With Mother’s Day coming up soon, we’ve been reflecting on the mother lode of opportunity that technology has introduced to healthcare delivery — along with a healthy dose of challenges. Our HIT List this week spotlights some progress, such as clinical decision-making tools on the web and increased confidence in cloud services — as well as some hurdles, such as concerns about EHR certification criteria.

  1. Dr. Google? More than three-quarters of physicians recently surveyed use search engines to help with clinical decision making. They also used industry-specific mail, HIPAA-secure online physician communities and social media — but far less frequently. Which web-based tools do your clinicians favor?
  2. A new take on the cloud. Despite initial security fears, many physician practices and smaller hospitals now prefer relying on the cloud rather than on-premises servers. Given that IT is not their core competency, they’re recognizing the cloud is not only more secure but also more efficient and cost-effective, operationally speaking. Have you explored the newest public, private and hybrid options?
  3. Advice for CIOs. Proactively screen patient populations to identify potential health issues. Take advantage of technology to bridge the gaps between physician visits. Decide which IT capabilities are best handled in-house and which are better managed by a third party. Check out the other advice these healthcare leaders offer CIOs for navigating the “perfect storm” of changes the industry faces.
  4. One step forward for telemedicine. The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) just adopted updated telemedicine guidelines, providing “common-sense” guidance on key concepts such as the patient-provider relationship, privacy and security, safety and informed patient consent. The policy document emphasizes that remote providers need to use HIE and EHR to ensure continuity of care if patients seek care closer to home. What future do you see for telemedicine in your practice?
  5. Unintended consequences. As providers and vendors wait for HHS to declare its fourth — count ’em — deadline for ICD-10 compliance, many unintended consequences are emerging. These include the need to find extra resources in FY2015 budgets to maintain two sets of codes for yet another year, and distorted claims data quality thanks to dual coding. What are the biggest challenges in your book?
  6. Raising issue with 2015 EHR certification criteria. The American Medical Association says the meaningful use requirements are “overly rigid.” The Telecommunications Industry Association is concerned ONC may be making the certification process too complex but wants to make sure ONC incorporates mHealth into the guidelines. And the EHR Association has also thrown in its two cents. What are your thoughts?
  7. Time to ramp up change. “The New Health Economy” requires a serious IT makeover, this blogger argues. He points to needs that Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka, MD, outlined recently to an audience of entrepreneurs. These include natural language processing solutions for ICD-10 coding, eMar improvements that “close the loop” between drug ordering and administration, and secure cloud-based data sharing across institutions. See what other innovations industry leaders deem essential.

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