I already reported the results of the annual HIMSS healthcare CIO survey in a story I wrote for InformationWeek the other day. Since everybody seems to love infographics these days, HIMSS produced one visualizing some of the highlights, including the finding that two-thirds of U.S. hospitals already have met Stage 1 meaningful use. Based on this, I’m guessing that close to 90 percent should be there by the end of the year, which means that CMS and ONC will have achieved their objectives for Stage 1, at least on the hospital side. (Of course, the physician part is proving to be much more difficult.) Someone in the know at ONC told me last night that people in that office are expecting 80 percent hospital success by the time fiscal year 2013 closes Sept. 30.
As regular readers might already know, 2012 was a transformative year in my life, and mostly not in a good way. I ended the year on a high note, taking a character-building six-day, 400-mile bike tour through the mountains, desert and coastline of Southern California that brought rain, mud, cold, more climbing than my poor legs could ever hope to endure in the Midwest, some harrowing descents and even a hail storm. But the final leg from Oceanside to San Diego felt triumphant, like I was cruising down the Champs-Élysées during the last stage of the Tour de France, save the stop at the original Rubio’s fish taco stand about five miles from the finish.
But the months before that were difficult. My grandmother passed away at the end of November at the ripe old age of 93, but at least she lived a long, full life and got to see all of her grandchildren grow up. The worst part of 2012 was in April and May, when my father endured needless suffering in a poorly run hospital during his last month of life as he lost his courageous but futile battle with an insidious neurodegenerative disorder called multiple system atrophy, or MSA. (On a personal note, March is MSA Awareness Month, and I am raising funds for the newly renamed Multiple System Atrophy Coalition.)
That ordeal changed my whole perspective, as you may have noticed in my writing since then. No longer do I care about the financial machinations of healthcare such as electronic transactions, revenue-cycle management, the new HIPAA omnibus rule or reasons why healthcare facilities aren’t ready to switch to ICD-10 coding. Nor am I much interested in those who believe it’s more worthwhile to take the Medicare penalties starting in 2015 for not achieving “meaningful use” than to put the time and money into adopting electronic health records. I’m not interested in lists of “best hospitals” or “best doctors” based solely on reputation. I am sick of the excuses for why healthcare can’t fix its broken processes.
And don’t get me started on those opposed to reform because they somehow believe that the U.S. has the “best healthcare in the world.” We don’t. We simply have the most expensive, least efficient healthcare in the world, and it’s really dangerous in many cases.
No, I am dedicated to bringing news about efforts to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors. Yes, we need to bring costs down and increase access to care, too, but we can make a big dent on those fronts by creating incentives to do the right thing instead of doing the easy thing. Accountable care and bundled payments seem like they’re steps in the right direction, though the jury remains out. All the recent questioning about whether meaningful use has had its intended effect and even whether current EHR systems are safe also makes me optimistic that people are starting to care about quality.
Keep that in mind as you pitch me for the upcoming HIMSS conference. Also keep in mind that I have two distinct audiences: CIOs read InformationWeek Healthcare, while a broad mix of innovators, consultants and healthcare and IT professionals keep up with my work at MobiHealthNews. For the latter, I’m interested in mobile tools for doctors and on the consumerization of health IT.
I’m not doing a whole lot of feature writing at the moment, so I’d like to see and hear things I can relate in a 500-word story. Contract wins don’t really interest me since there are far too many of them to report on. Mergers and acquisitions as well as venture investments matter to MobiHealthNews but not so much to InformationWeek. And remember, I see through the hype. I want substance. Policy insights are good. Case studies are better, as long as we’re talking about quality and safety. Think care coordination and health information exchange for example, but not necessarily the technical workings behind the scenes.
And, as always, I tend to find a lot more interesting things happening in the educational sessions than in that zoo known as the exhibit hall. I’m there for the conference, not the “show.”
Many of you already have sent your pitches. I expect to get to them no later than this weekend, and I’ll respond in the order I’ve received them. Thank you kindly for your patience.
It’s Sunday, so it’s time for something light.
University of Utah Health Care put together this handy little video that explains ICD-10 to physicians as well as their role in making the transition. There is one footnote I’d like to add: the compliance deadline has been delayed to October 2014 since this video was made.
Thanks to the HIMSS social media team for pointing this out to me, via their Facebook page.
For the very first time, I captured the top spot on the biweekly Health Wonk Review blog carnival, this time hosted by Dr. Jaan Sidorov of the Disease Management Care Blog. Unfortunately, I had to endure my dad’s untimely death after a miserable hospital experience in order to write the piece in question. But if it brings more traffic to that post and, more importantly, more awareness of multiple system atrophy (MSA) and the problem of poorly coordinated care and broken processes in hospitals, I’ll take it.
Since you’re here primarily for health IT, I’ll point you to a couple of relevant items that Sidorov summarizes. In a post actually written back in February, Martin Gaynor, chairman of the Health Care Cost Institute, discusses the organization on the Wing of Zock (the name is explained here) blog. The institute is aggregating claims information from the likes of Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, UnitedHealthcare and CMS to provide researchers with rich data sets related to healthcare costs and utilization.
“At its most basic, HCCI was formed because a better understanding of health spending can improve the quality of care and save money. If we generate information that makes a difference, then we will be a success,” Gaynor says.
Also, consultant Joanna Relth makes it known on the Healthcare Talent Transformation blog that she is no fan of ICD-10. “I’m sure that the intent of making this massive change to the codes is to improve the accuracy of diagnosis coding so providers will bill more accurately and insurance companies will pay providers and insureds in a more timely fashion. Seriously?? Did anyone ask a learning professional about how large a list is reasonable and at what point does the number of data points become impossible to follow?” she wonders in what comes off a little as an anti-government screed.
But I prefer to end this post on a happy note. In the comment section, Relth links to a video from EHR vendor Nuesoft Technologies that parodies Jay-Z’s “99 Problems.” Enjoy.
As has become custom, I carved out some time at HIMSS to interview Jonathan Bush, the always outspoken and insightful CEO of athenahealth. This time, instead of meeting in some sterile conference room, we got together just before the start of athenahealth’s annual HIMSS party, which happened to be at Ghostbar at the top of the Palms hotel in Las Vegas.
The setting, on the balcony of the 55th floor, tied into the company’s embrace of the cloud. The staff of both the bar and of athenahealth did a great job finding a single spotlight on the balcony, overlooking the bright lights of the Strip. Yeah, there’s a shadow on Bush’s face and you can hear the wind at times, but I think it adds to rather than disrupts the vibe.
As usual, we joke around a lot, but we also get into some serious discussions about ICD-10, meaningful use, health IT innovation and even my involvement with Health eVillages, a subject that came up because athenahealth has a health IT charity effort of its own in India. (Speaking of HealtheVillages, co-founder Donato Trumato is presenting a case study at HIMSS Thursday morning. It’s at 9:45 a.m. PST in Marco Polo 803 on the first floor of the Venetian. I’ll probably be waiting for the media availability of Dr. Farzad Mostashari at that time. Something about meaningful use Stage 2.)
Enjoy the video. I know I did.
While everyone’s scrambling to comply with ANSI X12 5010 standards for HIPAA transactions by Jan. 1—or whenever CMS gets around to enforcing them—there’s another piece of the upgrade that hasn’t been talked about much. That’s the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs’ version D.0 standard for pharmacy transactions.
I got an inadvertent reminder this week when I picked up some prescription refills. One of my meds was out of refills, so my doctor sent a refill electronically (woohoo). Inside the bag of meds was a printout that may not have been intended for me to see, or perhaps I was supposed to mention it to my doctor. The notice contained a “reject message” with the note, “VERSION D.0 REQUIRED AS OF 1/1/2012.
Obviously, the script went through and I got my refill, but I sure hope people don’t start getting prescriptions actually rejected for being in the old NCPDP 5.1 format after the first of the year. Prescribers, get in touch with your vendors. Vendors, remind your e-prescribing clients. It’s not a big change like 5010 and the forthcoming ICD-10, but it’s significant. So get it done.
Editor’s note: This was written for a national publication, but rejected because it was too localized. I have permission to post it here. Don’t get used to me writing a lot of news stories for this blog.
Healthcare business process services firm Anthelio Healthcare Solutions will open a “center of excellence” in or near Detroit, a move that could bring thousands of IT-related jobs to an economically depressed area. The Dallas-based company, formerly known as PHNS, also announced that it is working with community colleges across Michigan to develop and hire in-state talent.
“This is mostly about private industry stepping up,” Anthelio Chairman and CEO Richard S. Garnick said. “These are not part-time or short-term jobs,” Garnick said. He added that the company did not receive any government assistance or subsidies for this expansion.
“We want to create jobs for Americans and leverage our existing capabilities,” Garnick said.
The 50,000-square-foot center of excellence will serve as a “physical location that clusters skills and expertise,” Garnick explained. Anthelio has not chosen the actual site yet, but Garnick said the company has narrowed its options to two, one in Detroit proper and one in an unspecified suburb.
There will be some consolidation of services from Anthelio offices in Detroit and Flint, Mich., but most of the people working at the center of excellence will be new hires, Garnick said, and the company would keep the existing locations open. The two current Michigan offices help Anthelio support major clients McLaren Health Care Corp. in Flint, and Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanguard Health Systems, owner of Detroit Medical Center.
Garnick did not indicate exactly how many employees Anthelio was looking for, but said it was in the thousands. “We are hiring people as we speak,” Garnick said. He added that Anthelio will support tuition reimbursement for new employees who are completing health IT training in programs of three to six months at community colleges. Current Anthelio employees also are eligible for tuition assistance.
The company is looking for expertise in health information management, computer-assisted coding, business process improvement, and other back-end healthcare functions, according to the CEO. “We have a broad set of needs, he said.
Last week, Anthelio announced a partnership with speech recognition technology vendor MedQuist Holdings to improve clinical documentation for healthcare providers and promote computer-assisted coding. The Michigan center for excellence will handle some of this work, according to Garnick, as well as analytics-related activities with another Anthelio partner, OptumInsight, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group that was formerly known as Ingenix.
Much of the ramp-up is intended to prepare clients for the October 2013 transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 coding. Garnick likened the change to the scope of preparations IT departments made for Y2K more than a decade ago, with one major difference. “It doesn’t end on Jan. 1, 2000,” Garnick noted. “This will be the new platform for reimbursement for healthcare.
Last Thursday, for the fourth consecutive year, I sat down with HIMSS CEO H. Stephen Lieber for an interview ahead of the opening of the annual HIMSS conference. For the third consecutive year, the recording actually worked. And for the second consecutive year, I went to HIMSS headquarters in downtown Chicago for the interview, rather than waiting for the conference itself. Unfortunately, the HVAC system in the conference room was rather noisy, so there is some background noise. Still, the voices come through loud and clear.
I wrote a story based on this interview in Monday’s FierceHealthIT, but here is the world premiere of the full recording.
1:00 State of the HIT industry a year after ARRA
2:20 HIMSS10 registration patterns
5:00 Types of vendors exhibiting this year
6:30 Mobile applications
8:20 HIPAA, 5010 and ICD-10
10:15 Health IT’s role in healthcare reform
13:45 Health IT alone can’t fix healthcare
15:40 Getting the word to physician practices about meaningful use
17:55 Hospital-based physicians and meaningful use
19:15 Pressure to achieve meaningful use
20:15 Why HIMSS doesn’t support weakening of requirements
21:40 Health IT workforce issues
25:10 Hiring IT professionals laid off from other industries
26:40 The future of certification
30:00 Clinical decision support comes of age
31:55 Focus of the 2010 conference