The health care industry continues to undergo dramatic change, especially with regard to information technology. Computerized records and mobile communication devices have brought about several significant advancements. Medical service providers keep finding high-tech ways to boost efficiency, revenue and patient satisfaction. At the same time, they face increasingly dangerous threats from internet criminals who steal health data or disrupt vital systems. Drew Madden discusses how the latest medical IT news brings attention to both positive and negative developments.
Ransomware has a major impact on health care facilities. It denies access to crucial files and has the potential to disable essential equipment in operating rooms. The WannaCry virus harmed numerous hospitals in the U.K., U.S. and other countries. Internet security experts recently revealed the results of an in-depth analysis. They discovered that WannaCry had many weaknesses due to poor coding techniques.
The malware’s developers failed to set up automatic ransom transactions. Consequently, they needed to manually supply victims with decryption codes. Some people never received the codes; this discouraged fellow victims from paying the ransom. Furthermore, it was easy for experts to find a so-called “kill switch” for WannaCry. A person can prevent the virus from spreading by accessing this internet address.
The ransomware’s creators didn’t develop it on their own. They purchased and adapted programming codes from existing malware. This shortcut made WannaCry less difficult to defeat. The criminals also made a mistake by requesting Bitcoin payments. So far, they haven’t found a way to convert the balance to cash without facing arrest. The impact of this poorly designed virus highlights the greater danger posed by highly sophisticated ransomware.
New Data Sources
In recent years, numerous people have begun to wear fitness tracking devices and intelligent watches. Health care providers are working to obtain valuable data from this equipment and put it to use in ways that benefit patients. For example, a physician could easily review an individual’s physical activity patterns before offering personalized advice. Medical IT personnel must take steps to preserve the confidentiality of this information.
Doctors have started to benefit from highly sophisticated referral systems. Modern computer software can automatically identify the most suitable specialist for a patient while avoiding out-of-network facilities. This technology also helps physicians coordinate health care and provide each other with useful information regarding referrals. It brings about better experiences and outcomes for patients. Additionally, the system assists doctors by expediting the referral process.
A survey found that three out of four hospital leaders want to prioritize advancements in information technology. Most large facilities plan to expedite their progress by setting up innovation institutes. Some medical service providers have already established them in places like Boston, Chapel Hill, Cleveland, Mountain View and Los Angeles. They’re far more common in hospitals that have more than 400 beds.
What is an innovation institute? These facilities often feature laboratories, business incubators and conference rooms. They sometimes host special events that create opportunities for IT and medical experts to collaborate on new concepts. Innovation center employees frequently cooperate with staff members of tech companies, fellow health care providers and inventive small businesses. For instance, a hospital in California helped entrepreneurs develop several new medical devices.
Many people prefer to pick up a telephone or use a computer rather than travel to an office. Although most major retailers, insurance companies and banks now offer online solutions, hospitals are only beginning to provide similar options. Survey results show that patients strongly desire to save time and money with remote medical services, such as phone-based consultations. Some health care providers have started to offer telemedicine solutions in an effort to avoid losing clients to their competitors.
If a health care facility truly wants to promote the well-being of patients, it must take steps to integrate with the community. Numerous medical offices have begun to communicate with schools, nonprofits and other local partners in more effective ways. They improve treatment results by using technology to share information and coordinate health care with these organizations. This also decreases medical expenses in the long run.
Although they often neglected to prioritize it in the past, most of today’s health care executives have recognized the importance of technological innovation. They show a willingness to spend money and experiment with new IT solutions. Nonetheless, several major barriers still exist. A number of hospitals report that they have inadequate funds or personnel to quickly adopt the latest technology.
About Drew Madden
Drew Madden attended the University of Iowa’s College of Engineering. After Madden graduated, he worked at the Cerner Corporation for four years. He went on to find employment at Healthia Consulting and Ingenix Consulting from 2006 to 2010.
In 2010, Nordic Consulting Partners hired Madden as Executive Vice President. In 2011, he became the company’s president, and Nordic achieved rapid growth under his leadership. The firm gained over 140 clients and hired more than 700 consultants during his tenure. Madden became successful by striving to develop an appealing business culture, hiring top-notch personnel and establishing positive long-term relationships with clients.