Okay, so we didn’t share in the record $1.6 billion jackpot with a winning Powerball ticket. But we still see a wealth of opportunity for improving patient care with health IT. There are a number of possibilities on this week’s HIT list, including in-home sensors, mHealth apps and technology-driven patient-centered medical homes.

  1. In-home sensors make sense. Seniors who use monitoring technology had half as many ER visits and hospitalizations as those who didn’t, a new study shows. The sensors track everything from sleep patterns to frequency of opening the refrigerator, and care managers check in if red flags are raised. Despite the potential for privacy concerns, pilot project participants said the technology made them feel safer. Sure seems worth exploring further.
  2. Medical home must-haves. Patient registries, EHRs, HIE tools and analytics are among the IT capabilities critical to a patient-centered medical home model. But a new study found that only one-third of physician practices were able to manage the startup costs, estimated at more than $30,000, let alone the ongoing costs of $150,000. No surprise, the research also showed transitioning to this model presents the biggest challenge for small or independent practices.
  3. Physician-focused IT. With an eye toward creating a health IT infrastructure to benefit physicians and help them provide quality care to patients in a dramatically shifting environment, the AMA has invested $15 million in the startup Health2047. The AMA aims to combine physician insight with innovative technology solutions to restructure physician practices, providing more patient time and better chronic care management. That’s what we call putting your money where your mouth (or IT interest) is.
  4. Patient dis-engagement. Only 2% of patients are using mobile health apps, even though 66 out of the 100 largest U.S. hospitals offer them. Part of the problem could be that only 11% of the apps offer at least one of the three most desired functions: access to medical records, ability to manage appointments and ability to request prescription refills. Estimating that failure to create patient-centric apps could cost a hospital more than $2 million annually in lost revenue, researchers recommend hospitals look at working with mobile app vendors rather than trying to build all their solutions in-house.
  5. Beware security loopholes. 84% of mHealth apps approved by the Food and Drug Administration inadequately addressed at least two risks on the Open Web Application Security Project’s top 10 list. The risks — application code tampering and reverse-engineering — could result in privacy violations, data theft or data tampering (such as reprogramming the app to deliver a deadly medication dose). Check out the security steps experts suggest taking to prevent this scary stuff.
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