Blog

October 3rd, 2014

HealthcareIT_Oct02_AThe deployment and utilization of electronic medical records (EMRs) is driving a health-care technology revolution as physicians find that their EMRs complement their other systems, enabling the establishment of patient portals, medication tracking, and electronic prescribing among other things.

Physicians are making strides in regard to technology adoption, however, in many cases it’s the result of necessity rather than desire. As the industry moves away from the fee-for-service model, and places more emphasis on quality reporting, physicians have to pay attention to workflows so they can capture data in a timely manner.

What some physicians don’t understand is the benefit of technology to their practices. In addition to giving physicians more time to spend with their patients, it allows them to serve as caretakers of personal health information, and this puts them in a position to be more dominant in accountable care organizations and control relationships with provider partners.

One area in which physicians are behind is ICD-10 conversion. Many who had hoped for the delay, and now that they have it, aren’t moving forward fast enough. Indeed, some industry analysts believe the one-year delay to October 2015 may have actually slowed down the process of conversion.

If you are struggling with the technology in your practice, contact us today. Our wide-variety of services can be tailored to help make technology not only easier to use but also manage. We can also help ensure that your practice is ready for ICD-10 well ahead of the projected deadline.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

September 5th, 2014

GeneralHealthcare_Sep03_AThe Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is making it more difficult for physicians to prescribe opioids, and in doing so, has necessitated changes to e-prescribing.

The issue stems from titles II and III of the Comprehensive Substance Act (CSA), under which controlled substances are classified into one of five schedules based on potential for abuse and likelihood of dependence. The DEA has rescheduled hydrocodone-combination products (HCPs) from schedule III to schedule II in an attempt to curtail abuse and dependence.

But, the regulations around schedule II drugs are much more restrictive than those around schedule III drugs. There will be only two ways to prescribe HCPs after the rule change becomes effective October 6: with a paper-based prescription handed to the patient or e-prescribing. Any other means of prescribing, such as phone calls or faxes, are not allowed.

For e-prescribing, some changes may be necessary at the electronic medical record (EMR) level and at medical practices as well as at pharmacies. EMR vendors and practices will have to implement the security that's required by the DEA in regards to identity management and factor authentication. As for pharmacies, currently only about two-thirds are ready to receive electronic prescriptions of controlled substances; the others will have to make some changes.

If you are one of the practices that needs to make these changes in order to meet DEA requirements, contact us today to see how our systems can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 5th, 2014

GeneralHealthIT_Aug05_AThe Department of Health and Human Services has set the final deadline for health-care organizations to transition to ICD-10, and it’s just 14 months away—on October 1, 2015.

ICD-10 is designed to provide better patient care, disease management, and quality measurement—especially for patients under the care of multiple providers.

It replaces ICD-9, whose limited structural design lacks the flexibility to keep pace with changes in medical practice and technology. The longer ICD-9-CM is in use, the more the quality of health-care data will decline, leading to faulty decisions based on inaccurate or imprecise data, according to the Journal of AHIMA.

Originally, the deadline for ICD-10 Compliance was October 1, 2014, and health-care organizations worked feverishly to prepare for it. But then came the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, which called for delaying ICD-10 implementation. That threw countless health-care organizations back into flux.

Now it’s final, and health-care organizations have necessary certainty to move forward with their implementation processes, including testing and training. How will you use the extra time?

If you are looking to upgrade your systems to ICD-10, or to ensure your practice is ready, contact us today to learn more about how our solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 3rd, 2014

GeneralHealthCare_July03_AA strategy commonly used in manufacturing and aviation offers the potential for better health care at lower cost, according to a recent report.

That strategy - systems engineering - is an interdisciplinary approach to designing and managing complex systems.

According to "Better Health Care and Lower Costs: Accelerating Improvement Through Systems Engineering," a report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), the key is the use of tools such as alerts and checklists that adjust for the human factor.

It’s worked in many industries. As one example of using systems engineering, U.S. commercial airlines have reduced fatalities significantly since the 1960s, with the risk of dying now one in 45 million flights. Similar gains have been seen in space stations, satellites, and education.

Now forward-thinking physicians are embracing systems engineering with the same level of devotion. Simply having doctors and nurses in an I.C.U. make their own checklists for what they thought should be done each day decreased the average length of stay by half.

According to the PCAST report, systems engineering, with an emphasis on high-quality data to assist health-care providers and measure progress, is the wave of the future in health care. Contact us today to learn more about how our services can help your practice.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 6th, 2014

GeneralHealthcare_June06_AUnauthorized data access by employees is one of the most significant security problems in health care, according to a new report.

The findings by KLAS, which consulted 106 health-care providers to produce its report "Security and Privacy Perception 2014: High Stakes, Big Challenges," echo that of another reported produced by Verizon.

The latter also found that 15 percent of health-care security incidents are attributable to insider misuse—that is, theft by employees. That number is higher than in 13 other industries.

The good news: Internal security is becoming part of the everyday discussion for many health-care providers, who are turning to outside experts, including health-care security service firms and health-care IT consultants, for security services.

Also key to preventing unauthorized data access by employees is ensuring that employees understand the importance of confidentiality. Sometimes, the intentions are not bad: An employee, for example, may download patients' personal health information to take home and work on it, but then the employee’s device gets lost or stolen.

As the stakes get higher, says the report’s author, more and more health-care organizations are outsourcing to ensure they are covering all of their bases. If you are looking to ensure your information is secure, contact us today to see how our solutions can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 6th, 2014

GeneralHealthcare_May06_ABusiness intelligence and analytics have become must-haves in today's challenging health-care environment, according to a new report from research firm KLAS.

Analytics involves extracting useful information from data. Increasingly, it is being used been used by health-care organizations - for example, to track the quality of care in the patient population, provide clinical decision support, understand billing problems, and more.

The report - entitled "Healthcare Analytics Perception 2014: Analytics for Value-Based Care-A New Paradigm" - concludes that the recent shift toward valued-based health care has increased practitioner demand for analytics, and that demand has led to a new wave of products and services.

As a result, health-care practitioners have more and more choices. According to KLAS, health-care providers who were surveyed for the report mentioned that they were considering, all told, 87 vendors for business intelligence and analytics.

Where the market is heading is yet to be determined, says Joe Van De Graaff, author of the report, but “to fulfill short-term analytics needs, many providers report shifting more consideration to vendors with health-care-specific solutions.”

If you are looking to integrate and efficient analytics system in your practice, contact us today to learn more about our solutions and how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 2nd, 2014

gloStream_Apr02_AIn a surprising move, the House of Representatives approved a bill that includes a delay to mandatory ICD-10 implementation until October 2015. After the announcement we are sure that many medical practices breathed a long sigh of relief.

The problem: Without a fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, Medicare physicians face a 24% reimbursement cut beginning April 1. This is obviously something that does not sit well with many of the country's medical practitioners - and rightly so. No one wants to see hard-earned profits sink because of a medical bill.

Joseph Pitts introduced a bill, H.R. 4302, that proposed to replace the reimbursement cut with a 0.5% payment update through the end of 2014 and a 0% percent payment update from January 1 through March 311, 2015.

The American Medical Association, which wants payment stability for its constituents, responded by urging House of Representatives members to vote down the proposed legislation. The code sets were caught in the crossfire.

Note: Before the ICD-10 delay takes place (and the SGR fix becomes permanent), the Senate must vote on the proposed legislation and President Obama must sign it into law. It would be a good idea to keep abreast of this issue because it will likely directly affect your practice.

If you are looking for help upgrading to ICD-10, or ensuring your practice meets established standards, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 1st, 2014

HealthcareGeneral_Feb25_AThe Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has issued proposals for 2015 electronic health record (EHR) certification criteria.

Notably, implementation of the 2015 certification criteria is voluntary. Health-care providers that have EHRs certified to the 2014 criteria do not need to re-certify to 2015 criteria to participate in meaningful use. The idea, says the ONC, is that EHR developers and health-care providers can move to the 2015 criteria at their own pace.

This is the first time the ONC has proposed certification criteria separate from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' meaningful-use regulations, and the change marks a new regulatory approach. The ONC will likely make more frequent changes to rules to improve standards. National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo says it reflects the “ONC's commitment to incrementally improving interoperability and efficiently responding to stakeholder feedback.”

Comments will be accepted on the proposed rule - published in the Federal Register on February 26, 2014 - through April 28. If you are looking to learn more about this change and how you can implement it in your practice, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 6th, 2014

HealthcareIT_Feb06_ARecently, a server of a Texas health-care system was hacked, compromising the protected health-care records of approximately 405,000 individuals.

The three-day attack, which took place in December of 2013 at the five-hospital St. Joseph Health System in Bryan, Texas, was one of the largest HIPAA security breaches ever, according to Department of Health and Human Services. It gave the hackers access to both patient and employee Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and addresses as well as confidential health-care information.

The incident is not isolated. In March 2012, another attack, this time reported by the Utah Department of Health, gave the same information of some 780,000 individuals to hackers.

St. Joseph Health System quickly took the affected server offline and launched an investigation with national security and computer forensics experts. That being said, The incident underscores the importance of data security as more and more health-care data goes digital.

The best course of action a practice can take is to work with a trusted systems provider who has a track record in not only keeping data safe but ensuring that attacks are minimized. A great provider will help a practice like yours implement security measures before the attack happens, greatly reducing the chance of data being compromised. They will also work with you to ensure that should an attacker gain access to your systems, the data contained is secure.

Are you prepared? If not, an IT specialist like us can work with you to ensure your patient data is protected. Contact us to today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 2nd, 2014

HealthcareGeneral_Jan02_A

As 2013 came to a close, we looked back at the health-care information technology (IT) stories that most captivated the industry. Some were bad (because bad news makes headlines), but some were also good. Here are five topics we found most intriguing.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) faced a class-action lawsuit over the theft of 60 million medical records. Allegations arose that the IRS improperly accessed the health records of 10 million Americans, including those of California state judges.

Unhappy electronic medical record (EMR) users began switching systems. With numerous EMRs falling short of providers' expectations, Black Book Rankings reported that 2013 may have been the "year of the great EHR vendor switch."

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made sweeping changes to HIPAA. An eagerly awaited set of regulations in the health-care arena arrived on January 17 when HHS issued modifications to the HIPAA privacy, security, enforcement and breach notification rules.

More physicians began sharing their written notes with patients. It’s a growing trend, and not such a bad idea, says one industry attorney and consultant.

Google Glass arrived. It was the most anticipated new gadget since the smartphone, and potentially transformative - but it came with controversy, and how it will be used in health care is yet to be seen. That being said, there could be some interesting uses especially in surgery or even diagnosing patients - wouldn't it be cool to be able to call up a record that you can read without paper!

If you are looking to learn more about how these stories affect your practice, contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.