Doctor holding a Digital fingerprint identification and binary code 3d rendering By Production Perig. Adobe Stock image

BioHealth Informatics participants explore evolving health information challenges

May 10, 2021

Two SoIC BioHealth Informatics graduate students and professor of practice Gary Schwebach spoke about the dark side of biometric data; transforming the evolving field of precision medicine; and telemedicine, as presenters at a virtual spring regional conference April 14-15, 2021, for the Kentucky and Indiana chapters of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.

Graduate students Gopala Krishna Ganta and Vini Khanuja are earning their master’s degrees in Health Informatics at the IU School of Informatics and Computing at IUPUI. Gary Schwebach, D.B.A, J.D., is a health informatics professor of practice, and biomedical informatics associate program director at SoIC.

You can’t alter your fingerprint – but it can be hacked

If someone manages to access your Netflix password, you change it. But how do we respond when our biometrics are compromised?  In his HIMSS presentation “Provider Identification, Data Integrity, Data Management,” Gopala Ganta examined how biometric data technology, such as fingerprint readers and voice and facial recognition, may allow access to personal data when breached.

A major disadvantage is that biometrics are permanent, he notes – unlike passwords, which can be changed when malicious activity is detected.

“Insights of the threats associated with the digital analogues of once physical and behavioral characteristics (biometrics) would provide a platform for revolutionary and innovative ideas,” says Ganta, “which could help health care organizations develop robust and sound biometric systems.”

Personalizing medicine requires the right data

The next step in personalizing medical care lies in coordinating patient data. In her presentation, “Precision Medicine and the Promise of Genomics,” Vini Khanuja examined how efforts to implement genomic medicine in real-world clinical settings are essential to laying the foundation for a personalized medicine transformation.

“Analyzing health data in combination with an individual’s genetics,” she notes, “provides practitioners with new tools to predict disease progression and outcomes for selecting the best treatment strategy.”

Integrating data from clinicians, laboratories, and other sources in new ways through patients’ electronic health records can lead to a higher level of personalized medical care. “There’s increasing hope that these efforts will create the foundation of a continuously learning health care system,” Khanuja says.

Telehealth for our times

Gary Schwebach, professor of practice and BHIRC co-director, BioHealth Informatics Research Center.

Gary Schwebach

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a major increase in telehealth visits, forcing providers and patients to quickly adapt to health care platforms many had never used before.

Schwebach moderated a telemedicine panel discussion that capped off the two-day health care information event. The final keynote presentation, “Telehealth: COVID 19 Lessons and Promising Practices from Community Health Centers,” explored the Indiana Primary Health Care Association’s ongoing access program.

“This panel provided attendees with a real-world example of the successes and barriers of rapidly implementing telehealth measures to provide access to underserved communities in Indiana,” says Schwebach, who is co-director of the BioHealth Informatics Research Center.

A virtual, regional event

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society is a not-for-profit devoted to improving health care in quality, safety, cost-effectiveness and access through the information technology and management systems. April’s virtual regional conference involved Indiana and Kentucky HIMSS chapters, and drew more than 130 participants.

“This conference brought attention to the School of Informatics and Computing.” Schwebach notes, “and how the quality of its students can bring value to the Indiana health care community as the nature of health care changes in the face of new technologies.”

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Joanne Lovrinic
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