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6 Hot Tech Takes from the Week in Healthcare


The insights you need to advance medicine’s digital transformation.

If you care about the health tech sphere as much as we do here at Healthcare Analytics News™, you probably do a lot of reading. And there’s always a lot to read, so our staff is sifting through the best content from this publications and others in the space each week to compile some of the most compelling tales as they unfold.

This week, the takes run the gamut, from disobedient voice assistants that could compromise healthcare privacy to changes at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs that might enable better data sharing.

1. Amazon’s Alexa Really Isn’t Ready For Healthcare

For months—if not years—healthcare has been buzzing about the ways that Amazon might disrupt the industry. One of its burgeoning avenues involves finding ways to incorporate its voice assistant technology, Alexa, into the clinical space. But after it broke this week that an Alexa device recorded a private conversation without their knowledge and sent it to one of the husband’s employees, our own Jack Murtha writes about why the platform might not be ready for medical primetime.

2. Digital Health Runs the Risk of Exacerbating Disparities

A common theme at healthcare technology meetings is the idea that new digital tech can help cut costs and democratize care. But that isn’t necessarily the case, as Access Healthcare Foundation founder and CEO Ejim E. Mark, MD, MPH, told one of our sister publications, American Journal of Managed Care:

“You look at individuals that don’t have a lot of disposable income, there’s all this amazing digital data or technology out there that they don’t have access to,” Mark said.

3. Referential Matching Could Solve Our Patient Data Problems

In a guest column, Verato CEO Mark LaRow explains “a new, powerful, and fundamentally different approach to patient matching.” Referential matching compares demographic data to a reference database of identities in order to help unlock connections that EHRs and enterprise master patient index (EMPI) technologies can’t.

4. EHRs are Broken, but They Might be Fixable

In a new New England Journal of Medicine commentary, a trio of experts from Penn Medicine write that current electronic health records systems hold patient data in a static document—simply the digitization of an old paper record.

“When the first movies were made, they were really just plays made permanent on film. It took time before film editing and special effects turned the two dimensional images on the screen into something more immersive than what could be performed on stage,” one of the authors said. The authors think EHRs need to undergo their own transformation, and they have a few ideas of where to start.

5. 3 Ways Providers Can Improve Patient Satisfaction With Online Forms

Patients can be satisfied with online forms? Well, maybe more than they are now. Writing for DOTmed, Chad Reid lays out 3 ways to improve the process for patients and increase the likelihood that physicians get the information they actually need.

“The beauty of switching to online forms is that it actually encourages your patients to fill them out,” Reid writes. “When you upgrade your office systems to 21st Century technology, your staff and patients will thank you.”

6. Massive VA Reform Bill Looks to Improve Interoperability with Private Sector

The VA MISSION Act has been met with both praise and criticism: It represents a large shift in the way the agency pays for care and allows veterans to seek outside providers—and for that it has received praise, while critics argue it’s a harbinger for privatization.

One aspect of the bill that might be consensus is its emphasis on interoperability. It removes language from existing legislation that created bureaucratic hangups when physicians attempted to share health records externally. eHealth Exchange Vice President Jay Nakashima said that success in improving interoperability with the VA “was limited by an outdated congressional mandate—until now.”

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