National Health IT (NHIT) Week takes place on September 26-30, 2016, and is a collaborative forum and virtual awareness event created to highlight the necessity of advancing health through the best use of information technology (IT). At OnRamp, we recognize the critical role health IT holds in the advancement and improvement of healthcare in the U.S. We’re using this opportunity to help promote awareness of health IT’s importance and related issues, including:
- Innovation that emphasizes precision medicine and delivers the right care to the right patient at the right time
- Expansion and improved access to care through telemedicine—especially in underserved areas
- Improvements to community health through investments and improvements in health IT tools
- Expansion of economic opportunities
- Job creation with an emphasis on recognizing the achievements and contributions of women in health IT)
- Importance of safeguarding electronic protected health information (ePHI) and maintaining HIPAA compliance
What’s Changed Since Last Year?
Patient-Centered Care. Technological advancements continue to transform the entire healthcare industry. With a stronger focus on patient-centered care, the goal is to improve patient satisfaction, increase engagement, and manage patient health outside the traditional office visit. Providers have even begun to entertain the idea of tapping into social media as more patients take on the role of customers who shop and compare prices and services through electronic means.
Increased data demands. Demand for data is increasing as clinicians and administrators look for better analytics tools and ease of access through an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). Meaningful use programs and the switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 were also at the forefront.
Data security and patient privacy issues. The number of data breaches and theft incidents involving ePHI are growing exponentially. Data security and safeguarding ePHI are a major concern for organizations that manage, transmit or store protected health information.
The Challenges Ahead
Developing New and Better Insights for Better Care. New data analytics platforms generate insightful approaches to care, giving practitioners a new set of tools to enhance their work and improve patient care.
Health Information Is Under Attack. The number of data breaches and ransomware attacks are growing, as detailed in the HIMSS 2016 Cybersecurity Study. The research revealed that 80% of respondents (representing provider organizations) said significant security incidents were pervasive. Safeguarding ePHI is more challenging today—especially for organizations doing business in healthcare verticals who may not even know that compliance apply to them.
Medical Device and Healthcare Cybersecurity. This continues to be a critical and challenging topic. Technology has been a growing part of healthcare for decades. Patients and providers alike are fueling demand for advanced technologies in medical devices used outside of clinical settings. The devices hold great promise for improved patient care, but also generate significant security risks.
What Changes Can We Expect?
Predictive Analytics and the Human Side of the Equation. Trends in healthcare are driving innovation in healthcare delivery and the process of patient care. Health informatics professionals are playing an increasingly important role in the advancement of “learning health systems” that use information as a foundation for operational management and quality improvements.
Maximizing Defenses Against Breaches and Cyber Attacks. Many organizations are still finding that they lack the resources and the knowledge necessary to protect themselves; they don’t have enough skilled cybersecurity professionals to proactively mitigate these risks and fall short of an adequate plan. Meanwhile, the amount of sensitive data that’s created, collected, and processed continues to compound. With these factors in mind, we can see there’s a paradigm shift happening. We now understand the importance of cybersecurity, because the better we are at controlling who gains access to our data, the less often data leakage, breaches, and cyberattacks will occur.
Cybersecurity has become a priority for many healthcare organizations. Safeguarding sensitive health data is especially critical with the massive number of cyberattacks and other security incidents that organizations face daily.
Let’s not forget how important information privacy policies are to the success of healthcare organizations. Information privacy goes well beyond the requirements of HIPAA and is only one piece of the puzzle. Moreover, no organization can avoid breaches and other compromises without implementing a robust privacy program.
Join the Effort
Healthcare transformation is occurring across the U.S., and the evolution of technology is leading the way. Visit www.healthitweek.org to join OnRamp and other thought leaders from all over America in raising awareness and helping to assemble healthcare constituents who will work together to promote the vital importance of advancing health through the best use of information technology.
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