Recent News in Electronic Health Record Technology

January 3, 2019

The field of electronic health records (EHR) is always growing and changing and it can be hard to keep up. In the past month, Allscripts sold its stake in Netsmart, Epic added specialty services, and an ONC report found that hospitals still rely on fax and mail for sending records. In addition, Hospital for Special Surgery won an HIMSS Davies Award, the VA is considering a shift from Epic to Cerner, and KLAS Research released their latest report on interoperability.

Healthcare Trends

If you were busy enjoying time with family over the holidays, here are a few updates so you can stay ahead:

Allscripts sells stake in Health Tech Company Netsmart for $525 million (link)

Allscripts has sold its interest in Netsmart, an EHR vendor that focuses on behavioral health, for $525 million. Allscripts and Netsmart are ending a two-year relationship, in part so Allscripts can use about $500 million from the sale to reduce long-term debt. Allscripts CEO Paul M. Black said: “Allscripts investment in Netsmart helped create a critical solution for caregivers to achieve the value-based care goal of healthy communities and populations. Through our ownership position we quickly generated significant value, and this transaction will be beneficial for our shareholders, our clients, and our organization.” TA Associates and GI Partners are reported to have bought the stake in Netsmart.

Epic Systems can now support dentists and life insurers (link)

As more hospitals convert to electronic health records, the number of new clients for companies like Epic Systems has slowed. To continue to grow, Epic has added dentists and life insurers to its network, so records for dental surgery, cleanings, and life insurance can all be viewed on Epic’s MyChart. Pacific Dental Services in California and New York Life are two of the companies who have signed on with Epic’s new specialty services. Epic’s vice president of population health, Alan Hutchinson, said that Epic’s continued integration with all aspects of a person’s health records “provides an opportunity for health care organizations to work more effectively with patients.” Epic is also considering creating a platform for home health and hospice providers as future expansion.

ONC report finds hospitals still using mail and fax to send records (link)

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology published a report on how hospitals sent and received patient information in 2017. Of the report’s many findings, “About a quarter of hospitals used multi-electronic health record (EHR) vendor networks to send or receive summary of care records; a similar percentage used e-Health Exchange to send or receive summary of care records.” Perhaps most surprising was that about seven in 10 hospitals sent or received patient information by mail or fax in 2017. About one-third of hospitals used four or more different methods to receive health care records, in contrast to about one-quarter of hospitals that didn’t use any electronic methods at all to collect records.

Hospital for Special Surgery Wins HIMSS Davies Award for Excellence (link)

Hospital for Special Surgery in New York won a 2018 HIMSS Davies Enterprise Award for improving patient outcomes through technology, becoming the first specialty hospital to do so. To improve service and patient outcome, HSS standardized care through clinical pathways, which allowed them to continue monitoring patients with less manual data collection. They also reduced peak wait times in patient arrival through the creation of express check-in to handle the high number of pre-surgical screening patients. A newly updated physician referral services legacy system rounded out the significant improvements to improve patient outcomes.

VA to possibly replace Epic Scheduling system with Cerner (link)

In 2015, Epic Systems and Lockheed Martin were awarded a five-year $624 million Medical Appointment Scheduling System contract for the VA. But then the VA decided to test out their own VistA software and put Epic’s contract on hold. Now, the House VA Subcommittee on Technology Modernization indicated that they might implement Cerner’s Millennium scheduling package instead, due to the VA’s current contracts with Cerner. Chairman of the House Subcommittee Rep. Jim Banks, R-Indiana has made a list of questions regarding the decision between Cerner and Epic and would like them answered before moving forward.

Majority of Electronic Health Record Vendors feature interoperability (link)

According to a recent KLAS Research report, the number of acute-care and ambulatory EHR companies that are connected to an integrated service such as CommonWell and Carequality increased. This type of interoperability allows providers to share patient data and ultimately improve patient outcomes through access on a national network. Allscripts and MedHost are two examples of vendors that are not on CommonWell or Carequality, although Allscripts has stated they plan to change that in the first quarter of 2019.

The final month of 2018 saw many changes in the world of electronic health records. Stay tuned for the most up-to-date news on what 2019 will bring.