The ailments and issues that health care IT professionals are most concerned about

health care ITThe operating room is the convergence of intelligence and technology. The computers, devices, and software that make up the operating room and your doctor’s office, as well as the latest trends in health care, were on full display at HIMSS 2016 in Las Vegas earlier this month. This year’s conference was attended by more than 45,000 health care IT professionals who were ready, willing, and eager to learn how to collaborate better and improve patient care through IT solutions.

Throughout the conference I met with people from all areas of health care — from providers to payers to vendors. Here are three key takeaways.

Security is a constant and growing concern

In 2015, there were more than 267 patient record breaches in which 500 or more individuals’ records were compromised. There have been more than 30 breaches already in 2016.

Many of the cybersecurity discussions at HIMSS hit on one major question: When will HIPAA audits take place? Continuous HIPAA assessments are required to ensure health care entities are compliant. However, many health care entities are examining how to administer HIPAA policies and procedures while enforcing their own security policies. As health care systems embrace new technologies, and patients demand more access to their medical information, there are more gateways than ever for sensitive data to be compromised. The HIPAA audits were rumored to arrive in 2015, but now it looks like we may be waiting until late 2016.

Real-time analytics is a focus

In a life-or-death scenario, every second counts. Access to information can help doctors, nurses, and patients be proactive in projecting major health concerns. But the major question now is how can a health care institution embrace real-time analytics?

Many IT experts argue that health care institutions must look toward colocation and the cloud to help manage the huge amounts of data from EMR records, PACS imaging systems, and other sources. Colocation and cloud services provide resources that can scale data storage and computing power, and offer enhanced learning capabilities along with a sliding consumption model that helps health care institutions save costs and reduce capital expenses. However, many in the health care field are hesitant to embrace either technology because of perceived security and privacy risks.

Having the correct infrastructure improves communication between doctors and nurses through a patient’s cycle of care. A patient’s information should be seamlessly shared between all medical professionals to provide fast and correct treatment. The more patient data that is readily available allows doctors and nurses to see all the risks and benefits of a treatment option. Having state-of-the-art hardware and analytics applications would provide doctors and nurses more time to tend to patients, save more lives, and save millions of dollars.

In particular, real-time analytics solutions from Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Tableau were discussed at HIMSS 2016.

Reducing readmission rates through technology

Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals can incur a penalty of up to 3 percent of their Medicare reimbursements if they fail to meet quality standards. While that percentage sounds small, it significantly impacts a hospital’s operations and profitability.

Many providers are looking for technology to reduce readmission rates, whether that’s required trainings for patients prior to discharge, applications to track patients’ progress and ensure they’re continuing proper treatment and taking prescribed medications, or ensuring doctors and nurses follow proper procedures and protocols in discharging a patient. Collaboration among all parties involved is the key to success. Engaging a patient in their healing process empowers them to take the corrective course of action.

OEMs such as Samsung, Lenovo, and HP presented solutions at HIMSS that put technology in the hands of patients, both inside the hospital and after they’re discharged.

Final thoughts

The story of health care IT rings many similar bells – security, compliance, and moving to the cloud, for example. This year’s HIMSS conference gave new insights into the available technology for hospitals and clinics, and the complicated issues around those technologies that health care IT professionals must consider.

And it continues to be vital in showcasing the role of technology in health care. See everyone at HIMSS 2017 in Orlando.

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