Not even a shortened week brought about by the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States could stop the flow of news in the healthcare technology segment! So we've got plenty of news to discuss with our Week in Review coverage. So loosen your belt and settle in for a reasonably-proportioned helping of all our hottest and freshest news.
First we looked at the issue of electronic patient records, and how best to keep them secure. The use of electronic patient records has the potential to reduce costs and increase efficiency, but at the same time, keeping them safe can be a problem. But new advancements in the field of voice biometrics may look to change that, as voice-based systems are easy to use with tablets and smartphones, yet still allow for very tight security that's hard to crack thanks to the unique nature of voice biometrics.
Then came a closer look at the matter of electronic health records (EHR) incentive payments, geared toward getting more healthcare providers to switch to the EHR system. The level of EHR incentive payments paid out so far has recently reached $8 billion, with total costs to the government looking to reach over two and a half times that much at $20 billion.
These numbers have brought some opposition along with them, but the move to EHR is expected to make for bigger savings in the long run.
Next, we examined Connect 4 Healthcare, and its potential to shake up the healthcare industry by changing the way contacts are made in emergencies in long-term healthcare settings. Connect 4 Healthcare uses a notification system that allows for multiple contacts to be made simultaneously, and all of it tied into a single push of a button. Connect 4 Healthcare's mass notification system has been around for some time, but it's starting to get some extra notice in the industry as a better way to notify multiple parties of an issue in a long-term healthcare setting.
Then came a surprising bit of news for the sector: layoffs. Normally people think of healthcare as a resilient field – people always need healthcare on one level or another – but for GE Healthcare in Vermont, jobs were lost and fully 10 percent of the Vermont workforce is losing jobs based on "the current economic climate." The numbers may not be as bad as initially noted, however, as GE Healthcare promised an extensive search for "alternate roles" for those affected, meaning at least some percentage of the lost jobs will likely be re-employed elsewhere within the company.
Finally, we took a look at the issue of medication patents, as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients will be able to obtain what's known as a "generic Fixed Dose Combination" (FDC) therapy in developing countries. This gives HIV patients who wouldn't ordinarily be able to afford medication for the disease access to a low-cost alternative, thanks to a unique approach in the development of off-patent medication.
That was the week that was in healthcare technology – granted, it was a fairly short week, but even the truncated nature of the proceedings couldn't prevent plenty of news from emerging in the sector as a whole. Holiday weekend or not, our global online community is constantly in the hunt for fresh news to bring your way, so be sure to join us back here next week for more big news, as well as every weekend for our Week in Review coverage. Have a happy Thanksgiving!