• Government Health IT Experts Call for Improved Patient Record Keeping, Integration, and Data Analytics Infrastructure

    immixGroup Seminar Unveiled New Insights from Health and Human Services, DoD/VA, and Industry

    McLean, VA, Monday, August 13, 2012– More complete patient data integration is essential to moving the bar on improved patient care. For the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), this includes a new organization wide IT system dubbed the Knowledge Discovery Infrastructure (KDI).

    The CMS announcement was a highlight in the recent seminar, “Applying Technology for Improved Health Information Management,” presented on July 25, 2012 at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, DC, by immixGroup, Inc., in cooperation with Federal Computer Week. Moderated by immixGroup co-founder and Executive VP Steve Charles, the event featured high-level speakers from the federal government and industry, and was sponsored by federal health care services providers Information Builders, Hewlett Packard Exstream Enterprise Software, and EMC Federal.

    Vish Sankaran, senior advisor to the administrator, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), discussed the new KDI initiative at CMS. KDI is a data and analytics infrastructure intended to improve care and reduce fraud, waste, and abuse.

    CMS currently has 98 million beneficiaries, and processes some 2.5 billion Part A, B & D claims per year, Sankaran said. The customer base is expanding, responsibilities are growing, and budget is limited. Existing tools weren’t built for the tasks CMS now faces—CMS requires better tools and quicker insights.

    At present, CMS data is redundant across multiple locations, Sankaran said. This increases both cost and risk. Over time, the organization has come to a number of realizations, according to Sankaran. A single database is not the answer, he said. Further, one data storage method won't solve the challenge of analyzing claims and providing timely information and insights. Finally, the organization “needs more minds to look at our problems,” which requires creating platforms that will allow ideas to become tools that can support informed decision-making.

    KDI offers the simplicity of the search engine, with the usability of an application store, where what is best is actually determined by users. The goal of KDI is to create a common data infrastructure, where program data can be collected, organized, and disseminated for maximum value. All of that must be done he said, while ensuring privacy and security, and democratizing development of applications. With KDI, Sankaran said CMS hopes to reduce data complexity and redundancy, while creating platforms that will enable a vibrant marketplace with more easy-to-use data analysis tools.

    Captain Michael Weiner, USN, Director of Clinical Informatics at the DoD/VA Interagency Program Office (IPO), said that government health care is undergoing “the biggest transformation to IT in three decades.”  That's been driven in large part by the sheer volume of health care users, Weiner said. In the current DoD and VA health care systems, 20 million patients are served by the combined effort, he said—as compared to Kaiser, in the private sector, which handles 9.4 million. On any given Monday morning there may be as many as 40,000 concurrent users of the system.

    The IPO is beginning to look at a service-oriented architecture offering a single common user experience for patients. Starter sites for this new program include immunization and laboratory initiatives in Hampton Roads, Virginia and San Antonio, Texas, as well as a pharmacy solution for the DoD/VA Joint Federal Healthcare Center in North Chicago.

    The IPO is following an “Agile” manifesto, Weiner said, to improve health care safety, timeliness, and affordability while following a clinically-driven vision. The organization also works with its HHS partners on a National Quality Strategy to address how technology is supporting health care quality overall.

    In a question and answer session following their presentations, both presenters were asked about the use of social media. Weiner divided the uses into two “layers”: providers, who have to address change management and information capture on the clinical side, and patients.

    Sankaran noted that privacy and security of personal information is important, ensuring the protection of data while making it available to CMS business partners. “We have to understand how this information comes together, based on what the user needs at a particular moment,” he said. Sankaran also addressed the issue of open source products, noting “government needs to continue supporting competition and innovation, and with industry, enable the right eco-system to get the best value for money from technology.”

    In the industry portion of the seminar, Dennis McLaughlin, Vice President for Information Builders' iWay software program, noted that some government health IT environments now have as many as 100 to 120 separate systems. This points to the need for more complete patient data integration to improve patient care overall. Systems that feed mechanisms for customer care have to be well integrated to manage the process, he said. That applies not just to inbound but to outbound information, so that data in the original systems can be completely up-to-date.

    Roger Schlegel, Health Care Director of EMC Federal, noted the complexity of working with multiple health care IT systems for diagnostic purposes, as well as other back-office and ERP systems required for the business of health care. The current movement, he said, is to consolidate imagery so that information related to cardiology, radiology, mammography, and all other specializations, can all be contained in one repository in a “vendor neutral” framework.

    Paul Woods, Health Care Industry Solutions Lead for HP Exstream software, noted the importance of presenting datasets in “demographically appropriate” ways to recipients, whether as applications on paper or via a portal, depending on their level of technological sophistication. Woods mentioned that access to publicly available health information over the Internet can sometimes frustrate providers. This also leads to patients' decreasing comfort level with physicians. Information collected through data analytics will help restore that trust level, he said.

    The seminar concluded with a talk by Thomas H. Lee, M.D., co-author of the book “Chaos and Organization in Health Care.” The fee-for-service model is becoming “increasingly unsustainable,” said Lee. Instead, we are entering an era where idealist aspirations and pragmatic imperatives are converging. This is leading to common themes in health care such as integration of data, coordination among users of that information, and improved team care reliability.

    The goal for the health care industry must be improvement of value, Lee said, as defined by outcomes that matter to patients and controlling costs over meaningful episodes of care.

    About immixGroup, Inc.

    immixGroup, an Arrow company, is a value-added distributor that helps technology companies do business with the government. immixGroup enables IT manufacturers and solution providers to grow their public sector business and accelerate the sales cycle. Since 1997, immixGroup has delivered the specialized resources and expertise these companies need to increase their revenue, support their demand creators, and operate efficiently in the complex public sector IT market. Government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels trust immixGroup to provide reliable access to a wide range of enterprise software and hardware products through their preferred contracts and business partners. For more information, contact immixGroup, Inc. at 703.752.0610, via email at info@immixgroup.com, or on the Web at www.immixgroup.com.

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