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A Shout Out to Our Sponsors

By THCBist

THCB thanks our corporate supporters 

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At Kareo, we believe in small practices. We know small practices can do big things, as long as they have the right tools and support. That’s where our cloud-based software and services come in. These solutions are helping more than 25,000 providers succeed. And we’d like to help you, too.

We’ve built our products and services with three key things in mind. First, they’re easy to use. Whether you’re experienced, inexperienced, tech-savvy or not, you’ll appreciate the simplicity and smart design of our software. Second, it’s all integrated. We’ve developed solutions for your three biggest administrative challenges — EHR, practice management and billing — that all work similarly and talk to one another seamlessly. You can use one or all of them, it’s up to you. And finally, it’s affordable. We offer fixed fees, a free EHR, and no long-term commitments. It doesn’t get much easier than that. It’s all part of our commitment to helping you succeed.

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How Hard is it to ‘Get My Health Data’?

“We the people want easy, electronic access to our health information.”

That’s the seemingly simple objective for supporters of Get My Health Data, a new initiative organized by former National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, MD.

Folks like ePatientDave, Regina Holliday, and other patient advocates have spent years fighting for better patient access to health data, but support for the movement has reached new heights, thanks to recently proposed changes to the meaningful use program.

In April, CMS stirred up the patient data access hornets’ nest by proposing a modification to the Stage 2 meaningful use requirement that 5 percent of a provider’s patient population views, downloads, or transmits their online health information.

Many providers thought the bar was too high because few patients were interested in accessing their health information online. CMS responded to provider concerns by reducing the threshold from 5 percent to one single patient.

The proposal caused a bit of an uproar as patient advocates decried that one patient was not enough. Mostashari quickly called for a “day of action” to show opposition to the proposed changes.

Earlier this month Mostashari expanded on the plans for the renamed “Data Independence Day,” scheduled for the fourth of July. Organizers are hoping that the one day event will actually spur a larger movement with consumers demanding access to their health data. The intent is to demonstrate to lawmakers, providers, and other decision makers that people do care about electronic access to their health information.

The Get My Health Data movement is asking consumers to sign a petition demanding convenient, secure online access to their health data. In addition, the organization is looking for patients to serve as “tracers” by requesting access to their records and reporting on the response.

I was curious how my family’s doctors would comply with such a request, so I reached out to four of them. Here’s how it went:

Primary care physician. My family practice is part of a large group that utilizes Epic’s MyChart patient portal. I accessed the portal and was able to easily view and download my health summary in a format that was very user-friendly. This is how it the process should work.
Specialist #1. My gastroenterologist uses gMed EHR and its gPortal. I accessed the portal and easily pulled up my health summary. While it included basic details on my health history, it lacked a few critical elements, such as diagnostic test results. I had the option to email a copy of my medical summary to anyone I chose, as long as they used a secure email with a Direct protocol address. I was also able to download the summary but it came over as a .XML file that was nearly impossible to decipher. I messaged the practice about getting a more user-friendly version of my records and received a quick reply that they could either mail me a hard copy or I could pick up a copy in person. Unfortunately there was no option for a more complete electronic version. All and all this practice came close to delivering what I needed and they get bonus points for being so responsive.
Specialist #2. My daughter’s endocrinologist uses the Medfusion portal. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say they have the portal installed but it’s obviously underutilized. There is no option for accessing medical histories, though you could request lab results or medication refills, as well as pay bills online. You can send a message, so I sent a note asking for an electronic copy of my daughter’s records. I wasn’t optimistic I would get a response since I have sent them five messages over the last year, none of which appear to have been opened, much less replied to (I ended up calling.) It’s been four days since I requested the records and so far no response. I’m calling this a failure.
Specialist #3. Basically ditto to Specialist #2. Nothing is available online and no one responds to my messages.

My takeaways:

The technology exists to provide patients with easy online access to their medical data.
Some providers are a little behind on the technology curve but making good progress.

Shame on providers that implement technology to engage patients and then abandon the project. Patients like me use the online messaging option either because the office is not opened at an hour convenient to me, or because I am avoiding a confusing phone system – which never connects me to a live person.

Everyone should take 30 seconds and sign the Get My Health Data petition. We all deserve easier and less frustrating access to our health information.

Michelle Ronan Noteboom specializes in healthcare IT communications, marketing, and strategy. She spent seven years as an independent contributor for HIStalk and HIStalk Practice writing under the name “Inga” and as a freelance writer for various publications and health IT vendors.

This post originally appeared on Healthcare IT News.

HIT Newser: CMS & AMA Agree to be Odd ICD-10 Bedfellows

CMS agrees to first-year flexibility in ICD-10 claims processing

CMS releases guidance that will allow for flexibility in the claims auditing and quality reporting process for the new ICD-10 codeset. CMS will keep the October 1 deadline for the transition, but adopt four AMA-proposed steps that include: an agreement that claims lacking specificity will not be denied; an easing of quality reporting and other penalties due to improper coding; an agreement to authorize advance payments to physicians if contractors are unable to process claims; and, the addition of an ICD-10 Ombudman to navigate transition problems.

CMS seemingly recognized that unless some concessions were made, the AMA and other ICD-10 critics would continue to fight for another delay. Maybe now everyone will stay focused and get ready for the inevitable.

HealthStream CEO shares his wealth with employees

HealthStream CEO Bobby Frist gives about 600 of his employees $1.5 million of his personal stock. All of the employees are non-executives and will be given stock that is worth between $300 and $10,000, depending on the employees’ tenure and role.

Frist gets my vote for boss of the year. What a way to boost employee morale and build loyalty.Continue reading…

HIT Newser: ACA upheld – Can We Talk Health IT Now?

AMGA requests funds and policies to support care for chronically ill

In a letter to members of the Senate Finance Committee Chronic Care Workgroup, the AMGA asks Congress to consider policies and financial and operational technologies that support care for the chronically ill. The AMGA stressed that clinical data from EHRs and details from administrative claims are valuable for analyzing trends on utilization and outcomes.

The AMGA supports the development and use of sophisticated predictive analytic software that have the potential to improve care coordination, cut hospital re-admissions, and reduce the overall cost of patient care. The organization is also encouraging the use of telehealth to care for the chronically ill, as well as financial incentives to encourage provider investment in care management tools.

And now back to us

On the heels of the Supreme Court ruling on the ACA, several health IT organizations express hope that Congress will renew its focus on interoperability, telehealth, Meaningful Use, and other HIT-related issues. Politico reports that Health IT Now Coalition executive Joel White is hoping for a “continued bipartisan focus on interoperability and telemedicine,” while HIMSS believes the decision will create more predictability in the healthcare sector, which may facilitate the advancement of its IT agenda.

It’s great to be optimistic, but I’m sure no one will be shocked if lawmakers find alternative distractions.

Continue reading…

HIT Newser: Prison time for HITECH fraud

CVS Health acquires Target’s healthcare biz

CVS Health will pay $1.9 billion to acquire Target’s healthcare businesses, including 1,600 pharmacies and 80 MinuteClinic health clinics.

CVS Health also just opened its Boston-based Digital Innovation Lab, which will focus on developing cutting-edge digital services and personalized capabilities that offer an accessible and integrated personal pharmacy and health experience.

CVS is making big strides to position itself as both a digital innovator and major provider of primary care services. Look for them to continue to build on existing partnerships with regional health systems. What’s next – maybe more integration of its health apps into EMRs, patient portals, and HIEs?

Former hospital CFO sentenced to prison for attestation fraud

Joe White, the former CFO of Shelby Regional Medical Center in Texas, is sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for falsely attesting that the hospital was a meaningful user of EHR. White was also ordered to pay almost $4.5 million in restitution to Medicare’s EHR Incentive program. Continue reading…

The M Word

Insurance carriers large and small have started submitting premium hikes for the next 12 months for approval by federal and state officials. The picture is not pretty particularly for companies that sell the new plans designed under the Affordable Care Act. Those premiums are destined to climb 40 percent or more in some states in 2016.

Health insurance companies are getting squeezed as spending goes up and not enough young, healthy people enroll and pay premiums. As result, healthcare premiums, co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket co-insurance costs for individuals, employers and taxpayers will continue to soar ever-higher.

Estimates are that the ACA will add between $140 billion and $500 billion to the deficit over the first decade of the law’s existence. That’s because more will be spent on Medicaid and subsidies than is found in cost savings to healthcare. All truth be told, the ACA did nothing substantive to ensure healthcare cost savings.

Continue reading…

HIT Newser: We Need Interoperability, Says HELP

Judy Faulkner pledges to donate her wealth

Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner announces plans to give away 99% of her estimated $2.3 billion wealth to charity. Faulkner joins 136 other individuals and families in the Giving Pledge, which was launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage billionaires to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

What’s not to like about that? Good to know that if Epic wins the $11 billion bid for the VA’s EHR system, some of the government’s money will eventually trickle back down to charity.

Are EHRs creating disparity in care?

A study from Weill Cornell Medical College looks at “systematic differences” between physicians who participated in the Meaningful Use program and those who did not, noting that the differences “could lead to disparities in care.”

The researchers suggest that providers participating in the MU program may provide higher quality care to their patients as physicians using paper records “have less reliable documentation and weaker communication” between providers and won’t benefit from EHR-enabled quality improvements.

I suspect that physicians relying on paper records would balk at the suggestion that the care they provide is inferior to their more digitally-equipped peers. However, it’s hard not believe that the overall care process would be enhanced if all providers could electronically share critical patient information.

News Flash: Government is wasteful in its spending

The Government Accountability Office releases a report calling for urgent action on federal IT Continue reading…

HIT Newser: Will Stage 3 Meaningful Use Be Delayed?

CMS Releases Final Update to ACO Program

CMS releases a final rule updating the Medicare Shared Savings Program, which includes a new higher-risk, higher-reward Track 3 option; streamlines data sharing between CMS and ACOs; and adds a requirement that ACOs applying for the program describe how they will promote the use of health IT to boost care coordination.

Organizations Urge Stage 3 Delay

The AMA and MGMA join the AHA and CHIME in calling for a delay in finalizing Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements. The current version is largely viewed as too burdensome for providers with the potential to impede the use of health IT to improve quality and efficiency.

Quite simply, Stage 3 will not be successful without provider buy-in. There have been delays before; look for another oneContinue reading…

Creative Minds: Building a Better Electronic Health Record

Is 5 too few and 40 too many? That’s one of many questions that researcher David Chan is asking about the clinical reminders embedded into those electronic health record (EHR) systems increasingly used at your doctor’s office or local hospital. Electronic reminders, which are similar to the popups that appear when installing software on your computer, flag items for healthcare professionals to consider when they are seeing patients. Depending on the type of reminder used in the EHR—and there are many types—these timely messages may range from a simple prompt to write a prescription to complex recommendations for follow-up testing and specialist referrals.

Chan became interested in this topic when he was a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where he experienced the challenges of seeing many patients and keeping up with a deluge of health information in a primary-care setting. He had to write prescriptions, schedule lab tests, manage chronic conditions, and follow up on suggested lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and smoking cessation. In many instances, he says electronic reminders eased his burden and facilitated his efforts to provide high quality care to patients.

Still, Chan was troubled by the lack of quantitative evidence Continue reading…

An Interview with BID-Plymouth CIO Ron Rutherford and Clinical Informatics Nurse Jean Marie Grupillion

An Interview with BID-Plymouth CIO Ron Rutherford and Clinical Informatics Nurse Jean Marie Grupillion

Michelle Noteboom: Give me a bit of background on your hospital.

Ron Rutherford: Jordan Hospital is a 100-plus-year-old, 155-bed community hospital that was acquired and became a part of the Beth Israel Deaconess Health System in January of 2014. We’re a full-service community hospital serving approximately 200,000 residents in eleven communities. There are few healthcare services we don’t provide.

MN: You recently implemented the Voalte smartphone solution. What led you to seek a new communication platform?

RR: We recognized the need for our clinical users to communicate in the most efficient way possible, and we were aware of some technology tools that could make that happen. We also needed to make sure the solution was secure and HIPAA-compliant.Continue reading…