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Health IT in the News

by athenahealth Blogmaster,

  • Right before the holiday, the New York Times ran this blog post about the sometimes underappreciated value of the front desk in a medical practice. The issue is not just the actual role of the desk as a gate to the exam room—and in our model it’s one of the five stages of patient workflow—but the value of the individual who keeps the gate. Here’s a key quote from a doctor, “We should be thinking of the relationship not as a two-way one between doctor and patient or nurse and patient, but as a three-way relationship among clinician, patient and receptionist.”  What do you think? How important is the front desk in your practice? As a patient, do you find receptionists make you feel at ease in a usually uncomfortable place or is the receptionist just the unsmiling grump who shoves a clipboard at you?
  • Given the gigantic stature of the brand, it was inevitable that news of Google Health’s untimely demise would grab some headlines. If you weren’t paying attention beforehand and it passed by so fast you are not now either, here’s a helpful explanation as to why. “…there’s been a lot of bits spilled offering explanations, but they all missed the most critical item. Money. Or in the language of health care—Reimbursement.” The founders of athenahealth learned the critical importance of that term back in 1997 when they tried to run a birthing clinic but could not get paid. Could have told the Google crowd as much!
  • Another from the ‘hospital vs. small practice’ files, American Medical News finds many new doctors trending away from the notion of starting a solo practice or joining a small group, often due to a high regard in this generation for their own “work-life balance.” Scroll down in the article for data on proportions of practice types.
  • Recently departed head of federal health IT, Dr. David Blumenthal, teamed up with his brother Richard, a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, on the opinion page of the Hartford Courant to take on Medicare reform. We were happy to see them talk EHR.  “Another critical new piece of legislation is the HITECH Act, which will rapidly expand the use of electronic health records. By sharing information electronically, health professionals and hospitals can keep each other informed about test results, medicines prescribed and procedures they have ordered, which will improve quality, reduce costs and save lives,” they wrote.
  • Meanwhile Blumenthal’s relief in Washington, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, told a group of graduates from a new Ivy League IT program, “You are now leaders in a movement that is crucial for the future of health care and the future of our nation…Information technology will be transformative for health care in America…”
  • But first, practices need to be run efficiently. Late last week, MGMA released results of their recent survey on practice management. The major fears? Preparing for reimbursement models, achieving Meaningful Use and tackling high operating costs top the list. Read more here.
  • Last but not least, John Hallock, our director of corporate communications, sat for an interview with HIStalk. For anyone who has to consider the company brand and the need for awareness in this sometimes cluttered industry, Hallock speaks from experience. He also knows a thing or two about working for a CEO who may also be his company’s best spokesman.
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