Overcoming Barriers to Meaningful Use Achievement

What are the barriers holding organizations back from achieving Meaningful Use? The majority of responses to our survey conducted at HIMSS14 indicated the biggest barrier as a lack of resources (50%) while other responses noted restricted timeframes (23%), lack of buy-in from the organization (15%) and competing IT projects (12%).

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As we near the close of our HIMSS14 Industry Survey blog series, we ask, how do we address a lack of resources? While they can’t exactly grow a few money trees to solve their issues, organizations can take the following steps to better address the problem.

Planning & Strategy
Giving proper attention to both short-term and long-term planning behind implementations can enable organizations to strategically allocate existing resources in a manner that maximizes their efficiency, delivers results and minimizes the gaps created by a lack of resources. Placing significant planning and strategy towards the utilization of staff resources also helps prevent the burnout, and potential resignation, of current staff due to high levels of stress and exhaustion.

Building the Right Staff
Last year, the 2013 HIMSS Workforce Survey reported that nearly 80% of healthcare providers and IT vendors planned to hire additional staff but almost a third of organizations had to place IT initiatives on hold due to staffing shortages. Beyond that, 43% of the organizations and 56% of vendors blamed such shortages on the lack of a qualified talent pool. 

When you can’t find a qualified talent pool, work to create one. Organizations must invest in the hiring and training of their future workforce. They can do so by establishing partnerships, such as university programs, to educate, offer internships and eventually bring on the right candidates. Organizations can then develop internal training programs that utilize senior members to help new workers learn quickly and become highly competent HIT professionals. A great example of such a program is our own Junior Consultant Program. A proper focus on building a strong foundation for the next wave of HIT professionals via an emphasis on thorough training and HIT education is beneficial to healthcare as a whole.

Outsourcing
As limited budgets and staffing issues cause their IT initiatives to suffer, organizations can utilize outsourced HIT services as a cost-effective and experienced solution for success. By identifying the areas and functions that would benefit most from the application of outsourced professionals and services, organizations can avoid overworking internal staff and exhausting already limited time and resources.

An example of how an outsourced service can greatly benefit an organization’s staff and resources can be indicated by the help desk function. Some areas critical to the success of a hospital or healthcare organization include the well-being of their IT analysts and the satisfaction of their end users – both of which can be positively affected by a successful help desk function. An outsourced help desk service line that is well established in the industry can deliver what an internal help desk sometimes cannot: an already considerable knowledge base, experience with issues and resolutions from working with other organizations and 24/7 reliability and functionality possible through its virtual and remote nature.

As illustrated in the case of the help desk function, outsourcing is a capable middle ground when resources are limited and staff workload is already high. Additionally, the significantly reduced operational time and costs outsourcing provides can be very valuable, as reflected by the forecasted growth of the healthcare IT outsourcing market.

Meaningful Use is a long road and one that requires an organization’s full attention and support to be achieved in a way that provides some return on investment. Resources will always fall short and the time we have will never feel like enough – so organizations must act proactively and strategically with what is available to do their part in working towards a successful future in healthcare. In the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty” – a fitting caption for our journey to a transformed, improved healthcare system.

Maximizing the Full Potential of Meaningful Use

During this year’s annual HIMSS conference, we conducted our second annual industry survey to identify and address the leading challenges and topics in healthcare technology today. We set out to receive insights, opinions and perspectives from health IT leaders by asking five questions that incorporated the most often-cited subjects and issues from our customers, as well as our own observations on the current industry environment. Recently, we released the complete survey findings – find them here. The results painted an interesting portrait of the industry’s journey so far to a transformed healthcare system, and we’d like to dive deeper into what this all actually means in terms of the future.

This is the first post of our HIMSS industry survey blog series. We welcome your comments!


If your organization has met meaningful use, do you feel you’ve been able to maximize the full potential of MU?

Response: No (70%), Yes (30%)

I can’t say that I’m surprised by this response. It’s one we see and hear about often, particularly during an RFP process, and it’s a common sentiment from hospital IT staff and leadership who want to feel like the time and money being spent on meaningful use attestation has been worth the investment.

My response to them is this: The meaningful use process must be approached as a marathon, not a sprint. It’s far more than checking off a series of boxes in order to receive incentives and avoid penalties – and it goes beyond a “one and done” project that can be completed and forgotten about.

MU is a strategy, discipline and process that facilitates healthcare transformation and eases the transition to the things we all want to see in the near future, such as population health management, full patient engagement and value-based, accountable care. In most cases, HCOs need to adopt a marathon mentality to address new and emerging trends and developments, and best position their organization for success.

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Changing the MU mentality from a 50-yard dash to a marathon can be done through a commitment to thinking “outside the box.” Some suggested ways to do so:

  • Identify trusted external experts and consultants with the perspective and experience to find “low-hanging fruit” in the form of measures, goals, plans, programs and projects. Doing so will prevent the wearing down of financial, human and technology resources as the healthcare organization strives to reap major dividends and position itself for subsequent stages of MU and healthcare transformation.
  • Cooperate, compromise and collaborate. Involve players from finance, operations and clinical care in MU discussions, decisions and short- and long-term planning. Also, network with other providers to discuss best practices.
  • Promote the significance of MU to your organization. Help professionals understand that MU is not another HIT project, tool or fad, but a long-term, organization-wide initiative and national movement aimed at data capture and sharing, information exchange among providers, patient engagement and improved outcomes.
  • Focus on the big picture, but remember the milestones. Avoid discussions only of final and proposed rules, objectives and comments to understand the function and scope of each MU stage and MU as a whole.
  •  Play up the relationship between the stages of MU and HIMSS stages 1-7. The Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model from HIMSS Analytics allows healthcare organizations to chart their accomplishments and compare “progress toward paperless” with other providers. Some organizations rely on HIMSS EHR adoption data to justify plans and programs to the C-suite and report MU accomplishments.
  • Look to industry resources for best practices, case studies and support. Among the organizations to reference are HIMSS, American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and College for Health Information Management Executives.

For more information:

Stay tuned for the remaining posts in our series!

 

HIMSS14 Both Humbling and Empowering for a First-Time Attendee

The HIMSS14 convention from a first-time perspective is both a humbling and empowering experience. HIMSS 2014 was hosted in Orlando, Florida and closed out with over 38,000 attendees. Even more impressive, the list of exhibitors encompassed 1,233 booths throughout the exhibit hall. Highlights included keynote speakers Hillary Rodham Clinton and Erik Weihenmayer, and for a first time attendee, who is also relatively new to the industry, it was all motivating to be surrounded by power players of HIT throughout the week.

Building the Show Floor

The first day that I arrived, we were tasked with setting up the booth. The exhibit hall is much larger than I ever imagined. It was such an exciting time to see the show floor go from blank concrete to carpeted elaborate booths as far as the eye can see. Vendors utilized every square inch. The imagination of each vendor was truly unique, as there were exhibits ranging from ornate booths with a giant tree, a dance floor, programmed iPads and televisions, and even our very own geodesic dome. The next morning when the convention began, I was truly shocked.

The Show Floor Officially Opens

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Stoltenberg booth #2465 stood along the main isle with its What If for Health IT theme.

The sheer volume of people attending the conference is astounding. It was very interesting to engage with professionals from all across the nation, spanning all scopes of HIT. As a Stoltenberg junior consultant, I openly spoke with individuals about the Junior Consultant Program and Help Desk Service Line as staffing solutions.

This year, we used our signature Stoltenberg geodesic dome. Our very own CEO Sheri Stoltenberg shared that the driving force behind it was that it was a differentiator, and it very much so was. Not only was it a very different exhibit than most on the floor, but it was also the strongest free standing structure. I very much admired when Sheri stated that this represents our strength in the industry and our motivation to be different than our competitors. As you can imagine, during exhibitor hours, several conversations started just from the excitement of the dome.

What If For Health IT

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Send your own and see others’ What Ifs by tweeting to hashtag #WhatIf4HIT.

For the HIMSS14 conference, our theme was  What If…? Exploring the Future of Health IT One Question at a Time. We encouraged attendees and members of the industry to tweet, write down, or just ask any question that they felt would make an impact on the future of the healthcare IT industry. It was very interesting to hear what participants had to share. My personal favorite What If? came from a CHIME member asking, “What if we could engage younger generations to get involved in #HIT?” As a young professional, I would like to see more people my age pursuing careers in HIT, as well as being advocates for improved patient care. This campaign really drove home the fact that this industry is so very dynamic and ever-changing. It gets me excited to think about the possibilities and what the future may hold for both HIT and Stoltenberg.

A New Personal Outlook on Health IT

HIMSS14 paved the way for new outlook on the industry for me. I am no longer focused only on what I personally am doing or what my company is doing, but where is the industry is headed in years to come. The big questions that kept occupying my thoughts as I walked through the exhibition hall were, “What does this all mean for patient care?” and “What will my job look like in 5, 10, or 15 years from now?” It is inspiring to let your mind wander in the capabilities of HIT, as there are no real limits to what we are capable of achieving. Simply being in the room with some of the most influential people of the industry was truly a privilege. My first HIMSS convention will forever leave a lasting impression.

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Some of the Stoltenberg team gather at the HIMSS14 Universal Studios event.

Thank you for your time!

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-Kaitlyn Graber, Junior Healthcare Systems Consultant at Stoltenberg Consulting

Dare to Ask What If for Health IT

As Stoltenberg prepares for our HIMSS14 Conference appearance, we’d like to share with you our promotional campaign. Yesterday, we announced a new campaign designed to promote the company’s capabilities in HIT consulting. The What If For Health IT? campaign poses a series of questions that address ideal scenarios to solving IT problems that ultimately lead to increased productivity and financial performance, and improved care.

Stoltenberg Consulting created the What If? campaign with the hopes of engaging the industry to dare to ask how we can achieve HIT’s future.

Find out more about What If here: http://prn.to/1lywkY3

Join us to ask What If by tweeting questions to #WhatIf4HIT.

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Examples of questions are:
What if small changes had multi-million dollar savings?
What if you knew the departments causing A/R delays?
What if clinicians had information for decisions before needing it?
What if patient wait times could be tracked across the enterprise?
What if you knew the most cost effective way to deliver service?

Whatever your question, tweet with hashtag #WhatIf4HIT to help Stoltenberg or share the campaign release announcement on social media via LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.