If the latest reports are true, Facebook is eyeing the healthcare industry. Here’s what that says about the company’s big-picture business strategy.
With retailers destined to stumble from their tightrope walk between privacy and security requirements and the use of new customer information, it is instructive to look at the implications and consequences of HIPAA privacy and EHR mandates and incentives in healthcare.
Healthcareitnews.com is a veritable legal blog documenting various costs for transgressions by healthcare IT buyers and vendors alike:
- A lost thumb drive was the cause of $150,000 fine at a dermatology office for breach of HIPAA privacy requirements.
- A small Montana hospital has taken NextGen Healthcare to court, alleging that the EHR provider is responsible for the hospital’s failure to meet a federal deadline for implementation.
“HIPAA covered entities and, more recently, business associates can be slapped with up to $50,000 fines per HIPAA violation due to willful neglect that goes uncorrected. Entities could face $10,000 per violation due to willful neglect when the violation is properly addressed.”
Further, the costs of meeting the regulations and requirements can be steep when an implementation simply goes awry, rather than sparking fines or a liability suit. The Maine Medical Center slipped into the red when its Epic EHR implementation went over budget, with nearly $55 million in its latest additional spending required for staff training alone.
Retailers are forced to traffic in sensitive customer data by dictate of the market; healthcare organizations, by the government. But it is likely that laws will be passed to enforce greater penalties for retail transgressions than are paid presently. Both industries will need to further ruggedize systems handling new levels of private customer data.
New York-based ZocDoc, which allows patients to discover nearby doctors and book appointments online, is releasing its first new product since launching in 2007. With ZocDoc Check-In, patients will be able to complete intake forms before appointments and save the information on the site.
The healthcare industry is one step closer to going paperless. Doxo, the Seattle-based startup that makes “digital file cabinet” software, has signed up a number of major healthcare providers who will now use the system to send medical bills and collect patient fees online.
The iPad has been a success for Apple in business, apparently in spite of Apple’s lackadaisical approach to promoting its products directly to enterprise customers. But there’s one area where the company is clearly making a concerted effort to promote professional adoption of the iPad: medicine.
Sprint has partnered with AirStrip Technologies to bring remote patient monitoring to the physician using Sprint 4G-capable smartphones. AirStrip produces a suite of patient monitoring apps that provide real-time access to hospital monitoring equipment, giving caregivers direct access to patient’s vital signs in a timely fashion.
Verizon Business has created a service to store medical records online in a manner accessible to patients, physicians and insurers. This comes a day after the Obama administration made it easier for doctors to access $27 billion in incentives for online medical records.
In some interesting tablet news that falls a little off the well-trod rumors path, Apple (s aapl) officials have apparently paid a visit to LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center a few times to talk up the potential of an Apple tablet in terms of the medical field. VentureBeat is reporting that these visits have been confirmed by Jason Wilk, an entrepreneur whose father plays golf with Cedars-Sinai executives.
It makes sense for Apple to test the waters in non-consumer markets where tablets have found some purchase in the past. The iPhone is making gains in enterprise, and is even used by many doctors because of the low cost and good design of a variety of medical database apps available on the device’s App Store. Read More about Slates for Doctors? Where Apple’s Tablet Makes Dollars and Sense
Don Witters, Chairman for the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health, gave a presentation at a healthcare IT conference last week during which he suggested that the FDA ought to have some regulatory jurisdiction over healthcare apps developed for the iPhone. His reasoning is that the FDA is responsible for all healthcare monitoring devices, including those that work on mobile phones.
When the issue of FDA-regulated iPhone apps initially came up at the conference, Witters said the iPhone didn’t meet the criteria for a medical device, which he defines as:
“…an implementation, product, apparatus or other component or accessory, which is used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, prevention of disease or effects any structure of the body–that could actually include some information technologies and performance technologies–but usually it’s something that is performed on the patient, touches the patient or is performed between physician and patient.”
Loosely put, a mobile device is anything portable that’s used for diagnosing or treating a patient. Obviously, as a standalone device the iPhone doesn’t meet that definition. While it’s possible to add applications that can assist someone with medical diagnostics or healthcare maintenance, it’s really unlikely that an iPhone app — at least in the near future — would function as much more than a way to keep track of medical information or perhaps communicate with physicians.
Read More about FDA Suggests Possible iPhone Health App Regulation…Or Do They?