Health IT Pulse

Jan 6 2011   10:49AM GMT

What’s in store for health care technology in 2011

CommunityManager Profile: CommunityManager

medical errors
patient data security

By David Schneider, Editorial Assistant

With having reflected already on the top health care technology and health care policy stories of 2010, this blog takes a quick look at what other health IT observers say will matter in 2011. Some points are obvious, but others may be surprising.

A recent HealthLeaders Media post listed the Top 10 health hazards in hospitals, as identified by the ECRI Institute. A couple of those can look to IT for a solution. One threat comes from radiation overdoses and potential errors during radiology procedures, neither of which can be reversed. In this case, electronic health record (EHR) software with an e-prescribing module can reduce dosing errors — though rigorous certification and training programs also will be necessary. Another issue is cross-contamination from reprocessed flexible endoscopes. Improved sterilization techniques will help here, of course, but so can comprehensive inventory management systems, which can track when devices have been used and need to be replaced.

(Other hazards include EHR safety and alarm fatigue, which is the notion that users stop paying attention to pop-up windows and other messages within an application because they see far too many of them. Put another way, the software is the boy who cried wolf, and the end user is the villagers.)

Meanwhile, a podcast details developing health care security trends that will carry into 2011. Security expert Dixie Baker addresses the need to ensure that EHR systems comply with beefed-up Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) security and privacy guidelines. She also introduces the idea of a “health Internet,” a form of health information exchange that links computers in a variety of geographic locations to facilitate swift information transfer.

Finally, offers a personal to-do list for the health care CIO. Its items focus on networking, whether in person or through social media, and in sharing one’s expertise. The industry greatly benefits from a network of experienced professionals who influence ideas and propagate the spread of new techniques and health care technology, the author argues.

Why not get started now? Our Health IT Exchange seeks readers’ input about their greatest health care technology challenges in 2011. So far, the biggest concerns have been meaningful use, privacy, security and an overall lack of network architecture planning.

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