When you think back through 2011 there are a few defining events that come to mind. There was the passing of the prolific innovator Steve Jobs, the tsunami that devastated Japan (followed by the women’s world cup win 4 months later), and the many worldwide movements that were evangelized through social media.
Year of the EHR
There were many defining themes in healthcare IT as well. Numerous healthcare innovations were made, the whirlwind of legislation changes persisted, and perhaps most importantly, the adoption of electronic health records reached a record mass. In fact, I would venture to say that if there were a healthcare zodiac, 2011 would be the year of the EHR.
Aneesh Chopra, the United States Chief Technology Officer states that “The rate of change blows your mind. We have doubled EHR adoption in two years.” A recent report by Booz Allen Hamilton outlines 9 ways IT is transforming healthcare and all 9 points are somehow supported by the digitization of information and EHRs. And what’s exciting is that a recent study by HIMSS analytics shows that 57% of office based physicians use EHRs and 40% of hospitals are ready or most likely will be ready for stage one Meaningful use.
Progress around EHRs must continue throughout the next few years and penalties commencing in 2015 will help to encourage this, but with the momentum made in 2011 I think we are well on our way. Now, that’s a look back at 2011, what about key themes in 2012?
Time to Get Serious on Security
Predicting key trends for 2012 is a popular topic. The adoption of cloud computing, decision support tools, mHealth, launching consumer health portals and establishing innovative reimbursement models are the front runners of this 2012 trend debate. All of these trends will gain more traction in 2012, but I believe we have to deal with a more inherent subject and that is enhancing information security.
Many reports suggest that Healthcare was the most breached industry of 2011. Although there is debate about the validity of these claims, the 372 breaches each affecting more than 500 individuals as cited by HHS clearly highlights security issues. There has been much progress made to digitize health information, adopt medical records, and share PHI but in many cases, data security parameters have not kept pace. With the launch of data security audits by KPMG sponsored by the OCR, data security will soon be audited and enforced.
Moreover, as organizations continue to adopt emerging applications and technologies, data security will only become more of a concern. In 2012 healthcare organizations need to get a clearer understanding of their data security risks and define their own mandates to ensure continued ePHI privacy and compliance. Organizations need to be proactive about information security in 2012 and should involve their business and network partners to better understand what options exist.
There are many critical trends shaping healthcare IT, and because EHRs are so fundamental to promoting efficiency and improved care, the progress made in 2011 should be recognized. Let’s hope that this momentum continues into 2012 and that there is a renewed focus on information security, so that these applications along with many others are effectively protected. Here’s to another exciting year in Healthcare IT.