Arguably, the biggest news story coming out of HIMSS last month was the announcement of the CommonWell Health Alliance – a vendor-led initiative to enable query-based, clinical data sharing. So much has been written about CommonWell that there is little need to rehash what has been said before.
What has not been said, or at least has been sensationalized nearly to the point of irrelevance is the whole controversy surrounding Epic and how they were not invited to join the CommonWell Alliance until after the announcement. None other than Epic’s own founder and CEO, Judy Faulkner, has gone on record stating the Epic was unaware of CommonWell prior to the announcement. Faulkner has gone on to question the motives of CommonWell, in an effort to subvert it, in her highly influential role on the Dept of Health & Human Services HIT workgroup committee.
That was the last straw.
It is one thing to moan and groan at the HIT love fest that is HIMSS, where vendors commonly discount the announcements of competitors. But it is quite another thing to be a part of a highly influential body that is defining nationwide HIT policy and make the same claims over again, especially when they are frankly not true.
Recognition of medical banking, or the convergence of banking and health IT, is gaining ground. Yet, of the many ideas evolving from this unique and growing cross-industry area, none may have more impact than using banking identity and access management systems for healthcare. By using “digital keys” offered by banks, the patient could gain a solution for securely accessing his or her electronic health records and much more. I want to share four compelling reasons for why I think banks can offer digital keys for healthcare:
1. Innovations in Banking and Health IT Are Ripe for Collaboration
Cost and convenience is driving new forms of efficiency in payment processing and this is driving banks further into the health IT arena. For example, medical banking innovations have helped one healthcare system move 4 million “explanation of benefits” (EOBs) from paper to digital processing, providing a conservative annual savings of $2 per form, or $8 million. Both providers and consumers have less paper to manage when following the digital approach.
2. Banks Have Addressed Identity Theft; Healthcare Desperately Needs a Solution for Medical Identity Theft
In 2006, the World Privacy Forum declared medical identity theft as the fastest-growing form of identity theft. Move ahead to 2010 when, according to the Ponemon Institute , more than 1.4 million people were victimized by medical identity theft, and the average cost to resolve their cases totaled about $20,000. Over half reported having to pay for medical coverage they did not receive to restore their health coverage. In fact, nearly one third indicated their health premiums increased after they were victimized.
At HIMSS, I met with many healthcare CIOs as a part of CHIME focus groups to discuss their readiness for ICD-10. One area we explored was the impact of the delay. Most were a bit frustrated by the delay because they had committed the resources and money to an ICD-10 transition plan which was well underway. In some instances CIOs estimated they had expended at least 50 percent of the effort required to meet the compliance deadline. In fact, in one of the focus groups, 10 out of 12 participating CIOs said the delay will be more harmful than helpful. I heard two main reasons for this position:
1. Cost: Hospitals have already committed the resources and budget to transition to ICD-10, and now they will have to continue that effort for a longer period of time.
2. Engagement: It’s harder to engage staff around the importance of clinical documentation and coder education when the media is saying “delay, delay, delay” – it makes it difficult for leaders to convince providers and other stakeholders that it’s a critical priority.
A survey conducted by Edifecs validates this sentiment – 90 percent of healthcare professionals believe that the deadline should not be moved more than a year. Fifty-six percent said that a two-year delay would be “potentially catastrophic.”
However, for smaller physician practices, the delay likely has the opposite impact – more help than harm. Many of these practices were struggling to understand the impact of ICD-10 and find the resources to prepare for the October 2013 deadline. A delay gives them more time to put a plan in place, improve clinical documentation, and ensure they can get reimbursed for services.
Last week was the massive Salesforce.com user conference Dreamforce (massive in that there were more attendees at Dreamforce then this year’s HIMSS!). We’ve been reviewing more than a few articles and writings written by those who attended the event. In the few short years of its existence (~13yrs) Salesforce.com has become one of the leading Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vendors in the market and basically pushed the previous leader Siebel to the brink and into the arms of Oracle. Salesforce is arguably the leader in the Software as a Service (SaaS) market and thus someone to pay close attention to on all things “Cloud Computing.”
So what makes Salesforce.com so compelling and what are some parallels to the healthcare sector?
Similar Market Demographics: From the beginning Salesforce has always been structured as a SaaS and targeted the hard to reach and highly distributed sales forces of companies of all sizes. Actually, they first targeted the small to medium business (SMB) market and once successful there, went after Siebel in big enterprises. In healthcare, the vast majority of care is provided by small, 1-3 physician practices that are highly distributed across the country – perfect target for a hosted SaaS offering.
This years HIMSS drew the largest crowd in history (31,000). That should be a tip off that something is going on. That something is the national drive for health IT launched by the Obama administration with a whole boatload of ARRA stimulus money being paid out starting this year.
Health Information Exchange (HIE)
While the evolving meaningful use standards for Electronic medical records remained a logical focus for many vendors and the subject of a mindblowing number of panels, there is a sense that the conversation is moving to the world of health information exchanges (HIE). As always, there is spirited disagreement about exactly how the term of the hour should be defined (see the debate over just what exactly the term Health 2.0 means for an example of a good controversy). Is health information exchange a central database, kind of like the old Community Health Information Network. Is it a new peer to peer network, linking hospitals and health systems in a more useful and fundamentally practical way? Or is it about a new economic model, based on the business models that go along with the free flow of clinical data. We heard the term Accountable Care Organization a lot! Or – more likely – a little bit of all of the above? See Mark Frisse’s excellent blog post on THCB for an in depth look.
Sure, nobody has yet come up with the world changing, completely disruptive, industry transforming Facebook for doctors that some pundits had predicted, but there are signs we’re getting closer. Lots of people are trying and social network-ish features are everywhere, with vendors giving their systems the ability to communicate with the outside world. That includes some of the “traditional” EMR vendors like Allscripts that are now linking their users.Continue reading…
Over a 1,000 exhibitors, some 30,000+ attendees and I come away from HIMSS, again, thinking is this all there is? Where is the innovation that the Obama administration i.e., Sec. Sebellius and Dr. Blumenthal both touted in their less than inspiring keynotes on Wednesday morn? Maybe I had my blinders on, maybe I was looking in the wrong places but honestly, outside of the expected, we now have an iPad App for that type of innovation where nearly every EHR vendor has an iPad App for the EHR, or will be realeasing such this year, I just didn’t see anything that really caught my attention. But then again, looking over my posts from previous HIMSS (this was my fourth), maybe my expectations need a serious reset and it would be wise of me to read this post next year before I get on the plane to Las Vegas and HIMSS’12.
Prior to HIMSS I participated in a webinar put on by mobihealthnews (BTW, Brian at mobi has a good article on some of those mobile apps being rolled out at HIMSS this year). My role in this webinar was to give an overview of what one might expect at HIMSS’11. Having weathered the last two HIMSS and the major hype in ’09 about Meaningful Use and ’10 when HIEs were all the rage, this year I predicted that the big hype would be around ACOs. Much to my surprise such was not the case.
For the uninitiated, every year HIMSS runs a big huge trade show for EHR and HIT vendors, which is to the HIT industry what Oscar night is to Hollywood. No, HIMSS does not award any prizes or trophies, but it occasions the same breath taking congregation of all industry glitterati in one place, complete with clever little parties and big extravagant shows. There were well over 30,000 people at this year’s HIMSS11 conference, and although I wasn’t one of them, I made sure to follow the events through the steady Twitter stream and many excellent blogs, reports and interviews, because what happens at HIMSS is good indication for what the HIT industry is doing and where it is going. So to summarize all the excitement, the established HIT folks are doing Meaningful Use, which has become yesterday’s news, with HIE being the next project on the books. Everything is being pushed to tablets and the cutting edge innovations are all about a myriad of small Mobile Health (mHealth) applications. Analytics and business intelligence is looming large on a horizon filled with provider consolidation, capitation and value-based medicine.
On the surface, this seems a very logical succession of events. Meaningful Use is collecting data, HIE will make it liquid and, as predicted, 1000 flowers of innovative mobile applications will eventually be blooming to bring the liquid data to consumers and innovators who will slice and dice it to provide us all with unimaginable medical utility. However, in the excitement of anticipation on those balmy Florida nights, it is easy to overlook the fact that this entire chain of events is based on one assumption: somewhere, somehow, someone will have to enter data into the system, consistently, accurately and in minute detail. For free. Is there a problem here?Continue reading…
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