With HIMSS15 in full swing, healthcare IT is the talk of the town. This week, our HIT List highlights hot topics that are likely to be lively conversation starters — well into the future.

  1. Deepening digital relationship. Both patients and doctors are increasingly on board with connecting digitally, a new survey reports. 84% of patients see doctors who provide online patient portals, which 61% of adults aged 55 and older use to access their health information. 64% of adults say they would choose telehealth visits at least some of the time, aligning well with the fact that 61% of healthcare professionals say they would recommend telehealth visits some of the time. Looks like 21st century medicine will be a whole new ballgame, doesn’t it?
  2. Still under construction. Lacking the robust case management and data sharing IT tools they need, practices trying to build patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) frequently rely on workarounds to get the job done. Take a look at the five types of tools researchers conclude would be most valuable in meeting PCMH patient care goals.
  3. IT wish lists. Newer technologies such as hybrid cloud services, mobile apps and analytics-focused data centers rank high on healthcare IT wish lists this year — way ahead of EHRs, previously a perennial investment fave. Dollars remain tight, however, with IT averaging only 1% of providers’ overall budgets — well below other industries. Check out where IT leaders expect to get the most bang for their bucks.
  4. Listen to this. A small, relatively inexpensive “cell scope” that attaches to a smartphone may be able to save parents of children prone to ear infections from frequent trips to the doctor. Parents can easily use the device to take a photo or video of a child’s ear, then upload it to their doctor’s website to learn whether or not there’s an infection. Sounds virtually pain-free, doesn’t it?
  5. Top 10 safety concerns. Several patient safety concerns on ECRI’s second annual top 10 list have an IT component. For example, #1 on the list is alarm fatigue, which causes clinicians to miss events that actually require intervention. Ranking fifth on the list is inadequate care coordination during medication reconciliation, often due to over-reliance on EHRs. And then, of course, there’s data integrity. See what other issues require attention.
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