Health care organizations in 2012 continued their technology initiatives and adoption efforts as health IT became more ingrained in the delivery of care throughout the year. Here is a look back at some of health IT's milestones.
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Meaningful use stage 2 rules were finalized and released this summer by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The release was one of the biggest health IT stories of the year. The final rule made few changes to the proposed rules and advanced some of the regulations put in place by the stage 1 rules. Eligible professionals and hospitals will have to attest to stage 2 when the rule goes into effect in 2014. Stage 3 is already being discussed, with a number of expectations on the horizon. EHR implementation strategies continue to evolve as rule updates alter the standards for receiving incentive payments.
The Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) is a health IT technology that some facilities have adopted to merge their digital photographic patient data. PACS interoperability is the image equivalent of EHR systems' interoperability. PACS interoperability also extends to archived data, with facilities desiring an archive that is able to store and send archived data to and from various sources. Having one central PACS also allows patient information to be stored in one place, instead of having to access different systems to retrieve assorted images. PACS integration, though challenging, can be achieved through a carefully planned and gradual implementation.
Other top stories from 2012
Patient engagement remains up to physicians
AHIMA attendees on ICD-10 delay
Expert says cloud computing is the future of health IT
Blue Button effort moves forward
Use of mobile devices is another common trend in health care. Doctors, as well as patients, want remote access to data. Hospitals and other care facilities have worked to improve their security to ensure only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data. The iPad continues to be a commonly used tool by physicians. It can be used to record and share data with a patient during a visit. Its portability is equal to that of written charts, but with an iPad, doctors can hold far more data in their hands. It is a handheld device that offers the storage space of a computer, which cuts down on the number of devices with which doctors must interact and maximizes the time they spend on patient care.
Hurricane Sandy put an emphasis on disaster recovery this year. The storm helped serve as a wake-up call for those who don't have a disaster recovery plan in place. Planning for disaster recovery helps ensure business continuity after a disaster such as a hurricane. Some breakdowns are unavoidable and hard to plan for, such as when a New York hospital lost power and suffered a failed backup generator as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
Person-to-person interaction is required to clarify some issues in the case of something as urgent as disaster recovery response. Health IT initiatives are worthwhile, especially if they are being put into practice by educated and well-prepared professionals.