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Over-hyped and Under-Delivered Tech According to Hospital CIOs


This is an interesting list:
#BigData
#EHR
#Cloud
#GoogleGlass
#ACO

When you think about the future of health IT, all of these except for Google Glass are guaranteed to be a major role in health IT. The use of data in healthcare is not going anywhere. EHRs will be the foundation of health IT for a long time to come. The move to cloud computing is happening everywhere in healthcare. ACOs are heading are way and I see nothing that will do anything to stop them. Google glass is the only thing on the list that might fizzle, but what Google glass represents (always on, always connected computing) won’t go anywhere.

Does health IT have a PR image issue?

March 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Google Says That Its Cloud Platform Will Sign a Business Associate Agreement

Hey healthcare developers: here’s some news that might interest you. Google has announced that its cloud platform will now be HIPAA compliant and will support business associate agreement going forward, according to Healthcare IT News.

This is not Google’s first move into HIPAA compliance, HIN notes. Google started striking business associate agreements back in 2013, when the HIPAA Final Omnibus Rule went into effect, which made business associates accountable for violating certain HIPAA privacy and security rules.

Now, Google is announcing support for business agreements for its customers. Customers who are subject to HIPAA regulations on the Google cloud platform can count on HIPAA compliance by Google.

This is a smart move by Google, which is poised to snap up big revenues from healthcare cloud activity. According to one research report, global market for cloud computing in healthcare hit $4 billion by the end of 2013, and it seems extremely likely that this number will grow dramatically in coming years.

Google is taking other steps into the health care scene as well. For example, it recently introduced Google Helpouts, a tool for videoconferencing which requires a business associate agreement, which includes supporting telemedicine services.

February 13, 2014 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.

Greenway, Epic Systems Linked Together

These days, it doesn’t take a lot of data interoperability to make news.  The following, while a perfectly fine effort, concerns just one practice and one hospital, something which reminds us forcefully of how far we have to go. That being said, the details are worth a look.

Lancaster General Health’s Women & Babies Hospital, which runs an Epic EMR, has connected the Epic system with the Greenway EMR at obstetrics and gynecology practice May-Grant Associates. The two entities can now exchange continuity of care documents and securely share patient data, according to an article in Healthcare IT News.

According to Greenway, which issued a press release touting the development milestone, the architecture of its PrimeSUITE platform simplifies data exchange between disparate EMR systems, using a bidirectional, hub-based exchange built to support industry standards.  To connect the medical practice with the hospital, Epic needed to create a connection to the Greenway EMR which would enable data flow between the two entities.

The new interoperability between systems is expected to help coordinate care for more than 2,500 patients with the ob/gyn practice whose babies are delivered at the women’s hospital, Healthcare IT News reports.

Moreover, May-Grant expects shared data access to deliver financial benefits. According to the release, since the systems were connected May-Grant has seen improved practice management and revenue cycle management processes, especially when hospital patients are assigned to the practice for follow-up care.

“Now we’re able to get all of the details we need to process claims on behalf of those new patients,” said Mona S. Engle, RN, May·Grant practice administrator. “Since we can query the hospital for the information we need to submit with a claim, searching for that information no longer slows us down.”

As Healthcare IT News points out, Greenway is part of the new CommonWell interoperability alliance announced at HIMSS13 a few  months ago, but Epic is not.  So far, CommonWell members haven’t come out with any specific interoperability proposals of their own, so that probably didn’t matter this time around.

But it’s worth wondering whether CommonWell membership will make a difference going forward — and whether Epic’s non-participation will undercut hospitals’ ability to pull off projects like these. So far, the benefits of the Alliance seem distant and vague at best.

July 15, 2013 I Written By

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

Survey: Confusion Slowing Meaningful Use Compliance

While Meaningful Use is likely to spur improvements in health IT, confusion over regulations — and the need to pursue other pressing HIT projects — are slowing down MU compliance, according to a new study.

The survey was conducted by Stoltenberg Consulting, which spoke with health IT managers, clinicians, HIT vendors and government agencies that attended this year’s HIMSS event.

Researchers asked which areas in which HIT will achieve the biggest improvements over the next 12 months.  The biggest group (35 percent) named Meaningful Use, while 19 percent said health information exchange, clinical integration and mobile health were due for the most growth.

When asked what might hold them back from meeting Meaningful Use requirements, 29 percent said confusion and/or ambiguity in the regulations were a challenge. Others named competing health IT projects (23 percent) and a lack of key resources such as funding, IT skills, talent and time (17 percent).

The survey also asked respondents what issues were likely to dominate HIT discussions this year.  Respondents favored health information exchange (62 percent), followed closely by mobile health (58 percent) and clinical analytics (54 percent).

As part of the survey, Stoltenberg also asked survey respondents which problems HIT executives would most likely attempt to solve with the help of a specialized IT consulting firm. The responses included ICD-10 (25 percent), Meaningful Use (25 percent), clinical and business intelligence (23 percent), cloud computing (21 percent) and CPOE/clinical systems implementation (20 percent).

May 3, 2013 I Written By

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

Technologies Hospital Leaders Should Watch

Courtesy of non-profit research house the ECRI Institute, here’s some of technologies that they believe hospital C-suite execs should be watching this year. This list was generated by ECRI’s in-house analysts, reports HealthLeaders. Not all of these are directly related to EMR/EHR technology, but we’ve included a few that might be of interest on the broader HIT level.

* Electronic Health Records: This is so obvious it hardly bears mentioning, but yes, EHRs are number one on the list. ECRI notes that execs should beware of possible patient harm in the effort to achieve Meaningful Use, as some HIT-related errors are emerging that can lead to serious care issues.

mHealth:  Mobile applications are becoming an increasingly commonplace part of health IT infrastructure, but managing them effectively isn’t as simple as download-install-use.  This is likely to be the year hospitals need to get it right.

Alarm Integration Technology:  Alarm fatigue has been and continues to be a major issue for clinicians, with some critical care docs experiencing 350 alarms  per patient per day.  Increasingly, alarm integration systems are being implemented which send alerts to phones or pages, leading to more controllable alerts and quieter environments.

Imaging and Surgery:  ORs are increasingly hosting full-scale angiography systems to help guide high-risk minimally invasive surgery, as well as guiding combined open and minimally invasive surgery and verifying successful surgical completion. These hybrid ORs are expensive but have arguably improved results.

* PET/MR:  The PET/MR scanner is beginning to emerge as a new mainstay in oncology, improving on the results delivered for years by the hybrid PET/CR. The PET/MR offers greater detail, helping physicians detect cancers and tumors.

I would have expected to see something on the data analytics technology front to appear this year, but it was absent from the list. I might also have expected to see cloud solutions turn up, but again, not this year.  What technologies would you add to this list?

March 29, 2013 I Written By

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

Remote Patient Monitoring Going Mainstream

This week I read a piece of news which suggests to me that we’re seeing a turning point in the use of remote monitoring technology to manage patients.  It looks like AT&T is taking a major public position in support of remote monitoring via the cloud, via a partnership with a  hot new startup that just raised funding, according to a report in mobihealthews.

According to the mobile health news publication, cloud-based patient monitoring company Intuitive Health just got a $3.4 million investment in what appears to be the company’s first public round of investment.

Intuitive, which completed a pilot with health system Texas Health Resources and AT&T last year, offers cloud-based remote monitoring software which can interface with any device.

The pilot involved monitoring CHF patients remotely for 90 days using wireless pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs and weight scales, plus tablets and apps feeding the data to the  patients’ EMR records. During the pilot, THR reduced hospital readmissions for chronic heart failure patients by 27 percent, mobihealthnews reports.

According to a press release from AT&T, Intuitive’s software has since become a key component in the telecom giant’s own SaaS patient monitoring product.

Remote monitoring has been a hot topic of discussion and an emerging approach for several years, but hasn’t found an established place in day-to-day care for most institutions.  With AT&T and Intuitive offering a device-agnostic model, however, I believe they will give a boost to the use of remote monitoring generally.

Personally, I’ve been cheering for remote monitoring to succeed for some time; after all, given how mobile-device-oriented people are anyway, it just makes sense to leverage those capabilities to improve their health.  I hope this represents a turning point for this type of technology and that we see news of more successful pilots this year.

January 31, 2013 I Written By

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

AthenaHealth Grabs Mobile Footprint With Agreement To Acquire Epocrates

Practice management and EMR vendor athenahealth has signed a definitive agreement to buy mobile health information giant Epocrates Inc., in a move which emphasizes the importance of mobile channels to the the future of EMRs.

athenahealth has agreed to pay $11.75 per share for Epocrates, a hugely popular mobile point-of -care app which is very broadly adopted across the U .S. physician base.

The EMR vendor must have really wanted Epocrates badly; the deal, which values Epocrates at $293 million, represents a 22 percent premium over the closing price per share on Friday, January 4, 2013.  What’s more, athenahealth is tapping out its entire existing credit facility to offer an all-cash deal.

As for why athenahealth is so hot for Epocrates, I’ll let them explain. They say Epocrates ofers the following:

  • Better Information Access for Health Organizations — By combining Epocrates’ mobile expertise with knowledge and data from athenahealth’s cloud-based network, the combined company will be uniquely positioned to introduce new mobile applications that deliver high-value information to the clinical community when, where, and how they want it.
  • Advanced Mobile Workflows — the combined company will seek to pioneer new mobile workflows to improve provider efficiency and support care delivery outcomes; initial efforts will focus on care coordination, provider-to-provider communication, and patient engagement tools.
  • Accelerated Awareness and Growth Across the Physician Market — athenahealth would expand its current provider base of 38,000 to include the more than one million health care professionals on the Epocrates network, allowing athenahealth to build upon the highly favored Epocrates brand, recognized today by approximately 90 percent of practicing U.S. physicians.

You know what, all of the above makes a whole lot of sense. It seems far smarter to buy your way directly into phyician workflows with a trusted product like Epocrates than to compete against hundreds of me-too physician EMRs out there. Expect to see more deals like this in the future.

January 8, 2013 I Written By

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

The Cloud and Hospitals

Let’s talk about The Cloud and Hospitals for a minute. At a session I attended at CHIME a hospital CIO said, “There’s still a lot of unknown with cloud.”

At first I was a little taken back by the comment. As an IT guy, it seems like cloud has been around forever. Plus, I would bet that every single hospital has a number of cloud based IT systems in their IT environment.

What then could be the unknown issues with the cloud that this CIO was talking about?

I found this really great resource on the IBM website about the cloud and healthcare. They hit on what is probably the biggest unknown with the cloud, HIPAA. Here’s a section which describes why it’s such an unknown.

Cloud providers hold a unique position as BAs entrusted with EPHI. When HIPAA was enacted, the concept of “the cloud” didn’t exist and probably could not have been predicted. Covered entities and other BAs are increasingly choosing to store health information in the cloud.

Then he adds in these cloud challenges:

Transferring data to the cloud comes with unique issues that complicate HIPAA compliance for covered entities, traditional BAs, and now cloud providers themselves. They include issues of control, access, availability, shared multitenant environments, incident preparedness and response, and data protection

All of these should provide any hospital CIO a moment of pause. As another hospital CIO I talked with said, “we’re still doing the cloud, but we are careful about who we work with in the cloud and how we do it.”

I think this will be the reality for the forseeable future. It takes a really well done trusted relationship for a hospital to trust a cloud provider. In the small ambulatory practice space it’s very different since there’s little doubt that the cloud provider can do much better than your neighborhood tech guy. However, this is not the case in hospitals where the decision to use the cloud or your existing in house IT staff and resources is much more complex.

The reality is that every hospital is likely going to have a mixed hosting strategy with some software hosted in house and some software hosted in the cloud. This means that every hospital CIO is going to have to figure out the cloud even if there’s still some difficult to answer questions.

November 1, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Healthcare Cloud Spending Slated For Major Growth

Hospitals may still be ambivalent about using the cloud for clinical data transport, but attitudes are likely to undergo a major change over the next few years, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. The firm projects that the healthcare cloud market will expand by about 20.5 percent per year over the next five years, hitting $5.4 billion by 2017.

Right now, healthcare cloud spending has hit roughly $1.8 billion, which represents penetration of four percent, MarketsandMarkets found.  That’s just a drop in the bucket, particularly given the big competitors who are aiming their guns at the healthcare cloud market today. (Other estimates put healthcare cloud penetration at 16.5 percent of the marketplace, still a small number though meaningfully larger than MarketsandMarkets’ number.)

As our sister site EMRandHIPAA.com previously noted, Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions division is offering five “healthcare-enabled” services, including colocation, managed hosting, enterprise cloud, an “enterprise cloud express edition” and enterprise cloud private edition. Verizon hopes to capture healthcare IT managers who are worried not only about HIPAA-secure clinical data transport, but also HIPAA-appropriate data protection on site, as it’s training hosting workers to be HIPAA-ready.

Another set of deep pocketed healthcare cloud vendors are AT&T and IBM, who are partnering to capture what they deem to be a $14 billion healthcare cloud market.  Under the terms of an agreement announced in early October, IBM will provide data storage facilities and services, while AT&T will provide the network.

What could possibly hold back the advance of such giants?  Well, a number of issues, MarketsandMarkets notes. While vendors large and small may promise to be compliant with healthcare regs, healthcare data is challenging to manage, given that it requires special security, confidentiality, availability to authorized users, traceability of access, reversibility of data and long-term preservation.

My guess is that hospitals will respond to the efforts of vendors to attract cloud business, but that the market for public cloud services in particular won’t shoot upward as MarketsandMarkets predicts, as there’s just too many things that worry CIOs.  How about you, readers?

October 30, 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.

The Dawn Of “Compliance As A Service”?

A few days ago, I posted a quick report on our EMRandHIPAA.com sister site discussing Verizon’s plans to offer a HIPAA-compliant cloud service.

Verizon, which has beefed up on security services over the past few years, seems to see its role as being compliance vendor rather than just a mere business associate.  The carrier notes that not only does it offer super-secure data centers, it has trained staffers on HIPAA-specific data handling issues.

But Verizon obviously isn’t the only cloud vendor out there capable of offering HIPAA-compliant services. Could this be the dawn of CaaS (compliance as a service) for healthcare? (Others industries, like banking, are already well into this approach.)

According to reader Scott Gardner, who commented on the story, this concept has legs. “I’ve been pitching [Compliance As A Service] to cloud-based persistency vendors targeting mobility for some time,” writes Gardner, whose company Inyago focuses on private practice IT services via MacPractice. “Offering this service makes perfect sense, especially in private practice healthcare. And you get interoperability (core #14) right out of the box for all users on the platform.”

The burning question here, I suppose, is whether CIOs feel safe trusting outsiders with clinical data flow. Right now the answer seems to be “no.” As my colleague John noted in a related blog post, at present even those providers who are cloud users are more prone to access it for “commodity” services such as e-mail, file storage, videoconferencing and online learning, according to a CDW survey.

With providers needing interoperability under Meaningful Use Stage 2, the landscape may change, however. Whether or not they’re terribly comfortable with Verizon and its rivals, CIOs might find it easier to delegate compliance than cope with the difficulties of build-your-own-interoperability schemes. So perhaps CaaS really does have a chance at achieving rapid uptake — unless someone invents the insta-install HIE!

October 5, 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.