#eWEEKchat March 11: What's Up with New-Gen Health Care IT

#eWEEKCHAT PREVIEW: Reserve an hour on Wednesday to participate in an informative, interactive chat session about how health care IT is evolving to meet the needs of larger populations--as well as pandemics, such as coronavirus.

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On Wednesday, March 11, at 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST/7 p.m. GMT, @eWEEKNews will host its 84th monthly #eWEEKChat. The topic will be "What's Up with New-Gen Health Care IT." It will be moderated by Chris Preimesberger, eWEEK's Editor in Chief.

Some quick facts:

Topic: #eWEEKchat March 11: "What's Up with New-Gen Health Care IT"

Date/time: Wednesday, March 11, 11 a.m. PST/2 p.m. EST/7 p.m. GMT

Tweetchat handle: You can use #eWEEKChat to follow/participate via Twitter itself, but it's easier and more efficient to use the real-time chat room link at CrowdChat. Instructions are on that page; log in at the top right, use your Twitter handle to register, and the chat begins promptly at 11am PT. The page will come alive at that time with the real-time discussion. You can join in or simply watch the discussion as it is created. Special thanks to John Furrier of SiliconAngle.com for developing the CrowdChat app.

Our in-chat experts will include: Greg Horne, SAS Global Principal for Health Care; Suzanne Clough, M.D., ArmadaHealth CMO; Jim Hammer, Harmony Healthcare IT, VP of Operations & Product Development; Christopher Logan, VMware Healthcare IT chief strategist; Imran Anwar, entrepreneur, investor, inventor; Todd Greene, Cofounder and CEO at PubNub; Sanjeev Agrawal, President, LeanTaaS; Dr. Saif F Abed, founding Partner & Director of Cybersecurity Advisory Services, AbedGraham; and Dilawar Syed, CEO of Lumiata.

Chat room real-time link: Use https://www.crowdchat.net/eweekchat. Sign in with your Twitter handle and use #eweekchat for the identifier.  

Electronic Health Records IT Still Experiencing Growing Pains

Health care IT entails a lot of things, but the main ones are creating, storing and making available in a secure manner patient records and images—and in real time, if at all possible. This is all easier said than done, but we’re getting better at it all the time.

Health care IT is also about researching these records, finding patterns, seeing tendencies and discovering data and images that can lead to cures for illnesses that have plagued humanity for generations. We’re also getting better at that, too.

Currently, we all are watching the progress of the coronavirus, a disease that spreads quickly and destroys respiratory systems, which originated in China in January 2020. As of March 6, more than 8,000 people have perished from this plague, and health care experts around the world are feverishly working on finding a solution medicine to stop it. We can discuss this on March 11.

Electronic health records (EHRs, also known as electronic medical records, or EMRs) have earned a lot of media attention in the years since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act was passed in 2009. Unfortunately, a lot of that reporting was negative in nature.

Even though EHRs were heralded for their potential to make the provision of health care better, safer and more efficient, for the most part clinicians realized as many frustrations as benefits. Electronic charting can be laborious, made more exasperating by gaps in user understanding and proficiency. Toggling between screens during a patient encounter can be time-consuming and impersonal.

Interoperability of systems is a key goal

Rather than being “seamless,” interoperability between systems of other providers is lacking. Despite the evolution in user-friendly EHR platforms, software vendors haven’t been able to fully relieve the burden that rests on the shoulders of providers while still collecting and sharing all data with patients, providers and other clinicians in the health care arena. As a result, health IT-related burnout is not only real but becoming a significant concern for providers and health systems.

Despite growing pains, EHRs still offer useful benefits that advance the provision of health care, especially for clinicians. The immediate accessibility to patient information allows clinicians to analyze diagnostic findings, place orders immediately and communicate remotely with the patient. Sharing data is also possible between patient’s various providers and via health information exchanges.

In the context of a more positive perspective, what might the future of EHRs look like with new high-tech tools being developed, it seems, weekly? Here are some key industry insights into these advances.

Expertise here is provided by Maura Cash, R.N. and Director of Clinical Services for HST Pathways, a respected software solutions company for the ASC (ambulatory surgery centers) industry. [Editor's note: The following data points were published in eWEEK on March 3.]

Data Point No. 1: Voice recognition

Imagine dictating a text message to your spouse, telling him or her you’re heading home from the office. Now, imagine a surgeon completing an operative report while wrapping up the procedure. New software tools that use voice recognition can reduce added documentation time, relieving some of the burden on providers and improving charting compliance. While first-generation voice recognition software was associated with an unacceptably high error rate, the majority of errors were caught and eliminated after clinicians reviewed the record and signed off on the documentation. Newer partnerships with technology leaders offer promise that transcription capture will improve, potentially minimizing or even eliminating the need for a comprehensive review process.  

Data Point No. 2: Remotely-generated health data

Consumer wearables, such as Fitbits, created an opportunity to collect, summarize and integrate patient vital signs like heart rate and sleep patterns into a medical record. More recently, Bluetooth-enabled devices have enabled additional integration, including remote blood pressure and glucometer readings and medical imaging, which can flow seamlessly from point-of-capture to a provider’s remote device and then to storage in the health record. This stored capability offers a longitudinal look at patient data, saving valuable time during the office encounter and changing patients’ medical records from “snapshots” to comprehensive bio-profiles.  

Data Point No. 3: Patient Health ID

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the ban on funding for a national patient identifier, a number or code comparable to a Social Security number and assigned to U.S. health consumers. When integrated with personalized biometric information and widely implemented, patient identifiers will help with interoperability between medical offices, hospitals and ASCs, reducing the potential of errors and ensuring that all encounters and procedures are correctly captured in the right patient EHR.

Data Point No. 4: Master drug databases

Patients’ comprehensive prescription histories remain one of the most fragmented segments of all health data. In the last 10 years, state-prescribing databases have been used primarily to track controlled substance prescriptions and identify patients who may be misusing prescription medications, such as opioids. But increasingly, drug databases will be integrated into EHRs to provide fingertip access to all prescribing history, across all states and clinical support for new prescribing during the normal course of workflow.

Data Point No. 5: Artificial intelligence

There is tremendous excitement around the potential of AI to improve health outcomes by combining individual patient data with medical algorithms to approximate conclusions without direct human input. Some of those advances include the ability to approximate risk based on aggregate medical data and use predictive algorithms for clinical decision-making and treatment strategies.  But AI will also impact EHR documentation, helping clinicians through a cognitive system with everything from personalizing the charting process from the preferred order to complete the chart in and presenting the fields in that order, to remembering physicians’ usual and standard input, orders, plan of care and offer these options for rapid charting.  

While we are not quite to the point of outsourcing charting to Alexa, it may not be as far away as we think.

Questions We'll Discuss

That’s what we’re here to chat about on March 11. Questions we’ll ask include:

  • What can health care IT do in the present time to help stop coronavirus? How can it help find a cure?
  • Where do you see progress in development of health care software, hardware and services?
  • What tools are you using regularly as a health care administrator or practitioner?
  • Where does present-day health care IT need some basic improvement?
  • How important is user-friendly software and hardware in daily practice? Are the tools you use considered user-friendly enough?
  • What should we know about new-gen health care IT that we probably aren’t aware of?

Join us Wednesday, March 11 at 11am Pacific / 2pm Eastern for this, the 84th monthly #eWEEKchat. Go here for CrowdChat information.

#eWEEKchat Tentative Schedule for 2020*

Jan. 8: Trends in New-Gen Data Security
Feb. 12: Batch Goes Out the Window: The Dawn of Data Orchestration
March 11: New Trends and Products in New-Gen Health Care IT
April 8: New Enterprise Collaboration Tools
May 13: Trends in New-Gen Mobile Apps, Devices
June 10: Storage and Data Protection Trends
July  8: New Advances in Networking
Aug. 12: TBA
Sept. 9: DataOps: The Data Management Platform of the Future?
Oct. 14: IBM, Dell, Oracle, Cisco, both HPs: How Legacy Companies Are Still Innovating
Nov. 11: Hot New Tech for 2021
Dec. 9: Predictions and Wild Guesses for IT in 2021

*all topics subjects to change

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...