Archive for the tag 'Meaningful Use'

#HIMSS15: On Being Human

purple clover

After attending HIMSS, everyone asks “What was the *biggest* theme this year?”  But this blog is not about that.  This blog is about the murmurs.  The soft undercurrent of a theme running through the speaker sessions, the social media streams, and conversations preceding and following the event.  I don’t know if I would have even made the connections if I had been there in person, with the noise of the floor, the long line for Starbucks, and the ever-attractive bling from the vendors.

But quietly sitting in my home office, I listened.  I listened to the live online sessions and the recorded sessions, I read the blogs and engaged on twitter….and as I did, I started to hear it.  Like the Whos down in Whoville calling out from their speck, the more I listened the louder it became.  “Be Human” people said.  “Be real.”

The first murmur may have been from Mary P. Griskewicz, MS, FHIMSS, HIMSS Senior Director in her blog A portal is not patient engagement in which she states “true patient engagement requires providers to listen to and make the patient part of the process.  It also requires patients to actively participate in the care process, have access to and, the ability to inform their health data and, partner with their care providers for patient engagement to be successful.”

Now, if you stand in the middle of the exhibit hall floor, you would think that this is a conference just about technology.  What I heard was a little different.  What I heard calling out from that speck was “Well actually, this is about people.  This is about health.”

Luke Webster, MD talked about changing the role of the C-suite CMIO from one that reviews and approves technology to one where the C-Suite is “Focusing on the people, the process and the change more than the technology.”  In the same session, Pam Arlotto said the CHIO is a strategy position “Redesigning care around what a patient needs, not around technology.”

At this point, I was starting my own Amen corner in my office.  This was good stuff.  These are board tables that I want to sit at and the conversations I want to be involved in.  This is going to be what changes healthcare: being human.

I was watching the twitter feed of the #HITMC (Health IT Marketing Chat) live meetup where John Lynn was quoted as saying “Be worth following.  Be human.  People want to follow humans.”  This is true not just in the arena of social media, but in organizations as well.  If you walk into any healthcare organization and say “this is the proven methodology and this is how I am doing it” without taking the time to understand the organization you are walking into, your plan is destined to fail.

Linda Stotsky tweeted “#PatientData #patientengagement is about #human interactions – not about #MeaningfulUse check boxes #IHeartHIT bc #patients matter #HIMSS15

In my consulting life, I hear providers talk about the computer in the room as a huge barrier.  It sits between them and their patient, diverting their focus from the patient to the monitor.  It looms large in their minds and it affects their ability to connect with their patient…and to be human.

first portable computer

I think back to visiting my father at work when I was a kid (this will date me), and I can remember these enormous IBM mainframes with tape.  They were writing all their information to tape, and my Dad was so proud of those massive machines.  The reporters were wary when green screen computers replaced their typewriters.  In his lifetime he watched the newspaper business go from an offset ink printing system with metal plates to fully computerized layout and publishing. It was a dramatic technological change to take the newspaper digital – and it wasn’t easy.  Dad loved the smell of the ink and the characters on the composing room floor, and even as he rode the wave of change, he was also sad to see parts of it go.  He used to jokingly call his job title the “Director in charge of new fun stuff” and he would bring home technological marvels to test at the kitchen table, like a portable computer that must have weighed 30 lbs.  Luckily for the newspaper, their “Director in charge of new fun stuff” was a newspaper man.  He had worked every job in small town papers and he never forgot that these were tools to get the job done.  He loved technology, but it had to have the right utility, be introduced at the right time, and keep in partnership with the people who would be using it in order to be successful.

Technology is changing at such a rapid pace in not just healthcare but in our lives, that it seems almost radical to say “Be human.”  We have daily conversations in my household about the amount of time family members (myself included) spend on devices vs. spend outside, and now we even have devices to encourage us to be outside and active.  My kids come home and ask how many steps I have taken and how many followers I have on twitter.  I have to occasionally take stock, think about my priorities, and make sure I throw the football around in the yard or go on a hike in the woods.

The same is true in healthcare today.  Things are changing so rapidly, we are capable of so much – we can map a human genome, we can not only create an electronic record, but we have teams that can then take that record and convert it to another software platform or upload it to an HIE.  We have wearables and Bluetooth connections and hotspots.

Sometimes, the fancy toys and new fun stuff can be so all-consuming like that trade show floor that we can lose sight of the goal.  The goal is health.  The goal is supporting our providers and their teams in providing excellent healthcare.  The goal is tools that enhance the delivery of care and increase our medical knowledge.  The goal is not for technology to be a real or perceived barrier between provider and patient, but to be a supportive aspect of their relationship.

The most basic part of being human is being present and listening.  This has an extreme amount of value, especially in times of dramatic change and situations that call for collaboration.  We need to be nimble, but we also need to be thoughtful, attentive, and make sure we are delivering the right solutions at the right time.

This is also part of why I am so glad to be in HealthIT and to be working for a company like Galen Healthcare.  We do for sure have fun cool stuff, and I will be the first to tell you about our products and services.  We are also a company and a team that knows the value of being human.  Of meeting our clients where they are, listening, and using our expertise in conjunction with their vision to turn the corner to where they want to be.

E-Referrals…Why We Are Not Breathing A Sigh Of Relief


Many organizations took advantage of the CMS Final Rule for 2014 Meaningful Use Reporting last year, breathing a sigh of relief that they could postpone implementing some of the more challenging Meaningful Use Stage 2 measures such as e-Referral and Direct Messaging. With the 2014 Attestation complete, now is the time to look at the what’s, why’s, and how’s surrounding the e-Referral process and make it a functional reality for your providers.

The ability to “Connect” is an increasingly prevalent theme as we navigate through Meaningful Use. Connecting via e-Referrals allows providers to quickly and accurately send patient information via secure electronic messaging for instant collaboration on patient care. Effective and efficient communication between care providers has been identified as a key contributing factor to providing better patient care and lowering healthcare costs. This not only reduces administrative overhead, it also increases the security of patient information and ensures that records reach their intended destination in a complete and auditable way. This also benefits the patient experience by reducing potentially duplicate tests, promoting continuity of care, and enabling faster access to services.

If you would like to hear more about e-Referrals and Direct Messaging in Allscripts TouchWorksTM  and learn how to configure your system to maximize efficiency and end user satisfaction, please join our free webcast on April 24th: E-Referrals – Review and What’s New

Can HL7 solve your Meaningful Use needs?

By now most healthcare organizations are knee-deep in Meaningful Use (MU) – but a new year means a new stage of MU, which means new requirements, new opportunities for solutions, and new pressures to find the right solution for your organization. That’s where we come in.

Next week Wednesday, February 18, Galen will be presenting a webcast on HL7 interfaces and how they fit into the Meaningful Use puzzle. The focus will be on Meaning Use Stage 2, as only 1% of hospitals and Eligible Professionals completed attestation for that stage in 2014; the bulk of qualified organizations will attest for Stage 2 in 2015 and 2016. The webcast will cover this year’s requirements, thresholds for attestation, new menu objectives, and Clinical Quality Measures.

HL7 timeline

We will also give a brief overview of HL7 messaging and its role in interoperability. The HL7 standard is used by 95% of U.S. healthcare organizations and boasts backwards capability – meaning HL7 is able to be integrated into nearly any existing information system. We will select seven MU2 objectives (shown below) and take an in-depth look at which HL7 interfaces would be appropriate as solutions.


Next week’s webcast is intended for an audience that have already been exposed to the basics of both Meaningful Use and HL7. However, we have previously presented separate webcasts for beginners on both topics, which can be found on Galen’s Wiki (notably, here are the links for the HL7 Fundamentals webcast and the MU2 Requirements webcast).

You can register for the “Your HL7 Interface and What It Means for Meaningful Use” here.  We hope you can join us!

Patient Portals: 3 Hot-Button Items

As we start the fourth quarter, we enter the final 3-month reporting period for Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 in 2014.  Many healthcare organizations will be working feverishly this quarter to ensure that their eligible providers (and supporting staff) are performing all of the necessary tasks in order to successfully attest to MU Stage 2 in 2014.  Stage 2 has three core objectives that require patients to interact with their health information and communicate with their provider electronically.  All three of these objectives can be satisfied by the use of a patient portal.

Recently, Galen Healthcare forged a partnership with MedfusionTM to help expand their portfolio of EHR’s that integrate with the MedfusionTM Patient Portal.  This project got me thinking about some of the bigger picture issues with patient portals.

Organizational Benefits.  By now, most healthcare organizations have selected a patient portal allowing them to achieve the MU objectives.  While MU was likely the driver for many providers to implement patient portals in their organization, there are many other reasons to integrate a patient portal with the organization’s EHR solution.  Secure communications between providers and patients, appointment requests, prescription renewal requests, and automated delivery of visit summaries are a few examples of office workflows that can be made more efficient when using a patient portal, freeing up time for office staff.  What are the next wave of patient portal features that will help optimize the healthcare organization?  Will e-visits gain traction amongst providers, patients, and payers?  Is there a place in the patient portal for e-visits and will they benefit the healthcare organization?

Patient Adoption.  Not only does the patient portal provide many benefits for the healthcare organization and its staff, but patients also benefit from the features and functionalities added by the portal.  Patient portals provide patients with innovative functionalities that are not only new and exciting (smart phone apps, cloud services, etc.), but also provide services that yield streamlined and improved healthcare outcomes.  And while a patient portal can reduce the amount of effort required of the patient to get the needed healthcare, and even result in healthier patient care, portal adoption is still a big struggle.  How can adoption be increased?  Most of the burden falls on the organization to get the message out to their patients to join in many different ways, but can patient portal vendors create a user-interface that is simple to use while also including trendy and exciting features (possibly including some element of gamification) to attract younger generations, enhance the patient experience, and motivate individuals to live healthier lives?

EHR-Tethered Patient Portals.  Does the tight relationship between EHR vendors and patient portals reduce the adoption of patient portals by patients?  Each vendor has their own patient portal solution, creating the need for patients to possibly maintain multiple portal accounts.  As much as providers don’t want to be required to login to multiple applications to see a patient’s full clinical record, a patient doesn’t want to have to login to multiple portals in order to see their full health record.  Much like HIE was the next step for getting data out of EHR silos, what is next for providing patients with a way to combine their data across multiple portal “silos?”  Is the best solution to tether patient portals to HIE’s, which already aggregate data across multiple providers in a community, rather than EHR’s?  There are definitely some design costs associated with this type of solution, but is it more sustainable and desirable in the long-term?

Patient portals have been developed and deployed for many years, but the adoption still seems relatively low.  Meaningful Use Stage 2 is trying to increase their usage, but there need to be more benefits (for both the healthcare organization and the patient) in order to sustain and augment their utilization.

Feel free to provide your thoughts and comments, including your own experiences, on patient portals below.  What current features are most useful?  What features are still needed?  What is the future of patient portals?

Engaging your patients……and their smartphones

Last week, Jamie Verkamp of (e)Merge wrote a terrific piece as a guest blogger for EMR & HIPAA about looking beyond the simple patient engagement measures required by Meaningful Use and focusing more on patient involvement and education. In her piece, she mentions a TeleVox study that revealed 83% of Americans don’t follow treatment plans as prescribed by their physicians, and that 42% of those surveyed felt a form of motivation would help them follow their care plan. With Meaningful Use measures driving the adoption of patient portals, practices need to look at this investment as not another MU hurdle, but an excellent opportunity to interact with their patients. One of the suggestions mentioned in Jamie’s piece is the idea of making sure your patient-facing staff is well educated in accessing and navigating the portal in order help answer any of your patients’ questions. She also mentions that educating your patients on maneuvering around the portal is a simple way to increase patient engagement.

Along the same lines of patient engagement, the HIT industry received exciting news when Apple, during their Keynote presentation at the 2014 WWDC, introduced Health and HealthKit for their iOS 8 mobile operating system. When I watched the keynote, my first reaction was not “wow!” but “about time”. The mobile health app market has been around for a few years now, but so were mp3 players before Apple introduced the iPod back in October of 2001. While I don’t want to come across as an Apple fan boy, you can’t help but appreciate Apples ability to re-energize an industry and get people to rally behind their vision. In a generation where everyone is glued to their phones (waiting to see the “Head injury due to walking into street post while patient on their smartphone” ICD-10 diagnosis), it was only a matter of time that the mobile health market got it’s opportunity to take-off (Let’s just hope this isn’t another Spruce Goose).



Even though there are plenty of great running, exercising, diet/calorie tracking apps already in the market, Apple’s hope is that these apps, along with new ones entering the market, will have the ability to easily to integrate with and transmit information to an individual’s healthcare provider. With that said, I say “Good Luck.”

Fortunately, Galen has already recognized the need for a simple, educational, integrated care-management mobile application. Back in August 2013 during ACE, Galen introduced Dragonfly, a remote patient monitoring and chronic disease management app. Dragonfly lets a provider prescribe a patient self-management plan from their EHR, allowing the patient to capture the necessary vital measures for their specific care plan through the Dragonfly app. If the patient records a vital sign, such as a blood pressure reading, outside a reference range set by the provider, Dragonfly will alert the provider and their staff of the result in the EHR. You can learn more about Dragonfly and it’s other great features by visiting our website.

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