News Feature | October 18, 2013

Healthcare IT News For VARs — October 18, 2013

By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor

BSM-doctor tablet

This week in the news, the government shutdown ends, HIMSS reports EMR adoption not advancing for about a quarter of hospitals, and the key to your customers’ satisfaction with their EMR solutions could be fewer features.

Government Shutdown Puts Health IT On Hold

An ihealthbeat.org article considers the effects of the government shutdown on health IT. The article points out the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) had furloughed 180 of its 184 employees when the shutdown began Oct. 1 — until it ended Oct. 17. Work stopped on standards and interoperability, privacy and security policy activity, clinical quality measurement development, and maintenance of the Certified Health IT Product list. The shutdown also meant postponement for several federal IT hearings, including a House committee hearing on the FDA's health IT regulatory strategy.

HIMSS Says 25% Of Hospitals Not Progressing With EMRs

HIMSS reports the complexity of EMR adoption is often overlooked, and statistics reported to the press don’t represent the real status of adoption.  Through the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model (EMRAM), HIMSS Analytics has been monitoring hospitals through the various stages of adoption, most recently the quarterly EMRAM progression of 4,811 hospitals during the last five years (Q2 2008 and Q2 2013). Almost half showed some advancement during this period, with another 20 percent “assuming an aggressive EMR adoption pace, advancing four or more stages in five years.” The HIMSS article reports, however, “Perhaps the most startling finding was roughly one-quarter of the hospitals we looked at showed no progression whatsoever during this period.”

A Key To EMR Satisfaction Might Be Fewer Features

VARs might want to consider the number of features in its vendors’ EMR systems. A Health IT Outcomes article reports doctors whose EMR systems have more features compared to other systems experience more stress and lower job satisfaction than doctors whose EMRs don’t have as many features.

Data Analytics Used In Cancer, Heart Studies

A GigaOM article, “More proof that healthcare loves big data,” highlights two partnerships that are using data analysis to improve treatments. Berg pharmaceutical is working with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to develop new therapies for cancer and central nervous system and endocrine disorders. Also, Sutter Health and Geisinger Health System are exploring whether EHRs can help predict heart failure.

Demand Is High For Health IT Workers

A Health Data Management article reports data from a study of online job postings along with other reports from the job market show a great demand for people skilled in working with EHRs.  The article states, “About 80 percent of providers and 57 percent of vendors reported lack of fully qualified staff as a barrier to achieving organizational IT goals.” About 31 percent of providers said they have put IT projects on hold due to lack of qualified staff.

Use of e-Prescribing Increases
An American Journal of Managed Care article states the total number of doctors and other healthcare professionals e-prescribing through EHRs is increasing. The latest data shows about 398,000 or 54 percent of U.S. providers electronically transmit prescriptions to pharmacies. This is up from 47,000, or 7 percent of providers, four years before.

Healthcare IT Talking Points

Since the HIPAA omnibus rule went into effect in late September, a popular topic is balancing the benefits of Big Data and analytics for healthcare with the rules that protect patients’ privacy. The omnibus rule holds not only healthcare providers accountable for data breaches, but also their business associates — like VARs. A SearchHealthIT article looks at this topic and a HealthIT Security article looks at how HIPAA affects healthcare cloud computing decisions.

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