What’s Next for Health IT Right Now

Given the tremendous and on-going changes currently taking place in health IT, especially the recent delay in ICD-10, and the ever on-going issues surrounding meaningful use, we remain in a turbulent, yet revolutionary time in the industry. As changes continue to come and behaviors, habits, further reform is activated and enforced, there will only be more of a focus on where we are headed from a technology standpoint.

Given the multiple balls health IT leaders are currently juggling and the rapid changes they are facing from new technology and managing tools that were once thought to be saviors of the sector – patient portals come to mind – I and they are left to wonder what’s next for health IT. With that lingering question, I asked a few folks working directly in the space what they think will occupy the minds of health IT leaders for the short term.

Divan Dave
Divan Dave

Divan Dave, CEO, OmniMD

The delay in ICD-10 implementation was met with equal parts relief and frustration. As the healthcare IT industry is evolving, government and regulatory authorities have come up with several certifications to enhance the quality of care for patients. For example, meaningful use incentives have created an artificial market for dozens of immature EHR products. Many EHR vendors have been preoccupied with backlogged implementations and have neglected the usability and innovation of their EHR products. Most concerning to current EHR users are unmet pleas for sophisticated interfaces with other practice programs and complex connectivity, pacing with accountable care progresses and the rapid EHR adoption of mobile devices. Many popular “one size fits all” EHR products have failed to meet the needs of several medical specialties.

Distracted by the process of certifying their EHR products for Stage 2 of meaningful use, not all software vendors have been able to deliver on their Meaningful Use 2 promises to anxious providers; 40 percent of the practices are replacing their EHR systems, as their current systems are cumbersome to use, not integrated, not able to meet regulatory compliance, outdated, have interoperability challenges, inefficient customer support, lacks specialty specific workflow and are not mobile enabled.

Jeff Fisher
Jeff Fisher

Jeff Fisher, vice president of emerging technologies, RES Software
A top concern in healthcare right now is securing patient health records. Although the clinical details themselves contain little financial value, the records contain personal patient details that can easily result in stolen identity or credit card information.

In the US, nearly 3 trillion dollars per year is spent on healthcare, which translates to everyone from physicians and pharmacists to well-organized crime syndicates targeting healthcare, usually through the use of stolen patient records and identities.

Two of the weakest points in healthcare security are 1) people tending to underestimate security risks, therefore, becoming vulnerable to social engineering, and 2) the fact that endpoints can’t be physically secured in many cases while continuing to provide needed value. Patients need to take a more serious approach in choosing a healthcare organization by making it clear that they “trust” their provider.

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Health IT Thought Leader Highlight: Lindy Benton, MEA|NEA

Lindy Benton
Lindy Benton

Lindy Benton, CEO of MEA|NEA, has worked in the healthcare information technology for more than 20 years. Before joining MEA|NEA, Lindy served as divisional executive at Sage Healthcare, managing 1,400 employees, and prior to that she worked at Cerner for 15 years. MEA|NEA has nearly 20 years’ experience in providing revenue cycle enhancement solutions for payers and providers, as well as managing the secure exchange of health information, providing critical functionality to payers, medical and dental providers and other agents. Its solutions facilitate secure electronic requests for medical records and documentation to connected network providers for payment integrity, risk adjustment, audit tracking, performance/quality measures, claim attachments and more. Similarly, its technology enables providers to gain productivity via the electronic capture, storage and submissions of healthcare documentation – and to more effectively manage their revenue cycle and reduce claim denials.

Here she speaks about MEA|NEA, electronic attachments and secure health information exchange, how MEA|NEA serves healthcare and some of the most pressing issues facing healthcare’s leaders today.

Tell me more about yourself and your role at MEA|NEA.

I have worked in the healthcare information technology for more than 20 years. I am currently the CEO of MEA|NEA, a provider of electronic attachment and health information exchange solution.

Who uses the company’s products, and how are they enhancing their health systems and practices?

We have three major client sets. One is providers. They represent the point of origin for most medical records. One is payers or managed care organizations. They are often the requestors of medical record information about the members enrolled in one of their health plans. And the third we call partners who are those organizations who sit in-between the originators of medical record information and the requestors of medical record information. The enhancements you ask about are intuitive and real. We enhance the exchange of medical record protected health information – or phi – by making it 100 percent electronic, trackable and auditable.

In what ways is MEA|NEA evolving and where are you seeing the most change, the most rapidly?

With the increased focus on outcomes in healthcare in America, we are seeing an increase in the demand for medical record reviews. We see this increasingly being driven by the federal government, but the commercial sector is also participating. There are companies whose sole purpose is to audit the care being provided to patient populations and the reimbursement of charges related to that care. “Payment integrity” is commonly referenced in the industry today, and that wasn’t the case until recently. We are leading in process efficiencies to support these changes.

Tell me more about your involvement with CMS. How have the company and its strategy changed since the adoption of electronic claims submission through Medicare?

In January 2012 we began delivering medical records to Medicare contractors as one of a few organizations certified by CMS to do so. Today there are 23 certified organizations and we are the largest serving the acute-care hospitals of the nation. We are the 2nd largest overall. Since 2012 we have been selected by four organizations who are listed on the www.cms.gov website as their technology partner. We have a strong relationship with key leaders inside of CMS and we plan to continue to invest there. With 15 percent of US healthcare being tied to Medicare, this is a key component of our future in the medical marketplace.

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The History of the Sustainable Growth Rate, and How Its Repeal and ACOs are Linked

Ken Perez
Ken Perez

Guest post by Ken Perez, vice president of healthcare policy, Omnicell.

Section 4503 of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, enacted on Aug. 5, 1997, replaced the Medicare Volume Performance Standard (MVPS) with the sustainable growth rate (SGR) provision, a formulaic approach intended to restrain the growth of Medicare spending on physician services. The SGR formula incorporates medical inflation, the projected growth of per capita gross domestic product (GDP), projected growth in the number of Medicare beneficiaries, and changes in law or regulation.

The SGR requires Medicare each year to set a total budget for spending on physician services for the following year. If actual spending exceeds that budget, the Medicare conversion factor that is applied to more than 7,400 unique covered physician and therapy services in subsequent years is to be reduced so that over time, cumulative actual spending will not exceed cumulative budgeted (targeted) spending, with April 1, 1996, as the starting point for both.

In part because of the effective lobbying efforts of physicians, Congress has temporarily suspended application of the SGR by passing legislative overrides or “doc fixes” 17 times from 2003 to 2014. (It utilized five different pieces of legislation in 2010 alone to avoid cuts exceeding 20 percent.) As a result, actual spending has exceeded budget every year during these years. Because the annual fee update must be adjusted not only for the prior year’s variance between budgeted and actual spending but also for the cumulative variance since 1996, the next proposed update, effective April 1, 2015, is a reduction in Medicare physician fees of 20.9 percent.

Those hoping for a permanent repeal of the SGR—which is pretty much everybody, given the almost universal disdain for it—entered 2014 with a sense of optimism that this would be the year. These hopes were fueled by bipartisan and bicameral support of SGR reform proposals that emerged at the end of 2013 and significantly lower estimates by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) of the cost of a long-term doc fix.

Ultimately, the inability to figure out how to pay for the SGR repeal blocked the passage of the permanent reform bills, and Congress settled for yet another short-term patch. On March 27, 2014, the House of Representatives, under a suspension of normal rules, approved via a voice vote H.R. 4302, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. The bill provides a patch to the SGR that would avoid a 24.4 percent reduction to Medicare’s Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), effective April 1, 2014, replacing the scheduled reduction with a 0.5 percent increase to the PFS through Dec. 31, 2014, and a 0 percent increase for Jan. 1, 2015, through March 31, 2015. Four days later, the Senate approved H.R. 4302 on a bipartisan 64-35 vote, and President Barack Obama signed the bill into law.

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Top 20 Most Popular EHR Software Solutions

Love this recent image by Capterra, identifying the top 20 most popular EHR software solutions. As former vendor employee, these are the data that I was always forced to defend or promote. The company I once worked for is still among one of the top 10 vendors in the space, according to the following graphic, so I take some pride in having helped build it into what is today (if only marginally).

Perhaps this list is a bit subjective. Popularity of the vendor is measured by a combination of its total number of customers, users and social presence. So, even if the company’s products are not all that great (which may or may not be the case), at least they’re doing something right socially.

Capterra developed the list in part because of mass migration to EHRs — “Providers across the country are scrambling to make sure they’ve implemented the right EHR solution for their hospital or practice, while many more are still looking to identify the right solution.”

Capterra cites a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that states that nearly 40 percent of U.S. physicians adopted at least a basic electronic health record system, and according to another survey in 2013 by Black Book, one in six medical practices were in the process of changing from their first EHR solution.

Essentially, accordingly,  EHR solutions have to be “user-friendly, functional and able to withstand a growing market to retain customers.”

To determine these 20 electronic health record leaders, Capterra used a popularity index based on the number of customers, number of users, and social presence of each of the EHR companies.

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Study Shows Patients Unaware of Patient Portal Options

Increased engagement through patient portals remains a health initiative and a benchmark for meaningful use incentives, yet a large number of patients report being unaware of their ability to access medical information and communicate with healthcare providers through this medium.

A recent study by TechnologyAdvice shows nearly 40 percent of patients are unsure if their primary care physician has a patient portal website available, while another 11 percent are confident their physician “does not” offer one. In all, less than half of the 430 patients surveyed — 49.2 percent — report actually being shown a patient portal by their primary care physician either during a visit or outside a visit.

“With incentives tied to digital patient engagement and a general shift to integrated platforms taking place, all signals point to patient portals becoming increasingly prominent in the patient-physician relationship. However, it appears many physicians are not doing enough to educate patients about their portals and provide incentives for their use,” said TechnologyAdvice editorial coordinator Cameron Graham, who authored the study. “This lack of patient portal awareness appears to be slowing down a significant digital switch in patient-physician communication, considering the study also shows there is little change in the way patients prefer to interact with their doctors.”

Nearly 43 percent of patients say they prefer that doctors contact them by phone for general communication and to provide test results. These preferences are true even for the 18 through 24 age group, though, the younger respondents did report a greater preference for scheduling appointments online.

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Password Thievery Means It’s Time to Change — Your Password

Dean Wiech
Dean Wiech

Guest post by Dean Wiech, managing director, Tools4ever.

Once again, the media abuzz with a massive theft – 1.2 billion email addresses and password – by a hacking group supposedly based out of Russia. In a case like this, it does not matter how secure your password is – lots of characters, number, upper and lower case, etc. — because the hackers accessed the providers and pulled the information. This type of attack is much different than someone breaking into your computer or smart device and stealing the confidential information from there where a thief might be able to directly access all your accounts. In this case, they “might” be able to access your email account and then again, they might not.

There a couple of interesting items left out of all the various stories. First, were the passwords encrypted? It seems that any self-respecting form that is strong passwords in conjunction with a user name would do something as simple as an encryption algorithm and not store them in plain text. If they were encrypted, were they stored using an irreversible hash with a leading edge algorithm? Many techniques are readily available to insure encryption with hashing, salting and obfuscation, cannot be easily broken, if at all.

The other thing that has not been explicitly mentioned is what sites were hacked. We hear that upwards of 500,000 websites could have been hacked, but no one is coming forward to name any specific sites. Were Facebook, Gmail, Hotmail or other major sites compromised? If so, why are they not sending out notifications to change passwords in a similar fashion to what eBay did back in May when they were attacked?

Let’s assume, for a moment, the providers figured no one could ever hack into their systems so the passwords were stored in plain text along with the email addresses. How can we protect ourselves from these diabolical hackers? The answer is quite easy – change your passwords on all of your accounts and do it on a regular basis. If all 1.2 billion users that had their information stolen did this tomorrow, the hacked information would become useless overnight.

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HIMSS Cloud Survey: 80 Percent of Healthcare Organizations Embrace the Cloud

Results of the inaugural 2014 HIMSS Cloud Survey show the widespread adoption of cloud services among healthcare organizations across the U.S., with 80 percent of the 150 respondents reporting they currently use cloud services. The top three reasons for adopting cloud services include lower maintenance costs, speed of deployment and lack of internal staffing resources. The survey shows a positive growth outlook for cloud services as almost all healthcare organizations currently using cloud services plan to expand their use of these tools.

Half of the cloud adopters are hosting clinical applications in the cloud, primarily using Software as a Service (SaaS). Other typical cloud services include health information exchange (HIE), hosting human resources applications and data as well as backup and disaster recovery.

“Cloud services have been long praised as a tool to reduce operating expenses for healthcare organizations. The data presented in our inaugural survey demonstrates the healthcare industry’s eagerness to leverage this resource,” said Lorren Pettit, Vice President of Market Research for HIMSS Analytics. “With such a positive market outlook, we hope vendors will leverage the business intelligence gleaned from this report, continue working with providers to meet their needs, and help healthcare organizations provide the most cost-efficient care.”

Healthcare organizations take into consideration a number of factors when selecting a cloud services provider. The top concerns for healthcare organizations seeking cloud services are the cloud services provider’s willingness to enter into a business associate agreement (BAA) as well as physical and technical security.

Even after a cloud services provider has been selected and the cloud services have been adopted by the healthcare organization, there are still challenges.  Two-thirds of healthcare organizations have challenges, including a lack of visibility into ongoing operations, customer service, as well as costs and fees.

Half of the respondents also identified performance issues, such as slow responsiveness of hosted applications as a problem, but were willing to work with their existing cloud service provider to resolve their issues, rather than switch to a new one.

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Healthcare Big Data Defined: Improving Care, Coordination and Coding

Lance Speck
Lance Speck

Lance Speck, general manager of Actian cloud and healthcare, speaks here about healthcare big data and how it can be used in healthcare to improve processes from care coordination to coding for ICD-10. In his day job, he is focused on delivering healthcare solutions to help payers and providers address an estimated $450 billion annual opportunity created through data analytics, ranging from fraud analytics to patient re-admission reduction to staff optimization to accountable care reporting and clinical auto-coding. For more than 20 years, Lance has served in a variety of management, sales and product roles in the software industry including a decade focused on SaaS, cloud and healthcare.

How can big data analytics improve patient care?

According to a recent PwC survey, 95 percent of healthcare CEOs are exploring better ways of using and managing big data; however, only 36 percent have made any headway in getting to grips with big data.  All agree that big data analytics has the potential to improve the quality and cost of care, but many are still struggling with finding the right ways to infuse analytics into everyday operations. Assuming they realize that they already have access to the data, what do they do with it? What are the areas that will have the biggest impact? Where do they start?

Start with the basics. Organizations should focus in infusing big data analytics where a big impact can be recognized. They should ask themselves:

  • Is there enough value in solving the problem?
  • Can the problem can be predicted?
  • Can the problem be prevented?
  • Can the predictive action be delivered accurately, and in a timely fashion to make a difference?

Very early in the process, organizations should address how they plan to incorporate big data into the everyday workflow of clinicians, financial staff and other healthcare stakeholders for organizations to:

  • Use predictive analytics against historical and external data to anticipate patient occupancy needs to adjust staffing levels to have the right care available at the right time.
  • Use science to determine with accuracy health trends in specific communities and take action to prevent costly
  • Determine patients’ risk of readmission before they are discharged to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs and penalties by nearly $70 billion.
  • Realize that for this insight to be effective, you must put this information into the hands of the clinicians and the patients in the format that fits their daily flow.

How can healthcare providers transition to ICD-10 as simply as possible?

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More Physicians and Hospitals Are Using EHRs than Before

Significant increases in the use of electronic health records (EHRs) among the nation’s physicians and hospitals are detailed in two new studies published today by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

The studies, published in the journal Health Affairs, found that in 2013, almost eight in 10 (78 percent) office-based physicians reported they adopted some type of EHR system. About half of all physicians (48 percent) had an EHR system with advanced functionalities in 2013, a doubling of the adoption rate in 2009.

About six in 10 (59 percent) hospitals had adopted an EHR system with certain advanced functionalities in 2013, quadruple the percentage for 2010. Unlike the physician study, the hospital study does not have an equivalent, established measure of adoption of some type of EHR system; it only reports on adoption of EHRs with advanced functionalities.

“Patients are seeing the benefits of health IT as a result of the significant strides that have been made in the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records,” said Karen DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., national coordinator for health information technology. “We look forward to working with our partners to ensure that people’s digital health information follows them across the care continuum so it will be there when it matters most.”

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RAC Audits: Surviving the Inquisition

Michael Murphy, MD
Michael Murphy, MD

Guest post by Michael Murphy, MD, co-founder and CEO, Scribe America.

In May 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services released findings of their most recent study pertaining to reimbursement amounts provided to outpatient physicians for evaluation and management services. The study uncovered that Medicare overpaid outpatient physicians close to $7 billion and most improper payments were results of errors in coding and insufficient documentation (Table 1, highlights the percentage of claims that were wrongfully claimed for in 2010.). However this is not a problem isolated to physicians from the outpatient clinics, as physicians from inpatient clinics could also be found guilty of miscoding and insufficient documentation.

Recovery audit contractors (RACs) were created by the Medicare Modernization Act to evaluate the accuracy of Medicare claims. If a claim is determined by RAC to be flawed for any one of the many different reasons, the claim is denied. Although Medicare’s retrospective program of auditing bills is good, it is not perfect. There has been a huge spike in appeals of Medicare payment decisions, from hospitals mainly, since the introduction of the auditing program and delays in the appeal process has resulted in hospitals facing great financial difficulties as a lot of their funds are tied up till the appeal has been heard.

Type of Error Percentage of Claims for outpatient services Medicare Payments (in Billions)
Incorrectly Coded 42.4% $3.3
-Miscoded 40.4% $2.8
-Upcoded 26.0% $4.6
-Downcoded 14.5% ($1.8)
-Other Coding Error (e.g., Wrong Code, Unbundling) 2.0% $0.5
Lacking Documentation 19.0% $4.6
-Insufficiently Documented 12.0% $2.6
-Undocumented 7.0% $2.0
Overall Gross 61.3% $7.9
Overlapping (6.7%) $2.0
Overall Net 54.6% $6.7

Adapted from : “Improper payments for evaluation and management services cost medicare billions in 2010”

In order to receive reimbursement from Medicare, a physician needs to follow a three-step process: 1) appropriate coding of the service provided by utilising current procedural terminology (CPT); 2) appropriate coding of the diagnosis using ICD-9 code; and 3) the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determination of the appropriate fee based on the resources-based relative value scale (RBRVS). It is not surprising that physicians often incorrectly code patient visits and procedures as there exists a truly daunting number of codes from which to choose. Moreover, coding structure and reimbursements schemes are constantly evolving and becoming more complex, resulting in a coding process that is often cumbersome and difficult.

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Cerner to Acquire Siemens Health Services for $1.3 Billion

Cerner Corporation (Nasdaq: CERN) and Siemens AG today announced they signed a definitive agreement for Cerner to acquire the assets of Siemens’ health information technology business unit, Siemens Health Services, for $1.3 billion in cash. By combining investments in R&D, knowledgeable resources, and complementary client bases, the acquisition creates scale for future innovation. As part of the agreement, Cerner and Siemens will form a strategic alliance to bring new solutions to market that combine Cerner’s health IT leadership and Siemens’ strengths in medical devices and imaging.

“We believe this is an all-win situation for the clients of both organizations and all of our associates and shareholders,” said Neal Patterson, Cerner chairman, CEO and co-founder. “Through more than $4 billion of cumulative investments in R&D, Cerner has established a strong market standing and is positioned for continued growth. Siemens’ health care IT assets provide additional scale, R&D, an impressive client base, and knowledgeable and experienced associates who will help Cerner achieve our plans for the next decade. In addition, the alliance we’re creating will drive the next generation of innovations that embed information from the EMR inside advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technologies, benefiting our shared clients.”

Based on 2014 estimates, Cerner and Siemens Health Services have combined totals of more than:

  • 20,000 associates in more than 30 countries
  • 18,000 client facilities, including some of the largest health care organizations in their respective countries
  • $4.5 billion of annual revenue
  • $650 million of annual R&D investment

The transaction is expected to be more than $0.15 accretive to Cerner’s non-GAAP diluted EPS in 2015, and more than $0.25 accretive in 2016. Non-GAAP earnings are expected to exclude share-based compensation expense, one-time transaction costs, and acquisition-related amortization and deferred revenue adjustments.

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How EHR Adoption Benefits Healthcare Providers

Alex Tate
Alex Tate

Guest post by Alex Tate.

Implementation of electronic health records is considered a national priority in this era of healthcare reform. However if EHRs are not implemented correctly they can be painful.

EHRs that are not implemented effectively can affect productivity and revenue. The extra documentation requirements and intricate workflows create distance between physicians and their patients. Physicians have reported that they spend too much time on EHRs and that they don’t get enough time to interact with their patients. But physicians often communicate that spending time on EHRs is crucial to creating a trusted set of structured data that can guide their business. Every click that providers make creates important data points that can be used to inform the efficient delivery of their practice.

Every EHR saves a large amount of data inside it regarding patient health, effectiveness of treatments, system efficiency and provider tendencies. Despite the extra time and effort that is dedicated to electronic documentation, many practices and physicians do not make full use of this precious data set that they have produced.

If a practice can get its EHR adoption right they can make a number of positive results, some of which are mentioned below:

Revenue Gains

By overcoming the difficulties providers can see more patients and will be able to generate more billed revenue using its existing staff. Furthermore, if a provider is using its EHR efficiently then the improved documentation produces billing at higher rates, combined with increased patient flow. This represents significant potential revenue.

Quick Cash Flow

Many of the practices work on revenue cycle management, but few make it flawless. With increased charge accuracy and reduced time for denials, there will be an increase in the yield with timely reimbursements by the payers.

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HIPAA and Encryption Lower the Cost of Healthcare

Gilad Parann-Nissany
Gilad Parann-Nissany

Guest post by Gilad Parann-Nissany, founder and CEO, Porticor Cloud Security.

Add to the list of known certainties: death, taxes, and the need to lower the cost of healthcare.

Neither HIPAA standards nor encryption were created with the purpose of lowering the cost of healthcare, but neither was penicillin originally purposed as an antibiotic. Both welcome side effects in the world of medicine.

Cloud Computing and Healthcare

Healthcare and medical companies are migrating to cloud computing in record numbers. The cloud offers flexibility and scalability to manage ever-growing databases of patient records. At the same time, it offers mobility to enable care providers to access patient information remotely and shareability to share data with colleagues, specialists, and labs. The cloud, perhaps most importantly, enables cost reduction on several levels.

  • It eliminates the need healthcare organization have to purchase, maintain, upgrade, and replace costly computing equipment and staff.
  • It saves costs of multiple providers running multiple tests by enabling them to share and track the results.
  • It saves time and money by enabling paperless transmission of prescriptions and insurance claims. It also increases the accuracy of reimbursement coding.

Now, HIPAA omnibus and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) requirements stipulate everyone in the healthcare industry begin migrating patient records and other data to cloud computing. Essentially, by 2015, all medical professionals with access to patient records must utilize electronic medical and health records (EMR and EHR), or face penalties.

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The Future of Health IT: A “Dawning” of Dynamic Proportions

Brandee Norris
Brandee Norris

Guest post by Brandee Norris, assistant professor healthcare administration and management school of business and technology, Trevecca Nazarene University.

The health information technology (HIT) industry is on the verge of a dramatic dawning. As more healthcare organizations transition to paperless systems and to meaningful use of a certified electronic health record (EHR), the need to ensure the safety and integrity of healthcare data and to eliminate the risk of health IT breaches increases. In the past five years, the Department of Health and Human Services reported more than 800 breaches of healthcare patient data, breaches that affected more than 30 million patients. Breaches in electronic healthcare data cause serious negative outcomes for patients, stakeholders, and organizations—both public and private—and result in millions of dollars in fines and losses.

As the use of HIT systems increases within the healthcare industry, hospitals and providers of private practices are seeking effective methods to enhance data storage and streamline access to patient information without jeopardizing the privacy of the data. A possible solution to this problem is the transference of protected health information from a local system’s network to a cloud-based electronic medical records (EMR) service. Cloud computing may be categorized as private or public. Based on HIPAA regulations, professionals in the healthcare industry continue to dispute the legitimacy of public cloud computing and compliance with specific requirements of the HIPAA.

Contrary to provisions mandated by HIPAA, cloud-based platforms could accommodate the growing needs of healthcare organizations and provide flexibility to adapt to frequent changes, while providing significant cost savings. The primary objectives of using any variation of a cloud-based program are efficient leveraging of healthcare information, enhancement of patient experience, versatility for providers, and improved clinical outcomes. Cloud-based programs permit 24-hour patient access to electronic records.

Consumers in the 21st century prefer convenient methods to access healthcare services and manage personal information. Consequently, healthcare organizations have adopted patient-centered models to deliver health care and increase provider-patient communication. In addition, cloud-based platforms can facilitate the use of mobile devices, such as smartphones and iPads, allowing patients and providers to access health software applications. The number of healthcare consumers using smartphones to access health information soared from more than 60 million to more than70 million in the last two years. Anderson projects an estimated 20 percent annual increase of software application sales during the next five years.

Healthcare providers have suggested that significant benefits could occur for patients using mobile software applications to monitor their health status. Currently, numerous types of health software applications exist that are free or obtainable at a reasonable fee. Last year, healthcare providers used health software applications for obtaining diagnostic test results, sending alerts for patients to self- medicate, track and monitor levels of chronic pain, and store vital signs and emergency contact information. Consumers should be aware that a compatible operating system and adequate storage space are required to download health software applications to a mobile device.

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Blessing in the Delay: ICD-10

Keith Boyce
Keith Boyce

Guest post by Keith Boyce, vice president of business development, RxOffice.

The recent postponement of the implementation of ICD-10 is nothing but good news. Moving the deadline to next year gives providers an opportunity to conduct further research and select the software that is compliant and the least disruptive of their existing processes while keeping the best interest of the patient in mind.

ICD-10 was the first step by the Obama administration’s healthcare plan, Obamacare, which revealed the need for a universal software platform that could work in all medical areas. Some professionals say the ICD-10 and other requirements of the new healthcare plan will cause physicians to spend more time on paper work and less time with patient care. If that is the case, healthcare providers will need a system that will cut down on the amount of time needed for paperwork. With the extension in ICD-10’s implementation, now is the time to make decision about keep or modifying current systems or investing in new ones.

The new regulations proposed through Obamacare will have more of an effect on small to mid-size healthcare providers and the IT companies that cater to them. Larger IT firms are not affected as much because their clients are the hospitals and large research clinics that do not have to adhere to the requirements of ICD-10. This means that these firms are less likely to understand and provide compliant software to smaller, special medical centers, such as diabetes, mental health and podiatry to name a few.

Healthcare providers should look for systems with the following characteristics:

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