Healthcare analytics the future of care?

Healthcare analytics is used in the marketing of business software and consulting services, making extensive use of data, statistical and qualitative analysis, explanatory and predictive modeling. Currently the most prevalent application for real-time health care analytics is within clinical decision support (CDS) software. These programs analyze clinical information at the point of care and support health providers as they make prescriptive decisions. These real-time systems are “active knowledge systems, which use two or more items of patient data to generate case-specific advice.”

Analytics is no small factor for healthcare organizations in the months ahead and will be a key issue for measurement. The global healthcare analytics market accounted for $5.5 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow at nearly 25 percent to reach $32.4 billion by 2022. Seemingly a bit off and likely some room for error here, but with the rise of analytics tools and because of how it helps healthcare organizations in reduction of patient’s stays and readmissions in hospitals, improved quality care, fraud identification and prevention of chronic diseases, the software and related solutions are likely going to be a big play in healthcare’s future.

The factors contributing to the market growth are many and include better efficiency of healthcare of organizations, federal healthcare mandates and increasing healthcare IT adoption. However, lack of skilled labor with analytical skills, patient data security and privacy issues are inhibiting the growth of the market.

On the payer side, realizing the benefits of such solutions, Humana, an early IT adopter, is reported to be making analytics the foundation of its clinical operations and consumer engagement efforts, reports Enterprise Apps Today.

The insurer’s predictive models have already helped it identify almost 2 million members at high risk of diseases and closed 4.3 million instances of gaps in care by identifying which members would benefit from regular communication with a provider. Predictive analytics, proving its worth, also has helped Humana lower hospital readmission rates by about 40 percent by using real-time analytics to determine which members were most likely to be readmitted.

According to the site, its more than 15,000 care managers and other professionals help coordinate care for its members, ensuring they make changes to lifestyle, diet and other areas. And all of those efforts are powered by analytics.

Although most insurers haven’t seen “analytics as a key component of doing business,” Humana has benefited from a mature technology infrastructure, a supportive CEO and an analytics team composed of professionals with different backgrounds. “These are deep problems, and we need the best multidisciplinary talent working on them,” a spokesperson told the site. “It’s not something just public health people can solve, or just computer science people can solve.”

Given the perceived power of analytics and data use in health, are you using it to help your patients or organization stand out? Are you seeing the benefit in the health data push? How do you plan to use such solutions to better the work you do?

Alego, HIMSS Partner to Develop Innovation Center

From the very beginning less than two years ago, the HIMSS Innovation Center has been a marquee venue for organizations “wishing to build their brands and market their health IT-related services both locally and globally.” Since the beginning, Alego Health has worked with HIMSS to help bring collaborators and health IT organization to the center and to Cleveland, where we are based, in an effort to encourage our colleagues and the whole industry forward to tackle some of the greatest healthcare challenges of our time.

In just two years, we and nearly two dozen other organizational collaborators, have established a presence at the 30,000-foot facility located on Cleveland’s lakefront. Through this partnership, and attracted also by the HIMSS Innovation Center presence on the 4th floor of the Global Center for Health Innovation, collaborators have dedicated exhibition space and other benefits relating to the use of the facility and participation in HIMSS events.

Alego Health is one of only a few, select groups who help found the effort.

We advocated for the establishment of the HIMSS Innovation Center as a natural fit with the Global Center for Health Innovation next door. Because of our partnership with the HIMSS Innovation Center we can showcase our services during events and through presentations to customers, interview candidates for employment during recruitment events at the center, and conduct training programs for employees and partners there.

Our interactive exhibit at the HIMSS Innovation Center includes six iPads and two InTouch screens, through which individuals can learn more about Alego Health and the work we do in healthcare, serving hospitals and healthcare organizations across the United States.

As one of the nation’s premier full-service health IT providers, Alego Health sees its presence at the HIMSS Innovation Center as key to our brand and market positioning, of course, but also to our work with healthcare organizations of all sizes to advance the continuum of patient care through the adoption of technology. By being part of this effort, we believe we are better equipped to help take on some of the most pressing issues our colleagues in healthcare try to tackle every day.

We’re not alone in our efforts, of course. HIMSS Innovation Center Founding collaborators include Federal Health Architecture,, and MCPc. Industry collaborators are CareFusion, Cleveland Clinic Innovations, Fujitsu, IHE USA ICSA Labs, Netscout Systems and OnX Enterprise Solutions. Supporting collaborators are Calfee, Halter and Griswold LLP, CDW Healthcare, Cardinal Health, Direct Consulting Associates, John Carroll University, Juniper Networks, ScriptPro, Sectra, and Total Voice Technologies.

“Many organizations are inquiring about reserving space at the HIMSS Innovation Center,” said John Paganini, HIMSS senior manager of interoperability initiatives. “There are increasing opportunities to create awareness as events are added and the Global Center for Health Innovation continues to become the premier destination for healthcare professionals.”

We know there’s more to it, though, than advancing only our objectives. HIMSS Innovation Center collaborators also gain visibility among healthcare organizations searching for interoperability solutions, as the center hosts and works virtually with organizations wishing to take advantage of the new HIMSS Interoperability Services program. The HIMSS Interoperability Services program provides a road map to both vendors and providers seeking interoperability and facilitates access to testing tools, resources and subject matter experts. The center facilitates physical and virtual interoperability testing for health IT product vendors, healthcare providers and health information exchanges.

Finally, as the effort continues to growth, so will the number of and the importance of events that call the center home. As was the plan from the start, the innovation center features state-of-the-art conference and educational facilities where it has already hosted more than 190 events with more than 9,000 attendees since opening in October 2013. Organizations having used the facility for meetings include Apple, Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN), Bernstein, Cleveland Clinic, GE Healthcare, HIMSS North America and various HIMSS chapters, Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE), John Carroll University, Johnson Controls, Metro Health, PartsSource, Philips, Republican National Convention, University Hospitals Health System and Verizon. There are too many others to name, and so many more to come!

While we continue to be proud of the work we do and the healthcare clients we serve, there’s a special place in our hearts here at Alego Health for what we are helping build in partnership with HIMSS at the HIMSS Innovation Center. If you’re able to, join us here in the effort or at a future event. Or, if you’re excited about the future of healthcare and want to be part of its innovation, help spread the word about what’s taking place here in Cleveland or contact us. We’re glad to help you innovate healthcare.

ICD-10 Readiness Survey Says We’re Not So Ready

ICD-10 Readiness Survey Says We’re Not So Ready

According to a newly released ICD-10 Industry Readiness Survey from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), only three-quarters of physician practices say they will be ready for ICD-10 implementation by Oct. 1, 2015. The remaining one-quarter of physician practices say they are “unsure” about their ICD-10 preparation levels. For the survey, 621 people said they took part in WEDI’s 11th ICD-10 readiness survey and of those who participated, 453 were healthcare providers, 72 represented vendors and 96 included representatives of health plans. The point of the survey is to help garner a more thorough perspective regarding how prepared various segments of the healthcare industry actually are for the coming transition this fall. Additionally, WEDI uses the information gathered from them to help identify struggling stakeholders toiling over compliance hindrances.According WEDI, lack of readiness may lead to disruption in claims processing. Only about 20 percent of physician practices have started or completed external testing and less than 50 percent responded said that they were ready or would be ready for October 1. Thus, organizational leadership, in a letter sent to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, shared the findings from its survey and encouraged the department to continue to leverage its communication channels to promote the need for compliance because of the impact that non-compliance could have on the industry.


Regarding the survey, although much of the healthcare industry is nearing a state of readiness, physician practices are far from done, WEDI said, stating that it is critical to closely monitor industry progress and testing results as the compliance deadline approaches to gauge what might occur on Oct. 1, 2015, to identify industry challenges and prepare for any anticipated issues. WEDI, in a statement, said it strongly encourage HHS to leverage its communication channels to continue promoting the need for compliance. “It is critical to closely monitor industry progress and testing as we approach the compliance date to gauge what might occur on Oct. 1, 2015,” states Jean P. Narcisi, chair of WEDI, in a statement. “In light of our most recent findings, we are hopeful that industry leaders take the necessary steps to help ensure that the transition to ICD-10 is completed with minimal disruption to the healthcare industry.”

Other findings of the survey include:

  • Nearly 20 percent of physician practices and 75 percent of hospitals and health systems have started or completed external testing
  • Less than half of physicians and 60 percent of health plans say they will be ready come October
  • Nearly 90 percent of hospitals and health systems confirm readiness by the compliance date

WEDI offers the following recommendations for HHS:

  • Expediently provide complete transparency regarding the readiness levels of individual Medicaid agencies, by state
  • CMS’s recently announced ombudsman should be appointed quickly, well before October 1
  • The go-live ICD-10 support plan should include leveraging WEDI’s and CMS’ implementation support program, with additional support needed for local determination codes (LCDs)


Given the overwhelming shortage of preparedness of ICD-10 and the amount of time organizations have had to ready for the implementation, there remains a good deal of concern for healthcare organizations to get their gears aligned. Some may have been holding out hope that another last minute delay was going to occur, but at this point, with less than 50 days before its change over, there’s only one way forward. As procrastinators may not place themselves in a fatal situation, it’s definitely time for a little expedited concern. Even if time is running out for help prior to change to the new code set, practices may need a little assistance post change. Outside consultant partners may be the most readily available source of assistance who can provide the quickest results in the most efficient manner.

HELP Committee Meetings Helps Healthcare Immensely

The US Senate’s Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee continues its march toward a world where interoperability is the norm and various competitive systems work together no matter the markets or locations they serve. The attention of the committee is currently focused on a possible delay to the Stage 3 of meaningful use. The committee’s chairman, Republican Senator Lamar Alexander, has gone so far as to ask the Department of Health and Human Services to look into doing so.

As recently as a few weeks ago, the committee heard from members of the health IT community.The most recent committee saw testimony from the likes of Allscripts CEO Paul Black and DirectTrust CEO David C. Kibbe, MD, among others. Kibbe said that interoperable health information exchange is being hindered, despite progress in the past two years. However, he said he feels as though information blocking by healthcare provider organizations is still a problem, and that exchange of direct messages and attachments is needed now.“In my opinion, the responsibility for assuring secure interoperable exchange resides primarily with the healthcare provider organizations, not the EHR vendors, and not the government,” Kibbe said. “Healthcare provider organizations must come to realize that acting in the best interest of patients is to assure that health information follows the patient and consumer to whatever setting will provide treatment, even if that means in a competitor’s hospital or medical practice. And they must demand collaborative and interoperable health IT tools from their EHR vendors to make this routine and ubiquitous as a practice in every community in the United States. However, there is a role for government to encourage and incentivize collaborative and interoperable health information exchange.”

Kibbe went on to explain that persisting information blocking problems include: local EHR and provider organization policies; EHR product design or implementation flaws; lack of or inadequate product/service support; high pricing for HIE-enabled software upgrades; and registration and “whitelisting” requirements for message exchange.Allscripts’ Black testified, though, that interoperability among vendors and among providers does happen. Though he does have stake in the game, he said, “It is important to note that there are many examples of providers who have worked through the process of establishing connectivity and are making it work. It is true, however, that today not all stakeholders in the healthcare industry seem to be equally motivated to make information liquidity a reality.”

This most recent meeting focused on lack of interoperability, but what’s important about this committee is that it is helping to advance the conversation on some obvious and contentious issues that seem only to have lurked in the corners until now. For example, for most of this years, Alexander, and Democratic co-chair Parry Murray (Wash.) have tried to push for health IT reform. Given the partisan politics in most areas of Washington, D.C., these two have found what appears to be some common ground in getting us to a more efficient, centrally aligned and sharing place.During another recent hearing, Alexander said that EHR technology frustrates providers and could inhibit use “We’ve got to get to a place … where more doctors, particularly the smaller physicians’ offices, want to adopt these systems, can afford the cost and can be confident that their investment will be of value,” he said.In April, the two committee leaders announced a work group to identify ways to encourage improvement of the technology.  “As we focus on making our healthcare system work better for families, electronic health records could not be more important,” Murray said. “Having more and better information can make all the difference for patients, so I look forward to working with chairman Alexander and members of our Committee to strengthen our nation’s health IT infrastructure and improve quality of care and patient safety in Washington state and across the country.”


This month, in the meeting with Kibbe and Black, Alexander said, “The electronic systems at both (of my) hospitals don’t talk to each other. My usual hospital says it will charge Vanderbilt a huge fee to send my electronic records. My usual hospital says it can’t share them for privacy reasons. Or, my usual hospital won’t send them because they cite concerns about data security.”According to Healthcare IT News, Alexander said he wants to finish what was started in Stage 1 before moving on to the final stage, which requires providers to send electronic summaries for 50 percent of patients they refer to other providers, receive summaries for 40 percent of patients that are referred to them and reconcile past patient data with current reports for 80 percent of such patients.Even as healthcare’s constituents become more involved and more vocal — part of the conversation to help Congress bring details of healthcare’s inner workings to life — the benefit to these meetings and testimony is not that they are actually leading to any actionable solutions, but that they are actually happening at all, and they are generating interest from both parties, as well as a few headlines that help drive the conversation further. 





Telemedicine so popular even Medicare is getting in the game

Telemedicine is the major thing, the last 18 months have shown the interest in the subject is overwhelming. As such, a new survey reveals that nearly 60 percent of doctors will meet their patients via video – and just as many would refer their patients to a hospital that offered telemedicine consults with specialists. The “Telehealth Index: 2015 Physician Survey” showcases the results of more than 2,000 primary doctors in which American Well and QuantiaMD found that there is overwhelming support for video-based telemedicine more than telephone or e-mail communications.

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Telehealth Video Consultation to Reach 158 Million Annually by 2020

While clinical video consultations lead the market today with sessions in non-clinical settings and will represent the majority within four years. Thus, telehealth video consultations are set to take off, even though the digital health industry is still in its formative years, it has a firm foothold and is poised for strong growth in the coming years, according to a new report Tractica. According to the research firm, telemedicine is set to expand in terms of use cases, deployments and adoption of the technology.

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The Internet of Healthcare Things Is Here

The Harvard Business Review claims that the Internet of Things (IoT) is emerging as the third wave in the development of the Internet. The first phase, the fixed phase, began in the 1990s and connected one billion users via PCs, followed by the second phase where the mobile Internet of the 2000s connected two billion users via smartphones (on its way to 6 billion). The IoT is expected to connect 28 billion “things” to the Internet by 2020, ranging from wearable devices, such as smartwatches to automobiles, appliances and industrial equipment, and the repercussions span industries and regions, the magazine reports.

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Less than 100 days to ICD-10: Where the industry stands

We’re less than 100 days from the ICD-10 implementation deadline and there’s a less than likely possibility that we’ll receive another delay, but, of course, weirder things have happened.  That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some movement by lawmakers on Capitol Hill who continue to push for transition periods or outright bans of the code set while surveys reveal that participation in testing still lags.

Despite numerous delays for ICD-10 in the past, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health made clear at a February hearing that they do not want to see the transition delayed yet again. Strong language, but much the same was said by officials at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services last in 2014 at the annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) when they suggested that there would be no delay and just months later, it was delayed again.

However, in March, 100 physician groups–led by the American Medical Association–expressed concern in a letter to Acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator, Andrew Slavitt, about ICD-10 issues, such as testing and lack of contingency planning, FierceHealthIT reports.

Bills continue to be introduced to stop or delay the deadline again. For example, representatives Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) have bills pleading for grace periods for the transition. Black’s bill would require an 18-month transition period to the new code set. Palmer’s bill would provide a grace period of two years during which physicians and other providers would not be “penalized for errors, mistakes and malfunctions relating to the transition,” Fierce reports.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced a bill that would ban ICD-10 entirely.

At this point it’s a long shot. Folks are concerned, though. That’s where the fear comes from; the constant calls for delay. Resources are stretched, money is limited and as the deadline looms, it’s close to say many organizations are near panic. Even if they bring in outside resources, as we can attest, now it’s too late for them to be much good at this late point.

So, as the issue continues to be debated, perhaps while doing so we should be getting out Is, Cs and Ds in order and get down to brass tax and get ready for the coming change. Not preparing for the change only hurts oneself and their organization.

Like the Coalition for ICD-10 suggest, at this point, just days from the transition, a grace period, as referenced above, would compromise the ability of Medicare to monitor quality of care and could be a massive risk when it comes to audits.

Recently the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said its second round of ICD-10 testing, which involved 875 providers, clearinghouses and billing agencies in April, had an 88 percent acceptance rate. However, a new survey from eHealth Initiative released last week found testing lagging among 271 providers polled. Only 34 percent said they have completed internal testing and just 17 percent have completed external testing.

Unfortunately for the industry, according to MedPage Today, with the ICD-10 implementation date looming, a recent survey of more than 1,100 physicians, payers and vendors from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange found that the biggest obstacle to industry readiness is the belief that there will be another delay.

Really, though, do we have the time to think that way anymore; not likely.

Patients Less Weary About Physicians’ Use of EHRs

Can this be true? Can there really be such an unopposed path to truth despite the stories to the contrary? People – patients – love electronic health records? If this is true, perhaps we should keep in mind the organization publishing this information, which has a vested interest in making sure folks love the technology. However, all of that aside, and even though there are concerns that remain, according to the office of the National Coordinator, consumers (people like you and me, that is) remain concerned about the privacy and security of their medical records, but whether the physician uses an electronic system makes little difference.

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Overcoming Telehealth’s Perceived Complexities

According to Health IT Outcomes, Royal Philips and Arizona-based Banner Health have come together in a joint telehealth pilot program in an effort to address the shift “toward value-based care and increased penalties for readmissions.” As a result of the program, there has been a reduction of hospitalizations for chronically ill patients by 45 percent and savings within the first six months of the trial.

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AMA: Disregard or Postpone ICD-10

In what may be a less than surprising move, the American Medical Association has come out in support of legislation proposed late last month by Sen. Ted Poe (R-Texas) that aims to ban the use of ICD-10. In a letter to Poe dated May 14, AMA executive vice president and CEO James Madara calls the differences between the current ICD-9 code set and the forthcoming ICD-10 code set “substantial,” pointing out that physicians will be burdened financially and administratively by the transition, set to take place October 1 of this year.

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