With the Chicago Cubs still holding on to a commanding first place lead, we can’t help wondering if this could be the summer of miracles. This week’s HIT List explores a few miraculous possibilities in healthcare IT: Are we actually inching closer to real interoperability? Can telehealth improve population health in medically underserved rural areas? Can cloud security solutions outfox the hackers?

  1. Interoperability ROI. Thanks to advances in interoperability and the healthcare industry’s willingness to invest in digital infrastructure, in 2015 Surescripts processed 9.7 billion health data transactions — including e-prescriptions, medication histories and clinical messages. This represents nearly a 50% increase over the previous year. If you’re looking for measurable value, CEO Tom Skelton credits the medication histories processed since 2010 with saving hospitals more than $400 million and helping to prevent more than 25,000 patient readmissions and 15,000 adverse drug events.
  2. It pays to go slow. Senior living communities willing to take their time to assess their IT needs, thoroughly research their options and build strong relationships with technology partners will experience better results in the long run. That’s the consensus from a panel of senior living leaders at the recent Senior Housing News Chicago Summit. Words of wisdom from one CEO: “… you can start small, and you can get yourself on a path to where ultimately you want to be.”
  3. Blockchain blockbusters. Responding to the NIST/ONC Blockchain Challenge, these researchers identify three areas in healthcare where they believe blockchain technology can have, dare we say, blockbuster impact. Number one is using the technology for autonomous monitoring of medical devices from robots to nanomachines. Check out the other two areas they consider worthy of in-depth research. (Hint: Think interoperability.)
  4. Funding a better future. Sixty medically underserved rural communities in 32 states are the beneficiaries of $16 million in grants from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). A core component of this effort to improve healthcare access and quality involves empowering community health organizations to build sustainable telehealth programs. These include teleconnections to school-based health centers and using telehealth to bring mental health and other health services to veterans living in rural areas.
  5. Virtual tools, real benefits. Most massive healthcare data breaches occur in traditional data centers, so it’s hardly surprising that a new IDC report finds growing interest in the cloud. Virtual security services including firewalls, data security, application security and network segmentation boost responsiveness and agility. Other cloud-specific security services such as data encryption help safely deploy HIPAA-compliant workloads. Remember, the key is to meet advanced persistent threats with advanced persistent security technologies.
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