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Cover Story LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE: 2012

Industry insiders weigh in on the year ahead in healthcare technology.

Editor’s note: Because we received so many responses, the forecasts will be split into two parts and concluded next month.

Medical research to move to cloud By Oleg Bess, M.D., CEO, 4medica

As adoption accelerates of

electronic health records software and standardized medical vocabularies and administrative codes such as HIPAA 5010, ICD-10 and SNOMED, digitization of this massive vat of personal health information (PHI) will become more prevalent. Many stakeholders are excitedly looking

forward to using their data for clinical and business improvements. However, interest in making PHI easily and widely available for research purposes is surging, which ultimately will have an even greater impact on the overall health system and medicine than analytics. That realization hit me when I made a recent

presentation at a conference featuring the top 40 oncology researchers in the world. Those individuals shared their frustration with policies that allow them to forward their self-developed protocols with colleagues outside their organization – but not the PHI that drove development of the guidelines. The reason was institutional concern about patient privacy and consent. Researchers found this puzzling because the subjects supported authorizing their data being made available to others, believing it could help others in need and further medical science. Additionally, technology is so advanced today that it is easy to re-identify information if genetic data is attached to it. To overcome resistance and maximize use of

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information to fuel scientifi c and medical advances, the researchers are developing a consent form for patients to sign during the initial care assessment. I expect practicing physicians, academic medical centers and other institutions will follow suit and use cloud technologies to collaborate and collect information in real time. They are starting to recognize that policies governing research were developed years ago, when trials generally occurred at one location. Today, these same policies occur at multiple sites, and engaged stakeholders

realize the cloud makes the huge challenge of gathering data easier and more affordable than a traditional computing model.

RTLS will be must-have technology By Merrie Wallace, executive vice president of product solutions, Awarepoint

Real-time location systems (RTLS) in 2012 will be a must-have solution for hospitals because it generates revenue and controls expenses. Until now, RTLS primarily has been used for asset location or management, enabling users to lower costs by minimizing the amount of misplaced, lost or stolen equipment. But pioneering hospitals have used RTLS to increase top-line revenue growth by automating workfl ow and streamlining throughput. This same technology also ensures hand-hygiene compliance to prevent hospital-acquired conditions and “never events” that Medicare, Medicaid and many private payers no longer pay for. A Pennsylvania hospital, for example, used RTLS to generate $14.8 million in revenue by improving patient fl ow and reducing the number of patients who leave the emergency department (ED) without being seen or are diverted to competing EDs. The solution also helped an Oregon institution increase surgery volume by 49 cases per month.

Other facilities also are using RTLS to improve care;

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reduce medical errors; monitor temperature of blood products, tissues and selected medications; facilitate regulatory compliance and eliminate unnecessary equipment rentals. The shift toward accountable care, bundled payment and pay for performance means providers increasingly will be paid based on quality of care rather than fee for service. Their revenue will decrease as insurers steadily cut reimbursement rates while redirecting money from one payment model to another. Moreover, the pressure overcrowded EDs face will intensify as millions of uninsured Americans gain health coverage. To cope, hospitals will need to become more efficient. Facilities will embrace RTLS and automated workflow solutions because doing

so makes the challenge of achieving those objectives low- hanging fruit that will fatten their bottom line within a year or less of deployment.

8 January 2012 HEALTH MANAGEMENT TECHNOLOGY

Continued on page 10 www.healthmgttech.com

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