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November 2014

Health IT data market sees a push for VNA systems adoption

It's been a few years since the HITECH Act and the Affordable Care Act were signed into law, which forced healthcare organizations to begin revitalizing, revamping and securing their health IT data systems. After such a length of time, you'd think organizations should be just about wrapping up their updates, and -- as SearchHealthIT news director Don Fluckinger puts it in this issue of Pulse -- "getting back to business as usual." But you'd be wrong, he writes. In fact, the many updates and rules to meaningful use and HIPAA have many in health IT as busy as ever.

In the cover story of this issue, news and features writer Shaun Sutner investigates how Integris Health in Oklahoma City "saved" their data through an intense, time-consuming and costly health IT initiative: converting all of their medical imaging files to a modern vendor neutral archive (VNA) system. VNAs are designed as central repositories for images from a variety of sources and vendors, while traditional picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) are proprietary systems that share little of the images they store. Fluckinger talks to cloud EHR vendors in our second feature story, a report from athenahealth’s More Disruption Please conference. Certain executives love to hate meaningful use -- athenahealth’s Kyle Armbrester, for example, compared it to the federal "cash for clunkers" automobile incentive program at the conference. On the other hand, Fluckinger writes, it's been a boon for businesses, especially cloud vendors.

Also in this issue: SearchHealthIT resident expert Trevor Strome tackles the issues of patient privacy in analytics. He argues that patient data should be totally anonymized -- with personal health information, or PHI, hidden -- unless absolutely necessary.

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