Printing 3D Molds & Human Tissue from your EMR

3D printing and EMRs: Will they connect soon?

The day cosmetic surgeons can print molds directly from their EHR software may not be too far ahead of us. Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, has already launched a master’s program teaching the core principals of bioprinting; they’re focusing on using 3D printers to grow human tissue. In the same study, Healthcare IT News also mentions the increased savings resulting from the use of 3D printers in healthcare practices.

The ways 3D printers may offer medical advantages

3D Printing EMRThe increasing technological capabilities remind us that we are living in an era where the seemingly impossible becomes just the opposite in relatively short periods of time. As the use of 3D printing becomes more prevalent in common situations over the coming years, the uses for such technology will encompass more than we can imagine. Not only will we be able to grow human tissue from such devices, but we may be able to use 3D printing for the construction of molds, vaccines, and possibly even medications. While it may seem far fetched, cell phones were barely a reality in the late 1980s and now we often see people with more than one.

Other uses for this technology can be printing actual medical devices such as endoscopes, tubing, adhesives, and more. It’s quite possible that this technology will be used for printing creams, gels, and other healthcare related substances. The image above showing a human heart in the process of printing may not be too far off the grid either.

Printing from your EMR

Although it’s not quite there yet, let’s not rule out the option of printing directly from your EHR in the near future. With the click-of-a-button, everything mentioned in this article and more may eventually become a reality as the printing is done right in front of our eyes.

Cyber threat running high for health care

The health care field continues to present an appealing target for cybercriminals. Yet organizations are showing varying degrees of ability to keep up with this threat, as several new surveys suggest. 

In June, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange noted that data breaches compromised roughly 37 million healthcare records between 2010 and 2014. The pace has accelerated quickly, with attacks exposing roughly 100 million records in just the first four months of 2015.

According to the WEDI report, criminals are willing to pay more for medical records than credit card numbers because the rich supply of information they contain (addresses, Social Security numbers) is useful for identity theft.

"Health care continues to be an appealing target for cybercriminals."

Resource limitations may affect organizations' cyber readiness
Corporate board members may have a weak grasp on cybersecurity threats as well. A National Association of Corporate Directors survey found that just 11 percent of corporate directors had a high-level understanding of these risks.

New findings from the 2015 Healthcare Information and Management Systems (HIMSS) Cybersecurity Survey highlighted the importance of maintaining internal resources to prevent and manage attacks. Of 297 participants – who work in healthcare information security – two-thirds said their organization "had experienced a significant security incident in the recent past."

Employee negligence was the largest single reason for incidents. But 64 percent said hackers, scammers and other outsiders had been responsible for such events. In about one-fifth of cases, the attack exposed "patient, financial or operational data."

More than half of the organizations employed full-time personnel to handle information security. Yet 64 percent felt that insufficient cybersecurity staffing presented a barrier to properly managing these incidents.

Keeping good information security staff on board to protect against the rising threat is a challenge for healthcare organizations, Mayo Clinic's chief information security officer, Jim Nelms, recently told the Wall Street Journal. The lure of bigger paychecks makes this workforce "quite a transient population," he said.

Cyber crime has become a major issue in the field of health care.
Cybercrime has become a major issue in the field of health care.

Recent health care data breaches "have been a wake-up call that patient and other data are valuable targets and healthcare organizations need a laser focus on cyber security threats," said Lisa Gallagher, vice president of technology solutions for HIMSS. "Healthcare organizations need to rapidly adjust their strategies to defend against cyber-attacks. This means incorporating threat data, and implementing new tools and sophisticated analysis into their security process."

WEDI urges health care organizations to address cyber threats at the highest levels. "The risk of cyber attacks is no longer limited to the IT desk, it is a key business issue that must be addressed by the C-suite," the authors note. "…[N]o healthcare organization can be completely immune from cyber attacks and adversaries. However, they can take appropriate measures to erect defenses and integrate cyber security into the business environment and culture."

These steps include:

  • Ensuring that all employees remain aware of the role they play in limiting their organizations' exposure to threats via potentially harmful emails, websites and files.
  • Properly updating and patching operating systems, antivirus software and anti-malware programs.
  • Maintaining automated alerts to notify staff to take appropriate action, according to protocol, in the event of a breach.