From Russia With Two-Factor Authentication Love

Posted on behalf of Scott Anderson, Quality Assurance Manager

Admit it.  We’d all like to think we are the James Bond of strong passwords.  In reality, the majority of us are the “James Bombs” of passwords.  And not in a good way.  The family pet’s name.  Add a number and special character slapped on the end of it and we’re tight as a drum!  Sometimes a capital letter might sneak in there if push comes to shove via some password policy.  Universal passwords for multiple accounts.  Weak, universal passwords for multiple accounts.  We’ve all been there and have been guilty of it at some point.  In today’s ever evolving world of cyber security, HIPAA and sensitive data, data breaches are becoming the norm.   It is more important than ever to use strong passwords that are not vulnerable to word list hacks and brute force attacks.  There are 2 issues in play.  First is keeping track of multiple passwords.  Second is keeping strong passwords that are random character/case strings.  It is all getting to be too much!  How does one deal with such information overload and still stay secure?  The answer is two factor authentication and LastPass!

Two factor authentication – such a necessary evil!

What is “Two Factor Authentication?”  Two-factor authentication (also known as 2FA) is a method of confirming a user’s claimed identity by utilizing a combination of two different components. Two-factor authentication is a type of multi-factor authentication.

A good example of two factor authentication would be utilizing an app such as “Authy” and couple it with the authentication of say a client portal.  After logging in to the client portal the customer must then authenticate via a second avenue.  This is where Authy comes in.  The application provides a temporary 6 digit PIN code on the users’ phone so the login to the client portal can be completed.

The beauty of this solution is that the 6 digit code is temporary and is sent to the users’ phone.  The majority of people always have their phone with them.  This way if an email address is compromised the “dual authentication” can mitigate a hacker being able to reset passwords or gain access to the client portal illegally.

What about this LastPass thing?  LastPass is a password manager that allows a user to store insanely complex passwords for different accounts that can be filled in automatically or configured for automatic logins.  Another neat feature of the LastPass software is that there is a password generator function.  When paired with Active Directory this can be quite a powerful tool to keep users secure.  Yes, every time I try and connect to a network that is not my domain I have to perform the two factor authentication waltz but it’s a necessary evil that is just about required nowadays.  Granted this software is not free but any investment into LastPass will pay for itself by preventing just one data breach.

Password Tips

Has 12 Characters, Minimum: You need to choose a password that’s long enough. There’s no minimum password length everyone agrees on, but you should generally go for passwords that are a minimum of 12 to 14 characters in length. A longer password would be even better.

Includes Numbers, Symbols, Capital Letters, and Lower-Case Letters: Use a mix of different types of characters to make the password harder to crack.

Isn’t a Dictionary Word or Combination of Dictionary Words: Stay away from obvious dictionary words and combinations of dictionary words. Any word on its own is bad. Any combination of a few words, especially if they’re obvious, is also bad. For example, “house” is a terrible password. “Red house” is also very bad.

Doesn’t Rely on Obvious Substitutions: Don’t use common substitutions, either — for example, “H0use” isn’t strong just because you’ve replaced an o with a 0. That’s just obvious.

Try to mix it up — for example, “BigHouse$123” fits many of the requirements here. It’s 12 characters and includes upper-case letters, lower-case letters, a symbol, and some numbers. But it’s fairly obvious — it’s a dictionary phrase where each word is capitalized properly. There’s only a single symbol, all the numbers are at the end, and they’re in an easy order to guess.

In the end is all this additional security annoying?  Yes, it is.  Is it a necessary evil?  Unfortunately, yes.  Since nobody really knows what evil lurks in the hearts of mankind, the added security layers/policies will not be going away anytime soon.  Please keep yourselves safe out there in cyber land.

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Getting Your Message Across: The Definition of Interoperability

Posted on Behalf of Katie Jankowski, Implementation Engineer

Similar to the many different languages around the world, healthcare interoperability comes in many forms from different vendors and HCIS systems. Hospitals and healthcare organizations alike are often times faced with needing message translation for other systems to be able to decipher their information.

This message translation can amount to many different things depending on the project implementation, including:

  • HCIS Provider mnemonics aren’t the same as the receiving vendor’s system mnemonics
    • These mnemonics would need to be mapped accordingly so that the vendor receives their mnemonics as opposed to the HCIS mnemonics
  • Laboratory vendor needs the order number in a different field than initially sent
    • The order number would need to be mapped to a different field in the message
  • Microbiology vendor doesn’t support receiving comments in certain segments
    • These comments would need to be removed from the message or mapped to another segment within the message
  • Other vendor doesn’t utilize the same patient account/medical record numbers as the HCIS
    • These patient account/medical record numbers would need to be mapped accordingly so that the other vendor receives their own identifiers for patients
  • Radiology vendor for organization A shouldn’t receive the same results as organization B
    • The respective results should be filtered based off of type of test or organization information

SAM, Summit Apex Mapper, is Summit’s tool for message translation and is conveniently located within Summit’s integration products (Express Connect, Care Exchange, and Summit Exchange). This tool can accommodate all of the above scenarios, and much more.

This tool is compatible with, and not limited to, integrating with SQL and Microsoft Access, using VBScript, deleting and creating entire segments, creating and manipulating variables, sending emails, and utilizing mathematical operations.

Similar to the mathematical order of operations, SAM has an order of operations as well. At a high level, this tool features data manipulation, PASS filters, and FAIL filters for each message transmission. The order of operations within SAM is:

  1. Process any FAIL filters (processes filters to check if message should fail)
  2. Process any PASS filters (processes filters to check if message should pass)
  3. Message data manipulation (processes all map commands to modify message content before sending the message through the respective interface)

Another feature of SAM is the ability to test a sample message real-time, allowing for users to copy/paste or upload a sample message into SAM and test any new commands. The benefit for this testing is that SAM highlights any field changes in red so that the user can easily identify any changes in message content. Along with this feature, SAM also has a runtime tab that shows the output message state and variable state for each step of the commands within the map. This can help when troubleshooting why/how a message didn’t transmit as you’d expect.

Lastly, documentation is key. Within SAM, the user has the ability to document in layman’s terms exactly what a particular command is accomplishing which can help user’s easily understand the purpose of each interface.

Katie Blog pic

If your hospital organization is struggling to successfully integrate with multiple vendors and/or needs assistance with message translation – Summit is always up for a new challenge and would love to help get your message across!

For more information on Summit’s products and SAM, please visit our website at www.summit-healthcare.com.

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Local Digital Roadmaps “We Can Work It Out”

Posted on behalf of Barry Njoes, Regional Sales Manager

I have been very fortunate to attend several meetings in the beautiful city of Liverpool England, the home of the Beatles.   I’ve visited the Beatles Museum along the shores of the River Mersey.   Took a picture with the Fab Four statues.   Even enjoyed a pint at the legendary Cavern Club, the first place the Beatles played.  All wonderful memories that will last a life time.

I was not around for the Beatles invasion of the US in 1964, but it spread across our country like wild fire.  We were able to listen and feel the greatness of the Beatles in the US, something the UK had known already. The NHS’s Five Year Forward View 2020 and the Local Digital Roadmap initiatives are focused on the use information and technology and make sure patient records are digital and interoperable by 2020.   These technology requirements greatly parrellel the US’s Meaningful Use intiatives.  Like the UK knew the Beatles before the US, the US has already been down this local digital road of sharing patient data and can learn from our mistakes.

​In 2010, the United States Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology launched Meaningful Use Requirements.  Meaningful use is using certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to: Improve quality, safety, efficiency, and reduce health disparities. Engage patients and family. Improve care coordination, and population and public health. Maintain privacy and security of patient health information.  Very similar to the Local Digital Roadmaps.

Being from Boston, I have always been amazed by the power of the Beatles Invasion and the hysteria it brought to the US.   Meaningful Use mandate brought the same hysteria to Hospitals, Chief Information Officers, and IT Directors.   The typical questions of who, what, how, why and lastly how much, questions quickly arose.   The EHR vendors quickly reacted to ensure their system met the requirements as well as Interoperability vendors like us at Summit Healthcare.

One of my favorite Beatles song is “We can Work it out”.  The team at Summit Healthcare quickly adopted this theme to work with our current client base to meet the Meaningful Use requirements.   We created an EHR Vendor agnostic Interoperability platform that enabled our clients to share meaningful data across their local health networks.  Summit became a consultative partner assisting and adopting our technology to address the specific who, what, how and why’s.

We also enabled them to share the data and present it on their terms and robustly track the sharing.  One of the challenges quickly identified during the implementation of Meaningful Use was the sharing of quality patient data.  Sharing patient data is fantastic, but the key is sharing the most pertinent data.   More is not necessarily better for the GP’s.   Tracking the sharing of the data is paramount for auditing and reporting.  A key requirement Summit addressed during our Meaningful Use invasion.

Regardless of what shore the Beatles invaded, they always had a tremendous impact.   Just like the Local Digital Roadmaps and Meaningful Use initiatives will have a great impact on patient care.  Our patients and providers will greatly benefit from all our hard work and like the Beatles song said, “We can work it out”!

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The Way Technology has Revolutionized our World Today

Posted on behalf of Barbara Hayes, Project Manager 

No longer are we in the age when we were once a pencil and paper society. Those days are long gone with the hopes of never returning, at least by majority of us. The new age of technology and what it has to offer to the technical, training and medical world is here to stay. I can recall the early 70’s, the days of the manual typewriters and mimeograph copiers, and the burdens of use that they once presented to the end user. I recall how our long sleeved blouses would be splattered with ink by the end of the work day, dare you not to wear white! Thankfully, we have now revolutionized our homes and workplaces with the latest brands of personal computers and tablets that provide a much easier and productive way to work, or surf the wonderful world of the internet.

In today’s workplace one must learn how to use this new technology. To do so, training programs have been developed and designed to provide you, the eager learner, with how to use just about every piece of hardware and its applications. Electronic mail, graphics, onscreen presentations, spreadsheets, databases, drafting and drawing training programs are all available online. Computers, tablets, software applications, faxing, scanning, plotting, webinars, online meetings, video, audio and telecommunications are the functions that have revolutionized the art of training within all types and styles of organizations. Computers now offer faster processors, enhancing the turnaround time in getting to the completion of large projects. Software applications have been designed to create spreadsheets, publications, documentation and presentations which has experienced many changes since the early years of technology.  It doesn’t seem to matter whether you are an employee of a large corporation, midsize financial firm or a health care facility. Technology has implemented a change in the way it is now incorporated into the mainstream of our everyday lives. This is how technology has revolutionized the way we learn and provide training today.

The new tools used in training programs have brought in an advantage to the eager learner as well as to the learning environment. These new tools allow training specialists the ability to analyze the training needs of new employees, or the specialty needs of a department. This analysis helps the specialists to create, present, measure and evaluate the training requirements for that department or for the individual employee. Conducting an analysis can provide helpful information in regards to technical and resource training on various platform levels.

In the past 30+ years, there have been so many changes in the way that we as Development Educational Training Specialists are able to deliver training programs to business organizations and even health care facilities. Sometimes the changes happen so fast it is hard at times to keep employees updated with these software programs, their departments seemingly experience new upgrades to existing products in less than a year’s time. As soon as you complete the training of one application, another one seems to be sitting at your doorstep. Moving training departments to include, just in time training shorts. An abbreviated version of a full session.

This new technology seems to have infiltrated our lives bringing along with it a newness that some have never been exposed to or experienced.  Computers and software designers have made it so that we work faster and do more in less time than ever before. We are now able to store huge amounts of data on something as small as a thumb drive. Send documents overseas, receive faxes, scan and submit all from one system in a matter of minutes.

Even in the world of medicine a physician can receive a patient’s visit to the ER via a Continuity of Care Document (CCD), a secured electronic document exchange standard that allows the confidential sharing of summary from the patient’s visit. This addition to the use of technology and its learning has made a major difference in the health care arena; loved by some and disliked by many.

However, the difference shows in the improvement in health care and efficiency while increasing the accessibility to medical treatment and its programs. Technology provides the benefit of being able to track procedures and even the way physician’s practice medicine. Still, in order to put technology to use, one must be trained by attending training classes. This is where the users of medical technology, such as our medical professionals, have shown to place a resistance to technology and its training in the background rather than the foreground.

Technology has brought about a new way of living, learning and striving for a better tomorrow. It will continue to revolutionize it use in every corner of the lives of you and I.

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Looking Back, and Giving Back, at HIMSS 2017

Posted on behalf of Christine Duval, Marketing Coordinator

Coming from a completely different industry before beginning my career at Summit Healthcare a little over six months ago, I had never been to, or even heard of the HIMSS Conference before. I had to google what it stood for, and what it was! –

HIMSS, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, is a cause-based non-profit which provides thought leadership, community building, professional development, public policy, and events. HIMSS North America represents 64,000 individual members, 640 corporate members, and over 450 non-profit organizations.  Thousands of volunteers work with HIMSS to improve the quality, cost-effectiveness, access, and value of healthcare through IT.

The HIMSS conference brings together over 40,000 health IT professionals, clinicians, executives and vendors from around the world. Educational sessions, world-class speakers, cutting-edge health IT products and powerful networking are hallmarks of this industry-leading conference.

Learning about, planning for, and coordinating the logistics of the HIMSS 2017 annual conference quickly consumed much of my time, and I couldn’t wait to finally get to Orlando to see the culmination of all my hard work, and witness firsthand what all the hype was about. One of the best pieces of advice I received from a colleague who had been numerous times – bring comfortable shoes!

The HIMSS Conference has gotten so large that there are only a few conference centers in the country that are actually big enough to hold it. This year it was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Florida – which was great because it offered me a nice little getaway from the cold, snowy, Boston winter. With over 50,000 people in attendance, I admit it was a little overwhelming at first! Walking for what felt like a mile (and probably was) through the conference hall and the exhibitor floor, I was surrounded by thousands of other healthcare professionals like myself, thought leaders, industry experts, and the largest corporations in the industry.

With so many people in attendance, it provided great opportunities for Summit Healthcare. We were able to reconnect with countless customers and business partners, and in my case, finally put some faces to their names! With every interested party that came to the booth, we spread a little more knowledge about Summit Healthcare; who we are, what we do, and showcase some of our hot new products (Summit Exchange and Provider Alert).

Although Summit Healthcare is known for our integration and automation technologies, many don’t realize the various ways we strive to give back our communities. This year, we gave out a plethora of informational handouts, popcorn, pens, thumb drives, etc. but we also offered a different kind incentive to visit our booth this year. We committed to making a $5 donation for everyone who stopped by our booth wearing a Summit Healthcare branded bracelet that we had sent out prior to the conference.

The charity of choice this year was the Wounded Warrior Project. The Wounded Warrior Project supports and empowers over 99,000 service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001. The organization provides free programs and services to address the needs of wounded veterans and fill gaps in government care. They offer a variety of programs and services including mental health and wellness, physical health and wellness, career and benefits counseling, and support for the most severely injured.

Summit Healthcare’s commitment to all healthcare organizations, ranging from the hospital, to the physician clinic, and the healthcare industry in general is to provide an ever evolving, easy to use, line of products and services to help bring their systems together.  Our integration technology enables our clients to maximize their investment in their applications, and significantly increase productivity throughout their healthcare enterprise. The end goal of everything we do as a company, is to enable better patient care. It is an honor to be able to directly give back to such an amazing organization with a similar goal.

HIMSS booth low res

For more about Summit Healthcare: http://www.summit-healthcare.com/

For more about Wounded Warrior Project: https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

For more about HIMSS: http://www.himss.org/

 

Posted in Business Continuity, Healthcare Systems Integration, Interoperability, MEDITECH, Workflow Automation | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Growing Need for Notifications

Posted on behalf of Katie Jankowski, Software Engineer 

I’m sure we’ve all heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “Time is Money”, but have you ever really thought of what that means?

In today’s healthcare industry, time is of the essence. Notifications are a hot topic within EHR systems and healthcare software, especially as it relates to interoperability. Whether it be notifications to a patient that their appointment has been confirmed or to the IT director that their interface engine is down, both of these are essential to receive, and in a timely fashion.

Often times we receive information when it’s too late – being REACTIVE instead of being PROACTIVE. But, what if we could relieve ourselves of this burden using notifications?

  • A patient demographic interface hasn’t received any messages in an hour. Boom. An email alert is sent out to the IT staff informing them of this, and the staff logs into the server and resolves the issue. Thankfully this was noticed right away, avoiding vendors missing patient data for an entire day or even longer.
  • A patient comes into the office complaining about knee pain and has an MRI. The MRI results are finalized the following day and the patient needs surgery. Boom. An email notification is sent out to the patient and doctor stating that the results are ready. Now the surgery date can be scheduled, as opposed to the patient reaching out to the doctor’s office each day inquiring about results being ready.
  • A doctor discharges one of his/her patients but the patient returns to the hospital the following day. Boom. An email notification is sent to the doctor that one of their patients has a recurring hospital visit. The doctor can be updated immediately about the patient’s status, and expect a CCD in his/her direct email inbox upon patient discharge.

  • A hospital’s downtime system runs report-generating scripts every hour, but the scripts haven’t been running because of a change in the EHR system that wasn’t accounted for. Boom. An email notification is sent out to the IT staff stating that there is an error with the scripts. If there is any type of system downtime, the availability of these reports will now be ensured for the hospital staff as opposed to realizing the reports were missing after the system is already down.

In the healthcare setting, real-time information is necessary and expected. Time isn’t something that can be wasted when patient care is involved.

Therefore, notifications are becoming essential to achieving great patient care. This is the beauty of healthcare innovation today, patients can be treated quicker if the results of testing are known quicker. Issues can be resolved quicker when staff is notified about the issue quicker.

These notifications can come in many forms, more commonly an email notification, but text message notifications along with many other avenues are also being explored throughout the industry.

Summit Healthcare understands how important notifications are as well. This is why we have included alerting and email notifications within our products. We understand that time really is money and that, if possible, knowing about an impending issue is better than knowing about a prevailing issue.

As a healthcare software company, Summit Healthcare also understands that not all hospitals are alike. Customers are able to customize their notification settings based on many different parameters, and these notifications can be configured to send to multiple recipients.

For more information on alerting and notifications within Summit products, please visit our website at http://www.summit-healthcare.com/.

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Should the Fax Machine Disappear from the Healthcare Market?

Posted on behalf of Kendra Nalbandian, Regional Sales Manager

The use of a fax machine in the healthcare market goes back a number of years and has been relied on heavily as a means to communicate by physicians. Physicians have utilized the fax machine to communicate with patients, pharmacists, colleagues and a number of other entities. But today’s statistics compared to years ago are different, right? Surprisingly 15 billion faxes are still sent by US physicians every year. This startling statement is concerning as there are a number of risks associated with paper based faxing.

Do you want your protected health information transmitted via fax? The most likely answer to this question is no. Sending Patient Health Information (PHI) via paper based faxing presents substantial risks for both patients and physicians. There are many cases in which a fax machine is not located in a secure area or a simple mistake of entering the wrong number could send sensitive data to an unknown location. There are quite a few scenarios which can add up to a breach of private information or even costly legal fees associated with a security breach or HIPPA violation. In addition to the possibilities of risks paper based faxing can present, it is also a costly and time consuming endeavor.

Can time and money be saved by eliminating the fax machine? There are most definitely cost savings associated with eliminating the fax machine as well as a large amount of time saved on employee tasks. Often medical records staff are tasked with the duty of answering numerous phone calls daily pertaining to faxes as well as shuffling faxed documents. If faxing was to be eliminated from the workflow process and an electronic method put into place the benefits would be numerous. An integrated electronic method of communication provides the ability to control where information is sent, who is accessing the information while letting medical staff use time saved to attend to other priorities. There are a number of solutions in the market place that can lend to the elimination of the fax machine. Summit Healthcare, a leader in the integration and automation technology space has developed a solution that answers the question…Do you want your protected health care information transmitted via fax? The answer is no and Summit Healthcare is working towards helping hospitals meet the needs of their patients.

Summit Healthcare’s solution Provider Alert can not only mitigate the risks associated with faxing it can improve the data flow between hospital systems and the provider community. It allows facilities to minimize the disconnect between care settings all while helping to attain standards set by Meaningful Use Stage 3 requirements. Summit Healthcare allows hospitals, long-term care facilities, physician practices etc. to communicate effectively across the continuum of care. Considering currently 86% of providers with an EMR send PHI by fax which cannot communicate with other platforms only supports the case to eliminate faxing and implement a solution like Provider Alert.

Learn more: http://www.summit-healthcare.com/products-healthcare-provider-alert.htm

*Sources:

 

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Common MEDITECH Keyboard Shortcuts In Automation Scripts

Posted on behalf of Ben Tessier, Technical Support Analyst/Education Specialist

In our support experience here at Summit, we are often queried on how to make things happen via keyboard.  Best practice with script automation is to avoid mouse-clicks and utilize the keyboard whenever possible.  By using this approach, you avoid issues with screen resolution which vary depending on a user’s preference.

While experienced scripters can navigate an automation tool, they often times are not familiar with MEDITECH or how to invoke action utilizing the keyboard, myself included.  Anybody can click a mouse but it takes a savvy user to streamline the experience utilizing the keyboard!  Whether it is navigating a screen, keying in some data, or simply hitting an enter key, the keyboard shortcuts below will make your scripts more dependable but also the writing process more efficient.  We all get by with a little help from our friends, in my case it was co-workers and investigation.

We’ve consolidated our experience into this blog to assist even the most experienced script writer.  We hope you enjoy the information and for more on scripts and script writing, please visit our Client Area.

Note:  This is not a full list of MEDITECH keyboard shortcuts rather a consolidated list of commonly used.  We find this site helpful:  Meditech Keyboard Shortcuts.   

*Listed alphabetically

**If CTRL, Shift, or Alt hotkeys don’t work try using the following to accomplish:

For example: desire key stroke is Shift Tab and it isn’t working, try +{TAB}.  For more on this topic, please visit this site: Send function keys

  • CTRL = ^
  • SHIFT = +
  • ALT = %

CTRL END then SHIFT – Bring focus to the end & highlight rows of text as you arrow up. Good for deletions.  E.g. {CTRL_END_SHIFT} Hotkeys not working E.g. {^_END_+}

DEL - Clear a field

F5 – Keystroke will “refresh” the MEDITECH screen (often will “wake up” the screen read in SST).  This can be very helpful while developing scripts in SST.  Often times the read is “interrupted” as a user builds & tests a script.  SST may not be reading the screen and by throwing an F5 key at the screen, the screen read can be “woken up”.

F6 – Navigate section to section.  E.g. focus in “Room” field, hit F6 key and focus moves to Status field (bypassing the Bed field).  This is helpful when simply tabbing out of a field auto-fills other fields.

ben blog 1

F8 (Client Server only) – Bounce among sections of the outer frame of the window.  In the 1st screenshot, notice the Admissions menu item is highlighted.

ben blog 2After hitting F8, the focus is moved to the outside menu on the right hand side. It will land on the top menu item located here (in this case Back).

ben blog 3

An additional F8 key stroke will place the focus on the bottom menu (in this case Subdivisions item)

ben blog 4

Some screens/objects will have a “hot” key available to invoke the logic.  E.g Esc to Cancel or H for History.  Any letter underlined is a MEDITECH hotkey.

ben blog 5

F10 (Magic only) – Wipe out a line

F11 (Magic) or Esc (Client Server) – Exits user from screen (does NOT file/save your work).  Example below shows a Name value of “Home”.

ben blog 6

After hitting the Esc key, a confirmation box to leave without saving may be received (see below).

ben blog 7

This shortcut key can be very handy when developing a script and you want to ensure the process is working without committing the data.

F12 – Files and saves any data entered into the HCIS screen.

Shift End - Brings user to the end of a field.  It will also sometimes highlight a row (say for deletion)

 Shift Tab – Navigate to previous field

SHIFT UP or DOWN – In a block text style window, this keyboard shortcut can be used to highlight multiple rows.

Shift + - Open printer list.  E.g {Shift_+}

*If Shift hotkey doesn’t work try using {+} + to accomplish

SPACE – check or uncheck a checkbox field

Tab or Enter – Navigate to next Field

X = Closes Magic session

Time/Date shortcut keys

N – Date and or time

T Today (date only)

T+ # – Current date plus x number of days in future E.g.  Date is 2/8/2017.  Key in T10.  Date set to 2/18/2017

T-# - Current date minus x number of days in the past. E.g.  Current date minus x number of days in future E.g.  Date is 2/8/2017.  Key in T10.  Date set to 2/18/2017

 

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A Good Reason to be in Cleveland in the Winter

Posted on behalf of Javier Navarro, Software Engineer

There are different reasons to be in Cleveland for the winter. For instance, you can watch a Cavaliers or Browns game.  However, if you are part of the IT Healthcare world, the can’t miss event occurs every January. On January 23rd, I attended the IHE North America Connectathon as part of the Summit Healthcare team. This is Summit Healthcare’s third year of participation showcasing Summit Exchange.   It has been a unique experience to meet companies from all around the world in a cooperative effort to make security and healthcare protocols work. There is an increasing need for compliance in healthcare as 99.99% of the standards are defined. The remaining 0.01% changes from vendor to vendor and this is what makes integration really complex. Rather than finding issues in a hospital environment, the connectathon allows testing against many different vendors in real world scenarios.    The good news for Summit is that after one week of hard work, Summit Exchange has successfully passed all of the profiles that we intended to test. This is a total of 87 tests against 19 different vendors.

I have personally learned a lot by attending this event. For instance, I have learned in-depth about TLS secure communication and about different vendor perspectives regarding FHIR adoption. More importantly though, I have acquired the knowledge about what things can make other systems fail when establishing a bidirectional communication according to the IHE standards. I am pretty sure that this knowledge is going to be useful for Summit and our software in the future. I am very much looking forward to attending next year and hope the Cavaliers win the game next time.   This makes the Connectathon week a 100% success!

To learn more about Summit Exchange, or any other Summit Healthcare products, visit www.summit-healthcare.com

 

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The Importance of a Strong Compendium

Posted on behalf of Jeff Ford, Regional Manager, Client Support Organization

When looking to integrate your HCIS with a new vendor, one of the first steps you’ll want to take is to build a strong compendium.  When trying to communicate with a downstream system, like a LAB or RAD vendor, a thorough, detailed compendium will help ensure an easier implementation as well as create a support structure that will save you time and energy in the long run.  The success of your integration project can be greatly improved by creating and completing this as early in the process as possible.

So what is a compendium?  In the world of healthcare integration, a compendium is a database that compares your HCIS values to your vendor’s values for the same items and allows the two systems to communicate more easily.  Working with a radiology example, let’s say your new vendor wants to send an order for a Thoracic Spine X-Ray.  The mnemonic for this in your HCIS is TS, while in their system it is TSXR.  Or maybe they have multiple tests for this, TS1, TS2 and TS3 all of which are referred to in your system as TS.  In these cases, your compendium will tell the vendor to send over TS instead of TSXR, allowing it to successfully cross into your HCIS without any outside intervention.  When the result is sent back, it will automatically match back to the TSXR on their end.

Creating a compendium can take a good amount of time from your project team.  It’s recommended to allot for this soon after signing on for the new integration project and possibly even before official project kick-off.  Typically the vendor you’re working with will have a template for you to begin building from, including the fields they allow and utilize compendium values for.  Depending on the amount of time your staff can devote to building, I have seen this process take anywhere from two weeks to two months.  Getting out in front of this will prevent it from pushing back your project timeline.

There are many fields that can be included in a compendium and you’ll want to discuss with your vendor what is available.  At the very least, you’ll want your order codes/mnemonics to match between the two systems.  This is typically the largest part of the compendium and mapping manually through an interface engine can become a build and support nightmare.  Other fields I’ve regularly seen in a compendium include provider mnemonics, insurance companies, race values, payment types and order statuses.  It’s recommended that you take advantage of any field your vendor allows.

One final aspect that is helped by the compendium is the long-term support of your integration project.  As test mnemonics or providers are added, modified or removed from either system, a compendium gives you one place to update these.  This stops you from having to remember to update them in your HCIS, your vendor, and also in whatever tool you’ve chosen to use to map the two systems.  Limiting failure points is always key in integration projects, which by definition involve multiple moving parts.

Integration projects are a big undertaking, especially when going beyond admission data and transmitting orders and results.  Simplifying the steps between data transfer at every step should be a top priority.  The building of a strong compendium will have you well on your way to a successful integration project!

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