As an industry, Health IT went for a wild ride during 2015. The long delayed conversion to ICD-10, progress through Meaningful Use compliance stages, and innovations regarding the advancement towards seamless interoperability extracted a lot of energy over these 12 months. Here at PrognoCIS, we’ve already taken a look back at 2015- but what can we expect moving forward? Here are a few things we can expect to see moving into the new year.

Greater Security Measures

Making sure medical data is secure is going to be the absolute number one priority heading into 2016. A recent report by Direct Trust, a non-profit association of major healthcare organizations, stated that,  “Parties involved in electronic data exchanges will insist on more and more rigorous certification, accreditation and audit of security and identity controls as a first condition of participating in data sharing.”

Major market player Amazon Web Services (AWS) improved their architecture for assisting companies who handle healthcare information, specifically identifiable information, remain compliant with the security and privacy regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This is an important foot forward in cloud-based security solutions, as this enables  the full range of support from Amazon Web Sources towards top level security standards, versus the security levels the local part-time IT guy provides for a locally-based server hardware. .

You can read their complete white paper on the AwS HIPAA  HERE.

In recent news, search engine giant, Google, announced that it will begin indexing HTTPS pages by default now. You’re a doctor, not an IT tech- so what does this mean? This is actually hugely important for the security of your website. HTTPS is essentially a more secure version of the HTTP protocol to connect users to websites. Until now, HTTPS pages were not being indexed by search engines by default, therefore were not usually visible on casually performed search engine queries. Assuming that because a page or portion of your site is not findable via search engine makes it secure is a mistake. The decision by Google to index these pages has some pretty large implications for the future of cyber-security across the entire internet.  This will likely force web designers to beef up security measures in place to secure data and identifiable information.

Advancement of Interoperability

How or when will we finally reach interoperability nirvana? The short answer is through cooperation and innovations made by members of the Health IT and Tech communities, like the working groups championed by HIMSS, for example. Wearable devices, like the wildly popular FitBit, are driving what data will mean for the future and the direction EHR’s should be heading.

Integration of data received into wearables is likely just around the corner; Carolina HealthCare Systems released an app this year that is completely interoperable with a wearable device. What this means, is that the wearable device that is tracking your heart rate, sleep patterns, etc, and is available to your physician in order to paint a broader and richer picture of your health. This particular function is only available through the Carolina HealthCare System, but it is clear to see that we are knocking on the door of interoperability that may open up to us in 2016.

Continuing Evolution of Meaningful Use

Nationwide, physicians and clinicians have been frustrated with the strict rules regarding compliance with the incentive program showing Meaningful Use of EHR software technology. There were simply too many complicated rules that demanded total compliance for incentive consideration. For example, if a physician opened a medical practice during Stage 1, there would have been 13 core objectives that must be completed, and 5 menu objectives, that must be completed in conjunction. If the physician met the 5 menu objectives and only 12 of the core objectives, he would not be compliant and receive no money on top of being out the money that the physician spent initiating those changes. Many have opted out of compliance altogether due to this scenario.

Initially, the reporting period required for compliance was one calendar year. In 2015, that was scaled back down to a much more manageable 90 days.

DirectTrust sees the third stage of the program being phased out by the end of next year, as the industry achieves many significant goals. Many in the industry have voiced concern about Meaningful Use Stage 3, and providers may be willing to face penalties instead of spending more money on health IT that they may not see adding value to their organization, the report notes.

Continuing the Journey

There aren’t many anticipated “new” hits expected to rock the EHR industry going forward but the tunes will continue to refine themselves. The things we expect to see are issues facing the community since the very beginning: interoperability, Meaningful Use, security enhancements. But, hey, at least we don’t have to worry about ICD-10 anymore.

Author: Cory Clark

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