As a health information practitioner, it’s important to keep up with the latest health information management and technology news. That’s why each week, we scour the Web to bring you the best stories on health technology, health data, electronic health records (EHRs), health information management, and everything in between. Share these articles with colleagues and employees, or simply stay on the cutting edge yourself!
This week, our roundup includes stories about data science in medical schools, sharing EHRs, health predictions from Twitter, the ICD-10 delay, and the “supercomputer” named Watson.
You don’t need training in medicine or biology to teach at medical schools anymore. Mount Sinai is one of many major medical institutions reaching out to data science professionals—another sign that data is a big part of the future of health care. This could be especially huge for the fields of HIT and HIM, which deal with the coding, management, and analysis of health data. The New York Times shared the story of Harvard alum and mathematician Jeffrey Hammerbacher and explained why he left both Wall Street and Facebook to apply data science to medicine.
…five years ago, he was given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, a crisis that fueled in him a fierce curiosity in medicine — about how the body and brain work and why they sometimes fail. The more he read and talked to experts, the more he became convinced that medicine needed people like him: skilled practitioners of data science who could guide scientific discovery and decision-making.
Currently, Hammerbacher is a faculty member at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai; he’s leading a well-funded initiative to change how doctors treat patients.
…the goal is to transform medicine into an information science, where data and computing are marshaled to deliver breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and other chronic diseases.
Hammerbacher expects that we will see the effects of the initiative in two or three years. Read more…
Story and image from nytimes.com
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Since 2009, around $30 billion in taxpayer dollars have been spent on instituting electronic records systems in hospitals and doctors’ offices in hopes of making health care more efficient. But a big problem has surfaced: most of the systems can’t talk to each other. Much of health care still relies on paper printouts and fax machines to share the data. A medical professor at University of California San Francisco weighs in:
“…in hindsight, the government could have mandated that stimulus money be spent only on software that made sharing information easy. But, he says, “I think the right call was to get the systems in. Then to toggle to, ‘OK, now you have a computer, now you’re using it, you’re working out some of the kinks. The next thing we need to do is to be sure all these systems talk to each other.”
Right now, experts say the systems’ ability to share information is at a 2 or 3 on a scale of 0 to 10. Up until now, there has been no financial incentive for medical organizations to share patient records, and sharing means making it easier for a patient to take their medical records (a.k.a their business) elsewhere. So very few have done it. The federal government’s health IT office plans to change that by setting standards for how to share health data.
The billions of dollars a year the government pays to doctors, hospitals and other institutions for patients enrolled in Medicare is a pretty good motivator. Already, Medicare is starting to increase pay to doctors and hospitals that work together to streamline care… and to penalize those that don’t.
Even customers are demanding better digital health services, and this is a great sign for anyone in health IT.
About a dollar of every $6 in the U.S. economy is spent on health care. A new IT boom in that sector means there are billions of dollars to be made.
It is safe to say new software that meets the data sharing standards is not far off. Read more…
Story and image from npr.org
Researchers at University of Pennsylvania report that Twitter data is a better indicator of psychological well-being and heart disease risk than many traditional factors–such as low income, smoking, and stress–combined.
They found that expressions of negative emotions such as anger, stress, and fatigue in a county’s tweets were associated with higher heart disease risk. On the other hand, positive emotions like excitement and optimism were associated with lower risk.
With billions of users writing daily about their daily experiences, thoughts and feelings, the world of social media represents a new frontier for psychological research. Such data could be an invaluable public health tool if able to be tied to real-world outcomes.
It’s exciting to think about using social media as a tool for disease prevention. These websites are a window into personal lives, and while there are privacy concerns to consider, data collection from the sites could someday identify communities at risk for certain diseases and save lives. Read more…
Story and image from upenn.edu
While some people might mistake ICD-10 for an IKEA cataloging number, everyone should know that the legislation needed to implement the new disease coding language keeps getting blocked in Washington. Why should they care? Healthcare IT News answers:
Hospitals are reimbursed for the type of care they are providing to their patient populations, and therefore diagnosis codes are an important piece of information that describes patients’ conditions, justifies the services and treatments, and demonstrates medical necessity.
And it’s not just an issue for hospitals. While all other industrialized nations are using ICD-10, the United States is held back, relying on ICD-9 code sets that are almost 40 years old.
…in an industry where new discoveries are made every day, this is not only unacceptable, it is dangerous. This means that when a health crisis arises, we are not able to track it the same way our colleagues in Canada or France can by documenting a patient’s specific condition using an ICD-10 code.
Take the Ebola outbreak. There is no designated ICD-9 code for Ebola. This causes huge challenges for global organizations, such as WHO, that track the diseases and try to warn the public before it hits to reduce risk of contagion.
So each time Washington politics throw a roadblock in front of this piece of legislation, it not only impacts an important component in our healthcare industry’s shift to value-based care, it prevents our valuable participation in global health monitoring, and slows our ability to help identify public health threats and ensure we have the right resources in place to deal with them readily and appropriately.
Story from healthcareitnews.com
Algorithms are everywhere. They have been used to make major advances in economics, engineering, science, and medicine but also to create thinking apparatuses that can see, speak, listen, think, and learn. Are you keeping tabs on the most famous of “supercomputers,” IBM’s Watson? It’s the one that defeated the winningest human contestants in Jeopardy’s history. Recently, Watson blazed its way into law–and that’s what this article focuses on. But it also summarizes why cloud-based systems like Watson are helpful to health care. John Gordon, vice president of IBM Watson Solutions explains:
Our main view here is there are industries where people are overwhelmed with information and they can’t keep up with what’s happening. So [the supercomputers] can be trained by different entrepreneurs or enterprises for whatever use they need them to do. …Watson is going to transform industries and professions—all kinds of industries. Specifically, healthcare was one we said, legal was two, and education was three—all of those industries being big data intensive, substantial industries.
Okay, that’s great, but how does it actually help health care? Gordon goes on to say:
“In medicine and healthcare, we looked at what an oncologist would need to do to find data that helps them make a good decision,” says IBM’s Gordon. “They don’t want the systems to make decisions. They want the system to help wade through all the data that exists and put the relevant pieces in front of them so they can make better decisions.”
Story and image from theatlantic.com
Move Beyond Traditional Roles To Embrace Big Data, Says Health Information Management Program Director
Frank Waterstraat, program director of UW Health Information Management and Technology, shares what he’s learned after four decades of working in health information management.
Fast forward to 2015. Waterstraat has a PhD, an RHIA, and is the program director of the University of Wisconsin Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology. Under Waterstraat’s leadership, the degree program has grown quickly—enrollments were up 116% in the last year alone.
If you ask him about the HIM field, he’ll likely launch into a passionate speech about the power of big data and how it can be used to improve population health, predict outcomes, reduce cost, and more.
Waterstraat says looking back, HIM couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. Working in the profession has allowed him to pursue his love of data analytics and process improvement in an ever-changing environment that ultimately focuses on improving the quality of patient care.
Story and image from himt.wisconsin.edu
Looking to start or advance your career in HIM or HIT? Find out why the UW Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology is a great program for working adults. Call 1-877-895-3276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to talk with a friendly enrollment adviser today.