Meaningful Use Stage 2 begins on January 1, 2014, and while many health-care providers have implemented electronic medical records (EMRs) in preparation, stumbling blocks exist. Here are three of them.
Getting patients to use portals. More than 50% of patients seen during the reporting period must receive timely online access to their health information, which means within four business days. Additionally, more than 5% of patients seen in that period must actually, "view, download, or transmit to a third party their health information."
Exchanging data. Health-care providers must provide a summary-of-care record for more than 50% of transitions of care and referrals, and for 10% of those transitions, the summary must be transmitted electronically. Moreover, at least one exchange must occur with a recipient who uses a different EMR. And, the data must be able to be generated in a specified format.
Creating medication and lab orders. More than 60% of medication orders and 30% of lab test orders must be done electronically, and test orders will involve new workflows in many practices.
While these three potential stumbling blocks may seem large, there is some good news: Stage 2 shouldn’t be burdensome for health-care providers who attested in Stage 1, as you’re essentially just demonstrating a higher level of use. If you are preparing for Stage 2, and are worried about potential challenges, contact us today to see how we can help make the tranistion smooth and worry free.
Congressional hearings on mobile health-care application regulation suggest the future is bright for this technology, say mHIMSS executives Tom Martin and David Collins.
The hearings, held March 19-21, considered the importance of allowing innovation to flourish vs. the importance of regulation for patient safety.
Discussed in the hearings were the dangers of strict FDA oversight and the potential threat of Obamacare taxes on apps—concerns that were dismissed by most witnesses.
According to Martin and Collins, "While a few developers are waiting on the FDA’s final medical app guidance before submitting apps to the market, many developers are bringing innovative products to market, and venture funding for healthcare startups is at an all time high."
Moreover, although a very small segment of the app marketplace could be subject to the excise tax on medical devices, most app categories would not, say Martin and Collins.
This likely gives app developers the confidence to bring new apps to the market, and that could lead to an explosion if mobile health-care technology.
A new report suggests that 2013 may be the year of the great electronic medical records (EMR) vendor switch given that many EMRS are falling short of providers' expectations.
To come to that conclusion, Black Book Rankings polled roughly 17,000 active EMR adopters - and found that as many as 17 percent may switch out their first-choice EHR by the end of the year.
The reason: In light of Stage 2, provider demands are increasing, and EMR users are reporting that many EMRs aren’t living up to expectations. In fact, those polled cited numerous cases of software firms underperforming badly enough to lead them to lose market share.
As a result, 31 percent of survey respondents indicated they were "dissatisfied enough" with their EMR to consider switching. Of those users, the reasons cited for the potential switch were as follows: The EMR did not meet the practice’s needs (80 percent); the practice had not adequately assessed its needs before choosing the EMR (79 percent); the EMR design did not fit the medical specialty (77 percent); and the EMR vendor was unresponsive to requests (44 percent).
One of the most asked for features in today’s electronic medical record (EMR) technology is a secure built-in messaging system. This is an important feature and many providers are integrating this feature. One project aims to make that easier, Direct Project.
When today’s health-care providers exchange information, they're likely sending paper through the mail or fax. But, a growing number of patients are asking for electronic communication, mainly email. Many clinics are happy to oblige, however, secure communications is important, because Meaningful Use Stage 2 requires a HIPAA-compliant secure messaging - HIPAA is the standard for protecting secure information in the health industry.
Yet, currently, many physicians who want to use secure messaging to communicate with patients may have to purchase a third-party vendor’s software to do so. This involves an additional service agreement as well as monthly fees. There is an option that your existing vendor may be able to use.
That option is the Direct Project. While not the only one out there, this is an interesting program. Its concept is simple: In the projects' own words, “Direct Project specifies a simple, secure, stable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet.”
Essentially, each provider has a direct address that he or she can use to send and receive messages. Because these messages are secure, they can be used to send patient information to colleagues who need it for care.
A number of existing products already support the Direct Project specifications and allow for the secure delivery of messages. Visit Who’s Fueling Direct? to see if your vendor is one of them.
More information is available here.
Here’s one more reason to consider implementing a clinical decision- support system with interactive alerts: It improves outcomes for HIV patients, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
In the study, researchers from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital divided 1,011 patients at a large outpatient clinic based on receipt of two types of alerts (for virologic failure, evidence of suboptimal followup and abnormal laboratory results). For the control group of patients, alerts appeared only on the patient's electronic medical records (EMR) page.
For the intervention group of patients, alerts appeared on the health-care provider's home page and in biweekly emails, and linked to previous appointments and lab results.
When the yearlong study was complete, researchers found that the intervention group showed significant improvement in the count of CD4-positive T cells during the year-long study.
The new alerts were so successful that more than 90 percent of participating providers supported making them part of the clinic's standard care.
Busy medical professionals often struggle to stay on top of it all: managing the business and handling billing often cuts into patient-care time. One solution: Get help from someone who can guide you through the process of using your technology the right way.
It’s one thing to have the technology you need; it’s another to maximize it. An information technology (IT) professional or firm should be able to work with you to provide tangible solutions to your technological challenges. They can speak with you and your staff, try to understand the issues, then make suggestions. That might involve achieving meaningful use. It might involve increasing efficiencies. It might involve cutting costs. Whatever the case, however, you’ll maximize your revenue potential.
Looking for technological assistance? We can provide that service. We will help ensure you’re using your electronic medical record (EMR) and other technology effectively; will work to understand what challenges you’re encountering and inspire you with new ideas to improve your practice's operations; in some cases, we can even help you keep abreast of regulatory trends and guidelines.
Cloud computing is still a relatively new information technology concept, but it's already beginning to be relevant in health care - because it utilizes economies of scale to provide massive computing power and storage to users who sign up for the service. Here are five ways cloud competing is transforming health care.
Easy access - Cloud-based service providers have pushed open formats - any one can access and edit the code or format - instead of closed formats - only qualified experts can access and edit the code or format -, which makes adopting a cloud system as a replacement for a localized one easy and cheap. This is mainly because most cloud services can support multiple formats, which means you likely won't have to convert documents, images, files or folders.
Resiliency - Economies of scale allow cloud-based service providers to build large redundant data centers that emphasize backup and uptime for lower costs. This means your data will be available as long as you have an Internet connection.
Privacy - The level of security the cloud offers is much higher than what you see in a local IT department. Security in a hospital's server room may be as simple as keeping the door locked, usually with a lock that can be picked or hacked with relative ease. Data on many cloud servers is an encrypted blob of bits that most cloud providers don't have access to.
Innovation - Cloud-based service providers can improve their services rapidly, cheaply and with minimal interruption to service. The upside to this is that it frees up local IT staff for value-added tasks.
Mobility - By storing all computing power and data and in the cloud, health-care providers can provide staff access to that information anywhere, anytime - and that’s a boon for mobile applications.
If you're interested in learning more about how cloud services can help make your organization more efficient, please contact us.
Doctors, it’s time to catch up: consumers are increasingly willing to interact with health information technology, according to a new survey.
The survey, conducted by Optum Institute and Harris Interactive, polled 4,270 physicians, patients and hospital executives.
According to the survey, patients are ready to use technology with health care: eighty-four percent would like online prescription refills; 75 percent would like to receive test results and access their medical records online; and 60 percent want to communicate with their doctors via email.
And that’s the case not just for younger generations, but for older ones as well. More than half of seniors surveyed are willing to go online to communicate with their physicians and manage their medical records.
Unfortunately, technology already in place and used by doctors lags behind a bit. While 70 percent of physicians have basic electronic medical records (EMRs), only 40 percent of physicians can engage with patients via email or provide patients with access to their health records.
Email has been widespread for nearly two decades, yet most patients still can’t reach out to their physicians through email. This shows that physicians should look into using email to communicate with patients.
“This research underlines the need for health information systems that can talk to each other, and that allow patients to access their own health information,” says Simon Stevens, chairman of the Optum Institute.
The proliferation of mobile medical devices means providers are collecting more data than ever before—but how do you leverage it to improve your practice?
With health-care reform making clinical outcomes more vital, payers and providers alike will likely come to see the value in collecting and analyzing data in order to affect future decision-making. Payers can use it to justify healthcare expenses and drive preventive health-care programs, while providers can use it to improve clinical outcomes.
Despite its value, the use of such “business intelligence,” as it’s called, is rare in medical practices. Lynn Dunbrack, program director for IDC Health Insights, noted, “The recent surveys show about 44 percent of providers see the value in analytics, yet only 26 percent have a business intelligence program in place.”
Electronic medical records are making date a collection easier. More and more, we’re seeing data in consistent formats. Down the road, we may even see vendors begin integrating analytics applications into workflows.
For now, if you’d like to implement a business intelligence plan of your own, remember, it’s not just about collecting the data; it’s about engaging in a conversation about it. "The problem is to take this incredible technical capability and match it with the appropriate insight," says Thomas Payne, MD, medical director of IT services for UW Medicine.
Despite the popularity of mobile devices and software, 75 percent of physicians still use their desktops for practice management, according to a recent survey. Here’s why.
There aren't enough specific apps. Physicians love their mobile devices, however their concern is that when it comes to health related software, there are only a small number of solutions that meet their specific needs. While there are fewer physician oriented apps and solutions than other professions, there are still some great quality apps available with more being produced as demand increases.
Physicians don’t have time to understand the offerings. Even when apps are available, physicians often don’t have the time to take to understand how to use the more advanced features of some offerings. Educating physicians about current mobile offerings can really get them interested in making the switch from a desktop to a mobile device.
Physicians need to see the value. To get physicians to use mobile devices instead of desktops, you have to show them what they can do better on a mobile device then a desktop. Speech recognition is a good starting point. Physicians often use cell phones to document charts; if an app on that cell phone recognizes speech, it’s a win-win.
Usability has improved—but physicians don’t know it. In the past, health-care apps were often cumbersome, but now they’ve improved and some, not all, physicians are starting to give it another go. To ensure the widest amount of buy-in, CIOs should focus on working with physicians who had a prior bad experience with mobile devices and apps.
A hybrid option isn’t available. It doesn’t have to be either-or. One of the biggest mistakes a CIO can make implementing a mobile strategy is requiring physicians to use only mobile devices. A more effective strategy is combining multiple devices. For example, physicians might dictate notes on a mobile device, but sign in and review those notes on a desktop.