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Doctors must stop blaming EHRs for clinical documentation shortcut failures

Jan 17, 2018

Overuse of copy and paste in electronic health records is a problem. Sure, it's convenient. And it's entirely understandable why it's a common shortcut used by scores of physicians. But it often results in note bloat - unwieldy patient records overflowing with repetitive documentation - that can potentially lead to serious safety risks.

"Copying or importing text increases the risk of including outdated, inaccurate, or unnecessary information, which can undermine the utility of notes and lead to a clinical error," wrote researchers in a 2017 study in Journal of the American Medical Association.

The practice of copy and paste has to be reigned in, and one chief medical information officer, writing for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, says that has to start with the physicians themselves.

Shannon Dean, MD, CMIO at University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, penned a column this month for AHRQ's Perspectives on Patient Safety. She began with an example of what can happen when notation gets lazy.

She cites the case of a 78-year-old man who, "with an alleged history of 'PE' (interpreted by the clinicians as pulmonary embolism) received an unnecessary CT scan to rule out a suspected 'recurrence' of pulmonary embolus.

"As it happens, years earlier, the abbreviation 'PE' had been used in the electronic note to indicate that the patient had had a physical examination, not a pulmonary embolism!" said Dean. "In a vivid example of copy and paste, once the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism was mistakenly given to the patient, it lived on in the EHR."

Beyond the risks to patient safety, that also points to the unnecessary costs that can pile up when unwitting clinicians order tests that are based on erroneous and repetitive data.

Nonetheless, said Dean, too many clinicians still copy and paste as a habit: "Perhaps we are complacent about copy and paste because we remain unconvinced that there is a correlation between its use and patient safety."

In her article, she surveys more than a dozen studies on the subject, and finds that published research into adverse outcomes isn't as voluminous as one might expect, even if it's understood, intuitively, that the practice isn't ideal.

So "it is clear that much work remains to be done," said Dean. She points to toolkits like the one put together by AHIMA, and the fact that Epic has rolled out functionality that can "identify the source of every character within a note, whether it is newly typed, imported from another source, or copied and pasted."

Still, "I am aware of very few organizations that are actively using these tools to educate and mentor clinicians in a systematic way to improve documentation quality," she said.

While more academic research would be welcome on the correlation between copy and paste and patient safety, she said, it's fairly widely accepted that it's a shortcut that should only be used sparingly and in specific instances.

Healthcare organizations need to start making use of resources such as AHIMA's toolkits, Epic's auditing features and innovations like natural language processing technology to help physicians do better with their EHR documentation.

She also points to the OpenNotes initiative, which continues to gain momentum, as another big opportunity: Giving patients the ability to read their own doctor's clinical notes allows them to "hold us accountable for quality documentation."

But at the end of the day, "physicians need to reestablish ownership of the accuracy of clinical documentation," said Dean. "We must stop blaming the EHR for our carelessness and start educating ourselves about how to use documentation efficiency tools, including copy and paste, more responsibly."

Source: Healthcare IT News (View full article)

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Developing The Blockchain in Healthcare

Jan 17, 2018

In terms of cost, healthcare is one of the most heavily debated industries in the United States; fortunately, blockchain has the potential to make a tremendous impact on the healthcare industry, dramatically cutting costs even as it increases security and efficiency. Because blockchains are both secure and transparent, the technology is predicted to transform the way in which patient data is transferred between providers, cutting costs and better protecting sensitive health information. As much as 86 percent of mistakes in healthcare are administrative, according to GetReferral MD, but blockchain holds the potential to prevent those kinds of errors from happening at all.

Companies like Nano Vision want to make our healthcare and medical research more efficient and effective. "Globally, we spend $5-10 trillion on healthcare each year, which includes administrative costs that have very little real impact," the Nano Vision team explains. But the power of blockchain technology and artificial intelligence can do far more than increase efficiency; the platform's Nano Senseā„¢ chip is being designed to actually analyze molecular data and identify health threats in real-time, and in the real world where it impacts all of us.

The implications of this technology are mind-blowing; the system is decentralized and uses a cryptocurrency to share or contribute data, meaning that major institutions, corporations, foundations, and insurers can't control the information collected and stored. It will also be possible for anyone to simply purchase some of Nano Vision's cryptocurrency to direct research funding to a particular disease area. Because it will be able to access critical data in real time (at the molecular level, mind you), it will identify and assess health problems faster and more accurately than ever before.

"Nano Vision is pioneering a life-saving economic system that incentivizes the collection and use of molecular data at a global scale using blockchain and a new crypto asset to share data and resources to fundamentally change the way we address world health," said the Nano Vision team. "This is the trillion dollar challenge of our day."

Despite promising, potentially groundbreaking applications like these, the healthcare industry presents some unique challenges for blockchain technology. For blockchain to be truly successful in healthcare, it's going to have create an infrastructure large enough to support the tech's use in every hospital and care facility across the country. To do that, you'll have to install systems and teach new operations all hospitals and staff, making the potential roadblocks against widespread blockchain implementation steep. Despite these limitations, there is ever more consumer demand for solutions in healthcare, and it's really only a matter of time before blockchain becomes the mammoth healthcare disruptor many are predicting it will be.

Source: TechBullion (View full article)

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Applying The Concept Of Preventative Care To Your Virtualized Application Services

Jan 17, 2018

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Healthcare invented the concept of preventative care - the regular analysis of patient health indicators and diagnostics to stay ahead of issues. Practitioners aim to discover health related anomalies in their earliest stages of development in order to treat them quickly before they become life threatening and catastrophic. If we were to extend this principle to the digital services doctors and clinical staff need and use in treating patients, wouldn't it also make sense to monitor and analyse the application services and underlying networks to stay ahead of slowdowns that could wreak havoc throughout the patient care delivery network?

Virtualized Application Services In Healthcare

Most healthcare organizations in recent surveys report wide-spread deployment of virtualized network services and high adoption rates of "as-a-service" models. Micro-services applications, electronic medical records (EMR) and radiology services are just a few of the essential healthcare applications being virtualized or deployed as a service. So when slowdowns and outages occur, doctors, nurses, clinicians, and especially patients may feel the pain.

Pinpointing root cause of degradations has become more challenging given the complexity of the modern environments. Resolution may be delayed and time lost as the ever increasing numbers of equipment and service vendors claim innocence as to the originating source of the problem. In many cases, healthcare IT organizations have proactively implemented visibility and monitoring tools to address such problems. In fact, leveraging wire data has become a popular approach to successfully minimizing risk and even getting ahead of slowdowns and outages in healthcare networks. However, of late, with the explosion in virtualized application server technology, the gaps in monitoring and service assurance visibility for have become more apparent and threatening.

Where Once We Were Blind, Now We Can See

Addressing deployment issues and cost concerns have, to date, been barriers to achieving the necessary visibility into virtualized healthcare applications, regardless of whether they are hosted in private data centers or public cloud environments. Innovations that expand the reach of proactive monitoring and analysis of the east-west traffic of virtualized applications are needed to overcome these visibility challenges.

Consider a multi-specialty, central U.S. healthcare organization that was experiencing slowdowns with its radiology information system (RIS) that leverages the DICOM protocol (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) to communicate. Doctors, nurses, and clinicians require swift availability to RIS for file transfers and accurate retrieval of stored documents and images for the particular patient in question. In this particular case, the healthcare professionals were suffering significant wait times of up to 20 minutes delay in pulling up patients' cardiology images. These cardiology images were critical to have available during patients' exams for evaluation and diagnosis. Given the nature of the cardiology practice, minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Attempting to rectify this problem had covered a few weeks, several war room calls involving upwards of 20 people from the healthcare organization's IT staff and third-party vendors (including the application provider) without resolving the issue. A great deal of time was lost as each vendor tried to prove it wasn't their part of the environment creating the slowdown.

The IT staff had been proactive in implementing a monitoring solution that relied on wire traffic to provide visibility and service assurance capabilities that helped refine the troubleshooting in the war room. The visibility gap became apparent as the IT staff and application vendor tried to understand how the traffic flowed through the virtualized application server farms. With the aid of their service assurance partner, the healthcare organization implemented virtual agents for monitoring within the RIS application servers to gain the full scope of information necessary to pinpoint the cause of the slowdown.

Preventative Medicine For Virtualized Application Service Assurance

With healthcare IT teams embracing the benefits and value of virtualized server environments, the visibility chasm is only going to become that much more threatening to safe and speedy treatment of patients. In the case of our healthcare with 20 minute delay in cardiology images, their expanded use of the solution they already had in place in their data center for proactive service assurance with the addition of virtual agents for the RIS application servers was the answer. It helped them bridge the gap in visibility to east-west traffic analysis and ultimately revealed that the radiology application was operating incorrectly. The application was archiving new images in third-tier public cloud storage, which was causing significant delays in retrieval and playback.

It would be easy to focus on the tactical value the IT staff reaped in gained with proactive service assurance visibility in the application server farms. That is, they have a significantly reduced mean time to resolve (MTTR) problems across their environment now - down from weeks, and 20 individuals dedicating hours in war rooms to under an hour of analysis time. Or even the impact on the doctors and hospital staff now that cardiac image retrieval has been reduced from 20 minutes to seconds with the corrections implemented by the application developers.

However, in looking at the bigger picture, the Executive Director of the healthcare organization expressed the true strategic value the new visibility provided when she exclaimed, "This almost certainly saved a life!"

Source: Health IT Outcomes (View full article)

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Leveraging Health IT to Achieve Patient, Physician and Cost Benefits

Jan 16, 2018

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By implementing the latest technologies to reduce transcription costs, systematize evidence-based guidelines for blood product utilization and prevent outdated test ordering, the system has realized measurable improvements in patient outcomes, contributing to Advocate's reputation as a leader in providing the highest quality of care across the continuum of clinical need.

"Advocate Health Care is committed to delivering the safest and most effective care regardless of setting," said Dr. Bobbie Byrne, chief information officer. "To achieve that mission, we must embrace the most up-to-date technologies to help our health care team members perform their work in both routine and unique circumstances. We are honored to be recognized by HIMSS for our work in using technology to make Advocate a better place for our providers and, most importantly, our patients."

Introducing voice-to-text technology at Advocate

Recognizing that doctors' time is better spent taking care of patients than typing on a keyboard, Advocate leveraged advancements in voice-to-text technology to identify an electronic health record (EHR) solution that allows clinical users to document their findings in the medical record without relying on keyboard entry or telephone transcription. The technology permits physicians to speak at length about different diagnostic or treatment options for a specific patient with the information recorded in the EHR within seconds instead of hours. The clinical users embraced the new process and decreased transcription costs 50 percent in the first year and further decreases in subsequent years.

Additional Advocate information technology initiatives include developing workflows within the EHR that direct clinical users to reduce overuse and improve the patient experience.

Monitoring blood product orders

In 2011, Advocate identified a high level of variability among patients who received blood products. Clinical leaders were challenged to develop guidelines to direct blood product use with real-time EHR decision support. Clinical users were presented with the system guidelines and the patient's specific test results before blood products could be ordered. No user was stopped from ordering blood, but they had to enter a reason why they were ordering blood outside the guidelines. The blood product leadership team circulated utilization reports generated by the EHR team each quarter to help identify outliers and encourage behavior change. The initiative reduced blood product utilization by nearly 50 percent over the first year with sustained reductions five years later. Advocate's clinical leaders attribute the project's success to a combination of effective project management, targeted EHR decision support and reporting to monitor and impact guideline adherence.

Ordering lab tests

Advocate also leveraged the EHR to reduce the likelihood its users would order tests deemed "low utility" by its lab utilization committee by hiding tests within the ordering window. The intervention has curbed improper utilization by two-thirds with a corresponding decrease in costs and a better patient experience.

[...]

Source: HIMSS (View full article)

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Virtual care success lies in EHR, telehealth integrated workflow

Jan 16, 2018

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Since it launched its virtual care telemedicine program in October 2016, Mission Health in Asheville, North Carolina, has completed 1,200 patient visits. In November 2017, the provider organization saw its highest overall use with 178 total visits; 155 of those were treated via its Mission Virtual Clinic program and 23 were triaged out for additional evaluation and treatment.

"Since July 2017, we have seen steady growth in the use of Mission Virtual Clinic," said Steve North, MD, clinical director, Mission Virtual Clinic, and a family physician at Mission Health.

The provider organization uses Cerner for its EHR and Zipnosis for telemedicine.

"I believe this growth is due to a combination of increased marketing to the community, increased community acceptance of the care delivery, and increased provider acceptance resulting in fewer referrals out," said North.

Mission Health now is recommending Mission Virtual Clinic in combination with its primary care practices, North added.

Beginning this month, patients who are on insurance plans offered by Mission Health Partners will be able to log into their insurance account and access the Mission Virtual Clinic platform. The organization believes this will help patients see Mission Virtual Clinic as an integrated part of the comprehensive care offered through its health system and ACO.

"The Mission Virtual Clinic is online convenient care for common illnesses from the comfort of the patient's home for only $25, no matter the type of insurance," North explained.

Because of more and more success stories like Mission Health, telemedicine is on the rise. This month has brought several new developments on the telehealth front, as vendors look to capitalize on the recent momentum of virtual care. Among them: InTouch Health, which has expanded its telemedicine offerings with an eye toward both direct-to-consumer delivery and in-house providers, and Teladoc, which debuted an integrated mobile app with a single, patient-centered point of access to answer a wide array of medical needs.

[...]

North believes, based on Mission Health's experience, that the technology-based way of caring for patients will expand in the future and become more important.

"The integration of virtual care into all aspects of medical care will continue to grow as patients and providers become more comfortable with the modalities used to deliver this care," he said.

"Successful integration of Mission Virtual Clinic into our health system will be seen when our primary care triage nurses and on-call providers recommend Mission Virtual Clinic as a treatment option for patients and we see a decrease in the office visits for the acute conditions treated through Mission Virtual Clinic," said North.

Source: Healthcare IT News (View full article)

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Blockchain, Blue Button and interoperability at CES 2018

Jan 15, 2018

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The tech world descended upon Las Vegas this week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, and plenty of health IT's biggest players were in attendance. While much of the discussion was on consumer-friendly health tools and novel digital interventions, there were still a handful of products and discussions between executives and entrepreneurs focused on healthcare's largest roadblocks -- namely, data management and analytics.

"Everyone loves playing in their own sandbox. How does it get to the point of sharing that data? How do we have EMRs being shared across systems today?" Pat Keran, VP of innovation and R&D at Optum Technologies, said during a roundtable discussion at CES' Digital Health Summit. "I think data sharing is first and foremost, but even for the data that we have, how do we effectively analyze that today? How do we use artificial intelligence, deep learning, those types of things that are starting to evolve right now into being a lot more effective for where we're at today?"

With more continuous sensors entering care, a rising challenge is separating the useful data from noise and extracting actionable insights. While most speakers focused on how to address these issues in the consumer space, others highlighted the gaps that health systems and insurers still have to address.

"We really need to start thinking about the caregiver. Until we get all the data integrated and all the interoperability and everything, there are people in the lives of every patient you serve, already there," Stefani Benefield, VP of health innovation at Humana, said during the same session. "Make sure that the data can somehow get to them ... you may not be able to get it into one beautiful care plan yet, and I think we would all love that, but I think we have to be able to trust and put data with people and make sure that you do it in a way that is scalable and gives them just enough information. I actually think [the insight is] there, we just need to get it to the right people." [...]

Source: Healthcare IT News (View full article)

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Are blockchain and AI the keys to unlocking interoperability in healthcare?

Jan 15, 2018

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EHRs: The Good and the Bad

In the past, medical transcription used to be easier. A doctor dictated exam outcomes on the fly, and a transcriptionist typed it into the patient record immediately. This allowed doctors to focus on patients while still recording data.

Then, electronic health records (EHRs) came into the picture. EHRs were intended to be a way to better track health data for hospitals, payers and physicians. Although they have good intentions, they often end up causing more problems than they solve.

According to a study by Northwestern University, physicians who have EHRs in their exam rooms spend around 33% of their time looking at their computer screens, while doctors who use paper charts spend only 9% of their time looking at screens.

Also, EHRs can store massive amounts of data, which is a double-edged sword because though data is important, the structure of that data creates challenges. On one hand, it is too limiting. Doctors can enter information about a patient's medical history, medications and procedures--but only through constrained check boxes that don't capture nuances and complexities.

While unstructured "notes" sections can be included in comment boxes, there is no standard format for how these should be written, and it is hard to pull insights without diving into detail. Furthermore, this data is often copied and pasted repeatedly into different areas within the EHR, resulting in a phenomenon called "note bloat," when there's so much information it's difficult to make good use of it.

Where Does Blockchain Technology and AI Come In?

Blockchain technology (and apps built on a blockchain) can make data organized and easily accessible, while artificial intelligence makes it possible to extract intelligent insights from vast amounts of data that no human could ever analyze.

Blockchain is a digital ledger that records and shares transactions and interactions in chronological order, providing security and interoperability for healthcare providers and their patients. In healthcare, for example, each patient visit, diagnosis, prescribed treatment, outcome and other key data that goes in the EHR are considered the transactions. Various providers, payers and pharmacies all record this information on the same ledger for a given patient, and they can access the data put there by each other. For example, medications can be noted, assessed and managed to prevent contradictions or misuse.

The apps that can be built on the blockchain further help with parsing and reading data that is logged but with details stored separately--in a PDF, for example. It's worth noting that blockchains for health data can and should be created as a permissioned ecosystem of trusted collaborators with additional controls that protect personally identifiable information while allowing anonymized sharing of personal health information.

Using the database, providers and specialists who see patients for the first time can rest assured that the data regarding previous tests, diagnoses and treatments is accurate. Having highly reliable patient data on the ledger means providers can spend less time on repetitive data entry tasks, prevent catastrophic misdiagnoses and provide better predictive solutions to patients. Furthermore, this data is now much more consumable by intelligent algorithms.

For example, California-based startup PokitDok is using blockchain to develop application programming interfaces (APIs) for the healthcare industry in areas such as identity management, claims and pharmacy in order to create a more secure network for accessing and sharing patient data. It also uses machine learning to analyze large amounts of data and speed up processes--for instance, it's able to run an eligibility check on an insurance claim in just seconds rather than days, saving healthcare providers time and money.

Once the data is organized in a transparent and fully reliable way on a blockchain, machine learning and eventually artificial intelligence (AI) can learn from the patterns in the data and execute analyses very quickly.

Digital Reasoning is a startup that's using AI to help healthcare professionals make better decisions. It uses complex algorithms to organize data into graphs and detect patterns, helping machines "think more like people do." As a result, doctors are able to see a clearer picture of a patient's health and make more informed decisions based on all that information.

Complications Within Interoperability

The industry mindset around sharing data has typically been very conservative, even antagonistic. However, over the past two years, new standards like fast healthcare interoperability resources (FHIR) are leading to more sharing--35% of U.S. hospitals plan to use open APIs within the next year, and that data is their competitive advantage. In order to truly provide value to patients, though, this trend needs to continue and extend to all players in the continuum of patient care.

Healthcare systems experts understand the importance of providers being able to collaborate, even when they don't know one another. The trouble is that interoperability in healthcare is complicated by a variety of factors.

Because providers all operate within their own systems, identifying who previously treated a patient, as well as when and where treatment took place, can be difficult. Also, EHRs may be moved into health information exchanges, but they are still controlled by data silos. Patients cannot choose what specific data of theirs is shared. To prevent unwanted access, they may put a blanket denial on any of their health information being shared.

Together, these factors (and many others) make interoperability a vital but difficult-to-achieve goal for healthcare systems. Therefore, one of the biggest reasons blockchain is becoming such a popular healthcare buzzword is because it may be the solution to making safe and efficient interoperability possible. And from there, with the application of AI, major innovation will accelerate.

The Challenges to Implementing Blockchain and AI

Despite all the problems blockchain and AI can solve for doctors, hospitals and patients, they're not without their challenges. Blockchain must resolve problems related to scalability, and AI faces the challenge of getting doctors on board.

With AI, doctors will need to believe in the technology and trust that it's analyzing the data accurately. Doctors will still be the ones diagnosing patients and providing treatment plans, but if they don't trust the information they're receiving from AI technology, they won't be able to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

At the end of the day, humans want to be cared for by other humans--not robots. But doctors are spending far too much time inputting information into EHRs rather than spending time with their patients. Blockchain and AI won't be able to take over all of doctors' responsibilities, but they can help them get back to what they love: helping people be healthy and heal.

Source: Modern Medicine Network (View full article)

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Trinitas Regional on teamwork and the long evolution of EHR management

Jan 15, 2018

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Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, New Jersey, was an early EHR adopter starting with a product called TDS back in the 1980s. It was popular with university hospitals and other pioneers who were among the first to move from paper files to digital records.

There were patient lists then, said Trinitas CIO Judy Comitto: "Orders were entered, meds were entered, and we just moved along with the flow."

Over multiple iterations of the technology, TDS morphed into what tech teams recognize today as Allscripts Sunrise Clinical Manager.

"We've been a customer that long," Comitto said. "It's changed quite a bit, but we've moved patient records starting with the TDS of the '80s, and rolled them into Sunrise years ago. We have cultivated talent in the product. We have been on it so long, we have grown resources - dedicated resources that are really skilled."

Comitto recognizes an inclination for teamwork and an atmosphere where respect and cooperation reign as key drivers for excellence at Trinitas, a 554-bed health system that includes a 120-bed long-term care center.

"When people are respectful and cooperative, there's always a willingness to go the extra mile for each other," she said. "People work in teams well. It's been the modus operandi for years. I think that's very much appreciated by the 2,600 employees who work here."

The employees are also recognized for their achievements, she added. They know their work has been noticed - and appreciated. Employees also support one another in personal ways, Comitto said.

For example, they contribute to funds earmarked for helping families of work associates who are in personal crises. Everyone donates and those funds are disbursed by a committee which reviews requests. The money goes to helping fellow employees who have home fires or healthcare issues, for instance.

Comitto said the IT team is always on the lookup for acquiring or building new tools to boost quality and flexibility.

Telehealth is a prime example. "We have a stroke neurology telehealth product - bringing those tools into the neurology group to do quick assessments of patients in our ED."

On the hiring front, one of Comitto's favorite question for prospective employees is: "If you were able to achieve your dreams what would you be doing?" Some people know right off the bat, others waver.

Some candidates aren't interested -- others want to be CIO.

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Revenue cycle investments to boost infrastructure, consolidate operations

Jan 15, 2018

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As government reimbursement shrinks, and hospital and practice margins grow tighter, the demand for better revenue capture grows stronger as well. That's according to a new report from Future Market Insights, which has predicted that the global market for healthcare revenue cycle management software will reach $ 43.3 billion by the end of 2022. During the forecast period, 2017-2022, the global healthcare revenue cycle management software market is projected to soar at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9 percent.

The largest end-user of healthcare revenue cycle management software is expected to be in hospitals, but its use is projected to rise in clinics and laboratories as well. In fact, labs are estimated to have contributed a nearly one-fifth share of global revenues in 2017 and the end-use of healthcare revenue cycle management software in clinics is expected to net nearly $6.5 billion.

The report showed growing demand in several supporting areas, including services facilitating revenue cycle management for healthcare settings, saying that in 2017, more than half of revenues taken in the global healthcare revenue cycle management software market will be for services. Moreover, healthcare-RCM services are pegged to gain traction in terms of adoption and inadequate numbers of trained staff and a rise in downcoding an RCM service are expected to fuel a boost in the buying of healthcare revenue cycle management as a service.

Cloud-based products are proven to enhance resource acquisition, boost infrastructure reliability, and help consolidate operations. In terms of revenue cycle management software, cloud models increase flexibility and also enable transferability between two or more end-users. The data showed that these attributes parlayed into major dollars, with nearly $ 27 billion in revenue expected to come through cloud-based healthcare revenue cycle management software on a global basis.

"Taking the complex structure of revenue cycle management into account, cloud-deployment is also expected to save costs by offering proper alignment of actual usage and resource expenditure," the report said.

Billing and payment management applications of healthcare revenue cycle management software are also expected to spike with a CAGR of 8.2 percent during the forecast period. Specifically for the accounts receivable sector of revenue cycle management, demand is expected to increase and revenue from it is forecasted to net over one-fourth share of global revenues. However, claim management applications are slated to show slow revenue growth, racking up a little more than$ 5.84 billion in revenue by the end of 2022.

Leading developers of healthcare revenue cycle management software through 2022 include Cerner, McKesson, Quest Diagnostics, athenahealth, Epic Systems, EMC, CareCloud, Greenway Health, Allscripts and Qsi Management.

"The majority of these companies are expected to focus on removing conventional flaws and increasing security measures to protect valuable data managed by their offerings. Moreover, new market entrants are likely to face barriers in penetrating this highly-competitive market," the report said.

Source: Healthcare Finance (View full article)

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Virtual Health Delivery Predictions For 2018

Jan 12, 2018

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Telehealth Grows Up, And It's Powerful

Telehealth has already evolved from a sparse specialty offering into a robust, easily accessible and comprehensive engine; it changes the healthcare paradigm with the ability of robust and wide-ranging use cases, along with patients who now proactively seek out the convenient and trusted access. In 2018, the true power of virtual health delivery will be experienced by those systems that evolve from episodic care to include expansive clinical services ranging from expert second opinions for the most complicated medical conditions to the use of AI and predictive analytics to proactively identify patients in need of intervention. Rather than an isolated medical opinion or treatment option, these virtual offerings are integrated into the current healthcare ecosystem and provide access to the highest rated physicians, still providing patients with one single point of entry to the virtual care ecosystem.

Payers Raise Expectations, Unlocking The Full Value Of Virtual Healthcare Delivery

As employers, health plans, and health systems face escalating pressures for cost containment, access, and patient satisfaction, organizations will look even more to their virtual care provider to deliver solutions that tackle these needs head-on. Significant advancements in technology, analytics and care delivery offer unprecedented value that can be derived from virtual care delivery systems in the form of financial savings, engagement and satisfaction, and improved health outcomes.

Utilization Takes Center Stage As Digital Health Adoption Approaches Mainstream

As 90 percent of adults under the age of 65 have smartphones today, consumers are leveraging personal devices and remote services to take control of their healthcare journey at an increasing rate, embracing digital health in their everyday lives. In fact, research shows that two-thirds of Americans either have or are open to using mobile health apps to manage their health. From fitness trackers, to smart thermometers and virtual assistants, the prevalence of digital health among consumers has reached an inflection point. As consumer comfort with digital health gives way to reliance on these tools, telehealth will fill the care gap with far greater and more convenient access to quality care.

Virtual Healthcare Delivery Tackles The Largest Cost Drivers -- Finally

Diagnosing and treating chronic conditions and complex cases consumes roughly 84 percent of healthcare dollars in the U.S. alone. Through a powerful combination of analytics to pinpoint care needs, cognitive computing to ensure accuracy, and a single point of convenient access to leading specialists across the globe, virtual care delivery provides an innovative tool to address the escalating impact of chronic conditions and complex cases.

Mental Health Is Part Of The Conversation. Organizations Take Action

Mental health issues are costing American companies an estimated $23 billion per year in absenteeism. The good news is stigmas are being reduced and those in need are increasingly open to asking for help. Today's organizations are now recognizing that more substantial behavioral health solutions can vastly improve their workplace health. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that approximately 96.5 million Americans live in areas where there are shortages of mental health providers. Behavioral virtual care solves that, enabling employees to get help and be on the path to wellness sooner. In 2018, continued advances in the delivery of virtual care for behavioral health will help to overcome geographical and societal barriers to quality care.

Health Systems Embrace Telehealth (At Scale)

As hospitals and health systems redefine the consumer experience to move toward value-based healthcare, telehealth has been identified as a key long-term solution for health systems to build their competitive market positioning and reduce financial risks. It's no surprise that 76 percent of health systems have or will be implementing consumer telehealth in some capacity by December 2018.

Data Security Is Front And Center, As Connected Care Accelerates

As connected devices from one's non-healthcare world increasingly make healthcare data portable - from smartphones storing medical records to announcements of health plan and technology companies partnering to drive behavior change - data security and integration have never been more important or high profile. The new year will see an even greater need for strong third-party validation of a virtual care provider's ability to meet healthcare regulations and requirements for securing the sensitive protected healthcare information of its clients and members.

Artificial Intelligence + Medical Excellence = High-Quality Care

The world is abuzz with renewed excitement about the potential artificial intelligence (AI) might have on healthcare transformation. Artificial intelligence presents a grand frontier for health care. Those who are able to truly succeed in this area and demonstrate improved outcomes with AI will be those who have identified how to successfully marry AI to medical excellence. Cognitive computing is only as good as the data that goes in and the experts that interpret what comes out. Without a foundation of medical quality, big data, analytics, and cognitive services fall short and could ultimately be misused in areas where mistakes are already far too prevalent.

Source: Health IT Outcomes (View full article)

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