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Connecting the Data: Three Steps to Meet Digital Transformation Goals

Posted on July 16, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Gary Palgon, VP Healthcare and Life Sciences Solutions at Liaison Technologies.

A white paper published by the World Economic Forum in 2016 begins with the statement, “Few industries have the potential to be changed so profoundly by digital technology as healthcare, but the challenges facing innovators – from regulatory barriers to difficulties in digitalizing patient data – should not be underestimated.”

That was two years ago, and many of the same challenges still exist as the digital transformation of healthcare continues.

In a recent HIMSS focus group sponsored by Liaison, participants identified their major digital transformation and interoperability goals for the near future as:

  • EMR rollout and integration
  • Population health monitoring and analytics
  • Remote clinical encounters
  • Mobile clinical applications

These goals are not surprising. Although EMRs have been in place in many healthcare organizations for years, the growth of health systems as they add physicians, clinics, hospitals and diagnostic centers represents a growing need to integrate disparate systems. The continual increase in the number of mobile applications and medical devices that can be used to gather information to feed into EMR systems further exacerbates the challenge.

What is surprising is the low percentage of health systems that believe that they are very or somewhat well-prepared to handle these challenges – only 35 percent of the HIMSS/Liaison focus group members identified themselves as well-prepared.

“Chaos” was a word used by focus group participants to describe what happens in a health system when numerous players, overlapping projects, lack of a single coordinator and a tendency to find niche solutions that focus on one need rather than overall organizational needs drive digital transformation projects.

It’s easy to understand the frustration. Too few IT resources and too many needs in the pipeline lead to multiple groups of people working on projects that overlap in goals – sometimes duplicating each other’s efforts – and tax limited staff, budget and infrastructure resources. It was also interesting to see that focus group participants noted that new technologies and changing regulatory requirements keep derailing efforts over multi-year projects.

Throughout all the challenges identified by healthcare organizations, the issue of data integrity is paramount. The addition of new technologies, including mobile and AI-driven analytics, and new sources of information, increases the need to ensure that data is in a format that is accessible to all users and all applications. Otherwise, the full benefits of digital transformation will not be realized.

The lack of universal standards to enable interoperability are being addressed, but until those standards are available, healthcare organizations must evaluate other ways to integrate and harmonize data to make it available to the myriad of users and applications that can benefit from insights provided by the information. Unlocking access to previously unseen data takes resources that many health organizations have in short supply. And the truth is, we’ll never have the perfect standards as they will always continue to change, so there’s no reason to wait.

Infrastructure, however, was not the number one resource identified in the HIMSS focus group as lacking in participants’ interoperability journey. In fact, only 15 percent saw infrastructure as the missing piece, while 30 percent identified IT staffing resources and 45 percent identified the right level of expertise as the most critical needs for their organization.

As all industries focus on digital transformation, competition for expert staff to handle interoperability challenges makes it difficult for healthcare organizations to attract the talent needed. For this reason, 45 percent of healthcare organizations outsource IT data integration and management to address staffing challenges.

Health systems are also evaluating the use of managed services strategies. A managed services solution takes over the day-to-day integration and data management with the right expertise and the manpower to take on complex work and fluctuating project levels. That way in-house staff resources can focus on the innovation and efficiencies that support patient care and operations, while the operating budget covers data management fees – leaving capital dollars available for critical patient care needs.

Removing day-to-day integration responsibilities from in-house staff also provides time to look strategically at the organization’s overall interoperability needs – coordinating efforts in a holistic manner. The ability to implement solutions for current needs with an eye toward future needs future-proofs an organization’s digital investment and helps avoid the “app-trap” – a reliance on narrowly focused applications with bounded data that cannot be accessed by disparate users.

There is no one answer to healthcare’s digital transformation questions, but taking the following three steps can move an organization closer to the goal of meaningful interoperability:

  • Don’t wait for interoperability standards to be developed – find a data integration and management platform that will integrate and harmonize data from disparate sources to make the information available to all users the way they need it and when they needed.
  • Turn to a data management and integration partner who can provide the expertise required to remain up-to-date on all interoperability, security and regulatory compliance requirements and other mandatory capabilities.
  • Approach digital transformation holistically with a coordinated strategy that considers each new application or capability as data gathered for the benefit of the entire organization rather than siloed for use by a narrowly-focused group of users.

The digital transformation of healthcare and the interoperability challenges that must be overcome are not minor issues, nor are they insurmountable. It is only through the sharing of ideas, information about new technologies and best practices that healthcare organizations can maximize the insights provided by data shared across the enterprise.

About Gary Palgon
Gary Palgon is vice president of healthcare and life sciences solutions at Liaison Technologies, a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene. 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.

Revenue Cycle Trends To Watch This Year

Posted on July 13, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Revenue cycle management is something of a moving target. Every time you think you’ve got your processes and workflow in line, something changes and you have to tweak them again. No better example of that was the proposed changes to E/M that came out yesterday. While we wait for that to play out, here’s one look at the trends influencing RCM strategies this year, according to Healthcare IT leaders revenue cycle lead Larry Todd, CPA.

Mergers

As healthcare organizations merge, many legacy systems begin to sunset. That drives them to roll out new systems that can support organizational growth. Health leaders need to figure out how to retire old systems and embrace new ones during a revenue cycle implementation. “Without proper integrations, many organizations will be challenged to manage their reimbursement processes,” Todd says.

Claims denial challenges

Providers are having a hard time addressing claims denials and documentation to support appeals. RCM leaders need to find ways to tighten up these processes and reduce denial rates. They can do so either by adopting third-party systems or working within their own infrastructure, he notes.

CFO engagement

Any technology implementation will have an impact on revenue, so CFOs should stay engaged in the rollout process, he says. “These are highly technical projects, so there’s a tendency to hand over the reins to IT or the software vendor,” notes Todd, a former CFO. “But financial executives need to stay engaged throughout the project, including weekly implementation status updates.”

Providers should form a revenue cycle action team which includes all the stakeholders to the table, including the CFO and clinicians, he says. If the CFO is involved in this process, he or she can offer critical executive oversight of decisions made that impact A/R and cash.

User training and adoption

During the transition from a legacy system to a new platform, healthcare leaders need to make sure their staff are trained to use it. If they aren’t comfortable with the new system, it can mean trouble. Bear in mind that some employees may have used the legacy system for many years and need support as they make the transition. Otherwise, they may balk and productivity could fall.

Outside expertise

Given the complexity of rolling out new systems, it can help to hire experts who understand the technical and operational aspects of the software, along with organizational processes involved in the transition. “It’s very valuable to work with a consulting firm that employs real consultants – people who have worked in operations for years,” Todd concludes.

Driving Value in the Community: How Atos Invested In Hope TEC and Gained Business Value

Posted on July 12, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Julie Collier, Reverend Sanders, Ron Quidatano, and Heather Haugen PhD from Atos Digital Health Solutions.

Having strong technical expertise is an important competitive advantage in the field of Information Technology. While finding and retaining the right people matters for niche positions, it is also critical for entry-level IT positions.

In early 2010, Reverend (Rev.) Sanders, a senior pastor of the Hope Presbyterian Church of Chicago, met with Atos leadership (formerly ACS/Xerox), led by Chad Harris, Chad recognized the need to discuss the value of identifying resources best suited for IT training programs in the Englewood Community which was hit hard by the downturn of the economy.  With $13B of IT services, Atos deals with the impact of these resource constraints every day.  And together, Sanders and Harris discussed ways in which the tremendous resources of ATOS could be used to make a positive impact, in a community desperately in need of IT training for unemployed and underemployed residents to be lifted out of the grips of poverty.

Cook County Health & Hospitals System (CCHHS), a long-term client of Atos, was another natural partner with which to create an innovative and effective program.  Atos, CCHHS, and Hope Presbyterian Church all committed funds, resources, and leadership to the cause. They identified Chicago’s South Side as a community in need of computer and technology training for low-income residents, youth education, and job readiness preparation for adults.  In September 2010, Rev. Sanders founded Hope Technology and Education Center (Hope TEC), a not-for-profit 501(c) (3).  Atos committed funding and resources to the program, hiring Julie Collier as the Executive Director.  Julie enrolled 20 adult students in the first Beginners Computer Class; it proved to be a small start that quickly gained momentum.

Today, Hope TEC provides digital literacy, essential life skills, job readiness, job placement, and career planning for adults and youth. Julie Collier has grown the program from one Beginners Computer Class into a broad set of training programs that provide skill development from beginner to advanced levels, including Microsoft Office certifications.  The current phase of Hope TEC is leading students to job internship/job placement components. Because of the widespread success of the program, Hope TEC have a far reach and serves participants throughout the Chicagoland area.  Hope TEC serves more than 100 students annually.  Julie manages curriculum development, implementation of offerings, tracking of progress, and train-the-trainer programs. Her passion moved the program beyond just job training to job placement combined with career development, which is a unique aspect of the program.

“Hope TEC was a godsend,” says Alisha, who completed 14 weeks of training in Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel.  “Now I have the computer skills and the confidence to move forward in my job search.” Alisha earned a high score of 99 percent on the PowerPoint skills test administered by the City Colleges of Chicago, where she was hired as a Clerical Assistant.

Hope TEC has partnered with organization Easter Seals, and in the fall of 2018 will begin a partnership with Catholic Charities through their Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP).  This organization provides their hired trainees with the opportunity to train and work at Hope TEC with the ultimate goal of achieving gainful employment. These senior age adults benefit from learning and teaching new technical skill sets.

Hope TEC also provides year-round youth programs for students at the kindergarten through 8th-grade levels. During the summer months, they enroll 60+ children. Hope TEC also partners with Chicago Mayor Emmanuel’s sponsored program, called One Summer Chicago. They hire, train, and mentor more than ten young people, ages 16 through 24, to work in their youth program. The majority of the children enrolled in the summer program are from families in a low-income bracket who enroll in their school’s free lunch programs, and 85% to 90% of the children live in the community. The program is operated by adults who have professional early childhood education experience and credentials. The program consists of educational learning, such as anti-bullying and self-confidence; basic computer training; robotic programming; PowerPoint presentations; 3D printing; and extracurricular programs. They culminate the summer program with a celebratory event where students give presentations to parents and sponsors about what they have learned and receive book bags and school supplies.

Hope TEC also established a partnership with Chicago State University allowing students to serve as mentors and instructors. CSU students can perform volunteer Service Learning Hours through Hope TEC.  The students assist with the Beginners Computer Class and the youth programs.

The outcomes from Hope TEC demonstrate how innovative IT retraining programs provide value in the community and to potential employers. Hope TEC educates and empowers more than 100 adults and youth each year with computer training programs, essential life skills workshops, job readiness training programs, and a host of youth enrichment programs.

Benefits for Adult Students:

  • Utilize technical skills to compete for and secure employment or to enhance existing employment status.
  • Continue education by enrolling in Junior College to pursue an undergraduate degree.
  • Empower those who are raising children to effectively utilize computer skills, assist their children with homework, extend their overall means of communication, and conduct online transactions or business.

Many of our Hope TEC students have stated that in addition to the exceptional educational program, they also enjoy Hope TEC’s safe and genuine services that lead the way to successful individual outcomes.

Benefits for Youth Students:

  • We provide a safe, educational, and engaging environment for our school-aged children
  • We equip youth with essential to advanced computer skills, including basic Windows operations, keyboarding, internet browsing, introduction to PowerPoint, 3D Printing, and more
  • We help connect youth with summer employment opportunities.
  • Our after-school homework assistance program serves as a protective function for youth who are at risk for failing school, particularly those who do not have other structured after-school activities or those whose parents do not have the education required to assist their children.
  • We educate our students with the necessary anti-bullying and other socials skills to help them use critical thinking skills so that they can diffuse delicate situations they may encounter in everyday life.
  • We provide a place where children experience how to bolster their range of coping strategies. They master the simple challenges of learning how to follow basic instructions, create things as a team, or conquer a physical team challenges.
  • Our youth demonstrate their mastery of the complex challenges associated with getting along with new groups of peers, learning how to ask for help from others, and taking manageable risks without parental guidance.
  • We broaden our children’s horizons via field trips, exposing them to the City of Chicago, including the ComEd Youth Energy Assistance Program, Chicago’s Water Taxi ride for sightseeing through the downtown Chicago Canal, Afterschool Matter Exhibits, museums, farms, and many other exciting and educational places.
  • Our program empowers youth by giving them new skills, ideas, strategies, relationships, with their peers, as well as with trusted adults. Our youth view themselves as competent and continue to be better problem-solvers in new situations long after they leave Hope TEC.

Hope TEC is making a difference by providing essential life skills, job training, professional development, and career paths to low-income youth and adults in Chicago. The partnership between Atos, Hope Presbyterian Church, and CCHHS should be a model for other communities to support, fund, and lead similar essential initiatives.  To learn more about Hope TEC, visit us at www.hopetec.org .

“I had some experience with Word, but I had no idea Word was this in-depth,” says Ken, who completed a three-part advanced study of the Microsoft application suite at Hope TEC. “This is a great benefit that’s much needed. With all that’s going on in Englewood, Hope TEC is a blessing. It’s a blessing for Englewood. It’s a blessing for Chicago, and more people need to know about it.”  After completing the Hope TEC program, Ken was hired by SCR Transportation as a desktop support analyst.

About Hope TEC
Hope TEC dedicated to serving some of the most technologically disadvantaged communities in America. They recognize the need for accessible real-life training in inner-city neighborhoods and the need to prepare its residents in the emerging global economy. Hope TEC believes in empowering people with computer training programs, educational classes, and employment opportunities. Hope TEC’s goal is to transform individual lives, enhance family lifestyles, and impact both individuals and their neighborhoods.

About the Authors:
Julie Collier is the Executive Director of Hope TEC for Atos
Reverend Sanders, Founder, and CEO of Hope TEC
Ron Quidatano is a Director with Atos Digital Health Solutions and the CCHHS Client Executive
Heather Haugen is the Chief Science Officer for Atos Digital Health Solutions
Inbal Vuletich serves as the editor for all Atos Digital Health Solution publications

Acknowledgments:
Special thanks to Chad Harris and Atos leadership for creating the vision for Hope TEC, to Cook County Health and Hospital System, and Ron Quidatano for leading the program.  We also owe our gratitude to the Board of Hope TEC.

About Atos Digital Health Solutions
Atos Digital Health Solutions helps healthcare organizations clarify business objectives while pursuing safer, more effective healthcare that manages costs and engagement across the care continuum. Our leadership team, consultants, and certified project and program managers bring years of practical and operational hospital experience to each engagement. Together, we’ll work closely with you to deliver meaningful outcomes that support your organization’s goals. Our team works shoulder-to-shoulder with your staff, sharing what we know openly. The knowledge transfer throughout the process improves skills and expertise among your team as well as ours. We support a full spectrum of products and services across the healthcare enterprise including Population Health, Value-Based Care, Security and Enterprise Business Strategy Advisory Services, Revenue Cycle Expertise, Adoption and Simulation Programs, ERP and Workforce Management, Go-Live Solutions, EHR Application Expertise, as well as Legacy and Technical Expertise. Atos is a proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene.

The Challenge of Medical Records Requests in the Healthcare Business Office – HIM Scene

Posted on July 10, 2018 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.

While at the HFMA Annual Conference (Formerly known as ANI), Healthcare Scene was able to sit down with Kim Charland, BA, RHIT, CCS, Director of Revenue Cycle Services at MRO, to talk about some unique issues with Release of Information (ROI) coming out of the healthcare business office.

This was an issue I hadn’t thought much about previously, but it makes a lot of sense that medical billing professionals probably aren’t the best people to be handling release of information to insurance companies. Billing professionals’ goal is to get paid, not ensure that they’re doing a proper release of information to payers. Plus, most of them have billing expertise, not ROI expertise. It makes a lot of sense for the business office to involve HIM professionals with release of information expertise into the process.

To learn more about this topic and what MRO is doing to help healthcare organizations address this compliance issue, watch the video interview below with Kim Charland:

If you’d like to receive future HIM posts in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

3 Key Steps to Driving your Revenue Strategy

Posted on July 9, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Brad Josephson is the Director of Marketing and Communications at PMMC.

For healthcare providers struggling to accurately collect reimbursement, developing a revenue strategy based off a foundation of accuracy is the most efficient way to ensure revenue integrity throughout the revenue cycle.

Currently, many hospitals operate under multiple systems running for their different departments within the organization. This type of internal structure can threaten the accuracy of the analytics because data is forced to come into multiple systems, increasing the chances that the data will be misrepresented.

By maintaining revenue integrity, not only does it give hospitals assurance that the data they’ve collected is current and accurate, but it also provides invaluable leverage with the payer when it comes time to (re)negotiating payer contracts.

Let’s begin by starting from the ground up…

Here are the 3 steps needed for maintaining revenue integrity:

  • Creating a foundation backed by accurate analytics
  • Breaking down the departmental siloes
  • Preparing ahead of time for consumerism and price transparency

Accuracy Drives Meaningful Analytics

The first step toward maintaining revenue integrity is to assess whether your data is accurate. We know that accurate data drives meaningful analytics, essentially functioning as the engine of the revenue cycle.

And what happens when you stop taking care of the engine regularly and it no longer works properly? It not only costs you a lot of money to repair the engine, but you may also have to pay for other parts of the car that were damaged by the engine failure.

What if, however, you were able to visualize pie charts and bar graphs on your car’s dashboard that showed the current health of the engine to inform you when it requires a maintenance check?

You would be better informed about the current state of your engine and have a greater urgency to get the car repaired.

This same principle applies to healthcare organizations looking to increase the accuracy of their data to drive meaningful analytics. While some organizations struggle to draw valuable insight from pieces of raw data, data visualization tools are more efficient because it allows the user to see a complete dashboard with a drill-down capability to gain a deeper and clearer understanding of the implications of their data analytics.

Data visualization allows healthcare providers to quickly identify meaningful trends. Here are the 4 key benefits of implementing data visualization:

  • Easily grasp more information
  • Discover relationships and patterns
  • Identify emerging trends faster
  • Directly interact with data

Figure 1: Payer Dashboard

Removing Departmental Siloes  

While data visualization does generate helpful insight into current and future trends, it begins with storing the data in one integrated system so that different departments can easily communicate regarding the data.

System integration is crucial to maintaining revenue integrity because it dramatically lowers the likelihood of data errors, missed reimbursement, and isolated decisions that don’t look at the full revenue picture. Here is a list of other issues associated with organizations running revenue siloes:

  • No consistent accuracy metrics driving performance and revenue.
  • Different data sources and systems drive independent and isolated decisions without known impact on the rest of the revenue cycle.
  • Departments cannot leverage analytics and insight into contract and payer performance.

In the spirit of the recent international World Cup games, think of revenue siloes like playing for a professional soccer team.

Similar to the structure of a hospital’s revenue team, soccer teams are large organizations that need to be able to clearly communicate with each other quickly in order to make calls on-the-spot. These quick decisions can be the difference in turning the ball over to the other team or scoring a goal in the final minutes so it’s crucial that everyone knows their role on the team.

If other players don’t understand the plays that are being called, however, then mistakes will be made that could cost them the game. Each player on the team needs to study the same playbook so they stay on the same page and decrease the chances that a costly mistake will be made.

A hospital’s Managed Care department works in a similar way. If Managed Care is preparing to renegotiate payer contracts, they need to fully understand and have insight into underpayment and denial trends across multiple payers.

Preparing Now for Consumerism and Price Transparency

Now that we know the reimbursement rate is accurate, how do we communicate an accurate price to patients in order to encourage upfront payment?

Studies have shown that by increasing accuracy in pricing estimates, it increases the likelihood that patients pay upfront, which can help your organization lower bad debt.

In an effort to migrate to a more patient-centric approach, these accurate online estimates also enable hospitals to address the patient’s fear of the unknown with healthcare of ‘how much is this procedure going to cost?’ By giving the patient more control over their financial responsibility, hospitals can become a leader in pricing transparency for their entire community while expanding on their market share.

At the end of the day, what this all comes down to is maintaining accuracy to help drive your revenue strategy. By integrating all data into a single system, the hospital is positioned to identify trends more quickly while increasing the accuracy of their patient estimates, ultimately driving your revenue strategy to new heights.

With many healthcare organizations still making the transition away from the traditional fee-for-service model, now is the time to prepare for consumerism and value-based care. Take some time to evaluate where your organization currently stands in the local market as well as any pricing adjustments that need to be made.

About Brad Josephson
Brad Josephson is the Director of Marketing and Communications at PMMC, a provider of revenue cycle software and contact management services for healthcare providers. Brad received a Bachelor of Arts, Public Relations and Marketing Degree from Drake University. He has worked at PMMC for over three years and has a deep knowledge of hospital revenue cycle management tools which improves the financial performance of healthcare organizations.

Pager Breach Exposes Patient Data From Six Hospitals

Posted on July 6, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

The IT worker was shocked. All he had done was buy an antenna and try to get TV channels on his laptop computer, but to his amazement, he inadvertently intercepted a flood of unencrypted pager messages chock full of private patient data.

The pager messages flooded in from six Kansas City area hospitals, including the University of Kansas Hospital, Cass County Regional, Liberty Hospital, Children’s Mercy Hospital, St. Mary’s Medical Center and Wesley Medical Center.  All told, the man had gotten access to information on hundreds of patients, in a fusillade of potential HIPAA violations.

According to an article in the Kansas City Star, patients who learned about the breach were horrified. “Who knows what else is going on, if it’s that easy for that information to get out there?” one woman told the newspaper. “There’s a big security breach there that needs to be stopped.”

When the paper spoke to the hospitals involved, some punted and didn’t respond to questions. Others shrugged off the problem or suggested that the breach was not a big deal.

For example, the University of Kansas told the reporter that the pager vulnerability was due to “a specific vulnerability in our paging system that may allow access to certain personal health information in limited circumstances.” It seems that an apology was not forthcoming.

Another hospital, Children’s Mercy, told the Star that the IT worker was to blame for the problem, contending that the pager data was only accessible to “local hackers with specific scanning and decoding equipment —- and technical knowledge of how to use it for this specific purpose.” In other words, the breach wasn’t really its fault.

As the article points out, the IT worker could be accused of violating the Electronic Communications Protection Act, which restricts the interception of electronic communications. For that reason, the paper never identifies him. But the article strongly suggests that he was surprised to see the messages and operated in good faith.

The worker, for his part, sensibly argues that the hospitals should have realized that the messages were in the clear. “It’s security by obscurity at this point —- and that’s scary,” he told the paper. “In my line of work you see a lot of ‘Let’s hope nobody finds it,’ [or] ‘It’s hard to find, so it’s pretty secure.’ That’s not enough. We can’t just trust people won’t stumble upon it. We have to assume that they do.”

“You’re Already Your Own Doctor”

Posted on July 3, 2018 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 always thoughtful Rasu Shrestha, MD, shared this image and tweet on Twitter:

I really appreciate Rasu pointing out how much of our health is influenced outside of the doctor’s office. Also, I love that Rasu is asking for participatory medicine and for patients to demand to be participants in their care. However, I wonder if the quote he shared from Tom Ferguson, MD is a bit too far: “You’re Already Your Own Doctor.” Of course, what’s amazing is that Dr. Ferguson was saying this in 1985. That’s surprising, but I wonder if the statement actually discourages doctors from having patients involved in their care.

I get the idea that many patients have been treated poorly in the past. However, how future patients respond will often determine how doctors will respond to them in the future. It doesn’t take many bad experiences for doctors to not want to have patients involved in their care. So, patients should demand participation in their care, but they should do so with respect.

What’s ironic is that those same patients who want doctors to respect them and respect their input as patients, treat their doctors with disrespect. I understand that many patients get burnt out. However, it’s amazing how care providers turn off when they’re disrespected. If the goal is to create more patient involvement in their care, we have to be careful not to burn bridges for other patients. I think calling the patient a doctor is going to far. Once again, it’s about participation in your care and not the patient becoming the doctor.

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report – What It Means for Healthcare

Posted on July 2, 2018 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.

If you’re not familiar with the famous Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report, then I’m glad to introduce it to you. It’s one of the most influential reports when it comes to what’s happening on the internet. The report is massive and covers a wide variety of topics. So, let’s check it out as a community and share the things that stand out to us and how these internet trends will impact healthcare.

The two trends that stood out to me were voice and personalization.

The graphs related to the quality of voice and the skills related to voice are astounding. It’s not that shocking to suggest that voice is the new interface. I see it first hand with my kids who are all about Alexa to get their questions answered. I’m increasingly doing it as well. Voice is going to change so many things including healthcare. It won’t be long before we’re asking Alexa (or choose your favorite voice app) to schedule an appointment, order a refill, or any number of healthcare related applications.

Along with the consumer voice applications, I also see voice entering the enterprise. In the next 5 years, I believe that exam rooms are going to be revolutionized by voice. The EHR interfaces that currently drive doctors nuts are going to be replaced by voice powered interfaces. It will take longer to fully spread, but we’re already starting to see this voice powered future.

The other trend that stood out for me was personalization. This is a scary trend for many people. However, that’s not true for the next generation. In fact, the fact that healthcare is not personalized is shocking. Not only does personalization not scare the next generation, it’s an expectation. Chew on what that means for the future of healthcare. That’s a massive sea change.

The great thing with personalization is that the data is now available to personalize the experience. We just haven’t seen the applications implemented in healthcare yet. It’s starting to happen though and a couple years from now it will increasingly be a requirement for modern healthcare providers.

Those are two trends that stood out to me. Take a look through the report and let us know what surprised you in the comments of this post or on Twitter with @HealthcareScene.

Healthcare Interoperability Insights

Posted on June 29, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I came across this great video by Diameter Health where Bonny Roberts talked with a wide variety of people at the interoperability showcase at HIMSS. If you want to get a feel for the challenges and opportunities associated with healthcare interoperability, take 5 minutes to watch this video:

What do you think of these healthcare interoperability perspectives? Does one of them stand out more than others?

I love the statement that’s on the Diameter Health website:

“We Cure Clinical Data Disorder”

What an incredible way to describe clinical data today. I’m not sure the ICD-10 code for it, but there’s definitely a lot of clinical data disorder. It takes a real professional to clean the data, organize the data, enrich the data, and know how to make that data useful to people. IT’s not a disorder that most people can treat on their own.

What’s a little bit scary is that this disorder is not going to get any easier. More data is on its way. Better to deal with your disorder now before it becomes a full on chronic condition.

Mobile App Streamlines Physician Query Process

Posted on June 28, 2018 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Most physicians would tell you that they already spend too much time on documentation and coding. Adding insult to injury, after the coding job is done we often have to explain their decisions to medical coders, a process which can take as long as 20 minutes, according to vendor Artifact Health.

Artifact hopes to take the pain out of the burdensome physician query process. It offers a mobile app allowing doctors to answer coding queries which it says allow them to resolve problems within just three clicks. Physicians can also access the platform on the desktop.

Its approach bears some relationship to a new product from vendor Change Healthcare, which has just launched RCM technology which helps doctors address claims documentation requests. Change’s Assurance Assist Module, which is part of its Assurance Reimbursement Management suite, can anticipate the documentation needs of eight payers, the company said.

I am interested in both of these approaches because I know that physicians are already struggling to manage medical coding within their own practices. Hospital queries are a challenging part of that mix and feels like a major chore for providers. In fact, if Artifact’s research is correct and each traditional query takes 20 minutes to resolve, physicians could conceivably end up a little time to do anything else.

So far, Artifact seems to be rolling along impressively. The vendor says that more than 50 hospitals have come on board with its technology, including five institutions from Johns Hopkins Medicine. According to the vendor, these hospitals solve physician response rate of almost 100% and average response time within 48 hours for all periods.

Meanwhile, the hospitals found that the time it took for claims to get paid (days in Accounts Receivable) fell substantially, Artifact reports.

Lest it sound like I’m an Artifact investor, let me raise the questions I ask every time I get a look at a new health IT startup:

  • What does the software cost?
  • How long does it usually take to go live with the platform?
  • How much man- or woman power will it take to install and maintain the software?

At the moment I don’t know. As we all know, not only the initial investment, but also implementation and maintenance can catch hospitals by surprise.

The truth is, it’s likely any vendor addressing aspects of hospital RCM will be somewhat expensive and somewhat complex to install. I wish there were workable benchmarks giving hospital leaders a preliminary sense of their potential investment.

Regardless, this is a worthwhile area for RCM vendors to attack. Even if all this technology did was give doctors some relief, it might reach ROI over time. When you consider that tools like these can help coders get clean claims out of the door, it’s even better.