Hello Health Blog

Steven Ferguson

Steven Ferguson is the patient management officer at Hello Health, the revenue generating EHR platform for primary care practices supporting practice vitality through patient engagement and electronic medical revenue.
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Recent Posts

Examining Health IT Amidst the Boston Tragedy

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Thu, May 02, 2013 @ 10:16 AM

Two weeks ago the city of Boston stood still as its officials and medical professionals
scrambled fearlessly to cope with the aftermath of the horror that ensued at one of the nation’s most prestigious marathons. My thoughts turned immediately to the people and families who were affected by the tragedy, and most especially to one of my co-workers who was visiting Boston at the time.  Thanks to social media we were quickly assured that one of our marketing colleagues was safe and we were able to breathe a short sigh of relief. Our thoughts and sympathies go out to all of those who were not so fortunate.

As a Health IT professional, I’m always curious about the responses in tragedies like this. I envision the complete chaos of a hospital that is being flooded with injured victims and the medical staff furiously working to preserve and protect the lives of so many innocent people. In an age of EHRs, I find hope that many of the patients being treated will be able to provide their physicians with immediate access to their medical records. I watch the news and hope that amidst the confusion and pain that is spreading through the city that the lengths that Health IT has traveled will somehow manage to spread a light over the otherwise dismal situation.

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Topics: health information technology, Boston Strong

Electronic Health Revenue: The Superhero of Health IT

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 @ 11:40 AM

A recent RAND study showed that the implementation of health information technology (HIT) has affected neither a reduction in the cost nor an improvement in the quality of healthcare.  As soon as the results were released, Twitter, Facebook and practically every Health IT magazine and website lit up with exasperated buzz and chatter about the surprising reveal.  Weren’t EHRs supposed to swoop in and save the physician’s practice without fault – oh, and perhaps hand out individually wrapped mints as the patients leave?  Health IT has been boasted as the hero that has come back to avenge a broken health care system.  Why then, hasn’t it been saved?

While many people, including the authors of the RAND study, believe that Health IT will eventually achieve these goals, others aren’t so convinced.  There is a concern that while well- designed HIT systems will definitely help physicians run their business more efficiently, they won’t necessarily bring about a reduction in the cost of healthcare or drastically improve the quality of care.  Some doctors, like Hayward Zwerling, M.D., are calling for a time-out of sorts.  They are asking the government to stop pushing more Meaningful Use incentives and focus on finding out if what is already in place is working.  Zwerling, who runs a solo, private practice, was the creator of one of the older EMRs and believes in the many benefits that Health IT provides.  All he asks is that we focus on what we see as a direct result of adopting the right EHR and not sing its praises for something it hasn’t yet accomplished. 

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Topics: health information technology, EHR, electronic health revenue, RAND study, superhero

No Kidding! EHRs a Perfect Fit for Pediatricians

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 @ 02:01 PM

Recently during a meeting with our marketing team, a discussion arose about the fact that pediatricians are more hesitant to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) than physicians in other specialties. Several of the women on the team are mothers and were surprised to learn that according to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pediatricians are one-two years behind in making the switch from paper to electronic. 

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Topics: Hello Health, EHR, patient portal, Electronic health record, Pediatrics

E-mail, the Gateway Drug for Patient Engagement

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Mon, Jan 21, 2013 @ 01:02 PM

I’ve referenced Dave Chase before in our blog. While his company Avado is in the business of modernizing patient communication, he is a thoughtful commentator on the future of care beyond the confines of his business, especially the future faced by physicians and their patients.

One of the concerns we’ve heard for years is that giving out your e-mail will lead to enormous and unproductive time responding to a flood of patient messages. Chase, in a recent post on his Forbes blog, is only the latest person to disagree. 

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Experience is not Patient Engagement: Designing to Satisfy Needs, Not Rules

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 @ 10:49 AM

Michael Schrage, well-known author, MIT professor and Harvard Business Review writer, posted a compelling blog at HBR on the difference between user experience and user engagement.

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Topics: patient engagement, EHR, meaningful use incentive, Meaningful use

Myth of the Millionaire M.D.

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Fri, Nov 16, 2012 @ 11:16 AM

In a world that believes that every doctor wearing a white coat is an instant millionaire, people will be surprised to find out that more than half of the nation’s primary care physicians are discontented with their income.  Doctors are some of the highest paid professionals in the country, and yet according to a recent study by Medscape, 54 percent of them believe that they are not fairly compensated. Why is this?

Maybe because of incidents like the one Dr. Peterson had to deal with.  After opening his new practice, the kind and competent plastic surgeon spent time performing reconstructive surgery on patients with breast cancer, paraplegics, and even burn victims.  After receiving an emergency call at 3 a.m., Dr. Peterson spent three hours repairing lacerations on a man who had fallen off a roof while heavily intoxicated. Less than a week later, he spent eight hours reconstructing broken facial bones and transferring muscle to heal the patient’s broken legs.  After two months of caring for the patient on a daily basis, Dr. Peterson didn’t receive a “thank you” from his patient or, more importantly, a reimbursement check from the patient’s insurance.  When questioned about the check for $3,200, the patient simply replied, “I cashed and spent it.  You’re a rich doctor. I need the money more than you."

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Topics: Electronic health record, independent primary care practice, small independent primary care practice

Empowering the People with Patient Portals

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Tue, Nov 06, 2012 @ 01:25 PM

Whether Republican or Democrat, most people can agree that one of the best things about living in America is the freedom to be an active participant in the political system.  No matter your political affiliation, your ability to get out and have a say in the future of your country is one of the greatest liberties you are afforded as an American.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, in the same way, patients were given the opportunity to be active participants in their own health care? Now, thanks to the modern efficiency of patient portals, they can. Just like any American has the opportunity to walk up to a poll booth and cast their ballot, patients can portal their way to better communication with their health care providers.

A surefire way for a doctor to increase chances of success in a practice is through patient engagement and empowerment. The health care system nationwide is striving to give more responsibility and ownership to patients of their medical care. Instead of stripping the doctor and patient from control, the world of medicine opens its own sort of poll booth through patient portals like the one Hello Health offers, inviting the patient to step up and have a say in his or her own health care.

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Topics: patient engagement, patient portal, health care, election day

Looking Beyond Meaningful Use for New Sources of Revenue

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Thu, Oct 25, 2012 @ 08:46 AM

If you are like most physicians, you grapple with the challenge of turning a profit while providing outstanding patient care  -- and not burning yourself out in the process.  This is not a new story, and certainly has garnered its share of attention from the health care community, government and the media (The Wall Street Journal covered the topic in an eye-opening and illustrious article earlier this year). 

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Topics: primary care practice, physician revenue, meaningful use incentive

Profitability or Patient Care: Can the Two Co-exist?

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 @ 06:02 PM

6/10 Doctors are now employed, 6/10 doctors would quit today.

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Topics: Hello Health, primary care practice, physician revenue, small physician practice, independent primary care, independent primary care practice, small independent primary care practice

Standardizing Processes in Health Care: Taking Cues from the Cheesecake Factory

Posted by Steven Ferguson on Wed, Oct 03, 2012 @ 09:01 AM

Atul Gawande is at it again. The acclaimed health issues writer at the New Yorker, whose day job is as a general surgeon at Partners Health Care in Boston, wrote a provocative piece in the Aug.13 issue of the magazine. In it, he addresses what health care can learn from the standardized practices, processes and measuring at chain restaurants; in his case the Cheesecake Factory.

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Topics: primary care practice, coordinated care, Atul Gawande, Cheesecake Factory

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