10 hot health information technologies in 2016

Published
  • December 19 2016, 4:30am EST

HIT innovations get a welcome reception from ready and willing providers

Emerging technology is making an impact on healthcare, with some promising new capabilities appearing on the scene in 2016. Overall, the healthcare industry seems to be ready to absorb new technologies, and because of changes from healthcare reform, existing IT capabilities are quickly being integrated into provider workflows to enable organizations to cope with accelerating change. Here, we look at 10 of the top new IT technologies and how they are being used within healthcare.

Blockchain technology

There’s a growing realization that blockchain technology could answer many of the vexing questions—for example, it’s believed that it could help providers keep better track of patients’ electronic records and improve data security. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology gathered 15 possible ideas to use the technology in healthcare, and a pilot study is being launched to see if it could play a role in the revenue cycle.

See HDM stories here and here.

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The Cloud

The cloud as a computing environment isn’t new, but acceptance of the cloud in healthcare surged forward in 2016, with more growth in use on the horizon. Providers, such as the Mayo Clinic, are moving from having their clinical systems running on their own data centers to having EHRs hosted on the cloud. Research initiatives are looking to gather and share data. And providers are using the cloud to hold and share imaging files.

See HDM stories on Mayo, the VA and Yale-New Haven.

FHIR

Providers are hoping to cash in on the promise of HL7’s emerging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard, with the expectation that 2017 will see more chances to use the stardard to exchange information. For example, in December, four health information technology vendors successfully demonstrated the use of the FHIR data exchange standard to import data into electronic health records systems, then enable healthcare consumers to access a consolidated list of their medications. It’s just one example of how industry stakeholders are starting to see light at the end of the interoperability tunnel, as major electronic health record vendors look to incorporate FHIR in their products.

See HDM stories here and here.

EHR innovation

Healthcare organizations are prodding EHR vendors to increase innovation in their products. Electronic health records may be widely adopted now, but with limitations of current technology providers are pressing vendors to become more innovative. Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis wants better ways to handle the flood of data. “You talk about unstructured data and it’s endless in healthcare, everything from drawings and handwritten notes to voice dictation and text messages you might want to put in it,” says CTO Matthew Werder. “So it just comes from every angle and we’re looking to our EHR to help us with that.” A significant addition to EHRs for many providers is imaging studies and reports.

See an HDM story here.

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Interoperability

Providers are pushing for increased capabilities to exchange data, even as federal regulations are pressuring the industry to move more quickly toward exchanging data. In the imaging arena, the RSNA Image Share Validation program identified seven vendors certified to achieve standards for exchanging images. And late this year, two industry organizations working toward greater interoperability of health information have agreed to a formal collaboration. Carequality is a coalition of stakeholders working on interoperability issues via a consensus-driven process. Carequality is under the umbrella of The Sequoia Project, which operates eHealth Exchange, a national health information network.

See HDM stories here and here.

Precision medicine partnerships and research

Precision medicine initiatives are moving forward, thanks in part to partnerships between healthcare research organizations and other entities including vendors or national associations, such as the American Heart Association. At the federal level, Congress has passed the 21st Century Cures Act, authorizing $6.3 billion in biomedical research funding—$4.8 billion of which will go to the National Institutes of Health, which include $1.8 billion for Vice President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, $1.6 billion for the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, and $1.4 billion for President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative.

See HDM stories here and here.

Mobile apps/wearables

Mobile apps and wearables are growing in sophistication, as providers make plans to use wearable monitors to track patients’ conditions, and consumers seek more sophisticated apps that they can use to track and improve their health. For example, Washington State University researchers have developed a multi-channel smartphone spectrometer that detects a known cancer biomarker, providing laboratory-grade accuracy in the palm of clinicians’ hands.

See HDM stories here and here.

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Artificial intelligence/machine learning

There’s growing interest in applying AI and machine learning to healthcare problems. For example, at the recent RSNA conference in Chicago, advanced technologies for assisting radiologists included an advanced visual analysis and quantification platform, introduced by Philips to help radiologists detect, diagnose and follow up on treatment of diseases. In another example, OpenZika, an IBM-sponsored World Community Grid project, harnesses the computing power of volunteers around the globe who are donating their computers and Android devices to help identify potential antiviral drugs to cure the Zika virus.

See HDM stories here and here.

Multi-dimensional imaging

Also at the annual RSNA conference, vendors were showing increasingly advanced imaging modalities, enabling providers to conduct more examinations of patients that enable advanced diagnosis capabilities. For example, Arterys exhibited a software application that can be used in clinical settings to show cardiac functions in several dimensions working with GE Healthcare’s ViosWorks MRI product.

See an HDM story here.

Security

More advanced technical tools are enabling information security professionals, who are facing hackers using more sophisticated technical tools to hack into providers’ data networks. For example, in the battle to combat file-encrypting malware, a new tool is attempting to turn the tables on hackers. A just-released tool from TrapX Security is designed to deceive attackers and lure them away from an organization’s critical assets. Using this “bait and switch” approach, the so-called deception technology foils ransomware by having it encrypt decoy data, while protecting the organization’s real files. Other emerging technologies are making it easier to spot and defend acts in real time.

See HDM stories here and here.