Skip navigation


As we get closer to the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo next week, we’re taking a more focused look at analytics this week and how data impacts both clinical health IT and genomic research workflows.


In the above video, Mauricio Carneiro, Ph.D., from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, explains the origins of the organization’s Genome Analysis Tool Kit (GATK) and how it was developed to advance the structure of data. He shares his views on how the GATK engine improves data processing and how it became the standard for researchers worldwide.


Watch the video and let us know if you have any questions. What’s your view of genomic analysis?


In the above video, Saurabh Swarup, practice leader for healthcare analytics at Dell Services, talks about why healthcare is behind on utilizing analytics, and how analytics will ultimately be at the core of how organizations deliver patient care.


He outlines the 7-stage analytics adoption model and shares how to pick a key initiative and get started with using analytics platforms.


Watch the video and let me know what questions you have. How are you currently utilizing analytics?


Technology is pushing patient participation to new levels. How is this trend changing the face of healthcare IT infrastructures?


In the above video, CDW business development manager Kimberly Krisik talks about how consumerization of healthcare is making an impact on the trends in health IT, and why CIOs need to be prepared to offer efficient methods for clinicians to communicate and engage with patients using technology.


Watch the above video and let me know what questions you have on patient empowerment.


Mixing old and new technologies is a pain point for many healthcare CIOs. Recently, we caught up with Jeff Fleming, Vice President Americas for Carestream, who talked about legacy healthcare enterprise solutions and the tough choices CIOs need to make about next steps: do they rip out and replace, or keep components intact and expand more benefits to patient and clinical information? Hear what he has to say in the above video and share your thoughts.


What are you doing with your legacy healthcare solutions?

Below is the latest in a series of guest posts from Nirav R. Shah, MD, MPH, the commissioner of health for the state of New York. Look for more of his blogs in the Intel Health & Life Sciences Community in the coming months.


Prices. Features. Warranties. For the savvy consumer, shopping for big-ticket items like a car or home appliance often involves some meticulous research. After all, you want assurance that you’re getting a quality product from a reputable dealer -- and the biggest bang for your buck.


If you’re like most people, you probably don’t do the same exhaustive research when you’re having a medical procedure like a knee replacement, cardiac bypass surgery or chemotherapy. Instead, you simply rely on your primary care doctor’s recommendation and hand over your insurance card. Then you hope for the best when the bill arrives weeks later.


But, doesn’t your health care rank as high as your car or dishwasher?


New York State is committed to giving New Yorkers the data and tools they need to help inform their health care decisions. Knowing what you’re getting for your money has multiple advantages, not the least being the creation of a competitive marketplace that will drive down the costs of health care while simultaneously improving the quality of that care.


That’s why New York’s Department of Health released comprehensive patient-level data for all hospital discharges on the Department’s open health data portal, Health Data NY last fall. The department is also working on a redesigned hospital quality website that will enable consumers to compare hospital charges and costs for the treatment of many common conditions as well as information about the quality of care patients receive at each facility.


New York is taking a major step toward helping New Yorkers compare and contrast health services by sponsoring the first-ever Innovation Challenge, a four-month project being held in collaboration with the New York State Health Foundation. The Innovation Challenge, which kicked off last week, is part of Governor Andrew M.  Cuomo’s OPEN NY initiative, which strives to make state government more open, innovative and cost-effective. Judges will review the projects in August, and winning teams will receive cash awards at a ceremony in September.


During the Challenge, multidisciplinary teams of coders and developers will put this valuable health data to good use by creating technology around it that helps consumer assess the quality, cost and efficiency of health care services. Health care data is also valuable to employers and purchasers, as well as state and local governments, who can use the data to better understand the cost and quality of the services being provided. Providers can use the information to better assess where they stand compared to regional and statewide benchmarks. Insurers will find the information useful when building physician and facility networks, and promoting improvement efforts.


The Innovation Challenge is the latest in a series of events around the release of health data, which kicked off in March 2013 with the debut of HealthData NY. In December, the state Health Department, with support from the NYS Health Foundation and Socrata, held its inaugural code-a-thon, where teams of coders created technology to combat diabetes and obesity. A texting app called Vera won top prize for helping people with prediabetes stave off diabetes with regular text message reminders to exercise and eat right.


For those who wonder why health data is so vital to health care, look no farther than these events. Open health data holds the power to transform our health care system.


What questions do you have?


Security breaches can be costly for healthcare organizations and put vital patient data at risk. As the role of cloud computing becomes more prevalent, the need for security remains a hot topic for healthcare CIOs.


In the above video, Brian CoskerSwerske, a senior security architect at HyTrust, talks about why healthcare CIOs should have more cloud security in place than they think they need in order to avoid disastrous data breaches.


Take a look and let me know what questions you have about cloud security. Have you implemented a cloud solution?

A recent Reuters / Ipsos poll finds that 51 percent of Americans are spooked by Internet companies and their growing ambitions, “with a majority worried that Internet companies are encroaching too much upon their lives.”


Clearly, users are increasingly concerned about privacy, including healthcare workers and patients. This will likely be exacerbated going forward by new powerful apps and devices, health and wellness devices, medical devices, social media, wearables, and the Internet of Things.


However, many users don’t know what to do about it, and feel the situation is hopeless, as can be seen by widespread sentiment that “privacy is dead.” I assert that if privacy were dead, and all of our personal information was available to anyone who wanted it, including malicious individuals that would seek to abuse it, then we would be much worse off than we currently are.


In a prior blog, I discussed Viewing Health IT Privacy as a Purchase Decision. From this standpoint, privacy is far from dead, and we are not “privacy broke,” but rather many users are currently spending too much of their privacy in online engagements, given the benefits they are receiving, and there is a growing need to help users find more “privacy cost effective” solutions to meet their needs.


In many forms of online engagement, whether apps or social media, there is a natural privacy “give” required for the benefit or “get.” For example, if one wants to get live traffic information one must share one’s location history since this is a critical input used to calculate the live traffic information. Similarly, if a patient wants health and wellness advice he/she must be willing to share personal health and wellness information with apps and organizations that have the big data/analytics to collect, analyze and derive knowledge from raw health and wellness data and present it to the patient to help them make better choices.


However, in many online engagements there is an unnecessary privacy “give,” not required for the benefit the user is receiving. An example may include a flashlight app that has ad network libraries in it tracking the user’s location and other personal information – clearly not required for the user to get the function of the flashlight app providing light, and especially considering that there are many other functionally equivalent flashlight apps out there that do not require this unnecessary privacy “give.”


In many cases, there are simple actions users can use to achieve their goals while reducing or minimizing unnecessary privacy “give.” These could include changing configuration settings of their apps and devices – for example unchecking opt-outs, replacing privacy intrusive apps with safer alternatives such as in the flashlight example above, changing the type of information they share in specific online engagements, or in a worst case uninstalling privacy intrusive apps.


In many cases users, are unaware of the privacy “give” in online engagements. To really help users with privacy, beyond raising the alarm … helping them actually improve their privacy posture, we need to first increase users awareness of their unnecessary privacy “give” and then guide them to viable alternative actions that achieve their goals while significantly reducing or eliminating the unnecessary privacy “give.” This is no easy task with the rapidly changing technology landscape especially in the exploding ecosystem of health and wellness apps and online services, but critical if we are to maintain users trust and confidence in the privacy safety of new technology, and their willingness to adopt it and use it.


Are you concerned about your privacy online? What solutions do you see to address these concerns?


David Houlding, MSc, CISSP, CIPP is a senior privacy researcher with Intel Labs and a frequent blog contributor.


Find him on LinkedIn

Keep up with him on Twitter (@davidhoulding)

Check out his previous posts

The U.S. federal government recognizes the risk of data breaches to the healthcare industry and has enacted laws to mandate protection of personally identifiable information. This information, collectively known as Protected Health Information (PHI) in the regulations, includes identifiers such as names, geographical locations smaller than a state, dates related to the individual, phone and fax numbers, email addresses, and many other types of numbers or codes that identify an individual.


As described in Cybercrime and the Healthcare Industry, protected healthcare information can be many times more valuable than credit card data. So what makes this information so valuable? First, healthcare organizations often are not set up to detect breach, so it can go undetected for longer periods of time. Second, credit card accounts can be cancelled; however, personal identification information is much more difficult to cancel. Third, criminals can utilize the breached information in many different ways: A) fraudulent claims, B) access prescription drugs either for use or resale, C) open new credit card accounts, or D) possible blackmail or extortion opportunities with sensitive health details.


At the recent 2014 Information Systems Security Association Puerto Rico InfoSec Conference, the presentation Reducing Risk of Healthcare Data Breaches had a Breach Definition section that steps through the appropriate Code of Federal Regulations that define healthcare breach. Each slide in the section highlights the appropriate snippets of the code and provides links to the original documents (the definition spans several federal documents to weave together the full story).


Within the regulations, organizations that have 500 or more records breached are supposed to report the breach to the Health and Human Services department. These breaches are made publicly available on the Breaches Affecting 500 or More Individuals web page and the information can be searched or downloaded. As of the end of 2013, 800 reports had been filed accounting for 28,898,900 breached records. Thus far Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, plus all states, except Maine, have reported breaches.  The figure below shows the per capita impact of breached records by region. As shown, in the three years since reporting was mandated, five regions have already had at least 1 in 5 of their population’s records breached.




At the end of 2013, 98 of the breach reports had detailed comments about the breach and the organization’s response to the breach. For electronic breaches, a very typical response was to add encryption (see following graph).



While encrypting Protected Healthcare Information is a great starting point and, arguably, a very positive step to take, note that it should not be a final step. For instance, my colleague, David Houlding, wrote Healthcare Information at Risk – Encryption is Not a Panacea and describes many other activities that are worthy of considering in addition to encryption. There are several technologies available that accelerate the speed at which data can be encrypted/decrypted (e.g. processor hardware support like AES-NI or self-encrypting Solid State Drives (SSDs)). These solutions are often far more affordable to do prior to being breached rather than paying for a breach after the fact in: A) manpower, B) post-breach encryption, C) government fines, D) brand name damage, and E) loss of customer loyalty / lawsuits.


How are you protecting your Protected Health Information?


Doug Bogia, PhD, is a mobile health lead architect at Intel Corporation.


At HIMSS14, infrastructure was on the minds of many attendees. In the above video, AirStrip CEO Alan Portela talks about how healthcare organizations can economically optimize technology infrastructures while still delivering performance. One way is to utilize companies like AirStrip as aggregators of information from electronic medical records and devices to efficiently update existing systems.


Watch the video and let us know what questions you have about building or updating health IT infrastructures.

Whether the ICD-10 delay and Medicare payment fluctuations bring relief or frustration, there are still many ways to position your organization for a successful future.


In fact, despite the recent disposition toward delay, now is actually the time to energize or re-energize your focus on existing programs that create a strong foundation for evolving and future value-based and alternative payment incentive models, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) and patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs).


As you may know, the congressional stalemate on how to pay for long-term Medicare payment stability — coupled with the phasing out of fee-for-service (FFS) — brought ICD-10 into pre-midterm election politics. The result? A one-year delay of the advent of ICD-10 in the U.S. until Oct. 1, 2015. In addition, a one-year Medicare payment patch averted a 24-percent cut, instead increasing Medicare payments by 0.5 percent for the next 12 months.


Both actions temporarily slowed the momentum of the SGR Repeal and Medicare Provider Payment Modernization Act (SGR Repeal), which proposed to stabilize Medicare payments through 2018 and that same year institute a value-based purchasing program similar to accountable care structures while phasing out FFS.


Moving your healthcare organization forward

Keep in mind that throughout this process, congressional leaders said they will still work hard to resurrect the bipartisan SGR Repeal Act widely supported by Capitol Hill, provider groups and the health IT industry. This is the right thing to do to advance preventive, coordinated care and move toward a sustainable healthcare system.


In the case of ICD-10, many organizations were readying for the conversion this fall, respecting its merits toward advancing quality reporting, expanding performance measures and improving overall population health.


You can make the most of these changes by staying focused on creating strategies for implementing the value-based and alternative payment incentive models the SGR Repeal Act proposes:


Accountable care organizations — With more than 600 voluntary structures currently operational, many of your peers have moved into coordinated care programs based on quality incentives. Don’t be left behind. These programs are another example of how private payers and healthcare organizations have followed the lead of the original Medicare Shared Savings Programs.


Patient-centered medical homes — This equally successful program has been expanded to include specialty medicine, with the March 2013 launch of the Patient-Centered Specialty Practice (PCSP) program by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).


Meaningful use Stage 2 — Stage 2 is an example of how quality measure incentive programs will come to pass. Keep in mind that for the 2014 reporting year, any 90-day or fixed-quarter attestation can be pursued, so there’s plenty of time to capitalize and ready your organization for success. There are incentive funds still on the table.


With aspects of healthcare coverage, payment and sustainability such a paramount issue for our country — intertwined with health IT adoption and improved population health goals — it’s essential to continually assess what programs are best for your organization and your patients.


It’s safe to say you will need to engage these programs despite periods of fluctuation to successfully compete in a future of healthcare dominated by accountable care, value-based purchasing and alternative payment models.


Justin Barnes is a vice president at Greenway Health, chairman emeritus of the Electronic Health Record Association (EHR Association) and co-chair of the Accountable Care Community of Practice (ACCoP).


Follow Justin on Twitter (@HITAdvisor)

See his other posts here


In the above video, Stanley Crane, Chief Innovation Officer at Allscripts, talks about opening development platforms for EHRs, improving manageability for CIOs in a BYOD world, and boosting synchronicity among devices and server components.

Take a look and let us know what questions you have about health IT synchronicity.


A growing number of healthcare organizations view data and analytics as instrumental to achieving their objectives for improved quality and reduced cost. Glenn D. Steele Jr., MD, CEO of Geisinger, recently outlined how his organization is using analytics to advance their population health initiatives.


While healthcare is currently behind other industries when it comes to use of business intelligence and analytics, this is changing. The fundamental transformation driving this change is the (worldwide) migration from volume-based care to value-based care. Organizations with the capacity to optimize care based on the latest medical literature, their patients’ specific condition(s), and, ultimately, their genomic profile, will survive. Those that are unable to update their culture, rely only on personal experience, medical training, and (often times) a trial and error approach, will be left behind.


The above video excerpt from the Intel Health & Life Sciences Innovation Summit panel, Care Customization: Applying Big Data to Clinical Analytics & Life Sciences, lets you hear how leaders from provider, payer, life sciences and analytics organizations describe key use cases they have implemented, infrastructure trends, and practical steps to get started.


While payers are typically farther along in their use of analytics than providers (particularly in the area of claims analytics to optimize claims processing and reduce false claims), providers are using analytics in the following (representative) areas:


  • Reduce unplanned readmissions
  • Reduce hospital acquired infections
  • Identify cost inefficiencies
  • Measure quality / outcome improvements (across a health system if applicable)


One of the key barriers to the use of analytics we often see in healthcare is the organizational culture. This can be challenging as culture is something that doesn’t change overnight. So what can we do about it? I will leave you with two pieces of simple advice:


  1. Identify a clinical champion: Culture change won’t happen based on a top-down approach or through programs driven exclusively by the IT department. There must be a partnership between IT and the clinical side of the house to identify needs and create value for the organization.
  2. Start with real use cases: Before you build anything, identify a small set of use cases that will deliver value and demonstrate early success for your organization. Build on that success to scale.


Are you deploying big data or analytics solutions in your organizations?


Chris Gough is a lead solutions architect in the Intel Health & Life Sciences Group and a frequent blog contributor.

Find him on LinkedIn

Keep up with him on Twitter (@CGoughPDX)

Check out his previous posts

When it comes to personalized medicine, speed can make all the difference in the world for patients. That’s what makes today’s announcement that Intel Corporation and the Broad Institute have dramatically improved the time it takes to analyze genetic information and detect genetic variants associated with medical conditions so exciting.


By optimizing the latest version of the Broad’s Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) 3.1 for Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions (Intel® AVX) in Intel® Xeon servers, Intel and the Broad were able to achieve three to five times overall improvement in variant discovery to meet the challenges of research, and accelerate discovery.


These improvements enable a whole genome to now be processed in one day instead of three. Imagine that you were a patient waiting for results. Cutting wait times by two-thirds is a huge step in the right direction for improving care and outcomes using technology.


Together with new methods, GATK 3.1 can now analyze datasets consisting of tens of thousands of DNA samples, 100 times what was previously achievable. The improved speed for variant analysis in large association studies will help enable new medical discoveries for conditions such as cancer, neurodegenerative disorders, and cardiovascular disease that were never before possible.


What’s the bottom line? Intel and the Broad are improving the quality and performance of the whole GATK pipeline in order to benefit patients worldwide. The computational bottlenecks that stand in the way of scientific discovery are being solved, and that will make personalized medicine a reality for everyone.


Read more from the Broad about its take on today’s announcement.


What questions do you have about GATK or personalized medicine?


Learn more about GATK 3.1 for academic, noncommercial use or for commercial uses.


Interoperability was a big topic at HIMSS last month. That’s why we connected with Jon Zimmerman, Vice President and General Manager, Clinical Business Solutions at GE, who talked about connecting new innovations and various points of care in healthcare and making them work together.


Watch the above video to learn why GE is focusing on interoperability and putting an analytics framework around solutions to drive insights for patient care plans, and let me know what questions about interoperability you have.


It's always tempting to get caught up in the promise of the next, new thing. Gestural computing and 3-D printing spring to mind as recent examples, as well as a variety of wearable tech gadgets that we’re told are just around the corner from being commonplace.


While I have no doubt these technologies will find their way into the mainstream, it seems more likely that, for health care providers, the highly-familiar-yet-presently-underutilized touch computing will offer the most real-world value over the next few years.


Consider Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini’s keynote address at HIMSS14, in which he made clear that healthcare costs are rising significantly, and keeping these costs down is a task to be shared by everyone. (When payers suddenly form a palpable presence at a tech show, it’s worth taking note.)


Mobile is now the norm in healthcare settings, and touch computing directly ties in with key best practices for the use of mobile in these environments (i.e.- using the right device for the right task, rearranging workflows to enhance collaboration, and focusing on the compute model in relation to the task at hand).


If the healthcare industry is to deliver on ACA’s stated objectives of improved quality of patient care and increased efficiencies across the system, then engagement is critical to enabling clinicians to do more with less. I’m thinking tablets and 2 in 1s (all fueled by touch) could be the lynchpin that ensures engagement not only among physicians and clinical staff, but patients as well.


In terms of cost, having one device instead of two (notebook and tablet) is a less expensive mobile touch alternative and provides a better tablet experience for users, not to mention a three-year cost savings of $1,470. Read more on the costs savings here.


If you’d like to see how clinicians are using touch computing to provide better care, check out this new SlideShare overview that details the power of touch in health IT. (see above also)


As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.

Read John’s other blog posts