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The Week in Health Information Technology News
Santa is on the way shortly, but before he gets here we have a few treats for your HIT news sock.  Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas fellow HIT enthusiasts!

Interoperability Still a Dream in Health IT 

While many big companies and executives’ visions and plans for greater interoperability made headlines in healthcare technology news sections, it all remained promises in 2018. However, the growth in the number of organizations joining the call for greater interoperability, particularly on patient data, might be the silver lining amid failed realization of this vision. Tech giant Apple is among those who promised interoperability after it announced it would allow its customers to download their health data into their iPhones.

Cerner Awarded VA Scheduling System Contract 

The U.S. Veteran Affairs Department resolved its issues with its scheduling system after it granted the contract to Cerner, a health information technology solutions provider. The department’s Medical Appointment Scheduling System has been floating for years as it irons out issues with its first contractor Epic. In the early phase of the project, VA landed on every healthcare technology news sections as it initially laid off granting the contract to Epic as it decided to tinker with its scheduling system. The contract was later on given to Epic but doubts over the firm’s capability came up as it is also in-charge with other projects within the department.

Data a Valuable Tool in Improving Asthma Care 

Big data is being harnassed by healthcare organizations and hospitals to improve care management for patients dealing with asthma. Tools like the Asthma Action Plan, the Asthma APGAR Tool, and electronic health records all play an integral part in physicians and hospitals’ efforts to strengthen preventive approaches to asthma. To enable accurate prediction and realize cost-saving measures, they are turning into data like billing and ICD-10 codes including prescription data to flag high-risk patients. While clinicians are aware of disparities in the way asthma is managed, they all agree that the most effective strategy is to use available data to make improvements on external factors contributing to the patient’s asthma attacks.

ONC: Hospitals Still Use Non-Electronic Methods to Send, Receive Data

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) found that patient data sharing in hospitals is done in more than one way as some still depend on non-electronic methods to share data with other providers. The ONC analysis was based on the Information Technology Supplement Survey conducted by the American Hospital Association. The survey revealed the following:

  • An estimated 7 out of 10 hospitals use fax or mail to share health records in 2017.
  • A quarter of surveyed healthcare facilities disclosed that they used multi-electronic health record vendor networks to send and receive patient data.
  • Non-electronic means of sending and receiving patient records are still used by small, rural, and critical access hospitals.
  • Majority, regardless of type and size, of hospitals still use a mix of electronic and non-electronic means in sending and receiving patient information.

Timely Healthcare Through Artificial Intelligence 

Health IT professionals believe that artificial intelligence is the key simplifying medicine again. Medal co-founder and chief information officer Andy McMurray said that machine learning can help doctors by doing all the reading and then assigning context. He added that those learned by the machine can be used by medical professionals to browse through information relevant to the patient’s condition. He further explained that the use of AI can reduce the time spent by physicians shifting through data. Medal founder Lonnie Rae Kurlander believes that AI will not replace physicians, but merely is a tool to make their work simpler and streamlined.

Best Practices Against Cybersecurity Threats 

More on Healthcare Information Security

The year 2018 will be remembered as the period when data breaches became the norm in healthcare technology news. Deloitte revealed that there were only 25 percent of organizations around the world ready to combat such an attack. It is an alarming number given that there were more than 600 cybersecurity attacks in 2018 that exposed more than 22 million private information. With a new year coming, cybersecurity experts provided some recommendations to ward off cybersecurity risks including proper planning and monitoring of cyberattacks, increased spending on cyberthreat detection, incorporating cybersecurity into the business risk management model, and engaging top officials into the cybersecurity risk strategy.

Greater Interoperability in Healthcare with Cloud Computing 

Dr. Toby Cosgrove, former Cleveland Clinic chief executive officer and executive advisor to Google Cloud Health Care and Life Services, believe that cloud computing is the solution to greater interoperability without experiencing cybersecurity threats. He said that with the huge number of data available, physicians and other medical professionals can easily access needed information through the cloud without risking breach of a person’s privacy. He believed that artificial intelligence and machine learning could further take advantage of what cloud computing and big data has to offer. He explained that these technologies can be a big help in prescribing medications like those for patients with hypertension.