By Ben Flock, chief healthcare strategist, TEKsystems.
As technology advances, so does the healthcare industry, with technological breakthroughs increasing the ability of healthcare professionals to serve their patients, record and transfer patient data and more efficiently complete other tasks necessary to keep the industry moving. IT services provider TEKsystems recently released the results of a survey that polled almost 200 healthcare IT leaders (e.g., IT directors, chief information officers, IT vice presidents and IT hiring managers) in late 2017/early 2018 on a range of key issues, including technology maturity, workforce planning, critical roles and the top trends shaping healthcare IT today.
The results revealed a shifting focus from IT leaders: healthcare is behind the curve on initiatives that have the potential to shape the industry going forward, including artificial intelligence (AI).
Business demand is driving both the interests of IT leaders and the prioritization of AI in healthcare. Value-based care, regulatory mandates and the consumer push for precision/personalized care are driving the business prioritization of AI. These results indicate that while IT leaders know AI in healthcare is the future, they are currently taking a cautious approach to utilizing the technology. This is very likely rooted in security concerns, as there are federal, state and even local mandates dictating the protection and privacy of patient data.
Although cautious, healthcare organizations are actually proceeding on the AI front. As evidence, survey data shows a high percentage of healthcare organizations are in the implementation, evaluation or refining stage with respect to specific technology applications that leverage AI – digital health systems (75 percent) and telemedicine (51 percent). This pragmatic approach to AI will continue, and healthcare organizations will address this emerging industry imperative by providing IT resources, as well as enabling platform technologies and repeatable solutions capabilities in secure applications and solutions that leverage artificial intelligence.
To ensure IT employees are aware of the need to be cautious when implementing AI initiatives, organizations must ensure adequate onboarding and ongoing risk and compliance (R&C) training is provided. An annual “check the box,” activity, R&C training isn’t enough to help employees and third parties manage risk appropriately. The best strategy is to implement a risk-based approach by focusing on higher risk functional areas with direct access to consumers and/or protected health information (PHI), and creating targeted training. Simple education and awareness tactics can dramatically improve compliance when employees and third parties understand how to apply teachings to their area.
Do you know how tech is disrupting the traditional healthcare market? Well, we do, and we have gathered all the information you need to know about this topic in one infographic. Today technology is constantly evolving and starting to take over surprising segments of our lives. The leading health tech accelerators, startups, companies and minds are doing their best to make this industry grow. Every day med tech makes people feel safe and more comfortable, it helps us to have more control over our health and body. We’ve made a research on the biggest challenges of the health tech sector, on global investment in health tech companies, on health tech influencers to follow, on the reasons of health tech industry growth and more interesting stuff.
It didn’t take much time for investors to see the perspectiveness of the health tech sector and to start investing in it. Such companies as Y Combinator, Dreamit Ventures, GE Ventures, Google Ventures, Rock Health and many others started to invest into dozens of health tech startups. At the same time a lot of different governmental programs were established, with the purpose to support health tech development and healthcare innovations. Canada founded a new $20 million Health Technology Innovation Evaluation Fund to support made-in-Ontario technologies. In Australia $4 million Mental Health Innovation Fund supports health tech startups to come up with health-driven innovations fighting with mental illness. At the same time, with $4.5 billion funding from the government, 2015 became the year of digital health for the US.
The biggest challenges of the health tech sector are: difficulty of market entry for new generation drugs; misuse of USB ports can cause medical devices to malfunction; robotic surgery: complications because of insufficient training; and other factors. A lot has been done yet there is still much to accomplish. So the following infographic about health tech and its role in healthcare industry attempts to give you important information in a creative way. We hope you’ll like it.
Is there an unspoken fear among caregivers that the subtext of all this digital disruption is a devaluation of the human element?
In countless industries, workers and analysts alike watch the slow march of technology and innovation and see as inevitable the takeover of human tasks by robots, AI, or other smart systems. We watched as the threat of outsourcing transformed into a reality of automation in industrial sectors, saw drones take on countless new roles in the military and in commerce, and now we hear about how driverless cars, self-checkout kiosks, and even robotic cashiers in restaurants are all waiting in the wings to dive in and displace even more formerly human occupations.
And looking at how EHRs — by virtue of their cumbersome workflows alone, not to mention all the documentation and growing emphasis on analytics and records-sharing–are taking flack for burnout and frustration in hospitals across the country, it hardly seems a reach to suggest that maybe America’s caregivers are feeling not just burdened by technology, but threatened.
Digital records are already changing what doctors and nurses do, how they work, and what is expected of them — it must surely be only a matter of time before their roles start getting handed over to the robots and supercomputers … right?
Change, Not Replacement
While some jobs or roles may face elimination through automation, the more common effect is transformation. In healthcare, that may mean that for many their title is the same — perhaps even the education and certification standards that go along with it–but their actual functions and roles in context will be different.
We see this already with respect to EHRs. The early, primitive documentation workflows and reporting obligations have drawn ire from clinicians who see their autonomy under attack by digital bureaucracy. But this is naturally destined for correction; medicine has advanced through trial and error for centuries, and the 21st century is no different.
All of these trends point to the medical lab as a newly central component of the modern care center, treatment plan, and information hub. The demands all these new technologies and applications put on laboratory professionals requires them to do more learning, adapting, and leading than ever before, especially to integrate the latest and greatest devices and tests available.
Simply put, machines are still fallible, and require assistance in providing critical context, to supplement their ability to accurately read, diagnose, and self-regulate to ensure accuracy and consistency, not to mention proper application in the clinical setting.
TapCloud creates a real-time stream of data that enables care teams to quickly grasp whether a patient is getting better or worse, assess the effectiveness of treatments and medications and identify the onset of emerging complications. TapCloud is currently being used in settings from single practitioner to national hospital systems.
TapCloud allows patient’s and provider’s to communicate in ways never before possible to improve the doctor/patient relationship, focus clinicians on patients that need the most attention and insure that the patients that require services receive them in a timely manner to maximize health benefits to the patient (including quality of life, not just physical issues) and minimize the expenditure of health resources.
TapCloud is a solution for gathering key patient information in between clinical visits. There are two parts to the TapCloud solution: a patient facing instructional and information collecting APP and a web-based clinician dashboard. Typical use is for patients to follow/consume their provider-based care plan/educational info and enter their well-being, pain levels, symptoms, side effects, medication compliance and vitals into the APP (unique design allows patients to complete this in less than 1 minute per day). This information is then presented in a comprehensive dashboard that allows clinicians to rapidly interpret key insights into a patients overall well-being. Based on this patient reported information, clinical protocols will dictate if any specific patient needs to be seen, have a home health visit or meds adjusted, etc.
Our CEO, Tom Riley, is a former health insurance executive who spent the past 25 years living at the intersection of healthcare and technology. A few years ago, after his mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, his experience with the healthcare system became much more personal as he became a primary caregiver for her. During that time he attended office visits with his mom on a regular basis, and discovered that there is an inherent gap in communications between the way doctors organize/accept information from patients, and the way patients organize and deliver information to their doctors and other clinical staff.
Over and over again, he found himself serving as a translator between his mom and her doctors. He would help his mom by creating easy to understand checklists of things she was supposed to be doing each day, activity, medications, etc. And he would help the doctors by keeping track of his mom’s symptoms and watching for developing complications and then making sure that the information was shared during her appointments. It frequently made a significant impact on the diagnosis of issues, and the assessment of treatment effectiveness. It also helped his mom regain a measure of “quality of life” by making sure that even non-critical complications like chronic constipation were identified and addressed.
After his mom passed away, he decided to devote his time to taking what he had learned first-hand and developing a solution to improve patient-doctor communications in acute-care settings like post-surgical recovery and chemotherapy and since has morphed into a chronic disease management solution as well. TapCloud runs on smart-phones and tablets and includes personalized services for the patient, helping them organize and customize generic discharge/care plan instructions into a personalized daily plan for them to follow. At the same time, the technology uses a sophisticated, but incredibly easy to use, interface to probe for indications of developing complications and/or medication side-effects. It allows clinicians to effectively monitor patient progress remotely and focus their attention on the right patients. It also ensures that doctors are aware of all of the issues affecting a patient, not just the life-threatening ones that have their patients end up in the ED or admitted to the hospital without them even realizing their patients were experiencing any issues.
Guest post by Devin Jollimore, training coordinator, Mission Safety Services.
We live in an age where the use of technology dominates our lives and these technological developments have had an amazingly positive impact on the healthcare industry. Healthcare technology has heavily influenced the improvement in our health and the increased life expectancy we are seeing today.
In particular, the progress we have made in cancer research and the greater survival rates have been heavily influenced by developments in technology. It’s amazing that healthcare technology played a role in saving 1.2 million lives between 1991 and 2009 thanks to progress in cancer treatments and detection.
Malaria is thought to have killed more people than all wars put together and technology is helping reduce this startling statistic. Something as simple as a bed net with insecticide has reduced malaria in children under 5 by 20 percent.
Also, stem cell research has limitless possibilities to save lives. We are still progressing with this development, but diseases, such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s, may be hugely reduced through stem cell research and we are already making good progress.
Let’s not forget the importance of the Internet and how it has increased healthcare efficiency. Healthcare facilities are reaching patients through social media and doctors have access to thousands of medical books at the touch of a button.
This infographic from Mission Safety Services outlines the progress we have made, the work that is being done, and possible future developments in technology that have potential to make real change.
In the following conversation, Jim Lacy, CFO and general counsel of ZirMed, discusses the company’s mission, goals and growth; his passion for healthcare and serving those who work in it; ZirMed’s transition from a clearinghouse to a revenue cycle management, population health and predictive analytics firm; why privacy has become the biggest issue very few are seriously talking about; and the changing face of healthcare as a whole.
Tell me more about ZirMed, the brand, its solutions, and your mission for it.
Our core mission is to help healthcare providers, hospitals and health systems get paid. It sounds simple, but efficiently and effectively getting providers paid for their services and supporting their mission in an ever-evolving technological, regulatory, and clinical environment is incredibly complex.
ZirMed is uniquely positioned to deliver a comprehensive end-to-end platform of cloud-based financial and clinical performance management solutions. That means that at every point in the revenue cycle, we have solutions that support healthcare providers in collecting monies from payers and patients, and do it as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible. Our solutions address the challenges of the current fee-for-service and consumer-driven payment systems, and also support fee-for-value reimbursement, broadly defined as population health management.
ZirMed’s solutions are logically oriented to address the revenue cycle needs of providers ranging from small physician practices and durable medical equipment providers to the largest hospitals and health systems. At the front end, we offer Patient Access solutions focused on registration and check-in to streamline pre-registration, estimate patient responsibility, accurately verify eligibility, and more.
Core to our mission of getting hospitals and health systems paid for services provided is our Charge Integrity solution. We use big-data and predictive analytics to identify and capture charges, resolve process inefficiencies, improve coding compliance, and ensure the complete integrity of all inpatient and outpatient billing.
Our claims and A/R management solutions include robust edits and rules aggregating claims across an entire system, and provide highly efficient claims and receivables workflows, reduce preventable denials, and deliver insights into financial performance for critical decision support.
With the ability to process vast amounts of data and provider metrics across an organization, our cost and utilization solutions benchmark provider performance, stratify risk, and support fee-for-value reimbursement programs.
Population health management has come to hold very different meanings across different organizations. Our population risk management solutions combine clinical and financial information, enabling insights into patient populations while identifying risk, analyzing discharges for readmission risks, and managing referrals across an integrated system.
And, of course, healthcare is always about the patients. We offer a comprehensive suite of Patient Engagement solutions including consumer-friendly billing and payment options and a patient portal offering online payment, statement management, and two-way messaging between the patient and provider.
What about you? What keeps your passion for this mission, and organization, alive? Tell me more about what excites you about your work and why you love what you do?
I love what I do, and couldn’t design a better job for myself than this one: I get to be a CFO, counsel and influence product design, all within the course of a normal day.
My roles are seemingly very different and one person holding them is rather non-traditional; however, there is logic to the fit. ZirMed develops financially focused software solutions in a highly regulated healthcare environment. We deal with billions of transactions and hundreds of billions of dollars annually with an extreme focus on privacy, security and compliancy. My background from the provider side of healthcare prior to joining ZirMed directly influences the types of solutions we build and how we deploy them to positively impact provider organizations.
Ric Sinclair, our VP of product, and his team excel at designing and delivering great software that’s beautiful, powerful, and easy to use. Their role is to take all this complexity and make it as simple and easy as possible for users and managers in client organizations. My role is to weave my experiences into the design of our products and support the role of the client in everything we build.
So I’m doing what I love and working with incredibly smart, talented people every day. That makes it easy to stay passionate and excited about my work and about ZirMed.
Guest post by Dr. David Whitehouse, chief medical officer, UST Global.
Technology innovation is changing many fields dramatically but unevenly, and that is especially the case with the medical field. When I get into my car each morning and look at the dashboard, I know more about the health of my car than myself.
When it comes to health, we live our lives directed by our beliefs about health and symptoms. Beliefs drive us to strategically invest in aspects of our physical selves, from diet to exercise, to immunizations. What causes us to go to the doctors, for the most part, are symptoms: aches, rashes, pain, and general losses of function. Once we see a doctor, specifics about our health are further defined by numbers (temperature, blood pressure, cholesterol).
For the most part, I am aware of my symptoms, but not my numbers. Some with a chronic illness like diabetes use numbers to help pinpoint the ups and downs of their health. The majority of us do not keep track, because internally, automatic sensors measure and assay everything – glucose levels to direct the secretion of insulin, and blood pressure changes to alter our heart rate.
Homeostasis takes place unconsciously, as conscious knowledge of all these internal processes would be information overload. Certain manifestations like fainting, blushing, and dizziness, remain on the macro level to warn us that the system was in trouble.
Modernity has shifted the need for conscious measurement of our internal processes. The diseases that are killing us – obesity, metabolic disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease – are ones for which our control systems are poorly evolved. These types of diseases do their damage silently and over long periods of time. Unable to correct imbalances well, these problems tax us physiologically but send us no symptomatic warning until it is too late and the damage is well on its way.
The following is an announcement from CMS about potential modifications to the meaningful use program, announced Apr. 10, 2015:
On April 10, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a new proposed rule for the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs to align Stage 1 and Stage 2 objectives and measures with the long-term proposals for Stage 3, to build progress toward program milestones, to reduce complexity, and to simplify providers’ reporting. These modifications would allow providers to focus more closely on the advanced use of certified EHR technology to support health information exchange and quality improvement.
The proposed rule is just one part of a larger effort across HHS to deliver better care, spend health dollars more wisely, and have healthier people and communities by working in three core areas: improving the way providers are paid, improving the way care is delivered, and improving the way information is shared to support transparency for consumers, health care providers, and researchers and to strengthen decision-making.
The proposed rule is a critical step forward in helping to support the long-term goals of delivery system reform; especially those goals of a nationwide interoperable learning health system and patient-centered care. CMS is also simplifying the structure and reducing the reporting requirements for providers participating in the program by removing measures which have become duplicative, redundant, and reached wide-spread adoption (i.e., are “topped out”). This will allow providers to refocus on the advanced use objectives and measures. These advanced measures are at the core of health IT supported health care which drives toward improving the way electronic health information is shared among providers and with their patients, enhancing the ability to measure quality and set improvement goals, and ultimately improving the way health care is delivered and experienced.
Dr. Sol Lizerbram has been co-founder and chairman of the board of HealthFusion since its inception in 1998. HealthFusion develops web-based, cloud computing software for physicians, hospitals and medical billing services. HealthFusion’s fully integrated solution includes MediTouch EHR and MediTouch PM. Dr. Lizerbram was a co-founder of a national physician practice management company, and served as chairman of its board of Directors from 1986 through July 1998. Dr. Lizerbram has been in the healthcare industry for more than 35 years, received a degree in pharmacy in 1970 from Long Island University, School of Pharmacy, and was licensed as a registered pharmacist in the states of New York and Pennsylvania. He obtained a medical degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1977.
He is board certified in family practice and is licensed as an osteopathic physician and surgeon in the states of Pennsylvania and California. Dr. Lizerbram was recognized by NASDAQ/Ernst & Young as the 1996 Entrepreneur of the Year in the healthcare industry. He was a trustee of the US Olympic Committee and is active as a committee member in the Jewish National Fund. Dr. Lizerbram was appointed by the California Insurance Commissioner to the Governing Committee of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau, and appointed by the California Governor as a Commissioner to the Health Policy and Data Advisory Commission.
Here, he discusses HealthFusion, the technology he helps develop and how it’s being used by physicians, the future of health IT, interoperability and the rise of consumerism and the cloud, the survival of EHR companies.
Tell me more about yourself and your background. Why healthcare?
I was a pharmacist prior to attending medical school in Philadelphia. After completion of my medical training I moved to San Diego, where I practiced as a board certified family physician. After several years in practice, I was appointed as the medical director of Prudential PruCare in San Diego. Soon after, I began to see the need for software that would assist doctors in improving the health of our population.
In 1998 I helped to found HealthFusion with Dr. Seth Flam, our CEO and a fellow family physician, to make the practice of medicine simpler for physicians and their staff by finding novel methods of utilizing the Internet.
Our job is to create the software tools used by physicians to further the health of their patients. We are honored that each day thousands of providers use our healthcare software to help make someone’s life a little better.
I come from a family with a strong healthcare orientation; my brother and six cousins are all physicians. As a result, I had an interest in helping people with their healthcare needs and found it very interesting.
What do you see as the sector’s biggest issues and, technologically, how can we solve them?
One of the biggest issues in healthcare right now is interoperability, the ability to seamlessly exchange patient data between physicians, hospitals, diagnostics centers, etc. This communication has been a challenge in healthcare because it needs to be accomplished between disparate systems, but it’s vital to garnering full value from digital healthcare information for patients, and for improving population health.
I’m glad to say that we are already accomplishing this with HealthFusion’s MediTouch; as an example, we provide data exchange successfully between Miami Children’s Hospital systems and MediTouch in the community doctors’ offices.
Amazing Charts, a provider of electronic health records and practice management solutions, issued its healthcare predictions for 2015. Some interesting predictions here I thought you might find worthwhile. Concierge medicine, which I’ve said for some time is going to have a lasting impact, especially in the era of the Affordable Care Act, made the list.
Patient engagement, and consumerism of healthcare– somewhat of a slam dunk — appears here, too. I believe we’ve get some clarification on what that movement means this year. Amazing Charts agrees.
Also, wearables (oh, wearables, will you become more than a fad?) makes this list, and telehealth is here, too; I think we’ve finally reached the saturation point of telemedicine. This year should show strong results that I hope will validate its role at the point of care. We’ll finally get to see if payers get the message.
Here’s the full list of healthcare predictions for 2015 from Amazing Charts:
Membership Medicine Comes on Strong: The patient membership approach to medicine will grow in all forms, including value-based Direct Primary Care (DPC), high-end concierge medicine and primary care services contracted directly by employers. Market-driven medicine, fueled by changes occurring in healthcare today, such as inexpensive health plans with very high deductibles, will continue to encourage consumers to explore more cost-effective alternatives for primary care.
Patients Help Define the Experience: The patient, in partnership with the provider, will help define the care experience going forward. This trend will be powered by technologies that enhance face-to-face interaction in the exam room. One example is the projection of an EHR onto a large display screen to facilitate information sharing between provider and patient. This in turn will help reduce errors and misdiagnosis, as well as motivate patients to take a renewed interest in their own healthcare and treatment options.
EHRs Get Personalized: The EHR market will further mature and become customizable for individual patient needs and treatment plans. Intuitive data analytics will play a critical role here, helping clinicians measure, assess and manage their specific patient populations to better define specific gaps in clinical care and introduce the latest evidenced-based treatment procedures or diagnostic techniques.