Healthcare Informatics’ Top 10 Stories of 2018

Dec. 27, 2018
Another year in health IT has come and gone, and just like most years before it, there was no shortage of industry developments that made 2018 a fascinating one.

Another year in health IT has come and gone, and just like most years before it, there was no shortage of industry developments that made 2018 a fascinating one. Looking back on the year that was, the health IT policy picture was particularly captivating, as federal health administrators used various levers at their disposal to push forward the shift to value-based care.

But 2018 wasn’t just the year of policy; other significant developments included stories about interoperability progress, cybersecurity breaches, new industry disruptors, mergers and acquisitions that are shaking up the landscape, and so much more. All these moments made for an incredible year of reporting, researching, interviewing and writing. As such, below are the top 10 read stories from 2018, as dictated by you, our readers.

  1. The 2018 Healthcare Informatics 100: Every year, our team ranks the 100 vendors with the highest revenues derived from healthcare IT products and services earned in the U.S. based on their revenue information from the previous year. And every year, the list is the most read piece of content by our readers. In addition to the company rankings is a plethora of other data that helps industry observers get a better sense of the health IT marketplace and vendor landscape.
  2. CMS Finalizes “Promoting Interoperability” Rule: In August, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a rule that overhauled the meaningful use program with a core emphasis on advancing health data exchange among providers. Included in the regulation were changes to the Promoting Interoperability programs (formerly known as the EHR Incentive Programs, or meaningful use), designed “to increase interoperability and flexibility while reducing burden and placing a strong emphasis on measures that require the exchange of health information between providers and patients,” according to the federal agency.
  3. CMS Proposes Dramatic Changes with Aim to “Modernize Medicare and Restore Doctor-Patient Relationships”: CMS, in July, proposed changes around Evaluation and Management (E&M) documentation reform, year three of the Quality Payment Program (QPP), and provisions that would reimburse clinicians for certain virtual care services. The aim, according to CMS, was to “fundamentally improve the nation’s healthcare system and help restore the doctor-patient relationship by empowering clinicians to use their EHRs to document clinically meaningful information.” A final rule was published in November.
  4. 2017 Breach Report: 477 Breaches, 5.6M Patient Records Affected: Readers were quite interested in a January report from Protenus that reviewed disclosed data breaches throughout 2017, while digging into specific trends on breach type, the number of patient records impacted, and more. Overall, progress is being made, but there is still much that healthcare organizations must do in order to ensure that the patient data entrusted to them is properly secured, the report concluded.
  5. At HIMSS18, CMS’s Verma Announces MyHealthEData Initiative, to Give Patients Control of their Data: At this year’s annual HIMSS conference, CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced the launch of a major new initiative called “MyHealthEData,” aimed at revolutionizing the relationship of U.S. healthcare consumers to their patient data. The initiative is designed to empower patients around a common aim—giving every American control of their medical data, Verma said at the conference.
  6. What Does the Future Hold for athenahealth, and Its Customers? Industry Insiders Weigh In: It sure was a busy year for health IT vendor athenahealth, which first saw its co-founder and CEO step down on the heels of damaging allegations of sexual harassment, all while being in the middle of a company sale. Our June story took a deep dive into the developments surrounding the sale at the time and the impact that it would have on its customers, and the health IT market as a whole.  In November, athenahealth was sold to private equity firm Veritas Capital and hedge fund Elliott Management.
  7. CMS Finalizes Overhaul of Medicare ACO Program: A major policy development this year unfolded as accountable care organizations (ACOs) watched closely to see if CMS would drastically change the federal Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) model. In short: they did. Just recently, CMS published a final rule that made sweeping changes to the MSSP, with the goal to push Medicare ACOs more quickly into two-sided risk models. It’s expected that this regulation will have a significant impact on future federal ACO participation.
  8. SAMHSA Issues Final Rule Updating Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations: Very early in the year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), finalized proposed changes to the Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records regulation, 42 CFR Part 2, aimed at supporting payment and healthcare operations activities while protecting the confidentiality of patients. The finalized rule builds on changes to 42 CFR Part 2 made last year, which allows patients to provide a general disclosure for substance abuse information, rather than limiting authorization to a specific provider. The core idea behind these regulations is to ensure patients with substance use disorders receive integrated and coordinated care.
  9. Report: EHR Market Share Shifting, Cerner Continues to Lead Global Market: A report from Kalorama Information revealed that the EHR vendor market share has changed as players have dropped out, and Cerner continues to lead the global EHR market, with 17 percent of the market, more than double the market share of its rival, Epic. Notably, though, when the overall EHR market is segmented into big healthcare systems and smaller hospitals and large physician practices, Epic leads there, according to the report’s findings.
  10. Disruption and the Future of Healthcare: Industry Leaders Parse the Challenges, and Strategic Opportunities: Early on in 2018, news headlines were signaling the potential for disruptive change in the healthcare space—from Amazon teaming up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to form a healthcare company, to speculation of a Walmart-Humana deal, to tech behemoth Apple launching its Health Records platform. This in-depth story reviewed an Ernst and Young (EY) webcast, as panelists dissected the opportunities made possible by digital disruption, what these changes may mean to stakeholders across the health value chain, and what organizations can do to seize the upside of technological disruption.