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In Need of Repair: Not-for-Profit Hospitals’ Finances

By Ken Perez, VP of healthcare policy, Omnicell, Inc.

Ken Perez
Ken Perez

Decreasing inpatient admission volumes, shifts in the re-imbursement mix from higher-margin commercial payers to lower-margin public payers, and pressures resulting from value-based care have been solid trends during the past several years. Thus, it was not surprising that a Moody’s Investors Service report released in August portrayed the current condition of finances for not-for-profit hospitals as troubling.

According to Moody’s, the median annual expense growth rate slowed from 7.1 percent in 2016 to 5.7 percent in 2017 because of hospitals’ continued control of labor and supply costs. But annual revenue growth fell faster, from 6.1 percent in 2016 to 4.6 percent in 2017, the second straight year that expense growth exceeded revenue growth, a trend that is expected to continue through 2019. Moody’s concluded that not-for-profit hospitals are on an “unsustainable path.”

Consequently, median operating margins dropped to an all-time low of 1.6 percent in 2017. More than 28 percent of hospitals posted operating losses last year, up from 16.5 percent in 2016. Of course, operating losses cannot be sustained forever. If they are sustained for multiple years, closure of the hospital frequently results. Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley concluded that 18 percent of U.S. hospitals are at risk of closure or are weak financially, with approximately 8 percent of hospitals (roughly 450 facilities) presently at risk of closing. To put that figure in perspective, during the past five years, only 2.5 percent (150 hospitals) have closed. Also, Morgan Stanley found that 10 percent of hospitals suffer from weak finances.

Various factors account for not-for-profit hospitals’ financial difficulties.

Because the vast majority of net patient revenue came from fee-for-service based payment models—such as DRG payment, fee schedule, percentage of the chargemaster, or list price—overall reduced payment rates adversely impacted revenue in 2017. To be clear, nominal payment rates did not decline—e.g., Medicare’s Inpatient Prospective Payment System and Outpatient Prospective Payment System both incorporated nominal year-to-year increases in 2017—but the revenue mix for hospitals did shift from higher-margin commercial payers to lower-margin public payers. Median Medicare and Medicaid payments as a percentage of gross revenue rose to 45.6 percent and 15.5 percent, respectively, in 2017. Furthermore, continuing a five-year trend, public payers’ share of hospital revenue is projected to increase for the foreseeable future, as more of the baby boomers—an obviously large demographic group—reach retirement age and an increasing number of them incur the sizable costs of the last year of life.

In addition, hospital finances were adversely impacted by the continued shift from inpatient to outpatient care, a trend driven by greater competition from ambulatory facilities, such as physician offices and ambulatory surgery centers. Moody’s reported that median outpatient growth rates exceeded inpatient growth rates for the fifth straight year. In her July 25 address to the Commonwealth Club, Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, supported the inpatient-to-outpatient shift, stating that Medicare is seeking to avoid “downstream” expenses, such as emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions.

Faced with these financial challenges, not-for-profit hospitals have pursued a number of approaches.

Most commonly, they have tried to improve their management of labor and supply costs. However, this strategy—while certainly logical—may be reaching a point of diminishing returns. Lyndean Brick, president and CEO of the Advis Group, a healthcare consulting firm, has concluded: “This is no longer solely about expense reduction. If not-for-profits just focus on that, they will be out of business in the next few years” (Modern Healthcare, Aug. 29, 2018).

Another strategic response has been consolidation—in which small hospitals join a larger health system—to gain more leverage with payers, to accomplish greater economies of scale, to get access to lower-cost capital, and to enhance access to talent.

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The Practical Value of Active Shooter Training In Emergency Departments

By Leslie Sanchez, clinical educator, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

Leslie Sanchez
Leslie Sanchez

Active shooter training was initially seen as cumbersome and just “more training” to complete in our emergency department. However, after staff received the active shooter education which included statistics, active shooter profiles, videos of active shooters in action, and recorded interviews with victims and survivors from active shooter events, it made our staff realize the potential of it happening here in our facility.

Staff immediately recognized several ways that a shooter could not only enter the facility undetected, but could easily get access to various parts of the hospital with little to no effort. The second part of the active shooter training involved a functional exercise in the form of a simulation with various patient scenarios, actors and patients that would typically present to the emergency department. After the simulation, staff realized how difficult it is to not only walk away from your patients, but also from your peers, who quickly become your work family over the course of months and years and are the people you work with daily to save lives.

Many staff members voiced their inner turmoil of having to contemplate “RUN, HIDE, FIGHT” concepts and the idea of not taking their peers or patients with them when escaping danger. Staff were also surprised how they reacted when confronted with a hostile actor who held them at gunpoint or with a knife in hand. Some staff did not know how to react and they either stated they froze, decided to run away or grabbed items to fight the assailant, or did their best to hide in an area and barricaded doors with equipment and bed stretchers.

They also, at times, did not know what to say to the parents or patients in the room and had a hard time being direct when asking them not to cry or yell for help because of the absolute need to remain quiet, turn off the lights and to hold the door with force in case the assailant was nearby.

Each scenario played out differently and it amazed me how quick staff reacted to the aggressive actor with a gun or knife. There were times staff watched and waited for the active shooter to present themselves, while other times staff didn’t even notice that the shooter was “shooting people” in the room next door to them. Some staff thought we had simulated gun shots and swear they heard gun shots, which were never simulated. After the simulation, staff continued to share concerns about their safety in the ER and how they could be more proactive in their own safety by being vigilant about people roaming our hospital without proper identification.

They also continued to escalate and voice concerns to our leadership team about additional safety measure they believe should occur at the front entrance and ambulance bay when patients are brought into our department. Other staff talked about their heightened overall awareness in public areas after our training and how they now pay attention to their exits, who is around them and any behavior that is out of character.

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Troubleshoot Issues Impacting Citrix and Epic Users

Image result for goliath technologies logoJoin Electronic Health Reporter partner Goliath Technologies on Tuesday, October 16th at 12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT.

During the live seminar you’ll gain the opportunity to learn more about how healthcare organizations like Monroe Healthcare, of Wisconsin, and Catholic Health Initiatives proactively use Goliath Technologies’ new Epic Module to anticipate, troubleshoot and prevent end user experience issues before Epic and Citrix users are impacted.

During the presentation, attendees will learn:

When used with Epic, the Goliath Performance Monitor provides end-to-end correlation between the key metrics System Pulse provides, the underlying Citrix or VMware infrastructure, and user experience.

Goliath Performance Monitor works with Epic to distill the Response Time Tracking (RTT) value to its component parts, such as database time, network time, system time and more, and correlates those metrics to user experience performance. As a result, Goliath can provide resource availability and performance of each of the stages and support components to better enable administrators to understand how consumption and capacity affect performance. The end-to-end view that Goliath provides, combined with the data already available from System Pulse, allows corrective action before users are impacted – whether inside Epic or in the associated systems and infrastructure.

The Goliath performance monitoring and troubleshooting suite of tools provide everything hospitals and health systems need to ensure that the mission critical applications and systems needed by healthcare professionals to perform their life-saving work are available on a consistent basis.

  1. Automatically confirm that EHR applications and IT infrastructure are available, and if they are not, use embedded intelligence and automation to alert IT so they can fix the issue before physicians and health care workers are impacted.
  2. Anticipate, troubleshoot, and prevent end user experience issues where most users experience issues: logon initiation, logon processing, and system performance.
  3. Enable IT pros to quickly remediate problems and isolate root cause to reduce professional pain.
  4. Have broad and deep visibility to issues across multiple platforms, regardless of which IT infrastructure and applications are being used and where end users are located.
  5. Provide objective evidence through historical reports and trending analysis to allow permanent fix actions to be implemented to prevent issues in the future.
  6. Are purpose-built for major EMR/EHR applications including Cerner, Allscripts, MEDITECH, and Epic.

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Health IT Startup: DocuTAP

Image result for docutap logoDocuTAP crafts on-demand healthcare software and services that make over a thousand urgent care clinics run efficiently. We design a tablet-based EHR and PM, offer RCM services, and refine patient workflow.

Elevator pitch

A better urgent care experience. 

Founders’ story

Eric McDonald
Eric McDonald

In May of 2000, DocuTAP’s founders realized that wireless devices would play an increasingly important role in the delivery of healthcare. From that day, DocuTAP software was designed for use on handheld wireless devices. Founding CEO, Eric McDonald dreamed up the idea behind DocuTAP in his basement back in 1999. Eric spent his time consulting with physicians. In 2000, Eric officially started DocuTAP as a company with the help of angel investors. Today, he leads client relations and provides company direction and vision for technology and product design while being viewed as a thought leader in the urgent care industry.

Marketing/promotion strategy

DocuTAP works with urgent care clinics to provide a range of solutions and services including electronic health records, practice management, patient engagement solutions, analytics, billing services and consulting. As the healthcare industry continues to adopt on-demand models to serve the evolving healthcare consumer, DocuTAP provides the necessities for facilities to deliver efficient, affordable and good quality care.

Market opportunity

The healthcare industry is changing. Patients are becoming consumers, and the healthcare consumer wants access to quick and convenient care- without booking out months in advance to still wait in multiple waiting rooms. DocuTAP serves urgent care clinics, however increasingly other healthcare verticals such as pediatrics are adopting on-demand business models increasing the different markets that are in search for the tools and solutions DocuTAP provides. As with every other industry, healthcare must now market themselves to the healthcare consumer, to not only attract visitors but keep them coming back. By keeping patients out of the waiting room with online scheduling and monitoring, allowing physicians to finish a chart completely in under two minutes, and optimizing the work flow of the front desk, DocuTAP gives urgent care clinics the resources to market all of these capabilities to consumers and deliver on these promises each and every time.

Who are your competitors?

DocuTAP has competitors that offer some of the services and solutions they offer, but not in the end-to-end capacity that DocuTAP does. Given DocuTAP’s all-encompassing service and solution offering, DocuTAP considers a few companies who offer similar services competitors.

How does your company differentiate itself from the competition and what differentiates DocuTAP?

DocuTAP’s key differentiator is they are not just a software provider, they are an end-to-end business partner. Each customer who works with DocuTAP relies on them for software, consulting, strategic advice, technical support, and expert insights. Whatever a customer needs, they are able to go to DocuTAP for, something competitors are not offering.

DocuTAP has a deep and extensive log of valuable data, available to visualize and pull out useful trends and findings that give them an edge in the market.

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The Importance of Analytics for a Healthcare System

By Bethany Durst, writer, Decisive Data.

Ever increasing computational power, advances in artificial intelligence, and the lower of the cost computation (because of cloud computing service, such as Azure and Amazon Web Services) has enabled healthcare systems – often laggards in quality improvement and technology adoption – to rapidly implement analytics systems. Such systems enable enterprises to analyze and model their processes, engage in meaningful quality and process improvement activities, and prepare to succeed in value and risk-based payment models.

Hewlett Packard Enterprises recently published a piece that delineated some of the benefits that enterprises can gain from analytics (specifically the predictive form):

Enterprises with existing, legacy analytics systems – for example those that mainly work with claims-based data or lack predicative or real-time capabilities can likewise obtain the above efficiencies. A modern data warehouse must be flexible, SQL-enabled, cloud-based, and highly secure. Snowflake Computing’s cloud-based infrastructure is an example of one such system which can be easily scaled as it is offered to clients with usage-based pricing. A data warehouse alone, however, is not sufficient for an enterprise. Tools must be provided to prep, transform, and perform analysis on the data. Alteryx Designer, one such tool, allows analysts to prep and blend data from heterogenous sources – e.g., CSVs, databases, Excel files — in an efficient and reproducible manner, and, more importantly, it includes spatial and predictive analytics. This enables organizations to move from retrospective and barely actionable data to immediately actionable real-time predictive analytics.

The implementation of an analytics systems (or the migration of a legacy system) is not a project to be undertaken without serious thought how change is managed within an organization. Many facets of an organization will be impacted by such projects. Matthew Morris, lead data enabler at an international wholesaling club based in Washington state, who has overseen both the maintenance of legacy analytics system and the migration to a modern one using a team from Decisive Data and Alteryx’s tools, noted some key behaviors or strategies that should be taken to ensure a successful project:

Get leadership buy-in – Many people naturally resist change. Ensuring that leadership across the enterprise is committed to the change will enable a coherent messaging to be addressed to all stakeholders. There are many strategies to achieve leadership buy-in. A notable one, the ADKAR model is described here.

Choosing an effective partner – Especially for mission-critical or strategically sensitive projects, external help is critical. Talented consultants can augment staff skill shortages and bring critical experience (and lessons learned from other projects).

Be there and integrate training creatively – Project leaders should spend time onsite at the various locations where work occurs to ensure proper training and data conversion. During training, don’t just rely on classroom style training; rather, sit down with users and work through actual day-to-day problems. Consider also setting up open office hours where super users or hired technology partners can guide users through specific day-to-day processes.

Train Superusers – A successful analytics systems empowers users – especially key super users – to use the application on their own and not to depend on report requests to an analytics department. 

Be honest and use humor – The latter can assist in convincing people to give a new system a chance. Honestly builds rapport within an organization especially during a challenging project. If one is converting from a legacy analytics system to a new one, it is important to empathize with users.  They have been doing their work on the old system for years; their apprehension is natural.

Make friends with problem persons but acknowledge that not everyone will accept change – Try working alongside so-called problem persons. It will help you as a project leader to determine why they are negative and show that you are empathetic to their concerns and are personally invested in their successful transition. Note, however, there will be a minority of users that will refuse to accept the change. For the project to be successful, it may be necessary to move on and hope that they come around once the project is successful.

Be a warrior and ignore borders – Sometimes it is important to put a stop to delaying tactics such as an abundance of meetings and just move forward. Additionally, such assertiveness must be used to modify the scope of the project if it is necessary to keep the organization functioning.

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Industry Trends Demand New Approaches To Healthcare Facilities and Real Estate

By Richard Taylor, executive managing director, JLL Healthcare Solutions.

Healthcare delivery is being transformed as we speak, from technological breakthroughs and regulatory change to changing patient demographics and consumer expectations. As the healthcare landscape evolves, forward-looking healthcare providers are seeing their real estate in a new light. It’s time for healthcare providers to consider new approaches to real estate and facilities as a way to improve efficiency and patient outcomes.

Following are four ways hospitals and health systems can stay ahead of the curve.

Leverage the M&A boom to improve facilities performance and value. While 2017 seemed to be the year of hospital M&A, JLL analysis points to an even higher volume of M&A in 2018. Cost containment is often a key motivator for initiating M&As. In the aftermath of consolidation, many health systems are now sitting on large portfolios of underutilized real estate that represent a major source of value and capital investment. A data-driven analysis can help identify opportunities to drive more value from each facility and put each to its highest and best use.

Unlock operational efficiencies with a centralized approach. As health systems expand their real estate portfolios with diverse outpatient facilities, centralized facility management and maintenance may be the most efficient way to manage their growing footprints. Partnering with a third-party facility management service provider is a common path to centralization, although it is critical to partner with a firm that understands the nuances of the healthcare environment.

Centralized control of facilities data and analytics provides a complete picture of how different facilities are performing, so the facilities team can make accurate capital plans based on data rather than informed guestimates. Also, today’s facility management technology supports preventive maintenance and can even generate automated alerts if a building system is malfunctioning or approaching a complete breakdown. In addition to improving efficiency, a facilities management partnership can help reduce compliance risks and improve patient and staff satisfaction.

Embrace new definitions of what it means to be a health system—and how that plays out on the map. Though hospitals remain a critical focus, traditional networks may soon be rendered obsolete as industry leaders find that new opportunity lies outside the hospital campus. From medical office buildings to healthcare-anchored retail centers, tailored care settings can improve the patient experience and increase patient loyalty—and boost the hospital balance sheet.

However, managing a complex network of medical facilities requires a thoughtful strategy informed by location analysis. Thinking differently can reap big rewards, but it’s important for executives to carefully weigh the risks and benefits of paying a little more to be closer to where patients already spend time.

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How Patients Can Stay Independent with Assistive Technologies

Patients who are suffering from a short or long-term injury, or who have been diagnosed with a medical condition, might face difficulty when performing simple and complex tasks within the home. Thankfully, there are various technologies and assistive equipment that can support mobility and help them hold onto their independence.

There are numerous categories for assistive technology, which can enhance a person’s quality of life. Learn how patients can stay independent with the different forms of assistive technologies.

Adaptive Equipment to Support Daily Living

Adaptive equipment makes it possible for people to perform everyday tasks so that they can sustain a great quality of life. Many hospitals and facilities will also require patients to have access to these items before they will discharge them.

For example, they will need adaptive equipment to support dressing, such as dressing sticks, elastic shoelaces, sock aids, leg straps, and long-handled shoe horns. They might also need adaptive equipment for bathing, such as a supportive sliding shower chair, transfer board, mechanical lift and grab bars. Of course, there are also various technologies available for basic mobility, such as stair lifts, power wheelchairs, lift chairs and more.

Adaptive Equipment for Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLS)

IADLs can transform a person’s quality of life when living with an injury or disability, as they can simplify communications and improve safety. For example, they refer to hearing aids, screen readers, amplified telephone equipment, speech generating devices, assistive listening devices and communication boards. They can also maintain their safety with medical alert systems, such as fall detection devices and wearable call buttons.

Durable Medical Equipment for Everyday Health and Safety

Durable medical equipment can effectively support a patient within their home so that they can enjoy a greater quality of life. These are items that are most likely covered by a patient’s insurance, as they will be necessary for their everyday health and safety. Examples of the assistive technologies include hospital beds, power mobility devices, patient lifts, walkers and commode chairs.

How to Acquire Assistive Technologies

While a doctor might order a piece of equipment, it is generally up to the patient to purchase the item. In some cases, a hospital or medical facility might be happy to loan an item to a patient, yet they might need to browse the market for the best option for their needs and budget.

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Healthcare’s Most Pressing Problems, According To Its Leaders (Part 3)

Most likely, in one of the few lucid moments you have in your hectic, even chaotic schedule you contemplate healthcare’s greatest problems, its most pressing questions that must be solved, obstacles and the most important hurdles that must be overcome, and how doing so would alleviate many of your woes. That’s likely an overstatement. The problems are many, some of the obstacles overwhelming.

There are opportunities, of course. But opportunities often come from problems that must be solved. And, as the saying goes, for everyone you ask, you’re likely to receive a different answer to what needs to be first addressed. So, in this series (see part 1 and part 2), we examine some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges, according to some of the sector’s most knowledgeable voices.

Without further delay, the following are some of the problems in need of solutions. Or, in other words, some of healthcare’s greatest opportunities. What is healthcare’s most pressing question, problem, hurdle, obstacle, thing to overcome? And how that can be solved/addressed?

Dekel Gelbman, CEO, FDNA

Dekel Gelbman
Dekel Gelbman

The biggest hurdle in healthcare is the adoption and ethical use of AI, and the ability to share data gathered from it in a safe and secure way to gain actionable insights. More specifically, the world is moving towards consumer genomics. This type of technology will help patients and their caregivers better understand their health and allow for more personalized care plans—this is our role in the future of precision medicine.

Randy Tomlin, CEO and chairman of the board, MobileSmith

A pressing question for many healthcare execs is “how can I gain loyalty from the next generation of patients? With the estimated lifetime value of a new patient at $600,000, and Millennials and Generation Z making up one-half of the U.S. population, the stakes are high. Healthcare lags behind other industries in adopting a mobile-first strategy, but some health systems are branding their own mobile apps because they know that it speaks to the engaged-consumer mindset of these populations. In many cases, mobile app technology has proven to increase patient engagement, education and loyalty, while improving a hospital’s bottom line.

Justin Barad, MD and founder, Osso VR

Justin Barad, MD
Justin Barad, MD

During my surgical training, I experienced firsthand the greatest challenge facing our healthcare system today: how we train and assess our providers. Data shows that our century-old apprenticeship based system of surgical training is struggling under a growing number of procedures and decreased hands-on time with patients. At the end of at least 14 years of education and accumulating six figures of debt, 30 percent of residency graduates still cannot operate independently. Even surgeons in practice are finding immense challenges learning new procedures and bringing them to patients. This is limiting the adoption of higher value modern technologies and limiting patient access to these lifesaving procedures. Virtual reality is opening the door for increased access and skill development in a highly precise and like-life environment. Residency programs and medical device companies are adopting virtual reality to have a much more natural learning experience with a much higher retention rate than conventional observational methods such as a book or video. We have harnessed immersive technologies to improve patient outcomes, increase the adoption of higher value medical technologies and democratize access to surgical education around the world.

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Healthcare’s Most Pressing Problems, According To Its Leaders (Part 2)

Most likely, in one of the few lucid moments you have in your hectic, even chaotic schedule you contemplate healthcare’s greatest problems, its most pressing questions that must be solved, obstacles and the most important hurdles that must be overcome, and how doing so would alleviate many of your woes. That’s likely an overstatement. The problems are many, some of the obstacles overwhelming.

There are opportunities, of course. But opportunities often come from problems that must be solved. And, as the saying goes, for everyone you ask, you’re likely to receive a different answer to what needs to be first addressed. So, in this series (see part 1 and part 3), we examine some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges, according to some of the sector’s most knowledgeable voices.

Without further delay, the following are some of the problems in need of solutions. Or, in other words, some of healthcare’s greatest opportunities. What is healthcare’s most pressing question, problem, hurdle, obstacle, thing to overcome? And how that can be solved/addressed?

Lynn Carroll, chief of strategy & operations, HSBlox

Lynn Carroll
Lynn Carroll

Preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., and frequently can be linked to inaccurate patient data, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University. Machine learning should be used to solve patient-matching challenges by analyzing and consolidating patient data from multiple systems, such as EHRs, medical charts, e-prescribing technologies, clinical documentation solutions and revenue cycle management platforms, and by creating longitudinal patient records that can be transparently shared among the patient’s care team, optimizing care coordination.  The patient-matching solution is then combined with blockchain to disseminate the relevant patient data to all parties who have permission to view it.

Kyle Cooksey, president, CareThrough

Extending care coordination beyond the hospital walls heavily burdens providers and healthcare administrators. As the industry continues to shift from fee-for-service to value-based care, optimizing care teams to address social determinants of health and drive patient engagement is paramount. Today’s health systems must leverage an agile workforce and intuitive technology to deliver 360-degree patient-centered care.

Dr. Samant Virk, physician, founder and CEO, MediSprout

Samant Virk, MD
Samant Virk, MD

As a practicing physician for the last 15 years, I had a growing frustration with the fact that more than 70 percent of my time was consumed by administrative tasks that took away from my ability to help patients. The biggest challenge of healthcare right now is that we’ve lost touch with that physician and patient connection. Question: How can we reconnect physicians with patients — tech has driven a wedge between us and it’s time to fix this. Doctors would love to spend more time with the patients that need them the most while getting paid for follow-up care and communications that eats up their day. We believe that technology is the solution here.

Lee Horner, CEO, Synzi

Healthcare must shift its focus from viewing patients as “customers” and instead consider patients as “partners” within the broader healthcare ecosystem. All of the exciting innovation underway (including the increased adoption of virtual care and telehealth) should reflect what is required for the patient/partner to better manage his/her healthcare throughout the care continuum. To solve for healthcare that is truly consumer-centric, the broader healthcare ecosystem needs to identify the best investments to make which will drive quicker and better outcomes for the individual consumer (e.g., the patient/partner), overall population health, healthcare professionals, and healthcare organizations.

Rebecca Mendoza Saltiel Busch, CEO, Medical Business Associates

Rebecca Mendoza Saltiel Busch
Rebecca Mendoza Saltiel Busch

Price transparency for the Employers and the patient.  The explanation of benefits (EOB) does not contain real financial payments between the payer and the provider.  The real numbers are considered proprietary. A patient nor employer benefit plan cannot control their healthcare costs if they do not know how much was paid and for what service.  At a grocery store, each item is tagged with the name of the product and the price. In healthcare the service and or product is not presented to the patient prior to the receipt of service and the services are not itemized on the bill. What to do?  Make is illegal for payers and providers to have proprietary payments on healthcare goods and services.

John D’Amore, president and chief strategy officer, Diameter Health

The most pressing problem for US healthcare is improving quality of care while reducing cost. Intelligently leveraging clinical information — for predictive analytics, precision medicine, population health analytics and other analytic purposes — is critical to solving this problem. The largest impediment to actionable analytics is dirty clinical data entered by more than four million clinicians into more than one hundred certified EHRs resulting in a clear and present need for scalable technology to normalize, de-duplicate and enrich clinical data so that data scientists can spend more time identifying actionable insights from data, and less time fixing clinical data.

Ted Chan, CEO, CareDash

Ted Chan
Ted Chan

I see our shortage of primary care physicians as the biggest challenge the American healthcare system faces over the next 20 years. PCPs are crucial to the patient experience, and preventative care that can help drive value. Tied to this is my concern is the lack of investment/acceleration in technology designed to improve physician experience and utilization. PCPs spend way too much time entering data when there are opportunities like voice assisted scribe or authentication that reduce data entry and allows them to spend more time completely focused on patients providing quality care.

Healthcare’s Most Pressing Problems, According To Its Leaders (Part 1)

Most likely, in one of the few lucid moments you have in your hectic, even chaotic schedule you contemplate healthcare’s greatest problems, its most pressing questions in need of solving, obstacles and the most important hurdles that must be overcome. And how solving these problems might alleviate many of your woes. That’s likely an overstatement. The problems are many, some of the obstacles overwhelming.

There are opportunities, of course. But opportunities often come from problems that must be solved. And, as the saying goes: For everyone you ask, you’re likely to receive a different answer. What must first be addressed? In this series (see part 2 and part 3), we ask. We also examine some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges, according to some of the sector’s most knowledgeable voices.

So, without further delay, the following are some of the problems in need of solutions. Or, in other words, some of healthcare’s greatest opportunities — healthcare’s most pressing questions, problems, hurdles, obstacles, things to overcome? How can they be best addressed?

 Nick Knowlton, VP of strategic initiatives, Brightree

Nick Knowlton
Nick Knowlton

Throughout the healthcare ecosystem, patient-centric interoperability has historically been a huge challenge, specifically throughout post-acute care. This problem results in poor outcomes, unnecessary hospital re-admits, patients not getting the treatment they deserve, excessive cost burden and poor clinician satisfaction. This challenge can be solved through creating better standards, adapting existing interoperability approaches to meet the needs of post-acute care, implementing more scalable interoperable technologies, and involvement with national organizations, such as CommonWell Health Alliance and DirectTrust, amongst others.

Brian Wells, CTO, Merlin International

Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing hurdles in the healthcare industry. The life and death nature of healthcare and the shift to electronic health records (EHR) creates an environment where hackers that successfully deploy ransomware and other cyberattacks can extort large sums of money from healthcare entities and steal highly sensitive data. To address this challenge, healthcare entities need to continue to increase their investment in cybersecurity and focus on improving their overall security posture by implementing tools and processes that will monitor all devices and assess their compliance with security policies; stop phishing attacks; keep all servers patched and current; ensure third party vendors comply with policies; and train employees on proper security hygiene.

Lee Barrett, executive director, Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC)

Lee Barrett
Lee Barrett

Cyberattacks continue to expose the security vulnerabilities of healthcare institutions, keeping many industry stakeholders awake at night. This is why every organization handling protected health information (PHI) needs to build security frameworks and risk sharing into their infrastructure by implementing risk-mitigation strategies, preparedness planning, as well as meet industry standards for adhering to HIPAA requirements. Hospitals and healthcare systems must keep their focus on strategies and tactics that ensure business continuity in the event of an attack as it’s clearly not a matter of if a breach can happen but when.

Margaret J. King, Ph.D., director, the Center for Cultural Studies & Analysis

The core problem for healthcare isn’t science, technology or caregiving intervention. It’s making sure that the systems of delivery and communications are thought through and actually respond to the way patients need and expect healthcare to be delivered. This means it doesn’t matter how advanced and perfected your health system may be — unless it conforms to culture — the way people think and behave — it will do nothing but confuse and frustrate patient needs, which are psychological and social, as well as physical and mental.

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