Saturday, August 30, 2014
Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 30th August, 2014.
Note: Each link is followed by a title and few paragraphs. For the full article click on the link above title of the article. Note also that full access to some links may require site registration or subscription payment.
When could a video game possibly save your life? A new imaging technology, now being used at Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas, has direct links to video games. It can provide detailed views of patients’ bodies -- helping surgeons plan and execute complicated operations with much more confidence.
Those who think that developing video games software has no other purpose than entertainment should think again.
So says Dr. Brian Butler, a radiation oncologist at Houston Methodist hospital and the principal author of a new imaging technology called Plato’s CAVE. “Computer engineers and video gamers -- really propelled this type of technology into a possibility,” he said.
Posted on Aug 22, 2014
By Mike Miliard, Managing Editor
The healthcare industry will be among the first to reap the benefits of emerging four-dimensional printing technology, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan.
4D printing develops chameleonic materials whose properties shift according to external stimuli, such as temperature changes.
As MIT research scientist Skylar Tibbits described it in a TED talk, the technology "will allow us to print objects that then reshape themselves or self-assemble over time. Think: a printed cube that folds before your eyes, or a printed pipe able to sense the need to expand or contract."
August 22, 2014 | By Dan Bowman
The participation of health system leadership and timely and accurate communication are among the biggest factors contributing to the success of hospital participation in a health information exchange, according to research published this month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research – Medical Informatics.
Through a combination of interviews, data analysis and direct observation, the researchers--from the University of South Carolina and Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California--pinpoint six factors for success in examining the implementation of Falls Church, Virginia-based Inova Health System into the ConnectVirginia EXCHANGE, the state's HIE.
Posted on Aug 22, 2014
By Erin McCann, Associate Editor
Health IT companies once again made it to the list of fastest growing companies this year, with three big name EHR vendors chief among them.
Inc., which on Thursday released its hallmark annual list of private America's 5,000 fastest growing companies, found 377 -- or 8 percent -- to be healthcare related; despite the low percent, however, the sector accounted for the lion's share of revenue ahead of all industries at $21.8 billion. What's more, within the sectors, it's a tech dominated list, with health IT companies faring quite well.
Among the fastest growing were three recognized EHR platform companies: CareCloud; drchrono and eClinicalWorks, which ranked 127th, 249th and 4064th respectively. Both CareCloud and drchrono are new to this year's list.
Author Name Jennifer Bresnick | Date August 21, 2014 |
More and more patients may be accessing their personal health information online through patient portals thanks to Stage 2 of meaningful use, but only slightly more than half of patients, on average, were able to decipher electronic lab test results on their own, says a study from the University of Michigan. Patients who scored on the lower end of numerical and health literacy tests were twice as likely to express confusion when shown a hypothetical blood glucose test result, said study author Brian Zikmund-Fisher, associate professor of health behavior and health education at the U-M School of Public Health.
Summary: With Apple's new Health app set to launch this year, the company has been in discussions with insurance companies about where it could fit into their business.
Apple has been in talks with US health insurance firms, it has emerged - notably those that have already taken steps to integrate data from wearables into insurance policies.
Apple has been preparing the ground for the launch of its Health application, which will debut alongside iOS 8 later this year. Besides recent talks with US healthcare providers and developers of health-related apps, Apple has also been courting large US health insurance firms.
News of Apple's discussions with health insurers came via an interesting report from Bloomberg today on the emergence of company-funded wearables in the workplace. The report notes that Apple has talked with America’s biggest insurer, UnitedHealth, as well as fellow health insurer Humana.
Posted on Aug 21, 2014
By Erin McCann, Associate Editor
With nearly 26 million Americans living with diabetes -- and racking up $245 billion in costs each year -- many stakeholders have been looking for innovative ways to help those individuals better keep tabs on their condition. With its new mobile health project, Microsoft is the latest company to offer a diabetes management platform.
Microsoft on Thursday announced it was inking a deal with wireless provider TracFone to extend mHealth technology to underserved and high-risk populations, specifically aimed at patients living with diabetes.
The two companies have teamed up with Miami-based Health Choice Network to launch a pilot program aimed at examining how access to mobile technology affects patient disease-management and outcomes.
August 21, 2014 | By Katie Dvorak
Hackers likely used the computer bug Heartbleed to gain access to the data of about 4.5 million patients at Community Health Systems--and the FBI is warning other hospitals they could be at risk too, Reuters reports.
The hack at CHS is the first known large-scale cyberattack using the bug, which compromises the Web encryption program OpenSSL, opening hundreds of thousands of websites to data theft.
During this morning's monthly cyber threat briefing, broadcast online, HITRUST CEO Dan Nutkis spoke about the need for greater dissemination of information when breaches like this happen.
Recent numbers show 90% of health care organizations have exposed their patients' data -- or had it stolen -- in 2012 and 2013, according to privacy researchers at the Ponemon Institute.
The medical industry faces more breaches than the military and banking sectors combined.
As of last week, the medical industry has been slammed with 204 incidents this year, nearly half of the major breaches so far. It has lost 2.1 million records. And that doesn't even count the 4.5 million names and Social Security numbers taken from Community Health Systems' computer network in a major hack that was revealed on Monday.
AUG 20, 2014 10:16am ET
HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, Partnership for Prevention, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have launched a web-based tool that predicts the health and economic impact of evidence-based public health interventions and policies at the county level.
The tool, called Community Health Advisor, enables public health officials, employers, community leaders, policymakers and others to more accurately determine which public health policies and programs will have the greatest impact on health, mortality and medical costs on a county, state or national level.
“This tool is the first to provide estimates of future health outcomes and medical costs from public health interventions for every county in the country,” said George Isham, M.D., senior adviser, HealthPartners, and member of the National Commission on Prevention Priorities. “It helps lawmakers, community leaders, employers and others make informed decisions about where to make public health investments.”
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Although electronic health records are widely seen as a way to improve care coordination and boost patient outcomes, they are underutilized in the treatment of some of the individuals who stand to benefit the most: jail inmates.
The nation's more than 3,300 county, city and local jails process about 11 million admissions annually. Jail populations are highly mobile, with an average weekly turnover of 60%, and are largely uninsured with high rates of chronic diseases, mental illness and substance misuse.
Since the 1976 Supreme Court decision in Estelle v. Gamble, jails have been legally required to meet the medical needs of inmates in accordance with community standards of care. Jails that fail to meet those needs could be held in violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
However, jails historically have not been recognized as providers of health care and tend to be left out of major policy discussions, such as the 2009 passage of the HITECH Act, which created the meaningful use electronic health record incentive payment programs.
This month's launch of an ambitious statewide health information exchange in California poses an $80 million challenge to the project's organizers: sustaining an HIE over the long haul.
Blue Shield of California and Anthem Blue Cross are picking up the $80 million tab for Cal INDEX during its first three years of operation. After the seed money has been depleted, subscription fees are expected to keep Cal INDEX finances in the black.
Robert Pearl, M.D. Contributor
In a recent interview, business guru and best-selling author Clayton Christensen described American health care as “sick and getting sicker.”
He criticized the system’s administrative overhead, perverse payment models and lack of leadership for failing to incite meaningful reform.
Christensen thrives on examining complex topics. So, when I asked him what topic he’d like me to cover, he picked one that’s as complex as they come: Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).
“A lot of the thinking behind the Affordable Care Act, how it can improve quality while lowering cost, relies heavily on ACOs,” Christensen said. “Most health care players would say that ACOs have helped. I’d argue they’re not yet fixing the problems.”
Author Name Jennifer Bresnick | Date August 18, 2014 |
Hospitals that adopt all five of the core medication management measures inherent in meaningful use experience fewer adverse drug events (ADEs), says a new study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, reducing the number of patient safety errors by more than one third. The use of computerized provider order entry (CPOE) technology, decision support systems that check for drug and allergy interactions, and health information exchange that encourages the sharing of medication lists and allergy information with other providers were key features associated with the significant improvement in the rate of ADEs, explain John White, MD and Judy Murphy, RN, Director of the Office of Clinical Quality and Safety and Chief Nursing Officer at the ONC.
“When the Health Information Technology for Economic and Digital Health (HITECH) Act was passed in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, hopes were high that widespread use of electronic health records (EHRs) would reduce the rate of adverse drug events in hospitals,” Murphy and White write in a blog post for HealthIT Buzz. “Advocates believed incentives that encouraged hospitals and physicians to adopt EHRs would not only encourage faster adoption, but help to improve patient health.”
When building software, requirements are everything. And although good requirements do not necessarily lead to good software, poor requirements never do. So how does this apply to electronic health records? Electronic health records are defined primarily as repositories or archives of patient data. However, in the era of meaningful use, patient-centered medical homes, and accountable care organizations, patient data repositories are not sufficient to meet the complex care support needs of clinical professionals. The requirements that gave birth to modern EHR systems are for building electronic patient data stores, not complex clinical care support systems–we are using the wrong requirements.
Two years ago, as I was progressing in my exploration of workflow management, it became clear that current EHR system designs are data-centric and not care or process-centric. I bemoaned this fact in the post From Data to Data + Processes: A Different Way of Thinking about EHR Software Design. Here is an excerpt.
Do perceptions of what constitutes an electronic health record affect software design? Until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to this question. However, as I have spent more time considering implementation issues and their relationship to software architecture and design, I have come to see this as an important, even fundamental, question.
Posted on Aug 20, 2014
By Eric Wicklund, Editor, mHealthNews
Boston's Joslin Diabetes Center is using an mHealth platform to help diabetics and their caregivers control a potentially fatal side-effect of the disease.
Joslin and Glooko have launched the HypoMap, a mobile tool that enables diabetics and their caregivers to identify low blood-sugar readings, or hypoglycemia. If left untreated, the condition can plunge the diabetic into a coma and even lead to death. It’s especially dangerous for a percentage of the world's diabetics who can't recognize the symptoms associated with hypoglycemia – a condition known as hypoglycemia unawareness – and therefore don't recognize the danger signs.
August 19, 2014 | By Marla Durben Hirsch
More hospitals and physicians are choosing to provide their patients with access to their electronic records, but the practice is also raising new controversies, according to a recent article on National Public Radio.
In the article, Leana Wen, director of patient-centered care research in the department of emergency medicine at George Washington University, points out that sharing notes with patients has been a positive experience, enabling her to correct errors caught by patients' review of the records and providing information that helps her diagnose conditions more quickly. The access also increases trust.
The American Osteopathic Association has become the latest physician group to advocate for EHR training to be a part of medical students' education.
During its annual House of Delegates meeting in July, the AOA approved a resolution to work with the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine and the American Osteopathic Association of Medical Informatics to increase opportunities for medical students to practice working with EHRs.
The American Hospital Association has issued a new guide reviewing the role of hospital and health system boards in cybersecurity risk management and response.
The majority of physicians who electronically exchange data report health information exchanges are overall beneficial to their practice. However, physicians also often experience barriers to data sharing capability implementation.
Here are six statistics on the quality and efficiency of HIEs and interoperability, reported in the ONC's National Health Information Exchange and Interoperability Landscape report.
1. One-quarter of providers reported HIEs increase the practice's liability due to other providers lacking adequate privacy and/or security safeguards.
August 18, 2014 | Ephraim Schwartz - Contributing Writer
When asked to rate the security of typical electronic health records, SANS Institute senior analyst John Pescatore answered: 9.
At first blush that might even seem positive, but in the world of IT and information security where the phrase “five 9’s” — in this case meaning 99.999 percent secure — indicates the highest level of protection, a simple 9 leaves plenty to be desired.
And with stolen health information commanding ever-higher prices on the black market, criminals growing more and more sophisticated, and the complex nature of EHRs themselves, it’s time to better understand the problem.
Posted on Aug 19, 2014
By Erin McCann, Associate Editor
When it comes to data breaches, hacking and loss or theft of unencrypted devices are far from healthcare security professionals' only concerns. Employee snooping and insider misuse also prove to be among the biggest privacy threats in the healthcare sector today.
Just last week, a former Tufts Health Plan employee was convicted of disclosing patient information in a fraudulent tax refund scheme after stealing the personal data of more than 8,700 members. The former employee, Emeline Lubin, started working at Tufts Health Plan in Watertown, Mass., back in 2010. For that time, Lubin sent lists of member data to a Florida man in efforts to file false income tax returns. Lubin could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
In the latest of EHI’s series on information sharing initiatives, Rebecca Todd reports on the Oxfordshire Care Summary.
12 August 2014
The Oxfordshire Care Summary is an unusual information sharing initiative because it was created by a hospital IT team and is hosted in an acute environment.
Similar initiatives in other parts of the country have been created by shared IT services with a focus on primary care, because their aim has been to share GP information with other parts of the system, or to create entirely new records to work across health and social care.
The OCS, by contrast, is hosted on Oxford University Hospitals’ ‘case notes’, a clinical intranet that GPs have been able to use for 20 years to access pathology results and some other data.
GP Neil Paul says some clear thinking is needed about where IT can be used to meet patient demand and save the NHS money, and where it will make things worse; but a couple of real cases show the difference pretty clearly.
19 August 2014
I keep thinking about the concept of ‘failure demand’. Invented by John Seddon, it’s a concept that says that service industries often fail their customers by making them follow pointless processes, instead of just dealing with what they want or need.
Often this occurs during some attempt to outsource or restructure for efficiency reasons. The problems it leads to include: a tendency to produce much more activity than was expected, thereby failing to save on costs; and making customers unhappy, thereby losing good will and reputation.
19 August 2014 Lyn Whitfield
Giving patients access to their GP records can reduce demand for traditional appointments and telephone calls to practices, a research study has suggested.
The government has set a target of giving all patients who want it access to their GP record – or the elements included in the Summary Care Record - by 2015.
But in a forward to the study by Caroline Fitton, published in the London Journal of Primary Care, Brian Fisher, a GP in Lewisham, says “many practitioners worry that their workload will increase as a result”.
He says GPs worry that patients “will not understand what they read”, leading to more demand for appointments.
August 19, 2014 | By Katie Dvorak
Data security is one of the healthcare industry's biggest obstacles, and the key to addressing that is understanding and identifying areas of risk, says Blair Smith, Ph.D., dean of Informatics-Management-Technology at American Sentinel University.
Smith, in an interview with HealthITSecurity.com, says some of the places where risk is highest in health IT include the practice of "bring your own devices" and cloud security. Mobile devices pose serious concerns for security personnel, he says, as more hackers and outside threats bring exposure and risks to organizations.
Just this week one of the biggest cyberattacks on a healthcare organization was announced. Community Health Systems is facing a breach in which the data of 4.5 million patients was compromised.
You're carrying the key to healthcare's salvation in your pocket.
That was the message from Eric Topol, MD, keynote speaker at last week's HealthLeaders CFO Exchange. In a one-hour tour-de-force session, he made his case for the many virtues of smartphones as constant healthcare companions, patient empowerment, and disruption to the way healthcare has been practiced as far back as ancient Egypt when doctors were also priests.
August 18, 2014 | By Susan D. Hall
Healthcare organizations must improve their information governance (IG) practices, which are an "undeniable imperative," according to an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) white paper.
In the survey of 1,000 healthcare professionals, conducted in in partnership with records-management consultants Cohasset Associates, 35 percent of respondents did not know whether their organization had any information governance efforts underway or did not recognize a need for them.
August 18, 2014 | By Katie Dvorak
Personal information for about 4.5 million patients of Franklin, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems--which operates 206 hopsitals in 29 states--was compromised in April and June when hackers gained access to its computer network.
The data included patient names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers, according to a Wall Street Journal article. The data did not include medical or credit card information.
CHS, in an Aug. 18 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said they believe the attack was the work of a group originating in China. The hackers were able to bypass the health system's security measures to copy and transfer data outside of the company.
By Christina Farr and Malathi Nayak
(Reuters) - A group of ex-gaming industry executives say they can use their design chops to solve a major health challenge: Sick patients neglecting to take their medication and costing employers and insurance providers billions of dollars.
Jason Oberfest began thinking about applying game design tricks to complex medical problems in 2011, while at mobile game company ngmoco.
Oberfest built the app to engage users in their health, but he maintained some of the most viral aspects of mobile games, such as gifts, and a feature to see how friends are faring in their treatment. The app also includes a drug database and sends refill alerts to patients.
Author Name Kyle Murphy, PhD | Date August 15, 2014 |
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is looking to the progress made by community health centers whose adoption of EHR technology is nearing 90 percent as any indicator of significant improvements to delivering high-quality care to patients.
In a post on Health IT Buzz, Kerry Souza, ScD, MPH, and Michael Wittie, MPH, highlight data released by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). According to the recently publishing 2013 data, more than 1,200 national program grantees are providing care to 21.7 million patients.
A total of 87.8 percent of these federally funded health centers are using EHR systems and an even 54 percent are operating patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs). Although the percentage of PCMHs remains unchanged since 2012, the corresponding number for EHR adoption has increased by nearly ten percentage points in one year, up from 79.3 percent in 2012.
Monday, August 18, 2014
All-payer claims databases -- which already are in place in several states and are about to be implemented in many more -- are intended to make provider and hospital costs more transparent. APCDs include claims data for medical, mental health, pharmacy and dental procedures across providers. Access to these data enables analysis that can help make important comparisons, such as price for services or performance of physicians or hospitals across a state. Thus, APCDs can provide powerful and illuminating information, from tracking state health care spending to guiding patient/consumer choices.
The digitization of health-care records has long been heralded as the cure for familiar headaches that afflict patients and their families.
No more hassles in getting medical records from your elderly father’s hospital stay transferred to the nursing home where he’ll recuperate. No more waiting to find out the result of that Pap smear; just go online and avoid playing phone tag with your doctor’s office.
But a new study in the journal Health Affairs found that some of the digital health capabilities that consumers are most likely to notice or find useful are among the biggest digital challenges for hospitals.
Posted by Dr David More MB PhD FACHI at Saturday, August 30, 2014