According to a recent study by Towers Watson — an organization I’m very familiar with for having worked with them on a major healthcare project — there is a health IT employee shortage and healthcare providers need to rethink their approach to hiring and retaining the experienced information technology professionals they need in the new healthcare environment.
Apparently, providers are at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring IT staff in part because of competition from IT consultancies that can afford to pay top dollar for experienced IT professionals.
The Towers Watson survey of more than 100 healthcare providers, including hospitals, found that two-thirds (67%) are having problems attracting experienced IT employees, and 38% reporting retention issues. The attraction problem is even greater for Epic-certified professionals, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of the respondents reporting difficulty hiring these individuals, whose specialized skills are essential to meet new electronic medical record requirements under health care reform.
What keeps health IT leaders up at night? It’s a simple question with millions of different responses. For each one of us, it’s something entirely different. For me, I toss and turn because of a few fairly simple reasons: ensuring my start-up company is bringing in revenue to cover the bills and building it into a sustainable first-class organization, not the mention making sure my family is healthy and secure.
Most likely what keeps me up, keeps health IT leaders up, too, but they likely face a few more complexities than I given the huge responsibility they bear keeping their products in compliance with reform and regulation, and the large number of people their products touch. With all of the activity and rapid change in the ever evolving world of health IT, I decided to ask a few folks what in fact keeps them up at night.
Some of the following responses you might expect; others are a bit surprising.
Guest post by Aaron Weiss, director of marketing for HP LaserJet Enterprise Solutions.
Throughout my career, I’ve worked with many small-to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to improve workflows and efficiency by using technology. Across all of the SMBs in various industries that I’ve helped, healthcare offices often experience the most debilitating pain points, resulting from an overflow of documents like patient and medication information.
From scheduling appointments and providing medication information to keeping track of patient history records, employees of office-based physician practices are expected to meet high demands. In the midst of diagnosing illnesses and managing administrative responsibilities, disorganization, security issues and time management often become pain points for practices.
With increasing financial pressure on the industry, healthcare is being redefined to focus on quality outcomes at lower costs. Providers in particular need to look to new ways to utilize data to improve outcomes, while taking into account the rapid changes that can occur during a case. No matter how prepared physicians may be before surgery, the situation can shift dramatically on the operating table and physicians need evidence-based support to make the smartest real-time decisions.
While the accumulated experience and skill of physicians allows them to make gut calls based on instinct, there is no substitute for data-backed, evidence-based information to support these calls. Many hospitals and physicians currently do not have the tools or technology to leverage the inordinate amount of data they produce to assist in making decisions in real time.
The ability of consumers and healthcare providers to access information and streamline processes using mobile devices is having a profound impact on healthcare.
For the first time this year, sales of smartphones are expected to surpass sales of traditional cell phones. More than 800 million smartphones are expected to be sold worldwide in 2013, according to Canalys. In addition, IDC predicts that more than 170 million tablets will be sold this year, surpassing laptop sales.
All these mobile devices in the hands of consumers means that the mobile app market will continue its torrid pace, and this is true in healthcare too. The market for mobile healthcare apps is expected to reach $400 million by 2016, according to ABI Research.
With the consumerization of healthcare, both doctors and hospitals have a vested interest in delivering an experience that will build patient loyalty. At the same time, new healthcare laws also are putting patients in a position of being more responsible for their own care. Healthcare providers who give patients the tools they need to simplify information and make informed choices will build stronger and longer relationships with patients. Mobile apps will be the heart of these tools.
While most of the worrisome news about transitioning to ICD-10 is correct, the most daunting of tasks are actually the easiest to accomplish. Yet unwittingly, most healthcare providers, following the various help forums and articles, have focused on chalking out a complete ICD-10 transition plan before all else. Then, the plan is too often delayed or scrapped altogether.
The trick to a successful transition starts at the grass-root level: analysis before planning the transition effort and timelines. A detailed impact analysis is critical, and since it is based on historical data, it can never be too early to get this done. Moreover, with comprehensive historical data analysis, the planning effort can be drastically reduced. Consider that NIIT’s research, which analyzed the historical data of multiple providers, has revealed that up to 90 percent of claims utilize less than 5 percent of the ICD codes used by providers. Thus, by focusing on the accurate mapping of 5 percent of the code subset being utilized, 90 percent of the risk can be mitigated.
So, we’ve finally done it – we’ve reached the sticking point in the battle of electronic health records. Apparently, as of April 2013, more than half of all office-based physicians and other eligible professionals received their meaningful use incentive payments for successfully using and adopting EHRs.
Which means … you guessed it – more than 50 percent of eligible professionals successfully used a certified EHR (of course the number is higher if you calculate the number of physicians not using a certified system).
According to Modern Healthcare, in April 191,305 physicians and EPs received EHR incentive payments from Medicare, and 88,903 have received payments from Medicaid and 11,117 from Medicare Advantage under programs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Guest post by Sean Armstrong, Director of Product Management at AppNeta.
Today, healthcare practices run on critical applications that connect remote users (hospitals, physicians, clinics) to centralized and hosted resources. From the largest medical centers to small clinics, healthcare organizations depend on network-sensitive applications every day. Electronic Health Records (EHR), ePrescriptions, medical imaging, online medical registries, desktop virtualization, VoIP, IP storage, cloud–based system, Software-as-a-Service — all of these critical applications help keep hospitals, physicians and clinics running. When these slow down or crash, so do the healthcare providers and the offices relying on them.
Here are five main reasons why every healthcare provider needs be able to monitor and manage application and network performance:
Electronic health record prices and contract terms remain ever elusive, and in some case, divisive. Certainly, with more than 50 percent of all practice-based physicians using an electronic health record, there is still little clarity and open communication as to the pricing and contract structure of the very systems that physicians and their practices are mandated to build their practices on.
Having worked for an electronic health record vendor, I understand the need for discreetness to a point, as well as the fact that prices of products and terms of contacts can’t always be posted to the web or nailed to the door like an a la carte menu; however, I do believe that the process should be a bit more transparent than it currently is.
That said, I’ve asked a couple industry leaders some of the questions I’ve had on the subject and their responses are educational, insightful and informative. I hope you feel the same.
Healthcare providers, in particular, must prove that their organization and operational standards establish the proper quality and safety measures to meet strict regulation, reform and privacy requirements. However, even with “proper” protocols in place, most healthcare organizations often are unable to prove whether they have properly managed secure and protected information.
Improper user account management can lead to breeches of security, fines, penalties, lack of trust from the community and failed audits. Hospitals and healthcare providers need to take the necessary measures to ensure sensitive information is not available to employees without proper access rights. For instance, former employees and contractors who are still able to access and use a former employer’s e-mail network because their user account has not been deactivated immediately upon their departure present a definite security risk.