Five things to know about health IT this week

From breaches to the long list of issues discussed by the federal HIT Policy Committee, a lot happened in the health IT arena this week. Here's what you need to know.

1. Data analytics can help the global healthcare ecosystem save $2 trillion in waste.

During the Medical Informatics World Conference this week in Boston, Heather Fraser, global life science and healthcare lead at the IBM Institute for Business Value, discussed how analytics can drive value. The ability to capture, share, integrate and analyze data is game-changing in terms of producing outcomes that matter. Benefits of analytics for the healthcare ecosystem include better selection of drug candidates, better selection of appropriate clinical trial candidates and ensuring patient adherence to treatment regimens. See our coverage of the conference for more on data analytics' role in the future of healthcare.

2. The HIT Policy Committee covered numerous issues during its April 3 meeting.

From a debate about the creation of the CommonWell Alliance, made up of six EHR vendors, to documentation efforts and alternative pathways for Meaningful Use to privacy and security, the group is working hard to address the many and varied challenges facing the secure and effective use of health IT.

3. ONC hopes to use a bigger budget to further its ongoing efforts.

The Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT requested an increase of $16.7 million above its fiscal year 2012 enacted level of $61.2 million. ONC’s requested budget “builds on the momentum gained over the past few years” through activities including policy development and coordination; standards, interoperability and certification; and adoption, utilization and meaningful use in health IT. Much of the new funding is slated for support of the health insurance exchanges scheduled to go live on Oct. 1.

4. This was a big week for data breaches—and not in a good way.

We reported on paper pediatric records left outside a hospital in Tennessee, a stolen laptop containing patient records and a breach tied to an employee’s involvement in an identity theft ring. And there were more incidents.

5. The Joint Commission is concerned about alarm fatigue due to medical devices.

Calling alarm events a “frequent and persistent problem,” the Joint Commission issued a Sentinel Event Alert to hospitals, imploring leaders to examine the serious risk caused by alarm fatigue from medical devices.

The Sentinel Event Alert includes 11 recommendations of strategies for improving safety related to medical device alarms, including several under the categories of training and education, equipment and physical environment and leadership and organizational planning. The alert also says that the Joint Commission may develop a related National Patient Safety Goal.

Please share your thoughts on any of these topics. We'd love to hear from you.


Beth Walsh

Clinical Innovation + Technology editor