The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is keenly focused on improving the healthcare and general services that support our military veterans. Incumbent on these improvements is the integration of leading edge technologies that digitize and automate processes for efficiency along with important security enhancements.
ONE: Implementation of Electronic Health Records
The Department's efforts to modernize the way they store and access records for the nine million veterans they care for into a comprehensive electronic system has been well documented. These efforts involve upgrading all 1200+ VA facilities' existing systems to ensure better continuity of care, and are currently focused on moving EHR data to a cloud system that will be interoperable with the Military Health System. The ultimate goal is to ensure service members can seamlessly and digitally transition from DOD to VA health care, instead of needing to carry around stacks of paper forms as is current practice.
Blockchain technology is a new way of passing information from point A to point B. The data passes through a "block" that gets validated by a network of unrelated computers, and democratizes the transfer of data. This creates a transparency for the path of the data and makes that path irreversible. It also allows for computational logic to be attached to data, enabling automation around actions associated with it.
Organizations across government have been experimenting with ways blockchain technology could make transactions more efficient, secure, and transparent. With the COVID-19 pandemic the ability to easily, securely, and transparently share data has never been more important. In the many areas of our lives affected by the pandemic, blockchain is proving to be a tool for meeting the quickly evolving demands of public health, financial markets, and even democracy itself.
National Health IT Week was designed to raise awareness of the role IT plays in healthcare and to move forward the use of IT solutions that make a difference in the quality of patient care. The field of Health IT has evolved greatly from using technology to help with administrative functions and patient records. Today, Health IT is at the bedside with telemedicine consults, IoT medical devices, patient education, and more. Additionally, the health market is looking to emerging technologies like blockchain to help with chain of custody of records and controlled substances. IT is also playing a huge role in public health by using data analytics to spot patterns and trends in everything from flu outbreaks to opioid abuse.
With all of these opportunities for IT to become part of the delivery of healthcare there are of course huge security concerns. Publicity around breeches and ransomware incidents have put the industry on high alert to be proactive in their security and responsive to public concern about the security of private health data. Continue reading →
The federal healthcare market is a dynamic space that plays a role in many of today's key political and societal challenges. From insurance reform, to identity theft and ransomware attacks, to a focus on the opioid crisis, healthcare has been front and center in the news cycles. Agencies across the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are intimately involved in responses to these challenges. It is a large and complex organization that relies on the help of industry partners to meet the ever-evolving public health needs of the nation.[Tweet "Getting a Pulse on Health and Human Services. #GovEventsBlog"]
Some current key challenges facing the Department are:
IT modernization - About 40 percent of the systems of record in HHS are legacy systems in need of modernization. The agency has a goal of bringing 30 percent of its operational systems into the cloud in the coming years. It will do this with an annual IT spend of $13.8 billion.
Interoperability - As part of the IT modernization, HHS is looking at interoperability as a key solution. Interoperability, of course, has a technical component, including looking at key tech trends such as blockchain and HL7 FHIR. There is also the need for process interoperability, including changing procurement policy and practices.
HIPAA - Having been on the books for over 20 years, HIPAA is still evolving to meet the needs of today's providers and patients. In an age of data breaches, compliance with HIPAA security guidance is a key focus of all health organizations. While IT security may be getting beefed up, other guidance is being loosened to better serve the public health. Recently, HHS released new guidance on when and how healthcare providers can share a patient's health information with family members, friends, and/or a legal representative when a patient is in crisis from opioid abuse.[Tweet "Key challenges facing the HHS include: IT Modernization, Interoperability and HIPAA #GovEventsBlog"]
With the future of the Affordable Care Act being hotly debated, healthcare is a huge focus for a number of government-related sectors. From IT professionals looking for ways to make healthcare more efficient, to policy makers looking for answers to affordability, to physicians trying to stay up on the latest technologies, procedures, and compliance, there are varied needs at healthcare-focused events.[Tweet "Healthcare is a huge focus for a number of government-related sectors. #GovEventsBlog"]
The diverse audience for healthcare events does have some common needs as pointed out in this article from FreemanXP. These include: Continue reading →