The use of information technology will continue to play a large role in improving the quality of care, controlling costs and boosting efficiency. There has been tremendous growth in HIT over the last several years spurred on by the passage of the HITECH Act and the proposed reforms of the PPACA. Both public and private sectors of the healthcare industry are utilizing IT in order to meet new quality reporting standards, empower patients and serve as the backbone of emerging care delivery and payment reform models.
Top 12 Healthcare Information Technology Issues
- Meaningful Use:
Included in the HITECH Act, this program requires all providers to demonstrate the meaningful use of EHR by 2014 or face reduced Medicare reimbursements. Providers are eligible to receive financial incentives if they implement their EHR system before the deadline.
- Health Information Exchange:
The HITECH Act is also driving the creation of state HIEs that will facilitate the sharing of healthcare data between healthcare organizations. Communication between these exchanges presents a multitude of standards and policy issues that must be analyzed before successful implementation can take place.
- Healthcare Reform:
Healthcare Reform gave states a mandate to setup a health insurance exchange by 2014. This requires a combination of technology that includes content management, ecommerce, CRM and portals. The PPACA also creates accountable care organizations (ACO) that require a large investment in EHR, HIE and data analytics.
- HIPAA Compliance:
With a more strictly defined HIPAA, repercussions and fines for data breaches of personal health information have drastically increased, setting a high standard for encryption technology.
- Mobile health and BYOD:
In order to increase the mobility of healthcare, decision makers must establish a mobile/BYOD policy that meets security and HIPAA privacy requirements through identification and access management tools.
- Wireless Networking:
Wireless network access is becoming increasingly important for healthcare workers in in today’s medical facilities. The structural limitations of transforming older facilities to support wireless access can be an expensive challenge. Combinations of wireless WAN and a multitude of access points, will most be the most likely solution.
The challenge of wireless networking is a significant issue for the adoption of Telemedicine. Varying state policies on telemedicine utilization and reimbursement continues to be an obstacle to wider adoption of this emerging practice.
- Patient Engagement:
Changing the habits of patients in regard to their healthcare by requiring more responsibility and involvement is a tough hurdle. Smartphone applications, and other online applications allow patients to track their health goals but product limitations may deter willing patient participants.
- Clinical Data Analysis:
There is huge potential for data analytics to assist in treating and preventing illness for populations of people. Data analysis also serves a role in quality of care improvement efforts. Implementing a data analysis system that combines data in a secure warehouse, and remains easily accessible and secure is an expensive and large undertaking.
- Storage Infrastructure:
The amount of data and length of time data must be stored as required by HITECH Act and Data Retention Laws threatens to quickly exceed existing storage capacity. Possible solutions to storage issues are virtualized storage in storage area networks with data replication.
- The Cloud:
The Cloud leads to questions about data encryption, ownership, HIPAA compliance and overall security. Small provider groups and facilities are experimenting with cloud-based EHR systems while larger entities building private clouds of their own.
ICD-10 has been used for at least a decade by many other countries, while the US is still using ICD-9 that was finalized in 1979 and therefore outdated. Transition to ICD-10 is a costly, time consuming process to undertake and with ICD-11 slated to be ready by 2015, many see adoption of this standard as an unnecessary burden.
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