Article about Emergency Room Experiences

All of us have been to the ER for either our own ailments or those of our families. I read an article here that details some of the unfortunate experiences of some people who seemed to have received the raw end of the stick. This is the article posted today, May 1st, 2018. It’s worth the read. Think about your own Emergency Room experiences. How do we get better over time? How frequent is this experience?

 

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Understanding the Healthcare Landscape 2018

Much about the American healthcare ecosystem has to do with the personalities of the professionals that shape that landscape. One of the  ways that people keep track of that is by checking out Becker’s Hospital Review.

From the CEO, CIO to the CMO & CMIO, we are able to gain insight into how a healthcare provider organization will function based on the mindset that the leadership brings with them. I’ve been at companies when the culture of the new leader has transformed the organization entirely. For some, it’s to wake a sleeping giant and for others, it has stretched it’s capabilities beyond the limit in the pursuit to be #1. There was one organization I worked at where the VP of Revenue Cycle was a consultant and brought in his consulting firm to run the department. That changed the culture of that organization so much so that people could not recognize the company from the one that they had worked in even a few months earlier. This was a radical and fundamental change to the way that that organization had worked for as long as anyone remembered and was quite a shock to the system as a whole. That’s why I encourage you to check out the Becker’s link above and keep that as essential reading for a healthcare professional.

The ABC of Healthcare is split and sold!

In healthcare news this week, it was announced that The Advisory Board Company agrees to be acquired for $2.58 billion dollars. The news on Tuesday this week that this stalwart of healthcare consulting and advisory services, with an estimated *5,700 healthcare organizations as clients, was being purchased by Optum, a division of UnitedHealth Group surprised many, including yours truly. The merger is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017.

The Press Release here mentions details of the sale. It is understood that Advisory Board chief executive, Robert Musslewhite will head the combined healthcare advisory services after the merger is completed.

*Source – Washington Post, 8/29/17

Physician Burnout! A disturbing trend

Burnout1

Since my last post about my late Grandfather, I didn’t have the motivation to write; but then I thought about all of the times he encouraged me to write, it reminded me to follow my passion, so here I am with my thoughts again, this time on the disturbing trend of Physician Burnout.

Physician BurnoutOver the last 7 years since the time of the “Great EMR Implementations”, we have always discussed physicians retiring because they did not want to learn technology and use the EMR. I put it down to older physicians not keeping up with the times. I’m not so sure about that anymore.  The reason being that one of my friends who is a physician went through a very visible burnout episode that surprised everyone recently. She said that she was working until the middle of the night trying to keep up with documentation and it finally became too overwhelming for her to take. This surprised me tremendously. This wasn’t something that happened to younger, more savvier physicians…or so I thought. IBurnout2n a June 29th, 2017 article in the Harvard Business Review, points such as loneliness at work is also a factor that is identified as the reason for burnout (it doesn’t discuss physician burnout in particular though). Similarly, in a June 22nd article in Time Magazine, titled “Doctor’s on Life Support”, it starts by saying that “Doctors are stressed, burned out, depressed, and when they suffer, so do their patients. Inside the movement to save the mental health of America’s doctors“. The  signs of stress are evident. IT departments can and should do more to collaborate with clinic practices and primary care and specialties to help develop efficiency within the every day use of technology. Technology “A-Teams” should be identified to work with their physicians, understand the challenges that they are facing, whether in the EMR, wireless “dead zones” in clinics that drop the connection, old laptops and PCs that need to be updated, that sometimes may mistakenly be attributed to an EMR deficiency or other areas where the process can be smoother for the physician and/or clinic staff.

All of us as Healthcare Information Technology professionals needs to bear in mind that we need to do all we can do reduce and eliminate physician burnout and improve the processes for the physician so that we can enable them use technology for better, faster and more efficient patient care. The burden of EMR documentation should be lessened and, at the end of the day, it will be the patient that will gain and the quality of care will increase with a happier, less stressed, care provider.

 

2016 – The year of Disruptive Living

With 2016 behind us, it’s hard to believe we somehow survived this year. Whether we admit it or not, we’re not used to big changes and politics does play an important part of our lives. Whether it’s in that realm or in technology, we are creatures of habit and rarely like our world or ecosystem to change. The biggest challenge I’ve always encountered on a project is change; whether it’s process or technology changes, it’s always a challenge to get people to change and adopt a new way of working. Physicians are particularly challenging to change as they are very set in their ways.

Whether it’s the elections that occurred that seemingly swung the pendulum a different direction than what was in motion for the last 24 years or the endless march of technology like Amazon Go, (which I believe could have applications outside of Retail such as in Healthcare), our lives have been greatly disrupted as we see that the status quo is not acceptable anymore.

I’ve been asked by a few people whether MACRA will get scrapped under the new US administration or whether some of the current other reporting requirements will be changed. Currently the view has been only time will tell as there has been no specific policy that has mentioned anything one way or another. Will much of the work accomplished or investment over the last 5 years be set aside or will we be able to build off that and leverage this paradigm shift for the greater good?

Only time will tell. Whatever it is, there are many people that would like to see 2016 into a distant memory and hope that the new year brings with it better fortunes than the current one has dealt many.

In Memorium: Carrie Fisher aka Princess Leia (1956 to 2016)

“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”

Are EHR vendors becoming Population Health corporations?

An interesting article surfaced in Healthcare IT News that suggested that executives at some healthcare software vendors want to transform themselves from generically being deemed as an EHR vendor and become a Population Health company like Cerner’s CEO Zane Burke told Healthcare IT News. 

Being able to access data relevant for patient care should be possible regardless of the format it is presently in or whether it is in an EHR,  national database or in pdf format. 
The constraints that “EHRs” are presently may not allow for this functionality  (yet). The article goes on to state that providers are also moving towards precision medicine, accountable care management, chronic care management and value based reimbursement. 
Movement for many on the ground is still in the initial stages and only those provider organizations with deep pockets and the ability to leverage collaborative working relationships with solution vendors can think about moving forward with all of the initiatives mentioned above in a meaningful way.