Health Care Orgs To Collaborate on Data Exchange, Security Issues

On Tuesday, the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission and the National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center announced a new agreement to collaborate on security, Healthcare IT News reports.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the two organizations will work together on initiatives that aim to improve risk mitigation, response and recovery after HIPAA breaches, given the rise of data breaches in the health care industry (Miliard, Healthcare IT News, 1/26).

In addition, the groups will work to “accelerate the adoption of secure, identity-validated health information exchange via the Direct standard, in support of Stage 2 meaningful use transitions of care and patient engagement,” according to the release. The groups also will work to identify ways to use the Direct standard for secure and encrypted health data exchange (EHNAC release, 1/26).

Officials said the groups aim to create educational campaigns, webinars and joint promotional opportunities to improve awareness and understanding of secure data exchange and security issues.

EHNAC Executive Director Lee Barrett said, “There is an urgent need to increase awareness and identify means of prevention for the seemingly endless string of headline-grabbing cyberattacks this past year,” adding, “The unfortunate fact is that hacks have increasingly become a part of digital life — and no person or organization is immune” (Walsh, Clinical Innovation & Technology, 1/27).

Workshop to address innovations in health care delivery slated for Feb. 5

The Center for Integrated Healthcare Delivery Systems (CIHDS) at Penn State will host its eighth annual workshop from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Founder’s Room of the Bryce Jordan Center on the University Park campus.

This year’s workshop, titled “Precision Medicine and Precision Health: Speeding Innovations in Healthcare Delivery,” brings together experts from industry and academia to focus on the linkages between precision medicine and precision health, with a particular interest in how health care delivery can become more efficient as the driver of innovation.

“The goal of this meeting is to lay the groundwork for developing a research agenda and collaborative teams of faculty and students interested in this area,” said Harriet Nembhard, director of CIHDS and professor of industrial engineering. “We have an opportunity to help set the strategic direction and define important aspects of precision health.”

Workshop panelists include: James Broach, director, Penn State Hershey Institute for Personalized Medicine and chair, biochemistry and molecular biology, Penn State; Harleah Buck, assistant professor of nursing, Penn State; Chris DeFlitch, vice chair, clinical operations and chief medical information officer, Penn State Hershey Emergency Medicine; Nembhard; and Marc Williams, director, Geisinger Genomic Medicine Institute.

Registration information and additional details can be found on the CIHDS website.

The CIHDS is a joint initiative of Penn State’s Colleges of Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Information Sciences and Technology, and Health and Human Development, along with the Office of the Vice President for Research. The center strives to capitalize on the network of Penn State resources in order to promote a holistic approach to understanding, analyzing and solving the current issues of access and quality in health care.

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Why it’s time to finally embrace telehealth

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For the past few years, many doctors and healthcare practices have found themselves torn as to whether or not they should embrace telehealth. While the benefits of it are undeniable, there have been questions over its security and practicality since it started being implemented over 20 years ago. However, technology and acceptance have finally made telehealth a realistic option for everyone in the healthcare industry.

Telehealth is well past the days of when it constituted nothing more than a doctor and a patient talking over the phone. With the rise of mobile health, along with technological strides made in the past decade, telehealth has become a viable way for doctors to serve patients from all walks of life.

Not only is it a viable way to practice healthcare, in many places it is treated as an equal alternative to in-person doctor’s visits. There are 24 states, plus Washington D.C., that require private insurers to cover telehealth in the same way in-person treatment is covered. And that’s just the beginning. Here are a few other reasons it’s time to embrace telehealth.

It’s not just for rural patients anymore
The original goal of telehealth was to find a way to help connect rural patients to doctors when an in-person visit wasn’t feasible. While this is still an important function of telehealth, more and more city folk have determined it’s far easier to place a call to a doctor for a quick consultation than take time off work to visit one.

With a growing number of patients preferring a video-call doctor’s visit to the real thing, this has gone from being a fad to becoming the new norm. It’s not just the video calling that has proven to be a valuable tool in the telehealth arsenal, either. With countless health monitoring apps now available, it is easier than ever for doctors to get the information they need from clients in order to make informed decisions remotely.

Security and regulations are becoming settled
One of the biggest drawbacks of embracing telehealth was the fact that state and federal regulations seemed to change on a near daily basis, meaning you never knew whether you were compliant with them. Not only that, but you also had to worry about getting equipment and systems that were HIPAA-compliant.

However, regulations on both the state and federal level have become much more stable as telehealth has become more commonplace. Telehealth technology has greatly improved as well, since manufacturers continue to better understand the security requirements involved. Nearly all equipment on the market today is compliant with HIPAA.

It’s covered by insurance
We’ve already mentioned that almost half of the the country requires private insurance to provide full telehealth coverage. Medicare and Medicaid also provide partial telehealth coverage for patients. As the accessibility and acceptance of telehealth continues its upward trajectory, it would seem likely that more insurance companies will be required to cover it. Even if you haven’t noticed a surge in demand for telehealth at your practice, implementing it now can make sure you’re prepared when the rush does come.

If you would like to know more about what you can do to implement telehealth, mHealth or any other healthcare technology, get in touch with us.


Can EHR data be tapped to predict patient needs?

Medical Transcription9

Researchers were able to predict the services patients would need in six months, using an electronic medical record-based online risk model, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

The predictive model was developed with data from Maine’s health information exchange; the researchers addressed all payers, diseases and demographic groups.

Using HealthInfoNet, Maine’s HIE, researchers looked at a retrospective cohort of 1,273,114 patients from preceding 12-months EMRs, the study.

Each patient’s next 6-month (between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013) health care resource utilization was retrospectively scored ranging from 0 to 100 and a decision tree–based predictive model was developed.

The model next integrated the Maine HIE group to allow an analysis of 1,358,153 patients by forecasting their next 6-month risk of resource utilization between July 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.

“With the online population risk monitoring enterprise dashboards, the effectiveness of the predictive algorithm has been validated by clinicians and caregivers in the State of Maine,” the report said.

Indeed, researchers said that the model and associated online applications can be considered for tracking the evolving nature of total population risk for health care resource utilization.

“It will enable more effective care management strategies driving improved patient outcomes,” the authors wrote