The Week in Health Information Technology

The week was busy with all the developments happening in the healthcare information technology sector. From new discoveries to new technology launches, the industry remains bustling and peaking everyone’s interest in the field. This article highlights all you need to know about the industry in a couple of minutes.

A Single, More Aligned EHR planned by the DoD and VA

The U.S. Defense Department (DoD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are to streamline their electronic health record (EHR) system as part of their efforts to achieve better accountability and effectiveness. The effort to better integrate their systems comes after criticisms that while Veterans Affairs’ MHS GENESIS system aims to streamline its technology with that of the DoD, the latter lacks effort to do the same. In a joint statement issued by Defense Secretary James Mattis and VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, they enumerated the following as priorities in the streamlining initiative:

  • Developing a mechanism for greater accountability
  • A more organized organizational structure that takes advantage of commercial health record interoperability
  • A detailed timeline for its implementation

Support Extended by HITRUST to Healthcare Startups

An effort to help small healthcare startups to protect themselves from security threats was launched by HITRUST. Called the RightStart Program, it aims to train startups on best practices to prevent security lapses that led to data breaches and other similar issues. HITRUST, a leading name in security and privacy standards development, targets businesses that are in operations for no longer than three (3) years, employees that are less than 50, have posted less than 10 million U.S. dollars in revenue. Mike Parisi, vice president of Assurance Strategy & Community Development, said the program will help startups deal with constraints usually associated with security and privacy risk management. He added that they will be doing it by embedding security standards into the foundation of these healthcare startups.

Related Read: Occupational Outlook for Healthcare Information Technology Jobs

Government Officials Honored During 2018 National Health IT (NHIT) Week

Dr. Phil Roe of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, the Defense Health Agency’s Colonel Kevin Seeley, and Cynthia Green-Edwards of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services were among those who received awards during the 2018 NHIT Week. Roe was honored for his contribution to promoting the benefits of information and technology in advancing the delivery of healthcare services. As a principal advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Seeley worked on several healthcare information technology projects for the U.S. military. He was involved in programs like the adoption of emerging technologies, and as HIMSS Federal Health Community chairman from 2014 until 2018. Green-Edwards, on the other hand, spent years advocating for the improvement and upgrade of infrastructure supporting aid care coordination and value-based care. She has since moved on to head Michigan’s state health department, where she ensured that the department meet enterprise compliance standards.

Improved Breast Cancer Diagnosis with AI

A University of Chicago study found that using artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnosing breast cancer resulted in faster time spent on interpretation and accuracy of diagnosis. The American Journal of Radiology-published study was conducted by 18 researchers on 185 automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) of women who presented with dense tissue in their breast. The researchers used the concurrent-read CAD system and the QView Medical System to enable immediate visual interpretation of the diagnosis without sacrificing accuracy of the result. The QView is capable of faster interpretation as it renders each 3D ABUS in a 2D model, which enables it to immediately detect specific areas of concern.

Data Leak at MedCall Health Advisors

Healthcare solutions provider MedCall was found by security researcher Britton White to have left a certain part of its data storage exposed to the public in October 2018. Britton revealed that the open-to-the-public storage is searchable on, a repository of publicly listed Amazon S3 buckets. It further disclosed that patient names, email, and postal addresses were among those possibly accessed by unknown individuals. The report marks the second time Britton called out MedCall on the leaking data storage. MedCall chief executive Randy Baker explained that the so-called “leaking storage” was a database for one of its clients, who does not want to set-up an FTP server and instead requested a cloud storage bucket. He added that MedCall learned a lot from the incident and vowed to be more vigilant on their security policies in the future.

Innovating EHR for the Future

A project to align electronic health records to the unique needs demanded in the 21st century was launched by Penn Medicine. The aim of the initiative is to make EHR more interactive and responsive to medical professionals, not the static object it used to be in years past. The project aims to prepare EHR to better integrated with other technologies in the future. With the advent of connected devices, patient-generated health data, and artificial intelligence, the effort is seen as move to further advance the role of technology in improving the delivery of medical care services. The Nudge Unit of Penn Medicine is heading the innovation efforts. The unit prides itself as the first behavioral design team in the U.S. formed specifically for the healthcare industry.

Data Laws Impede Cross-sector Public Health Projects

Jennifer Bernstein of the Network for Public Health Law said there’s a lot of potential for public health agencies and organizations to address issues related to public health, but it is blocked by federal and state laws. Texas A&M University professor Cason Schmit added that it is the very reason for the non-existent unified network for public health data. To overcome the challenges presented by data laws, Bernstein recommended to study, identify, and better understand data laws that will impact the collaboration and data sharing to be done by a public health organization. With politicians giving more focus on big tech companies’ data security practices, Schmit said it is also a public policy opportunity to create a better and much coherent law on data and health information technology.