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NetDirector now offers real-time integration with the Tennessee Controlled Substance Reporting System

NetDirector, a cloud-based data exchange and integration platform, continues to solidify their presence as a leading provider of integration services. NetDirector has partnered with The Recovery Platform (TRP) to aid in the delivery of treatment for the growing opioid crisis around the country. NetDirector now offers direct integration with North Carolina and Tennessee Controlled Substance Reporting Databases.

TRP is a cloud-based software platform that assists doctors in performing Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for people with prescription opioid and heroin use disorders. Medications (such as Suboxone) are used to prevent the patient from experiencing opioid withdrawal while they receive the necessary treatment, provided via telemedicine by their network of doctors and therapists to assist their recovery.

NetDirector’s cutting-edge integration technology allows healthcare providers to more accurately monitor their patients’ compliance. By providing an automated integration to Controlled Substance Databases, NetDirector helps prevent “doctor shopping” – a major contributor to the abuse of opioid recovery drugs that has hindered the opioid rehabilitation efforts in the past.

Interested in finding out more? Contact Harry Beisswenger at harry@netdirector.biz or by phone at 813-774-4797, or click here to request a demo.

Want to learn more about how NetDirector works? Take a look at our case study about American Health Imaging, who saved almost $500k per year by automating with NetDirector!

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.

Health Data is a Prime Target: How to Minimize Risk

Health Data is a Prime Target: How to Minimize Risk

More than 60 percent of healthcare organizations suffered a data breach in the past 12 months, according to information security researcher Ponemon Institute. In total, over 5 million healthcare records were exposed or stolen among entities studied by Ponemon.

Recent incidents show no abatement in cybercriminals’ attraction to healthcare data. For example, Florida Hospital reported earlier this month that patient information on 12,724 individuals might have been exposed through a malware infection on three of the organization’s websites. Three months earlier, St. Peter’s Surgery & Endoscopy Center in New York disclosed that hackers had potentially gained access to server-based medical records of nearly 135,000 patients.

Healthcare in the Crosshairs

Approximately 7 million patients will have their data compromised by hacks in 2019, estimates consulting firm Accenture, racking up billions of dollars in costs to hospitals and health systems.

What makes the healthcare particularly vulnerable?

A Computerworld report explains that healthcare data, which includes personal identifiers and medical histories, can be sold virtually unchallenged over time on the black market. In contrast, financial data often becomes useless once a breach has been discovered and passcodes changed. Cybercriminals, aware of the premium value of healthcare records, focus their attacks in pursuit of the greatest possible returns.

Other factors contributing to healthcare’s data security liability include:

  • increasing access to medical records as entities share information across integrated sites of care;
  • legal requirements to store medical records for extended periods of time;
  • efforts to connect electronic health record systems, often relying on unsecured patches that can open the door to unauthorized entry; and
  • inadequate education of employees about modes of cyberattacks.

On a broader scale, but not to be discounted, foreign governments’ so called “state actors” may attempt to accumulate healthcare data that could help in social engineering of future attacks. Such a tactic might deploy emails to individuals who have a specific medical condition — with malware linked to prompts for more information.

Risk Mitigation

Big data sets in healthcare, despite ever-increasing volume, can be managed through ongoing risk assessments and implementation of preventative security controls, such as continuous monitoring programs. However, those measures come at a cost that must be weighed against the uncertainty of threat protection.

“Each organization needs to evaluate risk and its security needs in the context of its organizational and business requirements to determine where it makes the most sense to invest their people, time and financial resources,” advises Christine Sublett, a member of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthcare Industry Cybersecurity Task Force.

NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange platform deserves consideration as healthcare organizations work through their cybersecurity evaluations. The system combines HIPAA-based security and HL7 standard interfacing compliance — with attestations available upon request. Additionally, NetDirector uses a physically secure Peak10 facility for hosting customer data. This approach ensures data integrity without the need for additional IT investment and the associated risk of self-managing connection points among exchange partners.

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

Predictive Recurrence: The Fight Continues Against Opioids

U.S. opioid overdose deaths spiked five-fold between 1999 and 2016, culminating in 42,249 fatalities two years ago, according to official statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The government figures also estimated 11.5 million Americans misusing prescription opioids and 2.1 million people confirmed with opioid use disorder.

Federal response has prioritized better addiction prevention, treatment and recovery services, along with improved public health surveillance and new approaches to pain management.

Meanwhile, academic and private sector entities are making headway applying technology to combat the nationwide epidemic.

How Technology Can Help

Researchers at the University of Colorado investigated how frontline physicians could identify patients susceptible to chronic opioid use. A study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (February 2018) applied a statistical model to retrospective electronic health record (EHR) data and correctly predicted chronic opioid therapy (COT) — a measure of future chronic opioid use — in 79 percent of hospitalized patients.

Integration of the COT model within EHRs could enable clinicians to “provide early patient education about pain management strategies and [potentially] wean opioids prior to discharge while incorporating alternative therapies for pain into discharge planning,” says the research team’s report.

Among the variables incorporated into the model: medical and health diagnoses; substance and tobacco use disorder; chronic or acute pain; surgical intervention during hospitalization; past year receipt of opioid or non-opioid analgesics or benzodiazepines; opioid receipt at hospital discharge and morphine equivalents prescribed per hospital day.

Lead author Susan Calcaterra, MD, told Health Data Management, “The nice thing is that all of the data required to assess risk are available already documented in the EHR, and providers do not need to ask for additional information from patients.”

The research team, which anchored the study at a Denver safety-net hospital, plans to expand its work to validate the model in a wider patient population.

Separately, a paper released (May 2018) by health information network Surescripts focuses on technologies that could inform decisions at the point of care with more actionable intelligence. The paper points out that standard transactional information flow — captured in medical and medication histories, electronic prescriptions, provider communications and medication adherence alerts — could help close the loop on drug diversion and improper dispensing.

Simply increasing use of current technologies could have a significant impact on curtailing the opioid epidemic, the paper emphasizes. Author Paul Uhrig writes, “[The] good news is that health data and information technology exist today that can lead to better care decisions and curb fraud and abuse.”

Automated Tracking

Likewise, NetDirector is actively engaged in leveraging integration technology in support of addiction recovery caregivers. Cloud-based integration with state-sponsored controlled substance databases allows seamless monitoring and comparison of data to ensure that recovering patients are not seeking drugs beyond their treatment program.

Integration is live for North Carolina, with application to other state programs available on demand. Delivered on a platform-as-a-service basis, the Controlled Substance Tracking Model is priced per data extraction/use. For more details on pricing and delivery, contact NetDirector 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.

Disruptive Technologies Make Their Mark for Healthcare Providers

Despite uncertainty about national healthcare policy, investors continue to fuel the red-hot health technology sector, which leverages innovation in the quest to improve outcomes, streamline care and cut costs.

Digital health startup firms banked $23 billion in venture funding over the past seven years, according to analysis from Rock Health. In 2017 alone, digital health investments hit an all-time high approaching $6 billion, with a record number of “mega-deals” (each exceeding $100 million) coming to fruition. Repeat investments also reached a peak last year, indicating confidence in future growth.

Rock Health’s research reveals the top value propositions funded during 2017:

  • Consumer health information (investments of $1.6 billion) — Empowering individuals to better understand their own health and the overall healthcare system.
  • Clinical decision support and precision medicine ($811 million) — Delivering timely information to providers to help inform care decisions and/or tailor the prevention, management or treatment of disease.
  • Fitness and wellness ($752 million) — General health maintenance and promotion, where illness prevention does not associate with a diagnostic billing code.
  • Disease monitoring ($517 million) — Using biometric devices to track specific clinical conditions.
  • Disease diagnosis ($493 million) — Identifying specific clinical indications.
  • Non-clinical workflow ($482 million) — Managing administrative operations such as scheduling and billing in a provider setting.

In short, digital health has aggressively moved past the fledgling stage. From here, innovators will need to demonstrate much more than a unique idea. They’ll be asked to show verifiable advancement in building, sustaining and scaling a profitable business model.

Imminent Innovations

Venture capitalists aside, doctors and researchers agree that technology-backed breakthroughs will figure prominently among major medical developments expected in 2018.

Cleveland Clinic, which annually publishes a top-ten list of innovations vetted by an internal panel of physicians and scientists, predicts disruption in areas such as diabetes management, telehealth and centralized monitoring of hospital patients.

For example, a closed-loop insulin delivery system, essentially an artificial pancreas, will improve outcomes for Type 1 diabetes patients and increasingly be reimbursable by insurers this year, according to the report. The system will continuously link a monitoring device to an insulin pump to stabilize blood glucose at an unprecedented level, rather than requiring the patient to determine how much insulin to inject.

Also on the immediate horizon, distance health technologies will be widely adopted, with 90 percent of healthcare executives reporting active or emerging telehealth programs. Telehealth is now integrated with more than 19 million patients using attachable devices to record and report medical information. The technology will remove geographic barriers to care, enabling timely treatment to vulnerable populations at significantly reduced cost.

We’ll also see provider organizations implementing “mission control”-type operations, through which off-site personnel use sensors and high-definition cameras to monitor patients’ blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, oxygen level and other essential readings. This type of system can double the number of monitored patients per technician while initiating advance warnings of trouble in areas such as cardiology wards.

The Agility Factor

Disruptive healthcare technologies typically incorporate some aspect of data integration geared toward actionable intervention or prevention that justifies initial and ongoing investment. The takeaway for healthcare decision-makers is that traditional spending on day-to-day IT activities will give way to hand-picked services available through the cloud.

“The role of the chief information officer won’t be so much operations and keeping disks spinning and data centers powered as much as it will be integration and figuring out how procured cloud services fit together,” observes John Halamka, MD, CIO at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

“So you might even imagine that IT departments will start to shrink because so much of what we have done in the past with internal staff will be done with cloud-hosted services,” Halamka continues. “And the great joy of this is that if you don’t like one cloud-hosted service, you can change it. So it’s going to give you some agility.”

NetDirector’s cloud-based HealthData Exchange precisely fits today’s model for disruption with low-cost, high-speed data and document sharing capabilities. For more information on the HealthData Exchange platform, please contact us or request a free demo.

Healthcare Giants Attack Rising Costs, Pursue Greater Efficiency

Whether on the vendor or provider side, the business of healthcare isn’t getting any easier. Across the sector, companies and caregiver organizations are tightening their respective belts while firing up initiatives to increase efficiencies.

At the end of last year’s third quarter, EHR developer athenahealth — which supports a nationwide network of more than 100,000 providers and 100 million patients — reported a 7 percent earnings shortfall. The company simultaneously announced several cost-cutting measures, including a 9 percent workforce reduction, shutdowns of redundant business operations, and sell-offs of real estate assets and a corporate jet.

Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush said the moves reflected the company’s “changing mindset as we evolve the way we do business.”

Additionally, the firm revealed a major follow-up move this month by naming former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt as athenahealth chairman. Immelt previously grew GE’s healthcare technology business from fledgling status to a $20 billion operation during his tenure.

Immelt is viewed as a “door opener” and deal closer among hospital and health system C-suite executives, an area where athenahealth has lagged competitors, according to George Hill, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets.

Referring to Immelt’s appointment, Bush added, “Jeff shares our vision for more connected, efficient and human-centered healthcare … Like us, [he] believes a platform-oriented business and technology strategy is fundamental to executing against that vision.”

More Heavy Hitters Step In

Healthcare’s door swung open again recently when the powerhouse trio of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase revealed plans for a partnership aimed at cutting costs and improving services.

Initially, the enterprise will focus on healthcare system improvements for their collective 1.1 million employees. Nonetheless, the independent new company will strive to leverage technology to simplify the healthcare throughout the country.

Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett said combined resources within the group would be tasked with reining in healthcare’s “ballooning” costs while enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Adam Fein, president of Pembroke Consulting, commented that the new, as-yet-unnamed organization could help physicians and patients make more informed and cost-effective decisions.

Idris Adjerid, management IT professor at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, told CNBC that Amazon, in particular, could play a strong role in bringing artificial intelligence and information-sharing platforms to healthcare. “We find that technology initiatives that facilitated information sharing between disconnected hospitals resulted in significant reductions in healthcare spending,” Adjerid noted.

What remains to be seen, however, is the full scope of the companies’ collaborative effort.

Robert Field, professor of health management and policy at Drexel University, predicted that the alliance would leverage technology to change healthcare delivery across the board. “We’re going to lose the personal touch in healthcare, but perhaps we need to be going in [that] direction,” Field observed. “We don’t have the corner bookshop the way we used to, and we don’t have a corner pharmacy the way we used to. Healthcare is going there one way or another.”

Staying Ahead of the Curve

NetDirector agrees that technological innovation will steer healthcare toward brighter days ahead in terms of fiscal stability and enhanced patient care.

Cloud-based integration and strong record management — hallmarks of NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange platform — create not only cost savings but also greater efficiencies on the non-revenue-generating side of the patient lifecycle. In doing so, the platform increases the number of patients a provider organization can reasonably sustain.

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

Healthcare, Ransomware, and Security Breaches

Ransomware, a treacherous malware exploit that encrypts victims’ data or prevents access to their devices, netted cybercriminals an estimated $1 billion in 2016.

Data-related extortion attacks on businesses rose three-fold during the first nine months of last year, equating to one every 40 seconds. Two-thirds of those hit by ransomware lost all or part of their corporate data and one-quarter spent weeks trying to restore access, according to Kaspersky Labs, a data security firm.

Perhaps even more alarming is a predicted shift from chaotic and sporadic ransomware incidents to steadier assaults in higher volumes. “There is no such thing as a low-risk sector anymore,” Kaspersky’s research warned.

Healthcare, with 16 percent of organizations having been hit by ransomware, ranks in the top 10 among targeted industries.

High stakes for healthcare

Hospitals and health systems, as HIPAA covered entities, must adopt safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic protected health information (ePHI). The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces HIPAA, issued guidance in 2016 presuming a breach in the event of a ransomware attack involving ePHI. In other words, it’s up to the provider organization to prove that a breach did not occur by demonstrating low probability that ePHI was not compromised.

Nonetheless, many organizations remain non-compliant or take a stance of “calculated non-compliance.” That means they deem any potential fine to be cheaper than the reporting costs or technical resources needed to investigate incidents to OCR’s satisfaction, according to James Scott, senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology.

All the same, providers should be concerned whether ePHI is properly encrypted and adequately protected against compromise by ransomware. And from a system-wide perspective, additional safeguards should include proper use of passwords, removal of outdated software and unauthorized apps, adherence to regular backup procedures, and educating users not to open attachments or click links from unknown senders. Additionally, operating systems, browsers and antivirus programs should be updated to the latest version on all devices.

Also worth noting: Security shortfalls may be present in system integrations written in-house or by contracted developers.

In any event, “negligence gives cyber criminals the incentive to continue to launch ransomware attacks,” notes security website CSO.

And — as if on cue — a newly discovered form of ransomware may be released this month, reports TechRepublic. The malware, known as RedBoot, not only encrypts files but also permanently repartitions hard drives, rendering data unrecoverable. The alert advises businesses to back up workstations to some form of network or cloud storage, refresh all antivirus software definitions, and train users to avoid phishing scams.

A big ask

Hospitals have their hands full providing the best care possible for patients, around the clock, every day of the week. In that light, they shouldn’t be expected to shoulder the entire load of locking down data against an ever-expanding array of intruders.

Networking companies such as NetDirector have the expertise and capabilities needed to properly secure and integrate healthcare data. All of our certifications and processes (e.g., HIPAA and SOC2) are maintained above industry standards in a fully redundant, cloud-based platform. Healthcare clients put their trust in NetDirector to securely handle more than 10 million data and document transactions per month.

Although ransomware and related intrusions are real concerns, NetDirector stands ready to consult and assist in hardening defenses across the healthcare ecosystem.

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

Why EHRs Don’t Have to be a Hindrance

Doctors persistently claim that electronic health record (EHR) systems take up too much of their time.

Bearing out that assertion, a just-published study in Annals of Family Medicine found that a cohort of 142 primary care physicians spent more than half their workday interacting with their EHR during and after clinic hours. Worse, the physicians, who were retrospectively followed through EHR event logs over the course of three years, allocated two-thirds of their computer-facing time to clerical and inbox work.

A separate commentary earlier this year issued a stark challenge to the healthcare IT industry: “[Talk] to ten practitioners at random who are involved in day-to-day emergency medicine or primary care medicine, the guys and gals on the busy front line, and find two of them who are enamored with their [EHR] tools.” The author, small-town physician Kenneth Bartholomew, MD, describes systems designed around billing and collections functions. Such EHRs, he argues, lack the ability to actually improve the workflow of diagnosis and patient management.

Closing the gap on EHR drawbacks

The clearly frustrated Dr. Bartholomew concludes that current EHRs put the wrong tools in the hands of everyday caregivers. While EHRs help assemble patient history, along with physical and laboratory evidence, the technology requires doctors to “push the chain” of information from behind — rather than “pulling it from the front.”

Nonetheless, it’s also important to recognize EHRs’ positive impacts within a digital, connected healthcare environment. Evidence of benefits include:

  • cost savings derived from prevention of adverse drug events;
  • enabling access by emergency personnel to patients’ pre-existing health information (such as medication lists, allergies, and medical histories);
  • use of medical histories to remind physicians of the best methods of care for specific patients; and
  • improvement of reporting, investigation, response, and communication between public health officials and clinicians.

What’s more, EHRs have been shown to mitigate risk for healthcare providers and health systems by enabling evidence-based decisions at the point of care, aiding in research directed toward improvements in care, and preventing liability actions by documenting complete records of care and informed consent.

Also, significant, EHRs can help drive up patient satisfaction. More than 90 percent of patients report being happy that their doctor used EHR-powered e-prescribing capabilities — and that they rarely encounter prescriptions not being ready at their connected pharmacy.

EHRs and interoperability

Looking ahead, the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has prioritized enhancing EHR usability, as well as facilitating seamless exchange of information among different EHR systems. In fact, the 21st Century Cures Act, enacted at the end of 2016, specifies the development of a national framework and common agreement to promote comprehensive network-to-network health data sharing. ONC will be organizing work in these areas and expects to have preliminary plans in place by next year.

NetDirector actively supports strong, automated integration of EHR capabilities throughout the healthcare ecosystem. Hospitals and physicians can deploy NetDirector’s HealthData Exchange to normalize data to standard HL7 and other formats to achieve EHR interoperability while removing the bottlenecks of traditional interfacing — all without adding hours to the physician’s already hectic schedule.

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