Recent Articles:

News 3/30/17

March 30, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

image

Just in time for National Doctor’s Day: An AMA survey of 1,200 physicians finds that 90 percent are satisfied with their career choice – a surprising statistic given the enormous regulatory, reimbursement, and technology challenges they have faced over the last several years. (Respondents cite administrative burdens, stress, and lack of time as their top three challenges.) Thankfully, 75 percent report that helping people is a top career motivator. I’m also heartened to learn that 73 percent of today’s MDs knew before they had reached the age of 20 that they wanted to enter the field of healthcare – 33 percent even knew it before their teenage years. As a patient, it’s comforting to think that (hopefully) my provider is devoted to healing his patients no matter how high the odds are stacked against him.


Webinars

April 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “SSM Integrated Health Technologies Clinical Data Migration: Functional and Technical Considerations.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Sandy Winklemann, MHA, RHIA, project manager, SSM Integration Health Technologies; Tyler Mawyer, MHA, managing consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Kavon Kaboli, MPH, senior consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. GE Centricity and Meditech to Epic EHR transition. Join us for a complimentary webinar as present the decisions that are important to consider when performing a clinical data migration from the point of view of  the healthcare organization program manager, the clinical analyst, and the technical implementation team. Our expert panel will survey data migration considerations, best practices, and lessons learned. The webinar will present a unique client perspective, offering insight into considerations surrounding staffing, clinical mapping, legacy application support, and validation and testing.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.


Announcements and Implementations

image

Qualifacts Systems develops a mobile version of its behavioral health EHR for care teams working in the field. In addition to EHR capabilities, CareLogic Mobile features GPS location services that track when providers arrive and depart from a patient’s home.

image

Health information exchange company Hemcare Health Services launches RecordsBank.org, a fee-based medical records retrieval, exchange, and storage service for patients, providers, payers, and lawyers.

Kansas Medical Mutual Insurance Co. subsidiary KaMMCO Health Solutions and the Connecticut State Medical Society will partner to develop and launch a statewide HIE in late summer. CSMS no doubt looked to work with KaMMCO based on its relationship with the Kansas Health Information Network; KaMMCO SVP Laura McCrary also serves as KHIN’s executive director.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

image

Carbon Health raises $6.5 million in a seed funding round led by BuildersVC, which also invested in co-founder Eren Bali’s previous online marketplace for education. The startup, which has a brick-and-mortar clinic in San Francisco, has developed technology aimed at helping independent physicians leverage virtual services and mobile capabilities like telemedicine, prescription refills, and appointment scheduling.


People

image

Pam Matthews, RN (Pam Matthews & Associates) joins the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, an HIE trade association based in Grand Junction, CO, as interim executive director.

image image image

Solutionreach promotes Justin Everette to VP, marketing; Paul Kocherhans to SVP, sales; and Lance Rodela to VP, product management.


Other

image

Today marks the 84th anniversary of National Doctor’s Day. The commemorative event was the brainchild of Eudora Almond, a physician’s wife who presumably wanted to recognize local physicians in her community for their devotion to patients. Rumor (Wikipedia, actually) has it that she chose March 30th because it is the anniversary of the first use of general anesthesia in surgery. President Bush officially recognized the day as a national holiday in 1990.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

Readers Write: Making Cost Estimates Part of the Patient Financial Conversation

March 30, 2017 Guest articles No Comments

Making Cost Estimates Part of the Patient Financial Conversation
By Jim Denny

image

Imagine bringing your car in for repair and asking for an estimate, only to be told the mechanic couldn’t provide one. You probably wouldn’t leave your car with this body shop; instead, you’d take it down the road to the mechanic that could give you an upfront price. While most consumers wouldn’t get their cars fixed without fully knowing the cost, healthcare organizations still expect patients to agree to treatment without a full understanding of the cost involved. In some cases, this leads people who have serious health issues to delay treatment for fear of how much they will have to spend. The lack of transparency, coupled with the perceived payment inflexibility, causes patients to feel like they can’t control their healthcare expenses.

The reality is many healthcare organizations are not providing cost information to patients, even if they have it readily available. In a recent national survey, 75 percent of provider respondents stated they can share cost estimates; however, less than 25 percent of patient respondents say they requested one at their last visit, and only 16 percent received one without asking for it. These figures indicate that patients may not always be aware that cost estimates are available to them, and that providers may not always offer this information proactively. This represents a missed opportunity to strengthen communication, limit confusion, and set clear payment expectations.

Why the Disconnect?

One of the reasons that organizations may not offer estimates (even if they are capable of generating them) is a concern about reliability. Healthcare organizations often believe that providing potentially incorrect information could be worse than not providing any information at all. However, survey results indicate that patients have a different view, with most expressing that they would appreciate the information even if it is not 100-percent accurate. In fact, nearly two-thirds of respondents would find any estimate, or one that falls within 10 percent or more of their actual costs, to be extremely helpful. This reinforces the point that a less-than-exact figure is still considered valuable. Organizations should not allow this fear of inaccuracy to hold them back, and should look at operationalizing estimates, providing one before a patient asks for it.

Making Estimates Part of the Routine

To enable these discussions, organizations must make sure that the process of generating and sharing an estimate is embedded into operational workflow. If this effort is too cumbersome or takes staff off task, then they are more likely to skip over it — and given the lack of patient awareness that estimates are available, the patient may not know to ask for the approximation if it’s not offered, leading to even less estimates provided to patients.

To seamlessly weave cost estimation into financial discussions, organizations should consider using technology that streamlines the process, making it as easy for staff as pushing a button during registration or during other front-office activities. Not only should the estimate reflect the total cost of care, but it should also involve a real-time eligibility check that determines unmet deductibles, co-pay, and co-insurance amounts, so the organization can provide the patient with as close an approximation as possible of what the patient will owe. The cost estimation technology should be part of a comprehensive revenue cycle solution that allows staff to see the complete picture of the patient’s account, helping them to knowledgeably answer questions if they arise, while further streamlining the billing process for both front- and back-office staff.

Organizations should also train their staff on what the cost estimate conversation should entail and how it fits into the larger financial discussion. Staff should learn about how to encourage patients to carefully review the estimate and ask follow-up questions. Note that these conversations can be difficult and complex, so proper education may involve scripts and role-playing exercises to ensure that each staff member is comfortable with his or her role in communicating information, and is aware of the impact he or she can have on patient satisfaction.

A Key Step in Improving Transparency

Being proactive about cost estimates is not only the right thing to do from a patient experience perspective, but it also may increase the likelihood of payment because the patient has received upfront information that allows him or her to plan for the expense. The more organizations can incorporate cost estimates into early financial conversations, the more clarity they will provide to patients, ultimately enhancing the transparency of the encounter, and increasing the patient’s trust and satisfaction with the organization.

Jim Denny is founder, president, and CEO of Navicure in Duluth, GA.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

News 3/29/17

March 29, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

image

RCM consulting and software services firm IHealth Innovations acquires medical billing and collections company AllDocuments for an undisclosed sum. The deal brings with it offices in San Mateo, CA and Pittsburgh. IHealth, which seems to have come out of stealth mode early last year, already has offices in Kentucky, Georgia, and Virginia. Its New Jersey office came via the acquisition of DNA Healthcare last May.


Webinars

April 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “SSM Integrated Health Technologies Clinical Data Migration: Functional and Technical Considerations.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Sandy Winklemann, MHA, RHIA, project manager, SSM Integration Health Technologies; Tyler Mawyer, MHA, managing consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Kavon Kaboli, MPH, senior consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. GE Centricity and Meditech to Epic EHR transition. Join us for a complimentary webinar as present the decisions that are important to consider when performing a clinical data migration from the point of view of  the healthcare organization program manager, the clinical analyst, and the technical implementation team. Our expert panel will survey data migration considerations, best practices, and lessons learned. The webinar will present a unique client perspective, offering insight into considerations surrounding staffing, clinical mapping, legacy application support, and validation and testing.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.


Announcements and Implementations

image

CareCloud offers a MIPS Success Guarantee to ensure that its EHR users do not receive MIPS-related penalties from CMS. As part of the guarantee, the company will provide performance coaching and service throughout the 2017 MIPS performance year to increase chances of bonuses in 2019.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

image

Health screening kiosk company Higi acquires payer-focused consumer health engagement vendor EveryMove, and raises an undisclosed amount of funding in a Series B round led by BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners. Founded in 2012, Higi’s last funding round (in January 2016) brought in $40 million. For contrast, competitor Pursuant Health has raised a total of $41.5 million since launching as Solo Health in 2007.

image

Say it ain’t so: Amazon will begin collecting sales tax from every applicable state starting April 1. Shoppers in Hawaii, Idaho, Maine and New Mexico – the last remaining holdouts – may want to make their big purchases sooner rather than later.


People

image

Reed Ferber (Running Injury Clinic at the University of Calgary) joins Biotricity’s Board of Advisors.

Tom Ziesmann (Optum) joins Healthcare Associates of Texas as CEO.


Government and Politics

The State of Michigan will make the reporting of maternal deaths mandatory beginning April 6 via the Michigan Maternal Mortality Surveillance project, which has previously enabled reporting on a voluntary basis. The state’s health department reports that nearly 100 women die annually during pregnancy or within a year of pregnancy – a statistic that unfortunately correlates with a nationwide rise in maternal deaths over the last 20 years.

image

Let’s cut to the chase: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) introduces the Obamacare Repeal Act, a one-sentence bill that he believes will separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to showing “American voters who really wants to repeal Obamacare and who merely acts that way during election time.”


Other

A US District Judge sentences Anthony Harris to six years in federal prison for his part in stealing the PHI of 13,000 Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology & Nutrition of Florida patients. Harris, an administrative employee, and two accomplices accessed the practice’s EHR in hopes of using that PHI to apply for credit cards and file fraudulent tax returns using the stolen patient identities.

image

Mecklenberg County (NC) officials accidentally release the HIPAA-protected medical information of 1,200 people to the local media while attempting to fulfill an open records request related to the health department’s failure to notify women of abnormal Pap smear results. County officials will have to report the incident to HHS within 60 days, and are already anticipating fines of up to $5 million. This incident is the second time this year the county has released inappropriate information to the media.


Sponsor Updates

  • Aprima and Healthwise will exhibit at the ACP Internal Medicine Meeting March 30-April 1 in San Diego.
  • CompuGroup Medical will exhibit at the COLA Annual Symposium April 5-8 in Las Vegas.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the Pediatric Urgent Care Conference March 30-31 in New Orleans.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

News 3/28/17

March 28, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

image

Physicians in Wisconsin will join their peers in 30 other states April 1 when legislation kicks in requiring them to check the state’s PDMP database before issuing prescriptions for controlled substances. Pharmacies and other dispensaries have reported such prescriptions since the program launched in 2013. A special effort is being made to educate PCPs on the appropriate use of opioids and alternative medications. UW Health Pain Management Clinic Director Alaa Abd-Elsayed, MD will use a CDC grant to launch the awareness initiative.


Webinars

image image

March 29 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Improving patient outcomes with smartphones: UW Medicine Valley Medical Center’s story.” Sponsored by Voalte. Presenters: James Jones, MBA, MSN, VP of patient care services and nursing operations, UW Medicine Valley Medical Center; Wayne Manuel, MBA, SVP of strategic services, UW Medicine Valley Medical Center. UW Medicine Valley Medical Center dramatically improved patient outcomes after moving to a smartphone-based platform for clinical communication and alarm and alert notification. Before-and-after analysis shows a reduction in hospital-acquired pressure ulcers and skin integrity events, fall and slip events, and medication errors. By limiting overhead paging, the medical center also created a calmer, quieter environment and improved engagement among nursing and hospitalists. Hospital executives will describe their experience and vision for the future in addressing quality, cost, and the patient-caregiver experience.

April 26 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “SSM Integrated Health Technologies Clinical Data Migration: Functional and Technical Considerations.” Sponsored by Galen Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Sandy Winklemann, MHA, RHIA, project manager, SSM Integration Health Technologies; Tyler Mawyer, MHA, managing consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions; Kavon Kaboli, MPH, senior consultant, Galen Healthcare Solutions. GE Centricity and Meditech to Epic EHR transition. Join us for a complimentary webinar as present the decisions that are important to consider when performing a clinical data migration from the point of view of  the healthcare organization program manager, the clinical analyst, and the technical implementation team. Our expert panel will survey data migration considerations, best practices, and lessons learned. The webinar will present a unique client perspective, offering insight into considerations surrounding staffing, clinical mapping, legacy application support, and validation and testing.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information on webinar services.


Announcements and Implementations

Eastern Shore Psychological Services rolls out AlphaFlex EHR software from MediWare Information Systems at its four facilities in Maryland.


People

image

Former practice manager Robert Still (County of Lancaster) takes on the role of executive director for the Radiology Business Management Association.

image image

InnovaTel Telepsychiatry appoints Charles Gordon, MD (Texas Spine and Joint Hospital) chairman and former US Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) vice chairman of its new advisory board.


Telemedicine

image

The local news covers the growing user base of DocMJ.com, a virtual practice geared towards Florida-based patients seeking medical marijuana prescriptions. Launched in 2016, it has has so far helped 1,000 patients sign up for the state’s Compassionate Use Registry – a database of qualified patients and ordering physicians. Florida seems to be getting its medical marijuana ducks in a row: Lawmakers approved an amendment last fall allowing physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for a range of conditions, and are preparing to consider legislation that would shorten the time between consultations from 90 to 45 days.

A Sermo survey of 1,651 members reveals that 41 percent believe the country is doing a “fair” job of adopting telemedicine, though 44 percent feel their states are doing a poor job with such programs. Responding physicians believe Ohio has implemented telemedicine the most effectively, followed by California. New Jersey and New York were found to be the most lacking in telemedicine friendliness.


Government and Politics

image

image

While I’ve never played Dungeons & Dragons, I do find this summary of the #GOPDnD hashtag quite humorous.


Research and Innovation

A survey of 200 Millennial physicians reveals that 34 percent have found the reality of practicing medicine to be worse than they expected, though that hasn’t hampered their commitment to the career. Just over 80 percent report they are committed – even optimistic – about their role in changing the way healthcare is delivered. Many are already exploring the option of taking on the additional roles of entrepreneur, consultant, health system executive, and academic researcher. When it comes to health IT, they believe they’re more data-driven than their older colleagues. Sixty-two percent believe EHRs are an important part of their ability to care for patients.

image

Coming to a reality near you: Tesla founder Elon Musk teases followers about the formal launch of Neuralink, an AI business that will develop brain implants to help humans merge their thoughts with software. Such technology could be used to treat brain disorders like depression and epilepsy, though Musk seems to think it will ultimately be effective in helping humans function in a world increasingly dominated by robots.


Other

image

Better late than never, I suppose: “Brand experience” agency Cramer releases its review of HIMSS17 booths, highlighting the rise of the “living” booth designed to give attendees all the comforts of home. Salesforce and Athenahealth earned accolades for seating, creative use of height and/or second-story space, and outdoor themes. (Several booth reviews point to unnamed HIStalk sponsors.) I seem to remember the folks at Dodge Communications publishing a similar type of wrap up several years ago. I’d love to see them pick that back up for major industry tradeshows.

image

Rumor has it Johnny Depp will star in King of the Jungle as “computer virus magnate-turned-accused murdered John McAfee.” The movie will depict a magazine writer’s visit to McAfee’s residence in Belize – a trip “filled with paranoia, machine guns, sex, and murder.” McAfee, who had multiple run ins with local authorities, was in fact wanted for questioning related to the 2012 murder of a local who had complained about McAfee’s tendency to shoot guns and exhibit “roguish behavior.”


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

Readers Write: Six (Inexpensive) Steps to Better Cybersecurity for Your Practice

March 28, 2017 Guest articles No Comments

Six (Inexpensive) Steps to Better Cybersecurity for Your Practice
By Lance Hayden

image

Physicians have a lot on their plates. Running a practice means combining the daily requirements of managing a complex business with commitments to patient care and treatment. Factor in the often daunting regulatory and technology environments of healthcare, and one can understand why practices may sometimes feel a bit overwhelmed. It’s no big surprise when physicians worry about how to address cybersecurity concerns on top of everything else.

Recent media coverage has put a spotlight on healthcare security. From large security breaches where medical records were stolen, to frightening ransomware scenarios where entire organizations find themselves in a hostage situation with their systems and data, healthcare providers increasingly find themselves wondering, “Could we be next?”

A typical medical practice also faces budget constraints and limited resources to take on new IT security projects. Many doctors feel they lack the knowledge and skills necessary to fully understand security concerns, much less mount an adequate defense against sophisticated hackers and cyber criminals.

Without the confidence to know they are putting effort and resources into the right areas, too many practices fall back on a wait-and-see strategy, or focus only on the “checkbox security” of minimum compliance standards that can pass an audit but may prove inadequate for defending against determined cyber threats. Unfortunately, apathy can set the stage for an attack, which can be followed by chaos and loss if a practice does gets hit with a security incident.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. Although many physicians worry that security can only be achieved through expensive technologies or consultants, the fact is that the majority of security incidents are not the result of super hackers working technological magic.

Implement a Healthier IT Lifestyle

Security researchers have found that most attacks are preventable; they take advantage of known vulnerabilities that would have been easy to fix if the affected company had made a better effort. In this way, IT security is a lot like preventive medicine. No physician would be surprised if a patient with unhealthy day-to-day habits eventually developed a more serious condition, and the same applies to cybersecurity.

In this spirit, physicians can “heal themselves” of many cybersecurity problems by simply implementing a healthier IT lifestyle within their practices. None of the six steps below takes a lot of money, or a great deal of IT or security skill. But when they become part of a practice’s business habits, they can go a long way towards keeping a physician’s systems, data, and patients safer and happier.

1. Know What You Are Protecting. Do you keep track of your information and IT systems as well as you manage your pharmaceuticals or medical equipment? Information and IT systems are just as important to the success of your practice. You should take the time to inventory them, know where they are located, and understand your legal, regulatory, and business responsibilities for keeping them secure.

2. Keep Good Backups. In some cases, like ransomware, having a good, current backup can mean the difference between an inconvenience and a catastrophe. Make sure all of your important information is backed up, protected offsite, and regularly tested. If you don’t have the resources inside the practice, contract with a vendor to make sure you are prepared in an emergency.

3. Practice Strong Authentication. Even after decades of knowing better, weak and easy-to-guess passwords are still one of the most common ways that attackers get in. Today, it’s very easy to pick strong passwords you won’t forget by using a password manager. And make sure to turn on two-factor authentication wherever possible; this requires users to enter a code from a phone or another device as well as a password when logging in.

4. Lock Down Your Technology. Don’t make your IT systems an easy target. Keep them current by regularly downloading and installing vendor patches and updates. Avoid running open WiFi networks inside your practice. Turn on WiFi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) in your wireless routers, with strong passwords. Don’t let guests connect to the same networks that the practice uses for business.

5. Develop an Incident Response Plan. The worst possible time to be figuring out how to handle a security breach is in the middle of one. An emergency room wouldn’t wait until the ambulance was pulling in to prepare, and you shouldn’t put off planning for a security incident. Develop a protocol for security breaches, including who’s in charge, who gets called, and what steps get taken and in what order.

6. Make People Your First Line of Defense. Effective cybersecurity requires people, processes, and technology to work. And a “human firewall” can be one of your most powerful defenses against attackers. Devote time to writing good security policies and guidelines, and hold everyone accountable for following them. Policies without training are not very useful, though, so make the effort to ensure everyone understands them and knows what they require. Then, test your users against phishing attacks and other common attack vectors so that everyone is prepared in advance.

Implementing these six habits in your practice can go a long way towards protecting yourself from attack, and none of these activities require major budget expenditures. As with medicine, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to cybersecurity.


Additional Resources

Information and resources are easy to find these days if you want to know more. Check out these public websites specifically set up for small businesses as a starting place:

Lance Hayden is the chief privacy and security officer of EPatientFinder in Austin, TX.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

JennHIStalk

Founding Sponsor


  

Platinum Sponsors


  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Gold Sponsors


  

Subscribe to Updates




Search All HIStalk Sites


Loading

Recent Comments

  • Mike Burke: Re: Wait times: Certainly wait times are decreasing due to options like urgent care and to a lesser extent, telemedicin...
  • Scott Olson: I'm with you in terms of selecting a different career path to avoid math. Only to find out a few years later marketing t...
  • Angela Hickman: Excellent article Randy!...
  • Chip Hart: Bravo! I just got off the phone with a different practice and I used KPP as an example of how to do things right - now ...
  • Robert D Lafsky M.D.: I commend NY MD for the above comment. Despite the stress imposed by obvious flaws of workflow design he took the time ...

Tweets

Follow