The profusion of Halloween goblins and ghosts has inspired us to take a “spirited” look at the value technology brings to patient care. There’s no reason to be spooked by mobile integrated healthcare, telehealth, initiatives to accurately identify patients or other health IT advances unmasked on our HIT List this week.

  1. A win-win for MIH. A just-released study of Medicare patients shows that mobile integrated healthcare (MIH) significantly reduces inpatient and ED utilization and costs while also improving patient satisfaction. The key was using physician-led interdisciplinary care teams and telehealth to deliver 24/7 acute and chronic care in alternative settings. Sounds like a promising approach to providing customized yet cost-effective care.
  2. Not quite seeing eye to eye. Patients and doctors both believe technology should play a role in healthcare, but their views often diverge. For example, 90% of patients want access to physicians’ notes, but only 60% of physicians want to share them. And nearly 40% of patients feel they should be able to self-diagnose using new technology, but only 18% of physicians agree. As you might expect, though, about one-third of both groups express concerns about privacy and security.
  3. Good news, bad news. The price of EHR files on the dark web has dropped from the $75 to $100 range last year to $20 to $50 currently. But experts predict that as health data becomes less profitable, cybercriminals are likely to launch even more ransomware attacks in order to make the same amount of money. The bad guys are also getting more creative about packaging the EHR information with data from utility bills or insurance in order to increase its value. There’s no rest for the weary when it comes to bolstering healthcare cyberdefenses.
  4. Virtual milestone. Kaiser Permanente announced that more than 52% of its 110 million patient transactions last year were conducted online, either through virtual visits or the health system’s apps. This marks the first time virtual visits outnumbered in-person ones at a large health system. Kaiser’s CEO Bernard Tyson says the increased risk that providers shoulder under value-based care provides a strong incentive to embrace higher-efficiency telehealth.
  5. Bye-bye ban? The American Medical Informatics Association and almost two dozen other healthcare organizations are pressing Congress to end the ban on a national patient identifier, saying that using one to accurately identify patients would be a valuable boost to safety, data exchange and care coordination. Although HHS is currently prohibited from using funds to develop a national patient identifier, the groups want authorization for HHS to support private sector-led initiatives, at least as a first step.
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