Saturday, December 13, 2014

Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 13th December, 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.

Senate Bill Exempts Low-Risk Medical Software, Apps from Regulation

DEC 5, 2014 7:28am ET
Senators Michael Bennett (D-Colo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Thursday introduced a bill to limit Food and Drug Administration regulation of health information technology products.
The bill is similar to legislation introduced in the House in October 2013, called the SOFTWARE Act and sponsored by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Blackburn on December 3 said she is tweaking her bill to reflect changes suggested by stakeholders and the FDA, and expects to reintroduce it in January.

Incentives a top reason for EHR uptake

Posted on Dec 05, 2014
By Bernie Monegain, Editor-at-Large
The need to share patient information with other providers and the use of financial incentives are key drivers in why many providers adopt and use health information technology tools such as electronic health records, according a data brief released today from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.
The brief details why physicians decided to adopt – or not adopt – EHRs, and it helps to explain how financial incentives drive EHR adoption. The data, from the 2013 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, also highlights the high level of importance providers put on health information exchange.
The data demonstrates the importance of incentive programs such as the HITECH Act's Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs and payments for services that include use of certified EHR technology, such as the separately billable Chronic Care Management services finalized under the 2015 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, according to the brief.

Orrin Hatch: MEDTECH Act vital to protecting healthcare innovation

December 5, 2014 | By Dan Bowman
The Medical Electronic Data Technology Enhancement for Consumers' Health (MEDTECH) Act, which aims to exempt low-risk medical software and mobile medical apps from regulation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, officially was introduced to Congress Dec. 4.
The bill, introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah, pictured), is "the beginning of a conversation" on the issue of health IT regulation, Hatch told FierceHealthIT in an email. Although the bill was introduced with less than a month remaining until the 113th Congress adjourns on Jan. 3, Hatch said it will be reintroduced in the 114th Congress, as well.

Report: Healthcare Data is Growing Exponentially, Needs Protection

December 4, 2014
Healthcare is one of the fastest growing segments of the digital universe, growing at 48 percent per year—compared to 40 percent per year for the overall digital universe— according to a new report from the Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corporation.
New healthcare applications and regulatory/compliance will drive data growth, as will higher patient expectations. Data is growing quickly, but the value of data to quality, cost, and outcomes has never been higher, the report found.  
In fact, if all the data in the healthcare digital universe were loaded onto the memory in a stack of tablets, it would be nearly 5,500 miles high, and loaded tablets would fill up 75 percent of a large hospital, the research estimated. And predicting its exponential growth, by 2020, the loaded tablets would fill the same hospital 11.3 times.

DeSalvo: Health IT Needs to Catch Up with Other Sectors

DEC 4, 2014 7:37am ET
The healthcare industry needs to catch up with other industries in fully leveraging information technology to drive innovation and advancements in care delivery, according to Karen DeSalvo, M.D., acting assistant secretary for health and national coordinator for health IT.
“It’s the information and technology age and it’s time for health and healthcare to come along,” said DeSalvo, speaking at a Dec. 3 Bipartisan Policy Center forum in Washington, D.C. “Even if you have significant chronic disease, most of your health experience happens outside of the doctor’s office or outside of the hospital. Being able to build a health IT platform that can enable and capture that for the consumer based on their own consent, their own expectations about who’s going to host that for them and in what ways will it be shared, is increasingly important and frankly is happening in other sectors and we need to get ahead of that in the health IT space.” 

Med students need more access to EHRs

December 1, 2014 | By Marla Durben Hirsch
Medical schools should allow students to use electronic health records more so that they can become more competent with them, according to a new editorial published in the Annals of Family Medicine.
The editorial, written by the Association of Departments of Family Medicine's Education Transformation Committee, expresses concern that many medical schools restrict or bar student access to EHRs due to fears about attribution of note ownership, use of copy-and-paste functions, billing and patient safety.
However, medical students who lack adequate practice with EHRs may have a harder time achieving 11 of 13 Core Entrustable Professional Activities for Entering Residency described by the Association of American Medical Colleges.

3 keys to applying data to improve healthcare

December 4, 2014 | By Susan D. Hall
It's "still early days" for effectively harnessing big data in healthcare, though there are signs of progress, according to a Harvard Business Review article.
The authors, Nilay D. Shahan and Jyotishman Pathak, both from the Mayo Clinic, point to advancement in three key areas:
  1. Integrating data. Information about patients' health comes from myriad sources and in multiple forms. Truly integrating all that data will require public and private leadership and collaboration, they say. At the same time, they point to efforts such as the National Institutes of Health's Big Data to Knowledge Initiative (BD2K); the National Patient-Centered Research Network (PCORnet), a planned "network of networks" for comparative effectiveness research; and the Optum Labs research collaborative as concerted efforts to pool data to improve care.

HHS: Hospital-Acquired Conditions Declined by 17 Percent in Last Three Years

December 3, 2014
A recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report found that with the aid of health IT,  a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013 led to approximately 50,000 fewer patients died in hospitals and $12 billion saved in healthcare costs.
HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) analyzed the incidence of a number of avoidable hospital-acquired conditions compared to 2010 rates and used as a baseline estimate of deaths and excess healthcare costs that were developed when the Partnership for Patients— which targets a specific set of hospital-acquired conditions for reductions— was launched. The results update the data showing improvement for 2012 that were released in May.
Preliminary estimates show that in total, hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.  This translates to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions over the three-year period. What’s more, in 2013 alone, almost 35,000 fewer patients died in hospitals, and approximately 800,000 fewer incidents of harm occurred, saving approximately $8 billion.

HHS: Medical errors decline

Posted on Dec 04, 2014
By Bernie Monegain, Editor-at-Large
An estimated 50,000 lives were saved, 1.3 million fewer patients escaped harm and healthcare avoided $12 billion in spending. This according to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services earlier this week.
Much of the improvement was the result of a reduction in hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013.
The efforts were due in part to provisions of the Affordable Care Act such as Medicare payment incentives to improve the quality of care and the HHS Partnership for Patients initiative, according to HHS. Preliminary estimates show that in total, hospital patients experienced 1.3 million fewer hospital-acquired conditions from 2010 to 2013, which translates to a 17 percent decline in hospital-acquired conditions over the three-year period.

ONC Names Acting Deputy National Coordinator

December 3, 2014
Jon White, M.D. Credit: ONC
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) named Jon White, M.D. the acting deputy national coordinator for the agency.
White is currently serving as the acting chief medical officer as well. The plans were outlined in an email from Karen DeSalvo, M.D., the national coordinator of Health IT, to staffers. In both cases, ONC plans on finding a permanent person in the position.

Health Care Industry To See Phishing, Malware Attacks Intensify in 2015

by John Moore, iHealthBeat Contributing Reporter Thursday, December 4, 2014
The health care sector is in for more targeted attacks next year, as cyber assailants increasingly prize the data providers maintain.
That's the analysis of industry executives who contend the information security threats facing health care institutions will only intensify in 2015. They say attackers believe hospitals and health systems hold a wealth of data, from credit card information to demographic details to insurance beneficiary data. The notion that health care trails other industries in IT security may encourage attempts to seize those data.
But while attacks are on the rise, health care budgets aren't quite as buoyant.

JASON report: 'Learning health system' must go beyond EHR interoperability

December 2, 2014 | By Marla Durben Hirsch
The healthcare system needs to focus on health of individuals, not the care they receive, to create a culture of health, according to a new report from JASON, an independent group of scientists that advises the U.S. government on science and technology.
The report, "Data for Individual Health," builds on JASON's 2013 report on robust data infrastructure.
The new report, prepared in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, with support from the RWJF, states that the ultimate goal is to achieve an "agile, national-scale 'Learning Health System' for identifying and sharing effective practices of care." EHRs and personal health records would be augmented with other information. Strategies to meet this goal include improving data exchange among a patient's healthcare team, leveraging the work of focused nonprofits, such as AARP, developing reliable indices of health and community and allowing a "nimble" regulatory environment.

Karen DeSalvo: Candid feedback on HIT regulations, policies crucial

December 3, 2014 | By Katie Dvorak
Health IT holds promise for delivery of care and improvement of care, but there must be interoperability of systems, flexible oversight of technology and governance policies for it to reach its full potential, according to panelists at a Bipartisan Policy Center event held Wednesday in the District of Columbia.
From new care delivery models and electronic health records to big data collection and the explosion of genomics, health IT is helping patients in the U.S. be more engaged in, and better understand, their care, former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., said.
But, he said, that explosion of new technology also requires the industry and government to create new ways to ensure safety in development and implementation of new tools.

DeSalvo Discusses Future of Health IT, Growing Pains

NOV 20, 2014 9:06am ET
National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Karen DeSalvo, M.D., admits there have been “growing pains” with health IT yet argues that the big picture remains that HIT can advance not only healthcare in this country but serve to improve health as a whole by tracking patients over time.
DeSalvo acknowledged that “rapid growth has created some growing pains” during a Nov. 19 keynote address at the annual American Medical Informatics Association symposium in Washington. Coming from a hospital background, she told the AMIA audience she has experienced those growing pains first-hand and knows “how hard” it can be for small healthcare organizations in particular.
According to DeSalvo, the main challenges facing health IT are:
*Usability of the systems—interfaces that are not present as in other industries.
*Reporting and click boxing that get in the way of a patient’s narrative. “Those digitized care experiences,” she said, “[do] not always tell the context.”

CDOs: Right For Healthcare C-Suite?

12/2/2014 03:57 PM
With the rise of data and the increasing importance of how it's handled, chief data officers have become a popular addition across industries. Healthcare organizations need CDOs just as much, say experts.
As more healthcare systems, pharmaceutical companies, and accountable care organizations (ACOs) rely on data for everything from improving care to enhancing revenue collection and conducting research, they're also tasked with protecting information's privacy and integrity. That responsibility can, of course, fall under the jurisdiction of the chief security officer, among other executives. But a growing number of organizations have carved out room at the boardroom table for a chief data officer.

ECRI Institute's Top 10 Healthcare Tech Hazards for 2015

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 3, 2014

The independent patient safety organization's 2015 report spells out high-risk devices and systems that, combined with human error, can cause patient harm.

For the fourth year in a row, ECRI Institute's top 10 health technology hazards report has put hospital alarm mishaps in the top slot, indicating they remain a serious threat to patient safety.
The agency's 2015 report spells out high-risk devices and systems that, combined with human error, can cause errors and harm in the process of patient care. Among them are "ease-of-use issues, design flaws, quality issues, and failure of devices to perform as they should."

8 lessons learned from retail breaches

By Rick Kam, President and co-founder, ID Experts
From hamburgers (Dairy Queen) to heels (Neiman Marcus) to hammers (Home Depot), retailers of nearly every stripe have been bitten by the data breach bug.
Although most healthcare organizations don’t have a drive-through or Black Friday sales, they are responsible for managing sensitive data and can gain valuable insights from these retail breaches to better protect their patients and employees:
1. Where there is data there is risk. Cybercrime is evolving as fast as cybersecurity, and breaches will happen despite best efforts, so the only true security comes in the ability to effectively manage risk.

RAND: HIEs are still 'experiments' in need of further study

December 1, 2014 | By Marla Durben Hirsch
The jury is still out as to whether health information exchanges (HIEs) are delivering as promised, since it appears that very few of them have been evaluated, according to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study, conducted by the RAND Corporation and supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, reviewed selected databases from January 2003 to May 2014. The researchers found that while there are more than 100 HIEs currently operating in the U.S., only 13 have been examined; of those, six were in New York state.
Moreover, the study concentrated on HIEs and hospital emergency departments, where there was some evidence that HIEs reduce utilization and costs. However, the effects on other outcomes are unknown, and more research is needed to identify and understand success factors related to HIEs.

Most HIEs still not financially sound

Posted on Dec 03, 2014
By Erin McCann, Managing Editor
Health information exchanges most likely curb emergency room usage and costs, in some cases. But there's been a lot of talk lately about whether they are financially sustainable. A new systematic review suggests that, for the most part, they're not. 
The review, conducted by folks at the Rand Corporation, took a closer look at HIE clinical care, cost and usage data from 2003 through 2014. After poring through the details and findings of 85 studies related to HIE, researchers highlighted several discoveries.
Among them? Despite the $600 million of federal funding allocated to support HIEs, most of them are facing hard times, viability-wise. Rand officials noted that out of 17 sustainability studies examined, only 25 percent of them considered themselves financially sustainable. 

Analytics, Population Health Deliver a One-Two Punch

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , December 2, 2014

Analytics represents knowledge; population health represents action. Too many healthcare organizations make the mistake of simply expecting their health information exchange to provide sufficient analytics to drive a population health initiative, says a senior executive at Optum.

Payers, armed with analytics technology and data, are showing signs of breaking through some of the barriers to true population health progress.
While researching my November cover story on big data, I interviewed A.G. Breitenstein, chief product officer of Optum Analytics and a co-founder of Humedica, an Optum company. Optum is a division of UnitedHealth Group, which is also the parent company for mammoth payer UnitedHealthcare.

FDA Scrutinizes Networked Medical Device Security

12/1/2014 08:36 AM
Philip Desjardins
Federal agencies are trying to address threats to the privacy and security of people using connected medical devices.
Networked medical devices are an important part of the current and future healthcare landscape, allowing for diagnostic analysis and therapeutic treatment options that are integral to our healthcare system.
When a technology becomes fundamental to healthcare, the measures protecting it and its users merit thoughtful analysis and oversight. Recognizing this, federal agencies are now publicly acknowledging and seeking to address the potential threat to the privacy of personal medical information and to patients relying on networked medical devices for diagnosis and treatment.

Analysis of Early Flu Trends Sees Spike

DEC 1, 2014 7:51am ET
If statistics on this year's flu season hold, the U.S. may be in for a rather difficult winter. Athenaresearch, the data analysis arm of cloud-based EHR vendor athenahealth, has been tracking early season reports of flu-like illnesses, analyzing approximately 1 million patient visits per week to the 20,000 providers using the platform.
Overall, the percentage of visits related to influenza-like illnesses (ILI) stood at about 1 percent for the week ending Nov. 22, but in certain regions of the country—and among pediatric patients—the percentages were higher and the trends spiked at rates well above the 2013-14 figures for flu. The percent of visits to pediatricians with a diagnosis of ILI increased from 2.8 percent to 3.5 percent in one week's span, according to Iyue Sung, director of athenaresearch.

Three Steps to Keep Projects Aligned, On Budget

DEC 1, 2014 7:58am ET
From the coming of ICD-10 to health information exchange compatibility to meaningful use mandates, it’s no surprise that healthcare IT organizations and the project management offices who support them can find it a struggle to keep up with the pace of change.
Unfortunately, the stakes of doing so continue to grow. Failure to comply with regulatory deadlines or to adequately prepare for the additional level of specificity that ICD-10 will require can result in withholding of federal subsidies and drops in revenue.

Fitness tracker sales will triple by 2018, then smartwatches take over (report)

November 25, 2014 12:48 PM
Mark Sullivan
Almost 60 million fitness trackers will be in use by 2018, tripling the number of the devices used this year, says a new research report from Juniper Research.
The firm says fitness trackers like the Fitbit Charge and the Jawbone UP24 will triple to about 57 million in use in the wild worldwide by 2018, up from just 19 million this year.
Juniper analysts expect fitness to remain the dominant segment in wearable devices until that time, pushed ahead by new fitness use cases, new biometrics measurements, and lower prices.

University Hospitals: Employee gained unauthorized access to 692 patient files in breach

on November 28, 2014 at 2:19 PM, updated November 29, 2014 at 8:12 AM
CLEVELAND, Ohio – An employee of University Hospitals improperly accessed medical and personal information of 692 patients over a three-year period, the hospital system said Friday.
The employee, who has been dismissed, breached the hospital system's electronic medical records, allowing the person to gain names, home addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, medical and health-insurance account numbers and other patient information, UH said. The electronic medical records also provide information on patients' office visits.
The employee also viewed information on some patients' Social Security numbers and personal financial account information, including credit card and debit card numbers.

Attention to detail key when dealing with big data

December 1, 2014 | By Katie Dvorak
Big data has the potential to improve healthcare in many ways, but too much information could become unmanageable for the industry, according to John Mattison, chief medical information officer at Kaiser Permanente.
Mattison, who spoke at the Big Data & Healthcare Analytics Forum last month in Boston, said many traditional data scientists are extremely worried about the dangers of big data, according to an article at
It is difficult for healthcare professionals to make sense of data without getting buried by it, and if the data is uncertain or incomplete, that increases the challenges of managing it, Mattison said.

AHA to FDA: Hold med device makers responsible for cybersecurity

December 1, 2014 | By Dan Bowman
Medical device cybersecurity should be the responsibility of device makers, according to the American Hospital Association.
In a recent letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, AHA Senior Vice President of Public Policy Analysis and Development Linda Fishman called on the agency to "hold device manufacturers accountable" for ensuring the safety of medical devices from cyberthreats. The letter was in response to a request for comments published by the FDA in late September on collaborative approaches for medical device and healthcare cybersecurity.
In early October, the FDA published a final guidance document outlining measures it believes medical device manufacturers must take to ensure the safety and security of their tools in the face of growing cyberthreats. In that document, the agency called on device makers to account for cybersecurity risks during design and creation, and to submit documentation on any risks identified and manufacturers' plans for patching and updating medical software and operating systems.

CVS Health Bets Big on HIT

Christopher Cheney, for HealthLeaders Media , December 1, 2014

CVS Health has upped the ante in its bid to become a major player in the healthcare provider field by investing heavily in two digital innovation facilities.

With about 7,600 pharmacies nationwide equipped with nearly 1,000 walk-in MinuteClinics, Woonsocket, RI-based CVS Health is now building up the company's health IT muscle.
Brian Tilzer, chief digital officer at CVS, says a Digital Experience Center recently opened in Woonsocket and a Digital Innovation Lab set to open this winter in Boston are developing a range of health IT capabilities.


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