Though Health IT is Improving, Pain Points Remain for Most Docs

Though health IT is improving, pain points remain for most docs. That’s according to new data published by HealthBiz Decoded, a Xerox site.

The actual data was collected by research company Wolter Kluwers Health from 300 practicing primary care physicians.

Based on their experiences with health IT, most (or in this case more than 150) said technology is improving patient care and safety.

At the same time, just as many are frustrated by the technology in their practices and more than 60 percent believe health tech is not helping improve relationships with patients, surprisingly.

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Senators Call on HHS to Extend Deadline for Stage 2 of Electronic Health Records Incentive Program

John Thune
John Thune

Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, were joined today by several of their colleagues in sending a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, calling for a one-year extension for health care providers to complete the second stage of the electronic health records (EHR) incentive program, which is increasing the adoption of health information technology by hospitals and physicians across the country.

Lamar Alexander
Lamar Alexander

According a release, “providers who are ready to attest to Stage 2 in 2014 should be able to do so consistent with current policy, and the senators believe the administration must continue to push for interoperability.”

By the end of 2014, more than 500,000 hospitals and physicians will be required to upgrade their existing technology to demonstrate new standards of “meaningful use” to be eligible for the corresponding incentive payments.

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Greenway Medical Technologies and Vitera Healthcare Solutions to Combine

GreenwayGreenway Medical Technologies and Vitera Healthcare Solutions to combine, according to an announcement today stating that a definitive agreement will result in the combination of the businesses. The transaction will create a major healthcare information technology and services provider, offering a set of solutions for clinical and financial outcomes in healthcare enterprises, ambulatory practices, public health, retail and other clinics nationwide. Following the closing of the transaction, it is reported that the Vitera and Greenway businesses will serve nearly 13,000 medical organizations and 100,000 providers.

ViteraUnder the terms of the agreement, Vista Equity Partners, which owns Vitera Healthcare Solutions, will pay Greenway stockholders $20.35 in cash for each share of Greenway common stock they hold. The price represents a 62 percent premium to Greenway’s 90-day volume weighted average stock price, and a 20 percent premium to Greenway’s closing share price the day before the merger agreement was signed. The all-cash transaction is valued at approximately $644 million. The Greenway Board of Directors has unanimously approved the definitive merger agreement. Upon closing, Greenway will operate as a privately held company.

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Managing Medications in an IDN or ACO

Mo Kharbat
Mo Kharbat

Guest post by Mohammad (Mo) Kharbat, RPh, MBA, director of pharmacy, ProHealth Care Inc.

Managing medications throughout several facilities within an integrated delivery network (IDN) or accountable care organization (ACO) is challenging. Recent Joint Commission surveys show that appropriate medication storage is the most common regulatory standard hospitals struggle with. As director of pharmacy at ProHealth Care Inc. (ProHealth), a regional integrated health network in Wisconsin with about 400 hospital beds, this is a challenge that I am all too familiar with.

One of my primary responsibilities is ensuring that all medications are well-managed throughout our facilities. As ProHealth has expanded to include a wider array of care delivery sites, medication management has increasingly become associated with high financial stakes. If medications are not well managed, hospitals lose money. Every pill that is unaccounted for translates to dollars lost for a provider. And when facilities fail to meet Joint Commission medication management standards, they risk valuable Medicare reimbursement funds.

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Technology that Drives Patient Satisfaction

Some fascinating information from Industry View related to the value of EMRs/EHRs and the technology that drives patient satisfaction, especially as it shines additional light on the patient perspective of the technology.

As detailed here, electronic health records are appealing to folks and their value is beginning to be known among consumers needing care.

Of particular interest is that 82 percent of patients believe they receive better quality of care when their doctors use electronic records, and nearly half believe they’ve had better experiences at the point of care when their docs use the technology.

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HHS Launches Meaningful Consent Site

HHS launches meaningful consent

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services  (HHS) announces the launch of site, Meaningful Consent, aimed at aiding providers in their efforts to engage patients in determining the best way to share their electronic information.

The site provides “strategies and tools” to providers, including background information and lessons learned by other providers. It is based on 2011 recommendations made by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s HIT Policy Committee.

According to HHS, the online resource helps healthcare providers effectively engage patients in choosing how they want their electronic patient health information shared.

Meaningful Consent supposedly addresses the laws, policies and issues related to the electronic exchange of health information, also known as health information exchange, or HIE.  The site includes strategies and tools that can be used to engage and educate patients, if they are interested in learning more, of course.

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Does National Health IT Week Matter?

Does national health IT week matter?

According to Dr. Geeta Nayyar in a commentary posted to Modern Healthcare, as the proliferation of technology takes us closer to instant information in nearly every form, the healthcare sector simply does not move so quickly, and there is a long way to go.

This is clearly the case, and, meaning no disrespect Dr. Nayyar, this is not a new thought.

She opines that this is the reason national health IT week is so important to patients.

Allow me to quote her: “That’s why National Health Information Technology Week (Sept. 16-20, 2013) is so important to patients, physicians and hospitals in the U.S. Now in its eighth year, National Health IT Week is a collaborative forum of providers, insurers, pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, research foundations and consumer protection groups coming together to address some of the pressing issues in the industry that technology can help solve.

“In focusing the nation’s attention on technology, the week highlights how ‘smart’ mobile applications, predictive analytic tools, patient engagement systems and other forms of technology will transform the delivery of care in the near future.”

All valid points, and clear advantages laid out in support of the movement, but I’m not so sure this is an effort that doesn’t strike me as a preacher speaking to his choir.

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Patients Willing to Switch Doctors For Access to Electronic Health Records?

According to a new survey by Accenture, and featured in Healthcare IT News, among other publications, more U.S. consumers (41 percent) are willing to switch doctors for access to electronic health records.

According to more than 9,000 people in nine countries, people are becoming more engaged with their EHRs and are going so far as to make the switch.

However, “only about a third of U.S. consumers (36 percent) currently have full access to their EMR, but more than half (57 percent) have taken ownership of their record by self-tracking their personal health information including their health history (37 percent), physical activity (34 percent) and health indicators (33 percent), such as blood pressure and weight.”

Roughly four out of five consumers (84 percent) surveyed believe they should have full access to their electronic medical record while only a third of physicians (36 percent) share this belief. In contrast, the majority of U.S. doctors (65 percent) say patients should only have limited access to their records and that is what most individuals (63 percent) say they currently have.

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“What is the Value of Health IT?”

For its second year of celebrating National Health IT Week, HIMSS is asking a simple question: “What is the value of HIT?”

Seems like a simple question, but there don’t seem to be any simple answers. The fact is there seems to be a different answer depending on who you ask. So, instead of offering my lone — and probably less than expert – opinion I’ve asked a variety of folks who are probably better able to give more insightful and valuable opinions than mine.

Brian Wells
Brian Wells

Brian Wells, associate vice president of healthcare technology and academic computing, Penn Medicine – UPHS “The value of Health IT is centered on the liberation of information. The act of capturing health data in electronic form allows that data to be used for multiple purposes: patient care, quality improvement, cost optimization, research, education, etc. The value increases exponentially if the data is stored and shared using structural and semantic standards.  This enables data from multiple sources to be aggregated while retaining its original meaning (value).  The promise of personalized or precision medicine will only be realized if health IT is used to gather the rich phenotypes of all patients and link that to their genotypes.”

Mark Frisse, M.D., professor of biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt University “Health IT enables patients and their clinicians to make more informed decisions by bringing to care settings a comprehensive view of the patient’s health status as well as evidence-based care guidelines to inform consensual decision-making. Health IT promises more efficient and effective care delivery, accurate reporting of care quality, and timely assessments of public health. Health IT can enforce patient privacy preferences and other policy requirements. Properly implemented within a system of care, these technologies enable better communication and may allow clinicians and patients to transform care in positive and sometimes dramatic ways.” Continue Reading

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A Vision to the Cure for America’s Healthcare System

Joseph Kanter
Joseph Kanter

Guest post by Joseph H. Kanter, founder of the Kanter Family Foundation.

“If I ran my business the way our healthcare system operates, I’d go bankrupt,” is all I could think almost two decades ago, as I struggled with a life-or-death decision – which course of treatment to pursue for my prostate cancer.

As a self-made businessman whose key to entrepreneurial success stemmed from informing every business decision I made with objective data, I simply could not believe that none of my doctors could answer a seemingly simple question I posed. “Based on the experiences of other patients like me,” I asked, “which treatment is likely to work best?” Every doctor I saw was only able to answer with, “In my experiences…”

Data did not exist to offer me the information I desired to inform my decision.

My frustrating patient experience led me to envision what some experts now believe is the key to the cure. I imagined a health system in which every patient’s health experiences would be captured digitally and in which we would learn from millions of people’s lifetimes of health experiences (while safeguarding privacy).

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