Forecast 2010: Group Practices
HCIT Adoption To Spike
By Rose Crane, CEO, Epocrates
The question is no longer whether physicians will adopt healthcare information technology (HIT), but when and to what extent. In fact, adoption should escalate in 2010 as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) policy and standards committees define meaningful use, and its impact on the qualified, reimbursed purchasing decisions for many large practices ready to take the leap.
Large healthcare institutions and acute-care facilities stand to benefit the most from the federal stimulus because they have the capital and resources necessary to implement HIT. Small and solo practices are unlikely to be ready to make the up-front investments that a full-scale HIT implementation warrants. Therefore, unless HIT vendors can address adoption barriers such as start-up and maintenance costs, resources constraints and a sustainable model, implementation among small or solo practices will remain stagnant.
HIT vendors should keep the following points in mind:
Minimize practice disruption: Implementations often involve multiple scanning machines and electronic conversions, hands-on training sessions and complex IT integrations. Small practices do not have the time or resources for such a finely orchestrated transition. When delivering solutions to small practices, vendors should deliver out-of-the-box solutions that require minimal training and support.
Leverage existing technology: Many practices already have an Internet-connected computer or mobile device with clinical resources in exam rooms, and some use practice-management systems. Solutions that work with or on technology that physicians have in place should see quicker acceptance and greater utilization.
Fit current work flows: Physicians need a cost-effective solution that will enhance their practice and patient experience. It needs to fit rather than fight with their current work flow.
Doctors still insist that handwriting a prescription is faster than dealing with many e-prescribing tools. This shows either the need for additional exploration or refinement of the current solutions.
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Outages To Increase
By Dan Draper, healthcare industry marketing manager, Liebert Products, Emerson Network Power
With the move to electronic medical-record (EMR) systems, many doctors, nurses and administrative staff are discovering that if the computers are down, they are no longer connected to the patients' information.
Power surges and voltage sags are happening more often — and disruptions to the power grid will shut down IT systems and damage equipment, resulting in inaccessible records, lost data, and frustrated patients and medical staff. Many of these power-related outages can be avoided by properly implementing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS).
Ambulatory facilities, such as individual physicians' offices or networks of practices, will soon be undertaking large IT implementations. If these ambulatory facilities are digitally connected to a larger hospital network or a local health exchange that shares patient data, the need for power continuity is even more critical.
The simplest way to prevent power-related IT outages is to be proactive in the IT planning process and incorporate a UPS into the design. Backup power is not as glamorous as customizing EMR software or test-driving wireless tablet computers, but think of the UPS as the insurance that will keep technology systems running and accessible when storms, emergencies or unforeseen power events happen.
There are multiple factors to consider when choosing between types of UPS systems, including the differences between a line-interactive UPS and an online double-conversion UPS. Although the line-interactive UPS may be less expensive, the conversion process within the online double-conversion UPS has a number of critical benefits for certain healthcare facilities.
The online double-conversion UPS saves wear and tear on the battery by using the double-conversion process to correct large swings in voltage frequency, without utilizing the battery like an online UPS would. Also, if a generator is on site to provide longer-term emergency power, a double-conversion UPS is a generator-friendly solution that will eliminate generator frequency-synchronization problems.
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Analytics Take on Pivotal Role
By George Schwend, president and CEO, Health Language
The burgeoning mandates for quality reporting and meaningful use are driving the need for analytics that can seamlessly access, aggregate, analyze and automatically generate reports in near-real time. Responding to these drivers, the implementation of healthcare analytics will accelerate in 2010.
Analytics technology can track clinical performance, which is critical for compliance with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services quality measures, PQRI reporting and other pay-for-performance measures, accountable-care organizations requirements, and other emerging reimbursement models.
Another factor facilitating the expansion of healthcare analytics is the recent evolution of semantic interoperability and mapping that has made deep analytics a reality. Now, various health IT systems can leverage a shared language through standardized vocabularies to categorize and transmit information. This allows the efficient exchange of detailed data for improved data mining, the prerequisite for successful analytics implementation.
Another contributing technology to the analytics explosion is natural-language processing (NLP). With NLP, healthcare organizations can capture — accurately and in an automated fashion — the preponderance of free text that exists in clinical-information systems, such as electronic health records. In addition, analytics will have a strong impact on operational and financial outcomes in 2010.
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