Since October marks the traditional start of the U.S. Supreme Court’s new term, we’ve been thinking about the strong case to be made for health IT’s ability to improve patient care. Judge for yourself, as you weigh the arguments in favor of  smart patient rooms, blockchain, telehealth and other topics on this week’s HIT List docket.

  1. Smart room struggles. Many hospitals have been talking the talk about smart patient rooms for close to a dozen years, but few have actually walked the walk. This visionary integrated technology offers the potential to improve care, patient satisfaction and workflow efficiency, but it requires substantial investment and a highly supportive, coordinated infrastructure to get off the ground. Check out some of the challenges LA’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Medical Center had to tackle when building its smart rooms.
  2. 9 facts about blockchain. Blockchain – a permanent record of online transactions or exchanges – emerged in 2009 as the foundation for bitcoin trading. ONC is among those who think the technology could be key to better interoperability. Blockchain can give population health efforts a shot in the arm by providing large-scale access to patient databases. See the other half-dozen reasons blockchain appears to hold plenty of promise for healthcare applications.
  3. 2017 game-changers. Nearly half of healthcare IT leaders surveyed recently expect Big Data to have the greatest impact on healthcare in 2017. More than one-third see artificial intelligence (AI) playing a major role with applications ranging from patient engagement to chronic disease management to population health. About 15% have their eye on the IoT, but interestingly, 40% believe the sheer volume of data produced by the IoT prevents them from generating actionable information from connected devices. That probably explains why few saw mobile health apps and wearables as primary growth areas.
  4. More fans for telehealth. Nearly one-quarter of patients recently polled had used a video conferencing tool to communicate with their healthcare provider between one and four times in the past year. Those who used the telehealth option felt the quality of the remote consult was similar to that of an in-person visit. Most of the patients who hadn’t use telehealth believed it would be more convenient, but here’s the rub – many are still confused about whether their providers even offer the service, or if it’s covered by their insurer.
  5. Mostashari reflects. Former ONC head guru Farzad Mostashari, MD, believes technology tools need to do a better job supporting population health goals by capturing the necessary data, delivering insights and helping providers take action. However, he finds that many EHRs fall short in this area, as well as in providing data for quality reporting or predictive modeling. His challenge to vendors? Boost data liquidity and usability big-time.
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