Mid Year Healthcare IT Report

Report CardIt’s been a while since I blogged. Whether it’s because of being a parent caught up in America’s great pass time, baseball or work or a combination of the two, life seems to have a profound effect on getting my thoughts down. Firstly, I’m always wary of commenting on politically sensitive topics such as the recent violence and tragedies that have affected all of America so profoundly this last week, but I wanted to give thought to the sad loss of life that was start and end of last week’s violence.

As a strong opponent of firearms, I don’t believe that guns are the answer to anything. Maybe due to my Indian roots and the way that India got it’s freedom through mostly a non-violent freedom movement, that has been etched in my mind. That and having lived my early and formative years in cities and nations that do not have guns as rampant as is the case in the United States. Sad and tragic for the entire country.

That said, within healthcare, I have seen folks focus more on the daily routine of Healthcare IT as well as the focus on growth in opportunities. I saw the news that healthcare added 39,000 new jobs in June alone which is a good sign for the ecosystem. In another sign though of the world that we live in, June was also the month that saw the highest number of 11 million patient record breaches and has been deemed the worst month for information security breaches in 2016. A chilling reminder that we live in a very interconnected world that is global in it’s reach. I sometimes see the statistics of this blog and see that it reaches the far corners of the world and can be read anyplace and at anytime. Security also needs to happen on a global level and many organizations I believe, don’t do enough. One of the Information Security Officers whom I spent time with during our Spring CSO HIMSS conference told me that he felt that his users were the worst security hazard that he had. One wrong click was all it took.

Out Fall CSO HIMSS conference in the fall is not going to have a theme this season, but we are looking to cover a broad range of topics, though we do hope to cover the new MACRA regulations with an expert speaker or two.

So far, I don’t think anyone has seen any major shifts or movements (surprisingly) this year. With ICD-10 now but a distant memory and MACRA coming up as the next thing on people’s minds, I believe that so far, I’d give Healthcare a B for good behavior. Still lot of time left for the end of the year, but that’s my mid year assessment (I know I’ll get grief from both sides on this one…we can talk about it over beverages…)

Enjoy the summer folks!

The Wrap: Healthcare’s Look Back at 2014

Looking back on 2014As we look in the rear view mirror back on 2014, the year that was supposed to change our coding and billing systems, we see that ICD-10 dominated the news with it’s postponement in April and CMS’ subsequent new date of October 1st, 2015. Over the last few weeks though, I’ve heard rumors of yet another delay, this time due to the new political climate in Washington, D.C. These rumors are unsubstantiated, so I would keep them as such. I would record it as a risk to the program for those seeking to restart their ICD-10 initiatives.

Healthcare provider and payer organizations were in “shock and awe” (shocked and many people saying “awww”) at the same time, and high number of provider organizations deciding to postpone their programs indefinitely until the new date was announced and many just restarting the programs either late in the year or planning on doing so in the beginning of the new year, 2015.

The mission of provider IT organizations changed. Just as it was in the pre and post-Y2k days, organizations now wanted to get actual intelligence or analytics from the large systems that they had implemented at such great cost. We came full circle and Analytics started coming to the forefront during the year and it matured after all of the interest, talk and presentations  of Big Data, Business Intelligence and Analytics over the last few years. Leveraging actual data for case studies that I know of this year on Population Health Management and better response times in the ED.

In a recent article in Clinical Innovation and Technology, it was reported that ” as of November 2014, 11,478 eligible professionals and 840 hospitals have attested to Meaningful Use Stage 2. In total, 15,481 new EPs and 221 new hospitals have attested in 2014″. The healthcare provider ecosystem was able to move forward despite some inertia at the beginning of the year.

Many organizations also realized that their infrastructure needed to be updated with projects such as XP to Windows 7 migration; something that needed to occur due to the end support in April by Microsoft of their well known Microsoft XP Operating System.

Consumer health devices starting to get mainstream traction with products like Fitbit and Google Glass starting to look at possible mHealth applications for providers in the future.

The vision and ‘utopia’ of an Interoperable Healthcare ecosystem received a major boost with The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology releasing it’s “10-Year Vision to Achieve An Interoperable Health IT Infrastructure” by 2024. This would be a baseline for future infrastructure development across the United States and possibly even a starting point for world leadership in healthcare systems and infrastructure interoperability.

What a year it has been and we have so much yet to come in 2015 and beyond.

We don’t “Lobby” in Healthcare IT, we “Advocate”

As someone who grew up in other countries before becoming a naturalized American, there’s always been some kind of fascination when it comes to what is called “lobbying” in the United States. I’ve never been able to understand it as it always seems that it goes against the grain of what I’ve always thought of the United States through history books and the Founding Fathers, whom I so admire for their simple vision that has overcome the tests of time. Yet, hiring professional lobbyists in the United States is perfectly legal and healthcare has been leveraging this legal loophole for sometime now. Just this year as an example, lobbying has come into the news through the change in the regulatory date for ICD-10 from October 1st, 2014 to October 1st, 2015. Most believe that this was the result of pressure from care delivery professionals that wanted more time to get their act together (I for one was against this).

Recently, it was reported in “Modern Healthcare” (September 10th, 2014) that Epic retained a lobbyist and as it was reported the filing said that it was “to educate members of Congress on the interoperability of Epic’s healthcare information technology.”

Last week, HIMSS delegates from across the country had their yearly visit to Washington D.C. for their HIMSS Policy Summit, held during National Health IT week where (as reported by Healthcare IT News) HIMSS had certain asks of the nation’s representatives, which were:

  • Minimize disruption in our nation’s health delivery system emanating from federally mandated health IT program changes.
  • Fund the National Coordinator for Health IT to achieve interoperability, improve clinical quality and ensure patient privacy and safety.
  • Expand telehealth services to improve patient access and outcomes and decrease healthcare costs.

The role of politics and healthcare will remain inextricably tied to one another. As we continue to move through this paradigm shift, these areas will ultimately focus on the future of our country’s care delivery and outcomes and the way that we, the patient, will receive our care.