Better Living Through Technology
Articles in this Summer 2011 TMIS eNewsletter:
Consumers report the economic slowdown has impacted their healthcare spending, according to Deloitte’s “2011 Survey of Health Care Consumers.” More than half of all respondents from the 12 countries surveyed in this global study confirmed that household spending on health care limits their ability to spend on other household essentials. The findings of the report identified three global trends that suggest health system leaders must think of patients as consumers: Clinical innovations are driving solutions to medical problems that enable patients to take care of themselves; governments and employers face shrinking budgets while health cost obligations are soaring; consumers are paying attention to health care as never before. Three core shared beliefs stood out: Consumers remain largely confused about their health care system; they grade their system as underperforming relative to what they know of other systems; they believe spending is wasteful in their country’s health system. Despite challenges consumers observe within their health care system, most still believe it is possible to both improve quality and decrease costs simultaneously and that technology-enabled solutions, such as use of smart phones or PDAs for health care monitoring, are widely thought to be part of the solution.
Less than 1 in 5 consumers surveyed said they maintain a personal health record (PHR) electronically, but the percentage of those consumers in the U.S. has been gradually increasing over the past 4 years. Consumers are also open to alternative approaches to traditional health care such as visiting retail clinics or traveling outside their local community for health care. The Deloitte report concludes that as health reform takes hold in countries like the U.S., there is a significant opportunity to engage consumers more effectively and address their unmet needs. This will require policymakers and industry stakeholders to align interests toward their engagement as they undergo the transition from “patients” to “consumers.”
The U.S. is embarking on the largest investment in health information technology ever, using stimulus funding as a financial incentive for health organizations to adopt electronic health records and use the information in meaningful ways. This is a 3 stage process, and providers who don’t achieve all 3 stages by 2015 will be penalized through decreasing Medicare reimbursements. The proposed standards for meaningful use set this past January for stage 2 may require hospitals to offer 80 percent of patients the ability to view and download their health information via a web-based portal within 36 hours of discharge. Doctors and other providers seeking a greater share of stimulus funding to offset their health information technology (HIT) investments must meet a minimum requirement of having at least 20 percent of their patient populations electronically accessing their health information, including the ability to see diagnostic test results, by October 2012.
There are significant access, social and educational barriers that hospitals and physicians are working to overcome. One is a gap in expectation between what patients and physicians want, and conflicting views about turnaround time. As an example, one hospital’s internal research found that physicians thought 45 days was a reasonable time frame for making test results available electronically, while patients expected this information within 30 minutes.
These and many other details and findings are in a new report, “Putting Patients into Meaningful Use,” by the Health Research Institute at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The report concludes that unless patients are actually accessing their own electronic health records (EHR), their hospitals may not reap the federal stimulus payments they are hoping for. It points to the reality that a patient’s medical record and the health information in it should be more than just a history lesson. In order to be meaningful, health information needs to be relevant, actionable, integrated into care and treatment decisions and available in real time.
Progress is being made, however. Nearly one-third of health systems said they are now incorporating patient input into their “meaningful use” initiatives, and that is up from only 19 percent in the spring of 2010. Also, nearly half of health systems now provide assistance to their physicians, who need support tools for using electronic health information in their clinical work.
Inevitably, as consumer awareness and demand for electronic health information grows, the market will become more competitive, and health systems will increasingly compete with other providers, health insurers and third-party commercial online vendors. This report outlines steps health organizations should consider when designing, implementing and promoting personal health records.
As physicians’ use of mobile devices to access patients’ EHR increases, so do new security risks. Government data from the past 2 years indicates patient data breach in health care has become an epidemic. A panel of 5 experts in the fields of healthcare IT, security and privacy, data breach and identity theft share their insights on how healthcare organizations and providers can optimize mobile health while protecting patients’ data.
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From the Front Page of TMIS News
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Global Economic Uncertainty Makes Affordable Health Care a Universal Challenge for Consumers
Rising health care costs, coupled with the current state of the economy, have prompted many consumers across the globe to delay care, alter household spending and worry about their ability to pay for future health care costs according to the 4th annual Deloitte Center for Health Solutions "2011 Survey of Health Care Consumers."
"We have been examining consumers' interactions with the health care system since 2008. A new trend has emerged this year suggesting that economic uncertainty has clearly altered spending habits with many consumers reporting an impact on their out-of-pocket health care expenses," said Paul Keckley, Ph.D., executive director, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions. "Regardless of the type of health care system, government-run or private, consumers around the world are feeling the pinch."
Deloitte surveyed more than 15,000 health care consumers in 12 different countries including Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Mexico, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States during April and May.
In the United States, three in four (75 percent) consumers say the recent economic slowdown has impacted their health care spending. Four in 10 (41 percent) are being more cautious about it, 20 percent cut back on spending, and 13 percent have reduced it considerably. In addition, 63 percent say their monthly health care spending limits their household's ability to purchase other essentials such as housing, groceries, fuel and education. To save money, 36 percent of prescription medication users have asked their doctor to prescribe a generic drug instead of a brand name drug. These findings follow Deloitte's, "The Hidden Costs of U.S. Health Care for Consumers: A Comprehensive Analysis," published in March 2011, which revealed consumers spend $363 billion more on health care than traditionally reported, outpacing housing and utility costs as a discretionary household expense.
Additionally, one in four (25 percent) U.S. consumers skipped seeing a doctor when sick or injured. Of those consumers who decided not to see a doctor in the past year, those that did so due to costs ranged from a high of 49 percent in the United States, followed by Belgium (39 percent), China (35 percent) and Mexico (34 percent), to a low of 5 percent in Canada and 7 percent in the United Kingdom and Luxembourg.
Missing Patients May Slow Hospital's Progress Toward Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records
New York, New York
Hospitals are spending billions of dollars on health information technology tools required for "meaningful use" of electronic medical records (EMR), but unless patients use them, hospitals may not reap the federal stimulus payments they're hoping for. That's the conclusion of a new report, "Putting Patients into Meaningful Use," by the Health Research Institute at PwC US. PwC's research found that only 14 percent of consumers said they get their medical records electronically from their physician's office, and 30 percent don't know why they would need to. PwC suggests that hospitals need to incorporate patient input earlier to comply with Stage 2 of the government's "meaningful use" requirements.
"Successful use of electronic health information will ultimately be measured in better patient outcomes, higher quality and reduced costs," said Bruce Henderson, director and national leader of the Electronic Health Record -Health Information Exchange (EHR-HIE) practice, PwC. "Health systems need to have both patients and physicians actively using the health information to make care decisions, and they aren't there yet. To 'engage consumers in these benefits, they first need to understand what consumers want. Then, they need to build new, technology-enabled healthcare delivery processes around patient preferences and convenience, which means changing how clinicians work."
Mobile Devices Pose New Security Risks for Patients; Five Experts Share Insights
Mobile devices have become as common as the stethoscope in patient's rooms. Physicians routinely review patients' electronic health records (EHR), read test results, access diagnostic tools and take patient notes, all with a few touches on their iPad or tablet, smartphone or using a flash drive. These mobile devices are ideal for information sharing and time savings, but they pose huge security risks to patient information.
In less than two years, from September 22, 2009 through May 8, 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) indicates that 116 data breaches of 500 records or more were the direct result of the loss or theft of a mobile device, exposing more than 1.9 million patients' PHI. A panel of five experts in the fields of healthcare IT, security and privacy, data breach and identity theft: Jill Arena, Chad Boeckmann, Rebecca Herold, Rick Kam, and Robert Siciliano share their insights on how healthcare organizations and providers can optimize mobile health (mHealth) while protecting patients' data.
Electronic Health Records Increase Mobile Device Usage
Sixty-four percent of physicians own smartphones and 30 percent of physicians have an iPad, with another 28 percent planning to buy one within six months, according to a recent Manhattan Research study. 10,000 mobile healthcare applications are available today on the iPad, with a larger number of them created to provide access to electronic health records. Additionally, one-third of physicians use their mobile devices to input to EHR while seeing patients, while the information is fresh.
PixelOptics Officially Launches emPower! Electronic Eyeglasses
New York, New York
Following an award-winning preview at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, PixelOptics announced the formal introduction of emPower!, the world's first electronically-focusing prescription eyewear, at Vision Expo East in New York. "The introduction of emPower! marks a turning point in the evolution of vision technology," said Ron Blum, President and CEO of PixelOptics. "With the ability to substantially reduce or eliminate the perceived distortion and other limitations associated with traditional progressive lenses, emPower! places control of your vision back in the hands of the consumer, providing a level of vision clarity and comfort never experienced before in the correction of presbyopia."
Beginning in May 2011, in a partnership with Aspex Eyewear and Panasonic Healthcare Co., LTD, the emPower! eyeglasses will be available in the Southeastern U.S., and then will be rolled out across the country by the end of 2011. Panasonic will manufacture the electronic lens blanks, leveraging the company's expertise and heritage in LCD technology. The electronic frames, produced by Aspex Eyewear, will be available in a fashion collection of 12 styles, including multiple color options. The consumer will have 36 different electronic frames to choose from.
emPower! represents the most significant technological advance in prescription eyewear in the last 50 years. The world's first electronic corrective eyeglasses, emPower! features the most advanced consumer electronics innovations available today, including composite lenses with a thin transparent liquid crystal layer, microchips, micro-machine accelerometers and miniature rechargeable batteries.
Most Americans Think Devastating Natural Disasters Are Increasing, Less than Half Believe in Global Warming
New York, New York
Reading or watching the news, one might be struck by the seemingly constant barrage of reports of disasters, both natural in origin and not. In fact, some colleges and universities have begun offering coursework in emergency and disaster management, as these impactful and unplanned events continue to shape our world. When Americans were asked if they think that there have been more devastating natural disasters, including hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes recently, three quarters of U.S. adults say there have been more (76%) with three in ten saying there have been much more (31%); only 2% say there have been less and 23% say there have been neither more nor less.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,163 adults surveyed online between June 13 and 20, 2011 by Harris Interactive. Despite a large majority reporting an increase in devastating disasters, only 56% say they are prepared for one of these disasters or a long-term power outage by having the necessary supplies, food and water for three days. Conversely two in five Americans say they are not prepared in this way (41%), although older Americans overall are better prepared than those younger: two thirds of Matures, aged 66 years and older, say they are prepared for a disaster or long-term power outage (67%), compared to 59% of Baby Boomers, aged 47-65, 54% of Gen X, aged 35-46 and fewer than half of Echo Boomers, aged 18-34 (45%).
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