Guides
  • Resource Center: Meaningful use of EHR technology

    The HITECH Act of 2009 requires health care organizations to demonstrate the meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) technology by 2015. By forcing providers to adopt EHR, this mandate, which was included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, intends to improve care quality while reducing waste in an industry where up to one-third of spending is unnecessary.

    Under the HITECH Act, hospitals and eligible providers receive financial incentives for demonstrating the meaningful use of EHR. The earlier they do so, the more money they receive. There are separate programs, with differing eligibility, for providers who participate in Medicare or Medicaid. Providers who cannot show the meaningful use of EHR technology by 2015 are subject to reduced federal reimbursements for providing care.

    Achieving the meaningful use of EHR is not easy, though. Doing so requires the use of certified EHR software. While there are plenty of such systems on the market -- hundreds at present, and thousands in a matter of time -- choosing the system that most closely matches an organization's clinical workflow and implementing it without significant disruptions to patient care can be a tremendous challenge. What's more, in most cases the money provided through the government's EHR Incentive Programs will barely cover the cost of EHR implementation, let alone system maintenance or any IT infrastructure upgrades necessary to accommodate the new software.

    This SearchHealthIT.com Resource Center takes a close look at the meaningful use of EHR, from the final rule that established the EHR Incentive Programs and the meaningful use criteria to the planning and know-how that providers need.

  • Tutorial: Deploying UC technology in health care

    Improving communication solutions is at the forefront of numerous industries. Health care is no exception. Unified communications, or UC, is designed to optimize business processes by integrating numerous means of communication into one system. Since health care needs steadfast communication services in a time-sensitive environment, UC technology can be used to find physicians and specialists faster and, as a result, to improve patient care quality.

  • Health IT library

    Take a deep dive into the health IT trends and technologies impacting hospital IT departments and health care CIOs across the country. These expert e-books will keep health IT professionals informed about key topics such as business intelligence, data loss prevention and managing life critical networks for health care.

  • Server virtualization technology in health care

    Health care providers tend to be stuck with a thorny tangle of stand-alone legacy systems, and server virtualization technology can be especially beneficial in helping to manage and secure them. A virtual environment can provide the flexibility needed to meet the changing demands of a wide range of users, from doctors to administrators to technicians.

    Server virtualization technology makes a single physical server act as many, enabling the use of software in environments separate from the hardware. It allows an organization to get the most out of its hardware, and it provides the flexibility to add and remove virtual servers as needed. Server virtualization technology can be deployed at different levels, including the machine and operating system (OS) levels.

    At the machine level, a single physical server acts as a host for multiple guest environments, which operate on a virtual copy of the physical hardware. Virtual machines allow network administrators to create multiple environments using different operating systems. To use the host machine's computing resources, a hypervisor, or virtual machine manager is used to manage the virtual machines' resources.

    When server virtualization is done at the OS level, a host machine runs one core OS kernel and distributes functions to guest machines. This leads to performance gains, but it does not offer the same flexibility as server virtualization at the machine level does.

    Full server virtualization technology uses a lot of processing power because of the resources the hypervisor needs to manage the guest machines. Paravirtualization, however, enables a reduction in processing demands by modifying guest operating systems to cooperate with the hypervisor.

  • AHIMA 2011 conference coverage

    The American Health Information Managers Association (AHIMA) 2011 conference in Salt Lake City promises to cover a lot of ground, from meaningful use and electronic health records to the transition to International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition, or ICD-10. For health information management professionals, it's one of the most important learning opportunities of the year.

    This page is your resource for the latest AHIMA 2001 articles, videos and blog entries from the SearchHealthIT.com staff. Check back often for updates.

  • Reader feedback and letters to the editor

    SearchHealthIT.com welcomes reader feedback on our news articles, expert advice and tutorials. Our editors value the perspective that our readers can share in their position as IT managers and advocates in hospitals, health centers, IDNs and government agencies in the United States and around the world.

    Quick links to our news articles, expert advice and tutorials appear in the navigation bar at the top of the page, just below our site logo. (You can also visit our Health IT news page, our FAQ guides for health IT or our individual health IT topics pages.) Each piece of content offers the opportunity to submit reader feedback directly to the author or to a member of our editorial staff.

    For a more interactive conversation with your peers and other industry experts, please visit our community site, the Health IT Exchange.

  • The role of ICD-10 codes in health IT

    The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10) is the latest iteration of the code set developed and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is widely used in the developed world for recording morbidity and clinical data. The United States, on the other hand, continues to use a version of ICD-9 for clinical and billing purposes. ICD-9 dates back to 1979 and, as a result, is almost universally regarded as inadequate for coding 21st century medicine. The American Medical Association and its vociferous opposition to ICD-10 is a notable exception.

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's mandated switch to ICD-10 codes, originally slated for Oct. 1, 2011 and later pushed back two years, was delayed again in February 2012. A new deadline has not been announced, though a delay is expected to be in yearlong increments (as opposed to, say, six months) in order to remain consistent with the start of the federal fiscal year.

    While burdensome health IT mandates such as meaningful use, quality reporting and health information exchange -- not to mention politics -- have motivated the ICD-10 delay, the primary cause has arguably been the inability of health care organizations of all sizes to create and execute a viable ICD-10 implementation plan.

    The transition to ICD-10 codes does not require new hardware or software per se but, rather, a comprehensive examination of which clinical and administrative processes, and their requisite IT systems, are affected by the new code set. Accordingly, the timeline for a proper ICD-10 implementation plan is measured in years, not months.

    Simply put, many health care organizations have fallen behind -- and, without an ICD-10 implementation plan, they may not catch up. The stakes are high, as flexibility will not be built into the ICD-10 deadline. Once it has passed, all electronic transactions must use ICD-10 codes, and HHS will no longer accept ICD-9 codes.

    Failure to comply will result in delayed claims and, critically, payments. Some have suggested that this may cost large hospitals millions of dollars and may force small practices to close their doors for good. Such sobering news should be enough for any organization to take its ICD-10 implementation plan seriously.

  • Improving health information management

    Data is the life force of many of today's enterprises. Data enables companies to build better products and services, and to better sell them to their customers. This data comes at a price and, in some cases, is difficult to come by .

    Health care organizations, on the other hand, possess enough data to make any enterprise green with envy. For years they have been gathering clinical data, patient data and other health care data. However, its value as a whole has been largely untapped.

    Federal regulations are forcing organizations to reconsider health information management. As health care organizations put their data online, they are starting to recognize the opportunities available to leverage that data to lower costs, deliver better patient care and meet regulatory mandates. This Guide introduces health IT professionals to the technologies that can enable the benefits of improved health information management.

  • How specialists tackle meaningful use compliance

    Meaningful use compliance among specialists is a thorny topic facing a primary care-driven health care industry. Nor will this concern waver soon -- meaningful use stages 2 and 3 have yet to be defined but promise to bring more, and more stringent, requirements for using electronic health record (EHR) technology.

    Some specialists are considered eligible professionals, meaning they can participate in the federal government's EHR Incentive Programs. Others are not. This SearchHealthIT.com guide offers insight on a handful of specialties and, more specifically, how specialists approach selecting and implementing EHR systems, as well as addressing workflow and infrastructure changes.

  • HIMSS 2012 conference coverage

    The Health Information and Management Systems Society's HIMSS 2012 conference is Feb. 20-24 in Las Vegas. This annual event brings together tens of thousands of health care and IT professionals for a variety of educational sessions, vendor briefings and networking opportunities.

    SearchHealthIT.com will cover the HIMSS 2012 conference in great depth, offering news, tips, blog entries and videos live from the show floor and once attendees have returned from Las Vegas. Bookmark this page and come back often for the latest updates from the HIMSS convention.

  • Health IT research and surveys

  • Guide to health care compliance resources, agencies

  • Avenues to EHR purchasing and selection

    The goal of the HITECH Act regulations within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is to improve patient care quality while limiting costs. One of the key initiatives to reach this goal is for health care entities to adopt electronic health record (EHR) technology. To comply with new electronic processes, hospitals are forced to, among other tasks, evaluate their current workflow, infrastructure, security and overall resources.

    EHR adoption, however, is easier said than done. Health care organizations must select a vendor that caters to their care initiatives. Additionally, care initiatives need to harmonize with the EHR system's functionality -- which can be a difficult undertaking given physician concerns over productivity loss. This guide showcases avenues to selecting the right vendor while also purchasing an EHR system that makes the most sense.

  • ATA 2012 news coverage

    Telemedicine has undoubtedly made its mark on the health IT landscape, benefiting all providers in health care -- not just those who practice in rural and impoverished areas. Health care stakeholders interested in telemedicine will gather at the ATA 2012 conference in San Jose, CA to hear about the latest developments in telemedicine, telehealth and mHealth services and technologies.

    This guide offers telemedicine news and developments directly from health IT leaders at the American Telemedicine Association's 17th annual conference. Bookmark this page and come back often for the latest updates from ATA 2012.

  • Tutorial: Five steps to effective wireless networking in health care

    Wireless technology is being used extensively in health care, in a wide variety of settings. Wi-Fi coverage must be available from the emergency room to the pediatric ward to the intensive care unit, with each area having different needs and considerations. This tutorial shows IT pros how to plan, implement and manage health care wireless networks.

  • The role of patient engagement in health care

    Patient engagement is a slippery slope in today's health care space. The responsibility for empowering patients does not rest squarely on the shoulders of providers, patients or even technology, but rather on a mix of all three to produce better health outcomes. Patient engagement comes at an evolving time in health care -- a time when federal regulations and incentives are on the minds of caregivers and patients who want more access to their personal health information. To that end, it's fair to suggest that the goal of patient engagement is clearly established, but the road to reach that goal remains unpaved.

    This SearchHealthIT guide looks at how patient engagement is progressing in health care, particularly how health IT is enabling patients to be more involved in their care while providers seek to encourage them to take an active role.

  • How the Affordable Care Act impacts health IT

    For patients, providers, stakeholders and other health IT leaders, waiting for the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) decision on health care reform required much patience. Now that the decision has marinated with the public since June 28, 2012, many health care organizations have opinions, concerns and praise about it.

    This guide offers insight into what industry experts are saying as well as comprehensive coverage from SearchHealthIT's news stories and the Health IT Exchange Community blog.

  • Accountable care organization and mHealth technology guide

    Many health care facilities are transitioning their services to accountable care organizations (ACOs). This requires greater patient engagement, something which might be accomplished with the burgeoning use of mobile health (mHealth) technology. By keeping themselves active in their own well-being, patients who use mHealth techniques can stay healthy and save money for themselves and their health care providers.

    This guide consults expert opinions in outlining the future of ACO and mHealth technology and how they can work together to provide a better health care experience for patients and providers alike.

  • AHIMA 2012 conference coverage

    The 2012 American Health Information Managers Association (AHIMA) conference in Chicago promises to be an important learning opportunity for health information management (HIM) professionals. It will present possible solutions and cover issues facing the evolving HIM market.

    This page is your resource for the latest AHIMA 2012 articles, videos and blog entries from the SearchHealthIT.com staff. Check back often for updates.

  • This year's mHealth Summit promises to deliver the latest information on mobile health adoption from both a technical and business perspective. The event will provide insight into recent research, and more than 400 exhibitors will present their mHealth services.

    The mHealth Summit 2012 page will be updated by the SearchHealthIT.com staff and will include blog posts and deliver news as it develops live at the conference. Check back often for the latest updates.

  • Health care patient ID verification and protection

    Patient data is more accessible than ever thanks to patient and provider mobile connectivity. Data protection and patient ID verification have become critical parts of health care infrastructure. Providers want to identify their patients as quickly as possible, if they’re in need of emergency treatment, but they also need to ensure the data they're reading is accurate and secure.

    Read this guide to understand how different health care patient ID verification technologies and trends, including single sign-on, data breach protection and response, and more, have affected and will continue to shape the health IT industry.

  • Guide: Health care data interoperability

    Health care data interoperability is a cornerstone issue as providers become more heavily involved in health IT issues, including electronic health records, accountable care organizations and mobile health innovations. Interoperability, while perceived to be a cost- and time-saving strategy, can be a contentious issue among vendors that don't want to share proprietary system information and providers that don't trust sending patient information across databases for anyone to see. It has been discussed by all sides of the health IT market, with vendors, government agencies such as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and provider representatives all making evaluations on the current and future state of interoperability in health care.

    Vendors will continue to consider interoperability in their products as new health IT technology continues to be created.

  • Guide: iHT2 coverage and commentary

    The Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2) hosts events every year for health care professionals to promote the availability and safety of patient health information. Experts attend the iHT2 events and many of them have shared their opinions on developments in the health IT industry with SearchHealthIT. This guide covers a range of topics including HIE, meaningful use, the use of cloud in health care and more.

    All of our iHT2 coverage, including thoughts from past iHT2 panel members, medical professionals, and IT pros are included in this guide. Check back for updates to our iHT2 news.

  • Conference: HIMSS 2013 coverage

    The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference will run from March 3-7 in New Orleans. HIMSS 2013 will feature commentary and updates on all the big health IT topics, including meaningful use, health information exchange (HIE) and mHealth. SearchHealthIT staff has the conference covered and will provide updates live from the event. Preconference speculation has already begun, with our own Don Fluckinger covering a potential HIE partnership between two electronic health record (EHR) vendors. The conference could provide updates on this topic and many more.

  • Guide: Medical speech recognition and natural language processing

    Medical speech recognition and natural language processing have reached all corners of the health IT industry, from providers to patients. Speech recognition has saved practices time and paper by reducing the number of charts required for each patient, while giving doctors another way to record and transmit more accurate patient notes.

    Healthcare organizations have also used medical speech recognition as a way to reorganize business functions, like streamlining their billing process and converting patient information into billing codes.

    Patients have also been a target of medical speech recognition technology vendors. Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak suggested that future medical devices may be able to "hear" a patient's description of their condition and the device would be able to provide a better plan of care than a doctor. Ordering medication and scheduling appointments are other future functions that may be eased through the use of voice recognition. Though digital assistants, like Siri, have grown in popularity, they've yet to take on anything beyond basic healthcare functions.

  • Guide: ATA 2013 conference

    The American Telemedicine Association Annual International Meeting & Trade Show in Austin, Texas, will cover the latest telemedicine news, from the sharing of patient information across facilities to the delivery of remote care to patients. The 18th annual conference runs from May 5-7 and expects to host more than 6,000 attendees.

    Telemedicine, like other health IT trends, can provide a major technology boost to new health care delivery models such as accountable care. Read this guide to find out how telemedicine can help make up for physician shortages and why strict state credentialing laws are holding it back from reaching its maximum potential. The best applications of telemedicine are still being debated, but there's no doubt use of the technology is increasing, extending the reach of certain scarce but in-demand specialties beyond the four walls of the office. Follow our coverage to see what presenters at this year's ATA conference have to say about these topics and more.