Hospital CFOs are again reporting that their budgets are thin and that they are facing such a financial drain that they are unable to afford much needed new IT solutions like revenue cycle management software, and that their organization’s financial problems likely will last until at least 2016.
Health system leaders continue to face many difficult and ongoing challenges, including managing financials, technology and systems across their networks. According to the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), healthcare reform is near the top list of challenges, as are government mandates and patient safety and quality. However, these are not their only concerns.
Now that health systems have taken the appropriate measures to meet meaningful use and have collected the federal incentive payments, many will likely begin to face audits; CMS officials recently said about one of 20 participants in the meaningful use program can expect to be audited. With billions of program dollars on the line, quality control has long been expected and the time is now for providers to prove they are using their electronic solutions in a meaningful way.
Everyone is talking about patient engagement as everyone should. Even though “patient engagement” as a term is almost indefinable, it remains one of the most discussed terms in healthcare. So what is it? For the most part, it can be best defined as communication between patient and physician. The Center for Advancing Health has defined it as: “Actions individuals must take to obtain the greatest benefit from the health care services available to them.”
Despite some rocky beginnings, the patient portals seem to be coming of age. No longer simply a patient payment and scheduling system, they are emerging as complex engagement systems designed for patients to interact with their providers and manage their health outcomes. In fact, at an operational level, health systems are using the systems as a tool to improve their patient engagement efforts.
Cleveland Clinic recently took a comprehensive look at how patients engaged with its services, focusing on the impact of the overall patient experience it provided. According to officials there, doing so led to a series of initiatives that helped define what the Clinic wanted for their patients, as well as how to measure the impact of any changes implemented.
It’s clear that we’ve entered a time where we’re seeing a great number of pain points in health IT. Some are new; others old, but they’re here and are too obvious to be dismissed. In general, there’s just too much going on in healthcare for many administrators and IT leaders give one single issue much of their focus. A litany of issues exists; from a variety of reform mandates to simple implementation hassles. In fact, there are so many things going on currently that there may be too many to list here, but what follows is an abbreviated list of the top pain points currently pinching health IT leaders.
For more than two years, healthcare has faced an abundance of spectators asking the same question: Are we headed into a health IT staffing shortage?
The reasoning for the questions is simple, of course. As hospitals and providers move forward with a variety of efforts including meaningful use, ACA and ICD-10, the latter of the three is now receiving a great deal more attention than it once did, even with the recent delay of implementation until 2015. However, ICD-10 as an effort likely receives a great deal of talk because of its complexity and the skills required to make the change, including learning, managing and processing new codes.
Given the rush by health systems and practices toward meaningful use-certified electronic health record technology just two or three years ago – in an attempt primarily to scoop up some federal incentive cash for doing so — is it really any surprise that so many organizations are now switching to different systems? Of course not; but in light of new research released by KLAS, the findings suggest that more than 25 percent of ambulatory care providers are pulling the plug on their current system and looking for a replacement EHR. They’re doing so primarily to better meet their practices’ needs, as well as to achieve greater integration with neighboring systems, improve technical functionality and increase return on investment.
According to Massachusetts-based BCC Research firm, the global telemedicine market is expected to grow from $9.8 billion in 2010 to $27.3 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 18.6 percent over the next five years. Likewise, the telehospital market sector was worth $8.1 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow to $17.6 billion in 2016, demonstrating a 16.8 percent increase between 2011 and 2016.
Following the recent delay of ICD-10 to October 2015 and the continual talk from those of us in healthcare about how the time can be best spent until then, there seems few guideposts and signs along the way for managing the process. ICD-10 is more than a delay, more than a few conversations about a variety of codes that depict a variety of somewhat outlandish diagnoses.
It’s a myth, or is it? Health IT is leading to better patient outcomes when used throughout the care setting. The proliferation of mobile devices, apps and technologies used in healthcare have some proponents of the solutions claiming the technology helps deliver care more efficiently and improve patient safety. In fact, as cited by the health IT vendor Cerner and as reported by HIMSS in its mobile technology survey, “clinicians are rapidly adopting mobile health technology with 45 percent of clinicians using mobile technology to communicate across teams, collect data at the bedside, monitor patients and use bar code scanners on mobile devices.”