Abhinav Shashank is the cofounder and CEO at Innovaccer Inc. Abhinav has led the San Francisco-based healthcare technology company since its inception in 2014. Under his supervision, Innovaccer developed its proprietary data activation platform.
Amazing, breathtaking, reformative, groundbreaking. No single adjective suffices to describe how 2019 changed US healthcare. With the end of the decade, we saw innumerable events happening — from massive health information technology mergers to new major government regulations.
While the year was full of exciting events happening all around, 365 days of the year, some incidents took us by surprise, and they pose great uncertainty for the year to come.
Let’s take a moment here to look at some of the biggest stories that were under the spotlight in the year 2019:
New healthcare with inspirations from “Twitterverse”
“As our latest #PriceTransparency initiative begins to take effect, we’re asking the Twitterverse to helps us make sure patients have access to the basic hospital pricing information (called the chargemaster) that is now required to be posted online.” – CMS Administrator Seema Verma
One tweet and things changed drastically. CMS passed the new price transparency rule, effective January 1, which requires hospitals to publish their standard charges online in a “machine-readable” format. On January 17, 2019, this rule was followed by one of the biggest challenges of the CMS when it launched the #WheresThePrice campaign, where Seema Verma called upon the population to report any hospital not providing their prices in an electronically-readable format on their website.
Even though this rule faced criticism from some hospitals, it indicated the growing role of technology and online social media in the field of healthcare.
Data breaches continue to become a major threat to organizations
Despite advancements in healthcare, the alarming trend of data breaches in healthcare is nowhere near its end. According to HealthcareInfoSecurity, there have been 229 data breaches affecting 6.1 million individuals since the start of 2018.
July 2019 saw 50 healthcare data breaches of more than 500 records reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which was 13 more breaches than the monthly average for 2019 and 20.5 more breaches than the monthly average for 2018. According to the November 2019 Healthcare Data Breach Report by HIPAA Journal, the month of July was the second-worst month in terms of the number of healthcare records exposed. An estimated 25 million records were exposed that month. However, the month of October recorded the highest amount of breaches, witnessing a total of 52 breaches.
Some of the largest healthcare data breaches in 2019, along with the number of impacted patients, include:
- AMCA Data Breach — 25 million patients;
- Dominion National — 2.96 million patients;
- UW Medicine — approximately 970,000 patients;
- Oregon Department of Human Services — approximately 645,000 patients;
- Navicent Health — approximately 278,000 patients.
New avenues to define the next stage of healthcare interoperability
2019 marked the dawn of the age of APIs (Application Programming Interface) in healthcare. The best part about APIs is that they enable systematic data exchange and flow in disparate healthcare operations.
In the first half of the year, Blue Button 2.0 took everyone by storm. Blue Button 2.0 came with a much broader impact potential than the original Blue Button initiative. Blue Button was launched in 2010 with features to download and print patient data. Blue Button 2.0 came with an additional facility of uploading data on trusted applications. With the second version of Blue Button, patients can be more responsible for their healthcare planning, sharing their data with credible sources like health apps and claim apps, among others.
With the indication by CMS towards mandating that Medicare Advantage plans adopt data-sharing platforms that linked with Blue Button 2.0 from the beginning of the year 2020, we are moving closer to health data portability for all.
APIs are helping to amalgamate the different data formats and facilitate easy exchange between platforms. With data unification across prescribed drugs, primary care treatments received, costs of care, type of Medicare coverage, and four years of claims data, Blue Button 2.0 is driving a new healthcare revolution.
Healthcare adopting “Together We Win” ideology
Consolidation in the healthcare sector has accelerated in recent years, reshaping the way health systems, hospitals, and independent physicians across the country operate. According to a Definitive Healthcare survey, industry consolidation was listed as the most important trend of the year, leading the way with 25.2% votes.
Source: MobiHealth News