Top 10 Healthcare IT News stories of 2017
EHR vendors Epic, Cerner and eClinicalWorks dominated the most-read articles throughout the last 12 months -- with news both good and bad. Also in the mix: patient safety struggles, artificial intelligence, blockchain and next generation of electronic health records that vendors are collectively agreeing will be CHRs, as in comprehensive health records.
Here are the 10 most-read Healthcare IT News articles of 2017.
Hospital watchdog Leapfrog released its Spring 2017 Hospital Safety Grade on April 12. It highlights hundreds of hospitals that are leading in preventing deadly medical errors at their facilities. The national healthcare rating is focused on errors, accidents and infections. It assigns ‘A’ through ‘F’ letter grades to hospitals. Leapfrog rated 2,639 hospitals, and 823 hospitals earned an A, 706 earned a B, 933 earned a C, and 167 earned a D.
Epic Systems founder and CEO Judy Faulkner at HIMSS17 in February told us in an exclusive that the company is building two new versions of EHRs, each with a lyrical name. “We’re finding that people need different things,” she said. A critical access hospital, for instance, doesn’t need the full Epic iteration. The two forthcoming versions of Epic can provide a pathway to adding all the features at a later time. They are designed for smaller organizations and will be lower in cost.
At the end of May, the United States Department of Justice charged EHR vendor eClinicalWorks false claims for federal incentive payments under the government’s Meaningful Use Program. The whistleblower suit alleged that the company’s software failed to accurately record user actions with audit log functionality, did not always accurately record diagnostic imaging orders or conduct drug-drug interaction checks and did not satisfy data portability requirements designed to enable doctors to transfer patient data to vendors’ EHRs.
Faulkner said in late Septmeber at Epic’s user group that the time has to come to drop the ‘E’ from electronic health records and replace it with a C. ‘E’ has to go away now. It’s all electronic,” Faulkner said. CHRs would include more types of data, such as social determinants, about what people eat, how much they sleep, if they are obese or live in a food desert (or both), and whether they are lonely, because all of those factors can have an enormous impact on an individual’s health.
“Top health industry issues of 2017: A year of uncertainty and opportunity” is how the consulting firm PWC characterized the healthcare landscape as 2017 neared. PwC viewed the fate of the Affordable Care Act as unclear. The firm saw pharma’s business relationships with Washington and with its customers might undergo major changes. “New technologies will alter many of our preconceptions about healthcare delivery,” PwC concluded. The shift towards value-based care would continue its development, altering the healthcare landscape.
ECRI Institute created its “Top Ten Hospital C-Suite Watch List” at the start of 2017. Among the developments, the nonprofit organization saw in its crystal ball are the upsurge of artificial intelligence. Also, it forecast genetic testing and biosensors for opioid addiction. ECRI anticipated fluorescent endoscopic imaging. Indocyanine – green imaging that highlights malignant tissue during an endoscopy. It is normally undetectable under regular light. Green imaging lets physicians easily distinguish malignant tumors from healthy tissue and Type 1 diabetes vaccines.
A want ad recently appeared on the website of Verona, Wisconsin-based electronic health record colossus Epic Systems Corp. for "bright, motivated individuals to join our new billing services team as we enter the world of medical billing." Epic explained that it will take on some of the billing work and associated IT functions, for Resolute Professional Billing customers, when announcing the new service at the end of June.
Wisconsin-based Agnesian Healthcare is suing Cerner for fraud and breach of warranty, claiming issues in its billing software resulted in losses of over $16 million. Also, the hospital said in the suit, filed Septmber 15, that the issues have tarnished its reputation and claims $200,000 a month in damages.The hospital went live with Cerner’s revenue cycle software in 2015 and paid $300,000 for the platform. In the suit, Agnesian said problems with the software began almost immediately after the installation that resulted in “pervasive errors” in billing statements to patients. “Cerner disagrees with the allegations and will aggressively defend the case,” Cerner responded. This one may or may not be settled in 2018.
Artificial intelligence is more than just a promising future state. It’s here, machine learning are startups like Augmedix, BrainQ, Byteflies and Cytovale are sprouting up. Augmedix is working to cut the time doctors spend on a computer during patient visits by leveraging Google Glass. Another example: Nuance recently introduced a AI virtual assistant for healthcare. Nuance’s new Dragon Medical Virtual Assistant is designed to streamline a variety of clinical workflows for the 500,000 clinicians that already use Dragon Medical for their clinical documentation.
Hospitals need to understand blockchain. The so-called digital ledger technology was developed in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, a possibly pseudonymous person (or perhaps multiple people) who designed it as the underpinning for the exchange of the digital cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin. While the two most commonly cited examples of how blockchain can be used in healthcare are data interoperability and security, the stream of new possibilities is flowing as well, including as a master patient index, claims adjudication, supply chain and clinical trials. Today, Hospitals currently have as many as 20 different ways to enter a simple date-of-birth and no real way to standardize that once it’s been done.