If you hate your EHR, think it’s swallowing your information, adding hours to your day, and if you don’t watch it, you’ll make an error, you’re not a Luddite. You’re right. An exhaustive investigation by Fortune and Kaiser Health News (KHN) concludes that it’s ‘an unholy mess’. In fact, even if you are not a physician or clinical staff, it will make you wonder what was going on the collective brains of the digerati, Newt Gingrich, Barack Obama–and the US government–in thinking that EHRs would actually “cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year,” committing $36 billion to pursuing the ‘shovel-ready’ HITECH stimulus in the depths of the 2008-9 recession. Perhaps the shovel should have been used on a body part. Now if only those billions went towards an interoperable, useful, and national system rather than a money giveaway–which even Farzad Mostashari, then ONC deputy director and later director, now admits was “utterly infeasible to get to in a short time frame.” (Mr. Mostashari is now head of Aledade, counseling those mostly independent practices which lined up–hungry or terrified–for meaningful use EHR subsidies on how they can continue to survive.) Even the vendors were a bit queasy, but nothing was stopping HITECH. (Your Editor was an observer of the struggle.)
Now that we have been living with them for over a decade, EHRs have been found culpable of:
- Soaring error rates, especially in medication and lab results
- Increasing patient safety risks in lack of pass-through of critical information
- Corporate secrecy, enforced by system non-disclosures, around failures
- Lack of real interoperability–even with regional HIEs, which only exchange parts of records
- Incomplete information
- A very real cognitive burden on doctors–an Annals of Family Medicine study calculated that an average of 5.9 hours of a primary care doctor’s 11.4 hour working day was spent on the EHR
- Alert fatigue
- Note bloat
- Plain old difficulty or unsuitability (ask any psychiatrist or neurologist)
- A main cause of doctor burnout, depression, and fatigue–right up to high suicide rates, estimated at one US physician per day
- Lack of patient contact (why the scribes are making a good living)
- All those dropdowns and windows? Great until you click on the wrong one and find yourself making a mistake or in the wrong record.
Not even the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is immune. Seema Verma’s husband, a physician, collapsed in the Indianapolis airport. She couldn’t collect his records without great difficulty and piecing together. When he was discharged, he received a few papers and a CD-ROM containing some medical images, but without key medical records.
A long read for lunch or the weekend. Death by a Thousand Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong. Also the accompanying essay by Clifton Leaf.
[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Rounding up August as we wind down our last weeks of summer holidays.
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced earlier this week that they are funding 16 studies which compare two or more approaches to improve care and outcomes for a range of conditions. Included in the $85 million funding are studies incorporating technology. One is a $13.3 million grant for a West Virginia University study utilizing telehealth to monitor patients with major depressive disorders comparing medication, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and medication plus remote CBT. PCORI Release
InTouch Health, an enterprise telehealth provider which most recently partnered with RPM developer Vivify Health [TTA 19 Dec] to move into in-home and post-acute settings, is now moving into retail with Rite Aid. The letter of intent is to help Rite Aid build up the technology in their existing health kiosks in pharmacies and ‘alternative care sites’. Rite Aid has had a long standing interest in kiosks, including as one of the last customers of HealthSpot. With their Albertsons merger scuttled, Rite Aid is seeking other business and interest. One of InTouch’s executives is EVP of Marketing and Consumer Solutions Steve Cashman, who founded and headed HealthSpot. InTouch is also participating in the World Telehealth Initiative, a nonprofit organization which seeks to bring telehealth expertise into worldwide communities in need. InTouch will donate devices, access to its virtual network, and access to doctors donating their time. Mobihealthnews.
Lisa Suennen, a fixture at many health tech conferences and one of the few women with both presence and clout in the funding sphere, has departed GE Ventures, GE’s VC arm. She was senior managing director focusing on healthcare companies, successfully exiting several in her portfolio to UnitedHealth and Aetna. No reason was given for her exit after a stint of under two years, other than the anodyne “find a new adventure.” GE is planning to spin off its healthcare businesses as part of its restructuring. CNBC.
And the week would not be complete without a report about NHS losing nearly 10,000 patient records–paper and electronic–last year, according to information released under UK freedom of information laws. Without this information, doctors have trouble finding patient history sources and prior diagnostic records. There is also abundant opportunity for fraud, as Everything Winds Up Somewhere, and that somewhere could be criminal. Last year, Members of Parliament said the NHS had “badly failed patients” after a scandal in which at least 708,000 pieces of correspondence–including blood tests, cancer screening appointments, medication changes, and child protection notes–piled up in storerooms. Sunday Times. If paywalled, see the attached PDF.
[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Hackermania.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]And we thought Healthcare Hackermania was following the Hulkster into retirement.
After a quiet Q1, data breaches and hack attacks blew up both in Q2 and now in this quarter.
Data compliance analytics firm Protenus’ Breach Barometer (with DataBreaches.net) has been tracking healthcare data breaches for years. It was quiet last quarter with 1.13 million patient records affected in 110 separate health data breaches. But last quarter was a true triple threat with patient records up three times to 3.14 million, 142 separate breaches–which means more per breach on average. What is also distressing is that 29.71 percent are repeat offenses among employees, up from 21 percent in the previous quarter.
- 36.6 percent of breaches were due to external hacking, nearly double that of Q1.
- 30.99 percent were due to insiders, either through deliberate wrongdoing (theft) or insider error. Insider wrongdoing was led by family members snooping on other family members’ records. Not Russians, Chinese, NoKos, or Bulgarians bashing about.
- In contrast to Q1, where the biggest data breach was a network hack of an Oklahoma-based health network (reportedly the Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences), compromising nearly 280,000 records, Q2’s Big Breach was a physical burglary of the California Department of Developmental Services in Sacramento affecting over 581,000 records. After the usual ransacking and theft, the burglars started a fire before they left and the sprinklers did the rest.
It routinely takes nearly forever from when a breach occurs to when it is discovered: in Q1 244 days, in Q2 204 days. In Q2 the longest discovery time was over five years –2013 to 2018. This indicates that insiders may be good at covering their tracks, and/or IT staff don’t get around to detecting and policing breaches.
Protenus and DataBreaches.net compile incidents disclosed to HHS and reported in the media, and are now adding their own proprietary, non-public data on the status of health data breaches nationwide, including a review of tens of trillions of individual
accesses to EHRs which Protenus audits as part of their healthcare systems services. More detail in Protenus Q2 and Q1 full reports, HealthITSecurity (Q1)
Certain to lead their Q3 report is the 1.4 million patient record breach at UnityPoint Health, an Iowa-based health system. In May, a small phishing breach compromised 16,000 records. This cyberattack also started with email phishing and spread through employee networks. “The phishing campaign tricked employees into providing confidential login information, which hackers used to infiltrate email accounts and access data contained within.” Were the hackers after patient data? According to UnityPoint, “The phishing attack on UnityPoint Health was more likely focused on diverting business funds from our organization.” Healthcare Analytics News
You may not want a cyberattack, but cyberattacks and hacking want you….
Accenture’s 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health indicates that the tipping point may be here, sort of. Some key findings:
- Consumers had high rates of favorable acceptance and likeliness to use AI-enabled clinical services: home-based diagnostics (66 percent of respondents), virtual health assistants (61 percent), and virtual nurses to monitor health conditions, medications and vital signs at home (55 percent), which may be good news for the future of telehealth services.
- The 2,301 respondents already are using mobile and tablet health apps (48 percent). 44 percent are using patient portals for to fetch their health records, primarily to get information on lab and blood-test results (67 percent), to view physician notes regarding medical visits (55 percent), and their prescription history (41 percent).
- Wearables are being used by 33 percent and favorably viewed by over 70 percent as beneficial in understanding their health condition (75 percent), engaging with their health (73 percent), and monitoring the health of a loved one (73 percent).
Virtual care seems to be leading the way over wearables and remote patient monitoring–and after-hours care, patient follow-up, and patient education are leading virtual care.
- 25 percent had received virtual care services in the previous year, up from 21 percent in last year’s survey. 16 percent are taking part in remote health consultations, compared with 12 percent in 2016. 14 percent are participating in remote monitoring, up from 9 percent in 2016.
- 47 percent state that given a choice, they would prefer a more immediate virtual medical appointment over a delayed in-person appointment.
- For after-hours care, 73 percent said they would use virtual care for after-hours (nights and weekend) appointments.
- 71 percent said they would use virtual care for taking a class on a specific medical condition. 65 percent would use virtual care for a follow-up appointment after an in-person visit.
- Most respondents said they would also use virtual care for a range of additional services, including discussing specific health concerns with medical professionals (73 percent), in-home follow-up after a hospital stay (62 percent), participating in a family member’s medical appointment (59 percent), and being examined for a non-emergency condition (57 percent).
Accenture release and report.
The GV Hot 7, especially the finally-acknowledged physician burnout. Google Ventures’ (GV) Dr. Krishna Yeshwant, a GV general partner leading the Life Sciences team, is interested in seven areas, according to his interview in Business Insider (UK):
- Physician burnout, which has become epidemic as doctors (and nurses) spend more and more time with their EHRs versus patients. This is Job #1 in this Editor’s opinion.
Dr. Yeshwant’s run-on question to be solved is: “Where are the places where we can intervene to continue getting the advantages of the electronic medical record while respecting the fact that there’s a human relationship that most people have gotten into this for that’s been eroded by the fact that there’s now a computer that’s a core part of the conversation.” (Your job–parse this sentence!–Ed.)
Let’s turn to Dr. Robert Wachter for a better statement of the problem. This Editor was present for his talk at the NYeC Digital Health Conference [TTA 19 Jan] and these are quoted from his slides: “Burnout is associated with computerized order entry use and perceived ‘clerical burden’ [of EHRs and other systems]”. He also cites the digital squeeze on physicians and the Productivity Paradox, noted by economist Robert Solow as “You can see the computer age everywhere except in the productivity statistics.” In other words, EHRs are a major thief of time. What needs to happen? “Improvements in the technology and reimagining the work itself.” Citing Mr. Solow again, the Productivity Paradox in healthcare will take 15-20 years to resolve. Dr. Wachter’s talk is here. (more…)
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA) may be one swallow and not the spring, but points to something doctors have been reporting anecdotally for years. Researchers examined initial progress notes of patients admitted to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan both before and after the Epic Systems EHR implementation (POLITICO Morning eHealth) in 2012. Their sample of 500 notes examined five specific diagnoses with invariable physical findings: permanent atrial fibrillation, aortic stenosis, intubation, lower limb amputation and cerebrovascular accident with hemiparesis. The error rate of EHRs compared to the paper charts was 24.4 percent versus 4.4 percent. Residents were better at EHR-ing than the more experienced attending physicians for inaccuracies (5.3 percent v. 17.3 percent) and omissions (16.8 percent v. 33.9 percent). As this is an older snapshot, it may have narrowed with familiarity and training, but this is in line with prior reporting in multiple countries (here) that customization by real clinicians needs to be part of the implementation (designed by IT people without clinical background), often design doesn’t meet clinical needs, many have glitches and that they take entirely too long to fill out, notoriously in mental health (see JAMIA study from April). And let’s not get into the plagues of hacking, ransomware and health data exchange. HealthcareITNews, JAMIA (abstract only)
Health tech as perceptual barrier. A study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine-Online First (limited content) found that patients were noticeably less satisfied their care when the physician used the computer (e.g. EHR) during the appointment. According to Reuters, only half of the 25 visits with high computer use were rated as “excellent care” by the patients, compared to more than 80 percent of the 19 encounters with low computer use. iHealthBeat cited that physicians who spent more time on the screen:
- Spent less time making eye contact with patients
- Tended to do more “negative rapport building,” such as correcting patients about their medical history or drugs taken in the past based on information in their EHR.
The researchers (primarily from the University of California–San Francisco) used data from two years of visits by 47 patients to 39 doctors at a public hospital. The patients had Type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or congestive heart failure, with some having multiple chronic conditions. What is downplayed is that the patients were considered ‘safety net’ patients with communication barriers–limited health literacy and often limited English (primary Spanish speakers). But even this special population may be pointing to an overall problem (more…)
Many of our recent stories have touched on ‘big (health) data’ as Achieving the Holy Grail–how it can be shared, how it can work with the Internet of Things and how poorly implemented personal health record (PHI) databases can derail national health systems (and careers) [TTA 22 Sep]. They are, after all, 1) extremely difficult to design to preserve privacy and 2) must satisfy patients’ requirements for easy use as well as privacy including opting out. But when despite all good intentions, data goes awry, the consequences can be severe.
- A daughter applies for health insurance from Aetna, and her mother’s medications, about which she had no knowledge, are attributed to her. How? Data mining off Milliman’s IntelliScript data service which mixed up the records.
- EHR exchange can spread errors such as a dropped critical health or medication record. One led to the death of an 84 year old woman. VA also had a problem with its EHR (not cited but likely VistA) slotting medication histories into the wrong patients’ files. An Australian hospital mixed up discharge files in electronically sending them to doctors. The more records are exchanged, the more possibility there is for propagation of errors.
- More information is shared with third-party suppliers; survey companies are increasingly tapping into these databases to send annoying, potentially privacy-invading treatment questionnaires to individuals.
Bloomberg Business’ conclusion is that this could be a problem, but much beyond the tut-tutting doesn’t get into solutions. The Pitfalls of Health-Care Companies’ Addiction to Big Data
[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/RCAF_roundel_WWII.jpg” thumb_width=”125″ /]Canada’s health system
is nominally nationalized, but in a way that leaves large gaps in coverage–for long term, in home, specialty care and prescriptions–as well as variable by province. According to this article in HIT Consultant
, VC funding is also thin on the ground, which leads to a short-term outlook. Local governments are stepping into the gap with innovation funding (similar to the Partnership for NYC) and the national government has eased restrictions on foreign investment. EHRs haven’t been a priority (skipping the troubles experienced in the US) which leaves digital health–telehealth, telemedicine and diagnostic apps–to enjoy the available talent and funding. This Editor doubts that any of the 20 profiled here will be familiar names other than possibly InterAxon
which we noted at last year’s NYeC Digital Health Conference
, and many tread the familiar ground of genomics, social sharing of medical images, and gamification for behavior change, but there are three unique companies in the neurological area in nerve stimulation (MyndTec
), nerve disorder diagnostics imaging (NerveVision
) and pharma (Oxalys.
) We salute the Royal Canadian Air Force with their WW2 roundel on the anniversary of the Allied invasion of Sicily, July – August 1943
Take your time this weekend and read this article from the Washington Post on the ‘brave new world’ of data mining health records. While those with experience analyzing real-world health data snicker at Larry Page of Google’s inflated claims of ‘saving 10,000 lives in the first year’ if only he could get his hands on that identified data (of course, then there’s the opportunity to make $£€¥, which is what Larry and Sergey are really interested in–count your Editor as a cynic!), the Health Data Analytics Express rolls on. The promise lies in more precision in treatment areas such as brain tumor radiology where sizing is critical (BraTumIA) and individualized genomics for disease. Yet the author does not touch on healthcare decision support systems best exemplified by IBM Watson, (more…)
Preventable medical errors persist as the No. 3 killer in the US – third only to heart disease and cancer – claiming the lives of some 400,000 people each year.
(US Senate hearing, cited in HealthcareITNews 18 July 2014)
At the end of last month, this Editor questioned the efficacy of our current state of ‘consumer engagement’ in Patients should be less engaged, not more. The ‘less engaged’ was a call for simplification: regimens and devices which were easier to use, less complicated and far easier to fit in everyday life. (Aesthetics helps too.) Back in 2013, HeartSister/Ethical Nag (and Canadian) Carolyn Thomas called for health app (and by inference consumer engagement) designers to ‘skate to where the puck is going’–as in “For Pete’s sake, go find some Real Live Patients to talk (and listen) to first before you decide where you’re going!” Often it seems like these apps and platforms are designed in a vacuum of the entrepreneur’s making. The proof is the low uptake (Pew, Parks, IMS) and the apps’/programs’ lack of stickiness after all this time (Kvedar 8 Sep blog post).
Now Laurie Orlov tells us we were looking at the wrong puck, as analysts do. First, all that ‘nudging’ and all those apps haven’t moved the needle on diabetes and obesity. Second, why are app developers neglecting that third largest killer, preventable medical errors? Add to that 400,000 yearly–over 1,000 per day–the 10,000 estimated patients every day who suffer serious complications. (more…)
Deloitte and Towers Watson obviously disagree on the savings from eVisits (Deloitte) and telemedicine (Towers Watson). Deloitte’s study of eVisits projects a global savings of $5 billion in 2014. Towers Watson is estimating $6 billion in 2015 from US employers alone if there is full employee utilization of telemedicine. Deloitte is also more transparent in its estimating, for example on the $50-60 billion total addressable market for eVisits in ‘developed countries’. This Editor doesn’t see a major difference in definitions between the two; Deloitte defines eVisits as video consults plus the forms, questionnaires and photos that have become part of telehealth, but not the vital signs monitoring part.. Perhaps our readers, looking at both more closely, can discern, or confirm that Towers Watson has too rosy a picture? Deloitte‘s ’21st Century Housecall’ study (short paper) is also worth a read for presenting facts/figures on the global addressable market and for a surprising conclusion–that the ‘greater good (in developing countries) may come from saving tens of millions of lives’. Hat tip to reader Mike Clark. Clinical Innovation + Technology summary.
‘Virtual care is much more effective than brick-and-mortar care.” (Editor’s emphasis) A bold statement that Microsoft and the writer from Intel fail to back up with facts. The focus of this ‘In Health’ article is preventing readmissions. There are the usual Panglossian pointers (more…)