In this President's letter,the advent of healthcare reform in the U.S. has brought about numerous challenges and opportunities and has accelerated the need to drive technology innovation faster. In conjunction with CIO searches on which JB Homer has been retained, Jeff Hunt met with several CIOs from major healthcare companies to discuss technology's impact on this changing landscape.
President, JB Homer Associates
Healthcare Reform And Its Impact On Technology
Mirroring the security of Electronic Health Record information with government mandates:
Healthcare organizations are required by law to have security in place for Electronic Health Records (EHRs) because these records contain various pieces of sensitive personal information (including name, address, social security number, insurance carrier/card number), thus a health record can potentially get ten times the dollar amount on the black market than a credit card.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stipulate that all healthcare organizations must implement the use of electronic health records. This mandate coincides with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which obligates all healthcare organizations to protect the interests of its patients. As a result, healthcare organizations are hiring Chief Information Security Officers in order to specifically implement technology solutions to mitigate data breaches and insurance fraud, and to meet the ARRA and HIPAA mandates, as well as the government's Meaningful Use Incentive Program which details the requirements for the use of EHR systems by hospitals and eligible health care professionals.
Interoperability of systems:
The industry as a whole is behind the curve technology-wise. Core technologies are being run on antiquated systems, thus there is a need to put Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) around these systems in order to extract data for health records. The implementation of these GUIs will allow interoperability of health information systems within and across different organizations in order to facilitate the secure and seamless exchange of health data between healthcare institutions and to patients.
Affordable Care Act:
The Affordable Care Act has changed the way hospitals and healthcare organizations get compensated, based on how effectively they keep groups of patients healthy versus the number of patient visits or procedures they perform. In response to this Act, groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers have voluntarily come together to create Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to give coordinated high quality care to their Medicare patients. As the traditional fee for service billing model is changing, healthcare organizations are seeing the need to make major technology systems changes to compete effectively as ACOs.
Biometrics and Mobility:
Biometrics has emerged as a wave of the future in allowing health care providers to link a patient's biometric data (e.g. thumb print, iris scan and retina recognition) to their medical records. The system registers and links this data to new patient's medical records and when they return for visits these biometrics are used as authentication to securely recall medical data. This can also deter and reduce fraud by preventing insurance card sharing and patient identity theft by authenticating the patient in the healthcare provider's location.
In the future, the health care industry may also rely on biometrics for patient identification purposes. Biometric patient identification could eliminate the need for patients to fill out multiple forms at the time of each visit and ensure that all data is saved into the same patient record.
In addition, mobility solutions are now being put in place and may change the way physicians and patients interact and share information. Communicating with a doctor over a mobile device (e.g. FaceTime) will become more commonplace, and there are certain circumstances where the only way of communicating is via these devices, however patients will need to think about whether or not it's in their best interest to interact with a doctor in this manner as it could cloud the doctor's judgment. What do you think?
What are some groundbreaking healthcare technologies you've seen that CIOs and patients should be aware of?