Health IT

Health IT Taking Flight–What Is in Store for the Year Ahead

January 25, 2012, 3:34 pm
Dr. Farzad Mostashari / National Coordinator for Health Information Technology
Earlier this month, I wrote about some of the most important and notable highlights in the world of health IT and ONC over the past year. The achievements of 2011 built on hard work and progress, which has been underway for many years.The HITECH Act is helping to accelerate this momentum—like a turbocharger in a racecar.

As we start the New Year, I am excited about what the future holds and want to share what I see as five big health IT trends for the year to come.

Meaningful Use Takes Off. We sometimes refer to the stages of Meaningful Use as an escalator because it will get more rigorous and sophisticated over time. We might equally call it the necessary foundation upon which to build a truly 21st Century health system where care is better coordinated, patient-centered, safer, and where we pay for the right care, not just more care. Successfully attesting to Meaningful Use will not by itself achieve these goals, but it does help ensure providers have the right information at the right time so patients get the right care.

Health Information Exchange Turns a Corner. A key element of the Meaningful Use roadmap is the electronic exchange of important clinical information. With the foundation we have built in Stage 1, increasingly rigorous health information exchange requirements in Stage 2 and payment reform as a constant drumbeat, I think exchange will take off in 2012.Connecting the Dots on Health IT and Payment Reform. It is widely recognized that fee-for-service payment for health care tends to reward volume while providing little incentive to furnish care in ways that drive toward improved health outcomes or efficiency. All that is changing before our eyes as more health systems move away from fee-for-service and toward payment models that incentivize care coordination, quality improvement, prevention, and more efficient use of resources. New payment models, such as accountable care organizations, patient-centered medical homes, bundled payments, and quality measurement/improvement initiatives may seem disconnected from each other, but they all have a common denominator: Success depends on better information about each patient’s health needs than paper records can provide.

Consumers Use eHealth to Get More Involved. I believe this year we will see consumers and patients use information technology to become better informed about their health and more engaged with their own care than ever before. In large part, this will happen because it’s becoming easier for consumers to electronically access their own information. Personal health records are becoming easier to use as more data holders make it possible to download information through tools like Blue Button. Many health care providers are setting up patient portals which are directly connected to their EHRs. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs already require providers to give patients access to their electronic health information, and I anticipate future stages will build on that notion. And the work that is being done on standards and interoperability will help make consumer access to their health information more seamless and more useful.

Innovation Drives Improvement. Innovation is the lifeblood of technology, whether we are talking about health IT or otherwise. For health IT, innovation is being driven on many fronts, including ways of making EHR systems easier and less expensive to install and maintain, such as software-as-a-service and web-based systems. Mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets are being directly integrated into health IT systems, and I expect this trend will continue to pick up speed as capabilities such as voice recognition are perfected. The growing emphasis on value-based payment models will help fuel innovation around products and services that help providers perform quality measurement/improvement and population health management. There will be increasing emphasis on data analytics and finding ways of using data to support population health management, as well as feed information back into EHRs in ways that support a learning health system.

Top 10 Health IT Predictions For 2012
Healthcare reform, analytics, cloud computing, mobility, and social media will alter the health IT landscape over the next year, forecasts IDC Health Insights.

By Nicole Lewis InformationWeek
December 28, 2011 08:00 AM

In 2012, we will see new and successful accountable care organizations (ACOs), hospital CIOs tackling increasing security risks brought on by clinicians' use of mobile technology, and a majority of providers using electronic health records (EHRs).

These are a few of IDC Health Insights' top 10 predictions for 2012, based on year-long research and conversations with health industry executives. There are five overarching themes impacting the healthcare industry which will affect the future of health IT, according to IDC: health reform, analytics and big data, cloud computing, mobile devices, and social media.
  1. The majority of U.S. providers will use EHRs by the end of 2012. This will advance health information exchange functionality.
  2. Providers will establish successful ACOs, which will emerge from private or public-private initiatives.
  3. Health plans will rebrand in 2012 as the focus turns to consumers.
  4. There will be greater integration of payment systems with clinical performance and outcomes.
  5. Pharmaceutical companies will add software that provides real-time alerts, data integration, and analytics to create actionable information that will drive operational efficiencies.
  6. ACOs will need to develop an enterprise analytic framework that includes clinical analytics.
  7. The relationships between pharmaceutical companies and outsourcing firms will shift from what historically has been one-off relationships with siloed systems of processes being outsourced, to broader and deeper partnering relationships across entire functional areas.
  8. As physicians, nurses, and mid-level practitioners increasingly use their personal mobile devices to conduct work-related tasks, hospital CIOs will have to deal with increased security risks.
  9. Health plans will deploy second-generation communication strategies, developed with the aid of analytics software, to support consumer communications throughout 2012.
  10. The second generation of consumer communications will leverage consumers' social networks, including family, friends, and co-workers, to encourage healthy habits.

2012 predictions: 3 data-centric HIT game changers

December 21, 2011 | Lorraine Fernandes, Global healthcare ambassador, IBM

As 2011 draws to a close, the healthcare industry reflects upon a year that saw a number of interesting developments, from Meaningful Use becoming a reality to the activities that will advance ICD-10, ACOs and HIEs. While we have yet to see what new challenges 2012 will bring, one thing is undeniable – the journey toward healthcare reform will continue to be top of mind.

To date, the use of technology has allowed us to tackle some of the most pressing issues in healthcare. Patient records are being transformed for the digital era, and individuals can remotely consult with doctors, nurses and specialists from hundreds of miles away. But new obstacles are cropping up daily, and factors such as an aging population and an explosion in the sheer volume and varieties of patient data are presenting new and increasingly complex challenges for the healthcare system. Reaping the benefits of the investments must be top of mind if we are to healthcare better and more cost-effective.
  1. Consistent, real-time information and interoperability will prove indispensible for chronic disease management.
  2. Analytics will be a game changer in improving patient care.
  3. A clinical hub will help redefine how patient data is accessed and applied to treatment through quality improvement activities and research.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Putting Health Care Analytics in the Hands of Patients

by Constantia Petrou, Ph.D., MBA and Stefanos Zenios Ph.D.

Despite the health information revolution and health care consumerism that the Web has ignited, many decisions in medicine today are still made without reliable comparative information. The analytics methodology that can address patients' and physicians' needs for comparative information does exist. However, it is not consistently applied and it is not easily accessible at the point of care. Specifically, analytics on comparing hospital quality have primarily focused on experts and have made their way into professional reports that are sold for thousands of dollars to hospital administrators. For the most part, they have not yet been made usable or accessible to patients and their busy physicians.

The Future: 'It's All About Me'

In the course of our NIH-funded research, we found that analytics should not be about the content but about the patient. In their "think out loud" sessions, patients who used an online guide to compare kidney transplant centers trusted and engaged with the system if they perceived it as "empathetic" and easy to use. Their comments expressed a "trust-engage-no-think-no-work" reaction to analytics tools consistent with studies on human-computer interaction. Some of the lessons learned include:
  • Help me trust you: Patients are more likely to trust information if they feel emotional and practical support that relieves some of the anxiety from their disease.
  • Engage me: Patients seek interactivity that presents information in response to a question and linked to a decision rather than in an article-like format.
  • Don't make me think: Patients need the big picture first, in the form of an aggregate summary followed by a drill-down functionality to help them understand where the summary comes from.
  • Don't make me work: Patients want personalization only for the key metrics critical to their decision and are willing to forgo it if it requires too much data entry on their part.

ONC Summit: Consumers want providers to speed EHR deployment

Health care providers need to aspire to "tech speed" versus "med speed" to keep up with consumer demands, said Jay Walker, curator for the TEDMED Conference, at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT meeting last week. "Suddenly the patients are in charge of the future, instead of the health care system," Walker said. "You are at the front line when you walk into a doctor's office and say, 'It's time for electronic health records.'&nbsp" Healthcare IT News (11/21)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Report Identifies Top Nine Ways IT Benefits Health Care Industry

Consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton has released a report detailing the top nine ways IT is transforming the health care industry, Becker's Hospital Review reports (Rodak, Becker's Hospital Review, 11/16).

The report noted that health IT has significant potential to make the U.S. health care system more patient-centered. According to the report, health IT can:
  1. Identify potential mistakes and reduce medical errors;
  2. Improve collaboration among health care providers through the use of digitized health information;
  3. Ensure seamless transitions for patients who change care settings;
  4. Enable faster emergency care via mobile technologies that allow physicians to obtain real-time information on a patient's condition;
  5. Provide patients and their families with greater access to medical information and empower them to become educated advocates for their own care;
  6. Make care more convenient for patients through tools such as online appointment scheduling, telehealth, remote monitoring and mobile technology;
  7. Improve care for military service members by providing medics with immediate access to medical records;
  8. Enhance the response to public health emergencies and disasters; and
  9. Facilitate new medical breakthroughs and provide a platform for innovation (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 11/16).

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Study: Clinical Decision Support Tools Improve Hospital Care Quality

Hospitals using clinical decision support software achieve better patient outcomes than hospitals that do not use the tools, according to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, the Wall Street Journal's "Health Blog" reports.

For the study, Harvard University researchers examined data on Medicare beneficiaries treated at 1,017 hospitals that adopted UpToDate -- a clinical decision support system -- between 2004 and 2006. They also looked at data from 2,305 hospitals that did not use the UpToDate system.

Thomas Isaac -- a physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an instructor at Harvard Medical School -- said researchers found that hospitals using the UpToDate system:
  • Achieved higher quality scores for care provided to patients experiencing heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia;
  • Reduced the length of hospital stays by approximately 372,500 days annually; and
  • Saved about 11,500 lives over three years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Health IT Stakeholders React to Clinical Informatics Becoming Certified Subspecialty

After a multiyear push by advocates, the American Board of Medical Specialties in September formally recognized clinical informatics as a medical subspecialty.

Physicians who are board-certified in any of the 24 primary medical specialties now can earn secondary certification as informaticians.

In an iHealthBeat Special Report by Mina Kim, experts discussed the new medical subspecialty.

Opinion Piece Says U.S. Poised for a Consumer Health 'Revolution'

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In a New York Times opinion piece, Frank Moss -- an entrepreneur and former director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab -- writes that the U.S. is in the early stages of the "next big technology-driven revolution, which I call 'consumer health.'"

He adds that the trend "could radically cut health care costs and become a huge global growth market."

Moss writes that in recent years, electronic health records, mobile devices and other health IT tools have started to improve health care delivery. He adds, "But imagine a far more extreme transformation, in which advances in information technology, biology and engineering allow us to move much of health care out of hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices, and into our everyday lives."

IOM Calls for Creation of New Agency To Investigate Health IT

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Institute of Medicine is recommending that the federal government create a new agency to investigate the safety of health IT systems rather than give such authority to FDA, iWatch News reports (Leonard, iWatch News, 11/7).

IOM is scheduled to release a new report -- titled, "Health IT and Patient Safety: Building Safer Systems for Better Care" -- on Nov. 10, but iWatch News received an advance copy (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 11/8). Findings from the report were presented to HHS and its agencies on Oct. 28.

The report also states that health IT vendors should be required to report adverse events associated with their products. Health care providers could voluntarily report health IT-related safety issues, according to IOM.

IOM also recommends that:

  • All health IT vendors be required to publicly register and list their products with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT;
  • Another study be conducted to quantify health IT-related deaths, injuries and unsafe conditions;
  • Officials establish and enforce criteria for EHR safety;
  • The federal government fund a new Health IT Safety Council to set safety standards; and
  • The HHS secretary release an annual public report on health IT safety issues.

Many Doctors Use Web Searches To Look Up Medical Information

A survey finds that 46% of doctors use search engines like Google and Yahoo to search for data on diagnoses and treatments. The survey also includes physicians' input on the top barriers to health IT adoption. Wall Street Journal's "Health Blog," Health Data Management.

Contest Seeks Online Apps for Health Care Quality Comparisons

A new competition announced by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will offer cash prizes to software developers for creating online tools that help consumers find information on the quality of health care in different parts of the country. Newport News Daily Press et al.

The contest is part of the foundation's Aligning Forces for Quality initiative (Goedert, Health Data Management, 10/28). The initiative is designed to improve the quality of health care in 16 communities around the U.S.

The initiative already has produced information on health care quality. For example, participants of the initiative have developed online reports on diabetes care -- such as whether patients received appropriate tests and procedures -- and the safety of local medical centers (Newport News Daily Press, 10/28).

Data from the Aligning Forces initiative will be used in the apps (Merrill, Healthcare IT News, 10/31).

During Phase 1 of the challenge, competing developers will create applications for various devices, including smartphones and iPads, to allow consumers to access comparative information on the quality of health care in various regions of the country. During Phase 2, the developers will work with communities that are part of the Aligning Forces initiative to refine their products.

Why geeks should care about meaningful use and ACOs

How healthcare data reforms and incentive reforms are connected.

by Fred Trotter

Healthcare reform pairs two basic concepts:
  • Change incentives: lower costs by paying less for "better" care not "more" care
  • Use software to measure whether you are getting "better" care
These issues are deeply connected and mostly worthless independently. This is why all geeks should really care about meaningful use, which is the new regulatory framework from the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (or ONC for short) that determines just how doctors will get paid for using electronic health records (EHR).

The clinical people in this country tend to focus on meaningful use incentives as "how do I get paid to install an EHR" rather than seeing it as deeply connected to the whole process of healthcare reform. But any geek can quickly see the bottom line: all of the other healthcare reform efforts are pointless unless we can get the measurement issue right.

ONC, Health 2.0 Launch Challenge To Develop PopHealth Applications

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and Health 2.0 have opened a contest inviting developers to create applications using the popHealth framework, Government Health IT reports (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 10/10).

In February 2010, ONC made the open-source popHealth software available to help health care providers cull data from electronic health record systems to discern trends among patient populations (iHealthBeat, 3/1/10).

FDA will work with CMS on parallel medtech review pilot

The FDA will collaborate with the CMS to roll out a pilot effort to perform parallel evaluations of medical technologies that are considered innovative. The program aims to cut the time it takes to determine whether the use of an FDA-approved device will be reimbursed by Medicare.

Clinicians get free access to cloud-based image sharing network

Merge Healthcare has collaborated with Dell to create Merge Honeycomb, a cloud-based network that allows clinicians to share medical images for free. The network will be formally released next month at the annual Radiological Society of North America meeting.

British EHR fiasco shows US may be on the right track

October 1, 2011 — 5:43pm ET | By Ken Terry

Is it possible that the Obama Administration is doing something right in its ambitious health IT program? The U.K. National Health Service's failed, decade-long effort to implement a nationwide electronic health record system suggests that, in many ways, the U.S. government is taking a wiser approach to encouraging widespread EHR adoption. On the other hand, it is still possible that the federal government might overreach and hit the same brick wall that the Brits did.

In a recent New York Times piece, reporter Steve Lohr asked three top experts--Dr. David Brailer, Dr. David Blumenthal (both former national health IT coordinators) and Richard Alvarez, who heads Canada's health IT effort--what lessons they drew from the NHS fiasco.

Brailer and Blumenthal stressed the importance of having physicians involved in health IT planning; Brailer went so far as to say that physician resistance to the U.K. National Programme for IT (NPfIT) had "brought [the NHS] to their knees." All three pointed out that a top-down program of this scope cannot work because health IT must be implemented at the local level--which is also the message of the NHS press release about the dismantling of its IT program.

HHS: Million Hearts will save lives, ease healthcare burdens

Written by Editorial Staff
October 2, 2011

In a partnership with other public and private organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a program Sept. 29 that is designed to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. Details of the Million Hearts Initiative appeared in the Sept. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Clinical interventions focus on four components, collectively called ABCS: aspirin for high-risk patients; blood-pressure control; cholesterol management; and smoking cessation. The five-year program will emphasize management of these components through a focused approach, health IT and clinical innovations.

Community interventions will include public health warnings, grants, mass media campaigns, menu-labeling requirements for chain restaurants and data gathering.

Harnessing the Power of Data: Todd Park’s Vision for Rebooting U.S. Healthcare

by Brian Klein on Sep 26, 2011 • 11:14 am

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hasn’t traditionally been thought of as a bold, risk-taking agency. HHS Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Todd Park has been working hard to change that. Park, who co-founded healthcare technology firm Athenahealth and later Castlight Health, was offered his current position two years ago. HHS asked Park to come work for them as an entrepreneur in residence. “The [CTO] job title is a little bit of a red herring; I actually don’t run technology at HHS. I’m 100% focused on being an internal change agent,” Park said at a recent roundtable meeting with journalists on September 23. His main task is to help the agency figure out how to tap “the power of data and technology in innovative ways to improve the health of the American people.”

“They brought me in as an entrepreneur,” Parks says. “But what I would say is that the most entrepreneurial years of my life have been the last two, because [HHS has been] launching initiatives that behave very much like Silicon Valley startups,” he explains. “There are interdisciplinary teams that work on Silicon Valley time in hyperrapid cycles in a really lean, startup style way. And these incredibly talented groups of HHS-ers have done just incredible things.

Maybe the best example of how it has mushroomed is [...] “Health Data-Palooza.” (I think the formal name was the Health Data Initiative Forum, but I keep calling it the “Health Data-Palooza.”).


ACO Barriers

Gary Baldwin
Health Data Management Magazine, 10/01/2011

There is growing consensus over the economic imperative cited by Miranda that is driving the formation of ACOs. And there is equal consensus over the sophisticated I.T. that needed to make them work, regardless of the particulars of local structures. Information technology will be needed to plug the many gaps in the industry that stand to impede accountable care, particularly if care is being coordinated across inpatient, outpatient and home care settings.

Health IT Could Improve Cancer Care and Patient Outcomes, Study Finds

A study finds that using health IT in cancer care can improve quality and patient outcomes while curbing health care costs. According to the study, privately insured patients undergoing chemotherapy accrue an average of $111,000 annually in costs. Healthcare IT News.

CHCF CEO Says Health 2.0 Could Change the Industry

During a keynote speech at the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on Monday, Mark Smith -- CEO and president of the California HealthCare Foundation -- said, "Health 2.0 has the promise to change the health care industry" and that health reform is essential for innovation and the rollout of the health 2.0 business model. CHCF publishes California Healthline. He added that the future of health care and the economy depends on innovators finding new ways to rein in health care costs. Smith noted that CHCF has established an innovation fund to help entrepreneurs in the health care industry "innovate, spread and change the world."

HHS Planning Database To Boost Comparative-Effectiveness Research

HHS has posted a notice and opened a 60-day public comment period on its plans to create a database to facilitate comparative-effectiveness research. The database aims to pull together health care claims information from public and private health insurers. Modern Healthcare.

Groups Tap Funding for Mobile Health Efforts Targeting Seniors With Chronic Conditions

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The grant recipients will use the funding for a variety of projects. For example, San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare is piloting a program to remotely monitor patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Study: Telemedicine Program Improves Care for Chronic Conditions

The Health Buddy Program, which integrates telehealth tools with care management applications, could curb spending and improve care for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions, according to a new Health Affairs study conducted by Stanford University researchers. (Bosch, Health Buddy Program)

HHS Text4Health Task Force now has released recommendations calling for HHS to:

  • Develop and host evidence-based libraries of health-related text messages;
  • Gather evidence on the effectiveness of health-related text messaging programs; and
  • Pursue partnerships to establish and implement health-related text messaging campaigns and mobile health programs
(Healthcare IT News, 9/19).

CMS innovation center: Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Advanced Primary Care Practice Demonstration

The Innovation Center is now accepting applications from eligible FQHCs for the FQHC Advanced Primary Care Demonstration project. This demonstration project, operated by CMS in partnership with the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), will test the effectiveness of doctors and other health professionals working as teams to improve care for up to 195,000 Medicare patients. The FQHC Advanced Primary Care Practice demonstration will show whether and in what manner the patient-centered medical home model can improve quality of care, promote better health, and lower costs. For more information, please click here.

Google Health Dies, But PHR Market Still Growing

Personal health records will see a 33% gain in revenue through 2015 as doctors push patients to use health IT systems, finds Frost & Sullivan study (7/2011).
PHR market generated revenue of $312.2 million in 2010 and estimates that revenue will reach $414.8 million in 2015, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.8%.
the use of PHRs among Americans was estimated to be around 7% of the population in 2010.

VA Poised To Dole Out $500M for a Number of IT-Related Projects

The Department of Veterans Affairs plans to award about $500 million worth of IT contracts over the next five months to support VA Secretary Eric Shinseki's 16 priority projects. Of those funds, the department expects to spend about $70 million to support VA's Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record project. Washington Technology, Federal Computer Week.
Roger Baker -- VA's CIO and assistant secretary for information and technology -- said the department has an $800 million budget for the 16 priority projects this fiscal year and already has obligated about $300 million (Lipowicz, Washington Technology, 5/5).
In total, the agency plans to spend $2.7 billion on IT this fiscal year, Baker said.

Groups Push for Consumer Role in Health IT Standards, Projects

Monday, May 09, 2011
A coalition of consumer, labor and patient advocacy groups is urging greater consumer participation in the development of federal health IT standards and initiatives to ensure long-term success of the federal government's efforts to drive electronic health record adoption, Modern Healthcare reports.

On Friday, the Consumer Partnership for eHealth released a report, titled "Consumer Platform for Health IT," that offers recommendations for expanding consumers' role in the development and implementation of health IT standards and programs (Daly, Modern Healthcare, 5/9).

  • Clinical information contributed by the individual is used to provide holistic care;
  • Correct data are provided to the right person at the right time;
  • Data are used and presented in ways that are meaningful to the individual;
  • Information is exchanged privately and securely without unnecessary barriers to its use; and
  • Data are used to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all (Goedert, Health Data Management, 5/8).

Collaborative Organizes Launch of Consumer Consortium on eHealth

The National eHealth Collaborative recently brought together representatives of 65 organizations to launch the Consumer Consortium on eHealth. The consortium aims to help consumers use health IT to become more engaged in their care. Healthcare IT News, Government Health IT.

The Consumer Consortium on eHealth is designed to serve as a collaborative forum for sharing best practices, initiatives, tools, resources, ideas, and experience related to effective consumer engagement on health IT. Consortium members will work together to identify obstacles to the adoption of eHealth, brainstorm solutions, and develop effective communication strategies to reach a national audience with messages about the benefits of health IT.

Not-for-Profit Offers Grants, Mentoring to Health App Developers

The RockHealth organization will serve as a startup incubator for medical software development. The organization is accepting applications for participants, which will receive $20,000 grants and guidance from business, law and health care officials. San Francisco Chronicle.

Thus far, RockHealth has received more than 40 applications. It expects more applications from startups working on:

  • Electronic health records;
  • Disease management; and
  • Games that promote healthy behaviors.

It will accept applications until May 20, and approximately 12 startups will start work in June (Newton, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/11).


Survey: Most U.S. Adults Want Their Care To Include Health IT

More than 70% of U.S. adults think the country's health care system should be completely changed and a large majority want their care to include health IT, according to a survey released by the Commonwealth Fund, CMIO reports (Byers, CMIO, 4/8).

The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive, surveyed 1,011 adults between Feb. 7 and Feb. 11. It found that most adults reported problems with accessing health care services and care coordination (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/6).
  • 92% of respondents said it is important or very important for physicians to be able to share data electronically with other physicians;
  • 88% of respondents said it is important or very important for physicians to use electronic health records; and
  • 85% of respondents said they support policies that would improve care coordination and provide access to transparent information about health care costs and quality (CMIO, 4/8).

HHS Pushes Private Sector To Fix Healthcare Problems

Federal health IT official says government's job is to lay the foundation for business innovations that will reduce waste and improve public health.

By Neil Versel InformationWeek April 11, 2011 11:18 AM

Perhaps to fight conservative critics or perhaps because it's truly what they want, federal health IT officials continue to call on the private sector to solve some of healthcare's most vexing problems.

"We firmly believe that the private marketplace has some of the key answers," Dr. Thomas Tsang, medical director for meaningful use and quality in the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), said Wednesday at a health IT meeting in Atlanta hosted by the New York-based Institute for Health Technology Transformation.

Why? Because healthcare spending accounts for 21% of the Obama administration's proposed 2012 budget, somewhere in the range of $800 billion. "About one-third of that is complete waste," Tsang said.

EHR 'Pioneers' Launch National Health Data Exchange Project

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

On Wednesday, five medical groups that are considered "pioneers" in electronic health record use announced the launch of the Care Connectivity Consortium, a project to create a health information exchange network that will span several states and include millions of patients, the New York Times' "Bits" reports.

The groups launching the consortium are:

  • Geisinger Health System;
  • Group Health Cooperative;
  • Intermountain Healthcare;
  • Kaiser Permanente; and
  • Mayo Clinic.

IT Key Element of New Plan for Accountable Care Organizations

On Thursday, CMS unveiled proposed regulations governing the creation of accountable care organizations mandated under the health reform law. The care coordination efforts spelled out for ACOs will involve the use of health IT. For example, the rules state that 50% of primary care physicians in an ACO must meet meaningful use rules in the second year. Modern Healthcare et al.

Venture firms flock to mobile health after Epocrates IPO

Venture firms have begun hopping on the mobile health applications bandwagon, thanks in large part to the success of medical apps provider Epocrates, according to a report in a venture capital trade publication. The company raised $86 million in an initial public offering last month. "It is an extremely robust time for mobile health from a business perspective," said Bijan Salehizadeh, general partner at Highland Capital Partners. (3/28)

ONC Seeks Public Comment on the Federal Health IT Strategic Plan: 2011-2015

March 25, 2011, 11:59 am / Dr. David Blumenthal / National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

Providing strategic leadership to public and private sector efforts to improve health and health care through the use of information and technology is a key responsibility of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The Federal Health IT Strategic Plan (“the Plan”) is an important tool for guiding national efforts and investments in health IT over the next several years.
  • In Goal I, the health information exchange strategy focuses on first fostering business models that create health information exchange, supporting exchange where it is not taking place, and ensuring that information exchange takes place across different business models.
  • In Goal II, we discuss how integral health IT is to the National Health Care Quality Strategy and Plan that is required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • In Goal III, we highlight efforts to step up protections to improve privacy and security of health information, and discuss a major investment in an education and outreach strategy to increase the provider community and the public’s understanding of electronic health information, how their information can be used, and their privacy and security rights under the HIPAA Privacy and Security rules.
  • In Goal IV, we recognize the importance of empowering individuals with access to their electronic health information through useful tools that can be a powerful driver in moving toward more patient-centered care.
  • In Goal V, we have developed a path forward for building a “learning health system,” that can aggregate, analyze, and leverage health information to improve knowledge about health care across populations.

HHS' National Strategy To Boost Care Quality Involves Health IT Tools

HHS has released a National Strategy for Quality Improvement in Health Care as called for under the federal health reform law. The strategy calls for the use of electronic health record systems to help achieve goals related to patient-centered care and improving public health. HealthLeaders Media et al.

Experts Chart Direction of Health Care in California and Nation

by David Gorn, California Healthline Sacramento Bureau
Thursday, March 10, 2011

IRVINE -- We are facing big changes in health care -- no matter what happens with efforts to repeal the national health care reform law.
That's the word from an impressive array of health care and economic experts who gathered at the end of February for the 20th Annual Health Care Forecast Conference at UC-Irvine.
The future, they said, is now. The health care system is changing dramatically because health care reform has built a momentum that likely will last for years, despite any legislative, economic and judicial developments aimed at stalling it.

Halamka names top 10 HIT trends as industry moves to "free" data

Expert John Halamka discusses trends for the industry to track as the need to "free" information from EHRs and other transactional technologies grows. These include the need to manage both unstructured and structured information and using middleware to make information from multiple databases available at once. MedCity News (Cleveland) (3/3)

Walgreens: 1M subscribe to prescription text alerts

By: Brian Dolan | Mar 4, 2011 8:59am EST

After just four months of launching “Refill by Scan,” Walgreens have found that users of its smartphone application have embraced the feature which enables them to use the camera on their phone to scan the barcode printed on a prescription label to order a refill. Walgreens said half of all refill orders originating from a mobile device are now from Refill by Scan. The feature has been available to users of Walgreens’ iPhone and Android apps since November 2010.

Connected Health Gains Momentum

Connected healthcare presents a red-hot opportunity in M2M. This was a point emphasized by Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president of Emerging Devices, Resale, and Partnerships, during his guest spot on this week’s edition of The Peggy Smedley Show. And this week especially, buzz about new health-and-wellness-related technologies has been swirling thanks in part to the 2011 HIMMS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems) conference in Orlando.

AT&T expands mobile access to health care data

AT&T on Tuesday disclosed new features -- along with a pair of pilot programs -- for its cloud-based Healthcare Community Online suite, which provides medical facilities and health care systems with confidential access to patients' records. The tests include a project with insurer Health Care Services, which is piloting AT&T's mHealth Manager diabetes management solution. (2/22)

After Jeopardy!, IBM Moves Supercomputer on to Medical Research

Thursday, February 17, 2011

IBM and Nuance, a speech-recognition products vendor, have announced a five-year research agreement to explore ways for the health care industry to tap into the capabilities of IBM's Watson supercomputer, InformationWeek reports.
IBM engineers, along with Columbia and University of Maryland researchers, are seeking to identify how Watson could work with health care professionals (Gaudin, Computerworld, 2/17).
Researchers will use Nuance technology to develop a "physician assistant" that could mine data from health care providers' existing electronic health record systems, medical images and dictated reports to help guide physicians' decisions. Data from other sources -- such as best practices and other evidence-based literature -- also could be factored in to the technology (InformationWeek, 2/17).

HHS Launches Health Data Site To Boost Industry Innovations

HHS has launched a Web portal that allows health IT developers to access health data in an effort to bring about more health care innovations, Modern Healthcare reports.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that the Health Indicators Warehouse portal "provides a new public resource needed to fuel development of innovative IT applications" to improve health care.

Investors pumped $233M into mobile health in 2010

By: Brian Dolan | Jan 31, 2011 1:47pm EST

Earlier this month PricewaterhouseCoopers published its Innovation Scorecard for the medical device industries in nine countries. The bottomline conclusion was that the US will continue to dominate but emerging markets like China, India and Brazil. In other words: Nothing new here, folks.

VA Seeking Advice in Move To Update and Improve EHR System

In an effort to improve overall system quality, the Department of Veterans Affairs has posted a request for proposals as it works to transition from its decades-old electronic health record system using an open-source software development model. InformationWeek.

States Line Up for Grants Under ONC's Health Information Exchange Challenge Program

Claudia Williams of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, Jonah Frohlich, managing director of Manatt Health Solutions, Marc Overhage, CEO of the Indiana Health Information Exchange, and Micky Tripathi, CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, spoke with iHealthBeat about a new health information exchange grant program.

Enabling Personalized Medicine through Health Information Technology

Darrell M. West, Vice President and Director, Governance Studies
The Brookings Institution

This paper outlines the challenges of enabling personalized medicine, as well as the policy and operational changes that would facilitate connectivity, integration, reimbursement reform, and analysis of information. Our health system requires a seamless and rapid flow of digital information, including genomic, clinical outcome, and claims data. Research derived from clinical care must feed back into assessment in order to advance care quality for consumers. There currently are discrete data on diagnosis, treatment, medical claims, and health outcomes that exist in parts of the system, but it is hard to determine what works and how treatments differ across subgroups. Changes in reimbursement practices would better align incentives with effective health care practices.

Three Revolutions and How They Affect Health Care
  • The Medical Delivery Revolution: New Actors and New Relationships
  • The Digital Revolution and Ways to Convert Data into Knowledge
  • Genomics and the Impact on Medical Care

Policy Challenges and Recommendations
  • Better Data-Sharing Networks
  • Ending the Health Care “Tower of Babel”: Improved Semantics and Data Coding
  • More Balanced Privacy Rules
  • Rapid Learning Feedback Mechanisms in Clinical Care
  • Predictive Modeling in Physician Practices

Top Healthcare IT Predictions For 2011

Health systems will tackle technology challenges including mobile, manpower, meaningful use, and other mandates.
By Marianne Kolbasuk McGee , InformationWeek
January 27, 2011 08:00 AM

Stage 1 & 2 Meaningful Use

While bonuses will become available in 2011 for healthcare providers who comply with Stage 1 meaningful use criteria, providers have until 2012 to meet Stage 1 requirements and still be eligible for the maximum financial rewards set by the federal stimulus Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

ICD-10 Conversion

Accountable Care Organizations

If you're still hungry for even more government mandates, stay tuned. Also on the regulatory scene in 2011, more details will emerge from CMS about its requirements for accountable care organizations (ACOs), which got a boost in the healthcare reform legislation that passed in 2010.

Mobile Health IT

Aside from the many mandates healthcare providers will be juggling, another hot area in health IT next year will be the continued evolution of mobile health tools.