Stories to Watch in 2018
Hospitals and cybersecurity. Health care data breaches have been on the rise since 2015 as Internet-based technology is increasingly relied on to deliver and manage health care. Electronic health records (EHRs) have largely replaced paper records, and today's medical devices—pacemakers, for example—are frequently connected and programmable via the Internet to hospital networks and smartphones. EHRs contain patients’ names, addresses, social security numbers, and, sometimes, insurance, banking, and financial information. Criminals who obtain these data can use or resell them for tax fraud, credit card fraud, and medical billing and insurance fraud. Another security threat is ransomware, in which hackers encrypt or disable a hospital's data systems, thereby hijacking the institution's ability to function until a ransom is paid. Ransomware can be introduced through e-mail attachments unwittingly opened by system users. For more information, go to www.medscape.com/viewarticle/864669.
Artificial intelligence. Nearly half of all health care organizations expect to utilize some type of artificial intelligence (AI) within the next five years, according to a 2017 survey of health care executives. Health care is considered an industry ripe for the application of AI, owing to the enormous volume of medical records from which machines can learn and develop interpretive algorithms. Experts say AI's initial use will most likely be in diagnosis, clinical decision support, population health, and precision medicine. At Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, for example, researchers are working with AI to identify the most effective chemotherapeutic drug combinations against melanoma, using information from patients’ individual genomes. And nurses could benefit by the incorporation of AI into medical devices to enable these devices to assist in monitoring and decision making.