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 Industry Watch

Industry Watch

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   January 2013


Health IT and the rise of patients as consumers

A difference paramount to coordinated care success.

By Justin Barnes

The healthcare industry is understanding that patients should no longer be perceived as passive recipients of healthcare services. Instead, the new patient-consumers are seeking quality, affordability and access to their data. It is health IT’s role to provide caregivers with innovative solutions as patient engagement becomes central to improved delivery.

Today’s patient-consumers are also embracing technology, a message that needs to be instilled into the provider community. A Qualtrics/Vista Consumer Research survey this summer found that 81 percent asked felt that care provider use of health IT at the point of care helps physicians do a better job. That’s a foundational baseline to work from.

That same survey found that 58 percent have shopped or plan to shop by price when considering a physician.

And a Rand Corp. study published this summer found that patient segments are increasingly seeking basic healthcare needs at less expensive and accessible retail clinics, a growth from 1.5 million to nearly 6 million visits from just 2007 to 2009.

Much of this is being driven by the equal rise in high-deductible employer health plans and the fact that patients are simply using many forms of technology in their daily lives.

So far, HHS and ONC recognize this trending through meaningful use, CMS Shared Savings and related means to push patient engagement forward: no less than four engagement measures in Stage 2 providing view, download and transmit capabilities (VDTs); providing clinical summaries per office visit; using technology to identify and provide patient-specific educational materials; and the use of secure online messaging.

But ultimate success relies on the healthcare information technology and EHR community to move beyond external requirements.

We’ve already experienced the establishment and growth in online portals, and are now seeing the integration of personal health records into these bi-directional and patient-empowering solutions. Developers are also enhancing mobile applications, linking patients and providers to each other and to pertinent databases.

Progressive EHR solutions are also advancing open architecture to developer partners to speed innovations in engagement solutions offered to the provider community, and are working with retail and workplace clinics to deploy EHRs to advance services in those ambulatory settings.

At the same time, standards-based interoperability and data exchange are making strides within the marketplace to connect physician practices and hospitals, because the flow of data is, itself, paramount to all of these advancements.

A year from now, the industry will be able to look back at a wealth of gains in patient engagement keeping pace with patient consumerism and begin to tie those efforts to improved outcomes and sustainability.

About the Author

Justin Barnes is co-chair of the national Accountable Care Community of Practice (ACCoP), chairman emeritus of the EHR Association and a vice president at Greenway Medical Technologies.



Claims payments go electronic

Only about 33 percent of payments from health plans to healthcare providers in the United States are made electronically. That is about to change.

With the adoption of standards and rules for electronic funds transfer (EFTs) and electronic remittance advices (ERAs), the industry is poised to save billions of dollars in the coming years through greater use of electronic transactions.

The Electronic Payments Association has adopted a new healthcare payments rule as part of the NACHA Operating Rules. The rule supports the use of the ACH Network by health plans and healthcare providers for electronic claims payments and the electronic “reassociation” of these payments with ERAs.

“Any healthcare provider with a bank account will be able to receive a healthcare electronic funds transfer via ACH, just like a direct deposit,” says Janet O. Estep, NACHA president and CEO. “Providers will benefit from faster deposits and access to funds, and cost savings from not having to deposit paper checks. Payers will also benefit from replacing the printing and mailing of paper checks with electronic payments via ACH.”

The NACHA rule goes into effect on September 20, 2013. Learn more at




Patient whiteboards get interactive

Did you ever stay in a hospital and wonder, “Who is the doctor taking care of me? What is my care plan for today? When am I scheduled to get out of here?”

Well some patients at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, Calif., now have the answers to these and other important healthcare questions available at the touch of a button, 24/7, via GetWellNetwork’s Interactive Patient Whiteboard – a technology first for the industry.

The customizable communications hub aims to transform bedside care delivery by enabling patients, families and care team members to easily share vital information split into three main areas: My Team, My Day and About Me. Patients can even personalize the “About Me” section by selecting profile images, keeping a journal and creating links to their favorite websites.

The design and development of the Interactive Patient Whiteboard is the culmination of research, input and guidance by the GetWellNetwork Interactive Patient Whiteboard Hospital Task Force, which included members from more than 15 facilities and multiple disciplines.

You can learn more at




The World Congress Telehealth Executive Summit, Jan. 28-29, San Diego, will feature insightful discussions on virtual care models across a variety of specialties, including diabetes management, tele-ICUs, ocular, pediatrics and telemental health in the era of accountable care.


10th Annual Medicare Congress, Feb. 11-13, Phoenix, brings together executives from the nation’s leading health plans to exchange best practices and develop long-term strategies.


HIMSS13 Annual Conference & Exhibition, March 3-7, New Orleans, brings together the latest in technologies, patient safety and quality, regulatory compliance, business best practices and personal growth all in one location. Don’t miss the new Knowledge Centers, Social Media Center and HIMSS Interoperability Showcase. Former President Bill Clinton speaks March 6.




Infographic courtesy of Xerox

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