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  • 20 Mar 2017 10:53 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    Retrieved from Becker's Health IT and CIO Review  
    Written by Jessica Kim Cohen | March 16, 2017 

    David Reis, CIO of Burlington, Mass.-based Lahey Health, has seen digital tools transform three separate industries — including healthcare.

    He started his career in IT in the 1990s and spent about 10 years working in retail banking. Mr. Reis noticed how the internet revamped retail banking into a more consumer-driven industry, where clients came to expect on-demand service.

    "It was really neat, because that was the beginning of the 'dot com' era," Mr. Reis says. "When I started in retail banking, we didn't have internet banking. When I left, over 99 percent of all transactions done at our institution were done through it."

    In the late 2000s, he transitioned into higher education — around the same time online education entered mainstream conversation. "I saw the same thing play out in higher ed that had played out in retail banking," he explains.

    For the last decade, Mr. Reis has worked in healthcare, where he has seen a similar trend.

    "I'm seeing the exact same thing play out, now for a third time, in a third different industry," he says. "We're moving from the traditional delivery of healthcare on paper records in the four walls of the doctor's office, to an environment where care is requested and delivered in more digital ways."

    Mr. Reis recently spoke with Becker's Hospital Review about how data analytics and platform technology will continue to transform patient care.

    Note: Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

    Question: In the 10 years you've worked as a healthcare CIO, how has the IT landscape changed?

    David Reis: At the macro level, we now capture a lot of electronic data about patients, and we use a lot of electronic data about patients to make care decisions. I think that is something that's very, very different today than it was 10 years ago. Now, when we think about a traditional encounter, there's likely some kind of electronic device with the provider, and with the patient. As a provider talks about the concerns of the patient, they can pull up test results and images, electronically, in real-time.

    We're also seeing the ability to deliver care outside the four walls of the hospital, moving to when it's convenient for the patient or when the patient needs it. As an example, within the last year, we've seen that Lahey Health has exchanged patient information in 49 of the 50 states. That means our patient population has gotten care in 49 of the 50 states, and that's all enabled by technology and connected platforms. We're now starting to see the value of these platforms that integrate data, so we can use our data to make real-time decisions.

    Q: In the past, you've written about how platform technologies can help healthcare organizations integrate data from disparate data sources. Can you speak to that?

    DR: That's become a key focus for us at Lahey Health — making sure we don't just have silos of data spread across various systems. We want to make patient data as widely available as possible, to the right care teams and treatment teams. Platform technologies help us make that patient data easier to access, and, at the same time, increase security of access. The more we digitize patient information, the more we have to be concerned about securing it.

    Q: Looking into the rest of 2017, what are some of your main goals for Lahey Health?

    DR: Our big goal for 2017 is to drive the adoption of our secure text messaging product throughout the inpatient environment, because we think it makes it easier to deliver more efficient care. It reduces the time it takes for two members of a care team to talk about a patient.

    There's also a lot of talk in the industry about secure text messaging between members of a treatment team on the inpatient side, and members of the care team on the outpatient side.

    Within our large healthcare organization, we see how it can be difficult to know who to text about what. We have been able to integrate our patient census with AirStrip's secure text messaging platform, in a way that allows any member of a patient's treatment team to use the AirStrip app to go into their patient list, see other members of their care team and then send a text message, in context, about that patient. That's very different than the traditional forms of text messaging.

    Lahey Health, across its ambulatory and inpatient environments, also just reached the HIMSS 6 EHR adoption level. We're very proud of that, because it means we've really digitized the entire patient record. We want to go ahead and achieve the HIMSS 7 designation.

    Q: What are some of your other interests or hobbies, outside of IT?

    DR: I am a rabid college football fan, so I love Penn State football. I'm also a lifelong fan of Formula 1 auto racing, and Ferrari tends to be my favorite Formula 1 team.

    I've increasingly gotten very interested in digital photography with mirrorless cameras, too. I tend to gravitate toward landscape photography, and more specifically around vegetation — flowers, trees, broader landscapes.

    © Copyright ASC COMMUNICATIONS 2017. 

  • 16 Mar 2017 9:28 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    Retrieved from Yahoo Finance, February 16, 2017 

    Harvard Pilgrim Health Care now offers physicians Data Diagnostics®, a point-of-care health analytics technology from Quest Diagnostics and Inovalon that is designed to help close costly gaps in care and  improve health outcomes.

    Accessible through a physician’s existing electronic health record (EHR), Data Diagnostics produces patient-specific reports, often in seconds, that help inform clinical decisions, diagnostic coding and other actions that affect quality of care and reimbursement. Physicians can order these reports in real time through their EHR for eligible Harvard Pilgrim patients in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. No new technology, and minimal training, is required to order reports for patients.

     Harvard Pilgrim is committed to providing tools that support physician’s access to relevant data within the physicians current workflow. Data Diagnostics gives physicians the ability to order and access reports in real time in their existing workflow. The reports employ the EHR’s existing data on the patient as well as patient-specific information from Quest’s 20 billion lab test results and Inovalon’s 139 million unique patients within their MORE2 Registry clinical datasets.

     “One of Harvard Pilgrim’s goals is to empower our physicians to succeed under value-based care and innovative risk-sharing models,” said Gaurish Chandrashekhar, Director of Revenue Management, Harvard Pilgrim. “We believe Data Diagnostics may help enable this transition by supporting accurate clinical documentation, which is vital to risk accuracy and appropriate reimbursement, as well as improved quality. We expect this tool will strengthen our relationships with physicians while simultaneously improving provider-patient interactions, which is a win-win scenario.”

     Proper coding of a patient’s care supports high quality care as well as reimbursement under value-based care models that tie compensation to quality and outcomes rather than individual medical services.

     “The shift from volume to value is all about providing better care,” said David Freeman, general manager, information ventures, Quest Diagnostics. “Harvard Pilgrim has a track record of innovation in health care, and recognizes that good care and cost efficiency often go hand in hand. We look forward to providing Data Diagnostics and its actionable insights to Harvard Pilgrim-serving physicians to aid the delivery of quality care for patients.”

    Read the full Press release here. 


  • 07 Mar 2017 1:14 PM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    Retrieved from clinical-innovation.com  |  March 3, 2017  |  by John Gregory

    McKesson Technology Solutions has merged with Change Healthcare, retaining the latter's name for a new IT company aimed at helping payers, providers and customers " as they strive to achieve the best healthcare outcomes as efficiently as possible in this new environment."

    "We are thrilled to have completed this combination of two great organizations. Our nearly 15,000 team members will be working with our collective customers and partners to provide a stronger, increasingly collaborative and more efficient healthcare system that enables better healthcare outcomes,” said Neil de Crescenzo, who will retain his role as Change’s CEO in the new company. “I’m confident that Change Healthcare’s expertise and comprehensive offering of solutions will not only deliver near- and long-term value for our customers and partners, but also help drive the journey toward improved lives and healthier communities.”

    First announced in June 2016, the merger unites “the majority” of McKesson Technology Solutions with substantially all of Change.

    Among those joining de Crescenzo in the C-suite will be CFO Randy Giles, who has been with Change since 2014 and held the same position at Coventry Healthcare. Those transferring to the new company from McKesson include Rod O’Reilly as president of software and analytics, Erkan Akyuz as president of imaging, workflow and care solutions, and Pat Leonard, president of technology-enabled services.

    McKesson will have a 70 percent stake in the new company and it will be jointly governed by McKesson and Change shareholders.

    “Today marks an exciting step forward to achieve enhanced benefits for our customers, employees and stockholders,” said John Hammergren, Change Healthcare chairman, as well as chairman and CEO of McKesson “I want to thank all of the employees who made today possible and who will continue the important work of building an industry-leading company that will help make the vision of value-based care a reality for payers, providers and consumers.” 

    The press release said integration activities begun last June will now accelerate. The end result, according to de Crescenzo, will be a company which can “inspire a better healthcare system through a broad set of complementary capabilities that will deliver wide-ranging financial, operational and clinical benefits to payers, providers and consumers.” 

    The changes may include a move. According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, the company is considering relocating its headquarters to the Atlanta area from Nashville. 


  • 09 Jan 2017 8:48 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    Qlik, a leader in visual analytics, today announced it has acquired the Swedish company Idevio, a provider of geographical-related software and services.

    This acquisition extends Qlik’s current mapping capabilities, and enables support for a broad range of advanced geoanalytic use cases. In apps where businesses need comprehensive geospatial information, Idevio enables Qlik Sense and QlikView users to add maps to their apps with automatic geo-data lookup.

    Users can also use Idevio’s GeoAnalytics cloud-based service to analyze geo-data in combination with non-geo data for use cases such as determining potential store locations, understanding customer distribution of sales by zip code, or calculating supply chain delivery times.

    "Emerging technology such as The Internet of Things is – and will – produce an enormous amount of location-referenced data. Even as it gains a stronger foothold within our customer base, there is still a challenge to extract and use all that location-based data," said Anthony Deighton, Qlik CTO and SVP of Products.

    "We want to be that partner that helps them analyze their geospatial data, and Idevio fits perfectly within our product portfolio. We are acquiring complementary technology that will enhance the value we provide to our customers as we further develop and bring to market these solutions."

    For more information, please contact Qlik.

  • 08 Nov 2016 10:22 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Health has released a Data Brief reporting on the continued rise of Opiod-related overdoses in the state.  While opiod prescriptions and heroin use are down, fentanyl use is rising.

    Read the full Data Brief: Opioid-related Overdose Deaths Among Massachusetts Residents (published November 2016)

    Visit the Massachusetts DPH Opiod Initiative page here.


  • 08 Nov 2016 8:27 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    Proposed Mass HIway Regulations

    On Friday, November 4, 2016 the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) posted a newly proposed regulation specific to health information technology and the state-sponsored Health Information Exchange, the Mass HIway. The proposed regulation covers policy and procedures that affect use of the Mass HIway and the required adoption of interoperable electronic health records.

    The main purpose of the regulation is to define the entities and individuals who are required to connect to the Mass HIway and establish the timeline in which they are required to connect. It further describes the penalties for noncompliance and a mechanism for patients to opt-in or opt-out of the Mass HIway.

    View the Proposed Regulation here.

    The proposed regulation, along with other information, is posted on the HHS Public Hearings and Public Notices Website. The next steps are:

    For more info regarding the Mass HIway, contact masshiway@state.ma.us.


  • 18 Oct 2016 11:14 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    Lahey Clinic Performance Network has the following Healthcare Analyst position available.

    Under the general supervision of the Director, Data Performance and Analytics, the Healthcare Analyst is responsible for understanding the various data sources behind organization?s population and learns how to effectively and accurately use these sources to produce meaningful cost and utilization summaries. Produces analyses that answer questions about most pressing healthcare needs and occasionally assists care management with the management of the riskiest patients within the populations. Assures, by data testing, the quality and accuracy of LCPN?s claims and EMR data warehouse. Understands data complexity and requirements to produce analyses for various cross-departmental stakeholders from Lahey Health that answer questions to the most pressing healthcare needs. Responsible for developing reports for upper-level management, and preparing monthly reporting packages. May be asked to develop enhanced reports for the organization. May work under the supervision of the Senior Healthcare Analyst.

    Compiles medical and pharmacy related information via the use of computer-based applications which is then used to understand the current trends and drivers in the health care system and to make well-informed decisions about performance improvements of the plan and care management of the patients. Supports care managers in providing better care to the patients. Participates in setting definitions and efficient ways to analyze various healthcare concepts, compares medical expenses to budgets, and assists in finding data related efficiencies. Handles the data with confidentiality especially around PHI and sensitive information.

    Visit Lahey's site for more information and to apply for this position.


  • 23 Sep 2016 10:21 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    MassPAT: New, simplified Rx database

    Retrieved from the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety
    September 23, 2016

    When one of his primary care patients called in recently seeking a pain prescription, Dr. Alain Chaoui was not surprised. The family practitioner from Peabody had referred the patient for surgery a few weeks earlier.

    But when Chaoui checked the person’s records through the Massachusetts Prescription Awareness Tool (or MassPAT), the state’s new prescription monitoring database, he learned within seconds that the surgeon had already prescribed oxycodone to his patient.

    Under state law, doctors must avoid writing overlapping opioid prescriptions. 

    “This was not a patient who was ‘doctor-shopping,’ ” Chaoui explained, using the term for narcotic-dependent patients who hop from doctor to doctor seeking opioid prescriptions. “He had just used up his first set of pills, and it was easier to call his usual provider than go back down to Boston for a refill.”

    Chaoui asked his patient to call the surgeon directly, and also sent his colleague a message. He received a thank-you back. “The surgeon said he prefers to handle post-op pain himself so he can make sure the patient is tapered off the drug,” Chaoui said.

    While hardly dramatic, the story illustrates why the state’s revamped prescription monitoring program, rolled out by the Department of Public Health (DPH) last month with the backing of physicians, pharmacists, and other health care providers, is vital to patient safety.

    Research is clear that over-prescribing opioids (and other Schedule II through V controlled substances, including stimulants and sedatives) can lead to addiction, overdoses, and death. So besides helping doctors identify opioid-dependent individuals and direct them to treatment, the new system prevents ordinary patients from falling into the addiction trap.

    “We know that safe prescribing practices must be part of a multidimensional response to this public health crisis,” said Monica Bharel, commissioner of DPH.  “As we address the stark reality of losing four Massachusetts residents per day to the opioid epidemic, we must support evidence-based, innovative approaches like the improved MassPAT system to reverse this deadly trend.”

    Public-private partnership

    It is fair to say that health care providers and state regulators do not routinely agree on oversight measures. When prescription monitoring programs were first introduced by states like Massachusetts more than a decade ago, many physicians and medical groups balked at the idea that government was monitoring their prescribing practices. Since then, the discussion has moved from whether to do it to how to do it well.

    Launched on Aug. 22, the MassPAT system has the distinction of being a government project that was born of intense public-private cooperation, was ready on time, and has gotten positive reviews from stakeholders. It’s an outcome worth emulating in the field of patient safety and error reduction. So how did it happen?

    MassPAT fulfills a goal laid down about a year ago when Gov. Charlie Baker’s Opioid Working Group called for an overhaul of the state’s existing Prescription Monitoring Program, or PMP, which was faulted for being slow and complex and plagued by inaccurate and outdated data.

    Tasked with fixing it, the DPH’s Bureau of Healthcare Safety and Quality, led by its director, Eric Sheehan, called together representatives from the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Hospital Association, pharmaceutical trade organizations, the Attorney General’s office, and others, for advice and support.

    “We were impressed that the state was so clearly ready to invest the resources and personnel required ensure that the transition to the new enhanced program was seamless for all stakeholders,” said Patrick Huntington of the Massachusetts Chain Pharmacy Council, which made dozens of volunteer testers available to ensure that the new tool functioned in a business setting.

    “It’s no longer a clunky system that takes a long time to connect to or get information,” he said. “It’s now very efficient and easy to use.”

    Under a tight deadline, the DPH and its partners set out to create a system that offered:

    • Simple sign-in and easy navigation, while providing far quicker search results.

    • Nearly real-time prescription information (to prevent patients from “doctor shopping,” which was possible under the older system which was slow to update).

    • Shared data with a growing U.S. network of state-based prescription monitoring programs.

    • Easy enrollment procedures for prescribers and their “delegates” – staff members who could input patient data, helping busy practices cope with the workload.

    The first decision was hiring an experienced vendor who could collaborate with DPH and state Information Technology (IT) officials to launch MassPAT in a short window of time without dropping any data from the soon-to-be-outdated system.

    Appriss, a Kentucky software company that has prescription monitoring programs in 25 states and the District of Columbia, was awarded the $6 million contract over five years. Planners liked the software’s interstate sharing capacity, which for now connects Massachusetts to databases in a dozen other states; its average 1.8-second search response time; and its security measures.

    In addition to fulfilling those core needs, Appriss also provides users with a 24/7 help desk.

    Pharmacy practices input data that reflect filled prescriptions for Schedule II through V medications into the MassPAT system. Prescribers can then query the database to review a 12-month medication history for patients before writing or renewing their prescriptions.

    Read more at the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety website.


  • 22 Sep 2016 7:14 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) Announce Winners for 2nd Annual Employer Wellness Program Awards

    The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) has announced the winners of its WorkWell Massachusetts Awards program aimed to recognize Massachusetts employers for their exemplary work in worksite health promotion. Winners will be recognized at WWCMA’s Fifth Annual Worksite Wellness Conference being held today at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

    The WorkWell Massachusetts Award program criteria is based on the following:

    1. The HERO Employee Health Management (EHM) Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer– a tool designed to help organizations learn about best practices, discover opportunities to improve their programs, and measure progress over time. 
    2. Applicants are asked to provide details on their strategic planning and organizational support, program design and implementation, participant engagement, and measurement and evaluation process.

    Employers are eligible to earn a Gold, Silver, or Bronze award. WWCMA appointed a Peer Review committee of independent industry experts to review the applications and designate the award winners and categories.

    “We are proud to recognize these innovative Massachusetts employers for their outstanding wellness programs”, states Kristie Howard, WWCMA Board of Directors Co-Chair. “The WorkWell Massachusetts Award is an important program put forth to honor the work being done by employers in our state to improve the health and vitality of our communities.”

    “We are very proud of this year’s winners and their incredible programs designed to improve employee health and well-being”, states Archana Kansagra, WWCMA Board of Directors Awards & Recognition Committee Chair. “We know there are many organizations in Massachusetts we know there are many other employers committed to creating healthy workplaces that did not apply and encourage them to apply in 2017.”

    Click here for more information.

    The 2016 WorkWell Massachusetts Award winners include:

    Gold 

    • Berkshire Health Systems

    Silver 

    • A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Companies 
    • athenahealth, Inc. 
    • Borislow Insurance 
    • Cambridge Health Alliance 
    • Kronos Incorporated 
    • Lowell General Hospital 
    • OMAM, Inc. 
    • Pegasystems 
    • Signature Healthcare 
    • TripAdvisor 
    • Wright-Pierce

    Bronze 

    • Alkermes 
    • Babson College 
    • Endurance International Group 
    • Flexcon Industries 
    • Forrester Research 
    • Onyx Specialty Papers, Inc. 
    • Sturtevant, Inc. 
    • Tocci Building Companies


  • 08 Sep 2016 8:58 AM | Brian Kelley (Administrator)

    By Priyanka Dayal McCluskey  |  Retrieved from the Boston Globe 7-Sep-2016

    The growth of health care spending moderated in Massachusetts last year, the state reported Wednesday, a sign that its ground-breaking experiment to rein in medical costs is making tentative progress.

    Outlays rose 3.9 percent, a figure that is down from a 4.2 percent increase in 2014 and that matches the state’s economic growth, according to the new data. Spending most likely rose at a slower pace here than nationally, a change from years past — and an accomplishment given that Massachusetts has some of the most expensive hospitals and doctors in the country.

    While the numbers from the state’s Center for Health Information and Analysis show some success on the spending front, cost control remains a significant challenge at a time when more people are gaining insurance coverage and prescription drug prices are rising. Growth in expenditures in 2015 exceeded the state’s goal of 3.6 percent for the second straight year. Moreover, health care spending rose much faster than the state’s 0.6 inflation rate.

    Massachusetts, which mandated health insurance coverage for all residents in a landmark 2006 law, is also considered a leader for monitoring medical costs and encouraging insurers and hospitals to adopt new business models designed to provide more cost-effective care.

    “We’re really the only state that is trying to do something about total health care spending,” said Stuart Altman, chairman of the Health Policy Commission, a state watchdog agency that tracks health costs.

    All together, Massachusetts spent $57 billion on health care in 2015, or $8,424 per resident, according to the report. That includes spending through private health insurance as well as the big government programs Medicare and Medicaid.

    Nationwide, the report says, health spending was projected to increase 4.6 percent last year.

    A good sign, industry experts said, is that the spending growth in Massachusetts kept pace with the state’s economic growth. That means health care expenditures didn’t account for a larger proportion of total output of goods and services.

    Altman, a health economist, said he was “pleased but cautious” about the report’s findings. “I still believe there’s a real potential for [medical] inflation to rear its head again,” he said, “but right now I give credit to the people who are running our delivery systems and the people running our insurance companies that they are sticking to the letter of the law.”

    Higher prescription drug prices contributed to the growth in spending again last year. Spending on medicines jumped 10.1 percent in 2015 after rising 13.5 percent the previous year. Many pharmaceutical companies have implemented substantial price hikes in recent years for both brand-name and generic drugs. Most recently, the drug company Mylan faced an outcry after it raised the price on its popular EpiPen, which treats allergic reactions.

    “It’s unsustainable,” Lora Pellegrini, president of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans, said about rising drug prices. “The health plans, providers, and pharmaceutical community all need to be held accountable.”

    Robert K. Coughlin, president of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, a trade group, said it’s important to remember that drug companies often offer discounts and rebates to reduce the cost of medicines.

    “As the report clearly points out, there is certainly more work to be done to get a truly accurate picture of the costs and value of innovative medicines, and we look forward to continuing the conversation,” Coughlin said in a statement.

    The state’s largest insurers — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Tufts Health Plan — all kept spending increases below the state benchmark. But large health care providers had mixed results, meeting the goal for some insurers but not for others.

    The state Health Policy Commission can require organizations that exceed the benchmark to submit plans to curb spending and fine organizations that don’t comply with those plans. So far, it has not taken those steps.

    Timothy F. Gens, executive vice president of the Massachusetts Hospital Association, said doctors and hospitals are working to become more efficient and control costs by, for example, monitoring patient care through technology and trying to prevent unnecessary hospital visits. New types of insurance contracts, which encourage doctors and hospitals to focus on quality of care over the amount of services they provide, are pushing such changes. But these so-called alternative payment models account for only 35 percent of the commercial health insurance market, the report found.

    “When looking at costs, whether you’re looking at Massachusetts or the country, it’s a challenge, but I think we continue to make progress,” Gens said.

    Meanwhile, spending on the state’s Medicaid program, called MassHealth, moderated last year after thousands of people who had received temporary coverage from the program moved over to commercial insurers. Spending on the program rose 4.6 percent, after a 17.9 percent spike the previous year. MassHealth covers more than one in four poor and low-income residents.

    The report released Wednesday is the third to measure overall health spending, after a 2012 state law set a benchmark for containing spending. The same law established the Center for Health Information and Analysis and the Health Policy Commission, sister agencies that monitor the health care industry.

    The figures are preliminary and could change as more data become available. The estimate for spending growth in 2014, for example, was revised from 4.8 percent to 4.2 percent.


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