Health Language Blog

Overcoming the Complexity of Customizable Data

Posted on 03/01/17 | Comments

EMR and other healthcare software applications must maintain dropdown lists of codes, which are regularly updated by the standard bodies. As a software vendor you need to ensure that you are monitoring for updates, analyzing each update to determine what actually changed, and then incorporating the updates and shipping updated code to all of your customers. In this blog, I discuss the challenge of managing codes and dropdown lists on your own, as opposed to using a terminology management solution to manage these frequent updates for you.

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Topics: code groups, customizable code groups, custom dropdown list, healthcare software applications

Release of 2017 ISA is Good News for Interoperability

Posted on 02/08/17 | Comments

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently released the 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA), an update to the 2016 version that holds great promise for advancing health information exchange. National Coordinator Vindell Washington hailed the release as “a key step toward achieving the goals” outlined in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap and Interoperability Pledge announced earlier this year. Thus, the Interoperability theme continues as seen with the recent Cures Act and MIPS. Even HHS Secretary nominee Tom Price during his confirmation hearings stated that the federal government’s role “ought to be interoperability: to make sure the different systems can talk to each other so it inures to the benefit of the patient.”

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Topics: interoperability, government, ISA, Unique Device Identifier, ONC

The Impacts of the 21st Century Cures Act

Posted on 01/17/17 | Comments

The 21st Century Cures Act was signed into law just last month.  This broad law reduces the bureaucracy for drug approval, provides billions of dollars to the NIH for research, and provides funding to state governments to deal with the opioid epidemic.  But along with these touted benefits, this law includes significant impacts for healthcare IT. 

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Topics: EHR, data normalization, interoperability, patient engagement, Consumer Friendly Descriptions, patient empowerment

New Measures Increase Focus on Semantic Interoperability

Posted on 01/11/17 | Comments

National healthcare movements demand an interoperable framework for accurate data exchange across healthcare continuums. As value-based care continues to unfold, the industry at large remains focused on efforts to mature interoperability to support high-level quality initiatives aimed at improving population health and cutting costs.

For this reason, the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) recently identified two metrics to support specific indicators of “widespread interoperability” in the industry. Developed in response to directives laid out by The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), the new metrics are:

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Topics: semantic interoperability, MACRA

Meaningful Analytics: Improving Data Integration and Quality by Leveraging the HIE Webinar Recap

Posted on 11/29/16 | Comments

Healthcare organizations must achieve mastery of high-quality data and analytics to thrive within value-based care models. Today’s IT professionals are challenged to design systems that improve data exchange with industry stakeholders as well as acquire more complete and accurate patient information for quality measures reporting. Without a strategy in place that addresses each of these key areas, hospitals and health systems face significant barriers to achieving their overall population health or financial goals.

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Topics: Analytics, HIE, cohort rules management, mapping, CMS, data integration, data quality, APM, VITL

CMS Audits Raise the Bar on Patient Communication

Posted on 10/25/16 | Comments

Why payers need to engage consumer-friendly strategies now

Two converging trends are moving patient communication strategies front and center for today’s payers: Consumers are demanding greater control of their healthcare decisions; and regulatory movements are requiring better patient experiences.

The equation is simple. When consumers understand both the clinical and financial side of care delivery, they are equipped to make better decisions, ultimately leading to better outcomes and lower costs. Yet recent industry activity suggests that a notable gap still exists between the language that clinicians and payers use and what patients understand.

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Topics: patient engagement, Consumer Friendly Descriptions, CMS

Four Reasons Healthcare Organizations Need to Simplify the Documentation of the Clinician Diagnosis Process

Posted on 10/25/16 | Comments

Finding and selecting the right diagnosis code is critical to both patient care and revenue cycle management. The downstream negative impact of using an unspecified code can touch everything from decision support to reimbursement, compliance, and reporting. In addition, unspecified codes are not as useful for other clinicians needing to review the records and for patients themselves as they review their own records.

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Topics: ICD-10, clinical documentation, PFT, reinburment, unspecified codes, revenue cycle management, provider friendly terminology, cdi, clinical codes

Unspecified Codes: Know Your Financial Exposure

Posted on 10/19/16 | Comments

Three Must-take Steps to Minimize Risk

On October 1, 2016, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wrapped up its one-year grace period for allowing the use of unspecified codes without consequence. The governing body also rolled out its first update to the coding system in four years, including a mammoth 6,000 new codes.

Both of these moves could negatively impact financial performance if appropriate action is not taken to minimize risk. Providers still engaging in deficient “unspecified” coding practices face short-term revenue cycle exposure in the way of denied claims, increased accounts receivable days, and time-consuming workflows associated with drafting appeals. Over the long term, revenue risk is associated with lower value-based payments.

Specificity is now the name of the game, and HIM departments must educate teams to code at the highest level under ICD-10. With thousands of new codes in play, it’s imperative that healthcare organizations address this issue through three critical steps:

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Topics: ICD-10

What is Semantic Interoperability?

Posted on 10/12/16 | Comments

Without semantic interoperability among disparate healthcare IT systems, sharing data in a useful way is impossible.

While a doctor knows that dropsy describes the same illness as congestive heart failure, a computer typically can’t make that type of distinction. Semantic interoperability, however, creates a common vocabulary that paves the way for accurate and reliable communication among computers.

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Topics: semantic interoperability

Terminology Server on FHIR at HL7 Connectathon 13

Posted on 10/04/16 | Comments

Two weeks ago Health Language attended the HL7 FHIR Connectathon in Baltimore, Maryland.  An impressive 170 individuals were in attendance with 120 individuals participating in the actual Connectathon. This was a new HL7 Connectathon record! The objective of the event was to achieve the goals pre-established for each of the FHIR technology tracts.  The accomplishments of the different groups after the day and a half were outstanding.

We participated in the event with a FHIR Standard for Trial Use (STU) 3 conformant terminology server, which was able to meet the needs of many participants wanting to look up healthcare data by code or use a phrase to search healthcare terminology standards like ICD-10, SNOMED CT, LOINC and RxNorm.  Participants could also accomplish similar tasks with value sets available on our server from NCQA and VSAC.  Those sending requests to our FHIR server were still able to take full advantage of our proprietary synonyms, provider friendly terminology, and mappings between content sets, which demonstrated Health Languages market differentiation.

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Topics: interoperability, enterprise terminology management, FHIR