Guest post by Cathy Reisenwitz, content specialist, Capterra.
Every year at Capterra we predict the top trends in business technology. Last year we predicted gamification, wearables, telemedicine, mobile medicine, and 3D printing would be the top 5 medical technology trends for 2015.
This year, we expect wearables, telemedicine, and mobile medicine to continue to advance. They’ll be joined by cloud computing, patient portals, and big data.
Telemedicine has come a long way, from remote villagers using bicycle pedal-powered, two-way radios to communicate with the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia to helping recovering stroke patients in rural Minnesota avoid hours-long (and often snowy) drives for follow-up care.
As the technology has improved, the investment has increased. Transparency Market Research valued the global video telemedicine market at $559 million in 2013. Today, they predict it will grow to $1.6 billion by the end of 2020. Walgreens, the largest U.S. drugstore chain, and telehealth provider MDLive recently expanded their virtual care collaboration to 20 more states in November, bringing the total to 25.
Telemedicine offers tons of value to a large, growing segment of the population: seniors. Telemedicine improves care by getting it to remote patients who live far from hospitals. It also enables homebound patients to get high-quality care. It makes care cheaper, and allows seniors to stay at home longer. It benefits providers by making their jobs more flexible. And it also eliminates picking up new illnesses in a clinical care setting.
In rural Minnesota, nurses check motor skills by asking patients to push, pull and squeeze with their hands and feet. A doctor, located further away from patients, can advise on care onscreen.
Going back to wearables, their mass adoption has made store-and-forward telemedicine much easier. Devices like Fitbits automatically collect valuable health data. Store-and-forward telemedicine just means that data goes to a doctor or medical specialist so they can assess it when they have time. Watch for more EHRs learning to connect with wearables in 2016.
More EHRs will provide patient portals
Patient portals grew in popularity in 2014 and 2015. Twenty-six percent more patients received lab tests via an EHR patient portal between 2013 and 2014. Patients also received 50% more health and disease education through their portals in that time. “Patient engagement through health technology such as patient portals is rapidly increasing,” Craig Kemp, leader of innovative partnerships for Merck Vaccines, told mmm-online.com.
While about half of physicians offer patient portals right now, almost another fifth of them plan to offer one in the next 12 months. In a 2015 survey of more than 11,000 patients, 237 physicians, and nine payer organizations representing 47 million lives, almost a third of patients said they were interested in using a patient portal to engage with their physician, track their medical history, and receive educational materials and patient support. However, almost 40 percent said they’d never heard of a patient portal.
Educating patients on how and why to use portals will be key to getting them to use them in 2016.
As any holiday TV-loving baby boomer can attest, the island of misfit toys is not a happy place. In the 1964 stop-motion animated television show, “unwanted” were destined to live out their toy lives without the joy of playtime with the child they were built to please. Unfortunately, some EHR products share certain misfit qualities which can make their use more difficult for a busy provider.
So how do you know if you are using a misfit EHR? Here are a few signs:
There is little to no communication with others or outside entities, and you are stuck with the same, less than perfect software environment that is dysfunctional and aging fast.
No one calls to see how your EHR is doing and no one responds to your outcries for help.
Sound familiar? This is essentially your situation when you have committed to an outdated and under-supported EHR system for your practice. You are land-locked by an older system that is not cloud-based or does not leverage the many cloud resources for communication and interoperability.
So, your technology is old, the code base has been put on the shelf by the EHR vendor and no updates are coming. This is despite the rapid changes surrounding your practice and the healthcare industry in general.
You feel isolated, and when you call for support you get little to no relief, as the vendor has moved on to bigger and better customers. In the TV show, Santa promised to come back to save the misfits, just as your EHR vendor promised customized support, ongoing upgrades and improved efficiency. But the costs are prohibitive and your confidence in the vendor is low.
Maybe it is time to get off the island, and hitch a ride with a new vendor. If a new EHR is on your holiday list, here some criteria you should consider:
Leverage the power of the cloud to connect to labs, e-prescribing networks, HIEs and other data hubs such as the Commonwell Health Alliance. With a cloud-based EHR system these connections are built into the application, and any new features or connections to other entities become available to all users, no upgrades, no updates required to your infrastructure.
Don’t buy expensive hardware, servers and IT support staff to manage them. All you need to run a cloud-based EHR is a desktop web browser or mobile device.
Wellframe delivers a mobile experience featuring a secure two-way communication channel to connect patients with care providers. The company also offers a mobile data collection system that is, cloud-hosted and scalable to any number of users. Wellframe’s artificial intelligence engine for health state modeling, prediction and dynamic clinical protocol optimization uses data from a patient’s interaction with the care plans to optimize the system, and the company has developed a lightweight cloud-hosted care management EHR that has been successfully integrated into clinical workflows.
Wellframe’s mobile platform for care management and patient engagement extends therapeutic relationships to promote patient adherence and improve financial outcomes for health plans and systems.
Wellframe enables organizations to extend the reach of their existing care management services, while providing a higher quality of care to members and improving patient outcomes. Wellframe’s intelligent system engages high-risk patients and creates a personalized patient experience, which is delivered in a simple daily health check-list via mobile technology.
Wellframe has demonstrated success working with the health system’s most socially and medically complex —and costly— patients. These are the individuals for whom payers and providers most desperately need additional insights. The insights gleaned from the Wellframe platform enable clinicians and care managers to better manage their patients’ health and keep them engaged in their care. Wellframe amplifies rather than replaces therapeutic relationships and is re-engineering an antiquated market by using mobile technology to put a care manager in every patient’s pocket.
The Wellframe founding team is comprised of individuals with a diverse set of skills and whose backgrounds include clinical medicine, public health, systems engineering, data science and consumer engagement. By leveraging their different areas of expertise, the founding team was able to identify a gap in the way care is delivered in the US.
The CEO, Jacob Sattelmair, who is an epidemiologist by training, was focused on using technology to engage people around managing their own health. The chief medical officer, Dr. Trishan Panch, who is a primary care physician and a lecturer at MIT, had been focused on using technology to reengineer care delivery and lower cost settings. Vinnie Ramesh and Archit Bhise are both MIT-trained computer scientists who were researching new ways to utilize low cost technology to improve access to healthcare.
Utilizing and merging their diverse backgrounds, the team developed the idea behind Wellframe: An effective solution to re-engineer care delivery.
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.
Guest post by Lea Chatham, content marketing manager, Kareo.
In the recent Physicians Practice Technology Survey, sponsored by Kareo, there are two trends that bode well. First, the majority of practices surveyed were independent, and second, there were more positives about EHRs than negatives. It looks like things are finally heading in the right direction.
Ongoing EHR Concerns Linger
That isn’t to say that practices don’t continue to have concerns, however. Nearly 20 percent of those surveyed still don’t have an EHR. The barriers? Implementation, interoperability and cost. And implementation of EHRs is cited as the top technology challenge for practices.
“The transition to an EHR can be hard, especially when practices choose the wrong system the first time and have to go through the process twice,” explains Laurie Morgan, senior partner at Capko and Morgan, a practice management consulting firm. “So it is really important to make the right choice. What we have seen is that the practices that have been on a good system for while do see the value and the workflow benefits. It just takes some time.”
On the flip side though, 57 percent are happy with their choice of vendor, which may mean that we will start to see a slowdown in EHR switching, giving providers a chance to focus on patient care and building their practices. In addition, more than 40 percent say they have seen a return on investment, and even more cite an improvement in efficiency.
For those who are unhappy with their EHR, this is a clear sign that better technology is out there. It is a matter of making sure to choose the right one and implement it correctly. “There are several steps practices can take to make sure they get the right EHR at the right price,” says Tom Giannulli, MD, MS, chief medical information officer at Kareo. “These days most of the affordable cloud-based EHRs will have the basic features so it often comes down to a few special needs and the implementation and training. To help improve satisfaction with the EHR it is really important to take advantage of all training and support and invest the time to get familiar with the system.”
Guest post by Scott Walters, client services, INetU.
Whether they are cloud providers, EHR services firms or SaaS providers, technology companies that market to healthcare organizations are considered “business associates” under HIPAA. In the past, that meant customers often asked them to sign agreements assuring that they were employing best practices and would provide breach notifications to help customers maintain compliance.
As of September 13, 2013. however, changes to the guidelines were implemented that mean technology providers are now directly liable to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for securing any PHI that they’re entrusted with. In addition to the increase in accountability, this first-hand responsibility also brings technology providers under the threat of fines that can now reach well into the millions of dollars.
The Cost of a Breach
The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), the main enforcement body for HIPAA, has been gradually increasing fines for organizations that violate HIPAA compliance. The penalties have totaled well into the millions, with several organizations in the past few years receiving fines in excess of $1.5 million from OCR. In fact, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA-covered entities and now business associates have paid more than $18.6 million to date to settle alleged federal HIPAA violations with $3.7 million of that coming from organizations in the last year alone. On top of this, there are often state and private legal settlements involved.
The Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) is among the organizations that have experienced dramatic penalties firsthand, incurring fines of $1.5 million in 2012 after the theft of a laptop from an MEEI doctor who was traveling to Asia ended up exposing PHI. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee also paid $1.5 million in the same year following a breach of 1 million patient records stemming from the theft of 57 unencrypted hard drives from a leased training facility.
These two examples not only show the potential cost of a breach, they also demonstrate another quality that reaches across many of the violations to date – the fact that many of the biggest healthcare and HIPAA breaches are caused by unencrypted data and local storage of PHI. As technology providers offer services to manage this type of data, the onus to meet HIPAA regulations is more frequently falling on their shoulders. The upside to this is that, with some forethought, SaaS and EHR providers have the opportunity to make their cloud services even more HIPAA ready than their customers’ on-premise solutions.
Mobile healthcare trends, they’re only going to get more prevalent. That said, drchrono provides its official take on the top six mobile healthcare trends that are on the minds of physicians, business leaders and patients.
Daniel Kivatinos, COO and Co-founder, drchrono throws his hat in the ring and takes a look at some noteworthy mobile healthcare trends and issues that will be headlines this year.
Consumer Accountable Care – Today’s mobile devices allow consumers to become more accountable for their care. As high deductible healthcare plans become more popular, consumers are empowered now more than ever with access to reviews of physicians and can also track comparison of prices for healthcare procedures. Education about how to manage their own health is now easier, so patients are savvier and more informed with access to more apps and websites.
Here are a few examples of some popular tools and apps that consumers are using to be more responsible and own their health:
Less is Now More – As physicians get paid less, physicians are finding tools to do more with less. For example, with just an iPad a physician can run its practice, accessing and managing patient data. According to a recent article in The USA Today, as the demand for healthcare goes up and as a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians is predicted by 2020, more non-physicians are doing some of the work, such as nurse practitioners, pharmacists and physician assistants. Quality metrics software pushed through EHRs can also simplify digital health and assist with reimbursements, as well as quality and efficiency standards.
There is so much data coming at physicians on paper, they generally skim a medical record, sometimes missing key information. Organizing all of the data in a digital format flagging the most critical, relevant data pertaining to a patient is a key time saver. The reality of the situation is that with paper medical records this workflow isn’t possible.
An enterprise-wide data warehouse and a cross-functional team approach to analyze care delivery and protocols has enabled Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston to improve care and achieve millions of dollars in savings at the same time.
Implementing electronic health records was only a starting point for the process, says Myra Davis, senior vice president and CIO for the Houston-based facility. Analyzing the data from the EHR system and other information systems in the hospital with diverse team members using visualization applications has enabled significant improvements in clinical processes, she said.
The use of the data warehouse and improved analytical processes has strong support from clinicians and research specialists, who lauded the approach’s ability to conduct research.
“It’s great to be in a meeting to slice and dice the data,” said Terri Brown, research specialist and assistant director of data support at Texas Children’s Hospital. “When it used to take three months to get a report, now within 30 minutes you have such a great understanding of the data. It takes away the false leads. It tells you what the source of truth is for how we have changed care delivery. It has been revolutionary.”
Guest post by Randy Van Egdom, partner/implementation manager at AdventEMO.
We understand how difficult it is to decide on an electronic health record (EHR) that is customized for your needs and requirements. But, because of the need, you have now finalized on an EHR which has been marketed to you as the perfect match for your practice. Now that the EHR is in place, you have started using it with the help of the vendor training, but hold on, why isn’t it working just as it was promised to you?
It happens more often than ever that the EHR works just right ‘til you have the vendor standing by your side training you on its implementation. Yet, it just fails to work the way it is supposed to when that training period is over. This is because that you face real problems only when you are totally dedicated towards it. During the training tenure you never look at it like an ongoing process.
In all likelihood, this EHR might be the one that will bring a great turnover and growth with your existing and new staff. Not just the efficiency of your staff increases with an EHR in place, even the EHR will update and change with time easing the entire process. The key driving element is to have a strategy that works for your organization and allows time for its development and deployment.
Here are the six EHR training tips you shouldn’t miss. Having this in place will take your practice a long way with the EHR.
Guest post by Brian White, founder of Competitive Solutions.
Should every physician practice adopt electronic health records? Maybe not. When evaluating the transition to an EHR system, it is critical to consider the long-term efficiency of the practice. Simply put, EHR adoption will not yield operational improvements for every practice.
While many practices using EHRs increase the overall throughput of the business and enhance profitability, others struggle with adoption of the new technology – slowing operations and creating significant financial losses. Many practices repeatedly change vendors or abandon the EHR entirely after significant investment. Making the right decision for your individual practice and navigating the pitfalls of EHR implementation can be difficult and time-consuming. Maximize your potential for success by undertaking a strategic evaluation that includes the following considerations.
If your practice has not adopted EHR, is now the time to do so?
1. What are the operational benefits/detriments of adoption?
a. Will EHR allow the practice to see more patients? Or, will it cause the practice to see fewer patients?
b. Will EHR require additional labor in the day-to-day function of treating patients? (In most cases, the answer to this question will be yes.)
c. Will EHR provide the ability to track trends in patient status, statistical data or ease of access that will be more efficient and/or clinically beneficial?