What is a MMOLC, and how is it solving Info Blocking?

The national discussion on Info Blocking / Sharing is resulting in rapid improvement. MMOLC helps a great deal!

What is a MMOLC? Read to the end.

Being part of the Epic userweb community of health systems and also the SmartServ list serve of Epic-using academic health systems is a privilege. There are lots of smart people doing and sharing important work regarding Information Blocking / Information Sharing. See previous blog posts.

Some things are becoming clearer: how to write brief, useful Executive Summaries on 1 page. How to improve the clarity of explanations. What positions to take regarding the INFO BLOCKING federal rule, given the lack of clear definitions in the 1200 page rule (!)

In our grid above, we have added a few new categories (Progress notes: Sensitive/Legal, and Progress notes: Behavioral Health).

I’m attaching the current versions of our working documents that we are broadcasting and discussing at our leadership meetings throughout UCHealth:

Updated INFO SHARING documents

  1. INFO BLOCKING executive summary with Release Grid
  2. How To Write an Open Note (with more and updated examples)
  3. This great editorial in the Annals of Int. Med by Dr. Heather Gantzer (thank you)
  4. This great online explanation by Dr. Brian Vartebedian
  5. An upcoming Office Hours with Steve O’Neill re: Open Notes in Mental Health

Feel free to use these documents to move the conversation at your organization forward. Although this is massive culture change for our providers and clinical staff, this is welcomed by our patients. And it is the right thing to do.

CMIO’s take?

I am grateful to all the brilliant colleagues in our online community. Hmm. Like an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game) that my kids play (Minecraft, Rocket League), we have a MMOLC (Massively Multiclinician Online Learning Community). That is our superpower. Thank you.

UPDATED FOR INFO BLOCKING rule: UCHealth’s 16 year OpenNotes Journey (and a ukulele song)

Since the passage of the 21st Century Cures act and the INFORMATION BLOCKING rule, I’ve gotten a ton of questions about our experience with Open Notes and Open Results. AND A UKULELE SONG

patient20and20doc_2

Image courtesy of Healthcare Informatics

OCTOBER 2020 UPDATE. 

In this update:

  1. A ukulele song on Open Notes! What?! Read to the end…
  2. Our current interpretation of INFO BLOCKING rules and our current plans
  3. Links to important tip sheets that you can use/share

Since the passage of the 21st Century Cures act and the INFORMATION BLOCKING rule, I’ve gotten a ton of questions about our experience with Open Notes. Followers of this blog the Undiscovered Country will have heard this before. However, if you’re new here, welcome! I’m updating my original post from 2017. This now will include:

Important Links

  1. Link to my post on INFORMATION BLOCKING and the 1-page WHY plus 4-page HOW/WHAT that we are circulating at our Health System, affecting 6000 docs.
  2. Link to my post on HOW TO WRITE AN OPEN NOTE, with language suggestions.

UCHealth’s INFO BLOCKING settings

FYI, in regards to INFO BLOCKING, there are tons of nuanced decisions healthcare organizations are making, since the 1200 page rule still leaves some specifics quite vague, and the often-rumored FAQ that will clear up some of the vagueness is not here yet (less than 30 days until rule takes effect!). Here are our (interim) decisions at UCHealth:

  • All outpatient, emergency dept, urgent care provider progress notes will release immediately upon signature to the patient (already doing this)
  • All clinical notes associated with those visits (MA, RN, technologist) notes will also release immediately
  • All hospital progress notes will release to patients upon signature. This will include: H/P, daily progress notes, consult notes, operative reports, discharge summaries.
  • All medical student notes that are cosigned by physicians and used for billing will be immediately released. We are in discussions about the remainder of medical student notes that are NOT part of the legal medical record.
  • All resident and fellow notes will release immediate upon attending signature
  • All nursing and clinical notes that can be considered progress notes will release upon signature
  • NO psychotherapy notes will release to patient (they are not stored in our EHR)
  • NO notes that may be involved in legal, criminal or similar proceedings
  • NO notes that may ruin research randomization if revealed to patients
  • SOME of our psychiatry provider progress notes already release to our patients. Three of our 8 psychiatry clinics committed to Open Notes in 2017 and have had no issues. We are still working through this, in discussions to release more behavioral health progress notes (psychiatry, psychology, social work, case manager, others) to patients. There are some concerns about the possibility of risk to staff for patients reading some of these notes in real-time. Stay tuned!
  • All progress notes, inpatient and outpatient have a “DO NOT SHARE” button where providers can individually opt a note out of sharing with patient if it is deemed a risk. Our share rate is typically in the 90% range.
  • We already release all lab results immediately to patients, including sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B and C, etc.
  • HIV is on a 7 day delay and will move to immediate
  • We already release all plain film radiology and ultrasounds immediatelly.
  • Complex radiology: CT/MRI/PET are moving to immediate
  • Pathology, Cytology is moving to immediate.
  • We plan to manually release a handful of genetic tests, including Huntington’s disease only AFTER discussion with the patient. The remainder are moving to immediate release.
  • We have over 850,000 patients on our patient portal, so these settings will affect a great many patients.

Our 16 year journey to Open Notes

Thanks to @RajivLeventhal of Healthcare Informatics for a nice write up of our Open Notes work at UCHealth. The journey to “overnight success” can sometimes take a decade or so. To paraphrase Machiavelli: “Nothing is so difficult as Change in a large organization, as your proponents are, at best, lukewarm, and your detractors have ALL THE PASSION IN THE WORLD.” I discuss some of my hard-won lessons in Change Management on the journey to OpenNotes.

Link to story (March 16, 2017):
UCHealth’s OpenNotes Journey: From a Few Docs to Enterprise-Wide Acceptance

Original Research in 2001

The original research on SPPARO (System Providing Patients Access to Records Online, conducted in 2001, 10 years before the official, and better-named Open Notes initiative) is still available:

Ross, Lin, et al. Providing a Web-based Online Medical Record with Electronic Communication Capabilities to Patients With Congestive Heart Failure: Randomized Trial. J Med Internet Res. 2004 Apr-Jun; 6(2): e12.

Earnest, Lin, et al. Use of a patient-accessible electronic medical record in a practice for congestive heart failure: patient and physician experiences. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):410-7. Epub 2004 Jun 7.

And … a song!

A ukulele song on Open Notes: Doc Prudence.

CMIO’s take? It has been a long time coming. Information Transparency for patients is the RIGHT THING to do. For myself, it was a 16 year journey from our first research studies, completed in 2001, until system-wide adoption of Open Notes for clinics, emergency depts and hospital discharge summaries in 2016. For others it is hitting them all at once here in 2020. It is a better place we are going to. In the meantime there is a lot of work and culture adjustment until we get there. Good luck to all of us.

You’re gonna release WHAT? WHEN? Info Blocking vs Info Sharing

Info Blocking means inpatient and outpatient progress notes released immediately to patients, along with lab results, CT/ MRI/ PET scan results, pathology results. Immediately. Ready?

My 1-page White Paper on WHY and 4 following pages on HOW/WHAT

LINK TO UCHealth’s INFO BLOCKING WHITE PAPER

What is Changing

The 21st Century Cures Act has an Information Blocking regulation that addresses the concern that some health systems or facilities delay or block patient information from other treating health systems, or from the patient. Of immediate concern to this CMIO is the impact this rule has on our health system, to wit:

We are already an Open Notes organization, since 2016, releasing outpatient provider progress notes to patients immediately upon signature. This applies to emergency department and urgent care notes, also to hospital discharge summaries. We’re happy with this, and proud to lead the charge in Colorado for information transparency. Same with immediate release of the vast majority of lab test results.

HOWEVER, we still delay some results 4 days, 7 days or 14 days depending on category (see above). The new INFO BLOCKING regulation stipulates that systematic delays like this will Violate the Info Blocking rule, and that the potential penalty for such delay is $1 million.

Wow.

This is great news for patients and patient advocates; they have long stated the maxim: “Nothing about me without me.” I love this idealism. Practically? We have struggled with how to make this happen. Now the feds have conveniently stepped in with a mandate. This makes the conversation easier.

Our big struggles ahead

  • Teach our inpatient providers to write notes that are ready for patients to read each day they’re in the hospital.
  • Teach ALL our providers how to anticipate patient concerns and the range of possible results coming from pathology (biopsies and PAP smears and other results that may show cancer or severe disease). Same with complex imaging like CT scans, MRI’s, PET scans, mammograms. Same with lab results that may show genetic variants, like Down’s syndrome.

How I made this

Beyond the specifics of the INFO BLOCKING rule, this also illustrates the value of Form Factor and Communication Strategy. My mentor always taught me: if you write a white paper executive summary, every additional page beyond one side of one page cuts your readership in half.

So, for my white paper, I have written a ONE PAGE summary of WHY this is important and what action is needed. For those who just need “at a glance” the color grid in the center tells the story of exactly what is changing. And because data alone does not change minds, the call-out box at the bottom includes a few quotes from selected leaders, telling a brief story.

Finally, if you get to the end of the page and are interested in doing something, I have 4 more pages of HOW and WHAT to take you to the next level.

This, COMBINED WITH a road show, where I am going to every major physician leadership meeting, is how I’m getting the word out. There is, of course, much more work to do at the individual provider and manager and service and clinic level, but I’m trying to give everyone a running start. There’s not much time left.

CMIO’s take? We all have hard work ahead. This is a federal mandate, so 4000 hospitals, countless health systems and clinics will be facing this as well. The link to my white paper here (and above) is my contribution. I hope this helps you get to the right place with this regulation AND with doing the right thing for our patients.

Telehealth World: CT finds ukulele song partners!

Telehealth Ukulele Song!

Thanks to George Reynolds, CMIO and CIO extraordinaire, who put together a dream team of CMIO leaders to facilitate a course for up-and-coming leaders in the area of informatics. This year, CHIME (the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) opened up the future-CMIO candidates for this course, to nurse, pharmacist, and other clinical informatics candidates. Our 30 participants this year made this 6-week, 2-hours-live-with-weekly-homework a blast to teach and discuss. That course concluded this week. Here’s how to sign up for future courses through CHIME:

https://ignitedigital.org/clinical-informatics-leadership-boot-camp-digital

We tackled: governance, high performance teams, creating value, leading change, and other topics.

And of course, what would an informatics session be, without some ukulele. Thank you to Amy Sitapati from UCSD, Brian Patty, former CMIO at Rush, and George Reynolds, former CMIO and CIO, and now with CHIME, singing with me.

CMIO’s take? Make music! Make art! You can clearly see, we are not gonna win any awards with our skills, but we sure had a great time putting this together. I am grateful for colleagues willing to stick their necks out to sing with me.

The Centaur in Healthcare: AI and humans (WIRED)

from WIRED magazine article

https://www.wired.com/story/algorithm-doesnt-replace-doctors-makes-them-better/

In the battle between the future of super-intelligent Artificial Intelligence and the paltry skills of increasingly left-behind human brains, some rays of hope. There are a growing number of projects dedicated to combining the skills of AI and humans to perform better than either alone.

The WIRED article above discusses Dermatology AI and how it improves the performance of physicians in detecting skin cancer. However, it mainly improves resident and primary care physician performance, and not expert dermatologists.

Is this good? Bad?

And, what is a Centaur? A horse-human hybrid from greek mythology.

I think this illustrates Arther C Clarke’s (paraphrased) saying:

Any teacher physician who can be replaced by a machine should be.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. Consider: if we can allow AI to be trained to augment physicians or advance practice providers in every case where the providers’ experience is not expert-level, we could raise the standard of healthcare throughout the country, or the world.

AI’s still can’t hold a hand, counsel patients on complex and competing issues, be compassionate, and create human connection.

We already have our computers helping remind us of the mundane yet critical tasks of doing the right thing for out patients: remembering tetanus and pneumonia vaccines, remembering to screen patients for colon and cervical cancer, remembering to repeat diabetes exams at frequent intervals. Why not allow them to give a second opinion on whether a skin mole is likely to be malignant?

CMIO’s take? More like this please. The co-evolution of AI and human is accelerating. We are finding a way forward.

Access to Telemedicine and disparities (WIRED)

from WIRED magazine article

https://www.wired.com/story/access-telemedicine-is-hardest-those-who-need-it-most/

As we work on telehealth options for patients, it is important to keep in mind the population of patients we serve. This article demonstrates the differences in access our most vulnerable patients have in accessing technology.

We cannot rest. We have miles to go, before we sleep.

Explaining Science using a Horse Metaphor

This is a poster I saw last fall at an AI conference sponsored by University of Colorado School of Medicine. The science is interesting and very well conducted.

HOWEVER! Pay close attention to the middle column. The authors have, in my opinion, created a clear metaphor to explain a very complex concept. Do YOU know how to do this? As scientists, we are increasingly subspecialized. How do we translate our important findings so that others can understand? This is getting harder and harder to do, as even OTHER SCIENTISTS (I count myself among them) have a hard time understanding what SCIENTISTS IN OTHER FIELDS are doing.

CMIO’s take? Take a moment to digest this, and decide for yourself: can you tell a story and explain as well as these scientists did? Why not?

Czernik: Counter-intuitive way to connect with the patient (Annals Internal Med)

My awesome colleague Zuzanna Czernick and collaborators have written a brilliant piece about the EHR. She used a CT scan image with a large pulmonary abscess to get the attention of an otherwise hostile, disengaged hospital patient.

Link to article Annals of Internal Medicine : https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/2738161

My awesome colleague Zuzanna Czernick and collaborators have written a brilliant piece about the EHR. She used a CT scan image with a large pulmonary abscess to get the attention of an otherwise hostile, disengaged hospital patient.

The EHR, although widely disparaged, is also a wonderful tool to bring medical data alive for the patient. She offers a few guidelines on how to most effectively create the trusted “triangle” of provider-patient-computer:

  • Prepare
  • Setup
  • Educate
  • Chart together
  • Review

There are so many opportunities to connect with our patients; why not bring up a screen to show an image, a result, a graph, a note written by a consultant that illustrates and answers a question.

CMIO’s take? Yes, we need counter-intuitive (and soon perhaps simply intuitive) stories about the benefits of a modern information system in caring for patients. Thanks, Dr. Czernik!