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Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said Thursday that his committee will advocate delaying the implementation of stage 3 of the meaningful use program. As it currently stands, stage 3 would be enforced by the CMS beginning in 2017. Provider groups including the American Medical Association have been seeking a delay, and Alexander says that in spite of a possible delay, his committee supports full implementation of EHR adoption.

A study to be discussed at the 2015 conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology showed that health care-acquired infection reporting is time-consuming and is hindering providers from effectively protecting patients from HAIs. After analyzing the laboratory test reports at Somerville, N.J.-based Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, researchers found that more than five hours daily were spent by infection preventionists to prepare their HAI reports. Researchers suggested that hospitals pay more attention to staff members' adherence to infection prevention practices instead of focusing on completing HAI reports.

Cybersecurity experts say the health care industry should prepare for ransomworm, the next evolution in ransomware that combines ransomware and a worm. Kevin Magee of Gigamon advises health care organizations to improve their fundamental cybersecurity methods because cybercriminals will "invest much more time in planning and customizing the attack and will both require and expect greater rewards for their efforts."

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The FDA is asking that biological and pharmaceutical submissions use the Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes standard to ensure that clinical research data standards are in line with U.S. health IT programs. The agency supports LOINC code adoption because clinical laboratories are using it and it will make data easier to be filed, understood and analyzed by clinicians. It is also recommending the codes because the Study Data Tabulation Model, which is the standard used for sharing laboratory test results in studies, supports LOINC code exchange.

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A White House report outlines how the federal government will develop and oversee a precision medicine database that will give clinicians and researchers access to the health data of at least 1 million Americans. Participating patients will have access to their data and study results. The project does not include funding for genomic sequencing. The plans call for the collection of data using mobile health tools, clinical studies of targeted treatments and a core data set to be kept in a central location.

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A total of 477 data breaches compromising about 5.6 million patient records were reported by health care organizations to HHS or the media last year, up from 450 incidents affecting 27.3 million records in 2016, according to a year-in-review report from Protenus. Hacking incidents accounted for 178 data breaches that affected 3.4 million patient records in 2017, and 176 data breaches were caused by insider incidents, compromising 1.6 million patient records.

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Seventy-six percent of health care organizations reported being hit by ransomware attacks in the previous 12 months, followed by 65% of energy/utility companies and 45% of companies in the financial services sector, according to a report from Sophos. Researchers surveyed IT managers from 2,700 midsize companies across 12 sectors and 10 countries and found that although the health care and energy/utility sectors reported the highest rates of cyberattacks, these industries also had the highest endpoint anti-ransomware software deployment rates.

Accenture polled 7,905 US adults and found that the use of wearables increased from 9% in 2014 to 33% this year, and the use of health care apps rose from 16% in 2014 to 46% in 2018. Researchers also found a slight increase in telemedicine use, from 21% last year to 25% this year, with 73% of respondents saying they would use the technology for after-hours care and 28% saying they would use it for their annual physical.

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A survey of 6,800 people found that 68% were not familiar with telehealth care, but 59% expressed interest after learning about it. Among those who would not be interested, the most common issues cited were a preference for their current health care provider and worries about care quality.

An Accenture report identifies five IT trends that are changing the way clinicians work. The report describes a "platform revolution" characterized by the increasing presence of cloud and mobile systems. The other trends are the "outcome economy," with a focus on results; the use of data to find opportunities to improve clinical outcomes; personalized medicine; and the digitalization and automation of tasks including scheduling and training.

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