Interoperability and Telehealth in Las Vegas: Looking back on HIMSS 2016

Guest post by Michael Leonard, director of product management, healthcare, Commvault.

Michael Leonard
Michael Leonard

Once a year, the healthcare community gathers to discuss the hottest healthcare trends. This year, the event took place in Sin City, and the turnout was staggering. Topics of choice at the show ranged from EHR best practices to the rising need for telehealth services.

Now that I’ve had a chance to step back and digest, there are a few key moments that jumped out from the event. Here are my top two:

  1. The HIMSS survey showed healthcare organizations are ready for telehealth.

During the show, HIMSS released a survey that had some exciting results around connected technology in the healthcare field. The results showed that 52 percent of hospitals are currently using three or more connected health technologies. Technologies being used by that group that stood out to me include mobile optimized patient portals (58 percent), remote patient monitoring (37 percent) and patient generated health data (32 percent). It’s fascinating to see these results, and important for healthcare and health IT professionals to know that the telehealth wave is here to stay.

  1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) made a key interoperability announcement.

At the show, the HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell made a major announcement around interoperability that was backed by the majority of the top electronic health record (EHR) vendors and is supported by many of the leading providers. This news will enhance healthcare services and allow doctors and patients to make better informed decisions. It certainly has the potential to catapult the industry forward, allowing healthcare partners to increase accessibility by improving their clinical data management solutions.

As always, the conversation at HIMSS was engaging and educational and I left with some great takeaways and predictions for the future of health IT including:

  1. Healthcare consolidation isn’t over.

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Effective Data Management is Helping Keep Advocate Health Care’s Patient Healthy

Kim Scanlon
Kim Scanlon

Guest post by Kim Scanlon, manager, infrastructure and environment, Advocate Health Care.

Advocate Health Care (AHC), based in Illinois, is the Midwest’s largest health system. It includes 13 hospitals, two physician groups, a home care company, a laboratory joint venture and more than 200 sites that provide care. AHC typically serves about 3.4 million patients annually – as you can imagine, that results in a lot of patient data. As such, we recently adopted a single platform approach and standardization of processes for storing and sharing information that enables us to manage patient data in a more timely, cost-effective and streamlined manner.

Patient data is the lifeblood of our IT infrastructure. Given the size of our organization, it’s essential that we have a shared vision on how we manage, access and share information across all sites. Our health system exists to provide a full spectrum of care, so it’s vital that we have a data management system in place that helps ensure patient data meets compliance requirements and is quickly recoverable. Additionally, AHC has the state’s largest physician network of primary care physicians, specialists and sub-specialists, so this organized approach to managing data serves to connect patients with providers and vice-versa, ensuring no relationship is left unmatched.

Advocate Health Care maintains a bank of internal data from payroll, financial and HR applications, as well as clinical apps. As a result, it was producing an extreme amount of information on a daily basis that needed to be stored and managed by our corporate information system. Not all data management companies and solution providers understood our desire to integrate this data into one holistic platform. When it came time to find a new data management partner in 2011, many vendors recommended disparate systems or processes that siloed, rather than integrated, our in-house data management initiative.

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Survey: Top Concerns for Healthcare IT include Data Growth, Bring-Your-Own-Cloud

Jay Savaiano

Guest post by Jay Savaiano, director, worldwide healthcare business development, CommVault.

Healthcare professionals are inundated with an abundant amount of ways that they can access and store clinical data. Healthcare IT departments are given the task of making sure the delivery of that clinical data is readily available and can be accessed via a myriad of devices, as well as in a secure manner that meets the compliance standards that the entire enterprise has agreed on upholding. The deluge of data and the ever-changing ways that the data is accessed is creating some major challenges and concerns for the majority of professionals who are responsible for managing the nation’s healthcare information stream.

In a recent nationwide survey of healthcare IT managers in enterprise organizations, 75 percent of respondents – up 14 percent from last year – indicated they were concerned about the protected health information (PHI) residing in Bring-Your-Own-Cloud (BYOC) solutions, such as Box or Dropbox. A large number of BYOC solutions even offer the first 2GB of storage for free, which may speak to their popularity.

Savaiano survey pictureToday, smart phones, tablets and computers that have helped proliferate the popularity of “Bring-Your-Own-Device” programs all come out of the box with some sort of free cloud-based storage solution. Though Intel and ReadWrite report that 49 percent of U.S. IT managers “Strongly Agree that BYOD Improves Worker Productivity,” when you couple BYOC with BYOD together and add protected health information to the mix, healthcare organizations can be opening themselves up to a tremendous amount of liability.

With the policies inherent in clinical applications themselves, it is easy to maintain the security of the content, which is often structured and rarely stored locally. However, the challenge revolves around the unstructured data with PHI. For example, if a clinician maintains a spreadsheet of basic patient data and he or she places that spreadsheet in a BYOC-type solution, both the clinician and the healthcare organization are putting themselves in a liable position. Only when cloud-based solutions are authorized by the healthcare facility and meet the organization’s compliance criteria – which can and usually dictates the cloud provider is willing to sign a business associate agreement in support of HIPAA – are the organization and clinician able to limit the potential liability impact. There can still be other factors that create new liability, but by making the limitation of rogue cloud storage a priority, healthcare organizations can better protect themselves against a potential data breach and subsequent lawsuit.

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