Health data management trends to watch for in 2018

Health data management trends to watch for in 2018

Shot of two surgeons analyzing a patient’s medical scans during surgery

By Bill Siwicki
January 04, 2018

Informatics, data analytics, privacy and security, clinical documentation improvement and information governance are among the imperatives that will dominate data trends in 2018, according to the American Health Information Management Association.

Data Analytics
Demand for services and projects will increase in 2018, AHIMA predicts. Data analysts are expected to be busy helping providers participate in new payment models and find their way through new policy initiatives such as MACRA.

Informatics
Data experts will help to mitigate physician burnout with electronic health records by streamlining processes to capture data in EHRs, protect patient-generated data in mobile apps and develop interfaces and dashboards for telehealth services, AHIMA said.

Privacy & Security
While cybersecurity incidents will likely continue to make headlines in 2018, there are a number of policies related to data security to watch for this year, AHIMA said. These include the issuing of “minimum necessary” requirements, guidance around mental health information and data sharing as required by proposed rules of both the 21st Century Cures Act and the penalty sharing provision of the HITECH Act, experts said.

Clinical Documentation
Clinical documentation improvement specialists will also continue to be deeply involved with claims denials in 2018, helping to identify denials for coding and documentation that should be appealed as well as continue to expand to new and specialty areas of healthcare such as long-term care, home health, psychiatric units and rehab facilities that call for high-quality documentation, AHIMA predicted.

Information Governance
In the area of information governance, experts said enterprise-wide retention policies and data quality will continue to cause cybersecurity challenges for providers in 2018, demonstrating the strong need for IG programs to address them.

Government & Policy
Federal rules and regulations will also be worth paying close attention to this year. In addition to the 2018 budget, which will affect funding of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, the forthcoming definition of “information blocking” defined by the 21st Century Cures Act will be a major story to look for because of its impact on a large portion of EHR users, AHIMA said.
Four big issues impacting inpatient and outpatient coding in 2018 will be reimbursement, telemedicine, copy/paste and coding auditing, the experts added. Also, starting in January, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 will require physicians to start reporting patient relationship modifiers.

Workforce
Finally, with regard to education and workforce issues, “upskilling” existing practitioners for more advanced roles in data analytics and informatics, preparing academic faculty to teach higher-level content in data analytics and revising curriculums to ensure students are prepared to meet workplace needs are all education and workplace trends to pay attention to in 2018, according to AHIMA.

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Study: Cybercriminals eyeing smaller providers and Health IoT in 2018

Study: Cybercriminals eyeing smaller providers and Health IoT in 2018

Cropped shot of an unidentifiable hacker cracking a computer code in the dark

By Bill Siwicki
January 5, 2018

This past year was another challenging one for healthcare organizations as they remained under sustained attack by cybercriminals who continue to target healthcare networks through the use of well-known vulnerabilities.

A new study predicts that 2018 won’t be any easier, especially as attackers increasingly set their sights on smaller providers and the myriad connected Internet of Things devices across healthcare.

In 2017, there were a total of 140 hacking-related data breaches reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights – a 24 percent increase over the 113 such events reported in 2016, according to the “2017 Health Care Cyber Research Report,” from cybersecurity vendor Cryptonite.

The number of reported hacking events attributed to ransomware by healthcare organizations jumped by 89 percent from 2016 to 2017, the study shows. This was an increase from 19 reported events in 2016 to a total of 36 events in 2017.

In 2017, ransomware events represented 25 percent of all events reported to HHS/OCR and attributed to IT/hacking. All six of the largest hacking-related healthcare events reported in 2017 were attributed to ransomware, the study found.

Somewhat encouragingly, this past year, just 3,442,748 records were reported to be compromised, a big decrease from 13,425,263 reported compromised in 2016.

But in years past, cybercriminals devoted significant time and effort to targeting the largest healthcare organizations. For example, 2015 breach events included Anthem (78.8 million records) and Premera Blue Cross (11 million records), and 2016 events included Banner Health (3.6 million records) and Newkirk Products (3.4 million records).

Now this low-hanging fruit has to some extent been harvested, and attackers are increasingly turning their attention to a broader mix of healthcare entities, the report said.

“The emergence and refinement of advanced ransomware tools lowers both the cost and the time for cyberattackers to target smaller healthcare institutions – now they can cost effectively reach physician practices, surgical centers, diagnostic laboratories, MRI/CT scan centers, and many other smaller yet critical healthcare institutions,” according to Cryptonite. “This is the beginning of a trend that will increase very substantially in 2018 and 2019.”

Internet of Things devices in healthcare also represent new and expanding opportunities for cyberattackers. IoT devices now are now nearly ubiquitous in healthcare – already widely deployed in intensive care facilities, operating rooms and patient care networks, said Michael Simon, president and CEO of Cryptonite.

“Cyberattackers target healthcare networks for two primary reasons – to steal the medical records they contain or to extort ransom payments,” said Simon. “Medical records are the targets of choice, as this data is highly prized to support identity theft and financial fraud. While 2017 was the year of ransomware, we are anticipating this already hard-hit sector will feel the wrath of cybercriminals targeting the hundreds of thousands of IoT devices already deployed in healthcare.”

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