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Implementation can costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it's critical to make wise decisions.
By Phil Fasano, InformationWeek
Jan. 29, 2011
Implementation of electronic health records continues across the nation as healthcare providers position themselves to take advantage of the federal government's incentive payment program, which begins this year and can yield tens of thousands of dollars to those that demonstrate "meaningful use." But implementation itself, from the acquisition of equipment, software, and services to training and utilization, can cost providers hundreds of thousands of dollars, so it's nonetheless critical to make wise choices.
In choosing and deploying an EHR system, continually remind yourself of what it is you're supposed to bring to your practice: connectivity and better coordination among care teams; improved quality and patient safety; efficiency and reduced care costs. As you make system choices, ask how these goals can be advanced--or hampered--through specific EHR capabilities.
February 3, 2011 — 1:31pm ET | By Janice Simmons - Contributing Editor
In the healthcare arena, one of the promising areas of innovation is genomics--and how that can be adapted to providing personalized medicine. But while progress is being made in understanding the human genome and how to tailor treatments based on individual's genetic structures, a barrier remains: how to successfully weave together disparate sources of information.
Darrell West, founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution in Washington, brought this issue to the forefront Jan. 28 in a paper and symposium at Brookings. He argues that now is the time to move forward to connect genomic and other personalized information to EHRs.
February 2, 2011, 1:24 pmBy STEVE LOHR
The government’s lofty vision of bringing health care into the computer age to improve care and curb costs will come to nothing, unless some mundane technical problems can be solved.
A basic challenge is for doctors, hospitals, patients and public health authorities to be able to easily and securely share information — things like a person’s vital signs, diagnosis, lab tests and drugs prescribed. A fancy electronic patient record, unconnected, is just an expensive way to capture data.
The government’s office of national health information technology announced on Wednesday an important step toward the goal of widespread sharing of health data. Two pilot projects, the government said, have successfully used new government-endorsed Internet-based tools for exchanging health information among institutions.
The two pilot projects are in Minnesota and Rhode Island, and the information includes immunization records sent to a public health authority and patient data sent from general practitioners to specialists. Other pilot projects will soon be started in New York, Connecticut, Tennessee, Oklahoma and California.
Posted: February 4, 2011 - 11:45 am ET
After Dr. David Blumenthal's announcement that he will step down this spring as national coordinator for health information technology and return to Harvard University, members of the health IT community praised Blumenthal's accomplishments and expressed optimism that his legacy will continue.
Over the past two years, Dr. Paul Tang worked with Blumenthal as closely as anyone not on the ONC's staff. Tang served as vice chairman of the Health IT Policy Committee under Blumenthal's chairmanship. The advisory panel was established under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to guide the ONC on health IT policy matters. When not serving as a federal adviser, Tang works as vice president and chief medical information officer at the Palo Alto (Calif.) Medical Foundation.
In an e-mail late Thursday, Tang described Blumenthal as "a superb national coordinator who accomplished an enormous amount in his two-year tenure." Blumenthal's "wise, even-handed guidance," he added, was essential in promoting a healthcare IT transformation for the country.
HDM Breaking News, February 4, 2011
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent the following memo to HHS staff announcing that National HIT Coordinator David Blumenthal, M.D., will soon leave to return to Harvard University:
"David Blumenthal has served nearly two years as the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, and it is with regret that I report that he will be leaving that position later this spring to return to his academic post at Harvard. While this was his plan when he joined ONC, we will miss his formidable abilities, steady leadership and incredible dedication.
"In the last two years, our Nation has finally turned the corner in our critically important journey to the use of health information technology, particularly the adoption of electronic health records. Under the leadership of David Blumenthal and his entire team at ONC, we have made significant strides in the implementation of EHRs.
The gain in 2010 was driven by the increased market for digitized medical records and other health IT services, reported Dow Jones VentureSource.
By Nicole Lewis, InformationWeek
Jan. 31, 2011
Venture capital investment in medical software and information services increased from $387.5 million in 2009 to $460 million in 2010 -- a 19% annual growth rate, according to figures from Dow Jones VentureSource.
The investments were driven by the increased adoption of health IT as healthcare delivery organizations move from paper-based systems to digitized medical records. According to Dow Jones VentureSource analysts in a report published last week, that trend is poised to continue in 2011.
"The information management and software area is really the sweet spot for venture capitalists whether in healthcare or in IT overall," Jessica Canning, global research director, Dow Jones VentureSource, told InformationWeek. "It fits their investment model the best because it's much easier to get up and running. It has a shorter investment lifecycle compared with trying to develop new drugs or new cancer research."
Benefits being realized across the country as a result of investments in EHRs
February 3, 2011 (Toronto) - As a result of investments made by Canada Health Infoway (Infoway) and its jurisdictional partners, Infoway President and CEO, Richard Alvarez reports today that the core elements of an electronic health records (EHR) are now in place for nearly half of the Canadian population (49.3%).
"We set an ambitious goal of making the core systems of an electronic health record available to authorized care providers for 50 percent of Canadians by the end of 2010. We've come very close to achieving this important milestone and estimate we'll cross this threshold in mid-2011," said Alvarez. "As a result of these efforts, systems are now in place that are delivering value to patients and clinicians from coast to coast to coast."
By Mary Mosquera
Thursday, February 03, 2011
Dr. David Blumenthal, the national health IT coordinator, will step down in the spring from his position leading the federal program to drive adoption of electronic health records by the nation’s physicians and hospital.
Blumenthal told his staff in a memo Feb. 3 that he will return to Harvard University, where he was a researcher before President Obama named him to head the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT in March 2009.
Blumenthal had planned to stay two years when he accepted the position with ONC, he said in the memo.
Blumenthal has steered the development of criteria for meaningful use of EHRs in collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and public and private partnerships to nudge providers away from paper to digital records, and then to use them in a way that will help to improve the quality of health care.
Posted: February 3, 2011 - 11:45 am ET
Despite the potential benefits of personal health records for patients, physicians differ widely in their past experience with PHRs and in their willingness to use them in their practices, according to a study published in the journal Health Affairs.
The study's authors—the director of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association, a doctoral student in public policy at the University of Chicago and the director of personal health technology at the New York-based Markle Foundation—surveyed 700 physicians in 2008 and 2009 about their use of PHRs. A majority, 64%, had never used one in their practices. About 42% of respondents said they would be willing to use PHRs; 24% expressed unwillingness to use the tool.
Posted: February 3, 2011 - 11:45 am ET
According to a Government Accountability Office report, the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments need to better plan for improved connections between their two healthcare organizations and information technology systems.
The two departments have labored for more than a decade to achieve interoperability between their once-related electronic health-record systems, often producing less-than-satisfactory results, according to multiple previous GAO reports.
Those efforts toward Defense Department and VA connectivity were given an added urgency in 2009 by President Barack Obama, who called for creating a virtual lifetime electronic record by 2012 that can seamlessly track the healthcare needs of active-duty military personnel and veterans.
February 3, 2011 — 11:58am ET | By Janice Simmons - Contributing Editor
Meaningful use provisions are embedded throughout the new 2011 evaluation standards for patient-centered medical homes issued this week by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to encourage primary-care practices to quickly adopt healthcare information technology.
"By emphasizing access, health information technology, and partnerships between clinicians and patients to improve health, these new standards raise the bar in defining high-quality care," said NCQA President Margaret O'Kane in a statement.
The report focuses on the promise of information technology for health treatment and research, noting the considerable investment in the area by industry and the federal government (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 alone provides nearly $36 billion for health information technology). The real thrust of the report, however, is the lack of uptake – “Despite this great promise, the impact of IT on healthcare over the past decade has so far been modest”– and recommendations for what to do about it.
HealthLeaders Media Staff , January 31, 2011
Knee-replacement patients who undergo telerehabilitation–an Internet-based postoperative rehabilitation program that can be conducted from home–experience the same – sometimes better -- results as those who undergo traditional rehabilitation, according to a new study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.
The randomized controlled trial found that the outcomes achieved via telerehabilitation at six weeks following total knee arthroplasty were comparable with those after conventional rehabilitation.
The researchers enrolled 65 patients who underwent TKA and randomized them to receive six weeks of either traditional outpatient rehab services or Internet-based outpatient rehab.
HDM Breaking News, January 31, 2011
Attention hospitals seeking to receive electronic health records meaningful use incentive payments: If you don't know what PQRI XML submissions mean, it's time to read John Halamka's latest blog entry.
Halamka is CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, HIT Standards Committee co-chair and a practicing physician. His new entry tackles the PQRI XML files needed to submit quality measures to the government. Support for these files is required for Complete EHR certification of hospital systems.
Gienna Shaw, for HealthLeaders Media , February 1, 2011
As healthcare organizations begin to explore accountable care models, one thing is clear—technology will play a huge role. Organizations that are leading the way toward ACOs talked about how they'll use technology to reach their goals in the most recent HealthLeaders Media breakthroughs report, The Bridge to Accountable Care Organizations.
In a roundtable event that is part of the multi-media report, leaders talked about electronic medical records and health information exchanges—the foundation for identifying gaps in care and for housing data that will be used to guide physicians.
"Clearly, health IT is the backbone, the enabler to an ACO," says Warren Skea, PhD, director, health industries advisory practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, which sponsored the report. "There won't be success unless information is free flowing between all entities. What we've heard is that it is critical to have one system within the organization.
By Nancy Szokan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 1, 2011; 12:01 AM
Seeking health information is the third-most-prevalent activity among American Internet users, according to a report being issued Feb. 1 by the Pew Internet Project. The only things more universal were exchanging e-mail and using search engines. (Of course, if someone uses Google to look up "shingles," there's obviously some overlap.) Eight out of 10 Internet users report going online for health information, even if it's only occasionally. "Health-care information is there when they need it," said Susannah Fox, associate director. People most commonly look up diseases, treatments and doctors, often on behalf of a child or other dependent.
Pew has been tracking Internet use in many fields - commerce, music, civic life - since 2000, and from the beginning, Fox said, "we were really struck by the depth of feeling that people expressed" about how the Internet helped them with health care. "In many ways, the Internet has become the de facto second opinion," she said. "People go online to prepare for a doctor's appointment - or recover from [it]."
January 30, 2011 — 11:40pm ET | By Ken Terry - Contributing Editor
Recently, I interviewed the CIO of a large Midwestern healthcare system about its plans to become an accountable care organization. The healthcare system was installing a well-known electronic health record that will allow its providers to access patient data across inpatient, outpatient and post-acute care settings. The biggest obstacle the CIO saw to health information exchange was the lack of national standards that would enable the system's EHR to communicate with the EHRs of private practices and other providers outside of the enterprise.
The Obama Administration is trying to address this problem. In the near term, the government is testing its Direct Project, an open-source exchange standard that can help providers "push" care summaries and other data to one another. At the same time, the state health information exchanges receiving federal funds are required to figure out how to get providers to exchange Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs), which contain the key information on diagnoses, medications, and allergies that providers need to treat a patient.
Posted: January 31, 2011 - 11:15 am ET
Epocrates, the San Mateo, Calif.-based developer of the eponymous mobile prescription-information tool, is looking to raise about $76 million in an initial public offering of common stock, according to its most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission
In the company prospectus filed with the SEC today, Epocrates seeks listing on the NASDAQ exchange under the symbol EPOC. The company will begin selling stock "as soon as practicable after the effective date of this registration statement," according to the filing.
Posted: January 31, 2011 - 10:15 am ET
Physicians and patients are in general agreement about health information technology priorities such as data-sharing and criteria for payment incentives, according to results of a new survey from the New York-based Markle Foundation.
"Doctors and patients agree on the importance of putting accurate information in their hands to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare," Markle President Zoe Baird said in a written release.
By Kyle Alspach
Christian Renaux used to work as a registered nurse at Brockton Hospital, the largest hospital in the 100,000-resident Massachusetts city of Brockton.
Now he has a leadership role at the hospital in the area of electronic health records — an advance seen by the government and health-care industry as crucial to lowering the cost and improving the quality of health care.
In the roughly nine years between stints at the hospital, now known as Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital, Renaux gained expertise in electronic health records technology while working at a Massachusetts vendor for EHR systems, Westwood-based Medical Information Technology Inc. (MediTech).
By Mary Mosquera
Thursday, January 27, 2011
The Health and Human Services Department plans to broaden the categories of data that federal agencies will make available in order to help developers create innovative tools.
It’s asking for public comment about the non-federal data and health indicator data sets that it should promote.
The new data groups will not be specific to an individual’s personal health information, according to a notice in the Jan. 27 Federal Register. They could include, for example, health indicator data representing surveys conducted by state government or private organizations.
Want to learn more about Infoway's strategy for accelerating the use of electronic health information systems throughout Canada? Read Infoway's Summary Corporate Plan for 2011-2012. The plan talks about the progress that Infoway and our jurisdictional partners have made so far. And, it outlines the priorities and expectations for the coming fiscal year.
HDM Breaking News, January 31, 2011
The National Committee for Quality Assurance on Jan. 31 will issue new standards for its Patient-Centered Medical Home program.
More than 7,700 clinicians at 1,500 sites use existing standards from Washington-based NCQA in their medical home initiatives. The initiatives call for substantially better coordination across the continuum of care, anchored by a primary care physician and augmented with extensive use of information technology. Physician practices meeting the new standards, called PCMH 2011, will be well positioned to qualify for meaningful use incentive payments, according to NCQA.
Monday, January 31, 2011
These are heady days for Eric Brown. He's the executive director for the California Telehealth Network, an organization partially funded by the Federal Communications Commission and run by the University of California-Davis that plans to use video feeds to eventually link medical specialists to more than 800 rural and underserved health care facilities across the state.
CTN recently announced that 25 medical facilities now are hooked up to a broadband network, bringing the futuristic vision of telehealth closer to reality in California.
"It's a very exciting time," Brown said, adding, "It's good to be making progress. About 25 sites now have active circuits, and full functionality will come in the next week or two. We're shooting for the first week of February."
10,500 patients use system at Toronto's Sunnybrook hospital
Last Updated: Sunday, January 30, 2011 | 1:16 PM ET
The Canadian Press
Thousands of patients taking advantage of Canada's first online health records system say it is giving them control over their care, but some experts are warning too much information can cause panic.
"Showing patients the information without interpretation does have risks of confusing patients and increasing anxiety," said Alexander Krist, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond who has studied the value of giving patients access to their health records.
"And showing patients information before their doctors have had a chance to explain it to them can also be problematic."
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto is the first in Canada to offer its patients virtual access to their health records, using an online network called MyChart, and other hospitals are poised to follow suit.
Jan 30, 2011 08:34:42 AM
TORONTO - Thousands of Sunnybrook Hospital patients using Canada's first online health records system said it's giving them greater control over their care.
However, some health-care experts said allowing patients to see their test results without a doctor there to interpret them, can cause panic.
Alexander Krist of Virginia Commonwealth University said electronic health records should present information in everyday language, not medical jargon.