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On the 3rd Day of #HITChristmas … Kelly Benning from Halo Communications

Posted on December 15, 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.

Note: In case you missed the other 12 Days of #HITChristmas, you can start with the first day here along with the story behind #HITChristmas or read all 12 days here as they are published.

On the 3rd Day of #HITChristmas we’re excited to feature, Kelly Benning from Halo Communications.

Tell us a little about Halo Communications for those not familiar with the company.

Clinical communication and collaboration are the keys to better patient care and outcomes. One of the biggest challenges health systems continually face is poor and outdated communication technology – where analytics, security, reliability, speed and accuracy are all lacking.

Halo changes all of that. Providing fast delivery of actionable information across the acute and ambulatory environments, patients receive care faster, which leads to reduced length of stays and readmission rates. Better communication results in fewer errors, providing high patient and care team satisfaction.

What are some examples where the Halo Communications platform has improved patient care?

100% of our clients would buy from us again. We are extremely proud of this achievement! We know Halo improves a myriad of outcomes, so we typically begin helping organizations focus on the areas first that are an obvious impediment to patient care, such as pagers.  Halo replaces outdated pagers for providers and teams resulting in faster time to treatment, and importantly higher levels of provider and nurse satisfaction. The Halo platform allows providers to send and receive text messages that include complete patient information. The information provided means hospitalists can take action immediately to assist the patient. No need to call the operator for more details. And, no risk that there will be confusion about which patient needs care.  Pager replacement improves workflow efficiency and patient safety by reducing delays in care and ensuring treatment of the right patient at the right time.

Halo Communications seems to have a special place in their hearts for nurses.  For example, you’re hosting a “Most Interesting Nurse in the World” contest.  Where does this appreciation for nurses come from?

Jose Barreau, MD, founded Halo Communications because he wanted a better means of real time, mission critical communication between providers and nurses as well as between nurses or even nurse to patient, all from one easy to use platform. Dr. Barreau is passionate about nurses because he knows they are the backbone of real time patient care, which he witnessed each day in his oncology practice. When he noticed nurses carrying multiple devices and using multiple platforms to make calls or texts, combined with the amount of time they were spending in the EMR, he knew there had to be better solution. A solution which reduces nursing burnout and gives nurses more meaningful time with their patients.

What makes Halo Communications special in a pretty crowded healthcare communications space?

Halo is a clinical communications platform featuring Messaging, Voice and Alerts, powered by on-call Scheduling and Teams. As the only clinical collaboration company founded by a clinician, its sophisticated technology keeps the clinical experience at the forefront of mind, meaning we don’t hijack clinician and nursing workflows. And, because Halo is cloud based it is interoperable, highly configurable and scale-able for healthcare systems.

What can the healthcare IT community do to help Halo Communications?

The way healthcare organizations buy technology is primarily departmental, which leads to buying technology that is difficult to scale, pay for and manage. We see IT vendors, consultants and industry experts still focused on projects with tightly defined scopes, with one departmental buyer and one departmental defined end-user. While this does reduce risk for the healthcare systems, it also unfortunately leads to poor outcomes as they can never achieve the results that a true enterprise wide clinical collaboration platform can achieve.

IT vendors, consultants and industry experts can help healthcare systems focus on technology that is easiest to deploy, scale and maintain, which means system wide implementation and adoption. We have to help clients learn to assess risk better and take bigger risks that result in higher rewards associated with enterprise wide technology solutions.  We all need to help healthcare see the big picture.

Be sure to follow all of the 12 Day of #HITChristmas.

On the 1st Day of #HITChristmas … Joy Rios from ChirpyBird and HIT Like a Girl Podcast

Posted on December 13, 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.

One day as I was thinking about the holiday season, I was inspired by some people who had sent us 12 gifts to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. I’ve always loved the 12 days of Christmas ever since someone secret santa’d our family with big boxes of 12 gifts. I’ll never forget that really nice red backpack I got that Christmas.

Inspired by that memory, I decided to celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas here at Healthcare Scene by featuring 12 amazing people in healthcare IT. I just tweeted out a request for interesting healthcare IT people, companies, initiatives, etc that deserved a Christmas gift. So, for the next 12 days, we’ll be featuring a different one each day for our #HITChristmas. We hope you enjoy this spectrum of the broad Healthcare IT Community. We have some amazing people.

On the 1st Day of #HITChristmas we’re excited to feature, Joy Rios from ChirpyBird and HIT Like a Girl Podcast.

Tell us about yourself and ChirpyBird.

I’ve been working in healthIT since 2010, first with the EHR Incentive Program and later with PQRS. Now I work mainly in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) domain of CMS’ Quality Payment Program. Over the years, as I have learned about each of these programs, I’ve made a real effort to share my findings in the hopes of setting healthcare professionals up for success as they transition to value-based care. I’ve created several online and in-person training programs to help others navigate MIPS. I’ve also written 3 books, outlining the changes to each year’s rules for quality reporting.

Chirpy Bird Health IT Consulting is an extension of this effort. Our mission is to accelerate the adoption of value-based care through MIPS consulting. You can read more about us here: www.chirpybirdllc.com

People often ask where we got our business name. It’s a mix of the founding partners first names, Joy and Robin, so it made us think of a happy, or chirpy bird.

What are the good and the bad parts of the MACRA/MIPS government programs?  

The good: 
I think that there’s an opportunity to drive massive, bold changes in healthcare. For example, MACRA, along with the quality reporting programs that came before it, have contributed to the mass adoption of EHR technology nationwide, and is currently using its forces to push for interoperability.

In 2019 and going forward, MIPS has been modified to better address behavioral health issues, and specifically the opioid epidemic. I’m very excited to see what impacts can be made through a national focused effort to address the healthcare industry’s part in the opioid crisis.

The bad: 
Change on the scale of the value-based-care magnitude is going to take time. The transition should be looked at like a marathon, not a sprint. And unfortunately, we are a country with a hyper-focus on short-term gains.

As we transition to a more connected digital healthcare arena, we are at risk of doing more harm than good if the time isn’t taken to consider patient safety or quality during technology implementations.

A methodical approach, with a goal for continuous improvement rather than perfection will go a long way.

Where do you think all of these government regulations are heading?  Will they continue on their current course or do you expect big changes in the future?

If I could use my crystal ball, I’d predict that the MIPS program will be around at least through 2025, and in that time the number of private insurers will continue to dwindle, likely not to a single payer model, but it may potentially come close. Value-based care is here to stay as the fee-for-service model cannot be sustained.

The biggest changes will be in interoperability, tracking outcomes, as well as in patient engagement and experience.

You also do the HIT Like a Girl Podcast. Tell us about that and your goals for the podcast.

I have been incredibly inspired by the contributions and accomplishments of women in healthcare and yet when I got to health conferences, I just don’t see as much of their work displayed or their voices heard on stage.

If I could outline the HIT Like a Girl podcast ingredients, there’s a little “being the change you want to see in the world” mixed in with “empowered women empower women,” and a touch of “start before you’re ready.”

We want to highlight the role women play in the many areas within healthcare, learn from them, and share their experiences with our listeners. We strongly feel that knowing that there are ladies out there pushing their personal and professional boundaries allows others to follow their lead.

Our goal is to amplify their efforts and accomplishments to change the narrative and recognize more openly what women are bringing to the table in the health IT arena.

If you’ve missed an episode, check out www.HITlikeaGirlpod.com.

What would you like to see happen to better help women in healthcare IT?

It’s pretty simple. We believe that it’s time to end the age of the male heavy panel or “manel,” as it is often called and that women in healthcare should be recognized for their efforts, expertise, and contributions.

There is no shortage of smart women working in health IT.

Personally, I’d like to see more women in leadership roles of large corporations.

You are one of the nicest people in the world.  Is it hard to be that nice?

LOL. Thanks for this complement. I’m a pretty positive person – my name is Joy, after all – and in general, I find that being nice takes little effort. When I smile while on the phone, I truly believe that the person on the other end can tell. Taking a kind posture has definitely helped me have more open and meaningful interactions with people and it’s quite possibly led to more opportunity.

In the sense that “it takes one to know one,” I am very grateful to work not only with smart people, but also kind ones.

What can the healthcare IT community do for you?

Great question! If you work with doctors or other MIPS eligible clinicians, talk to them about the electronic exchange of health information among their provider networks and with their patients. Encourage them to get the technical capabilities such as a Direct address (aka HISP address) in place and are using 2015 Edition certified EHR technology for the 2019 performance year .On a practical level, these are the building blocks needed to be in place for interoperability to be achieved.

Be sure to follow all of the 12 Day of #HITChristmas.

Ukulele Serenade for a Thankless Healthcare Job

Posted on December 12, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by CT Lin MD, CMIO at University of Colorado Health.

I just spent some time on the phone with an informatics colleague going through a particularly tough time with an EHR replacement and upgrade. Some bad things had happened at the organization: a major visionary physician leader had quit, a department chair had assumed control and was tightening the control on “physician productivity”. Furthermore, a major EHR upgrade had gone wrong resulting in a major multi-day outage and highlighting glaring gaps in “down-time procedures.” Morale was very low.

This physician informaticist was reflecting on their ability to make a difference in an incredibly challenging environment- “Am I still up for confronting all the challenges of this job?” This person pointed out that “decisions are made and I’m left holding the bag.” “Physicians are angry and I have no good news to tell them and no resources to do anything about it.”

AND YET…

When I asked the pointed question- “Is it time for you to quit?” The response was telling.

“Actually, even if they asked me to step down from this informatics position, I LOVE getting in there and solving complicated problems so much that I would probably still do this work. Even for free.”

This eloquent statement reflects the core drivers of an effective and valuable physician informaticist.

Friedman, in a recent New York Times article, talks about the triple acceleration: climate change, globalization, and technology acceleration.  These are upending our world, rewriting the rules, and causing us to re-evaluate everything we thought we knew.

Our informatics work in healthcare is very similar. The rules change all the time- leaders change, visions change, vendors and products are always changing. Informaticists are the nexus between IT and clinicians, and are often blamed for anything that goes wrong. True story, when the WannaCry virus struck and took out the server farms at our transcription vendor last year (for SEVERAL WEEKS, our physicians and surgeon could not dictate their notes), the rumor within our organization was “You know, I heard that CT Lin shut that down because he just wants us to TYPE in his #*$&#$’ing EHR.”

If only I was that powerful. We often deal with problems not of our own making, limited or non-existent resources, and a lot of ambiguity.  So, “What can I do?” Here is my advice after walking a mile in my colleague’s shoes.

  1. Being a physician informaticist (PI) is often a thankless job. The quiet work we do: creating collaboration, understanding both IT and healthcare deeply, we translate and often avert disasters (avoiding bad design in templates, order sets, automated tools) that only we can see. When it works, the response is “Of course it was going to work. It is so simple.” When it doesn’t work, everyone knows it was you, even if it wasn’t.
  2. Your value to the leadership of the organization becomes more apparent over time- stay the course. When the PI stands up and helps calm the masses, when the PI can send email broadcasts or go to meetings and explain WHAT happened, and more importantly WHY and what is going to be done about it, he/she is usually more clear than the technologists and can speak the medical language of clinicians and patients. Over time, his/her value grows from being clear, steadfast, and a calming influence. Maybe the executives start including him/her in higher level decisions because they remember that value.
  3. Your value to the front line physicians and nurses is also incalculable. One time, a physician presumed that “Oh, the EHR project is going terribly… see how CT was walking with his head down and with that frown. Bad news.” On the other hand, being clear and concise (even if you can’t fix it) and being transparent about what is happening now and why, allows the PI to be a beacon in a storm, and the go-to person for clarity. PI’s often become a valued representative for physician interests.

As we talked this week, I had flashbacks of my years on the front lines doing this work. Over time, these memories are less like PTSD attacks and more like valued battle scars that one shows off proudly.

Thank you to our physician informaticists and our many colleagues working to adopt new technology- this song is dedicated to YOU.

Dear Burned Out Colleague (to Dear Theodosia, from Hamilton, the musical)

About CT Lin
CT Lin is a technophile, father, husband, ukulele enthusiast, and practicing physician. Dr. Lin is the Chief Medical Information Officer at University of Colorado Health. He writes a weekly blog on informatics and physician leadership at http://ctlin.blog.  CT uses creative and memorable techniques to help his organization through change from ukulele parodies to Haiku poems.

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.

Will Chatbots Be Embedded In Health IT Infrastructure Within Five Years?

Posted on December 10, 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.

Brace yourself: The chatbots are coming. In fact, healthcare chatbots could become an important part of healthcare organizations’ IT infrastructure, according to research released by a market analyst firm. I have my doubts but do read on and see what you think.

Jupiter Research is predicting that AI-powered chatbots will become the initial point of contact with healthcare providers for many consumers. As far as I know, this approach is not widespread in the US at present, though there are many vendors developing tools that they could deploy and we’ve seen some success from companies like SimplifiMed and big tech companies like Microsoft that are enabling chatbots as well.

However, Jupiter sees things changing rapidly over the next five years. It predicts that the number of chatbot interactions will shoot up at an average annual growth rate of 167%, from an estimated 21 million per year in 2018 to 2.8 billion per year in 2023.  By that point, healthcare will represent 10% of all chatbot interactions across major verticals, Jupiter says.

According to the market research firm, there are a number of reasons chatbot use in healthcare will grow so rapidly, including consumers’ growing comfort level with using chatbots to discuss their care. Jupiter also expects to see healthcare providers routinely use chatbots for customer experience management, though again, I’ve seen little evidence that this is happening just yet.

The massive growth in patient-chatbot interactions will also be fueled by a rise in the sophistication of conversational AI platforms, a leap so dramatic that consumers will handle a growing percentage of their healthcare business entirely via chatbot, the firm says. This, in turn, will free up medical staff time, saving countries’ healthcare systems around $3.7 billion by 2023.  This would prove to be a relatively modest savings for the giant US healthcare system, but it could be quite meaningful for a smaller country.

As healthcare organizations adopt chatbot platforms, their chief goal will be to see that information collected by chatbots is transferred to EHRs and other important applications, the report says. To make this happen, these organizations will have to make sure to integrate chatbot platforms with both clinical and line-of-business applications. (Vendors like PatientSphere already offer independent platforms designed to address such issues.)

All very interesting, no? Definitely. I share Jupiter’s optimistic view of the chatbot’s role in healthcare delivery and customer service and have little doubt that even today’s relatively primitive bots are capable of handling many routine transactions.

That being said, I’m thinking it will be more like 10 years before chatbots are used widely by providers. If what I’ve seen is any indication, it will probably take that long before conversational AI can truly hold a conversation. If we hope to use AI-based chatbots routinely at the front end of important processes, they’ll just have to be smarter.

The FHIR Backpedal, Voice Interfaces, OpenNotes, and Complacency – Twitter Roundup

Posted on December 6, 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.

Let’s take a quick trip around the Twittersphere and share some of the best healthcare related tweets we’ve seen recently. Plus, we’ll add a little commentary for each tweet as well. We hope you’ll add your commentary on Twitter with @healthcarescene and in the comments.


This might be a media back pedal. Everyone I’ve talked to that really understood FHIR has always said that the FHIR standard was not the end all be all interoperability solution. In fact, they specifically noted its limitations. Of course, that didn’t keep many outlets from reporting FHIR as the cure all. Glad to see they’re finally reporting on FHIR accurately. It’s good, but not a cure all interoperability solution.


Anyone that’s heard Colin Hung speak knows this is going to be a great webinar. Voice search and voice interfaces have become extremely popular. If you want to learn how they’re impacting healthcare, sign up for Colin’s webinar.


Powerfully simple story.


I think Aimee underestimates the power of complacency. However, I hope she’s right since long term complacency will feel really bad.