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News 10/23/14

October 22, 2014 News No Comments

Top News

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An international healthcare study finds that the United States is near the bottom of the list (tying with Croatia) when it comes to public trust in the medical industry, yet among the most satisfied when it comes to our own medical care. AAFP President Robert Wergin, MD pointed out that “this highlights the problems of our fragmented healthcare system. People put trust in their own doctor, but not the system.” Healthcare scholar Michael Gusmano puts it more succinctly: “People hate Congress, but they like their own representatives.”


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

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Don’t forget to check out the list of HIStalk sponsors exhibiting at this year’s MGMA conference in Las Vegas via our “Must-See” Exhibitors Guide. Take a moment to look over the products, innovations, and giveaways our sponsors plan to showcase, and map out your trip to the exhibit hall accordingly.


Webinars

November 5 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Keeping it Clean: How Data Profiling Leads to Trusted Data. Sponsored by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Lori Yackanicz, administrator of clinical informatics, Lehigh Valley Health Network; Randy L. Thomas, associate partner of performance analytics, Encore, A Quintiles Company; Joy Ales, MHA, BSN, RN, senior consultant, Encore, A Quintiles Company. Data dictionaries, organizational standards, and pick lists for data entry fields may describe the intent of a particular data field, but don’t guarantee that the data captured in the source system actually reflects that intent. Data profiling is the statistical analysis and assessment of the data values in source systems for consistency, uniqueness, and logic to ensure that the data landing in a data warehouse or analytic application is as expected. Attendees will learn which projects benefit from data profiling and the resources needed to accomplish it.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Ingenious Med secures a majority investment stake from North Bridge Growth Equity. Financial terms were not disclosed. As a result, Doug Kingsley and Roshen Menon (North Bridge) have joined Ingenious Med’s Board of Directors. George Lynn (AtlantiCare) has also joined the board.

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The local paper spotlights the success investment firm and incubator Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse has seen in the area of healthcare IT, now its fastest-growing segment thanks to companies like TreatSpace and Blender House. President John Manzetti explains that, “the time to market’s faster,” even if the payoffs may be smaller.


Government and Politics

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ONC Public Health Analyst John Rancourt throws down the flu vaccination gauntlet. I would love to know what carrots, if any, were dangled in front of the OCT.


Announcements and Implementations

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Tennessee Primary Care Association selects population health management and analytics tools from  i2i Systems for 14 of the state’s FQHCs.

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The Toledo Outpatient Clinic & Surgery Center (OH) selects the eClinicalWorks EHR and Care Coordination Medical Record for use at its 62 locations.

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ChenMed (FL) implements 8×8 Virtual Office services at 36 of its neighborhood medical centers, plus two corporate offices. Roll out of the new cloud-based telephony system for 1,400 users took five weeks.

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My Clients Plus offers a new workflow management software application for easier administration and routing of follow-up items.

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Jamestown Family Health Clinic (WA) enlists data migration firm Versio to help it transition to Epic. The clinic is part of the Providence Health & Services Community Connect program, which helps provide EHRs to rural hospitals and clinics throughout the area.

Doctorsoft and ADP AdvancedMD announce a partnership that will enable DoctorSoft to offer its ophthalmology EHR with ADP AdvancedMD’s PM and billing solutions.

MedAptus and Entrada announce a partnership that will integrate Entrada’s documentation technology and services into the MedAptus Pro Charge Capture mobile solution.


Research and Innovation

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A new report on wearable technology finds that 33 percent of consumers abandon or infrequently use their devices a year after purchase, though nearly half of millenials and early adopters say they are “excited” about the future of wearable tech. “Excited” is a hollow term, given that we don’t know how that excitement will translate into future purchases and utilization. Not surprisingly, the report finds consumers are more willing to try wearable technology provided by their primary care doctor than they are from any other brand or category, and want to be incentivized to use it, rather than pay for it themselves.


People

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Modernizing Medicine co-founders Daniel Cane and Michael Sherling, MD receive the Leadership in Healthcare Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at its annual summit.

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Jeffrey Leiden, MD (Vertex Pharmaceuticals) joins the Quest Diagnostics Board of Directors.

CORHIO appoints Patrick Gillies (HHS), Jason Greer (Colorado Community Managed Care Network), Michelle Mills (Colorado Rural Health Center), and Alexis Sgouros (Kaiser Permanente Colorado) to its Board of Directors.


Other

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The local paper highlights the successful Accountable Care Coalition of Southeast Wisconsin LLC, formed by Independent Physicians Network and Collaborative Health Systems. The ACO attributes its $8.7 million in shared savings to its $3 million investment in healthcare IT.

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EHNAC releases first-draft Accountable Care Organization Accreditation Program (ACOAP) criteria for public review and comment. The comment period closes on December 22.


Sponsor Updates

  • NextGen Healthcare and InterSystems enable Missouri Health Connection to provide on-demand bidirectional data exchange with clients.
  • Kareo is named a Top 50 EHR Vendor by Medical Economics.

Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

News 10/21/14

October 21, 2014 News No Comments

Top News

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CDC issues updated Ebola guidelines that focus on better protecting healthcare workers. CDC Director Tom Frieden noted three key changes: “One, training, practicing – demonstrated hands-on experience so that the healthcare workers are comfortable donning and doffing [personal protective equipment]. Two, no skin exposure. Three, observation of every single step, putting on and taking off the PPE.”

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The new guidelines may also serve as the agency’s attempt to quell opposition to Frieden’s leadership during the outbreak. As Ford Vox, MD noted in a recent op-ed, “At the VA, new leadership is in place, and the agency is picking up the pieces. America could use a surgeon general right now, and that we don’t have one represents a failure of our partisan politics. But it’s entirely within the President’s authority to identify and appoint new leadership at the CDC, the central agency managing this crisis. Frieden is clearly a good man and will go on to do good things. But the President must now choose someone better attuned to the crisis leadership role that has overtaken the rest of the CDC director’s job description.”


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

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Check out the list of HIStalk sponsors exhibiting at this year’s MGMA conference in Las Vegas (less than a week away!) via our “Must-See” Exhibitors Guide. Take a moment to look over the products, innovations, and giveaways our sponsors plan to showcase, and map out your trip to the exhibit hall accordingly. I’m willing to bet that I’ll run into the supremely talented magician above, who has an uncanny ability to draw a fairly sizeable crowd to whatever booth he happens to be working at.


Webinars

October 21 (Tuesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Electronic Prescribing Of Controlled Substance Is Here, What Should You Do? Sponsored by Imprivata. Presenters: William T. “Bill” Winsley, MS, RPh, former executive director, Ohio State Board of Pharmacy; Sean Kelly, MD, physician, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center;  David Ting, founder and CTO, Imprivata. Providers are challenged to use EPCS to raise e-prescribing rates for MU, improve physician productivity, reduce fraud and errors, and meet New York’s March 2015 e-prescribing mandate. Hydrocodone painkillers such as Vicodin have moved to Schedule II, with the higher CS prescribing volume adding another reason to implement e-prescribing. This webinar will describe why organizations should roll out EPCS, presented from the perspectives of pharmacy, compliance, physicians, and technology.

November 5 (Wednesday) 1:00 p.m. ET. Keeping it Clean: How Data Profiling Leads to Trusted Data. Sponsored by Encore, A Quintiles Company. Presenters: Lori Yackanicz, administrator of clinical informatics, Lehigh Valley Health Network; Randy L. Thomas, associate partner of performance analytics, Encore, A Quintiles Company; Joy Ales, MHA, BSN, RN, senior consultant, Encore, A Quintiles Company. Data dictionaries, organizational standards, and pick lists for data entry fields may describe the intent of a particular data field, but don’t guarantee that the data captured in the source system actually reflects that intent. Data profiling is the statistical analysis and assessment of the data values in source systems for consistency, uniqueness, and logic to ensure that the data landing in a data warehouse or analytic application is as expected. Attendees will learn which projects benefit from data profiling and the resources needed to accomplish it.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Managed care company Molina Healthcare Inc. will establish a new office in Detroit that will house up to 125 employees. The California-based company will move into the 30,000 square foot office sometime this fall.

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Activate Healthcare announces plans to triple the size of its Indianapolis headquarters and hire up to 203 employees over the next nine years. The company currently has 110 employees who support its 22 on-site primary-care clinics.

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Development and commercialization firm PureTech closes a $55 million growth stage investment round, with participation from Invesco Perpetual. The company also appointed H. Robert Horvitz (MIT), Joi Ito (MIT Media Lab), and Raju Kucherlapati (Harvard Medical School) as senior partners.

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Athenahealth reports Q3 results: revenue up 26 percent, adjusted EPS $0.27 vs. $0.29, meeting expectations for both. The company’s $293 million Epocrates acquisition from January 2013 continues to drag down the bottom line as the unit’s quarterly revenue dropped 27 percent to less than $10 million. Mr. H provides a concise review of the company’s earnings call, pointing out that, “The company added 2,800 athenaClinicals physician users, but at a high expense.”


Announcements and Implementations

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Nextech Systems and MDIntelleSys launch an integrated, cloud-based EHR and practice management system for ophthalmology. Nextech formally acquired MDI earlier this month.

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Nuance partners with eClinicalWorks to integrate its speech recognition technology with eClinicalTouch for the iPad and eClinicalMobile for iPhone and Android. The new product seems geared towards physicians using Nuance’s Dragon Medical Solution in the ambulatory setting.

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The Qualis Health Regional Extension Center achieves its goal of helping nearly 2,400 eligible physicians and other providers in Idaho and Washington successfully attest for Meaningful Use. The REC is ninth among 62 nationwide that have achieved Meaningful Use goals.

Practice management and clinical software developer MacPractice offers the Updox Integrated Fax and Document Management solution to its physician customers. Updox will provide MacPractice users with the Direct infrastructure needed to send and receive Transitions of Care, and portal users to transmit records to meet Stage 2 Meaningful Use criteria.

DrFirst announces October 28 availability of its electronic prior authorization service Patient Advisor ePA+SM, which will integrate multiple sources starting with CoverMyMeds.


Government and Politics

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The DoD DHMSM application due dates are pushed back again – from October 23 to October 31. Is this a case of the big players needing more time to fill out paperwork (a red flag, in my opinion), or is the agency waiting for an as-yet-unnamed vendor to enter the fray? Perhaps our own Dim-Sum will soon weigh in.

This article highlights the lack of practicing physicians on the Health IT Policy Committee, and the “riches” that panel members from Cerner, Epic, and Allscripts have gained as a result. “These companies with enormous market share were essentially asked by the federal government to help write the rules intended to push them forward into the Information Age,” says Dan Haley, vice president of government and regulatory affairs at athenahealth. “It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that they were very kind to themselves in writing those rules and setting those standards.”


Research and Innovation

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NIH grants $11 million in funding across three institutes to explore how social media can help researchers better understand, prevent, and treat substance use and addiction. The three-year project will analyze social media interactions to gain insight into patterns of use, risk factors, and behaviors associated with substance use. It will also study how social media can enhance screening, prevention, and treatment.

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GE announces alliances with Verizon, Intel, and Cisco in an effort to ramp up support for its Predix software, designed to add intelligence to various Internet of Things end points. GE currently monitors and analyzes 50 million data points from 10 million sensors on $1 trillion of managed assets daily.


People

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Steve Hynes is promoted to CEO of MRO Corp.

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Pat Sir (UnitedHealth) joins telehealth and wellness company Healthiest You as president.

Paul LaVerdiere (Iron Mountain) joins ESD as regional VP.

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President Obama names Ron Klain as the government’s Ebola response coordinator, a move that has many questioning the former chief of staff’s lack of experience with healthcare and emergency response. Anthony Fauci, MD head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, defended the selection of Klain, saying that, “There are [already] health officials – there’s myself, there’s the [CDC], there are others. You don’t need to be a healthcare person, you need to be somebody who is a good organizer. And his experience is extraordinary. He has been chief of staff to a couple of vice presidents. He has a lot of experience."


Other

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Professor and author Richard Foster, MD sits down with Rock Health to discuss the current state of entrepreneurship in healthcare IT: 

“It’s just so complex. There’s no business in the world where if you don’t do things right every time, people die. There’s no business in the world where the chief practitioners, otherwise known as docs, have absolutely no training in technology. There is no healthcare IT class, that I’m aware of, that is given in a major medical school in this country, or any other country. There is no course in major medical schools, that I’m aware of, that teaches you how to start and run a practice.”

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An op-ed by Matthew Edlund, MD points out three issues that make EHRs a “grand farce,” including privacy, functionality, and communication. This statement seems right on the money: “Just as entrepreneur Peter Thiel predicted, the real way to profits in IT is through monopolies. So instead of making your records available to other ‘competing’ systems, just put up huge silos and turn communicating records into a ‘profit center.’ Many  of the ‘big operators’ do exactly that.”

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NPR talks with infectious disease specialist Jonathan Po, MD about his experience as a HealthTap telemedicine physician. The interview to me seems like a thinly veiled attempt to cash in on Ebola concerns. The interviewer does himself no journalistic favors when he refers to the virus as “a dream for hypochondriacs.” 


Sponsor Updates

  • Bill Fox, senior vice president of Emdeon, is featured in an interview on healthcare payments innovation.
  • eClinicalWorks announces that it has assisted 5,000 EPs in meeting CMS PQRS requirements.
  • PerfectServe hosts members of its Strategic Customer Advisory Panel today for a meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dallas.

Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

HIStalk Practice Interviews Robert Tennant, Senior Policy Advisor, MGMA

October 20, 2014 News No Comments

Robert Tennant, Senior Policy Advisor at MGMA, chats with HIStalk Practice about the search for new leadership, hot-button physician issues, and what to expect at this year’s annual conference, taking place October 26-29 in Las Vegas.

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How is the hunt for new leadership going?

There has been significant interest in the MGMA CEO position and candidate applications continue to come in daily. The search committee is confident we will be able to identify a passionate leader who understands the current landscape of healthcare change and the value of physician-administrator teams in improving the quality of patient care.

Aside from the search for a new CEO, what is keeping MGMA busiest right now as it relates to advocating for physicians and the challenges that they’re going through?

Issues surface and change almost on a daily basis; certainly, the one that is what I would call “hot” right now is Meaningful Use. As you probably know, there was a final rule that came out at the beginning of September, adding flexibility to the Meaningful Use program for 2014, but it came out very late. A lot of effort was expended trying to educate our members on what was included. We put out, for example, an analysis of that rule to help members navigate it.

We found, not surprisingly, that there were a number of small but important issues on the administrative level. For example, the flexibility afforded in the final rule allows new EPs to use 2011 certified technology to report Meaningful Use and avoid the penalty in 2015, and get the incentive for 2014. However, the CMS website was not updated to allow these EPs to attest using the flexibility afforded to them. It’s a catch 22. They did everything that was expected of them only to find out that they would not be able to attest until mid-October. As you can imagine, grossly unfair. We wrote letters to communicate this concern directly to CMS. They’re working on it. We’re hoping that they’ll come up with some resolution.

Another issue that just percolated – one of the ways that they tried to harmonize the Physician’s Quality Reporting System in Meaningful Use – was to allow an EP to use the Group Practice Reporting Option to submit the CQM, which would count towards Meaningful Use, which is great. It’s a nice way to harmonize the two programs. However, there was a glitch. For example, if you submitted your Meaningful Use attestation in the third quarter, there was a box you had to check that said, "I will be submitting my quality data within two months." As you know, PQRS is all-year reporting, so you would fail Meaningful Use because CMS didn’t think through their own website. Again, we raised that issue and they’re looking into it, and we’re hoping that we’ll have a resolution. These are sort of the small-in-scope administrative issues preventing a pretty significant number of EPs from success in the program.

There’s also a bigger issue. When they released the proposed rule back in May, we submitted a very lengthy comment letter, which outlined what we thought was a pretty reasonable set of changes to the program to ensure that the train would stay on the track. One of the things we asked for was that the shortened reporting period for 2014 be extended to 2015, because the problems EPs are facing this year are not magically going to disappear come January 1. They of course did nothing in the final rule. CMS basically just rubber stamped the proposed rule. They didn’t add any additional flexibility to the program. And so it’s now gotten the ear of Congress.

Are you referring to the Flex-IT Act? How do you see that playing out?

The Flex-IT Act is one of those rare birds in Congress. It’s a bipartisan bill introduced by Renee Ellmers, a republican from North Carolina, and Jim Matheson, a democrat from Utah. There is a lot of interest in this. Everybody recognizes that there’s a problem. The question is, can we get the bill through, either attached to something else or as a standalone? I don’t know. We’re certainly working hard to make that happen.

The fact that members of Congress are raising the issue and making calls to CMS really helps raise the visibility of the problem. That lack of flexibility is going to more than just hamper physicians. It might actually impede them from meeting Meaningful Use criteria in 2015. Even if the bill does not go anywhere, we think the message is absolutely crystal clear to CMS that they need to take action. As we say in Washington, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll see something happen. Again, it’s unlikely that this will pass as a standalone bill, but raising the issue is likely to at least provoke some response from the administration.

And just to reiterate, this is not a partisan issue. This is not republicans bashing the administration. We get support from both sides of the aisle. Senator Durbin’s office has been very sympathetic, and was already planning on making calls to the secretary. Clearly, everybody wants the program to succeed. We’re all trying to arm physicians with the tools they need to continue down the pathway of Meaningful Use, and ultimately to interoperability, where we all want to be.

I’d like to get MGMA’s take on Ebola and EHRs – how are your members processing all this? It seems like a hospital issue at this point, and may not be as relevant for smaller practices.

First of all, this was not a small hospital in backwater Texas. This was, I believe, a level six or seven hospital on the HIMSS scale. This facility was incredibly, powerfully, attuned technologically. They have an Epic system. The "failure," which some have attributed to the technology, is clearly a workflow issue – one that prevented information properly transferring from the nurse to the physician. Was it human error? I can’t comment on that. The broad issue here that impacts physician practices is that in a rush to try to meet all of these government mandates, something is going to slip.

Vendors are struggling to get products updated because of the tight timeframes, get them into practices, get staff trained, and then go live. We’re finding that, because everybody is in such a rush, there are problems and glitches to the tune of sometimes 50 or 100 patches issued to fix them. The vendors are trying their best to meet the tight timelines, to allow their clients to be successful in Meaningful Use. Ultimately, when you rush these types of installations, patient safety becomes an issue. I don’t know if this Ebola case was something like that or something else entirely, but it’s inevitable that if you rush these installations, you rush the development of the software, there are going to be problems.

That’s another reason why the Ellmers-Matheson bill is important and our recommendations are critical. We don’t want there to be patient safety issues associated with technology. That’s what’s going to derail the industry. I can’t emphasize this enough as another reason as to why we want Meaningful Use to be a little more thoughtfully rolled out. I think it’s incumbent upon the government to really look at the recommendations from MGMA and other provider groups, because again, we’re not asking for the program to be scuttled or delayed. We’re simply asking for the needed flexibility for both software vendors and their clients, our members.

Your members must have a love/hate relationship with Meaningful Use by this point. Would you say that’s accurate?

I think we’ve morphed into having a lot less love and a lot more hate. I go out on the road and I speak to a lot of our state chapters and I have never seen the level of frustration that I’ve seen in the last few months, and not just with Meaningful Use. It gets into some of the other topics we’ll cover. The overall frustration level with the requirements put on them by government is simply overwhelming.

It’s not that practices don’t want to participate in these programs, or that they don’t want to offer high quality care to patients, or that they don’t want to report quality. They want to do all of that. But when they’re asked to do things that frankly are outside the scope of their practice, that don’t add any value to the practice or patient care, that cause them to have to do multiple reports with the same data for multiple government programs, that get them penalized when they’ve made the investment and made a good faith effort to meet the mandates … I think these issues have just angered the physician practice community to a level that I’ve not seen before.

How do you see these issues being addressed? How does MGMA plan to address them at the conference?

As you can imagine, one of the challenges logistically is that we had to submit our abstracts almost a year in advance. Like many of us, I assumed that we would have gone live with ICD-10 by now, so I specifically put a pretty generic title on my presentation so that it gives me the flexibility in my session on HIT to talk about almost anything. I’ll be focusing on Meaningful Use, ICD-10, and the administrative simplification initiatives contained in the Affordable Care Act. I’ve only got a little over an hour, so I’m going to be rushing.

Our members want action items, not regurgitated information. They want to not only understand what they are required to do, but also understand what kind of assistance they might need in getting there. I will be very heavily focused on identifying resources, giving them action items, checklists, things like that, to help them navigate what I think is probably the most challenging waters they’ve been in for some time.

One of the difficulties for attendees at these types of large national conferences is there will be two, three, or four sessions at the same time. It’s very difficult to really maximize your educational opportunities, so we’re offering shorter sessions to allow more content to be pushed out to members. Longer sessions will be offered for the more complicated topics that require additional time.

What will set this year’s event apart from past conferences?

I think part of it is that 2015 promises to be one of the most difficult years for practices. You’ve got a combination of things: The exchanges are hitting their stride; more patients are using the exchange products; many of the administration simplification initiatives are coming to fruition; and you’ve got issues about payment.

Meaningful Use, of course, starts on January 1, and we’ve got our old friend ICD-10 rearing its head October 1. Adding fuel to the fire are the looming SGR cuts. I’m waiting for some good news to come for 2015. I don’t see any on the horizon, quite frankly. Actually, there is one exception. EHNAC has developed in concert with WEDI a practice management system accreditation program that is going to accredit practice management software for not only the standard features and functionality, but the ACA mandates as well. It will give practices a little more confidence that when they purchase an accredited system, it will meet a certain level of standards, including standards for security. The program should launch if not late 2014, then early 2015. I think it will be a very, very important process to start to standardize software used in practices.

How does MGMA differ from an event like HIMSS or HFMA?

I’ve been to a lot of different conferences, and I’ve never seen as many hugs as I have at MGMA. It’s a very collegial group of folks. For a lot of them, it’s the only time they see colleagues and friends who live on the other side of the country. People like to gather – they’ll have lunch with a group of administrators focused on hematology or large groups or multi-specialty groups, or ones that are looking to purchase or to be bought. They’re all focused on the same set of issues, whereas it’s all over the map at HIMSS.

You’ll find that it’s an incredibly friendly group of folks. Obviously they’ve got concerns and issues, but it’s really an opportunity for them to network and chat with colleagues that are facing very similar, if not identical, problems. The educational sessions are always fantastic. I’ve never heard anybody come away from the conference and say, “I didn’t learn anything there.”

What other sort of issues are going to be hot topics at this year’s conference. Did you have anything you wanted to add?

Privacy and security is an issue that just won’t go away, especially because consumers are becoming more aware thanks to big commercial breaches at places like Target and Home Depot. Practices have been put on their guard, and so I want to really get into some specifics in my presentation about action items they can take. You can hire a consultant and spend tens of thousands of dollars, but practices don’t have that, so I’m looking to identify some high-impact, low-cost ways of implementing HIPAA privacy and security standards, and also ICD-10. People just don’t have $100,000 to get ready for ICD-10. We’ve got to find ways to give them a pathway forward without breaking the bank.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

From the Consultant’s Corner 10/20/14

October 20, 2014 News No Comments

Considering Joining an Employed Physician Network? Three Questions to Ask

In today’s healthcare environment, physician practices are experiencing more and more challenges that impact their ability to deliver quality care and keep the doors open. Along with the pressures of seeing and treating patients, physicians face shrinking margins, declining reimbursement and a lack of capital to invest in needed technology, including EHRs and practice management software. They can also have difficulties with negotiating managed care contracts, particularly in the context of shifting reimbursement strategies.

All these pressures are driving both small and large practices to consider different business models, including an employed physician network.

Primary benefits of an employed physician model

For some physicians, moving to an employed model is a survival strategy to address the challenges of running a practice and maintaining a strong bottom line. By participating in this type of arrangement, a physician can concentrate on delivering optimal patient care and leave the “business” side of the practice to the larger network, gaining a greater sense of security.

Joining an employed network also puts the physician in a stronger position during managed care contract negotiations because physicians have greater bargaining power when they approach negotiations as a group. This is especially important given the current payment landscape because without well-considered contracts, a physician could lose substantial revenue.

Practices need the right technology in place to take advantage of new opportunities for population health management and other programs that generate additional revenue. However, many physicians do not have the financial resources to adopt these solutions. An employed network provides greater support for technology investments so practices can add, upgrade, and maintain new EHRs and revenue cycle systems that enhance clinical quality and financial performance.

Being part of an employed physician network can also help physicians maintain regulatory compliance. Through this model, physicians have access to the knowledge and resources of the larger system to ensure they adequately meet new and emerging requirements. This is particularly helpful given some of the difficulties physicians face with understanding the growing number of federal rules and regulations that impact both care delivery and business operations.

Finally, joining an employed network offers the opportunity to share professional liability risk, which may result in better premium rates and reduce potential exposure.

Three questions to ask when considering an employed network

Although an employed physician model has its advantages, it is not for everyone. As such, it’s important for physicians to engage in robust due diligence to make sure joining an employed network is the right decision. Some key questions to consider during this analysis include:

  1. What is the compensation model? I recommend checking any proposed agreement against peer data to ensure compensation is reasonable and fair. MGMA makes a logical starting point for this comparison. I would also suggest looking closely at the way performance is measured. For instance, assess whether incentives reflect both productivity and quality measures, and look for alignment with specific specialty and clinical service line measures as well.
  2. How are physicians represented in the governance model? It is important to understand which employed physicians serve on the board and the extent of their responsibilities and duties — as well as the board’s. Physicians should be clear about how and to what degree physician representatives act as the voice for all physicians in the network.
  3. What is the future of the health system? By reviewing business results, volumes, strategic plans, and growth projections, a physician can gauge the current and future health of the system he or she is considering joining. Note that if there is a pending merger or other business model or market change, the health system’s future may be less clear. Keep in mind that an acquisition changes organization dynamics and the practice environment.

As changes continue in healthcare, more physicians undoubtedly will seek to participate in employed physician networks. Deciding to remain independent or become part of an employed group requires careful evaluation of the financial, environmental, and operational factors in each scenario. In the end, the best choice will allow the physician to give priority to what he or she is trained to do — care for patients.

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Jerry Broderick is an executive management consultant at Culbert Healthcare Solutions.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

News 10/16/14

October 15, 2014 News No Comments

Top News

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ONC convenes the first joint meeting of the Health Information Technology Policy and Standards Committees to hear a final report from the Joint JASON Task Force, an update from the Interoperability Governance Sub-Committee, and an interim report from Erica Galvez, ONC’s interoperability and exchange portfolio manager. Galvez explained that physicians are lagging  behind hospitals when it comes to electronically exchanging patient data. She noted that just one-third of physicians could exchange different types of patient data such as lab results, medication lists, and problem lists.


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

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Don’t miss the HIStalk “Must-See” Exhibitors Guide for MGMA 2014. More than 25 HIStalk sponsors and their offerings (plus a few networking event invitations) are represented in the digital guide, which is also available as a downloadable PDF. Thanks to our sponsors for supporting HIStalk, HIStalk Practice, and HIStalk Connect. Be sure to give them a thumbs up and a few minutes of your time while roaming the MGMA exhibit hall.

Watching: The recent spate of sensationalist and often inaccurate Ebola headlines prompted me to revisit this hilarious “linkalist” clip from Portlandia.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Population health management vendor Welltok closes $25 million of a planned $37 million funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners. The company expects to close the remaining funds by the end of 2014. BVP Partner Stephen Krause will become a member of Welltok’s Board of Directors.

Ability Network acquires MD On-Line Inc., which provides electronic healthcare solutions to ambulatory providers. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Mercom Capital Group reports that the top five VC funding deals in Q3 2014 were the $70 million raised by DXY, $52 million by Proteus Digital Health, $50.3 million by Teladoc, $50 million by Chunyu, and $30 million by HealthEdge. Total funding for the quarter amounted to $956 million via 212 deals.


Announcements and Implementations

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Riverchase Dermatology (FL) launches online visits through its patient portal via the DermatologistOnCall white-label solution from Iagnosis.

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Highlands Physicians Inc. selects MTBC as its preferred vendor partner for EHR, PM and revenue cycle management services. HPI is an IPA that provides group purchasing and managed services to over 1,100 physicians in Tennessee and Virginia.

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Regional Medical Imaging (MI) installs the Merge Notifi email appointment reminder system through a partnership with Merge Healthcare and HIT Application Solutions.

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The Alaska Department of Corrections implements MedUnison’s DocSynergy EHR throughout its system of 12 correctional facilities.

Allscripts will offer Shareable Ink’s documentation solution for surgical and clinical documentation for Sunrise. The two companies have done a bit of personnel swapping over the last year: Shareable Ink CEO Laurie McGraw was chief client officer at Allscripts, while Greg Shorten, SI’s chief growth officer, previously served as vice president of sales at Allscripts.


Government and Politics

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Nonprofit research firm Battelle secures a four-year, $16 million contract to take over the central IT infrastructure CMS uses to develop, maintain, and analyze Medicare quality and efficiency data.

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The AMA issues a Meaningful Use blueprint that calls for CMS to make over a dozen changes to penalties, incentives, thresholds, measures, and more. (You can view Mr. H’s breakdown here.) It’s refreshing to see a trade organization offer concrete ideas, rather than nebulous concepts and timetables. The blueprint no doubt echoes the sentiments of many providers, including OCHIN CMIO Tim Burdick, MD, who in a recent HIStalk interview called for a team of industry leaders to come up with “30 clinical data elements that are needed to improve Triple Aim.”


Research and Innovation

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Bionym begins shipping Nymi heart rhythm-based password wristbands to developers. Partner Brivo Labs is in the process of using it to develop an access control system that unlocks doors with a person’s Nymi-authenticated identity.

Philips Healthcare begins Netherlands hospital trials of a wearable COPD monitoring sensor that collects information on physical activity, respiratory indicators, and sleep disturbances.


People

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ONC names Lucia Savage, JD (UnitedHealthcare) as chief privacy officer, replacing Joy Pritts, who resigned in July.


Other

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The local business paper highlights the work athenahealth is doing to create an algorithm within its EHR that assesses Ebola risk. Its developers are also releasing a new platform to help providers ask the right questions around travel, and alert them if a patient has been to an Ebola-affected region. Senior Manager of Clinical Content Brian Anderson, MD noted that, “We’ve gotten a lot of requests from our clients to understand the new guidelines. We get about three a day asking what can they do to meet this new concern that’s emerging.”

CDC and ONC will present a webinar on Thursday, October 16 at 1:00 p.m. ET to encourage providers and EHR vendors to work together to develop Ebola screening tools. CDC’s Ebola team will present its detection algorithms and travel history/medical signs checklists.

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Healthcare workers express outrage over a Halloween costume website’s peddling of an Ebola containment suit.

France’s new healthcare bill includes renewed focus on digitizing medical records, which it has attempted in the past with limited success. The bill also includes a binge drinking ban, which might be the harder of the two to enforce in a country that “has long been known for measured – but considerable – booze consumption.”

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An enlisted service member experiences Google Glass withdrawal symptoms while undergoing treatment for alcohol addiction through the U.S. Navy’s Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program. The patient, who had worn the device 18 hours a day for two months, became irritable when stripped of the device, had a hard time focusing, experienced his dreams as if through the narrow view of the headset, and repeatedly placed his index finger to the right side of his face as if trying to turn it on.


Sponsor Updates

  • Greenway Health’s SuccessEHS is prevalidated by NCQA to receive 27 points in auto credit toward PCMH 2011 scoring.
  • HIMSS Analytics names Leidos Health a Certified Educator of the DELTA Powered Analytics Assessment.

Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

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