The Week in Healthcare Information Technology
The current development of healthcare information technology has overtaken healthcare’s ability to integrate it, according to the Brookings Institute. This week’s healthcare news brought the announcement of new developments but also included studies on the adoption challenges of these technologies. October also spawned a new set of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines regarding the development of medical devices.

Health care industry lacks the artificial intelligence systems to integrate the data into patient treatments
In a new Tech Tank statement, Brookings revealed the healthcare industry remains behind the times in its ability to integrate the available data from wearable devices. For example, while Apple’s next generation Apple Watch will include an FDA-approved electrocardiograph (EKG) the Institute reports the health care industry lacks the artificial intelligence systems to integrate the data into patient treatments. The Apple Watch EKG can monitor the wearer for arrhythmia, but most medical providers currently lack the infrastructure to assimilate the feed of big data that multiple users create, and the infrastructure costs exceed viability for use in only a handful of cases. An AI system could monitor heartbeat, respiration and other vital signs to catch irregularities and alert the wearer and their physician. The early warnings could help lower health care costs and make treatments more proactive. The industry first needs an affordable method for reading and incorporating the large-scale data.

Paper records still a stumbling block to blockchain technology adoption in healthcare
Quantzig, a global analytics and advisory firm, published its study on blockchain technology adoption challenges in healthcare. The greatest of these is its continued reliance on paper rather than adopting digital records. A small percentage of providers have transitioned to using electronic health records (EHR) but its implementation remains far from widespread. This presents a roadblock in the transition to the more secure and accessible blockchain technology since it requires digital assets. A move to use of EHRs and blockchain tech requires a “major cultural shift” encompassing multiple departments in any and every health care facility from admitting to patient care to billing. It would also require a similar shift in the insurance industry to ensure compatibility. The unwillingness of some hospitals to disclose actual costs presents another hurdle in integrating with insurance companies.

UCLA receives grand aimed at helping California accelerate the adoption of healthcare information technology
The University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) announced the receipt of a $3.7 million grant it will share with three other organizations in the state to accelerate the uptake of healthcare information technology. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute awarded the funds to UCLA, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System for the Center of Excellence in Learning Health Systems program SPIRIT K12 program. The SPIRIT K12 program supports young scientists researching the rapid evaluation and implementation of healthcare IT developments. The goal is to boost the implementation of IT to create a “learning health system” benefiting patients by producing improved care at lower costs. Essentially, the program’s research will begin to address the shortcomings identified by the Brookings Institute and Quantzig within the California healthcare system.

FDA releases cyber secruity guidelines
The US Food and Drug Administration medical device cyber security program guidelines were released on October 1, 2018. The guidelines provide advisory information not rules. While this means they are not legally enforceable, failure to adhere to their best practices nature may result in FDA penalties due to privacy violations and product safety violations. The new FDA guidelines will address both hackers and accidental breaches. The health care records of more than 170 million Americans have been breached since 2009, stated the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights. Those data breaches cost the healthcare industry about $5 billion annually. Recent hacks of healthcare providers revealed an industry unprepared to address 21st century data protection needs. It further reveals another roadblock to integrating mobile device data such as the EKG data soon to be available on the Apple Watch. The new data streams once integrated into EHR systems will require enhanced protection from hackers. The 2018 guidelines join those released in 2016 and 2014. The 2016 guide covers post-market management and recommendations regarding at-market products that could be breached. This product monitoring should identify and address threats and vulnerabilities. The oldest guideline specifies pre-market submission content. It recommends an integrated risk management approach throughout the research and development phases of medical devices. It enumerates specific documents the manufacturer should provide the FDA in its approval application. The devices in question include a diverse set from Apple Watches to ultra sound equipment, essentially any device collecting medical data that requires FDA approval.