Dragon Naturally Speaking e-Learning - Training

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Companies should consider more mature workers, says business director

Employers should look at the benefits of incorporating more mature workers into their workforce and the positive impact they can have on tomorrow's employees.

While some companies resist employing workers over the age of 50, Simon Thompson, co-founder and director of ConferencesGroup, believes that retaining and engaging employees in this age bracket and beyond is the key to successful, happy and more cost-effective personnel.

"Many of the stereotypes that prevent employees from hiring and making good use of older workers are merely myths, and whilst I still recognise the need and importance of recruiting young, fresh and enthusiastic employees, I equally advocate workers that bring on board a lifetime of skills and experience to their job," he said.

Thompson thinks more businesses need to recognise the diversity and richness that comes from employing more mature members of staff which he believes are highly motivated, productive and reliable.

"Older workers are willing to work different schedules as they are less likely to have young children at home to consider, they tend to be more loyal, have less absenteeism and take work more seriously.

"For me, above anything else, our mature staff members have superior interpersonal skills and a greater understanding of how to deal with customers which only comes with experience. I rely on these members of staff to serve as mentors and share their invaluable experience with newer members of staff to guide those who perhaps haven't worked in the industry as long" Thompson concluded.

View the original article here

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TSW crown year of hard work with landmark accreditation

Bridgend company TSW Training is celebrating a landmark year after it achieved industry accreditation.

The training group has undergone a process involving business modeling and communication with staff throughout the company which has culminated in the Investors In People Leadership and Management Award.

Thirty-three jobs have been created throughout the three organisations under the Group umbrella in recent years, and group commercial manager Matthew Channell, fully expects further momentum in the coming 12 monthsresulting in growth of the TSW group.

Channell said: "TSW's position is the result of hard work, skilled and committed staff, and forward-thinking leadership and management. We have strategised and planned effectively in a difficult economic climate which has paid dividends"

"We cannot praise the IIP framework enough; it led us to review the way we've managed and lead the organisation to date and helped identify areas of good practice as well as areas for improvement.

"The IIP Leadership and Management accreditation recognises that we have embraced the development needs of the company and aligned these with our business strategy, our business plan, our vision, our values and most importantly the needs of our people.

"This has giving the entire business a complete and integrated approach in line with our culture."

IIP Assessor Pam Tanner worked with TSW during the entire process and praised the company's positive approach.

"It was a real pleasure to work with a young, dynamic and energetic management team who had really bought into and understood what the award meant for their people and the way they were expected to work," he said.

"During the accreditation process it was evident that the management team and staff had committed to high performance working which was supported and enabled through effective leadership. They enthusiastically applied the principles and practices that helped them to achieve the Wales IIP Leadership and Management Award."

Channell added: "If you liken TSW's journey to a jigsaw puzzle, we have for a long time possessed all the pieces and have been slowly but consistently putting those pieces together. With the IIP framework as our guide we have now put all the processes and behaviours together to provide us with a very strong foundation for continued growth and development.

"TSW recognised early on that you can have a business plan and a host of ideas but often these fail to gain traction due to the day to day mêlée of just running a business; all too often we would forget about the bigger picture. The IIP Leadership & Management framework has helped us focus on both the big and smaller pictures."

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CIPD urge employers to engage more with young people

Too few employers are engaging with young people at school or college to build their employability skills or provide work experience placements.

That's according to new research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development launched today at a Department for Work and Pensions Employer Forum hosted by the CBI. The research is the latest output from the CIPD's Learning to Work campaign, set up to encourage more employers to invest in tomorrow's workforce.

Findings reveal that the majority of respondents (71 per cent) believe that they have a role to play in helping to tackle youth unemployment but a quarter of employers have not employed anyone aged 16- to 24 in the last 12 months, irrespective of whether they are a graduate or not.  Worryingly, six in ten employers don't offer any routes into their organisation for non-graduates and only 56 per cent are planning to do so in the coming year.

The research suggests some employers have negative perceptions of young people, which deters them from investment in this generation.  The good news, however, is that among employers that have recruited young people, perceptions of this untapped group of talent are positive. Nine out of ten employers who have recruited a young person are either very satisfied (26 per cent) or fairly satisfied (65 per cent) with the young people they have recruited.

Peter Cheese, CEO at the CIPD, said: "Employing young people has clear benefits to business and society, but there is some work to do in encouraging and supporting more employers to take on and develop young people.

"Addressing the gap between perceptions and reality is a key priority for the CIPD's Learning to Work campaign - it's not only fundamental to reducing youth unemployment and the long-term scarring effects it can have on young people, but it's also essential in building our future skills base."

The report highlights a number of case studies that identify the various business imperatives that make young people a vital component of many employers' workforce, as well as the practices needed to make it happen:

• The need to build a pipeline of talent for tomorrow's workforce

• The benefits of employing a diverse workforce that reflects the organisation's customer base

• The potential to strengthen the employer brand by demonstrating that the organisation is actively engaging with its community

• The cost benefits associated with investing in training and development at a young age

• How to build positive work experience programs and apprenticeships, and the best routes to working with schools and colleges, job centres and other partners to identify and attract young people.

"The step change that is needed to improve education to work transitions will not be achieved through good will and government policy alone. Our research shows that many employers don't always understand the benefits young people can bring to their organisation," Cheese added.

"We need to make the business case crystal clear. We need to promote the best routes for young people in to employment, including apprenticeships, and highlight how employers can best engage with schools and colleges to work with young people in raising work awareness and employability skills. Government needs to continue to promote the issues and opportunities, as well as encourage businesses through funding schemes and other support mechanisms."

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Stress is taking its toll on the nation’s workforce, study reveals

Nearly half of UK professionals are getting more stressed, according to research by flexible workplace providers Regus.

The study of more than 2,500 professionals across the country found that two-fifths (43 per cent) of employees say their stress levels have risen over the past year.

Workers pinpointed the top stress figures as their job (55 per cent), personal finances (48 per cent), customers (32 per cent) and management (26 per cent). Continuing instability in the economy, jobs and the rising cost of living are thought to have fuelled this growing pressure.

Back in April, research conducted for Regus showed that 65 per cent of professionals had taken on additional duties during the economic slowdown which have not subsequently been picked up by new staff, as employers strive to do more with less.

Dr Clare Kelliher, professor of work and organisation at the Cranfield School of Management, said:  "Levels of stress continue to increase across the country. Whilst some level of stress can sometimes be seen as beneficial, if employees suffer stress-related health problems, such as insomnia and exhaustion, they are likely to be less productive and eventually employers may find that they lose valuable workers.   Employers need to look for ways of taking excess pressure off employees."

When quizzed about possible solutions, two in three respondents (63 per cent) identified flexible working as a way for employers to reduce staff stress, such as granting workers a degree of choice in work location as well as hours.  This reflects growing recognition that multi-location working is widely beneficial, providing workers with a refreshing change of routine, the opportunity to work closer to home (and get home earlier) and also the financial advantage of not having to commute every day.

Steve Purdy, UK managing director at Regus, said: "Without a doubt, stressed-out workers are unhappy and unhealthy workers too, so local businesses that want to help their staff lead more rewarding lives cannot fail to analyse and tackle levels of stress within their organisation. The heavy toll of stress falls not only on workers, but also on businesses  as they that find their staff are unable to perform as required, need more sick leave and are less efficient. 

"Confirming previous Regus research showing that 58 per cent of workers feel healthier directly as a result of flexible working, respondents clearly identify flexible working as one possible solution to their high stress levels.  In addition to this they also report flexibility is more family friendly, helping improve their overall work-life balance and wellbeing. Add to this that flexible working is believed to improve productivity and to cost less than traditional office working and the case for helping employees to de-stress by increasing flexibility becomes substantial."

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Mountainous challenge set to draw on key leadership qualities

People development specialists Acua Limited are aiming to reach new heights after teaming up on a mountainous challenge.

Acua Limited, the corporate training subsidiary of Coventry University, is partnering with explorer and adventurer Mark Wood when he takes a team on a trek through the Himalayas.

The 45-year-old former firefighter, who was the first person to ski solo to the North and South Poles back-to-back, is trekking with a team up to Everest Base Camp and then making an ascent of Kala Patthar - reaching the summit of Island Peak at a height of 6,189m.

Acua, which delivers leadership and management programmes for organisations across the UK, will be in contact with the explorer throughout the 23-day trek to draw from Wood's experiences of leadership on the slopes.

Andrew Watkins, business coach at Acua Limited, said the chance to work with the explorer and learn from the challenges faced along the journey was one not to be missed.

"Mark is a remarkable man and an inspiration to a lot of people after everything he has achieved as an explorer since leaving the fire service," he said.

"I've known him for quite a few years now and after speaking with him recently about his latest expedition and the challenges he'll be facing it struck me how closely it can mirror the challenges we face day in and day out in a business environment.

"The ability to lead a team whilst under pressure, to motivate, deal with adversity, and show resilience when it is needed most are all challenges Mark will be facing head on.

"We're delighted Mark has agreed to share his experiences with us and our team and our clients will be able to learn a lot from him."

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Ernst & Young refresh graduate recruitment with strengths test

Accountancy Firm Ernst & Young is refreshing its UK graduate selection process this year by introducing a new situational strengths test.  

The company is working with people management consultancy Capp for the project, which aims to increase efficiencies in the first stage assessment sift, ultimately reducing candidates from 19,000 to 800, over the course of their graduate recruitment cycle.

Stephen Isherwood, head of graduate recruitment from Ernst & Young, said: "At Ernst & Young we have a rigorous and comprehensive graduate recruitment and selection process. We've been working with Capp on our strengths-based assessment, which has revolutionised our process and seen significant results, including 15 per cent more graduates de-selected at first interview and 12 per cent more graduates accepted at assessment centre compared to the previous competency approach. The introduction of this new technique will allow us to further ensure that the right candidates get into the right roles.

"Being an online tool and providing applicants with an insight into the available roles, makes Capp's situational strengths test incredibly attractive and when combined with a strengths-based interview will help us identify the best graduates and the right talent for the available opportunities."

Capp recently launched its situational strengths test, an online process which identifies the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate relative to the role for which they are applying, by providing them with insights into a typical day in the vacancy that they are applying for, and examining what they would do in each situation.

By using this new assessment technique, it is possible to employ only the best candidates and the right talent for graduate roles.

Capp founding director Dr Alex Linley added: "We've enjoyed a very successful relationship with Ernst & Young over a number of years and they've never been afraid to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things. Integrating our situational strengths test with their existing strengths-based interviews is typical of how forward-thinking the organisation is, and supports the results that they have achieved, and for which they have won awards, through using strengths in their graduate selection process."

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

HP: Young people have a shortfall in computing knowledge

Nearly one in ten young people are lacking in computing knowledge, according to a report into the state of the nation's tech know-how.

A YouGuv online survey of more than 4,000 consumers conducted by PC manufacturer HP found that nine per cent of respondents, aged 18- to 34 considered their knowledge of computers and technology to be low, compared to 61 per cent who believe they have a medium level of knowledge.

Being in an age where computers are central to many parts of our life, the gap in knowledge is something the younger generation is aware of. More than a third (38 per cent) of 18- to 34-year-olds that responded to the survey said that they felt there was a gap between their current and desired level of understanding when it comes to computers.

For almost half of adults online, getting to grips with their computer doesn't stop at simply using it - 46 per cent felt it was very important to also have some knowledge of computer maintenance. With this in mind, and with the nation's love of DIY, 58 per cent of all respondents would usually attempt to fix their own computer if it wasn't working at its full potential.

Paul Hunter, general manager of HP UK & Ireland, said: "It's concerning to see that people don't feel that they have the skills they need when it comes to using a computer.

"Given the current challenges of the economy, it's important that all generations are equipped with the skills they need to be competitive in the workplace and beyond."

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Freelancers bring greater skills and flexibility, survey finds

Small Businesses would rather hire a freelancer than a new member of staff as they are more flexible and bring key skills when needed.

That was a key finding emerging from a survey by Freelancer.co.uk, which has revealed that small businesses are already adopting flexible employment arrangements.

The small business survey found that 40 per cent of small businesses said for the same money they'd spend on one employee, they could hire a range of freelancers with different skills.

More than 60 per cent also disagreed with the Government's assumption in their consultation on changes to employment law that small business were put off hiring their first employee by the burdens associated with employing someone. The respondents claimed that this was an outdated concept as most were now employing consultants and freelancers rather than full time employees.

An additional 50 per cent of small businesses stated that they were more likely to increase their capacity to grow by using a range of skilled freelancers compared with only 11 per cent that stated their capacity to grow would be increased by recruiting employees.

Matt Barrie, CEO of Freelancer.co.uk, says the survey shows that small businesses are ahead of the Government in employment innovations.

"Government is playing catch up as small businesses change the way they employ workers to suit their needs, now not waiting for the Government to act," he said.

"While the Government changes are welcome, small businesses see these changes as well past their sell by date. Most small businesses are already employing consultants and skilled freelancers as and when they need them rather than worrying about hiring and firing employees.

"The survey found that small businesses get more for their money if they hire a range of skilled freelancers than one or two employees. The Government hasn't yet accepted the fact that even small businesses are outsourcing today just like larger companies in the UK. As the most recent Labour Market Statistics showed, there are more freelancers self-employed people in the UK than ever before - now more than 4 million - and they are working for small businesses up and down the country.

"UK businesses are using sites like Freelancer.co.uk to carry out business across the world, undertaking data research, marketing, programming and rebranding. We have seen 300 per cent growth and it doesn't look like stopping."

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MindTools.com eyes further growth after award success

Directors and staff from online business training firm Mind Tools were in jubilant mood this month when officially presented with their Queen's Award for Enterprise.

Mind Tools, celebrating at its offices near Pulborough, was amongst a group of companies from across the UK, singled out by the Queen in April for exceptional and sustained business performance.

The training firm won the award for its achievements in international trade over the last six years. Last year, international sales accounted for 80 per cent of the company's turnover and its services were accessed by customers in more than 130 countries.

Speaking at the company's presentation ceremony, James Manktelow, founder and CEO of MindTools.com, said winning The Queen's Award had already helped boost the company's profile both in the UK and overseas.

"Since winning our Queen's Award in April, we've seen a surge of interest in our online leadership, management and career development resources. We've taken on four new employees in the UK in the last quarter, boosting our worldwide headcount to 30," said Manktelow.

He added: "The reaction to our win from both existing and potential customers has been fantastic, and we're very feeling buoyant about future opportunities. But today is about recognising the fantastic contribution of everyone who works for Mind Tools around the world, and thanking them for helping the company achieve this accolade."

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CEB: Leaders don’t need to live in foreign markets to thrive

There is no substance to the long-held view that effective business leaders need to live in the markets they manage.

That was the view of member based advisory firm CEB, which drew upon data from 12,000 senior leaders in its recent global leadership survey.

The research found that leaders who regularly visit their markets are just as likely to be successful as those who live in the research permanently. Furthermore, leaders need only spend 30 per cent of their time in a foreign market to have the same chance as those permanent ex-pats of exceeding their goals.

The findings, which form the basis of CEB's Q3 Executive Guidance, revealed those in leadership positions interact with three times more people than their non-global peers. In addition, they are 30 per cent less likely to have the market information they require while they also have double the number of management objectives.

CEB also found companies which insist on sending global leaders to live as ex-pats are denying themselves access to the best global leadership talent. More than 80 per cent of professionals in leadership positions stated that family concerns would limit their desire to move. Of those who qualified as great leaders in their non-global positions, only 35 per cent stated they aspired to take on a global leadership role.

Brian Kropp, managing director of CEB said: "By insisting global leaders leave their current base, companies are unnecessarily narrowing down the pool of talent from which they can draw. Requiring leaders to become permanent ex-pats is damaging companies' ability to succeed in new markets" .

"Companies who want to ensure they have a strong supply of talent which can be used in global leadership roles need to identify rising leaders early and be given the opportunity to lead through influence rather than direct management.

"Leading by influencing - with the assistance of responsive regional teams - rather than directing everything personally is the key to becoming successful in a global role. This means permanent ex-pats have no advantage over leaders who are itinerant."

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CMI: Employers missing out on benefits of flexible working conditions

The Chartered Management Institute has warned that a lack of investment in management skills means employers are missing out on the benefits of flexible working.

The recent comments from CMI follow on from the launch of a new report from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's Flexible Work Commission, which highlights potential routes for increasing flexibility. CMI was a member of the commission. 

Petra Wilton, CMI Director of Policy and Research, said: "The report shows clearly that managers play a pivotal role in making a success of flexible working. It's a real shame that too many managers are still unprepared to contemplate offering more flexibility, not only to meet individual employees' needs, but also to get the most out of their teams and ultimately to support growth.

"At the heart of the matter is the question of whether the manager has the skills to manage people based on their output, not just on whether they're at their desk.

"First and foremost that means getting the basics right when it comes to performance management. However, with only one in five managers having had formal management training or development, it is not surprising that they struggle.  Implementing flexible working can be a big challenge but the benefits can be well worth it."

"CMI's own research shows that the best management development can boost organisational performance by as much as 23 per cent, so there are real hard-nosed reasons for investment in developing staff - even in tough economic times."

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Knowing who to influence is key to success in L&D

"The effectiveness and impact of L&D is at 23 per cent," said John Baker, quoting recent research from the Corporate Leadership Council on satisfaction levels of line leaders. Baker was co-facilitating TJ's L&D 2020 event Building Relationships with the Business which aims to support L&D professionals in developing and managing their relatitonships with their own organisations. Baker, who works with organisations to improve the performance of L&D functions, said: "I knew I wanted to get my L&D function more aligned with the business. There is very little time for strategic thinking for any senior manager, which is why L&D needs to understand their problems to help solve them.

With the focus defined as becoming more strategic and supporting business objectives, co-facilitator Andy Holmes, advisory L&D lead for financial services at Ernst & Young, acknowledges the question that many of us consider, "how do I know who to influence?" He suggests that we "map and classify stakeholders and decide who is going to manage them as understanding your stakeholders is underplayed". When looking at the challenges of the internal business client, Holmes demonstrated that perception of "how it affects them, their standpoint and what their concerns might be" is powerful.

Holmes referred to a drama based learning script delivered earlier in the day by Steps Drama, whose actors then facilitated the group to coach characters through scenarios to embed learning about raising the profile of L&D.  Holmes delivered information on persuasion, stressing that it' s about "how you work with other humans, not how you use a process".

Baker summarised the future of the L&D professional, stating that we all need "business understanding, to talk the language of the business manager and know what makes the business tick. This is the hardest thing to do but gives you the credibility" and that "consulting skills drive the conversations you'll have and are critical to the ability to ask the right questions to dig in to what the business problem is".

The next L&D 2020 event is the Great Skills Debate on 24th October - you can find out more here

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Coaching tool helps participants to process 360° feedback

Feedback specialist Talent Innovations has launched a coaching tool designed to help individuals understand their feedback data and create an action plan for development.

The Interactive 360° Workbook replicates a one-to-one feedback briefing with an experienced coach. Using development-focused coaching questions, it guides individuals to explore their strengths and their development needs - taking account of their career goals and their personal challenges - and it supports them in creating a development plan.

Elva Ainsworth, managing director of Talent Innovations, said: "360° feedback enables people to develop their own personal 'brand' at work - as it helps you to understand how others see you - but some organisations don't want to invest in external coaching for every participant or train up their line managers to provide coaching.

"Using 25 years of 360° feedback and career coaching experience, we've developed this interactive tool to guide people through the different stages. The participant's 360° feedback data is automatically integrated within the workbook so this is a personalised tool. It's the next best thing to having a one-to-one feedback briefing with an experienced coach. As it's less than a tenth of the price of face-to-face coaching, organisations can now afford to offer 360° feedback to those who may not have had it previously, such as supervisors."

Following a 360° feedback process, the participants can be emailed a link to their own personal online workbook, which provides structured support and guides them through their feedback. After using the tool to initiate their own development plan, individuals can then discuss the results with their line manager.

"Going through this interactive process not only gives you greater insight about how you're perceived by others, it also highlights your development needs and encourages you to commit to an action plan for improvement.

"It prepares you to have a much more productive conversation about your development with your boss. The majority of the workbook content is for the participant's private and personal use; however, their boss sees the summary points. This enables managers to have more effective development conversations with their teams," she concluded.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Romney and Ryan camps clarify health law positions

On Sunday, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, said he would keep the popular provision in President Barack Obama’s health law that “makes sure those with pre-existing conditions can get coverage.”

And on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulus, Paul Ryan appeared to back a lesser-known part of the law called “maintenance of effort” that prohibits states from making it harder for people to get covered by Medicaid, the state-federal health program for the poor, until 2014.

Both statements seemed to signal dramatic shifts in position for the Republican presidential ticket. But campaign officials later insisted the men hadn’t said anything they hadn’t said before.

[See also: What the platforms tell us about parties' stance on health IT.]

On pre-existing conditions,  campaign officials said later Sunday that Romney supports coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but only for those who have had continuous coverage — a position Romney has had for months. That helps people who change jobs, but leaves out those with a gap in coverage. The Commonwealth Fund found that about 89 million Americans between 2004 and 2007  had at least a one-month gap of coverage.

A Romney official said that such people would be taken care of by state high-risk insurance pools.

In contrast, the federal health law starting in 2014 blocks insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions for everyone. The provision is already in effect for children.

Since 1996, a federal law has protected people from being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions if they continually have coverage. The downside of that law is there is no limit on what insurers can charge. Under the federal health law, in 2014, insurers won’t be able to charge higher rates based on a person’s health status.

On the “maintenance of effort” provision, which was first included in the federal stimulus package in 2009, then continued by the 2010 health law,  campaign officials clarified that despite Ryan’s comment, he is still in favor of killing the requirement because it inhibits state flexibility with Medicaid.

Ryan favors giving states block grants so they have broader power over the program. Stephanopoulus noted that the Urban Institute has estimated that between 14 million and 27 million fewer people will be covered under Medicaid block grants.

[Survey analysis: Romneycare vs. Obamacare, do Americans care?]

“I won’t get into the details, but with maintenance of effort requirements, which is what we’ve done in the past, they still have to serve this population,” Ryan said in the television interview.

Joe Antos, an economist with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said he thinks Ryan meant to say that even if Medicaid became a block grant, states would have to continue serving those eligible for the program.

To receive guaranteed federal funding, states today must cover certain “mandatory” populations. These include children under age 6 with family income below 133 percent of the federal poverty line; children ages 6 to 18 with income below the poverty line; pregnant women with income below 133 percent of the poverty line; and most seniors and persons with disabilities who receive cash assistance through the Supplemental Security Income  program.

This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Mostashari calls for vendors to add Blue Button quickly

Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national health IT coordinator, has challenged vendors to make it easy for consumers by early 2013 to view, download and transmit to another party their health information in the form of a Blue Button feature.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has established a Twitter hashtag of #VDTnow for companies and organizations to post their commitment to establishing the feature.

Implementing the functionality for view, download and transmit (VDT) to a third party, “I think, is underappreciated for how significant that’s going to be to the concept of consumer-mediated health information exchange,” Mostashari said at a Sept. 10 ONC summit on consumer health IT.

[Related: For National Health IT Week, a look in the cyrstal ball.]

“It moves us from personal health records tethered to this particular provider’s or that particular health plan’s data source to the concept of a personally controlled health record,” he  said, adding that it will accelerate capabilities for stage 2 meaningful use requirements in 2014 for patient engagement and health information exchange.

The summit was the first of several events observing Health IT Week in the Nation’s Capital.

Health IT companies, providers and healthcare organizations can offer patients access to and a copy of their electronic information through patient portals linked to their electronic health records (EHRs), a Blue Button feature on their personal health record (PHR) software or other applications on patients’ computers.

Blue Button was developed first for veterans to access their information through their HealtheVet personal record in a simple ASCII text file. More than 1 million veterans have downloaded their information, according to the Veterans Affairs Department. Military service members and Medicare beneficiaries also have a Blue Button capability, and it is beginning to be deployed in the private sector.

[See also: ONC drops pursuit of NwHIN governance.]

Among the vendors who said they would have a Blue Button feature early next year by the time of the HIMSS 2013 annual conference in March were eClinicalWorks, Greenway Medical, SOAPware, Athenahealth and Cerner. RelayHealth said it already has Blue Button available.

“Blue Button has evolved from veterans getting their own data, but is now a national concept ‘to give me my data’,” Mostashari said. Among the goals for ONC’s consumer health IT program is to nudge patients to access their data and take action with it.

One of the first veterans to participate in using Blue Button, Randy Watson, of Joplin, Mo., who has complex heart ailments and diabetes, said he did so because “it’s my right to have my record.”

“They are my medical records, and with Blue Button I have control over them, and they are correct,” he said, adding that he also has the mobile phone app for Blue Button.

Surveys have shown that patients want their information but are unaware that they can ask for it, according to Lygeia Ricciardi, acting director of ONC’s Office of Consumer eHealth.

One year ago when ONC launched its consumer ehealth program, 30 organizations that are data holders and non-data holders pledged to make it easier for patients to gain access to their information, and now more than 400 organizations have committed to doing that over time, Ricciardi said.

“Data holders are pledging to make the information easily electronically available, while the non-data holders, a broader category, is helping to spread the word to go out there and do it, and also building the tools that are going to make that appealing and useful to people,” she said.

[Related: Celebrating HIT as an essential during Natonal Health IT Week.]

For example, ONC will announce the winner next week of a developer’s challenge to mash up Blue Button data with other kinds of data.

ONC also wants to help change attitudes of patients. “Have you ever felt a little uncomfortable asking your doctor for your information? Part of what we’re doing to encourage people is to let them know that it’s ok to ask for your records,” Ricciardi said, including a video challenge for the public to show how they use or would use their data and IT.

ONC also plans to add two work groups to its advisory Health IT Policy and Standards committees to advance patient engagement. The public will have a chance to nominate folks to those groups, she said.

View the original article here

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Mining data for state CDC, Maine HIE pilot project aims for population analysis

The Maine HealthInfoNet is aggregating and analyzing health information exchange data at the population level, with the aim of finding trends and specific figures that currently evade most tools of epidemiology.

In a pilot project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HealthInfoNet, Maine’s statewide HIE, is collecting and assembling data for the Maine CDC, using the open source software popHealth. The project focuses on 13 Meaningful Use clinical quality measures using the ABCDS — aspirin therapy, blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes control and smoking cessation.

It should let public health researchers find out, for instance, what percentage of Mainers with diabetes have sugar levels under control and what percentage of hypertension patients had their blood pressure checked during their last medical visit.

[Related: CDC to use Direct protocol for health safety network.]

These and other public health measurements, at least of large populations, have eluded researchers for a while, said Stephen Sears, MD, Maine’s state epidemiologist.

“If you want to know how many diabetics within a database there are within a certain age group,” Sear said, “that’s almost impossible to get right now unless you have a data set like the Maine HealthInfoNet registry.” Plus, you need the technology to sift through it all while staying HIPAA compliant.

Sears is cautiously optimistic that they’ll be able to find all of what they’re looking for in the various clinical areas. “What I’ve seen is that it suggests that for certain parameters it looks like its going to be able to work.”

The data basically runs from HealthInfoNet and its vendor, Agilex, to popHealth and then to the Maine CDC. The U.S. CDC’s role is mostly funding and support, through its program Demonstrating the Preventative Care Value of Health Information Exchanges.

The project and a lot of data collection started a little less than a year ago. Now HealthInfoNet and the Maine CDC are essentially testing their capabilities.

[See also: A look at how Maine's HealthInfoNet is turning grant money into actionable outcomes data.]

“For every person, each month we’re producing different measures for people based on conditions,” said HealthInfoNet CEO Devore Culver. They’re able to make comparisons like how many diabetics who’ve had a hemoglobin lab test scored under 9, an indication of diabetes control.

“The state CDC expends a significant amount of energy and effort trying to gather and compile data that allows them to draw conclusion about trends of health in Maine,” Culver said. “Up until now, it’s been a fairly manual-intense process and the data is not always clear.”

Culver noted that the project is first of its kind and could be a boon to the Maine health department and CDC.

“It’s really a first foray into whether you can repurpose information, not violate patients privacy or expose providers, and use it for something of value and see how health is progressing in the state,” Culver said. “This is a very low cost, with a lot of value.”

If Maine can prove the analysis works, the goal is to eventually take the model to other states, said Dr. Taha Kass-Hout, Director of CDC’s Division of Informatics Solutions and Operations.

[Feature: A new age of biosurveillance is upon us.]

“We’re building a way for state health departments to use the data that’s circulating around their state health information systems,” Kass-Hout said. “The whole goal here for us is to be able to create shared services and platform for local and state health department to use this data.”

First, though, HIE organizations need to be able to meet certain technology and policy criteria that lets them navigate potentially rough waters, he said. HIPAA compliance is a major challenge, as is maintaining providers’ privacy.

“Maine Health InfoNet has the right governance, the right policies and it’s independent, non-for-profit — free of much political or industry influence,” Kass-Hout said.

The pilot project runs until the end of the year. Kass-Hout wouldn’t say if the CDC will renew funding for another year.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

CMS EHR incentive payments flirt with $7 billion

Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record payments are approaching $7 billion since its inception, with $6.9 billion paid out to 143,800 physicians and hospitals in total program estimates through the end of August.

Final figures will be available later this month as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid captures more complete data.

In August, the agency paid about $500 million in incentives, with about $325 million going to Medicare providers and $175 million to Medicaid providers, “which will bring us knocking on the door of $7 billion in incentive payments issued as of the end of last month,” said Robert Anthony, a specialist in CMS’ Office of eHealth Standards and Services. 

He reported the latest EHR incentive program statistics at the Sept. 6 Health IT Policy Committee meeting

In July, the totals were $6.6 billion since the program’s start paid to 132,511 eligible providers.

As of July, nearly 1 out of every 5 Medicare eligible provider, or about 18 percent are meaningful users of EHRs., he said. Additionally, 1 out of every 4 Medicare and Medicaid eligible providers has made a financial commitment to an EHR, he said. And 55 percent of eligible hospitals have received an EHR incentive payment for meaningful use.

As of July, 271,105 Medicare and Medicaid physicians and hospitals have registered to participate in the incentive program, tracking at about 10,300 monthly, he said. Breaking down the total, that’s 180,513 Medicare physicians, 86,708 Medicaid clinicians and 3,884 hospitals.

[Survey analysis: Romneycare vs. Obamacare, do Americans care?]

Even as more physicians and hospitals participate in the incentive program, nothing has changed related to their level of performance in the attestation data, Anthony said.

“The longer we go saying that not much has changed, the more encouraging that trend actually is because it is an indication that more and more providers are coming in, yet everybody is performing at a statistically high level,” he said.

Providers tend to exceed the required threshold of performance for recording objectives for problem list, medications list or medication-allergy list. And there is little difference in performance among physicians and hospitals, Anthony said.

“As we move into August, we’re no longer looking at just the early adopters, we’re looking at people who may still be in their first year of meaningful use, but they’re not necessarily the people who are at the beginning of the curve. Yet we continue to see very high performance across the board on all the objectives,” he said.

“We will be better informed when we have people returning later in 2012, and we can do a comparison of meaningful use in a second full-year period vs. a 90-day period,” Anthony noted.

Besides the required measures, the most popular menu objectives to attest to are advance directives, drug formulary and clinical lab test results for hospitals; and drug formulary, immunization registry and patient lists for physicians. The least popular measure is the transitions of care summaries for both.

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E-learning courses have seen a downward trend in recent times. In this article; we look at several misconceptions and realities associated with e-learning courses.

E-learning industry has been going through a tough stage. There are mixed reactions which have been received from students about the quality of e-learning courses. There are some misconceptions associated with e-learning which needs to be clarified. Let us look at these misconceptions and the realities associated with it:

Myth: Quantity is as significant as quality. Generally e-learning is priced according to the volume produced. Even customers are concerned with the volume of content rather than the quality of the content. But this is not correct.

Reality: If the e-learning course is designed taking into consideration quality of the content, then the same course can get reduced by a considerable margin. This will ultimately result in saving of time. The employees can then concentrate on their work and learn through practical case studies provided in the e-learning courses.

Myth: All the content is important.  Lots of times customers feel that all the content is important for the e-learning course. However, that is not the case.

Reality: There is no guarantee that everything displayed in the course will be understood and recalled by the student. Hence; it is important for the customers to understand that all the content is not required for the course and only the important parts that comprises of major learning needs to be integrated in the course. Content should be designed keeping in aspect different things like: usability approach, frequency, importance and type of use etc. Once these aspects have been decided then the content is prepared keeping in focus the training, reference material and things to exclude from the content.

Myth: E-learning is just a course. Most of the customers believe that e-learning is merely an electronic textbook that replaces classroom training. That is not true.

Reality: It is more involved in practical approaches which help people in improving their performance. It should comprise of various different subjects like:

Knowledge managementPerformance support systemsIntranetsPractice environmentsStandard electronic coursesMyth: Things will become easier once the technology improves.  There is a common belief that e-learning is falling behind because of the current state of technology. There is always a hope for a miracle cure round the corner but the major problem is the level of training at the level of delivery. Reality: Lot of time is devoted to understand the content management and training approach which will never go away. This does not mean that improvements in technology, standards, and theories will not help but it will not cure the current problems faced in designing e-learning courses easily.Myth: E-learning is easy.  Clients believe that they are paying for simplicity. But is it so simple to make the complicated subject simpler?

Reality:  Clients often expect simpler solutions to complicated ones. But e-learning has always been more about making complex things clearer and simple.

Myth: E-learning provides one-time quick fix solution.  It is often believed that e-learning provides quick fix solution to practical problems in real time. However; that is not true.

Reality: It really takes time and energy to develop content for the courses in accordance to the target audience.
E-learning courses give practical exposure to the students. With the help of these courses; corporate executives can learn to solve practical problems faced in the organization. An efficient e-learning course provider should take these points seriously and create a proficient course that meets the needs of the target audience.

About emPower

emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com.

Media Contact (emPower)
Jason Gaya

12806 Townepark Way
Louisville, KY 40243-2311
Ph: 502 -400-9374

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Five Thought-Provoking Ideas For Transforming K-12 Education to Another Level

The current education system has become stagnant and needs a tremendous boast to get the relevant interest of the students. Hence; in this article we have specified some innovative strategies to take K-12 education to another level. Click here to view the article.

Education has become a mere formality nowadays without any impetus on providing learning to students. We are seeing lots of e-learning courses being developed, but the sole purpose of education is lost. There is a need for an educational structure that can not only provide better learning opportunities to students, but also stimulate them to gain knowledge from the subjects. In order to fulfill this prophecy, there is a need for an educational mechanism that can transform the thinking of the students to another level.

Some of the ideas for radically transforming K-12 education include:

The transforming role of teachers: Teachers are more than just tutors in the lives of the students. They function more like mentors who are liable for making or breaking the career of the student. Hence; there is a need for an e-learning course which can not only provide interactive support to the children through one-on-one counseling, but also look after the academic progress of the student. Teachers should deliver the content in such a manner that students enjoy the learning process and get the intellectual knowledge thoroughly.The evolving role of tests: In the traditional learning methods, teachers used to take tests of the students. But with the inception of e-learning courses things have changed dramatically. Now, no longer does a teacher take test of the student to evaluate their progress. It is done through online practice. Hence; there is a need for a practice management tool to be integrated in the e-learning courses such that students can practice basic problems to understand the topic. Interactive exercises should also be amalgamated in the e-learning courses so that they can make the learning process interactive and fun-loving.Need for customized learning path for each student: It is very important to create customized learning patterns for students based on their intellectual capacity and understanding. The courses designed should follow the common core curriculum and state boards.Guidance from experts from relevant field: In order to be a success, it is very important for an e-learning course to integrate expertise knowledge from relevant domain so that whenever, students get stuck they can get spontaneous response from the expert of that particular field. It should also be noted that there should only be one tutor per student so that the student can enjoy undivided attention from the expert.Integration of images alongwith videos in the content: E-learning courses have to be designed in such a manner that students get interactive content including lots of images and videos; so that they can learn in a fun-filled environment. This kind of teaching pattern is especially important for primary level students as it makes the learning process interesting and interactive.

To learn more about PracTutor follow us at: http://www.facebook.com/PracTutor, http://www.practutor.com

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Louisville, KY 40243-2311
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The political healthcare week that was on Twitter

In a new Twitter record for politics, President Barack Obama’s Democratic National Convention speech spurred people around the world to Tweet at a rate of 52,757 per minute, tech blog Mashable reported.

In related news, Mashable noted, the $100,000-each Twitter trends Republicans and Democrats have been promoting — #RomneyRyan2012, #AreYouBetterOff, #16TrillionFail and #Forward2012 — haven’t really worked out for either of them. A lot of people using the hashtags have done so making arguments and commentary counter to their sponsored intent.

Editorial skepticism: It is somewhat hard to believe there are a lot of undecided voters on Twitter anyway.

In any event, on Twitter this week there was the usual partisan chest-thumping and also some interesting anecdotes from individuals about their company's rising premiums and people day-tripping from Oklahoma to Mexico for prescriptions:

James Wolcott ?@JamesWolcott
"We're building an America in which Walter White won't have to become a meth cook because he lacks proper health care coverage." #DNC2012

BikeWalkLee ?@BikeWalkLee
This bicycle bus at both conventions was the initiative of a health care company, with a goal of encouraging...

James JP Hawkins ?@jphawkins2009
Graph showing the dispicable lies told by obama & his minions regarding the future of healthcare under obamanocare:

Robert Faulhaber ?@rfaulhaber
CBO Fact Checks Clinton Claim Obama Controlled HealthcareCosts http://zite.to/RHltKx via @zite

Fred Pollack ?@FredPollack
If laughter is the best medicine, I'm surprised healthcare companies haven't yet figured out a way to charge us a copay.

Kernel Wars ?@Kernelwars
Fox News Debunks Years Of Its Own Commentary By Accurately Reporting That Health Care Reform Reduces Deficit

Luke Russert ?@LukeRussert
Also significant: Very lite mention of healthcare reform and nothing on stimulus. 2 HUGE Obama legislative accomplishments avoided

David Limbaugh ?@DavidLimbaugh
No, the people most certainly did not endorse your health care plan -- don't try to foist that off on the American people.

David Swerdlick ?@Swerdlick
If you want healthcare passed, call Obama. If you want healthcare explained, call Clinton.

One public dollar invested in contraception saves $4 in Medicaid expenditures.http://bit.ly/OZgzb6

Lis Smith ?@Lis_Smith
The last time @MittRomney was on "Meet the Press", he endorsed a federal individual health care mandatehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2M9gGwW2gCs #flipflop

Brad Thor ?@BradThor
#Obama pledged that healthcare reform wouldn't add a cent to the deficit, but #Obamacare will actlly have net cost of approx $1.2 trillion

Tabitha Hale ?@TabithaHale
"Freedom means keeping gov't out of our most private affairs" unless we're regulating your health care or forcing you to perform abortions.

Scott Rasmussen ?@RasmussenPoll
50% Favor Repeal of Health Care Law, 41% Opposed...http://tinyurl.com/33lscbm #healthcare

Chris Ward ?@christopherward
In other completely unrelated news, Murdoch has started up a new health care company. #reshuffle

Michael Graham ?@MGraham969
Remember as you listen to Rubio that next week you'll hear US politicians PRAISING the Cuban health care system. #NaturalTruth#DNC

Mark Cherrington ?@MarkCherrington
Have no doubt if it wasn't for Quebec, we'd have the death penalty and no universal health care system. Quebec the social conscience of CDN

Arthur Brooks ?@arthurbrooks
If we're serious about health care reform, that means getting serious about health care cronyism.

Matt Yglesias ?@mattyglesias
The best thing Bill Clinton did last night was try to bring Medicaid into the policy debate:

Drew Armstrong ?@ArmstrongDrew
Bill taking some liberties with that health care cost inflation statistic. (Bad) economy was a large part of that.

James Young ?@welcomebrand
Bike highways in Denmark. Will pay for themselves in healthcaresavings in less than a year. Take note UK govt!

John S ?@gottahavej
Obama isn't making sure YOU GET HEALTHCARE! He is selling HC insurance that DOESN'T PAY enough of the bill for doctors to accept. #rnc #dnc

Old Man Potter ?@HenryFPotter
Turned out empty chair did not raise my taxes. Well, of course not. It's a chair. But when I wasn't looking, it socialized health care.

Rebel Leader ?@UntiLimInCharge
#DNC: You guys r gonna decide health care for 300 million yet can't decide if God should be in your platform? ... #tcot #tlot #glbt #p2#gop

Buckley Brinkman ?@PBuckley
Healthcare is 18% of GNP. Up from 7.2% in 1970. Projected to be 40% in 2050. WOW! 40%!?! @WMEP_News

GS Elevator Gossip ?@GSElevator
Would Bill Clinton's cosmetic surgery be covered under Obamacare?

The Hill Healthwatch ?@hillhealthwatch
Fact-checkers find few flaws in Clinton's healthcare claims

cole thomas ?@coletrickle0
I love how they zoom in on the diseased looking people whenever they talk about healthcare. #DNC

Nicholas Halcomb ?@NHalcomb
#DNC you think Healthcare should be free? Ok, you go to school for 10-12 yrs and see what it's like to not get paid for your service.

Amy ?@inspiredzone
Half my monthly take home pay goes to student loans. If I gethealthcare through my job, I lose another 1/4 of what's left #DNC#Clinton

Bec ?@Brocklesnitch
My gf's grandparents who live in Oklahoma make a fun day trip over the border to Mexico to get their prescriptions #dnc #healthcare

Domenick Cilea ?@dcilea
I question Clinton's stats on healthcare costs; my company's premiums went up 57 and 25 percent in the last two years. #dnc

jasonscottjones ?@jasonscottjones                                                                          Speaking of #healthcare #BillClinton is running a #clinic @ #DNC

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HHS opens innovators program to public voting

For the first time, the public can vote on their favorite innovation from among the finalists of the HHSinnovates Program, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced this past Friday.

Launched in the spring of 2010 as part of HHS’s open government efforts, HHSinnovates is meant to recognize innovative projects from HHS employees aimed at helping solve thorny healthcare challenges.

“The HHSinnovates Program recognizes and rewards good ideas and facilitates the exchange of innovations throughout the Department and beyond,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Innovative ideas and practices aren’t restricted to the private sector: government workers are developing new ideas and facilitating connections to improve the way government works and improve the health of all Americans.”

[See also: HHS aims to cut medical errors.]

Twice a year, HHS employees are invited to submit their innovations, and the top picks are posted for secure, online voting by the entire HHS community. Six finalists are chosen and publicly announced. The Secretary then selects her top picks.

Now, for the first time, the public will pick the “People’s Choice” winner. In the program’s fifth round, the public is invited to choose from among six finalists. They come from 60 total submissions from across HHS, officials say, noting that each embodies an innovative spirit, and is scalable and replicable:

The 100K Pathogen Genome Project. This collaborative project, originating from the Food and Drug Administration, academia, and industry partners, aims to sequence the genetic codes (genome) of 100,000 strains of important food pathogens (tiny organisms that cause food-borne illnesses – bacteria, viruses and others) and make them available in a free and public database at the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) National Center for Biotechnology Information.  Open access to sequences allows researchers to develop tests that can identify bacteria present in a food within a matter of hours or days, significantly faster than the two weeks it now takes to grow and analyze bacterial cultures conventionallyNational Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Exchange. NIH’s NIAID developed an internal supply exchange for their institute called "NIAID Exchange" to help increase the speed and efficiency of government.  They developed a user-friendly Web resource where staff can advertise existing government-owned scientific and office equipment and supplies they no longer need and search for available items advertised by other staff members.  The NIAID program has saved over $30,000 since its release to the institute last January.Online Food Handler Training Project. The Albuquerque Area Indian Health Service (IHS) led the development of an online food handler certification program that trains an average of 3,500 food handlers a year in class room food handler trainings, while compensating for a 20 percent reduction in staff.  This novel training program, which was developed in collaboration with local partners, incorporates the principles of adult learning and story-telling in a way that is culturally sensitive and resonates with tribal customers.  The training is available to the public on the IHS website, and numerous people from across the country has registered and initiated the training.Development and Use of Coal Dust Explosibility Meter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health in association with industry and commercial partners developed a coal dust meter that gives users real-time feedback on environmental conditions – a significant improvement over the lengthy measurement procedure currently employed.  This tool, which gives immediate results, represents an improved means for underground coal miners and coal mine operators to assess the relative hazard of dust accumulations in their mines.  To date, more than 200 of these devices have been sold and are being deployed in mines across the United States.National Health Service Corps Jobs Center. Many underserved communities remain underserved because it is very difficult to recruit physicians to high-need areas; in some instances it can take up to two years and $60,000.  To help improve this process, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s National Health Service Corps established the NHSC Jobs Center, an online employment site connecting thousands of job-seeking medical professionals, doctors, nurses, dentists, and mental health providers in primary care disciplines to thousands of employers in underserved communities throughout the United States and U.S. territories.National Institute of Health Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools. The National Institute of Health developed a Research Health Portfolio Online Reporting Tool (RePORT) that serves as a one-stop shop to provide the public with an interactive suite of tools to search NIH-funded research and the work of its investigators.  By providing the scientific community with better tools to explore the portfolio of NIH-funded research, RePORT furthers progress to foster fundamental creative discoveries, innovative research strategies, and their applications.

[See also: HHS aims to spur software apps development.]

Public voting is open until Sept. 14, 2012. Winners will be announced on Sept. 24. To learn more, visit the HHSinnovates website.

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Lots of e-learning courses have come up recently. These courses give valuable options to the students and professionals to get higher education and build a bright future. In this article; we look at the reasons exhibiting the importance of e-learning.

Technological advancement has made the entire globe a tiny place where we live in. We are already seeing the impact of globalization in education. Students are no longer restrained to classroom education. They can now learn at their own pace and time. E-learningcourses are not restricted to education but they are also beneficial for corporate trainings and businesses. These courses have been created with specific e-learning solutions like Learning Management System (LMS). A good LMS includes various collaborative e-learning tools that provide speedy, effective interactions and creates a synchronized learning mechanism for the trainers and learners.

Let us now look at the various reasons which exhibit the importance of e-learning:

Increasing demand for higher education: Education has become a key criterion for career expansion. We have already seen increasing demand of professionals for higher education; and distance learning has become a boon for these executives. With the help of selected e-learning courses, students and executives can now pursue professional courses online with greater ease. Professors and trainers can also conduct virtual classrooms and online trainings in a better way.For better information dissemination: E-learning is extremely important medium for better information dissemination. It also makes learning more complete and well structured.Easy to learn and take tests at your own convenience: With the advantage of global classroom environment, students can now learn at their own pace and convenience. They can even choose courses as per their interests and take standardized tests to evaluate their grip on the subjects.

E-learning courses provide tremendous opportunities to professionals as they can now aim for higher positions by opting for online courses. These courses also provide a basic outline of the topics which gives students an opportunity to revise the topics thoroughly, and prepare for the exams. A proficient   e-learning course provider will always try to create courses according to the needs of the target audience. It is also very important to consider end goals that you would like to achieve to get maximum results from the courses.

About emPower

emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com/.

Media Contact (emPower)
Jason Gaya

12806 Townepark Way
Louisville, KY 40243-2311
Ph: 502 -400-9374


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Monday, September 24, 2012

What the platforms tell us about parties' stance on health IT

It’s a joke without a punch line: Both Republican and Democratic national party platforms make sparse mention of health IT.

To be certain, there’s plenty of focus on the broader healthcare issues. The GOP platform, in fact, dedicates its first two sections to ‘Saving Medicare for future generations’ and ‘Strengthening Medicaid in the states’, while the Democrats also address the issue early on with a section about healthcare as part of ‘The middle class bargain’ and another on ‘Social Security and Medicaid.’

[Survey analysis: Romneycare vs. Obamacare, do Americans care?]

As for any particulars of health IT, well, that’s another matter. Quite literally, each party offers up a single sentence on its intentions for health IT.

From page 33 of the 2012 Republican Platform PDF:
We support technology enhancements for health records and data systems while affirming patient privacy and ownership of health information.

Now, should that strike you as oddly vague, just wait.

“If anyone was disappointed in the scant attention given to health IT in the Republican Party Platform, then the Democratic Party Platform should give them pause,” said Brian Ahier, health IT evangelist at Mid-Columbia Medical Center, author of the Healthcare, Technology, and Government 2.0 blog, and city councilor in The Dalles, Ore. “Health IT is barely mentioned at all, and only in the context of broader technology initiatives.”

Indeed, in the 2012 Democratic National Party Platform health IT is on page 41 of the PDF:
We will ensure that America has a 21st century digital infrastructure – robust wired and wireless broadband capability, a smarter electrical grid, and upgraded information technology infrastructure in key sectors such as health care and education.

Reactions to the perhaps pithy stances of both parties stance have been mixed.

“I regret that the platforms are largely silent on HIT,” former four-term Vermont Governor Jim Douglas wrote in an email exchange with Government Health IT. Douglas is now a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Governor’s Council and executive-in-residence at Middlebury College. “Perhaps it’s not a sexy topic, but it’s essential to our efforts to improve the quality of care and contain costs.”

So, why such vague references to health IT? Shouldn’t the national party platforms include a greater vision of and intent for the technologies forging the underpinnings of next-gen healthcare in America? Or is what the parties outlined enough for the majority of American voters?

“At this point in time I think maybe it is enough,” said Iowa State Representative Linda Upmeyer (R), a career nurse practitioner who has proposed health IT legislation since being elected 10 years ago. “I hope what it means is that this is really in an early state, but there’s a commitment to move health IT forward, that they’re listening and trying to continually improve so that the government doesn’t get this wrong.”

While some will argue that the November elections might test the bipartisan nature of health IT, at least for now Ahier, Douglas and Upmeyer view the party platforms as evidence that bipartisanship remains intact.

“It would seem that both parties agree that when health IT is used effectively it can help address the challenges confronting our healthcare system,” Ahier said. Douglas added that “the current administration continues to move the ball down the field through grants to the states, incentives to providers and implementation of the meaningful use standards,” he said. “I’m confident that the bipartisan support will continue because both parties understand the value of HIT.”

Which leads back to the beginning, where both parties support health IT, but are short on detail about exactly how – which may be because neither party can say for sure precisely what committing to health IT will really mean for the future.

[See also: Political strategists on how candidates should shape healthcare messages in election.]

“It’s always important to have something that keeps policymakers pushing health IT to the forefront, but we policymakers, be it inside the beltway or inside the golden dome in Iowa, don’t have the solutions or all the answers. So we can commit to investing in health IT and rely on the people really doing it to help determine what the next steps are,” Upmeyer, the Iowa rep said. “I don’t really want congressmen or senators or legislators deciding for them.”

Neither does Steven Waldren, MD, director of the Center for Health IT at the American Academy of Family Physicians.

“I’d much rather health IT not be a political football and remain behind the scenes a little because there’s no political urgency such that either side is going to try to politicize it and move forward. Instead, they recognize it’s an important issue,” Waldren said. “The two platforms have different philosophies but at least it’s not being debated at the level of lies, made up truths, or spinning things out of context.”

Although, there might be a solid punch line or two to emerge from that manner of rhetoric.

For more of our politics coverage, visit Political Malpractice: Healthcare in the 2012 Election.

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3 Components for Developing a Great eLearning Game

As technology has advanced, lots of innovative ideas are being tried in the education domain to make the experience of children pleasurable. Keeping this in mind, this article focuses on crucial components for developing a great e-learning game.

Combining education with entertainment is not a cup of tea for ordinary developer. It requires lot of creativity and patience. The smooth layouts and graphics add to the visuals of the game. But the major purpose of the e-learning game should be to impart knowledge to the students. But it is quite subjective to define a good e-learning game. It is still an unknown entity which has not been answered properly. This article talks about different components which help in developing a great e-learning game. Let us look at these components in detail:

Perfect combination of learning and entertainment: Always ensure that there is a perfect blend of learning and entertainment while developing an e-learning game. Care should be taken that the learning objectives behind developing the game is fulfilled. For example; for English you can have various word jigjaw puzzles and memory games to strengthen the memory of the student. Always try to integrate all the crucial aspects that are important from the learning perspective to be present in the game.Give impetus to the students to play the game: Children are the most difficult target audience to attract because they genuinely like or dislike the game. Hence, it is very important to provide proper impetus to the students to play the games. For example; if there are puzzles in the game each level needs to present different challenge so that children do not get bored with the games and play to learn something from it. Engagement and attraction are two things which make children focus on the game.Target the essential elements of learning in the game: Always focus on the learning aspect in the game. Try to eradicate those portions wherein the learning aspect gets diverted. For example; if you are playing a game on grammar which deals with identifying verbs and nouns from a group of sentences. If you are constantly clicking on the ground to walk around, examining surroundings to identify boxes and then picking them up, the verbs that get collected are not of relevance as they are not part of the learning mechanism.

Context is of prime importance in an e-learning game. An experienced e-learning provider would follow the points mentioned above and create extravagant e-learning games for children.

About emPower
emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com.

Media Contact (emPower)
Jason Gaya

12806 Townepark Way
Louisville, KY 40243-2311
Ph: 502 -400-9374


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Learning in the electronic way

Digital learning is advanced ways of making the students learn in an interactive way. Many schools are bringing in the latest methods of learning to make the students learn after their school hours. Technology has drastically changed in the recent years and also has developed mew methods in the education field. It is helping people learn in a new and interesting way which has probably changed the teaching methods in many schools.

The new interactive learning concepts have made people learn even with a small device. Digital learning is possible beyond the schools through the electronic learning concept. Many educators around the world are unaware about the latest technology. They help them to make kids learn very easily along with the practical knowledge. The organization’s community is very much keen to develop the digital learning method in the schools after their school hours to let the kids gain extra knowledge.

It helps one to create live models about various subjects to give a live demonstration about the subjects. Also the e-learning methods allow kids to educate themselves anywhere with just a mobile learning device. The youth staffs would know the technology very well and also can handle the e-learning technology well. Many of the organizations are unable to help their individuals to learn through the digital learning concept due to the lack of the infrastructure and staff facilities. But the e-learning concept is now being spread and is being incorporated in every institute to benefits the students. The digital and e-learning concepts support all the electronic form of teaching and learning techniques. The basic need is an electronic device connected to a network and anyone can start using the digital learning the service. The web based learning technology allows one to get details about any subject and also upload their piece of knowledge to let other people learn.

Apart from the advantages it also has many drawbacks. The technology is changing and hence the already running systems need to update their old technology. In many cases the devices go obsolete and cannot be configured with the new technology. Also when a new technology is introduced its cost may be very high which cannot be used by all the institutes. There are also security and privacy issues along with the outdated equipments. These are the reasons why the e-learning and the new learning concepts are not yet widely accepted by many of the organizations.

About emPower

emPower  is a leading provider of comprehensive Healthcare Compliance Solutions through Learning Management System (LMS). Its mission is to provide innovative security solutions to enable compliance with applicable laws and regulations and maximize business performance. empower provides range of courses to manage compliance required by regulatory bodies such as OSHA, HIPAA, Joint commission and Red Flag Rule etc. Apart from this emPower also offers custom demos and tutorials for your website, business process management and software implementation.

Its Learning Management system (LMS) allows students to retrieve all the courses 24/7/365 by accessing the portal. emPower e-learning training program is an interactive mode of learning that guides students to progress at their own pace.

For additional information, please visit http://www.empowerbpo.com/.

Media Contact (emPower)
Jason Gaya

12806 Townepark Way
Louisville, KY 40243-2311
Ph: 502 -400-9374

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ONC drops pursuit of NwHIN governance

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has dropped pursuit of a regulation for establishing “rules of the road” for the nationwide health information network (NwHIN) based on feedback it has received.

Commenters from industry and the public made it clear that federal regulation could slow development of health information exchange just as those activities are starting to emerge and pick up steam, “perhaps more than is widely appreciated,” according to Dr. Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health IT.

ONC issued a request for information (RFI) in May to collect public comment on a possible approach for rulemaking to spell out “conditions of trusted exchange,” including safeguards and technical and business practices. ONC wanted to receive broad input before issuing a proposed rule, he said.

ONC also considered establishing a voluntary accreditation and certification process through which to approve organizations as being legitimate participants in NwHIN, somewhat similar to the procedures for certifying electronic health records for meaningful use functions.

“Based on what we heard and our analysis of alternatives, we’ve decided not to continue with the formal rulemaking process at this time, and instead implement an approach that provides a means for defining and implementing nationwide trusted exchange with higher agility, and lower likelihood of regret,” he wrote in a Sept. 7 blog.

NwHIN is a set of comprehensive standards, services and policies that enable healthcare organizations to share information securely through the Internet.

ONC’s goal is that information follows the patient where and when it is needed, across organizational, vendor, and geographic boundaries.

But the current state of information exchange and care coordination is far from this ideal. In addition to technical challenges with interoperability, “the absence of common ‘rules of the road’ may be hindering the development of a trusted marketplace for information exchange services,” Mostashari said.

However, voluntary governance bodies are now forming both for directed and query-based exchange. ONC wants to encourage the exchange activities that are gaining steam, “and not to hobble them,” he said, especially with the expectations for standards-based exchange in stage 2 of meaningful use.

“And let me assure you that if systemic problems or market break-downs emerge that might require regulatory action, we will again seek input from the public and our stakeholders, including the Health IT Policy and Standards committees,” Mostashari warned.

Participation in the NwHIN Exchange previously was limited to federal health agencies and primarily large healthcare organizations that contract with them or are federal grantees. Agreement on how to assure conditions for trusted exchange will enable many more organizations to participate.

Among the actions that ONC will press for to promote trusted exchange are:

• Identify and shine a light on good practices that support secure and interoperable exchange and provide a guide for evolving governance models

• Learn from and engage with groups in governance and oversight roles for exchange partners in order to foster models within and across communities

• Continue to use existing authorities and convening powers to create consensus and provide guidance and tools around specific barriers to interoperability and exchange

• Evaluate how and what consumer protections can be appropriately applied to health information exchange through existing regulations

• Monitor and learn from the wide range of activities that are occurring.

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