Weekly Overseas Health IT Links -15th August, 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.

WHO urges Kenya to “cautiously” implement e-Health concept

NAIVASHA (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday asked Kenya to tread cautiously in implementing the e-Health concept.
WHO Kenya Health Systems Advisor Humphrey Karamagi said the concept would positively alter services in the health sector, noting that the technology will be very expensive at the initial stages of implementation.
“Though the implementation will be expensive, we expect service delivery and efficiency to improve and there is need to seek ways of covering this high cost,” Karamagi told a three-day meeting on e-Health in Naivasha, about 90km northwest of the capital Nairobi.
Karamagi, however, admitted that many countries trying to implement e-Health would face financial burden.

Why IBM Wants to Buy Merge Healthcare

AUG 7, 2015 7:47am ET
Over several years, IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been taught to understand human speech, to understand the languages of medicine, chemistry, biology, legal and intellectual property, and to understand contexts of the languages. It has been taught to identify and review patterns in genome sequencing and medical data to develop advanced decision support and individualized treatment of patients.
Now, IBM wants Watson to “see” diagnostic medical images and plans to buy medical imaging software vendor Merge Healthcare for $1 billion to help develop the capability.
Merge has more than 7,500 provider sites as clients, along with research institutions and pharmaceutical firms. IBM, beset with slow growth in its legacy business lines, sees its healthcare unit as a major growth area for the next decade, as demonstrated by acquiring Merge. While Watson was developed to serve multiple industries, its health care applications were folded into a new Watson Health unit in April, along with two acquired complementary vendors—Phytel (population health management software) and Explorys (predictive analytics integrated into Phytel).

Open letter to CMS and ONC: How to reveal rules and regs to the media

Posted on Aug 07, 2015
By Tom Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Healthcare IT News
When the Department of Defense unveiled the winner of its enormous EHR modernization contract, the news came closer to breaking the Internet than Kim Kardashian's whatever-that-was on the cover of Paste magazine.
At least it did in certain circles. Here at Healthcare IT News, for instance, the arc of coverage leading up to the announcement and, subsequently, the many stories following the surprise that Cerner, Leidos and Accenture – not Epic and IBM – won is already proving to be among our most-read topics.
Other wildly popular articles with our readership, as I imagine you can speculate, pertain to EHRs, health information exchange , and the meaningful use rules and regulations that emanate from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Teen hacks printer to detect heart disease

August 7, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
Through hacking an ink-jet printer, 16-year-old Adriel Sumathipala was able to find an easier, cheaper way to detect heart disease.
Sumathipala's project won him a spot as a finalist at Google's 20 Global Science Fair, according to an article at Business Insider.
Using the printer, he was able to figure out how to put enzymes onto two Ox-LDL sensors he created. The paper sensor could then indicate if the enzymes have high or low concentrations of Ox-LDL, a biomarker that has an even stronger correlation with cardiac disease, according to the article.

Researchers use data for early sepsis detection

August 7, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
Sepsis is one of the leading causes of deaths in U.S. hospitals , and researchers are turning to health technology in an effort to detect risk for the condition sooner.
A new computer-based model touted in a study published this week in Science Translational Medicine is being used by researchers at Johns Hopkins University to more effectively spot septic shock; diagnosing sepsis before it turns into septic shock is one of the keys to preventing deaths caused by the condition, according to an announcement .
For the study, researchers used data from more than 16,000 patients' electronic health records to create an algorithm to target risk of septic shock. They combined 27 factors into the algorithm to create a Targeted Real-time Early Warning Score--TREWScore.

EMR hacks have compromised 94 million health records this year

Written by Max Green | August 06, 2015
EMR hacks have more than doubled since 2014, costing the healthcare system an estimated $50 billion, according to an American Action Forum report.
So far, more than 94 million EMRs have been compromised, resulting in the exposure of patient names, Social Security numbers, birth dates and health information.
Read the full report here .

IBM to acquire Merge Healthcare in $1B deal

August 6, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
IBM is taking its Watson technology one step further through a $1 billion acquisition of medical image management platform Merge Healthcare.
Through the deal, IBM hopes to "unlock the value of medical images to help physicians make better patient care decisions," according to an announcement .
Using Watson Health Cloud, organizations that use Merge's technology platforms will be able to view current and historical images, along with electronic health records, genomic tests, mobile health data and more to get a consolidated view of patients.
However, Merge has had some troubles in the past. In December 2012, the company filed a lawsuit against Downer's Grove, Ill.-based orthopedic software company Medstrat, Inc. , for allegedly stealing part of its medical imaging business by making "false" and "disparaging" claims, FierceHealthIT reported at the time. In a settlement agreement, Merge dismissed the lawsuit, according to an  announcement .

MIS tools reduce errors, bolster engagement

August 04, 2015Eric Wicklund - Editor, mHealthNews
A medication management protocol delivered through text or instant message may be the patient engagement tool that doctors need to help people with chronic conditions take care of themselves at home.
A study conducted by the Duke University School of Medicine and University of Maryland School of Medicine found few errors in a mobile health medication inquiry system (MIS) designed to allow patients with chronic kidney disease to check the safety of their medications.
The MIS platform, delivered as a text or personal digital assistant (PDA) message, prompted patients to input the information contained on one of three different sample prescription pill bottles sent to each patient. The patient would then receive one of three responses: "not safe in chronic kidney disease," "use with caution, speak with your healthcare provider" or "safe in chronic kidney disease."

IBM Hopes CVS-Watson Partnership Leads to More Connections in Cloud

by George Lauer, California Healthline Features Editor Thursday, August 6, 2015
With a store in "almost every neighborhood" in the country, CVS pharmacies seemed the perfect match for Watson Health, IBM's big-data-crunching artificial intelligence system, officials from both companies said after the new partnership was announced last week.
"People spend more time in their local CVS than they do in their doctor's office so this seemed like a logical place to engage with a large number of people," said Kathy McGroddy-Goetz, vice president of Watson Health at IBM.
The two companies are collaborating with a goal of helping millions of Americans manage chronic health conditions using the IBM supercomputer's analytic and learning power. In addition to those already diagnosed with chronic conditions, officials from the two companies hope the information collected in the Watson Health Cloud can eventually identify and warn people at risk for developing chronic diseases.
"We realized health care and the whole spectrum of health and wellness was becoming a big data and analytics problem and we figured this was a good start. The partnership with CVS fulfills all of the four Vs of big data -- volume, variety, veracity and velocity," McGroddy-Goetz said.

IBM's $1 billion buy of Merge Healthcare to boost Watson's sight

August 6, 2015, 10:20 AM EDT

For its money, IBM will get Merge Healthcare’s medical imaging technology to incorporate into the Watson Healthcare Cloud.

IBM’s love affair with Watson continues. Big Blue is buying Merge Healthcare , a provider of medical imaging gear, and plans to incorporate that technology into its Watson franchise.
Merge’s technology is used by more than 7,500 healthcare sites in the U.S., according to the Armonk, N.Y. based company.
Now Merge’s know-how will be added to the Watson Health Cloud mix to provide “new insights from a consolidated, patient-centric view of current and historical images, electronic health records, data from wearable devices and other related medical data, in a HIPAA-enabled environment,” according to IBM’s statement. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is a regulation designed to protect patient data confidentiality.

Congress Tackles EHR Woes, Information Blocking, Interoperability

John Castelluccio, for HealthLeaders Media , August 6, 2015

The Senate health committee will ask CMS to delay the third and final stage of Meaningful Use to allow the panel time to submit recommendations on the incentive program.

The article originally appeared in HIM-HIPAA Insider .
Congress has taken notice of healthcare providers' woes and frustrations dealing with electronic health records (EHRs) and lawmakers are determined to work out a solution that promotes progress in health technology as well as better care for patients.
Federal incentives to encourage physicians and hospitals to adopt EHRs have begun to dry up as CMS winds down its Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs . Total Medicare bonus payments to eligible professionals and hospitals have decreased and will last through 2016, but effective in 2015, CMS has started imposing penalties on participants who don't achieve Meaningful Use with their EHRs.

Cerner rides high with DoD deal

Posted on Aug 05, 2015
By Bernie Monegain, Editor-at-Large
Topping off what Cerner executives detailed during the company's earnings call Tuesday as a highly successful Quarter 2, in spite of profits falling, was the icing on the cake : the Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization project.
"We are pleased that last week the Department of Defense announced its decision to award the contract to Leidos," said Cerner President Zane Burke, pointing out that Cerner is the core EHR supplier. "We are honored, humbled and excited to be a part of the team that won what we believe was the most objective and comprehensive evaluation of technology platforms and solutions ever conducted."
Cerner's suite will replace the DoD's legacy health IT system in its 55 hospitals and more than 350 clinics, as well as in ships, submarines and other locations in the theater of military operations. 

Who's really to blame for rise in health spending?

Posted on Aug 05, 2015
By Jack McCarthy, Contributing Writer
The high cost of healthcare, while moderating somewhat in recent years, still puts real pressure on the budgets of state and local governments.
But Medicaid is not the chief cause, argued Austin Frakt in The New York Times article " Don't Blame Medicaid for Rise in Health Care Spending ."
Frakt, a health economist with several governmental and academic affiliations, contends that health care benefits for public employees and retirees, not Medicaid, is driving a majority of the growth in state and local healthcare spending.
"Adjusted for inflation, spending for those health care benefits rose 447 percent between 1987 and 2013," Frakt wrote. "Medicaid spending rose a great deal as well, but not as much, 386 percent."

athenaResearch Study: The Current State of Patient Portal Adoption

David Clain
Aug 03, 2015
In an effort to improve health outcomes and patient quality of life at lower costs, provider groups around the country are increasingly focused on developing a deeper connection with patients. Expanding digital engagement is central to this effort, with online  patient portals  at the center of virtual physician-provider relationships. Portals offer patients immediate access to their health records, allow them to schedule appointments and pay bills, and enable secure conversations with providers.
But, as many providers have discovered, simply offering patients an online portal does not mean they will use it.
Over the past few months, my colleagues and I have focused on portal adoption as part of the athenahealth Peak Performance Initiative, a program that combines big-data analytics, consultations with leading providers, and best-practice research to help provider groups improve various aspects of their practices. For the patient portal study, we analyzed more than 1,100 provider groups on the athenahealth network to determine exactly what distinguishes physician groups with very high portal adoption rates from average programs. 

Niam Yaraghi to Cerner: Prepare for failure

August 5, 2015 | By Susan D. Hall
Now that the Department of Defense has awarded its electronic health record modernization contract to a team led by Leidos and Cerner , Brookings Institution fellow Niam Yaraghi says it will be a priceless learning opportunity.
In fact, the team should prepare for failure, Yaraghi  writes  at U.S. News and World Report. After all, he says, that's par for the course with large government IT projects. Between 2003 to 2012, only 6 percent of federal IT projects with $10 million or more in labor costs were successful, Yaraghi says, citing research from The Standish Group.

Secure messaging: What providers want

August 5, 2015 | By Katie Dvorak
Use of secure messaging by physicians, nurses and medical trainees has been shown to  enhance accountability in the clinical role and speed up daily tasks, according to a study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
So when choosing a secure messaging platform, Annapolis Internal Medicine looked for a platform that would integrate into its electronic medical record and was mobile-friendly.
In addition, the small practice in Maryland needed something that was HIPAA-compliant.

Telemedicine market to soar past $30B

Posted on Aug 04, 2015
By Bernie Monegain, Editor-at-Large
The global market for telemedicine is expected to be worth more than $34 billion by the end of 2020.
That's according to a new market research report, "Global Telemedicine Market - Growth, Trends & Forecasts (2015-2020)", published by Mordor Intelligence.
North America is the largest market globally, accounting for more than 40 percent of the global market size.
Driving growth in this market, researchers say is an increasing aged population, increasing incidences of chronic diseases and rapid rise in the software market.

7 things DoD sought in Cerner EHR

Posted on Aug 04, 2015
By Tom Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Healthcare IT News
How did the Department of Defense decide upon Cerner, anyway? That's a question healthcare industry insiders have been wondering since the DoD shocked so many expecting Epic to win the contract.
During a pre-announcement conference call with a fistful of reporters, Defense officials revealed some of the prioritized criteria that went into their final decision.
"We did extensive analysis of alternatives," said Frank Kendall, DoD under secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics. "We had the opportunity to do competitive procurement, and our analysis said it would be much cheaper."
Part of that analysis involved pulling together clinicians – doctors, nurses, dentists – with IT people and leadership, said Chris Miller, executive officer for DoD's Healthcare Management Systems Modernization and Integrated Electronic Health Records.

How providers transform EHR implementation into EHR adoption

By Sponsored Content on June 06, 2014
Are EHRs delivering on their promise? For years, the healthcare community and patients alike have heard the promise of electronic health records. Vendors, the media, politicians, policy makers and countless others have preached that EHRs would transform healthcare by providing access to comprehensive medical information that is secure, standardized, and shared. Ultimately, EHRs would help deliver better, safer, and higher-quality healthcare.
That was and still is the goal. But, what is the reality — are EHRs delivering on their promise and are healthcare organizations getting what they signed up for?
According to the Department of Health & Human Services, more than half of all doctors’ offices and 80 percent of eligible hospitals are using EHR systems today. But there is a world of difference to the healthcare practitioner and the patient as an organization progresses from simply turning the EHR system on to using it proficiently and finally reaching the optimization phase — the stage at which EHRs work so efficiently and effectively that healthcare providers can truly spend more time caring for their patients.

HHS, Medscape Unveil New HIPAA Guidance and Education Courses

AUG 3, 2015 7:35am ET
The Department of Health and Human Services has published seven pages of guidance on the basics of the HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification rules.
HHS in collaboration with education vendor Medscape also is offering six HIPAA educational programs with continuing medical education credits for physicians and continuing education credits for healthcare professionals.
The HIPAA guidance from HHS briefly explains each rule, details the types of covered entities and business associates who must comply, and explains enforcement of the rules that can be as severe as entering into a corrective action plan and payment of a fine or even imprisonment, with examples of both actions having been taken. The guidance also includes multiple resources for additional information.

Can Meaningful Use Survive? Flex-IT 2 Bill Offers a Lifeline

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , August 4, 2015

Congress is pushing for a delay, and hospitals that can opt out of MU, are. But abandoning Meaningful Use would lead to problems with other healthcare regulations.

It is high time to consider whether the federal meaningful use program can survive.
Trouble signs are all around. But abandoning meaningful use at this juncture would lead to problems with other healthcare regulations.
From the AMDIS conference, I reported that children's hospitals are opting out of meaningful use stage 2 left and right, chiefly because there are no penalties for such organizations under CMS regulations.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., elected officials continue to pound the table demanding to know where their $30 billion worth of seamless digital healthcare is, rather than the disjointed system of fractured digital care we currently have.

CVS, IBM to Tackle Problem of Managing Chronic Conditions

AUG 3, 2015 7:42am ET
Retail pharmacy CVS Health and tech giant IBM have teamed to use predictive analytics and IBM’s Watson supercomputer to enable healthcare providers and insurers to better manage care for patients with chronic diseases.
According to the announcement, the partnership brings together IBM’s Watson Health Cloud and cognitive computing capabilities with both companies’ expertise in predictive analytics and patient engagement, as well as CVS Health’s experience in medication adherence and pharmacy care.
By leveraging information from electronic health records, pharmacy and medical claims, as well as fitness devices, the companies say their joint technology solution will enable providers and payers to “quickly and easily gain insights” from the data to “help individuals stay on track with their care and meet health goals.”

eHealth Exchange Continues Strong Growth Trajectory

AUG 3, 2015 7:47am ET
HIE network eHealth Exchange, a rapidly growing community of healthcare organizations who securely share clinical information over the Internet using a common set of standards and specifications, has reached 100 members and expects to connect 40 percent of U.S. hospitals by the end of the year.
In particular, the eHealth Exchange has added small- and mid-sized medical groups, dialysis centers, as well as pharmacies to its membership. To date, the collaborative includes more than 13,000 medical groups, 3,400 dialysis centers, and 8,300 participating pharmacies across the country.
“Historically, the eHealth Exchange has been known as an exchange for large care providers, health information exchange organizations and government agencies. What’s particularly interesting about the new growth statistics is the increased connectivity with other types of care settings, such as pharmacies, dialysis centers and small and medium sized medical groups,” said John Kansky, president and CEO of the Indiana Health Information Exchange and vice chair of the eHealth Exchange coordinating committee.

What Obama's precision medicine plan needs to succeed

Posted on Aug 03, 2015
By Jack McCarthy, Contributing Writer
President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative to accelerate understanding of individual variability and its effect on disease and treatment is going to necessitate a regulatory system robust enough to facilitate big data analytics for genomics research – no small feat.
That's according to a white paper by the Center for Data Innovation and Health IT Now Coalition, in which the authors contend that to be maximally effective this initiative will require the public and private sectors to work in tandem to realize the next generation of medicine and overcome the institutional challenges that increasingly hinder progress.
Policymakers, in other words, must modernize the regulatory system. To that end, the authors recommend the following:
1. Improve interoperability and data sharing. Stronger federal requirements are needed to ensure that genomic and other health data can be retrieved and compared across health record systems

IT, EHR go dark at 13-hospital system

Posted on Aug 03, 2015
By Erin McCann, Managing Editor
The computer system, including the electronic health record platform, at a 13-hospital health system went black this week, resulting in a 20-hourlong outage.
BJC HealthCare, in St. Louis, Missouri, reported a computer outage Tuesday afternoon that impacted its IT systems across 13 hospitals. 
All IT systems went dark, "including clinical , revenue cycle, e-mail, word programs and other applications," hospital spokesperson June McAllister Fowler told Healthcare IT News.
As for what caused it? The health system's IT department is still working with an external vendor to do a root cause analysis, she said. Applications were brought back online 20 hours later on July 29.

How Much Longer Will We Allow Data Blocking To Slow Us Down?

by William L. Rich III Monday, August 3, 2015
Knowledge is power, and there's a treasure trove of incredibly powerful information that can be unlocked by sharing data from electronic health records.
Some physicians are able to share their data to help improve care coordination, efficiency and care for their patients. By doing this with EHR-based clinical data registries, these physicians are helping to advance medicine at an unprecedented pace. But other physicians have to pay exorbitant fees to their EHR vendors to integrate with registries for data sharing. In some cases, physicians are entirely prohibited from participating in a registry simply because their EHR vendors won't allow it.
On July 23, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing to shed light on data blocking and to find potential solutions to this problem. This is the latest in a number of recent government efforts to end a practice that has frustrated health care providers to no end.