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Is Your Current Analytics Infrastructure Keeping You From Success in Healthcare Analytics?

Posted on February 17, 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.

The following is a paid blog post sponsored by Intel.

Healthcare analytics is all the talk in healthcare right now.  It’s really no surprise since many have invested millions and even billions of dollars in digitizing their health data.  Now they want to extract value from that data.  No doubt, the promise of healthcare analytics is powerful.  I like to break this promise out into two categories: Patient Analysis and Patient Influence.

Patient Analysis

On the one side of healthcare analytics is analyzing your patient population to pull reports on patients who need extra attention.  In some cases, these patients are the most at risk portions of your population with easy to identify disease states.  In other cases, they’re the most expensive portion of your population.  Both of these are extremely powerful analytics as your healthcare organization works to improve patient care and lower costs.

An even higher level of patient analysis is using healthcare analytics to identify patients who don’t seem to be at risk, but whose health is in danger.  These predictive analytics are much more difficult to create because by their very nature they’re imperfect.  However, this is where the next generation of patient analysis is going very quickly.

Patient Influence

On the other side of healthcare analytics is using patient data to influence patients.  Patient influence analytics can tell you simple things like what type of communication modality is preferred by a patient.  This can be used on an individual level to understand whether you should send an email, text, or make a phone call or it can be used on the macro level to drive the type of technologies you buy and content you create.

Higher level patient influence analytics take it one step further as they analyze a patient’s unique preferences and what influences the patient’s healthcare decision making.  This often includes pulling in outside consumer data that helps you understand and build a relationship with the patient.  This analytic might tell you that the patient is a huge sports fan and which is their favorite team.  It might also tell you that this person has a type A personality.  Together these analytics can inform you on the most appropriate ways and methods to interact and influence the patient.

What’s Holding Healthcare Analytics Back?

Both of these healthcare analytics approaches have tremendous promise, but many of them are being held back by a healthcare organization’s current analytics infrastructure.

The first problem many organizations have is where they are storing their data.  I’d describe their data as being stored in virtual prisons.  We need to unlock this data and free it so that it can be used in healthcare analytics.  If you can’t get at the data within your own organization, how can we even start talking about all the health data being stored outside the four walls of your organization?  Plus, we need to invest in the right storage that can support the growth of this data.  If you don’t solve these data access and storage pieces, you’ll miss out on a lot of the benefits of healthcare analytics.

Second, do you trust your data?  Most hospital CIOs I talk to usually respond, “Mostly.”  If you can’t trust your data, you can’t trust your analytics.  A fundamental building block of successful analytics is building trust in your data.  This starts by implementing effective workflows that capture the data properly on the front end.

Next, do you have the processing power required to process all these analytics and data?  Healthcare analytics in many healthcare organizations reminds me of the old days when graphic designers and video producers would have to wait hours for graphics programs to load or videos to render.  Eventually we learned not to skimp on processing power for these tasks.  We need to learn this same lesson with healthcare analytics.  Certainly cloud makes this easier, but far too often we under fund the processing power needed for these projects.

Finally, all the processing power in the world won’t help if you don’t have your most important piece of analytics infrastructure: people.  No doubt, finding experienced people in healthcare data analytics is a challenge.  It is the hardest thing to do on this list since it is very competitive and very expensive.  The good news is that if you solve the other problems above, then you become an attractive place for these experts to work.

In your search for a healthcare analytics expert, you can likely find a data expert.  You can find a clinical expert.  You can find an EHR expert.  Finding someone who can work across all three is the Holy Grail and nearly impossible to find.  This is why in most organizations healthcare analytics is a team sport.  Make sure that as you build your infrastructure of healthcare analytics people, you make sure they are solid team players.

It’s time we start getting more value out of our EHR and health IT systems.  Analytics is one of those tools that will get us there.  Just be sure that your current infrastructure isn’t holding you back from achieving those goals.

If this topic interests you and you’ll be at HIMSS 2017, join us at the Intel Health Booth #2661 on Tuesday, 2/21 from 2:00-2:45 PM where we’ll be holding a special meetup to discuss Getting Ready for Precision Health.  This meetup will also be available virtually via Periscope on the @IntelHealth Twitter account.

When Healthcare IT Isn’t Enough

Posted on February 10, 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.

This week I’ve gone through close to 200 pitches from companies who want to meet with me at the HIMSS Annual conference. While I can’t say that this is a fun task (especially since I have to tell 95% of them no), it is an educational experience to see what 200 companies are sharing as we head into the biggest healthcare IT conference in the world.

If I were to summarize the pitches in general, I would describe them as incremental. I’ll admit that this is a pretty disappointing perspective since we all know that healthcare needs something transformational. Don’t get me wrong. I believe that regular incremental improvement is transformational, but I’d say that most of the pitches lacked ambition.

Along with this observation is the idea that in most cases technology isn’t enough. If it were enough, EHR software that’s in use in most of healthcare would have already transformed the industry. The longer I spend in this industry, the more I realize that technology is just a tool in the tool belt. The real transformation comes from something more than technology. Technology might be a catalyst or facilitator, but that’s all.

This is actually a theme that really began at last year’s HIMSS conference. The areas that excite me most are those that literally change behavior. This might be the patient’s behavior or it might be the clinician’s behavior. It might also be the payer, health system, or government’s behavior.

The challenge is that changing behavior is hard. Slapping an EMR system is easy compared to behavior change. Implementing a secure text message solution is easy compared to behavior change. Rolling out an enterprise data warehouse is easy compared to behavior change.

At HIMSS and throughout the year I’m most interested on those companies who understand not only the technology side of things, but the behavior side of things as well.

If you’re interested in healthcare transformation and what it requires, join us at the Digital Transformation Meetup at HIMSS17. It’s happening Tuesday, 2/21 from 11:30-12:30 at the Dell EMC Booth #3161. More details on this meetup and other HIMSS17 meetups can be found here.

Suggestions and Tips for Hospital IT Professionals at #HIMSS17

Posted on February 8, 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.

Hard to believe that the 2017 HIMSS Annual Conference is less than a week and a half away. For someone who eats, breathes, and sleeps Health IT, HIMSS is like winning the golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. However, for a lot of hospital IT professionals, it might be their first time attending HIMSS and it can be quite overwhelming. 40,000-50,000 attendees and approximately 1300 exhibitors should be overwhelming.

While I’m certainly not a HIMSS veteran like many people, I’ve learned a number of important tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of HIMSS. Hopefully some of these will help you have a better HIMSS experience.

Standard Conference Answers – Instead of listing these individually, I’ll list them all in one since they’re true for any conference and their reasons should be now apparent. Wear comfortable shoes. Drink lots of water. Plan for good meals. Bring a battery pack or charge whenever possible. Expect bad internet. Have fun.

CHIME-HIMSS CIO Forum – As a hospital IT professional, the CHIME-HIMSS CIO Forum on Saturday and Sunday before HIMSS is excellent. They put together a great program of speakers, but more importantly you get the chance to network with 1000 or so of people like you. Don’t miss it if you come from the hospital IT world.

People – This one is obvious once you think about it, but is often missed by attendees. The people you hang out with at a conference will make all the difference. If you hang out with smart, well connected people, you’ll meet a bunch of other smart, well connected people and you’ll have a great experience. If you feel you don’t know anyone good to hang out with, hit social media and start interacting with people you find interesting. Friendships will develop quickly if you put in a little effort. Who you spend time with can transform your HIMSS experience for good or bad.

Plan for Serendipity – Everyone likes to suggest that the key to HIMSS is to have a plan. Considering the volume of sessions and exhibitors, a plan is good. However, don’t forget to plan in time for serendipitous interactions. Maybe that’s putting a party on your schedule that will broaden your horizon. Maybe that’s putting some down time on your schedule to sit at a table and connect with some random strangers. Maybe that’s some time trolling the exhibit hall to meet new people and companies that will provide you new perspectives. My favorite experience at HIMSS16 was a random dinner that came together after meeting someone at an impromptu meetup.

Don’t Be a Wallflower, Engage with Others – It’s easy to go to a conference and spend your entire time listening to sessions and exhibitor presentations and pitches. While this is valuable, you’ll have a deeper, more engaging experience at HIMSS17 if you engage with the people around you. Yes, I’m suggesting you go beyond just the usual casual platitudes of where you work and where you’re from. If this scares you or you don’t know how to get started, join us at a #HIMSS17 meetup where everyone is there to do just that. Education is valuable, but engagement is priceless.

Those are a few of my tips for #HIMSS17. What tips would you add to the list?

Health IT Predictions for #HIMSS17

Posted on January 25, 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.

My fellow HIMSS Social Media Ambassador, Dr. Geeta Nayyar, has a great post up with various HIMSS 2017 social media ambassadors making predictions at the hot topics we’ll hear about at HIMSS 2017 and throughout the year. I was happy to take part and offered the following prediction:

“Actionable data and patient empowerment are two hot topics at HIMSS this year. We’re going to see a whole slew of applications that take data from clinical decision support at the point of care or real-time analytics that assesses a patients’ risk, and make it actionable. Patient empowerment is going to be enhanced with applications for self-scheduling, patient communication through text and telemedicine and possibly even the first healthcare chatbots.”

I also was quite interested in Rasu Shrestha‘s prediction:

“This is the year we see the emergence of the ‘learning health system.’ With the advent of machine learning and AI, and with the perfect storm of healthcare related needs and opportunities, we will see a true emergence of intelligent systems that will learn and get better over time.”

The idea of a learning health system is a lot to chew on. That’s a big concept that won’t happen over night. However, there’s so much potential in the concept. I’ll be interested to see what technologies are showcased at HIMSS which will help us get closer to a learning health system. What technologies have you seen are helping us get there?

Geeta has posted a bunch of other predictions from HIMSS social media ambassadors, so take a second to head over to her TopLine MD blog and check them out.