A stroke patient living in rural Virginia needs to be seen and the closest neurologist is more than two hours away in neighboring Maryland. Enter telemedicine – the use of technology to monitor patients remotely, store clinical data, or facilitate real-time communication between patients and providers. The recent growth of telemedicine has generally been viewed as a major benefit throughout the healthcare industry. Although it fosters cost savings and improved quality of patient care, many are left wondering why telemedicine hasn’t been adopted nation wide.
Addresses why off-site backups for providers are no longer part of the discussion and why Internet-based technologies are perfect for EHR and Practice management systems.
With public attention on the ARRA stimulus funds in recent months, physicians have been feeling the pressure to adopt electronic health records. The vision is that in the next couple of years, the technology will be advanced enough to exchange health data freely between systems. Yet there is some skepticism from many in the health care industry that the lack of infrastructure and data sharing standards means that the day of sharing patient records between providers, labs and hospitals is a lot further off than the current administration is hoping.
As previously discussed on this blog, one of the biggest hurdles to making health IT fully interoperable is that it increases the chance of massive scale privacy breaches due to some systems being less secure than others. In the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, Congress inserted a clause requiring that in the event of a breach, all persons whose health information was compromised must be notified.
If asked to name an initiative funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that will make a difference to health care in the United States, chances are the EHR adoption incentives would probably be the first to spring to mind. There is, though, a less obvious but potentially important answer: the broadband initiatives.
With Emdeon last month announcing the launch of its initial public offering, there has been increased scrutiny on the role of clearinghouses in the health care industry. Providers rely on clearinghouses rather than submitting their claims direct to payers due to complex (and to a provider, often seemingly arbitrary) stipulations that differ between each payer.
An article in the Washington Post this morning considers one of the biggest problems facing healthcare information technology currently – how to access patient data from other practices or hospitals. The authors, Sammy Zakaria and David Meyerson, suggest a simple yet clever alternative to mandating that all the diverse electronic health records out there develop interfaces allowing them to “talk” to one another (which is how interoperability is traditionally approached).
Privacy and security concerns are one of the many hurdles that the health care industry needs to overcome before EHR adoption catches on properly. Unfortunately, the sensible goal of making electronic health record systems interoperable (itself a complex task due to the huge variety of software solutions currently on the market) adds to these security headaches, because systems have differing levels and types of security, and security breaches in one system could, in an interoperable world, be even more serious and potentially compromise the whole nation’s records.
A recent study by the Massachusetts Medical Society found that about 83 percent of doctors surveyed reported practicing defensive medicine as a way to avoid lawsuits, and cited other research suggesting the current tort system has a $124 billion annual impact on medical expenditures. In his recent address to Congress about health care reform, President Obama proposed authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test out various solutions for malpractice reform.