will we see more small plans chipping away at the large health plans?

How Connected Medical Device Platforms Can Conquer IoT Difficulties

Posted on October 29, 2018 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 following is a guest blog post by Abbas Dhilawala, CTO of Galen Data.

The medical industry in the United States and around the world faces unprecedented challenges in 2019. An aging population, growing costs throughout the system, and frequent regulatory changes are just a few reasons why healthcare providers are increasingly adopting new technologies that can reduce costs and drive operational efficiency throughout the healthcare industry.

To that end, a growing number of connected medical devices are using the internet of things (IoT) to collect, analyze and transmit health data or images to internal hospital servers or cloud-based storage. While these innovative devices are slowly changing the paradigm of patient care and lowering costs throughout the system, med tech companies are still facing major barriers in the widespread adoption of connected medical devices.

Here are a few challenges associated with connected medical device platforms and the IoT, and how med tech companies can work to overcome those difficulties in the near future.

Improving Interoperability Between Connected Medical Devices

The technology companies that are building connected medical devices envision a future where wearable medical devices will instantly collect, analyze and transmit patient data to a central data repository where it can be used to update electronic health records and provide physicians with real-time information about patient wellness. One of the major obstacles here is interoperability – such a system would require a standard format for data and a common communication protocol that would allow all of these connected devices to transmit data to a single system.

Health plans, health care providers and medical technology vendors must work together to develop a consensus for interoperability standards that will facilitate more open exchange of data between authorized parties.

Address Growing Concerns over Cybersecurity

As connected medical devices proliferate through our world, it is becoming clear that medical technology companies need to take bigger steps to secure these devices and the data they collect against data breaches and malicious software attacks. Research from the Ponemon institute found that 70 percent of medical device manufacturers believe an attack on their medical devices is likely, but just 17% have taken significant steps to protect against this kind of attack.

We can look at data from recent years to estimate the results of poor security oversight in the world of connected medical devices. McAfee reports that the healthcare industry saw a 211% increase in cybersecurity incidents in 2017 compared to 2016. In the same year, 65% of all healthcare-related ransomware attacks were conducted by exploiting software vulnerabilities in connected imaging devices. However you measure it, the connected medical devices produced today aren’t sufficiently secure to be used in modern healthcare settings without the risk of compromising patient data.

Medical technology companies need to reduce the security risk posed by their devices by investing in improved security measures that reduce or eliminate software vulnerabilities. Medical technology companies should adopt a secure-by-design approach, even if it means adding hardware that increases the power consumption or cost of the product. Healthcare providers and patients need to trust that connected medical devices provide adequate protections for sensitive data.

Work to Fully Understand User Needs

The market for connected medical devices is expected to triple between 2018 and 2023, reaching a value in excess of $60 billion globally. As healthcare plans and providers move towards value-based payment models, the companies that build connected medical devices will have to demonstrate that their devices improve patient outcomes when compared to the alternative.

Manufacturers of medical devices must develop stronger ties to clinicians and patients that use their products and invest more resources in collecting evidence about the efficacy of their devices in improving outcomes for patients. In an outcome-based model, health plans will only want to pay for connected medical devices that create genuine value in the marketplace, and preference will likely be shown for devices that lead the way in software security.

Focus on Actualizing Real Benefits

As IoT medical devices become increasingly common in the marketplace, med tech companies must develop use cases that highlight the benefits they can deliver to early adopters. This includes efficiencies like the ability to transmit data wirelessly to health care providers, the potential to automatically update patient health records using data from wearables, easier access to data for physicians and health plans, and overall lowered costs of medical care.

Medical technology companies are working towards building the systems and functions that will usher in a more data-driven and patient-focused approach to health care. The most successful manufacturers will be the ones that gain industry support by delivering reduced costs and enhancing patient outcomes through repeatable use cases.

Summary

Connected medical devices stand to revolutionize the global healthcare industry, but there are still many challenges to overcome before IoT medical devices take over. Manufacturers of IoT medical devices must improve interoperability between systems to promote data sharing, address growing concerns over device security and generate evidence that their devices can meet user requirements and improve patient outcomes. Med tech companies that focus on creating real, demonstrable benefits for their customers will have the best opportunities to succeed as the healthcare IoT expands in size over the next five years.

About Abbas Dhilawala
Abbas has over 13 years of experience developing enterprise grade software for the medical device industry. He is well versed with technology and industry standards regulating security and privacy of data. His expertise lies in programming, cloud, cyber security, data storage and regulated medical device software.

Healthcare Machine Learning Humor – Fun Friday

Posted on October 26, 2018 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.

Happy Friday to all of you! We’re excited to be back with another Fun Friday entry. This time it’s a little humor related to machine learning and healthcare brought to us by Andrew Beam.

As if this wasn’t enough Scott Kozicki replied to this tweet with his own:

Yep. Healthcare IT is hard. Chew on that as we head into the weekend.

Lost EMR Data

Posted on October 24, 2018 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.

More and more EMR data is being lost and this trend is just beginning. This is particularly true in the ambulatory space where ambulatory medical practices are being bought up left and right by health systems. In the vast majority of acquisitions, the acquired practice has to convert from their current EHR to the health system EHR. In that process, a few of them will convert some of the data, but in many cases, the health system leaves behind the data from the old EHR system. That data is lost.

Also, just to be clear, when I say the data is lost. It’s probably not fully lost. Most organizations continue to limp along the old system per the state records retention laws or they move it on to some archival solution. However, no one other than HIM has real access to the old system. If a doctor can’t easily access the data from the legacy EHR, then the data is lost from my point of view.

It’s a really unfortunate situation since much of that data has value that can impact the care being given to patients going forward. Plus, in the worst scenarios, the data is truly lost as the IT department sunsets an old system and doesn’t realize the proper way to retire a legacy system.

In a recent tweet, Galen Healthcare, experts in EHR data archiving, offered important insights into archiving old EMR and healthcare IT systems and highlighted some commonly missed data sets.

It’s amazing how many people forget the value and importance of things like a contextual audit trail. You’ll understand their value once you get a release of information request as part of a malpractice case. You don’t want to be there empty handed.

As EHR and other healthcare IT software matures and we start their replacement lifecycles, it’s going to be important that your organization has a detailed process for retiring old systems. You have to ensure your providers still have access to the clinical information they need, but that you also retain the other compliance information that protects your organization. Missing one or the other is a recipe for disaster.