Free Hospital EMR and EHR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to Hospital EMR and EHR for FREE!

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

Posted on November 21, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Hospitals Want Interoperability?

Posted on November 17, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

700 Posts and Counting

Posted on November 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marc Probst Takes Aim at Meaningful Use in Interview at CHIME

Posted on November 6, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Did You Last Job Shadow a Doctor?

Posted on November 4, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking forward to the CHIME Fall Forum

Posted on October 27, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

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

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

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

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

The Changing Health IT Consulting Job Market

Posted on October 15, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Healthcare So Distracted by the Trees That We Can’t See the Forest?

Posted on October 14, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

I was listening to a healthcare IT professional talk recently about the challenges they face in the trenches. In a somewhat exasperated way they said more or less that “We have to be careful that we don’t get so distracted by the trees that we can’t see what’s happening with the forest.

What an amazing insight! As a healthcare IT professional, it’s really easy to get bogged down in the operational day to day requirements. Whether you’re dealing with meaningful use requirements, prepping for ICD-10, upgrading your EHR software, managing your patient portal, updating your CDS rules, or any of the myriad of regular IT support like desktop replacements, network upgrades, firewall management, etc etc etc, it’s easy to get bogged down in this more operationally focused work. How many healthcare IT professionals keep an eye on what’s happening with healthcare in general?

Unfortunately, I think far too many of them are completely overwhelmed with operations. Most of them don’t realize the movement towards a more engaged patient. A lot of them don’t know about the shifting reimbursement towards a new value based reimbursement model. Most are up to date on the ICD-10 delays, but few understand if the ICD-10 delays are a good or a bad thing for healthcare.

In some ways, that’s not a terrible thing. There’s a real power in being focused on the project at hand and executing it at the highest level possible. Especially if you have a great leadership organization that’s keeping a keen eye on macro healthcare trends that need to be considered by your hospital.

However, even the very best leaders can learn and benefit from a highly involved workforce that understands not only the immediate operational needs of the organization, but that also have a broader understanding of why certain projects matter to an organization in the bigger picture. There’s nothing more challenging to a leader than to push forward a project which isn’t understood as being important by their staff.

Like in most things in life, it takes balance. Finding that balance in your organization can provide some amazing results.

Video Interview with John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Posted on October 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

Today, I happened upon a really laid back interview by CXOTalk with John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a bunch of other things (see the list at the bottom of this post). John Halamka has been doing this for a long time (20 years at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) and so he has some interesting perspectives. Plus, he’s put himself out there all over the place including participation in the meaningful use committees.

Here are some great lines from the interview:
“There’s no problem that can’t be blamed on IT.”

“You should never go live based on a deadline. You go live when the product is ready or the people are ready to use the product.”

“If you go live too early, no one will ever forget. If you go live too late, no one will ever remember.”

Check out the full video for other interesting insights into healthcare IT and John Halamka:

John D. Halamka, MD, MS is Chief Information Officer of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Chief Information Officer and Dean for Technology at Harvard Medical School, Chairman of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network (NEHEN), CEO of MA-SHARE (the Regional Health Information Organization), Chair of the US Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), and a practicing Emergency Physician.

What Can We Expect with Meaningful Use Stage 3?

Posted on October 6, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 13 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.

The incomparable John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee, has a good post up on his blog talking about the future of standards, certification and meaningful use stage 3. Here’s one excerpt about MU stage 3 and EHR certificaiton:

Meaningful Use Stage 3 regulations are currently in draft and will be released as NPRM before the end of the year. My hope for these regulations is that they will be less prescriptive than previous stages, reducing the burden of implementation for providers and vendors.

It’s purely my opinion, but I’m optimistic that simplification will happen, given that the 2015 Certification Rule is likely to decouple Meaningful Use and certification. Certification is likely to be incremental year to year without the tidal wave of requirements we’ve seen in the past. Certification of health IT (not just EHRs) will be with us for a long time and may be leveraged by more programs than just the EHR incentive programs. Imagine that modules for patient generated data (such as wearables), health information exchange (HISPs), and analytics services (such as those used for care management by ACOs) could be certified and used in any combination to achieve outcomes.

I’m really hopeful that Halamka is right and that MU stage 3 will be dramatically simpler. However, in government work, I’m rarely confident that something will be simple. In fact, his comments about ongoing certification are sad too. Anyone who’s had to work with supposedly certified CCD documents from multiple EHR vendors that should be “standard” knows what I mean. Because of examples like this, I’m not a fan of government certification setting the standard, but Halamka might be right that they may use EHR certification to try.

What will be interesting to me is what motivation organizations will have to continue on with meaningful use stage 3. The EHR incentive money will be gone. Certainly the EHR penalties are a pretty sizable motivation for many organizations. Although, probably not as sizable as many think when you compare it against even the MU 2 burden (another reason why MU 3 needs to be simpler). Also, I still wouldn’t be surprised if we had an ICD-10 Delay-esque move by the AMA or some other healthcare organization to remove the EHR penalties. It will be a little harder since the penalties are hard revenue that has to be accounted for, but don’t put it past a good lobbyist.