AMA Releases 2019 CPT Code Set

The American Medical Association (AMA) announced the release of the 2019 Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) code set. There are 335 code changes in the new CPT edition reflecting the CPT Editorial Panel and the healthcare community’s combined annual effort to capture and describe the latest scientific and technological advances in medical, surgical and diagnostic services.

“The CPT code set is the foundation upon which every element of the medical community – doctors, hospitals, allied health professionals, laboratories and payers – can efficiently share accurate information about medical services,” said AMA president Barbara L. McAneny, M.D. “The latest annual changes to the CPT code set reflect new technological and scientific advancements available to mainstream clinical practice, and ensure the code set can fulfill its trusted role as the health system’s common language for reporting contemporary medical procedures. That’s why we believe CPT serves both as the language of medicine today and the code to its future.”

Among this year’s important changes to CPT are code additions that reflect the tremendous potential of using connected health tools to better support clinicians in patient population health and care coordination services, and other novel delivery systems that are vital for improving the overall quality of health care.

These include three new remote patient monitoring codes that reflect how health care professionals can more effectively and efficiently use technology to connect with their patients at home and gather data for care management and coordination. Also, two new interprofessional internet consultation codes have been added to reflect the increasing importance of using non-verbal communication technology to coordinate patient care between a consulting physician and a treating physician.

“The AMA has urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service to adopt the new codes for remote patient monitoring and internet consulting and designate the related services for payment under federal health programs in 2019,” said Dr. McAneny. “Medicare’s acceptance of the new codes would signal a landmark shift to better support physicians participating in patient population health and care coordination services that can be a significant part of a digital solution for improving the overall quality of medical care.”

Additional CPT changes for 2019 include new and revised codes for skin biopsy, fine needle aspiration biopsy, adaptive behavior analysis, and central nervous system assessments including psychological and neuropsychological testing. Broad input from practicing physicians, medical specialty societies and the greater health care community was considered by the CPT Editorial Panel to produce the latest practical enhancements to CPT that reflect the coding demands of the modern healthcare system.

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Healthcare Executive Rank Top 10 Healthcare Issues for 2019

After more than two days of thought leadership discussions during its 30th Anniversary Annual Forum, executive participants of the HealthCare Executive Group (HCEG) voted on and ranked the 2019 HCEG Top 10 critical challenges, issues and opportunities they expect to face in their organizations in the coming year.

Executives from payer, provider and technology partner organizations were presented with a list of more than 25 topics selected by the HCEG Board of Directors and other thought leaders. The list was augmented by the 2018 Industry Pulse Survey. Roundtable discussions hosted during the Forum amongst the more than 100 attendees and invited industry experts allowed the topics to be explored and expounded upon, prior to a digital ranking that culminated in the 2019 HCEG Top 10.

2019 HCEG Top 10 Challenges, Issues and Opportunities

“Selecting and ranking healthcare issues is always a challenge as we are in a very critical and dynamic stage in healthcare,” said Ferris W. Taylor, executive director of HCEG. “?Everything seems important. Particularly, issue #11 — healthcare policy reform — and issue #12 — precision/personalized medicine?. More than a handful of HCEG members were surprised that these topics did not make the Top 10. HCEG plans to further explore the reasoning through facilitated discussions at upcoming events and within the HCEG digital community. It’s a compliment to the HCEG members that we reached an agreement on these 10 critical and actionable issues.”

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“Healthcare Consumer Insight & Digital Engagement” Survey Shows Consumer’s Reliance On Social Info for Their Care

Binary Fountain released the findings of its second annual “Healthcare Consumer Insight and Digital Engagement” survey with the goal of getting an updated view into how patients search, evaluate and share their experiences with their physicians. The survey shows an increase in patients’ dependence and reliance on online ratings and review sites to make informed healthcare decisions.

Americans Are More Comfortable Sharing their Healthcare Experiences Online

Today, social media platforms are being used to discuss and share all elements of a person’s life, which now includes healthcare experiences. The survey results showed that consumers have become increasingly comfortable with sharing their personal healthcare experiences online. In particular, millennial consumers between the ages of 18 and 34 are the most active over social media and are the most inclined to share their healthcare experiences online.

According to the survey, 51 percent of Americans say they share their personal healthcare experiences via social media, online ratings and review sites, a 65 percent increase from the 2017 survey results. Specifically, 70 percent of millennials have shared their physician or hospital experiences online, and 68 percent of “young millennials” between the ages of 18 to 24 said they have shared their healthcare experience online — a 94 percent increase from last year.

The survey finds that Facebook is the most used channel to share healthcare experiences for ages 25 to 54. However, unlike last year, consumers between the ages of 18 to 24 say Google is their preferred online platform to share their healthcare experiences. In 2017, survey respondents between the ages of 18 to 24 selected Twitter as their most used channel to share healthcare experiences.

Growing Dependence on Online Ratings and Review Sites  

The survey shows that healthcare consumers continue to depend on online ratings and review sites. More and more, consumers are seeking online healthcare advice and relying on unfiltered, transparent patient feedback to determine whether a healthcare practitioner or practice is worth a visit. The below survey results reflect the true impact that online ratings and review sites have on consumers, as well as, the continued rise in healthcare consumerism.

Ninety-five percent of respondents find online ratings and reviews “somewhat” to “very” reliable with 100 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 24 find online ratings and reviews “somewhat” to “very” reliable and 97 percent of respondents between the ages of 25 to 34 do as well.

Likewise, 70 percent of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when selecting a physician, and even when referred by another doctor, 41 percent of consumers still check online ratings and reviews of doctors and specialists.

Of the respondents that utilized websites/platforms to choose a physician, 34 percent selected hospital and/or clinic’s website as a primary source, followed by Google (29 percent), WebMD (18 percent), Healthgrades (15 percent) and Facebook (12 percent).

Expectations Remain High for Patient Care

Patients today have high expectations for customer service and bedside manner. The survey examined, through multiple-answer questions, what factors matter most to patients when rating or evaluating a physician. The survey results revealed:

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Health IT Startup: Somatix

Image result for Somatix logoSomatix is a leader in wearable-assisted gesture detection for real-time health intervention and well being enhancement.

Elevator pitch
Somatix is a leader in wearable-assisted gesture detection for real-time health intervention and well being enhancement. Somatix derives physical and emotional symptoms from simple hand gestures, utilizing sensors built into a range of wearables to remotely detect, analyze, gain insights and act on massive volumes of body motion data. The platform additionally employs machine learning and advanced analytics capabilities to apply personalized CBT (cognitive behavior therapy)-driven intervention that increase individuals’ treatment adherence and improve people’s lives.

Eran Ofir
Eran Ofir

Founders’ story|
Eran Ofir is the CEO and co-founder of Somatix, a real-time gesture detection platform for effective healthcare intervention, utilizing sensors built into a range of wearables to remotely detect, analyze, gain insights and act on massive volumes of body motion data. Eran has 20 years of experience in executive roles with multinational companies, where he established and led business units at Orange, AOL Mobile, Amdocs, Convergys and NCR. Over the last decade, Eran has lived and worked in Israel, South Africa, China and the US, selling software platforms, hardware, services and consulting to customers in telecom, internet, retail, utilities, financial services and healthcare sectors. Eran is a Tel-Aviv University graduate in electrical engineering (BSc) and finance-marketing MBA.

Marketing/promotion strategy
Somatix targets organizations with clear financial interest in maintaining high employee, customer and patient health levels, driven by the requirement for technological innovations capable of enhancing preventative healthcare and rehabilitative treatment.

Our G2M strategy aims to directly sell to clinics and hospitals bearing the impact of changes in payment arrangements for the services they render, health insurance companies whose profitability is constantly being eroded by mounting healthcare expense reimbursements and senior corporate human resources managers offering employee benefit programs.

Market opportunity
Smoking-related illness in the United States costs more than $300 billion annually, nearly $170 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity. The global smoking cessation and nicotine de-addiction market is expected to reach $21.8B by 2024.

The population addicted to smoking is rapidly increasing. The growing desire to quit smoking and health complications associated with smoking serve as incentives for companies to introduce novel solutions and drive the growth of the smoking cessation and nicotine de-addiction market.

Who are your competitors?
We identify two types of competitors: big-data analytics and solution specific companies; most are smoking cessation consumer mobile apps. None of the other existing smoking cessation solutions in the market today offers the four key benefits we do (see competitive advantages below), and in fact most don’t even offer a combination of two.

How your company differentiates itself from the competition and what differentiates Somatix?
SmokeBeat is superior to other smoking cessation solutions, mainly because it:

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Health Information Technology: 7 Issues To Consider

By Joel Syder, business analyst, Academic Brits.

There are many uses of information technology in healthcare. In the previous years, these implementations have developed more than anyone could anticipate. They boost efficiency, improve the quality of care and security and control costs. These advancements have created many benefits for the patients and medical facilities in both the public and the private sector.  When asked, experts say that these are some of the biggest health IT issues that should be considered:

Interoperability

Interoperability, when it comes to healthcare is one of the processes that make it easier for medical services to share information on patients. It makes the healthcare more efficient — it prevents doing the same tests multiple times on one patient and it helps specialists communicate quickly through the system.

This is why it’s so crucial that this technology continues advancing and moving further while making the job of doctors all over the world as simple and as focused on the problem as possible.

Security

Of course, with so much data which exists in healthcare field, security of that data is one of the top priorities. In recent years we have come across so many examples of how not to handle patient data but now that we are dealing with population Healthcare, we need to be even more careful. That’s why cyber security of the data became an imperative at so many companies.

“Security is something that you should definitely keep an eye on. Whenever you see that there is a new update, make sure that your healthcare organization has it. People are getting more and more skilled at hacking and obtaining data that this has to be a priority,” said Gina Petrelli, a data analyst from OriginWritings and WriteMyX

Big Data

Because there is such a shortage of trained medical personnel in the world, big data will have to become the main source for point-of-care information. This can improve the current state of health in certain groups as well as establish customization so that every technology can be unique to each culture. It will also help develop safer and more efficient systems across the world.

Big data means that there are many sources and a lot of data to be taken from them — medical professionals will have the kind of information that they usually can’t easily get.

Investments

Over the years, there have been some big investments made towards the healthcare technology industry. However, those investments are noticeable now more than ever — technologies are advancing fast and this progress is visible in many areas.

Investments in healthcare information technology has mostly been aimed at technologies that improve efficiency, technology that supports decision making and personalized medicine, technology that empowers patients, technology that protects against cyber attacks and technology that enables remote health monitoring.

Why most investments are made towards these areas is understandable — they contribute to the overall health and safety of populations.

Improvements of EHR

Electronic health records are something that is already in place and has been for some time now. While there are many benefits to this, it can sometimes be a nuisance and a burden to medical professionals. They are often not inter-operable and that causes a lot headaches to doctors across the world. Any technology that allows for easier use and interoperability is going to be well-accepted.

While we’ve had these technologies for years now, you’ll have to notice that they caused many troubles – security, operating, transitioning from paper to digital. New improvements could change that,” said Dennis Marks, a communication manager at 1Day2Write.

Telemedicine

Growth of telemedicine has been steady over the years but the growth will speed up in the future years. This will enable doctors to examine patients using wearables and use that data to assist them in diagnostics, management and prevention later. This is all thanks to MACRA, value-based demands placed upon the providers and so on.

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How People Without Health Insurance Can Still Afford Medical Services

Despite the best efforts of the government, there are still millions of US citizens who don’t have healthcare coverage. This translates into a large percentage of the population forced to forego preventative care and even emergency healthcare services. While bureaucrats continue to rewrite laws and introduce legislation that might make health care more affordable, more practical solutions are also being sought. There are mobile health clinics appearing in major cities, as well as well-known walk in medical clinic businesses that are emerging in both rural and rural environments. In order for people without health insurance to get access to medical services, they have to know what is available to them.

Healthcare Coverage Based On Income

Both older Americans, as well as low-income citizens, can get medical insurance if they ask for assistance. Medicare and Medicaid are government subsidized healthcare plans that can be used in traditional doctors’ offices as well as hospital emergency rooms. People with disabilities and even people who are experiencing hard times can usually qualify for coverage for themselves and their families. These kinds of medical plans are widely known in the US and are accepted by most doctors. The only downside is that neither of these government-sponsored medical plans is all-inclusive. More specifically, Medicare does not offer dental coverage.

Charity-based Healthcare Services

If a medical emergency occurs and the person affected doesn’t have any kind of medical coverage, then he or she can expect a very large bill to follow soon after. Financial limitations can be a major obstacle for people suffering from chronic medical issues for several reasons. First, if you have amassed a big medical bill from a local hospital and you haven’t at least set up a repayment plan, you can be prevented from scheduling any future procedures. Second, having a large medical debt appear on your credit report can make it hard for those without health care coverage to get better-paying jobs or otherwise get out of this vicious cycle. Charities offer help with medical bills as well as give a segment of the population access to low-cost healthcare services.

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Healthcare: To Cloud or Not to Cloud

By Robert Barras, vice president of health solutions, CTG Inc.

Robert Barras
Robert Barras

There’s nothing like a good bandwagon to get everyone excited. Whether it’s the success of your favorite sports team, or a hot new restaurant in town, or a movie that’s breaking box office records, once something gets hot it seems everyone wants a piece of it.

For healthcare IT, one of the loudest and most visible bandwagons in the last few years has been the cloud. The idea of being able to hand off the expense and resource-intensive hassle of purchasing, implementing, and maintaining hardware and software is very attractive to healthcare organizations continuously being challenged to “do more with less.” Yet that expediency is often offset by continuing concerns about security, especially as it relates to protected health information (PHI), speed of access, and other issues.

The reality is the cloud is the right choice for some organizations, or even some specific applications, but it’s not a panacea for HIT. Following are some things to consider as you make the choice of whether to move to the cloud at all, and what makes sense to move to it.

Improved scalability

One of the top reasons in favor of moving data and/or applications to the cloud is the ability to scale them on an ad hoc basis – especially as healthcare data continues to grow exponentially. A report from EMC and research firm IDC projects the volume of healthcare data will grow from 153 exabytes in 2013 to 2,314 exabytes by 2020.

Of course, the growth won’t come in a steady stream. At some points, healthcare organizations will need to be able to manage a high volume of data. At others, they may need to boost their computing power temporarily to drive a specific objective.

Rather than trying to manage data or computing needs internally and ending up with over- or under-capacity, the cloud provides a convenient way to scale up or down quickly. It’s also more cost-efficient, as healthcare organizations only pay for what they consume, significantly reducing costs. Finally, expanding capacity through the cloud ensures processing-heavy analytics applications aren’t slowing down the performance of critical clinical applications.

Enabling interoperability

All of that data won’t be coming from a single source, either. As more of healthcare shifts to being value-based, providers of all types and sizes need to populate their population health management (PHM) and other analytics applications with data drawn from a variety of sources inside and outside of the organization.

Most organizations, especially those hyper-concerned with security, will not want all of that outside data flowing into their core systems or internal data centers.  The cloud presents an ideal alternative.

It can create a clean separation between the main storage of PHI and all other data by treating PHI as a source that feeds applications housed in the cloud. With the help of a partner, all the incoming data can be cleaned and normalized so it can be used within analytics or other applications, providing better, more complete answers to PHM, patient engagement, trends, and other questions than can be obtained with internal data alone.

As the use of data in this manner grows, it will simplify the exchange between providers – especially as standards such as FHIR proliferate throughout the industry. The result is interoperability almost becomes a byproduct of the use of data in the cloud, avoiding the need for expensive, time-consuming special projects just to send electronic health records from one provider to another.

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Telehealth: The Tipping Point of Virtual Care Platform Adoption

By Lee Horner, CEO, Synzi.

Lee Horner
Lee Horner

While telehealth has been around for years, virtual care technology is emerging as a powerful tool that goes beyond the traditional telehealth model. What will it take to reach the tipping point of virtual care adoption?

To become the “next generation” of telehealth, virtual care will need to improve access, availability, application, and acceptance considerations. Virtual care is poised to be embraced by the healthcare ecosystem, helping to optimize satisfaction and outcomes for all.

Access

Timing is everything in critical care situations. Providers need instant access to specialists who can make vital diagnoses and decisions on-demand. Virtual care technology enables specialists to provide an immediate consult via video and ensure that patient questions and emerging conditions are addressed. Remote video-based consults allow a specialist to examine and diagnose the patient in real time, regardless of the specialist’s location. Virtual care will move into the mainstream as more providers (whether at a healthcare facility or home health agency) realize they can obtain timely answers, prevent return trips to the ED, and minimize readmissions. Smaller and rural hospitals will be able to strengthen their role in the community by using virtual care to access offsite, specialized staff.  The time-to-treatment will be reduced; providers will not need to waste precious minutes attempting to contact available specialists. And, specialists can provide the needed consult via video, without needing to rush to the patient’s bedside.

Availability

Many patients fail to follow up with their provider for post-discharge care. No-shows may result when a patient is unable to leave his/her residence due to a medical condition. Some patients are unable to secure reliable, timely, and/or affordable transportation to a follow-up appointment. Virtual care will improve the standard of care by providing patients with more convenient, comfortable, and cost-effective access to follow-up care. Once out of the hospital or nursing facility, a patient can participate in virtual visits on commodity devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Application

Healthcare organizations typically pilot the use of virtual care in one department, with one use-case or for a specific patient population, before rolling out the technology across a facility, health system, and/or health plan’s member base. Organizations may hesitate to expand virtual care across departments if they anticipate the implementation may be disruptive to their current processes. However, virtual care technology is designed to complement (and even automate) current workflows. Providers jump on the virtual care bandwagon when they realize that the application factors in a patient’s choice of communication devices (e.g., tablet, smartphone, and computer) and language.  Because the technology features the ability to include interpreters in a video call and also provide messaging in the patient’s primary/preferred language, more healthcare organizations will accelerate the deployment of virtual care as they can now engage all patients in their care and across any level of connectivity.

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Top 10 Mobile Apps Used In Healthcare

By Kenneth Evans, content marketing specialist, Top App Development Companies.

Kenneth Evans
Kenneth Evans

Mobile technology is amazing. With the available technologies, anyone can see a doctor using smartphones. The impact of app developers and mobile app developers is increasing in healthcare. They make this possible by developing and releasing telemedicine and telehealth apps. These apps make the provision and accessing of health more convenient. They make healthcare more preventive, inexpensive and better. These mobile apps for healthcare are unique. They are creating a viable marketplace for healthcare services. These apps reduce time to access medical consultation and treatment.

These mobile apps are revolutionizing healthcare on a daily basis. They allow patients to seek health on virtual platforms. They assist doctors and patients in solving health issues. These apps help healthcare providers to gather and manage information. They serve reference materials for care providers. They assist in monitoring and managing of patients. These apps are available across the U.S. and overseas to travelling U.S. residents. It is a must for mobile apps offering diagnosis and treatment become HIPAA-compliant. Telehealth information is available in the National Conference of State Legislatures. It contains information for each State within the U.S.

There are thousands of these apps available. Top app development companies work on daily basis to meet demands. This is an area where virtual reality app development is increasing without bounds. Highlight of some of the telemedicine and telehealth apps is available on this post.

PingMD

PingMD is a mobile app that provides a platform for doctors and patients to chat. It is available for Apple and Android smartphone users. This app enables doctors to discuss medical issues with their patients and colleagues. It eliminates the issue of leaking private messages to the public. The discussion between patients and doctors is transferrable to the patients’ medical record. Doctors can bill their patients for e-visitations and e-consultations. With this app, consulting a doctor becomes easy and fast.

HelloMD

HelloMD is an app where doctors set their consultation fees. This app helps to find specialists for appointment booking. It is not an app that provides access to immediate healthcare. This app will help find specialists like neurologists and radiologists. This app is for patients with very special health conditions. Appointments are set up within 24 hours once a specialist in located. Thereafter, consultation between the specialist and patient takes place through video call. The app aims to connect patients with the right doctor. It helps patients seek second opinion on health conditions. Face to face consultation can happen where necessary. Doctors fix their fee and patients pay through credit card. This is before fixing an appointment. This app is web-based and accessible via mobile devices.

Epocrates

Epocrates is an app available for download to users of Android and Apple mobile devices. This app is a powerful app that allows doctors to access the health evidence of patients. It allows doctors access specific guidelines from national specialty societies about patients. It is an app with loads of source information on medications and prescriptions. It is an app for finding doctors to consult. This app provides information on harmful interactions between drugs. It can help identify pills using imprint code and some physical properties. It helps in calculating BMI and GFR. This app provides a platform for accessing medical news and information on researches. This app has two versions, the free and the fee for subscription version. The free version is Epocrates RX and the other is Epocrates Essentials. The Epocrates Essentials costs about $159.99 at the time of writing.

LiveHealth Online

LiveHealth Online is an available to Android and Apple mobile device users. This app allows patients to consult doctors through video calls. These doctors write prescriptions for their patient at the end of consultation. Note that this is possible in only few states. Patients make payment using their insurance plan. Consultation fee is $49/consultation for patients with no insurance coverage. Patients pay the consultation fee if their policy does not cover online visits.

Medscape

Medscape is an app accessible by Android and Apple mobile device users. It offers healthcare professionals the access to millions of medical information. It is a platform where medical profession can access educational tools. For clinicians in the U.S., it is the number one medial platform. It has more than 4 million users. It helps caregivers to look up medications and their dosages. It has a drug interaction check for preventing adverse combination of drugs. Its evidence-based disease and condition reference assists in finding important information on patients. There are medical calculators and image collection platforms on this app. This is a free app but requires that users to set up an account. It is available to users of Kindle Fire.

Microsoft HealthVault

Microsoft HealthVault is a free health mobile app. It is available to Apple and Window mobile device users. This app is a platform where individuals can keep their medical records. It is safe and up-to-date in storing medical record. It eases sharing of personal medical records to health professionals and family. People with chronic condition use this app to trail their health metrics. It is possible to input manual data. For automatic data input, patients connect the app to health trackers. Accessing this app through the web is possible.

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Survey: Physician IT Leaders Say Improvements to Medication Management Make Patients Safer

Nearly 100 percent of chief medical information officers (CMIOs) in U.S. hospitals believe medication management improvement initiatives are having a positive impact and that patient safety issues are less likely to occur today as compared to five years ago, according to a new survey from the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS). The survey of physician leaders, sponsored by DrFirst, also revealed that CMIOs believe there is more work to be done to address gaps that could potentially impact patient safety.

Among the top patient safety gaps identified by CMIOs is the “inability to prevent financial constraints” from impacting patients’ adherence to prescribed medications. In fact, 71 percent of the survey respondents cited concerns with the lack of price transparency—the ability to inform patients how much a prescribed medication will cost, including their insurance co-pay amount. Medication costs are a key concern for patients as well, as evidenced by a Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll which found that 67 percent of patients who failed to fill their prescriptions in the last 90 days reported high costs as their reason.

Addressing high drug prices is also a priority for the Trump administration, which earlier this year introduced the American Patients First blueprint, a comprehensive plan to bring down prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs.

The surveyed CMIOS also identified a major gap related to the opioid epidemic. Sixty-five percent of respondents cited the need for an integrated clinician workflow that makes it easy for clinicians to coordinate the entire medication management process, including electronic prescribing of controlled substances like opioids, access to state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) to identify patients’ opioid histories, and electronic access to prescriptions from other providers and locations to avoid potentially harmful drug combinations. Similarly, 41 percent shared concerns about providers’ abilities to prevent opioid abuse since they often cannot easily distinguish “drug shoppers” from genuine patients.

Cameron Deemer
Cameron Deemer

Overall, 82 percent of surveyed CMIOs concur that medication management improvement initiatives have had a positive impact on adverse drug events. However, only half of the CMIOs expressed satisfaction with the medication management process, while 12 percent indicated dissatisfaction. According to the survey, the biggest gaps in the entire medication management process are incomplete patient medication histories (80 percent) and misaligned medication reconciliation and care transition cycles that lead to misinformed decisions by care teams (75 percent).

“While the industry has clearly made significant strides to improve medication management processes, CMIOs remain troubled by a number of gaps that compromise patient safety and quality outcomes,” said G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst. “That’s why DrFirst has remained firmly committed to addressing these pain points with innovative new technologies that make a meaningful difference in patient care and the physician experience.”

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