The Healthcare Hub

National Health IT Week … It’s More than Just EHRs

posted by: Cheryl Flury
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This week marks the seventh annual National Health IT Week. Admittedly, in years past, I’ve felt this week was overly focused on very specific areas of healthcare IT, most notably electronic health records (EHRs). But this year is different. With the passing of healthcare reform, in addition to a general, industry-wide call to action for lowering costs and improving patient care, this week seems to have taken on a much broader level of significance within the healthcare community.

While it’s a given that 2013 will see major leaps forward on the healthcare IT front (regardless of who wins in November), this year has witnessed some seriously disruptive innovation. In honor of National Health IT Week, I wanted to take a look back at the top three health-IT-related stories of the year – the ones that most significantly impacted GHX customers.

  1. The Dawn of the Implantable Device Supply Chain: The healthcare industry is losing more than $5 billion a year in the implantable device and physician preference item (PPI) segment due to major inefficiencies and lack of visibility into the supply chain. This type of waste is unfathomable – especially at a time when both the government and the general public are putting pressure on healthcare organizations to deliver quality care at an affordable price. This year, several providers and suppliers began piloting the first implantable device supply chain (IDSC) solution. Through automation and clean, up-to-date data, the IDSC pilots have enabled true collaboration between trading partners, led to more accurate pricing and major process improvements and begun to drive savings and visibility for both providers and manufacturers.
  2. The UDI Rule and the IT Implications for Suppliers AND Providers: This past summer saw the FDA publish its long-awaited Unique Device Identification (UDI) rule, which requires manufacturers to label their devices with unique identifiers. While the deadline is two years away, the implications for healthcare IT are huge. Not only do suppliers have to start taking steps to comply, but providers need to begin thinking about how to capture and use the identifiers. UDIs will make it easier to accurately capture product data – which is an important component of healthcare reform compliance and can lead to improved cost efficiencies and better patient care. My colleague and fellow blogger, Karen Conway, wrote a multi-part series that breaks down the implications of UDI for both manufacturers and providers.
  3. Cloud Adoption Broadening (But We Still Have a Ways to Go): While cloud computing has been talked about for years, it’s only recently been implemented en masse by healthcare providers. In fact, a report found that 71% of providers were deploying or planning to deploy cloud technology. This should come as no surprise given that it’s easy and inexpensive to deploy and the security issues that long plagued it have been disproven. Yet the cloud is too narrowly used in many healthcare organizations. Some really forward-thinking providers are using the cloud more holistically throughout their organizations as a tool for collaboration and data sharing – two critical components for solving the low-cost/high-value healthcare equation.

There were other healthcare IT contenders I could have added to this list, but these are the top three in my mind. Are there topics that you think should be added to or removed from the list? Have these trends impacted your business? If not, do you expect them to? Let’s discuss in the comment section.

Have a very happy National Health IT Week … and keep an eye out for the GHX 2013 healthcare predictions soon!