Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Women In Technology...Through The Eyes Of My Daughter

Mark MacNaughton has been an Information Technology leader for many years. He viewed the lack of women leaders in science and technology related fields as a simple math problem. A kitchen table conversation with his daughter made him realize that while it is a math problem, it isn’t the one he was trying to solve.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Kids And Technology Today {Funny Video}

Dan Soder is pretty hilarious talking about kids and technology in this bit from his stand-up routine. Grab a cold beverage, pass the popcorn, and enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Introducing Kids To The Technology Of Yesterday

Kids these days don't know how good they have it. Ellen Degeneres proved exactly that when she asked these kids to give their opinion of some outdated devices.

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Pros & Cons Of Kids Using Digital Technology

As studies show, kids these days are spending more time in front of a screen than ever before. Smartphones, iPads and computers have obvious benefits. Spending too much time on electronic devices can have a downside on young, developing minds. CCTV's Asieh Namdar reports on the pros and cons of raising kids in a digital world.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Next Steps In Health & Medicine -- Where Can Technology Take Us?

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Daniel Kraft shows us where technology can take us in health and medicine. He pulls out countless gadgets of his jacket that will change the future of health-monitoring and improve our access to personal health care.

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Addressing The Challenge Of Technology Complexity In Healthcare

The healthcare technology space is constantly impacted by regulatory change (e.g., Meaningful Use, HIE, ACO, HIPAA and P4P requirements), evolving healthcare standards (e.g., HL7, ICD-10, XDS/XDSi), and innovations in technology (e.g. HTML5, MVC 4.0, healthcare mobile app development, cloud computing, etc). Healthcare organizations are under constant pressure to improve quality of care while also reducing costs.

Given the complex IT systems in hospitals and other provider settings, this is easier said than done.The healthcare IT ecosystem often involves hundreds of speciality areas, thousands of disparate systems, and varying types of healthcare data structures and formats.New application vendors need to invest significant effort and cost in integrating their applications with other applications in a hospital -healthcare application development (EMR, PHR, lab, point-of-care systems), medical imaging (RIS, PACS), financial (RCM, claims, collections, denials) and other departmental applications. They need to worry about how they can connect and share information with HIEs, ACOs and other healthcare organizations, (including clinicians, primary care physicians, labs, acute care facilities, physician practices, hospitals, PCMHs). This means creating multiple standards based connections with a large variety of external systems, such as EHRs, lab systems, PHR systems, drug data, RIS/PACS, RCM, HIE platforms. They would then need to support this entire complex set of applications and connections effectively across thousands of such installations across the healthcare ecosystem.

The key to addressing this level of complexity often lies in getting the right technology partner on board! While most technology solution providers claim to have some capabilities in healthcare applications, companies should be careful in their choice of partner. Some key questions that need to be asked are:

  • What is the technology partner's knowledge of healthcare workflows - does the solution provider have extensive exposure to real deployments and use cases around emerging trends like healthcare mobile app development, cloud computing and big data analytics?

  • Does the partner have strong healthcare application development expertise across a wide range of clinical, imaging, financial and operational applications, since most solutions would involve dealing with multiple types of applications?

  • With interoperability and integration (both internal and external) being a critical component, does the partner have a deep understanding of healthcare interoperability standards (HL7, DICOM, XDS, SNOMED, and LOINC)? Also, does the partner have real experience with integration technologies and platforms (e.g., Cloverleaf, Ensemble, Rhapsody, etc.)?

  • Considering the strong data privacy needs with respect to healthcare information, mandatedby HIPAA, does the partner really understand what it takes to ensure data security and privacy, including protection of Personal Health Information (PHI) across distributed networks?

A key success factor in successful healthcare application development is the creation of long-term partnerships that allow technology partners to invest significant time and effort in understanding the underlying applications, their end users and the unique challenges that any organization faces. Given the complexity, healthcare application development cannot be a short term engagement, and requires strong commitment and a long-term view from all stakeholders involved.

As the Senior Manager, Strategic Partnerships at CitiusTech, Amar works with leading healthcare organizations to build global technology partnerships for CitiusTech's solutions and services. His focus areas include aiding processes in building best practices to generate business value and develop long-term relationships with healthcare technology organizations.

By Vedika Saini

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Buying A Clinical Information Technology System

Buying a clinical information technology system challenges every organization's senior management team. Unlike other administrative applications that help manage a facility, the clinical information technology system touches directly the lives of patients and the work flow of physicians, nurses, and other clinicians. Careers and entire organizations can be ruined by poor vendor choices and botched implementations (e.g., installation of the software and hardware) and deployments (e.g., introduction of applications to end users). Poorly chosen clinical information technology systems can drive physicians to competitor institutions, impact facility accreditation, and in some cases invite litigation due to unexpected morbidity or mortality.

As frightening as this task is, the best way to be successful is to be humble. Senior executives must accept the fact that full investigation of the features and functionality of clinical information technology systems before purchase is impossible. No individual or committee has the technical expertise and available time to effectively evaluate and fully review the capabilities of a comprehensive clinical information technology system. Therefore, organizations must base their decision to purchase systems on factors that function as surrogates for the usefulness and appropriateness of the systems in its institutions. These may include such items as the source of clinical content included with the system, list of organizations using the system, and perceived ease of use of the application.

Evaluate Live Systems

Although information technology vendors utilize demonstrations of their software to educate clients about their products, viewing working systems deployed in patient care areas offers the most valuable information. Unfortunately for both vendors and purchasers, the competitiveness of the healthcare information technology marketplace, couple with the complexity of these systems, encourages vendors to showcase software products during demonstrations that are either partially completed or are in beta version.

Therefore, often what is seen in these demonstrations does not accurately represent the features and functionality currently available. It is important to take vendors at their word when they declare that the demonstrated software is representative of features and functionality under development.

Focus on Deployed Working Systems Only

To increase the probability of purchasing a product that will satisfy the needs of an organization, institutions most focus on existing, working, deployed, and implemented versions of the applications being considered for purchase. The best way to evaluate current-state versions of applications is to visit current clients of each vendor and to witness the daily use of the various applications. Organizations must be patient and allocate adequate time to see the systems working under all conditions. This includes visiting multiple hospitals and various patient care areas throughout each hospital.

Forge Solid Vendor Relationships

For most organizations, it is more prudent to engage in relationships with vendors that have established working applications that can be immediately deployed and utilized. Although working, released software will have its inevitable share of problems, it is likely there will be fewer problems and solutions will be readily found.

In some cases, it may be advantageous to engage in relationships with vendors that are offering software that hast just been released or is under development. In these instances, organizations must enter the agreement recognizing the potential benefits from such arrangements but also the problems and delays in the software that may be associated with purchasing new, untested software. Organizations that do not have extensive information technology infrastructure and departments should be wary of entering into these types of arrangements.

The following sections outline a recommended process for choosing clinical information technology for an institution.

Review and Embrace Strategic Vision

The purchase of all clinical information technology tools must be driven by the clinical strategic vision of the organization. The strategic vision represents the views and aspirations of the board of directors, the medical staff, and other clinical professionals in the organization. Clearly, cost control is always a consideration, but the importance of patient safety and quality healthcare overwhelmingly drives decision making.

Broadly Explore Options

A high level of evaluation of your organization will quickly identify the potential suppliers of the application software required. In almost all cases, there will be a relatively small number of vendors who provide software that meets the needs of an organization. Identification of these vendors can be done through a request for information process ( RFI ), searching the Internet, and contacting colleagues at institutions similar to one's own.

Understand the Vendor

As relationships with application vendors extend far beyond the implementation phase, a strong, open, and trusting relationship is necessary to be able to ensure that implemented software will deliver the expected results to an organization. Because problems will arise, a positive relationship is required to ensure that problems are resolved. A good relationship with a vendor, as exhibited by respectful an honest interactions with all representatives of the organization, unequivocally trumps perceived advantages in features and functionality that might be seen in other products.

Evaluate The Product

The best way to evaluate clinical information technology applications is to actually see them functioning in a real working environment. Unless an organization is working as a development partner with a vendor, various client organizations, comparable to the purchasing institution, should be available to be visited to observe the applications being used by clinical professionals.

Purchasing organizations must budget more than one day to visit these client organizations and see the applications being used at a variety of times during the day. Workloads vary, with morning physician rounds often presenting the greatest demands upon systems because of their high number of new patient orders and the need for patient care documentation. In addition, evening use represents a time when information technology staffing may be low or system maintenance may occur.

Organizations should request that their representatives be allowed to visit patient care areas unencumbered and be able to ask questions of the various users of the applications. The more institutions visited, the better the information that can be collected to evaluate the applications and the vendor.

Understand Pricing

Vendor pricing is greatly influenced by the level of ongoing maintenance payments, the strategic value of the organization to the vendor, and market forces. Therefore, in negotiating products with vendors, be sure to take a very broad and considered view of the products, services, and support being provided.

Cost of ownership includes not only the purchase price of the software but also the ongoing maintenance fee to the vendor and the cost of implementing, deploying, and maintaining the system during its life. Finally, the importance of the quality of the relationship with the vendor cannot be overemphasized, as it will have the greatest impact on the success of implementation and, eventually,clinician adoption.

Secure Adoption

Implementing clinical information technology without broad involvement and support by the clinical staff-requiring focus on all stakeholders, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other health professionals-all but guarantees a failed and wasteful deployment. Clinical information technology systems alone do not fix clinical problems, advance safety, or reduce costs by themselves. These systems provide tools that can be used by clinicians to change how they deliver care. Only with clinician creativity, insight, and experience molding the implementation can new processes deployed with these tools deliver acceptable work flows and generate good outcomes.

If deployment is poor and disruptive, clinicians will create work-arounds to these failing system processes, a development that guarantees medical errors and unacceptable waste. By securing adoption, organizations can be assured of usable systems that are embraced by clinicians and that are able to deliver expected and much-needed clinical and financial outcomes.

Esther Diez is a journalist for Health Insurance Buyer, a health insurance agency that provides specialty type coverages that are usually not covered by insurance. If you would like more information regarding the different products and services covered by Heath Insurance Buyer, please visit the website at and leave your contact information and a licensed agent will respond to your request upon submission.

By Esther Diez

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Saturday, August 06, 2016

Incentives With Healthcare Information Technology Software

The Health Care Industry is focusing on ways to provide better service to patients and cut cost for all entities involved. One of the major pushes for improving the quality and cost of health care has been the movement toward better Health IT.

Health IT is defined as "providing the umbrella framework to describe the comprehensive management of health information and its secure exchange between consumers, providers, government and quality entities, and insurers." The advances in Health Care Information Technology Software aim to improve health care quality, prevent medical errors, reduce cost, decrease paperwork, and more.

The Health Care Industry has made significant strides in their technology with the development of electronic prescribing and electronic medical records (EMR). Electronic Prescribing is the ability to send error-free, accurate, and understandable prescriptions electronically from the provider to the pharmacy. EMR is a computerized history of patient health information. EMR's are housed on health information systems that allow storage, retrieval and manipulation of records by health care providers. These electronic capabilities have proved to assist in the goals of improving health care quality by decreasing medical errors and reducing costs.

Health Insurance providers are expected to see major benefits from the ePrescribing and EMR programs. For instance, Medicare could "save up to $156 million over the five-year course of the program due to avoided adverse drug events." Another area to benefit is doctors. Studies have proved that doctors using ePrescribing software "save about $0.70 per patient per month, which translates to $845,000 annually for each 100,000 insured patients filling prescriptions.

If the direct cost-saving benefits do not entice health care providers enough, they also receive savings through many of the health acts and services currently in place. Incentives are given to those that participate in ePrescribing software and Electronic Medical Records, and in future years penalties will be given to those that do not participate.

Examples of incentives are through the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), the Health Information Technology for Economics and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). They both offer a bonus for those that participate in the electronic medical record and/or the e-prescribing programs.

MIPPA has designed a year by year percent bonus for ePrescribing participants and a year by year penalty for non ePrescribing participants. Starting in 2009, they rewarded 2% and took no penalty. This year (2010) they will also reward 2% and take no penalty. In 2011, MIPPA will reward 1% with still no penalty. In 2012 the penalty begins. They will still reward 1% to participants but will also begin penalizing non participants at 1%. In 2013 the rates move to 0.5% reward and 1.5% penalty. Beyond 2013, those participating in electronic prescribing programs will not receive an incentive but if you choose not to participate you will be hit with a 2% penalty.

The ARRA HITECH incentives deal more with EMR's or EHR's (Electronic Health Records) but also include eprescribing. President Obama signed this act into law in February 2009. Medical professionals who provide Medicare and Medicaid Services as well as EMR's are eligible to receive as much as $44,000 in incentives.

MIPPA and ARRA HITECH are just two examples of the many incentive programs that the government has approved. Health care providers that do not participate in electronic prescribing and electronic health records miss out on these as well as the ROI and cost savings. And, this is just the beginning. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services is continuing to put efforts toward Healthcare Information Technology Software and developments. It is the wave of the future- the sooner you jump on the better.

Dr. First is a provider of electronic prescribing software meeting the MIPPA and ARRA HITECH quality ePrescribing system guidelines. We help providers reach the necessary requirements to receive the incentives they deserve. Check out our website to see the many benefits of our programs.

By Julie Pitts

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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Big Data For Better Healthcare Delivery

How often do you hear Big Data, Mobility, Security and Cloud Computing are rapidly transforming the Healthcare Industry? Well, the answer to this is - often enough to realize that they are important technologies. These omnipresent technologies are opening doors to new possibilities for hospitals, researchers, doctors and patients. Big data is one such technology which has been positioned to be the next big thing. While it has proved to be of value in many ways, one feels the real value of Big Data is yet to be harnessed.

While talking about big data, especially in the healthcare scenario it's important to consider the human side of it. The source and the recipient of benefits for the big data are people. The volume of data generated and gathered is immense and with internet of things it's only going to increase further. This means that in the near future there would be enough data present for healthcare providers to understand their patients and the contexts of their illnesses in more detail.

In an Industry exploding with information and data, how one can go about exploiting big data to reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve patient care? Here are a few elements essential for healthcare to truly capture the value of big data.

Too many sources, #Addfilters: The data collecting community is quite diverse and integration, extraction and then filtering data for the right information is quite challenging. Healthcare providers, payers, employers, disease-management companies, wellness facilities and programs and patients themselves all collect data. Leveraging these diverse datasets, securely linking them and then taking the relevant information from them has the potential to improve the industry.

Good Data, Bad Data: An extension of the relevant information is the quality of data that one gets. The accuracy of the source is important. The more health information being generated by a growing contingency of apps, devices, electronic health records, mHealth sensors and wearables, the broader and stronger the desire for that data becomes. At the same time it is important to understand that the data being collected is as good as the source from where it is harnessed.

Value of good data is in the insights we get: data for the sake of it is not relevant. A good set of data is not useful without the right analysis, and analysis without the appropriate insights is not helpful. An ability to make better predictions and help target interventions to the right patients is one of the ways data is used. These insights help optimize treatments, early detections and identify key areas that will not only help improve the quality of care but also increase efficiency.

There is no doubt that big data has the power and promise to change the Healthcare Industry. Applying the understanding of big data to not only study the larger trends but also to study individual needs is important. With the growing sophistication of technology and the ability to make it easier for people to use it, the real questions which need answering are: Who needs care? How quickly can it be delivered? What are the most cost effective options? The answer to these questions might very well be somewhere in the realms of Big Data.

By Deenanath Sharma

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