CMS extends 2014 MU hospital attestation until end of year

Just days before the clock was to run out on hospitals, including Critical Access Hospitals, hoping to attest to Meaningful Use of EHRs for 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has pushed back the attestation deadline by a month, until Dec. 31.

In an announcement posted yesterday on the CMS Meaningful Use registration and attestation login page, CMS said: “CMS is extending the deadline for Eligible Hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program 2014 reporting year from 11:59 pm EST on November 30, 2014 to 11:59 pm EST on December 31, 2014.”

Just don’t expect to do so online during a short period in a couple of weeks, as CMS says the site will be down for maintenance from Friday, Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. EST to Saturday, Dec. 13 at 12:30 p.m. EST. CMS also says people “may experience intermittent connectivity” Nov. 30 between 12:01 and 5 a.m. EST.

This extension “will allow more time for hospitals to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2014 program year, as well as avoid the 2016 Medicare payment adjustment,” CMS says.

 

Posted in ARRA, CMS, EMR/EHR, health it, Healthcare IT, Meaningful Use, regulations | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Here’s What Makes Henry Ford Health System’s Employee Innovation Program Tick

Hospitals are increasingly launching efforts designed to leverage new technologies, be they working with healthcare accelerators, taking advantage of employee ideas or setting up onsite centers designed to support a culture of innovation. One institution which has gotten a little further down the road than many of its peers is Henry Ford Health System, whose innovations program has paid off handsomely, generating countless smart, useful inventions from its employees.

So serious is the health system about exploiting its employees’ great ideas that it’s made organized efforts to reward such thinking directly. For example, HFHS just completed the competition among employees to submit their best ideas in clinical applications for wearable technology. The institution not only encouraged employees to participate, but sweetened the pot by offering a total of $10,000 in prizes to winners of the contest.

Winning entries included:

*  A system designed to record and encourage mobility of acute care patients by using wearable activity trackers
*  A recovery tool for total hip replacement patients which monitors and limits range of motion to rehab by using wearable sensors
*  A health and wellness reminder system for elderly patients, leveraging location-based sensors and smart watches
*  A mobile game interface, powered by activity trackers, designed to encourage childhood exercise and fight obesity

Certainly, the employees must appreciate the cash prizes, but they told a Forbes reporter that they’d participate even if there were no prizes, because what they really enjoy is having the experience and access to the program. That’s a pretty telling indicator that simply appreciating their concepts goes a long way.

This contest comes as part of larger efforts to make the health system innovation friendly. “The most important word is yes,” said Nancy Schlichting, the system’s CEO in a Forbes interview. “It is difficult to create a culture of innovation. If you shut down one person to shut down everyone, because bad news travels fast. When it comes to innovation, my mantra is yes.”

Other efforts to encourage employee intrapreneurship include big rewards for success in product development. The HFHS intellectual property policy offers a 50% share of future revenues coming from product ideas that end up in the market. That’s a pretty impressive call to action for employees who might have a great idea in their hip pocket.

Yet a third way the health system encourages innovation is to bypass employees’ natural fear of failure by tapping into their desire to help people. By encouraging clinicians to focus on patient care improvements, for example, the system drew staff cardiologist Dr. Dee Dee Wang to create a breakthrough method for more accurately sizing artificial heart valves and planning trans-catheter surgeries using 3-D printed models from CT scans. (She worked with Dr. William O’Neill in this work.)

So if they can generate great innovations, why aren’t more health systems and hospitals launching programs like these?

I don’t think the direct cost of creating such a program is much of an obstacle, especially for a multi-hospital system. It may require hiring a senior exec to spearhead the effort, but that’s not a huge investment for entities that size.

My guess is that one reason they don’t move ahead is management bandwidth — that health leaders simply don’t feel they have the time, energy and focus to kick off such a program at the moment. But I also suspect that C-suite execs just haven’t given much thought to the untapped potential their employees have for creating incredible solutions to critical health care problems. Sadly, I suspect it’s more the latter than the former.

Posted in Hospital CFO, Hospital CIO, Hospital EHR, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital Healthcare IT, Mobile Technology | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

New EHR Attestation Deadline for Eligible Hospitals: December 31, 2014

I just got the following note from CMS about an extension to the EHR Attestation deadline for eligible hospitals. Here’s all the details:

CMS is extending the deadline for eligible hospitals and Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to attest to meaningful use for the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program 2014 reporting year from 11:59 pm EST on November 30, 2014 to 11:59 pm EST on December 31, 2014.

This extension will allow more time for hospitals to submit their meaningful use data and receive an incentive payment for the 2014 program year, as well as avoid the 2016 Medicare payment adjustment.

CMS is also extending the deadline for eligible hospitals and CAHs that are electronically submitting clinical quality measures (CQMs) to meet that requirement of meaningful use and the Hospital Inpatient Quality Reporting (IQR) program. Hospitals now have until December 31, 2014 to submit their eCQM data via Quality Net.

Note: This extension does not impact the deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.

Posted in EHR, EHR Incentive, Electronic Health Record, Electronic Medical Record, EMR, Healthcare IT, HITECH, Meaningful Use | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Amazing Charts Reaches 10,000 Clinician License Milestone

Up to 40,000 Total Users Now Taking Advantage of the EHR Rated #1 for Usability

NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI–(Marketwired – November 24, 2014) – Amazing Charts, a leading developer of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems for physician practices, today announced it has surpassed 10,000 total clinician licenses sold. Each clinical license represents approximately four staff users, so Amazing Charts estimates there are now more than 40,000 users of the Amazing Charts Electronic Health Record system at over 6,500 independent medical practices.

This milestone underscores the success of Amazing Charts EHR, a top-rated clinical documentation system for independent medical practices. In multiple physician surveys, Amazing Charts EHR has been recognized for ease of use, affordability and overall customer satisfaction. More than 60 percent of Amazing Charts clinicians practice Primary Care Medicine, with nearly 37 percent practicing Family Medicine and 21 percent practicing Internal Medicine. Top specialties include Pediatrics, Neurology, Cardiology, and Pain Medicine.

“I want to thank our customers for reaching this significant milestone,” said John Squire, president and COO of Amazing Charts. “Our success with independent Primary Care practices puts us squarely in the middle of the struggles facing physicians today. Our mission is to help practices stay independent with new tools like our new Practice Management module, which is fully integrated with our EHR to save time and eliminate errors, while helping to increase revenue and profitability.”

About Amazing Charts
Amazing Charts provides Electronic Health Records (EHR/EMR), Practice Management, and other Health IT solutions to healthcare practices. Based on number one user ratings for usability, fair pricing, and overall satisfaction, Amazing Charts EHR has been adopted by more than 10,000 clinicians in over 6,800 private practices. Founded in 2001 by a family physician, today Amazing Charts.com, LLC operates as a subsidiary of Pri‐Med, an operating division of Diversified Communications (DC) and a trusted source for professional medical education to over 260,000 clinicians since 1995. For more information, visit: www.amazingcharts.com.

Amazing Charts is a trademark of Amazing Charts, LLC. All products or service names mentioned herein are trademarks of their respective owners.

Posted in EHR, EHR Vendors, Electronic Health Record, Electronic Medical Record, EMR, EMR Vendors, Healthcare IT | Tagged , , | Comments Off

CFO Pleads Guilty To Meaningful Use Fraud

It had to happen eventually — the money is just too good.  The former chief financial officer of a now-closed Texas hospital has plead guilty to charges that he defrauded the meaningful use program, in what may be the first prosecution of its kind.

According to Healthcare IT News the former CFO of Shelby Regional Medical Center in Center, TX, has been indicted on charges that he falsely attested that Shelby Regional met meaningful use requirements for fiscal year 2012. The alleged fraud garnered the medical center $783,655 in payments, according to the indictment.

It’s not that hospitals haven’t wrongly claimed large amounts of meaningful use cash before. In fact, Florida-based Health Management Associates seems to have wrongfully claimed $31 million in meaningful use payments last year prior to its acquisition by Community Health Systems, with 11 of 71 HMA hospitals failing to meet meaningful use criteria.

But it does seem to be unusual, if not unprecedented, for CMS to catch providers in the act of willfully falsifying meaningful use attestations. Either the self-attestation honor system is working or CMS  is failing to catch a great deal of monkey business.

In Shelby Regional’s case, the hospital relied on paper records throughout fiscal year 2012 and only minimally used an EMR, according to the feds. To make sure the facility still captured its meaningful use payout, CFO Joe White instructed the software vendor and employees of the hospital to input data from paper records into the EMR, sometimes months after patients were discharged and after the fiscal year. (If convicted, White faces five years in prison).

What makes the purported fraud at Shelby Regional seem all the more egregious is that it was apparently part of a much larger scheme. Tariq Mahmood, MD, who owned Shelby Regional and five other Texas hospitals, is also being investigated by federal prosecutors for alleged healthcare fraud. The six hospitals owned by Mahmood collected a total of $16.8 million in meaningful use incentives for fiscal 2011 and 2012.

The truth is, there’s probably a lot more fraud going on in the meaningful use program that hasn’t been caught. After all, a report by the Office of the Inspector General for HHS issued early this year concluded that CMS fraud auditors such as the Recovery Audit Contractors weren’t doing a great job of reviewing EMR records, failing to take basic steps such as reviewing EMR audit logs to verify that medical records support a claim. It’s little wonder they haven’t caught more providers deliberately gaming the meaningful use system.

Hospitals can do more to avoid accidental problems with meaningful use claims, too. Observers have noted that few hospitals have sufficient safeguards in place to catch attestation problems before they happen.

Posted in Community Hospitals, Hospital CFO, Hospital EHR, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital Financial Management, Meaningful Use | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Broader Approach Urged for Evaluating Financial Performance of Employed Physicians

(Nov. 21, 2014, Westchester, Ill.) – Current approaches to measuring the financial performance of employed physicians can obscure the value that employed physicians bring to an organization, according to new research released today by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA).

Based on productivity alone, fewer than 25 percent of senior financial executives surveyed expected to see a positive return on investment during the first two years of physician employment, a finding that researchers described as “not surprising” in light of current payment methodologies and productivity decreases that often occur when physicians move into an employment setting. However, instead of using “loss per physician” as a financial metric, researchers say, a health system should fully account for the value that employed physicians bring to the system. That is, looking at the system as a whole, management should determine an acceptable level of expense to generate sufficient revenues to maintain the system’s financial health and invest in physician financial support accordingly.

“It’s vital to ensure that the contributions of physicians are accurately valued and described,” said HFMA president and CEO Joseph J. Fifer, FHFMA, CPA. “Physician commitment to care transformation is critical to an organization’s success in making the transition to a value-based health system.”

The report was issued against a backdrop of continued growth in physician employment by hospitals and health systems, with 64 percent of hospital- and health system-based senior financial executives surveyed pursuing a physician employment strategy. The report also addresses clinically integrated networks and accountable care organizations as viable alternatives to physician employment for those providers seeking greater alignment.

Fundamental elements of a physician strategy identified and addressed in depth in the 24-page report include the following:

  • Determining the best alignment opportunities for physician practices in a particular market
  • Building a sufficient primary care base to support specialty services
  • Communicating the need for flexibility and change in physician compensation agreements
  • Developing physician leadership and governance structures

The research findings are detailed in Strategies for Physician Engagement and Alignment, based on quantitative and qualitative research conducted by HFMA in March 2014. Of 118 responses to the survey of senior financial executives, 55 percent represented stand-alone hospitals and 45 percent represented health systems. Site visits and interviews also were conducted with five hospitals, health systems, and medical groups.

To download the full report, visit hfma.org/valueproject.

About HFMA
With more than 40,000 members, the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) is the nation’s premier membership organization for healthcare finance leaders. HFMA builds and supports coalitions with other healthcare associations and industry groups to achieve consensus on solutions for the challenges the U.S. healthcare system faces today. Working with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, HFMA identifies gaps throughout the healthcare delivery system and bridges them through the establishment and sharing of knowledge and best practices. We help healthcare stakeholders achieve optimal results by creating and providing education, analysis, and practical tools and solutions. Our mission is to lead the financial management of health care. hfma.org

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When Would It Make Sense to Share Your Healthcare Data Findings?

During a recent visit with Stoltenberg Consulting, we had a really interesting discussion about the future of innovation in healthcare. I think we all saw the potential that healthcare data findings can do to improve healthcare. I believe we’re sitting on top of amazing untapped potential in healthcare data that’s going to start being mined over the next few years.

With this in mind, I asked the questions, “Will hospitals and health systems share their data findings? How will we share the data findings?

I think these are extremely important questions as we enter the new world of healthcare discovery and I don’t think the old methods of published journal articles is going to get us to where we want to go. Think about how hard it is to go through the process of getting a journal article published and then the time it takes for the journal article to diffuse through the healthcare system.

Many people fear that health systems won’t want to share their healthcare data findings thanks to competitive concerns. While this may be true in some specific cases, I’ve found the opposite to be the case in healthcare organizations. When they find something that benefits their patients or health system, they are happy to share it with everyone. I think it’s something about the nature of healthcare that makes us want to improve the lives of everyone versus bowing to competitive pressures.

While I think that many want to share their healthcare data findings, the reality is that most of the healthcare data findings aren’t shared. I think that many health systems discover something in their data, but they don’t have an easy way to share it with the broader healthcare community. The choice isn’t to deliberately not share the findings, but they don’t have the time to share it.

We need to find a way to solve this problem. I think social media will play one small part in this type of sharing, but it’s only one element. We need a platform in healthcare that simplifies the sharing of healthcare data discoveries. If it’s not dead simple for a healthcare professional to share their discoveries, it doesn’t make sense for them to do it.

Given the lack of a healthcare discovery platform, this presents a great opportunity for companies like the aforementioned Stoltenberg Consulting to package up these discoveries in easier to consume packages. I’m not sure that this is a terrible model either.

In a simplistic view, one hospital could share their health data discoveries online and another hospital could replicate it. However, the process is rarely that simple and often requires a bit more work to make the results a reality. This is where it makes sense for an outside company to bring the full package of services and software to make the discovery a simple reality for a hospital. The hospitals I know often want to buy the full stack solution. They don’t have the bandwidth to recreate the solution themselves.

Regardless of how it happens, I hope we can find better ways to diffuse healthcare innovations and discoveries across all of healthcare.

Posted in Healthcare Big Data, Healthcare CIO, Hospital Business Intelligence, Hospital EMR, Hospital Healthcare IT | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Google’s Efforts in Healthcare

I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at what Google is currently doing in healthcare. While Google Health was shut down a long time ago, Google still has an amazing interesting in health and healthcare. Actually, I’m not sure how much Google cares about healthcare, but the Google Founders do seem to care. I call it the Tech Geeks Got Old Effect (ie. They get old and have money they need to spend. So, they spend the money to try and prolong their life.)

By far, the biggest project that Google has announced in healthcare is Calico. They even have a website for the project. However, the website really doesn’t say much. Luckily, the wikipedia page offers a bit more info:

Calico is an independent R&D biotech company established in 2013 by Google Inc. whose goal is to tackle the process of aging. More specifically, Calico’s plan is to use advanced technology to increase understanding of the biology that controls lifespan, and to use that knowledge to increase longevity. The company is led by founder & CEO Arthur D. Levinson, who is the current chairman of Apple Inc. as well as the former chairman of Genentech and was on the board of directors of Hoffmann-La Roche. The name Calico is shorthand for California Life Company. Arthur Levinson had posted he and four others were principal in Calico on Google+. Those four people mentioned were: Robert Cohen, Hal V. Barron, David Botstein and Cynthia Kenyon. Three of the four named are or were previously affiliated with Genentech.

In Google’s 2013 Founders’ Letter, Larry Page described Calico as a company focused on “health, wellbeing and longevity.”

The thing I like most about Calico is that it seems like they understand the need to mix scientists, programmers, medically trained personnel, and more in order to solve many of the really challenging problems we face in healthcare. We’d love to think that one programmer in a garage at a computer could solve things, but my guess is that the next big change in healthcare will come from a scientist, programmer, data scientist and medical professional in a garage. I guess Calico doesn’t have the garage, but I like the cross disciplinary approach to the problems.

I’m hopeful they’re successful in their mission since I’m getting old as well. I think their goals are quite ambitious and so I think they’ll likely fail in the stated goals, but still do some amazing good along the way. That’s fine. I have a feeling that’s why Calico’s goals are so ambitious.

The other major project that Google’s doing in the healthcare space is Google Fit. I was and am still skeptical of Apple Health and it’s possible impact on healthcare. I’d say the same things about Google Fit. I’m not suggesting that either will be a massive flop. I think they’ll gain some traction and provide some benefit to a few people. However, I don’t see Google Fit as the transformative platform that Google and Apple want their solutions to be. Healthcare is much more complex than they realize and I don’t think either company wants to dive deep enough into healthcare to really make a massive change in how we view healthcare.

The #1 Google product for healthcare is actually something we probably take for granted. That’s the Google search results themselves. I know my wife has turned to Dr. Google plenty of times when her, my children or myself come down with something. Is this right or wrong? It doesn’t really matter. It’s just the reality. The quality of Google’s health search results could have as big of an impact on healthcare as almost any other healthcare company. That’s a really big deal and something that Google probably doesn’t even realize.

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Epic Salary Info

Many of you probably remember that we helped promote an Epic Salary Survey. As promised, they’ve published the results of the survey and we thought that many readers would be interested in the Epic Salary survey results.

The survey had 753 responses. Not bad for an online survey that was promoted across various blogs and social media outlets. Although, as you can imagine, some states are better represented than others. It’s the challenge of having 50 states.

This is my favorite chart from the Epic salary survey results (you can download the full survey results and data by states here):
Average Epic Salary by Job Position

As I look at some of these salaries, I’m reminded of the doctor who said that they shouldn’t be spending time learning their EHR. The hospital CFO then told the doctor, “I’m sorry, but that Epic consultant costs a lot more than you.”

Now I’d like to see one from Meditech and Cerner.

Posted in Hospital EHR, Hospital EHR Company, Hospital EHR Vendor, Hospital Electronic Health Record, Hospital Electronic Medical Record, Hospital EMR, Hospital EMR Company, Hospital EMR Jobs, Hospital EMR Vendor, Hospital Healthcare IT | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

ONC Welcomes 2 New Members to their Office of Communications and Public Affairs

ONC Acting National Coordinator Lisa Lewis about two new hires at ONC’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs.  Here’s her letter to the ONC team:

Team –

We have two new members on the ONC Team. Chartese Day and Amanda Woodhead started with ONC on Monday, November 17th. Chartese and Amanda bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Office of Public Affairs and Communications (see bios below). We are very excited to have them on the team! Both of their offices are in HHH 729D. Please stop by and say hello as schedules allow.

Also, let’s extend our thanks to Peter Ashkenaz for serving as the acting OPAC Director for the last few months. Peter, you are greatly appreciated!

Sincerely, Lisa

*************************************

Chartése Day

Chartése joined ONC on Monday, November 17th as the new Director of the Office of Public Affairs and Communications (OPAC). Prior to ONC, Chartése spent more than a decade as a senior strategist at top international public relations firms leading award-winning programs and campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, major healthcare trade associations and non-profit groups. Chartése has deep expertise in public health awareness and education campaign programming, stakeholder engagement, regulatory communications, issues management, crisis and litigation communications and multicultural outreach. Chartése’s specific therapeutic area and category experience includes implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), infectious disease, cardiovascular, pain management, respiratory, women’s health, mental health and food and nutrition. Her past clients have included Universal Health Services, CareFirst, Kaiser Permanente, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, American Nurse Credentialing Center, Wal-Mart, Merck, Pfizer, and  Johnson & Johnson among others.

A native of Washington, D.C., Chartése began her career as an aide for the Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton, District of Columbia Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Chartése earned a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Maryland and a Bachelors of International Business from George Mason University.

Amanda Woodhead

Amanda Woodhead joined ONC on Monday, November 17th as the Stakeholder Engagement Lead in OPAC.  Amanda comes to ONC following six years at health IT vendor, Emdeon. While there, she led corporate communications and media efforts including traditional, tradeshow, social media and crisis communications as well as industry relations and executive events. She previously served as a public relations manager at Windsor Health Group, a senior publicist for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson publishers and a public affairs officer for the U.S. Naval Hospital, Okinawa, Japan.

Amanda holds a BA in Journalism from Mississippi University for Women and a MS in International Relations from Troy State University. She is an active volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of her father, a multiple myeloma survivor. In 2012, she participated in the Washington DC area Man and Woman of the Year campaign to benefit LLS and was awarded the community involvement award for outstanding community outreach. She lives in Arlington with her spouse and 8 year old daughter and spends most weekends (in the fall at least) watching SEC football and cheering on the Mississippi State Bulldogs!

Posted in EHR, Electronic Health Record, Electronic Medical Record, EMR, Healthcare IT, Healthcare IT Staffing | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off