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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.

Predictive Analytics with Andy Bartley from Intel

Posted on September 20, 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.

#Paid content sponsored by Intel.

In the latest Healthcare Scene video interview, I talk with Andy Bartley, Senior Solutions Architect in the Health and Life Sciences Group at Intel. Andy and I talk about the benefits of and challenges to using predictive analytics in healthcare.

Andy offers some great insights on the subject, having had a long and varied career in the industry. Before joining Intel, he served in multiple healthcare organizations, including nurse communication and scheduling application startup NurseGrid, primary care practice One Medical Group and medical device manufacturer Stryker.

In my interview, he provides a perspective on what hospitals and health systems should be doing to leverage predictive analytics to improve care and outcomes, even if they don’t have a massive budget. Plus, he talks about predictive analytics that are already happening today.

Here are the list of questions I asked him if you’d like to skip to a specific topic in the video. Otherwise, you can watch the full video interview in the embedded video at the bottom of this post:

What are your thoughts on predictive analytics? How is it changing healthcare as we know it? What examples have you seen of effective predictive analytics? We look forward to seeing your thoughts in the comments and on social media.

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.

Consumer-centered Approach to Innovation by Thomas Jefferson University’s DICE Group

Posted on August 30, 2017 I Written By

Colin Hung is the co-founder of the #hcldr (healthcare leadership) tweetchat one of the most popular and active healthcare social media communities on Twitter. Colin speaks, tweets and blogs regularly about healthcare, technology, marketing and leadership. He is currently an independent marketing consultant working with leading healthIT companies. Colin is a member of #TheWalkingGallery. His Twitter handle is: @Colin_Hung.

Sparking and sustaining Innovation is a much-sought-after goal for healthcare systems today. Some organizations have set up specialized innovation centers whose goal is to commercialize technologies developed internally by staff. Others are fostering innovation by becoming incubators and early-stage investors.

Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) in Philadelphia PA is taking multiple approaches to innovation. They created the Jefferson Accelerator Zone (JAZ) where they hold Health Hackathons, host in-person keynotes and have meeting space for local innovators. TJU also created an internal innovation team – the Digital Innovation and Consumer Experience (DICE) Group – a hidden gem.

I had the chance recently to sit down with Neil Gomes @neilgomes – Chief Digital Officer and Senior VP for Technology Innovation and Consumer Experience at TJU and Jefferson Health, who leads the DICE team – to talk about their unique approach to healthcare innovation.

How is DICE different than other healthcare innovation centers that we read about in articles?

We are not an innovation center as people have come to know them. The DICE Group isn’t focused only on commercializing technologies that have been developed by physicians or staff. DICE is an internal group that’s focused on designing and developing solutions to problems faced by the institution, from both a healthcare and educational perspective. Often our solutions incorporate a new technology innovation – but just as often we end up implementing an innovative process without replacing the existing technology. DICE is more like a team of internal catalysts. We enable the design and development of consumer-focused, value-driven, digital-ready solutions. Our goal is to build an efficient, agile, and future-focused organization that delivers value and quality to patients, students, employees, donors, and the community.

How do you find problems to work on?

Our team spends a lot of time out in the field with front-line staff. Not only do we listen to their ideas but we also observe how things are working or not working as the case may be. Through this first-hand interaction with our stakeholders and consumers (aka end-users), we develop focused projects and strategic initiatives.

What are some of the projects you have worked on?

We work on varied projects, some extremely complex such as enabling the implementation of a new Electronic Health Record (EHR) along with other project teams and others that could be as simple as moving equipment to a more efficient location.

On one such simpler (but impactful) project, we enhanced patient experience while at the same time reduced stress on staff – all by moving a label printer from one side of the room to the other. This project started off as a request to reduce delays in the Emergency Room (ER). Through direct observation, we discovered several improvement opportunities. One of the delays we addressed was in the processing of urine samples from patients. Instead of jumping in with a new technology, we took the time to really dig into the problem and just by moving a label printer, we solved it.

On another project, we helped improve our US News & World Report (USNWR) survey scores by assisting our own and referring physicians with setting up their Doximity account. The USNWR annual ranking of Best Hospitals is based on a survey that is distributed online exclusively via Doximity. What we found, however, is that many of the physicians that refer their patients to Jefferson Health and our own physicians did not have their Doximity accounts set up. If a physician is making a referral then they must believe we are a good facility…but without an active Doximity account they wouldn’t be able to participate in the survey. So we created a process along with some technology to help them set up their account when they made a referral. We ended up capturing a lot of that positive sentiment on the USNWR survey and that helped us get to our current ranking of the 16th best hospital in the nation.

We have also done a lot of work with our EHRs (EPIC and several others) as well as designed and developed our own digital apps such as: myJeffHealth, myBaby@Jeff, JeffDocs and Strength Through Insight. While several of our apps are directed at patients and students, we also develop apps and applications for our employees to enable efficiency, data collection, reduce process latency, enhance business processes, and build future-focused competitive advantage. While developing these solutions, we work in partnership with internal and external stakeholders and even with industry partners such as Google, Apple, Adobe, IBM, ServiceNow, EPIC, Harman Kardon, AllScripts, etc. who co-innovate with us.

What is the DICE secret sauce?

If I had to pick one thing that makes us unique it’d be our approach to innovation. We don’t go into situations with a “we must build something” mindset. We remain open to the possibility that a workflow change or additional training may be the best solution to the problem. Our team really takes an ethnographic look at the situation. Nothing is assumed. We give ourselves the time to really dig deep into whether the proposed solution will really achieve the desired outcome and whether it is even aligned with the problem.

We’ve worked hard at building close working relationships with operational leaders and our consumers. We have taken the time to really understand their world and we don’t just come in and try to impose our ideas on them. We build things together with our employees, partners, and consumers. That’s our secret sauce.

Being consumer-centric isn’t ground-breaking. The retail, hospitality, travel, and banking industries have been doing this for years. We have just started to bring consumer-centric thinking into healthcare. For the DICE Group, focusing on the consumer is the most organic and natural way we approach problems and devise solutions.

Many organizations have tried to create internal innovation teams, why has DICE been so successful?

Being close to our end-users has been a cornerstone of our success, but there are few other key things that we do at DICE that we think contribute to our success. One of the core principles we live and breathe every day is human-centered design. This is something that is ignored or overlooked by many in healthcare today – and some HealthIT vendors are especially bad at this. When you subscribe to a human-centered design approach, you realize that building and implementing the technology is only part of the solution. You also have to help end-users incorporate that technology into their daily routines. You have to help them through the disruption and help them bridge the knowledge gap. You can’t just drop in the technology and move onto the next project. Without proper follow-up people will revert back to past patterns – which means the organization will not see any improvement.

That’s another key to our success. We are no longer on the see-problem-solve-problem hamster wheel. In the first few years we “followed the problems” and we racked up early wins. These quick wins helped us build trust, credibility, and most importantly, internal momentum. However, you can’t succeed in healthcare by just solving one problem after another. Healthcare will not be fixed if everyone is just focused on organic point solutions. We need to look above the day-to-day and build solutions that push us in a particular direction. Basically we need to focus on larger, bold, and strategic goals and then creatively innovate towards them.

For example, rather than just looking at streamlining the ER at our Jefferson-Abington hospital, we set ourselves a goal that we would optimally utilize our ER to the extent that we could triage a patient to a room and team in the ER even while they were on the ambulance to the ER. It seemed impossible when we started, but as we worked with our stakeholders and end-users we eventually achieved this goal through a combination of technology and process improvements.

What’s next for DICE?

Now that we are deeply integrated in the organization, we see ourselves getting even more closely involved with the organization’s strategy. With the support of our President and CEO, Dr. Steve Klasko, our staff, board, and co-innovating industry partners, we continue to move from just solving the problems of today to helping TJU solve the problems of tomorrow, develop competitive advantage and value, and deliver closed-loop consumer experiences digitally and in the physical world that engage, enchant, and improve lives.

For more insight into DICE and to see what projects they are working on, follow them on Twitter @DICEGRP

 

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?

Patient Engagement and Collaborative Care with Drex DeFord

Posted on August 7, 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.

#Paid content sponsored by Intel.

You don’t see guys like Drex DeFord every day in the health IT world. Rather than following the traditional IT career path, he began his career as a rock ‘n roll disc jockey. He then served as a US Air Force officer for 20 years — where his assignments included service as regional CIO for 12 hospitals across the southern US and CTO for Air Force Health — before focusing on private-sector HIT.

After leaving the Air Force, he served as CIO of Scripps Health, Seattle Children’s Hospital and Steward Health before forming drexio digital health (he describes himself as a “recovering CIO”). Drex is also a board member for a number of companies and was on the HIMSS National board and the Chairman of CHIME.

Given this extensive background in healthcare IT leadership, we wanted to get Drex’s insights into patient engagement and collaborative care. As organizations have shifted to value based reimbursement, this has become a very important topic to understand and implement in an organization. Have you created a culture of collaborative care in your organization? If not, this interview with Drex will shed some light on what you need to do to build that culture.

You can watch the full video interview embedded below or click from this list of topics to skip to the section of the video that interests you most:

What are you doing in your organization to engage patients? How are you using technology to facilitate collaborative care?