One Medical Record

Imagine a life where you go to a new hospital or a clinic you don’t have to answer the same questions over and over about your medical history or all of the medications you take. What if all your medical health records were saved in one place and you can provide access to any doctor, pharmacist, or clinician? The blockchain concept can make all the health data saved in one place. According to Wikipedia, blockchain means” a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data.”

To simplify, every time you visit the doctor, the doctor will ask for your permission to enter your health data that will be discussed during the visit into a blockchain, for example: medications that have been prescribed during the visit. All the health data that has been added along the way would be saved and maintained by a network of computers and accessible to those who have the software.

According to MIT Technology Review, John Halamka, Chief Information Officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, says, “There are 26 different electronic health records in the city of Boston each written in a different language for representing and sharing data”.   Thus, the data is scattered  all over departments, hospitals and clinics, which make it less accessible. Having critical data less accessible put us through difficult situations when you either end up by losing more money or someone’s life. The blockchain concept is the only solution for having all the critical health data gathered into one place with an easy access whenever a patient needs it.

Having all medical data in a blockchain will allow the patient and physician several benefits. First, an easy access for health staff as everything will be saved directly during each visit. Second, having all information secured in one place. Third, saving patient and physician time by being able to skip repeating questions. While blockchain may still be a fairly new concept, it will be everywhere in a few years whether in a hospital setting or somewhere else.

Written by Sarah Balobid and Margarita Shquina, BS

Margarita is a recent graduate of  the Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Informatics, MCPHS University; Sarah is still attending the program.


References:

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Why Humans are the Future of Digital Health

In a recent TEDx Talk, I outlined how connected health technologies can create one-to-many care delivery models, rather than the more traditional one-to-one model that is already overburdened. This kind of time-and-place-independent care includes online communications like FaceTime; wearable devices that track daily activity, sleep patterns, nutrition, mood and so much more; and texting and mobile apps to keep people connected, engaged and informed about their health and wellness. Social robots, artificial intelligence (AI), vocal biomarkers and facial decoding are also now being deployed to analyze emotion, anticipate health problems, improve quality of life and enable better relationships with healthcare providers.

However, we must develop these technologies to enhance and support the human interaction between a healthcare provider and patient — not in competition.

In the February 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review, Barry Libert and Megan Beck wrote about how the rise of AI makes emotional intelligence more important.  Most knowledge workers, including healthcare workers, gather data, synthesize/conclude, and formulate a plan.  Machines can already do that sort of repetitive work better than people, but we persist in trying to outperform computers.  Yet, we’ve lost our way on the human side of care delivery that relies on those emotional intelligence traits that only humans and not machines possess, including  caring, judgment and attention to quality.

So rather than compete with technology, we must learn how to embrace it.

Healthcare professionals need to look for opportunities to outsource routine tasks to machines, not be afraid to do so, and appreciate the value of caring and human connection, judgment and attention to quality. And for those developing the technologies, you must create solutions that integrate tech into personal, human care delivery, to not only improve the consumer experience, but require fewer interactions with humans throughout the care journey.

Joseph C. Kvedar, MD

Vice President, Connected Health

Partners HealthCare

Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School


Dr. Joe Kvedar is creating a new model of healthcare delivery, developing innovative strategies to move care from the hospital or doctor’s office into the day-to-day lives of patients. In his latest book, The New Mobile Age: How Technology Will Extend the Lifespan and Optimize the Healthspan, he describes how connected health technologies will enable individuals to remain vital, engaged and independent through their later years, and create a better healthcare system for everyone.

Connect on Twitter @jkvedar, @connectedhealth

Watch Dr. Kvedar’s TEDx Talk

Connect on LinkedIn
Read The cHealth Blog

Natural Language Processing – Fact or Fiction?

We’ve all heard of Natural Language Processing as being the next best thing, but do we really understand what it means? According to Wikipedia, the definition for Natural Language Processing (NLP) is “a field of computer science, artificial intelligence and computational linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages, and, in particular, concerned with programming computers to fruitfully process large natural language corpora.” In other words, it’s a combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence that allows us to communicate with machines as if they were humans – like Siri, for example. So how does this help us in health care? Some of the main tasks in which NLP can help us excel in the health care field are: Summarizing lengthy blocks of narrative text, such as a clinical note or academic journal article, mapping data elements present in unstructured text to structured fields in an electronic health record in order to improve clinical data integrity and conducting speech recognition to allow users to dictate clinical notes or other information that can then be turned in to text. It can also help with the completeness and accuracy of an electronic health communication and will be able to make documentation requirements easier on providers. This is still a new up-and-coming topic and will need more testing, but for now it looks promising and could really benefit health care providers in the future.

Natural Language Processing can help fill data warehouses and semantic data lakes with meaningful information accessed by free-text query interfaces. It also can make documentation requirements easier by allowing providers to dictate their notes, or generate tailored educational materials for patients ready for discharge. Because of greatest interests right now, NLP can be used for clinical decision support. One example of a machine learning NLP whiz-kid in healthcare industry is IBM Watson, which as dominated headlines in recent months due to its voracious appetite for academic literature and its growing expertise in clinical decision support for precision medicine and cancer care.

Some of the challenges of integrating NLP tools into clinical care are true reliability and accuracy and certain problems such as word disambiguation and fragmented “doctor speak” can stump even the smartest NLP algorithms.

Natural Language Processing can take the healthcare industry to the next step bridging the gaps between the unfathomable amount of data generated on a daily basis and the limited cognitive capacity of the human mind. The key to its success however, will be to develop algorithms that are accurate, intelligent and healthcare specific. If these goals are met, then NLP just might open more doors what big data can do in the future.

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Co-written by candidates for Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Informatics ’18, MCPHS, Tusneem and Margarita.

 

Tusneem

 

Tusneem Abuhasan; Chapter Photographer, Boston Health 2.0

 

f6576d7c4c99c01adcdc934bff833260  Margarita Shqina; Student Chapter Chair; Boston Health 2.0

 

Where Are the Best Healthcare IT Consultants Hiding?

The challenge of finding and hiring qualified and experienced IT consultants is one of the biggest barriers to success for health IT leaders. According to the HIMSS Leadership Survey, staffing is the second biggest obstacle for healthcare IT employers, only behind financial concerns.

In today’s market, finding candidates with the right experience is easier said than done. The biggest struggle is centered on locating the right blend of experience. There are many professionals entering the market with degrees, or years of experience in other industries, but they lack the specific experience required in a healthcare environment.

Navigating the Divide

Where are those experienced healthcare IT consultants hiding? The answer: They are actually “hiding” in plain sight. There is a pool of talent that holds both the paper credentials and the experience to drive success for healthcare information systems. However, healthcare organizations that attempt to go out into the market and attract these golden geese on their own will continue to come up short.

In order to bridge the divide, employers must know how to get the inside line on these elusive candidates. The key lies with specialized healthcare IT recruiters. These niche professionals work inside the healthcare IT market, and they maintain a network of both active and passive healthcare IT consultants who are willing and able to accept new challenges.

The IT pros themselves trust their recruiter to match them with opportunities in the market that align with their own skills, experience and career goals.

Savvy healthcare systems take advantage of this relationship by partnering with strategic healthcare IT recruiting firms. Their systems and processes shorten candidate searches, ensure high-quality candidate matches, and improve retention and team morale.

In short, not all recruiters are the same and because healthcare IT is so very specialized, employers must understand that not all recruiting firms are the same. Be certain to choose a partner with experience and a proven track record of success in the healthcare IT field.

shannon 

Shannon Allard Events Manager, Boston Health 2.0

Customer Success: What is it and why it is Super Important

Customer success has become one of the most commonly used terms in business, and despite the hype, it makes sense why.

What is Customer Success?

Navigating customer relationships is complicated, particularly when joining together various stakeholders and organizations having different skills and cultures. Once funding is secured, the sales process finalized, and transition teams become engaged, those teams executing the tasks will need to find creative and collegiate ways to communicate and engage constructively and with the goal of success. But what does customer success really mean?

“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.” – Arnold H. Glasow

At its core, if customers succeed using your tools, product, or services, your business will also succeed. Therefore, client success = your success. Here are a couple of key concepts to think about when people talk about customer success:

  1. Align on joint goals and a way to measure success – Ensure you know where you stand and where you and your customer need to go. This often means using data to set metrics while also being realistic and flexible about changes that will inevitability occur.
  2. Be proactive instead of reactive – Shift the conversation from “how can I support you” to “this is how we can be successful together.” Establish a forum and method to discuss ideas and issues routinely. You can avoid pent up frustrations and continuous ‘wishlists’ by having a regular place to report issues, plan next steps, and work together to problem-solve.
  3. Something is better than nothing – Coming up with new ideas is hard and if you bring something to the table (even if it’s not fully baked), chances are your client will be much more receptive to this than having to start from scratch.
  4. Speak the same language – Can both sides describe the end goal? It’s important to establish a shared mission statement between you and the customer with good rules of communication and operation up front that work with both cultures.
  5. Establish the ‘like’ factor – Build a relationship and create opportunities for genuine interactions by getting to know your customer personally as well as professionally. Chances are it will be a lot harder to be frustrated with a tough situation when you’re working with people you like and respect.

Why it’s Important!

While there are numerous reasons why focusing on customer success could be a powerful tool for your business, here are a couple of key reasons for why you need to think about these as essential:

  1. It’s worth it – Successful customers stick around. If the customer is successful, they won’t leave, and can be more receptive to your suggestions and ideas than starting from scratch with new customers.
  2. Your competition is doing it – While you get distracted supporting your customers, your competition is actively seeking ways to partner, grow, and succeed with clients; therefore taking and keeping customers.
  3. Innovation can be complex – If you offer a service or product which is different from how people normally interact with, use, or think, it’s going to take work to ensure that they are set up correctly from the start. Focusing on customer success helps to ensure a smooth launch and continued growth.

Thoughts for Consideration in your Day-to-Day

Getting started to find what is going to be the right customer success approach for you and your business can be an intensive, challenging, and stressful process. If you begin to feel overwhelmed or discouraged, remember to take each interaction as an opportunity to positively make a difference. It is important to find little victories to celebrate during the course of the project and build upon these wins.  Stay organized, transparent, and this can be infectious and further support project and client success.

It goes without saying, but we live in a small world where reputation is everything (the Kevin Bacon degree of separation number is real)! Remember to be genuine to who you are, and focus on leaving any contact or communication with a positive memory of being a good human being.

Good luck to everyone who is working to further develop and achieve improved customer success and thanks for reading!

Kathryn Woodbury Bagley

 

Kathryn Woodbury Bagley; Co-Chair, Health 2.0 Boston

Safe Opioid Prescribing Practices and How to Achieve Them

With 91 people dying from opioid overdoses each day, using the power of technology to save lives is paramount. Specifically, electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) is gaining swift adoption across the healthcare industry as organizations look to combat prescription fraud, drug diversion, and “doctor shopping” for pills. EPCS takes the paper prescription and the prescriber’s DEA number out of the hands of the patient.

New York State’s I-STOP legislation has played a large role in advancing EPCS. I-STOP went into effect on March 27, 2016, mandating that all prescriptions in New York be electronically prescribed, including controlled substances. Since then, Maine and Virginia have also mandated electronic prescribing for opioid medication, with Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas poised to follow suit.

On a national scale, over 90 percent of pharmacies are ready to use EPCS technology, but only 14.5 percent of providers are actually enabled. To successfully enable EPCS, organizations must comply with specific regulations outlined by the DEA. These requirements are designed to reduce the risk of non-compliance or limited adoption by providers. The regulations include:

  • The EHR and/or e-prescribing applications used must be certified as DEA-compliant
  • Pharmacies must be using software certified as DEA-compliant to accept controlled substance prescriptions sent electronically
  • Prescribers must complete an identity proofing process, of which the DEA allows two types
  • Prescribers must use two-factor authentication when signing an EPCS prescription

Becoming more educated on this topic is important to move forward in the fight against opioid abuse and save lives. For more information on how to become EPCS-enabled while adhering to DEA regulations, I recommend visiting GetEPCS.com for step-by-step instructions, guidance and FAQs. For more information, “A Quick Guide to EPCS” outlines the process that healthcare providers should follow to have a successful DEA-compliant EPCS roll-out.

CarinaEdwards

 

Carina Edwards; Senior VP, Customer Experience Imprivata

 


Event:

Safeguarding Opioid Prescription through Technology & Innovation

Date: August 16, 2017
Time: 6pm-8pm
Location: MCPHS University

Griffin Building, Room 604

179 Longwood Ave, Boston, MA 02115

(Click here for directions)

Join us for a panel discussion with the CEO of e-prescribing platform, DoseSpot, and SVP of Customer Experience at healthcare IT security company, Imprivata, as they share evidence-based safe opioid prescribing practices and the technologies in place today that help providers make informed decisions about acute and chronic pain treatment. With prescription opioids being one of the leading causes of drug related deaths, responsible prescribing is paramount, and the discussion will include recommended best practices across the industry. The panel will be moderated by Gail Marcus, Assistant Professor and Director of Global Healthcare Management Program at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Register:
Please reserve your spot and register for this free event through EventBrite by clicking here.

 

Technologies to Drive Clinical Decisions

Doctors and nurses all have one thing in common, making a clinical decision based upon the presenting patient. Clinical decision-making is used to make life and death decisions about diagnoses and treatments. According to a New England Journal of Medicine article (From Mindless to Mindful Practice—Cognitive Bias and Clinical Decision Making), the diagnostic failure rate is measured anywhere from 10%-15%. The rate of diagnostic failure is the highest in emergency medicine, family medicine, and internal medicine respectively. So why is something so important measured at such a high failure rate? Dr. Pat Croskerry says, “Usually, it’s not a lack of knowledge that leads to failure, but problems with the clinician’s thinking.” In the case of pulmonary embolism for example, physicians only knew it in detail because of its signs and symptoms that often times overlap with other diseases. However it is missed at a rate of 55%, otherwise outside of comorbid medical states.  

Also based on cognitive psychologists’ research, a lot of our everyday thinking is flawed and physicians are not exempt from this fact. The question then remains; how do we better serve the medical community and the end user when it comes to diagnosis of disease states? How can we put biases and flaws aside to better diagnose our patients and therefore, give them the proper treatments?

Dr. Pat Croskerry believes that most clinical decisions are failures because the physician is trusting personal intuition, rather than looking at the facts presented. He goes on to say, “When primary care physicians trust their intuition that a patient’s chest pain does not have a cardiac origin, they will usually be correct — but not always. The clinical gamble of trusting one’s intuitions generally carries good odds, but inevitably those intuitions will fail some patients.”

As a soon to be practicing healthcare stakeholder, I believe this is somewhat true, because doctors may be presented with symptoms that they may believe have a cause, but there remains doubt until the problem is further investigated.

In the popular television series, Grey’s Anatomy, this scenario is presented with two different outcomes. One doctor believes she knows exactly what is wrong with her patient based on the symptoms that the patient presents, however in the end, she is incorrect. While in the other scenario, the doctor knows what is wrong with his patient based on his intuition, and after doing a little more research, his intuition was right and he saved the patient’s life. In order to overcome the failures of clinical decision-making, physicians must put aside personal biases and formulate their decisions on the facts presented. This is a big step towards giving the patient the quality healthcare they deserve and where I believe technologies that support analytics of disease states is invaluable to supporting and fine tuning healthcare delivery. By putting these steps together, the physician will make the best clinical decision for their patient and that patient will get the best treatment.

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Margarita Shqina; Guest Contributor
Candidate for Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Informatics ’18; MCPHS University

 

References
Croskerry, Pat. “From Mindless to Mindful Practice—Cognitive Bias and Clinical Decision Making.” New England Journal of Medicine 368.26 (2013): 2445-448. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. <http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJMp1303712&gt;.