Looking back at 2013

As we come to yet another year end, we reflect back on the year. There is a new leader at ONC, the ICD-10 transition is truly happening, Meaningful Use Stage 2 has had some changes, more healthcare provider organizations in the United States have implemented an Electronic Health Record and Patient Engagement initiatives are off to the races. IT Departments within provider organizations are busier than ever and many EMR experienced resources continue to turnover as the industry slowly matures.

With 2014’s imminent arrival and initiatives culminating during that time, good advice would be to stay focused, remember that stay ahead of the game and make sure to try and get as much done in advance as possible so that there is time for adjustments as you get closer to the dates that projects are required for completion. For ICD-10, vendors really need to bear in mind that they are holding up project completions across the country and need to be aware that if they want to charge customers to be ICD-10 compliant with their software, they risk potential loss of relationships with those customers. Most vendors have not charged their provider customers with an ICD-10 compliant version and that is the best thing that they could have done. If you don’t have an ICD-10 compliant version of your software by now or have a statement of readiness, recommendation would be to re-evaluate your vendor and product and think about alternatives.

Think about the cloud, think about what it would take to get there. This year is also about analytics. With all of this information now at your fingertips, think about how the organization can leverage this information to achieve better outcomes. XP to Win7 migration is around the corner. Be mindful of the risks associated with HIPAA. Think about the enterprise architecture your organization has. In 2014, this blog will discuss these topics, including a topic covering areas that cover the patient experience and security as well.

Until then, stay safe, enjoy your New Year’s celebrations and see you in 2014.

Happy Holidays from Healthcare Interoperability

Here’s wishing all of you a very happy and joyous holiday season. As we slowly close the book on 2013 and start thinking about the holidays, we want to take a moment and thank all of those that take pride in the healthcare industry and the work that everyone does for better patient care and safety. I always try and remind people that the reason you are here, is for better patient care. I have seen many people do great work in IT at healthcare facilities. This message goes out to them and the rest of the community. You do great work. I’m proud to have been given the opportunity to work along side you and help make all of us better community citizens in a healthcare information technology world.

Safe travels and a joyous holiday to all of you.

Seasons Greetings from Healthcare Interoperability

As we end yet another year and we move forward to 2014 and all the hope, excitement and challenges that we will see in this new healthcare technology world, we want to make sure that we say thank you to all of the hard working men and women out there that go into work, making patient care and safety their number one priority. All of you are the tireless individuals that give us the opportunity to work better, faster, more efficiently than we used to the previous year and while sometimes it feels like there is a mountain of work coming at you and it never ends, every time a patient is saved, every time a newborn cries for the first time out of the womb, every time a patient logs into their chart and gets to feel better about themselves, you had a hand in making that happen.

Feel proud of yourself. You have contributed to the making things better, one build at a time, one process improvement at a time and while we all can’t be the man in red coming from the North Pole on his sleigh with his reindeer, we can definitely bring more people good tidings and cheer.

Thanks for all you do.

Meeting about Meetings…

Haven’t you been in a situation where you are meeting about meetings? The never ending circle in many organizations to discuss an upcoming meeting and prepare for it and what to do in it. One of my friends talked about one meeting to be like Kabuki theater.

If you seem to be in endless meetings about meetings, right away, you are over burdened at work in all of the wrong ways. This phenomenon occurs many times in healthcare and how to tackle stakeholders in an upcoming meeting. What to do, how to act and what the plan of action will be in a meeting.

Meeting about meetings. Think about how you can avoid these and your work will be so much better and much more efficient. An instant process improvement.

Can the last EMR analyst left turn off the lights….and the EMR?

With 20 times the workload that EMR analysts seem to have on them these days, the vexing issue of how to retain good talent is something that has baffled provider organizations who have seen their IT resources seemingly to go through a revolving door, quite similar to that time in the late 1990s when moving to an ERP was all the rage and there was always a better offer every week for functional (and technical) ERP analysts/consultants. While this is a passing phase as care delivery organizations mature and get a grasp of their technology and processes, this phase could last a couple of years and it is currently something that Information Technology departments are having to get used to seeing, especially at sites that are relatively new on their Meaningful Use focused, EMR of choice.

What’s to be done? Some care delivery organizations have thought of changing hours worked for their EMR analysts; possibly work from home opportunities that previously didn’t exist in healthcare or flexible work hours to manage their work life balance that has been taken for granted by other industries for years is catching up with healthcare IT!

HIPAA and the Art of Security Maintenance

After the HIPAA Omnibus Rule went into force on September 23rd, 2013, the focus on security and compliance became that much more important for healthcare organizations around the country.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced the final rule that asked for the implementation of a number of provisions of the HITECH Act, enacted as part of ARRA in 2009, to strengthen the privacy and security protections for health information established under HIPAA.

The press release said that the changes that were announced expanded on many of the requirements to business associates of entities that receive protected health information, such as contractors and subcontractors. Some of the largest breaches reported to HHS have involved business associates. Penalties are increased for noncompliance based on the level of negligence with a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per violation. Also patients can request a copy of their electronic medical record in an electronic format and when you pay by cash you can ask your provider not to share information about your treatment with their health insurance payer.

In addition, the Omnibus rule makes it is easier for parents, guardians and others to give permission to share proof of their child’s immunization records with a school and gives covered entities and business associates up to one year after the 180-day compliance date to modify contracts to comply with the rule. Security Officers and legal departments within healthcare organizations have certainly been occupied with this and other compliance initiatives including proper discarding of paper documentation within an organization. Initiatives such as shredding of unused paper copies of manuals which do not need to be around an organization in this day and age and usage of electronic copies of documentation, would assist in streamlining organizational workflows and start to see the true benefits of electronic medical records.