News

Apple Watch Leaves Patients Connected with Nowhere To Go

The highly anticipated unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 4 caused a news and social media sensation. Apple coined the iconic timepiece as the "guardian of your health", with health tracking functionalities such as the ability to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib) by a self-performed electrocardiogram (ECG). But from patients' and carepartners' perspectives, there is a long road to a universally accessible, seamlessly implemented, mass-adoption, and meaningful use for this wearable technology...Unfortunately, the vast majority of concerns in the public domain haven't emphasized the risks to health due to poor implementation, integration, and adoption strategies of digital tools and wearables.

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The risks and rewards of IoT in healthcare

The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking the industries of the world by storm, and the healthcare sector is no exception. With 101 million IoT devices worldwide, the healthcare industry is becoming more connected by the day, and this figure is expected to increase by over 62% by 2020. As is always the case with new technology, the growing presence of IoT in the healthcare industry poses several threats to both patients and providers - but do the rewards outweigh the risks? Firstly, let's explore some of the key benefits that IOT can bring to healthcare:

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The Story of How our Health Informatics Textbook Came into Being

I have been asked many times how and why I became interested in Health Informatics and how that led to the writing and self-publication of our textbook, Health Informatics: Practical Guide. The textbook is now in its 7th edition and has been adopted by a large number of universities for their health informatics courses. More co-authors have come on board, and we are now looking at publishing other textbooks. Thus we thought this would be a good point to tell the story.

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How are Clinical Decision Support Artifacts Tested Today?

In October 2018 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a Natural Test Collaborative (NTC). Through a series of questions, the RFI seeks opinions and information about "The development of a national testbed (notionally called the National Test Collaborative (NTC)) for real-world testing of health information technology (IT)" and "Approaches for creating a sustainable infrastructure" to achieve it. The scope of this RFI is daunting. It might be useful, rather than to try to tackle this whole topic broadly but superficially, to take just one Clinical Decision Support (CDS) domain and show as completely as possible how testing is currently done.

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The Microsoft Empire Strikes Back

It seems deeply ironic that a week after I wrote about how even giant companies eventually get surpassed, I'm writing about the resurgence of one such giant, Microsoft. Last week Microsoft won back the title of world's most valuable company (as measured by market cap), passing Apple. Apple had that distinction since 2012; Microsoft hasn't had it since 2002. Admittedly, Microsoft was only able to pass Apple because a recent tech stock downturn dropped Apple from its record trillion-dollar valuation, and, as of this writing, Apple has pulled back in front again, but the fact that it is a race again says a lot about Microsoft.

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Five Tech Trends Affecting Healthcare IT Today, and Tomorrow

Technology is evolving faster than ever before, and shows no sign of slowing down. Digital innovation has enhanced the way we operate in almost every aspect of modern life, but in the healthcare industry, technology is not only changing lives, it's saving them too. Outlined below are five technology trends that are taking hold of the healthcare IT industry today, and what developments we can expect to see over the course of 2019 and beyond.

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Using the Open Source LibreHealth EHR for Education in Academic Settings

Traditionally, access to EHRs has been viewed as important only for software training, particularly order entry. What seems to be overlooked is the potential for education, analytics and research. Additionally, one could argue that there should be an open-source “EHR Sandbox” so multiple external EHR integrations could be studied and reported. Furthermore, many EHR users view the software as a means to enter or extract data on one patient at a time and fail to see the benefit in analyzing their entire clinic population (population health). The following diagram displays how an EHR could be used for education, training, analytics and research.

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How Cyber Hardening Can Protect Patient Privacy And Treatment

The abundance of internet-connected devices that collect and share patient data has greatly increased the “attack surface” (where an attacker inserts or extracts data) and number of possible vulnerabilities within a system. Now that medical devices can connect to home-based routers, public Wi-Fi or cellular networks to relay data to hospitals, specialists, and care providers. In addition, the software in those devices lacks cybersecurity and can be updated and reprogrammed remotely. Thus, sensitive patient information is even more prone to data breaches, and the safety of the devices can be compromised. Recent supply chain compromises, and the migration of health applications and platforms to the cloud, also add to the threat equation. This article looks at why the medical community is so vulnerable and suggests how it can better protect life-saving equipment and sensitive data from unprecedented cyberattacks.

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CDC Issues RFI for Real-world Testing of Health Information Technology

In October the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Request for Information (RFI) for a Natural Test Collaborative (NTC). Through a series of questions, the RFI seeks opinions and information about "The development of a national testbed (notionally called the National Test Collaborative (NTC)) for real-world testing of health information technology (IT)" and "Approaches for creating a sustainable infrastructure" to achieve it. The scope of the questions is somewhat confusing and quite broad, starting with Clinical Decision Support (CDS) and electronic Clinical Quality Measures (eCQMs) but quickly expanding to Electronic Health Records (EHR) and interoperability (not precisely defined).

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The Big Get Bigger, Until They Don't

You may have missed it, but the Open Markets Institute released a report on what it calls "America's Concentration Crisis." The report begins bluntly: "Monopoly power is all around us: as consumers, business owners, employees, entrepreneurs, and citizens." As David Leonhardt wrote in his op-ed about the report, "The federal government, under presidents of both parties, has largely surrendered to monopoly power." Their associated data set details market concentration within 32 industries, several of which are health related. For example, in electronic health record systems, the top 3 firms account for 58% of the market, whereas in pharmacies/drugstores, the top 3 control 67% (and the top 2 alone have 61% share).

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