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Many Providers Still Struggle With Basic Data Sharing

Posted on February 15, 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 www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

One might assume that by this point, virtually every provider with a shred of IT in place is doing some form of patient data exchange. After all, many studies tout the number of healthcare data send and receive transactions a given vendor network or HIE has seen, and it sure sounds like a lot. But if a new survey is any indication, such assumptions are wrong.

According a study by Black Book Research, which surveyed 3,391 current hospital EMR users, 41% of responding medical record administrators find it hard to exchange patient health records with other providers, especially if the physicians involved aren’t on their EMR platform. Worse, 25% said they still can’t use any patient information that comes in from outside sources.

The problem isn’t a lack of interest in data sharing. In fact, Black Book found that 81% of network physicians hoped that their key health system partners’ EMR would provide interoperability among the providers in the system. Moreover, the respondents say they’re looking forward to working on initiatives that depend on shared patient data, such as value-based payment, population health and precision medicine.

The problem, as we all know, is that most hospitals are at an impasse and can’t find ways to make interoperability happen. According to the survey, 70% of hospitals that responded weren’t using information outside of their EMR.  Respondents told Black Book that they aren’t connecting clinicians because external provider data won’t integrate with their EMR’s workflow.

Even if the data flows are connected, that may not be enough. Researchers found that 22% of surveyed medical record administrators felt that transferred patient information wasn’t presented in a useful format. Meanwhile, 21% of hospital-based physicians contended that shared data couldn’t be trusted as accurate when it was transmitted between different systems.

Meanwhile, the survey found, technology issues may be a key breaking point for independent physicians, many of whom fear that they can’t make it on their own anymore.  Black Book found that 63% of independent docs are now mulling a merger with a big healthcare delivery system to both boost their tech capabilities and improve their revenue cycle results. Once they have the funds from an acquisition, they’re cleaning house; the survey found that EMR replacement activities climbed 52% in 2017 for acquired physician practices.

Time for a comment here. I wish I agreed with medical practice leaders that being acquired by a major health system would solve all of their technical problems. But I don’t, really. While being acquired may give them an early leg up, allowing them to dump their arguably flawed EMR, I’d wager that they won’t have the attention of senior IT people for long.

My sense is that hospital and health system leaders are focused externally rather than internally. Most of the big threats and opportunities – like ACO integration – are coming at leaders from the outside.

True, if a practice is a valuable ally, but independent of the health system, CIOs and VPs may spend lots of time and money to link arms with them technically. But once they get in house, it’s more of a “get in line” situation from what I’ve seen.  Readers, what is your experience?

Generating serious ROI from your content — it’s no pipedream!

Posted on July 18, 2010 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.

As I’ve met with current and potential clients and partners, I’ve been lobbing what may be a heretical idea over the fence. The idea? That even though they’re not in the business of publishing newsletters and magazines or writing reports, the content they house can be turned into money, sometimes quickly.  And moreover, that they can measure how much value they’ve generated in real-dollar terms, at least some of the time.

When I say content can be turned to money, I have several models in mind. Some of them are already pretty familiar:

Marketing communications: Taking stories you already have internally — such as case studies on successful outcomes — and getting some publicity. That can certainly  help attract patients, though it’s hard to figure out just which patients were influenced by what  message.  Not hard to pull off, as we’re mostly talking text.

Price: $500 to $2,000 per case researched/written up if outsourced to serious marcomm pros

ROI: Potentially, some measurable increase in use of outpatient procedures which are needed, scary and common, as well as as well as new admissions, especially for specialties like OB/GYN where womend o a lot of shopping.  Wild guess in revenue? $500K per year for a 150-bed community hospital if a few good stories are developed and promoted.

* Recruitment:  Gathering stories from clinical staffers on how the find work-life balance and satisfaction when affiliated with your institution.  That can be a bit more complicated to do, as video, photos and scripts may be called for, but the right presentation can be killer — even viral!

Price: From $500 for a crude effort to $2,000 for a glossier series of profiles with backup campaign involved.

ROI: Again using the example of the 150-bed community, if you brought in even four nurses you’d probably save $200K in recruiting costs.

As for doctors, depending on the specialty the amount could vary widely, depending on what in-demand specialties  you managed to attract, but we both know it’s more cost-effective to find someone who really wants to work with your institution than folks who show up because you throw ’em a big bonus.  If all this strategy does is save you having to come up with another $100K to $150K recruitment bonus, mission more than accomplished.

Is that all you got? Nope!

Next, I’ll talk about less conventional ways to add revenue or save expenses through smart use of the content (and don’t be fooled, I mean waaaay more than editorial content).  We’re talking things as important as changing referral patterns and building community support for controversial new ventures through the use of “social content.”  More to come on this!