Even though the hype may not match that of this weekend’s biggest game of the year (or the commercials), there’s plenty of healthcare technology action worth watching year-round. This week, our HIT List tackles some of the latest developments and challenges — including actionable analytics, robotics and interoperability.

  1. Broad support for broadband boost. Rural healthcare providers need better, more affordable wireless and broadband access to support telemedicine — from virtual visits to remote patient monitoring. So says a coalition of telehealth networks and IT organizations urging the Federal Communications Commission to take action. An estimated 7% of small providers in rural areas lack connectivity — and, when available, access can cost three times more than in urban areas. It’s hoped that some of the coalition’s proposals will gain traction.
  2. Actionable analytics. NorthShore University HealthSystem has developed predictive models and integrated them into EMR workflow, cutting in half the number of patients who needed to be tested for MRSA — yet with no increase in MRSA incidence. The analytics team also streamlined an ID system for high-risk patients that included medication reminders and other communications while also making it easier for case managers to keep patient records current. Check out the ways NorthShore has been using Big Data to improve healthcare.
  3. BB-8, RN? Although robots are not likely to replace nurses, they’re starting to help with some aspects of the job — freeing nurses to focus on direct patient care. For example, robots can deliver supplies and medications, monitor and transmit patient vital signs and symptoms, and help feed patients or lift them out of wheelchairs and beds. See what else robots are up to in the healthcare world.
  4. HIE vs. interoperability. A growing cadre of healthcare IT executives believe it’s time to stop settling for inefficient, limited health information exchange and start aiming for the true interoperability that accountable care and population health management demand. Technology that automatically pulls patient data from multiple sources, integrates it and makes it available in a user-friendly format would be a true game-changer, but remains an elusive goal. Senate bipartisan legislation seeking to identify a single trusted framework for interoperability could move efforts forward.
  5. Data at risk. The U.S. healthcare sector faces the highest risk of cyberattack, yet is the least prepared, says a new report from the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology. Healthcare organizations are particularly vulnerable for several reasons, including their complex infrastructure, the Internet of Things and legacy technology no longer supported by manufacturers. Time to beef up those cybersecurity defenses.
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