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Study: Digital Health Technology Use Very Low Among Seniors

August 17, 2016
by Heather Landi
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The patient population that is 65 years old and older represents the sickest, most expensive and fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. And, while digital health technology has been advocated as a tool to improve healthcare quality and cost, a study by Boston-based Partners Healthcare finds low use rates of digital health technology tools among seniors.

For the study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers from Partners Healthcare used the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) to track digital health and technology use of 7,600 Medicare beneficiaries 65 years and older between 2011 and 2014. Each year, that study examined the same respondents use of everyday non-health technology and four digital health modalities—the use of the Internet to fill prescriptions, contact a clinician, address insurance matters and research health conditions.

Researchers found that in 2011 few seniors used digital health tools, as only 16 percent obtained health information online, only 8 percent filled prescriptions online, 7 percent contacted clinicians and only 5 percent handled health insurance online. The study also found that 64 percent of these same seniors used computers and 76 percent used cell phones, but fewer used the Internet (43 percent) and 40 percent used email and texting. Few seniors used Internet for banking, shopping or social network sites (less than 20 percent).

And, researchers also found that variables associated with less use of any digital health tools were older age; black, Latino and other race/ethnicity; divorce and poor health, while variables includes with greater use included college education, higher annual income, taking medications and more comorbidities.

By 2014, use of digital health tools increased only slightly, according to the study. The proportion of seniors who used any digital health technology rose from 21 percent in 2011 to 25 percent in 2014. Use of 3 of 4 digital health technologies increased, the study found. Ten percent of seniors filled prescriptions online in 2014, up only 2 percentage points from 2011.

And, the study found that in 2011, 1.1 percent of seniors used all 4 digital health modalities compared with 1.8 percent in 2014. From 2011 to 2014, 14 percent of seniors increased the number of digital health modalities used and 10 percent decreased their use.

According to the study, seniors’ use of everyday technology was below that of the general population, as approximately 90 percent use the Internet and own cell phones and 60 percent search for health information. “Relying on everyday technology or generic internet use rates to estimate digital health use may be misleading,” the study authors wrote. “For example, although 63 percent used a computer and 43 percent used the Internet, only 10 percent filled prescriptions online.”

The study authors concluded that digital health is not reaching most seniors and is associated with socioeconomic disparities. And, this raises concerns about the ability of digital health tools to improve healthcare quality, cost and safety for seniors.

And, the study authors also recommended that future digital health technology innovations should focus on "usability, adherence and scalability to improve the reach and effectiveness of digital health for seniors.”

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LabCorp Joins Apple Health Records Project

November 5, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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LabCorp, a provider of clinical laboratory and end-to-end drug development services, has announced that it has enabled Apple’s Health Records feature for its patients.

This iPhone feature aims to make it easier for LabCorp patients to access their LabCorp laboratory test results, along with other available medical data from multiple providers, whenever they choose, according to officials.

In January, Apple announced that it would be testing the Health Records feature out with 12 hospitals, inclusive of some of the most prominent healthcare institutions in the U.S. Since that time, more than 100 new organizations have joined the project,  according to Apple.

LabCorp test results are viewable in the Apple Health app for LabCorp patients who have an account with the company, and enable integration with the Health Records app. In addition to their LabCorp test results, patients will have information from participating healthcare institutions organized into one view, covering allergies, medical conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals.

Patients will receive notifications when their data is updated, and the Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID or Face ID, according to officials.

“LabCorp on Health Records will help provide healthcare consumers with a more holistic view of their health. Laboratory test results are central to medical decision making, and broadening access to this information will help patients take charge of their health and wellness, and lead to more informed dialogues between patients and their healthcare providers,” David P. King, chairman and CEO of LabCorp, said in a statement.

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HIMSS Analytics Introduces Infrastructure Adoption Model for Health Systems

October 25, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, announced the introduction of the Infrastructure Adoption Model, or INFRAM, which is designed to measure the technical infrastructure used within a health system.

The INFRAM focuses on five technical subdomains, allowing organizations to benchmark how their infrastructure operates within the following areas: mobility; security; collaboration; transport; and data center.

Similar to HIMSS Analytics’ well-known Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, or, EMRAM, the INFRAM is an eight-stage model (0 – 7) that allows healthcare IT leaders to map the technology infrastructure capabilities required to reach their facility’s clinical and operational goals, while meeting industry benchmarks and standards.  The final stage, Stage 7, guides organizations towards optimized information integration, contextualization and orchestration essential for the delivery of higher order local and virtualized care processes.

For reference purposes, Stage 0 on the model represents that an organization does not have a VPN, intrusion detection/prevention, security policy, data center or compute architecture. Stage 3 signifies that an organization has an advanced intrusion prevention system, while Stage 5 represents having video on mobile devices, location-based messaging, firewall with advanced malware protection, and real-time scanning of email hyperlinks.

HIMSS officials note that by identifying specific benchmarks for organizations to reach before they go live with EMR, systems, the INFRAM aims to ensure that a health system’s infrastructure is stable, manageable and extensible. Through this, organizations can ideally improve care delivery and create a pathway for infrastructure development tied to business and clinical outcomes.

 “The INFRAM is a welcome addition to our maturity model suite and addresses a longstanding need – guiding healthcare organizations in securely implementing the infrastructure with which their EMRs are built upon,” Blain Newton, executive vice president, HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement. “We have seen health systems engage with advanced clinical applications, only for them to ‘glitch’ under infrastructure that isn't powerful enough to support their tools. With the INFRAM, healthcare providers can develop a detailed, strategic technology plan that defines their organization's current state, desired future state, and each stage in between to achieve their clinical and operational goals.”

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Clinical Team Communication and Data Access in the Palm of Your Hand

Thursday, October 25, 2018 | 1:00 p.m. ET, 12:00 p.m. CT

Eisenhower Health, a west coast-based Magnet Hospital, implemented an enterprise-wide solution enabling mobile communications and collaboration across all care teams, linking the entire enterprise, advancing its communications capabilities, creating access to an enterprise directory, and improving care team response and turnaround times.

Additionally, the system provided extensive and comprehensive reporting with data analytics showing where and to what extent response improvements were made, but also providing the information the hospital needed to better utilize the system and make adjustments to improve results.

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