Healthcare Innovation’s Top 10 Stories of 2020

Dec. 28, 2020
The pandemic dominated healthcare in 2020 and many of our top stories from this year reflected its impact

It’s not uncommon to illustrate the “year that was” in healthcare as somewhat chaotic or tumultuous, but certainly none could compare with 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only taken over the daily healthcare news cycle, but it has also impacted peoples’ lives in unprecedented ways.

As we always do at this time, Healthcare Innovation recaps the top 10 read stories of the year, as dictated by you, our readers. While pandemic coverage unsurprisingly makes several appearances on the list, there were other important developments in the healthcare and health IT space that deserve to be called out as well. Here’s the list:

Projected Financial Impact of COVID-19 Leaves Healthcare Leaders Searching for Help

Late in March, analyses and projections of the financial ramifications that the pandemic could end up having on the healthcare system were already trickling in. Nearly all of them were unsettling. For instance, the epidemic could cost Medicare between $38.5 billion and $115.4 billion over the next year, according to one analysis at the time from the National Association of ACOs (NAACOS). 

HHS/ONC and CMS Finalize Two Rules Around Interoperability and Information Blocking

In early March, senior healthcare officials from the Trump administration announced the highly anticipated release of two rules around interoperability and patient access, coming from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The two regulations clarify issues around information blocking, as defined by the administration, and promote the development of a nationally consistent patient access API (application programming interface) concept, designed to make access to their electronic health records (EHRs) available to all patients through their smartphones.

CMS Announces Temporary, Broad Expansion of Reimbursement for Telehealth

Also in March, CMS announced a temporary but sweeping change around the approval of and reimbursement for telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. These flexibilities would go on to dramatically change how care delivery was provided in the U.S. during the spring and summer months of the pandemic, with telehealth usage rates skyrocketing.

Brigham & Women’s Digital Innovation Hub Spins Up COVID Pass for Employee Screening

Health systems with innovation centers have been finding out their value as teams rapidly spun up digital solutions to COVID-19 challenges. One example is the Digital Innovation Hub at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, which quickly iterated the development of a web-based, mobile-responsive app called COVID Pass to screen employees for COVID symptoms.

At the Largest Hospital in the Middle East, a Breakthrough on Telehealth Technology-Facilitated COVID-19 Care

Leaders at the 1,700-bed Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv, Israel have been making major advances in treating patients with COVID-19 or who might have COVID-19, leveraging a range of telehealth-related technologies to keep clinicians and hospital staff members safer, while also enhancing the patient experience. Eyal Zimlichman, M.D., a practicing internal medicine specialist and the chief medical officer and chief innovation officer of the hospital, who has helped lead the telehealth initiative, spoke with Healthcare Innovation about the work being done.

HIMSS20 Cancelled: HIMSS Takes Unprecedented Step to Cancel Its Annual Conference, in the Wake of Spreading Coronavirus

Although rumors were lingering, the industry’s top conference was still scheduled to go on as planned in early March, just as COVID-19 was starting to seriously spread across the U.S. But then just days before the show was set to begin, HIMSS, the healthcare IT industry’s nationwide association, took the unprecedented step of cancelling HIMSS20.

EHR Company Practice Fusion to Pay $145M in Opioid Kickback Case

In a stunning and disheartening health IT development earlier this year, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that web-based electronic health record (EHR) vendor Practice Fusion will pay $145 million to resolve criminal and civil charges for creating a system that resulted in physicians prescribing more opioids to patients than were medically necessary.

Some HIEs Stepping Up to Play Key Role in COVID-19 Response

In addition to the Center for Disease Control’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program, regional and state health information exchanges have been stepping up to play a part in sharing data and coordinating care in the COVID-19 crisis. The emergency highlights the importance of tracking and recording accurate data in HIEs, and some of those efforts were outlined in this piece.

A New York HIE Goes All In on Patient Matching for the Homeless

As of April 2020, there were more than 60,000 homeless people in New York City, and in recent years the city’s homeless numbers have reached their highest levels since the Great Depression. This story details how Healthix, the largest public health information exchange (HIE) in the nation, has brought together over 1,200 healthcare organizations at thousands of locations across New York City and Long Island, and how they have set out to improve the health outcomes of people without stable housing through a coordinated care approach.

Why Aren’t More Providers Screening Patients for SDOH?

There has been real momentum around incorporating social determinants of health (SDOH) data into providers’ workflows, with news of new investments and collaborations between healthcare players and community-based organizations becoming a common occurrence. However, Research points to just a small number of providers self-reporting that they screen patients for SDOH. Jacob Reider, M.D., knows why this isn’t happening more—and offered potential solutions in an interview earlier this year.

Sponsored Recommendations

Data: The Bedrock of Digital Engagement

Join us on March 21st to discover how data serves as the cornerstone of digital engagement in healthcare. Learn from Frederick Health's transformative journey and gain practical...

Northeast Georgia Health System: Scaling Digital Transformation in a Competitive Market

Find out how Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) enabled digital access to achieve new patient acquisition goals in Georgia's highly competitive healthcare market.

2023 Care Access Benchmark Report for Healthcare Organizations

To manage growing consumer expectations and shrinking staff resources, forward-thinking healthcare organizations have adopted digital strategies, but recent research shows that...

Increase ROI Through AI: Unlocking Scarce Capacity & Staffing

Unlock the potential of AI to optimize capacity and staffing in healthcare. Join us on February 27th to discover how innovative AI-driven solutions can revolutionize operations...