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!

President’s Message for National Health IT Week #NHITWeek

Posted on September 27, 2016 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.

This week is National Health IT Week. I’m not sure why we need a week for it. Some of us celebrate health IT all year round. That said, at least it’s an opportunity for some people that could impact healthcare IT to take some time to think about it. A good example of this was that President Obama put out a letter for National Health IT Week (Side Note: It’s kind of funny that it’s still a “letter” and not a blog post or Tweet or Snap or something else. It’s interesting how letters keep subsisting in electronic format. Hmm…sounds a bit like healthcare.). Here’s an excerpt of what he said:

During National Health IT Week, we recommit ourselves to improving the health of our citizenry using the breakthrough technologies of our time and reaching for the next frontier of innovation…Because of our collective efforts, 97 percent of our Nation’s hospitals and three-quarters of doctors are using electronic records to care for their patients…These efforts help advance our Administration’s goal of fostering the seamless and secure flow of electronic health information when and where it is needed most. Though there is more to be done to realize a healthcare system that fits each of our needs, I am confident that if we continue working together, we can build a future of greater health and prosperity for coming generations.

While I’d like to think that this week has caused the President to spend some time thinking about healthcare IT, I’m not sure it really makes any difference. Besides the fact that some staffer or ONC itself probably did most of the work for the letter, the letter illustrates to me that the President doesn’t really understand the challenges that face healthcare IT. That’s unfortunate because it means we won’t see any real push to change things from him.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying the President should be an expert on healthcare IT and I’m certain that few people in Congress know much more about it than he does. They’re all likely in the same position the President is in with too many challenges and limited time. They can only dive in deeply on so many of them.

The thing that disturbs me about this letter is that it’s likely the same position that our government has had for health IT since pre-meaningful use. In fact, it’s likely why meaningful use was included so easily in the ARRA stimulus package. Is Health IT good? Well, electronic has been good in every other industry. So, that sounds good. Can you transfer bits and bytes of health data better than paper? Yep! So, EHR should make sharing data easier. Conclusion: Let’s keep doing more EHR and healthcare will be better and healthcare data sharing will happen.

It’s this naivety that’s gotten us where we are today.

My cause for optimism is that the people in government positions over healthcare like Andy Slavitt, Acting Director of CMS, do have a much better pulse on what’s happening in healthcare IT. They understand physician burnout. They understand overwhelming doctors with unnecessary and useless documentation. They understand data blocking and the pressures healthcare organizations face to not share health data. I’m not saying they have all the solutions. These are challenging problems, but I’m hopeful because they do understand these problems much better than most people give them credit.

Will we see much change? The jury is still out. Those at HHS only have so many levers they can pull. I do hope they can find ways to encourage without stifling innovation. I hope they focus on collecting useful data as opposed to possibly useful data. I hope they stop wasting money on EHR certification which provides no benefit and causes a lot of harm and they instead focus on a meaningful EHR interoperability certification.

Most of all, I hope they’re not afraid to focus on one thing that’s extremely valuable and doable (ie. interoperability) and set aside the 100s of other things which have questionable value. Wouldn’t we all rather have CMS do 1 thing really well as opposed to doing 100 things poorly?

Today I focused on some government health IT perspectives. Tomorrow I’ll talk about some of the other healthcare IT trends that get me excited and a few that scare me. Happy National Health IT Week!

ONC Google Plus Hangout Hosted by Doug Fridsma

Posted on February 12, 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.

Looks like the government has chosen Google Plus as the best platform to be able to reach out and stay in touch with the larger community. I just read that Obama will be doing a Google+ hangout a few days after the State of the Union address. In similar fashion, today Doug Fridsma from ONC hosted a Google Plus Hangout discussing some of the projects that ONC is participating in. Plus, the beautiful part of a Google Hangout by ONC is that it’s automatically recorded and published to YouTube. So, if you missed the hangout, you can watch the ONC Hangout video embedded below.

Here’s who participated on the ONC Hangout:
Doug Fridsma, M.D., Ph.D. – Chief Scientist at ONC
Arien Malec – VP Strategy and Product Marketing at RelayHealth, Former Coordinator for the Direct Project
Deven McGraw – Director of the Health Privacy Project at CDT
John Moehrke – Principal Engineer: Interoperability and Security at GE
Vince Kuraitis – Principal, Better Health Technologies, LLC
Brian Ahier – Health IT Evangelist
John Travis – Senior Director and Solution Strategist, Regulatory Compliance at Cerner
Alice Leiter – Policy Counsel at Center for Democracy & Technology

Turns out that I’m actually planning my first Google+ hangout as well with some of the people from HIMSS. Watch for more details on that soon.

EMR-EHR Safety Watchdog Unlikely To Emerge Soon

Posted on August 13, 2012 I Written By

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

Yesterday, we at HealthcareScene.com got a letter from the organization behind EHREvent.org, a patient safety organization allowing people to anonymously report EMR-related safety events, stating that the site was shutting down.  PDR Secure LLC gave little information on the closure, other than to say that it was relinquishing its PSO status.

Curious, John and I took a closer look at the matter. The only other organization which seemed to allow for reporting of EMR-related safety incidents, EHREventS.org (“S” capitalized for clarity), seems to have disappeared since it was first launched late last year.

So while Google searches aren’t perfect, it does appear that at the moment, there’s no official source to which providers, hospitals or other interested parties can report patient safety incidents related to problems with an EMR/EHR.

It’s worth noting that the FDA seems quite concerned about establishing EMR safety regulations. In fact, agency members have been in discussion for years on the topic, spurred by reports of HIT-related malfunctions. “Because these reports are purely voluntary, they may represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the HIT-related problems that exist,” Dr. Jeffrey Shuren of the agency’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health told Congress in 2010.

But so far, the agency hasn’t issued any regs. My feeling is that FDA leaders are stalling (prompted in part, I’m guessing from indirect lobbying pressure) on getting such a system started, as it’s definitely going to irritate some very deep-pocketed HIT players out there.

As FierceEMR editor Maria Durben Hirsch noted in an excellent recent column, there’s more than one way the private sector could take up the role of EMR safety watchdog, such as:

*  Creating a one-stop site where users and others can report on their experiences with EMR systems, a step the AMA has apparently considered

*  Launching a new watchdog agency, run by HHS, which would oversee EMR registration, monitor for health IT-related mistakes and investigate adverse event reports.  According to Durben, Congress likes this idea — which was proposed by the Institute of Medicine — but that there’s been no action yet.

Bottom line, it seems that reporting on adverse EMR events is a very unpopular idea in many quarters, or at least a political hot potato.  I suspect someone, perhaps HHS or even the POTUS, is going to have to hammer EMR reporting into place if it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Guest Post: How One of the Nation’s Top Hospitals Made the Switch to EMR Easier

Posted on July 2, 2012 I Written By

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

In 2010, the Obama administration rolled out an ambitious five-year plan, moving doctors and hospitals to electronic medical records (EMR), with the goal of reducing costs and providing greater safety for patients. When the plan was announced, the federal government promised funding to hospitals and other health systems to help defray the astronomical costs of the conversion. Healthcare providers were warned that failure to comply by 2015 would result in cuts to Medicare, which could lead to financial losses for both doctors and hospitals.

This plan is currently underway, and both medical professionals and IT experts are scrambling to find ways to adhere to the timeline and ensure federal incentives. Prudent healthcare IT leaders realize that proactive planning is necessary to ensure seamless, cost-effective transitions that both improve efficiency and maintain customer satisfaction. To successfully transfer to EMR by the 2015 deadline, hospitals must prepare now.

When Obama’s plan was announced, Paul Moriarty, the Manager of IT Support Services for Rochester General Hospital (RGH) and his IT support team were supporting 7,500 employees. RGH is the flagship of Rochester General Health System, and the fourth largest cardiac center in the state of New York. Recognized as one of the nation’s 100 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals, RGH ranks first in New York for overall medical care.

Getting ahead of the looming mandate, Moriarty decided to evaluate and streamline his existing help desk processes so when the new computerization of health records were finally implemented, the spike in new tickets could be managed seamlessly.

Before the EMR transition process began, Moriarty’s team was utilizing HelpSTAR, a help desk solution that hospital employees used to submit issues with portals, emails and phone calls. With his team handling 5,000 IT service tickets per month prior to the EMR transition, Moriarty knew that his help desk technology would need to be able to handle a huge influx of additional requests when the transition got underway. To ensure high levels of service and satisfaction were maintained throughout the EMR move, Moriarty had to move quickly.

An existing HelpSTAR customer, Moriarty looked to HelpSTAR to identify and leverage additional features he knew his hospital would need, such as intelligent queuing, self-help tools and prompts (including alarms, follow-up reminders and automatic priority escalation). Along with these features, HelpSTAR’s built-in rapid problem resolution and extensive reporting capabilities provided just the combination Moriarty’s team needed. Moriarty designed customized ticket rules that directed requests to available team members, providing a faster and more seamless workflow. This fix brought their number of electronic tickets versus help desk calls to a manageable 3:1 ratio. With Moriarty’s proactive planning, the IT help desk has improved the efficiency and customer satisfaction needed to help facilitate a smooth EMR transition for RGH.

To learn more about Rochester General Hospital (RGH), visit the http://www.rochestergeneral.org/rochester-general-hospital/

To see if HelpSTAR can help you, visit http://www.helpstar.com/

Todd Park Named US CTO – Is that Good of Bad for Health IT?

Posted on March 9, 2012 I Written By

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

Thew news came out today that Todd Park has been appointed the new CTO of United States. Todd will be replacing Aneesh Chopra who recently left that position and went back to work at The Advisory Group. If you’ve had the chance to see Todd Park and Aneesh Chopra speak, you can see that they are cut from the same cloth. I’m not sure if that was a byproduct of working so much together or something else, but I’m sure Todd will carry forth the banner that Aneesh started.

Here’s one section of the announcement about Todd Park as US CTO

I’m very excited that President Obama today is appointing Todd Park as the new U.S. Chief Technology Officer, with the important task of applying the newest technology and latest advances to make the Federal government work better for the American people.

For nearly three years, Todd has served as CTO of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he was a hugely energetic force for positive change. He led the successful execution of an array of breakthrough initiatives, including the creation of HealthCare.gov, the first website to provide consumers with a comprehensive inventory of public and private health insurance plans available across the Nation by zip code in a single, easy-to-use tool.

I think this is a good thing for healthcare IT. I think that Aneesh likely spent a bit more time on healthcare IT than another person without the healthcare background would have spent. I expect we’ll see Todd Park do the same. Plus, I think Todd Park really loves so many of the projects that he was working on as CTO of HHS.

The next question is, who do you think will replace Todd Park as CTO of HHS?

CMS to cut healthcare payments by 30% in January 2012

Posted on July 7, 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 doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

You knew it was coming folks.   I did, too, as a matter of fact.  And so, as of July 1st, I famously exited Medicare, stage right.  Earlier in the spring, I enjoyed a lunch here in DC at Lauriol Plaza — my favorite Mexican resuarant in the District — with a personal friend of mine fairly high up in HHS who works on MU rules.  At one point, when we were discussing the highly cliche will-they-or-won’t-they cut Medicare/Medicaid payments, he rhetorically stated with eyebrows raised, “Think about it, the money’s got to come from somewhere.”  The clear implication being that it will logically come from cutting from doctors’ payments.

Now, the New York Times reports this post, discussing the compromises that the Obama administration is proposing to make by cutting CMS payments for services to seniors in exchange for the Republicans allowing them to raise taxes to solve the budget crisis.

Suddenly the $44k incentive money for using EHRs is looking quite pale.  E-prescribing for 2%?  Pee-shaw!

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 doctorwestindc@gmail.com.

EHR Letter Sent to Aneesh Chopra CTO of Obama Administration

Posted on December 8, 2009 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 was really intrigued by this letter sent from SRSsoft CEO, Evan Steele, to the CTO of the Obama Administration about the current administration’s EHR direction. Here’s a small excerpt from the letter posted on Health Data Management:

“I am writing to you directly, rather than posting on the FACA blog, because I am deeply concerned that the path the government is taking will inevitably lead to failure. You asked physicians for input and they answered loudly and clearly–traditional EHR technology does not work for them. Their comments are difficult to ignore.

“The government is endorsing the exact technology that has a 50% failure rate. As stated in the blog comments, physicians simply find these EHRs unusable. Of the 60 blog comments on real-world implementation experiences, 57 reported EHR failures and shortcomings–writers documented painful and costly EHR de-installations, or explained the reasons why they would not even try to implement “traditional” EHRs. There is no reason to expect outcomes to be different in the future–vendors have made no significant changes to these products to mitigate the formidable obstacles preventing their adoption. The problems cited are daunting:

* “Physicians will not purchase productivity-decreasing software–particularly now, as they face increasing demand and diminishing reimbursements. They reported productivity losses as high as 40%, and the impact did not diminish over time.

The sad part is that Evan’s letter is likely to fall on deaf ears. First, because Aneesh Chopra probably doesn’t care much about EMR software. Second, a letter from an EMR vendor who wants the rules changed to get better access to the $36.3 billion in EMR stimulus money for his customers is likely to be seen as a political move. Even if Evan is correct with what he’s saying, that doesn’t mean that Aneesh will realize it. Third, is it too late? The HITECH legislation is past. Can HHS really make that much of a difference at this point? Sadly, I don’t think Evan we’ll feel any better 2 years from now when he says, “I told you so.”

AMA Speaks Out on Obama Health Care

Posted on September 3, 2009 I Written By

I got the following email that I just couldn’t resist posting. I’m not sure who deserves credit for this, but I think that many will enjoy the perspective.

The American Medical Association has weighed in on the new Obama health care proposals.

The Allergists voted to scratch it, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves. The Gastroenterologists had sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the Administration had a lot of nerve..

The Obstetricians felt they were all laboring under a misconception. Ophthalmologists considered the idea shortsighted. Pathologists yelled; “Over my dead body!” while the Pediatricians said, “Oh, Grow up!”

The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it. Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, “This puts a whole new face on the matter….”

The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea. The Anesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn’t have the heart to say no.

In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the assholes in Washington.

EMRs, Small Business and Universal Coverage

Posted on July 28, 2009 I Written By

I turned on the radio on Monday and they were talking about Healthcare again. Universal coverage, the August recess, the “blue dog” democrats.

I keep thinking about how EMRs fit into all of this. Obama thinks that EMRs are going to make care better, more efficient and less costly. I think he is right about the first two (if we install EMRs that are usable and bring value to doctors and patients), but not necessarily about the third. EMRs may not reduce costs!

As Obama takes our economy (and our healthcare system) away from the small business model to the big government/big business model, I wonder how EMRs fit into all this. Investing in an EMR is a big deal for most physicians because we are a small business that provides medical care. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on an EMR which may not bring return on investment (ROI) while potentially reducing our productivity is a big risk. At the same time, if reimbursement are reduced or the system becomes Universal, the stakes are higher and the risks are greater.

Everyone (individuals and small business) is struggling with our current economy. Small businesses are at risk (many are closing their doors). Physicians are working hard to pay the bills, make payroll and have a little left over to take home to the family. The EMR issue has to be handled correctly or it could have dramatic effects on our healthcare system. The EMRs have to be effective and efficient. Doctors have to like them and be satisfied with their utility and performance. EMRs have to help us take care of patients more effectively and efficiently. Anything less than this throws more sand into the cogs of the healthcare machinery and amplifies the risks of all the other changes occurring at this time.

Inertia in Healthcare Is Sometimes a Good Thing

Posted on July 21, 2009 I Written By

President Barack Obama is defending his relentless campaign for a health care bill before Congress’s August recess, saying “the default in Washington is inaction and inertia.”

Mr. Obama, there is a good reason for inertia. It protects complex systems which have evolved over time from dramatic change which can be very disruptive and threaten the very survival of the system. Inertia moderates change so that change can be accomplished slowly and successfully. Inertia is sometimes a good thing. In the case of healthcare reform, this inertia might save our healthcare system.

Improving our healthcare system is an important project. This cannot be done in 3 months by politicians and bureaucrats who are not expert or experienced in the ways of healthcare. The system must evolve slowly, thoughtfully and carefully.

The goal should NOT be universal coverage at the expense of everything else! Universal coverage is a worthy goal, but there are other things which are more important like quality of care, cost of care, ability to access care, innovation and properly aligned incentives. Universal coverage puts EVERYTHING else at risk and therefore we need to pause, take a deep breath and figure out how we are going to improve our health system without ruining it and putting our whole economy at risk.

The experiment in Massachusetts has been a disaster. It has achieved the goal of universal coverage but the cost of care has gone up and access to care is terrible (not enough providers). Doctors are miserable, not making any money and they are leaving the state. Let’s look very closely at Massachusetts before we duplicate this disaster at the national level!