About John Deutsch

Founder of Bridge Patient Portal, and a health IT entrepreneur and business owner of 16 years with extensive experience in Healthcare IT. Specializing in Business Development, Software Development, Patient Portals, mHealth, Patient Engagement, HIPAA, Electronic Medical Records, Web Development and Internet Marketing.

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Author Archives: John Deutsch

Founder of Bridge Patient Portal, and a health IT entrepreneur and business owner of 16 years with extensive experience in Healthcare IT. Specializing in Business Development, Software Development, Patient Portals, mHealth, Patient Engagement, HIPAA, Electronic Medical Records, Web Development and Internet Marketing.

How a Single Patient Engagement Solution Improves Patient Communication – Part II

How disparate and piecemealed patient engagement solutions inhibit effective patient communication.

Read Part I of this two part article series: The Advantages of Having a Single Patient Engagement Solution

In the healthcare industry, successful organizations need to always be mindful of their consumer. Effective communication is one major factor that attributes to consistent patient retention and heightened patient engagement among healthcare companies. Healthcare organizations need to operate with simple, transparent, and important messaging in order to attain effective communication with their patients. This can easily be achieved by switching to a single patient engagement solution.

In the current market, many healthcare organizations are still operating using a multiple patient engagement solution. They will often purchase various patient engagement software systems (e.g. patient bill pay software, patient scheduling software, appointment reminders, patient portal, etc.) as opposed to buying one single solution. These multiple engagement solutions can severely impact the communication between a healthcare organization and their patients in a negative way.

Respecting Patient Communication Preferences

When an organization uses multiple patient engagement systems at the same time, it is nearly impossible to respect a patient’s communication preferences. There is no synchronization of preferences between an organization’s multiple patient engagement solutions and source systems (ie. practice management software, revenue cycle management software, electronic medical record software). A patient will opt-in or opt-out of receiving messages from one system, and another system will not be able to respect that patient’s request. Not only can this be an annoyance and violation of trust for the consumer, but it also poses the risk of serious legal ramifications for an organization. With a single, all-in-one solution, an organization possesses the ability to honor a patient’s preference when opting in or out of receiving specific messaging. 

Better Patient Communication

Disparate systems from different vendors generally don’t have the ability to communicate with each other so a patient’s communication preferences can’t be respected. For example, a patient might prefer email notifications over SMS, or if they change their email, the account would have to be updated in all systems manually (assuming the systems are not interfaced). With a piecemealed patient engagement solution, patients can end up receiving messages at inopportune times, or they receive too many unimportant or duplicate messages. This can irritate patients, causing them to opt out of receiving any messaging at all. Practices will attempt to correct their patients’ frustrations by limiting their messaging, thus self-regulating themselves and not utilizing patient messaging to its full potential. A single solution solves this problem by ensuring coordinated, direct, and effective messaging to patients.

Go to Bridge to learn more about the ease and advantages of implementing a single patient engagement solution today.

Founder of Bridge Patient Portal, and a health IT entrepreneur and business owner of 16 years with extensive experience in Healthcare IT. Specializing in Business Development, Software Development, Patient Portals, mHealth, Patient Engagement, HIPAA, Electronic Medical Records, Web Development and Internet Marketing.

The Advantages of Having a Single Patient Engagement Solution – Part I

Why early adopting healthcare organizations are replacing their disparate and piecemealed patient engagement solutions for a second-generation single solution.

In the ongoing efforts to increase quality patient engagement, many healthcare organizations have come to acquire multiple patient engagement solutions. In an attempt to satisfy patient needs without overly disrupting their IT “status quo”, healthcare organizations will often buy multiple software solutions (e.g. patient scheduling, event management, patient education, medical records access, patient portal, appointment reminders, etc.) as opposed to purchasing a single patient engagement solution. This inevitably turns into a piecemealed patient engagement solution that creates a mine of issues to be uncovered in the future, both for the organization and the consumer alike.

Not only does this have a negative impact on the customer in terms of patient communication and messaging, but it also brings forth many problems for the healthcare organization itself. These multiple patient engagement solutions can cause issues internally with an organization’s source system as it attempts to interface with this multitude of software systems. Furthermore, from a financial standpoint, these piecemealed patient engagement solutions can be very costly for organizations as well. 

An Easily Interfaced System

With a piecemealed patient engagement solution, you are granting more access than is needed to each individual system. Each system (patient bill pay software, appointment reminders, patient education, etc.) needs to be interfaced with the EMR, PM, or other source system. There is a greater potential for error, simply because of the larger number of interfaces an organization must manage. A single solution allows for one simple interface to an organization’s source systems.

Cutting Costs

Healthcare organizations see significant financial benefit from switching to a single patient engagement solution. A piecemealed patient engagement solution has much greater costs associated with it, than with its singular counterpart. A single solution is of course more expensive, but the cost of maintaining multiple systems from multiple vendors and the unrealized ROI resulting from having solutions that are not fully utilized, makes a clear argument for a single solution.

Read Part II of this two part article series: How a Single Patient Engagement Solution Improves Patient Communication

Go to Bridge to learn more about the ease and advantages of implementing a single patient engagement solution today.

Founder of Bridge Patient Portal, and a health IT entrepreneur and business owner of 16 years with extensive experience in Healthcare IT. Specializing in Business Development, Software Development, Patient Portals, mHealth, Patient Engagement, HIPAA, Electronic Medical Records, Web Development and Internet Marketing.

Patient Portal Hosting for Security, Compliance and Development

Medical Web Experts launches new HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting

Medical Web Experts launches new HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting

Most HIPAA compliant cloud hosting services don’t do a very good job of making considerations for the application or website they’re hosting. This creates a disconnect between developers and systems administrators, putting more pressure on the system administrators to customize the environment to support the software, which they likely don’t understand perfectly. This also creates barriers for the software developers to overcome for each release they make. With limited communication between system administrators and developers, vulnerabilities are easily overlooked. The net result is unexpected costs, slower deployment of new versions and unnecessary vulnerabilities.

New HIPAA-Compliant Cloud Hosting Structure Protects Health Data

Medical Web Experts, a partner company of Bridge Patient Portal, recently launched the MWE Cloud, a HIPAA-compliant cloud hosting service created with website and application development in mind. This turn-key cloud hosting service is used by Bridge Patient Portal as their patient portal hosting solution. The MWE Cloud features a suite of features for compliance, security and development, including:

  • Backups: Encrypted off-site backups are performed daily and are retained for 6 years.
  • WAF and DDoS protection: Optional packages with Web Application Firewalls (WAF) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) protection.
  • SSL: SSL certificates that support TLS v1, v1.1 and v1.2.
  • Continuous monitoring: Maintain ongoing awareness of security controls, vulnerabilities, and threats to support risk management decisions.
  • Virtual network protection: Software-based switches and network configurations as part of the virtual environment to allow virtual machines on the same  host to communicate more directly and efficiently.
  • Access Control: Strict access requirements, such as VPNs, bastion hosts, two-factor authentication, login audits and secure channel communication with public-key cryptography.
  • Encryption at-rest: Data is encrypted with 256-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256), one of the strongest block ciphers available.

To learn more about the MWE Cloud, visit www.medicalwebexperts.com.

 

Founder of Bridge Patient Portal, and a health IT entrepreneur and business owner of 16 years with extensive experience in Healthcare IT. Specializing in Business Development, Software Development, Patient Portals, mHealth, Patient Engagement, HIPAA, Electronic Medical Records, Web Development and Internet Marketing.

Hospitals still failing to share medical records online

Patient portal needed

medical records online

A recent study conducted by researchers at Yale University found significant deficiencies among 83 of the nation’s largest hospitals and health systems in how they provide medical record access to their patient population. One might expect that this deficiency was limited to limitations with online medical record or patient portal access, but the study found that the problem runs much deeper. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is a federal law that includes provisions to ensure that patients can access their medical records in a timely manner, at a reasonably low cost and in a format of their choosing.

When we think of the term “medical records” access for patients, in most cases, a complete Continuity of Care Document (CCD) will do. However, a CCD may or may not include lab results, so a typical “electronic” version of the “medical record” might include a CCD plus the patient’s lab results, imaging reports, discharge summaries, and other files as PDFs – which, by Bridge’s standards, is the standard “medical record” offering in their healthcare provider provided patient portal.

What were the results of the study?

Among the 83 hospitals, 44 (53%) provided patients the option on the medical record request forms to acquire their entire medical record. This doesn’t mean that a request for the complete record couldn’t be made with some effort, but the organization wasn’t making it easy for the patient to do so.

The study found similar results when it came to the medical record formats available. Hospitals were more likely to offer a greater number of options for how to release medical records when asked over the phone compared with on a form. The hospitals in the study offered the following options:

  • Pick up in person (69 [83%] over the phone vs 40 [48%] via the medical record request form)
  • Fax (20 [24%] vs 14 [17%])
  • Email (39 [47%] vs 27 [33%])
  • CD (55 [66%] vs 35 [42%])

* It is implied that a patient proficient with internet would likely not be directed to complete a medical record request form if the “complete” medical records were available in some type of medical records portal (patient portal).

On the authorization forms, 29 hospitals (35%) disclosed exact costs either on the form or on the web page from which the form was downloaded. One hospital stated on its form that it releases records free of charge, 18 (22%) disclosed that they would charge patients but did not specify a cost, and 36 (43%) did not specify any fees. For a 200-page record, the cost of release ranged from $0.00 to $281.54, based on the 29 hospitals that disclosed costs.

In terms of processing times, 71 hospitals provided mean times of release for paper copies of records. A maximum time of release was provided by 10 hospitals, and 2 hospitals were unable to specify a mean or maximum time of release. Of the hospitals that provided mean times of release, 17 (21%) reported mean times of less than 7 days, 21 (25%) in 7 to 10 days, 26 (31%) in 11 to 20 days, 4 (5%) in 21 to 30 days, and 3 (4%) in more than 30 days.

Medical records online: Bridge’s analysis of the root cause

It goes without saying that a patient portal or mobile app which offers medical records online would solve the majority of these problems, but even with such systems, there are likely to be many instances where either a) the medical records are not a part of the standard medical record offering in the portal/app, in which case a request needs to be made; or b) medical records from the clinics associated with the health system, which often use different EHR systems, aren’t connected to the main system. This lack of integration across multiple internal EHR systems forces medical record staff to prepare medical record requests for patients manually.

Bridge uses its own proprietary interface engine to collect health summaries from multiple EHRs simultaneously. Even if existing interfaces to the EHRs don’t exist, Bridge provides patients with access to their medical records through both a client-branded web application and mobile app. Once in the application, most health summaries should be available as a result of the expanded interface. In the event that a request needs to be made for a medical record, the current methods imposed by healthcare organizations are cumbersome, requiring paper-based forms to be completed. With Bridge, when medical records are not available in the patient portal, an electronic request can be submitted in the portal, where it will then be sent to a tasking center for medical record staff to manage. Medical record attachments can be made directly in the task queue, simplifying the entire process.

Another aspect is the cost issue. Since patient portals are a free service, hospitals and health systems could fear a loss in revenue associated with patients’ medical record requests. HIPAA law does allow for a “reasonable” fee to charged to the patient for this access, so the incentive to offer such access is limited.

Our analysis of the situation is that few health organizations are truly motivated to make a change to the status quo. The entire market needs to shift toward becoming more consumer-driven and, as it stands, the patient will likely encounter much of the same if they go from hospital A to hospital B. Only the most innovative health organizations are putting priority on the “patient experience”, and seeing how they can attract and retain patients through free and easily-accessible online medical record access.

 

Founder of Bridge Patient Portal, and a health IT entrepreneur and business owner of 16 years with extensive experience in Healthcare IT. Specializing in Business Development, Software Development, Patient Portals, mHealth, Patient Engagement, HIPAA, Electronic Medical Records, Web Development and Internet Marketing.