» An updated federal health information technology plan announced in December aims to expand health information technology adoption and use efforts across the care continuum, emphasizing assistance for healthcare providers serving long-term care. The plan also focuses on efforts to promote the use of interoperable information by healthcare providers and public health entities to improve healthcare and reduce costs.
A first-of-its-kind HIPAA settlement demonstrates that long-term care needs to be vigilant about updating software and other basic security tasks, officials say.
» More analytics are needed in long-term care technology, according to comments in a report by Majd Alwan, M.D., executive director of the Center for Aging Services Technologies. The report summarized a September applied research forum on technology and services for older adults, hosted by CAST and the International Association of Homes and Services for the Ageing. Presenters discussed how technology can help explain human behaviors, and turn data into usable information that can enhance quality of life for seniors.
Computer-based "brain training" systems can help memory and thinking skills among seniors, but do not have an impact on problem solving or impulse control, according to a new study.
» University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers are examining the effect of the Music and Memory program on dementia patients. The team is monitoring the mental state of 1,500 Alzheimer's and dementia patients at Wisconsin nursing homes who receive iPods. The program will be expanded to an additional 150 Wisconsin nursing homes in 2015.
Scientists are working to teach computers to recognize not only words but also the myriad meanings, subtleties and attitudes those words can convey.
» Nurses are increasingly relying on mobile devices, social media and the Internet, according to a survey from Wolters Kluwer Health. Their results, released in September, said 65% of nurses are using mobile devices at work for professional purposes at least 30 minutes a day, with 20% using them for 120 or more minutes. Half of the respondents said their organization blocks Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube on company networks.
As providers get back into gear for the ICD-10 changes to hit in 2015, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a free online tool to help healthcare facilities determine where more time and effort will be needed to prepare for the transition.
» The personal information of roughly 4.5 million patients was compromised during a series of cyber-attacks against hospital group Community Health Systems, the organization reported Aug. 18. The attacks are believed to have occurred in April and June. Stolen information includes names, addresses and Social Security numbers; no credit card or medical data was lost, officials said. CHS officials said they were working with authorities, and have plans to offer identity theft protection services to victims.
Outmoded methods of communication between caregivers may be responsible for significant amounts of wasted time during shifts, resulting in inefficient patient transfers and hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue each year, according to a new survey.
» The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched a technical assistance program, called the Medicaid Innovation Accelerator Program, in July. The goal is to help with payment and delivery system reform. It was created through a collaboration with the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, along with the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office and other centers.
Mobile health apps need more oversight, according to a July article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
» David R. Hunt, M.D., FACS, the medical director of Health IT Adoption and Patient Safety in the Office of the National Coordinator, urged uniform standards for health IT at the LTPAC HIT Summit in Baltimore. Patient safety is "completely embedded in the concept of a shared vision of interoperability," he explained. It is "indistinguishable from the delivery of quality healthcare." However, providers should resist the urge to consider the reduction of errors as being the same as mitigation of harm.
The CIO Consortium & Nurse Executive Council's white paper, "Electronic Health Record Solutions LTPAC Providers Need Today," still has relevance to long-term care providers working through new technology, panelists said at the Long Term and Post Acute Care Health IT Summit.
» The McKnight's Technology Awards will accept entries until July 12.
Executives are typically allocating between 2% and 3% of their operating budgets for technology, according to a recent Ziegler survey. More assets are devoted within the capital budget, with an average of 12% of those blueprints devoted to technology.
» An app developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the U of I at Chicago allows healthcare providers to analyze a patient's gait. GaitTrack uses eight motion parameters after a person takes a short walk. The app can provide data more cheaply and accurately than a medical accelerometer, and can be installed on a smartphone. Results were published in the journal Telemedicine and e-Health.
The proliferation of wireless devices and seemingly limitless supply of apps have advanced communications capabilities to wondrous new heights. But there is a dark side as well, typified by the vulnerabilities to cyber-attack and having vital information stolen by hackers that a research team at Syracuse University has found.
The HHS Office of National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Office for Civil Rights are making a new security risk assessment tool available to help small- to mid-sized providers conduct their own risk assessments.
» HIMSS Analytics alleged that too many providers rely on outdated and inefficient practices to back up and archive resident-related information. The organization surveyed 150 senior IT professionals nationwide. They found that processes tend to be inconsistent when it comes to safeguarding data and meeting long-term compliance requirements.
The procrastination is over for the conversion to ICD-10 coding. After the third postponement of the start date last year, officials are adamant about starting the new format Oct. 1.
» Gregory L. Alexander, Ph.D. will address "How tech tools are changing the face of LTC," at an upcoming webinar. The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. (Eastern) on March 26. This presentation is part of the McKnight's Online Expo. Attendees will be eligible to earn up to five free NAB-approved continuing education credits at the expo. To register, visit www.mcknights.com/expo2014.
In the 10 years since the Bush Administration launched its healthcare interoperability initiative by creating the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, a lot of progress has been made toward the goal of an interconnected healthcare continuum.
» The government's five-star system for rating nursing homes does not reflect the quality of life experienced by residents with preserved cognition, according to newly published research.
If last month's International CES show had a strong message for providers, it was this: Being connected to the Internet is about to take on a whole new meaning.
» Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) has introduced legislation that aims to cut federal outlays by increasing the use of health technology in federal programs. Under the proposal, a 19-member commission would be established to collect information and make spending cut recommendations for Medicare, Medicaid and other federally supported healthcare programs.
The nation's largest not-for-profit long-term care providers have implemented electronic health records, but there is still much room for growth when it comes to the sharing of digital data, according to a recently released survey.
» HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on the failings of healthcare.gov. Sebelius said the government has spent about $118 million on the website itself and another $56 million on other IT around the system.
Investigators at Cornell University's Personal Robotics Lab are developing robots that can accurately predict and respond to human actions. Such machines could potentially offer a new level of comfort to people requiring assistance with their daily activities.
» The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently issued the latest version of the Minimum Data Set 3.0 Resident Assessment Instrument User's Manual. The latest publication took effect Oct. 1. The MDS 3.0 will begin to track distinct calendar days of therapy and will include a co-treatment minutes item. In Section O0420, the manual update includes coding instructions and examples for the distinct calendar days of therapy requirement. The co-treatment item — found in Chapter 3, page O-17 — calls on providers to "enter the total number of minutes each discipline of therapy was administered" in co-treatment sessions over a seven-day period.
Nursing home residents with an amputated leg might soon gain new walking independence, thanks to a motorcycle accident victim and researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
» A new system from researchers at MIT and Israel's Technion and Tel Aviv University can confirm computer programs running on the cloud are working properly. The system ensures there is no malicious code that could compromise legitimate applications. The researchers presented study results from their system at the International Cryptology Conference. Their system would mean, for example, that medical data in a huge database could be searched for any patterns indicating a violation of patient privacy.
In what may be a sign of things to come, Wisconsin nursing homes, hospitals and other providers will soon have the ability to exchange patient information with a database operated by a nonprofit organization.
The government will press for action on a certification program for electronic health records used by long-term care providers, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has announced. A certification program would assure long-term care providers that an EHR product meets certain quality standards.
As sharing of electronic health information becomes standard across all care settings, using technology may become a prerequisite for providers to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to a newly released government strategy document.
» The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has unveiled a new webpage with information and resources for long-term and post-acute (LTPAC) providers.
Healthcare technology can greatly help or harm the care residents receive. Recognizing this dichotomy, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has issued a health IT safety plan.
» The second annual McKnight's Excellence In Technology Awards program will accept applications through July 12. In all, 15 honors will be given to the highest-scoring providers. Awards will recognize efforts that improve care quality, resident dignity, resident-staff interaction, transitions and overall innovation. Judging will be conducted by an independent panel. There is no cost to enter. For more information, visit http://awards.mcknights.com.
Four Maryland long-term care facilities stand to benefit from new technology grants that target medical information.
EHR problems are "worse than we know," a new report from the ECRI Institute contends. Transitioning from paper to electronic health records is creating problems, and "we're only now beginning to understand the extent," says ECRI's Karen Zimmer. "Mistakes are bound to go unnoticed for months or even years." The ECRI report documented 171 health IT problems that caused or could have caused patient harm.
Social media, email and other forms of communication technology offer senior citizens a virtual world of information, entertainment and correspondence with friends and family. Yet these can be strange, unfamiliar formats for many older people.
Information technology adoption and exchange of health information across the long-term care and post-acute continuum "has not yet reached broad scale adoption," but "promising" IT potential exists for providers to improve care while reducing costs, say new report findings from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
A growing number of healthcare providers are adopting mobile technologies, a new study by IT trade organization CompTIA has found. A survey of 375 healthcare providers reveals that 60% of respondents currently use smartphones and more than 50% say their staff members currently use tablet computers. Of the survey respondents who have a mobile device capable of supporting applications, one in five use health- or medical-related apps daily.
» Health information technology helps nursing homes coordinate care and better protect resident privacy, says noted researcher Gregory Alexander, Ph.D., of the University of Missouri's Sinclair School of Nursing. Alexander reached his conclusions through his work as co-principal investigator of a CMS research project. Funded through a $14.8 million grant, the project's goal is to reduce re-hospitalizations among nursing home residents.
In a new report titled "The State of the Cloud," technology products vendor CDW found that the percentage of healthcare organizations implementing or maintaining cloud-based computing increased from 30% in 2011 to 35% in 2012.
Timothy Bickmore, Ph.D., will address how computerized characters can provide support to providers during an upcoming free webinar. "Avatars in senior care settings" will begin at 1 p.m. ET on March 20. The presentation is part of the McKnight's Online Expo. Attendees will be able to earn up to five free NAB-approved continuing education credits. To register, visit www.mcknights.com/expo2013.
The healthcare industry's deployment of information technology systems has fallen short of the expectations projected by the RAND Corporation in 2005.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has pushed back enforcement of two electronic healthcare transaction rules by three months, the agency announced in January. That gives providers until March 31.
The move to electronic health records recently had a red flag thrown in front of it by a report from the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Technology payoffs such as automation and electronic health records are allowing healthcare providers to better manage care and information.