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Learn the Latest ACI (Advancing Care Information) Details as Required in MACRA-MIPS

Posted on March 16, 2018 I Written By

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

We’ve been partners with 4Med for a long time and offered a wide variety of courses over the years. Many of you reading this have probably taken their HIPAA security courses or possibly one of their previous PQRS and meaningful use courses.

Of course, the meaningful use and PQRS courses have now evolved into training around MIPS and MACRA. You know how complex these can be and that’s why I’m grateful that 4Med has put together these concise courses to teach you and your practice what you need to know. Plus, as part of these courses you also get a certification and possibly CEUs (depending on which CEUs you need).

With this in mind, 4Med recently announced their next ACI (Advancing Care Information, formerly known as Meaningful Use) course along with the CMAP (Certified MACRA-MIPS ACI Professional) Certification. This is a great course for those wanting to hear the latest info from the 2018 final rule.

Here’s a full summary of topics the ACI course will cover:
* Introduction to ACI for MIPS ECs
* ACI Reporting 2018
* ACI Reporting Options for 2017
* Required Objectives for the ACI Category
* Optional ACI Objectives for ECs Using a 2015 CEHRT
* Optional ACI Objectives for ECs Using a 2014 CEHRT
* Focus on Protecting Patient Health Info
* Patient Electronic Access
* Coordination of Care Through Patient Engagement
* Health Information Exchange
* ACI Scoring

This course is a live online workshop held on April 18, 19, 25, and 26 and are led by Trisha Conway, RN, BSN, CEO and Principal Consultant at eHealth Consulting. Of course, if you can’t attend the live sessions, then they’ll be recorded and available to you after the live event as well.

If this course interests you, you can register now and save $150 off your registration thanks to Healthcare Scene’s partnership with 4Med. The promo code to get the discount is HCSEARLYBIRD150, but if you click this link the discount will be applied automatically.

Patient Demand For Digital Health Tools May Exceed Providers’ Ability To Deliver

Posted on March 15, 2018 I Written By

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

It’s taken a long time, but it looks like consumers are getting serious about using digital tools to improve their health. According to a new survey by Accenture, in some cases consumers are actually more interested in using such tools than their providers are, researchers found.

Patients are taking advantage of a wide range of digital health options, including mobile tech (46%), accessing electronic health records (38%), social media (35%), wearable technology (33%), smart scales (27%), remote consultations (16%) and remote monitoring (14%). All of these numbers are up from 2017, notably mobile and access to electronic health records, use of which grew 10% and 9% respectively.

The survey also notes that the number of consumers receiving virtual healthcare services has increased since last year, from 21% in 2017 to 25% this year. Seventy-four percent of those accessing virtual care were satisfied with the encounter. Meanwhile, about three-quarters of consumers said they would use virtual care for after-hours appointments, and about two-thirds would choose this option for follow-up appointments after seeing a doctor in person.

Key takeaways for clinicians, meanwhile, include that while patients agree that in-person visits provide quality care, engage patients in their health care decisions and diagnose problems faster, virtual visits offer some significant advantages too. Virtual care benefits they identified include reducing medical costs to patients, accommodating patient schedules and providing timely care, respondents said.

Clinicians should also note that AI-based virtual doctors may someday become the competition. When asked whether they would use an AI virtual doctor provided by their provider, some were doubtful, with 29% saying they prefer visiting the doctor, 26% that they didn’t understand enough about how AI works, and 23% that they did not want to share their data.

However, 47% said they would choose a virtual doctor because it would be available whenever they needed it. Also, 36% said they’d use a virtual doctor because it would save time by avoiding a trip to the doctor, and 24% said they’d like to access a virtual doctor because the AI would have access to large amounts of relevant information.

Right now, it’s far more likely that hospitals will have the capacity to deliver such services, which may demand a higher level of IT expertise and staff time that many medical practices have available. Nonetheless, it seems likely that at some point, medical practices will need to offer more digital services if they want to remain competitive.

Easy Tips to Understand and Leverage Patient Survey Results

Posted on March 14, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Jim Higgins, Founder & CEO at Solutionreach. You can follow him on twitter: @higgs77

Multiple studies have shown that surveys are critical to the economic health of medical practices. Experts say that using surveys to improve the patient experience can be a strategic differentiator for practices.

To read more about the increasing role of surveys in reimbursement, profitability, and quality care, check out this post from last month.

Once you’ve started sending out regular patient surveys and getting consistent responses, it’s time to take action. In order to get the most out of a survey, it is critical to analyze the responses and implement changes based on the results. Here are a few tips to get started.

Figure out how many survey responses are needed.

Any time a survey is sent, there must be enough responses received to have a “statistically significant” result. Obviously, if only one or two patients respond to a survey, those answers will not be a true picture of how patients view a practice. What is considered “statistically significant?” This will vary by practice size.

Start by finding out how many active patients visit your practice—for now, don’t count any inactive files. Of course, it would be amazing if every single patient responded to the survey, but that is pretty near impossible. Instead, each practice must decide what margin of error is acceptable to them personally. The greater margin of error found to be acceptable, the fewer responses needed to be statistically significant. For example, if a 10 percent margin of error is okay with you, only 100 out of 3,000 patients need to respond. If, however, a three percent margin of error makes you more comfortable, you would need 810 responses out of 3,000.

Use the following table as a basic rule of thumb when deciding how many responses are needed:

Leverage technology to calculate the hard numbers.

In order to easily understand survey results, responses need to be converted into percentages or averages (depending on question type) and formatted in a way that makes it easy to compare responses. For example, it doesn’t mean much that 281 respondents said that they had a poor experience. If, however, that number is converted into 40 percent that had a poor experience, it is much easier to recognize a problem. Survey answers should be imported into a system that analyzes the results and converts these into simple statistics. Fortunately, it is common for the platform used to originally send the survey to do this automatically. Many will also include trends over time, highlighting if problems are worse or better during certain times of the year. If the survey-sending platform does not include an analysis tool, there are a huge number of programs (including free tools) that can accomplish this task. Even programs like excel work perfectly fine for this.

Take action.

Great—you’re starting to get a feel for what patients think. But now what? Far too many practices collect incredibly valuable information only to sit on their hands and ignore it. But for a practice to really thrive, it is crucial to set goals and objectives based on survey results. After all, patients are communicating what they want. It’s up to you to see how you can accommodate their needs.

My favorite goal creation method can be remembered by the word SMART.

  • Specific– Select a specific goal, being as clear as possible.
  • Measurable– Decide how you will measure the success or failure of your goal.
  • Achievable – Do you have the time, money and resources to complete the goal?
  • Relevan– Not every goal will improve your business. Pick one that will make a real difference.
  • Timely  Set a realistic deadline for goal completion.

Let’s consider a real-life example. A common survey question for healthcare practices is, “How long did you wait to be seen?” If the score comes up as higher than ideal (typically more than 20 minutes), improvements are needed.

This is where SMART goal setting comes into play.

  • Specific—Set a specific goal. For instance, “Our goal is to lower wait times to 15 minutes.”
  • Measurable—Decide how to measure the result. Will you be timing the waits yourself? Will you send out a follow-up survey?
  • Achievable—Set goals that can realistically be accomplished. If your average wait time is over an hour, for example, trying to adjust that to just 15 minutes is probably not currently achievable. Try to set smaller improvements and over time you can reach your ultimate goal.
  • Relevant—Look at the goal you’ve created. Will lowering wait times improve your business? Don’t set goals that won’t really have an impact on your long-term success. In this case, reducing wait times will have a positive impact on your business so it is a relevant goal.
  • Timely— Set a realistic time frame. It probably won’t happen in a week, but you may not want it to take a year. Three months may be the right timeframe to make improvements. Check back at that point to see if you achieved your goal.

As practices consistently strive to make changes based on survey results, the patient experience will improve dramatically. Because setting specific improvement goals is so important to practice success, over the next few months I’ll be addressing some of the most common patient frustrations uncovered on surveys. I will include SMART goals to improve these frustrations and boost patient satisfaction.

Solutionreach is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene. As the leading provider of patient relationship management solutions, Solutionreach is dedicated to helping practices improve the patient experience while saving time for providers and staff.

Meet the #HIMSS18 Press – A Wrapup Discussion of the Conference

Posted on March 13, 2018 I Written By

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

This week most in the healthcare IT community are recovering from the massive healthcare IT conference we know as HIMSS. The conference brings together a wide variety of people from the healthcare IT community and everyone is guaranteed to miss something that they’d find interesting and valuable. With that in mind, we’re hosting this week’s #HITsm chat to talk about what we saw and heard at #HIMSS18. Be sure to join us and share your insights and perspectives since we all no doubt had unique experiences.

As I’d done once previously, on the last day of HIMSS I hopped on video with my friend and colleague, Neil Versel who now writes at Genome Web, to talk about what we saw at HIMSS 2018. While I’m attending my 9th HIMSS, this was Neil’s 17th. So, we have some experience and perspective to offer having attended HIMSS for a combined 26 years. Enjoy our wrap up discussion on the final day of HIMSS:

What was your experience at HIMSS18? If you didn’t attend, what would you have liked to see? Did you follow along on Twitter? What do you think of the trending topics we discussed. How will they impact your business? Let us know in the comments.

Physicians, Patients Intrigued By Digital Health Options

Posted on March 12, 2018 I Written By

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

While digital health technologies have been available for many years, it’s taken a long time to get both doctors and patients comfortable with using them. However, the time is fast approaching, as the following study suggests.

New research from Ernst & Young has concluded that both physicians and consumers want to collaborate using digital technologies. The study found that consumers are comfortable reaching out to the doctors via digital channels and that physicians agree that digital technologies and data sharing can improve patient well-being.

More than half (54%) of consumers responding to the survey said they were comfortable contacting their doctor digitally. Also, they were interested in using technologies found outside of the physician’s office, including at-home diagnostic testing (36%), using a smartphone or connected device to share information (33%) and video consultations (21%).

Meanwhile, 83% of physicians told researchers that harvesting consumer and patient-generated data would make more personalized care plans possible and improve care quality. In addition, 66% said they felt increased use of digital technologies would make the healthcare system more efficient and lower costs, while 64% said it would help lower the burden on doctors and nurses, reducing the potential for burnout.

To make such cooperation practical, however, providers need to create incentives for data sharing, the E&Y researchers concluded.

When asked whether they were prepared to share lifestyle information with their physician, only 26% said yes. On the other hand, if doing so would allow them to reduce waiting times, 61% said they would share such data, if it would lower costs, 55% were interested. Also of note, 26% said they would be willing to share dietary and exercise information if they got tailored diet and exercise plans.

That being said, the level of interest in digital cooperation varied by demographics. Specifically, the survey found much lower levels of engagement and interest from consumers age 45 years and older, regardless of the form of technology discussed.

Still, both consumers and physicians seem to have a fair amount of optimism about the future of health. Sixty-four percent of consumers reported that they saw the US health industry as innovative, and 70% of physicians saw currently used technology as effective, both of which are high-water marks.

As this research points out, the gap between physician users of medical data and consumer portal users is narrowing by the day, but it’s still far from closed. It may take some time to figure out what incentives consumers find the most motivating. At the moment, it’s still a shot in the dark.

#HIMSS18 Exhibitors Shift Away from Glitz & Glamour in Vegas

Posted on March 9, 2018 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

The crucible that is the #HIMSS18 exhibit hall is over. 1300+ vendors have taken down their booths and rushed off to catch flights home. In the quiet aftermath of the vendor exodus, I had the chance to reflect on the overall themes of this year’s exhibits.

AI was everywhere and nowhere

Going into #HIMSS18 I fully expected that artificial intelligence would be a dominant theme. It was…and then some. AI was splashed across banners and monitors as far as the eye could see. Michael Rothman PhD, Co-founder and Chief Science Officer at Pera Health summed it up best: “Artificial Intelligence was liberally sprinkled across the #HIMSS18 show floor. It was the pixie dust that blanketed everything.”

Yet after speaking with many vendors, it became apparent to me that the term was being used very broadly to include: machine learning, data mining and rules-based workflow. Worse, a few vendors I spoke to were unable to describe how the addition of AI made their products incrementally better than what they offered before. Will “AI” go the way of neural networks, hydrogen cars and 3D TV? Doubtful, but it is concerning how quickly the term has become a marketing buzzword.

Fewer brochures handed out

In years past, you couldn’t walk down the aisles at HIMSS without vendors handing you nicely printed marketing brochures. This year, there was a noticeable lack of brochures. Several vendors had no paper handouts whatsoever, electing instead to email materials directly to booth visitors rather than force bulky paper brochures into their hands.

In my mind this is a win-win-win. The environment wins because fewer trees are transformed into glossy brochures with smiling doctors staring at computer screens. HIMSS attendees win from not having to carry heavy brochures. HIMSS exhibitors win from not having to print and ship brochures.

Fewer tchotchke’s, more in-booth experiences

One of the staples of HIMSS has been the amazing promotional items given out by vendors in the exhibit hall. This year, however, vendors scaled back their giveaways, opting instead to invest more on in-booth experiences. I counted no fewer than 20 podcasting stations and 15 video/livestream setups embedded in vendor booths. The soundproof podcast studio in the Cerner booth was amazing.

Also notable were the number of in-booth theatres that dotted the exhibit floor. I stopped counting after reaching 250. What impressed me was that it was not just sales presentations that were happening on these stages. Many vendors featured panel discussions and live interviews of industry thought leaders as part of their programs.

In my mind the hands-down winner was the CDW Healthcare Jeopardy station. Every day there was a crowd of people actively participating in a game-show style contest that pitted up to 6 teams of participants against each other. The show host was particularly charming and engaging. He really got the crowd excited. Bonus: the questions were all healthcare based.

Special shout out to @MedicaSoftLCC @FogoDataCenters @NextGate @emedapps for gathering donations for SafeNest an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse in Las Vegas.

Booth Models becoming extinct

It’s one thing to hire an entertainer like a magician or look-alike to attract people to your booth. It’s quite another to hire an attractive model to do nothing more than to stand in your booth and be attractive. At HIMSS18 I noticed very few of these hired helpers. There were certainly models who were hired to play the part of a patient in mock exam rooms, but there were no scantily-clad flamingo girls or bare-chested tuxedo men handing out company brochures like in years past when HIMSS was in Las Vegas. I’m hoping this downward trend continues.

Smaller Booths

The most surprising aspect of the HIMSS18 exhibit floor was size of the booths themselves. There were the usual giant footprints from industry titans: Epic, Cerner, Allscripts and IBM Healthcare. But other than the new Change Health booth, it felt like most vendors chose smaller booth sizes. Salesforce, Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, DellEMC and Verizon had moderately-sized booths at HIMSS18 relative to the size of those companies.

Healthcare IT has never been about glitz and glamour. Despite being held in Las Vegas – the city that is the epitome of glitz – the vendors in the #HIMSS18 exhibit hall showed restraint and practicality. Hopefully this is a trend that continues next year at #HIMSS19

#HIMSS18: AT&T Incubating Digital Health Startups

Posted on 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.

In recent times, some tech giants have started to think small. For example, companies like Microsoft and Google have been developing startup incubator programs capable of finding new niches, especially in AI. They’re also greedily eyeing healthcare; even Amazon has a hush-hush health IT working group in place.

This approach makes tremendous sense So much so that I’m surprised we haven’t heard more about it before. Even if it tries to foster an entrepreneurial culture, the sheer weight of a colossal bureaucracy is likely to crush most new ideas, and even if it doesn’t, very large companies are seldom agile enough to execute on these ideas quickly enough.

Given these experiments at Amazon, Microsoft, Google and other massive tech firms, I wasn’t surprised to learn that AT&T is taking a similar approach. At HIMSS18, I spoke with Judi Manis, regional vice president of business development and strategic relations at the company, about how it’s working with startups to commercialize new ideas in healthcare.

According to Manis, the telecom giant is focusing – unsurprisingly – on connected health solutions. In partnership with the sprawling Texas Medical Center, AT&T has created the Foundry for Connected Health. TMC also has a foot in the incubator business, its TMC Innovation Institute.

Working together, TMC and AT&T scour the world for startups generating innovative ideas in healthcare. They generally select 12 to 15 startups to participate in the program.

When they come on, TMC offers the founders a curriculum designed to help them thrive, including lessons on accounting, legal issues and how to pitch venture capitalists. AT&T, of course, offers startups all of the conductivity they could ever wish for, including mobile, terrestrial and land-based networks.

Once they find a viable idea, AT&T and TMC move at lightning speed. “The Foundry allows us to talk to companies of all sizes and bring the technology from discussion to pilot in weeks,” Manis says.

Though there may be some I don’t know about, I haven’t encountered any startup incubator partnerships between tech giants and hospitals.

However, it’s not surprising to see it happen. As readers may know, many sharp hospital organizations have already begun creating internal incubators and developing programs that seek out and reward employees that come up with innovative ideas. Maybe this is just the next phase in the process of digital health’s maturation process.

#HIMSS18 First Day:  A Haze Of Uncertainty

Posted on March 7, 2018 I Written By

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

Entering the HIMSS exhibit area always feels like walking straight into a hurricane. But if you know how to navigate the show, things usually start to come into focus.

There’s a bunch of young, scrappy and hungry startups clustered in a hive, a second tier of more-established but still emerging ventures and a scattering of non-healthcare contenders hoping to crack the market. And of course, there are the dream places put in place by usual suspects like Accenture, SAP and Citrix. (I also stumbled across a large data analytics company, the curiously-named splunk> — I kid you not – whose pillars of data-like moving color squares might have been the most spectacular display on the floor.)

The point I’m trying to make here is that as immense and overwhelming as a show like HIMSS can be, there’s a certain order amongst the chaos. And I usually leave with an idea of which technologies are on the ascendance, and which seem the closest to practical deployment. This time, not so much.

I may have missed something, but my sense on first glance that I was surrounded by solutions that were immature, off-target or backed by companies trying to be all things to all people. Also, surprisingly few even spoke the word “doctor” when describing their product.

For example, a smallish HIT company probably can’t address IoT, population health, social determinants data and care coordination in one swell foop, but I ran into more than one that was trying to do something like this.

All told, I came away with a feeling that many vendors are trapped in a haze of uncertainty right now. To be fair, I understand why. Most are trying to build solutions without knowing the answers to some important questions.

What are the best uses of blockchain, if any? What role should AI play in data analytics, care management and patient interaction? How do we best define population health management? How should much-needed care coordination technologies be architected, and how will they fit into physician workflow?

Yes, I know that vendors’ job is to sort these things like these out and solve the problems effectively. But this year, many seem to be struggling far more than usual.

Meanwhile, I should note that there seems to be a mismatch between what vendors showed up and what providers say that they want. Why so few vendors focused on RCM or cybersecurity, for example? I know that to some extent, HIMSS is about emerging tech rather than existing solutions, but the gap between practical and emerging solutions seemed larger than usual.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m learning a lot here. The wonderful buzz of excited conversations in the hall is as intense as always. And the show is epic and entertaining as always. Let’s hope that next year, the fog has cleared.

10 Things I Look Forward to at HIMSS 2018 #HIMSS18

Posted on March 1, 2018 I Written By

Healthcare as a Human Right. Physician Suicide Loss Survivor. Janae writes about Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Data Analytics, Engagement and Investing in Healthcare. twitter: @coherencemed

What are you looking forward to this year for HIMSS18? Since last year I won the award for best shoes, I’m not sure how this year could be better than last. However, here are 10 reasons this year might beat the year where I won “best shoes.”

Women in Health IT Mentor Meetup

Each year HIMSS releases a report on women in healthIT included wage disparities. The release of this report and support of women in healthIT has gained traction this year. There is a HIMSS Meetup Thursday morning addressing the challenges of women in Health IT. You can register for the event and be matched with leaders. Doyenne Connections is also having a meet up before the Monday Keynote from 3- 4:30 PM at Yardbirth Southern Table & Bar. Doyenne Connections is a group dedicated to creating opportunities for women in HealthIT to make meaningful connections and networking. I really enjoy the Women in Health IT events at HIMSS.


Catching up with friends and making new friends. I’m looking forward to seeing amazing thought leaders and finding out what they have been up to. I was going to put swag here (I actually really appreciate great swag) but really- the people I’ve met at HIMSS have been some of the best career inspirations and allies and I consider many close friends. It is also inspiring to see progress with increased access to mental healthcare and better patient communication through health IT.

I am lucky to have friends that are brilliant data scientists and working to provide better health. There is also a meetup at HIMSS for people who like #SciFi. With HealthTech Bookclub chats online we discovered that a LOT of people in HealthIT like scifi. Some of the predictions from older books that seemed to paint an impossible future now have prophetic impact from self driving cars to surgical robots. I am looking forward to meeting new friends who love data science and reading (and also swag).

Series A Pitch Competition Presentations

There is a contest at HIMSS! HIMSS VentureConnect has a pitch competition and I love contests and games. I am looking forward to the presentations and hearing more from investors about what they see as a great value proposition in HealthIT. I have seen Wellpepper for several years in the Patient Engagement space and admire Anne Weiler’s leadership as a female CEO and leader in business excellence. The pitch competition is Wednesday March 7 from 10:45 AM to 12:00 PM in Lido 3104.

Best in Klas Vendors

I have a lot of respect for the KLAS research team and I’m looking forward to meeting the vendors that are voted best in KLAS for 2018. I am planning to check out Lightning Bolt and their physician scheduling tools. Lightning Bolt helps manage physician scheduling and improve workflow. Who would you vote best in KLAS? Klas research has also started a cooperative that I am thrilled about, the arch collaborative. This group is working to improve physician satisfaction with their EMR and EHR experience.


I get to speak!  I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak at HIMSS18 about physician suicide and burnout with Melissa McCool, CEO and Founder of Stellicare. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to share some of the work we’ve done in memory of my late husband. John Madsen died of suicide in 2015 and I noticed a lack of resources for our three children. Most physicians know someone that has died and there aren’t really easy ways to talk about the loss.

Please share your stories at Yesterday we launched, collecting more information about burnout, including providing community support tools. The mission of providing a memory honoring such a personal loss is hard to talk about. I am hoping our newly forming non profit has more partners and sponsors for increasing care for physicians after HIMSS. Our session, “Physician Suicide and Clinician Engagement Tools,” takes place on March 8 at 4 p.m. PST at the Venetian Convention Center, Palazzo L.

Power Press Party

I love meeting press leaders in Health IT. On the eve of HIMSS I am looking forward to the Power Press Party. Every year we have a party celebrating great healthIT accomplishments in Media and have early meetings with vendors. If you are in the media and will be there Sunday Night- make sure you register HERE. This year it is at the Hyde Bellagio and celebrates Momcology as a charity partner. We get to celebrate the good news of HealthIT and support pediatric cancer.  The Power Press Party is Sunday, March 4 from 5:30 to 8:15 PM PST.

Telehealth Presentations

I am interested in a few presentations about Telehealth, One of them is A Framework to Support Measure Development for Telehealth with Jason Goldwater and Judd Hollander on Wednesday from 8:30-9:30 AM. The other is Behavioral Health: A Launchpad for Enterprise Telehealth with Nathaniel Lacktman and Sarah Sossong Tuesday from 4 PM to 5 PM. There are great possibilities for telehealth increasing access to providers and allowing better access to specialists. From rural populations with little access to specialists to underserved populations who need better behavioral health support, telehealth has increased access to care and will get bigger.  

Artificial Intelligence and Data Systems

Intersystems is a unified data platform for building scalable analytics platforms. They are also hosting workshops for FHIR and keynote speakers at their booth. I want to go see the presentation from Erid Widen, CEO of HBI solutions, about Predicting suicide and Opioid Abuse Using Clinical and Social Determinant Data. They are hosting this in their booth #4444 March 6 from 1 PM to 1:30 PM PST.  Innovation in Algorithms and data management is a key imperative to improving Health IT and HBI solutions has great innovations in data. If you know about companies that have great analytics I want to see what they are doing.  I will also go see CrossChx and meet their AI agent, Olive.

New Media Meetup

Some of my favorite people in HealthIT are the people who understand communication and marketing. They can translate a great algorithm to a message people understand. I call them the matchmakers, facilitating great solutions through faster connections. I’m looking forward to the New Media Meetup hosted by Care Cognitics. It is Wednesday from 6 PM to 8 PM at Senor Frogs. Register here. Communication is important in healthIT and @techguy hosts several meetups during HIMSS about the power of social media in healthcare, both to improve patient care and improve business. I go to as many of the Healthcarescene meetups as possible.


Wednesday at 4:30 Michael Joseph and Rasu Shrestha will launch Empathy.Health. Healthcare and patient leaders have observed an empathy gap, especially in the digital health arena, and believe that empathy must be a strategic and humane imperative and a core value for every health care delivery system. Physicians lose empathy during their training and frequently have a difficult time regaining that ability to relate. They will launch their work developing an increase in empathy and how to spread empathy in digital health. I am looking forward to being part of a group that recognizes the importance of healthy connections and understanding.

Those are a number of the things I’m most looking forward to at HIMSS18. What did I miss? What are you most excited to experience, see, or do at HIMSS? Let us know in the comments.

It’s Time to Rethink Patient Matching

Posted on February 28, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Wes Rishel in partnership with Verato.

Henry Ford famously said, “If I’d asked them what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.'” When it comes to patient matching – the cornerstone of health information interoperability – we seem to be asking for faster horses. But what we need is a totally new approach.

The “horse” here is probabilistic patient matching. Probabilistic algorithms match two patient records by comparing them directly to each other and determining the probability that the two records belong to the same patient. Basically, if the demographic data (like name, address, and birthdate) looks very similar across the two records, then a match is made.

These algorithms have been the preferred approach to resolving and matching patient identities since the 1980s. But today’s healthcare landscape is very different from that of the 1980s. Healthcare organizations are no longer simply providers or payers – there are now Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), care management companies, and even health systems with their own insurance plans.

There is now a larger push to share and exchange patient data between all of these organizations and with state and federal agencies and do analytics on a massive scale for research and population health. And we can anticipate an explosion of patient data coming from many new sources, including patient portals, patient engagement applications, telemedicine applications, personal health records, and Internet of Things (IoT) medical devices.

All of these factors make today’s patient matching challenges much more difficult than those of the 1980s, and yet we’re applying the same matching approach we used three decades ago. The consequences are drastic: up to one in five patient records are not accurately matched within the same health care system according to CHIME, and as many as half of patient records are mismatched when data is transferred between health care systems according to the ONC.

As a technology adviser over the years, I frequently advised governmental and private entities with over a million patient records that, as flawed as it was, probabilistic matching was their only choice. But probabilistic matching has clearly reached its limits. Even large and expensive efforts within healthcare organizations to improve and tune probabilistic algorithms achieve only incrementally better results. It is time to move on from the “horse.” We need a totally new approach.

A completely new approach in healthcare is a familiar approach elsewhere

It is time to emulate Henry Ford and find a completely new approach to patient matching. But it is also important to recognize that Ford didn’t actually invent the car. He didn’t even invent mass production, which had already been applied in other industries. His contribution was the vision that applying mass production to automobiles would open up a whole market, the gumption to gather the investment and execute, and the stubbornness to ignore naysayers.

So it is with patient matching. We simply need innovators that have the vision to apply proven identity matching approaches to the healthcare industry – as well as the gumption and stubbornness necessary to thrive in a crowded and often slow-moving healthcare IT market.

Many industries – including retail and financial services – already have viable and proven solutions to match and link their customer records, and these are the solutions we should look to as an industry to solve our own patient matching challenges.

Most proven solutions hinge on cross-correlating the demographic data from customer records with demographic data from third-party sources, including public records, credit agencies, or telephone companies. Importantly, this third-party demographic data includes not just current and correct attributes for a person, but also out-of-date and incorrect attributes – like previous addresses, maiden names, and common typing errors for birthdates or phone numbers.

By referencing these comprehensive sets of third-party demographic data during the matching process, these “Referential Matching” approaches can significantly outperform probabilistic matching algorithms. For example, Referential Matching can match one record that contains a maiden name, old address, and birthdate with another that contains a married name, new address, and phone number. Both of these records match to the same person in the third-party reference database, which has the entire set of demographic attributes for that person. In essence, this third-party reference database acts as an “answer key” for demographic data.

Results from this approach were recently published in Journal of AHIMA 88, “Applying Innovation to the Patient Identification Challenge” by Lorraine Fernandes, RHIA, Jim Burke, and Michele O’Connor, MPA, RHIA, FAHIMA. This article reviewed how Healthix, the largest public health information exchange (HIE) in the nation, used a vendor built on referential matching architecture to resolve 54.1 million MRNs down to 21.9 million unique identities. These 21.9 million unique individual records are now clear and available to meet key clinical and operational needs.

Referential Matching needs to make its way to the healthcare industry, and luckily it is already being used by many of the largest health systems, payers, and HIEs. But this is not enough. The costs of poor patient matching are too dramatic to keep pushing for faster horses: inaccurate matching decreases quality of care, has drastic implications for patient safety and privacy, costs millions of dollars of lost revenue each year to denied claims, and increases costs to our healthcare system due to systemic inefficiencies, redundant tests and procedures, and unnecessary IT and labor expenditures.

The healthcare industry should take a lesson from Henry Ford. The winning disruptive patient matching solution need not be created, but only adapted from other industries. As another wise man said, “discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought.”