As I write this, the new administration is a little more than two weeks into its term, and many are rightly wondering what the impact will be across the industry as new leaders in key policymaking positions are taking aim at the Affordable Care Act. Uncertainty is once again in the air. Strategic plans are back on the table. What then are we to do as we wait to see what changes may come? One suggestion is to take a deep collective breath and focus our attention on those things that we know will not be changing under any scenario. Regardless of which administration is currently calling the shots, those of us who have made a career in the health care IT industry understand there is always much work to do apart from any new or modified regulations.
After all, change is nothing new for the hardened health care IT professional. As an industry, we are nothing if not resilient, flexible, and resourceful. To our credit, we have already survived some of the fastest change ever experienced by any industry during the past several years. In many ways, change management and survival have become permission-to-play in our world. This is why, in times of uncertainty, we can remain focused on what we already know we need to accomplish in 2017 and beyond.
One thing we know is that we have got to do a better job of securing our systems, and in particular, preventing unauthorized access to patient data. Continued vigilance is required as there are simply too many (mostly external) bad actors looking to exploit PHI for gain. But there are also numerous insider breaches that must be managed with equal vigilance. Add to these layers the risk introduced by third parties. HIPAA covered entities are just starting to better understand the role and requirements of managing third party risk, which is required through the Omnibus rule. For their part, OCR has been providing “helpful” reminders of the work that is needed there.
Another thing we know is that we have more work to do in the journey toward semantic interoperability of data between systems. Coupled with enhanced clinical workflows, this journey will ultimately lead to better quality of care and healthier populations. The past few years have seen a tremendous number of EHR implementations. And still, I’ve yet to come across a clinician who claims to be using the perfect EHR. This is where optimization comes in. With the big bang in the rearview mirror for so many, this is the perfect time to enhance those investments and bridge the gaps of interoperability, patient privacy, patient safety, and analytics — to name just a few.
So while we’re waiting on the world to change (again), let’s take at least some comfort in knowing that uncertainty will always accompany an industry that changes so rapidly. Until clarity comes in full, we can avoid the paralysis of uncertainty and continue progressing forward by focusing on the things we know we must do regardless of which policymakers are currently in Washington. This will ensure that both care providers and patients alike are well served in the end.
This article was originally published on Iatric Systems Blog and is republished here with permission.