Telehealth is expanding at regional health systems, which use it in hospital emergency departments and ICUs, and for psychiatric and primary care. Dr. Paul Testa, chief medical information officer at NYU Langone Health, said telehealth is becoming the "new normal" in health care and that technology "will continue to change how we deliver health care, and how patients expect to receive it."
Federal policies and industry trends to integrate health IT, behavioral and mental health care data, EHRs and health data exchange platforms will result in more comprehensive, complete patient care, says ONC Office of Technology Executive Director Steve Posnack. Some IT product features used in the mental and behavioral health sphere are not unique, Posnack says, but the need for privacy protection may be even stronger, and developers are devising appropriate data-sharing methods.
A draft report by the National Institute of Standards and Technology describes 11 cybersecurity threats to mobile devices and seven areas of potential vulnerability related to public safety wearables. The report also raises concerns about malicious use of wireless device tracking and susceptibility among devices to wireless jamming.
Officials from Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Western Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City, Ariz., notified 41,948 individuals about an email phishing attack on May 2 that could have compromised their protected health information. The hacked employee email account contained patient names, email addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, addresses and/or medical information, as well as Social Security numbers of some patients.
Patients trust smaller, independent physicians more than doctors whose practice is tied to a hospital, survey results show. Thirty-six percent of those surveyed want Congress to level the playing field between independent physicians and those associated with hospitals.
The features that make blockchain technology an appealing concept, such as its immutability, time-stamped transactions and peer-to-peer format, should make it worthwhile for healthcare CIOs to become early adopters, experts say. However, CIOs should remember that as an emerging technology, blockchain carries various challenges and lacks established standards and best practices.
CommonWell and Carequality have created a partnership that allows providers with different vendors to share electronic health records, but an opt-in requirement is slowing the progress. Some vendors also leave it up to providers to decide who controls the data, which creates an additional burden for the providers.
Practices can take several steps to improve their conversations and interactions with patients around bills, such as prompting them to pay by offering them a choice of payment methods, rather than simply asking them if they want to pay their bill now. Practices should also have a designated person that is well-trained on billing to handle all staff and patient questions.
Improving how a practice collects past-due bills and setting up payment plans with patients are among four key ways to increase profits. It's also important to verify insurance when the patient checks in so both the practice and patient know what charges the patient will be responsible for.
Using APIs and implementing the 21st Century Cures Act provisions, such as the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, will boost EHR interoperability, said National Health IT Coordinator Don Rucker. He also stated that the ONC will work on improving the integration of social health determinants into EHR systems and health information exchanges.
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