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August 5th, 2014

HealthIT_Aug05_AAs we move toward the October 2015 compliance deadline for ICD-10, the Journal of AHIMA has tackled three misconceptions about the new coding system.

ICD-9 isn't so bad. In reality, ICD-9 is obsolete, and the longer it is in use, the more the quality of health-care data will decline, leading to faulty decisions based on inaccurate or imprecise data. This could lead to increased operating costs along with mistakes which could have a negative effect on your practice and overall billings.

More codes create confusion and difficulty. Almost half of the new codes reflect the ability to differentiate one side of a patient's body from the other. Moreover, more codes, which are more precise, will in fact make it easier to find the right code. It's true that it will take time to learn the new codes, but in the long-run you should see overall efficiency increase, along with more accurate medical records which will make your job easier.

We could just use SNOMED CT or move right to ICD-11. Terminologies such as SNOMED and classification systems such as ICD-10 different roles—albeit complementary ones. And, ICD-11 won’t be ready for prime time until 2017, and that dates marks the beginning, not the end, of the process toward adoption. Remember, ICD-10 was first used by World Health Organization members 1994—and 10 year’s later it’s just going live on a widespread basis.

If you would like to learn more about ICD-10 and how you can ensure that your practice is ready for the October 2015 deadline, contact us today to learn how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 3rd, 2014

HealthcareIT_July03_AThe compliance date for ICD-10 is farther away than it once was, but it’s still coming — and health-care practitioners should be moving forward with preparedness plans, if the results of a recent survey are any indication.

The survey — which questioned physician practices, hospitals, payers, vendors, and others — was conducted by eHealth Initiative and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

It found that most health-care organizations are using the extra time afforded by the delay of ICD-10 compliance to October 15 to invest, train, and test. Most organizations said they're ready for testing, but some are more prepared than others. Around 40 percent of respondents said they'd start end-to- end testing by the end of 2014, and 25 percent reported that they’d begin by the end of 2015. And, to minimize productivity loss, 68 percent of respondents said they will conduct additional training, with 31 percent hiring more coders to help with the transition.

Concerns about ICD-10 remain, however. One pertains to preparedness, with 45 percent of respondents reporting that they don't have a good sense of their partners' readiness. Another pertains to financial impact, with 38 percent of respondents saying they thought their revenue will decrease, and 14 percent saying they think it will stay the same. Only 6 percent think it will increase.

Clearly, while the ICD-10 transition seeks to improve accuracy of claims and quality of care, not everyone has a clear plan to derive value from it. But now, it seems, is the best time to prepare. We recommend that you contact us today to learn more about how we can help ensure that you are ready for ICD-10.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

June 6th, 2014

HealthcareIT_June06_ANot all clouds are created equal, at least when it comes to encryption. Most cloud providers say they encrypt data, which engenders a sense of security—but there is a weakness in the process. Data —say, a medical record— is indeed encrypted when you send it to the cloud. But, when it arrives at the server to be stored, it’s decrypted.

The question then becomes not if your data is encrypted, but how well it is encrypted. Consider a picture sent from one place to another using an industry-standard 256-bit AES algorithm. Anyone with some expertise and a good computer can probably see enough of that picture to make out what it is. So, ideally, you want a cloud provider to offer multi-level encryption, better than a 256-bit AES algorithm.

Additionally, there should be administrative features in place that allow you or other IT staff to see when files have been viewed and edited, how, and by whom.

If you add client-side encryption to these features, you have a winning combination: the ability to store a safely encrypted document directly with a patient, leading to better engagement and thus, a potentially more profitable business.

Contact us today to learn more about our secure options and how they can help ensure your data is secure.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

May 6th, 2014

HealthcareIT_May06_AMultiple cyber attacks, possibly by hacker group Anonymous, plagued the Boston Children's Hospital in April - highlighting the need for data security in all health-care environments.

The attacks may have been a response to the case of 15-year-old patient Justina Pelletier, who the hospital reported to the state as being the victim of medical neglect, ultimately resulting in the state assuming custody. Although Anonymous has not claimed responsibility, it recently launched a campaign communicating its concern that the hospital’s actions constitute "crimes against children” and threatening retaliation if the hospital did not release Pelletier.

According to a hospital statement, the attacks sought to bring down the hospital’s web site by overwhelming its capacity, but there was no reason to suggest that patient information was compromised, and patient care was not been interrupted.

The situation serves as a reminder, though, for all health-care practitioners - physician’s offices as well as hospitals. One disgruntled individual could potentially compromise the security of your system and patient data. Indeed, the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report specifically highlights the health-care industry as a concern when it comes to carelessness regarding privacy and security.

Are you protected? If you’re not sure, it may be a good time to have your IT service provider to a security analysis. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 2nd, 2014

HealthcareIT_Apr02_AChief Information Officer (CIO) Denis Tanguay’s workload has quadrupled over the past few years, and he has been struggling to stay on top ensuring that systems are secure and available when his employees need it. How did he overcome these struggles? He found a solution in outsourcing.

As the CIO for Central Maine Healthcare explained in a Health Care IT News article, getting ready for Stage 2 meaningful use attestation and transitioning to ICD-10 put tremendous pressure on him and his 70-person IT staff.

A few years ago, Tanguay began working with an IT provider, which took work off his staff’s plate. Central Maine Healthcare uses IT providers in a number of ways, from service requests for new PCs, keyboards, and software installations to help with user calls. They’re essentially an “insurance policy," says Tanguay. "They have already blazed those trails and made sure that whatever we're going to be using has already been tested, what versions of firmware and software work well."

Tanguay says the result of outsourcing some IT functionality has resulted in easier software upgrades, quicker response time, greater system stability, improved data security, and better disaster recovery procedures.

Moreover, outsourcing has allowed Tanguay to focus more on the things that are important. “My CEO has a line,” he says. “’We're not in the IT business; we're in the healthcare business.’”

When it comes to IT outsourcing, health-care providers have the option of doing a little or a lot,” says another recent article. They can turn over an entire IT function, or farm out small portions. If you are struggling with managing IT systems in your practice, or would like a little help ensuring compliance with the always changing regulations, contact us today to see how our managed services can help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 1st, 2014

HealthcareIT_Feb25_AMore than half of health-care organizations have not implemented business-intelligence systems, according to a survey, and that could hurt their bottom lines.

Business intelligence is the transformation of raw data into useful information for business purposes. It shows you what’s going on in your practice and how your practice could improve.

According to the survey of 250 health-care professionals by TEKsystems, 58 percent of physician practices and hospitals have not implemented a business-intelligence system. That includes 21 percent that plan to implement a business-intelligence system in the next 24 months, and 26 percent that have no plans whatsoever.

This is a problem, because data will be at the heart of how health-care organizations get paid as the industry changes from a fee-for-service model to a pay-for-performance model. The survey supports this idea, as 76 percent of respondents expect a business-intelligence system to be widely used in finance.

One reason health-care providers haven’t implemented business-intelligence systems, the study found, is that there is a lack of resources and skills available to help them do so. Thirty-four percent of respondents said that data complexity is the biggest obstacle. That’s where an IT expert can help. If you want to implement a business-intelligence system, and don’t have the IT resources on staff, consider reaching out to an IT expert like us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

February 6th, 2014

Healthcare_Feb06_AThe move to digital technology is saving time and reducing errors, but it’s also creating an unprecedented amount of data that must be stored.

According to a BridgeHead Software survey, the health-care industry generates almost a third of the world’s data, which it says “increases day after day.”

While the majority of respondents to the survey reported their data volume increasing over the past year, only a fourth said they have solid, tested disaster-recovery plans.

The problem: Given the vast amount of data that health-care providers must manage, it’s becoming more and more difficult to ensure that timely backups are completed and appropriate copies are made.

And storage isn’t the only issue; optimal use is as well. A study published earlier this year by the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that health-care data systems generally aren't sophisticated enough to optimally use the increasing data - and it suggests that the problem will only grow as innovations (such as next-generation genome sequencing) become more common.

Practice managers and IT directors at medical practices both small and large will inevitably have to deal with this issue. We recommend talking to us today to see how our solutions can help you ensure that your practice can not only meet existing data storage and backup needs, but also scale to meet them in the future.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

January 2nd, 2014

HealthcareIT_Jan02_AIn the early 2000s – even into the current decade – health care had some catching up to do when it came to technology. Much of the industry was paper-based and when technology was used, it was often in separate areas, creating silos of information that couldn’t communicate.

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act questioned that notion. Why should patients fill out multiple forms every time they go to the doctor’s office? Why can’t two doctors in two different rooms look at the same file? Why can’t one doctor automatically see what test you took a few months ago to avoid repeating it? Given where other industries are technologically, it didn’t make sense.

What the industry needed was a catalyst for change – and it found it in meaningful use, which has dramatically accelerated the adoption of technology in the health-care industry. But, meaningful use has had unintended consequences.

For example, the artificially low barriers of Stage 1 meaningful use allowed a number of electronic medical record (EMR) vendors to exist, regardless of the quality of their products. And many health-care providers – not knowing what to look for – went out and bought whatever EMR they could find that was certifiable for Stage 1. Today, they feel stuck with systems that really don’t fit what they need.

Don’t feel stuck. If you’re not happy with your EMR, or the processes you have created around it, something can be done. Contact us today to see how we can help you get the system you need.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

December 3rd, 2013

HealthcareGeneral_Dec03_AThe global market for medical device connectivity is projected to top USD$33 billion by 2019, up significantly from USD$3.5 billion in 2013 - and that could have major implications for health-care providers.

An increase in medical conditions such as high blood pressure, asthma and diabetes - which require continuous monitoring - are driving growth in the integration of medical devices. Integrating data that comes from various medical devices into electronic medical records (EMRs) has many benefits: It can eliminate the inevitable errors that result from transcription and save time, and in doing so, improve overall patient care.

There is one problem however: For small and mid-size health-care providers, there can be cost barriers. Indeed, in 2012, the largest market share segments were large entities - hospitals, followed by home health care. Both are expected to show strong growth through 2019. As the technology and devices become more popular however, prices should drop quickly, allowing almost all providers to afford it.

Still, a new report from Transparency Market Research expects a compound annual growth rate of 37.8% in the market from 2013 to 2019. Although the wired hardware segment of the market was the largest in 2012 (accounting for 40% of market share), the study predicts that wireless connectivity technology will see widespread adoption, as it, along with related technologies such as Bluetooth, is being used to connect medical devices in all health-care locations, from homes to hospitals.

The growth of this technology, says the study, is being driven by numerous factors, including the need for workflow automation, improved patient safety and increased productivity, to name just a few. If you are interested in learning more about how technology can fit into your practice, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 4th, 2013

HealthcareIT_Nov04_ATechnology is only the first step in the launch of a patient portal; administrators must make subsequent decisions about everything from patient login protocols to patient record revisions.

Stage 2 of meaningful use requires that at least 5% of patients view, download and transmit their health-care information and also send secure electronic messages to their health-care provider. Even though that number is lower than the original objective of 10%, the rule is causing many health-care providers anxiety.

First, what are records? HIPAA’s “right of access” rules say patients are entitled to their “designated record set,” which includes medical and billing records, but health care providers must also provide access to “other records used to make decisions about a patient.”

Second, how do you provide access? You’ll have to give patients access to their records in the form that they request, even if it’s by email, and emailing records is against your policy. “The law trumps policy,” in the words of one health-care consultant.

Third, how do you protect a patient’s privacy? For example, how do you provide account logins? Patient records must be secure, of course, but securing them by making password requirements complex may create the impression that you’re denying access to records.

In addition, HIPAA’s right of amendment gives patients the right to request the amendment of their records, and those requests could increase significantly after your patient portal is deployed. Do you have the staff to handle those requests?

If you are looking for a patient portal, or would like to learn how to adapt one for your practice, please contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.