Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Secrecy And Obfuscation By The Department Of Health Regarding The PCEHR Just Rolls On.

We had Senate Estimates last week - Wednesday Evening there were a few questions asked by Senator Di Natale on e-Health.
The session began just before 8pm.
Here is the transcript. I have made the important bits bold and italic.
Go to the link below to see the details of the cast that was assembled. As best I can see NEHTA was a no show!
----- Begin Extract
Senator DI NATALE: Regarding eHealth, where are we up to following the May 2014 review? What progress are we making on the implementation of those recommendations?
Mr Bowles : It is a decision before government again. It is in that process.
Mr Bowles : Yes.
Mr Bowles : Yes.
Senator DI NATALE: You still have not decided?
Mr Bowles : That is correct.
Senator DI NATALE: What was Mr Dutton doing, for all the time he was health minister? It seems like he was sitting on a bunch of reports.
CHAIR: Senator Di Natale, I think you know that a public servant is not going to be answering the question, so perhaps you should move on to questions that can be answered.
Senator DI NATALE: I know, but you have got to wonder. Of the $140 million that was available in 2014-15, have all those funds been spent? And what have they been spent on?
Ms Powell : To go to the second part of your question about how it is allocated: of the $140 million, $103.9 million is set aside for, primarily, the health department, but some goes to The Department of Human Services and some goes to DVA to operate the PCEHR. I will give you those splits: $82 million of that goes to Health; $21.8 million goes to the Department of Human Services; $0.1 million goes to DVA; $2.3 million goes to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner; $34.4 million goes to NEHTA as part of our COAG contributions to pay for the eHealth foundation work that is done by NEHTA—and that adds up to 140. Sorry, you also asked about expenditure. We would expect that that would be close to spent.
Senator DI NATALE: Fully expended.
Ms Powell : Yes.
Senator DI NATALE: In terms of progress, the last I heard—it might have been mid-last year or so—there were 260-odd hospitals that were connected. How many have been connected since then? What are we at?
Ms Powell : We have hospitals in every state that are connected at the moment. We recently had all five hospitals in the Northern Territory come online.
Senator DI NATALE: The total number of public hospitals?
Ms Powell : The total number of public hospitals—and some are major health centres—is 274.
Senator DI NATALE: So, in seven or eight months we have had nine more hospitals connected?
Ms Powell : I am not sure what the figures were last time, but the way hospitals have been coming on board has been as part of natural rollouts of software and IT related activities.
Senator DI NATALE: How many healthcare providers are currently registered to use it? I think in June there were 6,500 or so, out of a total of 57,000 who were eligible.
Ms Powell : As of 19 February, there are 7,645 providers—that is, healthcare provider organisations.
Senator DI NATALE: Healthcare provider—
Ms Powell : Organisations. That is, general practices; it might also be a hospital, and it might also be a lot of hospitals.
Senator DI NATALE: So we are still a long way short of the total number of 57,000 healthcare provider organisations. Is there any reason—
Ms Powell : I am sorry, I do not understand.
Senator DI NATALE: I am advised that there are 57,000 healthcare provider organisations that are eligible to register.
Mr Bowles : Providers, maybe.
Mr Madden : Not organisations.
Ms Powell : That does not sound right to me.
Senator DI NATALE: The advice I have is 6,500 out of a total of 57,000.
Mr Madden : Regarding the numbers and the way that we break them up: an organisation, as Linda Powell said, could be a hospital. It could be an area health network. It could be a series of hospitals. It could be a GP Super Clinic, or it could be just a sole practice. It means all of the providers within those organisations can have access to the system.
Senator DI NATALE: Okay. But it is counted as one healthcare organisation?
Mr Madden : That is right.
Senator DI NATALE: Can you tell me how many in total would be eligible? Can you take that on notice?
Mr Madden : Sure.
Senator DI NATALE: If you have—you are saying it is 7,400 or so?
Mr Madden : It is 7,400 organisations.
Senator DI NATALE: Organisations, okay. And that is out of a total of how many that might be eligible?
Mr Madden : We will take that on notice.
Senator DI NATALE: Great, thank you. What about the number of clinicians? The sense I get is that momentum is completely stalled on this: GPs have gone cold on it and there has not been much progress. I am asking because I think it is important; it is a really important reform. Is that consistent with what you are seeing? Has the number of clinicians who are accessing the PCEHR plateaued?
Ms Powell : We currently have 10,721 individual practitioners—who are not necessarily GPs; they are a variety of practitioners—registered to use the system. In terms of your question about use of the system, we are finding that the number of documents that are loaded into the system continues on a slow but steadily upward trend.
Senator DI NATALE: Is there any money allocated to this beyond the end of this financial year?
Ms Powell : There is some money that has been set aside to continue the operation of the PCEHR.
Senator DI NATALE: How much has been set aside, beyond this financial year?
Mr Madden : The funding beyond 30 June is still subject to that decision by government, that Mr Bowles mentioned earlier.
Senator DI NATALE: How much has actually been committed so far?
Ms Powell : In the next financial year, approximately $28 million.
Senator DI NATALE: In the next financial year?
Ms Powell : That is for the costs of continuing to operate the system—just the technical work.
Senator DI NATALE: Just to basically operate it?
Ms Powell : Yes.
Senator DI NATALE: How much have we invested in it so far?
Ms Powell : It depends on what you count and when you want to count it from.
Mr Madden : I think total spend so far is a complicated issue. There was the investment in the Personally Controlled eHealth Record System to establish it, and there is the operation for the 2012 through to the 2014 period, now the 2014-15 period.
Senator DI NATALE: Those figure would be good.
Mr Madden : Can we pull those figures on notice?
Senator DI NATALE: Yes. Tell me what you have in front of you at the moment, just as it is..
Ms Powell : I can tell you that the budget in 2012-13 was $233 million. From 2012-13 to 2015-16, total eHealth program funding was $538 million—that is the four-year total.
Senator DI NATALE: And that does include all—
Ms Powell : That is all of eHealth, not just the PCEHR. That is all of eHealth activities.
Senator DI NATALE: What I am getting at is that we have committed hundreds of millions of dollars into this and we seem to have consistent support, and now we have committed—what?—$20 million to keep it going?
Mr Bowles : There is a decision of government to come forward for the future, so we cannot pre-empt what that might be.
Senator DI NATALE: We had an announcement in 2013 that there would be a review. We spent six months hanging around for the outcome of that review. We got the review not even half way through the year. We are now coming into March. We are a few months away. This is supposed to be the thing that is going to take healthcare into the 21st century and beyond, and we still do not know what we are doing with it. I just cannot believe it.
Mr Bowles : It is before government.
Mr Madden : In the midst of 2014 we did go out to consultation with the broad community on the key recommendations in the report, just to make sure that we had the right views. The outcomes of that consultation have been provided as input to the government for the decision which they need to decide on at the moment.
Senator DI NATALE: Is there any indication that NEHTA will be closed come the end of June?
Mr Bowles : Again, it would be a decision for government. But I think it would be a pretty tall order to close NEHTA between now and then—the end of the financial year.
Senator DI NATALE: No, by the end of June.
Mr Bowles : Yes, by the end of the financial year.
Ms Powell : NEHTA is also funded by other jurisdictions as well.
----- End Extract.

Here is the direct link to the page:
It is really hard to know what all this means - but it is clear as of late Wednesday last week the fate of e-Health is before  our presently rather chaotic Government with no decisions made as far as the bureaucrats were prepared to admit.
Interestingly  it seems there is some money set aside - outside the budget process to keep the PCEHR ticking over in 2015-16.
My view is that it is hard to disagree with the good senator on the competence that has been applied to the whole area!

AusHealthIT Poll Number 259 – Results – 1st March, 2015.

Here are the results of the poll.
Do You Believe The Current Level Of Growth In Government Health Spending Is Unsustainable?

Yes 11% (7)

Possibly 32% (20)

Neutral 17% (11)

Probably Not 29% (18)

No Way 10% (6)

I Have No Idea 2% (1)

Total votes: 63

Very interesting. 43% say health spending growth is unsustainable while 39% say it isn’t and 17% are fence sitters! Make of that what you will! Must be the closest vote ever.

Good to see a decent number of responses!

Again, many, many thanks to all those that voted!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 28th February, 2015.

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.

Healthcare industry 'behind by a country mile' in email security

February 20, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
The healthcare industry lags behind almost all others when it comes to privacy and security practices--and that holds true when it comes to email communication as well, according to a report from Agari.
The email security company, in a recent survey, found that health insurance companies had the lowest "TrustScore" when it comes to keeping online communication secure. An email from a healthcare company is "four times more likely to be fraudulent than an email purportedly from a social-media company like Facebook," according to the report.
In healthcare, 68 percent say cyberattacks are increasing in severity, and 77 percent see a rise in frequency, according to a separate infographic.

Healthcare industry 'behind by a country mile' in email security

February 20, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
The healthcare industry lags behind almost all others when it comes to privacy and security practices--and that holds true when it comes to email communication as well, according to a report from Agari.
The email security company, in a recent survey, found that health insurance companies had the lowest "TrustScore" when it comes to keeping online communication secure. An email from a healthcare company is "four times more likely to be fraudulent than an email purportedly from a social-media company like Facebook," according to the report.

Greenway, Orion Health partner to produce HIE-compliant EHR

Written by Elizabeth Earl | February 19, 2015
Greenway Health and Orion Health have announced a strategic partnership to establish an EHR platform that meets the ONC's information exchange standards.
Greenway, an EHR platform provider based in Carrollton, Ga., will incorporate Orion's population health software and integration engine into its PrimeSUITE software. The partnership will produce a system that will meet the ONC's interoperability and meaningful use standards over time, according to a news release.

Eye Tracking On Computer May Help Diagnose Concussion

FEB 19, 2015 7:03am ET
A New York University-led study reveals that eye-tracking technology on a computer screen may advance the art of diagnosing concussion.
Neuroscientists and concussion experts from NYU Langone Medical Center and elsewhere, in a study published online in the Journal of Neurotrauma, present a diagnostic tool for concussion that can be utilized in the emergency room or, one day, on the sidelines at sporting events. The study used an eye-tracking device to effectively measure the severity of concussion or brain injury in patients presenting to emergency departments following head trauma.

New ONC guide aims to help providers maximize benefits of e-prescribing

February 17, 2015 | By Marla Durben Hirsch
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has released a new electronic guide to help prescribers maximize the benefits of electronic prescribing.
The guide, "A Prescription for e-Prescribers: Getting the Most Out of Electronic Prescribing," issued Feb. 13, is intended to help prescribers learn more about what to expect from e-prescribing and how to improve their use of the functionality throughout each of the eight stages of the e-prescribing process, including:
  • Identify the patient
  • Review current data
  • Select drug from a menu in the electronic health record
  • Enter parameters and information for the pharmacy
  • Review alerts and advisories
  • Select pharmacy
  • Authorize and sign
  • Review expectations with patient, monitor e-prescribing logs and manage electronic renewal requests

BYOD causing big IT headaches

Posted on Feb 19, 2015
By John Andrews, Contributing Writer
"There's an app for that" may be an effective marketing phrase, but don't expect hospital security officials to appreciate it. The proliferation of personal devices and the apps that drive them is one of the biggest security concerns to hit healthcare in the digital age.
Known as BYOD – "bring your own device" – the new environment exists due to the pervasiveness of personal mobility devices among healthcare professionals in recent years. The devices have become well entrenched in a very short time, as studies show that approximately 80 percent of healthcare workers currently use a personal mobile device, whether smart phone or tablet.
The situation is a double-edged sword, with mobility giving clinicians the ability to access healthcare data at anytime from anywhere, but the flurry of unchecked apps also create an air of hospital IT vulnerability to security breaches, intrusive malware, viruses and worms.

Despite potential to boost reimbursements, EHRs remain a challenge for primary care docs

February 17, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
As healthcare providers--in particular, those from primary care practices--continue to implement and work with electronic health records, some are seeing an improvement in reimbursements, according to Michael Howley, Ph.D., a certified physician assistant and associate clinical professor in the department of marketing at Drexel University.
One of the biggest keys, according to Howley, who last summer co-authored research on the financial implications of EHRs published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, was improved billing of ancillary procedures.
"All of these little things that you do at your doctor's office even though you tend not to think about like drawing blood, getting a vaccination, maybe having a medical test done in the office and they were billing a lot more of these procedures in the primary care practices," Howley told FierceEMR.
In an exclusive interview, Howley discussed the surprises behind the study's findings and the impacts--both positive and negative--that EHRs continue to have on healthcare providers.

Privacy must be at forefront of precision medicine initiatives

February 19, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
As use of precision medicine in healthcare expands, in part because of President Barack Obama's initiative on the practice, privacy issues must be addressed.
Florence Comite, a physician who works in precision medicine, tells HealthcareInfoSecurity that to create personalized care, very sensitive data has to be collected--such as information on issues like depression and anxiety to high risks of cancer or diabetes--data that can impact a person's employment or health insurance.
"That's a very important concern in today's world with precision medicine erupting ... I am very excited about it, but I think it makes us stop in our tracks and think about what we can share and what we will share, and what that ultimate impact will have on the individual in the future," Comite says.

A winter standards, HIT Policy update

John Halamka, MD, Chair, HITSP; CIO, CareGroup Health System |
The February HIT Standards Committee was a joint meeting with the HIT Policy Committee to align the policy and technology work ahead in 2015.
Erica Galvez began the discussion by reviewing the recently published Interoperability Roadmap. She first highlighted supportive business, clinical, cultural and regulatory environments.
On January 26, HHS and CMS announced that they are aiming to have 30 percent of Medicare fee-for-service payments tied to quality or value through alternative payment models by the end of 2016,and 50 percent of payments by the end of 2018. Requirements for participants in these new models can reinforce interoperability. Near term actions for the Federal government include linking policy and funding activities beyond Meaningful Use to adoption and use of certified health IT and electronic information sharing according to national standards. Near term actions for state government include a “call to action” to use available levers and Medicaid purchasing power to expand upon existing efforts to support interoperability and explore new options. Near term actions for non-government payers/purchasers include a  “call to action” to explore financial incentives and other ways to emphasize the interoperable exchange of health information among provider networks.

Mobile Stroke Unit Saves Time, More Effective

FEB 18, 2015 7:17am ET
An ongoing study at Cleveland Clinic finds mobile stroke treatment units considerably more effective than traditional ambulance transport for timely evaluation and treatment of stroke. Preliminary data were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2015.
In July 2014, Cleveland Clinic launched a Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit to diagnose and treat stroke more quickly and effectively. The mobile unit is more than a standard ambulance. It contains all of the equipment and medical personnel necessary for treating stroke patients, including the CT scanner required to determine treatment for hemorrhagic versus ischemic stroke and telemedicine technology which allows two-way audio/video conferencing between the mobile unit crew and an in-hospital stroke specialist.
Patients treated in the mobile units experienced approximately a 40-minute reduction in the time to treatment when compared with the standard model of ambulance transport and in-hospital evaluation and treatment – 64 minutes in patients transported by the mobile unit versus 104 minutes in emergency room patients.

Are you doing your security framework right?

Posted on Feb 18, 2015
By Erin McCann, Managing Editor
It turns out many healthcare organizations get more than a few things wrong about their information security frameworks – big time. Whether it's about properly integrating a framework or even appropriately tailoring a framework, there's a list of items organizations should pay attention to. 
If done right, information security frameworks can be used to meet an organization's risk analysis requirements under the HIPAA Security Rule, in addition to helping define a "baseline of protection," said Bryan Cline, senior advisor at HITRUST Alliance, but that's only if they're properly selected and implemented. And many organizations don’t necessarily do this successfully. 
Cline, who will be speaking at the Healthcare IT News Privacy and Security Forum this March in a session on data security framework need-to-knows, says the biggest oversight he sees organizations make "is in not tailoring the framework appropriately." Added Cline, "organizations either rely on the framework without tailoring the requirements to address all reasonably anticipated threats, or they tailor the framework's requirements – usually by removing some of them – without fully understanding the additional risk that's incurred."

Going mobile

Mobility is no longer a ‘nice to have’ for community staff. It’s essential if the NHS is to meet the demands facing it, and that is already encouraging trusts to make significant investments in mobile infrastructures, devices, and systems, Fiona Barr discovers
Moving more care into the community is on the list of practically every NHS organisation in the country. To help make that happen, organisations are looking for mobile capability.
David Roots, managing director of health and social care record supplier Civica, believes the NHS has little choice, as the population ages, and more people have to live with chronic diseases.  “There might be twice as much work but there won’t be twice as many people,” he says.
Not just more of the same
National policy certainly makes it clear that community-based care must increase substantially.  In its’ Five Year Forward View’, NHS England says there is a need for a new focus on public health, to try and reduce some of that demand coming towards the health service.

Health functions dropped from Apple Watch after glitches

February 18, 2015 | By Susan D. Hall
The Apple Watch is expected to debut in April--and now without some of its much-anticipated health features, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Apple reportedly had been testing sensors that track stress by measuring the conductivity of skin and an electrocardiogram feature that measures a user's heart rate, but found the technology didn't work properly, according to the article.
The sensors didn't work well on people with hairy arms or dry skin, and the watch underperformed on people who fastened it to their wrists too loosely. Instead, the company decided to go with a more generic pulse-monitoring feature.

Technology a catalyst for top health industry safety, security efforts

February 18, 2015 | By Dan Bowman
Of 50 initiatives highlighted on CSO's annual list of groundbreaking safety and security efforts, 11 are endeavors in the healthcare industry, with eight of those recognized in the top 20.
In particular, four efforts were among the top 10 on the list, including:
  • Aetna's trusted email program (No. 4 overall): Authentication for outbound email, paired with a domain-based message authentication, reporting and conformance (DMARC) policy helped the insurance giant drastically mitigate the risk of abuse originating from emails seemingly sent to customers from Aetna, CSO notes. Within the first three days of the DMARC controls being enabled, 188,000 emails were blocked from delivery; after 45 days, that number jumped to 597,000 emails.

Global telehealth market to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2019

Written by Elizabeth Earl | February 17, 2015
The global telehealth market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18.88 percent over the next five years.
A report from TechNavio, a global technology research and advisory company, examined the telehealth market and found that the reach of telemedicine will likely spur demand. Telemedicine platforms include tools such as email, smartphones, video conferencing and other tools developed specifically for medicine, according to the report.

Computer-assisted coding market to reach $3.5B by 2019

Written by Carrie Pallardy | February 17, 2015
The market for computer-assisted coding is expected to reach a value of $3.5 billion by 2019, according to a MarketsandMarkets report.

Understanding a Medical Record Breach vs. a Medical Data Breach

FEB 16, 2015 2:55pm ET
On the heels of the recent announcement that medical insurance firm Anthem was breached, we look at the nuance and impact of a medical record breach versus a medical data breach. They are related, but digging through data containing primarily identity information is different than an attack focusing on specific treatment of a specific patient.
If an attacker can harvest name, social security number, phone, address, email and the like, that haul has a much wider potential audience than, say, whether or not a patient underwent a specific medical procedure. A stolen medical record containing a lot of detail may sell for a lot of money, but that market is more specialized than the broader market for general identity data.
To help folks visualize the different levels of data that thieves might want to swipe from a medical facility, and then abuse, my colleague, Stephen Cobb, created this diagram of a generic electronic health record.

'Dr Google' launches in US

11 February 2015   Sam Sachdeva
American residents who Google their symptoms will now see medical facts directly in their search results, in a move from the internet giant to provide easier access to health information.
However, UK residents may face a wait for the service, which is only being rolled out in the US to start.
The medical facts will be incorporated into the search engine’s Knowledge Graph, which collates facts, data and illustrations from various sources in fact boxes accompanying search results.
In a blog announcing the new feature, Google product manager Prem Ramaswami said the company wants to make it easier for people to find simple health information when searching online.

Electronic decision aids to improve doctor-patient talks

February 17, 2015 | By Susan D. Hall
An international team of researchers has developed a prototype electronic decision aid to help keep medical information up to date and to foster meaningful conversations between patients and their doctors.
Their research, published at the British Medical Journal, describes how they built 10 decision aids on antithrombotic drugs.
Traditionally, decision aids involved a lot of material printed out and sent home with the patient, with the idea that they would read it later and discuss it with their doctor. That often didn't happen, and it was a chore to keep that material updated, according to the report.
These new decision aids, called SHARE-IT, present medical information and evidence summaries in simple formats that can be viewed during a doctor visit on a tablet or computer.

Black Book: Robust data exchange still a decade away

February 17, 2015 | By Susan D. Hall
Despite efforts to create health information exchanges, the United States is still at least 10 years from achieving a secure, robust exchange of patient data, according to a new report from Black Book Research.
Ninety-four percent of America's providers, healthcare agencies, patients and payers remain without meaningful connections, and providers are dropping HIE as a priority. Regional connectivity dropped by 5 percent in the past year, according to the report, which is based on a survey of nearly 2,000 health plan members, 800 physicians, 700 hospital executives, 1,200 insurers and 500 health information technology vendor staffers.
Providers are retreating from complex HIE efforts--in part because of the flawed business models of public HIEs--and instead are waiting to see whether payers foot the bill for significant data-sharing mechanisms. What's more, a growing number of IT vendors are drastically cutting interoperability research and development funding, the report states.

Top 4 HIE vendors for 2015

Posted on Feb 17, 2015
By Tom Sullivan, Executive Editor, HIMSS Media
While the health information exchange market remains in a state of “persistent unpredictability,” there are pockets of EHR data interoperability around the U.S. But the last year saw a drop in regional connectivity.
That’s according to Black Book Research’s HIE stakeholder survey, which examines both the current state of the HIE market and users favorite HIE technology vendors.
“A short list of enterprise HIE vendors have effectively established operative exchanges across organizational siloes to benefit patients, providers, agencies and payers,” said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book Research in a statement. “Those vendors are justifiably earning the lion’s share of 2015 initiatives and stymied HIE developers are reconsidering their positions.”

Lab information systems market to top $704M in 2019

Written by Elizabeth Earl | February 16, 2015
The lab information systems market in North America is projected to reach $704.6 million by 2019, according to a MicroMarket Monitor report.
The market is expected to grow at compounded annual growth rate of 7.8 percent from 2014 to 2019, according to a news release.

Researchers Unveil Bidirectional ICD-9 to ICD-10 Mapping Tool

Author Kyle Murphy, PhD | Date February 16, 2015
A team of researchers has unveiled a bidirectional ICD-9 and ICD-10 mapping tool which it claims will enable healthcare organizations, providers, researchers, and other professionals to compare diseases during the upcoming ICD-10 transition.
Two kinds of tools emerged from the work of Boyd et al published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. The first is a web portal tool for converting ICD-10-CM to ICD-9-CM. The second is a set of tables annotated with levels of translation complexity. “Examining the network graphs of individual ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes from the online tool can provide a quick view of the challenges facing administrators evaluating high-cost diagnoses,” the authors claim.
Boyd et al. used publicly available 2014 general equivalence mappings (GEMs) to create a bidirectional map of ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes. Next, the researchers identified 36 network patterns for translating ICD-10-CM to ICD-9-CM and place them into one of five categories of translation complexity: identify, class-to-subclass, subclass-to-class, convoluted, and no mapping.

Health Care Implications of Obama's Cybersecurity Proposal Remain Uncertain

by John Moore, iHealthBeat Contributing Reporter Tuesday, February 17, 2015
In health care circles, the Obama administration's recently released cybersecurity proposal might be more notable for what it doesn't say than for what it does.
The White House in January updated its 2011 Cybersecurity Legislative Proposal, focusing on three core objectives:
  1. Improving information sharing between the private sector and government;
  2. Establishing a national data breach notification statute; and
  3. Bolstering law enforcement's ability to combat cybercrime.
The administration's latest cybersecurity wish list, however, offers few specifics for the health care industry, which is expected to see an intensification of phishing and malware attacks this year. Cyber assailants increasingly target health care organizations to obtain credit card and insurance beneficiary data.

How one health system is putting an end to insider snooping

Posted on Feb 16, 2015
By Erin McCann, Managing Editor
Insider snooping into patient records is nothing to take lightly. It often ends in a compliance nightmare – costly and time-consuming – not to mention the patient trust levels that take a serious hit. By making patient privacy an utmost priority, executives at the West Virginia United Health System have tackled this issue head on through a variety of different avenues and have already seen marked success. 
There's no one magic bullet to ensuring patient record snooping doesn't happen, said Mark Combs, assistant chief information officer for the West Virginia United Health System. But by implementing a host of initiatives, comprehensive training and tapping into information technology for audits, Combs and his team have shown it can be done.
Combs, who will be presenting WVU Healthcare's privacy case study at HIMSS15 this April in the session "Stop Insider Snooping and Protect Your Patient Trust," says the six-hospital healthcare system goes far beyond the traditional computer modules that have a privacy component, as "there's no real learning that occurs in that; it's more of just a sign off," he said. Rather, they get to all employees as soon as they come on board with the organization. They have a privacy officer present to all new employees about the importance of patient privacy and what their responsibilities and expectations are.

The downside of health IT

Jeff Rowe
February 12, 2015 AT 3:51 PM
Health IT, to put it mildly, is generally considered a good thing.  But there are dangers, too.
“According to the non-profit ECRI Institute, health technology hazards can come in many forms.  ‘They can be the result of IT-related problems such as improperly configured systems, incomplete data, or inappropriate malware protection (or) they can be caused by inappropriate human-device interaction . . .”

How Big Data Improves Care at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

FEB 16, 2015 7:28am ET
What began as a limited use of Hadoop at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is becoming a full-fledged big data initiative that is helping the organization provide better care for patients and deliver information that could potentially help citizens of Georgia avoid health problems in the future.
Children’s Healthcare provides a variety of healthcare services for children throughout the state, operating three hospitals and more than 20 neighborhood locations including five urgent care centers.
The institution’s foray into Hadoop began in 2013. A clinical research project it was working on with Georgia Institute of Technology needed bedside vital-monitor data—including heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and oxygen saturation—from Children’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). Georgia Tech wanted to leverage historical and granular data from the monitors to understand what , if any, effect the environment of care—such as noise and light—had on patient vital signs. With that information, care givers could improve the environment by instituting quiet hours, moving noisy machines or redesigning care areas to improve the environment of care.

Insured patients prefer in-person communication to virtual with PCPs

Written by Akanksha Jayanthi (Twitter | Google+)  | February 13, 2015
Despite the push for technology-enabled medicine, the majority of adults with health insurance and a primary care physician actually prefer in-person visits and communication over virtual visits and communication, according to a report from Salesforce.
The report aggregates responses from more than 1,700 insured adults who have a primary care physician.
Results indicate these patients tend to prefer "traditional" methods of communication to connect with their physicians. For example,
  • Seventy-six percent of patients set up appointments with their primary care physicians over the phone, followed by 25 percent who do so in-person. Just 7 percent make appointments online.