This week, with the commemoration of Veterans Day in the US (and Remembrance Day in Canada), we honored those who have selflessly served in our country’s military with honor and distinction so that the freedoms we cherish may endure.
As a veteran of the US Coast Guard, I am proud to highlight a few of the ways that Adobe is collaborating with Veteran Affairs agencies in North America to improve access for disabled veterans and modernize administrative operations. In many cases, due to gains in efficiency, some resources may be reallocated to the actual care of the veterans these agencies are committed to serve.
Streamlining workflows for management of benefits claims
US and Canadian VA agencies, including the US Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), have standardized on multiple Adobe solutions, like LiveCycle for BPM, transforming processes to collect, track, and automate the millions of benefits claims they receive every year.
The organizations have since reported reduced data error rates and significant improvements in efficiency throughout their enterprises, achieving the simple goals of fewer administrative delays and more timely service delivery for our veterans.
Extending usability of veterans’ health records and other critical information
Considering that most systems of record were implemented before today’s mobile revolution, it’s no surprise that many of them do not natively support remote usability of enterprise information and multi-channel functionality for self-service apps.
To anyone passionate about applying technology to drive transformative change and improve the way we live, this week is shaping up to be a tough one to beat in the public sector. It’s been like receiving a gift-wrapped box of energy, laser focused on government innovation and modernization.
Yesterday, President Obama issued a memorandum to the heads of all US executive departments and agencies calling on them to leverage “technological advances to fundamentally change how they serve their customers.”
“For far too long, the American people have been forced to navigate a labyrinth of information across different Government programs in order to find the services they need. In addition, at a time when Americans increasingly pay bills and buy tickets on mobile devices, Government services often are not optimized for smartphones or tablets, assuming the services are even available online.”
As a follow-up to Executive Order 13571 (Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service) which he signed in April 2011, the president’s memo also announced the release of a new Government-wide strategy developed to accomplish the monumental goal of enabling “more efficient and coordinated digital service delivery” across all agencies.
Simultaneously, yesterday in New York City at TechCrunch Disrupt 2012, Steven Van Roekel (US Chief Information Officer) and Todd Park (US Chief Technology Officer), launched this landmark initiative to thousands of attendees excited to learn the details.
Encouraging agencies to deliver information in new ways that fully utilize the power and potential of mobile and web-based technologies
Ensuring the safe and secure delivery and use of digital services to protect information and privacy
Requiring all agencies to establish central online resources for outside developers, and to adopt new standards for making applicable Government information open and machine-readable by default
In today’s interconnected global economy, such leadership will likely provide a blueprint for similar international efforts as government enterprises worldwide mobilize to optimize efficiency and offer citizens digital experiences on par with those offered by their private sector counterparts.
To that end, we recently hosted the first annual Adobe Government Assembly (AGA) for Canada. The recent creation of Shared Services Canada, a new agency dedicated to optimizing service delivery, has brought new attention to efforts there to "improve the efficiency of IT services across the Canadian federal government and ensure value for taxpayers' dollars."
So what’s the difference between data and information? Usability, of course.
When the hidden value of “data” is unlocked by providing it in context – when and where it’s needed- then the magical result is “information” that be may put to good use.
Many of today’s health IT applications, from Personal Health Records (PHRs) to telemedicine, are based on that premise. But when it comes to sharing the highest resolution medical images in real-time, that capability has been traditionally reserved for select specialists in a hospital, like radiologists and cardiologists, who have access to special workstations and Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS).
After identifying such a critical gap, the founders of Client Outlook Inc. developed eUnity, a medical imaging integration and viewing solution for the enterprise, built on the Adobe Flash platform.
A version of eUnity was first showcased on a Blackberry Playbook at Adobe MAX 2010.
Since then, Client Outlook has iterated on the platform, bringing a version to standard desktops, where physicians may now rely on these images for diagnostic purposes. At the same time, the company extended the service in mobile and tablet platforms— on Android and more recently on iOS, where high-quality medical images can be shared and reviewed at the point of care.
Recently, I spent some time with Steve Rankin, Client Outlook’s President and CEO, at HIMSS 2011 and he explained some of the benefits of the Flash platform from a developer’s perspective. Overall, developers have found that working with eUnity is approximately 30 percent faster than using other technologies.
This compliant, Flash-platform based solution helps set new standards for displaying a wider range of medical imagery, along with related metadata, at higher resolutions on more devices with unmatched performance. And, more importantly, it empowers clinical staff to make informed, quick decisions about patient care anytime and anywhere.
Looking ahead, plans are already underway to extend eUnity from a standalone client-server solution to an even more robust platform, incorporating the Adobe Digital Enterprise Platform to support highly automated workflows and further optimize the customer experience of providers who leverage this innovative solution.
As always, we’re interested in your thoughts and continuing the conversation on innovations in Health IT and otherwise. Keep in touch with us on Twitter @AdobeGov and our Facebook page.
Buy low, sell high
Possession is nine tenths of the law
Location. Location. Location.
These are timeless mantras with universal appeal that require no further explanation. Yet, with moderate accuracy, they tend to simplify and define the fundamentals of otherwise very complicated industries.
Similarly, in my opinion, the rapidly evolving role of IT throughout today’s healthcare ecosystem may be summed up in two words. Experience matters.
But don’t just take my word for it. Time and again research has shown that, among diverse healthcare stakeholders, a major determining factor of technology adoption is customer experience. And you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to understand that, regardless of how ground-breaking it may be, the success of any new product or solution hinges on the assumption that people will actually use it. Otherwise, it is useless.
During a recent interview for Focus Washington’s “Tech View”, I was asked about some of the financial “incentives for innovation” in healthcare resulting from the HITECH Act and the Health Reform legislation passed last year, as well as the role that customer experience plays in successfully bringing these innovations to market and beyond.
As a result of “Meaningful Use,” or that set of implementation criteria for electronic health records (EHRs) that determines eligibility for CMS incentive programs, providers are now expected to do more with their patients’ EHRs. In the long run, this will likely improve clinical workflow efficiencies and quality of care. Meanwhile, however, providers are demanding that these systems provide a higher level of functionality, usability, and overall customer experience.
To that end, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) is working with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) to develop guidelines that measure usability for EHRs and other Health IT systems.
“All too often we hear from providers that they look forward to the day when the technology works for them instead of them working for the technology,” said Farzad Mostashari, MD, national coordinator for health information technology at ONC.
Health plans are learning the same lessons about customer experience in the payer segment. A recent report by Forrester (Best and Worst of Website User Experience, 2011: Health Insurers) evaluated the websites of seven leading health plans. Despite improved functional capabilities of some health insurers’ web presence, as they seek to leverage the power of social brand engagement, the report found that no insurer achieved a passing score; and in fact all had significant shortcomings in key areas.
That’s not to say that these companies aren’t adequately servicing their customers or generating year-over-year revenue growth. Instead, it unveils the alarming trend of a sizable missed opportunity for differentiation and brand loyalty in an uber-competitive market with low member switching costs. And in that case, the byproduct of an optimized customer experience can certainly be measured throughout the enterprise; but particularly in the bottom line.
In the end, it behooves any healthcare organization to protect their investments in technology by deploying solutions that were developed with the customer experience as a key focus. There, after all, is where the rubber meets the road. And how fast is an expensive turbo-charged sports car if all its tires are flat?
Do you have a mantra for Health IT or customer experience (or anything)? Reply to this posting in Comments and on Twitter @AdobeGov and @AdobeCEM to be heard.
Adobe recently hosted its healthcare technology summit, “Federal Healthcare Solutions: Empowering the Patient, Payer, and Provider”, in Pentagon City, Virginia to stimulate dialogue among major federal healthcare stakeholders. The goal of the conference was to highlight ways that government agencies are leveraging Health IT to accomplish their missions and streamline complex processes through innovation.
Our keynote speaker, Dr. Peter Levin, CTO at the US Department of Veterans Affairs, set the tone for the event by sharing details of his inspiring vision to improve care for our nation’s heroes with the implementation of an open standards-based architecture for health data.
Referencing the significant role of customer experience management, Dr. Levin called for “a new model of engagement” as more users expect to securely interact with their health data through multiple diverse channels.
In the tradition of AGA 2010 (Adobe’s Government Assembly), our healthcare summit also provided everyone an opportunity to delve into relevant issues with the program speakers, including the need to balance the scope of policy with recent advances in technology.
Later, fellow panelists Jenna Noble, Deputy Program Manager for Clinical Support at Defense Health Services Systems (DHSS), and Dave Walsh, Chief Executive Officer at eServices Group, joined me for an interactive roundtable forum. Attendees were engaged as they introduced a wide range of topics including Meaningful Use interpretations as well as leveraging Health Information Exchanges and the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) for efficient claims processing.
Interestingly, one of the hot topics that emerged was the definition and implementation of standards to facilitate the seamless exchange of health data among public payers.
On behalf of Adobe, I’d like to extend a special thanks to all those who were able to attend and participate.
We recently sponsored a Section 508 accessibility event at the U.S. Access Board Auditorium in Washington, D.C. The late October event included discussion on the changing standards, policy, and compliance landscape.
We were honored to have talks by the following special guests:
Kareem Dale, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement, Special Assistant to the President for Disability Policy
Terry Weaver, Director of IT Accessibility, General Services Administration
David Capozzi, Executive Director, U.S. Access Board
The morning also featured a presentation from Adobe and other government leaders on best technology practices for achieving accessibility.
Please check out the following video for an overview of the event, including thoughts from several of the speakers.
If you are responsible in any way for sharing information, whether within government or to the public, appropriately classifying information is always a challenge. There’s a full spectrum of possibilities between full, open disclosure and compartmentalized “need to know”. Especially post 9/11, most US agencies have worked hard to establish guidelines and best practices to allow access to the right information to the right people at the right time. To that end, many agencies have created what in the private sector would be called, proprietary classification schemes. Like any proprietary approach, it works very well within a certain scope, but, it breaks down quickly when confronted with a similar, but, alternative approach. The consequences of such a breakdown can vary from something as simple as an embarrassing situation to a life-threatening scenario.
So, as of November 11th, an Executive Order was signed named “Controlled Unclassified Information” (CUI) that is focused on solving this dilemma across the entire federal government. Assigned by the President, NARA will act as the Executive Agent for this Order, driving a process intended to rationalize the various approaches already in place across the agencies.
Standardization, what a good thing! Not only does this Executive Order pave the wave for a common taxonomy that can be explained, understood, used and defended by everyone, it also sets the stage for the ability to apply automation. As digital information has become the norm, replacing paper as the means to create, store and share, the need for better control mechanisms has never been greater. We see evidence of this in the news all the time. Leaks, whether intentional or not, have become more pervasive. However, without a standard approach to classifying information, leveraging technology to help mitigate the risks has been a challenge.
Imagine if you will, the ability to integrate enforceable, digital policies directly into information in a standard fashion that would be recognized government wide. Such policies would give the government the ability to dynamically control who can see information, how long the information is visible, what people can do with it, etc. Wouldn’t it be useful to have policies automatically assigned to documents to minimize the risks of information traveling to the wrong places?
I am quite encouraged to see policy standards such as CUI come about. What are your thoughts?
To learn about technology from Adobe to help, please take a moment and visit this link.
“Why isn’t there a button on your website that I can click to access my personal medical history? A little blue button.”
That simple question was posed to the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), and proved to be the catalyst for significant improvements in the ways that a veteran can interact with his own health data.
VA developed that Blue Button in collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Department of Defense, along with the Markle Foundation’s Consumer Engagement Workgroup.
On August 2, 2010 President Obama announced the Blue Button initiative to thousands of applauding veterans, who stood to benefit from the ability to take ownership of their Personal Health Record (PHR), downloaded from the VA website with just a click.
. *Blue Button comments begin at 24:00
That defining moment, however, was not the end of the story. Since each veteran’s comprehensive record was to be downloaded as a plain ASCII text file, the Markle and Robert Wood Johnson Foundations issued the Blue Button Developer Challenge on behalf of the VA. The goal of the challenge was to spur the innovative development of web-based solutions, enabling Blue Button users to meaningfully interact with their health data in an even more useful way. Sharing that common goal, respondents to the challenge were diverse; ranging from start-up IT companies and individual developers to Google and Microsoft.
On October 7, 2010, Adobe was announced the winner of the Blue Button Developer Challenge.
As the team lead, I had the privilege of receiving the award on Adobe’s behalf at the fourth annual Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco from a distinguished panel featuring Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Health and Human Services, and Peter Levin,Chief Technology Officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Also, I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation, highlighting key features of Blue Button Health Assistant, Adobe’s innovative solution that combines the intuitive real-time interface of Adobe AIR technology with the benefits of the secure, auditable, and ubiquitous PDF format (leveraging PDF-Healthcare Best Practices) regardless of the user’s platform, browser, or device.
Certified PDF screenshot
These benefits resonated well with the discerning team of technology powerhouses who served as judges, including Craigslist Founder Craig Newmark; Assistant Vice President of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Steve Downs; Consumers Union health policy expert Steve Findlay; and personal health records pioneer Dr. James Ralston of Group Health Cooperative. Submissions were evaluated on the following key criteria:
Usefulness to patients in helping them stay healthy or manage their care.
Potential to impact health and well-being by addressing high-priority health goals.
Platform neutral (can be accessed by a consumer with simple web browser).
Usability / ease of use.
As a veteran myself, it was particularly rewarding to be a part of Team Adobe throughout this incredible process. But this story, and others like it, continues on as Adobe identifies and develops more ways to leverage Open Government as more than just a concept, but rather a tool to advance agency missions.
I’ve written about this elusive word “open” in the past. My point was the word can mean many things depending on context and perspective. I think it has become a widely over used, misused word. That said, I was very happy this morning when Adobe took a shot at providing an explanation of what the word “open” means to the company. Even Adobe’s founders, Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, weighed in with their thoughts on the topic. (Check it out here.)
Putting this into my own words, to Adobe, “open” equates to freedom of choice. It is a spirit that permeates the culture of the company as well as the technologies it creates. Adobe’s definition is not limited to “open source” or “open standards”, but actually supersedes and embraces these ideas into a bigger concept. Does Adobe take the steps to make every single one of its technologies available as open source or push every one of its protocols into the open standards arena? Of course not. However, many of its core technologies HAVE been offered as open source (Flex, AVM+), granted to open standards bodies (PDF is now ISO 32000) or, at the very least, openly published as specifications (SWF, FLV/F4V, RTMP, AMF) for others to use to create new and unforeseen solutions.
And of course, always remember Adobe’s continued commitment to support and participate in the development of open standards.
So, does it really HAVE to be “Open vs. Choice” or should it be “Open = Choice”? The beauty of this is, everyone gets to decide for themselves!
Healthcare is a complex topic, just ask anyone about their last major surgery or visit to the doctor’s and suddenly you find yourself in a discussion where foreign-sounding words and acronyms are being thrown around. Toss into the mix the topic of information technology and it’s no wonder the current debate and discussion around Health IT becomes exponentially more confusing.
A couple of weeks ago in DC, I was part of a panel discussion on Health IT in the context of the current federal health initiatives and its desired outcomes. We had a solid panel spanning experts on Health IT standards to those that have led projects to provide more reliable health care delivery through the use of technology.
- Dr. Steven Galson who was the acting surgeon general of the United States (2007-09) and is currently the operations manager for SAIC’s Civilian Health Organization
- Mr. David Walsh who currently chairs the MITA Technical Architecture committee and is president of eServices Group
- Mr. Raymond Sullivan who was the Executive Director of the Veterans Administration Office of Information Technology and is now the VP of Health IT Solution at General Dynamics
The discussion kicked off with some candid comments on the definition of “meaningful use” and the general confusion by both public and private sector on how the regulations translates into the day-to-day operations of providers and payers.