All posts by evq

Save time with Med Wait Time

ER Wait Times

The holy grail of efficiency in doctors offices, emergency rooms and urgent cares is reducing wait times for patients. Lower time improves patient satisfaction the overall patient experience immensely.
Today you can order a book on Amazon and know how long before you get it, you can can check if your flight is delayed online and get alerts on your phone. But same was not true about health care until now. Yes, now you can get wait time at your nearest ER or urgent care or even information on your doctors office appointments.

There’s an app for that!

Med wait time splash

Earlier on this blog we had talked about how the ipad and mobile devices can actually revolutionize health care. We call it health 3.0.

Med wait time started by Vishal Mehta an orthopedic and sports medicine physician has turned our health 3.0 vision into reality. In May last year he teamed up with a couple of partners to launch the application online and even created an iphone app for that. Vishal spoke to us and said his team is now working on a Android app and now has the ability to send wait times and appointment information as text messages to phones where people do not have a smart phone device or prefer receiving text messages.

Patients can also make appointments through the site. And it’s absolutely free for patients. Doctors offices and ER, Urgent Care can sign up for a small fee and offer all the cool features to their patients. Vishal shared that about 300 clients had already signed up with Med wait time in the chicago area.

For any of our technically inclined readers,if providers currently have an EMR system med wait time plugs into the system and automatically updates information. The manual option is also available for offices where no automated systems are currently available.

We at Healthcare Management Blog will be keenly watching Med Wait Time and bring you updates on any future enhancements or growth. So stay tuned. In the meanwhile do check their app in the app store, if you are in the chicago area or just would like to try it out.

Health 3.0: Smart Pills

Earlier on this blog we had profiled a bunch of innovative health care solutions that associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, and collaboration on the World Wide Web.We had even cutely called it Health 2.0.
But now we think there is another quantum leap in technology and hence we decided to take the lead and coin the term Health 3.0.

Smart Pills
Want an example of a Health 3.0 product? Try Smart pills. U.S.-based Proteus Biomedical is working to create “smart pills” that can transmit data from inside the body to monitor patients’ vital signs and check they have taken medicines as prescribed.

We think in the not so distant future, your nurse or doctor might not be asking you if you took your pills(although your mom might). Instead they are most likely to be looking up data on their mobile phones, tablets or desktops.

Stay tuned for more on our Health 3.0 series.

How Apple iPad can revolutionize Health Care?

When Steve Jobs got on stage Wednesday, to release Apple’s latest creation the iPad, he described the iPad as a magical and revolutionary device. Whether it is truly revolutionary from a technology standpoint or not, is a debate best reserved for the tech pundits like Endgadget. But we are are more interested how it can revolutionize health care. So here is how we think the iPad can do this.

1. Accelerate electronic medical records adoption in hospitals- eMR and eHR have been talked about for a while but there is still a lot of resistance and inertia in the healthcare community. We think the popularity of the iPad can help change that in a way tablet pcs never could.

2. Apps for health care- There’s an app for that. Imagine what web 2.0 did to the airline and restaurant business. Reviews, reservations, social networking. We think iPad will serve as a platform for all those innovative app developers (App developers are you reading this ?).
Everything from scheduling a doctor’s visit to viewing your x-ray (yes on that gorgeous AMOLED 9.7 inch screen ).

3. Paperless for real – Remove clutter and Free up space in Emergency departments and urgent care clinics- There is no need for a registration desk with a big clunky desktop. No paper work to deal with for Reg and insurance staff.

4. More time at bedside and with the patient – If you have ever been to an Emergency department or urgent care, the word waiting has new meaning for you. We think that the iPad adoption in hospitals can reduce the time doctors and nurses spend walking to a nurse’s station or desk to wait for results or write orders and spend more time at bed side. Which means that they can focus more on taking care of you working on the iPad. Research has shown that this can improve outcomes and improve quality of care.

5. Improve communication and entertainment options – Remember the last time you were at your Dentist or Doctor’s office. What did you do in the waiting room? Now imagine reading that Cosmopolitan, the Healthcare Management blog or whatever else you like to read. And while you are reading that your screen flashes with an update on your wait time, test result or even a prompt with some information on your illness. Same if you are in the waiting room of a surgery center eager to hear about your loved one. The possibilities are endless.

Magical or not, the more popular the iPad gets we believe it can revolutionize health care delivery and, without the tedious debates on Capitol Hill.

Flumonitor helps physicians identify influenza hotspots

Sermo, the largest online physician social networking site founded by Dr. Daniel Palestrant, recently launched FluMonitor to help track the spread of Influenza in the US. FluMonitor(see pic above) lets physicians submit flu cases they might encounter with a few clicks.

HealthCare Management spoke with Sermo’s chief medical officer Adam Sharp. According to Dr. Sharp, the FluMonitor provides near real-time access to physicians on the spread of influenza across the United States.

This is definitely the first of its kind in tracking the spread of disease in real time exclusively through an online social networking platform for physicians. FluMonitor can give doctors the ability to track and predict outbreaks and, share notes on treatment and trends. Specifically, it can provide granular details such as, Patient breakdown for vaccinated vs. not vaccinated Age distribution- which age is most affected Symptom breakdown- which symptoms are presenting more than others voracity of outbreak- how many per day/week/month, etc.

If doctors know the flu is coming, it helps them to know that flu likelihood is much higher so they can be confident to base a diagnosis solely on observations in patients vs. having to use a Rapid Flu test- which is quite expensive. This will also help them avoid taking other, expensive, tests in order to rule out other ailments/diseases because they know it’s likely to be the flu.

Wavemark-Lumedx RFID technology helps Florida Hospital reduce costs

HealthCare Management was recently informed of a product launch that could potentially, help hospitals lower their inventory costs, improve tracking of medical devices, and positively impact patient care.

The new RFID technology enabled system is being launched jointly by Wavemark: a market leader in real-time inventory management (RTIM) solutions for the healthcare supply chain, and Lumedx, the market leader in developing end–to-end cardiovascular information and imaging systems.

Florida Hospital Pilot

A strategic customer to WaveMark and LUMEDX, Florida Hospital Orlando facilitated the development of this interface by becoming the pilot site. The goal was to achieve accurate and timely inventory data that would enable the department to reduce its device and equipment inventory by $30,000 to $40,000. According to the RFID journal, the system allowed the department to post a savings of $65,000 at the end of the pilot.

From a patient care standpoint the system is expected to enhance the level of care and, the accuracy of their medical records while at the same time improving the billing process.

HealthCare Management plans to talk to WaveMark-Lumedx and, Florida hospital to bring you more details on the technology in future posts. Stay tuned!.

Cleveland Clinic’s Low Cost Health Care Model

With the health care debate looming on the horizon on Capitol Hill, there are some compelling arguments on what should and should not be included in the health care bill. One thing that everyone agrees on however is the cost of care. The current rate of increase in cost of care in America is unsustainable. And, a low cost health care model is the need of the hour.

Some of the key features of their model are that they are highly integrated according to their CEO Dr. Toby Cosgrove. The doctors and hospitals are all part of one organization. Here are some highlights of their model.

1. The Clinic’s doctors are all on salary

2. There is no concept of fee for service -whether a cardiac surgeon performs one surgery or ten they get paid the same.

3. EMR (Electronic medical records) have been available since May 2008

4. An emphasis on preventive care that goes beyond health and wellness bulletins – A heart healthy cafeteria and a fully functional gym.

Now, we should also point out that they are yet to realize a return on investment on the electronic medical records. Also it is now well known that they were also the test site for Google’s health records application roll-out.

While it is clear that the Cleveland Clinic is always ahead on the technology curve it is their unique approach to practice of medicine that has helped them become a leader in low cost health care.

UPMC team talks about smart room project!

We had previously featured an article on this site on the Smart patient room innovation at the Univ. of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Since, then we have talked to David Sharbaugh(DS), the leader of the smart room project and, a senior director at UPMC’s center for quality improvement and innovation and, Lucy Thompson(LT) one of the team members.

Today we bring you this exclusive interview.

What is the vision behind the smart room project ?

DS: We believe this technology will enhance patient safety, allow clinicians to spend more time at the bedside, simplify the jobs of health care workers and improve overall patient satisfaction

Who are the people behind the smart room?

DS: The core development team consisted of 5 people. Working anywhere from part time to full time to complete most of the development. In addition, over the past six months a team of clinicians and medical technologists have worked on this.

Where does the ultrasound technology for Smart Rooms come from ?

DS: the system uses ultrasound tracking devices to identify the numerous caregivers whom a patient might encounter on any given day. UPMC used Sonitor technologies, as the vendor for buying the ultrasound tracking devices.

How much did it cost to build the smart room system?

DS/LT: Since it was internally developed, it mainly cost UPMC man-hours (or FTEs in health care parlance). But, the total cost to the system would be approximately $2 per patient/day.

What clincal metrics does smart room system impact?

DS/LT: We are currently still compiling the metrics and observing the impact, but it is estimated that this system has reduced the time spent searching for allergies, demographics, since there is a visual cue provided to the care giver on the items that need to be completed. Medication safety is expected to impacted and patient safety, and, fall rate are some other metrics that are expected to improve. Currently, smart rooms are in the medical surgical floor.

How long did it take to train staff on this system?

LT/DS: There was minimal training for this, since the screen interfaces that staff and, physicians need to use are very intuitive.

Future enhancements to the Smart patient rooms system.

The Smart Room went live in early October and is being tested in six patient rooms at the UPMC Shadyside campus .They, told us that they are currently working on releasing the second version. The new version would include code information that will automatically display to the relevant care giver when a code is called.

In addition patient will be able schedule tests, get test results, and other information. Another possible enhancement is informative emails to patients!

We think this is innovative and will keep bringing you more information on future enhancements. So keep watching this space.

Does your health care provider have the cash to survive today?

Survival of the fittest!

It is very well know that in today’s healthcare business, cash flow is the life blood of any business, specifically in the healthcare industry.

The healthcare industry has become much more competitive over the years. Hospitals proclaiming that they have a state of the art cardiology center, with nurses that put the patient first. I am sure that hospitals across the country put their patients first, it’s just that they do it better, the ad claims.

We see the messages on billboards lining the streets, on TV. from shows like Big Medicine and such. Walk thru a mall and see the ad’s from doctors who are specialist in plastic surgery, weight control, and various other procedures.

One would ask why a doctor, hospital does, emergency service need to advertise, don’t they receive their patients from word of mouth, one doctor recommending another?

One would think so, but the game has changed for ever. In the near future the family doctor will no longer be. We will all be seeing a“specialist” for what ill’s us. You may ask yourself “so what’s wrong with that?” well there is nothing wrong, but if you work in the healthcare industry and run a practice, hospital, emergency care center and such, well you need to make sure that your business has steady cash flow and has a competitive edge, and in today’s world the edge is CASH!

Medicaid and Medicare set the stage for what will be paid on claims. As we know, HMO’s and PPO’s and other insurers follow suit and try to under pay claims as well. You the healthcare provider are providing services on a daily basis and do not receive payment on the claim for 45 to 90 plus days, and that is if it is coded correctly.

The point that I am trying to make is that there is much more competition for each dollar that is out there and a lot of energy is spent to collect that dollar. Separating yourself from you competition is important. Having the steady cash flow for working capital to grow is imperative!

The number one key factor in a provider’s fiscal downfall, or lack of growth, is the lack of working capital. A solution to prevent this lies in the provider’s accounts receivable, an asset often wasting away accumulating dust on the balance sheet that becomes lost revenue due to the time value of money.

Many “C-Suite” healthcare executives are choosing medical accounts receivable (MAR) funding as an important tool in their business financing strategies. MAR funding’s flexibility and immediate cash infusion reduces their dependency on debt-incurring bank loans and lines of credit as their sole forms of financing. It provides a predictable and steady cash stream and the amount of medical accounts receivable funding is not limited by a bank’s often under-valued assessment of the provider’s assets

Bank credit lines are often insufficient to meet a provider’s working capital needs and monthly cash flow plans, especially when a conventional bank determines a line based on a significantly “under-valued” valuation of the provider’s assets. Additionally, the bank may be quick to disqualify that collateral once the aging reaches 90 days. This often happens because most conventional banks do not have the deep understanding and working knowledge of the healthcare business, its industry specific regulatory requirements and cash flow challenges.

I challenge you to take a look and see if your business can survive?
How “fit” is your business?
Who are your competitors?
Do you have cash on hand to handle the ups and downs or to expand your business, to be competitive?

Editor’s Note
: James Hill is the author of this article and, Vice President at Choice Med Consulting. You can check out his profile on linkedin

Redesigned ER with reduced wait times can save lives

Emergency Room incident at King’s County hospital

The King’s county hospital in Brooklyn, N.Y. has several claims to fame; It was the site of the first open-heart surgery performed in New York State; Kings County physicians invented the world’s first hemodialysis machine, conducted the first studies of HIV infection in women and produced the first human images using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In addition, Kings County was named the first Level 1 Trauma Center in the U.S.

It is ironic then, that the hospital became the center of all media attention for a negligence death in their waiting area in the Emergency Room. Esmin Green, a 49 yr old psychiatric patient had been waiting in the emergency room for more than 24 hours before she toppled from her chair and fell on ground. Although the waiting room was occupied by other patients, a security guard, and a staff member, no one cared to help Green until more than an hour after her fall (Check out the Associated Press report for further details on this).

Isolated incident or alarming trend?

HealthCare Management decided to do some research of our own and here is what we came up with.

An archived article in New York times talks about Federal regulators reprimanding cook county for serious flaws in how it decides who should receive emergency care and for treatment delay
The king’s county hospital’s emergency room sees about 116,000 patients a year
In 2007, Kings County hospital deployed, MediKiosk software solution, that automates patient registration and helps emergency department staff prioritize treatment based on medical urgency
According to a recent survey conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), 80% of the 328 emergency departments surveyed board psychiatric patients
30% of ACEP surey respondents said they board patients between 8 and 24 hours

Before, we conclude it is a dead end, let us look at some other facts that might present solutions

85% of the doctors in the ACEP survey said that wait times for all emergency patients would improve if there were better psychiatric services available.
More than 80 % agreed that regional dedicated emergency psychiatric facilities nationwide would work better than the current system for dealing with psychiatric emergency patients.

Maybe, it is time to redesign the Emergency care ? We rest our case, now you decide!

Health Records-Now on your iPhone!

In a previous post we talked about electronic health records, and how hospitals and providers are embracing it to improve patient safety. With the introduction of the new iPhone3G, electronic health records are now going beyond the computer and into the iPhones. Hand held devices are always popular with physicians (tablet pcs and pdas). Now, consumers and providers can access health records on their phones.

Some current applications available at the online apple store

Medfile – Developed by Kaplan design lets users create and manage their personal medical records. Information such as blood type, allergies and emergency contact etc can be stored and retrieved.

ADAM – An application that lets the users identify health symptoms.From a simple sprain to fever, and upset stomact, ADAM gives users access to up-to-date medical information that is expert-reviewed. The tool also provides information on what the symptoms mean and when to seek professional medical attention.

These applications are fairly new, and are surely going to generate debate amongst medical professionals within and outside the blogosphere. Also, it remains to be seen, how popular these applications get with consumers.

We at HealthCare Management will keep a tab on this. So keep watching this space.