Author Archives: Carol Robinson

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Bridging Gaps with Apps: CedarBridge Develops Mobile App for Patient Consent

Carol Robinson

As founder of CedarBridge Group, I’ve been thinking about the complexities and commonalities of our consulting engagements. Our clients work in public and private channels; in red, blue, and purple states, large and small; and at many stages of maturity in journeying toward connected, value-based healthcare.

At the core of our work, CedarBridge helps clients reduce barriers that limit the use of data to improve patient care and population health. Across all sectors of our healthcare clients, one of the most common barriers we see is in sharing sensitive data, especially mental health data, among a patient’s care team.

A consultant’s role is to help clients with tough problems. We dig deep on the complex information they need, share the best of what we know, and help execute solutions. On the subject of mental health in America, we know nearly 70% of adults diagnosed with mental health disorders are also facing medical conditions, and nearly a third of adults with one or more chronic medical conditions also suffers from a mental health disorder.[i] The majority of time, anywhere in the country, mental health providers don’t have information about care received from their patients’ primary and specialty care providers, and the same is true in reverse.

Why is CedarBridge branching out to build software? I’ve been asked this question many times since we committed last summer to join the technology development space by entering the federal government’s health IT competition, Move Health Data Forward Challenge, encouraging tech developers to use new national standards for consumer-focused data-sharing solutions. The reason for expanding CedarBridge services beyond consulting to include technology products is simple; we see the obstacles and impediments to sharing sensitive health data in every corner of our work. As a partner with our clients, we want to provide more than good advice on managing legal and cultural considerations for sharing health data, we want to offer solutions that will improve patient care. The CedarBridge consumer consent mobile app CareApprove™ now one of five finalists in the Challenge competition, is just such a solution.

With CareApprove, patients and (in some cases) caregivers will be referred by a provider, health plan, or even by an employer, to install the privacy-protected app on a smartphone or mobile device, register, and provide consent for securely sharing electronic health records with approved providers. We’re very proud and excited that on May 1st, patients in Pennsylvania used a live version of the CareApprove™ app for the first time, providing consent for mental health records to be sent to their primary care providers, in the initial pilot use case of our technology.

Developing CareApprove™ with our partners, Stella Technology, has been a rewarding adventure. With one pilot underway, we are energized to work with additional pilot sites and quickly build expanded CareApprove™ functionality for other consent purposes, while we cross our fingers about being selected as one of the final two winners of the Challenge.

The CedarBridge team views health IT as a bridge that will span gaps in the delivery of quality healthcare. The CareApprove™ app is a way for patients to be the bridge between providers, at the center of their own care. I hope you will follow our progress, and reach out to us if you’re interested in learning more.


Follow CedarBridge Group on Twitter @CedarBridgeHIT


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CedarBridge Attracts New Talent, Hits Major Milestone

“The first thing that has to be recognized is that one cannot train someone to be passionate–it’s either in their DNA or it’s not.” -Richard Branson

It’s birthday month for CedarBridge Group! In February 2013, I mailed $100 to Oregon’s Secretary of State to file as a new business, set up a business checking account with a $500 deposit, and launched a consulting firm in the field of health information technology. Some people thought I was just killing time while I searched for a new job; in fact I was driven by a passion for this industry.

After four quick trips around the sun, CedarBridge broke the seven-figure mark in gross revenue for 2016, a year focused on recruiting a team that would take our firm from its entrepreneurial start-up roots to a nationally-recognized company comprised of the most passionate, smartest people in the industry.

As the founder of CedarBridge, I am keenly aware of the unique skills and knowledge it takes to be an effective consultant in the complex ecosystem of healthcare delivery and payment, not to mention the added technical subject matter expertise necessary in this specialty field. It is challenging to identify and recruit people who not only bring extraordinary content knowledge, but who can thrive in ambiguity, excel at adapting to a wide variety of project needs, work independently in a virtual company, and be incredible collaborators with clients and colleagues.

Many start-ups might also struggle to compete for talent against the big-name firms, but this is where I believe CedarBridge’s competitive advantage has been our best recruiting tool. The advantage is passion. Passion for our work and for the success of our clients in their work, but most of all, passion for improving healthcare and health.

I am so proud of the growing CedarBridge all-star team, our bright new stars and our industry experts, including our newest employees:

  • Michael Matthews came to CedarBridge with forty years of health IT and health policy experience, including as CEO of MedVirginia, among many of the leadership positions he has held. In addition to his role with CedarBridge, Michael is serving as Board Chair of The Sequoia Project.
  • Johanna Goderre until recently was with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality where she oversaw research on the impact of health IT investments and innovation. Johanna also held positions in the Office of The Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services, and as a public health researcher with deep knowledge of Title X programs.
  • Christina Coughlin joined CedarBridge in December as director of consulting services, a role which taps Christina’s vast experience as a jack-of-all trades health policy and organizational development expert. Prior to joining CedarBridge, Christina was most recently with OCHIN, a renowned nonprofit designated as a Health Center Controlled Network by Health Resources Services Administration.
  • Betsy Boyd-Flynn came to us in October from the Oregon Health Care Quality Corporation, where she managed health care quality and cost analysis projects. She brings that expertise with her, along with many years in the healthcare association sector working on stakeholder engagement and communications.

I marvel every week about how fortunate we are to be working with organizations leading the way on the learning path toward better, more efficient healthcare delivery that will result in a healthier nation—a healthier world. We look forward to a very exciting 2017 and we hope if you’re at HIMSS17 this week you’ll look for a CedarBridge employee to tell you about their passion for our work.


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“The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” (Mark Twain and Meaningful Use)

Carol Robinson

Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt’s recent comments about the Meaningful Use program (incentivizing physicians to use electronic health record systems) are being described as the “death of MU”. Before you start picking out gravestones, remember two things.

First, take a close look at what he said: “The Meaningful Use program as it has existed, will now be effectively over and replaced with something better.” That signals a significant shift in the MU measures and focus. It does not indicate CMS will end of all aspects of the program.

Second, keep in mind the recent statutory change to MU. The MU program, with incentives and payment adjustments, was established under the ARRA stimulus legislation in 2009. The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) calls for MU to sunset as a separate payment adjustment, but continue as a component of the new Merit-based Incentive Payments System (MIPS). Under MACRA, the MIPS adjustment factor, starting with the 2019 payment year, will include a determination whether a provider who is eligible for MU and MIPS was “a meaningful EHR user” during the performance period. Also, MACRA doesn’t alter the hospital payment adjustments that were set up in ARRA.

In short, CMS will soon change the program name, as well as the measures for Meaningful Use, shifting to an outcomes focus to support value-based payments.

It’s safe to assume the term “Meaningful Use” will render negative connotations to many clinicians for a long time. But, with new payment models as the drivers rather than MU incentives, healthcare providers will embrace the act of using health information technology in meaningful ways to coordinate care and improve patient outcomes. In this new paradigm, interoperable technology systems will be demanded across the healthcare ecosystem.

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