Surfing the Wave of Healthcare Change

wave-2Healthcare is constantly evolving, and healthcare IT in particular is undergoing more change now than at any other point in history. Health systems trying to ‘ride the wave’ of change may often feel like they are implementing updates, only to face a new regulation, technology, or best suggested practice that shakes up the process yet again. While it is challenging to stay current, health systems looking to stay relevant need to constantly re-evaluate their processes and whether they are as efficient as possible. While these organizations can’t always predict what comes next, the triple aim of reducing costs, improving outcomes, and enhancing patient satisfaction, provides a solid framework for thinking ahead.

So how do you know where you are on the healthcare wave?

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The Promise of Mobile Health App Innovation

matt's hearingThis week, I had the privilege to present at the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Hearing that took place in Washington, DC. As part of the “Disrupter Series: Health Care Apps” hearing, leaders in the healthcare industry discussed how mobile applications are disrupting the ways in which doctors and patients engage in the health care system and impact the affordability, accessibility, and delivery of care.

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Patient-centric Approaches to Data are Great…Except When They’re Not

infrastructureIn a variety of recent private and panel discussions with health and policy leaders, I’ve heard encouraging talk around interoperability through open and available application programming interfaces (APIs). Public comments by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt indicate there is sincere commitment to making this a reality.

While this momentum seems promising, when Meaningful Use Stage 3 is mentioned – particularly its requirements for making data available to patient facing applications – I see the potential for unintended and terrible consequences for clinician workflows.

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Making Sense of The Joint Commission’s Change of Heart on Secure Texting

secure textingIn May, The Joint Commission announced that it was changing its five-year-old ban on texting, stating that effective immediately health care organizations may now allow orders to be transmitted via text message.

The topic of ‘secure messaging’ has long been a polarizing topic within the health care industry. Some industry veterans are against it – they question whether this method of communication truly can be secure. Others believe that allowing physicians to issue orders via text messaging is just a matter of time, as there are great tools now available that are HIPAA compliant and provide the security and audit trail needed to make this workflow improvement. I am in the latter group.

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How the HLC Proposes to Transform Healthcare Now

healthcare reform straight aheadThere is broad agreement that the U.S. healthcare system must focus on improving overall care quality and cost efficiency. The pressures imposed on the system by the Affordable Care Act make this need abundantly clear. The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) is offering ways to transform healthcare by proposing six reforms developed by senior leaders from all sectors, engaged patient groups and key industry voices.  The action areas include health information interoperability; changes to federal anti-kickback and physician self-referral (Stark) laws; health information flow improvements focused on patient privacy laws and regulations; FDA (Food and Drug Administration) reforms; comprehensive care planning; and medication therapy management.

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Looking Ahead in 2016: More Consumerism and Innovation, Less Gadgets, Still Not Enough Interoperability

consumerismWith a new year just getting started, most realists recognize that for all intents and purposes ACA is here to stay. No matter what discourse has transpired or how the next presidential election turns out, we are down a path of value-based care with no turning back. With that in mind, 2016 will see consumers having no other choice but to get more involved in their healthcare spend. Many more people are now insured, and benefit designs increasingly place more burden on the consumer to understand what’s covered, what’s not, and how best to spend their healthcare dollars. With this backdrop, here are four developments I expect to see: Continue reading

Telehealth Brings Non-Stress Tests to the Home

Non-stress tests (NSTs) are the current standard of care for monitoring high-risk pregnancies. Intended to reduce the risk of stillbirths, these tests are for those who have one or more risk factors, whether they be maternal, fetal or obstetric complications.

Currently, these tests can be very time-consuming for patients. NSTs involve attaching the mother to fetal and contraction monitors to watch the fetal heart rate tracing and uterine activity. However, many rural and remote areas don’t have ready access to NSTs. Consequently, mothers sometimes travel up to several hours each way to get to our facility for their NST appointments once or twice a week. Once they arrive, there’s the usual wait time, the 30-60 minute testing process, plus an additional wait time for the test to be interpreted by a staff member and a clinician. These appointments, on top of any additional prenatal visits the mothers have scheduled, can therefore add up to a considerable amount of time, even for patients who live nearby.

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Why 2015 is the Worst Time to be a Physician

With the ONC’s recent release of their 10-year interoperability vision, it might seem like the industry is starting to make things easier for clinicians. In reality, 2015 is starting off to be one of the worst times ever to be a physician. Interoperability is a critical issue to support a transition from fee-for-service to value-based care. Physicians will eventually be reimbursed around their ability to impact clinical outcomes, so the need for clinically relevant information at their fingertips is mission critical.

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Sense4Baby Comes Full Term

S4B-Sensor-Pic3As a father, I have loved seeing my children grow into mature and independent adults. There’s something incredibly special about seeing your children leave the nest and start the next chapter of their lives. As the chief executive of West Health, I have been fortunate enough to have some of those same feelings when it comes to the progress of Sense4Baby, one of the first technologies researched at our organization.

Read the full post from the West Health Institute here. AirStrip acquired the assets of Sense4Baby Inc. in March 2014.

Healthcare in South Africa – Two Systems, Common Challenges

When it comes to mHealth, most industrialised nations such as the U.S. and Europe have a head start. Money for healthcare technology investments is available, the infrastructure is in place, and most of the population is already engaged in the healthcare system.

As a country of about 52 million people, South Africa shares many characteristics with its larger brethren. There is a mix of public and private healthcare providers and health insurance plans, physician shortages in key areas, and South Africa is beset by many of the same chronic diseases that industrialised countries face (cardiovascular and obesity-related diseases, diabetes, etc.).

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