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This Week in IT News – A Pragmatic Look for Physicians – 7 April 2014

So much happens every week that has the potential to impact physician workflows and productivity. We have enough trouble keeping up with clinical and administrative issues, IT is a layer many physicians do not have time to follow. It is my interest and desire to make an impact in healthcare IT from both a physician […]

So much happens every week that has the potential to impact physician workflows and productivity. We have enough trouble keeping up with clinical and administrative issues, IT is a layer many physicians do not have time to follow. It is my interest and desire to make an impact in healthcare IT from both a physician and technical standpoint. Each week I will survey the important issues and articles that may have interest to physicians. These post and the accompanied editorials looks at this area of healthcare from a practical and pragmatic standpoint. Please feel free to comment on issues I have missed or add your thoughts.

Heartbleed bug could affect healthcare sites

The Heartbleed bug, an exploit in Open SSL code running on many websites including patient portals and other secure healthcare services. Although the risks are present, the exploit requires a fair amount of sophistication and effort to gain useful information from the sites compromised. The fix for this exploit is available and has already been implemented on many sites. The risk and damage done might take some time to be fully realized.

Numerous sources are available to protect yourself from this exploit, here are two

The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need to Change Right Now

How to Protect Yourself From the Heartbleed Bug

Experts urge balance between big data and privacy in health care

Big Data is also prevalent with respect to healthcare. Many claim data will save our system but we need to be careful with privacy as well as some of the claims being made. April 4th, New Jersey held a conference on big data and how it will affect their state healthcare system. This conference also addressed issues on privacy and the need to balance access to the vast amounts of information being generated and patient privacy.

Sponsored Post

Physician Targeting Using Real-time Data: How PurpleLab’s Alerts Can Help

By leveraging real-time data that offers unprecedented insights into physician behavior and patient outcomes, companies can gain a competitive advantage with prescribers. PurpleLab®, a healthcare analytics platform with one of the largest medical and pharmaceutical claims databases in the United States, recently announced the launch of Alerts which translates complex information into actionable insights, empowering companies to identify the right physicians to target, determine the most effective marketing strategies and ultimately improve patient care.

From the article

Technology is available for physicians to know the health of their patients and use that information for preventative measures any time they want,” Mostashari said. “If a patient goes to the hospital, their physician should be alerted right away. Physicians have the best working knowledge of their patients, know the best way to treat them and should no longer see patients just in the office.

Physicians being alerted to changes in the status of their patients brings opportunities to the EMR and extends the concept of interoperability. As I spoke about in an earlier post, on physician workflows and EMR’s, this is an important aspect of patient care and quality improvement. We have the technology to push information from various healthcare database sources to physicians who are involved with a patient on any level. As I spoke about in Future of Healthcare Computing, the fragmentation of patient data needs to be addressed. I would take this one step further, not only to we need to aggregate patient information, we also need to push this to the physicians who are involved with patient care. We can very easily stay up on the news by subscribing to RSS feeds that alert us when articles are posted, commented on or referenced. The technology exists but is not being utilized for healthcare.

I envision a day when I can subscribe to each of my patients and be notified when they have a chance in their status, be it from personal healthcare monitoring devices, laboratory data being drawn at a clinic, or admission to a hospital. Having information pushed to me and being able to communicate with other physicians as easy as I can with my social media, has great potential and the technology exists today. I am intrigued my the messaging capabilities of CareSynergy built into the CareIntelligence Platform. This suggests a way to do exactly this, subscribe to a patient, be notified of changes in care and to address the issues when they arise or at least to be notified that someone else is addressing them. We need to close the loop on patient care to avoid missing critical information or not knowing if a lab value, change in patient status or test has been acted upon. Add in the patient component where they also are notified on who has reviewed their information, and we have a completed loop. This also adds to Meaningful Use and the engaging of patients in their care

Factbox: Using the data on Medicare’s payments to doctors

Many already know the Medicare data on payment to physicians was released this week. Time will tell how this information can be used to better understand the system and needs of patients. As pointed out in this article, the data has not been validated by the physicians and numerous pieces of information have not been clarified on this data. Looking at my own data, I was amazed at how much of my practice was missing in the data. I am not sure of the validity of the data and realize many will use this to arrive at false conclusions. Transparency is great and likely to lead to better care and understanding of the needs of our system. The problem comes when the data is not fully understood and misrepresentations develop without experts correcting those who reach these wrong conclusions. Time will tell how this develops and helps heal our own fractured system.