Friday, December 19, 2014

Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 20th 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.

Argonaut Project is a Sprint Toward EHR Interoperability

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , December 9, 2014

The Argonaut Project that launched last week offers a real chance at much-needed workable EHR standards. But by itself, Argonaut won't lead to interoperability nirvana.

In Greek mythology, the Argonauts, accompanied by heroic Jason, had to snatch a golden fleece from a dragon who never slept. In 2015, the Argonaut Project aims to snatch a true interoperability demonstration between EHR competitors and help healthcare providers who've spent many a sleepless night trying to figure out how they can survive in this new age of sharing EHR data.
Announced at last week's HL7 Policy Conference in Washington, the Argonaut Project has the backing of heavyweight EHR competitors Epic, Cerner, McKesson, Meditech, and athenahealth, as well as heavy-hitting providers Partners HealthCare in Boston, Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

Low Stage 2 Attestation Numbers Continue to Alarm

DEC 10, 2014 7:36am ET
Data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that as of Dec. 1, 2014, 1,681 hospitals and 16,455 eligible professionals have attested to Stage 2 meaningful use.
That means less than 35 percent of hospitals currently meet Stage 2 requirements and while eligible professionals have until the end of February to report their progress, only 4 percent of EPs have met Stage 2 requirements to date. The low attestation numbers, presented during a Dec. 9 Health IT Policy Committee meeting, got the attention of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives which renewed its call for CMS to immediately shorten the reporting period for 2015.

FDA Presses Forward with Unique Device Identifier System

DEC 11, 2014 7:52am ET
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is moving ahead with the Unique Device Identifier (UDI) system to identify medical devices. Yet, the question remains: If FDA builds the system, will the healthcare industry adopt it?
The agency is working with manufacturers to launch the UDI system, which will be phased in over several years. When fully implemented, the label of most medical devices will include a unique device identifier in human- and machine-readable form. As part of the implementation, device labelers will also submit certain information about each device to FDA’s Global Unique Device Identification Database, which the public will be able to search and download information.
Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, says that UDIs are “intended to streamline the monitoring of devices, improve safety tracking and recall efficiency, and even make it easier to evaluate device performance over time.” However, writing in a recent blog, Shuren acknowledges that these benefits “will only become a reality when the UDI system is adopted and integrated into the healthcare systemwhen hospitals, doctors’ offices, patient registries, heathcare insurance companies, and others incorporate UDI as part of their standard electronic health information systems.”

Healthcare Security In 2015: 9 Hotspots

12/10/2014 08:36 AM
With data breaches growing, 2015 promises to be the healthcare industry's most challenging security year yet. These nine areas demand attention in 2015.
Healthcare organizations must tighten security or risk getting breached, penalized, and potentially ostracized by a public fed up with seeming carelessness with their personal information. Unfortunately, the task of securing protected health information (PHI) is only becoming more challenging for even the best-prepared organizations. Fitness bands, hospital portals, electronic health records, health information exchanges, insurance networks -- the list of Internet-connected devices, tools, and sites containing personal and medical data keeps growing.
The healthcare sector has been under attack for some time. In 2014, despite headlines dominated by JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, and other retail or financial entities, the healthcare industry accounted for 43% of all major breaches, according to the Ponemon Institute.

Patients want more from their EHRs

Posted on Dec 11, 2014
By Mike Miliard, Editor
Having established a level of trust and familiarity with electronic health records over the past few years, increasing numbers of U.S. patients are looking for more advanced features from their EHRs, according to a new survey from the National Partnership for Women & Families.
The study, "Engaging Patients and Families: How Consumers Value and Use Health IT," follows up on a similar 2011 report that assessed consumer views toward EHRs. A lot has changed since then, with more and more patients comfortable with the idea of digitized records, and easier online access to health information spurring more patient engagement in their care.
In the past year, more than four in five patients with online access to their health records (86 percent) used their online records at least once, according to NPWF; more than half (55 percent) used them three or more times a year.

Patients increasingly trust, value EHRs, survey finds

Written by Akanksha Jayanthi (Twitter | Google+)  | December 11, 2014
In the era of patient engagement, patients are utilizing health IT tools to become more active in their care.
Last year, 86 percent of patients used their EHR at least once, and 55 percent used them at least three times a year, according to a study by National Partnership for Women & Families.
The survey was a follow-up to the organization's 2011 survey that aimed to assess consumer views toward EHRs and health IT. The most recent survey repeated questions from the 2011 survey to identify and assess trends in consumer attitudes following federal and state IT incentive programs, such as meaningful use.

Health informatics job market in trouble

Posted on Dec 12, 2014
By Bernie Monegain, Editor-at-Large
"The demand for health informatics workers is projected to grow at twice the rate of employment overall, but there is strong evidence that the nation already faces a shortage of qualified workers in this field," according to a new report from research firm Burning Glass.
Moreover, the study shows, job postings for health informatics personnel stay open long than others.
Employers are struggling to fill many of these jobs, according to the Burning Glass. On average, health informatics positions stay open for 35 days – two days longer than the national average posting duration of 33 days.

ONC Budget Remains Flat in FY15, $4B for VA

DEC 12, 2014 7:32am ET
The fiscal 2015 federal appropriations budget being finalized by Congress contains funds for numerous health information technology initiatives under the Department Veterans Affairs, Office of the National Coordinator for HIT and for rural health, among other entities.
The Christmas time bill is not particularly kind to ONC, granting a budget of $60, 367,000, the same as in FY 2014. ONC had asked for $75 million in FY 2015, but the agency, like others, generally requests more than it knows it will get.
In FY 2015, the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Grant program is slated to get $14,942,000 for quality improvement projects, adoption of telehealth services and coordinating care between rural providers and VA’s VistA EHR, among other projects.

True Interoperability: Public APIs provide the open platform health IT requires

Posted on Dec 09, 2014
By Edmund Billings, MD, Medsphere Systems Corporation
Do we finally have the spark?
Interoperability is the current health IT buzzword because it’s the essential ingredient in creating a system that benefits patients, doctors and hospitals. Almost everyone in healthcare is pressing for it and is frustrated, though probably not surprised, that meaningful use did not get us there.
The ONC says within three years we’ll have a roadmap for providing interoperability “across vendor platforms,” which should probably elicit a collective groan.
Look, a map is a fine tool but of limited use if I don’t speak the language. Change in this industry requires market drivers instituted now, if not sooner. We must move from MU to a health care payment model driving True Interoperability, not the garden-variety stuff.

Interoperability Top Priority of Federal HIT Strategic Plan

DEC 10, 2014 7:45am ET
The 2015-2020 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan just released by the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT is about “collecting, sharing, and using electronic health information,” according to Seth Pazinski, director of ONC’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Analysis.
Pazinski told a Dec. 9 meeting of the Health IT Policy Committee that the draft five-year plan outlines the federal government’s many HIT priorities established by 35 participating agencies “but there was a coming together around interoperability as a top focus and priority.”
Adopting the IEEE definition of interoperability—the ability of two or more systems or components to exchange information and to use the information that has been exchanged—the plan argues that “interoperable health information and health IT solutions will lead to more efficient and effective health systems, better clinical decision support, scientific advancement, and a continuously learning health system.”

ONC strategic plan raises questions about the future of Meaningful Use

December 10, 2014 | By Marla Durben Hirsch
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's updated health IT strategic plan, released Dec. 8, is a high-level, ambitious framework for the federal government. It addresses some of the questions the industry has had about the direction of health IT and ONC. It's also an interesting read.
The plans updated goals include:
  • Expand the adoption of health IT
  • Advance secure and interoperable health
  • Strengthen healthcare delivery
  • Advance the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities
  • Advance research, scientific knowledge and innovation
Clearly, the strategic plan is a starting point, and the details still need to be hashed out. But it raises a lot of questions in my mind.

Phishing, ransomware attacks on health industry to rise

December 10, 2014 | By Susan D. Hall
While security experts predict increased cyberattacks on healthcare organizations in 2015, they foresee phishing and ransomware posing particular challenges.
Phishing emails try to lure recipients into giving out information such as usernames, passwords or credit card numbers. They also can give attackers ways to infiltrate the enterprise network, according to an article in iHealthBeat by John Moore of Chilmark.
"Phishing emails often provide the entry point," Scott Koller, a lawyer at BakerHostetler, says in the article.

Medical Scribes May Ease EHR, ICD-10 Aches

Ryan Chiavetta, for HealthLeaders Media , December 10, 2014

Medical scribes offer hospitals and health systems a low-cost method to bolster productivity and boost physician efficiency and morale, particularly after an EHR implementation.

With the advent of electronic health records in patient care, healthcare organizations have been looking for a way to help physicians combat the deluge of mandates, while still maintaining a high level of efficiency.

One fast-growing position designed to remedy this situation is the medical scribe. A medical scribe's primary duty is to document a physician's encounter with a patient in the electronic health record system. Scribes enter information about a patient's history, the physical exam, the physician's assessment, notes on decision making and discharge and after care instructions.

Sutter Health Launches Online Tool for Teen Patients

DEC 9, 2014 7:58am ET
Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health has launched My Health Online for Teens, an electronic health service which provides teens secure, online access to their health records and their doctors.
My Health Online for Teens also provides a way for parents to stay connected with the doctor of their teens, as their children learn how to manage their own healthcare. The platform lets kids ages 12 to 17 email their doctors, review test results, renew prescriptions, track immunizations, and schedule appointments from a cellphone or laptop.
California law requires that some aspects of a teen’s medical care, particularly reproductive and substance abuse services, be kept confidential once the child turns 12. Rather than block parental access to the record entirely, in the Sutter platform teens get full access to their personal health records. They can send confidential questions or concerns directly to their doctors and view their health data online.

For healthcare, Google Glass still has it

Posted on Dec 09, 2014
By Frank Irving, Editor, Medical Practice Insider
There's plenty of potential for Google Glass in healthcare, despite reports that have called into question the technology's value.
"Glass in the enterprise is certainly stronger than it's ever been. Google is investing very heavily," said Kyle Samani, CEO of Pristine, a company that develops software for the device, during a Monday afternoon session at the mHealth Summit outside Washington, D.C.
Samani was part of a panel that included Paul Porter, MD, director of special projects and telemedicine for Brown University Emergency Medicine, and Sean Lunde, mHealth lead for Wipro's healthcare and life sciences consulting group. They noted several use cases where Google Glass is being tested

EHI Awards 2014: Rising star

Claire Read speaks to Dave Newton, the winner of the first ‘rising star’ category of the EHI Awards, about his work on the myhealthlocker project for South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust.
8 December 2014
“I didn’t originally start out with a big plan of going into healthcare informatics,” admits Dave Newton, the winner of the ‘rising star’ category of the EHI Awards 2014.
In fact, his initial career plan was to become a clinical psychologist. When health IT came calling, he was working as a researcher at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, exploring the concept of recovery in older adults suffering from mental ill health.
“I was speaking at a conference about recovery,” he remembers. “And one of the professors from the Institute of Psychiatry was talking around something called avatar therapy, which they were just starting to pilot.

ICD-10 Delay Could Be Data Disaster

by The Coalition for ICD-10 Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Earlier this year, Congress enacted a one-year delay of the implementation of ICD-10-CM/PCS code sets, extending the date from October 2014 to October 2015. This delay was characterized by some as a bump in the road on the way to better health care data.
Now, with some physician groups advocating for an additional delay of up to two more years, it's time for the industry to recognize that such obstruction is more than a bump in the road. If the health care industry continues to delay ICD-10 implementation, we are careening toward a health care data disaster. Given that the current system in use, ICD-9-CM/PCS, is inadequate for present-day uses and that past delays have incurred significant costs, further delays will have catastrophic consequences for the industry, with no measurable benefit. The health care industry simply cannot afford any more delays in ICD-10 implementation.

Data Breaches to Continue to Plague Healthcare in 2015

DEC 8, 2014 7:23am ET
The healthcare industry will continue to be a vulnerable and attractive target for cybercriminals in 2015, thanks to the expanding number of access points to protected health information and other sensitive data via electronic health records and the growing popularity of wearable technology.
That’s the conclusion of Experian’s second annual Data Breach Industry Forecast, which predicts that healthcare will continue to be plagued with data breaches in 2015. Healthcare organizations accounted for about 42 percent of all major data breaches reported in 2014. “We expect this number will continue to grow until the industry comes up with a stronger solution to improve its cybersecurity strategies,” said Michael Bruemmer, vice president at Experian Data Breach Resolution, in a written statement.
“Healthcare organizations face the challenge of securing a significant amount of sensitive information stored on their network, which combined with the value of a medical identity string makes them an attractive target for cybercriminals,” states the report. “The problem is further exasperated by the fact that many doctors’ offices, clinics and hospitals may not have enough resources to safeguard their patients’ PHI.”

ONC's Five-Fold Federal Health IT Plan Looks Beyond EHRs

December 8, 2014
Karen DeSalvo, M.D.
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released a five-fold federal health IT strategic plan, which focuses on widespread health data sharing and looks beyond adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems. 
The ONC's five-fold plan does include the expansion of health IT adoption, particularly in the long-term care sector, but it also features the advancement of an interoperable infrastructure, the strengthening of the healthcare delivery system, the advancement of well-being of individuals and communities, and the advancement of scientific research. The first two, expansion of health IT adoption and advancement of interoperable infrastructure, are the top priorities, says ONC. All of them require some kind of interoperability push. 
On a call announcing the plan, Karen DeSalvo, M.D., the National Coordinator for Health IT, confirmed that there was a "big push for interoperability" with this latest plan. 

ONC updates Health IT Strategic Plan

Posted on Dec 08, 2014
By Mike Miliard, Editor
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT on Monday announced the release of its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, 2015-2020, updating the goals of an initiative most recently released in 2011.
As it maps out ways to better gather, share and put to use interoperable health data, the plan will serve as a broad federal strategy, say ONC officials, helping set the context for the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, which is scheduled to be released January 2015.
That roadmap will help to define the implementation of how the federal government can work with the private sector to spur more widespread sharing of health data to improve individual healthcare, drive better community and public health and advance research.

New goals in national HIT roadmap

By Mike Miliard, Contributing Editor
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has outlined its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, 2015-2020, updating the goals of an initiative most recently released in 2011.
As it maps out ways to better gather, share and put to use interoperable health data, the plan will serve as a broad federal strategy, say ONC officials, helping set the context for the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap, which is scheduled to be released January 2015.
That roadmap will help to define the implementation of how the federal government can work with the private sector to spur more widespread sharing of health data to improve individual healthcare, drive better community and public health and advance research.

ONC updated HIT plan focuses on interoperability

December 8, 2014 | By Katie Dvorak
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's updated Federal Health IT Strategic Plan, released today and spanning from 2015 to 2020, will focus on the collection, use and sharing of interoperable health information.
The plan "serves as the broad federal strategy setting the context and framing the Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap that will be released in early 2015," according to an announcement from ONC.
In addition to interoperability, the plan focuses on patient-generated data.

At the mHealth Summit: Sensors, watches and glasses, oh my!

December 8, 2014 | By Susan D. Hall
The mHealth Summit kicked off Sunday at Maryland's National Harbor with provider engagement and integration of mobile health technologies into healthcare among the major themes.
"I believe we will see mHealth devices become even more ubiquitous, driven by non-health-related consumer companies--whom we can learn a great deal from in terms of making health and wellness a part of our day-to-day lives," Rich Scarfo, director of the event and vice president of its backer, the Personal Connected Health Alliance, says at mHealth News.
A range of stakeholders will chime in, including consumer electronics giants, pharmacy chains and life sciences companies.

California hospital’s patient safety protocols now require a wearable

By: Jonah Comstock | Dec 3, 2014
A California hospital has begun requiring certain patients use a wearable remote patient monitoring device in order to comply with internal patient safety protocols. Chino Valley Medical Center is employing the Leaf Patient Monitoring System from Pleasanton-based Leaf Healthcare.
The sensor monitors patient movement in bed, then uses that data to calculate when the patient needs to be turned to prevent the formation of pressure ulcers. That data is uploaded wirelessly to central monitoring stations or mobile devices so clinicians can monitor the readings. The system also alerts nurses or staff when a patient needs to be turned.
A recent clinical trial showed that use of the sensor increased compliance with hospital turn procedures from a baseline 64 percent to 98 percent. Ulcers are a dangerous and painful condition which cost the US healthcare system $11 billion a year according to AHRQ, and because they’re hospital-acquired, treatment is often not reimbursable by insurers.

Alberta moves on integrated health records system

Published on: December 5, 2014Last Updated: December 5, 2014 9:52 PM MST
Alberta’s Health Minister has struck a task force to investigate the creation of an integrated provincial health information system after the College of Physicians and Surgeons told a legislature committee this week the current system is “woefully inadequate.”
Stephen Mandel has chosen Alberta Health Services administrator Carl Amrhein to lead the task force to look into the business case for a provincial clinical information system and report back early in the new year, Mandel’s spokesman Steve Buick said Friday.
“This is a group to take a first look at it for the minister and get back to him quickly,” he said. “The thinking is we need a single provincial system.”

New federal health IT plan emphasizes adoption, interoperability

By Joseph Conn  | December 8, 2014
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has adopted a new strategic plan that seeks to keep up the momentum of health IT adoption while taking steps to improve the penetration of information technology beyond hospitals and physician practices.
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's electronic health-record incentive payment program, which has paid out nearly $25.8 billion since 2011, 94% of eligible hospitals and 79% of eligible physicians have received payment for either purchasing or meaningfully using a tested and certified EHR.
But the program left gaps by not extending payments to behavioral health, long-term care and other providers, said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, head of the ONC. The ONC and other federal agencies are looking at ways to help these excluded providers cover the cost of buying EHRs.

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