by February 6th, 2015
The cyber-attack on Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, directly reflects the vulnerability of healthcare organizations, which are years behind other industries in regards to protecting personal information. In today’s healthcare industry, the federal government encourages sharing information across the continuum, which is critical to improving patient care. The challenge is the balancing act between protecting personal information and making it useful – the health information exchange teeter-totter. Current federal privacy regulations and the industry standard call for encrypting information that is sent from the database; however, on-premise data commonly remains unencrypted, making it vulnerable to an attack.
Anthem followed industry standards and encrypted the medical information that was shared outside of their database, but because they failed to secure their on-premise data, hackers gained access to up to 80 million records that include social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, email, employment information and income data for customers and employees. Scrambling personal data makes it less valuable to hackers, but also makes it more difficult for healthcare employees to track trends and share data with other healthcare providers and states.
Other industries such as the financial services industry keep personal information in separate databases that can be closed off in an attack. Avivah Litan, an analyst for Gartner who specializes in cyber-security, said healthcare organizations “are generally less secure than financial service companies who have the same type of customer data.” For example, the attack on JPMorgan Chase last summer compromised the personal information of over 80 million households and small businesses, but the breach was limited to non-financial information because the more sensitive information was walled off, which meant hackers could not penetrate it.
Unfortunately, in healthcare the question isn’t whether the next data breach will occur but rather when will it occur. Balancing out the health information exchange teeter-totter will continue to be a challenge for the healthcare industry. The criminal value of the information that healthcare organizations store combined with the slow adoption of security measures make healthcare organizations prime targets for hackers.
by December 30th, 2014
Technology is a major player in the evolving healthcare environment, and organizations are increasing their health IT budgets to adapt to the “new” industry. Having the right technology in place can enhance patient experience, help meet regulatory requirements and provide key insights that reduce costs and improve outcomes. In our recently released HIT SNAPSHOT we have identified ten trends impacting the healthcare industry that can help determine which technology investments should be made to achieve the greatest return on investment.
Download the guide now
by December 29th, 2014
As we wrap up 2014, let’s take a look at the top 10 blog posts from our thought leaders. These blogs were published on Perficient’s Healthcare Industry Trends Blog.
If you missed these you may want to take a look.
#1. What the Market Says You Need in Your Patient Portal
by Melody Smith Jones | June 19, 2914
#2. Connected Health Trend Countdown: #1 Health Plans Go B2C
by Melody Smith Jones | February 5, 2014
#3. Changing Delivery and Spending of Medicaid Through DSRIP
by Priyal Patel | May 22, 2014
#4. Healthcare Gamification: Avoiding Chocolate Covered Broccoli
by Melody Smith Jones | February 4, 2014
#5. How Enterprise Mobility Management can Improve Patient Care
by Kate Tuttle | May 7, 2014
#6. Perficient Ranked One of the Largest Healthcare Consulting Firms
by Kate Tuttle | August 25, 2014
#7. Connected Health Trend Countdown in Review
by Melody Smith Jones | February 6, 2014
#8. Apple: The New Digital Hub for Healthcare Data
by Kate Tuttle | September 9, 2014
#9. Healthcare Benchmarking
by Priyal Patel | July 9, 2014
#10. The Problem with Health IT is in the Definition
by Kate Tuttle | October 13, 2014
by September 18th, 2014
In ACA and QRS – Shoot for the Stars Part 1, I laid out the overall domains that are going to be used to score QHP plans offered through the Marketplace. In Part 2, I discussed some factors to consider for the data derived measures. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the survey derived measures and what factors a QHP issuer should consider to achieve high scores.
Again, for reference all 43 of the required measures can be found on the CMS website (click here).
Now let’s take a look at some factors to keep in mind when dealing with the Enrollee Satisfaction Survey (ESS) derived measures:
Leverage CAHPS Processes
As mentioned in Part 2, it was required to get Health Plans Accredited to offer on-market. In addition, CMS aligned required QRS ESS measures with current CAHPS measures that are typically required during accreditation. And just as an organization should leverage HEDIS for data, make sure to leverage current investments in CAHPS to keep initial costs low while jump starting ESS efforts.
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by September 3rd, 2014
In ACA and QRS – Shoot for the Stars Part 1, I laid out the overall domains that are going to be used to score QHP plans offered through the Marketplace. In this blog, we will take a closer look at the data derived measures and what factors a QHP issuer should consider to achieve high scores.
For reference all 43 of the required measures can be found on the CMS website (click here).
Now let’s take a look at some factors to keep in mind when dealing with the data derived measures:
Leverage Accreditation Processes
It was required to get Health Plans Accredited to offer on-market. In addition, CMS aligned required QRS data measures with HEDIS measures that are typically required during accreditation. So, make sure to leverage current investments to keep initial costs low while jump starting QRS efforts.
Read the rest of this post »
by August 19th, 2014
Last month I posted “ACA’s Quality Rating System – An opportunity to gain market share”, which explained how QHP issuers can gain market share in the individual space. In that blog I mentioned that, as part of the Quality Rating System, plans offered on the Marketplace will receive a “Star” rating based on a 5 star rating system. Over the next few posts, I would like to take a look at what this means from a health plan’s perspective.
As background, there are 43 measures that will need to be tracked. Out of the 43 measures, 31 are derived from data and 12 are derived from the survey. In addition, the draft QRS scoring specifications published by CMS organizes the 43 required measures into composites that roll up into eight domains. These domains are as follows:
- Clinical Effectiveness
- Patient Safety
- Care Coordination
- Doctor and Care
- Efficiency and Affordability
- Plan Services
The eight domains are then rolled up in to three summary indicators: 1) Clinical Quality Management; 2) Member Experience; and 3) Plan Efficiency, Affordability and Management. And of course, the final result is a star rating.
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by May 22nd, 2014
Well, folks, here’s another acronym for you to add to your healthcare dictionary…DSRIP. DSRIP, or more formally known as the Delivery System Reform Incentive Program, is a demonstration program through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that is designed to result in achieving the triple aim: better care for individuals, better health for the population, and lower costs by transitioning hospital funding to a model where payment is contingent on achieving health improvement goals1.
CMS is using the Section 1115 Waiver of the Social Security Act, which gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to approve experimental, pilot, or demonstration projects that support the objective of Medicaid programs2, to encourage hospitals to build innovative service delivery systems. Hospitals may qualify to receive incentive payments for implementing quality initiatives within their community and achieving measurable, incremental clinical outcome results demonstrating the initiatives’ impact on improving their states health care system3.
The program’s main goals are to:
- Develop a program that supports hospitals’ efforts to enhance access to healthcare, the quality of care, and the health of patients and families they serve.
- Develop a program rooted in intensive learning and sharing that will accelerate meaningful improvement.
- Ensure individual hospital DSRIP plans are consistent with their mission and quality goals, as well as, CMS’ overarching approach for significantly improving health care through the concurrent pursuit of the triple aim.
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by May 7th, 2014
Healthcare is an ever-changing industry, and healthcare organizations continue to face the challenge of improving the quality of care while remaining compliant with industry standards. Depending on the diagnosis, the patient journey can include transfers between acute, post-acute, ambulatory care and home-health care organizations. As a result of these often-frequent transitions in care settings, the patient’s quality of care and overall safety can be compromised.
Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) allows healthcare organizations to securely and more efficiently exchange clinical data while remaining compliant with industry regulations such as HIPAA requirements. The use of mobile technologies and applications can help make this transition across the continuum of care smoother resulting in fewer hospital re-admissions and better patient outcomes.
By 2020, a projected 70 percent increase in home health aides signifies the importance of secure device management solutions outside of traditional care facilities. EMM provides organizations with the technology needed to positively impact patient care throughout the entire patient journey regardless of the treatment location.
What will it take to get us there?
- IT administrators need to begin to focus on how they can extend existing standard health data processes to mobile devices.
- These mobile devices need to enable care providers to access and enter data into Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), manage prescriptions and patient financial data, among other data sources. This should all be able to happen in real time, from anywhere and is especially important for home health providers, so they can enter data from the patient’s home, on their mobile devices.
- Home health organizations need secure tablets and smartphones to ensure secure and protected medical record access. The need for mobility management and security are now more important than ever as the delivery of care continues to expand beyond the traditional clinical setting.
EMM will provide the security and medical record access needed to ensure quality of care and patient safety across the entire continuum of care.
by February 26th, 2014
Direct secure messaging (DSM) is a transmission standard promoted by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology that meets the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements of electronic health records (EHRs). It works much the same way as regular email, but the message is encrypted, which prevents unintended use of the protected health information that is included within. DSM can be used to send patient information among physicians, among provider organizations and to other 3rd parties, including patients.
Healthcare providers have been using direct secure messaging for care coordinating for a while but there may be ways to use it more fully to reduce readmissions, reduce unnecessary testing and procedures and even increase provider productivity. Some benefits may include:
- Providers can insert secure messages into any point of their workflow.
- Primary care providers can interact with specialists to potentially result in fewer referrals; ultimately reducing costs to the healthcare system.
- Hospitals can improve transitions to nursing facilities and nursing homes can improve the communication with providers to reduce the need for readmissions back to the hospital.
- Medical records departments can interact with the patient send their records more easily saving them time and money.
- Researchers can seamlessly interact with patients on release of health sciences information.
Once HIEs are fully implemented, query based networks will provide robust data exchanges, but DSMs will continue to be valuable especially for smaller practices and hospitals that do not have the means to implement sophisticated EHRs. Read the rest of this post »
by February 25th, 2014
A former boss of mine, who happened to be the CFO of a large academic medical center, used to say the phrase “no margin, no mission” all the time. I’m not sure I really took the time to understand it at that point in time, but I have since then, “grown up”. My understanding of the intricacies of determining true profitability is now burdened by the awareness of how many different business transactions occur in the hospital setting and how hard it really is to capture each correlated business transaction at the same point in time.
Still, producing a monthly income statement is one thing, and there is certainly no shortage of guidance whether considering GAAP or public sector fund management reporting requirements, but how do we merge the clinical effectiveness discussion with the finance and accounting discussion?
In my view, these two areas converge at the decision support team who have been supporting contract management and costing activities for decades. Perficient views the costing activity as an enabler for business to deliver strategic advice, moving away from low value transactional activities, through increased focus on:
- cost reduction and ability to support the introduction of new products/services or new markets
- understanding spend according to the value a function or activity creates
- promoting transparency with a wider view to cost data to allow management to better understand spend through driver-based information on “cause of cost”.
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by February 24th, 2014
Healthcare systems must be able to provide timely and accurate financial information for decision making and planning. Many hospitals and health systems are targeting hefty reductions in their operating budgets to maintain financially viable without interrupting investments in facility, information technology and other areas needed to remain competitive. This cost management culture requires organizations to fully understand and ensure transparency exists for key performance indicators that drive consumption and reflect service line profitability.
Whether it is supplies, labor or productivity or clinical effectiveness, the quality/cost/value equation requires the organization to truly understand their data. This includes not only considering the right product at the right place, but also applying a broader perspective on clinical evidence for resources used and approaches employed.
A hospital can’t just make across-the-board financial target reduction a sustainable approach. Perhaps a place to start would be to identify opportunities to reduce variation in care delivery by standardizing clinical processes.
But how do we understand cost of care? There are “experts” within the organization for sure, but a better approach would be to couple these experts with technology that enables us to understand the fully burdened margin by service, by patient or by procedure. Costing software technology and spreadsheets have been around for a while; we must now transform these systems to leverage clinical and financial / administrative data to create transparent costing models that tell us about profitability across service lines, patients and encounters.
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by February 19th, 2014
In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare environment, provider organizations must be able to identify financial performance gaps continuously and quickly change course when needed. As we discussed in my blog: Elevating the Role of Finance within the Hospital, this requires a partnership with operations to ensure that the correct metrics are correlated within the budget process, but being agile is also influenced by the mechanism the hospital uses for budgeting.
The use of a rolling forecast to replace or supplement the annual budget process
What is a rolling forecast? The rolling forecast is usually a quarterly budget with a two to three year horizon that keeps a close eye on the organization trajectory. Typically the forecast budget is not prepared at the department level but may instead focus on divisions or even at a hospital level. Global budget drivers and assumptions will typically be the same as the annual budget but those unique to a department or division may not be line itemed.
The forecast is built using historical trends, current conditions and future assumptions for budget drivers. Some forecasts may be primarily driven by revenue drivers with expenses flowing from ratios defined to the model. The forecast feedback process fosters the partnership between finance and operations to allow the healthcare organization to course-correct sooner and reinforce the cause effect relationships that effect reality. Some organizations use the rolling forecast process in conjunction with the annual budget and others have moved to using the forecast only.
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