Health IT Pulse

March 1, 2010  5:10 PM

Superusers key to getting provider buy-in

Don Fluckinger Profile: Don Fluckinger
HIMSS10, user buy-in

Here at HIMSS10, national health care IT leaders discuss their best practices from the dais. One of the many worth sharing today came from David Dawdy, CIO for Phelps County Regional Medical Center in Rolla, Mo., who drafted a corps of 28 “superusers” who help his team test and roll out new equipment and systems.

These group leaders inside the hospital not only offer feedback on what works and what doesn’t, but once they’re sold on a piece of technology, they also become technology champions to their peers.

There’s a lot more to say about Dawdy’s team, which will be covered more in-depth in the future on, but today, we asked him: Who all is in his superuser group, and what tips does he have for other hospital IT leaders struggling to implement a new piece of technology at their own facilities?

Surprisingly, no physicians are in this particular group (they contribute elsewhere), but instead he’s tapped nurses, respiratory therapists and other front-line providers. In fact, at least one person from every group providing ancillary services is represented among the superusers. 

He and fellow speaker at the association’s awards brunch Allana Cummings CIO of Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Neb., told that these user groups are key to getting systemwide buy-in to new tech. It’s not just the participation that makes it go, but also integrating their wants and needs into the implementation process.

“They’ve got to feel that what they’re sharing with you actually is baked into the decision making,” Cummings said. “If they feel that their time is well-invested, then they are going to want to participate.”

“You have to empower these people because they have to feel they’re part of the team,” Dawdy said. “They have to be making decisions that complement your progress.”

March 1, 2010  10:44 AM

The meaning behind a HIMSS annual conference keynote

JeanD Profile: JeanD
HIMSS10, Meaningful use

Opening keynote speeches usually provide a big-picture outlook on whatever topic a conference is promoting. From this morning’s session at HIMSS10, one would expect the next four days will be focused on the future of wireless in health information technology.

Not to say Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Nextel Corp., did not give a rousing big-picture look at how wireless — specifically Sprint’s 4G network — will affect health care delivery. Indeed, he seemed to be preaching to the choir, if the sea of faces illuminated by the faint lights of BlackBerrys and iPhones as people were busy texting and emailing throughout the presentation is any indication.

And unlike television’s early Sunday morning advertorials, there were no “ShamWow” moments, although there were plenty of references to what’s happening on the “Now Network.”

Still, the speech seemed a departure from past big-picture keynoters: Last year, actor Dennis Quaid provided a personal reflective on medication safety, giving an account of how his infant twins nearly died in the hospital following a drug overdose. The year before, former U.S. Senator Bill Frist broadly discussed the intersection of politics and health IT.

That intersection is on everyone’s minds this year, as well. As the number of sessions, workshops and pre-conference meetings demonstrate, the hot topic at this year’s HIMSS annual conference is what’s going to happen when providers have to implement meaningful use criteria. Attendees might hear more about that during the Wednesday morning keynote, with David Blumenthal, the physician who heads the Office of the National Coordinator.

March 1, 2010  9:41 AM

Meaningful use to drive health IT spending: HIMSS survey

Beastwood Profile: Beastwood
EHR, HIMSS10, Meaningful use

Not surprisingly, meaningful use is poised to drive spending on health IT in 2010, perhaps even to pre-recession levels, according to the annual leadership survey of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

The results of the survey, released at the HIMSS 2010 annual conference, suggest that nearly 60% of providers intend to make additional IT investments in order to meet federal criteria for meaningful use and thus qualify for federal financial incentives. Meaningful use was further identified by a plurality of respondents (42%) as the top IT priority of the next two years, with the related issues of implementing an electronic health record (EHR) and/or computerized physician order entry system checking in at 35% and 27%, respectively.

A total of 398 respondents, representing about 270 health care organizations and nearly 700 hospitals, completed the HIMSS leadership survey between Dec. 14, 2009, and Jan. 29, 2010.

Other interesting survey tidbits include the following:

  • Nearly three in four survey respondents expect IT operating budgets to return to where they were two years ago.
  • Nearly two in three expect to add staff.
  • Nearly half have a fully operational EHR system in at least one location, and nearly a quarter have such a system in place throughout their organization.
  • More than four in 10 participate in a health information exchange (HIE).
  • Thirty percent of respondents said their primary security concern was maintaining compliance with HIPAA security and privacy laws, including new data breach notification regulations.

We expect meaningful use to dominate the discussions, formal and otherwise, at HIMSS10. We also hope to learn how those 60% of providers not in an HIE and those 50% of providers without an EHR system can get started before it is too late.

March 1, 2010  6:47 AM

HIMSS10: A rocking start to the annual conference

JeanD Profile: JeanD

On site at HIMSS10, where several thousand people are waiting for the opening keynote from Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint Nextel Corp. The sun has barely risen, but inside the conference ballroom, it’s disco lights and heart-thumping Latin music.

February 23, 2010  4:56 PM

HHS data breach posts show many entries into health care facilities

Don Fluckinger Profile: Don Fluckinger
data breaches, HIPAA

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services posted a new list of data breaches affecting 500 or more people. What jumps out from the list is the variety of breach sources — including desktop computers, laptops, backup tapes, and paper documents. Facilities currently assessing their security policies and procedures might first look in these places to shore up vulnerabilities.

Some of the greatest hits from this lengthy list:

  • 9,309 records lost from a Missouri facility via desktop computer theft.
  • 10,000 records lost from a Michigan vendor via theft of backup tapes.
  • 359,000 records lost from a Florida facility via laptop theft.
  • 596 records lost from a Massachusetts facility via paper documents.

Many breaches occurred via portable electronic devices, HHS also notes. What’s your policy concerning people who bring thumb drives to work? What will your policy be in the future, considering that patients may be toting their own personal health records on thumb drives? All these questions need to be addressed in this new era of HIPAA accountability.

February 23, 2010  1:04 PM

ONC’s HIMSS Interoperability Showcase — is it in your future?

Don Fluckinger Profile: Don Fluckinger

Every single trade show and exhibition claims that right now, its chosen industry is on the brink of some grand new era of something or other. So, it’s nothing new that for next week’s Healthcare and Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) show, numerous vendors, speakers and HIMSS itself have latched on to the marketing theme of “transforming healthcare.”

Below the veneer of transformational hype, however, this time there appears to be a grain or two of truth.

With billions of federal dollars pouring into the nation’s hospitals, clinics and physician practices to aid them in implementing electronic health records over the next five years, next week’s HIMSS will be the place where facilities’ leaders take home ideas and strategies for implementing EHRs in their own backyards.

Amid the rampant commercialism on display at the Georgia World Congress Center next week will be some very interesting, less commercial demonstrations at the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s Interoperability Showcase. In one patch of floor space, ONC will have assembled more than 60 demonstration projects that could serve as pilots for thousands more in the coming years.

Some of the more interesting demos — at least on paper:

Supporting midwestern grandparents on vacation: A large urban health information exchange in Cincinnati, a community HIE in southeast Nebraska and a rural HIE in California will together demonstrate how the ONC’s CONNECT toolkit enables the sharing of health data as Nebraska grandparents travel across the country and visit family in Ohio and California.

Improving adverse event reporting: The Food and Drug Administration can collect device reports straight out of EHRs, giving regulators a much more complete picture than the current reporting system can of which patients could be affected by what problem devices.

Building family patient histories: The Surgeon General’s “My Family Health Portrait” pipes data collected from consumers via the Web into EHRs and personal health records.

These early adopters (federal agencies, states, providers and payers) will be showing how they’re sharing health data across public and private networks, and sharing their best practices for standardizing, transmitting and securing it.

Some show attendees will blow right past these without a second thought. The siren song of bigger, brighter lights, louder noise and free stuff will prove too great a distraction.

Take a second look at ONC’s demos, however, because viewing the projects on display in this particular corner of HIMSS might very well be akin to glancing into a crystal ball and seeing your future.

February 17, 2010  11:27 AM

Hello Health Care IT World!

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Welcome to the Health IT Pulse blog, part of TechTarget’s health care IT network. Watch this space for news and comment and go to and Health IT Exchange for more news, research and community.

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