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The Value of Goals in Hospital IT

Posted on December 17, 2014 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.

When someone sends me a press release that says that a hospital has attested to meaningful use or has achieved HIMSS stage 7, I kind of roll my eyes and move on. As a blogger, it really doesn’t tell me much about that organization. It’s one small data point in what I try to look at in the broader health IT ecosystem. Now, if I don’t see these things happening, I’ll start to wonder what’s going on. However, one individual announcement to me isn’t that interesting.

That’s not to say that healthcare organizations shouldn’t participate in programs like meaningful use and the various HIMSS stages. Sure, the incentive money is great and the adoration of your colleagues at HIMSS when you achieve HIMSS stage 7 is great as well, but that’s not why you should do either of these (ok, maybe the money in MU is worth doing it for).

The best reason your organization should look at going after something like HIMSS stage 7 is because there’s a lot of value in an organization working towards a goal. Of course you should look at the goals you’re trying to achieve to make sure your pointed in the right direction, but nothing unifies an organization like trying to achieve a special recognition. It’s hard to underestimate the value that’s created working towards a common goal.

Having an ambitious goal for your organization helps everyone in your organization to perform better and takes your organization to a higher level than you could have ever dreamed. We could argue over the value or lack thereof of meaningful use. What can’t be argued is the way organizations have come together to be meaningful use compliant.

Also, don’t underestimate the power of celebrating these achievements. While it’s one thing to celebrate your achievements internally (and you should), it’s also really valuable for those in your organization to receive accolades and recognition from their peers in other organizations.

Next time you look at some of these recognition, definitely consider if they espouse the values your organization wants to achieve. However, also take into account the powerful force a high goal and recognition for achieving that goal can provide your organization.

How Is Your Hospital Approaching ICD-10?

Posted on December 12, 2014 I Written By

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

I’ve been writing quite a bit recently about ICD-10. You may enjoy this post I wrote about the real problem of ICD-10 being UNCERTAINTY. I’ve seen a lot of good reasons why we should go forward with ICD-10 and there’s no doubt that the move to ICD-10 does not come without a cost (training, implementation, system testing, etc). Although, not knowing if ICD-10 is coming or not is absolutely killer.

There are a lot of great ICD-10 resources out there to help you with your ICD-10 transition strategies. Although, I think most hospitals are wondering if they should prepare for ICD-10 or not. Those that were getting prepared last year got burned. Now they’re likely wondering if they’re going to get burned again. Those that weren’t prepared for ICD-10 last year were saved and they’re likely hoping to be saved again.

How is your hospital approaching ICD-10? Are you going forward with ICD-10 preparation using projects that are masked as Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) programs? Are you in wait and see mode? Are you going full bore in preparing, training, and testing for ICD-10?

I said that last one kind of ironically. I haven’t seen any organization that’s doing that right now which is really amazing. Last year at this time, I knew a bunch of organizations that were fully engage in preparations for ICD-10. This year, no such message. Last year at this time, many were calling for ICD-10 preparation. This year, people are afraid that they’re going to be “the boy who cried wolf.” There’s only so many times you can cry ICD-10 before people stop listening. We might be there already. It’s amazing the power of uncertainty.

As I said in my ICD-10 uncertainty post linked above:

My gut tells me that if ICD-10 isn’t delayed in the SGR Fix bill next year, then ICD-10 will probably go forward. You’ll notice that probably was the best I could say. Can anyone offer more certainty on the future of ICD-10? I don’t think they can and that’s the problem.

How Is Your Hospital Approaching ICD-10?

Healthcare IT Consulting Job Slowdown

Posted on December 1, 2014 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.

A recent poll on HIStalk, caught my eye. In the poll he asked readers “For health systems: how much IT related consulting will you use in 2015 vs. 2014?” Here’s an image of the responses:
Healthcare IT Consulting

It seems only fair to acknowledge that this wasn’t a deep study. It was an online poll with plenty of potential sample bias. Plus, it only had 107 respondents to the poll. Especially with it being an online poll, I’d have liked to see more respondents. However, it’s worth noting that 50% of those who did respond are planning to use less healthcare IT consulting in 2015. Although, just as surprising is that 14% plan to use more health IT consulting.

This was somewhat expected from my point of view. The consulting market just exploded over the past couple years as hospitals raced to implement an EHR and show meaningful use. As that program has started to mature, there isn’t as much need for consultants. So, it’s no surprise that the government incentivized EHR consulting market would contract back down to a more reasonable market.

That’s not to say that there aren’t still lots of opportunities for EHR consulting still. In fact, I’d argue that the opportunity for EHR consulting has never been bigger. It’s the EHR staff augmentation companies which often dress up as EHR consultants that are likely taking the hit. My feeling is that EHR staff augmentation is way down and EHR consulting is going to continue trending up. All of these hospitals need to start maximizing their EHR investment. That requires a consultant as opposed to more hands on deck for the EHR go-live.

We’re currently seeing this play out on the Healthcare IT Central job board. The type of jobs that are being posted are much more advanced. Plus, we’re seeing a maturing of EHR adoption and that’s shifting towards more full time EHR staff vs consulting.

What are you seeing in the market? Are you using more health IT consultants or fewer? Where do you see the industry headed?

When Would It Make Sense to Share Your Healthcare Data Findings?

Posted on November 21, 2014 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.

During a recent visit with Stoltenberg Consulting, we had a really interesting discussion about the future of innovation in healthcare. I think we all saw the potential that healthcare data findings can do to improve healthcare. I believe we’re sitting on top of amazing untapped potential in healthcare data that’s going to start being mined over the next few years.

With this in mind, I asked the questions, “Will hospitals and health systems share their data findings? How will we share the data findings?

I think these are extremely important questions as we enter the new world of healthcare discovery and I don’t think the old methods of published journal articles is going to get us to where we want to go. Think about how hard it is to go through the process of getting a journal article published and then the time it takes for the journal article to diffuse through the healthcare system.

Many people fear that health systems won’t want to share their healthcare data findings thanks to competitive concerns. While this may be true in some specific cases, I’ve found the opposite to be the case in healthcare organizations. When they find something that benefits their patients or health system, they are happy to share it with everyone. I think it’s something about the nature of healthcare that makes us want to improve the lives of everyone versus bowing to competitive pressures.

While I think that many want to share their healthcare data findings, the reality is that most of the healthcare data findings aren’t shared. I think that many health systems discover something in their data, but they don’t have an easy way to share it with the broader healthcare community. The choice isn’t to deliberately not share the findings, but they don’t have the time to share it.

We need to find a way to solve this problem. I think social media will play one small part in this type of sharing, but it’s only one element. We need a platform in healthcare that simplifies the sharing of healthcare data discoveries. If it’s not dead simple for a healthcare professional to share their discoveries, it doesn’t make sense for them to do it.

Given the lack of a healthcare discovery platform, this presents a great opportunity for companies like the aforementioned Stoltenberg Consulting to package up these discoveries in easier to consume packages. I’m not sure that this is a terrible model either.

In a simplistic view, one hospital could share their health data discoveries online and another hospital could replicate it. However, the process is rarely that simple and often requires a bit more work to make the results a reality. This is where it makes sense for an outside company to bring the full package of services and software to make the discovery a simple reality for a hospital. The hospitals I know often want to buy the full stack solution. They don’t have the bandwidth to recreate the solution themselves.

Regardless of how it happens, I hope we can find better ways to diffuse healthcare innovations and discoveries across all of healthcare.

Do Hospitals Want Interoperability?

Posted on November 17, 2014 I Written By

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

I’ve had this discussion come up over and over again today in a series of discussions that I’ve had at the NYeC’s Digital Health Conference in NYC. Many people are blaming the EHR vendors for not being interoperable. Other people are blaming standards. Some like to blame HIPAA (which is ironic since it was passed to make health data portable). There are many more reasons that people give for why healthcare isn’t exchanging data and that interoperability isn’t a reality.

Although, in all of these discussions, I keep going back to the core question of whether hospitals and healthcare organizations really want that healthcare data to be interoperable. As I look back on the past, I can think of some doctors who’ve wanted it for a while, but I think the healthcare industry as a whole didn’t really want interoperability to happen. They would never admit this in public, because we all know on face that there are benefits to the healthcare system and the patient for interoperability. However, interoperability would have been a bad thing financially for many healthcare organizations.

It’s one of the dirty little secrets of healthcare. Sure, the EHR vendors never provided the interoperability functionality, but that’s largely because the healthcare providers never asked for it and largely didn’t want that functionality. They were all a little complicit in hiding the dirty little secret that healthcare organizations were benefiting from the inefficiency of the system.

I’m extremely hopeful that we’re starting to see a shift away from the above approach. I think the wheels are turning where hospitals are starting to see why their organization is going to need to be interoperable or their reimbursement will be affected. ACOs are leading this charge as the hospitals are going to need the data from other providers in order to improve the care they provide and lower costs.

Now, I think the biggest barrier to interoperability for most hospitals is figuring out the right way to approach it. Will their EHR vendor handle it? Do they need to create their own solution? Are CCD’s enough? Should they use Direct? Should they use a local HIE? Should they do a private HIE? Of course, this doesn’t even talk about the complexities of the hospital system and outside providers. Plus, there’s no one catch all answer.

I hope that we’re entering a new era of healthcare interoperability. I certainly think we’re heading in that direction. What are you seeing in your organizations?

700 Posts and Counting

Posted on November 10, 2014 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.

If it seems like I’m always celebrating some milestone for blog posts or pageviews or some other measure of what we’ve accomplished with a blog, then it’s probably the case. Considering Healthcare Scene has 15 different blogs, there are a lot of milestones for each blog. Since each blog is my baby (unlike a parent, there are some I like more than others), I feel the need to celebrate the achievements of each of my babies.

With that in mind, I hope you’ll indulge me for a few moments of celebration for the Hospital EMR and EHR blog. If you don’t like celebration, well then maybe you’ll enjoy a look at some of the stats of what Hospital EMR and EHR has accomplished:

I’m pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished since the first post back on May 19, 2011. It’s been fun posting content just focused on hospitals and their unique EHR and Healthcare IT challenges. Plus, the growth of this site has paralleled the trend of hospitals acquiring ambulatory practices. I believe what we do here to help hospital CIOs and other hospital IT leadership is only going to become more important.

It’s always interesting to see which blog posts gain the most interest from users. Here’s a list of our top6 most visited blog posts:

I guess you can see clearly that people like to read about Epic. Although, people are even more interested in becoming Epic certified. That post has had more visits to it than all of the other posts on this list combined. Epic certainly has a love-hate relationship for many in the industry.

Thanks so much to everyone who reads us regularly and supports what we do. We’re really looking forward to the next 700 blog posts!

Marc Probst Takes Aim at Meaningful Use in Interview at CHIME

Posted on November 6, 2014 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.

One of the must read interviews coming out of the CHIME Fall Forum is Mark Hagland’s interview with Marc Probst. We know that Marc Probst had a growing dissatisfaction with meaningful use after he said he would love to kill meaningful use during National Health IT Week. He keeps on that same trajectory during this great interview by Mark. Although, I think Marc is just representing the feelings of many hospital CIOs.

Here are a few excerpts of the interview for those who don’t want to read the whole thing:

So what is meaningful use for you, as an IT pioneer?

Well, it’s a pain in the neck! We believe we were already some of the most meaningful users, in the broader sense of the term, in healthcare IT, prior to the meaningful use program. But meaningful use has imposed rigid functions that you have to do, and I don’t think it’s added any additional value to what our clinicians do, but only to add tasks. So it hasn’t been all that helpful. I sit on the [federal] IT Policy Committee, so I have a little to do with meaningful use, but nonetheless, it hasn’t been [satisfying].

Nice to see that Marc Probst is taking a little bit of accountability for meaningful use. Although, if you’ve ever sat on a committee you know that you can only do so much if the committee is against you. I think the thoughts above are the opinions of many in healthcare. Although, this simple quote from Marc Probst sums up what many would like to see done:

“I honestly think we should now declare victory and move on.”

Although, Marc Probst also offers this sobering reality that many healthcare CIOs will face:

But I think that a fair number are going to say, look, if I haven’t done it this year, I’ll get the penalties anyway if I haven’t yet attested to Stage 2. I think many will focus instead on ICD-10 and data security, because meaningful use is so frustrating and they don’t control the variables; and security, they can control some of the variables. And the penalties are much harsher for breaches than for meaningful use failure.

I’ve never seen someone compare the meaningful use penalties with the penalties for breaches. It’s a very interesting comparison. However, they are hard to compare since the meaningful use penalties are guaranteed to happen if you don’t attest to MU. The breach penalties only happen if you have a breach occur…or I should say if you have a breach occur and you realize it happened (or get caught). That’s likely why more people are concerned with the meaningful use penalties than security and privacy in their organization.

I think this type of sentiment about meaningful use will grow stronger and be heard from more areas of the country. Marc Probst and Intermountain are really powerful figures in the healthcare community. No doubt, Marc’s decision to speak out on this subject will embolden many others to do the same.

Go and read the rest of Mark Hagland’s interview with Marc Probst. Many more good perspectives in the full interview. I’m glad that people like Marc agree with me that we should Blow Up Meaningful Use and focus on interoperability.

When Did You Last Job Shadow a Doctor?

Posted on November 4, 2014 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.

My brother is a really good programmer and I always gain a lot of insight into the software and tech world from him when we sit down and talk (which isn’t often since our wives don’t appreciate us enjoying ourselves like that, but I digress). One of the things he told me about developing an application or website is that it’s really hard to know the user’s response to the website. What might seem completely obvious to the maker (designer, programmer, etc), might be completely different from how a new user to the website or application sees it.

This makes common sense once you think about it. When you’re creating the application, you spend so many hours working on it that the layout and location of things are embedded into your brain in a way that it just feels natural to know where to go to find something. New users don’t have this same training embedded into their brain and so they look for very different things.

My brother suggested to me that one of the best ways to solve this challenge is to sit back and watch a user use your program or website. The insights you can glean from the experience are amazing. The great part is that it’s not a hard thing to do either. It takes a little self control to sit back and let them “solve” their problem on their own, but it’s well worth it.

I heard something similar from a CIO at the CHIME Fall Forum last week. They said that they regularly had their tech people shadow a doctor. They then recounted how shadowing a doctor was so valuable since their analysts could see first hand how the workflows they’ve embedded into the system aren’t working effectively for the doctor. You can see first hand how the doctor flips and flops between 3 screens over and over again and how the workflow would be so much more effective on one screen.

You can’t expect your users to report the issues above. First, they are able to accomplish the task, so it doesn’t feel like a system deficiency. Second, they’d have to know that a change like that was possible. Third, most of them are too busy to actually report this type of issue to IT so it can be resolved.

This is why shadowing a doctor (and let me add nurse) is so valuable. You get to see first hand what’s happening and find specific ways you can make your users’ lives better. Plus, it has the added value of showing those doctors and nurses that you care. Sitting in the trenches with these doctors and nurses is a powerful indicator that you want to know what’s going on and care enough to be there with them to see it first hand. Although, don’t ruin that benefit by shadowing the doctor and then doing nothing. Make sure you learn from the experience, make the change, and then communicate the change back to the users.

Looking forward to the CHIME Fall Forum

Posted on October 27, 2014 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.

Tomorrow I’ll be heading to the CHIME Fall Forum. It’s the premiere meeting of healthcare CIOs. I love the opportunity to sit down with CIO’s and talk about what’s happening with them. The event is in San Antonio, so let me know if you’ll be there so we can meet and say hi.

I think the topics are going to be pretty predictable at the event. I’m sure there will be plenty of meaningful use and ICD-10 discussions, but I think that analytics and what they’re doing with it will also be extremely popular. I’m also interested to hear what people are doing as far as security and privacy. Things like the Bash vulnerability were a major deal and I’ll be interested to see if people really dealt with it appropriately. I’m afraid I’ll meet some who ask me what vulnerability I’m talking about. That will be sad, very sad.

What do you think are the hot topics in healthcare IT? I’m interested to know if these hospital CIOs can focus on anything but the regulatory related projects. If they are, I’ll be interested to hear what projects they are taking on next. Are they doing secure text messaging? Are they focused on revenue cycle? What about patient engagement?

The battle to stay on top of everything that’s happening in healthcare IT never ends. I’ll be interested to hear where the battle is heading next. If you have thoughts, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

The Changing Health IT Consulting Job Market

Posted on October 15, 2014 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.

Cassie Sturdevant has a great post up on Healthcare IT Today titled “The New Health IT Consulting Skill Set.” In the post, she talks about the changing Health IT market for consultants. She’s absolutely right that between 2010-2012 it was a white hot market and that the market has since cooled down. As she mentions, that means that clients can be much more selective in who their hire. Then, she outlines a few ways to differentiate yourself as a consultant:

  1. Operations or Clinical Background
  2. Communication Skills
  3. Multi-Faceted Knowledge

Those are some good suggestions and if you read the full article, you can find more details from Cassie on each suggestion. If I were to summarize Cassie’s suggestions, it would be that healthcare organizations will need someone with a much deeper knowledge of EHR and Healthcare IT than they had to have previously.

As I look at the healthcare consulting market going forward, I see two major areas of opportunities: EHR switching and EHR optimization.

EHR Switching – Since the majority of hospitals have now implemented some form of EHR, the new EHR implementation market is drying up. However, that’s not to say that we won’t see a lot of new EHR purchases. These new EHR Purchases will instead be hospitals that are buying a new EHR. This EHR switching takes a lot of effort and skills to do it properly. Plus, it takes an organization that has a deep understanding of both the legacy and new EHR software. Watch for the EHR switching to really spike post-meaningful use.

EHR Optimization – This is a really broad area of work. However, so many of the EHR implementations were done on shortened timelines that almost no EHR optimization occurred during the implementation. This presents a major opportunity. Every organization is going to be looking for ways that they can extract more value out of their EHR investment. Consultants that have deep knowledge about how to get this value will be in high demand.

It’s still an exciting time to be in healthcare IT with lots of opportunities. It’s not the gold rush that it was, but there is still plenty of opportunity to do amazing things with an organization’s healthcare IT.

If you’re looking for a healthcare IT job, be sure to check out these Health IT company job postings:

If your organization is looking for some healthcare IT talent, check out our Healthcare IT central career website.