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Waiting For The Perfect “Standard” Is Not The Answer To Healthcare’s Interoperability Problem

Posted on October 16, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare and Life Sciences Solutions at Liaison Technologies.

Have you bought into the “standards will solve healthcare’s interoperability woes” train of thought? Everyone understands that standards are necessary to enable disparate systems to communicate with each other, but as new applications and new uses for data continually appear, healthcare organizations that are waiting for universal standards, are not maximizing the value of their data. More importantly, they will be waiting a long time to realize the full potential of their data.

Healthcare interoperability is not just a matter of transferring data as an entire file from one user to another. Instead, effective exchange of information allows each user to select which elements of a patient’s chart are needed, and then access them in a format that enables analysis of different data sets to provide a holistic picture of the patient’s medical history or clinical trends in a population of patients. Healthcare’s interoperability challenge is further exacerbated by different contextual interpretations of the words within those fields. For instance, how many different ways are there to say heart attack?

The development of the Health Level Seven (HL7®) FHIR®, which stands for Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, represents a significant step forward to interoperability. While the data exchange draft that is being developed and published by HL7 eliminates many of the complexities of earlier HL7 versions and facilitates real-time data exchange via web technology, publication of release 4 – the first normative version of the standard – is not anticipated until October 2018.

As these standards are further developed, the key to universal adoption will be simplicity, according to John Lynn, founder of the HealthcareScene.com. However, he suggests that CIOs stop waiting for “perfect standards” and focus on how they can best achieve interoperability now.

Even with standards that can be implemented in all organizations, the complexity and diversity of the healthcare environment means that it will take time to move everyone to the same standards. This is complicated by the number of legacy systems and patchwork of applications that have been added to healthcare IT systems in an effort to meet quickly changing needs throughout the organization. Shrinking financial resources for capital investment and increasing competition for IT professionals limits a health system’s ability to make the overall changes necessary for interoperability – no matter which standards are adopted.

Some organizations are turning to cloud-based, managed service platforms to perform the integration, aggregation and harmonization that makes data available to all users – regardless of the system or application in which the information was originally collected. This approach solves the financial and human resource challenges by making it possible to budget integration and data management requirements as an operational rather than a capital investment. This strategy also relieves the burden on in-house IT staff by relying on the expertise of professionals who focus on emerging technologies, standards and regulations that enable safe, compliant data exchange.

How are you planning to scale your interoperability and integration efforts?  If you're waiting for standards, why are you waiting?

As a leading provider of healthcare interoperability solutions, Liaison is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene. While the conversation about interoperability has been ongoing for many years, ideas, new technology and new strategies discussed and shared by IT professionals will lead to successful healthcare data exchange that will transform healthcare and result in better patient care.

About Gary Palgon
Gary Palgon is vice president of healthcare and life sciences solutions at Liaison Technologies. In this role, Gary leverages more than two decades of product management, sales, and marketing experience to develop and expand Liaison’s data-inspired solutions for the healthcare and life sciences verticals. Gary’s unique blend of expertise bridges the gap between the technical and business aspects of healthcare, data security, and electronic commerce. As a respected thought leader in the healthcare IT industry, Gary has had numerous articles published, is a frequent speaker at conferences, and often serves as a knowledgeable resource for analysts and journalists. Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Florida.

Visible and Useful Patient Data in an Era of Interoperability Failure

Posted on October 13, 2017 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

Health record interoperability and patient data is a debated topic in Health IT. Government requirements and business interests create a complex exchange about who should own data and how it should be used and who should profit from patient data. Many find themselves asking what the next steps in innovation are. Patient data, when it is available, is usually not in a format that is visible and useful for patients or providers. The debate about data can distract from progress in making patient data visible and useful.

Improvements in HealthIT will improve outcomes through better data interpretation and visibility. Increasing the utility of health data is a needed step. Visibility of patient data has been a topic of debate since the creation of electronic health records. This was highlighted in a recent exchange between former vice president Joe Biden and Judy Faulkner, CEO of Epic Systems.

Earlier this year at the Cancer Moonshoot, Faulkner expressed her skepticism about the usefulness of allowing patients access to their medical records. Biden replied, asking Faulkner for his personal health data.

Faulkner was quick to retort, questioning why Mr. Biden wanted his records, and reportedly responded “Why do you want your medical records?” There are a thousand pages of which you understand 10.”

My interpretation of her response-“You don’t even know what you are asking. Do not get distracted by the shiny vendor trying to make money from interpreting my company’s data”

As reported in Politico Biden–and really, I think that man can do no wrong, responded, “None of your business.”

In the wake of the Biden Faulkner exchange, the entire internet constituency of Health IT and patient records had an ischemic attack. Since this exchange we’ve gone on to look at interoperability in times of crisis. We’ve had records from Houston and Puerto Rico and natural disasters. The importance of sharing data and the scope of useful data is the same. 

During what I call the beginning of several months of research about the state of interoperability I started reading about the Biden and Faulkner exchange. This was not the first time I had been reading extensively about patient data and if EHR and EMR data is useful. It just reminded me of the frustrations I’ve heard for years about EHR records being useless. Like many of us, I disappeared down the rabbit hole of tweets about electronic health records for a full day. Patient advocates STILL frustrated by the lack of cooperation between EHR and EMR vendors found renewed vigor; they cited valid data. Studies were boldly thrown back and the exchange included some seriously questionable math and a medium level of personal attack.

Everyone was like, Are we STILL on this problem where very little happens and it’s incredibly complex? How? How do we still not have a system that makes patient data more useful? Others were like, Obviously it doesn’t make sense because A) usefulness in care, and B) money.

Some argued that patients just want to get better. Others pointed out that acting like patients were stupid children not only causes a culture of contempt for providers and vendors alike, but also kills patients. Interestingly, Christina Farr CNBC reported that the original exchange may have been more civil than originally interpreted. 

My personal opinion: Biden obviously knew we needed to talk about patient rights, open data, and interoperability more. It has had more coverage since then. I don’t know Faulkner, but it sounds like a lot of people on Twitter don’t feel like she is very cooperative. She sounds like a slightly savage businesswoman, which for me is usually a positive thing. I met Peter from Epic who works with interoperability and population health and genomics and he was delightful.

Undeniably, there is some validity to Judy’s assertion that the data would not be useful to Biden; EHR and EMR data, at least in the format available from the rare cooperative vendors, is not very useful. They are a digital electronic paper record. I am willing to bet Biden–much as I adore the guy–didn’t even offer a jump drive on which to store his data. The potential of EHR data visualization to improve patient outcomes needs more coverage. Let’s not focus on the business motivations of parties that don’t want to share their data, let’s look at potential improvements in data usefulness. 

It was magic because I had just had a conversation about data innovation with Dr. Michael Rothman. An early veteran in the artificial intelligence field, Dr. Rothman worked in data modeling before the AI winter of the 80s and the current resurgence in investment and popularity. He predates the current buzz cycle of blockchain and artificial intelligence everything. With many data scientists frustrated by an abandonment of elegant, simple solutions in favor of venture capital and sexy advertising vaporware, it is timely to look at tools that improve outcomes.

In speaking with Dr. Rothman, I was surprised by the cadence of his voice, he asked me what I knew about the history of artificial intelligence, and I asked him to tell his data story. He started by outlining the theory of statistical modeling and data dump in neural net modeling. His company, PeraHealth, represents part of the solution for making EMR and EHR data useful to clinicians and patients.

The idea that data is going to give you the solution is, in a sense, slightly possible but extremely unlikely. If you look at situations where people have been successful, there is a lot of human ingenuity that goes into selecting and transforming the variables into meaningful forms before building the neural network or deep learning algorithm. Without a framework of understanding, a lot of EHR data is simply a data dump that lacks clinical knowledge or visualization to provide appropriate scaffolding.  You do need ingenuity, and you do need the right data. There are so many problems and complexities with data that innovation and ingenuity is lagging behind with healthIT.

The question is – is the answer you are looking for in the input data? If you have the answer in the data, you will be able to provide insights based on it. Innovation in healthcare predictions and patient records will come from looking at data sets that are actually predictive of health.

Dr. Rothman’s work in healthcare started with a medical error. His mother had valve replacement surgery and came through in good shape. Although initially she was recovering quickly, she started to deteriorate after a few days. And the problem was that the system made it difficult to see.  Each day she was evaluated.  Each day her condition was viewed as reasonable given her surgery and age.  What they couldn’t see was that each day she was getting worse.  They couldn’t see the trend.  She was discharged and returned to the ED 4-days later and died.

As a scientist, he recognized that the hospital staff didn’t have everything they needed to avoid an error like this. He approached the hospital CEO and asked for permission to help them solve the problem. Dr. Rothman explained, I didn’t feel that the doctors had given poor medical care, this was a failure of the system.

The hospital CEO did something remarkable. They shared their data. In a safe system they allowed an expert in data science to come in to see what he could find in their patient records, rather than telling him he probably wouldn’t understand the printout. The hospital was an early adopter of EHR records, so they were able to look at a long history of data to find what was being missed. Using vital signs, lab tests, and importantly, an overlooked source of data, nursing notes, Dr. Rothman (and his brother) found a way to synthesize a unified score, a single number which captures the overall condition of the patient, a single number which was fed from the EMR and WOULD show a trend.  There is an answer if you include the right data.  

Doctors and nurses look at a myriad of data and synthesize it, to reach an understanding.  Judy is right that a layman looking at random pieces of data will not likely gain much understanding, BUT they may.  And with more help they might.  Certainly, they deserve a chance to look.  And certainly, the EMR and EHR companies have an obligation to present the data in some readable form.

Patients should be demanding data, they should be demanding hospitals give them usable care and normalize data based on their personal history to help save their lives.

Based on this experience, Michael and Steven built the Rothman Index, a measure of patient health based on analytics that visualizes data found in EHRs. They went on to found PeraHealth, which enables nursing kiosks to show the line and screens to see if any patients decline. In some health systems, an attending physician can get an alert about patients in danger. The visualization from the record isn’t just a screen by the patient, it is also on the physicians and nurses’ screens and includes warnings. Providers have time to evaluate what is wrong before it is too late. The data in the health record is made visual and can be a tool for providers.


Visualization of Patient Status with the Rothman Index and Perahealth

Is Perahealth everywhere? Not yet. For every innovation and potential improvement there is a period of time where slow adopters wait and invest in sure bets. Just like interoperable data isn’t an actuality in a system that desperately needs it, this is a basic step toward improving patient outcomes. Scaling implementation of an effective data tool is not always clear to hospital CMIO and CEO teams.  The triage of what healthIT solution a healthcare system chooses to implement is complex. Change also requires strong collaborative efforts and clear expectations. Often, even if hospital systems know something provides benefits to patients, they don’t have the correct format to implement the solution. They need a strategy for adoption and a strong motivation. It seems that the strongest motivations are financial and outcomes based. The largest profit savings with the minimum effort usually takes adoption precedent. This should also be aligned with end users- if a nurse uses the system it needs to improve their workflow, not just give them another task.

One of the hospitals that is successfully collaborating to make patient data more useful and visual is Houston Methodist. I spoke to Katherine Walsh, Chief Nursing Officer from Houston Methodist about their journey to use EHR data with Perahealth. She explained it to me- Data is the tool, without great doctors and nurses knowing the danger zone, it doesn’t help. This reminded me of Faulkner’s reaction that not all patient data is useful. Clinical support should be designed around visible data to give better care. Without a plan, data is not actionable. Katherine explained that when nurses could see that the data was useful, they also had to make sure their workflow included timely records. When EHR data is actually being used in the care of patients, suddenly data entry workflow changes. When nurses and doctors can see that their actions are saving lives, they are motivated.
The process to change their workflow and visualize patient data did not happen overnight. In the story of Houston Methodist’s adoption of Perahealth, Walsh said they wanted to make sure they helped doctors and nurses understand what the data meant.  “We put large screens on all the units- you can immediately see the patients that are at risk- it’s aggregated by the highest risk factor.” If you are waiting for someone to pull this data up on their desktop, you are waiting for them to search something. But putting it on the unit where you can see it makes it much easier to round, and makes it much easier to get a sense of what is going on. You can always identify what and who is at risk because it’s on a TV screen. The Houston Methodist team showed great leadership in nursing informatics, improving outcomes and using an internal strategy for implementation.

They normalize the variants for each person- a heart rate of 40 for a runner might be normal- then on the next shift 60 seems normal- then at 80 it also seems normal- you can tell them when you want an alert. To help with motivation, Walsh needed to make the impact of PeraHealth visual. They hung 23 hospital gowns around a room, representing the patients they had saved using the system.
The future of electronic health records will be about creating usable data, not just a data dump of fields. It is transforming EHRs from a cost hemorrhage to a life-saving tool through partnerships. Physicians don’t want another administrative task or another impersonal device. Nurses don’t want to go through meaningless measures and lose track of patients during shift changes. Show them the success they’ve had and let the data help them give great care.

Hospital administrators don’t want another data tool that doesn’t improve patient outcomes but has raised capital on vaporware. Creators don’t want more EHR companies that don’t know how to work with agile partners to create innovation.

The real ingenuity is in understanding – what data do you need? What data do patients need? Who can electronic healthcare record companies partner with to bridge the data divide?

We can bridge the gap of electronic health records that aren’t legible or useful to patients and create tools to save lives. Tools like those from PeraHealth are the result of a collaborative effort to take the data we have and synthesize it and visualize it and let care providers SEE their patients.  This saves lives.

Without this, the data is there, it’s just not usable.

Don’t just give the patients their data, show them their health.

Interoperability: Is Your Aging Healthcare Integration Engine the Problem?

Posted on September 18, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare and Life Sciences Solutions at Liaison Technologies.
There is no shortage of data collected by healthcare organizations that can be used to improve clinical as well as business decisions. Announcements of new technology that collects patient information, clinical outcome data and operational metrics that will make a physician or hospital provide better, more cost-effective care bombard us on a regular basis.

The problem today is not the amount of data available to help us make better decisions; the problem is the inaccessibility of the data. When different users – physicians, allied health professionals, administrators and financial managers – turn to data for decision support, they find themselves limited to their own silos of information. The inability to access and share data across different disciplines within the healthcare organization prevents the user from making a decision based on a holistic view of the patient or operational process.

In a recent article, Alan Portela points out that precision medicine, which requires “the ability to collect real-time data from medical devices at the moment of care,” cannot happen easily without interoperability – the ability to access data across disparate systems and applications. He also points out that interoperability does not exist yet in healthcare.

Why are healthcare IT departments struggling to achieve interoperability?

Although new and improved applications are adopted on a regular basis, healthcare organizations are just now realizing that their integration middleware is no longer able to handle new types of data such as social media, the volume of data and the increasing number of methods to connect on a real-time basis. Their integration platforms also cannot handle the exchange of information from disparate data systems and applications beyond the four walls of hospitals. In fact, hospitals of 500 beds or more average 25 unique data sources with six electronic medical records systems in use. Those numbers will only move up over time, not down.

Integration engines in place throughout healthcare today were designed well before the explosion of the data-collection tools and digital information that exist today. Although updates and additions to integration platforms have enabled some interoperability, the need for complete interoperability is creating a movement to replace integration middleware with cloud-based managed services.

A study by the Aberdeen Group reveals that 76 percent of organizations will be replacing their integration middleware, and 70 percent of those organizations will adopt cloud-based integration solutions in the next three years.

The report also points out that as healthcare organizations move from an on-premises solution to a cloud-based platform, business leaders see migration to the cloud and managed services as a way to better manage operational expenses on a monthly basis versus large, up-front capital investments. An additional benefit is better use of in-house IT staff members who are tasked with mission critical, day-to-day responsibilities and may not be able to focus on continuous improvements to the platform to ensure its ability to handle future needs.

Healthcare has come a long way in the adoption of technology that can collect essential information and put it in the hands of clinical and operational decision makers. Taking that next step to effective, meaningful interoperability is critical.

As a leading provider of healthcare interoperability solutions, Liaison is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene. It is only through discussions and information-sharing among Health IT professionals that healthcare will achieve the organizational support for the steps required for interoperability.

Join John Lynn and Liaison for an insightful webinar on October 5, titled: The Future of Interoperability & Integration in Healthcare: How can your organization prepare?

About Gary Palgon
Gary Palgon is vice president of healthcare and life sciences solutions at Liaison Technologies. In this role, Gary leverages more than two decades of product management, sales, and marketing experience to develop and expand Liaison’s data-inspired solutions for the healthcare and life sciences verticals. Gary’s unique blend of expertise bridges the gap between the technical and business aspects of healthcare, data security, and electronic commerce. As a respected thought leader in the healthcare IT industry, Gary has had numerous articles published, is a frequent speaker at conferences, and often serves as a knowledgeable resource for analysts and journalists. Gary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Florida.

Healthcare Interoperability and Standards Rules

Posted on September 11, 2017 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.

Dave Winer is a true expert on standards. I remember coming across him in the early days of social media when every platform was considering some sort of API. To illustrate his early involvement in standards, Dave was one of the early developers of the RSS standard that is now available on every blog and many other places.

With this background in mind, I was extremely fascinated by a manifesto that Dave Winer published earlier this year that he calls “Rules for Standards-Makers.” Sounds like something we really need in healthcare no?

You should really go and read the full manifesto if you’re someone involved in healthcare standards. However, here’s the list of rules Dave offers standards makers:

  1. There are tradeoffs in standards
  2. Software matters more than formats (much)
  3. Users matter even more than software
  4. One way is better than two
  5. Fewer formats is better
  6. Fewer format features is better
  7. Perfection is a waste of time
  8. Write specs in plain English
  9. Explain the curiosities
  10. If practice deviates from the spec, change the spec
  11. No breakage
  12. Freeze the spec
  13. Keep it simple
  14. Developers are busy
  15. Mail lists don’t rule
  16. Praise developers who make it easy to interop

If you’ve never had to program to a standard, then you might not understand these. However, those who are deep into standards will understand the pitfalls. Plus, you’ll have horror stories about when you didn’t follow these rules and what challenges that caused for you going forward.

The thing I love most about Dave’s rules is that it focuses on simplicity and function. Unfortunately, many standards in healthcare are focused on complexity and perfection. Healthcare has nailed the complexity part and as Dave’s rules highlight, perfection is impossible with standards.

In fact, I skipped over Dave’s first rule for standards makers which highlights the above really well:

Rule #1: Interop is all that matters

As I briefly mentioned in the last CXO Scene podcast, many healthcare CIOs are waiting until the standards are perfect before they worry about interoperability. It’s as if they think that waiting for the perfect standard is going to solve healthcare interoperability. It won’t.

I hope that those building out standards in healthcare will take a deep look at the rules Dave Winer outlines above. We need better standards in healthcare and we need healthcare data to be interoperable.

CXO Scene Episode 3: EHR Cloud Hosting, the EMR Market, and Health IT Staffing Challenges

Posted on August 28, 2017 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 case you missed the live taping of the third CXO Scene podcast with David Chou, Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer at Children’s Mercy Kansas City and John Lynn, Founder of HealthcareScene.com, the video recording is now available below.

Here were the 3 topics we discussed on the 2nd CXO Scene podcast along with some reference links for the topics:
* Cloud hosting
http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/ehr/uc-san-diego-health-pushes-ehrs-to-cloud-uc-irvine-slated-for-november

* Future of the EMR market with McKesson acquisition
http://www.mckesson.com/about-mckesson/newsroom/press-releases/2017/allscripts-to-acquire-mckessons-enterprise-information-solutions-business/
http://www.hospitalemrandehr.com/2017/08/18/is-allscripts-an-also-ran-in-the-hospital-emr-business/

* IT staffing challenges

You can watch the full CXO Scene video podcast on the Healthcare Scene YouTube Channel or in the video embed below:

Note: We’re still working on distributing CXO Scene on your favorite podcasting platform. We’ll update this post once we finally have those podcast options in place.

Take a look back at past CXO Scene podcasts and posts and join us for the live recording of future CXO Scene podcasts.

Achieve MU3: Measure 3 with these 5 MEDITECH Clinical Decision Support Interventions (CDSi)

Posted on August 11, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Kelly Del Gaudio, Principal Consultant at Galen Healthcare Solutions.

Over the past several years, there has been significant investment and effort to attest to the various stages of meaningful use, with the goal of achieving better clinical outcomes. One area of MU3 that directly contributes to improved clinical outcomes is implementation of Clinical Decision Support Interventions (CDSi). Medicaid hospitals must implement 5 CDSi and enable drug-drug and/or drug-allergy checking.

From looking at this measure it seems like a walk in the park, but how does your organization fair when it comes to CDS?

Thanks to First Databank, users of EMR’s have been accomplishing drug to drug and drug to allergy checking for over a decade, but what about the edge cases you think will be covered but aren’t? Take a patient that is allergic to contrast for example. Since imaging studies requiring contrast are not drugs, what happens when they are ordered? Are they checking for allergies? In most cases, additional configuration is required to get that flag to pop. This is usually where we come in.

Let’s take a look at a simple CDSi definition provided by CMS.gov

“CDS intervention interaction. Interventions provided to a user must occur when a user is interacting with technology. These interventions should be based on the following data:  Problem list; Medication list; Medication allergy list; Laboratory tests; and Vital signs. “

Without a decent rule writer on staff, there are limitations within MEDITECH for accomplishing full CDSi. The primary reason we started recording these discrete data elements in the first place is the glimmer of hope that they would someday prove themselves useful. That day is here, friends. (If you don’t believe me, check out IBM’s Watson diagnosing cancer on YouTube. . .you might want to block off your schedule.)

In collaboration with 9 hospitals as part of a MEDITECH Rules focus group – Project Claire[IT] – we researched and designed intuitive tools to address Clinical Quality Measures (eCQM’s) and incorporated them into a content package. If your organization is struggling to meet these measures or you are interested in improving the patient and provider experience, but don’t have the resources to dedicate to months of research and development, Project Claire[IT]’s accelerated deployment schedule (less than 1 month) can help you meet that mark. Below are just some examples of the eCQM’s and CDS delivered by Project Claire[IT].

CMS131v5     Diabetes Eye Exam
CMS123v5     Diabetes: Foot Exam
CMS22v5       Screening for High Blood Pressure and Follow-Up Documented

Synopsis: The chronic disease management template will only display questions relevant to the Problem List (or other documented confirmed problems since we know not everyone uses the problem list). Popup suggestions trigger orders reminding the provider to complete these chronic condition follow-up items before letting the patient out of their sights. Our goal was to save providers time by ordering all orders in 1 click.

CMS71v7     Anticoagulation Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation/Flutter
CMS102v6   Assessed for Rehabilitation

“The Framingham Heart Study noted a dramatic increase in stroke risk associated with atrial fibrillation with advancing age, from 1.5% for those 50 to 59 years of age to 23.5% for those 80 to 89 years of age. Furthermore, a prior stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) are among a limited number of predictors of high stroke risk within the population of patients with atrial fibrillation. Therefore, much emphasis has been placed on identifying methods for preventing recurrent ischemic stroke as well as preventing first stroke. Prevention strategies focus on the modifiable risk factors such as hypertension, smoking, and atrial fibrillation.” – CMS71v7

The above quote is taken directly from this measure indicating the use of the Framingham Heart Study we used to identify and risk stratify stroke. Claire[IT] content comes complete with three Framingham Scoring tools:

                Framingham Risk for Stroke
                Framingham Risk for Cardiovascular Disease
                Framingham Risk for Heart Attack

These calculators use all the aforementioned data elements to drive the score, interpretation and recommendations and the best part is they only require one click.

*User adds BP. BP mean auto calculates. Diabetes and Smoking Status update from the Problem List. Total Cholesterol and HDL update from last lab values.
Ten year and comparative risk by age auto calculates.

*User adds BP. BP mean auto calculates. Diabetes, Smoking Status, CVD, Afib and LVH update from the Problem List. On Hypertension meds looks to Ambulatory Orders.
Ten year risk auto calculates.

*User adds BP. BP mean auto calculates. Diabetes and Smoking Status update from the Problem List. Hypertension meds looks to Ambulatory Orders. Total Cholesterol and HDL update from lab values.
Ten year risk auto calculates.

CMS149v5      Dementia: Cognitive Assessment

Synopsis: Not only is this tool built specifically as a conversational assessment, it screens for 4 tiers of mental status within one tool (Mental Status, Education, Cognitive Function and Dementia). The utilization of popup messages allows us to overcome the barrier of character limits and makes for a really smooth display on a tablet or hybrid. Our popups are driven by the primary language field in registration and our content currently consists of English and Spanish translations.

CMS108v6     VTE Prophylaxis
CMS190v6     VTE Prophylaxis is the ICU

Synopsis: Patients that have an acute or suspected VTE problem with no orders placed for coumadin (acute/ambulatory or both) receive clinical decision support flags. Clicking the acknowledge tracks the user mnemonic and date/time stamp in an audit trail. Hard stops are also in place if NONE is chosen as a contraindication. The discharge order cannot be filed unless coumadin is ordered or a contraindication is defined. These rules evaluate the problem list and compare it to the medication list to present the provider with the right message.

Learn more about the work of our focus group and Project Claire[IT] by viewing our MEDITECH Clinical Optimization Toolkit.

VIEW THE TOOLKIT TO ACCESS:

  • Deliverable Package of Complex Rules, Assessments, CDS’s and Workflows
    • Problem List Evaluation
    • Total Parenteral Nutrition
    • Manage Transfer Guidance
  • Surveillance Dashboard Setup Guide
    • Dictionary Setup & Validation
  • 6.x Rules Setup Guide
    • Basic Rules for Assessments, Documents & Orders
  • IV Charge Capture Setup Guide

About Kelly Del Gaudio
Kelly is Principal Consultant at Galen Healthcare Solutions, and has been optimizing MEDITECH systems for over 10 years. She worked for MEDITECH on an elite 4-person team (the MEDITECH SWAT Team), whose sole concentration was clinical optimization, ROI analysis, MU certification, and achievement of HIMSS EMRAM Stage 6/7. Kelly currently leads Galen’s MEDITECH practice, and championed a focus group, which led to the delivery of Project Claire[IT], a MEDITECH content package of complex rules, assessments, CDS’s, and workflows that evaluate, suggest, and support documentation of chronic and acute problems. Learn more about Kelly in the #IAmGalen series.

About Galen Healthcare Solutions

Galen Healthcare Solutions is an award-winning, #1 in KLAS healthcare IT technical & professional services and solutions company providing high-skilled, cross-platform expertise and proud sponsor of the EMR Clinical Optimization Series. For over a decade, Galen has partnered with more than 300 specialty practices, hospitals, health information exchanges, health systems and integrated delivery networks to provide high-quality, expert level IT consulting services including strategy, optimization, data migration, project management, and interoperability. Galen also delivers a suite of fully integrated products that enhance, automate, and simplify the access and use of clinical patient data within those systems to improve cost-efficiency and quality outcomes. For more information, visit www.galenhealthcare.com. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Is It Time To Put FHIR-Based Development Front And Center?

Posted on August 9, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 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. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

I like to look at questions other people in the #HIT world wonder about, and see whether I have a different way of looking at the subject, or something to contribute to the discussion. This time I was provoked by one asked by Chad Johnson (@OchoTex), editor of HealthStandards.com and senior marketing manager with Corepoint Health.

In a recent HealthStandards.com article, Chad asks: “What do CIOs need to know about the future of data exchange?” I thought it was an interesting question; after all, everyone in HIT, including CIOs, would like to know the answer!

In his discussion, Chad argues that #FHIR could create significant change in healthcare infrastructure. He notes that if vendors like Cerner or Epic publish a capabilities-based API, providers’ technical, clinical and workflow teams will be able to develop custom solutions that connect to those systems.

As he rightfully points out, today IT departments have to invest a lot of time doing rework. Without an interface like FHIR in place, IT staffers need to develop workflows for one application at a time, rather than creating them once and moving on. That’s just nuts. It’s hard to argue that if FHIR APIs offer uniform data access, everyone wins.

Far be it from me to argue with a good man like @OchoTex. He makes a good point about FHIR, one which can’t be emphasized enough – that FHIR has the potential to make vendor-specific workflow rewrites a thing of the past. Without a doubt, healthcare CIOs need to keep that in mind.

As for me, I have a couple of responses to bring to the table, and some additional questions of my own.

Since I’m an HIT trend analyst rather than actual tech pro, I can’t say whether FHIR APIs can or can’t do what Chat is describing, though I have little doubt that Chad is right about their potential uses.

Still, I’d contend out that since none other than FHIR project director Grahame Grieve has cautioned us about its current limitations, we probably want to temper our enthusiasm a bit. (I know I’ve made this point a few times here, perhaps ad nauseum, but I still think it bears repeating.)

So, given that FHIR hasn’t reached its full potential, it may be that health IT leaders should invest added time on solving other important interoperability problems.

One example that leaps to mind immediately is solving patient matching problems. This is a big deal: After all, If you can’t match patient records accurately across providers, it’s likely to lead to wrong-patient related medical errors.

In fact, according to a study released by AHIMA last year, 72 percent of HIM professional who responded work on mitigating possible patient record duplicates every week. I have no reason to think things have gotten better. We must find an approach that will scale if we want interoperable data to be worth using.

And patient data matching is just one item on a long list of health data interoperability concerns. I’m sure you’re aware of other pressing problems which could undercut the value of sharing patient records. The question is, are we going to address those problems before we began full-scale health data exchange? Or does it make more sense to pave the road to data exchange and address bumps in the road later?

Hospital CIOs Still Think Outcomes Improvement Is The Best Use Of EMR Data

Posted on August 4, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 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. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Sure, there might be a lot of ways to leverage data found within EMRs, but outcomes improvement is still king. This is one of the standout conclusions from a recently-released survey of CHIME CIOs, sponsored by the trade group and industry vendor LeanTaaS, in which the two asked hospital CIOs five questions about their perceptions about the impact of EMR data use in growing operating margins and revenue.

I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t surprised to read that 24% of respondents felt that improving clinical outcomes was the most effective use of their EMR data. Hey, why else would their organizations have spent so much money on EMRs in the first place?  (Ok, that’s probably a better question than I’ve made it out to be.)

Ten percent of respondents said that increasing operational efficiencies was the best use of EMR data, an idea which is worth exploring further, but the study didn’t offer a whole lot of additional detail on their thought process. Meanwhile, 6% said that lowering readmissions was the most effective use of EMR data, and 2% felt that its highest use was reducing unnecessary admissions. (FWIW, the press release covering the survey suggested that the growth in value-based payment should’ve pushed the “reducing  readmissions” number higher, but I think that’s oversimplifying things.)

In addition to looking at EMR data benefits, the study looked at other factors that had an impact on revenue and margins. For example, respondents said that reducing labor costs (35%) and boosting OR and ED efficiency (27%) would best improve operating margins, followed by 24% who favored optimizing inpatient revenue by increasing access. I think you’d see similar responses from others in the hospital C-suite. After all, it’s hard to argue that labor costs are a big deal.

Meanwhile, 52% of the CIOs said that optimizing equipment use was the best approach for building revenue, followed by optimizing OR use (40%). Forty-five percent of responding CIOs said that OR-related call strategies had the best chance of improving operating margins.

That being said, the CIOs don’t exactly feel free to effect changes on any of these fronts, though their reasons varied.

Fifty-four percent of respondents said that budget limitations the biggest constraint they faced in launching new initiatives, and 33% of respondents said the biggest obstacle was lack of support resources. This was followed by 17% who said that new initiatives were being eclipsed by higher priority projects, 17% said they lacked buy-in from management and 10% who said he lack the infrastructure to pursue new projects.

Are any of these constraints unfamiliar to you, readers? Probably not. Wouldn’t it be nice if we did at least solved these predictable problems and could move on to different stumbling blocks?

EMR Clinical Optimization CIO Perspectives – EMR Clinical Optimization Series

Posted on July 26, 2017 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Julie Champagne, Strategist at Galen Healthcare Solutions.

Most HDOs today face a decision: start over with a new EMR or optimize what you have. A poorly executed implementation, coupled with substandard vendor support, makes EMR replacement an attractive and necessary measure. Further, the increase in mergers and acquisitions is driving system consolidation and consequently increasing the number of HDOs seeking EMR replacement to address usability and productivity concerns.

Galen Healthcare Solutions spoke with two prominent health information technology leaders, who have quite a bit of experience in the optimization field to hear their views on the topic. Sue Schade, MBA, LCHIME, FCHIME, FHIMSS, is a nationally recognized health IT leader and Principal at StarBridge Advisors, providing consulting, coaching and interim management services. Jim Boyle, MPH, CGEIT is Vice President of Information Services of St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare (Anaheim, Calif.). In his current role, Jim oversees the delivery of applications and technology and is a member of the executive leadership team. Below are their perspectives

Opportunities for EMR optimization generally fall into three categories:

  • Usability & efficiency: Improve end-user satisfaction and make providers more efficient and productive
  • Cost Avoidance: Improve workflows to increase utilization and decrease variability
  • Increase Revenue: Implement analytics to transition from volume to value


Recently, three prominent Boston-area physicians contributed an opinion piece to WBUR, “Death By A Thousand Clicks”. They postured that when doctors and nurses turn their backs on patients in order to pay attention to a computer screen, it pulls their focus from the “time and undivided attention” required to provide the right care. Multiple prompts and clicks in an EMR system impact patients and contribute to physician burnout.

HDOs should then limit their intake to what can be accomplished within one quarter, referred to as a sprint. Accountability should be assigned, and visual controls or Kanban should be leveraged.


 
For HDOs that experienced failed EMR implementations, making corrections and reengineering is a necessary first measure. Typically, a deficiency in the additional support for the system implementation is to blame, and employing qualified application support staff will help to address and resolve end user dissatisfaction.
 
 
 
To realize lasting impact from the EMR, extensive post go-live enhancement and optimization is needed. Leveraging the operational data in the EMR system can support many initiatives to improve workflows, as well as clinical and financial performance. Prioritization of the levers that can be adjusted depends on the HDO’s implementation baseline and strategic goals.

 
The most important deciding success factor for an optimization project is focusing effort and ensuring the scope is not too large. Further, it is of critical importance to set measurable and attainable metrics and KPIs to gauge the success and ROI of the initiative. Quantification of staff effort and IT investment is also important.

Gain perspectives from HDO leaders who have successfully navigated EMR clinical optimization and refine your EMR strategy to transform it from a short-term clinical documentation data repository to a long-term asset by downloading our EMR Optimization Whitepaper.

About Sue Schade
Sue Schade, MBA, LCHIME, FCHIME, FHIMSS, is a nationally recognized health IT leader and Principal at StarBridge Advisors providing consulting, coaching and interim management services. Sue is currently serving as the interim Chief Information Offi cer (CIO) at Stony Brook Medicine in New York. She was a founding advisor at Next Wave Health Advisors and in 2016 served as the interim CIO at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. Sue previously served as the CIO for the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers and prior to that as CIO for Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Previous experience includes leadership roles at Advocate Health Care in Chicago, Ernst and Young, and a software/outsourcing vendor. Sue can be found on Twitter at @sgschade and writes a weekly blog called “Health IT Connect” – http://sueschade.com/

About Jim Boyle
Jim Boyle, MPH, CGEIT is a Vice President of Information Services of St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare (Anaheim, Calif.). Jim Boyle is nationally recognized as part of a new generation of health care informatics professionals who understand IT’s full potential to greatly improve peoples’ lives. In his current role Jim oversees the delivery of applications and technology and is a member of the executive leadership team for St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare, which comprises over 860 medical group providers and 1300 affiliated physicians across California. Since joining St. Joseph Health 12 years ago, he has held eight different positions, including project manager, application analyst and IT director at Fullerton, Calif.-based St. Jude Medical Center. Jim can be found on Twitter at @JBHealthIT and LinkedIn.

About Galen Healthcare Solutions
Galen Healthcare Solutions is an award-winning, #1 in KLAS healthcare IT technical & professional services and solutions company providing high-skilled, cross-platform expertise and proud sponsor of the EMR Clinical Optimization Series. For over a decade, Galen has partnered with more than 300 specialty practices, hospitals, health information exchanges, health systems and integrated delivery networks to provide high-quality, expert level IT consulting services including strategy, optimization, data migration, project management, and interoperability. Galen also delivers a suite of fully integrated products that enhance, automate, and simplify the access and use of clinical patient data within those systems to improve cost-efficiency and quality outcomes. For more information, visit www.galenhealthcare.com. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

KLAS Keystone Summit and Enterprise Imaging

Posted on July 21, 2017 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


Recently, KLAS Research hosted their annual invite only Keystone Summit surrounding Enterprise Medical Imaging solutions.. The goal? To improve the success with which enterprise imaging solutions are deployed and adopted. A group of 24 executives from healthcare provider organizations and 10 enterprise imaging vendors met for the exclusive work day at Snowbird, Utah. In the sea of noise about healthcare technology Utah has been quietly innovating and improving outcomes. I was honored to be able to attend and see the results of their hard work.

Healthcare innovation needs voices that move out of the echo chamber and collaborate. We need more makers and quality information across measurement. Consistent messaging between large healthcare organizations as well as between vendors and providers improves outcomes for enterprise imaging.  

Adam Gale of KLAS shared his personal experiences leading youth in a pioneer trek during his remarks to the group and likened it to leading this market. Prior to the conference, Adam went as a leader for youth to travel some of the trails that early settlers of Utah followed. These settlers are called “The Pioneers” and the experience of a short pilgrimage can help today’s over connected and digital youth understand to a small degree, what past generations experienced in walking through Wyoming.

Adam Gale told of his experience:  “I spent several unique days last week on the plains of Wyoming with about 400 young people. The goal was to instill in them an appreciation for the legacy that comes from these early pioneers. You can imagine the enthusiasm of these youth switching from video games to handcarts. We had a lot of fun, but there were also some reverent moments when we walked by the gravesites of those that died on the trail. It was a touching moment for these young individuals to see the sacrifices of those who had come before them, and for them to take inspiration from the dead to move forward in life”

This personalized vision of in the midst of sensationalized health stories about predicting death and shiny technology, we are charged with caring for people’s lives. There are solutions that save lives, and for many patients access to images across providers allows them to get critical medical care.

Adam Gale went on to mention Mark Twain’s quote:

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some and astonish the rest.”

Leaders from the KLAS summit met together to outline what that “right thing” looks like and create a way to measure if Enterprise imaging was on track, and how to get on track. Current and expected functionality was outlined for five areas, including: Capture, Storage, Viewing, Interoperability and Analytics. They also outlined common delivery and implementation failures and Executive Recommendations.

Enterprise Imaging is a vital part of healthcare delivery and care and often doesn’t translate well between hospital systems or between providers. Don Woodstock, VP and GM of enterprise imaging for GE Healthcare, spoke about this vision of patient centered care and the collaborative effort:

“Images are an absolutely vital component of patient-centered care.  Providing every physician and caregiver that full comprehensive view of the patient to feed into their diagnostic and treatment decisions is so important but to date has been challenged.  This collective effort with KLAS, leading providers, and the major imaging vendors is leading the way for us to realize this vision.”

One of the complexities surrounding enterprise imaging is that each healthcare system is personalized. Richard Wiggins MD, is the Director of Imaging Informatics for the University of Utah Health Science Center and directs the Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine. I spoke with him about some of the important aspects of Imaging Informatics as a field and developing a structure for enterprise imaging. Diversity of workflow in each health care system makes a one sized fits all enterprise imaging strategy untenable. He spoke about his experience working with the University of Utah:

“The University of Utah started incorporating visible light images for Enterprise imaging (EI) into our PACS in 2012. We believe that the PACS should be the repository for all digital imaging, not the EMR. Initially there was the usual issue of changing the mindset from individual silos of data to an enterprise imaging strategy for UUHSC.  Usually institutional imaging strategies are focused on being an individual service line, the changes in governance take time and energy.

Radiology already has an established workflow for digital imaging, with the order, RIS interface (or EMR if integrated) which drives a modality worklist to allow the tech to identify the patient, then the image is created on the modality, and then the image is sent to PACS in an organized fashion with metadata that is searchable. An order is needed for this system because it provides a clear entry point and assignment of a unique ID with some contextual information, but there are other imaging workflows that require an encounter workflow running in parallel to the traditional radiology order workflow. We need this workflow to allow for mobile devices, since they are ubiquitous not only for the medical professional, but also for the patient, with authentication, security, and the ability to have an app iOS and Android that will allow for multiple high resolution images and video to be acquired in a fashion that they can easily be incorporated into PACS, possibly through the EMR, while the images or video is not stored permanently on the device.”

This collaborative patient centered event reviewed some of the challenges and successes which each stakeholder had with enterprise imaging. They also made official recommendations for leadership. These recommendations for provider leadership are a must read for healthcare executives responsible for understanding. The recommendations from the KLAS whitepaper are:

  • Providers often fail to prepare enough for the deep commitment of an enterprise imaging journey. This preparation includes the investment of resources, personnel, and understanding. Organizations need to understand, prepare and commit that these deployments often take years.
  • Providers often ask vendors for quotes without knowing what they want to accomplish as an organization. Providers need to do more work upfront and have alignment on the scope and goals. When the provider customers do not know what they want to accomplish, vendors are put into a box. How can a vendor provide a solution to customers who do not know what they want to solve?
  • The views of clinical users must be included in an enterprise imaging strategy. The number of image users/viewers dwarfs the number of image producers, and if the systems are built only by the producers, we will miss the mark.
  • The C-suite really needs to lead out with enterprise imaging, but today, enterprise imaging is regulated to a position of limited resources and alignment. That hurts the likelihood of success. The message of value to the c-suite is lacking today, and that is a challenge. Vendors and providers need to work together to educate c-suite leaders.
  • Governance is difficult to set up because it takes a group of people who are willing to govern as well as a group of people who are willing to be governed. Leaders from many departments need to be drawn into this conversation. If a provider organization does not have multiple departments and specialties involved in the governance, they don’t have a true governance model, and the governance will die on the vine.

 

Without a strong leadership structure and clearly delineated roles, providers and hospital systems will resist even helpful change. Change has to be provider driven, not IT driven. The dedication of top leaders must be paired with end user buy in from physicians. The KLAS Keystone Summit had four provider leaders that collaborated before and during the June Meeting to developme tools for measuring progress. One of the most important aspects of a hospital system improving enterprise imaging is clear standards for workflow.

Richard Wiggins, MD of the University of Utah spoke about the value of working together and creating as a group with diverse experiences:

“The ability to have input from the executives,  providers, and vendors, and thought leaders all combined allows for a powerful forum.  The integration of short talks with table discussions and then cross table pollination of ideas and the systematic placement of providers, vendors and thought leaders all intermixed at the tables led to some good discussions. Frequently there are systems, like PACS that have features that were likely very exciting and interesting to the CS and EE people who put it together, but have no actual use in the imaging clinical workflow. In addition, we have found that each site has its own idiosyncratic workflow and productivity issues, so one PACS may work great in one shop, but not in another, and this becomes more complicated with the integration PACS/SR/RIS.  A combination of the systems at one shop may work great, and the same combination may not work well at another site.”

The measurement vehicle for enterprise imaging adoption, progress and success was defined by a group of four provider leaders:

  • Rasu B. Shrestha, MD, MBA: Chief Innovation Officer, UPMC
  • Alexander J. Towbin, MD: Associate Chief, Clinical Operations and Radiology Informatics, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
  • Paul G. Nagy, Ph.D: Associate Professor of Radiology, John Hopkins University.
  • Christopher J. Roth, MD: Assistant Professor of Radiology, Vice Chair Information Technology and Clinical Informatics, Director of Imaging Informatics Strategy, Duke Health.

These measures are to be administered to organizations who have in place a multi-speciality governance and one of the following:

  1. Capture including DICOM and at least one of the following: visible light images, audio, or waveforms.
  2. Storage of images in a single enterprise archive or in a federated by connected set of archives.
  3. Viewing of images through a universal viewer integrated into the EMR.

This measurement tool will be available through KLAS research and can be used for industry wide information and ongoing system management. Alexander Towbin MD shared his experiences in creating the measurement vehicle and meeting with colleagues at the Keystone Summit:

“I was impressed that so many thought leaders in imaging IT – both on the provider side and the vendor side- were able to come together to discuss enterprise imaging.  There was palpable excitement in the room that we were working on the next BIG thing in healthcare IT and that our work would allow providers of all types to better care for their patients.”

Better patient care is always the center of Keystone Summit meetings. Creating standards for deployment and adoption of imaging will benefit doctors in providing patient care and improve collaboration within and between healthcare organizations, enabling better care for each individual. Standards development by a group of experts in the field will help improve vendor and provider clarity.

Many of the participants worked for competitors or had worked together at different points in their careers. Don Woodlock shared some of his experiences with the collaboration between key stakeholders involved in Enterprise Imaging.

“I personally loved the discussion, love taking the lead from our luminary providers, and working together across vendors to come up with the ideal workflow, user experience, and image availability solutions.  From a vendor perspective this was much more of a community trying to make patient care better than a group of competitors doing their own things.  In my case this may have been helped by personally having 4 people that worked for me over the years now at 4 different vendors at the meeting with me – friendships, a common vision, and serving the patient and the physician always trump competition.  We’ll all get our chance to innovate and create our own unique variants to this common vision down the road.”

Collaborating across interest groups and with provider entities and vendors is one of the best ways to ensure that products meet provider needs and expectations. This work will allow providers to give better care and improve future enterprise imaging product creation. KLAS research facilitated the meeting of leaders to reflect on the current state of enterprise imaging and plan for the future. Moving the needle from hype and hyperbole to hope for better patient care. KLAS Research is quietly facilitating nationwide leadership from the mountains of Utah. The pioneers of healthcare will take inspiration from current experts and lead the next generation of people dedicated to do what is right.