Health IT Vendors Ponied-Up Political Cash to Both Parties

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The Presidential Election 2012

This November saw healthcare executives pay big campaign money to both political parties.

Health IT vendors, however, upped the ante this election year, paying out some hefty donations of their own. Judith Faulkner, CEO of Epic, and Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman are among this year’s top spenders.

Source: http://www.govhealthit.com/news/infographic-health-it-vendors-pony-political-cash-both-parties?topic=75

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The Build or Buy HIT Decision

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Best of Both Worlds for Healthcare IT Systems?

By Brent Metfessel MD

An important consideration when looking at the development of new technological functionality is whether to obtain an HIT system from an outside vendor or build the system using primarily internal staff.

Three Parameters

Basically, such a build or buy decision depends on the following aspects:

  • availability of internal resources to hire the highly skilled staff needed to create a new system;
  • availability of vendors with proven expertise in the area of technology relevant to the new project; and
  • flexibility of the vendors to customize their products for hospitals with unique needs.

The temptation to use consultants rather than FTEs to develop and implement the new system needs exploring.

Both Sides and the Consultants

On the positive side, finding consultants that have highly specialized expertise relevant to the project is often less difficult than finding such expertise in people willing to come on board as FTEs.  Such expertise in clinical informatics may be critical to the success of the project.

On the negative side, the cash outlay for multiple consultants can be staggering, especially if multiple consultants come on board with long-term contracts and retainers. Specialized consultants may charge up to $150 to $200 dollars per hour, quickly draining the most robust of IT budgets. Consultants should be used for just that — consulting. They exist on the project for their expertise and transfer of knowledge to the rest of the staff. To use consultants to do the hands-on tasks of actually building the system is generally not an optimal use of the consultant’s time.

Consultants, if used at all, should typically be used on a temporary basis to share their expertise and advice during critical parts of the project.

Buy Off the Shelf

Overall, buying an application off the shelf may be favored for more sophisticated applications. For example, computerized order entry [CPOE] and EMR systems have a number of dedicated vendors that are vying to achieve market share.

For major projects, distributing request for information (RFI) packages to selected vendors enables senior management to critically evaluate the different vendors in parallel, in the end selecting finalists and ultimately the vendor of choice. A critical requirement when evaluating vendors is a strong client reference base. The best predictor of future success is past success, and thus multiple existing satisfied clients are essential for the chosen vendor. Larger academic or tertiary care systems, however, tend to have more access to expertise and more significant customization requirements. Consequently, building a home-grown system rather than outsourcing the work to a vendor may be the best strategy for such institutions.

Vendors

When working with vendors, one should be strategic in price negotiations. One suggestion is to link part of the vendor compensation to the success of the implementation. This puts the vendor partially “at risk” for project success and thus provides additional incentive for vendor cooperation. Additionally, one should not purchase a system or services from the initial bid. It is critical that more than one vendor bids for the project to provide a pricing and negotiation advantage.

There is nothing that states only one vendor can be chosen for a project. Although obtaining everything from one vendor can lead to a more seamless integration and prevent the juggling of multiple vendor relationships, using more than one vendor may in some cases lead to a higher quality end product. This is known as the “best of breed” approach and is a viable option, in particular for complex projects where a single vendor does not adequately meet user needs.

Assessment

For more basic administrative systems, there are also off-the-shelf products from vendors that may be applicable. Where there is less need for customization, a single vendor may work out very well. Where there are significant unique needs that require customization, once again it may be best to develop the system internally or outsource the work to multiple vendors.

There is also the issue of small or rural hospitals that have limited resources. For such institutions, investments in more complex information systems may be difficult. Consequently, many vendors offer “stripped down” versions of their systems at a more affordable price, specifically tailored to the small hospital. The ability to customize the system for unique needs, however, is significantly more limited.

More info: http://www.hitconsultant.net/2012/10/01/healthcare-it-systems-buy-vs-build-or-best-of-both

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On Track for Meaningful Use?

Are we on track to be a huge disappointment to our children’s children – or What?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

When our grandchildren get the bill for the Obama administration’s subsidies benefitting primarily the health information technology industry, I bet they’re going to be really, really pissed at us for allowing today’s lawmakers to blow their 28 billion dollars to please HIT advocates who mislead consumers as well as lawmakers about the benefits of EHRs.

The Doctors Speak 

According to physicians who actually do the hard lifting in healthcare, the “meaningful use” requirements that they must prove in order to qualify for stimulus money will arguably increase both the cost and danger of healthcare – all for the benefit of stakeholders rather than principals. For one thing, “meaningful use” is meaningless if it fails to help physicians treat their patients. I think HIT stakeholders’ grandchildren should somehow be held accountable to my grandchildren.

Opposing Opinions  

Just days apart this week, two HIT reporters, Rich Daly from ModernHealthcare.com and Joseph Goedert from HealthDataManagment.com described two opposing letters the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently received: One from doctors and one from patients (et al).

On Monday, here is how Daly’s article “AMA to ONC: EHR program doesn’t work for docs” began:

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20110302/NEWS/303029950/1153

“Many physicians—specialists in particular—will not participate in the federal electronic health-record adoption incentive program because it requires them to include patient data that they do not otherwise collect, according to a Feb. 25 letter from 39 medical organizations letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology”

On Wednesday, Joseph Goedert, writing for HealthDataManagment.com began “Consumer Groups: Hold Strong on MU” with this:

http://www.healthdatamanagement.com/news/meaningful-use-criteria-comments-consumers-42080-1.html

“A coalition of 25 consumer groups and unions is asking federal officials to hold firm on more stringent criteria for Stage 2 of electronic health records meaningful use, and expressing support for going further. For instance, because patients still trust their providers more than other information sources, holding providers accountable for actual usage of a patient Web portal ‘is entirely appropriate and we strongly urge ONC to resist pressure from the provider community to absolve them from responsibility for making these services available and useful to their patients,’ according to a comment letter to the Office of the National Coordinator”

  • AARP
  • Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness, Inc.
  • AFL-CIO
  • American Association on Health and Disability
  • American Hospice Foundation
  • Caring from a Distance
  • Center for Democracy & Technology
  • Childbirth Connection
  • Consumers for Affordable Health Care
  • Consumers Union
  • Families USA
  • Family Caregiver Alliance
  • Healthwise
  • Mothers Against Medical Error
  • National Alliance for Caregiving
  • National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
  • National Consumers League
  • National Family Caregivers Association
  • National Health Law Program
  • National Partnership for Women & Families
  • National Women’s Health Network
  • OWL – The Voice of Midlife and Older Women
  • SEIU
  • The Children’s Partnership

Like the “Record Demographics” MU mandate, this is all for the “common good” I suppose. Consumer Advocasy groups wouldn’t mislead patients, would they?

I doubt many Americans represented by these 25 organizations ever imagined a new federal requirement that doctors record each patient’s demographics. (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Medicare and Medicaid Programs; Electronic Health Record Incentive Program; Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 8 / Wednesday, January 13, 2010 / page 1861; RIN 0938-AP78).

This means that the 25 stakeholder groups are doing their best to help American taxpayers hold physicians accountable to record and share their patients’ demographic information with the US government – private information about me and my family members that I personally don’t trust the government to be given – even if I’m in vulnerable need of health care.

Daly’s Article 

According to Daly’s article, the demands of MU are distractions for increasingly busy doctors and staff whose focus, I believe, should include eye-contact with patients with specific health problems rather than irrelevant data needs of third parties, including consumer advocacy groups.

On the other hand, if consumer advocacy groups have successfully defined for the federal government what clueless patients allegedly need, who will the mandate really benefit? 25 consumer advocacy groups don’t equal one consumer, so their letter isn’t grass roots at all. It’s deception wearing lipstick. Gullible and vulnerable patients are again being misrepresented by HIT stakeholders for a cut of our grandchildren’s 28 billion.

Assessment

Finally, if MU requirements are an arguably expensive and dangerous distraction for physicians, how can the law possibly be any less absurd for dentists? I’ll look at meaningful use as well at the ADA’s apparently flagging commitment to EHRs next. The ADA is abandoning state informatics departments – leaving them exposed to ADA members’ questions they are unable to answer. It looks to me that intra-ADA relationships are deteriorating quickly, but nevertheless, traditional stoicism still hasn’t been broken. “Image is everything” – ADA/IDM slogan.

Dentists

Here’s a teaser, dentists: Chances are, your state ADA organization hasn’t yet shared with you how the MU requirement of CPOE (Computerized physician order entry – page 1858) will change your practice communications. If you are a HIPAA-covered entity with an NPI number and you don’t email instructions to your denture lab rather than include a hand-written note with the relevant patient’s plaster models, you won’t qualify for stimulus money. What can possibly go wrong with that meaningful idea?

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An Argument for Wikileaks in US Healthcare

On Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman

By Darrel K. Pruitt DDS

In 2008, Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman told Alex Nussbaurm of Bloomberg.com that physicians should take out loans to invest in his EHR product “to ensure that doctors have some skin in the game.” What did you expect? How much charm does it take to sell federally subsidized products when everyone knows that they’re mandated anyway?

Life Sans Blumenthal 

Yesterday, Nicole Lewis posted “Health IT’s Future without David Blumenthal” – a glowing and arguably deserved tribute to Dr. David Blumenthal who is leaving the ONC

http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/leadership/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=0OLOEMENGCENJQE1GHRSKH4ATMY32JVN?articleID=229201216&pgno=1&queryText=&isPrev=

From where I’m sitting, it’s clear that Tullman used Lewis and InformationWeek to score more points with Washington and Wall Street, while continuing to marginalize the interests of those who actually take out loans to purchase his product: “David shepherded ONC through a very critical time . . . the creation, definition, and implementation of meaningful use, which really is a way to ensure that physicians actually use electronic records to improve care, but also that taxpayers get good value for their investment.” What about the doctor’s investment and more importantly, if a doctor is busy clicking on links to qualify for meaningful use dollars, who is accountable to the patients?

I don’t know about you, but it’s not difficult for me to recognize that like other HIT stakeholders whose careers are propped up by easy mandates rather than finicky satisfied customers, Tullman indeed has solid free-market reasons to play to investors and politicians while fearing his customers. They’re pissed at the man.

A Nationwide Survey           

HCPlexus recently partnered with Thompson Reuters to conduct a nationwide survey of almost 3,000 physicians concerning their opinions of the quality of health care in the near future considering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Electronic Medical Records, and their effects on physicians and their patients. (See “5-page Executive Summary”)

http://www.hcplexus.com/PDFs/Summary—2011-Thomson-Reuters-HCPlexus-National-P

“Sixty-five percent of respondents believe that the quality of health care in the country will deteriorate in the near term. Many cited political reasons, anger directed at insurance companies, and critiques of the reform act – some articulating the strong feelings they have regarding the negative effects they expect from the PPACA.”

At this crucial time when Republicans are already threatening to cut off remaining HITECH funding, whose job will it be to break the news to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that the EHR savings she was counting on to fund a major portion of healthcare reform are only as valuable as CEO Tullman’s politically-correct fantasy? Pop! From what Nicole Lewis writes, my bet is that the Secretary won’t take the news well: “[Sebelius] reiterated that the successful adoption and use of HIT is fundamental to virtually every other important goal in the reform of the nation’s health care system.” Such pressure from the top down will make it even more difficult for HIT stakeholders, including insurers and politicians, to disown the most egregious. crowd-pleasin’, bi-partisan blunder in medical history since blood-letting was declared Best Practice by popular demand.

According to the HCPlexus-Reuters survey results, one in four physicians think EHRs will actually cause more harm than help in spite of Dr. Blumenthal’s best efforts. I wonder if the escalating bad press about EHRs helped Blumenthal decide to return to his academic position at Harvard. Of course, the controversy over HITECH is nothing new. There have been signs for years that EHRs, including Allscripts products, will neither improve care nor provide taxpayers (our grandchildren) a good value for their investment.

If Tullman was unaware of the highly critical HCPlexus-Reuters study when he assured InformationWeek that his subsidized product has value in the marketplace, he must have been aware of the disappointing news concerning two other recent studies performed by Public Library of Sciences (PLoS) and Stanford which also confirm that EHRs do not improve care. So imagine what it’s like to be one of Tullman’s new, naïve and trusting customers who are expected to use the product for something it’s not designed to do.

My Opinion 

It’s my opinion that Tullman’s apparently incorrigible business ethics have no place in the land of the free, and that more transparency in healthcare would help protect the nation from such politically-connected tyrants. Tullman, a long-time Chicago friend of Barack Obama and a Wall Street sweetheart, would still be just another domesticated CEO if it weren’t for the bi-partisan mandate for electronic health records that help Allscripts, Obama and Wall Street more than clueless patients.

Assessment 

If you want to seriously cut costs in US healthcare as well as cut our grandchildren’s taxes, demand transparency from not just the doctors and patients, but from stakeholders as well. Protected communications between good ol’ boys in healthcare are hardly diplomatic cables about military secrets and always increase the cost of healthcare.

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Is Informatics the The Curse of Healthcare Reform?

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Medical Coding Complications and Greed

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

Coding complications in government healthcare ALWAYS favor the house — CMS guarantees it with lawsuits and whistleblower rewards that could attract dishonest employees. Are you careful who you hire?

Complications 

Complications in healthcare informatics – including 5-digit CPT® code mistakes as well as foul-ups that involve physicians’ “voluntary” 10-digit National Provider Identifier numbers – ALWAYS grant insurers more time to pay past-due bills owed to their clients and their clients’ doctors.

Call me Cynical 

Call me cynical, but if interest rates climb ever higher as predicted, watch for unexplained, proportional increases in coding errors to help fund insurance CFOs’ bonuses while raising the cost of healthcare even more without improving value. Is it any wonder why Americans don’t get the quality of healthcare we purchase compared to citizens in other countries? Tax-payers in my neighborhood are begging for in-network providers who put their patients’ interests ahead of insurers’ as much as allowed by insurers’ self-serving rules – without committing fraud. As a general rule, healthcare stakeholders accommodate parasites more than principals.

CPT® Codes and Patient Care 

Accurate CPT® coding may have nothing to do with patient care, but CMS makes it nevertheless important to physicians. Whereas the most innocent NPI foul-ups reliably delay payment and never turn out well for providers, the new fraud and abuse provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [ACA] can cause an innocent coding mistake on a Medicare claim to land the doc in court with charges of fraud depending on the quality of employees one hires – but only if the error favors the provider and not the payer. In June, David Burda posted “Attorney tells audience to brace for a storm of whistle-blower lawsuits” on ModernHealthcare.com.

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20100623/NEWS/306209989/-1

Of Whistle-Blower Lawsuits

Burda reports that healthcare attorney Joanne Judge, a partner with Stevens & Lee in Reading, Pa., predicts a significant increase in whistle-blower lawsuits simply because the new law makes it far too easy for a dishonest employee to file an unwarranted lawsuit. No longer is there a requirement for the whistleblower, who stands to win money from his or her patriotic effort, to directly witness the crime. That kind of idea could catch on in this economy.

computer-hardware1

“The new law also converts accidental Medicare overpayments to providers into potential false claims, Judge said. She said the law considers an overpayment as fraud if the overpayment isn’t identified by the provider and returned to the government within 60 days. Judge said that will require providers to beef up their internal billing systems to detect an overpayment as soon as possible and then send Medicare back its money.”

Assessment 

What can possibly go wrong with that plan? Thorough background checks on all new employees is increasingly important, doc. For my employment security issues, I’ve learned to depend on Richard at Investigation Resource Service out of Dallas. He’s never let me down (This is not a paid ad).

Conclusion

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Has the HIT Bubble Already Popped?

Long Before Reaching … Dentistry

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

HCPlexus recently partnered with Thompson Reuters to conduct a nationwide survey of almost 3,000 physicians about their opinions of the quality of health care in the near future considering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), Electronic Medical Records, and their effects on physicians and their patients. (See “5-page Executive Summary”)

http://www.hcplexus.com/PDFs/Summary—2011-Thomson-Reuters-HCPlexus-National-P

Results:

“Sixty-five percent of respondents believe that the quality of health care in the country will deteriorate in the near term. Many cited political reasons, anger directed at insurance companies, and critiques of the reform act – some articulating the strong feelings they have regarding the negative effects they expect from the PPACA.”

What’s more, one in four physicians think eHRs will cause more harm than help. So what’s the accepted threshold for the Hippocratic Oath to come into play?

Do you also find excitement in healthcare reform’s surprises? Experiencing the sudden, last minute turns healthcare reform has taken lately is like riding shotgun with Mayhem behind the wheel, texting. Here’s other discouraging news from the same HCPlexus-Thompston Reuters survey: “A surprising 45% of all respondents indicated they did not know what an ACO is, exposing a much lower awareness of ACOs versus the broader implications of PPACA. It appears there has been a lack of physician education in this area.”

ACOs Defined 

Since I also had no idea what an ACO is, I searched the term and came across a timely article that was posted on NPR only days ago titled, “Accountable Care Organizations, Explained.”

http://www.npr.org/2011/01/18/132937232/accountable-care-organizations-explained

Author Jenny Gold writes: “ACOs are a new model for delivering health services that offers doctors and hospitals financial incentives to provide good quality care to Medicare beneficiaries while keeping down costs.” Does that remind anyone of insurance HMO promises just before the bad idea collided with surprisingly intelligent consumers in the early 1990s? Kelly Devers, a senior fellow at the nonprofit Urban Institute, is quoted: “Some people say ACOs are HMOs in drag,” There’s a sharp turn nobody warned us about.

HMO Differentiation 

Further blurring the difference between ACOs and HMOs, Gold adds “An ACO is a network of doctors and hospitals that shares responsibility for providing care to patients. Under the new law, ACOs would agree to manage all of the health care needs of a minimum of 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries for at least three years.” I wonder if we’ll see a resurrection of HMO gag orders preventing physicians from discussing effective but expensive treatment alternatives not offered by the ACO.

As expected, not only are hospitals and doctors competing for the opportunity to run ACOs, but so are former HMO insurance agents. Devers explains, “Insurers say they can play an important role in ACOs because they track and collect data on patients, which is critical for coordinating care and reporting on the results.” As a provider, do you trust UnitedHealth’s Ingenix data mining tendencies? A few years ago, NY State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spanked the company for selling insurers pseudo-scientific excuses to cheat out-of-network physicians.

Just like Health Maintenance Organizations don’t maintain health, insurer-based Accountable Care Organizations will not bring accountability to care any more than the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provides patient protection and affordable care. And since I’m exposing blatant bi-partisan deceptions, there is no privacy or accountability in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and the “HIPAA Administrative Simplification Statute and Rules Act” doesn’t.

HITECH Funding

Gold suggests that because HITECH rules were written intentionally vague in order to push the envelope of stakeholders’ imaginations, similar to HIPAA’s ineffective security rules I suppose, the doctors’ predictable ignorance of ACOs is understandable.

But then again, all this may not even matter in a few months. According to Howard Anderson, Executive Editor of HealthcareInfoSecurity.com, HITECH funding itself is threatened. He recently posted “GOP Bill Would Gut HITECH Funding – Unobligated HITECH Act Funds Would be Eliminated.”

http://www.govinfosecurity.com/articles.php?art_id=3306

Assessment

While Obama’s healthcare reform teeters between two houses, I encourage consumers to plead with their lawmakers to stop being suckered in by cheap, meaningless buzzwords sprinkled in the titles of bills. I’m hoping we can at least get them to read a little deeper. Be on your toes. Mayhem is “recalculating.”

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The Rising Tide of EHR Vendors

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

By Don Fornes

[Founder & CEO, Software Advice]

EHR software vendors aren’t churning out profits like you might expect. You’d think that the Federal subsidies for EHR implementation would create a rising tide that lifted all boats in the EHR software industry. In reality, some vendors are about to capsize.

Based on data points I’ve observed in the market over the past few months, I think some vendors are facing a cash flow crunch. They’re thrilled to have the wind at their backs for once, but the pace is proving hard to maintain as market evolution has accelerated under the unnatural effect of government subsidies.

Here’s the problem.

EHR Vendors Are Spending Money Like Crazy

Most software markets evolve over a twenty or thirty-year period. Consider the enterprise resource planning (ERP) market: the first ERP vendors were founded in the early 1970s, but rapid growth and innovation continued until about the year 2000. The EHR market, however, will mature in the next five years. This is because healthcare providers are buying EHR systems sooner than they otherwise would, to make the most of massive federal subsidies and avoid penalties. Consequently, EHR vendors are in a mad rush to gain market share.

Those that win will own a massive customer base paying recurring support fees. Those that lose will become irrelevant from a market share standpoint and will be ingested into a larger vendor (if they’re lucky; some will just go broke). As a result, EHR vendors are increasing their R&D budgets to develop new features and meet meaningful use criteria. Their marketing colleagues are spending heavily on demand generation and brand building. These vendors have no choice but to win today’s market share battle.

But Medical Providers Are Gun Shy

Almost a year and a half passed between when the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed in 2009, and the final definitions of “Meaningful Use” and “Certified EHR” were issued in July 2010. Certainly that process was no small task, but during that time, most providers took a wait-and-see approach to EHR adoption. There have been tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of practices out kicking tires, but fewer than expected are writing checks to buy an EHR system. Furthermore, a disproportionate share of these deals – I’m estimating >60% – are going to the top ten market leaders, which is typical of enterprise software markets.

With meaningful use criteria now defined, I believe demand trends have improved. Providers now have the clarity necessary to make purchase decisions with confidence. That can’t happen soon enough, however. EHR spending has to catch up with the investments these vendors have been making over the past two years.

And Subscription Pricing Constrains Cash Flow

To complicate matters further, the software industry as a whole is shifting to cloud computing. Providers have not yet embraced the Cloud en masse, but they have embraced the subscription pricing model popularized by Cloud vendors. Why make a large, up-front investment in a perpetual license when you can just pay monthly for what you consume? Subscriptions are even more logical in light of a five-year subsidy payout.

To meet physician demands, the major EHR players are now offering low monthly pricing and publishing it right on their home pages. EHR vendors love this recurring subscription revenue, but their cash flow is spread out into the future as a result. It takes a healthy balance sheet to withstand this transition.

So what do we have so far?

  • EHR vendors are investing lots of money;
  • providers are writing fewer checks than expected; and,
  • checks that are written are smaller and spread out.

The result is a very difficult cash flow scenario for many, but not all, EHR vendors. Lately, I’ve seen some EHR vendors stretching their payables out 90 or even 120 days. Meanwhile, I’ve been surprised to hear that some leading vendors are operating between breakeven and just a few points of profit margin. Both practices represent good financial discipline considering the pace of market evolution. In reality, however, some vendors are struggling – “taking on water,” to stick with our nautical imagery.

Buyers Beware

The EHR and practice management markets have always been highly fragmented into hundreds of software vendors, largely as a result of the need to service small and demanding local practices. As a result, providers have seen plenty of vendors fail to reach critical mass, then close up shop or sell out. Anecdotally, I also know that some of the leading EHR vendors grew their top line 30% to 60% last year, while laggards foundered. Gaps between winners and losers are expanding quickly, so expect to see more consolidation.

Vendor size is important, but isn’t the deciding factor for success and viability. In this intense market, success will result from execution. The winners and losers will be determined by the competency and discipline of their management. EHR vendors must spend with discipline and generate a strong return on their investments. It wouldn’t hurt to raise capital, either, but not all vendors will need to take this step.

It’s tough for providers to assess the financial viability of private EHR vendors. Software Advice offers our Guide to Assessing Medical Software Vendor Viability, but the industry really needs a trusted third-party to evaluate the 400 plus vendors. Organizations like CCHITInfoGard and ICSA Labs are all certifying EHRs against functional criteria. However, buyers also need the equivalent of an A.M. Best orMoody’s to rate the financial health of EHR vendors. Okay, maybe without the negligence and bias the later demonstrated during the mortgage bubble.

Assessment

Link:  http://www.softwareadvice.com/medical/electronic-medical-record-software-comparison/

There will be some big EHR winners within the next five years and consolidation will be a net positive for the industry. However, buyers must be careful not to become collateral damage as the fierce battle for market share plays out. It’s important to determine which vendors are closing businesses, growing their revenue and building a sustainable, profitable business. Providers should keep in mind that their success is tied to the success of the software vendor that will enhance and support their EHR system in years to come.

Conclusion

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Grading Texas Lawmakers on Patient Privacy

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Grade Spread Runs Gamut from F to A+

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

Are the interests of my dental patients in Fort Worth, Texas being adequately represented by their elected officials in Austin and Washington DC? Starting a few months ago, I’ve sent multiple emails concerning patient privacy and identity theft to my elected government officials on state and national levels; as a test of responsiveness.

The Elected Officials

These include:

  • Texas US Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison
  • US Representatives Joe Barton and Michael Burgess
  • Texas State Senators Wendy Davis and Chris Harris
  • Texas State Representatives Diane Patrick and Marc Veasey.

Of the 8 lawmakers I contacted through their Websites, I received no response from state officials Davis, Harris, Patrick and Veasey. However, from my national representation, only Joe Barton failed to reply. I simply have to give those 5 a grade of F. I assumed my state representatives would be more patient-friendly than members of the US Congress. But, I was wrong.

Texas US Senators 

US Senator Cornyn has responded twice: Once in September and again on December 6. In both emails he says,

“Dear Darrell Pruitt,

Thank you for contacting my offices. Your correspondence has been received, and we will respond to you as quickly as possible.”

I suppose there’s still hope for a response, but he also failed. Cornyn also earned an F.

On the other hand, I’m more disappointed with Kay Bailey Hutchison’s staff than John Cornyn’s. In all 3 of her identical responses to my emails, she addresses me as “Dear Friend,” before wasting my time with a vanilla lecture about the origin and intention of the HITECH Act that I can get from HHS:

“The HITECH Act includes privacy and security provisions to expand current requirements under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and strengthens the HIPAA privacy rule, blah, blah, blah.”

If Hutchison’s staff member had read the first paragraph of any of the three emails I sent before he or she assigned me the same canned response all three times, the bonehead would have recognized that an explanation of HIPAA was not what I needed from his or her boss. I’m pretty sure I know more about HIPAA than the Senator, and that is the reason I wrote her in the first place.

Senator Hutchison closed all three emails with,

“I appreciate hearing from you, and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me on any issue that is important to you. Sincerely, United States Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison”

Then she added,

“PLEASE DO NOT REPLY to this message as this mailbox is only for the delivery of outbound messages, and is not monitored for replies.”

Although I should have known better, following her dead-end reply, I returned to her Website and complimented the Senator for being my patients’ first elected official to respond to my emails. I told Kay Bailey how special her personal attention made me feel as an American… which attracted the same response, which quickly stopped that special feeling. Compared to Hutchison’s predictable responses, Senator Cornyn’s thin promises of a meaningful response some day don’t look so bad. Hutchison gets an F, but I’ll upgrade Cornyn to a D for incomplete.

Enter Dr. Michael Burgess 

And then there is Michael C. Burgess. Compared to this man, everyone else is just a failing politician, in my opinion. Dr. Burgess gets an A+.

In response to both emails I sent to US Representative Michael Burgess MD in the last few weeks, I received sincere, personalized responses. This week, I sent Dr. Burgess a copy of the timely comment I posted Tuesday on this Medical Executive-Post, “Is ‘encryption of PHI’ discussed in dentistry?”

https://medicalexecutivepost.com/2010/12/07/%e2%80%9cthe-ada-practical-guide-to-hipaa-compliance%e2%80%9d/#comment-9242

While Senator Hutchison is unaware that her staff is asleep, and while I’ve been waiting for John Cornyn to get back in touch with me for months, Congressman Burgess’ meaningful and personalized response arrived within 48 hours on Thursday:

Dear Dr. Pruitt:

Thank you for your continued correspondence regarding your concerns for privacy as it relates to health information technologies (HIT). I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.

I assure you that I understand the concerns you have that the implementation of HIT will have harmful effects on patients’ privacy, specifically as it relates to dentistry. As problems arise, I will work closely with the Department of Health and Human Service as well as organized dentistry to make sure that these problems are dealt with quickly and efficiently so that patients continue to receive the rights guaranteed to them in HIPAA.

As one of the few Members of Congress who have run a medical practice and been required to meet HIPAA, I take your concerns to heart and will be vigilant in my oversight.

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. I appreciate having the opportunity to represent you in the U.S. House of Representatives. Please feel free to visit my website (www.house.gov/burgess) or contact me with any future concerns.

Sincerely,

Michael C. Burgess, MD

[Member of Congress]

—————————–

So of those 8 elected officials from the Dallas /Ft. Worth area, who you think, I should trust with my patients’ interests next time I vote?  As for my state representatives whom I could run into almost anywhere in my community, they never bothered responding at all.

For months, I’ve emailed Diane Patrick more times than any other lawmaker. Long ago, I assumed that since she is married to a dentist, she might have natural interest in the welfare of dental patients. I was wrong. Even though the Fort Worth District Dental Society supports her campaigns, I have to wonder why?

Assessment 

And as for Marc Veasey, I met the man once, but I don’t think he remembers me. His campaign office is four doors down the hall from me as I type Tip O’Neal’s quote. “All politics is local.”

Conclusion

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“The ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance”

Book Review – Dark, Dark Reading

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Complying with HIPAA is an investment in the future of your dental practice. HIPAA Privacy sets forth requirements regarding the proper protection, use, and disclosure of patient information. HIPAA Security addresses using and protecting electronic patient information and the electronic technology that can save time, increase revenues, and improve workflow.” So are those evidence-based claims or an advertisement in the $250 ADA publication I purchased?

On Being Leary 

I’ve learned to be wary when dentalcare stakeholders like authors Ed Jones and Carolyn P. Hartley call HIPAA an “investment in the future of your practice” much like I would advise people to be wary of a dentist who sells cosmetic veneers by calling it an “investment in your smile!” All too often it turns out to be an investment in the dentist’s smile.

Unsupported Claims

Contrary to the authors’ unsupported claims in the Introduction of “The ADA Practical Guide to HIPAA Compliance,” there is no evidence that electronic technology saves time, increases revenues or improves workflow in dental offices. And even though Jones and Hartley mention “investment” numerous times in their HIPAA guide, how smart is it for a dentist to sink money into expensive electronic technology that demands mind-numbing documentation (even if it’s done on a computer); that exposes a practice to government inspections which carry liabilities up to $1.5 million even before state attorneys general get involved; that endangers the long-term welfare of both the dental practice as well as dental patients, and that promises no financial return? So just how smart is a HIPAA investment in the future of one’s practice?

Disaster Recovery 

I wasn’t far into Jones and Hartley’s imaginative guide to HIPAA compliance before reading other long-since rejected selling points that are so lame that even rookie eDR vendors know better than to attempt them. The authors’ naïve claim of the digital advantage of easier “disaster recovery” from a fire or hurricane is a good example of ADA-approved HIT fiction. Just ask yourself why disaster recovery was hardly a concern throughout the history of dentistry until the ADA leadership mindlessly bought in to promoting paperless practices and suddenly needed selling points in the worst way.

ADA Slogan

“Dentistry is healthcare that works”.

Beware

Any time dentalcare stakeholders trot out solutions, before asking the price, dentists should determine that there is indeed a corresponding problem that needs to be solved. Here is a simple marketplace test of Jones and Hartley’s disaster recovery claim: Which is cheaper: Disaster recovery insurance or data breach insurance? Common sense says that dentists’ offices are much more likely to be hit by burglars than fires and hurricanes. When burglars break into dentists’ offices, they don’t go for filing cabinets and ledger cards. They steal computers that can contain thousands of patients’ identities. As for the small percentage of US dentists whose offices are located in coastal cities and vulnerable to hurricanes, perhaps those dentists should maintain both digital and paper patient records. After all, which kind is easier to read during power failures that are common with hurricanes as well as ice storms – which occur much more frequently and throughout the nation?  What’s more, pegboards and ledger card boxes in a paper-based practice are not only hack-proof, but their use is unaffected when Internet servers go down, or are hacked. Confused yet? 

“You may decide to engage a technology consultant at some point, but after reading this book, you’ll have specific reasons for that engagement.”

Still Not a Fan

I’m not a fan of creative writers Ed Jones and Carolyn P. Hartley’s style of humor, but I needed a few continuing education credits and decided to pick up 8 easy hours through the ADA by purchasing their HIPAA guide and accompanying test. After finally conquering the first 2 bureaucratic-tedious chapters, it’s a pretty sure bet that I’ll try to wing it on the test long before getting through all 360 pages – many with footnotes even.

In the Minority 

I think studying for a CPA exam would be more riveting reading for me, as well as perhaps more meaningful for my dental patients – even if I were a HIPAA-covered entity. But since I’m one of the 4% of dentists in the nation who still doesn’t store or transmit patients’ protected health information (PHI) in slippery digital form, I never have to worry about attracting a subjective inspection because of my highly visible opinions about the absurdity of HIPAA in dentistry. Fines for being “willfully negligent” start at $50,000, and my transparent lack of respect for the Law would understandably trigger an inspection if I were a HIPAA-covered entity.

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HIPAA Flexibility 

On the other hand, since the HIPAA Rule is “flexible” by design, and HIPAA-covered dentists can be charged with huge fines – the other 96% of dentists in the nation who use computers in the business office have good reason to be careful about exercising their basic freedoms in the land of the free. It’s easy to see why covered entities aren’t complaining. Not to worry. As always, Proots has your six, good buddy. Are flexible laws really in American citizen’s best interest?

Although authors Jones and Hartley repeatedly point out that the HIPAA Rule’s flexibility is its beauty – even to the extent of allowing dentists to decide whether or not to notify their patients of a breach – dentists simply must be warned of the dangers that are inherent in vague laws: Flexibility for the dentist always means subjectivity for the inspector. History has shown us that subjectivity is dangerous in the hands of poorly-trained people with badges working on commission. The odds of fair treatment following even a self-reported data breach are not in a dentist’s favor. Even the simplest investigation by HHS representatives will cost a dentist at least $100 – even if the dentist is determined to be innocent of a baseless complaint – perhaps filed by a disappointed patient or employee.

Investigations and Violations 

“Violation Category (A) Did Not Know:  For a violation in which it is established that the Covered Entity did not know and, by exercising reasonable diligence, would not have known the Covered Entity violated such provision [$100-$50,000 per violation]. Chapter 2, page 20. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius promised Congress that she intends to efficiently investigate every complaint against providers and vows to stop data breaches through stricter enforcement of the (hazy) HIPAA Rule – starting real soon. How is that not tyranny?

HITECH Subjectivity?

The ADA’s guide to HIPAA compliance has reaffirmed to me that HITECH HIPAA is a subjective law designed for abuse by those who created it. What’s more, eDRs provide NOTHING to dental care that has not been adequately and safely handled by conventional means of communication for decades at far lower costs. Sooner or later, the sudden news about HIPAA’s absurdity in dentistry is going to hit the HIT market like a brick. Following that flash of honesty, anyone who doesn’t agree that HIPAA is absurd in dentistry will do so at risk of snickers. So how complicated is compliance?

Chapter One: Dentist’s Obligations 

Chapter 1, page 1: “This book is concerned with only a portion of [Public Law 104-191]: Subtitle F — Administrative Simplification, hereinafter referred to as ‘HIPAA.’” Later in Chapter 1, Jones and Hartley use a paragraph to describe dentists’ obligations.

“Adopting Health IT presents challenges as well. For example, a dental practice must research and evaluate available systems, assess the current and foreseeable needs of the practice, negotiate the terms of the contract for the system and related services, including items such as the cost and availability of tech support, the number of licenses and authorized users that the contract will include, and the hardware and software features that enable HIPAA and HITECH compliance. Time and energy must be devoted to training staff to use the electronic health record system. A dental practice adopting an electronic health record should consult its attorney both with regard to the acquisition itself (including any contracts, licenses, and other legal documents) as well as with regard to the legal implications of using an electronic health record (for example, the dental practice should understand what will constitute the legal record and how the electronic health record would affect document retention requirements). A dental practice that intends to take advantage of the HITECH Act Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement incentives must understand and stay abreast of developments regarding the incentives, such as the qualifications of an “eligible provider,” how to demonstrate compliance with the “meaningful use” criteria,  how reimbursement incentives will be structured, and certification criteria of dental information systems.” 

Now do you see why the name “HIPAA” works better for stakeholders than “Administrative Simplification”?

HIT Rot 

As another illustration of how effectively stakeholders have hidden rot in HIT, the most common misspelling of HIPAA is “HIPPA,” and most consumers trustingly assume at least one of the Ps stands for “Privacy.” HIPAA hasn’t been about patient privacy since it was amended 8 years ago, and the P stands for “Portability.” And boy-howdy are digital records ever portable! HIPAA has ceased to be a benevolent law for Americans. It’s become instead a bi-partisan plan to take control of healthcare from healthcare principals and award it to healthcare stakeholders such as the HIT industry.

Assessment

You’ll spend a good amount of time implementing the Security Rule in your dental practice, but it’s the maintenance measures that will keep you in compliance.” This is a beautiful, meaningless point, Ed Jones and Carolyn P. Hartley.

Conclusion

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Should Doctors Make the Patient Internet Portal Leap?

An ME-P Readers Survey

By Staff Reporters

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Patient Portals

In healthcare, for example, the use of patient website portals is a hotly debated topic. These are [should be]  sophisticated HIPPA compliant and secure Web sites offered by medical practices to help engage patients electronically, with the promise of better service and care for patients — and less hassle for the medical practice, doctors and nurses. Often clinical, insurance and financial data gathering and scheduling functions are included, along with separate patient log-in, e-prescribing, and laboratory result features, etc. The promise of eMRs only increases the sophistication of these burgeoning sites.

Use Still in Infancy

But, according to www.MedicalBusinessAdvisors.com unscientific sampling of our clients and technically sophisticated practices [skewed cohort], physicians note that the uptake of portal use by patients outside of tech savvy urban centers is still small, although use by senior citizens is rapidly increasingly. And, tech savvy youngsters are typically not in need of healthcare.

The Survey Question

So, this raises the question, unanswered by other professionally focused websites like Physicians Practice, should you make the patient portal leap?

Definitions

Before we answer that question, let’s provide a bit more historical detail on this technology. In contrast to a traditional [first generation – health 1.0] practice Web site, which provides smiling pictures of the physicians, directions, hours of operation, policies, and maybe a smattering of educational materials, a patient portal is designed for active interaction between patient and practice [second generation – health 2.0].

Example:

As an example, a patient portal typically provides secure e-mail, allowing the patient to make a quick query of the physician (and presumably receive a reasonably quick response) without the delay and inconvenience of attempting to catch the physician on the phone between visits or after hours. Patient portals can also be used for open-source scheduling, allowing patients to make requests for particular times and days.

Assessment

Finally, the newest and most sophisticated patient e-MR engaged portals will allow patients to take a peek inside their patient record, giving them online (and secure) access to their medication list, recent labs, and other data that might be useful in self management, or if the patient is seeing another provider, etc. 

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Should doctors and medical clinics make the patient portal leap? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Is ARRA Stimulus Money for Dentists?

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Now is the Time to Say “No Thank You” to the ADA

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

A few days ago on Twitter, @techguy said: “@Dentrix, Are you guys helping dentists get access to the ARRA EHR Stimulus money?” This morning I “retweeted” his question to the electronic dental record giant: “That’s a great question, @Dentrix. What are you doing to help dentists receive stimulus money?

Of Faded Promises  

Dentrix officials no longer shop faded promises of free stimulus money to help dentists purchase their software. The truth is, without taxpayer help, Dentrix’s product offers dentists no return on investment, and it’s unlikely that the profession will ever see a cent of stimulus money. In fact, if American Dental Association President Raymond Gist wants to be a national hero, now would be the time to purchase a press release to tell the nation, “American dentists graciously decline your offer of stimulus money, taxpayers. We say, let our grandchildren keep it for themselves.” The deficit-weary public is very interested in that kind of good news these days. But, the ADA’s PR opportunity has a shelf life. The sooner they jump on this minor deception the more generous American dentists will appear. A year from now, the chunk of faux-generosity won’t work.

Too Late for Cash Give-Aways 

For one thing, it’s simply too late for dentists to take part in the cash giveaway. And even if there was time for a significant number of dentists to convert from paper to digital before September 2011, to receive promised stimulus money, a dentist’s practice has to be 30% Medicaid. That qualification rules out almost all dental practices right off, and here in Texas last week, Governor Perry threatened to opt my state out of Medicaid (and stimulus money) completely. A year ago, Perry threatened secession from the Union. It sounds to me like you are softening him up, Washington.

Meaningful Use Requirements 

That’s not all. Before a dentist can qualify to be reimbursed up to $44,000 dollars, the practice must show “meaningful use” of certified electronic dental records. However, meaningful use of digital records in dentistry has not yet been determined and perhaps does not actually exist. Nevertheless, the best minds in the ADA and HHS are searching for the next best thing – humorous rationalizations. For example, imagine the convenience of the speed-dial on the telephone compared to logging on to a highly secure, password-protected, HIPAA-compliant, encrypted computer just to tell the lab you have a pick up – just to show the Department of Health and Human Services that you are making “meaningful use” of your Dentrix product and spending taxpayer money wisely.

Assessment 

Do you know what is scary about the leadership in my profession? I’m apparently the only dentist in the nation who dares admit that as far as ARRA stimulus money goes, American dentists are out of luck and clueless. Even @techguy is in the dark for crying out loud!

Conclusion

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An Open Letter to the TDA Council on Ethics

And … Judicial Affairs

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

Dear Dr. Roy N. Burk – Chairman

In your email to me on Thursday, you informed me that you would call my office this week at your convenience to discuss the as yet to be defined complaints about my “unprofessional conduct” from unnamed origins – some of which are rumored to be as old as three years. Also in your reply that was days late, you confirmed my suspicion that you rarely check your email (even though you provided your address). That is why I asked the manager of the TDA Twitter account to send you the message not to call my office. I’ve given her another message today to tell you to check you email. You said you prefer to have a phone conversation with me. However, I naturally decline because of obvious reasons such as inconvenience, misinterpretations and limited exchange of information.

Foundation of our Nation

The foundation of our nation was defined in carefully chosen words written by Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others. You have to admit that writing is a much more meaningful and efficient way to resolve the TDA’s mistake than with a 5 minute phone conversation. In addition, by working out our misunderstanding in meaningful sentences that can be viewed by all, both of us are much less likely to say something we might regret if our conversation gets heated… which it will. After all, you threatened my reputation in my community, Dr. Roy Burk. And for that reason, I intend to hold you personally accountable in your community if Judicial Case No. 12-2010-3 is not dismissed. Fair is fair.

Let’s Talk 

Things said in anger help nobody, and can be completely avoided with the written word. In short, there is no reason for either our phone conversation or the meeting you have planned for me on September 18. We can all do something else on that Saturday rather than waste the morning in an Omni Fort Worth hotel room. That is, if you are more interested in resolution than punishment. So let’s negotiate this mistake quickly and quietly, but in a transparent manner, Dr. Burk. As Dr. David May said (but did not mean) when he took over as TDA President in 2007, “Let’s talk.”

TDA Censorship? 

The issue at hand is clearly TDA censorship for political reasons rather than “unprofessionalism.” Trust me when I tell you that nobody who is following us is fooled by the kangaroo court you propose. Considering the recent NLRB decision against the TDA for mistreating employees, the TDA is no longer considered an ethically run organization by many. That means your credibility is shot from the beginning. This week, Jan Jarvis, whom I’m sharing this email with, published “Fort Worth medical clinic spends $15,000 notifying patients of theft” in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.”

http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/08/06/2389717/fort-worth-medical-clinic-spends.html#ixzz0wIaU5AQa

My Community 

This is my community. Some of my patients are (or rather were) also patients of the local allergy clinic where computers containing 25,000 patients’ PHI were stolen in a burglary. In the end, the data breach will cost the clinic hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost customers because of the bad publicity, in addition to possible HIPAA fines and perhaps a lawsuit from Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott. Yet, the TDA has still failed to warn members of the liability of their computers. There is simply no excuse for the TDA’s neglect, and punishing me for revealing the truth will not help anyone, and it aggravates me. That said, please allow me to show you exactly how the TDA’s censorship is hurting dentists as well as endangering their patients in Texas – even as we speak: One year ago today, I posted the following article concerning the liabilities of data breaches on the TDA’s Facebook. It is one of many cautionary articles I contributed about data breaches, electronic dental records and HIPAA. However, the TDA as well as the ADA has ignored the exploding identity theft problem because of undisclosed allegiances to entities other than dentists and patients. The behavior of my professional organization is counter to the Hippocratic Oath and indefensible.

In October, an unnamed person in the TDA determined that TDA members should be prevented from reading the following information.

TDA Facebook, August 11, 2009

HITECH/HIPAA Breach notification

On August 18, American dentists will hear from HHS that HITECH-empowered HIPAA now requires that patients be notified if a breach includes their identifiers. Most will be surprised to learn that the notification requirement is nothing new. The law has been there for years. Besides the law, everyone has to admit that notifying those whose welfare is at risk is the only ethical thing to do, even if it bankrupts a practice. And that is the problem. Breach notification will bankrupt a dental practice. The law has been around for years. It simply never was enforced by either HHS or CMS because it would be so devastating to small medical and dental practices. I assume that the shoddy enforcement is why the ADA did not see a need to distribute discouraging information about the HIPAA requirement. For some reason, the ADA supported the adoption of HIPAA. Some day we’ll know why.  This is not the first time I’ve brought up the breach notification topic on a TDA publication. At the first of 2007, the TDA ventured into the blogosphere with “Ask a Colleague” Forum as part of the TDA’s Website. I began to take over the forum with a contribution posted on January 13, 2008 which I copied below. It is a snail-mail letter I received from President-elect Dr. John S. Findley, describing for the only time in ADA history, the ADA’s Data Breach protocol.

ADA Resources? 

As you can see from the hard work put into the letter, it took a considerable amount of ADA dues to produce this response for only one ADA member. Nevertheless, my question was not taken lightly because they probably assumed it would show up again. And, they were correct. Even though the leaders failed to share it with other ADA members, before it was forgotten, it was cc’d to

  • Dr. S. Jerry Long, trustee, Fifteenth District
  • Dr. James Bramson, executive director
  • Ms. Mary Logan, chief operative officer
  • Ms. Tamra Kempf, chief legal counsel
  • Ms. Mary Kay Linn, executive director, Texas Dental Association

Two and a half years later, Findley’s letter is current enough to be posted with only minor changes. For example, Dr. James Bramson and Ms. Mary Logan no longer work for the ADA.

One more note about Dr. Findley’s response to my question, I did not misrepresent myself in my email to him that I had a computer stolen. He knew from six months earlier when I first emailed him my question that it was a hypothetical question about an obscure topic that ADA leaders did not want to talk about.

Posted: 13 Jan 2008 10:05 AM on the TDA.org Forum

Data breach protocol announced

On January 8th, Dr. John S. Findley, President-elect of the American Dental Association, signed the letter below which defines a data breach, describes a dentist’s obligation under the law in Texas to notify patients involved and the penalty for failing to do so. This is the first time this information has been made available to dentists anywhere in the nation in the 12 years of the HIPAA rule. Dr. Findley and his team are to be congratulated for working through an arduous and unpopular task. It demanded courage.

Darrell

ADA

American Dental Association

http://www.ada.org

John S. Findley, D. D. S. President-Elect

January 8, 2008

Dr. Darrell Pruitt

6737 Brentwood Stair Rd., Ste. 220

Fort Worth, Texas 76112-3337

Dear Doctor Pruitt:

I received your email of December 26th and regret to learn of the loss of your computer. I did inquire as to appropriate procedures upon the occurrence of such an event and am copying below an excerpt from the response of out legal department. “It appears that under these circumstances the dentist may wish to notify affected patients that their information may have been compromised so that they can take necessary steps to protect themselves (i.e. cancel credit cards, notify social security about potentially stolen social security numbers…). (This communication is informational and personal consultation between the dentist and his or her attorney is recommended.) They should also check their state breach notification laws to determine if there is anything else that is required. In this case, the Texas Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act (Texas Code Sec. 48 et seq) (the “Act”) covers data breach notification. The Act protects both “Personal Identifying Information,” which is defined as any information that alone, or in conjunction with other information, can be used to identify an individual and an individual’s:

A) name, social security number, date of birth, or government-issued identification number;

B) mother’s maiden name;

C) unique biometric data, including the individual’s fingerprint, voice print, and retina or iris image;

D) unique electronic identification number, address, or routing code; and

E) telecommunication access device.

The Act also protects “Sensitive Personal Information,” which is defined as an individual’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with any one or more of the following items, if the name and the items are not encrypted:

i) social security number;

ii) driver’s license number or government-issued identification number; or

iii) account number or credit or debit card number in combination with any required security code, access code, or password that would permit access to an individual’s financial account.

Sec. 48.102 of the Act creates a duty for businesses to protect and safeguard information through creating and implementing procedures for such purpose. If there is a breach in the security of information, the Act requires a business that maintains ‘Sensitive Personal Information” to notify the owners of such information as soon as possible that a breach has occurred. The Act specifies one of the following modes of notice to be provided:

1) written notice;

2) electronic notice, if the notice is provided in accordance with 15 U.S.C. Section 7001 (which basically requires that a consumer must consent to receiving such notice in electronic form); or

3) notice as provided by Subsection (f) (see below).

(f) If the person or business demonstrates that the cost of providing notice would exceed $250,000, the number of affected persons exceeds 500,000, or the person does not have sufficient contact information, the notice may be given by:

1) electronic mail, if the person has an electronic mail address for the affected persons;

2) conspicuous posting of the notice on the person’s website; or

3) notice published in or broadcast on major statewide media.

Violations

“A person who violates the Act is liable to the state for a civil penalty of at least $2,000 but not more than $50,000 for each violation.” The information pertaining to your question was found in the Identity Theft Enforcement and Protection Act, Chapter 48 of the Business and Commerce Act of Texas.

We hope this information helps.

Sincerely,

John S. Findley, D.D.S.

President-elect

JSF:cac

cc: Dr. S. Jerry Long, trustee, Fifteenth District

  • Dr. James Bramson, executive director
  • Ms. Mary Logan, chief operative officer
  • Ms. Tamra Kempf, chief legal counsel
  • Ms. Mary Kay Linn, executive director, Texas Dental Association

Assessment

Dr. Findley’s letter to me was also deleted from the now closed TDA.org Forum.  The TDA’s actions are a lot like burning books, Dr. Roy Burk.

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A Voting Poll on eMRs as a Balance Sheet Item?

A Real or Economically Stimulated Need?

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Many doctors – and their CPAs – view an in office electronic medical record [eMR] system as a balance sheet item to purchase for a medical practice; much like any other piece of business equipment or medical instrumentation.

Of course, ARRA and the HITECH Acts also treat eMRs like an asset that the Federal government can motivate doctors to purchase thru their “meaningful use” economic stimulus and rebate program … sort of a social engineering fiscal health policy for medical professionals. 

And so, the question for doctors really is: do you believe in eMRs as a stand-alone item above and beyond their rebate earning capacity?

THINK “cash for clunkers”, or the first time home buyer “mortgage credit rebate program”.

In other words, sans this Federal economic rebate program externality, would you purchase an eMR system despite the HITECH Act? Will you purchase one once the rebate period has expired. Are eMRs a depreciating or appreciating asset?

Please opine with your vote!

Conclusion

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Health Information Privacy Breaches

Breaches Affecting 500 or More Individuals

By Staff Reporters

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As required by section 13402(e)(4) of the HITECH Act, the DHHS Secretary must post a list of breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals. The following breaches have been reported to the Secretary.

www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/breachnotificationrule/postedbreaches.html

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The Pros and Cons of eMRs

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Delving Deeper into the Historic Origins of Debate

Dr. Mata

[By Richard J. Mata MD, CIS, CMP™]

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According to Wager, Ornstein, and Jenkins, in 2005, the perceived advantages of an EHR system include the following:

  •  Quality of the patient records (legible, complete, organized) — 86%
  •  Better access to patient records (available, convenient, fast) — 86%
  •  Improved documentation for patient care purposes — 93%
  •  Improved documentation of preventive services — 82%
  •  Improved documentation for quality improvement activities — 82%

Items viewed as an advantage by fewer respondents include the following:

  •  Administrative cost savings — 38%
  •  Improved efficiency — 61%
  •  Security of patient records — 64%

Nothing directly was said about cost savings or increased medical care quality. These topics have become more contentious issues during the past few years.

The Gurley Opinion

According to HIT expert Lori Gurley, in 2006, of the American Academy of Medical Administrators:

“The EHR provides the essential infrastructure required to enable the adoption and effective use of new healthcare modalities and information management tools such as integrated care,  evidenced-based medicine, computer-based decision support, care planning and pathways, and outcomes analysis” (Schloefell et al).  Although the benefits that support implementation of an EHR are clear, there are still barriers too, therefore the concept is still not accepted. “However, this could also be said of almost every other area of positive change and improvement within healthcare systems […]” (Schloefell et al).  There must be more involvement by the government and the private sector “to make changes where possible to instigate, motivate, and provide incentives to accelerate the development of solutions to overcome the barriers” (Young).

THINK: ARRA and HITECH, today. Of course, there are obviously advantages and disadvantages to both the paper medical record and the EHR.

Multi-Factorial Issues

Many factors must be considered before any healthcare organization or medical practice should implement an EHR.  The organization must first obtain as much information as possible about this new concept, and then the information must be carefully reviewed and the pros and cons discussed. Only then should the organization make their decision about this very important issue.

“The [EHR] as a part of a Clinical Information System (CIS) is a powerful tool which ties together documentation of the patient visit (clinical information), coding (diagnosis, and treatment procedures), which then translates into more accurate billing processes, reduces reprocessing of medical claims, and that translates into increased customer satisfaction with a provider” (Koeller). Although the technology is available, progress towards an EHR has been slower than expected. “Widespread use of [EHRs] would serve both private-and public-sector objectives to transform healthcare delivery in the United States” […] EHRs would also “enhance the health of citizens and reduce the costs of care” (Dick, Steen, and Detmer).

The MRI Study

According to a 2005-07 survey by the Medical Records Institute, the following factors are driving the push towards EHR systems within medical organizations:

Motivating Factors 2005 Ambulatory
The need to improve clinical processes or workflow efficiency. 89.3% 91.2%
The need to improve quality of care. 85.0% 85.3%
The need to share patient record information among healthcare practitioners and professionals. 81.1% 66.9%
The need to reduce medical errors (improve patient safety). 76.1% 69.1%
The need to provide access to patient records at remote locations. 67.9% 65.4%
The need to improve clinical documentation to support appropriate billing service levels. 67.1% 76.5%
The need to improve clinical data capture. 64.6% 61.0%
The need to facilitate clinical decision support. 60.7% 50.7%
The requirement to contain or reduce healthcare delivery costs. 54.6% 61.8%
The need to establish a more efficient and effective information infrastructure as a competitive advantage. 53.6% 53.7%
The need to meet the requirements of legal, regulatory, or accreditation standards. 50.0% 44.1%
Other 5.7% 5.1%
Totals 280 136
Margin of Error +/- 5.8% +/- 8.4%

Now, compare this with the results of the 2007 survey that focused on the factors driving hospitals to expand their use of EHR.

Driving Factors in a Hospital 2007
Efficiency and convenience, e.g., better networking to the medical community and patients and remote access 57.8%
Satisfaction of physicians and clinician employees 42.2%
The need to survive and thrive in a much more competitive, interconnected world. 41.0%
Regulatory requirements of JCAHO or NCQA. 35.6%
Savings in the Medical Record Department and elsewhere, including transcription. 24.0%
Value-based purchasing/pay for performance 17.7%
Pressure from payer groups, such as Leapfrog Group 15.2%
Possibility of subsidized purchase of HER, e-prescribing systems, etc. by purchasers/payers/large health systems. 8.8%
Totals 329
Margin of Error +/- 5.4%

Assessment

How have these motivating and driving factors changed today; have they really changed in 2010?

Does this deeper dive reveal any other truths; political, social, business or economic? Is this historical review helpful in understanding the reluctance or eagerness for EMR acceptance, or not?

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About Regional Health Information Organizations

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The RHIO Concept – Defined

Dr. Mata

[By Richard J. Mata MD, CIS, CMP™]

Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs), or data exchanges, are multi-stakeholder organizations.  They might include groups of hospitals, medical societies, payers, major employers, and other healthcare organizations.

Generally, these stakeholders are developing RHIOs with the goal of affecting the safety, quality, and efficiency of healthcare as well as improving access to healthcare by expanding the use of health information technology.  It is expected that RHIOs will be responsible for motivating and causing integration and information exchange in the nation’s revamped healthcare system

Assessment

Regions in the U.S. continue to use various definitions of “multi-stakeholder organizations.”  For instance, in Wichita, Kansas, the Clinics Patient Index is a software architecture as well as support environment that facilitates integration among outpatient clinics and hospital emergency departments.

And, what will be the affect of [HR 3590], or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, on RHIOs?

Conclusion

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Seeking ME-P Readership Opinions on eMRs

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An Exercise in Crowd-Sourcing

By Chris Thorman

Senior Marketing Manager
www.SoftwareAdvice.com

I just finished an essay about market share in the EMR industry and I wanted to give ME-P readers a heads up about it.

Here is the link: http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/medical/ehr-software-market-share-analysis-1051410/

Essay Content

In the article, I break down:

  • The size of the outpatient EMR market;
  • What EMR vendors have the most physicians using their system; and,
  • What EMR vendors have the most practices using their systems?

Assessment

As I’m sure you can imagine; it was a tough project to get accurate numbers on. And, I’d like to get more eyes on it so we can clear up any discrepancies.  Sort of a ME-P reader “crowd sourcing” project if you will. So, all thoughts on our findings are appreciated. I can be contacted directly here by email, or below: chris@softwareadvice.com

(512) 364-0118 
(800) 918-2764 (toll free)
(360) 838-7866 (fax)
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Do We Have A False Sense of HIT Security?

Data Breaches More Common than Realized

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Here is an article titled “Report: Healthcare Organizations may have a False Sense of Data Security,” written by Neil Versel for FierceHealthIT.

http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/report-healthcare-organizations-may-have-false-sense-data-security/2010-04-12?sms_ss=twitter#ixzz0kzNS6lq

Versel describes the results of a study commissioned by Nashville, Tenn-based Kroll Fraud Solutions. Kroll estimates that 19% of healthcare organizations in the nation suffered a data breach in the last 12 months. That number is up from 13% a year ago. It is based on this information that I estimate that in the last year, at least 24 million dental patients in the nation have been unknowingly exposed to the danger of identity theft. Everyone agrees that the only ethical thing for a dentist to do if he or she knows that patients’ identities have been exposed is to notify the patients and HHS. The shameful fact is, data breaches in dentistry are not being reported.

Enter the Dentists  

But, who can blame American dentists for underreporting breaches without first blaming the heavy-handed, stakeholder-friendly system that forces honest professionals to be dishonest? If a dentist self-reports a breach of 500 or more patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) it can easily bankrupt a practice. The harm to one’s reputation in the community is just too great a disincentive for even the best of us, even without the added expense of patient notification, subsequent fines and lawsuits. It’s ugly, but that’s the hard, hidden truth about HITECH-HIPAA in dentistry – a piece of lame, one-sided “feel good” legislation that rather than preventing data breaches in dentists’ offices, it drives them underground. As healthcare providers, we should have warned our patients about the growing danger from electronic dental records long ago. Besides me, there are no practicing dentists discussing the topic. Why?

Accepting Ownership of the Dilemma  

Would anyone like to argue that the bi-partisan federal mandate for an interoperable, national eHR system relieves dentists of their obligations to the Hippocratic Oath? Let’s face it: Dentists’ computers continue to threaten up to 20% of dental patients in the nation. We cannot ignore it any longer, doctors.  Once we finally accept ownership of our problem, what are we going to do about it? I’ve suggested that we use common sense and simply remove the dangerous information from dental patients’ files. Anyone see any problem with this idea? Anyone have a better solution?

Assessment 

So what do the leaders of the ADA think of de-identification?

 

Conclusion

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eHRs and Clinical Trials

An Oft Neglected Topic

By Chris Thorman

I wanted to give the ME-P a heads up on an article I just finished about a neglected topic in the eHR debate concerning clinical trial participation.

It’s called: Electronic Health Records and Clinical Trials: An Incentive to Integrate.

The Argument

In the article, I make the argument that clinical trials should play a bigger role in whether or not to purchase eHR software because:

  • The potential profit from participating in clinical trials is so large that it dwarfs the HITECH Act incentives;
  • eHRs make clinical trial participation much easier than in the past; and,
  • eHR software has the potential to solve many of the problems that clinical trials face.

Editors Note: So, let’s try to spark some discussion on this oft-ignored topic. And, feel free to contact the author.

Chris Thorman
Senior Marketing Manager
Software Advice
(512) 364-0118

chris@softwareadvice.com

Conclusion

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Are You Prepared for a HIPAA Dental Audit?

Why – or Why Not?

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

If you are a dentist and pay ADA dues year after year to be kept better informed about protecting your patients as well as your practice, your ignorance of HIPAA is not entirely your fault. The ADA clearly dropped the ball. Nevertheless, you could still suffer fines as high as $1.5 million for what our leaders failed to emphasize.

It’s time members accept the shameful truth about the ADA Department of Dental Informatics, headed by Ms. Jean Narcisi. Narcisi, working under the direction of ADA Sr. Vice President Dr. John Luther, has been abysmally negligent in preparing members for HITECH HIPAA, and now the compliance deadline is only days away. It’s been months since any information about HIPAA has been published in any ADA publications. Why?

HIPAA Avoidance 

Why do ADA leaders avoid discussing HIPAA? They are ashamed, not unlike embarrassed scam victims. About six years ago, Newt Gingrich visited ADA Headquarters and “lied” to ADA Delegates about the future of eHRs in the US. Then he bribed the ambitious career bureaucrats in the crowd with millions of dollars in federal grants to play along with the scam. I can only imagine that the Delegates must have been star-struck by the former Speaker of the House, because nobody dared asked the tough questions.

Newt’s Slick

So here I am, Ms. Jean Narcisi. I’m again doing your job because your mistakes I pointed out years ago now have you frozen in shame. If you disagree, and consider self-respect as something worth defending, let’s discuss your innocence in front of everyone – including the ADA members who pay your salary. Or, you can continue to hide from your responsibilities. This crap will catch up with you soon enough, Ms. Narcisi, and Dr. Luther no longer has the courage to stick his neck out to protect you. He’s also scared of me. You are alone.

Newsletters 

Dom Nicastro, senior managing editor at HCPro, edits the Briefings on HIPAA and Health Information Compliance Insider newsletters. He posted an informative article on HealthLeadersMedia.com today titled “HIPAA Compliance Questions to Ask as HITECH Date Nears.”

http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-1/TEC-246514/HIPAA-Compliance-Questions-to-Ask-as-HITECH-Date-Nears

The article features Chris Apgar, CISSP, president, Apgar & Associates, LLC, in Portland, Oregon. Mr. Apgar notes that “many covered entities and business associates have consistently failed to comply with the HIPAA Security Rule.” Apgar adds, “I find this over and over when conducting compliance audits.”

The lack of compliance described by Apgar is consistent with the results from my study in 2008, “HIPAA Rules and Dentistry.”

https://healthcarefinancials.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/hipaa-survey-dentists4.pdf

Study Abstract

A survey of 18 dentists was performed using the Internet as a platform. The volunteer dentists’ anonymity was guaranteed. The dentists were presented with ten HIPAA compliancy requirements followed by a series of questions concerning their compliancy as well as the importance of the requirements in dental practices.

The range of compliancy was found to be from 0% for the requirement of a written workstation policy to 88% for that of password security. The average was 49%, meaning that less than half of the requirements are being respected by the dentists in this sample.

Frustrated at Mandates

Frustration with the tenets of the mandate, as well as open defiance is evident by the written responses. In addition, it appears that a dentist’s likelihood of satisfying a requirement is related to the dentist’s perceived importance of the requirement. Even though this is a limited pilot study, there is convincing evidence that more thorough investigation concerning the cost and benefits of the requirements need to be performed before enforcement of the HIPAA mandate is considered for the nation’s dental practices. 

HIPAA

Questions to Consider

Apgar says that the security rule requires covered entities to consider these questions:

  • Has a risk analysis been conducted lately? Was it properly documented? Were damages mitigated and were the risks acceptable?
  • Is privacy/security training current? Have new workforce members who will have access to personal health information (PHI) been adequately trained? Has refresher training for all staff been accomplished? Have security reminders been provided?
  • Are the office policies and procedures complete, current and enforceable? Are workforce members trained on the policies and procedures they are required to respect?
  • Has a comprehensive audit program been implemented? (The security rule requires three periodic audits and an “evaluation” or compliance audit). Are evaluations current? Have audit findings been addressed and documented?
  • Have up to date disaster recovery and emergency mode operations plans been communicated and recently tested?
  • Are CMS’ remote access guidelines being followed? (These are not part of the rule, but CMS earlier indicated remote access management would be included as audit criteria).
  • Are data in transit and data at rest encrypted? Are non-electronic PHI being protected?

Office of Civil Rights

Mr. Apgar adds that even though the Office of Civil Rights isn’t saying when audits will start, if a complaint is filed with OCR alleging ”willful neglect,” OCR is mandated by statute to investigate. The fines for “willful neglect” are much more devastating than fines for simple carelessness. And “willful neglect” is a subjective judgment call made by inspectors … who work on commission.

Assessment

Unfortunately for the nation’s dentists, the statute invites disgruntled patients and employees to celebrate revenge via federal inspectors. And, the more dentists are fined, the more the inspectors make. That can’t end well. Where are you hiding, Jean Narcisi? You’ve been silent far too long. Let’s talk. Don’t make me come get you.

Editor’s Note: The applicability of this post to all medical specialties is obvious.

Conclusion

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Is the HITECH Act Unconstitutional?

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Parts 1 and 2

[By Alberto Borges; MD]

Is the HITECH Act Unconstitutional? – PART 2

Is the HITECH Act Unconstitutional? – PART 1

Dr. Borges is a ME-P thought-leader in private practice. He is an associate clinical professor of medicine at the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Assessment

Check out his website at http://msofficeemrproject.com

Conclusion

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Defining “Provider” for Medicare Incentive Payments?

Ask a Medical Practice Management Advisor

Staff Reporters

HR 1 of ARRA states:

“The term ‘health care provider’ includes a hospital, skilled nursing facility, nursing facility, home health entity or other long term care facility, health care clinic, community mental health center (as defined in section 1913(b)(1)), renal dialysis facility, blood center, ambulatory surgical center described in section 1833(i) of the Social Security Act, emergency medical services provider, Federally qualified health center, group practice, a pharmacist, a pharmacy, a laboratory, a physician (as defined in section 1861(r) of the Social Security Act), a practitioner (as described in section 1842(b)(18)(C) of the Social Security Act).”

For Ambulatory Surgery Center’s

HR 1 of ARRA includes ASCs in the definition of “provider” (see above), but the CMS seems to indicate otherwise CMS’s site.

For Pharmacists

HR 1 of ARRA includes pharmacists and pharmacies as “providers.” New information on phamacists’ eligibility for IT loans was recently announced – see the Healthcare IT News coverage on this.

Assessment

What was missed; please advise?

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Prominent Politician Views on Health Information Technology

A Guest Thought-Leader Op-Ed Piece

Ann Miller; RN, MHA [Executive-Director]  

By Alberto Borges; MD

In this review, ME-P thought-leader and colleague, Al Borges MD dissects and presents the political views of HIT by several prominent politicians.  WHY?

He believes that only a handful of politicians are questioning whether the cost of HIT will actually improve healthcare as promised, which can end up in wasted taxpayer money, and worse, become a slow-moving HIT blunder which puts patient lives at risk. Even President Obama’s staff quietly admits that these statements are unproven.

Assessment

For example, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and the current health-policy adviser at the Office of Management and Budget and a member of Federal Council on Comparative Effectiveness Research stated last year that:

“Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality are merely ‘lipstick’ cost control, more for show and public relations than for true change.”

Link: Politician Views of HIT [updated November 2009]

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The “Real Facts” about eMRs with .ppt Presentation

A Guest Thought-Leader Presentation

Ann Miller; RN, MHA [Executive Director]

By Alberto Borges; MD

In this colorful MSFT PowerPoint presentation, ME-P thought-leader and colleague, Al Borges MD dispels a plethora of eMR myths. He discusses the true cost of eMR implementation, and presents his views on the dark side of the eMR certification process.

Assessment

He concludes with an opinion on insider C-eMR politics in the USA.

Link: The Real Facts about eMRs [last updated April 2009].

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Dear Doctor – “I’m from the Government and I’m Here to Help”

Only-in-America

By Staff ReportersGetting Squeezed

CMS Cuts Medicare 21% for Doctors Unless Congress Acts

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid [CMS] just reported to the American Medical News that the final 2010 Medicare physician fee schedule confirms 21.2% pay cut starting Jan. 1, 2010, unless Congress adopts legislation to avert it.  

So, enter John Kerry to the Rescue

Kerry Bill Helps Physicians Borrow Money for eMRs

But to qualify for electronic health record government subsidies, to be paid in increments over five years starting in 2011, physicians must lay out a substantial sum, take a lease, or borrow the money. So, to make it easier for doctors to purchase eMR systems, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) has proposed legislation that would allow small practices to get loans backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

Moreover, a press release from Kerry’s office stated that the money could be spent on “computer hardware, software, and other technology that will assist in the use of electronic health records and prescriptions.” 

Link: Continued at BNet Healthcare.

Assessment

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Yet, health economist and ME-P Publisher-in-Chief Dr. David Edward Marcinko opined:

“Is this sleight-of-hand chicanery akin to stealing from Peter to pay Paul”?   

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Update on HIPAA Administrative Simplification

New Enforcement Rules

Federal Register: October 30, 2009 [Volume 74, Number 209]

Rules and Regulations – Page 56123-56131

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

DOCID: fr30oc09-12typewriter

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Office of the Secretary

45 CFR Part-160 [RIN 0991-AB55]

HIPAA Administrative Simplification: Enforcement

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HHS.

ACTION: Interim final rule; request for comments

SUMMARY:

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopts this interim final rule to conform the enforcement regulations promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and

Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to the effective statutory revisions made pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the HITECH Act), which was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

More specifically, this interim final rule amends HIPAA’s enforcement regulations, as they relate to the imposition of civil money penalties, to incorporate the HITECH Act’s categories of violations, tiered ranges of civil money penalty amounts, and revised limitations on the Secretary’s authority to impose civil money penalties for established violations of HIPAA’s Administrative Simplification rules (HIPAA rules). This interim final rule does not make amendments with respect to those enforcement provisions of the HITECH Act that are not yet effective under the applicable statutory provisions. Such amendments will be subject to forthcoming rulemaking(s).

Assessment

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Link: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-26203.htm

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Criticizing Electronic Medical Records?

By Brent A. Metfessel; MD, MS

By Staff Writers

www.HealthcareFinancials.comHOFMS

Despite ARRA and the HITECH initiatives, eMRs are not without drawbacks. And, with apologies to USCTO Aneesh Chopra, we list the following.   

List of Drawbacks

The following are some of the more notable negatives:

  • Operator dependenceThe term “garbage in, garbage out” applies to eMRs as well. The computer only works as well as the data it receives. If one is resistant to computing and works begrudgingly, is not well-trained, or is rushed for time, the potential exists for significantly incomplete or error-prone documentation.
  • Variable flexibility for unique needs — When one sees a single hospital, one sees just that — a single hospital, with unique needs unlike any other facility. A “one size fits all” approach misses the target. Even within a hospital, needs may change rapidly over time given the continued onslaught of external initiatives and measurement demands. Systems vary in flexibility and the ease with which they can customize options. More flexible systems exist but cost much more.
  • Data entry errors — Although data items normally only have to be entered once, data entry errors may still occur and be propagated throughout the system. Most notably, patient data can more easily be entered into the wrong chart when there is an error in chart selection. In general, simple double-checking and “sanity checks” in the system usually catch these errors, but if the error goes through the system the impact can be significant.
  • Lack of system integration — Interconnectivity of systems becomes more important with eMRs than with any other system. Personnel use the data in many different areas. If there are isolated departmental systems without connectivity, redundant data entry occur leading to confusion in the different departments. Appropriate and intelligent clinical decision support systems can make the job of the physician easier through education, real-time feedback, and through the presentation of choices that allow for clinical judgment.
  • Costs of implementation — Intelligently applied eMR implementations may also be cost saving; long term. For example, one large east coast hospital found that eMRs saved $9,000 to $19,000 annually per physician FTE. This savings was achieved through a decrease in costs for record retrieval, transcription, non-formulary drug ordering, and improvements in billing accuracy. And, in radiology, storage of digital pictures and the use of a picture archival and communication system significantly [PACS] decreased the turnaround time for radiology image interpretation — from 72 hours to only 1 hour. However, there is significant front-loading of costs prior to achieving such costs savings. 

Link: WSJ_Letter_3M_Company_2009-10-16

Assessment

At the American Health Information Management Association [AHIMA] October 2006 conference,  panelists suggested that developing, purchasing, and implementing an EMR would cost over $32,000 per physician, with an outlay of $1,200 per physician per month for maintenance.  This is larger in economic scope, today. Also, there exists no national standard that would require compatibility between the numerous competing eMR vendor systems that may need to communicate with each other, which can escalate costs and frustration in systems that attempt to integrate the features of multiple vendors.

Some recent HIT fiascos:

 Link: http://psnet.ahrq.gov/resource.aspx?resourceID=3090

 Link: http://psnet.ahrq.gov/resource.aspx?resourceID=1905

 Link: http://psnet.ahrq.gov/resource.aspx?resourceID=5286

 Link: http://psnet.ahrq.gov/resource.aspx?resourceID=3891

 http://sanfrancisco.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/stories/2009/10/12/newscolumn3.html#

Conclusion

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Encrypt or De-identify PHI

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Which One Just Might Work?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

The United States’ advancement in Healthcare Information Technology, which has the potential to lead to wonderful money-saving cures through research using trustworthy interoperable health records, is currently stopped cold by patient security problems that are only getting worse. Our lawmakers cannot get around the security obstacle without resorting to authoritarian means using CMS’s power to withhold providers’ discounted payments and threats of obscene fines from the HHS and the FTC. History shows that tyranny is not tolerated well in this part of the world. Lawmakers can get their butts voted smooth out of office in my neighborhood.

HITECH  

Here is something nobody mentions: Despite the current hope in a thick, political fantasy called HITECH, encryption of patients’ Protected Health Information [PHI] is a non-starter in the land of the free. Everyone knows that resourceful, cynical Americans will simply never trust encryption to protect their secrets, and will reliably withhold important information from their eMRs – one way or another. Doctors as well as patients can be expected to go out of their way to sabotage technology they fear. We all intuitively know this is true, don’t we? We aren’t so naïve to think all the players will happily play by the rules, are we? And I think we can all agree that an untrustworthy digital health record in an emergency room is worse than no patient information at all. Security is a grand problem with eMRs that started with HIPAA changes in 2003 that made eHRs so slippery. And the problem is clearly not being resolved. Not yet.

Public Lacks Trust 

Regardless of the campaign donations which follow him, there is nothing Newt Gingrich and his entrepreneurial friends in high places can do about the public’s lack of trust in encryption. It gets worse: Encryption hasn’t a chance of isolating PHI from dishonest employees in doctors’ offices, and slippery digital patient data can be moved soo easily. Everyone knows that as well, don’t they? It is estimated that two-thirds of the identities stolen in the nation are lifted from doctors’ offices. That’s us, Doc. HIPAA is not only irrelevant, it is an expensive distraction – it gives future ID theft victims a false sense of security.

HIPAA Approved 

De-identifying digital records is not mentioned in HITECH as a HIPAA-approved method of security. Yet it is the ONLY solution that promises to be even more secure than paper records. Because of heavy stakeholder stakes in hospital care, it will take longer for CEO-types to embrace patient-friendly de-identification. Other than identifiers such as names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses and other items that have street value, NOBODY cares what is in a dental record. I actually think this opens a tremendous opportunity for someone courageous in the Texas Dental Association to discuss the feasibility of de-identification of dental records. Otherwise, instead of leading the nation in solving security problems, the TDA will look just as stupid as the ADA.

Encryption would also provide a dangerous false sense of security in eMRs – that is if it had a chance in the marketplace. But encryption will never go far because consumers simply won’t buy it. That is a marketplace fact that stoically optimistic HIT stakeholders are trying hard to avoid. They also know they are running out of time. Deadlines are quickly approaching for both HIPAA and the Red Flags Rule that providers are far from prepared for.

Former Attorney Speaks 

Bill Lappen, a former attorney and author of the ad I copied below, as well as a partner with his brother David in the de-identified health record venture says: “Since no identifying information is ever entered, a hacker can’t determine whose information is shown.”

So in addition to protecting one’s practice against dishonest or vindictive employees, de-identification of dental records would make hacking a dentist’s computer a complete waste of time, and hackers wouldn’t endanger dental patients and bankrupt dentists.

My Confidence 

I confidently tell you that soon, someone smart will come upon the unprecedented idea that the ultimate answer to our security problem in healthcare will be de-identification of medical records, not encryption. De-identification allows a compromise of privacy for only a miniscule percentage of physicians’ patients. We cannot allow that to stand in the way of better health for everyone else. Those special cases are so few that I am confident that they can be dealt with individually. We simply must move forward. I’ll have to retire some day. I may need help from Medicare.

Encryption gives us only danger and protects nobody but a thief with a key.

Assessment 

We’ve wasted enough time on HITECH and HIPAA, as well as CCHIT. It’s time to say no to stakeholders and pay attention to patients’ needs instead of those who would needlessly increase the cost of their care. Stimulus money attracts cockroaches.

In the name of Hippocrates, disregard the tainted HIPAA mandate. It is dangerous, and especially absurd in dentistry.

Link: http://www.theopenpress.com/index.php?a=press&id=58568

Life-Saving Patient Information can be Online, Anonymous and Usable

Published on: September 26th, 2009 12:19am

By: blappen

Los Angeles, CA (OPENPRESS) September 26, 2009 — Hospital Emergency Rooms need instant access to patient medical information. Allergic reactions and dangerous drug interactions can be deadly. Time is critical. Until now, privacy was a large concern. Two brothers, who have developed medical software over the past 15 years, think they have a simple first step towards moving patient information on to the internet.

“The ER doesn’t need to look up the information by patient name” said Bill Lappen, a former attorney. “We have implemented secure systems in the past, but no matter how secure we make the site, we have to assume that it will be hacked” added David Lappen, a computer design engineer from Stanford. “But providing instant access to life-saving information is too important to ignore”, he added. To protect patient privacy, their system does not know to whom the medical information belongs. Since the person’s identifying information is never on the system, it can’t be stolen. “By enabling anonymous entry, we have protected people’s privacy while allowing them to put their life-saving information in a place where it can be instantly accessed when needed”, added Bill Lappen.

www.AMCC.me is the public service website they created. It allows anyone to enter medical information anonymously. The site provides a random ID which the user carries in his/her wallet. For someone to see that user’s medical information, they merely enter the ID into the site. Unless the user has given them their ID, the information shown is meaningless. That same information, when associated with a patient, can save their life.

Since no identifying information is ever entered, a hacker can’t determine whose information is shown. “Secure patient-controlled Electronic Medical Records are now available on the internet” said David Lappen. A sample ID has been set up on the site to allow users to evaluate the concept before setting up their own free ID.

Contact:

Bill Lappen

Bill@AMCC.me

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Whither Health Information Technology – Seriously?

Is it Really About Quality Improvement?

By Staff ReportersSurgeons

Health information technology (HIT) allows comprehensive management of medical information and its secure exchange between health care consumers and providers. Broad use of HIT has the potential to improve health care quality, prevent medical errors, increase the efficiency of care provision and reduce unnecessary health care costs, increase administrative efficiencies, decrease paperwork, expand access to affordable care, and improve population health.

Improving Patient Care

  • Interoperable HIT can improve individual patient care in numerous ways, including:
  • Complete, accurate, and searchable health information, available at the point of diagnosis and care, allowing for more informed decision-making to enhance the quality and reliability of health care delivery.
  • More efficient and convenient delivery of care, without having to wait for the exchange of records or paperwork, and without requiring unnecessary or repetitive tests or procedures.
  • Earlier diagnosis and characterization of disease, with the potential to thereby improve outcomes and reduce costs.
  • Reductions in adverse events through an improved understanding of each patient’s particular medical history, potential for drug-drug interactions, or (eventually) enhanced understanding of a patient’s metabolism or even genetic profile and likelihood of a positive or potentially harmful response to a course of treatment.
  • Increased efficiencies related to administrative tasks, allowing for more interaction with and transfer of information to patients, caregivers, and clinical care coordinators and monitoring of patient care.

Assessment

Link: http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=1327&parentname=CommunityPage&parentid=112&mode=2&in_hi_userid=11113&cached=true A Letter from David Blumenthal, MD.

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The VistA Client Server System

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What it is – How it works

By ME-P Staff ReportersME-P Rack Servers

According to Dr. Richard Mata MS, a client-server system configuration occurs when one or more “repository” computers [ known as “servers”] store large amounts of data but perform limited processing. Communicating with the server(s) are client workstations that perform much of the data processing and often have graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for ease of use.

High Functionality

Both customizability and resource use is high, depending on the desired sophistication. Many clinical medical information systems that process data directly related to patient care use this configuration.

VA Example

For instance, the Veterans Health Administration, which has implemented what is likely the largest integrated healthcare information system in the United States, uses client-server architecture. Known as the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), this system provides technology infrastructure to about 1,300 care facilities, including hospitals and medical centers, outpatient facilities, and long-term care centers. VistA utilizes a client-server architecture that links together workstations and personal computers using software that is accessed via a graphical user interface.

Assessment

Overall, for hospitals that have the financial and manpower resources for a significant investment in IT, client-server architectures are the fastest-growing and typically the most preferred of the system architectures, due in large part to their local adaptability and flexibility to meet changing hospital and medical center needs.

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List of Healthcare IT Trade Associations

Advancing Medical Practice Success with Strategic Relationships

By Staff ReportersHDS

To be efficient in healthcare delivery today, doctors must partner and understand the resources and affiliations that are available to them. Here is a brief list of several healthcare trade associations and leading industry vendors submitted for your review.

AHIMA
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is the premier association of health information management professionals. AHIMA’s 51,000 members are dedicated to the effective management of personal health information needed to deliver quality healthcare to the public. Founded in 1928 to improve the quality of medical records, AHIMA is committed to advancing the health information management profession in an increasingly electronic and global environment through leadership in advocacy, education, certification, and lifelong learning.

EHRA
HIMSS EHRA is a trade association of Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors that addresses national efforts to create interoperable EHRs in hospital and ambulatory care settings. HIMSS EHRA operates on the premise that the rapid, widespread adoption of EHRs will help improve the quality of patient care and the productivity of the healthcare system. The primary mission of the association is to provide a forum for the EHR vendor community relative to standards development, the EHR certification process, interoperability, performance and quality measures, and other EHR issues that may become the subject of increasing government, insurance and physician association initiatives and requests.

HIMSS
HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) is the healthcare industry’s membership organization exclusively focused on providing leadership for the optimal use of healthcare information technology and management systems for the betterment of human health. Founded in 1961 with offices in Chicago, Washington D.C., and other locations across the country, HIMSS represents approximately 17,000 individual members and some 275 member corporations that employ more than 1 million people. HIMSS frames and leads healthcare public policy and industry practices through its advocacy, educational and professional development initiatives designed to promote information and management systems’ contributions to ensuring quality patient care.

HITSP
The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel serves as a cooperative partnership between the public and private sectors for achieving a widely accepted and useful set of standards specifically to enable and support widespread interoperability among healthcare software applications, as they will interact in a local, regional, and national health information network for the United States. Comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, the Panel will assist in the development of the U.S. Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) by addressing issues such as privacy and security within a shared healthcare information system. The Panel is sponsored by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in cooperation with strategic partners such as the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), and Booz Allen Hamilton. Funding for the Panel is being provided via the ONCHIT contract award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HL7
Health Level Seven is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO) operating in the healthcare clinical and administrative data arena. It is a not-for-profit volunteer organization made up of providers, vendors, payers, consultants, government groups, and others who develop clinical and administrative data standards for healthcare. Health Level Seven develops specifications; the most widely used being a messaging standard that enables disparate healthcare applications to exchange keys sets of clinical and administrative data.

MSHUG
Microsoft Healthcare Users Group (MS-HUG) unified with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as part of the HIMSS Users Group Alliance Program in October 2003. The unification strengthens the commitment of HIMSS and MS-HUG to better serve their members and the industry through a shared strategic vision to provide leadership and healthcare information technology solutions that improve the delivery of patient care.

WEDI
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange [WEDI’s] goal is to improve the quality of healthcare through effective and efficient information exchange and management. They aim to provide leadership and guidance to the healthcare industry on how to use and leverage the industry’s collective knowledge, expertise, and information resources to improve the quality, affordability, and availability of healthcare.

Assessment

As the health information technology industry evolves, we will continue to contribute our expertise to foster ideas that shape the future of healthcare by offering more examples similar to the above.

Conclusion

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Kelly Mclendon RHIA censors D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Dateline: 8.15.09

pruitt

Dear Kelly Mclendon, Registered Health Information Administrator

You are beginning to make me feel insulted, and I will not have that. I just noticed that the last two comments I submitted to your Website, www.spacecoastmedicine.com, on August 9 and 10, are still “awaiting moderation.”

http://www.spacecoastmedicine.com/2009/08/electronic-records-for-all-patients-mandated-by-2014.html#comment-89 

(For clarity, the comments which scared Mr. Mclendon are copied below) 

Over five days have passed, and I want you, your readers and my readers to know that I spent a lot of time preparing those two pieces exclusively for you at your invitation for comments. You are as sincere as I am, aren’t you? 

When I’ve caught others in the squeeze you might be experiencing, several have pleaded that the censorship was an innocent oversight, and did the right thing immediately by posting everything I send them (include this comment, please). And then again, there are a few slow-learning, command-and-control types who think they cam still somehow control the content of their Websites. Like you, Kelly, an anonymous dentalblogs.com editor whom I call “Nancy” by default, also informed me that my comments were awaiting indefinite moderation. What a foolish, rookie mistake that proved to be. For example, if you google “dentalblogs.com,” my article “Dentalblogs.com hates D. Kellus Pruitt DDS” is their 4th hit. It seems to be very popular. 

How’s this for the title of a comment that should make it to your first page by Monday: “Kelly Mclendon RHIA censors D. Kellus Pruitt DDS”? Please, no phone calls. 

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS 

Dateline 8.9.09 

I’m sure physicians’ businesses are no different than dentists’ when it comes to the liability of data breaches – especially considering the giddy, mindless momentum of HITECH-empowered HIPAA. If a computer is stolen in a burglary, compromised by a dishonest employee who sells IDs on the side, or otherwise hacked, and the dentist reports the tragedy according to the letter of the law, it inevitably means bankruptcy even before the feel-good fines are levied by HHS (HIPAA) and the FTC (Red Flags Rule) for not having required irrelevant documentation of administrative trivia in order. What were our lawmakers thinking? 

I guess the HIPAA blunder proves that when politicians, insurers and healthcare IT entrepreneurs get together in vendor clubs like CCHIT, the only government-approved eHR certification authority, they can mandate damn well any law that suits their needs. 

Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, who is an influential friend of Barack Obama as well as a Trustee of CCHIT told Bloomberg.com reporter Alex Nussbaum in an interview almost a year ago that providers should make the financial commitment “to ensure that doctors have some skin in the game.” 

Glen Tullman is only one reason our nation’s healthcare IT industry stinks from the top down. 

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

Dateline: 8.10.09 

Thank you, Kelly Mclendon, for providing a rare venue to possibly clear up a few items of uncertainty about eHRs in dentistry. First of all, if a technological advancement such as eDRs does not pay for itself, even with government subsidies, who pays for it? That seems like a quick way to increase the costs of dental care – and for what? How do dental patients benefit from expensive HIT solutions when the telephone, fax machine and US Mail serve us fine? 

Digitalization of records offers no benefits to dental patients. Only stakeholders who would grab our patients’ money benefit from HIT. Everyone else loses. Trusting, naive dental patients lose the most. 

Electronic dental records are expensive hazards. If you can think of a lame reason for them, please let me hear it. You can bet I’ve crushed it before. I’ve been down this road with others many, many times. 

Within a week, the government will price computerization smooth out of dentistry. Over 90% of dentists have patient identities on their computers today. If HIPAA is enforced, with or without the Red Flags Rule, I predict that less than half of the nation’s dentists will be computerized a year from now. 

As for your argument that eHRs somehow provide up-to-date and otherwise superior medical histories for dental patients, think about this: If someone changes a paper medical history, it leaves a paper trail. If an insurance thief alters allergies on a digital record to suit his or her own needs, nobody in the emergency room can tell. Whoever said “Paper kills,” lied. It is a catchy PR pitch, though.

Conclusion

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Borges versus Kvedar Video eHR Debate

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The Great HIT Debate

[By Staff Reporters]Boxing Gloves

All ME-P subscribers and readers are invited to watch a debate between Dr. Alberto Borges and Dr. Joseph Kvedar. In the original broadcast, by HCPLive, both participants were asked some very interesting questions about health information technology [HIT] when posed to them. And so, if you were unable to attend the live event, it is now re-broadcasted in podcast form for your review.

About Alberto A. Borges; MD

Al Borges is Founder and CEO of the MS Office eMR Project http://www.msofficeemrproject.com He is the project author, visionary and main content developer for the independent website. As a board certified physician, he practices oncology, hematology, and internal medicine in Arlington, Virginia. He is also a clinical professor at the George Washington University Medical School. Dr. Borges is a colleague and thought-leader for the ME-P

About Joseph C. Kvedar; MD

Joe Kvedar is the Founder and Director of the Center for Connected Health http://www.connected-health.org The Center is known for applying communications technology and online resources to increase access and improve the delivery of quality medical services and patient care outside of the traditional medical setting.  A division of Partners HealthCare; the Center for Connected Health works with Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospitals, including Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. Dr. Kvedar is also a board-certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School

Podcast Link: http://www.hcplive.com/hcplive/great_debate

Assessment

Feel free to email questions, or to post follow-up comments, for all our viewers to consider and respond. The principals are asked to weigh-in, as well.

And the Winner is … ?

Conclusion

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About EHRWatch.com

A New Online Virtual Collaborative 

By Staff ReportersNurse Paper MRs

www.EHRWatch.com is a new online community dedicated to developments in electronic health records [eHRs], including practice, funding, product integration, standards developments and trends in implementation. The new site features blog posts, polling, commenting and a weekly e-newsletter.

A Collaborative

www.EHRWatch.com is designed to encourage community participation, interaction, collaboration and reaction. Whether you need to select and implement an EHR solution or make sure your current system meets the requirements and timeline necessary to receive the Obama Administration’s ARRA, and HITECCH,  stimulus incentives, the site may offer the products, information, services and expertise to help.

Assessment

Visit www.EHRWatch.com to read the latest posts and join the virtual community. Just give em’ a click, today!

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Tell us what you think of this new site? Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

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About MeaningfulUse.org

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A Dedicated Terminology Website

By Staff Reporters

Understanding and defining the new era of healthcare information technology in America.

The ARRA and HITECH concept of “meaningful use” for e-MRs is nebulous and ill defined. This new website is intended to be a collaborative destination site in order to promote the national dialogue and education around the term, “meaningful use”, by providing the HIT community a single-central location to access resources, influence and discuss the definition of “meaningful use” and learn how to take advantage of the HITECH stimulus funds.

HDSAssessment

According to the site, registration for the www.MeaningfulUse.org discussion board is only used for the purpose of posting and will not be used for any marketing purposes. The site is supported by the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) and sponsored by Compuware Corporation.

Conclusion

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Interview with Jack Levy of Securebill, Inc

President – Securebill, IncMeeting

What: An Interview and Special Report Exclusively Prepared for the ME-P
Who: Mr. Jack Levy, CISSP [President – Securebill, Inc]
Topic: Physician Selection of eHRs
Reporter: Amaury Cifuentes; CFP®
Where: Internet Ether

Although skeptics of eHRs abound, President Barack H. Obama’s signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA] of 2009 has created a massive push for their implementation. The Act provides $19.2 billion, including $17.2 billion for financial incentives to be administered by Medicare and Medicaid. This assistance of up to $40 to $65 thousand per eligible physician, and up to $11 million per hospital, begins in 2011.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/jack-levy-interview.pdf

Conclusion

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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Primer for Physicians

Free ARRA Webinar Series

By Staff Reporters

Resident LaptopAre you ready to maximize American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) opportunities in your medical practice?

The Webinar Series

This webinar series is designed to support physician practices as they prepare for a new health care environment. As new information becomes available, experts and health care leaders representing diverse sectors will review key components of ARRA and offer insights on the impact to the physician community.

Topic: Stimulus 101: Basics of the Health Information Technology Provisions

When: Thursday, May 21, 12:00 PM CST

Presenters:

  • Glen Tullman, Chief Executive Officer – Allscripts
  • Margaret Garikes, Director of Federal Affairs – AMA

Assessment

Plus, hear from practices using eHR systems and how they made the transition.

Registration: https://cc.readytalk.com/cc/schedule/display.do?udc=1ip8sqjax7frw

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post, and webinar series, are appreciated; especially from seminar participants. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Allscript’s Glenn Tullman is Video Interviewed

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Video Clip from the HIMSS Meeting

By Ann Miller; RN, MHA

[Executive-Director]

stk323168rknThere is a major controversy in the modern healthcare community over eMRs and how to pay for them; or even if they are effective in improving medical outcomes. Of course, by eMRs we mean interoperable medical records that span the pan-healthcare ecosystem; and not just the stand-alone digital records that many, if not most, physicians use in their daily practices to some degree or another.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/10/on-the-hitech-act-of-2009/

Proponents

As readers of the ME-P are aware, one vocal camp supports certification and eMR industry mandates, standards, and governmental initiatives, etc. The recent $20 billion taxpayer input from the Obama Administration, courtesy of HITECH, further emboldens CCHIT and related wonks.

Opponents

One the other hand, one vocal ME-P opponent is dentist Darrell Pruitt. He and many others believe that current eMRs may be too expensive, unwieldy, and counter-productive. This camp advocates a mix of other data sources, technology processes and doctor/patient education to get us where we need to be in terms of improving medial outcomes; quicker and less expensively.

Assessment

Rather than read, research and write more on this controversy, which was apparently a red-hot topic at the recent HIMSS meeting, we have embedded a video link of Glen Tullman [CEO of Allscripts] and Mark Leavitt, [Chair of CCHIT], below.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/cchit-is-prejudiced-and-lacks-diversity-%e2%80%93-an-indictment/

It even includes a clip of Jonathan Bush, CEO of AthenaHealth. And, although they don’t all agree; some common ground may be developing in this controversial issue.

Source: This link originally appeared on The Health Care Blog [THCB], by Matthew Holt.

Link: http://www.thehealthcareblog.com/the_health_care_blog/2009/04/cats-and-dogs-on-film–tullman-leavitt-bush.html#comments

Disclaimer:We are members of AHIMA, HIMSS, MS-HUG and SUNSHINE. We just released the Dictionary of Health Information Technology and Security, with Foreword by Chief Medical Information Officer Richard J. Mata; MD MS MS-CIS, of Johns Hopkins University; and the second edition of the Business of Medical Practice with Foreword by Ahmad Hashem; MD PhD, who was the Global Productivity Manager for the Microsoft Healthcare Solutions Group at the time.

Conclusion

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Obama on the SGR Physician Payment Formula

Solo Doctors and and Small Group Practices May Benefit

By Staff Reporterscoins3

According to Diana Manos of Healthcare Finance News, on March 23, 2009, small medical group practices and solo and/or independent physicians may benefit most from the recently proposed Obama healthcare budget. In it, President Obama asked Congress for $76.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] for fiscal year 2010. Some funding would come from changes to the way healthcare is provided, with a new emphasis on pay-for-performance [P4P] for Medicare providers.

The AMA’s Response   

It was reported that, Joseph M. Heyman, MD, chairman of the American Medical Association’s Board of Trustees, said the AMA is pleased with the administration’s proposed new baseline – or projected spending over a period of time – or Medicare physician payment updates.

“Unlike previous budget forecasts, the administration’s new budget baseline recognizes that Congress needs to and will act to avert the serious access crisis that looms as physicians face drastic payment cuts in the coming decade due to the failed Medicare physician payment formula,” he is reported to have said. Furthermore,  

“The AMA strongly supports the use of a realistic baseline as a foundation for Congress to move forward with a permanent solution to the flawed SGR physician payment formula, and urges the committee and Congress to ensure that a new Medicare physician payment baseline is adopted in the 2010 Fiscal Year (FY) Budget Resolution.”

Assessment

Under the president’s budget request, Medicare Advantage would be revamped; physicians and hospitals could expect to be paid for performance [P4P] under Medicare; pharmaceutical companies would face steeper competition from generic drug companies and the government would clamp down on inadvertent and fraudulent overpayments under Medicare. The budget also calls for “comprehensive, but fiscally responsible reforms” to the physician payment formula [Sustainable Growth Rate], moving toward rewarding doctors for efficient quality care.

Link: http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/small-physician-practices-can-expect-real-changes-healthcare-under-obama-budget

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On the HITECH Act of 2009

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

By Staff Reportersdigital-signature2

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [ARRA]. According to some, the law provides an opportunity to transform healthcare in the United States.

HIT

The law also provides $19 billion in health information technology [HIT] funding to ensure widespread adoption and use of interoperable HIT systems like the electronic health records funding provision. But, as ME-P readers are aware; this is not apparently for electronic Dental Records [eDRs]; and CCHIT is no advocate of professional diversity.

Link: https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/02/cchit-is-prejudiced-and-lacks-diversity-%e2%80%93-an-indictment

HITECH

Obama’s signing of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act [a portion of the stimulus package] recognized the importance of HIT as the foundation for health care reform and cost savings.

Assessment

Is this report correct? Read all 187 pages and decide.

Link: HITECH http://democrats.science.house.gov/Media/File/Commdocs/HealthIT%20Bill.pdf

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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Office Based EMR Cost Report

A Preliminary BC/BS Cost-Benefit Analysis

By Staff Reporters  Stethoscope

BlueCross-BlueShield of Massachusetts recently announced that it will not require physicians to install or use electronic medical records [EMRs] to participate in its new bonus program. The health plan came to the conclusion that the financial benefits of office-based electronic medical records systems are just not worth the cost to doctors.  

Little Office-Based Value 

Relying on information from past studies, the American Medical Association [AMA] estimated that office-based doctors see only 11 cents of every dollar saved through the use of information technology, according to AMNews reports. 

More Hospital Value 

But, the Massachusetts Blues did find value in health information technology [HIT] that physicians would need to use, as its own cost-benefit analysis concluded that computerized physician order entry makes financial sense in the hospital and enterprise-wide healthcare setting. 

Assessment 

The MA-Blues will require hospitals and health systems to install computerized physician order entry systems [CPOEs] by 2012, in order to participate in the bonus program.

Conclusion

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