Healthcare Integration: Expectation vs Reality

Competition among providers can drive greater healthcare value; however, in reality, the industry has been moving in the opposite direction — toward consolidation.

There were 90 hospital and health system mergers/ acquisitions during 2018, with average seller revenue reaching a historic high of $409 million, according to advisory firm Kaufman Hall, which has been tracking such metrics over the past decade.

“Health system leaders are seeking to acquire organizations that bring embedded expertise and resources to the deal, making these transactions more of a strategic partnership than an asset acquisition,” reports Kaufman Hall.

Integration’s Role

In many cases, strategic consolidation rides on a quest for improved information-sharing made possible by establishing a common electronic health record (EHR) system among M&A partners. As the theory goes, “EHR integration could [lower] operating costs by reducing redundant IT staffing and achieving economies of scale in costly ongoing system maintenance,” states a newly published Health Affairs study. What’s more, integration can help narrow information gaps as patients move across diverse care delivery sites.

Nonetheless, actual experience in the field paints a different picture. The Health Affairs research, based on American Hospital Association data, finds that of 88 hospitals acquired between 2012 and 2014, only one-third switched to the EHR system of the acquiring organization, while 44 percent remained on a different EHR.

“Our results suggest that one important avenue by which consolidation may result in lower-cost, higher quality care is not routinely occurring,” the study authors write. “This should be cause for continued concern that many acquired hospitals may not deliver on their promised benefits.”

Integration Headwinds

Healthcare organizations transitioning to a new EHR often run into difficulties when the old system’s data is stored in a proprietary format that can’t be deployed without first being converted into a standardized structure. To make matters worse, “outgoing” EHR vendors sometimes take weeks or months to carry out a required data conversion.

“If your patient records are not provided in a format that makes them fully accessible in your new EHR, healthcare professionals may be unable to rely on clinical decision support tools … [for functions such as] automated drug interaction checking and allergy reminders,” The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) warns. “Further, if data is not provided in an appropriate format, you will incur the time and costs associated with converting the data to a usable format.”

Additionally, integrations can fall victim to other problems such as:

  • failing to get practical input from key system users during planning and implementation;
  • understaffing the process of extracting, moving, manipulating and repopulating large data volumes;
  • moving duplicate or obsolete data into the new system;
  • not moving all relevant documentation into the new system; and
  • choosing incomplete patient data instead of validated, real-world scripts for end-user testing.

Tightening Up Integration with the Right Approach

Despite inherent challenges, integration will continue to be a core element in healthcare’s pursuit of value-based care and operational excellence. That’s why it’s so important for healthcare providers to choose the right integration partner and methodology.

NetDirector specializes in automated integration for entities across the healthcare ecosystem, from physician practices to hospitals and health systems and affiliated facilities such as labs and radiology clinics. Our team of dedicated professionals can assess individual requirements and map out a cost-effective and efficient plan for successful integration.

To learn more about NetDirector’s cloud-based data exchange and integration platform and additional services, please contact us or request a free demo.

RSNA Dives Deep on Artificial Intelligence for Radiologists

The commercial market for artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of over 68 percent through the 2018-2022 timespan, according to industry researcher Frost & Sullivan. Driving the expansion: a tangible shift from innovation to adoption of AI among radiologists, because new tools are proving useful in the field.

For instance, the University of Utah Health is putting AI to work compiling patients’ prior scans, as opposed to physicians having to manually search archived images. And at Capital Health Hospitals, AI-based clinical software detects intracranial hemorrhages in CT scans and flags them for immediate attention.

New Platform for AI Research

Amidst this fast-developing setting, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) recently launched an online journal, Radiology: Artificial Intelligence, which highlights emerging AI applications across multiple imaging disciplines.

“AI and radiology do not exist in isolation,” explains the publication’s editor, Charles Kahn, MD. “[These] technologies will help us care for our patients more effectively and humanely. Our goal is not to replace, but rather to extend our human abilities to provide medical care — and to improve the lives of those we are privileged to serve.”

At the journal’s core will be validated scientific research papers that show AI’s impact in extracting information, diagnosing and managing diseases, streamlining radiology workflow and improving healthcare outcomes. Expect coverage of image segmentation and reconstruction, automated detection of abnormalities, diagnostic reasoning, natural language processing, clinical workflow analysis, and radiogenomics, as well as novel applications and innovative applications.

The debut issue, published January 30, includes analysis of automated fracture detection and localization on wrist radiographs, and classification of elbow fractures using a “deep learning” approach that emulates radiologist decision-making. A special report looks at how AI provides standardization, consistency, and dependability in support of human radiologists. An opinion piece peers over the horizon at “augmented radiology,” a practice in which technology will amplify human insight, particularly in medical education and training.

Toward Full AI Integration

As pointed out in NetDirector’s blog post “Artificial Intelligence Set to Soar in Healthcare,” AI’s future success rides on use cases where the technology not only helps to improve clinical outcomes but also delivers a clear return on investment. In doing so, it needs to be fully integrated into radiology departments’ user interfaces and workflows.

Areas to watch include breast and lung imaging for cancer discovery, neurological imaging for stroke detection and non-invasive imaging for diagnosis of coronary artery disease. The technology works in the background to support radiologists’ knowledge and efficiency while offering readily accessible tools for specific purposes as needed.

Undoubtedly, an ongoing challenge will be assimilating health data across diverse platforms and connecting multiple data sources. NetDirector’s cloud-based HealthData Exchange platform ensures strong integration for fast-rising AI applications, bolstered by an existing footprint in radiology and imaging centers.

To find out more about HealthData Exchange and how it could help leverage AI applications, please contact us or request a free demo.

Interoperability Captures Spotlight at HIMSS19

Interoperability Captures Spotlight at HIMSS19

HIMSS19, health IT’s most expansive conference, kicked off on Feb. 11 with the release of a new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed policy rule detailing the agency’s vision for advancing industry-wide interoperability and patient access to health information.

“We believe patients should have the ability to move from health plan to health plan, provider to provider, and have both their clinical and administrative information travel with them throughout their journey,” according to the rule’s statement of purpose.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma’s public comments during the meeting added depth and clarity: “We are promoting scalable data sharing, not just an individual patient record from hospital-to-hospital, but a model that supports the flow of information across the entire healthcare system. We encourage industry to align in this direction because this is the future.”

Practical Application

The CMS proposed rule would give patients access to their health information electronically through an application programming interface (API). At the same time, providers could obtain their patients’ health information, regardless of previous sites of care. On the flip side, providers would not be able to restrict information flow to other providers and payers. Additionally, CMS expects payers and third parties to develop software that would ensure seamless data availability when patients change providers, health plans or issuers.

The rule’s timeline is aggressive. CMS stipulated that Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicare Advantage plans and Qualified Health Plans in federally facilitated insurance exchanges must be equipped to give enrollees immediate electronic access to claims and other health information by 2020.

Concurrent with the CMS rulemaking, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), which guides national efforts on health IT implementation/ usage and electronic information exchange, unveiled its own rule on data blocking. The ONC rule implements provisions spelled out by law in the 21st Century Cures Act, which Congress passed in 2016. The rule also provides exceptions to the law’s definition of information blocking. Aside from potential fines (up to $1 million per instance) applicable to health information exchanges, providers or hospitals that block information would be publicly named by CMS.

ONC National Coordinator Donald Rucker, MD, a closing speaker at HIMSS19, told attendees that, in the final analysis, patients should be empowered to access their health data “through a [smartphone] app of their choice, at no additional cost.” Rucker added, “Patients should be able to attach their smartphone to the provider’s endpoint and get their medical data … That’s what modern technology allows.”

Open APIs required for deployment of data sharing under the proposed rules would be based on HL7’s FHIR standard.

Additional Considerations

While early reaction to the CMS/ONC rulemaking has been mostly positive, the American Hospital Association (AHA) opposes a requirement that providers electronically notify other providers when a patient is discharged or moved to another hospital. “We cannot support including electronic event notification as a condition for participation for Medicare and Medicaid,” according to a prepared AHA statement. “We believe that CMS already has better levers to ensure the exchange of appropriate health information for patients. We recommend the agency focus on building this exchange infrastructure rather than layering additional requirements on hospitals,” the statement concluded.

Privacy and security considerations should also be factored into the mix during the 60-day public-comment period for the CMS and ONC rules. Cybersecurity executive Mac McMillan noted, “[The agencies] said, ‘We want you to be more open, but you still have to protect the data.’ Typically, those two things don’t go hand-in-hand … Folks are going to be very concerned they are on the hook for any downstream incidents that occur as a result of openness they have with third-party developers.”

Ahead of the Curve

NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange platform aligns well with the regulatory landscape inherent in the CMS and ONC rulemaking. In short, interoperability’s focus should be on the patient.

HealthData Exchange allows providers and vendors to electronically move clinical and financial data among disparate information systems while adhering to HIPAA and HL7 compliance standards. Less time spent on technology and inputting data frees up providers to deliver an improved patient experience by integrating information flow throughout the continuum of care.

To learn more about NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange platform, please contact us or request a free demo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NetDirector Teams with DocPanel to Provide Rapid Integration and Data Consistency for Radiology Reads and Reports

From PRNewswire:

Tampa, FL – December 13, 2018 – NetDirector, a cloud-based data exchange, and integration platform, has expanded their healthcare data-trading ecosystem by partnering with DocPanel, a digital community of highly-skilled subspecialty radiologists who provide radiology interpretations for both healthcare providers and patients.

With a shared vision founded on providing exceptional patient care and leveraging technology to increase interoperability in healthcare organizations, DocPanel and NetDirector have moved forward with their partnership to increase the ease of deployment and level of integration available to both DocPanel, and the healthcare providers that they engage with.

DocPanel’s network of over 300 board-certified, highly distinguished radiologists across 41 states and academic institutions provide unparalleled specialization. NetDirector’s cloud-based integration-platform-as-a-service (iPaaS) model will make specialty care more rapidly accessible and easier to leverage for the providers who are directly servicing the patients by handling the complex integrations and variety of systems that are ubiquitous in the world of modern-day medical imaging data.

“DocPanel was built to make it possible for imaging providers to receive the best possible radiology interpretations available, no matter where they are,” states Cate Lloyd, COO of DocPanel. “By partnering with NetDirector, together we will make that world-class service easier to access and more cost-effective and interoperable for both the initial provider and the participating radiologist, ensuring sustainability and availability for all participants,” she continued.

DocPanel is initially utilizing NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange to receive digital orders from customers and return diagnostic results back to its ecosystem of Imaging Centers. NetDirector allows them to fast-track onboarding of new trading partners and significantly reduce IT resource overhead to maintain a multitude of data interfaces. They are also looking to potentially expand services by utilizing NetDirector’s new DICOM image converter to automate the inclusion of PDFs to DICOM directly into the radiologist’s reading protocols and eliminate on-premise licensed software.

Additionally, NetDirector’s new Health Data Monitor (HDM) makes the whole integration environment easier to monitor and maintain compliance than ever before. Network participants are notified of delays or connectivity concerns in real time through the HDM dashboard and can respond as needed or engage with their dedicated integration analyst who are domain experts in healthcare workflow and integration technologies.

“Partnering with DocPanel is very exciting – they are at the forefront of their industry, much like we are,” said Harry Beisswenger, CEO of NetDirector. “Being able to provide a strong and secure integration solution, while simultaneously reducing costs, ensures that the amazing services provided by DocPanel’s team of radiologists can be accessed in a simple and straight-forward way.”

About NetDirector:

NetDirector provides a secure cloud-based data and document exchange solution for the healthcare and mortgage banking industries to deliver seamless data integration between parties. NetDirector bridges gaps created by disparate systems & technologies by allowing companies at any location to share data & documents securely over a single internet connection with any other member of the ecosystem. Our approach allows trading partners to collaborate and exchange data in a seamless, bi-directional, real-time manner. With security and longevity as a focus, NetDirector is a certified HIPAA Compliant company, a 6-year member of the prominent Inc. 5000, and currently processes more than 10 million transactions per month.

About DocPanel

DocPanel is the world’s first subspecialty radiologist marketplace bringing together the largest network of fellowship-trained radiologists across every major subspecialty into one single online platform. DocPanel’s subspecialty radiologists offer final reads and educational consultations to imaging centers and radiology groups, and second opinions to clients and patients across the United States and the world. The company offers a new flexible and customizable model of subspecialty radiology to help overcome challenges related to errors, high costs, staff shortages and more.

Why Interoperability Still Matters

When HIMSS asked hospital leaders to rate their most pressing 2018 concerns, “Health Information Exchange, Interoperability and Data Integration” ranked a rather middling 13th out of 24 total IT priorities. On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 meant “not a priority” and 7 designated an “essential priority,” respondents gave interoperability a group score of 4.85.

Consider that outcome against the top 5 priorities among hospital respondents:

  1. Patient Safety 6.07
  2. Privacy, Security and Cybersecurity 5.90
  3. Process Improvement, Workflow, Change Management 5.70
  4. Data Analytics/Clinical and Business Intelligence 5.50
  5. Clinical Informatics and Clinician Engagement 5.50

Compared to 2017, “Leadership, Governance, Strategic Planning” and “Connected Health and Telehealth” jumped ahead of “Health Information Exchange, Interoperability and Data Integration” in this year’s priority ranking.

Nonetheless, the HIMSS survey findings shouldn’t be construed to mean that interoperability has fallen off the boardroom table as a point of emphasis. Instead, the onus for achieving interoperability may be shifting from internal IT departments to collaborative colleagues in the commercial health IT sector. In fact, vendors and consultants surveyed by HIMSS rated interoperability as their 2nd highest current priority, with a mean score of 5.60.

One key aspect of what’s in play here is that 75 percent of hospitals are dealing with 10+ disparate electronic health record (EHR) systems in use at affiliated practices, while only 2 percent of hospitals use a single vendor’s EHR.

Vendors will have to work toward agreement on interoperability standards, not only as it applies to their customers’ reimbursement under value-based payment models but also “because of consumer demand as things like Apple Health Records gain traction,” according to Blain Newton, executive vice president of HIMSS Analytics. He added, “You’re going to see consumer health apps that have been playing at the fringes now be able to plug into the mothership and pull data from it, add to it.”

A Milestone for Progress

Despite pending challenges, the future looks promising for emerging interoperability initiatives. In mid-November, Carequality and CommonWell Health Alliance, two of the nation’s largest interoperability communities, announced that mutually enabled healthcare providers would be able to connect and bilaterally exchange data via leading EHR vendors.

Approximately 80 percent of U.S. hospitals and ambulatory offices use EHR systems that are part of either Carequality or Commonwell, noted Micky Tripathi, CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative. “Imagine a mobile wireless world where Verizon and AT&T weren’t connected—both networks provide great services to their own customers, but you couldn’t talk to anyone on the other network,” he explained. “This milestone is [on] that level of significance for interoperability.”

Further, providers who have already invested in integration know that it directly impacts interoperability. Technology that streamlines payment processing alleviates non-value-added time spent on documentation and processes required for maximized reimbursement.

A recent case study shows how front-end benefit verification enabled American Health Imaging (AHI) to reduce labor costs by about $480,000 annually through integration and automation on NetDirector’s cloud-based data exchange service.

Click here to read the entire AHI case study.

 

 

Artificial Intelligence Set to Soar in Healthcare

The market for artificial intelligence (AI)-based medical image analysis software will grow exponentially over the next several years, from the current level of approximately $400 million to more than $2 billion in 2023, according to a recent report from Signify Research. Product development pace is at an all-time high, driven in part by the improved performance of AI algorithms and rapid advancements in computing, storage, and networking capabilities.

Nonetheless, the promising outlook hinges on algorithm developers identifying use-cases where “AI can be shown to improve clinical outcomes and deliver a clear return on investment for healthcare providers,” writes analyst Simon Harris, author of the report. “Moreover, the technology needs to be fully integrated in the existing user interfaces and workflows found in radiology departments, both working in the background to augment radiologists’ knowledge and efficiency, and [being] readily accessible when specific tools are needed.”

Areas to watch include breast and lung imaging for cancer detection, neurological imaging for stroke detection, and non-invasive imaging for the diagnosis of coronary artery disease, according to Signify. If things go as predicted, patients would benefit from personalized treatment made possible by higher accuracy in diagnostic imaging, and radiology departments would be better equipped to handle increasing workloads.

Practical Applications of AI

Many AI algorithms in development for radiology address detection of abnormal structures in diagnostic images and can be used in modalities ranging from CT scans to X-rays.

The technology automates the handling of data-intensive studies such as mammograms, which are transitioning from 2D to 3D imaging, notes Matt Dewey, CIO of Wake Radiology in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C., area. “We go from a study that used to be 64 megabytes for a normal, standard study to about 2 gigabytes, so it just takes the radiologist much more time to go through,” Dewey explains. “If we can find a way that a computer looks through it, it should make a difference [by highlighting] things for the radiologist.”

Additionally, AI could help by analyzing data from non-radiology sources such as lab test results and patient-specific files from electronic health record systems. AI’s role would be to extract key pieces of information for each case, says Dewey.

Elsewhere in real-world AI applications:

  • Mayo Clinic is conducting molecular sequencing and analysis for 1,000 patient participants in immunotherapy studies for various cancer types. The results will help shape customized treatment options.
  • Cleveland Clinic has integrated Microsoft’s Cortana AI digital assistant into a command center that monitors 100 beds in six ICUs on overnight shifts. The focus is on identifying patients at high risk for cardiac arrest.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital has installed a “deep learning” supercomputer to tap a database of 10 billion images for applications in radiology and pathology.
  • Johns Hopkins uses predictive analytics to support more efficient operational flow. Among the targets are faster ambulance dispatches, streamlined bed assignments in the emergency department and more patient discharges before noon each day.
  • UCLA Medical Center is testing an AI-driven chatbot that communicates with referring clinicians and provides evidence-based answers to frequently asked questions.

Integration Will Fuel AI’s ‘Engine for Growth’

From a broad perspective across healthcare, AI applications constitute a “self-running engine for growth,” with the potential to create $150 billion in annual savings by 2026, according to consulting firm Accenture.

In pursuit of those projected gains, the technology challenge will be integrating health data across platforms and connecting various data sources.

NetDirector’s cloud-based HealthData Exchange already has a footprint in radiology and imaging centers, enabling them to reduce integration costs and facilitate improved workflows and communications with the extended provider community.

If your organization is investigating or underway with AI-based initiatives, consider how HealthData Exchange can ensure strong integration moving forward across multiple systems and provider networks.

To find out more about NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange platform, please contact us or request a free demo.

Telehealth on the Rise Across Delivery and Payment Components

Momentum in key areas will drive telehealth to new heights in the coming years. Academic investigation confirms telehealth’s effectiveness, according to a review of 145 articles conducted earlier this year by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The study finds evidence that recognizes the advantages of telehealth, particularly for remote intensive care and specialty care consultations.

Aside from improving access to care and delivering clinical benefits, the technology is gaining additional traction in the form or emerging payment models and regulatory support, MobiHealthNews reports.

Doctors are onboard, too. “There’s no question that providers are embracing virtual care more than ever before,” says Jason Gorevic, CEO of telehealth trailblazer Teladoc.

“However, this is a case of ‘and’ not ‘or.’ This is additive because health plan, employer and consumer adoption are rapidly increasing,” Gorevic points out.

Developing Business Models

The most successful telemedicine providers “are those who shift their mindset from reimbursement to revenue,” observes the healthcare practice of law firm Foley and Lardner. Current examples include:

  • Academic medical centers with a surplus of specialist physicians contracting with rural hospitals or other sites of care to supply on-demand medical expertise through professional service agreements such as monthly retainers (as opposed to external fee-for-service reimbursement).
  • Telemedicine companies contracting with accountable care organizations (ACOs) to implement virtual care as a means for ACOs to realize quality and cost improvements, and thereby qualify for Medicare incentive payments.
  • Provider networks offering telemedicine-based care to employer workforces via varying compensation approaches, such as per-encounter fees, capitated per employee per month payments or shared-savings models.

In any of these pathways, there’s potential for cost savings through telehealth, as providers gain the ability to monitor patients remotely, identify symptoms before diseases get worse, and prevent expensive subsequent treatments.

Nonetheless, providers need to be proactive with their telehealth strategy, reports Health Data Management. That means reviewing and updating compliance programs, as well as billing, coding and documentation procedures and policies.

Integration in a Burgeoning Market

Venture capital funding for telehealth-focused companies nearly tripled between 2013 and 2016, according to an analysis conducted by Rock Health.

Meanwhile, the push is on to position telehealth as a low-cost alternative to hospital or physician office visits for non-emergency issues. An employer survey from Willis Towers Watson shows that offerings of telehealth services to employees rose from 64 percent of employers in 2016 to a projected 92 percent in 2018.

“Today, we focus on urgent care, but over time we will be able to focus on other things … [such as the] parts of patient care that are routine and can—and should—be done online,” comments Lyle Berkowitz, MD, the chief medical officer at MDLive. He predicts further emphasis on telehealth within routine care environments, helping set the stage for greater provider efficiency.

NetDirector agrees and also views telehealth as part of automated billing and payment processes. NetDirector can integrate telehealth options to EMR, billing or imaging systems, allowing telehealth to no longer be a standalone service, but a true end-to-end solution.

To find out more about NetDirector’s cloud-based HealthData Exchange platform, please contact us or request a free demo.

VA Can Learn from DoD in EHR Overhaul

As the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) moves toward replacement of its decades-old VistA electronic health record (EHR) system, a tumultuous first half of 2018 seems to have settled into a period of practicality.

President Trump fired VA Secretary David Shulkin from his post on March 28 after an inspector general report asserted violations of federal ethics rules and procedures related to an overseas trip by Shulkin. The agency’s acting CIO, Scott Blackburn, then resigned on April 17, leaving in limbo a $10 billion contract for VA to adopt the same Cerner EHR platform being pilot-tested by the Department of Defense (DoD).

The proposed VA-Cerner deal had already triggered concern in Congress that the project’s price tag wouldn’t cover an additional 50 to 60 percent in costs to upgrade supporting infrastructure as well as ongoing maintenance for the new EHR.

Nonetheless, VA announced on May 17 that a contract with Cerner had indeed been signed, capping out at $10 billion over 10 years, and stipulating that VA would adopt the same EHR platform as DoD. Acting VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, Shulkin’s successor, said the new system, when fully deployed, would represent “a monumental advance in veterans’ healthcare” and build on DoD’s experiences in rolling out its EHR.

Operating the VA’s and DoD’s EHR systems on the same platform would improve interoperability and health data exchange, which in turn would simplify and facilitate care coordination for VA providers, Wilkie explained.

System Shortcomings

While striving to meet high expectations for its new EHR, the VA will undoubtedly learn from DoD’s Cerner-based MHS Genesis EHR implementations at Fairchild Air Force Base, Naval Health Clinic Oak Harbor and Naval Hospital Bremerton — all located in Washington state — from September through December 2017. A DoD memo dated April 30, 2018, concluded that system rollouts at those three sites “[did] not demonstrate enough workable functionality to manage and document patient care.” The report said MHS Genesis “is not operationally suitable because of poor system usability, insufficient training and inadequate help desk support.”

Other specifics cited in the DoD memo included “poorly defined user roles and workflows, [which] resulted in an increase in the time required for healthcare providers to complete daily tasks.” Some providers complained that they needed to work overtime and saw fewer patients per day due to delays caused by defects in the EHR system.

In response, Cerner President Zane Burke told shareholders in May that the company was aware of certain issues upfront at the three test sites, but DoD’s delivery on the project had gone “incredibly well overall.” Cerner plans to evaluate and remediate as necessary at the pilot MHS Genesis sites, Burke added.

In doing so, Cerner will need to address the workflow issue in particular, according to Navy Vice Admiral Raquel Bono, director of DoD’s Defense Health Agency. “Workflow adoption is the crux of the change management that’s needed to successfully deploy an EHR system, Bono said during a panel discussion at the HIMSS18 healthcare IT conference in March. Bono noted that DoD would be working in concert with VA to ensure proper identification and “unanimity of workflows.”

Meeting Challenges Through Integration

Although the DoD and VA EHR implementations may be unprecedented in size and scope, the inherent obstacles translate to smaller but similar-in-concept projects underway at healthcare stakeholder facilities across the country. In many cases, cloud-based integration and strong data management are critical factors for success.

A single cloud-based platform, such as NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange, enables hospitals and physician practices to reduce the time, cost and effort associated with EHR integration. By streamlining clinical workflow and communications with trading partners, facilities can support automated processes in place of paper-based workarounds, thereby reducing administrative costs and complementing existing IT investments. And, in the end, that frees up providers for their primary task — taking care of patients.

To find out more about HealthData Exchange, please contact us or request a free demo.

Apple Leads Big-Name Tech Charge Focusing on Health Data

Apple’s $921 billion market valuation, perched atop the Fortune 500, reflects investors’ belief that the company’s relentless growth should continue in coming years. And an iPhone-based health record product, a test version of which Apple released in late January, could be a pivotal part of the expected progression.

“We view the future as consumers owning their own health data,” Apple COO Jeff Williams told CNBC.

The new Health Records section, accessible from the iPhone’s Health app, lets users stream in encrypted data (e.g., allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vital signs) from leading EHR systems. The idea empowers consumers to share passcode-protected data on-demand with their primary care doctor or hospital personnel.

As of March, nearly 40 U.S. hospitals had signed on to participate in Apple’s Health Records project.

Industry Reaction

David Harlow, who heads a healthcare law and consulting practice, pointed out the long-term promise inherent in Apple’s initiative: allowing more people than ever before to access their own health data more easily. If the pilot succeeds, he added, healthcare systems of all sizes across the country would be able to connect their respective EHRs to the Apple conduit.

Indeed, among a dozen Health Records beta sites interviewed by research firm KLAS Enterprises, all recognized the product’s potential to facilitate patient-provider interaction and help consumers improve care self-management. Patient record portability should be possible soon, according to 59 percent of beta testers, with associated benefits (giving patients access to their data, using the data to engage patients, and integrating data into patient care) expected within six months.

At the same time, however, Harlow cautioned that Apple faces several short-term challenges:

  1. Health Records is currently limited to personal health record data, not the full scope of EHR data.
  2. iPhone users account for only 15 percent of the overall smartphone market (although physician iPhone usage hovers around 75 percent).
  3. The pilot’s relatively small size limits demonstration of data integration from multiple provider organizations.
  4. Data flows only in one direction — from provider to patient.

Harlow concluded that it’s not yet possible to predict whether Health Records will become ubiquitous, although consumer advocates like Apple’s approach to handling end-user data. (It stays on the phone and Apple won’t be mining it for other purposes.)

Nonetheless, a practical consideration — some patients have to pay their provider more than $500 for a single medical records request, while others encounter an annual subscription fee, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report — could disrupt emerging data-sharing models. In this environment, Apple has gotten a head start on allowing patients to own and control their health data, even across disparate systems.

Integration in the Healthcare Ecosystem

NetDirector views these developments in a positive light as they relate to integration advances across healthcare. If Health Records and similar projects take flight, cloud-based platforms such as NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange will assist with streamlined adoption and implementation. The net result will be the ability for healthcare stakeholders to quickly and accurately put in place patient-centric services.

For more information on HealthData Exchange, please contact us or request a free demo.

Technologies That Impressed at HIMSS18

Last month in larger-than-life Las Vegas, nearly 50,000 healthcare IT professionals and vendors convened for HIMSS18, the industry’s yearly focal point. Attendees sought common ground in improving care and business operations through the use of technology.

Reports from the conference yielded a wealth of new information from more than 1,000 exhibitors and scores of expert presenters. And — indicative of a setting where anything could happen — Jared Kushner and Magic Johnson stopped by to share their respective insights on better access to patient data and health, leadership and community-building.

But at the heart of the event, discussion of challenges and pursuit of new ideas revealed common themes among those serving at healthcare organizations and their counterparts on the developer side. The infographic below summarizes key aspects of health IT’s ongoing quest to support better patient outcomes in a fiscally sustainable ecosystem.

 

 

NetDirector’s cloud-based HealthData Exchange addresses these points of emphasis through low-cost, high-speed, secure data and document sharing capabilities among hospitals, physician practices, nursing facilities, pharmacies, labs, imaging centers, vendors, government agencies and insurance providers. The format- and transport-agnostic technology eliminates the need to maintain multiple interfaces while ensuring data consistency and integrity.

For more information on the HealthData Exchange platform, please contact us or request a free demo.