HMT: Sutter Health invests in MDLive, review of meaningful use, friendly EHRs, and more
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Health Management Technology News
January 24, 2014
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In this issue:

Sutter Health invests in telehealth service provider MDLIVE

Health information technology: An updated systematic review with a focus on meaningful use

Health IT czar: Make EHRs more doc-friendly

Oops! Pentagon didn't actually order 80,000 new BlackBerries

Do you have what it takes to be considered “tech savvy?”

Sutter Health invests in telehealth service provider MDLIVE

Virtual doctor visits give consumers additional access to affordable, high-quality, convenient care

Northern California-based Sutter Health is among several leading U.S. health care networks investing in MDLIVE, a nationally respected provider of telehealth services for consumers, employers, health plans, hospitals and physician organizations.

Through MDLIVE, consumers with non-emergency medical problems have direct, anytime, anywhere access to doctors. MDLIVE affordably connects consumers with board-certified physicians and therapists nationwide via telephone, email and videoconference. MDLIVE is a covered benefit provided by a growing number of self-funded employers and health plans.

“With this investment, Sutter Health takes another step forward in helping transform health care by providing greater access to innovative, high-quality and affordable alternative care delivery options,” said Sutter Health President and CEO Pat Fry. “Our investment in MDLIVE is a prudent and important part of providing communities we serve with more services through digital engagement with health care providers.”

“Empowering consumers to receive quality care when and where they want it opens new avenues to good medicine,” said Don Wreden, M.D., Sutter’s chief medical group transformation officer. Dr. Wreden said Sutter Health-affiliated physicians are part of a health system that is engaging in innovation to ensure we remain competitive and responsive to the needs of our patients. Sutter-affiliated physicians will work together and with MDLIVE to determine how to best integrate telehealth into Sutter medical practices and systems of care.

MDLIVE does not replace a patient’s primary care physician, but provides an additional medical option for:

  • patients needing after-hours care
  • consumers who don’t have a primary care physician
  • patients with a non-emergency but time-sensitive health concern who cannot immediately see their doctor

“Consumers want access to medical care through telehealth technology, just as they have migrated to mobile channels for other services like banking and travel,” said Sutter Health Senior Vice President for Strategy and Business Development Peter Anderson. He added that government agencies, insurers and employers encourage new, innovative and affordable methods of medical care—especially as the demand increases for primary care.

Read the full Sutter Health news release here

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Health information technology: An updated systematic review with a focus on meaningful use

In the United States, adoption of health information technology (IT) has been accelerated by the meaningful use incentive program, which provides financial incentives to individual health care providers and organizations that demonstrate that they use “certified” health IT to meet a set of several use criteria specified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (1–2). This increase in use has been accompanied by a concomitant increase in the number of published evaluations of health IT. Because of the rapidly expanding evidence base, the Office of the National Coordinator requested a systematic update of the literature (3). The objective of this review is to update previous reviews (4–6) and examine recent evidence that relates health IT functionalities prescribed in meaningful use regulations to health care quality (including process, health, and patient and provider satisfaction outcomes), safety (including medication safety and other manifestations of patient safety), and efficiency (including costs, utilization, timeliness, and time burden of health care).

Although we did not develop a formal protocol for this update, we based it on the search strategy, inclusion and exclusion criteria, data collection, and synthesis methods from previous reviews on health IT (4–6).

Data Sources and Search Strategy

A 5-person technical expert panel, which included academic, health care delivery, and policy experts in health IT, guided the review process. Literature searches were based on the strategy initially used by Chaudhry and colleagues (4) and updated by Goldzweig (5) and Buntin (6) and their respective colleagues. This strategy uses broad-based search terms for the English-language literature indexed in PubMed. Our initial search covered the period of January 2010 to November 2011. We used a computer-aided screening method (7) to update that search to November 2012, and then updated searches again to August 2013 (Tables 1 and 2 of the Supplement). Our expert panel reviewed the search results and suggested additional articles that may have been missed.

Read the full Annals of Internal Medicine study here

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Health IT czar: Make EHRs more doc-friendly

Physicians' effective use of electronic health records will play a critical role in the development of payment and delivery reforms, the country's new health information technology (IT) czar said in her first public comments.

The reliance on EHRs and the information they can provide physicians is why it's critical for federal regulations that address the development and use of EHRs be tailored to optimize their potential, Karen DeSalvo, MD, MPH, the new national coordinator for health information technology, said Thursday.

"The systems on the front line have to be usable so that doctors actually want to interact with the electronic health record, or [so that] nurses or others can access critical information that will eventually not just save money or improve the quality of care but save lives," DeSalvo said, speaking at the annual meeting of the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) here.

DeSalvo, who started her new role last week, spoke more about her past work with EHRs than about her plans for the office.

An internist by training and most recently the health commissioner of New Orleans, DeSalvo helped move the outpatient clinic of the city's Charity Hospital to an electronic scheduling system as a young physician. She also worked at the Veterans Administration while it was adopting a system-wide EHR.

But the bulk of her health IT work came in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which infamously flooded the city and destroyed many hospitals' paper records. DeSalvo helped rebuild the city's health information infrastructure, which was based on electronic records; that allowed for a transformation of payment and delivery models, she said.

"When asked to be a part of ONC's leadership, I said 'Absolutely yes' because this is a critical period where we need to do in this nation to reform the healthcare delivery system," DeSalvo said. "We are making strides in expanding coverage and getting everybody in the tent. Our challenge now is to see that when everybody is in the tent that the care is as effective and efficient and safe as possible."

She also previously served as president of the Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum, which is the state's lead organization for its health information exchange and regional extension center grants. "I'm more than a cheerleader for health information technology," DeSalvo said. "I am actively engaged in the space as a doctor, as a leader, and a public health official."

Despite her short time on the job, others still have plenty of advice for DeSalvo.

John D. Halamka, MD, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, wrote that ONC needs to rethink its vendor certification program and make EHR systems more practical for clinical use.

"Some of the 2014 certification test procedures have negatively impacted the healthcare IT industry by being overly prescriptive and by requiring functionality/workflows that are unlikely to be used in the real world," Halamka, who is also co-chair of the Health IT Standards Committee that makes recommendations to ONC, wrote on his blog.

He said ONC could also rethink its various timelines for programs such as ICD-10 and "meaningful use," so they don't coincide so much and wreak havoc.

Read the full med page today article here

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Oops! Pentagon didn't actually order 80,000 new BlackBerries

BlackBerry shares fell 3% on Thursday after the Department of Defense clarified that it is not, in fact, ordering 80,000 new BlackBerry smartphones, as many had believed.

"The Department of Defense is not planning to purchase upwards of 80,000 BlackBerry devices," a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.

The confusion began when the DoD said in a Jan. 16 press release that it launched a new mobile network that would support 80,000 BlackBerries in addition to 1,800 iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. Shares soared 5% the following day.

The problem is that those 80,000 BlackBerry smartphones are existing devices -- not new ones. So down shares came tumbling after The Verge first reported the Pentagon's clarification.

Despite Thursday's setback, BlackBerry shares have been on a tear in 2013 -- up 38% so far. Investors have enthusiastically embraced new CEO John Chen -- who took the top spot only recently and has been successful turning around other companies.

Real estate sale drives stock: Investors particularly supported Chen's latest move, announcing earlier this week that BlackBerry would sell most of its real estate in its home country in a bid to raise much needed cash. BlackBerry shares had been up 19% this week prior to Thursday.

The real estate in question totals over 3 million square feet -- or nearly the same amount of office space in the Pentagon. Blackberry said it will lease back much of the space and will stay in its hometown near Toronto.

"BlackBerry remains committed to being headquartered in Waterloo," John Chen, the company's CEO, said in a statement. "This initiative will further enhance BlackBerry's financial flexibility, and will provide additional resources to support our operations as our business continues to evolve."

The company wouldn't say how much it expects to make off the sale. Peter Misek, a managing director at Jefferies & Co. that covers Blackberry, thinks it will be at least $450 million.

Read the full CNN article here

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Do you have what it takes to be considered “tech savvy?”

For the last 34 years Health Management Technology has been exploring and chronicling the growth and development of computers and other technologies used in healthcare organizations to provide high-quality patient care.

This year we’d like to shine a light on those hospitals, hospital systems and integrated delivery networks (IDNs) that make optimal decisions about the tech they need and want (in that order) and use it effectively and efficiently. We’re not just looking to recognize those organizations with deep pockets that allow them to stock up on all the latest tools. Instead, we’re looking to recognize those facilities that make optimal use of the tech they have – leaving few capabilities ever untouched – whether large or small, cash-full or cash-strapped.

Here’s where we need your help. Within your organization or within your customer base, who’s using technology and how are they using it to do top-notch, innovative work? We plan to publish mini-profiles of these organizations in HMT’s March 2014 edition, relying on your nominations.

Please submit your recommendations to HMT via email to no later than Thursday, January 30th. In your submission, please include who you view as the top five hospital, hospital system and/or IDN organizations in terms of their use of technology. (Please provide the organization name, city, state and proper contact information, including name, title, email and telephone number, for each of the five organizations you nominate.) Please highlight in a few bullet points and/or sentences (500 words max) why you believe each organization’s operation measures up to being “tech savvy.”

We look forward to hearing from you and then sharing your recommendation with our readers in March.

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