Expanded use of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) is an integral component of the ongoing modernization of the U.S. health care system through digitalization. Among the anticipated advantages of using EHRs are improvements in patient care (e.g., through faster access to relevant information and consequently improved care coordination), increased patient engagement, as well as reduction of medical errors and cost savings. On the other hand, implementing EHRs in a sustainable and legally compliant way requires upfront investment in hardware, software, training, workflow restructuring, as well as management of risks unique to electronic records, such as vulnerability to malicious interference. When EHRs are combined with mobile platforms, the cybersecurity risks multiply. Addressing this latest challenge can be daunting, both for medical practices and EHR product providers.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released their Final Rule for the Promoting Interoperability Program formerly known as the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record Incentive Programs.
CMS had previously published a Proposed Rule and a request for feedback from the public related to improving interoperability and the sharing of electronic medical records between providers, and between providers and patients, which we covered in a May blog post. CMS has stated that the purpose of the Final Rule is to “advance the agency’s priority of creating a patient-centered health care system by achieving greater price transparency, interoperability, and significant burden reduction so that hospitals can operate with better flexibility and patients have what they need to be active healthcare consumers.”
Health care technology, particularly digital medicine, promises great new capabilities that will improve outcomes and reduce overall costs and time constraints. Digital medicine encompasses a broad-range of technologies, from technologies used to record, retain, and manipulate health data (i.e., Electronic Health Records aka., EHRs) and thereby make it more useable and amenable to analysis; to actual tools in clinical care (i.e., medical imaging, wearable sensors) that can measure physiological parameters or patient activity and facilitate clinical care and decision-making.