The pMD Blog

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pMD Blog...

where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.


There have been a lot of changes in health care over the past few years. With so much changing in the health care profession, are providers overwhelmed or happy with these changes? How will the changes that are being asked of providers today affect how patients are cared for tomorrow? The 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians highlights some very interesting findings about physicians’ morale and ability to adapt.

Morale

When providers were asked, “Which best describes your professional morale and your feelings about the current state of the medical profession?”, 53.9% said somewhat or very negative while the remaining 46.1% said somewhat or very positive. How does this affect patients? Providers who are unhappy could retire, switch to concierge medicine or switch to a non-clinical position, all of which can limit patient access to the best care possible.

What Makes Them Happy? PATIENTS!

71% of physicians describe “patient relationships” as the most satisfying aspect of medical practice. While providers may go through some industry changes over the next few years and beyond, they will continue to value their relationship with their patients the most. The survey also found that after patient relationships, physicians value the intellectual stimulation of practicing medicine.

Ability to Adapt

Health care is an ever-changing landscape that keeps providers guessing at what might be coming next. Only 56.3% of physicians that took the survey indicated that they are very or somewhat unfamiliar with MACRA, or Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act. MACRA made several changes to existing health care laws, including restructuring Medicare payments. It is the newest solution to the ongoing challenge of shifting Medicare payments from fee-for-service to value-based care. How will this type of quality-based incentive program affect providers who submit to Medicare? For most, these type of programs add a slight change in workflow, causing providers to focus more on documentation and billing, and less on actual face-to-face time with patients. A small number of providers (27%) have even started to limit the number of Medicare patients they see.

Solutions

Advances in technology, particularly mobile technology, are able to offset the administrative burden so that doctors can get back the time for their patients. We need great mobile technology that can go where the doctor goes and allows them to spend more time being a doctor and less time acting like an accountant with an expensive medical degree. This extra time with patients can see downstream effects of improved provider productivity, overall better care and happier, healthier patients!

Image: FierceHealthcare

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  After weeks of political tug-of-war, the House managed to pass the Republicans' replacement to the Affordable Care Act. House members voted on Thursday, resulting in a narrow margin in favor of the GOP. Democrats have made clear that they will unanimously oppose the bill.  Read More

•  With summer just around the corner, experts warn of increases in a tick-borne virus called Powassan. Over the past 10 years, 75 cases have been reported in the northeastern states and the Great Lakes region of the U.S. The virus is found to be potentially life-threatening. The most common symptoms are fever and headache, although most infected people will never show symptoms.  Read More

•  Days after Republican Rep. Will Hurd introduced a new IT modernization bill dubbed the Modernizing Government Technology Act, President Trump signed an executive order creating the American Technology Council. This organization will be aimed at modernizing the federal government's IT systems.  Read More

•  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released new guidelines in an effort to prevent surgical site infections (SSIs), updated from the last released guidelines in 1999. Some of the updated recommendations include using an alcohol-based product to cleanse skin in the operating room, not using topical antimicrobial substances in an incision, maintaining the patient's normal body temperature and more.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

As our customers grow and evolve their medical practices, they need to be able to do sophisticated analysis of their patient data. This is essential to ensuring that they’re able to run their businesses efficiently, and provide the best possible outcomes for their patient population. pMD has always had a set of reports that are available for our customers to run on demand, but, as our users have begun to utilize pMD to capture and track quality (MIPS, OPPE, etc), transition of care, and post-acute follow-up data, the breadth and depth of their datasets has grown significantly.

To support these growing reporting needs, we’re building a dynamic Online Analytical Processing (OLAP) reporting tool. The idea is to give our customers a mechanism to define the kinds of questions they want to ask of their data, then build a multidimensional data “cube” capable of providing realtime answers to those queries. Users will be able to export the raw data into a spreadsheet, and will also have the option of doing an analysis in our new visualization tool.

What types of questions are pMD customers asking? There is a large variety, but take for example a line of questioning a practice manager might have about his/her group’s readmission rate: “How many of the patients whom we discharged from the hospital in the last month had a readmission within one week?”; “What was the most common diagnosis”; “How many of those readmissions occurred on a weekend?”; “How many were attributed to each of my providers?”; etc. Or, consider a nephrology practice that might want to analyze their Monthly Capitation Payment (MCP) data: “Show me a breakdown of comprehensive vs. limited visits for each of my dialysis units for the last quarter”; “Of those, which provider had the most comprehensive visits?”; “What’s our most popular day of the week for dialysis, per unit?”.

This is just a small subset of the types of questions groups have told us they want to be able to ask. And the really interesting, and challenging aspect about supporting this type of reporting is that folks don’t always know in advance exactly what they might want to ask of the data. Finding the answer to one question often leads to several more questions. The ideal reporting tool tries to accommodate this by allowing the user to “drill-in” to their data, down to a very granular level, in order to understand their patient population. Armed with this business intelligence, we think the feature set we’re building will give our users a powerful new tool for running their businesses.

 

Image: Dan Herrick/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  A study based in Germany found that binge drinking is associated with an increased heart rate known as sinus tachycardia. The study was conducted over the course of the iconic 16-day beer festival, Oktoberfest. Scientists of this study were particularly interested in what's known as "holiday heart syndrome", in which binge drinkers suffer potentially dangerous atrial fibrillation.  Read More

•  With all the new government requirements imposed on physicians, more specifically the Meaningful Use program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has created a centralized and more accessible repository as a source of health information for eligible professions. The information within the repository was collected in September and October of 2016.  Read More

•  A drug-resistant fungus called Candida Auris is circulating in the U.S. and is severely affecting the New York and New Jersey areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the fungus can persist on surfaces and is easily spread between patients.  Read More

•  On Thursday, House Republican leaders failed to round up votes for their bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, losing the opportunity for a major legislative win in Trump's first 100 days in office. This hot topic continues to pull Democrats and Republicans to opposite sides of the health care spectrum.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.
In the health care industry, we see advances in technology and science as a way to improve patient care. But what if we look at a more fundamental pillar? Communication, especially expectations, can be generally improved in any scenario. The expectation that a patient’s care team is on the same page is understandable because we now have electronic medical records that are updated in real-time and are accessible 24/7. However, that does not necessarily mean that each provider is up to speed and it does not replace the need for improved communication.  By managing these expectations through better communication, can we increase positive health care outcomes?

Challenges in Communication

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘the left-hand doesn’t know what the right-hand is doing’ and unfortunately, this happens within the health care system far more than anyone would care to admit. Patients no longer go to see just one doctor but are now fitted with a whole team of physicians who are responsible for their care. In fact, according to research conducted by the Columbia Medical Review, the following statistics highlight the number of physicians on a patient’s case:


On average, a typical surgery patient can have 27 providers on their case and elderly patients an average of 11 providers in a single year.


The average Medicare provider will be coordinating care with 229 other individual physicians across 117 different companies. With such an arsenal of individuals all expected to be on the same page surrounding a singular patient’s care, it is little wonder why we have the spotlight on improving communication in health care through the use of technology.

Communication and Patient Safety

It is not feasible to expect physicians to attend every meeting or conversation regarding each individual patient’s care while also maintaining a full-time schedule. In addition, operating independently can not only be cumbersome, but also dangerous.  This is where we begin to see communication fall through the cracks and open the door to a larger problem: patient safety.

In a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine, 67% of medical errors were due to a gap in communication. This fundamental pillar, which one would consider a no-brainer, represents two-thirds of all medical errors!

When looking at another study on patient safety, poor collaboration and communication have been found to increase the risk for ICU patients by 180%. This data reflects the importance of communication and that bad communication is impacting patient care in negative ways.

Advances in Communication

The good news is that changes in technology and government initiatives are helping drive the industry to take up the communication challenge by improving organizational processes and internal systems.

You may have heard of the new quality program, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA), that begins the reporting period in 2017. But how much of this is communication driven? Actually, quite a bit! Each section of the program has specified items that directly influence the use of technology or processes to improve communication. Some examples include: Communication with the Physician or Other Clinician Managing On-going Care Post-Fracture for Men and Women Aged 50 Years and Older (Quality Measure), Secure Messaging (ACI Measure), and Implementation of Improvements that Contribute to More Timely Communication of Results (Improvement Activity).

At pMD, we’re building a platform to bridge such communication gaps within medical communities. With secure and HIPAA-compliant messaging, automated notifications, and intuitive software, we’re providing a platform for organizations to stay connected and keep everyone up-to-date, allowing for the best possible care.

References:

https://medicalreview.columbia.edu/article/communication-healthcare/
http://healthcarecomm.org/about-us/impact-of-communication-in-healthcare/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK43665/

Image: Mike Kemp/Rubberball/Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  Researchers have turned their attention to the skin of certain frogs, whose mucus can be used to fight flu viruses. This mucus contains antimicrobial peptides, which can neutralize bacteria, fungi and viruses in our immune system. Recently published findings have found that these peptides were just as effective as some antibiotics in fighting bacteria.  Read More

•  Virtual reality is being used as a method to identify fall risks in the elderly population. By disrupting a person's sense of balance, researchers are able to disorient study participants as they walked on a treadmill and recorded their movements. Researchers are interested in learning more about the specific muscle responses that contribute to loss of balance.  Read More

•  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Thursday that drug manufacturers will be required to update their package inserts to reflect the strongest warning type, alerting doctors and parents to the sometimes fatal consequences of certain painkillers used in children. Harsher restrictions have been imposed by the FDA regarding the use of opioid codeine and tramadol in young children and nursing mothers.  Read More

•  In a recent study, researchers have found a protein in human umbilical cord blood that, in aging mice, improved memory and learning. While there is no indication that it would work in humans at the moment, it's an intriguing glimpse into the potential therapies that might someday work to prevent illnesses that are age-related.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: New York Times/Craig Frazier

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  Vitamin D deficiency is likely being over tested and over treated, according to a recent study in Maine. Vitamin D popularity began back in 2000 when medical journals began publishing studies of illnesses believed to be linked to vitamin D deficiency. As a consequence, healthy people who believe they have a deficiency are taking dangerous levels of supplemental doses.  Read More

•  A study published in JAMA this week found that value-based programs yield lower hospital readmission rates and significant cost savings. Researchers examined 2,837 U.S. hospitals between 2008 and 2015 and found that participation in 1 or more of Medicare’s value-based programs, including Meaningful Use, Accountable Care Organization, and the Bundled Payment for Care Initiative, was associated with greater reductions in 30-day readmission rates.  Read More

•  It’s now easier for physicians to get licensed in multiple states thanks to the new Interstate Medical Licensure compact, which launched last week. Qualified physicians can apply for licensing in 18 participating states. This agreement will ease the administrative burden for physicians who practice medicine in multiple states, including locum tenens doctors, doctors in metropolitan areas that include more than one state, and doctors who provide telemedicine services.  Read More

•  New analysis by the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority shows a rising number of medication errors that were attributed in some part to electronic health records and other technologies used to monitor and record patients’ treatment. Researches attributed the errors to system problems and/or user mistakes.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.

Image: Luciano Lozano/Ikon Images/Getty Images

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  Doctors are reimbursed for everything ranging from office visits to lab work to medical procedures. But what about the tasks that pull allocated time away from actual face-to-face visits? Data suggests that doctors are spending a significant amount of time on desktop medicine tasks. The data also highlights a reduction in time spent with patients and yet, physicians are not reimbursed for their EHR time.  Read More

•  Do you find yourself zoning out in the middle of one-on-one conversations? Do you procrastinate more often than not? There are, according to the World Health Organization, six simple questions that can reliably identify whether you have adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It's important to note that the questions should be looked at in their totality, not individually. No single question stands out as an indicator of ADHD.  Read More

•  The federal government settled on an average rate increase of 0.45% for its finalized 2018 payment rates for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. The rate announcement gives MA organizations the incentive to develop innovative provider network arrangements, encouraging enrollees to access high-quality healthcare services.  Read More

•  A report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 1 in 10 pregnant women in the continental U.S. with a confirmed Zika infection had a baby with serious birth defects or brain damage. There is also more evidence that birth defects were a bigger risk in women who were infected in the first trimester of pregnancy.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.
It’s no secret that we strive to provide unparalleled customer service at pMD; this is evident in the 650+ testimonials we've received from our customers. This year, we’re taking it an extra step further by not only continuing to provide the same customer service we’ve provided for nearly 20 years but also going out and shaking every customer’s hand in-person!

I recently had the opportunity to hop on a plane and reach nearly a dozen existing customers as well as provide some in-person demonstrations for potential new customers. While check-ins via email, phone, or messaging have strong benefits, there is nothing that can beat meeting a customer or potential customer face-to-face.

24/7 customer support is always a great way to address customers' questions or needs, but the ability to show up in-person at a meeting allows customers to not only get their questions answered but also gives them the chance to hear about any new features that might have gotten overlooked or buried in their inbox.

We always try to maximize our time on customer trips and schedule as many quality meetings with existing customers and potential customers as possible. Ahead of any meetings we study how the customer currently uses our charge capture and/or secure messaging products so we can present them with any new features that could help with their workflow. During this particular trip, we were able to get in front of two potential customers and learn more about their current workflow and needs as well as connect with them on a personal level. Relationship building simply can’t be matched with conversations over the phone.

The overall theme for our account management initiative is to not only build our existing customer base but also to ensure that any potential customers know that we offer a product that is second to none, and that our customer service matches the products we offer. Each and every customer we meet is not only amazed that we travel “just to meet them” but that we also take the initiative to check in without any motive other than to ensure their satisfaction with pMD… and that’s how we define unparalleled customer service.

Image: Mike Albans for Kaiser Health News

Here's The Latest in Health Care:


•  For many home health aides, health insurance coverage was hard to come by, mainly due to employers not offering such coverage or the inability to clock enough hours to be eligible. Cue the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which offered the state-federal low-income health insurance program. With the Trump administration's attempt at repealing the ACA and proposal for budget cuts, this lack of clarity is concerning to home-based care-givers whose paychecks rely heavily on Medicaid and Medicare and whose future health care coverage remains unclear.  Read More

•  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating an increased rate of adverse cardiac events in patients with the dissolvable heart stent. The stent, called Absorb, is manufactured by Chicago-based Abbott Laboratories. The FDA and Abbott are working together to understand the cause of the adverse events and encourage physicians to follow the device's label instructions when selecting a target heart vessel.  Read More

•  Under President Trump's proposed budget cuts, funding for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) may be eliminated. AHRQ is the lead federal agency involved with the improvement of safety and quality of the U.S. health care system. It also develops the resources and data for providers and consumers to help them make informed health decisions. Supporters of AHRQ believe the agency's role is misunderstood and that merging it with the National Institute of Health, as proposed by Trump's administration, would threaten its future.  Read More

•  On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug to treat a severe form of multiple sclerosis. This disease leads to paralysis and cognitive decline. The drug will be sold under the brand name Ocrevus by Genentech.  Read More

Each Friday, Signor Goat reports the latest from the week in health care. Check back next Friday for your dose of our little medical corner of health care news. Brought to you by pMD, innovators in charge capture software.