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Tag: Jonathan Bush

Heady Times for Health Care in the Cloud

In 1990, when I got my first health care job driving ambulances, not a soul in the New Orleans EMS department had a cellphone. Not even the head of the service. The mayor, his chief of staff and the police chief each had one. That was about it. These phones weighed like 15 pounds and were hardwired to a car battery. And we ambulance drivers documented our care on “run sheets” found on metal clipboards but, since so few people bothered to read them, we also wrote key vital signs and other metrics on a three-inch-wide piece of white tape smacked across the patient’s abdomen.

Today, everyone in New Orleans — and everywhere else — has a cellphone. These cellphones have the computing power to find, and add to, and direct everything that anyone would need to know about a patient anywhere in the world… but they don’t do it! Today’s “do-everything” cellphones are the size of your wallet, yet most ambulance crew run sheets are still paper, found on metal clipboards. And most good patient data is still found on those three-inch-wide pieces of tape.

Why? I’ll give you one good reason and one bad one.

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Learning Hard Lessons from the RIM Story

One of our account managers sent me a link to this open letter written by a high-level employee to the leadership of Research in Motion or RIM, makers of the BlackBerry, laying out their concerns about the company. The company faces stiff competition in the smart phone market and recently announcedplans for 2,000 layoffs.

The account manager thanked me for what I have done to lead us in a way that has avoided this fate for athenahealth. So, thanks to him.

HOWEVER, I don’t think we are totally free of all eight concerns rattled off by one anonymous OG RIMMER. Here are some of her/his pleas to management and some of my thoughts on them as they apply here at athenahealth. (If you could see our internal blog version of this post, you’d see more than a dozen thoughtful comments from athenahealth employees on how they think we can learn from this story.)

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First Meaningful Use Dollars Are Just the Start

The first of our clients just got issued his Meaningful Use check. He is Dr. Allen Ferguson, a family practice doc in Eaton, Ohio. He practices in a health professional shortage area so it was a little bigger than the $18K maximum year one payment. He was thrilled and we are thrilled for him…but not ecstatic, yet.

Unlike other companies, our goal is not and was never to build an application that could only be used to get a bonus like the Meaningful Use bonus. It is to actually GET EVERY BONUS available and every payment dollar deserved by every doc on our network.  Our mantra for each service team is this: Be the best in the world at getting docs paid for doing the right thing.

This presents a two-fold challenge in this mini-era of Meaningful Use bonus infatuation. First, we want it all, and less than all will not do.  We have guaranteed that every Medicare eligible doc on our athenaClinicals EHR service who signs up and does his or her part will in fact get it. Hence, our real measure of success is 100% of docs winning and NOT the idea that winning is possible. Second, we are committed to ensuring that every doc actually achieves the measures even though the government has taken a “don’t ask/tell” stance by requiring only that docs “attest” that they are compliant rather than show it. We can’t play that way. Since we’re on this thing called the cloud, we actually do know exactly how Meaningful Use compliant every one of our docs is and exactly what they have to do to cross the threshold to meet the definition. Continue reading…

Why CMIOs Matter, and Why We Hired One

On Monday morning, April 4, we were proud to announce that Dr. Todd Rothenhaus has come onboard here at athenahealth to serve in the role of chief medical information officer, or CMIO. It’s a new position and we’re excited he’s joined us. Among many other tasks he’ll take on, he’ll be working on various product development and physician advocacy initiatives.

So now that we’ve got one on the payroll…you might ask: what exactly is a CMIO? And why do we now have one at athenahealth?

I have always known, at a gut level, that from a sales perspective, CMIOs are more important for us to engage with early in the sales process than a traditional CIO (no offense Halamka, I still wanna be friends). In fact, we became major sponsors of CMIO magazine long before I truly appreciated the role of a CMIO!

The CMIO is almost always a doctor, but a doctor in an executive position responsible for managing the health information in a medical organization. They lead implementation of EMR and other health information technology systems. And it seems there is a Lorax element to most. Remember that Dr. Seuss favorite? Well, in the way that the Lorax speaks for the trees, the CMIOs I know speak for the other docs in their organization where management of information is concerned.Continue reading…

Jonathan Bush @HIMSS11

We caught up with always outspoken athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush backstage in Orlando.



Plug Into Meaningful Use, Don’t Try to Build It

Earlier this month I read in The New York Times (okay, someone read it to me), that hospitals and docs are saying “meaningful use” is just too much, too fast. I have to say, I would sympathize . . . if I didn’t know about the Internet!

If someone told me that the federal government was going to make (or at least ‘encourage’) everyone commute via hot-air balloon by 2011, I’d start to feel edgy right about now. How do you make or buy one? Who sells them?  What if the wind blows the wrong way?

This would be my panic—unless I knew about a little-known hot-air balloon service that DEALS with all of it. Like a taxi service. You tell it where you want to go and when and then boom! a balloon shows up piloted, prepped and ready.

Such a quandary exists in the EMR market today. Everyone thinks the government rules mean that meaningfully using electronic health information actually means meaningfully using information you BUILD YOURSELF! They think you have to buy EMRs and servers and program them to meet government rules and then re-program them to meet rule changes. This would give me hives, even if I were a giant health system. Even systems with big budgets don’t have a comparative advantage in programming software!Continue reading…