Category: Uncategorized

Handling the Opioid Crisis

The opioid crisis has been ongoing epidemic with no end in sight - but there are new technologies that will be of great help. These technologies include ways to manage pain without opiates, track certain chemicals in the body, and connect pharmacies and providers to provide more data on patients.

A new way to manage pain through technology introduces a drug-free wearable device that is inserted underneath the skin near the nerve closes to wear the pain occurs and an external stimulator worn on a pad on the outer skin surface that alleviates pain; the goal is to treat chronic pain. Neurostimulators currently used are surgically inserted in epidural space and send electrical pulse to the spine. Although it is very effective in dealing pain management, the larger size of the device and the cost makes it a difficult option to offer.

Another new device is a swallowable pill developed to better understand opioid adherence and improve dosages and use of opiates. The capsule consists of a an embedded wireless ingestible sensor that is triggered by chemicals in the stomach that emits a radio frequency that is sent to a readable device.

Superscripts, a network that connects providers and pharmacies, helps to digitize the prescribing process. When a prescription is requested, the patient’s history is sent by the software to the provider in order to weed out patients who are seeking to abuse painkillers. E-prescribing is not commonly used because many providers don’t know that it’s a legal form of prescribing medications.

A multi-institutional, PCORI-funded study aims to understand how cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interview can reduce the use of opioids for patients with chronic pain. The study is a partnership between RTI International and three Mid-South Clinical Data Research Network (CDRN) institutions: Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), Duke University, and UNC Chapel Hill. The Mid-South CDRN seeks to support multi-site research using electronic health record data by reducing technical and regulatory barriers. It is a collaborative effort between VUMC, Meharry Medical College; Vanderbilt Healthcare Affiliated Network; Greenway Health; Health Sciences South Carolina (including Medical University of South Carolina); UNC; and Duke. The Mid-South CDRN is one of 13 CDRNs in PCORnet, the National Patient Centered Clinical Research Network.

The Growing Need for Security

With patient data becoming digitized, the need for Health IT security is growing. Several electronic health record systems have gone through breaches in security, compromising patient data. Some of these breaches are due to misconfigured servers, ransomware, or using unencrypted laptops when dealing with patient information.

Two acts our government has put into place to penalize health organizations for breaches in security are the Health Information and Technology for Economic and Clinical Health and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. While data sharing across hospitals and providers is important, making sure that data is secure is higher priority.

Symantec has come out with new technology dealing with analytics that will help with security - in combination with Fortinet’s new product, health systems will be able to detect targeted attack and help manage network operations and security operations centers. Symantec has technology called Targeted Attack Analytic tech that allows automation from machine learning to detect targeted attacks.

Fortinet’s new information security technology deals with automate security response. These responses are based on predefined triggers - the need for this type of security is due to the decrease in the IT workforce. Implementation across security disciplines will garner better visibility and control over security threats.

With numerous technological advances in medical devices, there is also a call for security and regulation. The FDA has created a five point plan called the Medical Device Safety Action Plan: Protecting Patients, Promoting Public Health that focuses on establishing a robust safety net for medical devices, exploring regulatory options to implement post-market mitigations, encouraging creation of safer medical devices, advancing cybersecurity, and implementing total product life cycle approach towards medical device safety.

The FDA enforce that medical devices will have the capability to be updated and have security patches, and is contemplating having companies disclose cybersecurity issues to consumers.

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