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CCHIT, KLAS might signal new era in EHRs

Two stories that have hit in the last 48 hours illustrate how the status quo in EHRs is being upset.

First off, as John Lynn broke late Tuesday night—first as a rumor and then as a confirmed fact—on his EMR and HIPAA blog, CCHIT, formerly known as the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, is getting out of the health IT certification business, thus making sense out of the name change. The organization will continue to offer preparatory courses for ONC-sanctioned testing and certification, but no more actual certification.

CCHIT recommended that vendors turn to another authorized testing and certification body, Verizon-owned ICSA Labs, though there are others that still do offer certification, including Drummond Group, SLI Global Solutions, InfoGard Laboratories, and, for e-prescribing technology, Surescripts. Interestingly, CCHIT also announced that it will partner with HIMSS to offer a series of health IT events for vendors and providers. This is interesting because HIMSS was one of the three founding organizations of CCHIT in 2004, and CCHIT was under fire five years ago for maintaining too close of a relationship with HIMSS (also see this link).

When Meaningful Use came along with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, CCHIT lost its exclusivity in certifying health IT products, as EHR certification essentially became commoditized. Other certifying bodies also have undercut CCHIT on price, so this move really does not surprise me.

The other big story, if you pay attention to things such as vendor rankings, is that Athenahealth just unseated Epic Systems as KLAS Research’s “Best in KLAS Overall Software Vendor” of 2013. Epic had held the top spot for eight years in a row. “The old guard of HIT leaders is finally being displaced by more nimble, innovative models designed for health care’s future—not for its past. The latest KLAS rankings show that closed-system, traditional software offerings are not robust or flexible enough to meet providers’ demands anymore,” Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush said in a statement.

I’m not sure I’d go that far, as Epic is still eating everyone else’s lunch in the enterprise market. But, to me, this shows that smaller physician practices that don’t have IT departments are adopting EHRs and want a cloud-based product that is easy to maintain. That certainly heralds a major shift in health IT.

January 30, 2014 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Comprehensive coverage of WTN Media’s Digital Health Conference

As you may know from at least one of my earlier posts, I was in Madison, Wis., last month for a great little health IT event called the Digital Health Conference, a production of the Wisconsin Technology Network and the affiliated WTN Media. In fact, WTN Media hired me to cover the conference for them, so I did, pretty comprehensively. In fact, I wrote eight stories over the last couple of weeks, seven of which have been published:

I still have an overview story that should go up this week.

Why do I say it’s a great little conference? The list of speakers was impressive for a meeting of its size, with about 200 attendees for the two-day main conference and 150 for a pre-conference day about startups and entrepreneurship.

Since it is practically in the backyard of Epic Systems, CEO Judy Faulkner is a fixture at this annual event, and this time she also sent the company’s vendor liaison. Informatics and process improvement guru Dr. Barry Chaiken came in from Boston to chair the conference and native Wisconsinite Judy Murphy, now deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at ONC, returned from Washington. Kaiser Permanente was represented, as was Gulfport (Miss.) Memorial Hospital. IBM’s chief medical scientist for care delivery systems, Dr. Marty Kohn, flew in from the West Coast, while Patient Privacy Rights Foundation founder Dr. Deborah Peel, made the trip from another great college town, Austin, Texas. (Too bad Peel and Faulkner weren’t part of the same session to discuss data control. That alone would be worth the price of admission.)

July 2, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Ode to EMRs, in song format

Two North Carolina physicians have decided to have a little musical fun with their EHR-related frustrations. Pediatrician Ken Roberts , M.D., and hematologist-oncologist Jim Granfortuna, M.D., at Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro, N.C., have produced this little ditty entitled, “Ode to Electronic Medical Records, or Our Song of Epic Proportions.” Cone Health just happens to have an Epic Systems EHR.

Roberts and Granfortuna don’t seem like they’re anti-EHR, just anti-EHR that makes their work more difficult. From the song: “Now we ain’t saying the EHR is bad/When all the bugs are fixed I know we’ll all be glad/It’s just by then us pioneers will all be dead.”

May 21, 2013 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Epic gets in the Halloween spirit

Have you seen Epic Systems’ home page today? It’s got quite the Halloween theme.

I have a screen grab in case you miss it, but it’s more fun to see the animations on the page itself. Read more..

October 31, 2011 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Vendors, this is your wake-up call

I just re-read a BusinessWeek story from about a month ago and was shocked to read the following passage:

Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pa., wanted all that when it spent $35 million to purchase and install software from Epic Systems, a large vendor in Verona, Wis. But in June 2005, during a pilot run of a computerized order-entry system at Geisinger’s flagship medical center, errors began appearing at a rate of several a week in the hospital’s psychiatric unit. “The pharmacy would interpret an order as one drug at one dosage, and the patients were ordered the wrong medications at different dosages,” recalls Jean Adams, a nurse in charge of the IT team. Fortunately, astute staffers discovered the problem after a few weeks and began verifying the computer drug orders using the phone. Full implementation of the Epic system was put on hold. Adams says Geisinger traced the trouble to incompatibility between a common pharmacy database and Epic’s system.

Epic CEO Judith Faulkner says the episode at Geisinger, and similar incidents at other hospitals, taught her company that physician orders and pharmacy records cannot use distinct technologies. “It doesn’t work when you mix and match vendors,” Faulkner says. “It has to be one system, or it can be dangerous for patients.”

Am I right in interpreting this to mean that Judy Faulkner believes that the inability to integrate systems is a risk to patient safety? Really?

This shouldn’t have to be a warning to customers that they should only buy from one vendor. This should be a wake-up call to vendors that they had better start cooperating with each other.

As an American taxpayer, I don’t want my money spent on systems that can’t interface and can’t interoperate. That’s not “meaningful use.” It sounds more like blackmail by a vendor.

May 23, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

More thoughts on Twitter

Though I’m still skeptical of Twitter and not ready to sign up for fear of having too many messages to read from anyone I decide to follow, I found something I might use it for. I’ve just learned that Children’s Hospital Omaha is getting ready to go live with EpicCare in orthopedics. That could have been handled in a single tweet, rather than a full blog post.

That said, I continue to fight a losing battle against e-mail. How in the world would I ever keep up with Twitter feeds?

Also, I don’t like the URL shorteners the Twitterati (did I just coin a new word?) like to use to conserve characters. With so many phishing scams out there, I’m wary of clicking on URLs that don’t make sense to me. Particularly alarming are the ones with country-specific top-level domain names. I’ve seen plenty of is.gd (Grenada) and bit.ly (Libya) and ow.ly (also Libya) links of late. With apologies to the legitimate sites out there, would you knowingly click on a cryptic URL from either an offshore tax haven or a country that formerly sponsored terrorism? What about Internet scam bases such as Russia (.ru) or Nigeria (.ng)? Just asking.

Again, Children’s Hospital Omaha is about to turn on EpicCare in orthopedics. Anyone want to tweet that for me?

UPDATE, 10:53 p.m. CDT: “Twitterati” already exists, but it’s a fairly new word. Urban Dictionary’s oldest definition related to Twitter is from Feb. 13. (There’s another, older usage that refers to Hollywood dingbats.)

April 15, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.