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Health Organizations Investing In Best-of-Breed ACO Tools

With accountable care becoming the standard for providers, more and more are seeking out best-of-breed vendors that can fill in the gaps in their health IT lineup and meet expected ACO requirements. It seems that just having it EMR in place doesn’t do the trick by itself.

That, at least, is the conclusion one can draw from the latest KLAS report , which finds that 65 percent of providers surveyed are looking at niche vendors to address emerging population health, HIE and business intelligence needs, reports Healthcare IT News.

To draw this conclusion, KLAS spoke with 73 organizations, mostly medium to large sized ID ends in hospitals to see where they are in the ACO journey.

The survey’s results surprised researcher Mark Allphin, who wrote the report, Healthcare IT News notes.

As Allphin sees it, it’s much more common these days to see healthcare organizations move towards integrating their IT properties. The idea that some are more focused on finding best-of-breed tools to address ACO needs, rather than relying on their EMRs, “tells us that the ACO market very likely still up for grabs,” Allphin said.

We’ve known all along that the ACO game was going to be an expensive one. If KLAS is right, it’s going to be a whole new independent marketplace, in which providers shop for calls that fill in huge gaps in their existing ACO toolkit. If I were CIO, however, I’d be pretty annoyed that the huge investment made situation made in an EMR can’t get the job done all by itself.

Now the question is which health IT areas hospitals and medical practices will take on first; after all, there’s lots of ways to attack the question of how to prepare for the new, bold ACO world. My guess is that tools supporting population health measures will be particularly popular, as population health management is a key capability ACOs bring to the table that health systems alone may not.

December 23, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.

Stages, Rankings, and Other Vanity Metrics

It seems like we’re always getting bombarded with the latest and greatest list of hospitals and EHR vendors being ranked, classified or sorted into the various levels of IT adoption. The most famous are probably the HIMSS stages, KLAS rankings, and Most Wired Hospitals. While I’m like most of you and can’t resist glancing at them, every time I do I wonder what value those rankings and classifications really have when it comes to Health IT adoption.

In the startup world there’s a term that’s very popular called vanity metrics. I believe it was first made popular by Eric Ries in this post. The idea is simple. Organizations (and the press that cover them) love to publish big numbers for an organization, but do those metrics really have any meaning?

When I look at the various stages and ranking systems out there in healthcare IT, I wonder if they’re all just vanity metrics. The press loves to put a number on something or to classify an organization versus another one. However, does the stage or ranking really say anything about what really matters to a healthcare organization?

I haven’t done any specific research on things like the quality of care or the financial qualities of organizations across these stages and rankings. Maybe organizations that rank higher or have achieved a higher stage actually do provide better care and have better financials. Although, no doubt that research would have to also inspect the causal relationship between rankings and these results. However, I wonder if these rankings and classifications are really just vanity metrics.

I wonder if there are other metrics we could use to evaluate a healthcare organization. I think the results of such metrics would find every institution wanting in some areas and excelling in others. Stages and rankings don’t take this into account. However, I believe it’s the reality at every institution.

This actually reminds me of Farzad Mostashari’s comments about Healthcare’s Inability to “Step on a Scale” Today. As Farzad asserts, healthcare can’t “step on a scale” today and know how they’re doing. This is partially because the “scales” we’re using today aren’t measuring the right metrics. It’s like the scale is telling us that we’re 5’9″ and so we’re concluding we’re overweight. Although I expect that many might argue that the scale is blank and we’re concluding whatever we want to conclude.

I’d love to hear what metrics you think a healthcare organization should be measuring. Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

November 18, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Cerner, Intermountain Form Major Development Partnership

Normally, when I read the news of a vendor partnership, it’s a major snoozefest. After all, marketing deals and customer wins may be important to the vendor, but they don’t change our life much.

This time, though, I’m willing to go out a limb and say that the following is an important deal. Cerner, one of the leading players on the enterprise EMR front, has struck an agreement with healthcare chain Intermountain Healthcare under which the two will partner long-term on activity-based costing.

Intermountain, the largest health provider in the Intermountain West region of the US, is making a huge Cerner buy, Information Week reports. As part of its agreement with Cerner, Intermountain is tearing out its existing systems, including two EMRs, two billing systems and desktop integration system, and replacing them with Cerner technology.

In this deal, you can certainly chalk up one more win for Cerner, which has been gaining ground in the 200+ bed hospital segment of late. According to KLAS, the ratio of Epic-to-Cerner wins has fallen from 5-to-1 in 2010 to 2-to-1 in 2012 in this segment, according to the research firm.

But the agreement goes well beyond being a mere sale. Once the new, integrated Cerner system is in place, it will serve as the foundation for the long-term project partners have in mind.

Intermountain chose to partner with Cerner because of its system’s open architecture, which will allow for the addition of new content Intermountain plans to provide, CIO Marc Probst told Information Week.

The partners plan a closely-integrated relationship which involves the movement of several Cerner executives and staffers to Intermountain’s headquarters in Salt Lake City. Their work will include development of care process models, connectivity-based costing, advanced decision support and clinical workflows, IW reports.

Getting this work done requires little short of a wedding. ” “We’re looking at 20 plus years of collaboration. We have shared interests in making this be a great success,” Probst told the magazine.

October 1, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.

KLAS Reports Cerner and Epic Combined to Capture More Than 3/4 of New Large Hospital EMR Contracts

This tweet and associated messages are circling all around social media. Here’s the short description of the KLAS report:

HITECH has drastically changed the acute care EMR market. Previous industry mainstays like GE Healthcare and QuadraMed have effectively dropped out. McKesson has promoted their community hospital solution, Paragon, over their former flagship, Horizon. Allscripts, MEDITECH, and Siemens are all racing to recover from past stumbles and regain market share. Since meaningful use became a reality, Cerner and Epic have captured a large majority of new hospital contracts. However, there are still many decisions to be made in coming years and the remaining market is potentially more competitive than in years past.

For those of us following the industry, this isn’t really big news. Cerner and Epic have been battling for the big hospitals for quite a while. In fact, coming out of this year’s HIMSS I was more interested in the battle for small hospitals than large hospitals. Of course, we’ll see how hospital consolidation affects this as well.

What does seem clear and this report confirms is that Epic and Cerner all well positioned in the large hospital EMR market. I predict they’ll dominate until at least the end of meaningful use.

August 28, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

EMR Vendors Need To Get Their Act Together

For quite some time now, EMR vendors have gotten away with selling products that aren’t very usable and may even pose safety risks. But that’s the price enterprise EMR buyers have been willing to pay to jump in and automate. Very soon, though, vendors may be held to a higher standard, a new report from KLAS.

KLAS recently held a bake-off comparing Allscripts, Cerner, Epic, McKesson’s Paragon, Meditech 6 and Siemens’ Soarian EMRs head to head where it comes to usability and efficiency, SearchHealthIT reports. The study looked at how the products worked for individual users, and then looked at how they meet organizational quality of care demands.

Some of the EMRs  – and I wish SearchHealthIT had told us which ones — took a full month for physicians to learn. In some cases, physicians who were willing to take that month ended up with a richer experience than those which were easy and quick to learn, while in other cases, the darned thing still wasn’t usable.  Of course, those with long learning curves and unimpressive features suffered from low physician adoption, the  publication notes.

This is all interesting enough, but what grabbed me about the story was a provider quote from an end user, supplied by KLAS:

“As suggested by the new 2014 certification standards, vendors should take more responsibility for both the usability and safety of their products. These responsibilities shouldn’t be the sole purview of healthcare organizations and providers like they have been until now.”

Could it be that providers have finally gotten to the point where they’re no longer going to put up with unusable products and bring the hammer down even on giants like the big-shouldered group listed above?  After all, so far providers have swallowed hard and accepted a lot of ugly technology.

Maybe Meaningful Use demands are finally giving health organizations the backbone they need to stand up to Jabba the Hutt vendors?

March 22, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.

Oops! Community Hospitals Unhappy With EMR Purchase

A new report from KLAS seems to confirm what we all know already — that buying an EMR is a tricky business that can easily end in failure.  The new KLAS report found that increasingly, community hospitals are questioning whether they bought the right EMR, and that a substantial number are already ripping out and replacing their system.

The authors of the report found that about 200 hospitals with less than 200 beds said they were planning to replace their EMR. And in an even more dramatic turn, KLAS found that one in three community hospitals who’d gone live with their EMR in the past 12 months felt they’d made the wrong decision.

Epic had the most overall community hospital wins for 2011, followed by Healthland, Cerner and CPSI. Looked at another, by market share, Meditech came in first with 20 percent, followed by Epic and Cerner, both with 12 percent.

This ferment comes against a backdrop of bigger institutional changes, in which smaller hospitals are joining integrated delivery networks, and as a result, are being shoehorned into using enterprise systems like Epic and Cerner already in place within the IDNs.

This level of disappointment in technical investments would be pretty remarkable in just about any industry. Given the pressure to get on the Meaningful Use train, it’s perhaps a bit less surprising, since pressure to invest can lead to fatal flaws in just about any decision-making process. Still, as an observer, it alarms me to see just how common EMR dissatisfaction is in smaller community hospitals.

As we’ve noted here before, giant institutions making giant investments seem a lot less prone to expressing dissatisfaction with their EMR.  Maybe it’s because those hospitals really are getting more for their money — who knows? But my guess is that they’ve as prone as smaller hospitals to wish they’d gone another way, given how hard it is to make an enterprise software buy that pleases everybody.

In any event, let’s hope that community hospitals largely make their peace with the EMR they’ve got. Rip and replace can’t be good for morale, finances or patient care.

December 18, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.

Hospitals, Health Systems And Clinics Adding Portals, But Consumers Not Synched Up

With Meaningful Use Stage 2 requiring that 5 percent of patients use them, a growing number of health systems, hospitals and clinics have rolled out patient portals, according to a recent study by KLAS. In fact, 57 percent of providers now offer a portal, typically connected to their enterprise EMR, KLAS found.

The thing is, somehow these efforts aren’t reaching consumers. In a new Wolters Kluwer Health survey of 1,000 consumers, only 19 percent said that they have access to a personal health record.

It’s not that patients don’t want to be engaged in their health — 80 percent of respondents said greater control of healthcare is positive — but it seems that they either don’t like or don’t know how to find the portals available to them.

Ultimately, the broad mass of consumers simply don’t seem to see a crying need to use portals as of yet. Seventy-six percent of respondents to the Wolters Kluwer survey said that they have the information and tools they need to manage basic healthcare functions such as choosing providers and researching treatment options, clearly dwarfing the number who care to look at their own patient data.

That being said, there’s a small (but I’d argue, growing) minority of patients who do take connections with providers seriously. Nineteen percent of respondents told researchers that the ability to communicate via e-mail with doctors and nurses and schedule appointments online was an important factor in choosing a medical practice. In other words, there’s clearly a wired contingent out there which would probably respond well to a truly useful portal.

How can hospitals and clinics get patients engaged in PHR use?  My gut instinct is that consumers won’t give a hoot about PHRs until they become a tool that’s part of their medical or hospital visit. If doctors work with a PHR, turning the visit into a collaboration, patients will be motivated to follow up and review what they’ve learned.

I guess what I’m saying is that we should start by getting doctors engaged with PHRs as a means of getting patients involved. If they do that, PHRs will go from being some Web site to a valuable tool for sharing care information.  If not, don’t expect the number of PHR-interested consumers to climb anytime soon.

December 17, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.

Planning for EHR Consultants in an EHR Go Live

At CHIME 2012 I asked David Tucker, MBA, MHA, FCHIME, VP of National Sales at ESD and Kelly Mulligan, RN, BA, Chief Operating Officer at ESD about how a hospital CIO should plan for an EHR consultant. While we’d love to think that a hospital could just ask for an EHR consultant and have one there the next day, the reality is much different. Sure, you could have an EHR consultant there the next day, but if you want the best EHR consultants it takes some forethought and planning to make sure you get on their schedule. David Tucker, former hospital CIO, talks more about planning for EHR consultants in the video below.

December 13, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

What differentiates EHR Consulting Companies?

While at CHIME 2012, I had the chance to sit down with David Tucker, MBA, MHA, FCHIME, VP of National Sales at ESD and Kelly Mulligan, RN, BA, Chief Operating Officer at ESD. I learned a lot from them about what’s happening with hospital CIOs. Plus, it was great to get some first hand perspective on the EHR industry from a former hospital CIO (David Tucker) and an RN (Kelly Mulligan).

I pulled out a video camera to capture some of the things we talked about. I’ll be posting a number of videos with them over the next few weeks, but I’ll start with their answer to the question: What differentiates EHR consulting companies? They mention the KLAS EHR consulting form ratings and even talk about hospital CIO’s being burned by EHR consulting companies in the past.


What Differentiates EHR Consulting Companies Video

October 24, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 5000 articles with John having written over 2000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 9.3 million times. John also recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Connecting EMRs and Smart Pumps Proving Difficult

As they settle into their implementation, hospitals are hoping to connect key medical devices to their EMRs. But vanishingly few have pulled off connecting one important device, the smart infusion pump, according to recent research by KLAS.

KLAS’s new study surveyed 251 providers from 218 organizations.  Researchers concluded that less than 10 providers in the country are tying smart pumps to their EMRs, despite the fact that most providers see such connections as an important safety measure.  The smart pumps let clinicians know if the pumps aren’t set to match a facility’s guidelines, while standard pumps are programmed by hand.

More than half of providers told KLAS that EMR integration is a key factor in selecting future pumps, the firm says.  And they handed out higher satisfaction ratings to vendors whose technology development is moving along. Smart pump vendors Baxter, Carefusion and Hospira, for example, led in wireless technology.

That hospitals are demanding wireless pumps that connect with EMRs is no big surprise. Far too many — 23 percent — of surveyed provider organizations reported serious medication incidents within the previous 24 months.  Sixty percent of the serious errors were made while using drug libraries.  Clearly, using the libraries is good, but connecting to an EMR with auto-programming could  make a difference.

Given the difference EMR-connected pumps could make, why are so few providers already connected?  Well, one obvious issue is that only 60 percent of providers are live on wireless pump technology, which is necessary to get the integration done.

It’s not just the pump that’s an issue, however. When hospitals roll out this approach, it requires a great deal of coordination between IT, EMR users, clinical analysts and more, notes Kristen O’Shea, clinical transformation officer for WellSpan Health, who spoke with InformationWeek magazine about her organization’s smart-pump rollout.

To make sure the team worked together smoothly with the new device connections, WellSpan created a new hybrid biomedical/IT position to manage medical device connectivity. (Smart move — maybe more would be getting done in the EMR/device connection realm if they did more hiring of this kind?)

May 10, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 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.