Health care changes coming

Finger Lakes Health (FLH) healthcare system is starting the process of exploring partnership options, according to an announcement released last week. These will include all areas of acute and long-term care health services to the Yates County community through Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital, the Homestead, primary care services, and specialized services.According to the announcement, Finger Lakes Health plans to contact and vet select healthcare organizations to identify potential partners willing and able to improve health and promote well-being in the communities Finger Lakes Health serves.

Spotlight

Klara

Klara was founded in 2013 with the vision to solve the inefficiencies in healthcare through communication. Klara has been proven to improve collaboration, profitability, and patient outcomes. Klara has since been awarded as a Top Entrepreneurial Company by Entrepreneur Magazine (2016), featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Crain's NY, Healthcare IT News, the Discovery Channel among others.

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Health Technology, Digital Healthcare

Driving Down Drug Costs: How Real-Time Transparency in PBMs Can Make a Difference

Article | July 14, 2023

In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, transparency in pharmacy benefit management (PBM) has emerged as a critical issue. The discussion surrounding driving down prescription drug costs and increasing access to affordable medications has brought attention to the practices of PBMs. However, achieving true transparency requires more than just buzzwords; it necessitates access to real-time data that empowers consumers to make informed decisions about their healthcare. In this piece, we will explore the importance of real-time transparency in PBMs and highlight how Xevant, a leading platform, is revolutionizing the industry. The Current State of PBM Legislation With over 100 bills to reform PBM practices, legislative efforts are intensifying to address the business practices associated with PBMs. However, one common concern is the absence of language surrounding real-time automation in many of these bills. The lack of such provisions threatens to undermine the effectiveness of the proposed reforms. It is crucial to examine the available resources and insights to gain a comprehensive understanding of the issue. The current state of PBM legislation and the efforts to reform PBM practices highlight the pressing need for transparency and accountability in the pharmaceutical industry. PBMs play a critical role in the drug pricing ecosystem. Still, concerns about “traditional” PBM business practices, such as lack of transparency and opaque rebate systems, have raised questions about their impact on drug prices and patient access to affordable medications. Xevant's Groundbreaking Solution Xevant, led by CEO Brandon Newman, stands at the forefront of the drive for transparency in PBM practices. As the only platform capable of providing PBMs and consumers with real-time, automated, and completely transparent data from the entire pharmacy benefits ecosystem, Xevant is poised to revolutionize the industry against the backdrop of the political landscape. The absence of language surrounding transparency and real-time automation in many proposed bills threatens the effectiveness of the reforms. Yet, innovative companies like Xevant are leading the charge for openness in PBM practices. Xevant's real-time data automation and optimization capabilities empower consumers with timely, comprehensive, and transparent information, enabling them to make informed decisions about their healthcare and potentially save money. With the potential passage of these bills, the pharmaceutical industry could see a shift towards greater accountability, fairer pricing practices, and improved access to affordable medications. The reforms could also create a more level playing field for generic drug manufacturers, fostering competition and lowering prices. Real-Time Data Automation and Optimization Newman emphasizes that transparency cannot be achieved without access to real-time data automation and optimization. This real-time, customized data enables individuals to compare prices, explore alternatives, and understand the specific cost components related to their medications. By bringing together various parts of lowering drug costs, such as drug rebates, 340B contracts, sell-side discounts, copay assistance, and employer negotiations, Xevant offers a solution that empowers consumers with the information they need when required. The Implications of Timely Access to Data The scarcity of timely access to data among many traditional PBMs is a significant challenge in achieving transparency in the pharmaceutical industry. These PBMs typically collect data annually, which leaves a substantial margin of error and can result in millions of dollars lost from consumers' pockets. In contrast, Xevant's capabilities offer a game-changing solution. With Xevant's platform, consumers gain immediate access to critical information regarding drug rebates, markups during spread pricing, competitive alternatives, and the vast landscape of the pharmaceutical ecosystem. Having these complete datasets available in real-time allows individuals to make informed decisions about their healthcare and potentially save lives. The significance of timely access to data cannot be overstated, as transparency becomes meaningful only when it happens in the present rather than months, or even a year, later than when the impact has already occurred. Navigating Proposed Legislation and Questionable Business Practices Another critical aspect of the PBM landscape that Xevant addresses is the moral implications associated with cost-sharing, clawbacks, spread pricing, and the pass-through of rebates. These practices have long been criticized for their opacity and their negative consequences on patients' access to affordable medications. Xevant's transparency-focused approach highlights these practices, allowing stakeholders to evaluate their ethical implications and work towards fairer alternatives. Xevant recognizes that proposed legislation may have potential cracks that allow for slip-through and the continuation of questionable business practices. Delayed and inaccurate reporting are loopholes that can hinder the effectiveness of reform efforts. By actively engaging with legislators and industry stakeholders, Xevant aims to identify these potential shortcomings and advocate for comprehensive robust legislation that leaves no room for exlploitation The Future of Healthcare and the Role of Real-Time Automation As the discussion surrounding PBM reform gains momentum, the future of healthcare in America hangs in the balance. Xevant sets a new standard for efficiency and consumer empowerment in healthcare decision-making by employing AI-driven technology. Xevant's visionary approach to real-time data automation and optimization paves the way for greater transparency and cost savings in the pharmaceutical industry. Wrapping Up Transparency in pharmacy benefit management is crucial to addressing the soaring costs of prescription drugs and enhancing access to affordable medications. Without access to real-time data and automation, the pursuit of transparency remains elusive. Xevant's groundbreaking platform solves this pressing challenge, enabling PBMs and consumers to access complete, transparent data in real-time. As legislative efforts progress, the need for real-time transparency becomes increasingly evident, and Xevant emerges as the leading legal solution for PBMs. When harnessing the power of real-time data automation, the vision of affordable healthcare can be transformed into a reality, benefiting individuals and the entire healthcare ecosystem.

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Health Technology, AI

3 IT Investment Strategies Hospitals Can Use to Improve Patient Care

Article | July 18, 2023

Rural, community, and independent hospitals are constantly facing mounting challenges in the form of staff shortages, accessibility to patient care and a multitude of cost concerns. Getting even one of these areas under control can help hospitals drastically boost their outcomes. Here are three areas of IT investment that hospitals must control to go beyond staying functional and create an excellent patient experience. Telehealth for Staff Shortage Healthcare currently face massive staff shortage with a projected gap of up to 48,000 primary care physicians and up to 77,100 specialty physicians till 2034. The effects of this shortage could be lessened by using virtual care, which would allow hospitals to care for patients through remote staffing. Digitalizing Patient Care with Asynchronous Telehealth Async telehealth of patients sending photos and videos to fast-track diagnosis. Async telehealth makes it easier for doctors to connect with more patients. This shortens the time it takes to see specialists and get important care services. Remote Patient Monitoring According to a CDC report, 90% of all healthcare spending goes into treating chronic conditions. Considering that U.S. nonmetropolitan areas have a high number of patients diagnosed with chronic conditions, accessibility is one of the contributing factors. Remote patient monitoring enhances patient care for people with chronic conditions. Wearable medical devices are already driving the move towards remote patient monitoring. Whether it’s through wearable weight scales, heart monitors, blood pressure bands, or pulse oximeters, clinicians can generate regular updates about a patient’s health readings and ensure a timely response in order to avert complications. Conclusion There is much to be achieved on the healthcare front when it comes to digitalizing care. The above technologies are enabling healthcare providers take delivery of medical care further than ever and ensure they generate more traction from their IT investments in these areas of medtech.

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Health Technology, Digital Healthcare

Innovation Insight for Healthcare Provider Digital Twins

Article | August 16, 2023

A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. The implementation of a digital twin is a model that mirrors a unique physical object, process, organization, person or other abstraction. For healthcare providers, digital twins provide an abstraction of the healthcare ecosystem’s component characteristics and behaviors. These are used in combination with other real-time health system (RTHS) capabilities to provide real-time monitoring, process simulation for efficiency improvements, population health and long-term, cross-functional statistical analyses. Digital twins have the potential to transform and accelerate decision making, reduce clinical risk, improve operational efficiencies and lower cost of care, resulting in better competitive advantage for HDOs. However, digital twins will only be as valuable as the quality of the data utilized to create them. The digital twin of a real-world entity is a method to create relevance for descriptive data about its modeled entity. How that digital twin is built and used can lead to better-informed care pathways and organizational decisions, but it can also lead clinicians and executives down a path of frustration if they get the source data wrong. The underlying systems that gather and process data are key to the success for digital twin creation. Get those systems right and digital twins can accelerate care delivery and operational efficiencies. Twins in Healthcare Delivery The fact is that HDOs have been using digital twins for years. Although rudimentary in function, digital representations of patients, workflow processes and hospital operations have already been applied by caregivers and administrators across the HDO. For example, a physician uses a digital medical record to develop a treatment plan for a patient. The information in the medical record (a rudimentary digital twin) along with the physician’s experience, training and education combine to provide a diagnostic or treatment plan. Any gaps in information must be compensated through additional data gathering, trial-and-error treatments, intuitive leaps informed through experience or simply guessing. The CIO’s task now is to remove as many of those gaps as possible using available technology to give the physician the greatest opportunity to return their patients to wellness in the most efficient possible manner. Today, one way to close those gaps is to create the technology-based mechanisms to collect accurate data for the various decision contexts within the HDO. These contexts are numerous and include decisioning perspectives for every functional unit within the enterprise. The more accurate the data collected on a specific topic, the higher the value of the downstream digital twin to each decision maker (see Figure 1). Figure 1: Digital Twins Are Only as Good as Their Data Source HDO CIOs and other leaders that base decisions on poor-quality digital twins increase organizational risk and potential patient care risk. Alternatively, high-quality digital twins will accelerate digital business and patient care effectiveness by providing decision makers the best information in the correct context, in the right moment and at the right place — hallmarks of the RTHS. Benefits and Uses Digital Twin Types in Healthcare Delivery Current practices for digital twins take two basic forms: discrete digital twins and composite digital twins. Discrete digital twins are the type that most people think about when approaching the topic. These digital twins are one-dimensional, created from a single set or source of data. An MRI study of a lung, for example, is used to create a digital representation of a patient that can be used by trained analytics processes to detect the subtle image variations that indicate a cancerous tumor. The model of the patient’s lung is a discrete digital twin. There are numerous other examples of discrete digital twins across healthcare delivery, each example tied to data collection technologies for specific clinical diagnostic purposes. Some of these data sources include vitals monitors, imaging technologies for specific conditions, sensors for electroencephalography (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG). All these technologies deliver discrete data describing one (or very few) aspects of a patient’s condition. Situational awareness is at the heart of HDO digital twins. They are the culmination of information gathered from IoT and other sources to create an informed, accurate digital model of the real-world healthcare organization. Situational awareness is the engine behind various “hospital of the future,” “digital hospital” and “smart patient room” initiatives. It is at the core of the RTHS. Digital twins, when applied through the RTHS, positively impact these organizational areas (with associated technology examples — the technologies all use one or more types of digital twins to fulfill their capability): Care delivery: Clinical communication and collaboration Next-generation nurse call Alarms and notifications Crisis/emergency management Patient engagement: Experiential wayfinding Integrated patient room Risks Digital Twin Usability Digital twin risk is tied directly to usability. Digital twin usability is another way of looking at the issue created by poor data quality or low data point counts used to create the twins. Decision making is a process that is reliant on inputs from relevant information sources combined with education, experience, risk assessment, defined requirements, criteria and opportunities to reach a plausible conclusion. There is a boundary or threshold that must be reached for each of these inputs before a person or system can derive a decision. When digital twins are used for one or many of these sources, the ability to cross these decision thresholds to create reasonable and actionable conclusions is tied to the accuracy of the twins (see Figure 2). Figure 2: Digital Twin Usability Thresholds For example, the amount of information about a patient room required to decide if the space is too hot or cold is low (due to a single temperature reading from a wall-mounted thermostat). In addition, the accuracy or quality of that data can be low (that is, a few degrees off) and still be effective for deciding to raise or lower the room temperature. To decide if the chiller on the roof of that patient wing needs to be replaced, the decision maker needs much more information. That data may represent all thermostat readings in the wing over a long period of time with some level of verification on temperature accuracy. The data may also include energy load information over the same period consumed by the associated chiller. If viewed in terms of a digital twin, the complexity level and accuracy level of the source data must pass an accuracy threshold that allows users to form accurate decisions. There are multiple thresholds for each digital twin — based on twin quality — whether that twin is a patient, a revenue cycle workflow or hospital wing. These thresholds create a limit of decision impact; the lower the twin quality the less important the available decision for the real-world entity the twin represents. Trusting Digital Twins for HDOs The concept of a limit of detail required to make certain decisions raises certain questions. First, “how does a decision maker know they have enough detail in their digital twin to take action based on what the model is describing about its real-world counterpart?” The answer lies in measurement and monitoring of specific aspects of a digital twin, whether it be a discrete twin, composite twin or organization twin. Users must understand the inputs required for decisions and where twins will provide one or more of the components of that input. They need to examine the required decision criteria in order to reach the appropriate level of expected outcome from the decision itself. These feed into the measurements that users will have to monitor for each twin. These criteria will be unique to each twin. Composite twins will have unique measurements that may be independent from the underlying discrete twin measurement. The monitoring of these key twin characteristics must be as current as the target twin’s data flow or update process. Digital twins that are updated once can have a single measurement to gauge its appropriateness for decisioning. A twin that is updated every second based on event stream data must be measured continuously. This trap is the same for all digital twins regardless of context. The difference is in the potential impact. A facilities decision that leads to cooler-than-desired temperatures in the hallways pales in comparison to a faulty clinical diagnosis that leads to unnecessary testing or negative patient outcomes. All it takes is a single instance of a digital twin used beyond its means with negative results for trust to disappear — erasing the significant investments in time and effort it took to create the twin. That is why it is imperative that twins be considered a technology product that requires constant process improvement. From the IoT edge where data is collected to the data ingestion and analytics processes that consume and mold the data to the digital twin creation routines, all must be under continuous pressure for improvement. Recommendations Include a Concise Digital Twin Vision Within the HDO Digital Transformation Strategy Digital twins are one of the foundational constructs supporting digital transformation efforts by HDO CIOs. They are digital representations of the real-world entities targeted by organizations that benefit from the advances and efficiencies technologies bring to healthcare delivery. Those technology advances and efficiencies will only be delivered successfully if the underlying data and associated digital twins have the appropriate level of precision to sustain the transformation initiatives. To ensure this attention to digital twin worthiness, it is imperative that HDO CIOs include a digital twin vision as part of their organization’s digital transformation strategy. Binding the two within the strategy will reinforce the important role digital twins play in achieving the desired outcomes with all participating stakeholders. Building new capabilities — APIs, artificial intelligence (AI) and other new technologies enable the connections and automation that the platform provides. Leveraging existing systems — Legacy systems that an HDO already owns can be adapted and connected to form part of its digital platform. Applying the platform to the industry — Digital platforms must support specific use cases, and those use cases will reflect the needs of patients, employees and other consumers. Create a Digital Twin Pilot Program Like other advanced technology ideas, a digital twin program is best started as a simple project that can act as a starting point for maturity over time. Begin this by selecting a simple model of a patient, a department or other entity tied to a specific desired business or clinical outcome. The goal is to understand the challenges your organization will face when implementing digital twins. The target for the digital twin should be discrete and easily managed. For example, a digital twin of a blood bank storage facility is a contained entity with a limited number of measurement points, such as temperature, humidity and door activity. The digital twin could be used to simulate the impact of door open time on temperature and humidity within the storage facility. The idea is to pick a project that allows your team to concentrate on data collection and twin creation processes rather than get tied up in specific details of the modeled object. Begin by analyzing the underlying source data required to compose the digital twin, with the understanding that the usability of the twins is directly correlated to its data’s quality. Understand the full data pathway from the IoT devices through to where that data is stored. Think through the data collection type needed for the twin, is discrete data or real-time data required? How much data is needed to form the twin accurately? How accurate is the data generated by the IoT devices? Create a simulation environment to exercise the digital twin through its paces against known operational variables. The twin’s value is tied to how the underlying data represents the response of the modeled entity against external input. Keep this simple to start with — concentrate on the IT mechanisms that create and execute the twin and the simulation environment. Monitor and measure the performance of the digital twin. Use the virtuous cycle to create a constant improvement process for the sample twin. Experience gained through this simple project will create many lessons learned and best practices to follow for complex digital twins that will follow.

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Digital Healthcare

Busy Professionals Should Stop These 5 Behaviors for Their Mental Health

Article | December 29, 2021

Combating stress and anxiety can be a major challenge these days, but there are certain behaviors that contribute to those feelings, and you can take action right now to stop them and focus on your wellbeing. By taking a look at the way you react to others, how you practice self-care, and what kind of attitude you approach new tasks with, you can make some positive changes to your lifestyle that affect both your personal and professional lives. Stop stressing over your current job Almost everyone experiences job-related stress at some point in their lives, but when those feelings become overwhelming, it may be time to consider your options, according to Zenbusiness.com. Those in corporate positions and high-level management often cope with the most stress or anxiety due to the number of people they have working under them. If you find yourself bringing home feelings of irritability, or if you suffer from insomnia or a lack of focus during the day, take a look at open positions elsewhere and think about how much moving on could help you maintain a higher level of mental health. It can be scary to think about making such a major life change, but you’ll never know what possibilities lie out there if you don’t take a leap. Stop competing with others While some competition in the business world is a healthy motivator, other types can leave you feeling terrible about yourself. Rather than comparing your lifestyle or achievements to someone else’s, try to practice gratitude each day by using mindfulness techniques that allow you to focus on your own actions. Focus on your strengths and remind yourself that you’re doing the absolute best you can each day. Make it a point to congratulate others on their achievements, especially your coworkers, and do what you can to build others up. When it comes to social media, remember that the things we share only give a glimpse into the whole story, and that comparing your life to another’s can be detrimental to your mental wellbeing. Stop ignoring your physical needs While your mental wellbeing is obviously an important focus, it’s also crucial to think about how you can make sure your body is getting everything it needs. Working a corporate job often means sitting stationary at a desk for long hours, working through lunch hours, or working at home even after you’ve clocked out for the day. Allow yourself to rest by setting boundaries once you’re home, and give yourself the tools to get better sleep by creating an end-of-day routine that will help you relax and prepare to let the workday go. Eat plenty of lean protein and leafy greens to keep your energy up, and make it a point to get up and move around at work. You might also invest in a standing desk, as those come with multiple health advantages for individuals who spend much of the day sitting. Stop dreading the new week It can be helpful to set some boundaries where work is concerned, but it’s also important to get organized in order to banish that dread you feel on Monday morning. Facing a busy week can bring on stress and anxiety that leaves you feeling unprepared, but if you take the time to write out a to-do list on Friday, you can jump right in at the beginning of the week without feeling frazzled. It can also help to have something to look forward to, such as promising yourself a little treat once you get a certain amount of work done. Staying productive can be a big help, so if you have time left toward the end of the day and there’s a small task still to be done, don’t let your desire to leave early on a Friday afternoon take over. Finishing up can give you a sense of satisfaction and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed once the new week starts. Stop saying yes to everything Another behavior that leads to feeling overwhelmed is saying “yes” to anyone who asks for your time or energy. You may feel that doing so contributes to a helpful, team-oriented atmosphere at work, but it becomes a problem when you take on too much without focusing on your own needs at least part of the time. Learning how to diplomatically say no when you can’t take on any more responsibilities is a form of self-care that can banish stress and allow you to focus on your own needs without feeling guilty. Letting go of stress, anxiety, and poor health habits can take some time, but by creating some new routines you can learn new habits that help you tackle anything life throws your way. Write down a strategy that encompasses your daily schedule, and get organized both at work and at home for maximum mental health benefits.

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Spotlight

Klara

Klara was founded in 2013 with the vision to solve the inefficiencies in healthcare through communication. Klara has been proven to improve collaboration, profitability, and patient outcomes. Klara has since been awarded as a Top Entrepreneurial Company by Entrepreneur Magazine (2016), featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Crain's NY, Healthcare IT News, the Discovery Channel among others.

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