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An HIM Perspective of What Was Shared at #HIMSS18 – HIM Scene

Posted on March 9, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today is the final day of the HIMSS 2018 Annual Conference. While there are nearly 44k attendees at the conference and 1350 vendors, I didn’t meet a single HIM professional. I certainly didn’t meet all 44k attendees, but it’s safe to say that the HIM community wasn’t well represented at the HIMSS conference. It’s unfortunate because healthcare IT initiatives can really benefit from the HIM perspective.

Since many HIM professionals weren’t in attendance, I thought it would be beneficial to share some insights into trends I saw at HIMSS 2018 that could be beneficial to HIM professionals.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)
AI was the hottest topic at HIMSS 2018. It seemed like every vendor was saying that they were doing some sort of AI. Of course, many used the AI term very broadly. It included everything from simple analytics to advanced AI. In some ways, that’s corrupted the term AI, but what’s clear is that lots of companies are using data to provide insights and to automate a wide variety of healthcare work.

Another great insight I heard was that revenue cycle management and other financial areas are a great place to start with AI because they’re seen as less risky. When you’re applying AI to clinical use cases, you have to worry a lot more about being wrong. However, the consequences aren’t nearly as damaging when you’re talking about the financial side of healthcare.

Information Governance and Clean Data
At HIMSS 2018 I heard over and over the importance of having clean data. If AI was the hottest topic at HIMSS 2018, none of that AI will really matter or provide the value it should provide if the data is inaccurate and not trusted. This is why the work that HIM professionals do to ensure effective information governance is so important. It’s almost cliche to say bad data in leads to bad insights out. However, it’s cliche because it’s true. HIM needs to play an important role in making sure we have accurate data that can be trusted by AI applications and therefore the providers that receive those insights.

Texting Patients Is Not a HIPAA Violation
No doubt this will feel like news for many of you. It may even scare many HIM professionals. However, OCR Director Severino made it clear that Texting Patients is Ok. I won’t dive into the details here, but read the article by Mike Semel which outlines what was said at HIMSS 2018 in regards to texing patients.

Healthcare Chatbots
I didn’t see any healthcare chatbots that are solving HIM’s problems. However, when you look at the various healthcare chatbots out there, there’s no reason why a healthcare chatbot couldn’t do amazing things for HIM professionals. Here’s a framework for healthcare chatbots that companies should consider. What mundane tasks are well defined that could be automated by a healthcare chatbot? When you ask this question, you’ll see how chatbots are something HIM professionals should embrace. There’s a lot of mundane HIM work that could be done by a chatbot which frees them to work on the more challenging HIM issues.

Patient Access to Medical Records Is No Longer Controversial
While some specific individuals have fears related to access to medical records, it’s been proven across every type of healthcare organization that providing patients’ access to their medical records is right thing to do. The fears people have are unfounded and that patients find this extremely valuable. I heard one person say that they no longer will do visits with doctors who will not give them access to their records.

Those were some high level insights from a HIM perspective. Lots of exciting things when it comes to technology and HIM. What do you think of these changes, announcements, and trends? We’d love to hear your thoughts and perspectives in the comments.

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

The Full Spectrum of Information Governance – HIM Scene

Posted on February 7, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Information governance is such an important topic across so many areas of healthcare. It impacts almost every organization and quite frankly takes the full organization to buy in to ensure proper information governance. Doing it right is going to be essential for any healthcare organization to work efficiently and effectively in the future.

While information governance impacts everyone in healthcare, I have to give credit to AHIMA and their HIM professional community for leading the way on the topic of information governance. A great illustration of this leadership is in the AHIMA Information Governance Adoption Model Competencies (IGAM):

*Thanks to HIM professional, Katherine Downing for sharing it on Twitter.

I think a lot of people that work in a hospital and healthcare system don’t recognize a lot of these areas of information governance. At least they don’t look at them from that lens.

My favorite part of this model is that it starts with creating the right information governance structure and the strategic alignment. If you don’t get the right people assigned as part of their job to work on information governance, it will never happen. Plus, if you don’t realize how information governance aligns with the organizations priorities, then you’ll fall short as well.

How far along are you in your information governance efforts? Have you incorporated all of the above elements into your information governance strategy? We’d love to hear your experiences, insights, and perspectives in the comments.

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

Excitement Mixed with Realism at Top Of Mind 2018

Posted on December 18, 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.

The recent #TopOfMind2018 conference hosted by the Center of Connected Medicine was one of the best events of 2017. A stellar lineup of speakers was matched by an equally outstanding group of attendees. Together this combination created an atmosphere of realistic excitement – a unique mixture of exuberant enthusiasm for the latest healthcare technology (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Cybersecurity, Home Monitoring) tempered by sobering doses of reality (lack of patient access and poor usability).

One of the most engaging presentations was delivered by Jini Kim, Founder and CEO at Nuna. She opened by recounting her hilarious first-ever conversation with President Obama. Very early one morning (around 3am PT), Kim got a call on her cell phone from an unknown Washington number. When she answered the person on the other end introduced himself as President Obama. Kim reacted as I’m sure many of us would – with disbelief – and said as much to the caller. Obama laughed and said “I get that a lot, but seriously this is the President of the United States and I’m calling because your country needs you”. Kim compared that moment to feeling like a superhero being invited to join the Avengers.

Kim was one of six people handpicked by the President and his advisors to fix the failed website. For the incredible behind-the-scenes look at how this team was recruited and how they fixed the site, check out this amazing Time article.

In front of a slide that showed her company’s mantra, “Every row of data is a life whose story should be told with dignity”, Kim told story after story about how healthcare organizations would bring her in to help solve difficult healthcare problems. What Kim realized through that work was how badly health data is stored, protected and used.

In project after project, her team was tasked with bringing order to data chaos. One of the biggest challenges they encountered over and over again was bringing together massive amounts of data that was stored in different formats and used different terminologies.

Kim’s presentation was an effective counterbalance to the presenters just before her who had spoken excitedly about the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). She cautioned the #TopOfMind2018 audience not to get too distracted by the shiny new AI object.

So much work needs to be done on the basics first before we can effectively apply AI. We need to get back to basics: data integrity and data cleansing. It’s not sexy, but if we don’t fix that then the more advanced technologies that layer on top will simply not work.

The session presented by Erin Moore, patient advocate and healthcare innovation consultant, made the biggest impact on the audience. For 45 minutes, she shared her deeply personal healthcare story, which started when her son Drew was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis seven years ago. Moore took the audience on an emotional roller coaster ride that mirrored her own family’s journey – from small wins (finding a doctor who would listen) to draining setbacks (medications changed without explanation) and from serendipitous windfalls (a researcher sent her an app that encouraged Drew to take his medication) to scratch-your-head moments (having to manually build Drew’s medical record by going to each provider and filling out forms in order for the information to be released).

There were two memorable takeaways from Moore’s presentation. First, was her story of how eye-opening it was for Susanna Fox, then Chief Technology Officer of the US Department of Health and Human Services, to spend the day shadowing Drew (virtually). Whenever Drew had to take his medication, Fox would pop a Tic-Tac. 500 Tic-Tacs and multiple hours waiting for appointments later, Fox had a new appreciation for how all-consuming it was to be the caregiver to someone who has cystic fibrosis. You can read more about Fox’s experience in her revealing blog post.

Second, was Moore’s double challenge to the audience:

  • To truly walk a mile in your end-users world when creating/designing the next generation products.
  • To make products truly interoperable.

The best unscripted moment of #TopOfMind2018 came from Amy Edgar, a #pinksocks #hcldr #TheWalkingGallery member. In one of the early Q&A sessions, she asked the speaker “How do we prevent digital health from becoming the next snake oil”. For a moment there was stunned silence as the room absorbed the full weight of Edgar’s comment.

For the rest of the day #TopOfMind2018 master of ceremonies Rasu Shrestha and other presenters made reference to snake oil. Edgar’s comment was even the inspiration for a recent HCLDR tweetchat that followed on the heels of the conference.

Overall #TopOfMind2018 was one of my most memorable conference experiences of 2018. The presentations were interesting. The venue was fantastic. Everything ran smoothly. Above all the people at the event were amazing.

Special Note: Thank you to Larry Gioia for organizing an amazing meetup during #TopOfMind2018 that was inclusive of #HITsm #HITMC #HCLDR #pinksocks and #TheWalkingGallery

An HIM Twitter Roundup – HIM Scene

Posted on December 13, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

For those that aren’t participating on Twitter, you’re missing out. The amount of knowledge and information that’s shared on Twitter is astounding. The problem is that many people think that Twitter is where you go to talk about yourself. Certainly, that’s an option if you want to do that, but I find that consuming information that people share on Twitter is extremely valuable.

If you’ve never done Twitter before, sign up (it’s free) and then you need to go in and follow about 50 HIM professionals and other healthcare influencers. You can start by following @healthcarescene. HIM professionals are easy to find. Just search for the term AHIMA or ICD-10 and you’ll find a lot of them to follow.

Ok, enough of the Twitter lesson. Just to show you some of the value of Twitter, here’s a quick roundup of HIM related tweets. Plus, I’ll add a little commentary of my own after each tweet.

This is becoming such an important role for HIM professionals in a healthcare organization. HIM staff can do an amazing work ensuring that the data that’s stored in an EHR or other clinical system is accurate. If the data’s wrong, then all these new data based decisions are going to be wrong.

I think upcoding stories are like an accident on the freeway. When you see one you just have to look.

I’m still chewing on this one. Looks like a lot of deep thoughts at the AHIMA Data Summit in Orlando.

The opioid epidemic is such an issue. We need everyone involved to solve it. So, it’s great to see HIM can help with the problem as well. I agree that proper documentation and EHR interoperability is a major problem that could help the opioid epidemic. It won’t solve everything, but proper EHR documentation is one important part.

This is an illustration of where healthcare is heading. So far we’ve mostly focused on data collection. Time to turn the corner and start using that data in decision making.

Healthcare Always Has a Why Not – Essential to Focus on the Why To

Posted on December 11, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and 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 recently hosted two roundtables at the Digital Healthcare Transformation conference around the topics of IoT (Internet of Things) and Wearables. The discussion at these roundtables was fascinating and full of promise. Although, it was also clear that all of these healthcare organizations were trying to figure out what was the right strategy when it came to IoT and wearables in their hospitals and health systems. In fact, one of the big takeaways from the roundtables was that the best strategy right now was to have a strategy of experimentation and learning.

While good advice, I was also struck by a simple concept that I’ve seen over and over in healthcare:

If you want a reason not to do something in healthcare, you’ll find one.

It’s a sad, but true principle. Healthcare is so complex that if you want to make an excuse find a reason not to do something, then you can easily find it. In fact, you can usually find multiple reasons.

The most egregious example of this is HIPAA. HIPAA has been an excuse not to do more things in healthcare than any other excuse in the book. When someone says that “HIPAA won’t allow us to do this” then we should just start translating that to mean “I don’t want to do this and so I’m pulling my HIPAA card.” HIPAA certainly requires certain actions, but I know of almost anything that can’t be done in healthcare that could still satisfy HIPAA requirements. At a minimum, you can always ask the patient to consent to essentially wave HIPAA and if the patient consents then you’re not in violation of HIPAA. However, in most cases you can meet HIPAA security and compliance requirements without having to go that far. However, if you’re looking for a reason not to do something, just say HIPAA.

Another one I’ve seen used and is much harder is when someone says, “I think this risks the quality of care we provide.” Notice the emphasis on the word THINK. Healthcare providers don’t have to have any evidence that a new technology, workflow, process, etc actually risks the quality of care. They just have to think that it could reduce the quality of care and it will slow everything down and often hijack the entire project. Forget any sort of formal studies or proof that the changes are better. If the providers’ gut tells them that it could risk the quality of care, it takes a real leader to push beyond that complaint and to force the provider to spend the time necessary to translate why their gut tells them it will be worse.

If we focus on the Why Not in healthcare, we’ll always find it. That’s why healthcare must focus on the Why to!

Use the examples of IoT or wearables and think about all the reasons healthcare should use these new technologies. It’s amazing how this new frame of reference changes your perspective. Wearables can help you understand the patient beyond the short time they spend in the hospital or doctor’s office. Wearables can help you better diagnose a patient. Wearables can help you better understand a chronic patient’s habits. etc etc etc. You obviously have to go much deeper into specific benefits, but you get the idea.

What I’ve found is that once you figure out the “Why to” make a change or implement a new technology, then it’s much easier to work through all of the “Why nots.” In fact, it turns the Why Nots into problems that need to be solved rather than excuses to not even consider a change. You can solve problems. Excuses are often impossible to overcome.

I’d love to hear your experience with this idea. Have you seen Why Nots hijack your projects? What are some of the other Why Not reasons you’ve seen? Has the move to asking “Why to” helped you in your projects?

KLAS Summit: Digital Health Investment

Posted on December 4, 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

Healthcare Investing and Innovation: Asking the right questions.

KLAS research hosted a digital health investment symposium in Park City, Utah. One of my main takeaways was the importance of asking the right questions to healthcare stakeholders. This includes asking investors what they are interested in.

This one-day work collaboration focused on round table discussions about the interests of investors and providers in digital health. Aligning investor interests with provider needs is one of the biggest needs of healthcare. We want good capital to get to good companies. While at the round table, one of the best comments I heard was that some of the design isn’t centered around the end user. If physicians are responsible for using a product it needs to align to their interests.

Unfortunately, too many people don’t ask the right questions. A technology company might not understand their value proposition in healthcare. I’ve seen companies criticize a lack of technology adoption in healthcare. These are companies that didn’t have a clear picture of what they offered. They also didn’t have a tested healthcare product Or they didn’t ask the specific potential user what they need.

Many of the successful investors at the summit had significant operating experience in the digital health world or operations world. They contributed–if you are a technology looking for a problem, you will struggle in healthcare. You aren’t meeting a need in the market. Some shiny tech solutions are created without real consideration for end users or need. There is no market need for what some people create. Ask yourself if you are user focused. Are you building something that physicians will add to their workflow?  Did you consult physicians? What about patients?

One of the interesting parts of this summit was how many participants asked not to be quoted or mentioned as part of the effort. Many of the most important healthcare collaborative efforts happen in private meetings or surrounding larger healthcare events. The quality of conversation behind closed doors helps move healthcare progress forward.  What role does journalism play in driving this healthcare conversation? This was my personal question from the event.

Discussing barriers to adoption and success needs a private platform. KLAS research has been convening these conversations in alignment with their research and mission of providing transparency about quality and I was impressed with the amount of interest in workflow and informatics. The stereotype of an investor with no experience in healthcare is not representative of the investors present at the KLAS event. There were years of operator,  innovator, and code experience in digital health. A successful investor in digital health comes with the ability to contribute to design and network developed through years of successful companies.

Can we deliver the correct answers and create an environment of improved workflow and creating products that improve healthcare?

Here are the top 10 questions I took away from the KLAS Investor Summit

  1. What type of problems do you like to solve?
  2. How long have you been trying to solve the problems you are trying to solve?
  3. How has the nature of the problem you are trying to solve evolved?
  4. What are better questions to ask at this type of summit?
  5. What do you like to invest in?
  6. What companies do you currently invest in?
  7. How do you see creating change at the national level?
  8. What are the digital health initiatives that are important to people?
  9. What are the problems that aren’t being articulated in public discourse that digital health can speak to?
  10. What are you most excited about in digital health?

Remember the importance of asking what people need when approaching investors.

Study Suggests That Hospitals Do Better With Richer Clinical EHR Tech Support

Posted on November 29, 2017 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

It’s hardly a mystery that providers get more use out of health IT when they get good support from the vendors who created it. According to one study, however, today’s vendors need to go further with the tech support offerings, including services extending from helpdesk through engineering interventions.

The study, conducted by research firm Black Book, involved interviewing 4,446 nurses and physicians about the quality of clinical tech support services needed to have an impact on patient care. A large majority (85%) of clinicians said that delivery of patient care services is undermined substantially by subpart user tech support, Black Book reports.

Additional interesting data came from the 1,103 respondents who reported having worked in varied facilities using different EHR systems, which gave them perspective on how tech support options impacted clinical care. Of that group, 77% of nurses and 89% of doctors said the hospitals benefited from advanced tech support, which created an excellent EHR end-user experience.

All that being said, hospital financial leaders didn’t seem confident that they could afford to pay for top-tier tech support for health IT tools. According to the survey, 155 of the 180 CFOs and financial executives who responded to the survey felt they faced too many challenges and had too few resources budgeted for 2018 to spend on additional EHR support next year.

On the other hand, the CFOs are going to get pushback from their colleagues in other departments, the survey suggests. According to the study, 49 of 82 CMOs said they were routinely discontented with a range of tech support provided to the nursing and physician employees. Meanwhile, 80% of the 1,319 IT management and CIO respondents reported that they were seeing a steep increase in clinical grievances after EHR implementation, especially among physicians.

And if they have the opportunity, they’re going to demand more from vendors on the tech support front. In fact, 70 of the 82 hospital CMOs surveyed believe that the availability of multi-level tech support from their health records vendors will be a top competitive differentiator distinguishing one inpatient EHR from the others.

So here, we have the makings of some serious financial tensions between hospitals and EHR vendors. On the one hand, CFOs are signaling that they don’t want to pay extra for additional support, even if it has the potential for improving clinical performance. CIOs and CMO’s, for their part, are willing to shortlist vendors that do a better job of supporting key end-users like physician after EHR rollouts.

Will the more aggressive vendors absorb the cost of delivering more comprehensive, clinical-friendly tech support? Or will hospital financial leaders give in to internal pressure and pay for more sophisticated support?  It’s too soon to tell who has more muscle here, but my guess is that given the still-crowded EHR market, the vendors will eventually be forced to give in and offer better tech support options as part of their base price. My guess is that hospitals still hold more of the cards.

Providing ongoing support for an EHR and other healthcare IT has become such a challenge, we’ve made it one of the themes at our new Health IT Expo conference. If finding a sustainable way to support your EHR at every tier, then join us in New Orleans to learn and share with other hospital organizations that are going through the same challenges.

CHIME Suspends the $1 Million Dollar National Patient ID Challenge

Posted on November 17, 2017 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the 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 and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

CHIME just announced that they’ve suspended their National Patient ID Challenge. For those not familiar with the challenge, almost 2 years ago CHIME Announced a $1 million prize for companies to solve the patient identification and matching problem in healthcare. Here’s the description of the challenge from the HeroX website that hosted the challenge:

The CHIME National Patient ID Challenge is a global competition aimed at incentivizing new, early-stage, and experienced innovators to accelerate the creation and adoption of a solution for ensuring 100 percent accuracy in identifying patients in the U.S. Patients want the right treatment and providers want information about the right patient to provide the right treatment. Patients also want to protect their privacy and feel secure that their identity is safe.

And here’s the “Challenge Breakthrough” criteria:

CHIME Healthcare Innovation Trust is looking for the best plan, strategies and methodologies that will accomplish the following:

  • Easily and quickly identify patients
  • Achieve 100% accuracy in patient identification
  • Protect patient privacy
  • Protect patient identity
  • Achieve adoption by the vast majority of patients, providers, insurers, and other stakeholders
  • Scale to handle all patients in the U.S.

When you look at the fine print, it says CHIME (or the Healthcare Innovation Trust that they started to host the challenge) could cancel the challenge at any time without warning or explanation including removing the Prize completely:

5. Changes and Cancellation. Healthcare Innovation Trust reserves the right to make updates and/or make any changes to, or to modify the scope of the Challenge Guidelines and Challenge schedule at any time during the Challenge. Innovators are responsible for regularly reviewing the Challenge site to ensure they are meeting all rules and requirements of and schedule for the Challenge. Healthcare Innovation Trust has the right to cancel the Challenge at any time, without warning or explanation, and to subsequently remove the Prize completely.

It seems that CHIME’s legally allowed to suspend the challenge. However, that doesn’t mean that doesn’t burn the trust of the community that saw them put out the $1 million challenge. The challenge created a lot of fanfare including promotion by ONC on their website, which is a pretty amazing thing to even consider. CHIME invested a lot in this challenge, so it must hurt for them to suspend it.

To be fair, when the challenge was announced I hosted a discussion where I asked the question “Is this even solvable?” At 100% does that mean that no one could ever win the challenge? With that in mind, the challenge always felt a bit like Fool’s Gold to me and I’m sure many others. I thought, “CHIME could always come back and make the case that no one could ever reach 100% and so they’d never have to pay the money.” Those that participated had to feel this as well and they participated anyway.

The shameful part to me is how suspending the competition is leaving those who did participate high and dry. I asked CHIME about this and they said that the Healthcare Innovation Trust is still in touch with the finalists and that they’re encouraging them to participate in the newly created “Patient Identification Task Force.” Plus, the participants received an honorarium.

Participation in a CHIME Task Force and the honorarium seems like a pretty weak consolation prize. In fact, I can’t imagine any of the vendors that participated in the challenge would trust working with CHIME going forward. Maybe some of them will swallow hard and join the task force, but that would be a hard choice after getting burnt like this. It’s possible CHIME is offering them some other things in the background as well.

What’s surprising to me is why CHIME didn’t reach out to the challenge participants and say that none of them were going to win, but that CHIME still wanted to promote their efforts and offerings to provide a solid benefit to those that participated. CHIME could present the lessons learned from the challenge and share all the solutions that were submitted and the details of where they fell short and where they succeeded. At least this type of promotion and exposure would be a nice consolation prize for those who spent a lot of time and money participating in the challenge. Plus, the CIOs could still benefit from something that solved 95% of their problems.

Maybe the new Patient Identification Task Force will do this and I hope they do. CHIME did it for their new Opioid Task Force at the Fall Forum when they featured it on the main stage. How about doing the same for the Patient Identification Challenge participants? I think using the chance to share the lessons learned would be a huge win for CHIME and its members. I imagine it’s hard for CHIME to admit “failure” for something they worked on and promoted so much. However, admitting the failure and sharing what was learned from it would be valuable for everyone involved.

While I expect CHIME has burnt at least some of the challenge participants, the CHIME CIO members probably knew the challenge was unlikely to succeed and won’t be burnt by this decision. Plus, the challenge did help to call national attention to the issue which is a good thing and as they noted will help continue to push forward the national patient identifier efforts in Washington. Maybe now CHIME will do as Andy Aroditis, Founder and CEO of NextGate, suggested in this article where Shaun Sutner first reported on issues with the CHIME National Patient ID Challenge:

Aroditis complained that rather than plunging into a contest, CHIME should have convened existing patient matching vendors, like his company, to collaborate on a project to advance the technology.

“Instead they try to do these gimmicks,” Aroditis said.

I imagine that’s what CHIME would say the Patient Identification Task Force they created will now do. The question is whether CHIME burnt bridges they’ll need to cross to make that task force effective.

The reality is that Patient Identification and Patient Matching is a real problem that’s experienced by every healthcare organization. It’s one that CHIME members feel in their organizations and many of them need better solutions. As Beth Just from Just Associates noted in my discussion when the challenge was announced, $1 million is a drop in the bucket compared to what’s already been invested to solve the problem.

Plus, many healthcare organizations are in denial when it comes to this problem. They may say they have an accuracy of 98%, the reality is very different when a vendor goes in and wakes them up to what’s really happening in their organization. This is not an easy problem to solve and CHIME now understands this more fully. I hope their new task force is successful in addressing the problem since it is an important priority.

Opening the Door to Data Analytics in Medical Coding – HIM Scene

Posted on November 15, 2017 I Written By

The following is a HIM Scene guest blog post by Julia Hammerman, RHIA, CPHQ, is Director of Education and Compliance, himagine solutions.

Data analytics has moved from IT and finance to the majority of business functions—including clinical coding. However, most healthcare organizations admit they could do more with analytics. This month’s HIM Scene blog explores the importance of analyzing clinical coding data to improve quality, productivity, and compliance.

Coding Data in ICD-10: Where We Are Today

HIM leaders are implementing coding data analytics to continually monitor their coding teams and cost-justify ongoing educational investments. Coding data analytics isn’t a once-and-done endeavor. It is a long-term commitment to improving coding performance in two key areas: productivity and accuracy.

A Look at Productivity Data

Elements that impact coding productivity data include: the type of electronic health record (EHR) used, the number of systems accessed during the coding process, clinical documentation improvement (CDI) initiatives, turnaround time for physician queries, and the volume of non-coding tasks assigned to coding teams.

Once any coding delays caused by these issues are corrected, coding productivity is best managed with the help of data analytics. For optimal productivity monitoring, the following data must be tracked, entered, and analyzed:

  • Begin and end times for each record—by coder and chart type
  • Average number of charts coded per hour by coder
  • Percentage of charts that take more than the standard minutes to code—typically charts with long lengths of stay (LOS), high dollar or high case mix index (CMI)
  • Types of cases each coder is processing every day

A Look at Accuracy Data

Accuracy should never be compromised for productivity. Otherwise, the results include denied claims, payer scrutiny, reimbursement issues, and other negative financial impacts.

Instead, a careful balance between coding productivity and accuracy is considered best practice.

Both data sets must be assessed simultaneously. The most common way to collect coding accuracy data is through coding audits and a thorough analysis of coding denials.

  • Conduct routine coding accuracy audits
  • Analyze audit data to target training, education and other corrective action
  • Record data so that back-end analysis is supported
  • Assess results for individual coders and the collective team

Using Your Results

Results of data analysis are important to drive improvements at the individual level and across entire coding teams. For individuals, look for specific errors and provide coaching based on the results of every audit. Include tips, recommendations, and resources to improve. If the coding professional’s accuracy continues to trend downward, targeted instruction and refresher coursework are warranted with focused re-audits to assure improvement over time.

HIM and coding managers can analyze coding audit data across an entire team to identify patterns and trends in miscoding. Team data pinpoints where multiple coders may be struggling. Coding hotlines or question queues are particularly helpful for large coding teams working remotely and from different geographic areas. Common questions can be aggregated for knowledge sharing across the team.

Analytics Technology and Support: What’s Needed

While spreadsheets are still used as the primary tool for much data analysis in healthcare, this option will not suffice in the expanded world of ICD-10. Greater technology investments are necessary to equip HIM and coding leaders with the coding data analytics technology they need.

The following technology guidelines can help evaluate new coding systems and level-up data analytics staff:

  • Data analytics programs with drill-down capabilities are imperative. These systems are used to effectively manage and prevent denials.
  • Customized workflow management software allows HIM and coding leaders to assign coding queues based on skillset.
  • Discharged not final coded and discharged not final billed analytics tools are important to manage each piece of accounts receivables daily and provide continual reporting.
  • Systems should have the ability to build rules to automatically send cases to an audit queue based on specific factors, such as diagnosis, trend, problematic DRGs.
  • Capabilities to export and manipulate the data within other systems, such as Excel, while also trending data are critical.
  • Staff will need training on advanced manipulation of data, such as pivot charts.
  • Every HIM department should have a copy of the newly revised AHIMA Health Data Analysis Toolkit, free of charge for AHIMA members.

HIM directors already collect much of the coding data required for improved performance and better decision-making. By adding data analytics software, organizations ensure information is available for bottom-line survival and future growth.

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RCM Tips And Tricks: To Collect More From Patients, Educate And Engage Them

Posted on November 1, 2017 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

Hospitals face particularly difficult challenges when trying to collect on patient bills. When you mix complex pricing structures, varied contracts with health insurers and dizzying administrative issues, it’s hard to let patients know what they’re going to owe, much less collect it.

Luckily, RCM leaders can make major progress with patient collections if they adopt some established (but often neglected) strategies. In short, to collect more from patients you need to educate them about healthcare financial issues, develop a trusted relationship with them and make it easy for them to pay that bill.

As a thought exercise, let’s assume that most patients want to pay their bills, but may need encouragement. While nobody can collect money from consumers that refuse to pay, you can help the willing ones prepare for the bills they’ll get. You can teach them to understand their coverage. In some cases, you can collect balances ahead of time. Toss in some smart patient engagement strategies and you could be golden.

What will that look like in practice? Check out this list of steps hospitals can take to improve RCM results directly, courtesy of a survey of hospital execs by Becker’s Hospital Review:

  • Sixty-five percent suggested that telling patients the amount due before they come to an appointment would be helpful.
  • Fifty-two percent believe that having more data on patients’ likelihood to pay could improve patient collections results
  • Forty-seven percent said that speaking to clients in different ways depending on the state of the finances would help improve patient collections.
  • Forty-two percent said that offering customers payment plans would be valuable.

Of course, you won’t be doing this in a vacuum, and some of the trends affecting patient financial responsibility are beyond your control. For example, unless something changes dramatically, many patients will continue to struggle with high-deductible health coverage. Nobody – except the health insurers – likes this state of affairs, but it’s a fact of life.

Also, it’s worth noting that boosting patient engagement can be complicated and labor-intensive. To connect with patients effectively, hospitals will need to fight a war on many fronts. That means not only speaking to patients in ways they understand, but also offering well-thought-out hospital-branded mobile apps, an effective online presence and more. You’ll want to do whatever it takes to foster patient loyalty and trust. Though this may sound intimidating, you’ll like the results you get.

However, there are a few strategies that hospitals can implement relatively quickly. In fact, the Becker’s survey results suggest that hospitals already know what they need to do — but haven’t gotten around to it.

For example, 87% of hospital respondents said they had a problem with collecting co-pays before appointments, 85% said knowing how much patients can pay was important, and 76% of respondents said that simplifying bills was a problem for them. While it may be harder than it looks to execute on these strategies, it certainly isn’t impossible.