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Michael Ouren is the Corporate Director for Information Services for HealthInsight. Mr. Ouren is responsible for the development of corporate strategies, policies, and processes for deployment and management of software applications and leading edge technology that meet with HealthInsight's Mission and Vision. He is also directly responsible to ensure the efficient and effective use of corporate resources while exploring ways to advance and approach business development needs. Working in tandem with HealthInsight's Corporate Privacy and Security Officer (CPSO), he is in charge of several key deliverables specific to Information Services in relation to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) contract including reporting on security compliance, data backup and recovery procedures. Mr. Ouren manages Information Services personnel in New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah while providing direction and recommendations for the team to coordinate and/or implement. He acts as a liaison between Operational and IS staff to communicate and coordinate technology needs. Mr. Ouren has been involved in the technology field for over 15 years and continues to enjoy being a part of this very dynamic area.

The Connected Patient

Runner lacing shoes

Wearable technology and the resultant increase in the potential data they can provide continues to spread and evolve. During the holiday season I saw a large increase in the advertising of virtual reality headsets, especially during the Super Bowl. Several commercials during the big game showed grandparents engaging with a virtual reality headset – some with their family around them watching. They were all having very unique and powerful experiences. It was a poignant reminder to me about the far reaching potential of new technology – not only for entertainment, as the commercials were claiming, but for how we could use this type of technology with health care in the future.

An August 2016 article on CNET by Sarah Tew talked about that very thing. She talked about a pair of wireless earbuds, created by Jabra an intelligent sound solution manufacturer. The earbuds can interface with a HIPAA compliant software and provide health data about a patient's fitness level. The earbuds were provided to certain patients (along with a fitness plan) with a primary focus to use the information to treat obesity, cancer and diabetes. The data provided was shared with the physician and the patient at the same time – everyone had the same data at the same time to help make informed decisions going forward! Wearable devices continue to provide an increasingly strong potential for data collection and are evolving from simple watches to ear buds, and in some rarer instances, some devices that are implanted beneath the skin. The potential uses for wearables seems to only be limited by our imagination.

Physicians will need to continue to explore ways to engage patients and help them become an integral part of their own health. As patients feel more engaged and responsible for themselves, in tandem with an ability to actively view and manage "real time" data, they could become more motivated to keep performing activities that move them toward or continue to support a healthy lifestyle.

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Blockchains and Health Care

Computers and People Connected

As the CIO for HealthInsight, I'm often researching new tools and technology to help keep our organization secure. The further immersed in health care data research I become the more I hear the following words repeated over and over: data management, interoperability and security. Nobody wants to become the next news story about a security breach or data exposure, and with ever increasing public scrutiny, neither do the businesses housing the data. Patients, on the other hand, also want their data protected and available to their physicians when needed most.

What is one way health care can go about protecting all of this data? Enter the blockchain.

A blockchain, in its most basic definition, is a distributed database that provides a semi-public record of digital interactions - like pages in a book, sequentially ordered with information about itself and links to previous pages. Perhaps another way to visualize it would be to think about how some people balance their bank accounts with written ledgers. In this case, all of the expenses would be tracked by the owner and then copied instantaneously to a small number of identical copies across the internet. Having multiple copies makes it more difficult for hackers and thieves to gain access to the data or corrupt it through encryption.

So how do blockchains apply to your health care?

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Embracing the Cloud

People using laptop and iPad

We've all heard the words nimble, adaptive and security when it comes to information systems. We want those systems to be more nimble and adaptive to users, while ensuring that data and infrastructure remain secure. These needs are a key priority for HealthInsight as we strive to remain a trusted partner and leader in our field. We are constantly looking for ways technology can help us achieve these needs.

This is where cloud services can come in. Cloud services, as defined in Webopedia.com, are "services made available to users on demand via the Internet from a cloud computing provider's servers." These services can allow businesses to offload tasks such as server maintenance, storage needs and software licensing to cloud providers, at what is becoming a very compelling and competitive cost structure. Use of cloud services can allow the IT department to focus their work on strategic projects instead of the day-to-day tasks that infrastructure requires.

But IT isn't the only one that can benefit from this potential approach; the business can too. Moving key services like file storage to the cloud can create a centralized repository where data can be collected and accessed from a wide variety of devices. Cloud providers have a high degree of availability, so it's unlikely that users would ever be without their information. Imagine accessing a report on a laptop while another user is able to make changes to the same document from their iPad, while yet another user is able to pull up the latest version on their cell phone. The collaborative and productive possibilities are plentiful.

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Keep Calm and Innovate with Technology

Doctors with laptop

Innovate - to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. -Merriam Webster Dictionary

Here at HealthInsight we often work with a wide variety of clinics, settings and providers to help them to evaluate their internal processes and potentially improve them through the use of technology such as electronic health records (EHRs). Establishing these systems is often times a difficult and time-consuming experience. For those involved, it can be a very disruptive task. During those times though, I imagine motivations and possibly some internal mantras often reflect on the potential improvement the providers are moving towards to help keep people calm and focused on the future.

Technology can be, all by itself, a disruptive medium. It can cause delayed meeting starts as we attempt to get everyone connected, it can experience failures that impact communication and collaboration, and it can impede learning, as well as cause numerous other negative impacts. On the flip side, however, technology champions positive disruptive innovations such as EHRs, patient portals, data sharing and accessibility, mobility and the blooming field of the Internet of Things that's increasing our interconnectedness to everything.

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Wearable Tech: Keeping Your Data Close to You

Smart watch

I'm sitting in a quiet room working on my computer when suddenly my watch alarm goes off. This isn't an alarm to tell me to get ready for my next meeting; it's a notification from a news aggregator letting me know about a trending article. I quickly tap my smartwatch, which loads the article on the watch face and allows me to read it. Afterward, I check my watch's pedometer to see if I should take the stairs instead of the elevator today to reach my daily step goal. At the end of my day, I can review my sleeping patterns to see if I'm sleeping soundly or not -- a good night's sleep, for me, is an indicator of my stress level. My smartwatch has become a tool that provides information that directly influences my health.

Wearable tech is a quickly evolving field and its impact on health care is becoming more and more significant. Wearable technology can be loosely defined as technology that is embedded into or used to accentuate devices such as wristwatches, glasses, shirts, dresses, necklaces or even shoes. Some wearable technology can even be embedded in contact lenses. My smartwatch provides a convenient approach to tracking my own health statistics such as heart rate, sleeping patterns, calories burned and glucose levels. No longer do I need to write down stats on a notepad -- I can simply use some mobile applications paired to my wearable tech to record, collect and oftentimes perform low-level analyses for me. There are other wearable devices that patients can use to store and update their medical history to have it available at a moment's notice or to share with their physicians. An infographic on Orange Healthcare's website shows how wearable tech can expand to fit a large number of potential needs for both patients and physicians.

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National Rankings: Adapting to Change

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Since 2005, HealthInsight has made national performance ranking data available for hospitals, home health agencies and nursing homes on our website. In the spirit of transparency and working with publicly reported data collected by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), HealthInsight analyzes and compiles this quarterly summary assessment.

Why do we post these national rankings to our website? The data serves two purposes: one, we hope to encourage health care leaders to place a higher priority on their own internal efforts to improve quality, as measured by a set of widely accepted clinical markers; and two, the data provide an opportunity for consumers to become more informed about their potential choices in providers.

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