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Survey: Most Docs Optimistic that Digital Tech Will Reduce Provider Burden

March 15, 2018
by Heather Landi
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About two thirds (66 percent) of physicians anticipate digital health technology will help reduce burden on the health care system and associated costs, according to a recent survey. What’s more, most physicians (64 percent) think digital health technology that captures patient-generated data will reduce the burden on doctors and nurses, specifically, which will have a positive impact on the critical issue of burnout.

These findings on physician views, combined with consumer views, about the potential of digital health technology come from an EY “Future of Health: Digital Health” survey, which polled 2,455 U.S. consumers, 152 physicians and 195 executives to understand how they think digital technologies will improve overall health.

Similar to their experience in the retail and transportation industries, consumers today expect their interaction with the health system to be supported by technology and are open to more digital interaction. And the survey results indicate that physicians also support the idea that the right technologies can improve patient outcomes.

More than 50 percent of consumers surveyed indicate a comfort level in contacting their physician digitally and have already begun utilizing available technologies to augment the relationship, the EY survey found. Sixty-three percent have used tech to track health- or exercise-related information daily or weekly in the past 12 months, with 60 percent indicating they would share this data if it would assist physicians in treating them. Twenty-five percent are currently going online to complete forms and schedule appointments.

“Consumers have a more holistic view of health, one that encompasses social, financial and mental well-being. Engagement with digital technology for health is gaining momentum, driven by a desire to improve wellness and underpinned by convenience. Technology is seen as one of the key enablers of seeing health as a lifelong journey,” the report states.

However, the survey also found that the human element is still very important to patients. Fifty-eight percent of consumers said they prefer to interact with their physicians in person, compared to only 7 percent who said they would be more comfortable interacting with their physician online.

The report authors note that, in the short term, technologies that seek to augment, rather than replace the physician/patient interaction, are a good foot in the door. “This is an easier sell to physicians, too, who already feel overburdened with tasks that they feel limit their chance to interact with patients and offer little value,” the report states.

The survey found that some consumers are interesting in utilizing other available technologies—33 percent of consumers said they would use smartphone-connected devices to send information to a physician and 36 percent said they would use an at-home diagnostic test kit and send the information to a physician. What’s more, 21 percent said they would use video consultations with medical professionals.

“This kind of demand paves the way for new entrants to offer direct-to-consumer solutions that fuse biology and tech – another indicator that health is on the cusp of convergence,” the report states.

The survey also found that physicians widely agree that digital technology will contribute to population health, reduced burden on the health care system and lower costs. Physicians see connected sensors that can provide regular biometric data and in-home genetic testing as a door to a broader understanding of their patients.

Physicians reported enthusiasm for using technology to improve patients’ experience and overall health—74 percent of physicians feel that patient portals, where users can manage appointments and refill prescriptions, will be beneficial and 68 percent believe at-home diagnostic testing will discover better outcomes. Most physicians also see the potential for smartphone apps that record health and fitness data, as 67 percent see these apps as delivering better outcomes.

Seventy-one percent of physicians also indicate that the use of personal sensor-based technology will have a positive impact. In fact, 83 percent of physicians said that consumer-generated data from phone apps and sensor devices could support care coordination across providers and enable more personalized care plans.

Perhaps most interestingly, two-thirds (66 percent) of physicians anticipate a reduced burden on the health care system and associated costs. And, as mentioned above, 64 percent of physicians think technology that captures consumer-generated data will reduce the burden on doctors and nurses specifically, which will have a positive impact on the critical issue of burnout.

The survey also found that incentives and levers are crucial to encourage more consumers to share health information digitally. Sharing data to improve convenience (wait times) trumps cost savings (61 percent to 55 percent). Sharing lifestyle information becomes more palatable (74 percent agree) if it is seen as a way to help physicians treat people more comprehensively. Curiosity is a powerful motivator; some would share dietary and exercise information if they could receive tailored information back, the survey findings indicate.

Overall, American consumers are open to sharing a range of health-related information with physicians, including medical history—but still report hesitation over sharing some types of data, the survey found. Forty percent of consumers are very or extremely interested in allowing health care professionals to access their medical history for treatment planning. This includes data on symptoms, medication, biometric data (e.g., blood sugar) and treatment history.

Fifty-four percent of consumers indicated they would share grocery-shopping habits, and most consumers (60 percent) indicated they would share tracked exercise and activity data. “This, again, suggests that consumers are hungry for a better experience and are empowered by emerging technology. This finding reinforces the need to rethink how and where care is delivered, and what constitutes a traditional health organization,” the report states.


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LabCorp Joins Apple Health Records Project

November 5, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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LabCorp, a provider of clinical laboratory and end-to-end drug development services, has announced that it has enabled Apple’s Health Records feature for its patients.

This iPhone feature aims to make it easier for LabCorp patients to access their LabCorp laboratory test results, along with other available medical data from multiple providers, whenever they choose, according to officials.

In January, Apple announced that it would be testing the Health Records feature out with 12 hospitals, inclusive of some of the most prominent healthcare institutions in the U.S. Since that time, more than 100 new organizations have joined the project,  according to Apple.

LabCorp test results are viewable in the Apple Health app for LabCorp patients who have an account with the company, and enable integration with the Health Records app. In addition to their LabCorp test results, patients will have information from participating healthcare institutions organized into one view, covering allergies, medical conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals.

Patients will receive notifications when their data is updated, and the Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID or Face ID, according to officials.

“LabCorp on Health Records will help provide healthcare consumers with a more holistic view of their health. Laboratory test results are central to medical decision making, and broadening access to this information will help patients take charge of their health and wellness, and lead to more informed dialogues between patients and their healthcare providers,” David P. King, chairman and CEO of LabCorp, said in a statement.

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HIMSS Analytics Introduces Infrastructure Adoption Model for Health Systems

October 25, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, announced the introduction of the Infrastructure Adoption Model, or INFRAM, which is designed to measure the technical infrastructure used within a health system.

The INFRAM focuses on five technical subdomains, allowing organizations to benchmark how their infrastructure operates within the following areas: mobility; security; collaboration; transport; and data center.

Similar to HIMSS Analytics’ well-known Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, or, EMRAM, the INFRAM is an eight-stage model (0 – 7) that allows healthcare IT leaders to map the technology infrastructure capabilities required to reach their facility’s clinical and operational goals, while meeting industry benchmarks and standards.  The final stage, Stage 7, guides organizations towards optimized information integration, contextualization and orchestration essential for the delivery of higher order local and virtualized care processes.

For reference purposes, Stage 0 on the model represents that an organization does not have a VPN, intrusion detection/prevention, security policy, data center or compute architecture. Stage 3 signifies that an organization has an advanced intrusion prevention system, while Stage 5 represents having video on mobile devices, location-based messaging, firewall with advanced malware protection, and real-time scanning of email hyperlinks.

HIMSS officials note that by identifying specific benchmarks for organizations to reach before they go live with EMR, systems, the INFRAM aims to ensure that a health system’s infrastructure is stable, manageable and extensible. Through this, organizations can ideally improve care delivery and create a pathway for infrastructure development tied to business and clinical outcomes.

 “The INFRAM is a welcome addition to our maturity model suite and addresses a longstanding need – guiding healthcare organizations in securely implementing the infrastructure with which their EMRs are built upon,” Blain Newton, executive vice president, HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement. “We have seen health systems engage with advanced clinical applications, only for them to ‘glitch’ under infrastructure that isn't powerful enough to support their tools. With the INFRAM, healthcare providers can develop a detailed, strategic technology plan that defines their organization's current state, desired future state, and each stage in between to achieve their clinical and operational goals.”

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