Brightree Joins CommonWell Health Alliance For Home Health and Hospice Customers

Image result for brightree logoBrightree has announced plans for its home health and hospice customers to access more than 50,000 provider locations and health systems nationwide via the CommonWell Health Alliance, a nonprofit national trade association of health IT companies, and through CommonWell to Carequality, a national, consensus-built common interoperability framework.

Traditionally, home health and hospice agencies obtained critical patient health data manually from each of a patient’s other care providers. This required significant resources and often resulted in large gaps in patients’ records, hindering the speed and quality of care patients received. Through CommonWell, Brightree home health and hospice customers will be able to quickly and easily retrieve documents and data from a patient’s previous hospital and physician visits within their EHR solution. They can also share patient updates with physicians and other providers in the CommonWell network who serve that patient. This seamless information exchange will help home health and hospice agencies improve their efficiency, as well as patients’ care coordination and quality of care.

“What this amounts to is a smoother journey for patients moving from care setting to care setting, which is traditionally difficult to navigate,” said Nick Knowlton, Brightree vice president of business development and CommonWell board vice chair. “Our customers can now help provide a better experience more efficiently, which can lead to improved outcomes. By including this service in Brightree’s EHR offering, we are helping create a better future for our providers and patients.”

“Our mission at CommonWell is to break down longtime technological and process barriers so individuals and caregivers can access important health data efficiently, affordably and securely,” said Jitin Asnaani, executive director of CommonWell Health Alliance. “We’re thrilled to be welcoming a new wave of home health and hospice providers into the network, and commend Brightree for its leadership in this space.”

In a forthcoming Brightree survey, 60 percent of referring providers say they would select a post-acute care delivery partner based on their ability to interoperate with the referral source.

“Fluid data exchange is so critical to successful patient management across a system of care, and Brightree is leading in this space,” said Denise Schrader, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president of integrated services at Mosaic Life Care in Saint Joseph, Mo., a Brightree customer.

Rare Genomics Institute Brings Hope To Rare Disease Patients

By Romina Ortiz, COO and vice president of patient advocacy, Rare Genomics Institute.

Romina Ortiz

Getting a diagnosis for a rare disease is a long and often painful journey that can take an average of five years1 and hundreds of doctor visits. Sometimes, the answer never comes; conventional diagnostics does not always provide a diagnosis for diseases that are only found in one in a million or one in 10 million people. Because most rare diseases are genetic in nature, genomic DNA sequencing can be used to provide answers that conventional approaches cannot.

Most families affected with rare diseases are under financial strain, making access to genetic sequencing technologies difficult. Rare Genomics Institute (RG), a non-profit patient advocacy group, meets these patients at the end of their diagnostic odyssey – when all other means of diagnosis have failed and when financial resources are no longer available to continue the diagnostic process.

The Patient Research Services of RG has created an ecosystem of leading technology partners and genetic experts from top research institutions around the world to give patients pro-bono access to world-class genomic sequencing, data analysis and interpretation services. Often, RG works with their partners and volunteer experts to re-analyze cases that have hit a dead end.

Recently, RG announced a strategic partnership with Genomenon, a big data genomics company that uses artificial intelligence to connect the genetic mutations described in medical research publications with patient data obtained from genetic sequencing. Using technology that wasn’t available just a few years ago, Genomenon puts the research for over 4.1 million genomic variants at the scientist’s fingertips to make sure that no stone is left unturned in providing a comprehensive diagnosis.

In a recent case, a patient had their whole exome sequenced and analyzed by a leading genetics laboratory as part of their long diagnostic odyssey. The lab was unable to find any clinically relevant genetic mutations that could provide a diagnosis. That was where RG stepped in; Dr. Lipika Ray, a computational geneticist on the Patient Research Services team, reanalyzed the patient’s DNA, which included a search of the Mastermind Genomic Search Engine.

Dr. Ray was able to find a single research report in the scientific literature that matched the patient’s DNA data. The patient in the report shared similar symptoms with the patient being analyzed. With this finding, RG recommended that the patient be re-examined based on the diagnosis found in the scientific research.

“Sometimes there is only one research paper that can connect a patient’s DNA with a diagnosis. Searching through millions of research papers to find a patient’s genetic mutation can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. With advanced AI techniques used by Genomenon, the needle can pop right into view.” said Dr. Ray. “I can say with certainty that without the findings obtained from Genomenon, I would not have been able to provide a diagnosis for this patient.”

Continue Reading

How To Maintain Business Continuity and Compliance During An Emergency

By Paul Banco, CEO, etherFAX.

Paul Banco

Healthcare organizations know just how important it is to comply with the HIPAA Privacy Rule to protect sensitive and unstructured data such as patient records, scripts, discharge summaries, medical forms, authorizations, prescriptions, and insurance claims. However, in the event of an emergency, HIPAA compliance is usually the last thing on people’s minds. As a result, hospitals are often granted a HIPAA waiver of up to 72 hours from the time they first implement their disaster protocol. Unfortunately, without a HIPAA waiver, hospitals may face substantial liabilities and penalties for non-compliance.

Even worse, if a hospital’s network is affected by a natural disaster, cyberattack, or system outage, doctors may not be able to access medical records and patients will not receive the proper care. With any type of downtime, some disruption within a hospital is expected to occur. In some cases, these disruptions could be life-threatening. Reports have shown that more than 2,100 patient deaths are linked to hospital data breaches each year. Unfortunately, doctors are often so preoccupied with remediation activities after a breach occurs that patients no longer receive quality care.

Secure exchange network

To prevent tragedies, human errors, and system failures from occurring in the event of an emergency, healthcare organizations must utilize a HIPAA compliant, secure, and trusted network. The ideal secure exchange network will leverage hybrid cloud technology and military-grade encryption to provide 100 percent secure communications at all times. Document and fax transmissions sent via a trusted network will never traverse an external telephone network and, therefore, will remain secure between the remote client site and the secure exchange network at all times.

Disaster recovery

In addition to a secure exchange network, having a complete disaster recovery solution in place is business-critical. A disaster recovery solution works to ensure that organizations never experience downtime while inbound and outbound fax communications remain secure and protected from technical failures due to catastrophic events and natural disasters.

Continue Reading

DocuTAP and Practice Velocity Merge To Form Experity, Continue To Serve Urgent Care

Warburg Pincus, a private equity firm focused on growth investing, has merged DocuTAP and Practice Velocity — two major contributors in the on-demand healthcare and urgent care space. The new organization will operate under the brand name Experity.

David Stern
Dr. David Stern

“We thank all of our clients and partners for the overwhelming enthusiasm and support since announcing our intent to merge,” said Dr. David Stern, CEO, Experity. “Not only is this an exciting time for Experity’s employees, customers and partners, but for the industry as a whole. We’ve all witnessed the evolution of urgent care and growth into nontraditional, on-demand healthcare. This merger is a reflection of industry growth and the need for solutions that can further power the patient-centered healthcare revolution. Patients have more choices than ever before, and the unification of these great brands will further enable current and future clients to deliver an unmatched patient experience.”

David Stern, former Practice Velocity CEO, has been named CEO of Experity. Eric McDonald, former DocuTAP CEO, will remain actively involved in the company’s future direction as a board member and strategic advisor.

“There are no limitations on what these two forward-thinking companies can do together as they continue to drive innovation during this crucial time in healthcare’s evolution,” said Eric McDonald. “I look forward to assisting the transition in my new role and am very enthusiastic about what the future holds for Experity.”

Serving more than 4,000 clinics from coast to coast, Experity will continue to support and invest in all current software platforms and services previously provided by the merging companies. In addition, customers of each company will have access to new services and solutions, such as patient engagement, teleradiology, business intelligence, remote patient registration and contracting/consulting.

“DocuTAP and Practice Velocity’s current customers remain our number one priority,” said Matt Blosl, Experity CRO, former DocuTAP CRO. “Both companies have always focused on providing amazing solutions and customer service — this will not change. In addition, the scale and resources of the combined company will empower us to speed up our pipeline of software production and significantly amplify our impact on the rapidly expanding urgent care industry.”

“These two distinguished companies have driven significant expansion in the on-demand healthcare space having been perennially recognized by Black Book and KLAS for excellence in the field,” said Andrew Park, managing director, Warburg Pincus. “Both organizations have helped urgent care providers carve out their own place in the increasingly diverse ecosystem that is healthcare. We expect to see continued, rapid growth in this area of healthcare, and we are confident that this newly-combined company will play a key role in shaping and defining the future of on-demand healthcare.”

Warburg Pincus led the financing for the transaction. Teleradiology Specialists, Clockwise MD, Urgent Care Consultants, Journal of Urgent Care Medicine and Institute of Urgent Care Medicine are also part of the deal. No other financial details have been disclosed.

Experity will maintain its existing locations and teams in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Atlanta; Machesney Park, Illinois; and Phoenix as the company continues to drive strategic growth across offices.

To learn more about Experity, visit experityhealth.com.

New Research From PRC and Healthcare Experience Foundation Identifies Factors Impacting Patient Loyalty.

Patients who perceive caregivers as working cooperatively are more likely to return to and recommend healthcare facilities. Across both emergency department and critical care unit patients, perceptions of teamwork between doctors, nurses and staff was the number one key driver impacting patient loyalty, according to new research from PRC and the Healthcare Experience Foundation.

The study, published in the EC Emergency Medicine and Critical Care Journal, offers insight into the complex factors influencing where patients turn for care, even in emergency situations.

Katie Owens

“The patient experience is widely regarded as a top priority in healthcare. There is so much complexity in the emergency and critical care environments, and our goal was to isolate aspects of care that are most important to patients in order to give leaders, staff, and physicians clarity to support their improvement efforts,” Katie Owens, president of the Healthcare Experience Foundation, SVP of PRC Excellence Accelerator, and lead author of this study, said.

The study was completed using retrospective patient experience survey data from 2016 to 2019 for patients discharged from 441 emergency departments and 40 critical care units. On average, teamwork explained 69 percent of the variation of patient loyalty in the Emergency Department and 55 percent of the variation of patient loyalty in the ICU.

The study identified key drivers of excellence, attributes of the patient experience statistically demonstrated to influence perceptions of patient loyalty. The top four emergency department key drivers included:

1.    Overall teamwork between doctors, nurses and staff
2.    Doctor understanding and caring
3.    Discharge instructions
4.    Doctor instructions/explanations of tests

In the critical care departments, the top three key drivers included:

1.    Overall teamwork between doctors, nurses and staff
2.    Overall level of safety
3.    Nurses understanding and caring

“When patients perceive their care as excellent in attributes such as teamwork, understanding and caring, level of safety, discharge instructions, and instructions/explanations of tests, hospitals’ efforts will be rewarded with patient loyalty in these high acuity environments,” Joe M. Inguanzo, Ph.D., president and CEO of PRC, said. The study notes that creating patient loyalty depends on relationship-building, communication skills, and working together as a care team. Improving the attributes of care identified as key drivers can positively shape the care experience for some of the most vulnerable and urgent patient populations.

LetsGetChecked Announces $30 Million in Series B Financing

 LetsGetChecked, the direct-to-consumer at-home health testing platform increasing access to laboratory and self-testing, today announced the closing of $30 million in its Series B round. LTP, a Boston-based growth equity investment firm focused on healthcare IT, led the round. Existing investors Optum Ventures and Qiming Venture Partners USA also participated in the round.

LetsGetChecked will use this funding to continue scaling the company’s consumer brand in diagnostics, as it currently serves the entire U.S., Canada and Europe. The funding will also be made to fuel development of the core technology platform and on expanding manufacturing and logistical capabilities throughout North America.

Peter Foley

“When I was younger, I had a condition whereby I benefited from getting screened early. I made a full recovery, but that isn’t always the case for people. We have all experienced family or friends getting diagnosed with something too late and conditions that should be manageable, get way out of hand. Early diagnostics through consumer-led screening can help solve this problem and lead to better clinical outcomes from everyone,” said Peter Foley, CEO and founder, LetsGetChecked. “Support from investors like LTP who have a proven track record of helping to modernize healthcare aligns well with our mission and company goals of bringing specialized health testing and insights direct to consumers. I’m grateful for LTP’s investment and involvement.”

“LetsGetChecked is taking lab testing and personal health management to the home through tight coordination of existing certified reference labs and logistics platforms,” said Todd Cozzens, managing partner, LTP, who has worked in the healthcare industry as CEO and founder at Marquette (IPO and subsequent sale to GE) and Picis (acquired by UnitedHealth Group), as well as an investor at Sequoia. “This creates a convenient and seamless consumer health testing experience, allowing timely access to results, follow-up care and professional guidance.”

Users can order in-state physician-approved laboratory tests via LetsGetChecked.com or through partner retailers, including CVS (NYSE: CVS), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Pharmaca, and McKesson (NYSE: MCK) online stores. Anonymized tests are then shipped from the company’s ISO accredited facility by next day delivery and individuals can complete and return the samples for rapid processing within as little as two days. Tests are performed by leading CLIA-certified reference labs.

Throughout the process, patients are connected with in-state board-certified physicians to discuss any abnormal results and determine the best course of action for treatment and care. Patients also receive a nurse call to discuss the results live, which can be accompanied by an e-prescription at no additional cost to the pharmacy of their choice. LetsGetChecked’s portfolio of testing procedures currently includes wellness testing (cholesterol, thyroid, etc.), cancer screening, sexual health testing, fertility testing, genetic testing, and pharmacogenomic testing among others.

Partnered with connected health devices such as Apple Health, Fitbit and Garmin, LetsGetChecked provides customers access to a range of health data via its dedicated health dashboard. By combining lab results with real-time wearable data, users can receive risk assessments and scores such as their cardiovascular health and others to determine the probability of developing a heart attack within a given timeframe.

The company has integrated with large reference labs and health systems, and is building partnerships with a growing number of healthcare insurers for personalized screening and home testing procedures. For shipping and handling, LetsGetChecked has logistics partnerships with UPS, USPS and FedEx to provide a seamless and convenient consumer experience with quick turnarounds for testing results.

“We have seen LetsGetChecked grow and expand successfully over the time we have been involved. We are dedicated to investing in companies that solve real life problems. This is why LetsGetChecked stands out to us,” added Mark McDade, managing partner, Qiming Venture Partners USA. “We’re excited to help the company continue to grow at a time when people want more control over their own health.”

MedCrypt Announces $5.3 M Series A Funding Round

MedCrypt, a medical device cybersecurity software provider, announces a $5.3 million Series A funding round led by Section 32, with participation from Eniac Ventures and Y Combinator. MedCrypt was part of Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 batch.

Mike Kijewski

“Last October, the FDA released a major update to its premarket cybersecurity guidance for medical devices, publishing guidelines that line up just about perfectly with the solution we began developing three years ago,” said MedCrypt founder and CEO, Mike Kijewski. “Internet-connected medical technology is entering the market at light speed, calling for devices to be secure by design, which leads to a heightened level of patient safety at all times. We’re thrilled to see continued support from various groups in the industry, from the government to healthcare institutions and device vendors, along with support from our partners to help us further develop our technology and expand our team.”

The HIPAA Security Rule has been in effect for 14 years, aiming to protect electronic health data, yet a new study from CynergisTek reports the healthcare industry has only managed to achieve 72% compliance with it, leaving a gap that poses a security risk for those who are not yet compliant. The study also reports healthcare is expected to suffer two to three times more cyberattacks in 2019 than other industries. This data makes patient safety a critical area of focus.

“Patient data privacy has long been a concern, but the healthcare industry is just beginning to address patient safety risks presented by internet-connected healthcare technology,” said Vidya Murthy, vice president of operations, MedCrypt. “Research shows a 13.3 percent higher mortality rate for patients experiencing a cardiac arrest whose care was delayed by four minutes. While cybersecurity attacks to a device such as a pacemaker seem more dangerous, delays to patient care because of cyberattacks are much more real and likely.”

MedCrypt will use the funds to expand its team, adding new members in sales and engineering roles, and further develop its technology. MedCrypt’s security software allows device vendors to use cryptography to secure data traveling between or stored on devices. MedCrypt then provides remote, real-time monitoring to alert medical device vendors of suspicious behavior that may yield potential security threats to their company, devices and patients.

This round brings MedCrypt’s total funds raised to $8.4 million.

How Data Is Driving Patient-Centric Healthcare

By Ryan VanDePutte, associate director, Bits In Glass.

Ryan VanDePutte

Patient-centric healthcare is a major buzzword today, and it aligns with an overarching trend that is taking place in our society: mass customization. Over the last two decades, we’ve seen tremendous technological advancements that have drastically changed the way that most all goods and services are delivered. Goods and services are now tailored as much as possible to fit with each of our individual tastes, needs and schedules. This includes everything from entertainment (Spotify, Netflix) to food (UberEats), clothing (Stitch Fix) and now, even healthcare, where the patient is set to become the center of the care ecosystem.

When it comes to this transformation in healthcare, it is about more than just “me, me, me,” thinking. Patient-centricity is really about establishing a partnership between practitioners, patients and their families that aligns with a patient’s wants, preferences and needs, empowering them to be an active participant with control over their own healthcare experience.

This is not only something that the new generation has come to expect but also aligns with the needs of a large elderly population who are increasingly seeking home care over inpatient care. The population of adults aged 65 and older is expected to double from 37 million to 71.5 million between 2006 and 2030 and a 2018 AARP report showed that most of these adults want to grow old in their own homes and in their own communities. This could be for reasons as simple as comfort or as complex as mobility limitations. And while most of these older patients do have a primary care physician, again — it may be physically or economically challenging for them to actually go and see them every time in person. Further, the Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the U.S. could lose as many as 100,000 doctors by 2025. This will further increase the need for efficiency in the medical field, as doctors are already in short supply, particularly in rural areas.

Data, data everywhere

To achieve the outcomes described above, an increased amount of quality data is required to truly serve each individual. While the use of electronic health records has grown in the last several years, making this data easier to access, many of us can still recall seeing doctors using written notes on a piece of paper and placing that paper into a filing cabinet. This analog data storage method has two major problems when it comes to patient-centricity; the first being that the data is not highly usable, it cannot be searched or analyzed in an efficient way, and the second being that much of the time, this data is based on what a patient remembers after sitting in the waiting room at a physician’s office. Both the quality and usability of the data can be lacking.

Further, many patients, especially younger patients, do not have a primary care physician (or a single filing cabinet of records) at all and receive medical care from several different sources such as urgent care clinics and home care providers. This fragments the patient’s health data, which not only impacts the ability for physicians to provide the best recommendations but also brings with it added hard costs.

Redundant tests, for example, may be ordered which increases the cost of care. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the average health organization also spends approximately $120 in labor searching for every misfiled document, and $220 for the re-creation of a document. And according to Premier Healthcare Alliance Research, a lack of interoperability in these systems costs 150,000 lives and $18.6 billion per year.

Continue Reading

Ways To Keep Seniors Active At Senior Living Communities

Couple, Passion, Love, Elderly PersonBeing in a senior living community does not mean that you are going to live a sedentary life. As depicted by mainstream media, living in these communities entails sacrificing the things that you used to love. Physical activities are essential regardless of your age.

A senior living community should consider promoting wellness a priority. While it may not be easy as you need to take each resident’s emotional and physical state into consideration, it has been proven to work wonders. Some of the benefits that physical activities can provide are decreased hospitalizations and falls and happier residents.

The importance of exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is one of the risk factors of many diseases like cardiovascular disease. This disease is known as the leading cause of death in the US. Just because you are sedentary does not mean you will remain that way. You can still make some modifications to your lifestyle by becoming more active.

Incorporating exercise into your daily activity is important. It should be an essential part of a wellness program. Residents must always be encouraged to move independently whether they are in a wheelchair or with a walker.

A little movement can be very beneficial to residents. You can even infuse a little movement in sedentary activities like art projects, puzzles, card games, or even social gatherings. There should be an area in the community where residents can participate in various activities.

Keeping elderly active can increase blood circulation, improve posture, develop strength and balance, and reduce the risk of developing sores. Regardless of the amount of time spent on physical activities, being active is always a good thing.

Continue Reading

Harnessing the Power of Human Capital: Enabling Transformation for Healthcare IT Initiatives through Effective Project and Change Management

By Bill Slama, business consulting senior manager; Philip Handal, business consulting senior manager; and Jamie Morisco, business consulting experienced manager, Grant Thornton LLP.

Healthcare organizations are scrambling to harness the potential of digital technology to transform their business and gain a competitive edge in the marketplace. Whether they are looking to modernize their back-office systems, optimize their electronic health record, or leverage smart medical equipment and IoT for advanced data analytics, health systems are constantly engaged in transformational projects and programs. According to reports, 25 percent of these technology projects fail outright; 20 percent to 25 percent don’t show any return on investment; and as many as 50 percent need massive reworking by the time they are finished.

But the question is why: Why is it that such a high percentage of these technology enabled transformation projects fail? Studies show that poor project and change management is to blame for 54 percent of failed projects – while only 3 percent can be attributed to technological problems. Having an effective program and change management strategy – and the resources to implement and sustain that strategy – is critical to ensuring the project is on time, on-budget, and aligned with organizational goals and culture.

Change management means understanding the holistic impact of a change and encouraging and empowering employees to adopt and own that change. Without proper change management in place, projects can become burdened by: increased end-user stress and frustration, resistance to new technologies or processes, decreased adoption, and lower financial and operational returns on project investments.

One of the most common change-related reasons projects fail is due to lack of active and visible sponsorship (i.e., sponsors who are engaged, participatory, and of relevant standing/influence). Setting the tone at the top while maintaining consistently visible and active commitment from sponsors and relevant leaders is the foundation of a successful change and ultimately transformation project.

A common mistake is making the assumption that having a kick-off meeting means you’ve effectively communicated the scope, approach, purpose and goals of the project to all the primary stakeholders. Projects are dynamic – change happens on weekly, if not daily, basis – it is critical to engage and stay engaged to truly manage, communicate and effectively enable change through transformation. Stakeholder communication should always outline the benefits, risks and opportunities the change presents to their groups. Doing this with regular cadence across various channels of communication helps establish a network of change agents throughout the organization that can be relied upon to champion change and fully integrate change into the strategy and culture of the organization.

Enabler #1: Change Management

Change management activities should be integrated into the overall project plan through four critical phases:

  1. Awareness – Creating awareness that change and/or transformation is coming and informing those impacted of the timelines and tasks associated
    • Organizations should provide advance notice that significant change is on the horizon – whether it be a new business application, emerging technology, or automation of manual processes. This step is critical to successful change adoption. Advertising the macro-level timelines and micro-level tasks required to implement and sustain related to the impending change allows those impacted to be better equipped to navigate the change and minimize the impact on their day-to-day operations.
  2. Understanding – Communicating the genesis of the change, why it’s happening, and its impacts/benefits
    • Those impacted by the change (e.g. user community, stakeholders, sponsors, etc.) want to know why the new change is occurring – especially if the old way of doing things seemed to be working just fine. Fostering a culture of transparency, sharing the impetus for change and its expected impacts, and affording those affected by change the opportunity to ask questions or voice concerns allows everyone impacted to feel more involved in the process. It helps to establish a culture of togetherness and collaboration, and conveys the message that those impacted are part of the solution rather than an impediment to progress.
  3. Adoption – Acceptance and willingness to support and participate in change
    • Creating ownership of the change allows those impacted to see change is not “being done to me”, but rather “with me”. This can create enthusiasm among those impacted to adopt because they have an ownership stake in the success of the change.
  4. Commitment – Dedication to sustainment and enablement of change over time
    • The more people feel as if their contributions, ideas, thoughts, work products, and more positively contributed to the success of the change and/or overall program, the more eager they will be to adopt and sustain that change over time.

Always remember change – and ultimately, transformation – does not happen because of the implementation of new and emerging technologies. People drive change and transformation. Without their support, endorsement, and acceptance, change and transformation are not possible.

Continue Reading