Blue Button, HIPAA and Mobile Devices

Bettina Experton
Bettina Experton

Guest post by Bettina Experton, MD, MPH, CEO of Humetrix.

The HITECH Act and its $30 billion attached budget mainly focused on building a provider-based health IT (HIT) infrastructure for providers to exchange patient health information. Two years after its implementation and the adoption of Stages 1 and 2 of meaningful use (MU 1 and MU 2) requirements for the use of electronic health records (EHRs), the federal government, EHR industry and providers across the country can claim remarkable results: more than 55 percent of hospitals and close to 50 percent of primary care physicians were using basic EHRs in 2012 (versus 10 percent, and 14 pecent respectively in 2009).

Now that the building of an HIT infrastructure is well underway, the capacity of the newly deployed provider EHRs to allow for health information exchange (HIE) remains limited.  The persistent lack of interoperability of the more than 1,200 MU-certified EHRs and the scalability issues attached to provider-centric means of HIE leave policy makers, providers and especially patients wishing for a novel approach to achieving true anytime, anywhere HIE.

In almost all other economic and social activities, personal information exchange is driven by the consumer. In banking for instance, whether it is online, using mobile apps or ATM cards, consumers direct and mediate the necessary exchange of their personal information to enable and complete the desired transactions. The days of mainly bank-to-bank transactions by letters of credit are long gone. The convenience and control of today’s online and mobile banking services make them universally used around the globe.

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Survey Finds that Cloud Computing is becoming More Prevalent in Healthcare

According to the 2013 Desktop Virtualization Trends in Healthcare report from Imprivita, the third-annual survey about the adoption rates and benefits of desktop virtualization and cloud-based applications in healthcare, cloud computing is becoming more prevalent in healthcare.

The use of Server Hosted Virtual Desktops (SHVD) is up 39 percent and the use of Server Based Computing (SBC) is up 23 percent from last year’s survey.

The study also indicates that a mixed use of both SBC and SHVD is becoming more commonplace, with 49 percent of respondents indicating that they are using both technologies today (compared with 23 percent from the 2012 survey).

In addition to desktop virtualization, the Imprivata survey also asked healthcare organizations about current and planned adoption of cloud computing. The results indicate that the adoption of cloud-based applications and services is increasing more rapidly than expected, with 30 percent of survey respondents stating that they use cloud computing today (up from nine percent from the 2012 survey).

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MGMA President’s Open Letter to HHS Secretary

Susan Turney
Susan Turney

MGMA president’s open letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from Susan Turney, MD, MS, FACMPE, FACP president and CEO, that is an important summation of the current meaningful use Stage 2 situation facing physicians and caregivers:

August 21, 2013

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius Secretary Department of Health and Human Services 200 Independence Ave., S.W.

Room 445-G Washington, DC 20201

RE: Stage 2 meaningful use EHR Incentive Program

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

The Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) writes today to share our concerns regarding the current meaningful use environment and diminished opportunity for physician practices to meet the requirements for Stage 2 of the program. If the appropriate steps are not taken, we believe physicians that have made significant investments in EHR technology and successfully completed Stage 1 requirements will be unfairly subject to negative Medicare payment adjustments. Accordingly, HHS should immediately institute an indefinite moratorium on penalties for physicians that successfully completed Stage 1 meaningful use requirements.

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Public vs. Private Healthcare Companies and Technology’s Impact

Guest post by Mike Patel, CEO of Meditab Software.

The rapidly growing and changing technology landscape of the healthcare industry means that companies catering to this market are also rapidly developing and adapting. 

Technological advancements are happening so quickly that healthcare companies have to be able to move quickly to stay relevant and effective. This can be a challenge for large, public companies because there are a lot of moving parts that all need to be working in unison to make the vehicle run, not to mention many layers of approval to navigate.  

A private company can be more nimble, more customer-oriented and more experimental with the way they use technology.  In an industry where “fly-by-night” companies are a regularly accepted occurrence, there is something to be said for well-established, stable and privately held companies in the healthcare industry and the benefits they can provide to their customers.

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Health IT Spending Will Surpass $34 Billion in 2014

Health IT spending will surpass $34 billion in 2014, according to new reports. Healthcare mandates and a need to modernize infrastructure will result in $34.5 billion in IT spending by payers and providers in 2014, according to a new study from Technology Business Research.

The report claims that payers and providers’ average annual IT budget is $18 million and $12 million, respectively. The funds will be spent on electronic health records (EHR), claims processing and management, and customer call center support, among other workloads.

“Regulatory compliance funds take the priority, absolutely, for the healthcare industry,” said one survey respondent quoted in TBR’s report. “For example, ICD-10 is not a project; it’s a program with an estimated end-to-end budget of $2.5 million. A large part of that is based on consultants’ contributions, because we’re not relying on people who are unfamiliar with this.”

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For Santa Rosa Community Health Center, Collaboration Key For Upgrading To a MU Certified EHR

Collaboration has proven to be key when moving to a meaningful use certified electronic health record, time and time again. The same can be said about upgrading to a MU certified EHR.

From a single site opened in 1996, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers (SRCHC) has become a major provider of healthcare services in Sonoma County with more than 102 participating providers serving a patient population of 40,000 through eight facilities.

Services include family planning and reproductive health, HIV, mental health, obstetrics, outreach and education, pediatrics, primary care, senior and older care and teen services. SRCHC is a federally qualified health center, and provides more than 183,000 medical visits each year.

SRCHC went live on eClinicalWorks in May 2009.

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ACO Cost Reduction: First Year a Pipe Dream?

ACO Cost Reduction: First Year a Pipe Dream?
Perez

Guest post by Ken Perez, healthcare policy and IT consultant.

When he was leaving his post as the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Dr. Donald M. Berwick famously said that 20 percent to 30 percent of healthcare spending is waste that yields no benefit to patients.

Given that large amount of waste, surely then, one would have thought that almost all of the original 32 Pioneer ACOs—many of which are generally considered the most sophisticated healthcare organizations in the nation—should have been able to shave a few percentage points off their costs during their first year in the program and therefore, meet or beat their expenditure benchmarks.

As we know from a July 16 press release from CMS, that was not what happened. While all of the Pioneer ACOs successfully reported the required quality measures, a majority—60 percent failed to produce shared savings, missing their cost-reduction (or more accurately, cost curve bending) targets. Moreover, two of the pioneers incurred sufficiently large losses requiring penalty payments to CMS.

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How Rural Health Center in Northern California Successfully Made the Journey to MU Attestation

Hill Country Health and Wellness Center
Hill Country Health and Wellness Center

The Hill Country Health and Wellness Center is a small clinic located in the rural community of Round Mountain in Northern California. The Center, which opened in a trailer in the 1980s, continues to reflect its founder’s passion for helping the area’s rural, largely underserved population. From that humble beginning, with one doctor and one nurse working without pay, the clinic today is housed in a modern building, with 90 employees.

The Center’s provider staff, consisting of two MDs, three mid-levels and three dentists sees about 3,700 patients per year — most of whom drive 30 miles or more for care.

All of the Center’s providers are in different stages of earning meaningful use incentive payments. The physician and nurse practitioners have each attested to Medi-Cal’s Adopt, Implement, Upgrade (AIU) incentive program.

The Center, which has been live on its EHR since June 2012, uses GE Centricity.

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SecureState HIPAA Compliance Seal: The Pros and Cons

SecureState HIPAA Compliance Seal
The new SecureState HIPAA Compliance seal

The new SecureState HIPAA Compliance seal is leading to an interesting conversation taking place on the consulting firm’s site. The company is a global management consulting firm focused on information security.

The pros and cons of such a program are offered and both of the following questions are being asked: Is a HIPAA-compliant seal is worth the effort and would it be relevant?

For business associates of healthcare entities, becoming HIPAA compliant can be a daunting task, and proving compliance to a possible partner can be even harder, which is SecureState developed one.

As such, the SecureState’s Qualified Security Assessors have developed a seal, providing a means for businesses to convey that their programs comply with applicable regulations based on its independent third-party attestation.

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Early Adopters of Dose Management Tools See Big Benefit from Data, Analytics and Education

As more and more hospitals look to manage dose levels, this emphasizes a growing acceptance the radiation management solution in an optimum means to reduce patient exposure to radiation doses during imaging procedures.

Despite recent advancements in medical technology, patients continue to develop illnesses in the same hospitals where they seek treatment. Diagnostic imaging tests like X-rays and CT scans can expose people to as much as six times more radiation than 35 years ago — a dangerous amount that can lead to increased risk of cancer. With more than 72 million DITs performed each year, it’s more important than ever that patients are measured and monitored using an accurate dose management program.

The following infographic from GE Healthcare paints the picture a bit more clearly.

This entry is not meant to be a commercial for the product (though I wish it were because then I might be able to charge for it), it simply points to some information that was forwarded to me that I think is neat.

A recent post on the GE Healthcare blog points out the following that is interesting: As early adopters of GE’s Dosewatch dose management capabilities, Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall, Michigan, and Cullman Regional Medical Center in Alabama join more than 180 providers in the U.S. and Europe working to ensure patient welfare is optimized as they undergo medical imaging procedures as part of their treatment.

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