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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.

POSTS BY TAG | Care Navigation






For those of us who are avid news consumers (myself included), a certain phrase has rapidly been appearing in the headlines with each passing day: the opioid crisis. The opioid crisis has captured the attention of the U.S. government and media due to its expansive grip on the American public and was recently declared a public health emergency by the current administration. This epidemic not only claims the lives of 130 Americans daily but also subjects a burden of nearly $78.5 billion a year on the U.S. economy. Countermeasures to this crisis have been enacted to provide necessary aid to health care providers and those who suffer nationwide. As active participants in health care, pMD is always seeking to provide a product that will positively impact our clients and the patients that they care for. For us to contribute in a meaningful way, we first have to examine the underlying causes of this opioid crisis.

What Caused the Opioid Crisis?

To understand the actions that government and local communities are currently taking, the first thing that must be addressed is the underlying causes and societal impacts of the opioid crisis. Opioids (and subsequent opioid addiction) have had a presence in American health care since the Civil War, beginning with the use of morphine to treat U.S. soldiers wounded in battle. Then in 1898, Bayer Pharmaceuticals released a new drug that was intended to be a non-addictive alternative to morphine: heroin. Heroin was seen as incredibly addictive, with doctors in the U.S. having objections to the drug as early as 1899. The U.S. endured two major heroin epidemics, once during the Vietnam War era and then again during the late 1980s. With the introduction of prescription opioids such as Oxycontin in the 1990s, the numbers of addicted Americans skyrocketed. Today, there is a strong link between opioid overdose and prescription opioids.

To provide some context on the severity of the opioid situation, here are some startling statistics:

Nearly 11.5 million Americans misuse prescription opioids with over 40 percent of all opioid-related overdoses being attributed to prescription opioids.

The CDC states that those who use prescription opioids are 40 times more likely to use heroin compared to 2 times more likely for those who consume alcohol.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) finds that more Americans die from opioid overdoses than motor vehicle crashes.

The Midwest has seen a 70 percent increase in opioid overdoses from 2016 to 2017.

Large cities across the country continue to struggle with opioid addiction, as 16 major cities saw a 54 percent increase in opioid related overdoses.

Overall, the United States is taking a major hit from the over prescription and trafficking of pharmaceutical opioids.

Current Response

Recent laws that have been passed to address the opioid crisis include the bipartisan Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. SUPPORT has many potential positive impacts on the opioid crisis, ranging from increasing the amount of first responders carrying naloxone to the expansion of access to addiction treatment for Medicare and Medicaid patients. This law requires state agencies to establish drug management programs, notably state-run databases called Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP)PDMPs are increasingly being integrated into Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, allowing for easy access and real-time updates to a patient’s history. PDMPs are also actively managed by U.S. health departments to help form more effective responses to the crisis using real data.  

pMD Solutions

pMD is passionate about improving the lives of patients and having a positive impact on health care. So, what can pMD do to help with the opioid crisis? Now that all 50 states have functional PDMPs, physicians are required to accurately document patient interaction with opioids in their daily visits. pMD’s customizable software can help groups capture necessary data relating to opioid interactions and pMD’s Care Navigation and Clinical Communication tools would also be an asset to opioid recovery teams throughout the country. Opioid recovery teams are comprised of professionals who cover all the bases of opioid recovery to increase patient success, including behavioral health specialists, physicians, social workers, peer recovery coaches, and even lawyers. pMD creates a space for care teams to successfully track the progress of opioid recovery patients while also communicating with each other on the same platform. This, in turn, allows the health care system to have a more significant impact on the opioid crisis as a whole. For as long as the opioid crisis exists, pMD will continue to find ways to spread awareness and create solutions that will have a positive impact on the U.S. health care system.

Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, and care navigation software and services, please contact pMD.









Here’s a fun fact about me: before I started my career in health care technology sales, I was changing lives in other ways - I was a teacher. I hear a lot of shock when I talk about my career path, and how I could have made such a drastic shift. I mean, clearly the roles of sales and teaching are night and day, right? Well, not really, actually. I have found that the very characteristics that made me a great teacher - empathy, compassion, and being a good listener - really correlate strongly to my day-to-day sales role. There is one such trait that I have found to be even more critical in both my teaching role and my role at pMD: agility.

What does it mean to be agile? Quite literally, it means having the ability to move quickly and easily. As a pMD employee, especially on the sales team, it is imperative we are able to be agile. We must be able to shift our focus quickly, become product experts at the drop of a dime, relate what we know back to a practice’s current obstacles, and give our developers the ability to innovate while feeling confident the sales team will be able to show value in the new products they are building. Here’s an example of agility in action:

When I first started at pMD a little over 2 years ago, we really had 2 core products: pMD® Charge Capture™ and pMD® Secure Messaging™. It took me a while to understand and articulate the intricacies and value of those two products, but I eventually got into a groove. I was in my comfort zone. Suddenly there was talk of expanding our product line. Our customers needed more from us and we needed to rise to the occasion. Thus, we also became a MIPS Registry.

Now, if you aren’t sure what MIPS is, let me tell you that becoming knowledgeable enough to sell a MIPS registry product is no small feat. Many MIPS registries are exactly just that. They do not have other product lines they are selling simultaneously. At pMD, we were expected to know how MIPS reporting differed for an infectious disease practice versus a hospitalist group and so on, all while continuing to sell our existing product suite. Did the sales team complain and throw our hands up in defeat? Hardly! We were agile, quickly moving to learn all we could about MIPS, and providing our customers and prospective customers with the insight they needed to make an informed decision.

This agility has helped us to “go with the flow” as we continue to expand our product offering. A couple of months ago we added additional products to our product suite, such as pMD® Clinical Communication™, pMD® Care Navigation™, and pMD® Clinically Integrated Network™, to serve the needs of today’s health care market. We as a sales team have been at the forefront of explaining these products to our prospective practices and helping to communicate feedback to our developers. This allows us to grow as members of the pMD team, learn from industry best practices, and reshape pMD’s business priorities by listening to the market. While being agile can at times be challenging, it is also what keeps our day-to-day exciting because who is satisfied with the status quo?

Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, care navigation, and clinically integrated network software and services, please contact pMD.









I greatly appreciated Dr. Daniela Lamas’ perspective in her New York Times article, You’ve Detailed Your Last Wishes, but Doctors May Not See Them. Much ink has already been spilled about the failures of the electronic health record to solve the biggest problems facing patients and health care providers today. This article described a particularly tragic failure: a small piece of absolutely critical information was present in the patient’s record, but it was buried in an ocean of text. Nobody saw it during the chaos of an Emergency Department (ED) admission.

Since then, Dr. Lamas has heard about many other “situations in which last minute ‘saves’ through extreme diligence or chance, such as the one I experienced, had led to a good outcome.” This problem is indeed widespread. A 2016 study in the Journal of Patient Safety estimated that medical errors caused between 210,000 to 440,000 deaths per year in the United States, and that total Preventable Adverse Events due to medical errors occur between 2 to 4 million times per year. It’s a staggering number, accounting for up to one sixth of all deaths in our country last year!

In her article, Dr. Lamas proposed some ideas for fixing this buried information issue. The ideas included:

1. “standards for sharing [...] across all electronic records”
2. “all health systems could require identification of a health care proxy for all patients”
3. “patients should be able to access their health records through a patient-facing interface, send in their own directives, or even update related notes”
4. “all related advance care planning documentation should be in one place in the medical record and accessible with one simple click of the mouse”

Interestingly, three of these wouldn’t help with a situation like this where the information was already present in the record, yet buried out of sight. And the fourth - putting advance care planning documentation in a single place - had already been done at Dr. Lamas’ hospital. The physicians just didn’t use that screen because “habits are hard to break, and without a clear set of incentives, training, and ongoing education, doctors (myself included) continue to record information about end-of-life conversations in progress notes, where they are not readily available”. When the EHR documentation burden is already so heinously high, it’s easy to see how caregivers wouldn’t rush to embrace yet another screen added into the mix. After all, it’s not reasonable to expect the Electronic Health Record to transcend or change its nature, which is, in Dr. Lamas’ words, “a clunky online version of a paper chart”.

She did reference another approach to solve this problem, “clever patient apps that work outside the electronic record”. For an app to help in such a situation, it must not live only with a single person. The patient may be unconscious or may not have their phone with them when they’re admitted. Their health care proxy may not be reachable right away, or perhaps the patient didn’t designate one. So to make absolutely sure that any health care provider who sees the patient can access this information, the app must live with everyone possible who is involved with the patient’s care. The patient, their family members, their health care proxy, each of their physicians, and perhaps most critically of all, their care navigator.

Many of the very sick patients such as the one in Dr. Lamas’ story already have a care navigator assigned to help them navigate through our fragmented health care system and to quarterback the communication among different care teams at different institutions. This person is like the patient’s health care guardian angel. In most cases, they know the patient better than any one physician.

As long as the care navigator finds out immediately when the patient hits the ED and which doctor is seeing them, they can spring into action and make sure the really important information gets to the right person in a timely way. With pMD® Care Navigation™, care navigators can find out instantaneously when the patient is admitted to the ED and have easy access to a concise summary of the truly critical information about the patient’s care plan and decisions.

If care navigators have critical information at their fingertips, are empowered to intervene with exceptional communication software, and find out automatically when patients have their moment of crisis, then we can let the Electronic Health Record go back to doing what it was always designed to do: being the digital filing cabinet. It’s time to move forward to the next generation of software for patients, families, physicians, and especially care navigators.

Find out more about pMD's suite of products, which includes our MIPS registry, charge capture, secure messaging, clinical communication, care navigation, and clinically integrated network software and services, please contact pMD.