EHRA and Public Health: Two-Way Communication in the Age of COVID-19

How EHRA’s COVID-19 Task Force is Supporting Providers and Public Health Agencies During the Pandemic

By Hans Buitendijk and David Bucciferro
EHR Association Chair and Vice Chair

Every organization in healthcare and public health has been prioritizing COVID-19 response, and the EHR Association is no exception. Our COVID-19 Task Force, created in the spring, continues to demonstrate its value to EHRA members and our provider and public health partners. From data collection to preparing for vaccines, EHRs play an important role in America’s response to the pandemic.  

In a recent interview for HIMSS TV, we explained that by creating a task force, we’re able to bring in a broad spectrum of individuals and knowledge from EHRA member companies – people who may not ordinarily actively participate in the Association, but who have specific interest and expertise in a topic. For instance, we stood up an Opioid Crisis Task Force in 2018 that is still active.  

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Cyberattacks Increase in the Time of COVID-19

By Justin Armstrong, Chair, and Nam Nguyen, Vice Chair
EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

For COVID-19 resources for health IT developers and other stakeholders, click here.

As part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, EHRA is highlighting three alarming trends in cyberattacks that have arisen since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic that health organizations should pay special attention to:

  1. Increases in COVID-19 themed cyberattacks
  2. Increased risk of exploitation with more employees working from home
  3. Increase in targeting of COVID-19 research and vaccine development
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Health IT and Public Health: Past, Present, Future

For COVID-19 resources for health IT developers and other stakeholders, click here.

By Kedar Ganta, Co-Chair, EHRA Standards & Interoperability Workgroup

For centuries, public health has been a story of the quest to find effective means of preventing diseases, containing outbreaks and analyzing health trends in the population. 

The “old” public health ecosystem focused on the environment, while the “new” public health focus is on the individual within a given population. Shifting the focus from finding sources of epidemic and endemic infectious diseases in our surroundings to finding them in the individual necessitated an evolution from trial and error to scientific inquiry that revolves around defining diseases, measuring their frequency and seeking effective interventions.

During the 20th century, science and technology reshaped our shared understanding of diseases and helped restructure public health and medicine. This “new” era will be guided by the rapidly growing availability of health data to detect, observe and understand health patterns at a population level using advanced computing and analytics.

Electronic health records (EHRs) continue to play an important role in influencing and improving population health outcomes by efficiently collecting standardized individual data that can be shared among different healthcare organizations and public health agencies.

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The Fight to Control COVID-19 Demands Data

For COVID-19 resources for health IT developers and other stakeholders, click here.

COVID-19 arrived unexpectedly as a highly contagious disease that surprised everyone, requiring healthcare providers and public health officials to take quick action and make decisions on how to care for those infected, how to slow down (if not prevent) the spread, how to improve treatment options, and how to identify a vaccine. Yet this pandemic continues to take too many lives and affect too many more.  

To understand how to treat the patients, which risk factors make some people more vulnerable, and why it spread so fast, access to data has been proven essential. A patient’s clinical record to facilitate treating those who are ill, combined with further socio-demographic data to research and identify those at highest risk and new data to support clinical trials – all are essential to flatten and ultimately bend the curve as far down as possible. 

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Because COVID-19 Didn’t Erase the Opioid Crisis… How Health IT Can Support Opioid Tapering Plans

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 6.37.00 PMThe COVID-19 crisis started to consume the United States just as it had been turning the corner on the most severe chapter of the opioid crisis. Opioid prescribing rates and drug overdose rates both remain distressingly high, and some patients on opioids are more vulnerable to impacts from COVID-19. At the same time, for patients with severe chronic pain, opioids are clinically indicated, and provide meaningful relief from a life of constant pain that could otherwise be debilitating. For these individuals, prescribers are often challenged with adhering to CDC guidelines and state laws that limit opioid use while effectively treating pain, and this is especially true for patients who have been treated with higher doses of opioids for extended periods of time. 

The EHR Association’s Opioid Crisis Task Force has written a white paper to comment on the role that health information technologies, including EHRs, can play in assisting physicians with responsible opioid tapering.
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Protecting Your Organization and Yourself from Coronavirus-Related Scams and Malware

By Justin Armstrong
Chair, EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

For updated COVID-19 resources for health IT developers and other stakeholders, click here.

Untitled design(5)In the midst of a healthcare crisis like COVID-19, the furthest things from the minds of many may be cybersecurity. However, now is the time for a heightened alert level. Attackers frequently take advantage of current news and distracted organizations, and the COVID-19 crisis is no different. 

Forbes reports that “there are now more than 40,000 ‘high-risk’ COVID-19 threats on the web.” Hackers have already attacked or attempted attacks on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the World Health Organization, a vaccine test center, hospitals, a public health department, and other healthcare organizations in the U.S. and around the world. The increase in teleworking opens up new avenues of risk

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