Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 06/11/20

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 06/11/20

The economic and societal impact of the global pandemic cannot be understated. New initiatives, regulatory updates, and national survey data spotlight both the challenges and opportunities on our nation’s path to recovery.

For individuals who have been out of work due to the coronavirus outbreak, contact tracing is emerging as a potential job opportunity. It has been widely accepted that contact tracing will be essential to the country’s reopening efforts, but proper training will be a critical success factor. CNBC recently reported that to help enlist tracers across the country, Johns Hopkins has created a free six-hour online course for contact tracing. So far, more than 250,000 people have enrolled, and 70,000 people have passed.

To help address clear disparities in the pandemic’s impact, federal officials announced that labs will be required to report demographic information for people tested for COVID19 such as race, ethnicity, age and gender along with their test results starting Aug. 1. The Washington Post reported that, “In announcing the rules, Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services who is in charge of the government’s coronavirus testing response, acknowledged what Democrats, public health experts and civil rights leaders have complained about for months.”

Additionally, a new poll from Kaiser Family Foundation shows that nearly half of Americans delayed medical care due to COVID-19. The data does not surprise many in the medical field, and they recognize it is likely to cause big problems down the road. Of those who went without seeing a doctor, 11% experienced a worsened medical condition. Moreover, nearly 40% said stress related to the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.

Learnings from the pandemic, however, may have important lasting power. In a recent opinion piece, Diana Nole (former CEO of Wolters Kluwer Health) says that the disruption we are seeing today from COVID-19 is forcing a recalibration of what is truly important, including trust in healthcare and in our nation’s care providers. You can read it now in MedCity News.

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 06/11/20

Healthcare Information Technology stories you may have missed – 02/06/20

Healthcare and technology industries respond to the coronavirus

The global coronavirus outbreak, now a declared public health emergency, is motivating organizations from in and outside healthcare to lend a helping hand. In a recent article, Becker’s writer Andrea Park looks at the ways that tech companies like Facebook and Google are responding to the epidemic.

She writes that Facebook is labeling false claims about the disease as inaccurate, attaching “fact checks” and deprioritizing the posts in users’ feeds, and that Google has reportedly completely shut down its China offices.

Inside healthcare, pharma companies Johnson & Johnson and Inovio Pharmaceuticals are racing to develop a viable coronavirus treatment and tech innovators like Wolters Kluwer are providing easier access to the latest tools and resources for frontline clinicians and medical researchers.

Read the full article in Becker’s Health IT & CIO Report.


Pressure mounts over proposed data-sharing regulations

More than two dozen companies sent a letter to federal officials calling for proposed data-sharing regulations to be published “without further delay.” Notably, no EHR companies signed. The news comes on the heels of highly publicized objections by EHR giant Epic.

The rules are intended to help improve the exchange of electronic health records and give patients access to their health data, while preventing healthcare organizations from using information blocking tactics.

Industry groups that signed on in support included the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), Boston Children’s Hospital, Missouri Health Connection, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), and The CARIN Alliance.

Get an overview of industry support and objection to the rules in Fierce Healthcare.


ACP endorses single-payer, public options plans

Modern Healthcare broke the news in January that, for the first time in its history, the American College of Physicians (ACP) endorsed a single-payer health plan as a potential strategy to fix the U.S. healthcare system.

According to the article, the second-largest physician organization in the country envisions a limited role for private insurance companies in a single-payer system – as providers of supplemental coverage.

As healthcare is increasingly politicized, it’ll be interesting to see what influence ACP will have.

See more of what ACP had to say in Modern Healthcare.

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 06/11/20

HIT headlines you may have missed

AI investment by health systems continues to grow

Administrative process improvements across healthcare are desperately needed, and more health systems are investing in artificial intelligence to help facilitate change.

As Healthcare IT News reporter Nathan Eddy points out, many in the healthcare ecosystem are already well on their way. An October Optum survey of 500 U.S. health industry leaders from hospitals, health plans, life sciences and employers, found 22% of respondents are in the late stages of AI strategy implementation.

As AI benefits accrue across the healthcare ecosystem, real savings are possible. According to an Accenture report, key clinical health AI applications could potentially create $150 billion in annual savings for the U.S. healthcare economy by 2026.

Read more in Healthcare IT News


Healthcare makes good on addressing social needs

In 2019, the phrase “social determinants” dominated headlines. Fortunately, this wasn’t a case of all talk, no action.

Steve Ross Johnson of Modern Healthcare recently wrote, “From affordable housing initiatives to funding economic revitalization of impoverished communities, the year saw industry leaders make some of their biggest investments yet toward addressing socioeconomic factors tied to improving patient outcomes.”

Some suspect that swift progress in addressing the social needs of patients through targeted interventions may be a response to a reimbursement landscape that’s encouraging providers to take on more risk.

Learn more about strides made in 2010 in Modern Healthcare


Tech Giants Shake Industry with Big Moves in 2019 

The nation’s biggest technology companies, including Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, all made significant healthcare plays in 2019, and this shows these nontraditional competitors are here to stay.

Apple’s consumer- and enterprise-facing health projects are especially notable. Business Insider recently reported that Apple has even more planned for 2020, a sign of its deliberate and aggressive strategy. In fact, some industry projections have Apple’s healthcare division generating $313 billion in revenue by 2027.

Get a glimpse into what Apple has planned in the new year at Business Insider


Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 06/11/20

Recent HIT headlines you may have missed

From Chanel Benoit, Account Director at Greenough Brand Storytellers

Facebook takes aim at preventative care 

Facebook is making a targeted push into healthcare with the launch of a new tool that encourages users to use the platform to stay on top of routine health tasks such as getting flu shots and cancer screenings.

Following public controversy around its privacy practices, Facebook’s success will depend on its ability to regain the trust of consumers, no easy task with information as personal as one’s health history. 

Get the full story at STAT


Alphabet buys FitBit

Earlier this month, Alphabet, Google’s parent, announced its intention to buy FitBit, valuing the smartwatch maker at more than $2 billion. CNBC reported that the acquisition pits Alphabet against fellow tech giant Apple in the wearable fitness tracking arena.

Fitbit’s stock surged more than 30% following the announcement – good news considering the company has been losing ground to Apple’s smartwatch for some time.

Learn more about the deal in CNBC


Provider orgs most likely target for data breaches

Experts predict that data breaches in healthcare will cost the industry as much as $4 billion by the end of 2019, with no signs of slowing down in 2020.

According to Black Book’s annual report on data security, provider organizations such as hospitals and physician practices are the most likely targets. In fact, so far in 2019, providers have the been victims of nearly four out of five breaches.

The takeaway: Providers need to invest much more aggressively in protecting their information assets. While hospital systems are making modest increases in investments (about six percent in 2019), a whopping 92% of physician organizations still lack full-time security staff.

Get all the info in Health Data Management


WSJ reports on “Project Nightingale,” sparking privacy concerns

More health news out of Google this month! The Wall Street Journal reported that the company is engaged with one of the nation’s largest health care systems, Ascension, with a mission to collect the personal health information of millions of people across more than 20 states.

Reportedly, the project launched in secret in 2018. The data involved includes lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, amounting to a near-complete health history, including patient names and dates of birth.

Patients and doctors alike are understandably uneasy, but the companies insist the project follows federal health law and includes robust protections for patient data.

Read the full story at WSJ

Recent Healthcare IT news bites you may have missed

Recent Healthcare IT news bites you may have missed

Patients embrace digital health technology

A recent survey by health IT software company ResMed found that 8 in 10 Americans agree that technology has made seeking medical treatment easier.

The survey also found that remote digital technology has enhanced people’s connection with their physicians, rather than distanced them from one another. This is good news as consumer use of the technology is widespread: 56% of those surveyed currently monitor their health with at least one digital data collection tool.

Read more about the survey findings on the ResMed website.



Karen DeSalvo appointed as Google’s first chief health officer

Google and parent company Alphabet are investing broadly in the health industry. The recent appointment of Karen DeSalvo, a former health official in the Obama administration, as its first chief health officer signals just how aggressive they are going after the market. The news comes just a few weeks after the company tapped former FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf to lead the company’s health and strategy policy.

Califf and DeSalvo will both start later this year.

Read the full CNBC story


UT Austin announces healthcare cybersecurity leadership program

Aiming to address a cybersecurity workforce shortage issue in healthcare, UT Austin announced a Leadership in Health Care Privacy and Security Risk Management certificate program, which university officials say is a first-in-the-nation professional program.

The program is designed to develop leaders who can manage risk in American healthcare systems, protecting them from fast-evolving cybersecurity threats. Data shows that there are currently 350,000 unfilled cybersecurity job openings in the United States. Some estimates note that the cybersecurity workforce gap will hit 1.8 million globally by 2022.

Get all the info in Healthcare Innovation


Patients value a quality digital experience

New data from New York-based patient billing company Cedar shows that about 41% of patients would consider switching healthcare providers for a better digital experience.

The company’s survey of healthcare consumers found that nearly half were frustrated over the lack of digital adoption by their providers. It also found that many patients are looking to complete routine administrative processes such as paying a bill online.

The takeaway: As healthcare becomes increasingly digital, providers that fall behind in offering their patients convenient online options – such as clarity on bills and flexible payment options, could suffer.

Get the full story at Healthcare Dive

Recent HIT articles you may have missed

Recent HIT articles you may have missed

From Chanel Benoit, Account Director at Greenough Brand Storytellers

IoT-focused cyberattacks in healthcare are on the rise

A recent survey by security software company Irdeto revealed that 8 out of 10 healthcare organizations have experienced an internet of things-focused cyberattack in the past year.

As the integration of internet-connected medical devices increases across healthcare, network security will no longer be enough to protect organizations from the associated risks. The takeaway: Healthcare organizations need to factor security at both the app and device level into their 2020 strategies.

Read about the survey findings in FierceHealthcare

Americans don’t trust healthcare orgs to keep their data safe

New data from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and POLITICO shows that less than 20% of Americans have a great deal of trust in health insurers to keep their personal information secure, while less than a quarter have a great deal of trust in hospitals to do the same.

Highly publicized, large-scale data breaches have clearly shaken American trust, and lackluster efforts by healthcare organizations to invest in proper cybersecurity means that’s not likely to change anytime soon. It’s time to address this issue and restore American confidence in our nation’s ability to protect their data. 

Read the full Healthcare Dive story

Hospital refuses to pay ransom to cybercriminals

Grays Harbor Community Hospital took the good advice of cybersecurity experts who urge healthcare organizations to not comply with ransom demands. Most experts believe that paying only gives cybercriminals an incentive and, as we’ve seen in many cases, hackers won’t provide the decryption key even after receiving payment.

Unfortunately, not all organizations have followed this guidance. Earlier this year, physician owners at Spokane, Wash.-based Columbia Surgical Specialists paid hackers more than $14,000 in response to a ransomware attack, after determining that they needed access to the encrypted data to provide care to their patients.

Despite the uptick in ransomware attacks in the last several years, many healthcare organizations are still not adequately prepared. Board buy-in on cybersecurity strategy, qualified personnel and employee training remain high priorities in this new landscape.

Get all the info in Modern Healthcare

First appointment of medical director of cybersecurity

Emergency physician and medical informaticist Christian Dameff, M.D. became the first medical director of cybersecurity at any U.S. patient care organization. The University of California San Diego Health system broke new ground this past July with the appointment.

In an interview, Dameff said a big focus for him will be cyber preparedness. “Hospitals have plans in place for earthquakes and hurricanes and other natural disasters. There’s a dearth of guidance around what to do when you are hit with ransomware, or by Anonymous,” he said.

Read the Q&A in Healthcare Innovation