Even though the biggest holiday season of the year is now behind us, there’s always a reason to celebrate. Today is one of our favorites — Bittersweet Chocolate Day. Savor a tasty, heart-healthy treat while you contemplate the health technology challenges and opportunities highlighted in this week’s HIT List, including electronic data warehouses, security breaches and disaster recovery-as-a-service. Of course, if chocolate’s not your fave, it’s only two more days until Curried Chicken Day!

  1. 9 IT trends to watch. More than 80% of healthcare CIOs, CFOs and CEOs surveyed by Black Book say it’s time to improve technology within their organizations. Top priorities include electronic data warehouses, enterprise resource planning systems and revenue cycle management strategies, but finding skilled IT staff will continue to present a challenge. Check out the other trends to keep an eye on in the coming year.
  2. Ballooning breaches. Healthcare security breaches increased 60% in November over the previous month, averaging two per day. Employee error or purposeful wrongdoing caused more than half of the 57 incidents, and at least 25 breaches were caused by business associates or vendors. A possible silver lining is that hackers were responsible for only nine breaches — and the total number of patient records involved was well under half the 11 million affected back in June.
  3. Beware the gap. Rural nursing homes are falling behind their urban counterparts in health IT capabilities, according to the first national study of nursing home IT use since 2004. The gap is particularly worrisome in light of research showing that IT sophistication can improve patient outcomes. One big issue with the lack of nursing home IT is limited capacity to exchange information with hospitals to ensure well-coordinated care transitions.
  4. More cloud on the horizon. Storage and disaster recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) will rank among the biggest growth areas in healthcare cloud computing, predicts Markets and Markets. Lower costs and better scalability will drive cloud storage market expansion through 2021 as healthcare organizations struggle to manage an influx of data from IoT devices. Meanwhile, the rise of virtualization and the adoption of other cloud infrastructure technologies are moving secure, easy-to-use and cost-effective DRaaS technologies front and center. We’d call that a sunny forecast.
  5. Digital impact. In just one year, the percentage of American consumers who are active digital health tool adopters has skyrocketed from 19% to 46%, says a new Rock Health survey. Video-based telemedicine use has also tripled — despite the fact that one-third of the appointments are self-pay. And it’s no surprise that Internet-savvy consumers are proactively asking physicians to prescribe or discontinue medications based on their online research. Yet consumers welcome digital physician guidance, with more than a third downloading health apps based on their doctors’ recommendations.
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