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Secure Text and Email, Smartphone Physicals, and EMR Documentation – Around Healthcare Scene

Posted on April 14, 2013 I Written By

Katie Clark is originally from Colorado and currently lives in Utah with her husband and son. She writes primarily for Smart Phone Health Care, but contributes to several Health Care Scene blogs, including EMR Thoughts, EMR and EHR, and EMR and HIPAA. She enjoys learning about Health IT and mHealth, and finding ways to improve her own health along the way.

There are so many types of mHealth apps and devices out there, it was inevitable that someone would try to have them work together. At TEDMED 2013, Shiv Gaglani and a team of physicians-to-be will be presenting the “smartphone physical.” Are these types of visits closer to becoming a reality than we may have realized?

One of the amazing technologies that have been developed is a smartphone that measures vitals — maybe this will be used in smartphone physicals someday! The Fujitsu Smartphone analyzes subtle changes in blood flow and determines vital signs, all by the user taking their photo with the phone’s camera. It goes to show that you don’t necessarily need fancy equipment to have incredible mHealth technology.

While some are concerned about the safety of email and texting for healthcare communication, it’s becoming a way of the future. Companies such as Physia and docBEAT are working specifically to make email and texts more secure. So which one is better? Both have their pros and cons – texting is quick and to the point, while email can take more time. Which would you rather receive?

Most doctors will agree, the current documentation options that EMRs offer are frustrating. There’s just too much clicking. However, the tide is shifting and it is very possible full keyboards will be needed. And the need for point of care EMR documentation will be more necessary than ever before.

With the current budget proposal by President Obama, EMR vendors might be impacted significantly. The ONC is suggesting that health IT vendors pay up to $1 million in fees. With the upcoming expiration of the ONC’s $2 billion appropriation from ARRA, the agency is needing some new funds. It also would help maintain ONC’s Certified Health IT Product List. Of course, vendors will not be happy to hear this news.

Tech We Take for Granted in Healthcare

Posted on March 26, 2013 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.

Every once in a while I like to take a step back and think about all the tech that we take for granted. Yes, it’s easy to get stuck in the discussions of what’s missing from our tech life or ways in which tech could be implemented better in healthcare. However, there’s a whole series of technologies that we use all the time and barely give it a second thought.

Certainly there are some rural areas of the country where their internet connection isn’t very good, but for a large portion of healthcare a nice internet connection is just a feature. Most clinics don’t give their internet connection a second though. It just works. They go online and do what they need to do. Sure, you might have an outage here or there (and those are brutal), but most of the time the internet just works.

Related to this is Wifi. Unless you’re in a clinic where the wifi implementation isn’t very good (and there are still plenty of those), you roam around with your laptop, tablet or other wireless device and it just works. It’s amazing to watch my kids, because they really don’t have any idea on how it works. They just open up the iPad and watch movies as they wish. They literally have no idea what’s required to make that possible. Yep, they take it for granted because the tech has become so good.

We’re now starting to see the next level of ubiquitous internet with 4G speeds being nearly as good as Wifi for many applications. Soon we’ll be taking for granted that we can get good internet speeds almost everywhere we go. The same is true for cell phone connection. The only time I can remember looking at my phone to see how many bars I had was when I was deep in the heart of a National Park. Yes, there are a few places in the wilderness where phone coverage is not likely to hit. However, for 99% of most people’s activities the phone just works.

Another great example is email. I totally take for granted that email just works. If I send an email I assume it’s going to be delivered. Sure, there are times when your email service provider goes down and we have to deal with spam folders, but I don’t really give much thought to whether my email is going to work or not. I just do it all day every day and it just works.

Instant Messenger is another application I use that just works. I know some healthcare institutions that use it, but so far not for PHI. It’s amazing technology that I can see whenever someone is online and send them a message. They can reply almost instantly. The beauty is that most people have become really mature with the use of this technology. It’s a use as needed thing. I don’t greet every person that comes online, but it’s there if I need to get a hold of someone quickly.

Often related to IM is video chats. Unfortunately this hasn’t taken hold very much in healthcare and it’s unfortunate. Video is built into most IM platforms: Skype, Gchat, MSN Messenger (or whatever it’s called now). With video cameras built into so many laptops or desktop cameras available for as cheap as $30, doing a video chat with someone is almost trivial. Add in things like FaceTime on the iPad and the idea of doing a video chat with anyone anytime you want is almost here.

I’m sure there are a hundred other technologies that I could list. The reason I find this so fascinating is that I think we’re going to have the same thing happen with EMR. In the next 5 years, EMR is just going to be another technology that we use without really even thinking about it. We’re not there yet, but it will happen.

I look forward to the day when we start to take EHR for granted.

Patient portals: no thanks for now

Posted on July 12, 2011 I Written By

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

I recently read a blog post by Jennifer Dennard discussing an interesting electronic service for doctors and patients called Patient Point.  Apparently, it’s a service with strength in HIPAA-compliant doctor-patient communications. On one hand, I think this is a great idea. The concept of having electronic access to your doctor works well for most modern-day computer aficionados.  On the other hand, how does the doctor get reimbursed properly for time spent in this type of work?  If we’re talking about eliminating an office visit, but the work to be accomplished is basically an electronic office visit equivalent, then the payment to the doctor should remain the same.  How does this system allow the doctor to bill appropriately for potentially a lot of money?  Without such a clearly ironed-out rubber-meets-the-road provision, I think most private doctors will pass on this opportunity, which would then just be equivalent to an uncompensated time sink.

To further illustrate my point, about six months or so ago, I was excited to find CPT billing codes for telephone consultations, based on time spent providing healthcare by phone.  We tried billing this, for services rendered, to several patients’ insurance companies , including Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Cigna, and Medicare.  Every single one of these claims – each for about $10-$15 — were denied without exception, despite completely reasonable services rendered.  These phone conversations dealt with issues such as managing medication side effects, changes in current prescription medications, new prescription medications, and evaluating and managing new symptoms.  When we called in inquire with each insurance company as to the reason for denial, all said that while these codes existed for “some plans”, the specific patient that we were treating “unfortunately” didn’t have this plan feature.  All I can say is, yeah right.  I’m sure this is some type of loophole that makes the insurance company look good in some sense without actually providing any service to patients.

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