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From the PRM Pro: Top 5 Technological Advances Improving Primary Care Communication

December 14, 2017 News 1 Comment

Top 5 Technological Advances Improving Primary Care Communication
By Jim Higgins

The relationship between a patient and their providers is the foundation upon which great healthcare is built. Strong patient relationships not only lead to higher ratings for physicians, but better outcomes for patients. Such widespread integration of technology in the healthcare world inevitably has an impact on the patient management of every practice—no matter the size. Technology is often painted as a cold, unemotional process that distances us from those around us. Because of this, many practices are hesitant to take advantage of the benefits it provides. Fortunately, however, nothing could be further from the truth. As noted in this article, multiple studies have shown that patients not only tolerate, but actually prefer medical practices that take advantage of modern technology.

The successful implementation of any healthcare technology is dependent on choosing the right technology. Practices must find ways to keep the human touch when using technology to connect with patients. Communication is one of the most important aspects of the patient-provider relationship. Technology should enhance, not take away, from patient communication. The following are five technological advancements that improve communication and help you meet your patient relationship goals.

Automation of communication. It can be challenging to communicate with patients at the right pace. You don’t want to under-communicate, but patients may not want you to over-communicate either. Automating communication allows you to ensure you have critical touch points while being considerate of patient preferences. Touch points such as appointment reminders, recall messages, birthday messages, and post-visit feedback can all be automated. Automation may seem like it eliminates the personal feel that is so important in healthcare, but the opposite is actually true. Automation ensures that no one will be forgotten. Messages can be crafted in such a way that they still provide that warm, friendly feel. And, finally, the pace can be set to consider the patient’s preferences.

Customized, on-going education. A critical method of ensuring positive health outcomes is on-going education. Every practice should send out regular newsletters and emails sharing health tips with patients. Customization of this on-going education can lead to even better results. Modern technology allows practices to group patients based on varying criteria. For instance, if you have a group of patients who all have diabetes, you can send out specific educational pieces on diabetes to only these patients. By making your educational pieces more targeted, you significantly increase the odds that patients will comply.

Online self-scheduling. Implementing self-service options gives patients more control over their healthcare, and improves patient satisfaction and health outcomes. One of the most effective self-service options is online self-scheduling. An Accenture survey noted that 77 percent of patients say that being able to schedule appointments online is important to them. Not surprisingly, it is expected that by 2019, around 66 percent of practices will offer online self- scheduling. This capability gives patients control over when and where they schedule an appointment. If an issue arises at 7pm, patients no longer have to wait until the next day to see if they can be fit in for an appointment. Their likelihood to return to a practice improves.

Digital Check-In. The growth of check-in tablets and kiosks has exploded. Self-service kiosks have become a regular feature in a variety of industries including retail, travel, entertainment, finance, and others. Healthcare is no exception. Kiosks give patients a sense of control. Seventy-five percent of patients in a recent study found that using a kiosk for check-in was faster than going through the receptionist. The majority wanted to use one again. Kiosks enable patients to save time and update information easily in a way that is comfortable and familiar to them. 

Telehealth. Studies consistently show the benefits of telehealth. One of the greatest advantages is the increased access to care for those in areas with a shortage of healthcare professionals – a phenomenon that is becoming all too common in rural parts of the country that already face a physician shortage.

Providing excellent healthcare depends on many factors, one of which is the ability to maintain strong, healthy relationships with patients. Beyond insurance affiliation, office location, and academic credentials, patients are looking for ways to connect with their provider. Technology provides the tools necessary to do just that.

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Jim Higgins is the CEO and founder of Solutionreach in Lehi, UT.


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News 12/13/17

December 13, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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Greenway Health will lay off 120 employees when it closes offices in Atlanta and Carrollton, GA in January. The closures are part of a corporate overhaul that includes moving operations to its Tampa facility and streamlining software. The news is somewhat contrary to its initial October announcement, which claimed that customer support and revenue services would be maintained at its Carrollton location.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Announcements and Implementations

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Community health provider Alivio Medical Center joins VillageMD’s network in Chicago.

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Mental health provider Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services (NJ) deploys GoMo Health’s Every Day Matters Personal Concierge patient engagement messaging, including appointment reminders and educational content. GoMo Health was launched as a division of commerce and engagement company Gold Mobile in 2014.

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Beneufit adds medication management and symptom tracking tools to its cycling exercise app for Parkinson’s patients. A 2015 pilot study conducted by the San Francisco startup with a local fitness club found participants experienced a 25-percent improvement in manual dexterity and a 38-percent improvement in fitness levels.

CareCloud adds a MIPS dashboard to its EHR to help physicians track and report MIPS Quality, Advanced Care Information, and Improvement Activities measures.


People

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Community Health Accreditation Partner promotes Barbara McCann to president and CEO. The nonprofit accrediting agency works with public health, home health, and hospice providers; as well as home medical equipment companies.

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DocuTap names Matt Blosl (Tongal) chief revenue officer, Monte Sandler (NextGen) EVP of RCM, and Adam Steinberg (NextGen) SVP of account management.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Provider reputation management company Doctor.com merges with marketing automation competitor Connect Healthcare. Connect Healthcare President Noel Coleman will assume the role of president of enterprise solutions at the newly combined, Atlanta-based company.

In an effort to expand its healthcare customer base, High Point Technology Group acquires TechForceIT, which provides managed health IT services to physician practices in the Houston area.


Government and Politics

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Sixteen HHS officials from across the department – including Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan, CMS Administrator Seems Verma, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD Surgeon General Jerome Adams, MD and National Coordinator Don Rucker, MD – convene to discuss their ongoing work to combat the opioid epidemic. Attendees shared updates and plans for coordinating programs across the department.

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Just in time for holiday shopping season, the FTC warns consumers to consider the privacy (or lack thereof) implications of at-home DNA testing kits. I admit privacy wasn’t top of mind when I purchased a kit from 23andMe last year as a Christmas gift for my genealogy-crazy mother. A quick peek at the company’s privacy guidelines doesn’t raise any red flags, though I suppose in these days and times every company runs the risk of being hacked.


Other

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The power of social media: Researchers determine that a skin cancer patient’s viral selfie prompted near record-breaking levels of online searches about skin cancer and prevention. Kentucky nurse Tawny Willoughby’s 2015 Facebook post generated 50 shares, 161 news reports, and several days’ worth of Google searches that were 162 percent higher than typical search volumes – all of which hopefully resulted in Googlers avoiding tanning beds and taking sun safety precautions.

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This article highlights the amusing ways in which physician fatigue (particularly physician mom fatigue) can manifest itself.


Sponsor Updates

  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the New York Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy 41st Annual New York Course December 14-15 in New York City.
  • Technology Headlines Magazine names Intelligent Medical Objects CEO Frank Naeymi-Rad one of the 50 Most Admired CEOs of 2017.

Blog Posts


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News 12/12/17

December 12, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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An AMA survey of 1,300 physicians finds that 83 percent have experienced a cyberattack, with top types being phishing, malware/viruses, and inappropriate employee access. Other findings of interest:

  • Most practices experienced no more than four hours of downtime.
  • Top responses to an attack include notifying internal IT groups and employees, followed by implementing policies and procedures.
  • Nearly half of respondents have in-house security officials, which makes me wonder about the effectiveness of employee training and safeguards at the 83 percent referenced above.
  • Practices rely on cybersecurity training content developed by their health IT vendors.
  • Physicians believe their cybersecurity confidence would most be enhanced by cyber hygiene tips and easily understood HIPAA training.

Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Announcements and Implementations

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The Medical Society of New Jersey launches a statewide HIE dubbed OneHealth New Jersey. The society relied on Kammco Health Solutions to develop and implement the new HIE. Kammco has helped with similar efforts in Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and South Carolina.

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The Morag Consulting Group updates its Solismed clinic management system to include a patient portal, secure messaging, and e-prescribing capabilities from Weno Exchange.

The New York eHealth Collaborative, managing organization for the Statewide Health Information Network for New York, taps HealthEC to develop and implement its MIPS registry and reporting service.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, FL, RCM-focused Infinity Behavioral Health Services buys Kingston, NY-based competitor Health Assets Management.

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Clinicient acquires Austin, TX-based patient engagement company Keet. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Portland-based Clinicient will integrate Keet’s platform, which includes digital care plans and secure messaging, with its EHR, PM, and billing technology for outpatient rehab providers.

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Atlanta-based physician scheduling software company QGenda acquires competitor Tangier for an undisclosed sum. Tangier’s assets will bring software for urgent care providers to QGenda’s enterprise-focused product line.


People

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After 13 years as HealthlinkNY president and CEO, Christina Galanis will step down at the end of the year to become president of Womba, a consumer-focused health data aggregator based in Queens, NY. HealthlinkNY SVP Staci Romeo will assume the role of interim executive director.


Government and Politics

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The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Medical Group becomes the first military healthcare facility in Ohio to join a civilian HIE. The medical group, which serves 58,000 patients, began phasing in Ohio Health Information Partnership capabilities in 2015.


Other

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If you want a good laugh: A British GP takes lighthearted issue with the children’s program Peppa Pig and its depiction of easy (and often unnecessary) access to general practitioners – a portrayal she believes might be giving youngsters unrealistic healthcare expectations. She chides Dr. Brown Bear for caving in to the medicinal requests of an ailing three year-old piglet, and making a home visit – in an ambulance – after Pedro the pony coughs three times. She also finds evidence of physician burnout: “His disregard for confidentiality, parental consent, record keeping, and his self prescribing indicate that the burden of demand from his patient population is affecting his health,” she writes. “He is no longer able to offer the level of service his patients have come to expect.”


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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News 12/11/17

December 11, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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21st Century Oncology again finds itself in hot water: The chain of treatment centers faces a lawsuit that claims the company illegally paid bonuses to physicians who referred patients to testing labs owned by the company. The lawsuit, recently unsealed, was filed last year by former 21st Century Oncology Interim VP of Financial Planning Matthew Moore, who after comparing physician salaries and bonuses with billings, found an $8.7 million discrepancy.

The Fort Myers, FL-based company, which has agreed to settle for $26 million, hasn’t had much positive press of late. It filed for bankruptcy six months ago, and suffered a 2016 data breach that exposed over 2 million records and led to 13 federal class action lawsuits.


HIStalk Practice Musings

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This past weekend saw my neck of the woods inundated with up to 13 inches of pretty/destructive snow. My neighborhood in particular saw nine-plus inches, multiple trees (and fences) felled, and power outages that crossed the 24-hour mark. It’s certainly the first time in my living memory that I can recall getting this much snow in December, and it’s definitely made me aware of the emergency supplies I need to have on hand for severe weather events. Friends in northern climes, what items do you make sure to have on hand during winter storms? I couldn’t help but marvel that we were dealing with such unexpected wintry conditions while folks in California were dealing with devastating wild fires.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Announcements and Implementations

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Solutionreach announces SR Schedule, which allows physician practices to offer the patients easy self-scheduling.

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Rennova Health’s Medical Mime subsidiary updates its M2Select EHR to offer practice staff and behavioral healthcare providers more efficient management of patient forms.

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Bedford, MA-based Progress launches a HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based platform for health app development and EHR integration.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Eye care physician services organization EyeSouth Partners adds Georgia Ophthalmology Associates to its network of 30 providers working at 20 locations across Georgia. Backed by private equity firm Shore Capital Partners, EyeSouth provides affiliated practices with working capital, operating strategy and resources, and IT expertise.


People

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Relapse prevention technology company Chess Mobile Health rebrands to Chess Health and names Hans Morefield (Experian Health) CEO. Former CEO Chris Wilkins will transition to an advisory role as the company expands its offerings to include analytics and benchmarking.


Government and Politics

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HHS announces the three winning teams of its first opioid-focused code-a-thon, each of which received $10,000. The winning Opioid Prescriber Awareness Tool may be of the most interest to physicians. Developed as part of the competition’s usage track, it provides visual representations of physician prescribing patterns for a given area – particularly useful for referring physicians who want to avoid sending their patients to colleagues who may be a little too quick to write an opioid script.


Telemedicine

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The Community Health & Wellness Center of Greater Torrington (CT) will use a $1 million loan from New York-based Primary Care Development Corp. to expand its use of telemedicine, particularly for pain management patients; to hire additional staff, and add more educational programs. The center’s spending plans are part of an overall initiative to integrate behavioral health with primary care services.


Research and Innovation

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A new MGMA poll finds that 83 percent of 409 respondents have implemented stricter opioid prescription protocols, primarily as a result of increases in opioid abuse, regulatory changes, and new guidelines. It would be interesting to find out if there’s any correlation between physicians who have tightened up protocols and their level of access to/utilization of a PDMP.


Other

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A Malwarebytes report deems hackers to be modern-day mafioso, categorizing them into four groups – hackers-for-hire, ideological hackers, state-sponsored hackers, and traditional gangs. (I can’t quite wrap my head around the cyber version of a Jets versus Sharks showdown.) The “new cyber mafia,” as the report calls the perpetrators, helped cyberattacks increase 23 percent over 2016. Ransomware attacks increased by 62 percent for the first 10 months of the year.

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A trip to the gas station turns into an unexpected labor of love for obstetrician Javier Soto, MD. On his way to deliver a baby at nearby Rockledge Regional Medical Center (FL), Soto was waylaid in the parking lot by a frantic father-to-be whose wife was already in labor. Soto delivered the baby in the car using scissors, food prep gloves from the gas station, and the father’s shoelace. He then followed the new family to Rockledge for follow-up, and to deliver the initial reason for his trip.


Sponsor Updates

  • Nordic releases a new podcast, “Consolidating your EHR after a merger or acquisition.”

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 12/7/17

December 7, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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Mecklenburg County officials in North Carolina begin restoring data from backup servers after being hit with a ransomware attack likely perpetrated by hackers from Iran or the Ukraine. The attack spread to 48 of the county’s 500 servers after an employee clicked on a malicious link in an email. Officials did not pay the requested $23,000 in bitcoin. They are focusing initial restoration efforts on HHS, courts, and Land Use and Environmental Services data.

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In discussing the breach at a news conference, county manager Dena Diorio explained that, “It was going to take almost as long to fix the system after paying the ransom as it does to fix it ourselves. And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix.”


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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New York City-based patient billing startup Cedar raises $13 million in a Series A funding round with participation from Founders Fund, Thrive Capital, Martin Ventures, and SV Angel.


Announcements and Implementations

Gunjan Raina, MD opens an MDVIP practice in Baton Rouge, LA. The concierge practice management company now has 25 locations in Louisiana.


People

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Echo Health Ventures adds Patrick Conway, MD (Blue Cross NC) to its Board of Directors.


Government and Politics

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Nevada health officials explain the state’s forthcoming opioid prescription law to 200 physicians. Set to take effect on January 1, the law will require physicians to register with the state’s PDMP and conduct mental health evaluations before issuing opioid prescriptions, which can initially only last for up to 14 days. Some in the audience were concerned that patients would bypass PCPs in favor of pain management providers, which are already overwhelmed.

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The FDA issues draft guidance for clinical and patient decision-support software.

West Virginia State Medical Association President Brad Henry, MD wants benzodiazepines added to the list of drugs physicians must check the state’s PDMP for before issuing prescriptions. Physicians are only required to check for chronic pain medications, though drugs like Xanax and Valium often show up in toxicology reports related to  fatal opioid overdoses. The state ranks first in the nation for number of benzo prescriptions – a situation Henry believes would be ameliorated with the PDMP revamp.


Telemedicine

Teladoc turns its attention from Texas to North Dakota, where the North Dakota Board of Medicine is considering a rule that would require the equivalent of an in-person visit for a patient’s first telemedicine appointment. Equivalents would include video conferencing or an initial in-person visit with an NP or PA. Teladoc opposes such a rule, which would preclude the use of phone calls.

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In Alaska, Capstone Clinic opens a telemedicine clinic and kiosk service in downtown Anchorage’s 5th Avenue Mall that will connect shoppers with its physicians at its East Anchorage facility.

A new study shows that telemedicine tops the list of technologies most likely to positively impact the workers’ compensation industry. AI, mobile tech, wearables, and chatbots followed at significantly lower percentages.

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Miami-based EpicMD raises $3 million in Series A funding led by Sagemoore Capital.


Other

Physicians prepare to publish their observations of US embassy employees who may have been subject to sonic attacks while working in Cuba. Twenty four Americans reported hearing strange noises followed by unexplained illnesses like nausea, vertigo, loss of hearing or sight, or the inability to recall certain words. Physicians have found physical changes in the brains of those affected, and will likely continue to monitor them for the rest of their lives.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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