Privacy, safety and security issues related to health IT systems were high on the agenda on the first day of the conference.

One of the most eagerly awaited health IT events, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference and Exhibition 2014, opened at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida on Sunday, February 23.

More than 1,200 exhibiting companies will showcase thousands of products and services, including 350 newly launched cutting edge offerings, in this five-day exposition. 

The HIMSS14 conference will also host more than 300 concurrent education sessions organized around seven core topics of ICD-10:

With the increasing concerns expressed on securing patient information and the recent legislative focus on patient safety; privacy and security issues remained the most talked about topic at the HIMSS14.

Leaders from various national healthcare organizations and hospitals gathered to discuss how the safety and security challenges in health IT systems can be met.

The session on Meaningful Use (legal regulations regarding the use of certified electronic health record technology in hospitals to achieve better health outcomes in the USfocused on exploring the adoption of:

  • Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements using real world case studies and their implications
  • Sucessfully moving onto the Stage 2 Meaningful Use requirements after Stage 1 adoption

The symposium on Patient Safety explored how models from other high-risk industries such as nuclear power and aviation can be used to overcome adverse events in hospitals and make health IT systems safer and robust.

Keynote speaker David Classen, Chief Medical Information officer at Pascal Metrics:

Drawing lessons from case studies in Flight Operations Quality Assurance programs in aviation and other real-time learning systems, explained how such risk-reduction models can be used in Health IT systems.

health IT systems Health IT systems can be used to reduce preventable adverse disease events arising from therapeutic duplication, contraindication related issues and drug-drug interactions.

Another day-long symposium Privacy and Security: Challenges and Opportunities in Healthcare Identity’ explored how various issues related to healthcare identity management can be resolved through sound patient identity management systems.

The keynote speaker Nancy Farrington said that the dirty data (errors due to duplication, overlapping, lack of labeling and overlays) constitutes about 8% to 12% of all hospital electronic health records.

Dirty data in electronic health records may rise further to 20% with more database mergers. Costs associated with dirty data were estimated to range from $50 to $1,000 per record.

The experts suggested that moving on to HIPAA requirements for unique patient identifiers can significantly reduce costs due to patient identity, record and medical erros by implementing:

  • Standardized patient identification process across the health IT system
  • Identification approaches that use ‘smart’ technology
  • Machine-readable patient ID cards 

The seminar on ‘Patient Safety: Making Healthcare Safer – IT Challenges and Solutions’ discussed best practices that can be implemented in identifying actual or potential health IT related safety concerns which could potentially compromise patient safety:

  • Improving safety self-assessment tools
  • Enhancing health IT certification programs
  • Using random on-site inspections
  • Investigating serious violations to prevent IT-related errors

Taking note of the seriousness of the health IT safety issues, HIMSS has announced Annual Call for Committee Volunteers for the fiscal year 2014-15.

This will guide the implementation of programs that advance the privacy and security of health IT systems.