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News 12/6/16

December 6, 2016 News No Comments

Top News

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A survey of 5,000 internal medicine physicians shows that MDs continue to prescribe more costly treatments that may not be necessary. Antibiotics are the perennial culprit, with physicians opting for newer, more expensive versions over generics, even when they’re likely to have little positive impact on treatment. ACP VP of Clinical Policy Amir Qaseem, MD points out that pressure to fulfill patient expectations might be driving some doctors to prescribe antibiotics. “There is a lot of waste in our healthcare system, and we need to acknowledge that,” he adds.


Webinars

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December 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Charting a Course to Digital Transformation – Start Your Journey with a Map and Compass.” Sponsored by Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Jack Phillips, CEO, International Institute for Analytics; Graham Hughes, MD, CEO, Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. The digital era is disrupting every industry and healthcare is no exception. Emerging technologies will introduce challenges and opportunities to transform operations and raise the bar of consumer experience. Success in this new era requires a new way of thinking, new skills, and new technologies to help your organization embrace digital health. In this webinar, we’ll demonstrate how to measure your organization’s analytics maturity and design a strategy to digital transformation.

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December 14 (Wednesday) noon ET. “Three Practices to Minimize Drift Between Audits.” Sponsored by Armor. Presenter: Kurt Hagerman, CISO, Armor. Security and compliance readiness fall to the bottom of the priority lists of many organizations, where they are often treated as periodic events rather than ongoing processes. How can they improve their processes to ensure they remain secure and compliant between audits? This webinar will cover the healthcare threat landscape and provide three practices that healthcare organizations can implement to better defend their environments continuously.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Family Care Partners furthers its mission to “create one of the largest independent primary and preventative care companies” with the acquisition of Wagener Medical Center, a rural family medicine practice in Wagener, SC. FCP was formed last December by private equity firm Varsity Healthcare Partners and Colonial Family Practice with the aim of creating super-regional family practices in the Southeast.

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Aurora Health Care (MN) will move its QuickCare urgent care clinics into Walgreens next Spring, replacing five in the Milwaukee area and opening an additional three. AHC, which closed 19 clinics in 2009 after several years of rapid expansion, hopes the Walgreens brand will draw more patients into the state’s largest health system. All of the urgent care clinics will tap into AHC’s Epic system.


Announcements and Implementations

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Solutionreach develops PM-compatible messaging software that enables patients to securely text a practice’s landline from their mobile devices.

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Worksite health center company Marathon Health adds mobile optimization and real-time clinical decision support, among other features, to its EHR.

MacPractice provides beta customers with macOS Sierra- and El Capitan-compatible versions of is EHR and PM software.

Azalea Health adds APersona’s adaptive, multifactor authentication software to its EHR.


Research and Innovation

A review of 137 health apps designed for patients with chronic conditions finds most to be severely lacking when it comes to responding to “red-flag information” like abnormal blood-sugar levels or suicidal tendencies. The apps – reviewed by a physician and tech expert, were also back to offer little to no privacy, with the majority of information sharing conducted via insecure text messaging and emails. Reviewers sent their comments to app developers in hopes of helping them fill the identified gaps.


Government and Politics

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A small Aprima survey of physician practice professionals finds 52 percent of respondents believe a Trump presidency will improve US healthcare. Just under 50 percent anticipate a positive financial impact on their practice, while 59 percent expect a decrease in regulatory burdens.


Other

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Nurse practitioner Kathryn Takayoshi writes a thoughtful editorial on the ways in which her rural New England community health center is working to combat the opioid epidemic, despite a lack of guidelines. The center has created a task force that includes PCPs, RNs, behavioral health professionals, and an addiction specialist. It created its own set of guidelines, built off of those CDC released in March, that require urine drug screens at each monthly visit, and that fully integrate behavioral health into primary care. The center has also created an adjacent suboxone clinic, though its working to integrate it into the main clinic for patient convenience. “It seems that we are always slow to adopt new guidelines,” Takayoshi writes. “We are skeptical and resistant to change. This is one of those times when we need to speed up our acceptance. Talking about overprescribing is not enough. Primary care providers are good at following new diabetes guidelines. It’s time we do the same for chronic opioids.”


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News 12/5/16

December 5, 2016 News No Comments

Top News

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Central Illinois Health Information Exchange selects Smart Alerts technology from ICA to better enable PCPs or care managers to stay on top of patient events such as ER visits and hospital readmissions. “This provides real-time … information that wouldn’t typically be made available unless the patient remembers to mention it when they come in for their next visit,” explains CIHIE Executive Director Joy Duling. “Ultimately, this means more responsive and cost effective care, while reducing the possibility that patients are going to be subjected to duplicative or contraindicated care.”


Webinars

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December 6 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Get Ready for Blockchain’s Disruption.” Sponsored by PokitDok. Presenter: Theodore Tanner, Jr., co-founder and CTO, PokitDok. EHR-to-EHR data exchange alone can’t support healthcare’s move to value-based care and its increased consumer focus. Blockchain will disrupt the interoperability status quo with its capability to support a seamless healthcare experience by centralizing, securing, and orchestrating disparate information. Attendees of this webinar will be able to confidently describe how blockchain works technically, how it’s being used, and the healthcare opportunities it creates. They will also get a preview of DokChain, the first-ever running implementation of blockchain in healthcare.

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December 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Charting a Course to Digital Transformation – Start Your Journey with a Map and Compass.” Sponsored by Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Jack Phillips, CEO, International Institute for Analytics; Graham Hughes, MD, CEO, Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. The digital era is disrupting every industry and healthcare is no exception. Emerging technologies will introduce challenges and opportunities to transform operations and raise the bar of consumer experience. Success in this new era requires a new way of thinking, new skills, and new technologies to help your organization embrace digital health. In this webinar, we’ll demonstrate how to measure your organization’s analytics maturity and design a strategy to digital transformation.

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December 14 (Wednesday) noon ET. “Three Practices to Minimize Drift Between Audits.” Sponsored by Armor. Presenter: Kurt Hagerman, CISO, Armor. Security and compliance readiness fall to the bottom of the priority lists of many organizations, where they are often treated as periodic events rather than ongoing processes. How can they improve their processes to ensure they remain secure and compliant between audits? This webinar will cover the healthcare threat landscape and provide three practices that healthcare organizations can implement to better defend their environments continuously.


Announcements and Implementations

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Banner Urgent Care implements RCM services from Zotec Partners across its 32 facilities within the Banner Health system. Banner Health acquired the chain from Urgent Care Extra in August, and anticipates opening at least 18 more by the end of 2017.

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Continual Compliance Solutions develops software to help independent practices manage internal HIPAA programs. The Abyde solution includes risk assessments, policies and procedures, and HIPAA training. I chuckled when I saw the company’s fake end user above.

Allied Physicians Group (NY) chooses Dimensional Insight’s Diver Platform for analytics.

Power2Practice adds Metabolic Code’s nutraceutical distribution program to its EHR, patient portal, and PM software platform for integrative and functional medicine. If, like me, you’re wondering what “nutraceutical” means, here is how Wikipedia defines it: An FDA-regulated pharmaceutical-grade and standardized nutrient.


People

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James Aita (Idea Couture) joins Medicomp Systems as director of strategy and business development, North America.


Telemedicine

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Private video counseling company Lionrock Recovery offers its addiction recovery app free of charge. CEO Peter Loeb makes a good point in noting that, “Holiday season can be very hard for the millions of people struggling with drug and alcohol problems who live too far away from support resources, or who need to keep their recovery very private.” The app features secure messaging between users and sober time tracking, among other features.

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Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s new media and commerce venture dedicated to helping society shift from burnt out to being well, selects Doctor on Demand as its video-medicine partner. The telemedicine company will take up space in Thrive Global’s pop-up store in New York City through January 15.

Back to Motion PT (CO) implements Phzio telerehabilitation technology from EWellness Healthcare.


Government and Politics

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The local paper looks at Minnesota’s Restricted Recipient Program, which flags patients who visit hospital ERs as much as 150 times a year and then limits them to a single PCP, hospital, and pharmacy. Though not popular with its patients, who often feel stigmatized by their forced participation, the program has cut ER visits in half and saved the state $7 million annually.


Other

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A local Texas news outlet tells the compelling story of Mitchel Wong, MD an Austin-based ophthalmologist whose family history in the area dates back to 1916, when his grandfather joined Gen. John Pershing’s efforts – as a cook – to try to capture Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa. Wong’s family eventually launched a successful grocery business, which he eschewed in favor of medical school. He opened his own eye practice in 1969, eventually bringing his son on board. Wong and his family pledged last month to donate over $20 million to Dell Medical School to create the Mitchel and Shannon Wong Eye Institute.

TrainerMD adds Styku’s Microsoft Kinect-powered 3D body-scanning technology to its 360˚ Health Program, a membership-based fitness analysis and goal-tracking program that will launch early next year.


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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Population Health Management Weekly Wrap Up 12/4/16

December 4, 2016 News No Comments

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Andrew Ziskind, MD (Huron Consulting Group) joins Premier as senior vice president of academic strategy.

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A Health Affairs editorial authored by HHS Acting Assistant Secretary Karen DeSalvo, MD and American Public Health Association Executive Director Georges Benjamin highlights what to me is the fine line between public health and population health management. At their core, both focus on analyzing, benchmarking, and better coordinating care for select, often large, groups of people. When it comes to actionable data and understandable metrics, the authors reveal that the challenges are almost the same: “There also exist technical and cultural barriers to data sharing and linkage,” they write. “The public and private sectors should work together to enable more real-time and geographically granular data to be shared, linked, and synthesized to inform action while protecting data security and individual privacy.”

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Modernizing Medicine adds population-health focused clinical and financial analytics to its EHR and PM technologies for physician practices. 

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Lumeon upgrades Care Pathway Manager technology to include a mobile patient scheduling and messaging app, better appointment pathway automation, and a selection of APIs.

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Omnicell will acquire Raleigh, NC-based Ateb, which offers pharmacy-enabled care and population health management solutions, for $41 million in cash. CEO Frank Sheppard left his IBM developer job in 1992 to form the company. The news comes less than two weeks after Ateb announces it will integrate behavioral-based patient engagement and medication adherence solutions from Improved Patient Outcomes with its Patient Management Access Portal, enabling pharmacists to identify and educate patients at high risk for chronic disease.

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Looking to dip its corporate toes into the population health management space, remote cardiac monitoring company BioTelemetry acquires Telcare’s remote diabetes management platform for $7 million. “[W]e see digital population health management as a natural fit to leverage our expertise and existing partnerships to improve outcomes and reduce costs in some of the more widespread chronic conditions,” explains BioTelemetry President and CEO Joseph Capper. “We chose the diabetes market as our first major digital population health initiative because of its significant overall burden on the healthcare system, with estimated direct annual costs in the U.S. of over $245 billion.”

Northwell Health (NY) and Siemens Healthineers form a research partnership to address imaging effectiveness and outcomes. Siemens will, over the course of the four-year partnership, send full-time employees to work with Northwell on outcomes-based research projects and population health management efforts.


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 12/1/16

December 1, 2016 News 4 Comments

Top News

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Over 3,000 physicians sign their name to an open letter lambasting AMA’s endorsement of Rep. Tom Price, MD – nominated by President-elect Trump to head HHS when he takes office next year. 

“We believe that in issuing this statement of support for Dr. Price,” the authors write, “the AMA has reneged on a fundamental pledge that we as physicians have taken — to protect and advance care for our patients. We support patient choice. But Dr. Price’s proposed policies threaten to harm our most vulnerable patients and limit their access to healthcare. We cannot support the dismantling of Medicaid, which has helped 15 million Americans gain health coverage since 2014. We oppose Dr. Price’s proposals to reduce funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a critical mechanism by which poor children access preventative care. We wish to protect essential health benefits like treatment for opioid use disorder, prenatal care, and access to contraception.”

The letter’s originators – Manik Chhabra, MD Navin Vij, MD and Jane Zhu, MD, (all clinical scholars at the University of Pennsylvania)plan to send the letter to AMA and other industry organizations soon. It remains to be seen what, if any, affect such a missive might have on the association’s reception of Price come January. Several physicians have publicly renounced their AMA membership over its endorsement.


Webinars

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December 6 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Get Ready for Blockchain’s Disruption.” Sponsored by PokitDok. Presenter: Theodore Tanner, Jr., co-founder and CTO, PokitDok. EHR-to-EHR data exchange alone can’t support healthcare’s move to value-based care and its increased consumer focus. Blockchain will disrupt the interoperability status quo with its capability to support a seamless healthcare experience by centralizing, securing, and orchestrating disparate information. Attendees of this webinar will be able to confidently describe how blockchain works technically, how it’s being used, and the healthcare opportunities it creates. They will also get a preview of DokChain, the first-ever running implementation of blockchain in healthcare.

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December 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Charting a Course to Digital Transformation – Start Your Journey with a Map and Compass.” Sponsored by Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Jack Phillips, CEO, International Institute for Analytics; Graham Hughes, MD, CEO, Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. The digital era is disrupting every industry and healthcare is no exception. Emerging technologies will introduce challenges and opportunities to transform operations and raise the bar of consumer experience. Success in this new era requires a new way of thinking, new skills, and new technologies to help your organization embrace digital health. In this webinar, we’ll demonstrate how to measure your organization’s analytics maturity and design a strategy to digital transformation.


Announcements and Implementations

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Atlanta-based Georgia State University incorporates Azalea Health’s EHR into its simulations and classrooms for programs such as health informatics, respiratory therapy, physical therapy, nutrition, and the graduate nursing informatics program. I had to chuckle when I came across the above picture of GSU students at HIMSS. It features the road sign Mr. H awarded the Metro Atlanta Chamber after the city received the most votes in the “Health IT Capitol of America” reader poll.

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Healthwise debuts its Care Coordination app on the Salesforce AppExchange. The app, which integrates with Salesforce’s Health Cloud, connects physicians and patients with evidence-based health education materials.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Staffing and workforce solutions company Cross Country Healthcare acquires US Resources Healthcare – a recruitment processing outsourcing business – for an undisclosed sum. US Resources will likely turn its focus to its three remaining verticals – government, IT, and financial, while CCH will enjoy its latest round of growth. It moved into expanded Boca Raton, FL headquarters several months ago.


People

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Clifford Farren, Jr. (IMS Health) joins AbleTo as CFO.

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Jeff McHugh (Athenahealth) joins Zotec Partners as vice president of enterprise solutions.


Telemedicine

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Thundermist Health Center (RI) offers UnitedHealthcare Medicaid members remote diagnosis and e-consults for skin disorders. The provider and payer partnered with Community Health Center’s Weitzman Institute to set up the teledermatology service.

American Well incorporates Tyto Care’s remote examination tools into its telemedicine platform for employers and health systems.


Government and Politics

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CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt suggests ways in which physicians can move forward with MACRA, highlighting technology’s role and subsequent vendor accountability: “MACRA is an opportunity to move the focus away from paperwork and reporting and towards paying for what works. For a variety of reasons, EHRs became an industry before they became a useful tool. The technology community must be held accountable by their customers and make room for new innovators and to give clinicians more freedom and more flexibility to focus on their patients, to practice medicine, and deliver better care.”


Research and Innovation

New research finds that outpatient surgical bone and joint procedures are more cost effective when performed at ambulatory surgical centers rather than hospitals. Researchers attribute the savings, which ranged between 17 and 43 percent for the 1,021 procedures analyzed, to more streamlined care processes. “If orthopaedic practices gained access to an ASC for day surgery,” says lead author Peter Fabricant, MD “they would be able to deliver the same care at a decreased cost, and improve patient satisfaction by offering the convenience of care location options. From the patient and family perspective, care closer to one’s home and family is of higher value.”


Sponsor Updates

  • GE Healthcare completes the RSNA Image Share Validation program.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the Orthopaedic Summit December 7-10 in Las Vegas.

Blog Posts


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HIStalk Practice Interviews Nancy Ham, CEO, WebPT

December 1, 2016 News No Comments

Nancy Ham is CEO of Phoenix-based WebPT.

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Tell me about yourself and the organization.
I’ve been in the healthcare IT space for more than 20 years now, mostly on the provider-facing side. I’ve really been fortunate to be at the leading edge of many innovations in our industry, such as clinical lab order entry; results reporting; RCM; and more recently, population health analytics, clinical data exchange, and interoperability with Medicity. I’ve had a nice diversity of experience across 20 years of watching our industry digitize, automate, and interconnect. In terms of companies, my experiences range from true startups all the way to a Fortune 500 company. I think healthcare IT is an amazing industry and I feel really privileged to be part of it.

In terms of my current organization, WebPT was founded in 2006 by Heidi and Brad Jannenga. Heidi was a therapist in search of a great product; when she couldn’t find one, her husband Brad created it with her. Fast forward 10 years later to 2016 and WebPT is the leader in providing documentation, PM, and revenue cycle services to the rehab industry, which includes physical, occupational, speech, and other therapy modalities.

I’ve learned that physical therapy alone is a $30 billion industry growing more than 5 percent a year. Growth is being driven by the aging of the population, and from weekend warrior injuries to joint replacements. It’s also growing because of clinical evidence that physical therapy can be more effective and efficient than surgery or opioids for many conditions. Today, WebPT serves almost 9,000 clinics with over 63,000 users all using our true cloud platform to improve their businesses clinically and financially. We are very proud that we have a 99-percent customer retention rate, and we’re really proud that we have created the WebPT community. Together, we work on many initiatives to advance our entire industry – key initiatives like direct access, meaning that patients don’t need a physician referral; and expanding telehealth services to include telerehab options.

What made you want to jump from the world of HIE at Medicity to that of physical therapy and physician practices?
Medicity was focused on solving the problem of creating clinically connected communities in which every caregiver can securely and appropriately see the patient’s longitudinal health record. When you think about population health, spanning the continuum of care, what I was really seeing is a need to interconnect with more outpatient and post-acute locations of service, which very much included physical therapy. I had a burgeoning interest in moving beyond the traditional hospital setting and getting deeper into clinically connected communities, so it was a pretty logical jump for me.

On a personal note, I’ve seen the positive impact of physical therapy on my parents with joint replacements, and on my friends with sports injuries. I’m personally passionate about the WebPT mission, which is helping therapists achieve greatness in practice.

You’ve conveyed a love for WebPT’s workplace culture and the city of Phoenix. As the EHR industry continues to consolidate, how much emphasis should vendors place on culture when it comes to remaining competitive and attracting top talent?
I’ve always believed that culture is the foundation for being competitive. You can’t be a great, innovative, passionate company without great team members. When you think about the current business environment, competition for the best employees has never been fiercer. For us in health IT, it’s doubly challenging because we compete both within the health IT space and with the broader software industry. You take that background, and then you add in the stats around the order of magnitude difference in productivity between a good engineer and a great engineer, and I think the ability to use culture to attract, motivate, and retain the best of the best is mission critical.

From a different perspective, over time as products become more similar, customer service becomes the differentiator. You need a rock-solid culture of serving customers, which is one of our core values around creating raving fans. That really makes a sustained difference in your business and is for us why we have a 99-percent retention rate. I do have to brag a little bit on the point of culture: We’re thrilled WebPT has been recognized as a best place to work five out of the last six years. After a month-plus of being here, I can say for sure it’s vibrant culture that makes it really fun to come to work every day.

I know the company is planning a move to bigger headquarters. How do you plan on helping the company remain in expansion mode over the next several years?
One of the things that definitely attracted me to WebPT was that there are so many ways in which we can grow. Historically, we’ve done pretty well. We’ve been ranked in the Inc. 500 or 5000 each of the past four years, but you have to keep innovating to press forward. Looking ahead, we are helping our current customers with new products such as measuring the actual outcomes of the work that they do. We’re also expanding our market to serve larger organizations such as Medstar Rehabilitation Network and its 50-plus clinics. We’re supporting all of our customers in the move, of course, to value-based care including bundles for comprehensive joint replacement. There is so much opportunity for innovation on the patient engagement side as well.

Have you had a chance to talk with any end users yet? What are their thoughts on the current state of health IT?
They have all the same issues as other providers. They are struggling with revenue pressure and declining reimbursement. They need to prove their ROI through documented outcomes. They’re being prepped and they are prepping for more analytics and business intelligence. They need to connect with other providers to secure referrals and coordinate care.

Given your background, how interested are physical therapists in health information exchange?
Everyone is interested in improving the coordination of care. Certainly, being in bundles around hip and knee replacement is a big use case. Other use cases include post-discharge rehab for strokes or cardiac events. Being interconnected for sharing patient data with the entire care team is of real interest to therapists. HIEs and interoperability are a very hot topic for us. Given my background, it should come as no surprise that it’s an area you’ll see us invest in more in 2017.

How are physical therapists preparing for MACRA? Do they have unique challenges when it comes to adopting and participating in these value-based programs?
Many therapists are small, entrepreneurial businesses. They need a turn-key solution that caters to their unique workflows, which is part of what we provide. If they then ask, “How do I participate in value-based care including MACRA,” they do have a little bit more time than non-specialty physicians to come into the MACRA program, which is good because they need to prepare by aggregating their data and creating benchmarks with which to measure their outcomes.

For our larger enterprise customers, when they think about MACRA, it’s definitely about ROI and clinical outcomes. They also need insightful analytics around their total business. It’s a lot about the data. Outcomes plus analytics will give our customers the vital data they need to be successful in MACRA. It will also enable them to negotiate higher reimbursement with other payers and participation in bundles with physicians.

Do you have any final thoughts?
I’ve learned there are over 200,000 therapists today practicing in outpatient, inpatient, and post-acute settings. Given the factors we talked about earlier, projections are that it’s going to grow by 30 percent by 2024. I’m really excited to help people understand that therapists are an important and growing part of the clinical ecosystem. I’m also excited about all the opportunities to more deeply interconnect the rehab industry via HIE and interoperability with hospitals, providers, and increasingly patients in support of true population health. Most of all, I want to thank all the members of this vibrant WebPT community who have welcomed me and for their incredible support of us, of one another, and this exciting industry.


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

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