October is a lot more than just National Cybersecurity Awareness Month or the month with Halloween. National Health IT Week also falls during the month of October (it was 10/2-10/6 for anyone interested or keeping track).
I know what you’re thinking: How can one month contain so much excitement? And, honestly, I’m as confounded as you are.
But – joking aside – health IT is a big deal.
Healthcare has traditionally been an industry that’s reticent to adopt new technologies and resistant to change. When new technologies were introduced to the healthcare industry – they were traditionally in the form of new treatments, new medical procedures and new breakthrough, miracle drugs.
There was a reason why paper charts were still a thing in medical offices until just a few years ago. Healthcare professionals aren’t IT people and they don’t try to be. And if a technology wasn’t directly linked to treating, saving or improving an outcome for their patients, it wasn’t a priority.
However, the benefits of new technologies are proving too great to keep them off of the receptionist’s desk, out of the exam room and away from the emergency department. Technology battered down the door to the doctor’s office, ER and ICU, and it’s shaking up everything.
And that’s a good thing that healthcare insurers can get behind, because the benefits of these technologies are often a reduction in redundant procedures, an increase in efficiency, and an improvement in patient outcomes – which means less cost and fewer reimbursements for healthcare insurers.
But, as with the digitization of any industry, these new technologies are creating another challenge – a need for data security. Healthcare data is a top target for malicious actors and data thieves. This creates both an opportunity for insurers looking to sell cyber insurance into a new marketplace, as well as a new risk, since many of these healthcare companies are somewhat new to the data security game.
So, if – like me – you forgot to celebrate National Health IT Week by wearing the traditional lab coat and stethoscope and handing out lollipops to kids, here are some of the top healthcare IT stories that I read this week:
Anthem Signs Lease to Build New Technology Center in Midtown Atlanta’s Tech Square
Still not convinced of the disruptive and transformative power of technology and Health IT on the healthcare industry? Well…this might help change your mind.
Health insurance juggernaut, Anthem, is planning to build a 352,000 square foot health IT center in the middle of Atlanta, Georgia. According to Tom Miller, Anthem senior vice president and chief information officer, “…this ultramodern building…is designed to inspire cooperation and creativity and enable us to work smarter in an effort to transform health care through modernization, digitization, and innovation with the ultimate goal of delivering a better, more personalized experience for members of Anthem’s affiliated health plans.”
From telemedicine to EHRs (electronic health records), there is significant adoption of healthcare technology occurring across the industry, and it’s apparent that Anthem is angling to be a large part of that.
And it’s understandable as to why. Huge technological advancements that are being utilized across other industries for other use cases can be adopted within healthcare to help save lives, improve patient outcomes, make care more efficient, increase collaboration in care and ultimately function to lower healthcare costs.
Intel jumps into ‘disruptive’ remote care market
And if you’re still not convinced of the transformative power – and growth potential – of healthcare IT…consider this “Exhibit B.”
Technology juggernaut, Intel (you know…those guys), recently announced that its launching IntelHAP, a new application software platform for remote care providers that could help to spur increased adoption of remote monitoring for patients with chronic conditions. And that’s a big deal since patients with chronic conditions account for a large chunk of America’s healthcare spending.
So, why should insurers care? Simple.
According to the article in Healthcare IT News, “Managing patients with serious or chronic conditions with remote care has shown to reduce hospital admissions by 40 percent and readmission rates by 75 percent – and lower U.S. employer healthcare costs, according to Intel.”
It’s not just employers that will be saving thanks to those reduced costs. It’s also the insurance companies that are paying for these hospital admissions and other healthcare services. Remote monitoring and remote care for a health insurer’s customers could keep them out of the hospital, improve their overall health and – by default – help insurers improve their bottom lines.
Here is a great video from Intel all about the IntelHAP and the role of remote monitoring in improving care:
U.S. Healthcare Sector Plagued by Cyber Breaches Caused by Human Error
Unfortunately, a move to digital records and the increased use of technology in healthcare was bound to have some…ahem…side effects (see what I did there?).
Although those side effects may not include dizziness, nausea, eyeball sweating or death, they do include data breaches and cyber attacks. What’s really interesting, though, is where those breaches are coming from.
A recent study by insurance company, Beazley, has found that human error and unintended disclosure are some of the largest contributors to data breaches in the healthcare industry. In fact, according to the study, “unintended disclosure accounted for 41% of data breach incidents reported to Beazley by healthcare organization clients and shows no signs of abating. The high level of unintended disclosure incidents remains more than double that of the second most frequent cause of loss, hack or malware (19%).”
In response to the study’s findings, Katherine Keefe, global head of Beazley Breach Response Services said, “All organizations face the reality that data breaches have become inevitable. And the stakes are high: they hold personal data on trust for customers, employees and patients. The volume of protected health information maintained by healthcare organizations and the digitization of electronic health records have increased the vulnerability for large breaches. It is important to understand the underlying causes so as to mitigate and manage them effectively.”