The Healthcare Reform – Are We There Yet?

The progression in health IT is introducing a new culture of care across the US. Developments in the world of technology have paved the way for a fluid and pro-active healthcare system.  “The pace of technological advancement in health IT has been incredible. We have witnessed a significant change over the course of a few years.”, says Josh Andrews a health IT analyst. Josh elaborates that the transformation of the healthcare industry within the US has come about rapidly saying, “While the health IT phenomena is worldwide, the growth rate across the US has been unprecedented. Our EMR adoption rate is extraordinary, having doubled from 2009 to 2011 and this is likely to increase in the coming months.”

However, this exponential growth presents new challenges for providers and regulatory bodies alike. Mark Kadrich, a security expert and the author of Endpoint Security explains that, the shortening of the testing phase to push technology is likely to give rise to multiple threats in the long run. 2011 was a huge year for mobile health with a lot of tablets and alternative devices being launched one after the other leaving the EMR industry to follow suit. Majority of the EMR vendors created non-native, remote desktop interfaces to grab a quick market share. However, in most cases these solutions were not practical and lacked maturity as Kadrich explains, “Mobile applications linking medical workflow between clinician and patient aren’t quite there, yet. There are some, but they’re rife with flaws.”

The healthcare system requires sustainable technology to grow and poorly developed systems will only hamper progression while compromising patient safety. There is a clear gap between the actual and expected capabilities of EMRs, in terms of interoperability. This is the reason that most medical professional were aghast upon learning the proposed requirements of the meaningful stage 2. “Our systems are incapable of connecting with hospitals and we still have issues with lab integration and e-prescribing.”, says a new EMR user.

The Health Information Exchange initiative (HIE) has shown remarkable growth and potential but the HIE industry itself is still in its adolescent stage. Only a handful of HIEs have been able to resolve technical issues. Exchange of medical information will pose significant risks that need to be addressed before commercial use. However, there is much optimism surrounding the development of HIEs.

Security is a huge concern for the health IT industry. With countless mobile and connected medical devices coming out, developers cannot ignore the need for improved security measures and better system design. The reason we are seeing an increased activity on the part of the federal government for system abuse is because our current healthcare system is arguably immature. Fraud and abuse are huge concerns for CMS as bugs in the systems are likely to be exploited. According to Kadrich, traditional methods will no longer be adequate, “We need to get beyond the traditional throw it behind the firewall’ mentality and take a good hard look at some new and innovative ways to fix things.”

 

About Frank Quinn

Over the past twenty years, Frank Quinn has contributed significantly on standardizing, interconnecting and institutionalizing care delivery through health IT, helping eliminate barriers to accessibility, quality and adoption. EMR, practice management, eRx, patient portal, medical billing, compliance, privacy and security are his areas of expertise. For more information, please contact Frank at frank.quinn@curemd.com
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