The Strategic Health Information Collaborative (SHIEC) Annual Conference took place again, this time as a five-week virtual event from August 17 to September 15.
Having come to grips with my lost opportunity to socialize with several hundred of my closest friends and colleagues, the fact that this year’s SHIEC sessions were spaced out over such a long stretch of time provided an interesting opportunity to reflect on the state of affairs in health information exchange (HIE).
In one sense, the 2020 conference resembled previous years – a gathering of largely the same group of industry representatives who eat, sleep and breathe HIE and reinforce among ourselves what we already know to be true.
We already know that our healthcare system will improve only as health information exchange improves. We already know we will never have a truly efficient and effective healthcare system until:
we are able to acquire, validate, and normalize health records from all points of care
we are able to curate and present records in a meaningful way at the point of care
we establish workable standards for interoperability between systems and networks
we remove the barriers to sharing healthcare information
we provide public health services with comprehensive, high quality health data in a timely manner
These are inarguable truths, yet many of us are frustrated with the painstakingly slow progress we seem to make year-upon-year.
By Chrissa McFarlane, CEO, Patientory, and Jonathan Fuchs, FACHE, member of the board, Patientory Association.
As we approach a new decade, there are a plethora of predictions being made around the future of the healthcare industry. Healthcare’s journey to value will, of course, continue, however, industry challenges and boundaries (i.e. competitive pressure, lack of transparency, limited patient access and erosion of trust) are still areas of concern and opportunity as the industry progresses.
My education, experience, and journey as an entrepreneur led me to create Patientory to empower consumers with an application they can use to improve their overall health and well-being. We are the world’s first healthcare cryptocurrency and HIPAA-compliant blockchain network, with more than 50 nodes registered worldwide.
I recently sat down with Jonathan Fuchs, FACHE, veteran healthcare executive, who also serves as a board member for the Patientory Association. With more than four decades of experience in healthcare management and operations, Jonathan’s expertise in health information technology, data analytics has allowed him to focus on assisting healthcare startup companies on reimbursement strategies, the impact of data and analytics on value-based care.
Chrissa McFarlane: Jonathan, thank you so much for sitting down with me to talk about Healthcare 2030. Taking a look back at how the healthcare industry has advanced over the past two decades is astounding. However, as we look ten years ahead, I believe a consumer-centric healthcare system will be crucial for industry growth. What do you say to this and how do you believe technologies such as blockchain will lead the way in advancing this mission?
Jonathan Fuchs: Chrissa, of course. To your question, health information exchange will be critical in advancing the healthcare industry and honing in on the consumer-centric approach over the next decade. Blockchain will essentially help with interoperability by streamlining efficiencies, making health care an achievable and cost-efficient reality for all. The ability to transmit patient records safely and securely will, in turn, allow patient data to be viewed by hospitals and other providers in any participating region, city or country meaning the potential of blockchain will be boundary and boundless. In addition to this, the issues of cybersecurity are also top of mind. The ability to encrypt data (specifically on a healthcare blockchain) prevents unauthorized parties from accessing and reading patient data, even if they are able to access the blockchain itself.
Blockchain technology will help create better privacy standards within the industry.
Chrissa: What would you say are some of the roadblocks to Blockchain adoption?
Johnathan: Until the ability for various healthcare information technology systems to exchange, interpret and use data cohesively occur, we will continue to see latency in the adoption of Blockchain. The very structure of the technology enables data exchange to happen at a higher level of transfer. Which, currently, electronic servers and EHR systems are not set up to handle the volume or power requirements. Another roadblock is scalability, blockchain is expensive (for now)and at this point requires more power resources to handle the speed at which it operates. That’s not to say this will always be the case, but it’s definitely true today.
Chrissa: Historically, healthcare has been slow to change. Many would argue that healthcare should be more realistic than futuristic. What do you say to this?
DirectTrust announces its Second Annual DirectTrust Summit, scheduled at the Washington Marriott Georgetown in Washington, DC, June 9-10, 2020. DirectTrust also announced its call for speaker proposals is now open to health information industry experts interested in speaking at the Summit.
DirectTrust is a nonprofit healthcare industry alliance created to advance the electronic sharing of protected health information (PHI) between provider organizations, and between providers and patients, for the purpose of improved transitions of care, care efficiency and coordination, patient satisfaction and reducing healthcare cost.
The DirectTrust Summit brings healthcare industry leaders together to share ideas and best practices around improving health information exchange and interoperability. In response to feedback from the inaugural summit this past June, the format for the Second Annual DirectTrust Summit has been expanded to include a full-day event on June 9 and a half-day of breakout sessions on June 10. Additionally, a virtual participation option via webcast is available for the full-day event and plenary sessions.
“We’re thrilled to announce the Second Annual DirectTrust Summit—and excited to be convening in Washington, DC,” said Scott Stuewe, DirectTrust president and CEO. “Our inaugural event in June was a terrific success, which is amply validated by the calls for more time and more sessions.
“As introduced, our intention with this Summit continues to be to look to the future; to build awareness and understanding of the many elements involved in and influencing the electronic sharing of health information, and to foster collaboration between DirectTrust members and DirectTrust members with non-members. Our goal is to help advance the industry’s progress toward achieving secure exchange among provider organizations, and between providers and patients nationwide,” Stuewe continued.
“With this in mind, we’re eager to learn about and share new and original applications of Direct Secure Messaging and interoperability, and invite industry experts to share their submissions on our Call for Proposals link,” concluded Stuewe.
This year’s Summit also adds a host committee responsible for evaluating speaker proposals and driving awareness of the event.
Members of the Host Committee were selected for their distinguished positions in healthcare interoperability. They include:
Jodi G. Daniel, JD, Partner, Crowell & Moring;
Leslie Kelly Hall, Founder, Engaging Patient Strategies and Consulting Executive, LifeWIRE Group;
David Kibbe, MD, MBA, Principal, The Kibbe Group;
Steven Lane, MD, MPH, FAAFP, Clinical Informatics Director, Privacy, Information Security, and Interoperability as well as a family medicine physician with Sutter Health;
Micky Tripathi, President and CEO, Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative
The Summit is open to both DirectTrust members and non-members. Additional information about the Summit—including Registration, Early Bird pricing, and Call for Speaker Proposals—may be found at bit.ly/DTSummit2020.
Partners HealthCare announced its selections for the fifth annual “Disruptive Dozen,” the 12 emerging artificial intelligence (AI) technologies with the greatest potential to impact healthcare in the next year. The technologies were featured as part of the World Medical Innovation Forum held in Boston to examine AI in clinical care including a range of diseases and health system opportunities.
“Understanding state-of-the-art medical technologies enables us to anticipate the future of clinical care,” said Gregg Meyer, MD, chief clinical officer, Partners HealthCare and 2019 World Forum co-chair. “The Disruptive Dozen technologies can offer physicians and patients a renewed sense of optimism about Artificial Intelligence and its impact on diagnosis and treatment.”
The 2019 Partners HealthCare Disruptive Dozen are:
1 Reimagining medical imaging – AI is transforming radiology and imaging, including mammography and ultrasound, to bring improvements in clinical care and diagnoses to patients worldwide. Researchers envision AI transforming mammography from one-size-fits-all to a more targeted tool for assessing breast cancer risk, and further increasing utility for ultrasound for disease detection and rapid acquisition of clinical-grade images.
2 Better prediction of suicide risk – Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death among young people. AI is proving powerful in helping identify patients at risk of suicide (based on EHR data,) and also examining social media content with the goal of detecting early warning signs of suicide. These efforts toward an early warning system could help alert physicians, mental health professionals and family members when someone in their care needs help. These technologies are under development and not cleared for clinical use.
3 Streamlining diagnosis – The application of AI in clinical workflows such as imaging and pathology is ushering in a new era of AI-enabled disease diagnosis. From identifying abnormal and potentially life-threatening findings in medical imaging, to screening pathology cases according to the presence of urgent findings such as cancer cells, AI is poised to aid the diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment decisions that clinicians make while caring for patients.
4 Automated malaria detection — Nearly half a million people succumbed to malaria in 2017, with the majority being children under five. Deep learning technologies are helping automate malaria diagnosis, with software to detect and quantify malaria parasites with 90 percent accuracy and specificity. Such an automated approach to malaria detection and diagnosis could benefit millions of people worldwide by helping to deliver more accurate and timely diagnoses and could enable better monitoring of treatment efficacy.
5 Real-time monitoring and analysis of brain health – a window on the brain – A new world of real-time monitoring of the brain promises to dramatically improve patient care. By automating the manual and painstaking analysis of EEGs and other high-frequency wave forms, clinicians can rapidly detect electrical abnormalities that signal trouble. Deep learning algorithms based on terabytes of EEG data are helping to automatically detect seizures in the critically ill, regardless of the underlying cause of illness.
6 “A-Eye”: Artificial intelligence for eye health and disease – Not only is AI is helping advance new approaches in ophthalmology, it’s demonstrating the ability of AI-enabled technologies to enhance primary care with specialty level diagnostics. In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new AI-based system for the detection of diabetic retinopathy, marking the first fully automated, AI-based diagnostic tool approved for market in the U.S. that does not require additional expert review. The technology could also play a role in low-resource settings, where access to ophthalmologic care may be limited.
7 Lighting a “FHIR” under health information exchange — A new data standard, known as the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) has become the de facto standard for sharing medical and other health-related information. With its modern, web-based approach to health information exchange, FHIR promises to enable a new world of possibilities rooted in patient-centered care. While this new world is just emerging, it promises to give patients unfettered access to their own health information — allowing them to decide what they want to share and with whom and demanding careful consideration of data privacy and security.
8 Reducing the burden of healthcare administration — use of AI to automate routine and highly repetitious administrative functions. In the U.S., more than 25 percent of healthcare expenditures are due to administrative costs, far surpassing all other developed nations. One important area where AI could have a sizeable impact is medical coding and billing, where AI can develop automated approaches. The goal is to help reduce the complexity of the coding and billing process thereby reducing the number of mistakes and minimize the need for intense regulatory oversight.
9 A revolution in acute stroke care — Stroke is a major cause of death and disability across the world and a significant source of healthcare spending. Each year in the U.S., nearly 800,000 people suffer from a stroke, with a cost of roughly $34 billion. AI tools to help automate the diagnostic journey of ischemic stroke can help determine whether there is bleeding within the brain — a crucial early insight that helps doctors select the proper treatment. These algorithms can automatically review a patient’s head CT scan to identify a cerebral hemorrhage as well as help localize its source and determine the volume of brain tissue affected.
10 The hidden signs of intimate partner violence – Researchers are working to develop AI-enabled tools that can help alert clinicians if a patient’s injuries likely stem from intimate partner violence (IPV). Through an AI-enabled system, they hope to help break the silence that surrounds IPV by empowering clinicians with powerful, data-driven tools. While screening for intimate partner violence (IPV) can help detect and prevent future violence, less than 30 percent of IPV cases seen in the ER are appropriately flagged as abuse-related. Healthcare providers are optimistic that AI tools will further complement their role as a trusted source for divulging abuse.
Guest post by Kate Jester-Brod, vice president of client success, EoScene.
Since Hurricane Katrina, the healthcare industry has been pushing towards maintaining comprehensive EHRs. The concept of an EHR combined with the concepts of the health information exchange (HIE) creates a means for patients and providers to always have a 30,000-foot view of the patient’s health. Which then begs the question, ‘what about the actual healthcare facilities?’ What does their 30,000-foot view look like? Are facility and staff doing their part to support exceptional and safe patient care?
In the most basic of explanations, enterprise risk covers the overall opinion of others towards your organization. It can affect revenue, staff retention, grant funding, and much more. In the healthcare industry, the enterprise is at risk at many levels. Drug safety, staff and patient safety, clinical outcomes, facilities maintenance, public relations, Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores are some but not all of the components of enterprise risk.
Moreover, reducing enterprise risk in any industry includes reducing not only overhead and operational costs but also consumer costs. In healthcare reducing costs for consumers can increase patient satisfaction, which is an obvious connection. More interesting, however, are recent news stories reporting on suits against major hospital systems for frauds and schemes—or applauding them for lowering healthcare costs.
While telemedicine and home health are increasingly major components of healthcare, much of healthcare operates in a facility like a hospital or clinic. Facilities, along with structural integrities and heating, ventilation, and air (HVA) systems, also include patient equipment and a state of cleanliness. All of these components comprise the environment of patient care and healing, and the enterprise. By taking control of these areas a hospital or healthcare facility becomes one step closer to protecting the enterprise.
The best way to protect it is to predict and manage risk before problems happen. This is even more critical as the healthcare industry works towards the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim as a means to optimize care. The three components of the Triple Aim complement and overlap the need to reduce enterprise risk.
Fundamentally, the Triple Aim works towards creating system-level metrics to measure success. Enterprise risk is at the center of these metrics that ultimately drive decision making. Understanding the policies and procedures that make up facilities management, patient safety, accreditation, and the overall health of the system can significantly reduce enterprise risk while supporting more effective decision making.
Taking control of facilities management can directly impact the reduction of enterprise risk. Facilities Management holds many different responsibilities in a healthcare system, including emergency management, fire safety, patient and staff safety, infection prevention, environmental services, utilities and equipment, accreditation, and many others.
Improving patient-centered care with consideration for facility compliance results in tangible ways to improve the Triple Aim. The electronics health record is assumed to document all the components of the Triple Aim, but this clinically based monitoring system focuses on provider-patient experience and overlooks other components of the healthcare environment.
Utilizing facilities information technology plays a critical role in establishing the foundation necessary to achieve positive results in achieving the Triple Aim. Recent innovation in health facilities IT has resulted in quality improvement and measurement from the ground up and has the potential to address an often overlooked component of that we all strive for in Triple Aim.
In virtually every context that question might be asked, we struggle to give an honest, accurate answer.
It Works If You Believe It Works
Is the medication working? Difficult to say–it may be the placebo effect, it may be counteracted by other medications, or we may be monitoring the wrong indicators to recognize any effect. Is “working” the same as “having an effect,” or must it be the desired effect?
Alternative medicine confounds the balance of expectations and outcomes even further. Right at the intersection of evidenced-based medicine and naturopathy, for instance, we have hyperbaric oxygen therapy, or HBOT. These devices are as much in vogue among emergency departments (to treat embolisms, diabetic foot ulcers, and burns) as holistic dream salesmen (to prevent aging and cure autism, if you believe the hype). When the metric being tracked is as fluid as the visible effects of aging, answering whether the treatment is working is about as subjective as you can get.
As though the science of pharmaceuticals and clinical medicine weren’t confounding enough, you can hardly go anywhere in healthcare today without politics getting added to the mix. In the wake of Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, you have observers and stakeholders asking of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): is it working?
There’s Something Happening Here
It is definitely doing something. It is measurably active in our tax policy, for instance: 2016 returns are heavily influenced by the incremental growth of the ACA’s financial provisions. Of course, the point of this tax policy (depending on who you ask) is to influence behavior. As to this point, there are some signs that, again, something is happening: among young people, ER visits in general are down, while emergency stays due to mental health illness are up. We changed how healthcare is insured, and that changed, in turn, how we access our care. But is it working?
The lack of EHR interoperability continues to pose a serious threat to healthcare initiatives, according to a recent report published by the American Hospital Association (AHA). The report discusses the various aspects of the healthcare industry and care delivery that are negatively impacted by a lack of interoperability.
The report notes that the exchange of health information is critical for the coordination of care. When patients receive care from multiple different providers, physicians should be able to securely send relevant patient information to the practicing physician. However, that tends not to be the case because EHR systems are not interoperable and cannot exchange information.
Last year, the ECRI Institute released a survey outlining the Top Ten Safety Concerns for Healthcare Organizations in 2015. The second highest concern was incorrect or missing data in EHRs and other health IT systems caused by interoperability. For the second year in a row, EHR data is identified as a concern.
The Partnership for Health IT Patient Safety, a branch of the ECRI Institute, has released safe practice recommendations for using the copy and paste function in EHRs that can adversely affect patient safety, such as the use of copy and paste that can overpopulate data and make relevant information difficult to locate, according to the partnership’s announcement.
Meanwhile, a survey of 68 accountable care organizations conducted by Premier, Inc. and the eHealth Initiative found that despite steep investments in health information technology, they still face interoperability challenges that make it difficult to integrate data across the healthcare continuum.
The survey found that integrating data from out-of-network providers was the top HIT challenge for ACOs, cited by almost 80 percent of respondents. Nearly 70 percent reported high levels of difficulty integrating data from specialists, particularly those that are out-of-network.
User Frustration Over Lack of HIE and Interoperability Standards
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is once again asking the healthcare community for its thoughts on establishing metrics to determine if or to the extent to which electronic health records are interoperable. The push to achieve interoperability is in response to last year’s mandate by Congress, contained in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA). Among provisions of that law is a requirement to achieve “widespread” interoperability of health information by the end of 2018.
When it comes to how Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) handle the challenges associated with interoperability, a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report cites the following barriers–insufficient health data standards, variations in state privacy rules and difficulty in accurately matching the right records to the right patient. In addition, the costs and resources necessary to achieve interoperability goals, and the need for governance and trust among entities to facilitate sharing health information.
In its annual interoperability survey of hospital and health system executives, physician administrators and payer organization IT leaders released in April 2016, Black Book Research found growing HIE user frustration over the lack of standardization and readiness of unprepared providers and payers.
Of hospitals and hospital systems, 63 percent report they are in the active stages of replacing their current HIE system while nearly 94 percent of payers surveyed intend to totally abandon their involvement with public HIEs. Focused, private HIEs also mitigate the absence of a reliable Master Patient Index (MPI) and the continued lack of trust in the accuracy of current records exchange.
Public HIEs and EHR-dependent HIEs were viewed by 79 percent of providers as disenfranchising payers from data exchange efforts and did not see payers as partners because of their own distinct data needs and revenue models. Progressive payers are moving rapidly into the pay-for-value new world order and require extensive data analytics capabilities and interoperability to launch accountable care initiatives.
Those looking at touted standards such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FIHR) point out that it is only capable of connecting one medical facility to another and requiring specific end point interfaces to even do that. For every additional facility, a customized interface must be built. At the end of the day, FIHR is really a point-to-point customized interface requiring extra steps and ties developers to specific hospitals or EHRs and without universal access.
“Progressive FHIR standards can allow EHRs to talk to other EHRs should standard definitions develop on enough actionable data points as we enter a hectic period of HIE replacements, centering on the capabilities of open network alliances, mobile EHR, middleware and population health analytics as possible answers to standard HIE,” said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book.
Guest post by Drew Ivan, director of business technology, Orion Health.
With such an enormous cross-section of the healthcare industry in attendance, the HIMSS Conference and Exhibition represents a comprehensive snapshot of the state of the healthcare industry and a perfect trendspotting opportunity. Here’s a preview of what I expect will be this year’s conference highlights.
Care coordination and population health and process improvement, workflow and change management are tied for the most popular category, with 29 educational sessions focused on each.
Representing 22 percent of the total number of sessions, this is clearly a focus area for the year’s conference, and it’s easy to see why. Changes in healthcare payment models are now well underway, and they are impacting payer and provider operations where healthcare is delivered, managed and documented.
Providers and payers alike are seeking information about how best to operationalize business processes and provide high quality care under new payment models, but it may be even more interesting to visit the Exhibition Hall to see what innovations vendors are bringing to the market to meet these needs.
Another topic related to changes in healthcare delivery is clinical informatics and clinician engagement, which is all about how new technologies, such as big data and precision medicine, can impact care decisions. The ability to make data-driven clinical decisions is one of the many dividends of widely adopted electronic health records. This is likely to be an important area for many years to come.
With 100 million medical records hacked last year, privacy and security is a hot topic at this year’s conference. The number of educational sessions in this category nearly doubled from 13 last year to 25 this year.
While preventing unauthorized access to records is the top priority, security will be a simpler problem to solve than privacy. As more sources of clinical data go from paper to electronic systems and more types of users have legitimate access to patient data, the problem of providing appropriate, fine-grained access in accordance with patient preferences, clinical settings and laws that differ across jurisdictions becomes very difficult to untangle.
Privacy and security concerns will need to be addressed with a combination of open standards and vendor products that implement them. Technologies from other industries, like banking, are likely to start making their way into healthcare.
This year, health information exchange (HIE) and interoperability educational sessions are combined into a single category, reflecting the fact that interoperability within a single institution is, at this point, more or less a solved problem. The next frontier is to enable interoperability across institutions to support improved transitions of care.
HIEs have a role to play when it comes to moving data between organizations; however, many HIEs are struggling or disappearing because of sustainability challenges. This year’s conference will provide an opportunity to learn best practices from the most successful HIEs. It will also be interesting to see what strategies HIE vendors will pursue as their customer base consolidates. In the Orion Health booth alone, we will have executives from HIEs talking about these same issues.