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Hospitals Publishing Algorithms and Improving Adherence

Posted on March 2, 2015 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.

Today I wanted to pair two seemingly unrelated tweets to talk about the shift that’s happening in healthcare and also what I hope is happening. Let’s start off with the big announcement that Mayo Clinic is starting to share it’s algorithms that improve patient outcomes on the Apervita platform.

I’ve long wanted some way for algorithms that are discovered to be easily shared. I’ll admit that I haven’t dug into the Apervita platform yet, but I’m interested in seeing how they’re trying to solve the problem of algorithm sharing. I’ll be looking to see what their business model is and if it makes sense from everyone’s perspective. It’s a challenging problem that I’d love for people to solve since it will make our healthcare system better.

This next tweet dives into the question of data versus the actual result of improving health:

I agree with Dr. Morrow that we have a lot of data and we haven’t done much to get all the value we could out of that data. Plus, even if you have great data, there’s a gap between understanding the data and getting the patient or doctor to do something about that data.

I love these two topics paired together, because I think the first step to converting data to adherence is to find the right algorithms that analyze the data. The right algorithms can indicate who to engage with to improve adherence. In many ways, getting people to improve adherence won’t be a tech solution at all. Instead it will be a human interaction that was prompted by great algorithms that poured over all the data we do have. That’s a powerful concept and one that needs to be shared.

RNs are Choosing Where to Work Based on Hospital EHR

Posted on February 27, 2015 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 came across this tweet and it made me stop and realize how important the selection and more important the implementation of your EHR will be for your organization. In many areas there’s already a nurse shortage, so it would become even more of an issue if your hospital comes to be known as the hospital with the cumbersome EHR.

Here’s some insight into the survey results from the article linked above:

79% of job seeking registered nurses reported that the reputation of the hospital’s EHR system is a top three consideration in their choice of where they will work. Nurses in the 22 largest metropolitan statistical areas are most satisfied with the usability of Cerner, McKesson, NextGen and Epic Systems. Those EHRs receiving the lowest satisfaction scores by nurses include Meditech, Allscripts, eClinicalWorks and HCare.

The article did also quote someone as saying that a well done EHR implementation can be a recruiting benefit. So, like most things it’s a double edge sword. A great EHR can be a benefit to you when recruiting nurses to your organization, but a poorly done, complex EHR could drive nurses away.

I’m pretty sure this side affect wasn’t discussed when evaluating how to implement the EHR and what kind of resources to commit to ensuring a successful and well done EHR implementation. They’re paying the price now.

Two Competing Challenges: Integration and Innovation

Posted on February 23, 2015 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 my other post about BIDMC’s webOMR acquisition by Athenahealth, I found this old post from John Halamka about the best of breed healthcare IT application approach and the all in one integrated EHR approach. In that post, I was really struck by the way John Halamka describes the challenge of balancing innovation and integration:

Innovation:

Epic eases the burden of demand management. Every day, clinicians ask me for innovations because they know our self-built, cloud hosted, mobile friendly core clinical systems are limited only by our imagination. Further, they know that we integrate department specific niche applications very well, so best of breed or best of suite is still a possibility. Demand for automation is infinite but supply is always limited. My governance committees balance requests with scope, time, and resources. It takes a great deal of effort and political capital. With Epic, demand is more easily managed by noting that desired features and functions depend on Epic’s release schedule. It’s not under IT control.

Integration:

Most significantly, the industry pendulum has swung from best of breed/deep clinical functionality to the need for integration. Certainly Epic has many features and overall is a good product. It has few competitors, although Meditech and Cerner may provide a lower total cost of ownership which can be a deciding factor for some customers. There are niche products that provide superior features for a department or specific workflow. However, many hospital senior managers see that Accountable Care/global capitated risk depends upon maintaining continuous wellness not treating episodic illness, so a fully integrated record for all aspects of a patient care at all sites seems desirable. In my experience, hospitals are now willing to give up functionality so that they can achieve the integration they believe is needed for care management and population health.

These comments also say something significant about IT governance as well. It’s a challenging balance. Although, it also illustrates why a well done EHR API is so powerful. It allows a large organization to have deep integration into an EHR while not having to sacrifice the ability to innovate. Too bad APIs are Hard and so many EHR vendors haven’t executed on them. We’ll see if FHIR can get us at least part of the way there.

How do you approach innovation and integration in your hospital? What’s the right balance?

Integrating Patient Experience Information Into Your Workflow

Posted on February 18, 2015 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’m absolutely intrigued by today’s announcement that Walgreens Pharmacy has integrated PatientsLikeMe data into their pharmacy website. This is the first time PatientsLikeMe has ever integrated their community’s information into a third party website. I think this is a groundbreaking move towards the integration of patient experience information into a wide variety of portals for patients and healthcare providers.

It’s no surprise that a patient facing company like Walgreens is the first to integrate this type of patient generated data. Most healthcare institutions are no doubt leery of patient generated data like this and so they’ll likely be very reticent to integrate this into their systems. However, I think this is a sign of where the integration of patient data is going.

I think the first place we’ll see these type of integrations in healthcare organizations is in the patient portals. I know of many hospitals that have been working to create a kind of PatientsLikeMe experience for their patients. You can see how these efforts could be bolstered by integrating some of the PatientsLikeMe data into their efforts. I’m not sure how much PatientsLikeMe has really opened up their data, but this move tells me that they’re interested in that idea.

So far I’ve only mentioned patient facing integrations. The next step to consider is integrating PatientsLikeMe data into an EHR. Take a look at the image below (click for full size image) to see the PatientsLikeMe integration with Walgreen’s pharmacy website:

It’s not that hard to imagine a similar interface with the PatientsLikeMe data alongside the ePrescribing fields. I’ll leave the discussion of whether this is a valuable integration or not to the doctors. However, PatientsLikeMe is just one example of many that are likely to come. Eventually that data could be genomic data that influences the drug being prescribed. Eventually that data could be “grand rounds” style data that informs a doctor of how his colleagues are prescribing the drug.

As we think through all these data possibilities, it’s easy for me to see that many of these things are not going to be offered by the EHR. So, EHR vendors need to make sure that they get really good at integrating with third party software and data providers. This needs to become a core capability of every EHR vendor.

I’m excited by the possibilities that these types of integrations will bring. What do you think of these integrations? Are they coming? What opportunities are available? Is my vision wrong? Let me know in the comments.

BIDMC’s Internal EHR and A Possible Epic Future

Posted on February 11, 2015 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 surprising reactions for me in the announcement of Athenahealth’s acquisition of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s (BIDMC) in house webOMR platform was by John Halamka. As I mention in the linked article, it really isn’t a pure software acquisition as much as it is Athenahealth going to school to learn about the inpatient EHR space. However, John Halamka’s reaction to this announcement is really interesting.

As I read through all of the coverage of the announcement, John Halamka seems to have shifted gears from their current in house EHR approach to now considering a switch to some other external EHR vendor. This is very interesting given this blog post by John Halamka back in 2013. Here’s an excerpt from it:

Beth Israel Deaconess builds and buys systems. I continue to believe that clinicians building core components of EHRs for clinicians using a cloud-hosted, thin client, mobile friendly, highly interoperable approach offers lower cost, faster innovation, and strategic advantage to BIDMC. We may be the last shop in healthcare building our own software and it’s one of those unique aspects of our culture that makes BIDMC so appealing.

The next few years will be interesting to watch. Will a competitor to Epic emerge with agile, cloud hosted, thin client features such as Athenahealth? Will Epic’s total cost of ownership become an issue for struggling hospitals? Will the fact that Epic uses Visual Basic and has been slow to adopt mobile and web-based approaches provide to be a liability?

Or alternatively, will BIDMC and Children’s hospital be the last academic medical centers in Eastern Massachusetts that have not replaced their entire application suite with Epic?

Based on John Halamka’s comments it seems that his belief might have changed or at least he’s considering the option that an in house system is not the right approach moving forward. No doubt Athenahealth is hoping that they’ll delay the decision a few years so they have a chance to compete for BIDMC’s business.

If you look at the rest of the blog post linked above, Halamka was making the case for Epic back in 2013. I think that clearly makes Epic the front runner for the BIDMC business at least from Halamka’s perspective. We’ll see how that plays out over time.

It seems like we’re nearing the end of the in house EHR hospital. Are there any others that still remain?

Will Cerner Let Mayo Clinic Move to Epic Easily?

Posted on February 9, 2015 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.

As most regular readers know, we don’t try to get into the rat race of breaking news on things like EHR selection, the latest meaningful use, or whatever else might be time sensitive healthcare news. Sure, every once in a while we’ll report something we haven’t seen or heard other places, but we’re more interested in the macro trends and the broader insight of what various announcements mean. We don’t want to report on something happening, but instead want to tell you why something that happened is important.

A great example of this is Mayo Clinic’s decision to go with Epic and leave behind Cerner, GE, and other systems. There’s a good interview with Mayo Clinic CEO, Cris Ross, that talks about Mayo’s decision to go with Epic. As he says in the interview, GE Centricity wasn’t part of their future plans, and so they were really deciding between Epic and Cerner. Sad to see that Vista wasn’t even part of their consideration (at least it seems).

Based on Cris Ross’ comments, he commented that he liked Epic’s revenue cycle management and patient engagement options better than Cerner. Although, my guess is that they liked Epic’s ambulatory better than Cerner as well since they were going away from GE Centricity. Cris Ross’s double speak is interesting though:

As we looked at what met our needs, across all of our practices, around revenue cycle and our interests around patient engagement and so on, although it was a difficult choice, in the end it was a pretty clear choice that Epic was a better fit.

Either it was a difficult choice or it was a pretty clear choice. I think what Cris Ross is really saying is that they’d already decided to go with Epic and so it was a clear choice for them, but I better at least throw a dog bone to Cerner and say it was a hard choice. Reminds me of the judges on the voice that have to choose between two of their artists. You know the producers told them to make it sound like it’s a hard choice even if it’s an easy one.

Turns out in Mayo’s case they probably need to act like it was a really hard choice and be kind to Cerner. Mayo has been a Cerner customer for a long time and the last thing they want to do is to anger Cerner. Cerner still holds a lot of Mayo’s data that Mayo will want to get out of the Cerner system as part of the move to Epic.

I’ll be interested to watch this transition. Will Cerner be nice and let Mayo and their EHR data go easily? Same for GE Centricity. I’ve heard of hundreds of EHR switches and many of them have a really challenging time getting their data from their previous EHR vendor. Some choose to make it expensive. Others choose to not cooperate at all. Given Mayo’s stature and the switch from Pepsi to Coke (Cerner to Epic, but I’m not sure which is Pepsi and which is Coke), I’ll be interested to see if Cerner lets them go without any issues.

I can’t recall many moves between Epic and Cerner and vice versa. Although, we can be sure that this is a preview of coming attractions. It will be interesting to see how each company handles these types of switches. What they do now will likely lay the groundwork for future EHR switching.

Getting More Out of the EHR Than What You Put In

Posted on January 21, 2015 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 I first met with Stoltenberg Consulting a few years back at CHIME, they said something really interesting that I’m still thinking about today. In fact, I might be thinking about this more today than I was doing before.

Per my notes (so I won’t make it a direct quote), they commented that doctors were putting a lot into the EHR, but they don’t feel like they’re getting a lot out of the EHR.

It’s a powerful idea that is really important for any hospital executive to understand.

I recently wrote about the choice between the Best-of-Breed EHR and the All-In-One EHR approaches on EMR and HIPAA. Here’s the money section:

The real decision these organizations are making is whether they want to put the burden on the IT staff (ie. supporting multiple EHRs) or whether they want to put the burden on the doctors (ie. using an EHR that doesn’t meet their needs). In large organizations, it seems that they’re making the decision to put the burden on the doctors as opposed to the IT staff. Although, I don’t think many organizations realize that this is the choice they’re making.

Choice of EHR is only one of the main reasons why doctors likely feel that they’re getting less out of the EHR than they’re putting into it. Certainly reimbursement requirements and meaningful use should still take a lot of the blame as well. Regardless of how we got here, it’s a very precarious position when the doctors feel like they’re getting less out of the EHR than they are putting into it.

There is a solution to this problem. First, you must work to maximize the physician workflow. Sometimes this means involving the nursing staff more. Sometimes this involves a scribe. Other times it requires a change to your EHR. Other times it means building out high quality templates that make the doctor more efficient.

Second, we must all focus on more ways doctors can get more value out of their EHR. The buzzword analytics has potential, but has been a little too much buzz word and not enough practical improvement for the doctor and patient. We need more advanced tools that leverage all the data a doctor’s putting in the EHR. Clinical Decision Support, Drug to Drug and Drug to Allergy checking are just the first steps. We can do so much more, but unfortunately we’ve been too distracted by government regulation to deal with them. Plus, let’s not kid around. These aren’t easy problems to solve. They take time and effort. Plus, we need a better way for doctors and hospitals to be able to diffuse their discoveries across the entire healthcare community. Sharing these discoveries is just too hard and too slow right now.
EHR Scale
At the end of the day, it’s a simple scale. On the one side you have the time and effort a doctor puts into the EHR. On the other side is the value the doctor gets from the EHR. You can solve this by making the doctor’s EHR work more efficient or by finding more ways the EHR can provide value to the doctor. Much easier said than done. However, if this stays out of balance too long, you can count on a big EHR backlash from doctors.

CIOs Want More Responsibility — And It’s About Time They Get It

Posted on January 19, 2015 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.

The life of a healthcare CIO is a tough one. More than ever before, healthcare CIOs walk a fine line between producing great technical results and thinking strategically about how technology serves clinicians. As with their more junior peers, many healthcare CIOs only get noticed when something breaks or goes offline. Worse, healthcare CIOs may get the blame dumped on them when a big project — especially a mission-critical one like an EMR implementation — fails due to problems beyond their control.

But despite the political battles they must fight, and the punishing demands they must meet, healthcare CIOs are largely satisfied with their career paths — as long as they have a shot at getting more responsibility that can help them move their organization’s strategy forward. This, at least, is the conclusion of a new survey by SSi-SEARCH.

SSi-SEARCH surveyed 169 CIOs to learn how they felt about key aspects of their job, according to iHealthBeat.  All told, the researchers found that CIOs are most satisfied with the trajectory of their career, compensation and strategic involvement. (This is a significant change from a couple of years ago, when CIOs told SSi-SEARCH that their pay wasn’t keeping up with the growth in their responsibilities.)

On the other hand, healthcare CIOs were markedly dissatisfied with the resources available to them, and almost half (48%) said that there will need to be changes within the next year. That’s certainly no surprise. As we’ve noted in this space before, not only do healthcare CIOs need to implement or further augment EMRs and handle the switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10, many need to make costly upgrades to or replace their revenue cycle management systems.

Even if their institution can’t increase their budget, healtlhcare CIOs would be somewhat mollified if they got some respect for some of the softer skills they bring to the table.

Forty-five percent of those surveyed said they wanted recognition for improving patient safety, 44 percent said they wanted to be recognized for innovation, and 37 percent wanted CEOs to appreciate their skill at “bringing departments together,”  SSi-SEARCH found.

Not surprisingly, they want to be appreciated for their overall contributions to their institutions as well. While 69 percent of CIOs felt that their work was “critically important” to the strategic mission of their organization, and 29 percent felt they had been “very important,” some of their employers don’t seem to see it. In fact, 23 percent of those CIOs surveyed felt that they hadn’t been recognized at all.

Sadly, though the healthcare CIO’s job has evolved far from bits and bytes to projects and strategies that directly impact outcomes, not every institution is ready to give them credit. But if they have CIOs pigeonholed as tech wizards, they’d better change their tune.

Giving CIOs the latitude, responsibility and budget they need to do a great job is enormously important. If healthcare organizations don’t, they’ll never meet the demands they currently face, much less emerging problems like population health management, big data and mobile health. This is a make-or-break moment in the dance between healthcare organizations and IT, and it’s not a good time for a misstep.

FHIR Adoption Needs Time to Mature

Posted on January 7, 2015 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 John Halamka’s look at Health IT in 2014 he offered some really great insight into how regulators should look at standards and adoption of standards.

Here’s one section which talks about the lesson learned from meaningful use stage 2:

“Stage 2 was aspirational and a few of the provisions – Direct-based summary exchange and patient view/download/transmit required an ecosystem that does not yet exist. The goals were good but the standards were not yet mature based on the framework created by the Standards Committee.”

Then, he offers this money line about FHIR and how we should handle it:

“We need to be careful not to incorporate FHIR into any regulatory program until it has achieved an objective level of maturity/adoption”

There’s no doubt that FHIR is on Fire right now, but we need to be careful that it doesn’t just go down in flames. Throwing it into a regulatory program before it’s ready will just smother it and kill the progress that’s being made.

Healthcare Leadership Learnings from Niagara Falls

Posted on December 31, 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.

Niagara Falls in Winter
As this picture shows, my wife and I recently got to spend some time alone (ie. no kids) at Niagara Falls. My wife comes from upstate NY and I proposed to my wife while at Niagara Falls. So, it’s a special place to us. As such, we’ve visited it many times. Plus, I just adore waterfalls.

As I was watching the waterfalls this time, I was again blown away by the volume of water that pours over the falls consistently, all day, every day and has for years. It’s extraordinary that it’s even possible, but the power of all that water is awe inspiring.

Thinking about this wonder of the world, I started to think about healthcare. At first I thought that those of us in healthcare IT were strapped at the bottom of the falls and couldn’t leave. The regulations kept coming over the falls and hammering us over and over. The regulations were unrelenting and we just had to try and find a way to survive. I imagine that many reading this could relate to that feeling. In fact, I bet many of you are tired of the regulations and ready to give up and float down the river.

As my mind continued to wander, I thought that the same was true when it comes to a team working consistently on a problem. A well organized team that keeps consistently hammering away at something over time is a powerful powerful force for good. Instead of being strapped to the waterfall, our teams could be the waterfall that’s hammering away over and over at the problems of healthcare.

Never underestimate the power of many people all working consistently to solve a problem. I’ve been part of teams like that and the results are amazing! Where do you find yourself? Are you at the bottom of the falls or are you the falls?