This week we took a trip to Orlando to visit the 82nd Annual American Health Information Management Association Conference & Exhibit. It was our first visit to this event. 


The health care I.T. industry is not ready to tackle patient privacy. There is some interest, and a handful of software products, that deal with data security, but we saw nothing that dealt with privacy and not much interest from vendors or health care administrators.

There is a big difference between privacy and data security. Data security is about making sure the authorized users, and only authorized users, have access to the data. Privacy is determining which authorized users have what access to which information at what time and for what purpose.  I suspect that at least some patients will want control over this.

Example: a woman shows up in an ER for a broken ankle. The ER nurse accesses the patient's record. But does the nurse need the entire medical record?  Say, details of a previous gynecological procedure, for example? Of course not. So who determines what health information is seen by whom? So far, not the patient. 

 See my previous blog post here for more thoughts on this topic.

The second thing that perked our interest was a lot of advances and tremendous interest in revenue cycle management technology.  About half of this interest was in converting from ICD-9 to ICD-10, but the motivation is clear--providers want to get paid for their work. Heard on the exhibit floor, “There is no such thing as fee for service, it is actually A/R entry for service.” That neatly sums it up the issue. We have no quantitative survey data to prove it, but if it were not for ARRA, we believe most recent I.T. expenditures would have gone to improving revenue cycle management.

The only criticism is that there isn’t an obvious RCM consolidated software package available; consequently administrators have to integrate a lot of individual components.

The final thing that got our attention was a brand-new EHR vendor coming to market with a SaaS offering for $1,200 per-year, per-physician.  How do you spell “commoditization”?  We did not get a chance to learn more about the features and stability of the software, but this is a clear warning to EHR vendors to re-think the business model.

Rob Tholemeier is a research analyst for Crosstree Capital Management in Tampa, Fla., covering the heath I.T. industry. He has over 25 years experience as an information technology investor, research analyst, investment banker and consultant, after beginning his career as a hardware engineer and designer



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