500 Health IT Jobs Slated for Atlanta

Cloud-based health IT company athenahealth to ‘deepen its roots’ in the South with new office

ATLANTA | June 27, 2013

AtlantaGeorgia Gov. Nathan Deal and athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush have confirmed the cloud-based EHR company’s plans to expand in Atlanta, something that has been talked about for months.

The fast-growing cloud-based health IT company, headquartered in Watertown, Mass., will invest $10.8 million in the expansion at the Ponce City Market development, and it promises to create 500 new high-paying jobs over five years, the governor said in making the announcing earlier this week.

[See also: athenahealth in growth mode in Atlanta.]

Ponce City Market, the former City Hall East, is a mixed-use project that will include residential units, restaurants and retail in addition to office space. Athenahealth, which will occupy 75,000 square feet, will be the development’s first major office tenant. The company also has operations in Rome, Ga., as well as in Alabama, California, Maine, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas and India.

“Ponce City Market offers athenahealth everything we could ask for in an office space as we deepen our roots in Atlanta and presents us with the opportunity to provide a daily environment that lives up to the work-life aspirations of our company,” Bush said in a news release. “We are building a national health information backbone that will have a revolutionary impact on the cost and quality of healthcare and are increasingly focused on ensuring our teams work in environments that encourage innovation and collaboration and support the important work we do.”

health itAthenahealth, founded in 1997, offers cloud-based services for EHR, practice management and care coordination to more than 40,000 providers nationwide. The company acquired Alpharetta-based Anodyne Health in 2009. In response to its rapid growth and expanding markets in the Southeast, athenahealth will consolidate its Alpharetta workforce of approximately 100 people to its new location at Ponce City Market, and will add 500 additional jobs over the next five years.

[See also: Athenahealth inks $169M real estate deal with Harvard University.]

“Athenahealth is one of the fastest-growing companies in HIT, an exploding industry in which the largest sector is already thriving in Georgia thanks to our robust telecommunications infrastructure and healthcare system, talented workforce and pro-business environment,” said Deal, in a statement. “Athenahealth’s strategic decision to locate here moves us closer to becoming the No. 1 place in the nation to do business.”

HIT is rapidly growing, and spending in the United States is expected to exceed $69 billion over the next six years. Georgia’s HIT sector is the largest in the nation, according to Deal, with more than 225 companies employing approximately 30,000 people.

Posted in Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, ARHQ, Atlanta, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), CIGNA, EHR Cloud, Electronic Health Records, HIT Implementation, HIT PRO, Mobile Health, National Latino Alliance on Health Information Technology, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) | Leave a comment

To Save IT Costs, the Cloud Is the Limit

cloudby Mark Veverka

Cloud computing is exploding and growing faster than a swirling funnel crossing the Oklahoma plains. The next generation of computing lowers information technology costs while increasing corporate profits at the same time. And what’s not to like about that?

That one-two punch was revealed in a study obtained by USA TODAY conducted by England’s Manchester Business School. The study, which was commissioned by San Antonio-based hosting company Rackspace, is expected to be released Wednesday.

The Manchester study indicates that cloud computing allows U.S. businesses to slash information technology costs by about 26 percent. What’s more, 62 percent of those same American companies say that deploying in the cloud improved their bottom lines.

“The results are finally showing what we’ve known all along,” says Rackspace Chief Technology Officer John Engates. “It’s not just about moving workloads from your data center to our data center.”

The rise of cloud computing has much bigger ramifications. It’s a tectonic shift in how we work, live and play. ITunes is in the cloud. Ford’s cars are connected to the cloud. Google’s Gmail is based in the cloud. But those are largely consumer examples; now corporate computing is also shifting to the cloud.

“The move to the cloud can’t happen fast enough for some companies,” says Engates, who has been on the ground floor of the cloud-computing movement.

Cloud computing has myriad definitions, but in the most general sense it means devices linked to data centers located just about anywhere over a combination of wireless and wired networks. There are “private clouds,” where companies own and control the data centers, which are usually centrally located in lower-cost geographies. And then there are “public clouds,” in which companies use computing power delivered from servers they don’t own, which are usually shared with other corporate customers.

Big companies tend to use a combination of private and public clouds, reserving their high-security functions and digital record keeping for the data centers they control. But the growing acceptance of public clouds foreshadows a trend in which computing power will be delivered similarly to the way electricity is distributed by utility companies. In fact, tech geeks refer to the long-term public cloud concept as “utility computing.”

We are a long way from when most companies no longer own servers, or operate so-called on-premise data centers, and rely solely on public clouds. There are a number of reasons, including security concerns, control and reliability. But the Manchester survey suggests that enterprise computer customers are embracing the shift enthusiasti-cally.

In addition to the cost-efficiency of cloud computing, the study found that 68 percent of U.S. firms are plowing the cash they saved back into their businesses. They are using the cost savings to improve and expand product lines, services and other offerings. More than 60 percent of the companies surveyed say they are using the money to hire new employees, give raises and offer bonuses. Employment at the American companies surveyed increased 28 percent.

While existing companies are transitioning to cloud computing at their own pace, start-ups unsurprisingly are totally embracing the change — especially software and social-media concerns and online retail outfits.

More than half of the start-ups surveyed said they wouldn’t have been able to afford on-premise data centers at the time of their launch.

Of course, it is self-serving for a cloud-service provider to hire a study that supports its case, but the numbers are the numbers, and Manchester interviewed some 1,300 compa-nies in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom.

Intel’s general manager of cloud computing, Jason Waxman, isn’t surprised by the findings. Server, storage and networking sales have been booming at the chip giant in recent years. Intel pegs the compounded growth rate for servers at about 25 percent to 30 percent a year based largely on expansion of private and public clouds.

“The more companies can save on computer infrastructure, the more they can spend on infrastructure,” Waxman says. “All of these new opportunities represent a huge build-out.”

Waxman thinks that public cloud providers, including Rackspace, Seattle-based Amazon.com (yes, that Amazon) and San Francisco-based GoGrid, could grow as much as 70 percent a year.

Gartner, the industry research consultant, predicts that the total public cloud market could swell to more than $206 billion in 2016, roughly double what it is now.

Says Intel’s Waxman, “It’s an astronomical opportunity.”

Posted in Cloud Computing, cms, CSC, EHR Cloud, International News, Latino health trend, Latino HIT, LISTA, LISTA Global EHR, LISTA Global EMR, LISTA Global Health IT, Mobile Health, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Florida Practice Catches HHS Attention

bryan_sivakChenMed, a family owned prmary care practice, has developed a delivery model focused on care for seniors with complicated healthcare issues, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and cancer. More than 70 percent of its patients have five or more chronic conditions, according to Bryan Sivak, chief technology officer of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Sivak visited ChenMed, based in southern Florida and now expanding in the Southeast, because it is an example of an innovative care model that improves patient care and makes its delivery more efficient.

Christopher Chen, MD, CEO, demonstrated how ChenMed’s uses of data are guiding clinical staff on decision-making from the moment the patient walks through the door, Sivak wrote in a Jan. 28 blog.

Dashboards, clinical decision support tools, automated reminders, in-house pharmacy and drug utilization tracking systems are part of every care encounter. “Overseeing the operations is an ‘air-traffic control’ center that monitors the flow of patient services, measures patient experiences, and guides management decision-making in real-time through each office visit,” he said.

[See also: New primary care model in the making in New Orleans.]

ChenMed’s performance is tracked at multiple levels, including patient satisfaction and disease quality measure performance, such as hospitalization rates and hemoglobin A1C levels at a practice level for diabetes care effectiveness.

Chen explained that his performance-based care model required ChenMed to build its own IT system to accommodate the types of practice it uses to engage  patients in a non-fee-for-service based model.

As Sivak sees it, ChenMed is an example of how data-driven healthcare is changing outcomes, and innovation is occurring on the front lines in America’s primary healthcare.

“We need to advocate for policies and innovators that test new approaches and gain insights in quantitative ways to improve the outcomes of all patients,” Sivak said.

HHS agencies provide data sets, which are machine-readable and downloadable, from its vaults at Healthdata.gov for researchers and developers to use to create applications, products and services to improve healthcare, HHS also provides examples of how innovators, such as ChenMed,  are using data to boost patient care. The Health Data Initiative is part of the Obama administration’s Open Data Initiative.

[See also:Feds should integrate primary care and public health, IOM report says.]

To further open up its data, the administration has created an online showcase, a first-draft release, which highlights selected Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private sector entrepreneurs to benefit people. Over time, it will grow and evolve to help catalyze future improvements to the design, content, and infrastructure of Data.gov, according to Danny Chapman, Ryan Panchadsaram, and John Paul Farmer, Presidential Innovation Fellows who developed the experimental site.

Posted in International News, Latino health trend, Latino HIT, LISTA, LISTA Global EHR, LISTA Global EMR, LISTA Global Health IT, telehealth, telemedicine | Leave a comment


Louis_Burns-CEO intelIn advance of the iHT2 Health IT Summit in PhoenixLouis Burns, CEO, Intel – GE Care Innovations joined the iHT2 Education Department to discuss Accountable Care Organizations, Remote Care Management, his upcoming keynote presentation taking place at the Summit.

One of Care-Innovations’ goals is to create technology solutions that enable people to live more independently. What solutions currently hold the most promise to play a pivotal role in reducing cost?
At its core, technology should power people and organizations to live and operate with confidence.  For patients and caregivers, this means giving them the tools not only to understand their health conditions, but also to enable behavior change – that’s what will really reduce costs.  Intel and Care Innovations have led quite a bit of research on this topic, finding that simple concepts like linking short-term efforts with long-term gains and giving feedback visually can help people make major changes in their health.  Remote care management through technology is one truly effective way to deliver this type of information.  Because providers must remember, technology can’t just be about gathering important information from the patient – it must be about changing how that patient operates on a daily basis.

What are the two most pressing challenges facing Intel-GE Care Innovations customers and how are you working to overcome these hurdles?
We all know that changes in business processes are difficult – but it seems even more so in a regulated industry like healthcare.  That is our #1 challenge.  A second, related challenge is providers’ hesitation to just pull the trigger and try something new for their organization, even when it’s been proven to work time and time again.  To combat these issues, we’ve developed a strong consultancy and services organization so that we can take providers through the entire process, from evaluating the type of solution they need to upgrading their business processes to implementing a full program.

There is a tremendous amount of focus on ACOs and their potential to reduce cost and improve quality. What other care delivery/business models can potentially accomplish this as well?
Care coordination through models like the ACO are hugely important, but there’s one other piece that should be called out: any integrated care approach MUST incorporate the home environment.  Delivering care in a person’s home is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a financial necessity, as well as a medical, staffing, and social necessity.  There are many business models that can enable home care; for example, it could be a payer-directed program to provide flexible care in the home with the aim of reducing costly hospital visits, or it could be a hospital-directed post-discharge program to help avoid the 30-day readmission penalties.

You will be delivering the opening keynote presentation at the upcoming iHT2 Health IT Summit in Phoenix, what can attendees of the program expect to take away from your presentation?
Attendees will learn the three core elements of business innovation and how to apply them to their own organizations.  I spent most of my career at Intel, which had a very measured, strategic approach to innovation, and I believe that any business can make innovation a reality with the right approach.  I’ll talk about these steps to innovative business models, give some examples of how to apply them to healthcare, and also explore some of the most disruptive forces happening in the healthcare business today.

As we enter 2013, what are the 2-3 most important areas providers should be focused on over the next 12 months.
1. Providers are already seeing the Affordable Care Act affecting their businesses.  But they must start thinking about how changing their care models can make them successful in the post-reform landscape, instead of just focusing on avoiding penalties.  Change is a reality, and it can also be an impetus to success with the right innovations.

2. Providers must also start thinking about how to reengineer their businesses.  The healthcare provider of today may very well be extinct in five years unless they make massive changes to their business models.  It’s time to start flipping their thinking; the hospital cannot continue being the center of care.  We must start broadening our thoughts about where care is delivered.

3. Perhaps there’s only a single question that providers should ask themselves.  With the landscape changing so dramatically, as a provider, do you want to lead – or to follow and be left behind?  Answering that question should be the #1 priority for 2013.

Posted in HIT Implementation, INTEL, International News, Latino HIT, LISTA, LISTA Global EHR, LISTA Global EMR, LISTA Global Health IT, Microsoft, National Latino Alliance on Health Information Technology | Leave a comment

AMA: Stage 3 Proposals Problematic on Many Levels

ama_logoThe government is setting the bar too high under early proposals for Stage 3 electronic health records meaningful use criteria, and the requirements simply aren’t fair to physicians who seek to comply and fall just short, the American Medical Association contends.

In comments on proposed criteria from the HIT Policy Committee, the AMA argues that meaningful use measures should be reasonable and achievable yet still have a meaningful impact. That’s not the case with early iterations of Stage 3, the association contends. It notes that Stage 3 could nearly double the number of measures to comply with meaningful use, and 100 percent compliance is needed to pass.

More flexibility and fairness are needed, the AMA says. “Failing to meet just one measure by one percent would make a physician ineligible for incentives and face the same financial penalties during the penalty phase as those physicians who make no effort to adopt EHRs,” the association states in its comment letter.

AHA recommends eliminating the regulatory requirement to meet all measures to successfully achieve meaningful use, and having physicians only have to meet 10 of the core/menu set of measures during the years that penalties are in effect in order to avoid a penalty. Other recommendations include:

* A one-size-fits-all mindset for most measures needs changing so that program requirements are appropriate and flexible for physicians of different specialties,

* An independent evaluation of the meaningful use progress is necessary to improve and inform the future of the program,

* Physician usability of certified EHRs should be addressed during the EHR certification process, and

* Health information technology infrastructure barriers that do not enable physicians to readily share patient data securely should be resolved.

The AMA comment letter on early Stage 3 proposals is available here.

Posted in EHR Cloud, Electronic Health Records, EMR Cloud, HIT PRO, International News, Latino health trend, Latino HIT, LISTA, LISTA Global EHR, LISTA Global EMR, LISTA Global Health IT, mHealth, Mobile Health, National Latino Alliance on Health Information Technology, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) | Leave a comment

Black Market Pharmacies And The Big Business Of Spam

turkishaccutaneAn apparent feud between two black market pharmacies has shed light on a shady global industry.

“Rx-Promotion and SpamIt probably are responsible for upward of 50 or 60 percent of spam that you and I got in our inboxes over the last five years,” said Brian Krebs, a cyber-security reporter who chronicled the alleged feud on his website. “It’s just a ridiculous amount of problems that these two guys cause for everybody.”

As part of a dispute between the pharmacies’ owners, the digital files of both companies — once two of the largest black market pharmacies in the world — were hacked and ended up in Krebs’ hands.

“We’re talking about the contact information, the bank account information, the email addresses, phone numbers, sometimes passport information for many of the biggest spammers in the planet,” said Krebs. “Not only that, but all the personal information of all the people who ever bought pills through these spam sites over four years.”

This information offered a unique look at an industry that’s typically shrouded in secrecy. Overwhelmed by the amount of information, Krebs shared the data with academic researchers, including Stefan Savage, a professor of computer science and engineering and University of California, San Diego.

Savage used this data to analyze the industry’s business model and co-wrote aresearch paper this summer with his findings.

At the center of these operations are these international pharmacies, often in countries like Russia.

Because these sites operate in the black market, selling prescription drugs without prescriptions, they’ve historically turned to spam and other shady advertising practices to get the word out about their medications.

“We wouldn’t call what they’re doing legitimate; it’s illegal in this country,” said Savage. “But the fundamental practice is, they are trying to advertise this product.”

The spammers are typically independent contractors paid on commission by the pharmacy for the sales they generate — something like 30 or 40 percent of the purchase price.

But once a customer goes to the pharmacy site and chooses his or her drug of choice, the pharmacy takes over. It finds someone to process the credit card payment, which is difficult given the nature of the transaction. Then, it has to get the drugs to the customer.

“They don’t actually typically warehouse any drugs themselves,” Savage said. “So they’ll contract with third parties who have access, usually, to generic drug manufacturing in India and China.”

In the course of Savage’s research, he and his team placed over 800 test orders and typically received their chosen medications in a timely fashion.

“We’ve maybe only had one time where we didn’t get anything,” said Savage. They tested some of the drugs they received, and all had the proper amount of the active ingredient.

Savage says the vast majority of customers are ordering erectile dysfunction drugs. Others order painkillers or stimulants for recreational use. But up to 15 percent of orders come from people seeking medications to treat chronic health conditions, likely because they can’t afford to purchase them through legal avenues.

Dave Keck turned to an online pharmacy when he was dropped from his parents’ insurance and decided his acne needed prescription-strength help from a medication called Accutane. He researched different international pharmacies and chose one in Latvia that didn’t require a prescription.

“I called Walgreens, and they said it was going to be about $600 for a month’s supply of what I researched is what I should take,” said Keck. “And on this online pharmacy, I think it was like $40 for the same amount, so that was a no-brainer.”

Keck knew the risks, both of taking a very strong anti-acne drug without a doctor’s supervision and of ordering drugs from abroad. It’s technically illegal in the U.S., and he worried it might be a scam. But he decided to place an order. He watched his credit card for extra charges, and then three weeks later he received a padded yellow envelope from Turkey.

“What I got from this pharmacy was in kind of a binder,” said Keck. “And they included one [box] of the actual medicine, but the rest was taped down to the inside of this binder. It looked pretty suspicious.”

But the pills were all in sealed blister packs with branding that looked more legitimate, though the writing was in Turkish. Keck decided to try taking the medication. He figured it was either real Accutane or a sugar pill.

“After I’d taken it for about a week, I was 100 percent sure it was the real deal, just based on the side effects,” said Keck.

His skin dried up, his lips got really chapped, and his acne went away.

Not all online pharmacies operate in the black market; the Food and Drug Administration says Americans should only order from sites that are licensed and located in the U.S. Otherwise, there may not be proper oversight or quality control on these medications. And if these drugs wind up making customers sicker in the long run, it’s actually not such a bargain.

Posted in HIT PRO, International News, Latino health trend, Latino HIT, LISTA, LISTA Global EHR, LISTA Global EMR, LISTA Global Health IT, mHealth, Mobile Health, National Latino Alliance on Health Information Technology, telehealth, telemedicine, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Health IT Policy Committee Meeting: The Year Ahead and a Glimpse at Stage 4 of Meaningful Use

farzad_smAt the Jan. 8 Health IT Policy Committee meeting, Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health IT, and Paul Tang, M.D., vice chair of the committee, outlined some priorities for the year ahead, including a glimpse of what Stage 4 of meaningful use might address.

Stage 1 of meaningful use was defined as getting data structured; Stage 2 about getting it where it is needed in the health system; Stage 3 is about measuring and improving outcomes. “You might think of Stage 4 as moving toward the learning health system,” Tang said, “for both professionals and patients, so that we make better and better use of data.” That includes how to incorporate patient-generated data, shared care plans and observations of daily living and encouraging the active participation of patients in their care as well as support of continuous learning for healthcare professionals. “It’s a big lift and we have to start thinking about it,” Tang added.

Mostashari put ONC’s work for 2013 and 2014 into three buckets.

The first is continuing to work on the meaningful improvement of the implementations and optimization of tools already in place. “How do we optimize the design of our technology and implementation of meaningful use to become a health system of learners?” he asked. “It will involve the triad of population health, decision support, and quality measurement, including dashboards and registries.”

The second area involves meaningful interoperability and exchange of data. ONC will continue to focus on getting the building blocks in place for HIEs and overcoming technology and policy challenges.  It will also take into account the emerging business needs of the healthcare partners and look at policy levers in conjunction with payers and providers to “help improve and increase the business case to exchange data rather than hold it in silos.”

The third area of focus is consumerism in healthcare. ONC will look at enabling consumers’ access to their own medical records as well as the ability to take action on that data, he said. This will also require paying attention to the accompanying shift in providers’ attitudes as consumers become partners. As ONC focuses on all three of these areas, Mostashari added, it must be vigilant about fostering innovation and maintaining a vibrant marketplace in technology.

The meaningful use workgroup will make its Stage 3 draft recommendations in the first quarter of this year and its final recommendations in the second quarter. From the Policy Committee meeting’s Powerpoint slides, here are the detailed areas of focus ONC’s work groups intend to address in 2013:

Meaningful use

• Meaningful Use of HIT to support health and healthcare

• Recommendations to HHS about MU3 objectives, criteria, and clinical quality measures

• Preparing for MU4 – towards a learning health system

• Creating a shared health record

• Patient-generated data

• Shared decision making

• Clinical documentation

• Safety-enhanced design of EHRs

Measuring clinical quality

• Facilitating supply of de novo quality “measures that matter” to leverage clinical data from EHRs and PHRs

• Facilitating incorporation of flexible platforms for measuring and reporting QMs in HIT systems

• Role of data intermediaries and their sustainability

• “Near real time” clinical quality dashboards for practitioners

• Connections to clinical decision support – drivers and feedback

Health information exchange

• State of the field and best practices

• Role of HIE in new payment models

• Facilitating greater exchange across organizational and geographic boundaries through policy and certification levers and standards development

• Governance models and principles to facilitate HIE

EHR safety

• Safety Plan Review

• ONC HIT Safety Action and Surveillance Plan

• Leveraging MU and certification to improve safe use of EHRs

• Other ONC activities to improve safety

Privacy areas

• Patient identities in cyberspace

• Consent and control of information in automated query/response exchanges

• Challenges of implementing minors’ rights in cyberspace

• Personal representatives

• Cloud computing

• Right of access in electronic world

• Patient-generated data

Consumer empowerment

• Managing and using patient data

• Blue button – ongoing access

• Combining and sharing data from multiple sources

• Data overload – for patients and providers

• Reconciliation of data

• Protecting downloaded patient data

• Shared decision-making.

New models of care

• Accountable care.

• Supporting population management

• Longitudinal data and shared care plans across the continuum, including wellness

• Supporting new payment models

• Medicare Shared Saving Program requirements

Emerging areas

• API for innovation

• Quality Improvement Plan Review

• Supporting Patient-Centered Outcomes Research and PCORI

• Meaningful use support of continuous learning for healthcare professionals (e.g., Maintenance of Certification).

• Leveraging “big data”

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$400 Million Broadband Allocation Planned

Genachowski_Julius_2012.ashxExpanding patient access to medical specialists is the goal of a new, permanent $400 million annual allocation to promote or develop high-speed communications links to rural providers.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made the announcement Wednesday at 190-bed Oakland (Calif.) Children’s Hospital & Research Center.The FCC program, its new Healthcare Connect Fund, will encourage the use of broadband telecommunications technology “to support modern telemedicine, which will link urban centers to rural clinics or provide instant access to health records,” according to a news release.

The new program “builds on the success on the FCC’s Rural Healthcare pilot program,” begun in 2006. There are now 50 active pilot programs nationwide, according to the FCC, including the California Telehealth Network, which includes Oakland Children’s Hospital as a participant.

“The Healthcare Connect Fund is expected to bring thousands of new providers across the country into the program and allow thousands more to upgrade their connections,” according to the FCC statement. Lessons learned from those pilots “could cut the cost of robust broadband healthcare networks in half through group purchases by consortia and other efficiencies.”

Key aims are to afford patients at rural hospitals and clinics access to specialists at major healthcare centers via telemedicine as well as provide support for the exchange of electronic health records through funding for broadband connectivity and networks.

The fund will “provide a 65% discount on broadband services, equipment, connections to research and education networks,” and healthcare provider-constructed and owned facilities, if they are shown to be the most cost-effective connectivity option.

The federal agency will begin accepting applications for the project this summer.

Also, the FCC announced it will launch in 2014 a new three-year $50 million-a-year skilled-nursing-facilities pilot program to learn how to best support broadband connectivity to those facilities.

In America’s hinterlands, broadband service remains “very sporadic,” said Brock Slabach, senior vice president of member services for the National Rural Health Association. “You’ll have some rural communities that are well connected, and then some others where you only have DSL.”

Slabach credits the FCC with doing its homework on “a very thorough and a very well done set of rulemaking.”

Under the new program, rural healthcare consortia can develop their own broadband networks— with significant federal subsidies, paying up to 65% of the up-front build-out, hardware and software costs— if they can demonstrate their home-grown networks are competitive with private-sector broadband service providers, he said.

For existing consortia, he said, “planning should begin as soon as possible.” Bids for eligible services can be submitted as early as April 1 and funding can be provided as early as July 1, he said. For new consortia, network formation and planning “should begin as quickly as possible,” Slabach said, but competitive bidding won’t begin until July 1 and payments won’t be made until Jan 1, 2014.

“We’ll see what some of the unintended consequences are rolling this out, but for now, FCC did a lot of outreach,” he said. “We had a lot of time for comment and recommendation to FCC on how to structure the program. It took them a while. It seemed like it was never coming, but maybe the wait was worth it. I think this should really provide the opportunity for all of rural America to take advantage wit what has been going on with these pilot programs.”

Posted in Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, CIGNA, Cloud Computing, Electronic Health Records, EMR Cloud, HIT Implementation, HIT PRO, International News, Latino HIT, LISTA, LISTA Global EHR, LISTA Global EMR, LISTA Global Health IT, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), Uncategorized, UnitedHealth | Leave a comment

ONC Town Halls to Cover HIE Governance Issues

imagesOfficials of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will hold Web-based Town Hall meetings on January 17 and February 24 to hear from stakeholders on how best to govern health information exchange initiatives.

ONC in May 2012 issued a request for information as it sought to establish a governance mechanism for the emerging nationwide health information network. But stakeholders reacted with concern, warning the agency that the vary act of beginning a regulatory process could slow development of HIEs. For instance, the eHealth Initiative Coalition worried that ONC was getting ready to overregulate an activity—information exchange–that was still evolving.

Consequently, ONC in September backed away, saying it would not pursue formal rulemaking at that time. In December, the agency announced theavailability of grants, with a Feb. 14 application deadline, to encourage continued development and dissemination of HIE best practices.

Now, ONC through the Web-based Town Halls will seek additional industry input on advancing HIE governance goals. Participation is free but registration is required. More information is available here.

Posted in International News, Latino health trend, Latino HIT, LISTA, LISTA Global EHR, LISTA Global EMR, LISTA Global Health IT, meaningful use, Mobile Health, National Latino Alliance on Health Information Technology, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), onc | Leave a comment

Teladoc, HealthSpot Team on Telehealth

Teladoc_LogoTeladoc, which bills itself as the nation’s first and largest telehealth provider, announced a new strategic partnership with technology company HealthSpot. The initiative, executives say, will enhance Teladoc’s solution with the ability to offer an on-site option through HealthSpot’s telehealth system, which provides medical diagnostic technology in a private, walk-in kiosk: the HealthSpot Station.

Executives announced the partnership Jan. 9 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“Teladoc’s focus is on providing options for customers to access non-emergency, primary care and HealthSpot is a great complement to our current suite of solutions,” said Jason Gorevic, CEO of Teladoc. “Patients’ lives have become increasingly busy and the HealthSpot Station provides our members with one more choice in how they interact with a physician – via a physical kiosk, along with our current telephone or secure video options. This offering will accelerate our vision of transforming healthcare by providing patients with access to affordable, high-quality care when, where and how they want.”

[See also: TelaDoc eyes growth with new money in hand.]

The partnership, reached in principal and subject to negotiating and executing a definitive agreement, will expand Teladoc’s current telehealth solution with another access point of care for employers, health plans, health systems and patients.

The HealthSpot Station is an 8-foot by 5-foot, ADA accessible, fully-enclosed kiosk furnished with a touch screen, audio system, and a two-way high-definition screen that includes multiple high-tech, digital biometric devices that transmits information to doctors through a secured HIPAA-compliant connection.

“Partnering with Teladoc has proven invaluable to furthering HealthSpot’s mission,” said Steve Cashman, founder and CEO of HealthSpot. “With the HealthSpot Station adding a new platform for Teladoc’s vast network of state licensed, board-certified providers, we are able to extend the reach of care to patients who cannot access the care they require in a timely fashion. This creates an incredible opportunity by presenting an innovative solution to combat barriers to broad adoption of telehealth.”

[See also: Aetna members now have access to telehealth consultations.]

Teladoc’s service may be used when a patient is unable to visit their doctor, such as after office hours, and is not a replacement for their primary care physician, Gorevic said. Through the service, patients may receive treatment for non-emergency medical issues, such as allergies, bronchitis, pink eye, sinus problems, ear infection for adults and children and other conditions. Physicians may also write short-term prescriptions for non-controlled substances if medically appropriate.

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