What’s the Value of the RHIT Credential?

I often get asked about the different HIM credentials available and what benefits each one has to offer. There are quite a few HIM credentials to choose from and it can be somewhat confusing to someone who is evaluating his or her future as an HIM professional. Some credentials have formal education requirements while others do not therefore eligibility requirements must be a key part of the decision making process. There are many benefits to each credential and depending on the position, some require a candidate have a particular credential.

Since there are many credentials available to HIM professionals, I will make this a series of different blog posts to address the benefits of each.

The first credential I will discuss is the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT). For those who are unfamiliar with this credential, it is the associate’s level certification for HIM professionals (and for starters, it should be pronounced R-H-I-T not “ritt”- yes, I have heard that more than once!). This credential is created and maintained by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). More information can be found here.

In order to be eligible to sit for the RHIT exam, one must graduate  from a CAHIIM accredited associate’s degree program. Having the RHIT credential shows that the individual has achieved proficiency in HIM through courses including medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, medical coding, data analysis, HIPAA privacy and security, and the technical workflow components of electronic medical records.

The RHIT credential is ideal for HIM professionals working as technicians applying HIM workflows and data and information concepts in healthcare organizations. HIM professionals with the RHIT credential are often ideal candidates for roles such as:

  • EMR implementation and workflow specialists
  • Quality data abstractors
  • Data analysts
  • Cancer or trauma registrar positions
  • Coding and/or billing (hospital and physician office based)
  • HIM chart analysts (chart completion and deficiency tracking)
  • HIM department management

These and other emerging roles do not necessarily have to be within a traditional HIM department. As healthcare continues to evolve rapidly, RHIT competencies are updated and realigned with the changing needs of healthcare organizations. 

The RHIT credential is becoming more and more recognized by healthcare organizations due to the thorough accreditation process and skills possessed by those that are credentialed. HIM departments and physician offices are a great fit for these RHIT professionals but the educational background provides a foundation for HIM professionals to apply their expertise in many different healthcare settings.

The RHIT credential is desirable because it covers the variety of tasks associated with health data analytics, EMR workflow, and informatics. RHIT professionals are certified to be proficient in these areas with a foundation in critical healthcare operations like HIPAA privacy and security and revenue cycle management.  I have seen many job postings requiring RHIT or other HIM credentials. In some cases depending on the position, experience requirements may be substituted for credentials and education.

For more information, I recommend searching the CAHIIM accredited education programs and reviewing the AHIMA RHIT credential eligibility requirements.

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MEA|NEA Acquires The White Stone Group

Acquisition lays the foundation for industry-leading HIPAA-compliant healthcare communication and information exchange via a single platform

Atlanta, GA – Sept. 1, 2015 – MEA|NEA, the recognized leader in secure health information exchange for medical and dental providers, announced today that it has acquired The White Stone Group, Inc., a best-in class provider of healthcare communication management solutions. This move positions the company to create a single, highly-integrated platform for the secure exchange of protected health information and communication management between patients, providers and payers.

The White Stone Group’s products, led by its Trace™ communication suite, strengthen and complement MEA|NEA’s current portfolio of HIPAA-compliant solutions for health information exchange and revenue cycle management. Combining the two proven technology solutions gives clients a one-stop-shop for the secure exchange of health information and the efficient management of healthcare communication including voice, fax, image, data and electronic documents. Customers will benefit by seeing a reduction in denied claims, improved cash flow, increased up-front collections, reduced readmissions, and improved HCAHPS scores.

“We are committed to empowering medical and dental providers, payers and partners to achieve efficiency and cost-savings through a robust offering of electronic healthcare communication and secure information exchange solutions,” said Lindy Benton, president and CEO of MEA|NEA. “Together, our solutions will enable clients to more effectively manage critical patient information that typically resides outside the electronic health record, closing the continuum on a fully accessible patient record.”

The combined company has more than one million customers across the medical and dental markets. Going forward, MEA|NEA will form two complementary business units — one focused on providers, patients and payers in the dental space and the other focused on the same audiences in the medical space. The company will maintain operations in Norcross, Georgia and Knoxville, Tennessee.


MEA|NEA is an industry leader in revenue cycle enhancement for payers and providers managing the secure exchange of health information, providing critical functionality to payers, medical and dental providers and other agents. MEA|NEA solutions facilitate secure electronic requests for medical/dental records and documentation to connected network providers for payment integrity, risk adjustment, audit tracking, performance/quality measures, claim attachments and more. Similarly, their technology enables providers to gain productivity via the electronic capture, storage and submission of healthcare documentation; to more effectively manage their revenue cycle; and to reduce claim denials. www.mea-fast.com | www.nea-fast.com

About The White Stone Group, Inc.

The White Stone Group, Inc. partners with a growing base of more than 400 active hospitals and health systems nationwide. Best practices are hardwired through technology solutions to help hospitals improve financial performance, physician/staff alignment, patient experience, compliance and patient safety/quality. For more information, visit www.TWSG.com.

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Software Design – Dilbert Cartoon

I’m afraid I’ve seen this approach in far too many healthcare organizations. This is particularly true in health data analytics. Let me know if you can relate to this cyclical discussion. I do think it’s getting better though as more people have experience in the process. It’s just been a very long road.

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Population Health Survey

One of the themes we’ve been writing a lot about recently is incorporating more social and behavioral health data into the EHR and healthcare. I think we’re at the start of a trend around using data in healthcare that is not going to stop. While we currently have more access to data than ever, it feels more like getting beat down by a wave on the beach than it does surfing a wave that provides an amazing thrill and speed. I guess I’m saying that we haven’t learned to harness the power of the wave data yet.

Much of the work we’re doing with healthcare data is around population health. I was intrigued by the findings of a population health survey done by Xerox. Here are some of the insights they shared with me:

What is population health? Definition components were ranked in the following order:

  1. Facilitates care across the health continuum
  2. Supports providing the highest quality of care at the lowest cost
  3. Uses actionable insight for patient care based on a variety of data
  4. Targets a specific population of individuals
  5. Enables patient engagement

Is population health management necessary?

100 percent of polled providers agree that population health management is necessary as the U.S. shifts to value-based care. 81 percent indicated they “strongly agree” with the statement, while the remaining 19 percent indicated they “somewhat agree” with the statement.

What is driving population health? Driving factors were ranked in the following order:

  1. Improved health outcomes
  2. Improved patient relationships and experiences
  3. Cost containment
  4. Increased revenue opportunity
  5. Brand and competition with others in market

What challenges exist in population health management? Challenges were ranked in the following order:

  1. Data management and integration capabilities
  2. Lack of financial incentives, too much risk
  3. Poor care coordination across care providers
  4. Creating actionable intelligence from available data
  5. Lack of provider expertise or knowledge
  6. Low patient engagement

When will population health management be a reality?

81 percent of polled providers believe their organizations will deliver fully scaled population health management programs within 5 years, which includes 16 percent who indicated they already are.

What this survey tells me is that we’re still trying to figure out population health. Plus, people have a really broad definition of what’s considered population health. Does that mean the word no longer has much meaning?

The final stat might be the most telling. Almost everyone believed that their organization would be able to deliver a fully scaled population health management program. Maybe there’s some arrogance bias in who participated in the survey, but I’m quite sure that we’ll have a lot more stragglers in the population health world than 18%. It’s taken us how many years to get 60% EHR adoption? I won’t be surprised if population health takes us even longer.

All of that said, the best organizations are going to leverage healthcare data to improve population health. That’s a powerful concept which isn’t going away ever.

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EMR Vendors Slow To Integrate Telemedicine Options

Despite the massive growth in demand for virtual medical services, major EMR vendors are still proving slow to support such options, seemingly ceding the market to more agile telemedicine startups.

Independent telemedicine vendors targeting consumers are growing like weeds. Players like Doctor on Demand, NowClinic, American Well and HealthTap are becoming household names, touted not only in healthcare blogs but on morning TV talk shows. These services, which typically hire physicians as consultants, offer little continuity of care but provide a level of easy access unheard of in other settings.

Part of what’s fueling this growth is that health insurers are finally starting to pay for virtual medical visits. For example, Medicare and nearly every state Medicaid plan also cover at least some telemedicine services. Meanwhile, 29 states require that private payers cover telehealth the same as in-person services.

Hospitals and health systems are also getting on board the telemedicine train. For example, Stanford Healthcare recently rolled out a mobile health app, connected to Apple HealthKit and its Epic EMR, which allows patients to participate in virtual medical appointments through its ClickWell Care clinic. Given how popular virtual doctor visits have become, I’m betting that most next-gen apps created by large providers will offer this option.

EMR vendors, for their part, are adding telemedicine support to their platforms, but they’re not doing much to publicize it. Take Epic, whose EpicCare Ambulatory EMR can be hooked up to a telemedicine module. The EpicCare page on its site mentions that telemedicine functionality is available, but certainly does little to convince buyers to select it. In fact, Epic has offered such options for years, but I never knew that, and lately I spend more time tracking telemedicine than I do any other HIT trend.

As I noted in my latest broadcast on Periscope (follow @ziegerhealth), EMR vendors are arguably the best-positioned tech vendors to offer telemedicine services. After all, EMRs are already integrated into a hospital or clinic’s infrastructure and workflow. And this would make storage and clinical classification of the consults easier, making the content of the videos more valuable. (Admittedly, developing a classification scheme — much less standards — probably isn’t trivial, but that’s a subject for another article.)

What’s more, rather than relying on the rudimentary information supplied by patient self-reports, clinicians could rely on full-bodied medical data stored in that EMR. I could even see next-gen video visit technology which exposes medical data to patients and allows patients to discuss it live with doctors.

But that’s not how things are evolving. Instead, it seems that providers are largely outsourcing telemedicine services, a respectable but far less robust way to get things done. I don’t know if this will end up being the default way they deliver virtual visits, but unless EMR vendors step up, they’ll certainly have to work harder to get a toehold in this market.

I don’t know why so few EMR companies are rolling out their own virtual visit options. To me, it seems like a no-brainer, particularly for smaller ambulatory vendors which still need to differentiate themselves. But if I were an investor in a lagging EMR venture, you can bet your bottom dollar I’d want to know the answer.

Posted in Health IT Outsourcing, Healthcare Leadership, Hospital EHR, Hospital EHR Company, Hospital EHR Vendor, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital EMR Company, Hospital EMR Vendor, Hospital Healthcare IT, Hospital IT Systems, Mobile Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on EMR Vendors Slow To Integrate Telemedicine Options

Fitbit for the Brain

Fitbit for Your Brain
The above wearable currently is pretty awkward. It reminds me of a wrestler or possibly one of those old swim caps. However, it’s a really interesting part of the evolution in wearables. The Barcelona based Neuroelectrics has put out this wearable to monitor your brain. Here’s an excerpt from the Guardian article on the product:

Dubbed a “Fitbit for the brain”, in a nod to the fitness monitoring device, the cap can diagnose medical conditions by examining brainwaves – small electronic pulses fired between the human brain’s nerve cells. It then treats the conditions by stimulating the brain with a low electrical current conveyed via a series of electrodes placed around the cap.

When in development, the devices initially monitored the small electrical impulses on the scalp emanating from neurons – the nerve cells – and recorded them using electroencephalography (EEG). Later advances allowed the cap to stimulate the brain as well in order to help with recovery.

“Our whole motivation is to understand better the brain and, to be honest, I think there is still a lot of work to do. Nobody really knows in depth how the brain works. We are looking at a very specific function of the brain which is the electric fields generated,” says Ana Maiques, co-founder and chief executive of Neuroelectrics.

“So in a way we are decoding the brain from an electrical perspective and also trying to influence the brain. It is still our motivation to understand, to see if processing data coming from an electroencephalogram we can understand what is going on inside the brain. And then in the last few years, we have been interested in trying to influence the dynamics of the brain.”

When you start digging into the science of the brain, you realize that we know a lot less about the brain than we know. It’s extremely complex and in many cases we really don’t know how it works. That’s why I think wearables like this one are so important. It’s trying to push forward some ideas so we can discover more about how the brain works. That’s a worthwhile goal even if it feels as daunting as Columbus trying to sail off the edge of the world. Hopefully what we discover in this search is just as dramatic as what Columbus found as well.

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ICD-10: We’re (Almost) Ready to Celebrate this Milestone

I haven’t written anything about ICD-10 yet and it’s probably because I’m still cautiously optimistic about the October 1, 2015 implementation date; with more emphasis on the cautious part. Anyone who knows me knows I am naturally an optimist, but I just don’t know if I can trust 100% that ICD-10 will go ahead this time without a hitch. The introduction of the proposed Coding Flexibility in Healthcare Act calls for acceptance of both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes for 180 days after go-live. I think this would create a huge mess with system limitations and inconsistencies. The AMA and CMS have offered a “grace period” for ICD-10 claim denials and PQRS for 12 months which sounds like an acceptable compromise for physicians but I don’t agree with this plan either. We need to move forward with ICD-10 in its entirety as we are long overdue for this implementation.

Healthcare organizations have been steadily preparing for ICD-10 for over 5 years and each time, HIM coders and organizations are disappointed with the repeated delays in implementation. I don’t think most physicians have been disappointed by the delays as they have been vocal in their opposition over the years. I think most healthcare professionals would agree that we need ICD-10 since ICD-9 is outdated and becoming obsolete and we are one of the only countries still not using this classification system.

With the US Congress involved, the entire subject of ICD-10 has been skewed in many different directions over the years. ICD-10 has been inserted into conversations where it doesn’t belong which has resulted in unnecessary delays and excuses. HIM professionals from all over the US have been reaching out to US Congress men and women in efforts to educate these elected officials on the benefits of implementing ICD-10. This go-round, we are closer than ever but there is still a lot of opposing or anxious chatter out there.

At my organization, our coders are trained in ICD-10 CM and PCS. We have dual coded countless records and tested claims to prepare for the change. We feel our hospital is ready (and has been ready) for ICD-10. Our physicians are buzzing about the new code set and they are participating in training over the next few weeks. Our physician office staff are learning what they need to know for physician billing and are providing assistance in the training. Our business office has conducted payer testing and we have tweaked our systems to ensure claims and reports are ready to receive ICD-10 codes. We want to be as proactive as possible in anticipating any decreases in revenue flow.

I know many of my peers feel ready for Oct. 1 and are also waiting for that day to get here before officially celebrating this milestone. We have scheduled an ICD-10 Kickoff party for the morning of Oct. 1 at our organization. Hopefully, this will be a celebration of the implementation and all of our hard work preparing over the years. We must all continue preparing for ICD-10 and remain as optimistic as possible for this long awaited opportunity to improve coding specificity and quality healthcare documentation.

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Hospital Merger and Acquisition Activity Accelerates in Second Quarter of 2015, According to Kaufman Hall Analysis

Notable Increase in Transactions in the First Half of 2015 Compared with 2014

Skokie, IL, August 25, 2015— Strong hospital merger and acquisition activity continued in the second quarter of 2015, according to the latest analysis by Kaufman, Hall & Associates, LLC, a leading provider of strategic, capital, financial, and transaction advisory services and software tools. Kaufman Hall identified 26 hospital and health system transactions in the second quarter of 2015, up from 23 transactions recorded in the first quarter. A total of 49 transactions were announced in the first half of 2015, a noteworthy increase from the 43 transactions announced in the first half of 2014.

Mergers, acquisitions, and other forms of partnerships continue to be a critical approach to developing the capabilities needed for value-based care, reducing costs, and enhancing competitive positioning. The hospital transactions announced in the first half of 2015 reflect this variety of form, structure, and strategic purpose. Other insights of note from transactions in the first half of 2015 include:

  • The transactions occurred across a broad range of acute-care segments, including not-for-profit, for-profit, rural, urban, and academic health centers
  • Of the 49 transactions in the first half of 2015, 42 involved the acquisition of a not-for-profit organization – 34 by other not-for-profit organizations, and eight by for-profit organizations
  • The total operating revenue of organizations acquired in the first half of 2015 was more than $12.0 billion, up from $10.0 billion in first half 2014
  • The largest deal announced in the second quarter of 2015 was Ventas’ acquisition of Ardent Medical Services from Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe for $1.8 billion

“We are not surprised by this increase in M&A activity, as hospitals and health systems work to achieve goals such as optimizing their delivery networks, enhancing efficiency, and solidifying market position,” said Kit Kamholz, Managing Director at Kaufman Hall. “Over time, we expect that fewer transactions will involve acquisition of financially struggling entities and more will involve strategic alignments between successful organizations with complementary strengths.”

About Kaufman Hall

Kaufman Hall provides management consulting services and enterprise performance management software that help organizations realize sustained success amid changing market conditions. Since 1985, we have been a trusted advisor to hospitals and health systems, helping them incorporate proven methods into their strategic planning and financial management processes and quantify the financial impact of their plans to consistently achieve their goals. Kaufman Hall helps clients identify and execute strategic initiatives that drive market and financial performance; provides financial advisory services to clients seeking capital; prepares and implements integrated strategic, financial, and capital plans; designs comprehensive capital allocation processes; and assists in the evaluation, structuring, and negotiation of partnership and divestiture opportunities. Additionally, we provide sophisticated, integrated, and intuitive software solutions for long-range planning, budgeting, forecasting, reporting, capital planning, profitability, and cost management on a single platform.

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EMRs Must Support Hospital Outcomes Reporting

Should a hospital be paid if it doesn’t make its outcomes statistics public? Pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs says “no.” Jacobs, who chairs the Society of Thoracic Surgeons National Database workforce, recently told CNN that he believes reimbursement should be tied to whether a hospital shares data transparently. “We believe in the right of patients and families to know these outcomes,” said Jacobs, who is with the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute in St. Petersburg, FL.

Jacobs’ views might be on the extreme side of the industry spectrum, but they’re growing more common. In today’s healthcare industry, which pushes patients to be smart shoppers, hospitals are coming under increasing pressure to share some form of outcomes data with the public.

I’ve argued elsewhere that in most cases, most hospital report cards and ratings are unlikely to help your average consumer, as they don’t offer much context how the data was compiled and why those criteria mattered. But this problem should be righting itself. Given that most hospitals have spent millions on EMR technology, you’d think that they’d finally be ready to produce say, risk-adjusted mortality, error rates and readmissions data patients can actually use.

Today, EMRs are focused on collecting and managing clinical data, not providing context on that data, but this can be changed. Hospitals can leverage EMRs to create fair, risk-adjusted outcomes reports, at least if they have modules that filter for key data points and connect them with non-EMR-based criteria such as a physician’s experience and training.

While this kind of functionality isn’t at the top of hospitals’ must-buy list, they’re likely to end up demanding that EMRs offer such options in the future. I foresee a time when outcomes reporting will be a standard feature of EMRs, even if that means mashing up clinical data with outside sources. EMRs will need to interpret and process information sources ranging from credentialing databases and claims to physician CVs alongside acuity modifiers.

I know that what I’m suggesting isn’t trivial. Mixing non-clinical data with clinical records would require not only new EMR technology, but systems for classifying non-clinical data in a machine-readable and parseable format. Creating a classification scheme for this outside data is no joke, and at first there will probably be intermittent scandals when EMR-generated outcomes reports don’t tell the real story.

Still, in a world that increasingly demands quality data from providers, it’s hard to argue that you can share data with everyone but the patients you’re treating. Patients deserve decision support too.

It’s more than time for hospitals to stop hiding behind arguments that interpreting outcomes data is too hard for consumers and start providing accurate outcomes data. With a multi-million-dollar tool under their roof designed to record every time a doctor sneezes, analyzing their performance doesn’t take magic powers, though it may shake things up among the medical staff.  Bottom line, there’s less excuse than ever not to be transparent with outcomes. And if that takes adding new functionality to EMRs, well, it’s time to do that.

Posted in clinical decision support, Healthcare Analytics, Healthcare Big Data, Healthcare Leadership, Hospital Business Intelligence, Hospital EHR, Hospital EHR Vendor, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital EMR Company, Hospital EMR Vendor, Hospital Healthcare IT, Hospital IT Systems | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on EMRs Must Support Hospital Outcomes Reporting

HealthSpot disrupts the lab industry with plans to bring 7 minute blood tests to retail pharmacy clinics

HealthSpot demonstrates the telehealth industry’s first integrated lab test with Samsung Electronics’ rapid lab testing device at NACDS Expo in Denver
DENVER – August 24, 201510:00 am MDT – NACDS -The Total Store Expo – Booth #419 – HealthSpot®, a pioneer in patient-centric and provider-driven healthcare technology, will unveil new point-of-care lab technology from Samsung that analyzes your blood while you wait with a drop of blood from a finger stick. Pending FDA approval, consumers will be able to obtain fast, easy and accurate blood tests for cholesterol, diabetes and liver tests, as well as other lab tests simultaneously, and get results in as little as 7 minutes.
HealthSpot has already transformed the retail clinic by adding a virtual healthcare provider visit and in the future will be able to automate and integrate lab visits. The HealthSpot technology will connect lab results not only with the doctor’s electronic medical record but with the consumer’s personal health record and with the consumer’s insurance benefit plan and billing.
Through HealthSpot’s telehealth platform and integrated biomedical equipment, medical providers can virtually examine a patient using equipment similar to that found in their doctor’s office. With the addition of point-of-care technology, clinicians will be able to get on-demand results to make decisions right at the point of care, providing health systems with efficiency and cost reduction while improving health outcomes.
At NACDS Expo, taking place August 22-25 in Denver, CO, HealthSpot will showcase Samsung’s latest medical innovation, the Samsung LABGEO PT10, a smart, compact clinical chemistry analyzer, which HealthSpot plans to deploy into its stations. Attendees can experience HealthSpot’s innovative, private kiosk that virtually connects patients to providers from local and national health systems. With the addition of Samsung’s blood analyzer, consumers will be able to get affordable and on-demand lab results in addition to access to healthcare providers, inside HealthSpot stations at convenient retail pharmacy locations. The Samsung LABGEO PT10 saves time for clinicians, improving efficiency and accuracy through automated and rapid testing in seven minutes. It also reduces wait times for consumers while requiring less blood from the patient for the analysis.
“Adding labs to HealthSpot significantly enhances our mission to transform healthcare for consumers and providers. We are transforming retail clinics into a true extension of the local medical community and widening the scope of services that can be offered via telehealth. The addition of blood analysis via Samsung’s smart point-of-care technology will allow providers to go one step further for virtual exams inside the HealthSpot station and serve patients better than ever before,” said HealthSpot CEO Steve Cashman. “We are helping consumerize healthcare-no more needles, no more wait and all at a lower cost. People like that.”
HealthSpot is already bringing the doctor’s office to consumers in retail pharmacies across Ohio. The HealthSpot station is a fully-enclosed, 40-square-foot kiosk enabled with proprietary cloud-based telemedicine software that allows patients to be seen and treated for a series of illnesses and conditions.
About HealthSpot

HealthSpot® is healthcare, reimagined. A pioneer in connected care, HealthSpot has built a comprehensive healthcare delivery platform that combines cloud-based software with the award-winning HealthSpot station, digital medical devices and mobile applications. HealthSpot’s platform radically transforms today’s healthcare system by enabling the delivery of quality, affordable medical care through a diverse professional care network for patients in efficient, convenient locations like pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, employer and community sites, universities and the home. For more information on HealthSpot, go to www.healthspot.net.About the Samsung LABGEO PT10

The Samsung LABGEO PT10 is not FDA cleared and is not yet sold in the USA. The product is CE/IVD registered for international use and is currently sold outside the USA.
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