Survey: Hospital Executives are Reluctant to Implement ACOs

According to a recent survey conducted by Purdue Healthcare Advisors, a nonprofit healthcare consulting organization, hospital executives are reluctant to implement ACOs — 46 percent — and they have no plans to implement an Accountable Care Organization (ACO)-like model in the near future.

Conducted in October 2013 among 206 hospital executives at a director level and above, the survey also reveals that executives are struggling with finding solutions for lower reimbursements and increased costs, while still maintaining an acceptable level of quality care.

“This survey has identified a significant need for advocacy and education to support hospitals and help them survive the wave of changes brought on by the Affordable Care Act,” said Mary Anne Sloan, director of Purdue Healthcare Advisors. “Hospital executives are charged with enhancing patient care and managing margins with a shrinking workforce and diminishing patient volumes.”

Hospital executives find ACOs to be unstable and financially risky

Executives are waiting for ACO models that are more stable and mature to avoid having to reinvest funds to implement changes or updates, according to the survey. The executives who do not have plans to implement an ACO model in the future (46 percent) cited the following reasons:

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Mobile Technology Core to HIT Implementation for Transforming Healthcare

Bettina Experton
Bettina Experton

Guest post by Bettina Experton, MD, MPH, president and CEO, Humetrix.

Mobile technology core to HIT implementation, a silent revolution which took place on September 23 this year when the HIPAA omnibus rule took effect, giving Americans the right to obtain electronic copies of their health records. But how can this new right be exercised at scale to transform healthcare nationwide? How do we help patients better coordinate their care and ensure their safety by getting their health records in their own hands?

The scalable computing device of choice in the hands of many is a smartphone, now owned by more than 50 percent of the population, and for many the only computing device they use daily to access information on the Internet. Clearly, electronic access to health records would be best provided on the very mobile device most of us carry at all times, especially when navigating a complex health care system with multiple  and dispersed providers.

Electronic copies of health records on CDs or flash drives are not only tools of the past, but also perpetuate the barriers and complexity most of us have to face when requesting copies of our records. Desktop and portal-only solutions are also not the optimum approach to consumer-directed health information exchange, since these cannot be available at the point of care where patients need to share their medical history in the most convenient and expedient way. Mobile is, therefore, central to health information exchange policies and new care delivery models built on patient-centered care, and should not be an afterthought or secondary implementation to dated patient portal systems.

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EHR Experiences: Dr. Lucy Hornstein, Valley Forge Family Practice

Dr. Lucy Hornstein
Dr. Lucy Hornstein

Dr. Lucy Hornstein, solo practitioner at Valley Forge Family Practice in Phoenixville, Penn., was not a proponent of electronic health records. An active physician blogger and published writer, she spent quite a few of her words on the technology’s uselessness.

They were expensive, overly complicated and tough to use and provided little return on the investment for users. Besides, most physicians, in her opinion, only implemented them because of meaningful use and the federal incentives they received for using them.

Paper, she had long decided, was good enough for her and during the first 21 years of practice in her own practice, she had no plans to change. It was only after the loss of one of her two staff members that she soon realized that she’d have to re-hire just to maintain her practice at its current load. However, that wasn’t an option for her. Neither, she thought, was adding an EHR to handle the management of the records because other than her perception of the technology, the self-described “dinosaur” didn’t have the budget for such an endeavor. She had zero for such technology.

Even if she had a change of heart and adopted the technology, she had not seen one system that was not cumbersome, not hard to use, intuitive to maneuver and or that offered her the option to meet the needs of her small practice while running the business efficiently.

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Are EHRs Dead?: Jim Gerrity, Ciena Responds

Jim Gerrity

Are EHRs dead? Well, Healthcare IT News’ Eric Wicklund recently reported that EHR vendors “will have to find a way to modify their products to focus on data that the patient and his or her care team want, or they’ll become obsolete.” Will EHRs become so obsolete so soon after the height of their heyday? When further explained, some of the reasoning makes sense.

According to panelists at the Partners HealthCare’s 10th Annual Connected Health Symposium, we’re in the time of “para-EHR,” defined as all of the phone calls, texts, e-mails and other doctor-doctor and doctor-patient communications that are not entered into the EHR. They could include everything from Skype chats between doctors to Post-It notes to data residing on mobile devices and sensors.

As such, complete records are not being entered into the EHR, and most patient communication takes place outside the EHR setting. But, are EHR’s dead and flat line or do they have some life left in them? I posted the question to Jim Gerrity, director at Ciena.

Are EHRs dead? “The short answer is ‘no,’ however, what is contained in today’s EHR will most likely evolve.  Let me expand on this a bit: Paper-based records are still the most widely used method in the healthcare industry, but that’s changing rapidly. EHRs are proving to significantly improve clinical efficiency and coordination and being adopted increasingly by healthcare institutions around the world. A relatively recent example in the U.S. was their great usefulness to provide continued care during and immediately after Superstorm Sandy … e-records backed up and accessible at disaster recovery sites. As one writer put it, EHRs are ‘ushering in a new era in how medical data is stored and shared.’ But is this transition to EHRs required?

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GUDID Proves EHRs Aren’t ‘GUD’ Enough

Mohan Ponnudurai
Mohan Ponnudurai

Guest post by Mohan Ponnudurai, director at Sparta Systems

The release of the FDA’s final rule requiring most medical devices to carry a unique device identifier (UDI) will allow regulators to track goods and expedite necessary recalls in order to manage quality and promote patient safety. This process will be streamlined with the population of the global unique device identification database (GUDID, pronounced good-I.D.), which will include a standard set of identifying elements for each device given a UDI. The system will allow healthcare providers to look up information about a medical device, then amend the electronic health record of a patient as needed.

GUDID has no mandate in terms of automatic connectivity to EHR; no matter what device is implanted into a patient, his/her healthcare professional must manually input that information cross-referencing the UDI record with his/her EHR. Without this data entry, the point-of-use component leading to better patient safety and monitoring becomes a moot point. Just like manufacturing and design are inexplicably linked, and quality is an essential part of both for safer products, GUDID and EHR must be connected for better patient safety.

According to the FDA, most of the information contained within the GUDID will be made available to the public, meaning individuals can easily look up information about their medical device. The UDI does not indicate, and the database will not contain, any information about who uses a device, including personal privacy information.[1] While the GUDID is a step in the right direction to promoting patient safety, healthcare providers should look to the database as a model for keeping all EHRs.

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Report: Patient Portals Surging, Hospitals Still Faxing, and Cloud EHRs with Integrated Billing Key to Practice Success

Michael Lake
Michael Lake

One of the greatest sources of information that depicts the changes in health IT trends across the industry landscape is from Michael Lake, healthcare technology strategist. Through his monthly reports on the state of health technology, published by his company Circle Square, he provides succinct highlights from throughout the last month. Possibly, what’s best about these reports is that they cover such a diverse segment of the ecosphere.

For example, in one of his most recent reports, the focus was the EHR vendor sphere, cloud EHRs and their importance to independent practices, the use of faxes in hospitals, vendor news and transactions and practice portal insight, among other news.

According to his most recent report, cloud-based EHRs with integrated billing are quickly becoming a key to a practice’s future success as an independent practice. In his report, he cites Black Book as ranking solutions that seamlessly integrate electronic health records (EHR), revenue cycle management (RCM) and practice management (PM). Kareo tops on the list, per KLAS.

However, most practices feel that billing and collections systems and processes need upgrading (87%) and more than 40 percent (42%) are considering an upgrade to RCM software in in the next year . Most practices (71%) are considering a combo of new software and outsourcing services for improvement.

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Five Things to Know About Electronic Health Records

Money magazine offers five things to know about electronic health records. It’s a very high-level overview, mostly for the consumer market, and is a piece designed to get some skin in the healthcare game. The piece pithy and concise, which is good, as the publication is clearly unable to dig into health IT topics like a site like this, but is it worth the ink?

You decide. Let us know. Tell us if it’s a “me too” moment, which I happen to believe is the case. I think the magazine should stick to covering money and leave health IT alone, but that’s a lone opinion.

And so, without further ado, here are five things to know about electronic health records, if you don’t already:

Chances are, patients will see them, if they have not already and will ask about them.

According to Money, “more than half of physicians have started keeping electronic medical records, the federal government announced this year. About 80 percent of hospitals have gone digital, too, with urban institutions leading the way.”

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HIT Thought Leader Highlight: Milton Silva-Craig, TransUnion Healthcare

HIT Thought Leader Highlight: Milton Silva-Craig
Silva-Craig

Milton Silva-Craig, president of TransUnion Healthcare, discusses his thoughts for the future of healthcare, payment reform, new patients and financial pressures in the reform era and changes he sees on the horizon.

How has the role of data analytics changed in the healthcare industry, especially in light of the ACA and reform?

It is no longer a nice tool to have at your disposal. It is a requirement. It is the foundation necessary to support the outcomes of reform. Moving forward, reimbursement will be tied directly to outcomes and performance. The only way to measure such performance will be through the use of data. It will be the insights gleamed from the data that will allow providers to be successful in managing the intersection of patient care and a healthy business.

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Effective Mobility Leads to Quality Healthcare

Effective Mobility Leads to Quality Healthcare
Moynihan

Guest post by John Moynihan, healthcare segment manager, Global Industry Marketing, Siemens Enterprise Communications and Randy Roberts, vice president, mobility portfolio, Siemens Enterprise Communications.

Technology in business today can seem like a zero-sum game. When the employees win, they are able to do whatever it takes to be productive. But doing that tends to tie the hands of IT, keeping them from locking down devices and services well enough to make sure their information is secure. This situation is becoming more common in the medical industry, with clinicians and computing staff often at odds over convenience versus security. Doctors, traditionally reluctant to adopt new technology or take any risks with tried-and-true methods for caring for their patients, have taken to mobility as a duck to water.

Because access to patient information allows them to better do their jobs, doctors in particular are quickly adopting tablets and smartphones. And while they’re not ignorant of the security risks of these devices, particularly the potential for patient information to be lost or stolen, their focus is on caring for their patients. In fact, even if their business doesn’t provide or specifically allow for mobility, they are bringing their own devices into the office.

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Mostashari the Politician Continues the EHR Campaign, Asking for Little More than Adoption

Fortuneteller Farzad Mostashari said recently that a lull in adoption of EHRs is expected, by him, and that 2014 will be a huge – banner – year for the adoption of the technology to participate in the meaningful use program, since 2014 is the last year to participate and still be eligible for federal incentives.

The penalty phase begins in 2015.

The incentive program is having a clear impact on adoption of the technology, as we all know. Without the “free” federal money and the threat of cuts in reimbursements, motivation to implement the oft described as burdensome technology was lagging.

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