Experts stress need for health groups to test disaster recovery plans | Ed Marx comments on preparing for disaster | Critical-access hospitals make strides in HIT adoption, study finds
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July 17, 2014
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Experts stress need for health groups to test disaster recovery plans
Hurricanes and other disasters can disrupt the data operations of health care organizations, which can adversely affect patient safety and clinical workflow. To better respond to disasters, experts are advising organizations to periodically test their disaster recovery and business continuity plans and update them to reflect technological advances. & Sound blog (7/14)
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Ed Marx comments on preparing for disaster
Ed Marx, SVP and CIO, Texas Health Resources
Ed Marx, SVP and CIO, Texas Health Resources
As an Army ROTC cadet, I often heard this common reminder from Master Sergeant Samuelson: "If it ain't rainin', it ain't trainin'." While we future officers desired perfect weather conditions for all of our training exercises, Samuelson knew it could lull us into a false sense of competency. Then, when it really mattered and we led troops into battle, we would not know how to handle unaccounted-for variables such as weather and other less-than-ideal circumstances. For the best chance of real-world success, you had to train in real-world conditions.

So it is with disaster planning and business continuity. We need to practice in multiple modalities and environments. Table-top exercises are super, but are not part of a solid preparation plan if that is all you do. They are an important component, albeit just one of many to ensure adequate preparation. As radical as it might seem, you should consider unannounced but controlled downtime of primary applications in order to actively practice business continuity. If you want to know how staff will react in a true disaster, you have to train and practice in real-world scenarios. Certainly, you need to work closely with your leadership and have adequate staff support for those affected in such drills to ensure safety and the coordination of care. Still, it remains less risky than leaving it to chance and learning the hard way that staff was ill prepared because we sheltered them from the rain.
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Get the Inside Story on Meaningful Use Attestation and Audits
Preparing for Meaningful Use attestation is a complex effort that requires careful planning. There are actions that you can take now to prepare you for attestation and a potential audit, including monitoring your scores and documenting your processes. Request this free eBook to learn how you can prepare to attest for Meaningful Use and effectively prepare for an audit.
Strategy & Leadership
Critical-access hospitals make strides in HIT adoption, study finds
A study in Health Affairs looked at a survey conducted by HIMSS of critical-access hospitals from November 2012 to April 2013 and identified eight areas in which the facilities have improved their health information technology. The study found that 89% have put either full or partial EHRs in place, 70% have teleradiology capabilities, 59% have the ability to offer telehealth services and 50% offer e-prescribing. (7/14)
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Technology Spotlight
Growth expected for infection surveillance, patient acuity tools
A report from HIMSS Analytics suggests that the market for tools used for infection surveillance, patient acuity and laboratory outreach services is maturing as the health IT sector puts more emphasis on technology that supports preventive care and clinical efficacy. The report was based on a study of 27 clinical applications. Healthcare Informatics online (7/15)
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Management & Operation
Study finds no link between EHR use, increased Medicare fraud
A study by the University of Michigan School of Information and the Harvard School of Public Health examined data from hospitals that adopted EHRs and those that did not to determine if EHR adoption would lead to increases in fraudulent Medicare coding and billing. The study, which appears in the July issue of Health Affairs, found no difference in the increases in Medicare billing between the two groups. The study also suggested that an efficient use of EHRs to reduce costs, and not policies to reduce fraud, would be the best way to reduce health care spending. Health Data Management (7/14)
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Maine health system works to ease use of patient portal
Portland, Maine, provider Mercy Health System is making its Allscripts FollowMyHealth portal user-friendly to meet the stage 2 meaningful use requirement that more than 5% of patients view their health records online. The portal helps patients set appointments and allows doctors to track patient conditions. A feature to allow face-to-face communication between doctor and patient is under development. Health Data Management (7/14)
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Regulatory & Legislative
CMS urged to exempt diagnostic labs from EHR rule
Medicare diagnostic laboratories should be exempted from a provision under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that would require providers to upgrade their electronic health records, House lawmakers said in a letter sent to the CMS on Thursday. The requirement creates a heavy financial burden for labs that perform clinical tests on Medicare patients, according to the College of American Pathologists. The Hill (7/14)
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Updates to sites planned by CMS to simplify ratings
The CMS plans to add a rating system using stars to its Home Health Compare, Dialysis Facility Compare and Hospital Compare websites to make it easier for consumers to understand the ratings. The additions will be made throughout the rest of this year and into 2015, CMS Deputy Administrator for Innovation and Quality and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Conway wrote in a blog post. The websites are all part of (7/15)
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Market Focus
More insurers provide coverage for telemedicine
More health insurers are covering telemedicine for the diagnosis of minor ailments. Online care can reduce costs, improve access to health care providers and free doctors to provide more care, experts say. State boards and medical societies are developing standards to make it easier for doctors to offer online care and ensure patient safety. Bloomberg (7/14)
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CHIME plans LEAD Forum on HIT cybersecurity
Safeguarding and securing cyberspace is critical as we increase our reliance on technology. Effective cybersecurity is crucial as threats and cyberattacks continue to rise and more advanced technology is deployed. This forum is designed for CIOs and information security executives who are working to ensure their organizations' valued data assets and technology are protected before a cyberattack occurs. The CHIME LEAD Forum, planned in collaboration with the Institute for Health Technology Transformation, will be held Sept. 15 in the McGraw-Hill Conference Center, New York. Get more information.
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Register now for the CHIME Healthcare CIO Boot Camp
Learn the seven success factors from a faculty of health care CIO thought leaders. The next offering of the CHIME Healthcare CIO Boot Camp is Oct. 24-27 in San Antonio, Texas. Get more information, including how to register.
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Be brave enough to start a conversation that matters."
-- Margaret Wheatley,
American writer
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