Patient-Centered Care and Its Impact on Healthcare IT

Guest post by Ali Din is GM and CMO, dinCloud.

Ali M. Din
Ali M. Din

Like retail and education before it, a major shift is underway in the healthcare industry that is putting power back in consumers’ hands. Similar to how retail outlets are delivering custom experiences based on consumer preferences, or how there is more attention to individual needs in the classroom, patients are able to play a more active role in their healthcare administration and decision-making than ever before. This means participating in a shared decision-making model with physicians, seeing their needs and preferences reflected in the course of their treatment, and easier access to their medical data, made readily available to both the patient and his or her medical team.

Patient centered care (also referred to as PCC), patient empowerment, patient participation, and shared decision making are all terms used to describe this phenomenon. While the reach of PCC is still expanding, its benefits are clear. As stated by PwC in its “Top Health Industry Issues of 2016” report, and reported by Fierce Healthcare, “care will begin to move into the palms of consumers’ hands.”  Going further, a Health Affairs blog states that, “it is well established now that one can in fact improve the quality of health care and reduce the costs at the same time.”

This article will explore the phenomenon that is PCC, a paradigm shift changing the healthcare industry at its core. So much so, PCC is driving adoption of three technology related trends that are in line with its principles. They include: telemedicine, cloud computing and mHealth.

Patient Centered Care and 2016 Healthcare IT Trends


While many assumed in-facility care would remain the norm after house calls faded from popularity decades ago, that may not be the case. Increasingly, telemedicine — or remote consultations, diagnoses, and treatment performed by medical professionals — is becoming a standard practice in the healthcare industry.

For example, the below ad from Anthem BlueCross and LiveHealth Online was released by one of the nation’s largest insurance agencies promoting remote consultations states the “doctor is always in” and sessions are “quick and easy with no appointments and no driving.”

In line with the principles of PCC, telehealth promises greater access to care for patients who don’t live in close proximity to a healthcare facility. For the greater population, telehealth offers convenience and the comfort of care delivered in a patient’s natural environment. Administering care in a patient’s environment instead of a traditional healthcare setting can also facilitate better care in some cases. Fierce Healthcare provides the example of blood pressure screening – taking a patient’s blood pressure in a natural setting, like their home or workplace, may more accurately reflect their blood pressure on a daily basis.

Telehealth and the benefits this practice offers to patients are perfectly in line with the patient-centric approach favored today. In light of this, it wouldn’t be surprising if telemedicine adoption continues to rise in the coming years, along with the demand for technology that can facilitate remote care.

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mHealth Opportunity One May Not Afford to Miss

Guest post by Rashmi Katiyar, director, Kratin LLC.

Rashmi Katiyar
Rashmi Katiyar

I read an article recently in the favor of mobile development in healthcare, though the article was making sense to me, it got comments like “mobile is good but we have many other challenges to cater and mobile is far low on priority.”

As an immediate reaction, I agreed to this comment, but it kept me bugging over the time. When mobile is so powerful (with its reach) so connected why it can’t solve bigger problems? May be they are not thinking mobile beyond “find a physician” or “fitness step count” apps. There are actually endless opportunities and much more serious tasks await smartphone, in healthcare provider perspective.

Patient Assistance: Mobile can be handy guide for a patient outside and inside hospitals, it can not only give information about your facility, services and physicians but also can keep your patients engaged with notifications , health library, you tube channels , care gap management, immunization schedules, etc.

Physician Assistance: In today’s competitive healthcare industry with growing ACOs and other policies it’s equally important to keep your physicians engaged and equipped. Handy & secure access to needed information like patient data , technical terms, on call schedules etc. assist doctors, nurses and clinical staff to increase overall coordination among the care team and achieve greater satisfaction.

Population Health: Good mobile application provides opportunity to stay connected with wider number of people beyond patients, as a result it’s easy to run real-time push surveys, polls and run healthy community forums across. Social and mobile plays vital role in information spreading process, with access to more number of people things can be done altogether at different scale.

These are just some of the very high level thoughts; mobile applications are growing richer in capability and technology. One of the biggest benefits of staying connected to the patients beyond the walls of the hospitals is; it allows care team to keep check on adherence and wellness of the patients, which avoids re-admissions and reduces overall cost of care.

We discuss possibilities with various IT teams from different hospitals, more we talk more I feel the need for healthcare providers to embrace mHealth for better health outcomes and truly emerge as fee for value organization catering to not only about patient’s illness but about wellness of the each and every individual in its sphere.

Can Cloud-Based Partners Help Practices Successfully Navigate a Turbulent Environment in 2016?

Guest post by Ken Comée, CEO, CareCloud.

Ken Comée
Ken Comée

The healthcare industry remains at a crossroads as providers and healthcare IT professionals confront a rapidly changing business and regulatory landscape. With factors like rising patient cost obligations, growing payer complexity, and the inevitable shift to a value-based payment environment weighing on them, medical practices nationwide are in search of new IT solutions to support them. The rapid pace of cloud adoption across all sectors is a prominent example. The market for cloud solutions is one of the fastest growing areas within healthcare, but it’s not solely a private sector phenomenon; the federal government’s cloud-first strategy finally gained traction in 2015, prompting a FCW analyst to predict accelerating momentum for federal cloud initiatives over the next three to five years.

One of the strongest factors driving cloud momentum among medical practices today remains security concerns: with growing IT complexity increasing security risks, cloud options remain an attractive plug-and-play alternative to on-site servers that allows healthcare providers to minimize vulnerabilities. But modern cloud solutions also allow providers to maximize practice management capabilities and offer faster time to value. And, with features like pay-as-you-go pricing, cloud solutions don’t require a big upfront investment, making them a popular choice with budget-conscious healthcare organizations.

Another key factor driving practice adoption of modern, cloud-based solutions is the need more efficient workflows to support effective patient billing. The patient share of healthcare costs is growing rapidly in the US. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, out-of-pocket costs have grown three times as fast as overall healthcare costs. And, the average deductible has skyrocketed from $584 in 2006 to $1,318 in 2015. Practices need solutions that can help them implement controls and analytics as patients become responsible for a greater share of costs.

As a result of these and other factors, cloud technology now plays a pivotal role in healthcare, and cloud-based healthcare IT solutions are becoming increasingly important in helping practice successfully navigate this new environment. So what’s in store for 2016? Here are some healthcare IT trends to watch:

A more modern, intuitive software experience: The consumerization of healthcare IT has begun in earnest, and that means practices are looking for design-centered products that deliver intuitive solutions. Cloud-based healthcare IT solutions that move beyond Web 1.0 to provide a consumer-focused user experience (UX) will be the clear winners.

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How Monolithic Medical Apps Hinder mHealth

Guest post by Khomushka Andrey, project coordinator, Sciencesoft.

Health professionals will hardly ever love documenting. By making tedious tasks easier and eliminating paperwork, medical apps spare time for doctors to focus on their patients more. However, physicians would rather use paper charts and sticky notes than try to figure out what goes wrong with the software.

The reason why mHealth for medical practices, clinics, hospitals and other care organizations might stay unused is that developers tend to build monolithic mobile copies of medical desktop solutions, trying to adapt the complex functionality to smaller screens. Off-the-shelf software vendors generally stick to this large-screen approach, as their goal is to cover the needs of as many customers as possible.

According to Healthcare IT News and the AMA (American Medical Association), however, physicians welcome a more customized approach. “Physicians have found that most EHRs lack usability and interoperability as necessary features for supporting high-quality patient care,” says James L. Madara, MD, CEO of the AMA.

So thinks the AAPS (Association of American Physicians and Surgeons), which represents the end users of such apps. Executive director Jane M. Orient, MD, states that “The costly, clunky systems the government demands are worsening the problems and even driving some software experts back to paper.” And just to emphasize it, according to Healthcare IT News, 80 percent out of 571 physicians surveyed feel that EHRs impede patient care and almost half claim that patient safety is at risk.

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2016: The Shakeup Year for Health IT

Guest post by Robert Williams, MBA/PMP, CEO, goPMO, Inc.

Robert Williams, MBA/PMP
Robert Williams

I continue to view 2016 as a shakeup year in healthcare IT. We’ve spent the last five plus years coming to grips with the new normal of meaningful use, HIPAA and EMR adoption, integrated with the desire to transform the healthcare business model from volume to value. After the billions of dollars spent on electronic health records and hospital/provider acquisitions we see our customers looking around and asking how have we really benefited and what is still left to accomplish.

All politics is local

Our healthcare providers are realizing their clinical applications, specifically EMR vendors, are not going to resolve interoperability by themselves. When the interoperability group, CommonWell formed in 2013 much of the market believed the combination of such significant players (Cerner, Allscripts, McKesson, Athenahealth and others) would utilize their strength to accelerate interoperability across systems. Almost three years late CommonWell only has a dozen pilot sites in operation.

Evolving HL7 standards and a whole generation of software applications are allowing individul hospitals to take the task of interoperability away from traditional clinical applications and creating connectivity themselves.

Help wanted

Black Book’s survey published last month, stated that three out of every four hospitals with more than 300 beds are outsourcing IT solutions. Hospitals have been traditionally understaffed to meet the onslaught of federal requirements. Can they evolve into product deployment organizations as well? Across all the expertise they need within the organization? Most are saying no and searching out specialty services organizations to supplement their existing expertise and staff.

Are you going to eat that?

Patient engagement is on fire right now at the federal level (thank you meaningful use Stage 3), in investment dollars and within the provider
community. But to truly manage hospital re-admissions and select chronic diseases (diabetes, obesity and congestive heart failure for example)
providers need data and trend analysis on daily consumer behavior. The rise of wearable technology and the ability to capture data/analyze data from them will be a major focus going forward. These technologies will likely help to make us healthier but with a bit of big brother side affect.

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The Rise of Telemedicine: Because It’s Reimbursable, Safe and Efficient

Guest post by Dr. Ranya Habash, CMO, Everbridge.

Today’s physicians face an increasing array of non-clinical demands on their time, from filling out paperwork to sorting through insurance denials. As a result, the amount of time doctors have to actually see patients has been reduced.

The combination of decreasing number of physicians, increasing demand for quality care, and rising costs of healthcare has created a challenging environment for both patients and healthcare professionals.

Nearly all of us have experienced long wait times at a physician’s office, often for minor ailments or routine follow-ups. These lengthy wait times are causing more and more patients to skip follow-up visits or turn to unreliable online medical services and websites for information. This not only erodes the doctor-patient relationship, but it puts patient health at risk. Furthermore, the information is not properly shared with the patient’s actual physician.

Today’s ultra-connected world has a solution that can bring the doctor-patient relationship into the 21st century: telemedicine.

Telemedicine is a suite of technology solutions that enables doctors to communicate with and treat patients via text, video and audio – and it can be used by physicians, nurses, office staff, any healthcare professional and, of course, patients. Telemedicine allows physicians to provide more convenient, real-time interactions with their own patients, for triaging acute issues and for quick follow up visits that can save the entire health system time and money.

And it’s far from the latest medical fad. Telemedicine is already one of the fastest growing segments in healthcare. According to the American Telemedicine Association, half of all U.S. hospitals now use some form of telemedicine. Similarly, Health Affairs has predicted an increase in domestic telehealth revenue by almost 20 percent per year, to $1.9 billion by 2018.

Connecting to patients, anywhere and anytime
Clearly, these solutions have ushered in a new age of medicine. Technology can also provide real-time data on patient vital signs, blood sugars and other information to improve the monitoring of chronic conditions, reducing readmission rates and keeping our patients healthier outside of the hospital.

Factors fueling the growth of telemedicine are as follows: a shortage of physicians in rural and remote areas, the high prevalence of chronic diseases, growing elderly populations, increasing numbers of smartphone users and the need for improved quality of care.

Telemedicine solutions fall into two broad categories: remote patient monitoring and online/digital communications. Remote patient monitoring links home healthcare equipment (heart monitors, dialysis equipment, etc.) to the internet and then securely reports patient data back to a healthcare provider.

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Draft Guidelines Released for the Responsible Use of Wearables, Smartwatches and Health Apps

With consumer use of wearables, smart pill bottles, health apps and other forms of personalized health technology rapidly increasing, concerns around data privacy, proper interpretation of health information and data stewardship are also on the rise.  In response, the Vitality Institute, along with Microsoft Corporation, the University of California, San Diego, and other stakeholders, are developing a set of industry guidelines to address the legal, social and ethical concerns associated with the development and use of the technology and the data it generates.  The guidelines build on existing best practices to create a standardized approach.  A draft of the guidelines is being released online today, opening a three month public comment period before the guidelines are finalized.

“I urge anyone with an interest in the future of health technology to review the guidelines and comment.  This includes consumers who use wearables, smartwatches and health apps, along with leaders of the companies that develop, market and distribute these products,” said Derek Yach, executive director of the Vitality Institute and senior vice president of the Vitality Group.  “Personalized health technology has great potential to benefit the health of countless individuals and it is critical that we proactively address these legal, social and ethical challenges so that potential benefit is not hindered.”

The draft responsibility guidelines make six recommendations that call on personalized health technology to:

  1. Protect the privacy of a user’s health data
  2. Clearly define who owns a user’s health data
  3. Make it easy for users to accurately interpret their data
  4. Integrate validated scientific evidence into product design
  5. Incorporate evidence-based approaches to health behavior improvement
  6. Be accessible to marginalized populations

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Health IT Thought Leader Highlight: Alan Portela, CEO, AirStrip

Alan Portela

Alan Portela, CEO of AirStrip, has more than 25 years of experience in bringing medical technology solutions to market. Portela originally joined AirStrip as a senior advisor and member of the board of directors prior to his appointment as CEO in 2011. Prior to joining AirStrip, he was CEO and principal of Hybrid Clinical Transformation, LLC, where he developed EHR adoption strategies for the U.S. Military Health System and much of the Veterans Health Administration. He also served as president and chief strategist at CliniComp, Intl., and in senior executive roles in several innovative healthcare technology and service organizations.

AirStrip provides a vendor and data source-agnostic, enterprise-wide mobile interoperability platform that advances care collaboration and serves as a catalyst for health system innovation. Here he discusses mHealth trends; why and how it needs to change; interoperability; security and protecting against breach;and the biggest issues facing healthcare in the next year.

Can you tell us about yourself and your background prior to starting AirStrip? Why healthcare?

Prior to joining AirStrip, I was the president at CliniComp and responsible for the implementation of high acuity EHR systems at the U.S Military Health System, Veterans Health Administration (VA) and a number of prestigious healthcare organizations in the private sector. In my more than 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, I have held several senior executive roles with innovative healthcare technology vendors and helped pioneer an mHealth company more than a decade ago that came out of UCLA Medical Center Department of Neurosurgery (Global Care Quest). Leading the industry via disruptive and continuous innovation has become a true passion. Each day I see how technology improves patient care, and I enjoy being an active part of that transformation.

What do you think the mHealth industry needs to change to better support doctors and patients today?

Mobile technology and clinical decision support tools will undoubtedly be the biggest contributors to the needed clinical transformation revolution, providing physicians with a means to deliver proactive quality care to millions of patients throughout the continuum of care. However, for clinical transformation to occur, the industry needs to establish – and enforce – interoperable standards so that data and technology can move seamlessly across systems and provide clinically relevant patient information at the moment of care regardless of where the caregivers and the patients are. Interoperability will remove the data silos that currently impede access to information, and allow for clinical decision support that lets clinicians provide the best care, improving overall patient outcomes and well-being. The fact that legacy vendors are not sharing data means that innovation is being stifled. Unfortunately, both the federal government and a handful of legacy vendors seem to be driving us deeper into the crisis by carrying the flag of interoperability, but only limiting requirements to minimal clinical data sets, which do not contribute to the move from volume to value-based reimbursement.

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HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey: Mobile Technology Upgrades Continue to Impact Healthcare Engagement

HIMSS released the results of the 2015 HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey at the annual HIMSS conference. This year’s study, of more than 200 healthcare provider employees, found that nearly 90 percent of respondents are utilizing mobile devices within their organizations to engage patients in their healthcare. The report also showed that respondents believe that mHealth technologies are beginning to drive cost savings and improve the quality of care delivered.

The adoption of mobile technologies has been rapid in recent years with 90 percent of American adults owning a mobile device. The healthcare industry continues to keep up, as these technologies are critical to the industry’s shift to patient-centered and value-based care. Respondents of this year’s survey reported leveraging a variety of mobile tools including: app-enabled patient portals (73 percent), telehealth services (62 percent) and text communications (57 percent). Of these technologies, 36 percent of respondents believe the use of app-enabled patient portals is the most effective tool in patient engagement to date.

“mHealth continues to evolve as a tool to drive healthcare efficiencies.  The proposed Meaningful Use Stage 3 rule realizes this with the concept of APIs and patient generated health data, and this year’s survey showed that the wide spread availability of mobile technology has had a positive impact on the coordination of patient care,” said David Collins, senior director of HIMSS mHealth Community.

According to a new report from InMedica, a subsidiary of IMS Research, American healthcare providers are turning to telehealth in large numbers to help cut costs and projects patients using telehealth services to grow by nearly a factor of six by 2017. While 51 percent of HIMSS Mobile Technology Survey respondents indicated budget tolls as a key barrier to further implementation of mobile technologies, 54 percent indicated they had achieved cost savings when asked if the deployment of mobile technology had a positive effect in this capacity. Specifically, areas of impact included preventative support care (24 percent), telehealth interventions (23 percent) and resource utilization (21 percent).

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Health IT Thought Leader Highlight: Dr. Sol Lizerbram, HealthFusion

Dr. Sol Lizerbram

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.

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