Health Stocks Up As Senate Releases Plan

Multiple news outlets reported gains on hospital stock prices Thursday as details of the closely held proposal to replace Obamacare were made public.

The healthcare sector was up 1.2 % today and 4% for the week, Reuters reported. Modern Healthcare reported that as of 12:30 p.m. EDT, shares in HCA, the nation’s largest investor-owned hospital chain, were up 4% to $87.16. Universal Health Services and LifePoint Health each were up about 3% while Tenet Healthcare Corp. shares were up 9%, or $1.52, to $19.20 on the day. Community Health Systems’ shares had risen 8% to $9.58.

Health insurers also saw their stocks advance on the news. At 12:30 p.m., Centene’s share were up 4%, Humana’s 2% and Anthem’s 1%. Pharmaceutical stocks also were generally higher with a gain today of about 1.1%.

Despite deep proposed cuts to Medicaid, the Senate bill was generally well received by analysts who expressed relief that efforts to reign in drug prices would not be as harsh as anticipated.

“We see the draft version of the Senate bill as better than expected and driving out-performance particularly in our facilities coverage and also for our managed care names,” Leerink analyst Ana Gupte said in a research note reported by Reuters.

HealthTECH Partner UnitedHealth Group Crushes Earnings


HealthTECH is very proud to be a Top Tier Supplier of Trizetto Facets talent to UnitedHealth Group for the past 10 years.

We specialize in providing ALL skill sets on the Facets application to UnitedHealth Group, and are a Top Supplier of talent to their strongest subsidiary, OPTUM Health nationwide.

Congratulations to our partner, UnitedHealth Group and OPTUM Health, for a fantastic quarterly earnings report and bright future ahead. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the company’s Q2 2016 revenue grew 28 percent year-over-year to $46.5 billion, which is $10.2 billion more than Q2 2015. We are excited to grow with United & OPTUM in the months/years ahead.


Meaningful Use in the ER: Interview with Dr. Whitney Kiebel

The writing has been on the wall for years and CMS has read it. While the Meaningful Use program may have achieved its goal of widespread EHR adoption, the time has come to focus on performance and patient outcomes.

Andy Slavitt MU TweetWhile the program can be hailed for catalyzing a wave of modernization in the healthcare industry, it can be equally roasted for ignoring EHR usability, letting the role of physicians in providing data entry and compliance get out of control, and delivering attestation requirements with no apparent relevance to the delivery of quality care. American Medical Association President Steven J. Stack, MD argued that, “Most electronic health record systems fail to support efficient and effective clinical work. This has resulted in physicians feeling increasingly demoralized by technology that interferes with their ability to provide first-rate medical care to their patients.”

Cue CMS head honcho Andy Slavitt announcing the death knell for MU at the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference January 11th, and later in a tweet that pledged “something better” is on the way, causing some dissatisfied doctors to celebrate and some to shrewdly ponder the corporate greed and regrettable sunk cost of the program thus far.

It is a welcome change for most, but who’s to say what comes along next will be any better? The uncertainty around MU’s replacement has led many to temper their enthusiasm. The College of Healthcare Information Executives (CHIME) is advocating to CMS and congressional committees for ”greater alignment and harmonization of quality measures; creating parity between eligible professionals and eligible hospitals; and removing the pass/fail approach to gaining incentives; reinstating the 90-day reporting period; and ensuring that MU focuses on using IT to transform care, not just reinforce a check-the-box mentality.”

“Most electronic health record systems fail to support efficient and effective clinical work. This has resulted in physicians feeling increasingly demoralized by technology that interferes with their ability to provide first-rate medical care to their patients.”

Echoing the sentiment that it’s high time to move into the phase of making the program live up to it’s Meaningful moniker, Karen DeSalvo, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology affirmed that “this new chapter” of health IT will be “more about knowledge that can come from that data as opposed to thinking about the adoption of platforms themselves.” We know this will involve transitioning to the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act’s (MACRA) emphasis on Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and alternative payment models, but as of yet it seems the champagne should remain corked.

While the industry awaits CMS and the government to shed light on future health IT incentive programs, we wanted to hear from a local MD about her impressions of MU, the rapid adoption of EHRs, and their impact on how physicians take care of and interact with patients at her organization.

Dr. Whitney Kiebel, MD, iMU Quantum States an emergency and pediatric physician in her final year of residency at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. She was interviewed via email in late February.

HealthTECH: What are your overall feelings on the the impact EHRs have had on your day-to-day work?

Dr. Kiebel: I 100% agree with the comments [from AMA President Stack]. Sometimes [the EHR] reminds me to do things that I otherwise would not…but for the most part, I do not find it useful and it just adds another tedious task to our charting. I spend significantly more time at the computer than I actually do interacting and caring for patients. The EPIC interface is probably the best one that I have worked with and does make it easier (I have used CERNER, Meditech and Sunrise Clinical Manager).Kiebel MD

HealthTECH: While the MU program may have accomplished its primary goal of getting providers to adopt EHRs and begin digitizing patient information, and we can acknowledge there have been challenges, what value have these efforts had to you and the organization? If not now, are you confident that we will see the value of this massive endeavor in the future?

Dr. Kiebel: I do like EHRs. I think it is easy to get carried away with various things that are purely just for data and have no merit in affecting patient care (i.e. MD in room button). We have it set up in our department that we bring computers with us into the room. In order to actually chart efficiently most people do this. I do think that typing does take away from the patient experience and makes it less personal. But there is no way that I could get my charts done in time if I did not do this.

The best thing about EHRs is being able to look at old records. In a busy emergency department, this would be impossible to do without EHRs. This has seriously changed my practice, particularly in patients with chronic issues or who frequently visit. It would be nice if there was a better way to link with other hospitals in the community.

HealthTECH: Part of the announcement of the MU changes included a new focus on the use of API’s to promote innovation. What do you imagine true innovation in Healthcare IT looking like?

Dr. Kiebel: I really like the idea of the APIs. Patient’s need better access to their records. However, sometimes a test will come back abnormal and in the appropriate clinical context it is not something that I would be concerned about. It is hard to communicate that with patients and to prevent unnecessary worry. So though I like the idea, it may not be the most productive in some situations.

I think promoting communication after a visit is very helpful particularly in the primary care setting.  As far as a busy ER, probably not as much so since we do not have a longstanding relationship with our patients (most of the time). It is much easier to type a quick text or email to a patient, than to try to get in contact via snail mail or phone.

It would be amazing if healthcare IT could come up with a way to link all EHRs so that we could access other hospital’s data.  I have so many patients that come in and say, “I don’t know my list of medications, don’t you have it on file?” It would help us eliminate unnecessary admissions and workups.  I have had patients come in that have had extensive workups in other cities but I have been unable to access these records, and as a result end up ordering the same workup for the patient here because legally I do not have any documentation of prior workups.

“It would be amazing if healthcare IT could come up with a way to link all EHRs so that we could access other hospital’s data.  I have so many patients that come in and say, ‘I don’t know my list of medications, don’t you have it on file?'”

HealthTECH: What are your feelings going forward with Stage 3 attestation, MIPS, and alternative payment models? Incentivizing good quality care is obviously the goal, but developing metrics to measure that quality sounds tricky.

Dr. Kiebel: I do not quite understand the impact that this will have and it sounds like it is really tricky. I do agree that incentivizing good care is necessary, but I do not know if these models really assess that. They are trying to objectify something that really can’t be objectified. To be penalized financially because you are not clicking buttons on a computer seems like the wrong way to grade physician care and doesn’t seem like an appropriate model of determining physician reimbursement.

Many places have hired scribes to ensure efficient and effective charting. It is kind of crazy that you have to hire somebody to chart for you, but most places are moving to this.

IT Consultant Profile on Matt Perdue

An excellent example of a value-driven staffing firm is when a consultant places their loyalty and respect in the company they work with. Senior healthcare IT consultant Matt Perdue can testify to the power of these values at HealthTECH Resources, Inc. (HTR). Matt has worked with HTR for the last 20 years.

In fact, Matt started his IT career working closely with the President/CEO of HealthTECH Resources (HTR), Larry Hodge, in the mid 90’s. To this day, he primarily works with HTR: “I’d rather go through HTR than anybody else. They always take great care of me and are always concerned about my well-being and happiness on the assignment.” If you’re a healthcare IT consultant, you know there is no higher praise for a recruiting company than that.

IT Consultant with 20 years of experience with HealthTECH Resources

DesertMatt has stayed with HTR all these years because they keep current with their systems. He appreciates the online payment portal and electronic payments. Other companies he’s worked with are still using paper checks and FedEx. Matt recognizes what a waste of time and money this outdated system is.“HealthTECH Resources, Inc. is better than anybody else out there.”

Being treated like a human being and not a commodity is another important aspect of HTR’s relationship with Matt. “They treat you like a professional and expect you to behave like one. I work to make my manager/client look good, and that has led to many repeat performances.”

“I’ve worked for placement firms that are no longer in business. They treated IT, consultants like they were ‘a dime a dozen’, and I believe that is what led to their demise. They weren’t supportive. They were disrespectful toward consultants in written communications to the client.” He voiced his disapproval to one such firm and three years later, no surprise to Matt, they were out of business.

HealthTECH exhibits loyalty to their IT Consultants

When asked what he finds most rewarding about working in health IT, Matt describes the challenge of “getting the machines to do what I want them to do. It can be frustrating at times, but it sure is nice when it happens for the client and me. I also enjoy meeting people and finding out what their needs are. I like knowing that I can make their lives easier by coming up with a system they enjoy using!”

When talking to other IT consultants on the road, Matt always encourages them to reach out to HTR. He says, “HealthTECH is better than anybody else out there.” Matt should know. He’s been around since the beginning of HTR. HealthTECH has exhibited the same loyalty and commitment to Matt as he has to them.

Looking for a firm that you can commit to for the rest of your healthcare IT consulting career? Talk to HTR today. One human being to another.

We Provide Top IT Talent for Payer and Provider Market

As a leading provider of top IT talent to the Payer and Provider market nationwide, HealthTECH views itself as a kind of “Sports Agent” acting on behalf of our hospital and managed healthcare insurance clients nationwide.

We understand our clients resource needs and initiatives, with over 20 years of industry experience we understand who the best players in the Payer and provider industry are.  This unique status in the marketplace ensures we send only the right IT players to fill the right positions at our client’s facilities. We employ them, or we have access to them for our clients. Our vetting process has given HealthTECH a bench of high-level IT players who have an exceptional work ethic coupled with high performance. These characteristics make them an important part of our client’s EMR team. We only represent players who we have had excellent experience with.

We realize our Director or CIO clients are busy: they have been asked to do more with less budget, the resource needs they have are immediate and pressing, and they may be dealing with a pending merger or acquisition which is a growing trend in our industry that I see continuing strong into 2016. They don’t have the time to vet and choose the right EMR / IT support staff to get the job done. What they need are the players we represent: for us to receive a call from a client in New York needing a half dozen specific skill sets on any of the EMR applications we support on a Thursday, and needing them on site the following Monday for an undefined period of time. This is no problem for HealthTECH, because we have access to all EMR skill sets and can respond quickly.

Deep Roster of Outstanding IT Talent

We take pride in the fact that we listen to and understand our client’s needs: we represent them. With the information they give us, we secure resources from our roster of outstanding players, who have every imaginable skill set out there, and we send only the best fit for you. Our recruiters are an important part of the process, but the most important part are the IT players we represent. Our clients trust us. That trust comes from knowing they can call us on Thursday and have six coders or 6 specific EPIC or Cerner folks on site Monday anywhere across the country. When you need us, we’re there. We respond within 48–72 hours to placement needs in all 50 states, and that’s what sets HeathTECH apart from unspecialized staffing firms. Bottom line, we have the best healthcare IT bench in the industry.

Exceptional level of Service and Deliverability for Payers and Providers

I think it would be very, very difficult for someone outside the specialized provider and Payer IT space to meet our level of service and deliverability. I believe these are the reasons that St Josephs, Wellmed, Cedar Sinai, Johns Hopkins, Presbyterian and The University of Chicago, to name a few, have turned to HealthTECH and our bench of players for their EMR needs. We are also a top tier vendor with United Healthcare and Optum, who continue to reach out to us for staffing needs in a very short window of need.

We understand the market. We understand meaningful use stresses and guidelines for our clients in a migration, an implementation, an upgrade or a go-live. As we enter into the new year, we are confident that we will continue to serve the healthcare market, hospitals and universities, with skilled, knowledgeable IT players who bring an outstanding work ethic to our client’s teams.

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IT Consultant Profile on Teresa Smith

Teresa is a veteran healthcare IT Consultant with 18 years in the business. Over the course of her career, she’s worked with many recruiters. Teresa worked with HeathTECH Resources, Inc. (HTR) for four years and considers HTR an easy stand out as the “best recruiting firm” she’s worked with. We recently spoke with Teresa about her experience as an HTR consultant.

They (my recruiter) was concerned about the position I had, and future opportunities for HT and also my work-life balance. They were concerned about my life, my family life and my personal life, along with my work life. My recruiter was making sure that I had a good balance there.

HealthTECH Resources stands out… making sure you have a good work life balance

Teresa emphasized HTR stands out in the way they care about their consultants well-being and their quality of life. She said, They (my recruiter) was concerned about the position I had, and future opportunities for HT and my work-life balance. They were concerned about my personal life and my family, along with my work life. My recruiter was making sure that I had a good balance there.”

IT-Consultant-HealthTECH-Resources-3620-E-Campbell-Ave-Ste-C-Phoenix-AZ-85018An example of this was the time one of Theresa’s relatives became ill. HTR worked very closely with her; she said, to get her the time off she needed. “That is something that doesn’t happen with other recruiting firms. There was never an ‘if you can’t be there, we need to get someone else on the job’ attitude,” she said.

HeathTECH treats each IT Consultant like a human being and not revenue machine

HTR also sent her to an EPIC training. She noted that it is difficult to get firms to send consultants for training, but HTR paid for her to do go to training.

Teresa enjoyed her consulting position. She liked the travel and seeing other parts of the country. She enjoyed the challenge of working on new and interesting projects. As the healthcare landscape has changed, over her 18 years, she enjoyed the challenges that went along with it.

She said of her recruiter, Mike Grace, “Mike is wonderful. He’s probably one of the best recruiters I’ve ever had, and I’ve had many different recruiters over the years.” She went on to note, “His concern is what sets him apart. He will pick up the phone and ask me how I am. Not, ‘how is the job?’, not ‘what’s going on in the job?’, but ‘how are you? How are you handling your travel? How is your family? How is your family handling your travel? What can I do for you to help make your experience better?’ That’s something that you very seldom get. My experience with other placement firms is that once you have the assignment, recruiters are hands off or when they do contact you; they are more concerned about getting more work for their company, and treating me like an inside source.”

HealthTECH Resources cares about their IT consultants as human beings. Not just about the revenue they bring to the firm. A company that treats their team members with that attitude will make a significant difference in how a consultant feels about the job they are doing.

Teresa had an openness with her recruiter, Mike. She knew she could call him and tell him anything, ask him anything, ask for his help or his guidance. Other recruiters, she said, “were hard to contact after a placement or I wouldn’t hear from them at all.”

As of this posting, Teresa is working in a full-time position but indicated that if she ever decided to go back to consulting, HeathTECH Resources, Inc. would be her very first call.

We’d welcome you back with open arms, Theresa and wish you continued success and happiness.

If your IT placement firm turns their back on you when you need them, call our recruiters at HeathTECH Resources. Let us prove to you how valuable we believe you are. 


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How to ‘Be’ the CIO Your Organization Needs in 2016

In our recent post, “How Technology is Affecting Hospitals from the Top Down: The Role of Today’s CIO,” we addressed the evolving CIO role and the gap that’s formed in the traditional IT department. We highlighted the one way to fill this void – through the empowerment of your team. However, more is needed to ensure your personal success and ultimately that of your employer.

To help you be the CIO your organization needs in 2016, we offer three simple, yet effective ways to excel in these times of technological and professional revolution:

Be prepared to make change. You have substantially less time to be hands on in all things IT. Instead, you’re constantly moving and meeting, and that places more accountability on your IT personnel than ever. Therefore, take time to evaluate their skillsets and make sure they align with your 2016 objectives. If not, find the gaps and fill them with competent individuals, either permanent staff or health IT consultants. Make sure they also have the confidence necessary to take the reins of their responsibilities, as well as the flexibility to adapt to changing organizational goals and requirements.

Be an effective communicator. There’s no doubt that you’re interfacing with more people and departments than ever before. It’s important that you can effectively communicate the value your team contributes and how it impacts the organization’s bottom line from project to project. It’s also important that you be a good listener to understand your internal customers’ challenges and needs to ensure you can deliver that value.

Be one with your team. Communication with your team has never been as important since you’re not as readily available as you possibly once were. Maximize your time with them in scheduled meetings by getting status updates and understanding their needs and concerns. Since you’re likely the one making the purchasing decisions, make sure you can communicate their needs to vendors and executives or empower them to get directly in touch. This is critical to ensuring everyone’s satisfaction and your organization’s success.

What other goals do you feel are necessary to be an effective CIO in the New Year? Please share them with the HealthTECH Resources community on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter!

What happens if UnitedHealth Opts out of ObamaCare?

By Larry Hodge, CEO HealthTECH Resources, Inc.

UnitedHealth Group is forecasting losses and considering an early exit from the Obamacare exchanges. With 20+ years of past experience in the healthcare IT industry, I believe that this would create problems for the payer market. How will this affect the healthcare IT sector, as those 3 ½ million people will have to figure it out for themselves or they walk around, again, with no health care? If managed health care insurance, our payer market, start opting out of the system, it will affect our business as people will no longer need to be on-boarded into the system in those insurance clients not participating.

Larry Hodge is CEO of HealthTECH Resources, Inc., located in Phoenix, AZ discusses his company and how UnitedHealth exit from Obamacare would affect the Healthcare IT industry.

Larry Hodge, CEO, HealthTECH Resources, Inc.

For the first ten years in this business, HealthTECH focused on the payer side of healthcare.  We saw the Provider market take off after ObamaCare mandated the adoption and implementation of electronic health records along with incentive payments for their Meaningful Use. Most major hospitals in the U.S. were behind schedule with Stage 2 compliance, designated as “the use of health IT for continuous quality improvement at the point of care and the exchange of information in the most structured format possible” by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. After significant industry feedback, CMS released an update to the Meaningful Use program on October 16th, 2015. All providers are now in Stage 2 of Meaningful Use, with those who were previously in Stage 1 moved to a “Modified Stage 2”. The new deadline for attestation is February 29th, 2016. CIO’s know that if they don’t get through these stages by the deadline set by the government, they may not get reimbursed for Medicare, or worse.

HealthTECH focuses on EHR Market for Meaningful Use Compliance

HealthTECH focuses on the EHR market, with specialized support for regional hospitals under 100 beds, to larger hospital clients nationwide with more than 200-400 beds. In my view, in addition to ObamaCare, another significant reason the payer market has been challenged is due to the intense M&A and consolidation activity in the Insurance market over the last 5-7 years.  United, Aetna, Anthem and Coventry have bought everybody seemingly (or considered them). If one of them didn’t acquire them, one of the other already owns them. There used to be dozens of reputable insurance companies to choose from and now there are a handful. That affects the IT professionals we hire to meet demand.

The majority of our resource requirements are now on the Provider side. We still maintain a very strong bench of top talent in the payer market as we continue to support our payer clients nationwide. Five years ago, I saw just the opposite. Provider consultant bill rates are higher than our payer bill rates across the board nationwide. Of course, we take care of everybody but the demand for payer resources is less, I feel due to consolidation in the payer marketplace. I am starting to see the same thing beginning to happen on the Provider side. Consolidation and M&A activity has increased naturally and we support that activity as prudent business practices.  Whether it be clients like Cedars, Banner, or St Josephs buying up smaller hospitals, we are vigilant of this trend and understand the support issues that follow a major acquisition, migration or upgrade.

I’ve kept an attentive eye on this over the years, and I see this as a big snowball coming down the mountain. I feel there is now way to really “slow” this trend, regardless of Congress interventions.  People are living longer. They are utilizing hospital systems to live longer. There is no way to stop this transition in the Hospital and EHR market. Hospitals can’t push back, or they won’t be Meaningful Use compliant, they won’t receive Medicare reimbursements, or they will be acquired many times against their will… is a “process” we must continue to work through and in my opinion we cannot “stop the snowball” that has been underway. We have to be prepared for it and plan for it accordingly.

Experience with every EHR Application

HealthTECH has expertise with all major EHR applications, whether it be a major implementation, migration to a different EHR, or required upgrade along the way. We have resources available for Payer and Provider clients in all 50 states nationwide, on site, for any duration. It doesn’t matter where you are located or what EHR application you choose, HealthTECH has over 20 years of implementation/upgrade experience that includes every available EHR application. We understand Meaningful Use guidelines and the various stages of compliancy required for Meaningful Use. We know the critical efforts to move from ICD-9 to ICD-10. Our consultants understand this complexity and their role in our client’s objectives. It may sound easy, but it is a nightmare at times…we understand that. We can support you through this transition as we have been for Payers and Providers since the 90’s. This is all we know, and we understand the task at hand as we have specialized in this arena for over two decades and evolved through the process.

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How Technology is Affecting Hospitals from the Top Down: The Role of Today’s CIO

The impact technology is having on information technology (IT) personnel within hospitals and other healthcare organizations is tremendous. CIOs are no longer behind a curtain controlling the switches on all of a hospital’s systems. Instead, our head IT professional is often found center stage, explaining how the latest technology will affect operations and how to get in front of the next technological advancement or federal healthcare IT mandate in order to minimize impact to business. In fact, in a recent article, the CIO of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital equated her position to that of candidates in a presidential election, prompting readers to consider what exactly the role of a CIO should entail.

Additionally, the 2015 Gartner CIO Agenda Report tells us that CIOs must put vision ahead of control, pulling them from their traditional place of facilitating implementations alongside employees, which may leave a gap in the IT department. So how does a CIO ensure that initiatives are fulfilled while he or she focuses on the larger picture? The answer is simple. It all comes down to having qualified and trustworthy IT professionals and empowering them to make certain decisions, provide direction, and execute the tasks at hand.

What changes have occurred within your organization’s IT structure? And what solutions were put in place to bridge the gaps? Share with the HealthTECH Resources community on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter!

How to Succeed in HIT Implementation: Taking Technological Change to the Next Level

As a CIO or healthcare IT professional, much of your success is dependent on the success of your end users, your co-workers, your customers. The role of IT has changed, putting you in a position where you can’t afford to mark a project complete upon system installation. In fact, you’ve still got quite a bit of work to do in educating your end users and ensuring their satisfaction, so don’t switch hats completely just yet.

Here are three ways to succeed with your next HIT implementation:

Communicate. This critical step should start as soon as you have enough information to provide your end users about your new system implementation or upgrade. Don’t spring details on them last minute. Instead, send regular emails and hold periodic meetings to share your status and help get and keep them on board with this initiative.

Train. Schedule training sessions with your solution vendor or other qualified individual to provide your organization’s personnel with the education they need. Keep the groups as small as possible in order to allow for questions and to help increase your end users’ confidence.

Follow up. Allot time on your schedule to follow up with end users or their department heads and gage their level of satisfaction with the new HIT system or upgrade. Learn what pain points exist and seek to find solutions for them, if it will help improve productivity or efficiency.

In this world of fast evolving technology and complex federal healthcare mandates, it’s no longer enough to keep up on technology. You must employ methods to assist your stakeholders and your business to be successful. These are just three key ways, but know that others exist and people are available to help you in your efforts.

Do you have tried and true ways that have ensured successful HIT change in your hospital, managing company, or insurance organization? Share them with the HealthTECH Resources community on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter!