Weekly Overseas Health IT Links - 13th October, 2013.

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.

Athenahealth to monitor flu activity during government shutdown

October 4, 2013 | By Susan D. Hall
During the government shutdown, health IT vendor athenahealth plans to monitor flu activity and issue updates accordingly.
Such activity normally is conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which had to furlough nearly 9,000 workers during the budget fight in Washington. CDC normally issues a weekly flu report, and the media help announce disease outbreaks and launch public awareness campaigns. Without those reports, detection of flu trends could be delayed.
Thanks to its database built on cloud-based architecture, Watertown, Mass.-based athenahealth has the ability to report data in real time. Its client physicians also are dispersed around the country with good statistical representation across practice types and sizes, Iyue Sung, director of core analytics, says in a blog post .

Medical device security efforts ramp up

Posted on Oct 04, 2013
By Eric Wicklund, Editor, mHealthNews
A non-profit organization focused on Internet security is looking to develop a set of benchmarks to protect medical devices from potentially fatal cyber attacks.
Officials with the Center for Internet Security said the benchmarks would help device manufacturers and healthcare providers protect such devices as insulin pumps, pacemakers and defibrillators from being hacked or damaged by malware.
"The technological advancements that enable healthcare providers to embed life-saving devices and treat patients remotely are tremendous. We must do everything we can to protect those devices and the patients who rely on them," said William F. Pelgrin, CIS' president and CEO, in a news release.

AMDIS: Using HIE for hospital alerts could save millions in readmissions

Beth Walsh
Oct 02, 2013
BOSTON—One in three Rhode Islanders are participating in the state’s health information exchange (HIE)—CurrentCare—which makes it a good testing site for new processes, said Jonathan Leviss, MD, chief medical officer of the Rhode Island Quality Institute, at the AMDIS Fall Symposium.
Leviss discussed the organization’s experience in improving care coordination through the HIE. The state’s practices and accountable care organizations have a vested interest in knowing when their patients are admitted, discharged or seen in the emergency department of a hospital. “If providers know when their patients are admitted and discharged, they know what to do. By connecting the pieces, maybe we can reduce readmissions.”
They began an alert process where primary care providers are alerted, if the patient consents, about hospital care so they could follow up appropriately. Once they started, the providers said the messages weren’t helpful because they weren’t getting useful information.

Epocrates Launches First App As athenahealth Company

Written by Helen Gregg ( Twitter | Google+ )  | October 03, 2013
At the 7th Annual Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., Epocrates and athenahealth jointly announced the launch of Epocrates' first app since the mobile health company was purchased by athenahealth in March.
Epocrates Bug + Drugs app aims to provide clinicians with up-to-date information about bacteria types and resistance patterns to support their antibacterial prescribing. The app draws data from athenahealth's cloud-based electronic health record database, which has information on more than 15 million patients across the country.

Healthcare Providers Face Tougher HIPAA Rules

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , October 4, 2013

More stringent privacy regulations now in effect mean hospitals and medical practices can expect random audits, higher fines, and a surge in formal complaints from patients who ask for, but do not receive their medical records in a timely fashion.

This article appears in the September issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Spurred by stricter and closer regulation and enforcement, healthcare providers spent the summer scrambling to update their ability to abide by the federal privacy, security, and breach notification rules of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act .
The new rules kick in on September 26, 2013. Providers can expect random audits, fines that now rise based on the number of records compromised, more frequent and sterner communications from HHS' Office for Civil Rights, and a surge in formal complaints from patients who ask for, but do not receive in a timely fashion, their medical records upon request.

Google Glass gets healthy push

Posted on Oct 03, 2013
By Diana Manos, Senior Editor
Royal Philips and Accenture announced Thursday they will partner to study the creation of a proof-of-concept demonstration that uses a Google Glass™ head-mounted display for researching ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of performing surgical procedures. 
The demonstration connects Google Glass to Philips IntelliVue Solutions and proves the concept of seamless transfer of patient vital signs into Google Glass, potentially providing physicians with hands-free access to critical clinical information.
The new concept demonstration depicts how a doctor wearing the display could simultaneously monitor a patient's vital signs and react to surgical procedural developments without having to turn away from the patient or procedure. A physician could also monitor a patient's vital signs remotely or enlist assistance from doctors in other locations.

6 tactics for boosting EHR usability

Posted on Oct 03, 2013
By Tom Sullivan, Editor, Government Health IT
EHR usability is among the greatest barriers to digitizing America’s healthcare system. Electronic health records present a push toward modernization – transformation even –  but to fulfill the promise, industry insiders say, the clunky technology has to be made easier for doctors to use. EHRs must be more elegant and more interoperabile.
“Poor EHR system design and improper use can cause EHR-related errors that jeopardize the integrity of the information in the EHR, leading to errors that endanger patient safety or decrease the quality of care,” Sue Bowman, AHIMA ’s senior director of coding policy and compliance, wrote in an article of AHIMA’s Perspectives in Health Information Management. “These unintended consequences also may increase fraud and abuse and can have serious legal implications."

Secure cloud could resolve interoperability issues

October 3, 2013 | By Julie Bird
Secure cloud collaboration can help solve interoperability issues as it links mHealth and other applications among healthcare providers, TechCrunch reported .
In an article focusing on Box, which recently launched a healthcare line of business, TechCrunch reports the company wants to improve collaboration among providers by investing in startups developing mobile electronic health record solutions and "connect each of these apps in a way that allows it to power collaboration, file transfer and secure, HIPAA-compliant sharing."

Glasgow hit by IT failure

2 October 2013   Lis Evenstad
An “unprecedented IT issue” has forced NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to postpone more than 500 patient appointments over the past 36 hours.
The issue relates to the health board’s network, which means staff are struggling to connect to clinical and administrative systems.
The health board’s chief executive, Robert Calderwood, said in a statement at lunch time today that the problem, which occurred yesterday morning, is not yet resolved.
This has meant that over the past 36 hours 564 patients have had their treatment or appointment postponed.

Infographic: Recent IT hiring numbers

Posted on Oct 02, 2013
By Healthcare IT News Staff, New Gloucester, Maine
The recently released HIMSS Workforce Survey came with an infographic showing growth in hiring among healthcare provider organizations even as outsourcing continues to rise.

Finding EHR Problems Before They Fester

SEP 24, 2013 10:12pm ET
How can you recognize early on that an electronic health records implementation project is in trouble? That’s the subject of an educational session during the MGMA 2013 Annual Conference, Oct. 6-9 in San Diego.
Carolyn Hartley, president and CEO at consultancy Physicians EHR Inc. in Cary, N.C., will describe the seven symptoms that you have a problem and what to do. The symptoms cover such functions as new patient registration, rooming the patient, charting and documentation capture, computerized physician order entry, messaging and triaging incoming calls, night clinics and walk-ins, and patient portals/patient engagement.
Take rooming the patient, for instance. In a paper world, the nurses and physicians have difference processes. One physician may want a nurse to capture most of the routine information of an office visit, while another physician may say “check blood pressure and I’ll do everything else.” But in the electronic world, that means data is being inconsistently entered into the EHR, and it gets worse if one nurse is substituting for another that usually works with a specific physician. Consequently, practices going electronic need standard processes. “Without internal governance standards, the EHR will be a mess,” Hartley says.

Healthcare Providers and Health Information Technology Infographic

Read how America’s healthcare providers are now using EHRs and Health IT to achieve meaningful use and help to improve their patients’ care and health.

HDM Feature: Assembling an Analytics Team

OCT 1, 2013 4:06pm ET
Analysis is nothing new in the science and data-heavy health care field, but what used to be a couple guys crunching numbers for Excel sheets and calling it "analytics" has become a high-profile, risky and expensive adventure aimed at the heart of the business of health care organizations. If you don't know your data in this stupendously complex market, you don't know your business. And enormous changes in payments and clinical quality standards mean organizations that don't know their business are at real of risk of not having one.
Intense, enterprise analytics has come about suddenly; most providers that have assembled analytics teams have done so recently, and in that quick ramp-up have learned some hard lessons about how to put together the structure and staff they need to provide actionable intelligence to financial and clinical business owners.

Unencryption at core of HIPAA breach

Posted on Oct 02, 2013
By Erin McCann, Associate Editor
The San Jose, Calif.-based Santa Clara Valley Medical Center is notifying 571 patients that their protected health information has been compromised after an unencrypted laptop was stolen from the hospital's audiology department. 
Patient names, medical records numbers, dates of birth, ages, sex, dates of service and brainwaves from testing were all included on the laptop, according to the Sept. 27 notification letters mailed to patients. 
The theft was discovered Sept. 16.

Military Health System examines privacy, identity challenges

October 2, 2013 | By Susan D. Hall
As the U.S. Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs work toward an effective electronic exchange of healthcare records, issues of patient privacy and identity management remain.
As part of that process, the Military Health System undertook a literature review to identify data-integration processes as well as the related techniques and standards necessary for a shared EHR that also exchanges data with civilian healthcare providers, reports Health IT Security.
These parameters need to be in place for the data-sharing, along with the interoperability to make it happen, speakers told the recent HIMSS Privacy and Security Forum.

Wearable device revenues to grow to $6B in 2018

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 1, 2013
Wearable connected device revenues will grow to more than $6 billion in 2018, according to new findings from ABI Research. The survey tracked four areas: sports, fitness and wellness; home monitoring devices; remote patient monitoring; and professional (on-site) healthcare.
Of the four markets, sports, fitness and wellness was the largest, always producing at least half the revenue over the forecast period. Within this category heart rate monitors are the shipment leader today, although by 2017, ABI Research predicts activity trackers will grow at a 40 percent compound annual growth rate and overtake heart rate monitors.

Mobile Health Holds Promise for Improving Care of Homeless Patients

by Kate Ackerman, iHealthBeat Editor in Chief Wednesday, October 2, 2013
People who are homeless have poor access to primary care and often experience high levels of unmet health needs. As a result, it's not surprising that the homeless make up a disproportionate share of emergency department patients. But a new study suggests that mobile health has great potential to increase communication within that patient population, boost preventive care, and ultimately improve health outcomes and lower costs.
Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine studied the prevalence and types of "new media" use among ED patients who experience homelessness.
Lori Ann Post -- lead author of the study and an associate professor of emergency medicine and research director at the Yale School of Medicine -- said, "It's really important to us because we're the emergency department, and we treat so many people experiencing homelessness," adding, "I wanted to take the opportunity to identify how new media can transcend health care barriers, and I can't think of a better population than people experiencing homelessness."

HDM Feature: Why EHRs Won’t Reduce Your Malpractice Premiums

SEP 30, 2013 3:42pm ET
You're dozing off in front of late-night TV. An insistent voice jerks you awake. "Have you been injured because of your doctor or hospital's use of electronic health records?" asks the TV lawyer. "Call the number on your screen to see if you may be eligible to receive a monetary award!"
Nightmare or tomorrow's reality? EHRs, properly implemented, are generally considered a boon to care quality and safety, with their reminders, care protocols, and readability. EHRs can help providers avoid making the types of mistakes that can land them in court.
But experts say those characteristics won't automatically translate into fewer malpractice claims, easier defenses, or lower malpractice insurance premiums. In fact, EHRs may make malpractice claims more expensive to defend, and obscure the very facts they're supposed to confirm.

Asia-Pac catches case of 'cloud fever'

Posted on Oct 01, 2013
By Mike Miliard, Managing Editor
The market for software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service technologies is set to explode in Asia in the next half-decade, growing at a compound annual rate of 22.3 percent between now and 2018.
"Healthcare providers are cognizant of the long term cost benefits of cloud solutions," said Natasha Gulati, connected health industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan Asia-Pacific, in an Oct. 1 news release. "What they are looking for now, are reliable technology partners who can address their concerns over data privacy and security."
While many healthcare IT vendors emphasize the enhanced security and back-up support provided by cloud technologies, the message has not successfully reached hospital CIOs yet, according to Frost & Sullivan. This is why healthcare continues to invest in private clouds while other industries are rapidly moving to public or hybrid cloud models.

Insurance exchanges open for business

Posted on Oct 01, 2013
By Anthony Brino, Editor, HIEWatch
Even amid the government shutdown, the new online insurance marketplaces -- known as health insurance exchanges -- were up and running today. There were early reports of computer glitches across several states. Some states, with large numbers of uninsured, are dealing with problems of a different sort.
In the states with largest uninsured populations, the stakes are high for this fall’s insurance exchange enrollment — the difference between the healthcare status-quo and improvements in healthcare access and sustainability.   
Some 5.7 million Texans, almost 25 percent of the population, are estimated to be uninsured, contributing to about $5.5 billion in uncompensated hospital care annually, according to the Texas Hospital Association. But with state leaders declining to expand Medicaid, a number of those uninsured may remain without coverage, caught in an eligibility “donut hole” — too rich for Medicaid but too poor for federal premium assistance, which starts at 133 percent of the federal poverty level under the Affordable Care Act .

GP appointments auto-cancelled via text

25 September 2013   Rebecca Todd
GP practices are using new iPlato functionality to allow patients to automatically cancel GP appointments via their mobile phone.
The new feature, available for Enterprise and Pro users, means appointments can be cancelled without intervention by practice reception staff.
The Hammersmith Surgery has trialled the functionality.
Practice manager Lesley Kenny said: “Whilst eliminating effort for practice staff to deal with incoming cancellation requests from patients, this new feature has significantly sped up the process of making short term appointments available for other patients.

Digital care plans by 2015

25 September 2013   Rebecca Todd
Everyone with a long-term condition or disability must have a digital personalised care plan accessible online or via a mobile phone app by 2015, under a package of measures launched today by NHS England.
Transforming Participation in Health and Care is online guidance to commissioners that promotes the use of technology to put patients and their carers at the centre of treatment decision making.
The NHS Mandate set an objective that everyone with a long-term condition will be offered a personalised care plan. The new guidance says this must be digitally accessible.
  • September 27, 2013, 5:30 PM ET

Hospital Testing Tablets to Boost Patient Care, Lower Costs

Hospitals are turning to technology to help patients manage their care. Some patients at New York-Presbyterian Hospital are using tablet computers to call for nurses and view their health records. The hospital says the switch away from nurse page buttons will make care more efficient and eliminate the need to spend millions to replace an aging call system.
And with health insurance marketplaces set to launch nationwide on Tuesday, NY-Presbyterian says the program helps meet new federal guidelines requiring hospitals to demonstrate “meaningful use” of electronic health records. Hospitals will receive a one-time bonus payment for showing that 5% of annual patients access their health information online by 2014. Such regulations are spurring hospitals to boost their information technology infrastructure.
NY-Presbyterian is testing tablets running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows 8 software with a select number of patients, with plans to roll the program out hospital-wide by next year. Upon admittance, patients receive a tablet tethered to a bedside hospital cart. Patients can use the tablet to call or text their nurse to request water or notify them that they are in pain. CIO Aurelia Boyer says today’s hospital staffs are more mobile and the program routs calls and texts to PCs at the nurse’s station as well as to the nurse’s mobile phone.

Q&A: Mostashari Reflects as He Prepares to Exit ONC

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , October 1, 2013

In the second part of a two-part interview, departing National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, MD, discusses EHRs and quality measures, Regional Extension Centers, and VDT requirements.

In the second half of my exit interview with outgoing National Coordinator Farzad Mostashari, MD, of the federal Office of the National Coordinator, we discussed the evolution of electronic health record systems and concerns over quality measures. Part I of the interview is here .
HLM: Some argue that HITECH has funded the purchase of EHR software which is really not suited to the emerging value-based care system, that today's EHRs are overwhelmingly designed for fee-for-service and maximization of revenue.
Mostashari: I would say that their views are exactly correct, but a little outdated. When I testified before Congress seven years ago, that's what I said, and I said that EHRs today don't let you make a list. They don't let you measure quality. They don't collect smoking status, or blood pressure, in standardized ways. They don't offer decision support.

Do patients even want digital health records?

By Mike Miliard, Contributing Editor
While the federal government is incentivizing healthcare providers to implement and use electronic health records systems, and ramping up patient engagement efforts, the question of how many patients actually want to use digitized health data remains.
Indeed, majorities of Americans are concerned about the security of their electronic data, according to a new poll, and more than two-thirds of respondents indicated that their physicians have not adequately explained the switch to digital records.
As physicians race to adopt EHRs and collect federal incentive payments, a survey sponsored by Xerox suggests they need to do a better job educating their patients about the implications of digitized health information.

Disasters happen: Best to be ready

Posted on Sep 30, 2013
By John Andrews, Contributing Writer
On any given day, a disaster occurring somewhere in the country is making news – whether it’s wildfires out West, floods in the heartland, a major tornado in Oklahoma or a ferocious storm like Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast. And while the focus is (rightly) on the human toll and physical destruction these events cause, little attention is paid to how important data and IT infrastructure is lost to provider organizations in the danger zones.
Perhaps that lack of publicity is why putting a disaster recovery plan in place hasn’t been a high priority for a number of healthcare providers. Vendors report that many of those who do have a backup plan are still using antiquated tape and that adoption of more sophisticated disaster recovery programs remains at a low level.
“Despite the critical importance of keeping data safe, not enough organizations are taking it seriously,” says Steve Deaton, vice president at Garner, NC-based Viztek. “Either they don’t want to spend the money on it or lack the desire to figure it out.”

Patients still ill-informed about EHRs

Posted on Sep 30, 2013
By Mike Miliard, Managing Editor
Large majorities of Americans have concerns about the security of their electronic health records, and more than two-thirds of patients say their physicians have not adequately explained the switch to digital records, a new poll shows.
As physicians race to adopt EHRs and collect federal incentive payments, a survey sponsored by Xerox suggests they need to do a better job educating their patients about the implications of digitized health information.
The fourth annual EHR survey polled more than 2,000 U.S. adults and found that just 29 percent have even been informed by their doctor that their medical records will be converted to digital format.

New Nonprofit Dedicated to Healthcare Interoperability

September 27, 2013
A newly formed nonprofit organization called the Center for Medical Interoperability has gotten off the ground thanks to grant funding, personnel, and royalty-free technology licensed from The Gary and Mary West Health Institute., a nonprofit dedicated to lowering health costs.
The nonprofit will aim to drive rapid, widespread and sustained interoperability of medical technology to improve patient safety and lower healthcare costs, and will be led by hospitals and health systems. It will be dedicated to enabling standards-based technical solutions to drive adoption of medical interoperability.

IBM uses big data to predict outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria

September 29, 2013 9:01 PM
IBM has teamed up with university researchers to use big data and analytics to predict the outbreak of deadly diseases such as dengue fever and malaria.
The research is aimed at understanding the spread of diseases in real-time in order to better deploy public health resources, said James Kaufman, public health manager at IBM Research in the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif.
But rather than just predicting the spread of a disease, the researchers at IBM, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California at San Francisco are applying analytics from large data sets to see how changes in rainfall, temperature, and even soil acidity can dramatically affect the populations of wild animals and insects that carry the diseases. They’re also merging that information with other data, like airport and highway traffic, to further understand outbreaks.

Mobile Apps May Expand Dermatology Practice

Last Updated: September 27, 2013.
Mobile apps may offer an opportunity to expand delivery of dermatological care, according to research published online Sept. 25 in JAMA Dermatology.
FRIDAY, Sept. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Mobile apps may offer an opportunity to expand delivery of dermatological care, according to research published online Sept. 25 in JAMA Dermatology.
In an effort to determine the number, type, and price of dermatology-related mobile apps, Ann Chang Brewer, M.D., from the University of Arizona in Phoenix, and colleagues queried dermatology-related search terms in online app stores of the most commonly used mobile platforms developed by Apple, Android, Blackberry, Nokia, and Windows.

Physicians Spend More Time on EMRs Than With Patients in ED

Susan London
Sep 27, 2013
Emergency medicine physicians spend nearly half their time entering data into electronic medical records (EMRs), according to a study conducted in a community hospital in Pennsylvania.
Robert G. Hill Jr, MD, from St. Luke's University Health Network, Allentown, Pennsylvania and colleagues analyzed time use in their emergency department and found that physicians spent 43% of their time, on average, performing data entry, or roughly twice as much as that spent on direct patient care. Their study was published online September 23 in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine.
During a busy 10-hour shift, their calculations suggested that a physician might perform a finger-numbing 4000 mouse clicks entering data.

Patient Portal Market Expected to Reach $900M by 2017

September 27, 2013
The total U.S. patient portal market for hospitals and physicians earned revenue of $279.8 million in 2012, and is expected to increase steadily, reaching $898.4 million in 2017—representing a 221.1 percent increase—according to new research from consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
According to the analysis, "U.S. Patient Portal Market for Hospitals and Physicians: Overview and Outlook, 2012–2017," the majority of revenue will primarily result from increased demand driven by myriad forces, including the need to meet Stage 2 meaningful use requirements, the growing move to clinical integration and accountable care, and increasing consumer demand for health information technology.

Intermountain signs sweeping EHR deal

Posted on Sep 30, 2013
By Bernie Monegain, Editor
Intermountain Healthcare , a healthcare system known for its leadership and attention to quality, has signed a multi-year contract with Cerner to deploy Cerner’s electronic medical record and revenue cycle technology across all of Intermountain’s hospitals and clinics.
Intermountain is known around the world for its laser focus on care quality and its pioneering work with data analytics.
The IDN ’s choice of an EMR vendor in a field where only two companies – Epic and Cerner – seem to be in competition for the large and complex deployments, the selection is bound to garner attention.