Tuesday, January 26, 2021

How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed priorities in medical imaging?

In light of the sea change in healthcare brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, PARCA eNews is taking a different approach to its first issue of 2021. Instead of the usual Q&A with a single leader in PACS administration and healthcare IT, we decided to contact a variety of thought leaders from industry, academia and professional organizations to ask a single question – How has the COVID pandemic changed priorities for enterprise imaging and imaging access for radiology departments not just during the pandemic but into the future? Below are quotes obtained by email or excerpts from articles written by the contributors on this topic.

It was clear very early in the pandemic that the systems which had access to data fared better than the ones that did not. Also, during the year, we have seen a remarkable reprioritization of many of the perquisites of digital transformation – like interoperability and increased emphasis on analytics. This is no surprise. Data became more “real-time” as the months wore on and more granular in nature as attempts were being made to manage smaller and smaller geographies to avoid the significant economic effects associated with global country shutdowns. – excerpt from HealthcareIT News article by Dr. Charles Alessi, chief clinical officer at HIMSS

NY Governor Cuomo moves to improve telehealth

Photo credit – NY State media services
PARCA eNews – Jan. 13, 2021 – Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced legislation to expand and improve telehealth in the state following the experience of people seeking healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"While New York State has been on the cutting edge of promoting telehealth for its residents, the adoption of telehealth by both patients and providers has been slow," Governor Cuomo said in a press release. 

HITAC issues recommendations for merging clinical and administrative data

Image in Images folder PARCA Credit HITAC History

Credit – HITAC History

PARCA eNews – Jan. 11, 2021 – In a blog post by Michael Wittie and Thomas Mason of the Office of the National Coordinator, the Health Information Technology Advisory Committee (HITAC) issued 15 recommendations for advancing the goal of merging clinical and administrative data based on findings from the Intersection of Clinical and Administrative Data (ICAD) Task Force.

The Task Force was formed to examine the barriers to allowing patients, caregivers and clinicians the information needed for prior authorization for treatment and healthcare services. Clinicians have reported that getting such data has been a major burden.

ONC issue Cures Act final rules updated

PARCA eNews – Jan. 5, 2021 – With the compliance dates approaching for the 21st Century Cures Act: Information Blocking, Interoperability, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program Final Rule ONC has created additional resources to assist the health IT developer community including a consolidated view of key dates, criterion-by criterion resource for the 2015 Edition Cures Update, and a comprehensive explanation of requirements for certified application programming interface (API) requirements.

HHS proposes changes to HIPAA regulations

PARCA eNews – Dec. 20, 2020 – The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) posted a proposal for relaxing some of the regulations around patient privacy in an effort to improve care coordination and case management among a patient’s providers. The 350-plus page document was posted on the HHS site on Dec. 14, 2020.

“Our proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule will break down barriers that have stood in the way of commonsense care coordination and value-based arrangements for far too long,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in press release. “As part of our broader efforts to reform regulations that impede care coordination, these proposed reforms will reduce burdens on providers and empower patients and their families to secure better health.”

CISA, FBI and HHS warn of stepped up cybersecurity attacks on Healthcare

PARCA eNews – Dec. 10, 2020 – Increased cybersecurity activity targeting healthcare and public health agencies in the form of ransomware and malware attacks prompted a cybersecurity advisory from The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in late October and early November.

Healthcare data breaches up 25 percent

Total number of compromised records down 30 percent in 2020

PARCA eNews – Jan. 22, 2021 – There were 642 large data breaches involving more than 500 records reported by healthcare providers, health plans, healthcare clearing houses and related businesses according to a report in the HIPAA Journal.

That represented a 25% increase over than 2019, which was also a record-breaking year based on data collected by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which published the raw data on its website.

45 million medical images found online with no protection

PARCA eNews – Dec. 20, 2020 – More than 45 million medical imaging files, including x-rays, CT scans, were found to be freely accessible on the internet by analysts for CybelAngel, a digital risk protection company.

Their report published in December 2020 confirms a similar finding in a joint report by a German public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk and ProPublica last September that found millions of records were unprotected by passwords or basic security precautions.