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Intel Health & Life Sciences

19 Posts authored by: John Farrell

The buzz following the mHealth Summit has been encouraging, to say the least. The December event drew 4,000 attendees, who were brought up to speed on the latest developments spanning policies and research, global health, hospital mobility, consumer engagement, privacy and security and, of course, emerging technologies.

 

The two areas of focus that I found most encouraging centered on consumer engagement and care coordination.

 

Far too often, when the industry talks about mobile health, the technology itself – or even just the promise of an emerging technology – has a way of quickly overpowering the dialogue. But as the Center for Connected Medicine's Joseph Kvedar touched on (and several panels advanced the notion), one of the biggest issues facing healthcare right now is getting and keeping consumers interested in their own care. The success of mobile devices and apps, as well as early consumer interest in wearables, is encouraging because it shows that all the pieces are in place. But until consumers show as much interest in communicating their health information with their doctors as they do, say, sharing Facebook posts, the healthcare system overall will continue to struggle.

 

Given this present state of consumer engagement, news that care coordination works was all the more welcome.

 

As mHealthNews reported: "In health systems large and small, clinicians are using smartphones to instantly connect with others caring for the same patient. They're sharing notes and tests, discussing treatment plans and, in many cases, bringing the patient and his/her family into the loop to map out a care plan that goes beyond the hospital or clinic. It's a tried-and-true process that's gone beyond the pilot stage, as was noted in Healthcare IT News' Monday morning breakfast panel and several educational sessions. Expect this to become the norm for patient care."

 

Taken together, the growing emphasis on consumer engagement – coupled with the now proven advantages of care coordination to help overcome the disconnect between physicians and other care givers – is, in my opinion, highly likely to yield meaningful outcomes.

 

Equally important, as medical groups and health systems begin to make headway with consumer engagement while addressing care coordination holistically, providers should be able to work together to keep patients healthier – while remaining competitive in the marketplace.

 

What questions about mHealth do you have?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is a sponsored correspondent for Intel Health & Life Sciences.

Read John’s other blog posts

The healthcare industry’s digital transformation calls for shifting the burden of care from the system to the patient. Technology is helping to lead this charge, as evidenced by the growing number of patients who are now able to track their own health information as well as generate data that previously was unavailable to physicians and other care providers. With the 2nd Annual Healthcare Cyber Security Summit this month – and the attack vectors targeting the industry having changed over the past couple years – it’s a good time to revisit the topic.

 

Mobile devices, EMRs, HIEs, cloud computing, telemedicine and other technologies are now common to healthcare settings, incrementally delivering on their promise to stretch resources and lower costs. But along with these new capabilities come new threats to patient data and the organizations responsible for managing it. Such threats are reflected through the rise of HIPAA data breaches from 2012-2013, as well as in the increase of state- and corporate-sponsored cyber attacks targeting medical device makers in 2014. As a recent webinar presented by NaviSite pointed out: the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) also raises the stakes for healthcare organizations, as reflected by Europol’s recent warning about IoT and the FDA’s determination that some 300 medical devices are vulnerable to attack.

 

In April, the FBI issued a sobering notification to healthcare organizations stating that the industry is “…not technically prepared to combat against cyber criminals, basic cyber intrusion tactics, techniques and procedures…” Nor is it ready for some of the more advanced persistent threats facing the industry.

 

It doesn’t help that medical records are considered up to 50 times more valuable on the black market than credit card records.

 

Whether through HIPAA data breaches, malware, phishing emails, sponsored cyber-attacks, or threats surrounding the evolving Internet of Things, the emerging threats in healthcare cannot go unaddressed. Security experts say cyber criminals increasingly are targeting the industry because many healthcare organizations still rely on outdated computer systems lacking the latest security features.

 

With so many mobile and internet-connected devices located in healthcare settings, determining how to secure them should be a top priority. That means developing and implementing strategies that make anti-virus, encryption, file integrity and data management a top priority.

 

Security experts report that, ultimately, data correlation is the key. What is important for healthcare organizations is having a system in place that empowers threat identification, classification, system analysis, and a manual review process that offsets human error, enabling 100 percent certainty regarding potential incidents.

 

With this in mind, how is your organization safeguarding against cyber threats? Do you rely on an in-house cybersecurity team, or has your organization partnered with a managed security service provider for this type of service?

Frustration with electronic health record (EHR) systems notwithstanding, the data aggregation processes that have grown out of healthcare’s adoption of the electronic health record are now spawning analytical capabilities that were unthinkable just 15 years ago. By leveraging big data to track everything from patient recovery rates to hospital finances, healthcare organizations are capturing and storing data sets that are changing the way doctors, caregivers and payers tackle larger scale health issues.

 

It’s not just happening on the clinical side, either, where EHRs are extending real-time patient information to doctors and predictive analytics are helping physicians to better track and understand their patients' medical conditions.

 

In Kentucky, for example, tech investments by the state’s largest provider systems are estimated at over $600 million, a number that doesn’t even reflect investments from two of the biggest local organizations, Baptist Health and University of Kentucky HealthCare. The data collected by these hospitals includes—and far exceeds—the EMR basics mandated under ARRA, according to an article in The Lane Report.

 

While the goal of improving quality of care is, of course, a key driver of such investments, so is the government mandate tying Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement to outcomes. According to a recent report from McKinsey & Company, more than 50 percent of doctors’ offices and almost 75 percent of hospitals nationwide are managing patient information electronically. So, it’s not surprising that big data is catching the attention of healthcare’s management teams.

 

By quantifying and analyzing an endless variety of metrics—including things like R&D, claims, costs, and insights gleaned from patients—the industry is refining its approach to both preventative care and treatment, and saving money in the process. A good example can be found in the analysis of data surrounding regression rates, which some hospitals are now using to stave off premature releases and, by extension, exorbitant penalties.

 

Others, such as Brigham and Women’s Hospital, already are applying algorithms to generate savings beyond readmissions, in areas that include: high-cost patients, triage, decompensation, adverse events, and treatment optimization.

 

While there’s room to debate the extent to which big data is improving patient outcomes—or the scope of savings attributable to big data initiatives given the associated system costs—the trend toward leveraging data for better outcomes and savings will only continue to grow as CIOs advance meaningful implementations of solutions, and major technology companies continue to expand the industry’s basket of options.

 

How is your healthcare organization applying big data to overcome challenges? Have the results proven worthwhile?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is a sponsored correspondent for Intel Health & Life Sciences.

Read John’s other blog posts

The bring-your-own-device to work trend is deeply entrenched in the healthcare industry, with roughly 89 percent of the nation’s healthcare workers now relying on their personal devices in the workplace. While this statistic—supplied by a 2013 Cisco partner network study—underscores the flexibility of mHealth devices in both improving patient care and increasing workflow efficiency, it also shines a light on a nagging, unrelenting reality: mobile device security remains a problem for hospitals.

 

A more recent IDG Connect survey concluded the same, as did a Forrester Research survey that was released earlier this month.

 

It’s not that hospitals are unaware of the issue; indeed, most HIT professionals are scrambling to secure every endpoint through which hospital staff access medical information. The challenge is keeping pace with a seemingly endless barrage of mHealth tools.

 

As a result:

 

  • 41 percent of healthcare employees' personal devices are not password protected, and 53 percent of them are accessing unsecured WiFi networks with their smartphones, according to the Cisco partner survey.
  • Unsanctioned device and app use is partly responsible for healthcare being more affected by data leakage monitoring issues than other industries, according the IDG Connect survey.
  • Lost or stolen devices have driven 39 percent of healthcare security incidents since 2005, according to Forrester analyst Chris Sherman, who recently told the Wall Street Journal these incidents account for 78 percent of all reported breached records originating from healthcare.

 

Further complicating matters is the rise of wireless medical devices, which usher in their own security risks that take precedence over data breaches.

 

So, where should healthcare CIOs focus their attention? Beyond better educating staff on safe computing practices, they need to know where the hospital’s data lives at all times, and restrict access based on job function. If an employee doesn’t need access, he doesn’t get it. Period.

 

Adopting stronger encryption practices also is critical. And, of course, they should virtualize desktops and applications to block the local storage of data.

 

What steps is your healthcare organization taking to shore up mobile device security? Do you have an encryption plan in place?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is a sponsored correspondent for Intel Health & Life Sciences.

Read John’s other blog posts

It’s that time of year again. The ‘Most Wired’ list has come out spotlighting healthcare organizations that are gaining ground by leveraging IT, but many in the industry are so baffled by the selection criteria that they haven’t quite digested the findings of this 16th annual survey, conducted by Hospitals & Health Networks in partnership with the AHA, CHIME, McKesson, and AT&T.

 

While I’m among those stumped by Cleveland Clinic’s exclusion, I’m also encouraged to see that two-thirds of the hospitals that made the list share critical patient information electronically with specialists and other care providers.

 

Clearly, big data is defining its place in healthcare, as demonstrated through this year’s most wired hospitals, 36 percent of which say they’re actively aggregating data from patient encounters to create a community health record.

 

These same hospitals are actively using data to manage care transitions; to integrate clinical and claims data so they’re accessible, searchable, and reportable across the care community; and they’re using tools to perform retrospective analysis in ways that identify key areas for improvement.

 

Since the mandated adoption of EHRs, many in the industry have looked to big data as a kind of lynchpin which, combined with various technologies, will usher in cost-saving efficiencies, new research, and treatments—and that was before even more data from wireless and wearables was expected to inundate providers and insurers by 2019.

 

But cost cutting and new research are only part of the equation. Just as the cloud has helped make data warehousing and analytics more accessible to smaller organizations, growing interest among healthcare CEOs in what all this data can do is providing a glimpse into the industry’s future.

 

According to a recent PwC study, 95 percent of healthcare CEOs have begun looking for better ways to tap and manage big data. In the age of value-based payments, doing so should empower smarter risk management by providers, hopefully delivering on those much sought-after cost savings.

 

Equally important, as consumers continue collecting and sharing data from wearables, mobile devices, health related games and other technologies, proactive health care organizations are positioning themselves to meet another elusive goal of the industry’s transformation: shifting the burden of care from the healthcare system to the patient.

 

Granted, we’re nowhere close to acting on this data yet, but that day is coming—and how the industry manages this information will determine the quality of care each of us receives.

 

What questions about big data in healthcare do you have?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

Read John’s other blog posts

Transitioning the burden of health care from the system to the patient has raised many questions along the way, not the least of which centers on what roles mobile devices ultimately will play in lowering costs and improving the quality of patient care.

 

Having written about mHealth since shortly before the term was coined, I recall how, from the earliest discussions of healthcare reform, the industry has upheld nothing but the highest of hopes for these devices.

 

This faith was well placed; smartphones have proven not only smart but incredibly versatile, with ever-expanding capabilities that are positioning them as legitimate diagnostic tools at the point of care. Meanwhile, MCAs, tablets, 2-in-1s, and other devices continue to find their places in health care settings, just as wearable tech is emerging as a hot topic.

 

And while we’re all wowed to some degree by headlines spotlighting mobile’s staggering growth potential—Lux Research now projects an eight-fold spike in the mHealth market by 2023 to be driven by clinical device adoption—it’s the more subtle transitions taking place that underscore mobile’s place in a future that hinges on patient engagement.

 

Just think back to some of the biggest trends coming out of HIMSS14: the personalization of mHealth, as expressed through the launch of the Personal Connected Health Alliance; mobile privacy and security, which wouldn’t have drawn such a huge audience if the technology’s future role weren’t a given; payers promoting mobile apps as a way to give health consumers the tools they need to manage their health; vendors championing mobile EMR platforms; increasing talk of wearable tech and the connected home.

 

Individually, these shifts bode well for the specific mobile technologies underpinning them. More importantly, however, their collective power to shift the burden from the health care system to the patient is undeniable—and it’s becoming more real with each advance.

 

The nature of the practice of medicine ensures the viability of mHealth. The nature of mHealth supports the transition to patient engagement. Success in this regard is largely a function of education and the passage of time.

 

What questions about mHealth do you have?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

Read John’s other blog posts

Mobile devices have become go-to tools for clinicians because they enable ready access to the right information when and where it’s needed most, improving patient care and lowering healthcare costs in the process. Along with this proliferation of devices, and the growing prevalence of mobile health applications, comes a timely reminder that those of us trafficking in PHI need to keep privacy and security top of mind.

 

We know, for example, that smartphones, tablets, and other devices are now firmly entrenched in the industry. Clinicians routinely access medical journals, images, and lab results while collaborating with specialists right at the point of care.

 

Increasingly, these same devices are proving very helpful when it comes to engaging patients on a variety of conditions—so, we can expect this trend to continue as both clinicians and health consumers become increasingly adept with mobile tools.

 

At the same time, the uptake of mobile applications related to health care is skyrocketing, with mHealth apps projected to become an integrated part of physicians’ treatment plans by 2017, according to a report from Research and Markets. Another industry survey pegged the implementation of mobile EHR access at 53 percent, a significant step up from just a year ago. And everybody knows we’re just getting started.

 

While such reports bode well for healthcare’s overarching transformation, the accompanying responsibility to safeguard protected health information intensifies with each step forward. As app developers contend with guidelines from the FDA and NIST, caregiving institutions are charged with maintaining privacy and security.

 

Larger, more sophisticated healthcare organizations are well versed in managing sensitive data, but many institutions are learning as they go. Beyond working to make sensitivity to security and privacy issues part of their workplace culture, loading up on data breach insurance, and leveraging the various resources available to them, those maintaining PHI subject to HIPAA might consider reassessing their risk analysis and management efforts.

 

My thinking here is that while every U.S.-based healthcare organization engages in risk analysis where HIPAA is concerned—usually with a focus on where PHI is received, maintained, transmitted, and disposed of—a rapidly evolving mobile landscape brings with it challenges that will outpace OCR guidance.

 

For proactive healthcare institutions working to improve the care experience, the first step toward building (and maintaining) a robust security program rests with risk analysis and management. Periodic adjustments, based on input from OCR and industry resources, could help mitigate threats that could exploit vulnerabilities specific to mobile.

 

With that in mind, what steps is your healthcare organization taking to ensure its security program stays current with mobile developments?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

Read John’s other blog posts

I’m not what you’d call a huge fan of horse racing, but I’ve watched enough Triple Crown events to know how exciting it can be when a dark horse contender suddenly breaks from the pack and spurs the front runner. In some ways, I feel that could be the case with healthcare interoperability, which has been viewed as a rank outsider for so long now that it’s tempting to lose sight of its promise.

 

Sure, the healthcare industry continues to struggle with adoption and implementation issues, but over the past three months steps have been taken to help advance the seamless exchange of vital information among healthcare providers.

 

As Joyce Sensmeier, IHE USA president and HIMSS vice president of informatics, reminded us in early January, the recent collaboration among IHE USA, ONC, and S&I Framework should result in all groups working in the same direction and leveraging for the same purpose. This move stemmed from recognition of the increasing need for interoperability capability in order to achieve meaningful use Stage 3 goals.

 

Without question, the lack of interoperability has been siphoning efficiency and enthusiasm from health care professionals and stalling progress. But that’s why the new ONC chief, Karen DeSalvo, MD, dubbed interoperability a “top priority” in early February and outlined five key goals to advance the nation’s triple aim of improving care, improving the health of populations, and lowering the per capita costs of healthcare.

 

Most recently, as Forbes reports, the FHIR software standard prototype is drawing the interest of several high profile projects, including the CommonWell Heath Alliance. Among its benefits: FHIR specification is free for use with no restrictions; it’s strongly focused on implementation; it has a solid foundation in Web standards, such as XML and HTTP; there’s support for RESTful architectures; and, it supports seamless exchange of information using messages or documents.

 

If FHIR rings a bell, you probably recall it from HIMSS14, where it generated significant buzz.

 

Although interoperability has been a troublesome pony in the health reform race, it’s clear that it’s now receiving attention on a grand scale—and once problems are identified, complex though they may be, it’s usually just a matter of time until they get solved. Interoperability is no different.

 

What questions do you have about interoperability?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is the Intel Health & Life Sciences sponsored correspondent.

Read John’s other blog posts

 

It's always tempting to get caught up in the promise of the next, new thing. Gestural computing and 3-D printing spring to mind as recent examples, as well as a variety of wearable tech gadgets that we’re told are just around the corner from being commonplace.

 

While I have no doubt these technologies will find their way into the mainstream, it seems more likely that, for health care providers, the highly-familiar-yet-presently-underutilized touch computing will offer the most real-world value over the next few years.

 

Consider Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini’s keynote address at HIMSS14, in which he made clear that healthcare costs are rising significantly, and keeping these costs down is a task to be shared by everyone. (When payers suddenly form a palpable presence at a tech show, it’s worth taking note.)

 

Mobile is now the norm in healthcare settings, and touch computing directly ties in with key best practices for the use of mobile in these environments (i.e.- using the right device for the right task, rearranging workflows to enhance collaboration, and focusing on the compute model in relation to the task at hand).

 

If the healthcare industry is to deliver on ACA’s stated objectives of improved quality of patient care and increased efficiencies across the system, then engagement is critical to enabling clinicians to do more with less. I’m thinking tablets and 2 in 1s (all fueled by touch) could be the lynchpin that ensures engagement not only among physicians and clinical staff, but patients as well.

 

In terms of cost, having one device instead of two (notebook and tablet) is a less expensive mobile touch alternative and provides a better tablet experience for users, not to mention a three-year cost savings of $1,470. Read more on the costs savings here.

 

If you’d like to see how clinicians are using touch computing to provide better care, check out this new SlideShare overview that details the power of touch in health IT. (see above also)

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

Read John’s other blog posts

I was expecting the arrival of 2 in 1 mobile devices to make more of a splash in the healthcare space.

 

These slick devices, which combine a tablet and a laptop, started popping up in healthcare settings a few months back. Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others rolled out their competitive offerings, each promising convenience, lower replacement costs, easier management, and better security—and the research shows they deliver.

 

But healthcare CIOs tell me their selection of these devices is still largely driven by user preference, mostly because they provide both tablet and full keyboard functionality as needed.

 

Others, such as Linda Reed, RN, MBA, FCHIME, vice president and CIO at Morristown, N.J.-based Atlantic Health System, are quick to add that 2 in 1s haven’t been widely adopted yet because—surprise, surprise—today’s clinical applications and EMRs are still not fully developed for a tablet. The apps tend to be cumbersome and lack intuitive navigation.

 

“What we have found to date is that smart phone, tablet, laptop and workstation still have fairly distinct use cases,” Reed says. “Our docs will use all of the above, based on what they are trying to get done.”

 

But while it’s still early, health IT professionals should consider that clinical apps and EMRs will continue to evolve, and the case for device consolidation is a good one—especially when you compare Ultrabook replacement costs with the cost of replacing either an iPad or Android tablet and a laptop.

 

Whether a healthcare organization wants to provide staff with tablets, or simply support BYOD in-house, the upside to a single 2 in 1 device can be significant.

 

Beyond saving on costs (think devices + replacements + hardware support), these lighter, more energy efficient and easier to manage 2 in 1s can streamline workflows while providing greater security. The fact that they’re easier for health IT professionals to manage is gravy.

 

For a detailed breakdown of total cost of ownership—and why 2 in 1s may be the least expensive, most secure option for healthcare organizations going forward—check out this report. You may want to share it with your favorite clinical app or EMR vendor, too.

 

What questions do you have about 2 in 1 devices?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

As mobile device and app makers focus their attention on improving user experience and workflow issues, healthcare organizations continue to strive for the best mix of technology suitable for the enterprise.

 

Having spent the past few years deploying apps to smartphones and managing end user demand for the more feature and information rich tablets, health IT professionals are finding there’s a process for choosing the best tablet for their increasingly mobile workforces.

 

At Louisville, Ky.-based All Children Pediatrics, for example, CIO J. Barron Breathitt tells me his top-two criteria for laptops and tablets are reliability and durability.

 

The physicians practice group is using Fujitsu T730s and T731s, which typically are outfitted with the fastest i7 processors available to extend the lifespan of the units. Breathitt also has them configured with solid state drives to boost performance and durability.

 

Since the doctors at All Children Pediatrics require the ability to ink on the screen for signing and noting issues on charts, IT’s approach to selecting mobile devices centers largely around user acceptance and meeting interdepartmental goals--two metrics that fall in line with recent industry guidance.

 

Recently, J. Gold Associates released a white paper entitled, Picking the Right Enterprise Tablet: Things to Consider. Among the practical steps healthcare organizations can take to match tablet choice with end user and corporate requirements, the research recommends adopting the following seven-step approach:

 

• Create a strategic vision. In other words, think proactively, not reactively.

• Look beyond the device. Better to focus on the solution.

• Define requirements. Start by determining your specific goals.

• Build an app portfolio.

• User acceptance is critical.

• Support users while planning for obsolesence.

• Determining technology/infrastructure requirements.

 

If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend checking it out here.

 

Tablets offer many advantages to mobile workforces, and the technology’s role in healthcare is clearly established and growing. Formulating a sound tablet strategy, based on analysis, is the best way to support the deployment and utilization of tablets across the healthcare enterprise.

 

Doing so will enable the technology to achieve its full potential while helping your organization cut costs, satisfy end users, and deliver a higher quality of care.

 

What questions do you have about tablets in health IT?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent. See his other Intel Healthcare blog posts here.

For the past four years, I’ve watched thousands of health and technology influencers, developers, policy makers, business leaders, and others pack themselves into the mHealth Summit for a glimpse at the latest in mobile and wireless health technology. And why not? It’s a good time, and the policy changes, apps launches, and new comers to the field are always worth noting.

 

But this year, as we head into the 5th Annual mHealth Summit, I’m looking beyond the 300 exhibitors and 450 speakers—I’m following the money to the most promising new mHealth tech.

 

What choice do I have? Last quarter, as reported by CB Insights, venture capital investors deployed some $1.2 billion to U.S. mobile-related companies, making Q3 2013 the wildest VC financing quarter in history for the Mobile & Telecom sector.

 

Health IT overall drew $2 billion in funding this year, according to a Healthcare IT News report, but if you look at VC deal volume in mobile, the Health & Wellness sub-industry barely registered in Q3. So, yes, investment dollars are flowing to mHealth, but my take is that, despite the boom, we’re just getting started. That’s likely to be good news for mHealth entrepreneurs as they continue to bring their own innovations to market, and the money works its way deeper into the health niche.

 

Although VC funding is hardly the end-all-be-all for tech entrepreneurs—and somewhat less relevant to healthcare CIOs—financing trends obviously play an important role in the growth and evolution of mHealth. To the extent that new mobile and wireless devices (and apps) will need to be added, integrated, and supported by health IT professionals, these funding trends could prove very relevant to CIOs indeed.

 

That’s why one of the presentations I’m most interested in this year is the Venture+ Forum.

 

Keynoted by Qualcomm Life Fund’s director Jack Young—an electrical engineer and former EVP with the world’s fourth largest mobile phone manufacturer (ZTE)—this session should be eye-opening.

 

Young, who has questioned the sustainability of current funding trends, believes digital health is at a crossroads. Among other things, he’s planning to talk about the viability of today's boom in mHealth funding, and where investment dollars might trend over the coming years.

 

Personally, I welcome input from Young and others on this topic, as the industry prepares for the next wave of mHealth technologies that promise to span everything from mobile-clinical integration platforms, to personal genomics, to clinical research technologies.

 

The Venture+ Forum also will review presentations from 11 mHealth startups, which is always fun and inspiring. So, whether you have a mobile solution on the market, in the works—or you’re just wondering how the next wave of mHealth offerings will impact workflows—there should be some actionable information coming out of the Venture+ Forum. Hope to see you there!

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

Remember when the iPad arrived on the healthcare scene? As a non-enterprise device, it snuck in the back door—often in doctors’ pockets—and redefined user expectations in the process. Health IT professionals hated the idea at the time, but they slowly came around to it as Apple added basic enterprise features and let third-parties add incremental support. Of course, that was back when healthcare organizations had few viable alternatives to the iPad. Times have changed.

 

When I reached out to CIOs for a sense of their familiarity with some of the extreme low power Windows tablets that are coming to market, I was surprised to find that many, if not most, weren’t very familiar with them at all. But there is a sense of growing interest at healthcare organizations of all sizes.

 

J. Barron Breathitt, CIO at Louisville, Ky.-based All Children Pediatrics, is among those concerned with power consumption and battery life. The 57-employee physician’s practice group, which is in the process of merging two offices, upgrading its servers, and moving to a virtualized environment, currently runs on upgraded Fujitsu T730s and T731s. Right now, he’s sizing up the T734, which has the Haswell chipset, uses less power, and extends battery run time.

 

“It makes sense for us because our physicians require the ability to ink on the screen for signing and noting issues on charts,” Breathitt says. “They also use iPads when working remotely.”

 

Healthcare CIOs across the board—especially those looking to standardize away from the iPad—might want to check out the latest offerings from vendors like Dell, HP, and Lenovo.  With the combination of Intel Clover Trail and Windows* 8, devices such as the Dell Latitude 10, the HP ElitePad 900, and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 are blending the best consumer elements of the iPad with the enterprise features that HIT professionals wants in their next generation tablets.

 

For starters, the new breed of enterprise tablets’ base battery life is competitive and can be configured to last twice as long as the iPad 4. They also deliver both more baseline expandability and additional expandability, with optional manufacturer-supported accessories. Plus, they offer the same PC enterprise features already deployed and in use at healthcare organizations.

 

These extreme low power Windows tablets also support touch-based scenarios with known IDE, while supporting backward compatibility with legacy peripherals and software. That’s a significant advantage over iPad, which requires new apps be written with new IDEs and don’t support legacy OSX apps and hardware.

 

When you factor in the cost of additional management tools, iPads are just more expensive. For a detailed breakdown of the latest tablets, check out a new report from Moor Insights & Strategy, entitled The Latest Extreme Low Power, Windows Tablets Now Ready for the Enterprise.

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

For the past 12 years or so, San Francisco-based MedAmerica has relied on a web portal to keep doctors in touch with other physicians and clinical staff. More recently, as the BYOD trend has helped define mobile use in the healthcare space, CIO Nancy Burghart-Hall and her team have been busy rolling out an in-house mobile app aimed at streamlining time sensitive communications among the physician practice management group’s 2,000 providers, who span 125 locations across nine states.

 

“Our strategy has been to manage communications among clinicians, who are located inside and outside of the hospital, as part of an overall mobile strategy,” Burghart-Hall says.

 

Launched in 2012, the HIPAA-secure mobile app enables communication among providers via email, voicemail, and text. It also grants access to work schedules—so physicians and clinicians can swap shifts on the fly, if necessary—and a MedAmerica directory with contacts for anyone in the organization.

 

With 1,500 downloads to date, Burghart-Hall feels the app’s uptake is going very well.

 

“Now, we want to extend it to the physicians and the communities in which we practice, to the on-call panels at the hospitals, the specialists and consultants, so that our ER doctors can talk directly, in a HIPAA-secure fashion, about a case,” Burghart-Hall says. “We’re getting ready to look at how we can include those providers in our panel groups, and allow them to download our app and use it as well.”

 

For Burghart-Hall, perhaps the biggest challenge associated with this project has been determining how much to invest, given that MedAmerica’s provider population is approximately 50 percent over (and under) the age of 40.

 

The current generational transition taking place may suggest IT is driving the adoption of technology before the other half of the physician population is ready to adopt it, but Burghart-Hall is striving for “an acceptable balance” that promises to both improve quality of care and increase efficiency.

 

Going forward, the IT team plans to bolster MedAmerica’s mobile app by partnering with another vendor that has a national provider directory. Such a move would greatly expand the expertise available to the physician practice management group’s ER doctors. However, the challenge here is the same as that experienced by anyone trying to exchange health information: knowing who’s on the network at all times.

 

Burghart-Hall says she’ll consider the project a success when providers report they’re able to communicate electronically—and efficiently—in a HIPAA-secure fashion. For the time being, though, she’s focusing on extending the app to MedAmerica’s communities.

 

What questions do you have?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

Count Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) among those healthcare organizations making major health IT changes in an effort to foster more meaningful collaboration at the mobile point of care.

 

I had heard YNHHS was winding down on a 36-month rip-and-replace project, swapping out its 10-year-old-plus electronic medical record for a new EMR from Epic. When I caught up with Daniel Barchi last week, the senior vice president and CIO at YNHHS confirmed the $300 million EMR implementation is now nearing completion, having launched about a month ago in a thousand-bed hospital, with roughly 600 physicians and numerous mobile practices.

 

Alignment

The EMR switchover will deliver closer alignment among Yale New Haven’s three hospitals, the EMA, and the health system. It also will align about a thousand physicians at Yale Medical Group, an independent organization.

 

While this improved alignment is helpful from a cost control perspective, Barchi says what’s really exciting about implementing the single EMR is that it enabled his department to finally tear down all of the communication barriers across these different institutions.

 

“The EMR project was driven by our desire to better align these organizations, as well as by our knowledge that the future of healthcare is population management and the use of informatics to improve clinical care,” said Barchi.

 

Mobile

YNHHS has deployed a good amount of technology enabling physicians to access data on mobile devices, primarily through physician portals. As part of its new EMR rollout, the health system also has activated a couple physician productivity tools for tablets and mobile phones.

 

“We’re starting to recognize that interconnectedness is the key to all of this,” Barchi said. “And it’s our physicians, who are caring for patients, who most need the ability to get data anywhere.”

 

At YNHHS, tablets are commonplace. Last year, the Yale School of Medicine rolled out a new initiative through which all medical students received their textbooks on a popular consumer tablet device. Between the student body and physicians who are using it, YNHHS has over 800 tablets deployed.

 

In addition to the mobile productivity tools currently enabled for physicians to assist with reviewing results and charting, Barchi expects more tools and opportunities to emerge as medical students transition from textbooks to clinical work.

 

Collaboration

It’s all well and good that YNHHS’ EMR project improved alignment among its member and affiliated organizations while supporting the hospital’s mobility plans.

 

Better still, though, is how this important early step is promoting truer collaboration at the point of care, as physicians gain critical access to complete medical records and become more facile at sharing patient data at the mobile point of care.

 

Since the IT Dept.’s goal isn’t to add technology, but to maximize the use of existing equipment and applications, they’re currently in the process of consolidating applications and reducing the number of overall systems.

 

Among other things, doing so has enabled YNHHS’ inpatient physicians to reduce the number of passwords they need to memorize from eight-plus to fewer than three.

 

“Health IT is becoming less about IT all the time,” Barchi added. “Instead of embracing the latest technology and trying to find a home for it, we watch for needs and then work with our caregivers to determine what might best meet their needs, or follow their lead if they find a tool. That’s what makes health IT so interesting; it’s not so much the technology, but finding solutions with our clinical partners.”

 

Is your health IT department working to advance collaboration at the POC? What steps are you taking?

 

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

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