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Posts Tagged ‘collaboration’

Perficient Provides PIH New Tools In The Fight For Global Health

Kent Larson, Director at Perficient recently posted a blog about Partners In Health (PIH) and the new Microsoft tools they are using to help enable their mission to provide a preferential option for the poor in healthcare.

PIH is one of many organizations leading a coalition to combat the Ebola outbreak, working alongside two other organizations – Last Mile Health in Liberia and Wellbody Alliance in Sierra Leone. To help enhance communication and collaboration both domestically and internationally, PIH is migrating to Microsoft Office 365.

Perficient is assisting PIH with their migration to Microsoft’s Office 365 (O365) solution. O365 will allow users to access their email from anywhere in the world on any computer or mobile device with access to the Internet. OneDrive for O365 will enhance collaboration between all PIH users, both domestically and internationally. The platform will provide PIH with a reliable and secure communication toolbox, including storage and collaboration tools. Deployment of O365 across PIH sites in Africa, Haiti, Russia, and the U.S. will enable PIH’s mission to provide a preferential option for the poor in healthcare  and will be an important tool to enhance communication as they respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

To read Kent’s entire post and to learn more about the mission of PIH click here.

In Healthcare, Connectivity Is Not Collaborating

Interoperability between different electronic health record (EHR) systems is one of the most important requirements that hospitals and physicians must meet as they prepare their systems for attestation in Meaningful Use Stage 2.

However, let’s examine the real goals of interoperability within healthcare: In Healthcare Connectivity is not Collaborating

1) To make sure “information follows the patient regardless of geographic, organizational, or vendor boundaries”

2) To have at least one or more instances in which providers exchange an electronic summary of care with all the clinical data elements between different EHRs. Establishing this connectivity does not insure the real goal of collaborating across the continuum of care for the patient’s benefit.

The debate still rages on the role of the patient in this interoperability process as well. We have all, as patients, had our medical files spread across a family doctor, multiple hospitals, specialists, health plans and today, even multiple pharmacies. The prospect of creating a complete picture is staggering, let alone having all of those healthcare providers really collaborate on our behalf. Is it the patient’s responsibility in this ever-changing healthcare electronic revolution to compile this electronic mess into a coordinated whole or will the industry magically create it as a result of Meaningful Use Stage 2?

It is worth arguing that interoperability in Meaningful Use Stage 2 only creates a baseline of connectivity between two or more systems to exchange information and puts in place the ability of those systems to use the information that has been exchanged. It does not create collaboration on behalf of patients within the healthcare provider community, especially between competing players like local hospital systems or healthcare providers versus payers. Having the ability to connect only trades fax machines for electronic transactions, if tools aren’t employed for physicians for example to collaborate over a single patient.

In advocating for collaboration, let’s examine the reality of an exchange of a set of electronic transactions about a patient versus where the process would need to be for genuine care coordination. Today, a fax from the hospital to the family physician is the notification that the patient was hospitalized and needs follow-up in coming weeks. Based on the type of hospitalization, a call between the attending physician and family physician may be warranted, and a potential referral to a subsequent specialist may be in order. Simply communicating electronic documents doesn’t address the interaction between key people in the decision-making process and the assumption that the inclusion of unstructured physician notes will suffice may be optimistic.

This means that health information exchange is different than health information interoperability. Exchange is necessary for interoperability, but it is not sufficient by itself to achieve health information interoperability, especially to streamline real collaboration on behalf of patients. It is time to examine an expanded view of both interoperability and health information exchange to promote ease of collaboration between the parties involved, including secure physician to physician communications – electronic or instant message, for example, and secure physician to patient communications. As an individual patient having to deal with multiple patient portals today for communicating with my healthcare providers, there is a real concern to address this issue sooner rather than clean up confusion later.

Can we define collaboration in a way that traverses healthcare’s landscape of emerging connectivity?

Improving Patient Experience – Not Just for Inpatient Settings

Medicare is basing hospital reimbursements on performance measures. Patient satisfaction determines 30% of the incentive payments, and improved clinical outcomes decide 70 percent (source). So, it is no surprise that the term “patient experience” is rolling off people’s tongues very matter-of-fact like. 

With the focus primarily on the hospital or inpatient setting, it’s easy to forget about the ambulatory or outpatient setting when it comes to patient experience.  However, as the country continues to shift its efforts to preventing medical problems rather than simply fixing them, the spotlight is moving to the outpatient setting.  Therefore, it is equally, if not more important for those  in the medical practices to take the necessary steps to assure their patients’ experiences are top notch in this new care delivery model. 

patient engagementPositive Outcomes and Opportunities

The benefits to improving patient experience are plentiful, regardless of the care setting.  However, the Language of Caring has done a great job highlighting and explaining specific areas within the outpatient setting where increasing quality patient experience can bring about positive contributions and opportunities.  Here are the exact details they provide:

  1. Improved outcomes and healthier patients – Improved quality patient experience in medical office settings brings about optimal health outcomes. Patients are less anxious in their visits and communications with the physician and care team. The physician and other staff are more successful eliciting needed information from patients and engaging them in decisions that affect their health. Because of greater trust, they are more likely to relax and cooperate during procedures, take their medicine, adhere to their care plans and follow-up with their care, improving care outcomes.
  2. Patient retention, loyalty, and growth - By providing consistently satisfying patient experiences, medical practices and other ambulatory care centers win patient loyalty and become a provider of choice. Patients spread the word, which brings in even more patients.  As people engage in provider-shopping, services that provide a quality patient experience attract new patients via positive word-of-mouth from their current patients. Also, provider scorecard initiatives are proliferating to assist purchasers in their buying decisions. Providing a quality patient experience is a powerful growth strategy. Read the rest of this post »

Happily Ever After: The Benefits of Patient Engagement – #HIMSS14

Once upon a time last year, in a town not too far from you, there was a big hospital where a bright, young physician was providing care to a sick, old patient.  Okay, let me save you some time.  This fairytale, unlike those you are used to, doesn’t end simply by having Prince Charming (the physician) swoop in and save the beautiful, damsel in distress (patient).  This fairytale has a bit of twist that changes the standard storyline.  This twist is referred to as Patient Engagement.

Changing of the Patient-Provider Fairytale

patientengagementThe concept of patient engagement has changed the way providers tell their patient stories.  It is no longer, once upon a time, a patient was sick, the physician cured him/her, the end.

The fairytale now reads more like this…

  1. Patient came in.
  2. Physician introduces him or her to supporting characters (care team).
  3. The patient and physician discuss the plot (disease state) with alternative endings (treatment options).
  4. They co-write the script (care plan), including ideas for props (patient education, care communities, etc.) that will enhance the story.
  5. The physician quickly publishes (uploads to portal) the manuscript and associated material for review and follow-up (provides email, direct scheduling option, mobile alerts, etc.).
  6. And instead of “the end”, it is more like, “to be continued…”

Patient engagement is not a new concept, just one that has been brought to the forefront as part of the healthcare industry’s increased efforts around coordinated care. Read the rest of this post »

A Love Letter to Meaningful Use – #HIMSS14

It seems appropriate on Valentine’s Day to write love letters.  This is my letter of adoration to Meaningful Use.  In the past, I have written about how much time and productivity is wasted in the average physician’s office handling phone calls about prescription refills.  My physician’s office has successfully implemented their EMR software, and the patient portal is very, very handy for all of the right reasons.  I could wax poetic about the ease of checking on appointments and reviewing lab results.  The source of my real happiness is the ease of asking for refills and having the ability to route the request to the right pharmacy.  It was love at first click.

A Love Letter toInstead of calling the doctor, waiting on hold to talk to the nurse, fretting about getting the medication name and dosage right for the refill, it was magic.  I signed into the patient portal in a secure fashion, clicked on medication refills, and there was a correct list of my medications!  I selected the ones I needed refilled including a suggested number of days like 30 or 90, selected the pharmacy of my choice and Voila!  Several hours later, I received an email confirmation from the pharmacy that they were processing my order.  Now honestly, I didn’t have to see what went on behind the curtain in the doctor’s office to review my request, but I’m sure they like the elimination of potential communication errors on medications, too.

My doctor has shared with me about the financial burden of casting out his first EMR investment and starting over with a better EMR software.  I have to say that from my point of view, he clearly chose the right one and it actually fulfills the basic tenets of Meaningful Use, particularly from the patient’s point of view.  I plan to share my enthusiasm for the patient portal with him including the secure messaging that allowed me tell him that his changes in my medications worked and improved my quality of life.  This secure messaging was another plus for productivity, and patient satisfaction, because those positive responses got lost in the challenges of telephone communication in the past. Read the rest of this post »

Digital Experiences Critical to Healthcare Industry Success


The healthcare industry continues to undergo dramatic change due to regulatory reform including Meaningful Use Stage 2, which stipulates requirements and feedback on what a patient portal should be. As a result, we see a challenging dynamic between patients, providers and payers.

An exceptional digital experience is one way to help each stakeholder get through the regulatory transition.

portal

Our principal of portal and social solutions at Perficient, Mike Porter, says “The patient portal may be the most complicated portal one can build due to government regulations, physician requirements and patient needs.” Porter is presenting at IBM Connect 2014 this week. He says about IBM technologies, “Fortunately, the IBM toolset gives us the agility to get around the complications and create great experiences for customers.”

Perficient has developed best practices for implementing exceptional digital experiences for patient and member portals that include the core functions each healthcare organization must implement to succeed

  • compliance
  • integration
  • personalization
  • mobile access
  • physician location information

Read the rest of this post »

Apolitical Tech Lessons from the Healthcare.gov Meltdown

When Healthcare.gov launched, it drew an understandably high number of initial users.  Millions poured onto the site, but they weren’t able to sign up for insurance due to technical glitches.  As an impartial observer, it was interesting to watch media outlets struggle to find even one person that was able to sign up successfully.  The Washington Post even went as far as to illustrate this single newly minted healthcare insurance holder as a mythical unicorn.

Late Winter Snowstorm Hits Washington DC

Leave it to clashing political tensions to throw the topics of non-functional requirements, project management, and user experience into the limelight.  Oh, wait.  That’s not what everyone has been talking about since the wake of the Health Insurance Marketplace ribbon cutting…but they should.

There’s lots of finger pointing in the great game of Healthcare.gov Whodunit.  However, underneath all of the tensions that bely healthcare reform, there are some key takeaways from the Healthcare.gov case study for anyone looking to build a website as a platform for information dissemination and conversion.  Here they are:

Project Management

It was originally thought that there were only two players involved in the creation of Healthcare.gov.  In reality, there were more than I have fingers to count with.  A project this colossal requires some serious project management, and project management was clearly lacking here.  It has been reported that those in charge were aware of the flaws and were told the site was not ready for launch.  The Washington Post reported that “people were pulling out their hair” and complaining “loudly” about the problems the site was experiencing before being moved over to the live server.  Those in charge still insisted on rolling out the new site on the original timeline.

Read the rest of this post »

Congratulations to Marshfield Clinic on Web Development WebAward!

Congratulations to Perficient client Marshfield Clinic on their 2013 Healthcare Provider Standard of Excellence WebAward in Web Development.  The Web Marketing Association‘s annual WebAward competition has been setting the standard of excellence for website development since 1997. Independent expert judges from around the world review sites in 96 industries. The best are recognized with a WebAward. The WebAward Competition is the premier award recognition program for Web developers and marketers worldwide.

web award

Is Cloud Computing the Answer for Healthcare?

It is a much talked about fact that the healthcare industry lags behind other industries in IT adoption. With constantly changing regulations, security concerns, and the pressure to deliver better care at a lower cost, healthcare providers have not implemented the latest technologies to leverage their data. One solution to these issues is cloud computing.

Cloud computing in healthcare holds many advantages, including:

  • Computer closeup detailMobility: Data is stored in the cloud infrastructure, allowing provider staff to access it from anywhere, anytime. 
  • Decreased costs: There is a reduced capital expenditure on hardware and maintenance. Also, hospitals will only pay for the services they use, and challenges can be addressed remotely by IT personnel.
  • Better care: The cloud provides a central platform for EMR data, prescriptions, reports, and patient history. When all of this data is available, the risk for misdiagnosis or conflicting treatments is reduced.
  • Scalability: As the amount of data healthcare provider house grows, cloud server storage can easily be increased, unlike IT infrastructure.
  • Security: Cloud service providers are liable for HIPAA compliance, requiring them to encrypt and securely house data.
  • Speed: Working in the cloud allows for collaborating and sharing data in real time. Data is synchronized as it is processed or updated, allowing staff to work together without being in the same place.

Leveraging the cloud would allow providers to meet regulatory compliance standards at a lower cost than implementing traditional technology. Various forms of data are interoperable, allowing for analysis and reporting. While security concerns remain, cloud computing is becoming a viable answer for healthcare challenges. Read more about cloud capabilities in the article, “Perficient’s cloud prescription for healthcare companies.”

5 ways OBI + BPM + Member Portal = Success

What kind of equation is that?  I can understand Member Portal, but OBI? BPM?  Well, OBI stands for operational business intelligence.  OBI is real-time, dynamic use of analytics that enables a service component to decide, based upon the information available, how to proceed in engaging with a stakeholder.  BPM, or business process management, refers to the defining and execution of business workflows.  Bringing the two together in a member (could be a patient) portal is a formula to success.  All health plans today use a member portal to provide basic, on-demand services.  Typically these portals include the ability to review past claims, search for a provider, plan documents describing their benefit program, find industry medial reference databases, enroll for benefits, fill prescriptions, view FAQs about their benefits program and even view and manage funds deposited in high-deductible savings accounts.  But, as stated, access is on-demand.  The members need to be well educated on the benefits consumption process to help themselves.  In many cases, most just stumble through the process.  To make matters worse, most of them don’t interact with our benefits site beyond the annual election process or, most importantly, when we have a need.

The time is right, and the solutions are there, for health plans to enhance the member services by moving from a passive, on-demand model to an active, assertive one.  Doing so will increase member satisfaction, important for retention with the advent of Health Insurance Exchanges (HIXs) and consumerism in the benefits insurance marketplace, decrease the cost to serve, and increase the productivity of the health plan resources engaged in their services operations.  Leveraging OBI and BPM, delivered through a mobile-enabled platform, is the way of the future!

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Are you sensing my stress?

Stress is a killer and each of us struggles with controlling stress in our own way.  Often stress relief comes in the form of equally destructive behaviors including over-eating, smoking, watching too much television, etc.  As a result, stress is a serious contributing factor to higher healthcare costs in the form of heart attacks, cancer and many chronic illnesses.  The challenge is that stress is hard to control and, worse yet, it can really snowball out of control.

Over the years, there have been many ideas to help people reduce stress: meditation, exercise, calming music, hobbies and, of course, beer drinking.  At Perficient, we like solutions that use gaming or gamification to reduce stress.  One interesting approach is a small device call the PIP biosensor. The PIP biosensor is a Kickstarter project that aims to help folks mediate stress by objectively measuring symptoms, digitally visualizing the results, and then gamifying stress reduction. It’s the latest in an avalanche of sensors aiming to increase body awareness and health.  Read the rest of this post »

Shared Decision Making – From Doctor is King to Patient is Key

The words, “because I said so” were like nails on a chalkboard for many children.  I was lucky enough to rarely hear those words.  I was blessed with parents that took the time to explain why they were taking the decision they were and as I got older willing to discuss decisions further, allowing me to make my case for important things like why I needed a hundred dollar pair of jeans (I never got them!).  This is probably why my skin crawls today when my doctor tries to mandate a course of action to me rather than take the time to explain his reasoning or discuss alternative options. The decision is made for me, not with me.  Who died and made him king, especially when it comes to my health?

According to a recent research study in the US, 70% of patients preferred making medical decisions with their doctors.  Interestingly, of those, only one in seven would disagree with their doctor over treatment, some saying it would not be socially acceptable or would damage their relationship with the doctor1.  What is that about?  If the US healthcare system is ever going to increase quality of care while reducing costs, the mentality needs to shift from doctor is the all mighty king to patient is key.

What is Shared Decision Making?

blogPatient-centered care is one effort to rectify this power imbalance between physician and patient.  The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines patient-centered care as: “Providing care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.2

A key component of providing patient-centered care is shared decision making (SDM).  SDM is a collaborative process where patients are provided with evidence-based information on treatment choices and are encouraged to use this information to have an informed dialogue with their physicians to help them make the healthcare decisions that best align with their values, preferences and lifestyle3.  “SDM honors both the provider’s expert knowledge and the patient’s right to be fully informed of all care options and the potential harms and benefits. This process provides patients with the support they need to make the best individualized care decisions, while allowing providers to feel confident in the care they prescribe.4

Read the rest of this post »