Harmony Blog

Harmony Now Part of the Mediware Family

June 13th, 2014

Harmony Information Systems has been acquired by Mediware Information Systems. Since 1980, Mediware has provided solutions to commercial healthcare providers and has since expanded to serve many state and federal agencies. Mediware’s software is perfect for high-growth, complex environments that remain underserved by existing vendors. Mediware pursued the acquisition of Harmony to broaden its subject matter expertise in long-term care and enhance its ability to expand the continuum of care outside the hospital.

To learn more about the acquisition, please read the official press release on mediware.com

mediware logo

ICD-10 Delayed

April 10th, 2014

Last week, on April 1st, President Obama signed HR 4302, “Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014” into law.  This bill included a provision that will delay the implementation of ICD-10 until no earlier than October 1, 2015.

icd10

ICD-10 implementation delayed until no earlier than October 1, 2015.

This delay was unexpected and has spawned a lot of rumors, speculation, and questions.  Will CMS allow states that are ready to convert this year be allowed to go ahead on a voluntary basis?  Will the new implementation date by October 1, 2015 or will CMS push it out later?  Will we skip ICD-10 altogether and implement ICD-11 in 2017?  These are all great questions and we hope that CMS will be able to provide guidance soon.  They have publicly addressed other aspects of the bill, but have remained silent thus far on the portion related to ICD-10.

Harmony is proud to say that we are ahead of schedule to have the required  changes available for the original October 1, 2014 deadline.  We will continue to monitor events and when CMS issues concrete guidance, we will re-evaluate, adjust our schedules, and share that information with you.  Read more about the bill here:  http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/icd-10-delayed-doc-pay-patched-again

 

 

Health Information Exchange Failures and Vendor Exaggerations

April 7th, 2014

It’s hard to go for more than a few days without reading another story about problems with federal and state health care exchanges.  While the names of the vendors providing the exchanges vary from one state to the next, the core issues are pretty similar.  Technology vendors are largely building customized web sites and back-end exchanges even though the contracts were typically won by initially pitching pre-built solutions, commonly known as commercial off-the-shelf products, to meet agency needs.

Understand what defines a truly, off-the-shelf solution - before you buy.

Understand what defines a truly, off-the-shelf solution – before you buy.

There is no question that pre-built, true off-the-shelf products deliver a unique value proposition to organizations.  These solutions are often quickly implemented and easily adapted to rapidly changing business processes, and they are continually enhanced by the software provider, are higher-quality, available at lower prices, and can be quickly implemented with less risk to the agency.   Custom-built solutions are often plagued with protracted delivery timelines and cost overruns, and most significantly, run a significant risk of project failure since the solution has not be used and proven in other agencies.  The root problem is that many vendors are positioning their custom development project, state transfer systems, or generic product frameworks, as off-the-shelf solutions when they are nothing of the sort.

One recent example may be in Maryland where they are scrapping their health exchange technology to use Connecticut’s systems.   A recent Oregonian article points out that Maryland’s Joshua Sharfstein said his state was victimized by an IT vendor, IBM/Curam, that promised “off the shelf” technology that did not deliver.   While it’s unclear exactly what IBM sold to Maryland, it’s unlikely that it was a true off-the-shelf solution given that amount of product development that was required to deliver the web site.  Agencies looking to take advantage of off-the-shelf solutions need to carefully examine how a vendor defines off-the-shelf.

The fact is, the concept of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software has been blurred by software and services firms that have hijacked the off-the-shelf term in order to market their custom development services, often in conjunction with state transfer systems or generic product platforms built for different purposes.  Today, vendors and buyers define COTS as anything from one-off, in-house development projects to multitenant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions, and everything in between.

Harmony has written this white paper to help you understand if you are buying truly off-the-shelf product.

 

 

Elder Abuse on the Rise

April 1st, 2014

An article in yesterday’s Burlington County Times examines the rise of elder abuse cases in the county of Burlington, NJ, as well as the general rise of elder abuse cases across the United States.  With the aging of the baby boomers, comes a rise in the population of people 60- years old and higher and therefore, a rise in the opportunity for elder abuse cases.

Financial scams, such as that in the case of 81-year old Betty Russell, who received a phone call from a young man posing as her grandson, saying he was in jail and needed her to wire him money for bail, are some of the most prevalent cases of elder abuse being reported in Burlington County and across the rest of the country.

Fortunately, Betty was able to catch the scam before wiring money because a good-Samaritan bank teller informed Betty’s husband that it could be a scam and to call their grandson and confirm his whereabouts. However, not all senior citizens are as lucky. Many senior citizens are being scammed out of their money and valuables through scams involving panicked phone calls, bogus contractors and exploitative “friendships” and relationships.

Worried and pensive senior woman talking on cordless phone. Image shot 2006. Exact date unknown.                       Many senior citizens are being scammed by phony phone calls asking for money

 

While the Elder Justice Act, which was passed as part of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, has raised awareness of the epidemic of elder abuse and has resulted in more referrals of abuse, it has not stopped the abuse from happening.

Richard Strobel, chief counsel for the Burlington County Board of Social Services said that the largest number of abuse reports come from cases of self-neglect, which accounts for more than half of cases of elder abuse reported to APS across the United States. The second most common case of elder abuse in New Jersey is that of caregiver neglect, like the Riverside, NJ woman who was arrested for stealing over $100,000 from a 92-year old woman in her care by frequently calling the woman’s bank, posing as her and having money moved from one account to another, and then withdraw the cash.

Since New Jersey law enforcement is seeing this rise in elder abuse across their state, they are asking people to report any cases of abuse they may know of or feel like is being done to them. Members of the Burlington County Consumer Protection Department are speaking at senior centers to help get the word out about many kinds of elder abuse. They like to remind seniors about the old, but familiar motto: “If a deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is.”

 

For more information on the impact of this rise in elder abuse in New Jersey, you can read the Burlington County Times article here.

 

 

Celebrate the Luck o’ the Irish with Seniors and People with Disabilities in Your Community

March 17th, 2014

The traditions of green clothing, green food, pinches and good luck shamrocks are some of the most well-known characteristics of St. Patrick’s Day.  But, St. Patrick’s Day is an important day for the Irish as it commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland, as well as celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with seniors and people with disabilities

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick’s Day is also an important day for many to reconnect and celebrate their roots.  That’s why, it’s important to remember seniors and people with disabilities as we celebrate the luck of the Irish this St. Patrick’s Day.  Here are just a few ideas for ways to include those in our communities who may struggle to get to celebrations.

1 – Volunteer to take a senior to a St. Patrick’s Day parade or celebration.  The simple act of transporting your elderly neighbor to a celebration may be the perfect way to bring some luck into your relationship.

2 – Host a home or apartment crawl with seniors.  This idea is a little more involved, but a great way to bring seniors and people with disabilities together to celebrate in traditional Irish fashion.

3 – St. Patrick’s Day board games.  Bring seniors and vulnerable adults together for an evening filled with Irish-themed games.  Select games like Pictionary or Charades.  eHow offers great ideas for an Irish-themed game of Pictionary.

4 – Host a “green” dinner party.  If you’re up for hosting your neighbors, a green-food themed dinner party is sure to please.  Simply use food coloring to dye everything not normally green, green.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day – may the luck o’ the Irish be with you.

Aging in America Conference 2014

March 14th, 2014

The Harmony team was happy to be a part of the Aging Society of America’s Aging in America 2014 Conference this week.  Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth on the exhibition floor.  It makes our day to visit with so many Harmony customers in one place.

One on one time at the Harmony Booth

 

Harmony at Aging in America Conference

It was great to see so many customers stop by the Harmony booth this week!

 

 

 

Save the Date! Harmony’s Annual Users Conference

March 7th, 2014

We are happy to announce that the 2014 Harmony Users Conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana!

The conference will take place September 30th – October 3rd at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside which is located in the center of New Orleans on the banks of the Mississippi River, just steps from famous New Orleans Streetcar lines and many other iconic landmarks.

Harmony Users Conference 2014

For more information about the 2014 Harmony Users Conference, please email us at marketing@harmonyis.com.

 

Welcome Aboard Alaska!

February 24th, 2014

Last week we announced that the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Senior and Disabilities Services Division (DSDS) selected Harmony to automate the management of service programs for Alaska’s seniors and people with disabilities.  We are thrilled to welcome Alaska DSDS to the Harmony family of customers and are pleased to be helping the state to improve program management and efficiencies, ensure systems are easy to use, and to provide better support to Alaska’s most vulnerable residents.

Alaska Automated Service Plan System and Provider Portal

All Aboard Alaska’s Automated Service Plan System

Alaska will use Harmony to manage many service programs focused on providing services for seniors and people with disabilities including HCBS Medicaid Waivers, Medicaid Personal Care Assistance, State-funded services, Older American Act (OAA) programs, Certification and Licensing, and Adult Protective Services. You can learn more about Harmony’s solution for Alaska here.

Welcome aboard Alaska!

 

 

President Johnson’s Impact on Older Americans

February 18th, 2014

This week, as we celebrate Presidents’ Day, we’d like to take a moment to remember  President, Lyndon B. Johnson and the impact he had on older Americans.

In order to meet the needs of a diverse and growing population of seniors, Johnson signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) into law in 1965. The OAA established a federal agency, the Administration on Aging (now the Administration for Community Living), to focus on all issues surrounding older Americans including nutrition programs, adult day care services, and legal and transportation assistance.

Older Americans Act

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Older Americans Act into law.

 

In the same year, Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, establishing health insurance programs for the poor and elderly, and nursing home care for seniors and people with disabilities.

For his critical role in creating and advancing these landmark programs that help older Americans, AARP has named President Johnson a Champion of Aging.

To learn more about Johnson’s impact on older Americans, click here.

 

Grandma, Will You Be My Valentine? Making Valentine’s Day Special for Seniors

February 13th, 2014

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Chocolates from your sweetheart? Dinner with your wife? How many of you take time to celebrate the special seniors in your life on Valentine’s Day?

Well, I’ll be the first to admit that my grandparents haven’t always been the first to come to mind when February 14th rolls around each year. But, shouldn’t Valentine’s Day be about celebrating all the people you love? Not just your significant other, but your parents, grandparents, children, and anyone else who holds a piece of your heart?

Making Valentines Day Special for Seniors

For many seniors, the end of the holiday season means visits from family members become less frequent. Isolation can bring on depression and loneliness, particularly for homebound seniors who may have trouble getting around on their own. Keep this in the mind this Valentine’s Day by paying special attention to the older adults in your life.

Making_Valentines_Day_Special_Seniors

Meals on Wheels, the organization that provides home-delivered meals to people in need, knows Valentine’s Day can be tough for the seniors they serve, so they’re doing their best to share the love this year with a special Love Letters campaign.  The premise is simple: create a handmade Valentine’s Day card that includes 3 facts about yourself, send it to the Meals on Wheels location of your choice, and they’ll take care of the rest by delivering it to a local senior citizen.

Cards and chocolates are great gestures, but don’t let the traditional ideas of Valentine’s Day gifts limit your efforts. A date with Grandma to watch Gone With the Wind, or a homemade dinner for your elderly neighbor, could be the perfect way to show you care.

For more insight on how to make a senior happy this Valentine’s Day, check out The New Old Age Blog’s latest article, What Makes Older People Happy.