10 buzz-worthy health IT articles of 2011

By Michelle McNickle
01:29 PM

2011 was a standout year for health IT, and as sure as debates regarding EHRs lingered on, certain articles on Healthcare IT News attracted record-breaking social media reactions and comments galore.

We rounded up 10 buzz-worthy health IT articles of 2011. From social media's use in the industry to job prospects and more, these articles garnered the most attention and sparked the most discussion among Healthcare IT News readers. 

1. iPad 2 looks even better for docs. In March, Associate Editor Molly Merrill wrote about the introduction of the iPad 2 – and more specifically, an appearance by John Halamka, MD, chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in a video showcasing the technology’s use in different fields. Halamka’s comments on the iPad’s practicality resonated with readers, with nearly 30 comments and 120 tweets. “What we have tried to do on the iPad is give doctors at the point of care the tools they need at the exact moment the doctor can make a difference,” said Halamka. 

2. 5 technologies every hospital should be using. This past September, software analyst Shahid Shah spotlighted the five technologies every hospital should consider using. He included innovations such as single sign-on, virtualization, HTML5 and document management systems. Shah’s practical look at what technologies would benefit hospitals the most gave way to debate in our comment section and a follow-up article, five technologies every hospital should avoid

3. Social media sites help patients make healthcare decisions. In this article, published in March, we saw how one in five Americans use social media websites to receive healthcare information. The article focused on multiple surveys, where respondents confirmed their high likelihood to turn to social media to help make a healthcare decision and educate themselves on procedures, facilities and doctor/patient relationships. Commenter "nrenicker" added social media monitoring is becoming an interesting trend. “[It’s] one that has limitations and dark sides, but also one that has tremendous benefits.”

4. Americans not ready to use social media to talk to their doc. Despite consumers’ likelihood to look to social media for information, this article showed the same couldn’t be said for using social media or other chat systems to contact physicians. According to a national Capstrat-Public Polling survey, more than five of every six respondents said they wouldn’t use social media or instant messaging for medical communication, even if doctors offered it. The consensus was the same with commenters. “Be sure to set your ad settings to ‘no one’ if you don’t want to be circulated all over the web,” commenter "MedQuack" wrote. 

5. Five ways health IT will reduce the cost of care. In February, Web Producer Jamie Thompson looked to Jerry Buchanan, account director, healthcare technology and services at eMids Technologies, to describe some of the ways IT will reduce the cost of care. Buchanan listed improved standards of care and increased patient involvement and collaboration as just a few of the ways. Feedback in our comment section was noteworthy, with readers both supporting and debating Buchanan’s points. 

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6. 5 Keys to EMR usability. In September, Rosemarie Nelson and Steve Waldren spoke to Healthcare IT News regarding the keys to EMR usability. Their requirements included supportiveness, flexibility, and efficiency. Page views were many, while the concept of usability was explored further in our comment section by reader "dch." “Give us something we want, something we crave…and we’ll line up outside the door before the shop opens,” he wrote. “Just like we did for the iPhone and iPad.”

7. Job seekers must change search habits to get in the health IT game. Although IT positions in the industry are plenty, Molly Merrill wrote in March how candidates with IT experience weren’t expanding their search to include positions in healthcare. Merrill told how positions in the industry increased by 34,000 in the previous month, while commenters had their own opinions regarding the shortage of IT folks in healthcare. “The problem I found is even with the IT experience, the majority of employers hiring want healthcare experience in addition to IT,” wrote commenter "droberts80."

8. Clinical IT professionals hard to find. In January, Editor Bernie Monegain wrote how clinical informatics positions in the industry were becoming increasingly difficult to fill. According to a study from the Hay Group, 47 percent of healthcare organizations experienced challenges with retention, recruitment, or both. However, readers took to our comment section, expressing their disagreement. “The shortage is of people with the imaginary qualifications made up by employers,” wrote commenter "Csa198932." "There aren’t the numbers of applicants with the experience that facilities are specifying. They will need to think outside the box a little bit.”

9. Global market for telehealth tech on upswing. The demand for telehealth technology, particularly in home-care agencies, disease management companies, and clinical trial groups, is on the rise, Editor Bernie Monegain wrote this past March. To be successful in the telehealth realm, developers must turn to high-quality, low-cost solutions. Commenter "mpfortier" was partial to the article, saying having a doctor type on an EMR screen feels the same as writing in person. “I for one am looking forward to having this kind of access to physicians.” However, many commenters were wary, due to a feeling of detachment from their physician. 

10. Medical identity theft on the rise. In March, Managing Editor Mike Miliard wrote a piece on medical identity, which looked at a study from the Ponemon Institute. Miliard pointed out that almost 1.5 million Americans are victims of identity theft every year. “I presume that the trend in medical identity theft is heading north,” commenter "RakeshSB" wrote about the article. “In spite of offering promises of security, identity and access management tools, [they] have still not proven effective enough to prevent increasing security breaches.” Other commenters suggested the main problem is individuals aren’t clear on what they can do to prevent ID theft, depending on their medical providers to do so.

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