Eric Schmidt at HiMSS and comments from Craig Workinger

A final update from Craig at the HiMSS…

Eric Schmidt, the former executive chairman of Alphabet, delivered a bold vision of the future of health care and technology at HiMMS, urging participants to go immediately to the cloud.

The cloud, he notes, can take in—and provide security for—the large amounts of data being generated from the growing number of new mobile apps and sensors, then integrate and structure this data into an information flow to support the clinician sitting in front of a patient. Through an earbud or mobile phone, the clinician can access potentially life-saving guidance.

But Eric’s comments underscore the big challenge facing the next generation of EHR (Electronic Health Records). EHR has a growing, vast flow of potentially valuable data from broad array of devices and apps. What’s lacking is the means to store it and validate its sources.

Identity authentication across platforms and devices is thus crucial to the next generation of EHR. To be usable, all that data must be tied unequivocally to the individual in front of the clinician. In turn, that means having an integrated, holistic approach to managing identity across all the platforms, apps and sensors.

Data, technology, and culture

More from our Craig Workinger at HiMSS…

 

We are attending the HiMSS annual meeting this week and wanted to share a few observations. It’s a terrific event, and a reminder of how important personal contacts are in an age when we’re on our screens constantly.

Nearly every conversation here includes the issue of how to get data out of isolated, proprietary systems so it can be used more effectively. If data can be collected from many sources, then AI and machine learning tools can be applied to it, looking at both text and images to create a predictive system for clinicians. That offers a real opportunity to improve patient care.

This also seems to be driving talk of partnerships, another hot topic at the conference. People recognize there are lots of technologies trying to solve healthcare’s problems but they approach it in an isolated way. So they are trying to figure out how to make data actionable and link it to what others have. The idea of partnerships is a departure for big industry players who’ve mostly taken a go-it-alone approach in the past.

Interoperability is also getting a lot of buzz at HiMSS. Most people focus on its technological aspect but that’s only half the challenge. The other is culture.

From a technology perspective, there are lots of vendors battling for market share and holding on to data as part of their competitive strategy. But that’s running up against consumer behavior. People today get their health care from a variety of places – hospitals, outpatient centers, specialized clinics, even their home – and they are increasingly shopping around. Inevitably, they wind up in separate health systems, and none of them speak to each other. So the challenge is to get the data up a level so that it’s accessible to their doctor no matter where they go.

There are technologies that can do that, and more. But change is slow, and that’s where culture comes in. Many healthcare organizations are reluctant to change. Some still use fax machines and paper records. They want to be more efficient but are slow to embrace the technology that can help them get there. Of course, adoption has been the challenge for every technology innovation, from PCs to cell phones. Healthcare tech is no different.

Serious ROI in remote patient monitoring

How one health system saves $90,000 per patient (Healthcare IT News)

NAH [Northern Arizona Healthcare] saw hospitalizations drop from 3.26 mean per patient to 1.82 and days hospitalized drop from 13.98 mean per patient to 5.13 and, based on the health system’s data about the first 50 patients six months prior to enrollment and six months after enrollment, that added up to savings of approximately $92,000 per patient.

The “biometrics” discussed in the article aren’t biometrics for identification, but ID biometrics will certainly be a part of the picture as these kinds of technologies are adopted more widely.

Find Biometrics conclues monthlong focus on healthcare

Healthcare Month: The Remote Care Revolution (Find Biometrics)

Biometric technology, as we outlined in this month’s primer, can be used not only for security in healthcare and patient identification but also as a way of taking the hospital home. While the former two of these technology paradigms is focused on authentication and the latter on monitoring and data analytics, they both serve to address the same larger issue in hospitals and clinics: resource efficiency.

There is a wealth of great information at FindBiometrics.com

Forecast: Health care biometrics worth US $5B by 2020

Special Report: Biometrics in Healthcare (Biometric Update)

This report examines how biometric technology is applied to the health care industry, mainly in the United States. This report notes that “health care biometrics” is utilized for access control, identification, workforce management or patient record storage. Biometrics in health care often takes two forms: providing access control to resources and patient identification solutions. The growing demand for biometrics solutions is mainly driven by the need to combat fraud, along with the imperative to improve patient privacy along with health care safety. Biometrics are also increasing being used for medical monitoring and mobile health care.

– Rawlson O`Neil King Lead Researcher, Biometrics Research Group, Inc.

Also, and unlike with most of these market analyses, Biometrics Research Group has made the entire report available for free via download at the link above.

“Get me some biometrics, stat!”

How biometrics could improve health security (Fortune)

For the last two years, the health industry suffered the highest number of hackings of any sector. Last year, it accounted for 43% of all data breaches, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. To help prevent these costly issues, medical companies have begun adopting an array of biometrics security systems that use data from a patient’s fingerprint, iris, veins, or face.

There really isn’t an identity management challenge that health care doesn’t have.

Biometrics for secure medical records access

NSTIC pilot uses biometrics to bring identity management to seniors (Fierce Government IT)

Members of AARP, a nonprofit group that serves adults 50 years or older, are testing technology to help them better manage their digital identities in a simple, but more secure way using biometrics. It’s just one of 15 federally funded pilots that was recently highlighted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Ghana: Praise for biometric health insurance scheme

Government has been commended for giving full backing to the Biometric Registration System adopted recently by the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to ensure greater patronage. (Spy Ghana) — the new system has completely abolished the three months waiting period which, hitherto, newly –registered members had to go through before getting their membership Cards.

Biometrics for vaccination records

Scanning babies fingerprints could save lives (Michigan State Univ.)

Each year 2.5 million children die worldwide because they do not receive life-saving vaccinations at the appropriate time.

Anil Jain, Michigan State University professor, is developing a fingerprint-based recognition method to track vaccination schedules for infants and toddlers, which will increase immunization coverage and save lives.

Operation ASHA has been using biometrics for tuberculosis treatment, too.

Never a good headline

We’re Not In Crisis –NHIA (Peace FM)

In January this year, the NHIA introduced the ‘instant issuance’ of health insurance Identification (ID) Card system based on biometric data.

The process began as a roll-out in the Greater Accra region after a pilot of it on the security personnel (Military and police) in two districts of the Region-Ayawaso and La.

Currently, the process has been extended to the Central and Eastern Regions respectively and the Ashanti Region will be the next to join instant issuance of the ID cards regime.

There’s a reason national health services worldwide are scrambling to apply biometric ID management techniques to service delivery. Biometrics deliver bottom-line financial benefit to health care systems in significant ways. Better ID means less fraud, fewer ghost patients and a better audit trail if a provider’s activities warrant investigation. Also, better patient ID leads to better patient outcomes and better records management.

It’s not surprising that countries like Ghana are choosing to leap-frog the 20th century systems other large health care providers use, but it also isn’t surprising that the process is difficult and requires a steady managerial hand.

Patient ID in the United States

Identifying Solutions to Patient ID (HealthLeaders)

Patient identification is a fundamental building block of the emerging accountable care organization trend, according to Bill Spooner, CIO of Sharp HealthCare, which operates four acute care and three specialty care hospitals with an approximate total of 2,000 licensed beds in the San Diego region.

“The important thing is to be able to get accurately identified patients into your database and to be able to link them out to your transaction systems so everybody knows who they are so you can effectively engage in care management,” Spooner says.

The United States in particular faces a hurdle that other developed countries do not: By law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is prohibited from establishing a national patient identifier.

Providers are coping in several ways. Technology exists to flag suspected duplicate identities with varying degrees of certainty. Some are turning to technology offered by suppliers of their electronic health records.

Other providers are relying upon technology that has been employed by payers for years. And for those systems that can make the technological jump, patients are now being positively identified during every visit using smart cards with photo IDs attached, or even by biometric means, such as fingerprint, palm, or retinal scans. [ed. The revolution will not be retinal scans; bold emphasis mine]

Bottom line:
“If you can’t uniquely identify your patients within whatever data you’re analyzing, you’re going to misread and therefore make executive decisions that are not spot-on,[a]nd you make some big strategic mistakes because of that.”

The lengthy piece is very much worth a longer look.

Biometrics for patient ID gaining momentum

Biometric technology combats medical identity theft (Business Week)

Data breaches at hospitals may cost the U.S. health-care industry as much as $7 billion a year, according to the Ponemon Institute, a Michigan-based organization that studies privacy, data protection, and security. And that doesn’t count the unknown cost of fraudulent use of information from lost or stolen insurance cards and drivers licenses. HCA Holdings (HCA) hospitals in London and many U.S. providers have a solution: using biometric technology to verify patient identities. “If you don’t have a good way of authenticating legitimate users,” says Ponemon Chairman Larry Ponemon, “whatever you do on the other side isn’t going to be good enough.”

Biometric devices that recognize people’s physical traits—think iris scanners or palm vein readers—are no longer the stuff of spy movies or border control.

A look at biometrics and health care fraud

Iris Scans Seen Shrinking $7 Billion Medical Data Breach (Bloomberg)

Iris scanners aren’t just for airport border-control agents and spy movies anymore.

Clinics and hospitals around the world are acquiring technology that identifies people based on physical traits to improve patient safety and stamp out fraud. HCA Holdings Inc. (HCA) hospitals in London, as well as health-care providers across the U.S., are buying so-called biometric technologies.

There’s not an identity management problem hospitals don’t have.

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