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3 best practices in healthcare IT security

3 best practices in healthcare IT security | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The one thing we learned for sure in 2015 was that healthcare has become a target for hackers across the globe. Over 100 million healthcare records were compromised in data breaches in 2015 and research firm IDC predicts that 1 in 3 individuals will have their healthcare records compromised in 2016. According to John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, 2015 has been filled with denial of service attacks, hard-to-detect malware, and a skyrocketing number of personal internet connected devices at the same time that HIPAA enforcement has expanded. 

An important feature of these attacks on healthcare is the apparent involvement of overseas actors, including nation-states. Nigeria and the Baltic States are  well-known sources of phishing attacks for profit. State-sponsored actors from the far-east are now said to be targeting healthcare records. A recent episode on the 60 Minutes TV show reported on industrial espionage on a staggering scale involving the Chinese government. If the report is to be believed, the Chinese are stealing valuable intellectual property, spying on competitors, and hacking into government servers.

 

Why healthcare? Why now?

One reason for the increase in attacks on healthcare is that as other sectors such as retail and financial services have become more sophisticated with IT security processes and tools as well as the value of credit card data going down.  As a result, the hackers have turned their attention to “softer” targets with more valuable data such as healthcare as the logical next step. Within healthcare, payers have been hit more than providers. As opposed to gathering fragmented data from individual hospitals, hackers choose to target Payers because of the opportunity to gain access to state-level population medical records, or even more. In other words, a better return on risks and effort involved.

First, the good news – IT security budgets are increasing across the board. With most of the Meaningful Use (MU) work and ICD 10 preparedness out of the way, this one big CEO-level issue is getting more funding. And when there is funding available, there is a tendency to throw money at technology and tools. However, the question is whether additional funding will by itself solve the fundamental issues of information security in healthcare.

Chris Grant, Chief Information Security Officer at Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative (GHC), a non-profit health system that serves nearly 600,000 members, believes that “It’s not just about technology tools. You can’t buy your way out of trouble on this.”

 

Best practices from GHC

Grant has taken an approach to combat IT security threats that provide insights into best practices that are emerging in healthcare IT security practices.

Process vs. Tools: At GHC, Grant constantly priorities between process and tools – in layman’s terms, between firefighting and “building code” upgrades. His team focuses on understanding incidents, early containment, and automation at the incident response level. Using a number of detection and monitoring tools, the GHC team identifies risks and focuses on remediation areas. Vulnerability scans combined with penetration tests designed to identify specific sets of vulnerabilities, and tools such as Splunk, a technology that records and analyses system logs, enable reuse of the data for improved security results.

Analytics: Another best practice is the use of analytics for correlations and Geo-localisation hot spotting. We have all experienced alerts from Google whenever we try to log into Gmail from an overseas location. At GHC, they have taken it a step further to develop correlations between log-ins from multiple locations and have created a scoring system that manages validations and exclusions based on the location disparities for the user at the time, answering potential questions like, “How can Scott be accessing his account from Florida and England at the same time?”

Data Privacy: This is an issue that is closely related to IT security, especially in healthcare. Health systems are required to monitor access to EMR data as a part of MU requirements. Grant and his team have built a production application and framework on the Splunk platform that uses a set of medical record access scenarios to identify potential privacy violations and triage them using a weighted score model for GHC’s privacy team to take further action.

 

Existing and new challenges

IT environments in healthcare tend to be outdated and the top priority for most CISO’s is the protection of the legacy environment. Organisations need to be really good at firefighting, quickly, and can take time to towards upgrading the “building codes” – identifying and re-mediating system vulnerabilities and configuration issues. Penetration tests, according to Grant, and other traditional IT security practices tend to be reactive to security incidents with limited ability to identify key aspects of an attack by hackers. The focus of healthcare IT security functions, like other verticals with critical data to protect, should be the lateral movement, or system to system movement, of a would be cyber-criminal set on finding and ex-filtrating data.

The governance model in health systems is also changing, with IT security increasingly considered a risk function and not a technology function – albeit with a strong appreciation of technology and an ability to work in tandem with CIO organisations. The talent shortage for IT security pros will make such collaborations – with internal as well as external partners – key to success.

At the same time, as enterprise IT interacts more with external systems, including the proliferation of connected medical devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), the mandate for IT security will expand to address new vulnerabilities. The Med-tech industry, in particular, seems unaware of the enormity of the risks that their devices can cause for the rest of the healthcare system. In some ways, healthcare IT security may soon need to be called IoT security.

IT security is now a national security issue, in many ways. With the heightened focus on Healthcare data, best practices are emerging that will ensure that our data and our healthcare system is well protected.

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More hospitals using fingerprint scans for patient ID

More hospitals using fingerprint scans for patient ID | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

To identify patients, some hospitals are exploring the use of bio-metric technology – specifically fingerprint recognition. The approach has both benefits and drawbacks. 

Bio-metric technology is growing in popularity. At first, it was only seen in sci-fi movies. But now, this technology is common in several aspects of modern life.

For example, many companies use bio-metric timekeeping systems for payroll purposes. And some of the newest smartphones come equipped with the ability to identify users based on their fingerprints.

Now hospitals are jumping on the bandwagon, too.

 

Reasons for trend

Healthcare blog Future of You, published by KQED Science, discussed the trend in a recent post.

In the absence of a national healthcare identifier, which is used in many other countries to distinguish patients from each other, hospitals are scrambling to find an easier way to identify their patients.

It’s especially confusing to keep track of patients when they have multiple last names or change residences frequently.

To make identifying patients easier, facilities have started partnering with companies specialising in bio-metric fingerprint identity recognition. Specifically, the blog post mentions hospitals working with SafeChx, a system designed for the healthcare industry.

SafeChx links patients’ fingerprints to the personal information a hospital has on file for them, including their health records. The system is free of charge for hospitals to use. CrossChx, the company that created SafeChx, also sells various healthcare apps facilities can integrate with the system to enhance it.

Right now, 178 hospitals are using the SafeChx system, and most are small and medium-sized facilities. CrossChx plans to start marketing its system to larger, teaching hospitals soon.

 

Both sides of systems

Because bio-metrics are becoming more common, other systems besides SafeChx are sure to spring up soon.

Not only do they make it easier for hospitals to identify patients, supporters say bio-metric fingerprint identification is also an excellent way to guard against patient identity theft, as well as the “doctor shopping” that often happens with prescription pill addicts.

However, critics think bio-metric fingerprint identification systems can create more problems than they solve. Here’s why: Although it’s true that fingerprints are unique to each person, there’s still a possibility the system can be compromised.

If hackers figure out how to simulate a patient’s fingerprint, they’d have access to all the person’s protected health information. In that regard, it’s just like any method where a single factor is used for identification, such as password protection.

But unlike a password, which can be quickly changed if it’s stolen, a person’s fingerprint can’t be altered.

 

Protecting data

With that in mind, hospitals would need to make sure the information stored in their systems is effectively protected with methods such as encryption in case a data breach occurs. And facilities would need to have a different protocol in place to identify patients should their bio-metric identifying data be stolen.

There are alternatives to identifying patients via bio-metrics or through standard demographic information if this need arises. One example from the Future of You post: Kaiser Permanent is starting to keep a photograph of each patient on file in the medical record.

Whatever strategy your hospital uses to identify patients, internal security is still of utmost importance. Bio-metric fingerprint scanning technology means nothing if your network and IT infrastructure aren’t secure from outside threats.

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Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age

Embracing Healthcare Information Technology in the Information Age | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Today, we find ourselves in the midst of the Information Age. If you’re paying for your morning coffee with your cellphone or Sky ping with a friend on another continent, you are contributing to a digital revolution that shows no sign of slowing down. Emerging technologies fundamentally shape our everyday lives, and this has proven no less true in healthcare. From patient care to file management, healthcare information technology (HIT) has revolutionised the medical industry over the past two decades by helping doctors provide better, more accessible healthcare.

 

Despite these advancements, doctors have expressed some frustrations about the technological revolution occurring in their workplace. As recently as 2014, a study reported that doctors wasted on average four hours per week on solely managing HIT. The struggle to adapt to HIT, known as technological iatrogenesis, has en-flamed aggravation for doctors and patients alike. Thus, it remains essential that hospitals adopt the best technology available, so that technology can facilitate, not impede, patient care. HIT should work for doctors—not the other way around.

 

Indeed, many facets of HIT can actually progress the healthcare industry when properly embraced, thereby avoiding technological iatrogenesis. Electronic health records (EHRs) exemplify HIT’s successes; they demonstrate how HIT can help streamline patient care by expediting the transfer of patient information. Whereas handwritten paper medical records caused misplaced filings and sloppy handwriting that resulted in medical errors, the evolution of EHRs has cut down on such mistakes. The VA, for example, reports that EHRs have helped doctors increase their productivity by six percent per year. So confident is the government in HIT that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 invested $22 billion in modernising the healthcare industry, including increasing hospitals’ use of EHRs.

 

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Most Patients Interested in Telemedicine Over In-Person Visits

Most Patients Interested in Telemedicine Over In-Person Visits | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For minor ailments such as strep throat or pink eye, most patients would prefer to use telemedicine, according to a new study from Software Advice.

 

Even though most surveyed (73%) have never participated in a telemedical visit, 76% of patients are at least “moderately interested” in virtually visiting the doctor instead of in a doctor’s office for a minor health condition.

The most cited reasons for wanting to use telemedicine include, in this order:

  • High quality of care (21%)
  • Not having to travel (21%)
  • The ability to enjoy the comforts of home (20%)
  • Quick access to care (11%)
  • A shorter wait time (10%)

Patients living in rural areas or without access to transportation are particularly interested in telemedicine, as they may have trouble getting to and from doctor’s appointments. In fact, telehealth adoption numbers are significantly higher at hospitals located in more rural areas compared to urban areas, said a 2014 report from the Centre for Connected Health.

 

“If the obstacles to creating and offering a reliable video appointment service can be overcome, for patients who have the interest, aptitude, and confidence, there exists an opportunity to co-create the broader experience and availability of video appointments,” said Matthew Gardner, a Mayo Clinic research designer, in a study on video-based doctor’s appointments.

Those obstacles include the lack of in-person interaction and technical issues, among other things, and half of patients (56%) in the Software Advice survey were not sure if their insurance covers telemedicine. As of January 2014, 22 U.S. states require insurers to reimburse for telemedicine visits and in-office visits by certain providers equally, with new legislation currently proposed in multiple states.

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Karen Finnin's curator insight, December 7, 10:29 PM
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Remote patient monitoring market booming amid readmission fines, doctor shortages, report says

Remote patient monitoring market booming amid readmission fines, doctor shortages, report says | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Fear of readmissions penalties, an increase of chronic health conditions, looming physician shortages and mobile technology advancements are driving adoption of remote patient monitoring tools, according to a new report from Frost & Sullivan that forecasts the market will grow 13.2 percent over the next five years.

"We appear to be at an opportune time for RPM systems to thrive," said Victor Camlek, health industry principal for Frost & Sullivan, said in a statement.

As a key component of telehealth, RPM tools such as clinical-grade monitors, peripherals and other software will be essential to keeping tabs on chronic conditions in a cost-effective way.

"The convergence of biometric monitoring and sensors, along with a wider end-user base of technology-comfortable patients will create an environment where clinicalgrade RPM will expand incrementally," said Camlek.

 

Driving RPM market growth, according to Frost & Sullivan, is the need to manage elderly and chronic condition patients, enabling post-acute care at-home and reducing readmissions and other adverse events.

"A move from an episodic model towards a dynamic continuous care model will enable the possibility of early detection and response of healthcare stakeholders to preventable crisis events," Camlek said.

For RPM developers to gain the advantage and add value, big data and analytics will need to be at the forefront, according to the report. Furthermore, the ability to transform the mass volumes of raw data into actionable methods will be the most valuable piece of the puzzle.

 

"Despite many successful trials, the U.S. market is currently challenged by the lack of a gold standard trial all stakeholders endorse as proof of concept," he said.

Cost concerns and a lack of a standard reimbursement models are the largest restraints of RPM implementation, according to Frost & Sullivan. However, of those physicians surveyed, more than 75 percent found RPM to have high value.

Currently there's a limited clinical need for RPMs, but the report finds new opportunities will likely emerge.

"If trials and deployments of RPM systems continue to indicate successful results, perhaps it will finally prove to all stakeholders these products are of significant value and increased uptake should follow," said Kamlek.

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How can Artificial Intelligence in healthcare help patient engagement?

How can Artificial Intelligence in healthcare help patient engagement? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

This guest post is part of the Festschrift of the Blogosphere celebrating HealthBlawg’s Tenth Blogiversary. Festschrift posts are appearing throughout the month of June 2016.

A recent article in The Commonwealth Fund blog, “Envisioning a Digital Health Adviser,” raises the question of being able to use smartphone apps to get real-time, accurate and personalised guidance for health concerns. While one can envision the convenience, affordability and peace of mind that would result from their use, such services face a number of hurdles before they become reality. As a result, the “digital revolution” has not yet greatly affected most people’s interactions with the health care system.

These challenges fall into two main categories: fiscal/policy and technology.

 

Fiscal and policy issues

In a fee-for-service environment, the only way that healthcare practitioners get paid is to have face-to-face encounters with patients. This creates heavy bias against promoting technologies that streamline non-face-to-face interactions. However, as we move away from that model and more towards value-based care, where global risk-based payments are made to delivery organisations (hospitals, patient centred medical homes, accountable care organisations, etc.), then there is more incentive to use new technologies that reduce unnecessary in-office encounters. In such an environment, face-to-face encounters are actually a cost centre, not a profit centre, and positive health outcomes of populations are rewarded.

We are not yet in a fully value-based environment. Fee-for-service remains dominant, though this will be changing over the next few years, hurried along by the seismic shifts in physician reimbursement policy announced by the Federal government in its draft MACRA rule. Aligning the way that healthcare is paid for with technologies that facilitate self-care and improved care – that is what is needed from a fiscal and policy perspective in order for Digital Health Adviser-style technologies to flourish.

 

Technology issues

The biggest technical barrier to achieving this vision is the state of health data. Created by legacy Electronic Health Records (EHR) systems, health data is largely fragmented into institution-centred silos. Sometimes those silos are large, but they are still silos. Exchanging individual records between silos, using increasingly standardised vocabularies (code sets) and message formats (ADT messages, C-CDAs, even FHIR objects), is where much current effort is being spent. But that does not solve the problem of data fragmentation.

More and more people in the health information exchange arena are seeing that the next generation of health technology is around aggregating data, not simply exchanging copies of individual records (the traditional query-response approach). Only by collecting the data from all different sources, normalising that data into a consistent structure, resolving the data around unique patient identifiers as well as unique provider identifiers – only then can the data become truly useful.

Aggregated data has two additional advantages. (1) It solves the interoperability problem. Systems and institutions no longer need to build data bridges, and translate how the data is structured between two proprietary systems; everyone instead simply connects to a central standard API “plug.” (2) If built right, the aggregated data can be the basis for very effective Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Large-scale data in many other domains (that is, other than healthcare) has moved away from traditional relational databases, made up of a collection of tables, with records and fields (rows and columns) in each table, and structured relations that connect a field in one table to some other field in another table in order to carry out queries. What is replacing this way of working with data is a more flexible graphical data structure commonly used in “big data.” Such technology is very fast (consider Google suggestions as-you-type in a search bar, retrieving suggestions from billions of record options). It is also sufficiently flexible to allow machine learning and AI to function in a real-time fashion.

 

A new generation of apps

When one has built a data store from all different sources – EHR data, payer data, device and IoT data, patient survey responses, consumer health data – and integrate it into a unified data structure, then AI can yield meaningful insights. AI, after all, is about pattern recognition, and comparing a particular pattern of data around a given individual with similar (not necessarily identical) patterns found elsewhere, and making predictive recommendations based on what happened in those other situations. This is very much what clinicians do when exercising “clinical judgement” – identifying a pattern, taking into account medical problems, medications, labs values, personal and family history, and comparing it to similar patterns from the clinician’s experience.

A new generation of apps can be built to make these AI-derived recommendations useful. They need to be easy-to-use, consumer-grade apps that can connect to the aggregated data store and the AI analytics engines that sit on top of that. They can empower consumers / patients, and reduce the demand burden on clinicians. Will they replace clinicians? No, of course not. But they will help filter the demand to those who truly need to be seen, while empowering patients with real-time, believable and personalised guidance for the more common things in day-to-day life.

 

So what stands in the way of Digital Health Advisers? Policy (how we pay for healthcare) needs to encourage self-care and facilitate healthy behaviours, rather than encourage in-office doctor visits. And, simultaneously, health data needs to become reorganised in order to empower AI and drive the emergence of new apps and related technologies. It will be a while before we get there, but we can see the path to that new generation of healthcare technology.

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Jose Andrade's curator insight, November 2, 10:42 AM
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Austin Dodd's curator insight, November 12, 2:42 PM
This article is about including the use of AI as a way of health care. This AI would use aggregated data from all relevant sources on what a person is experiencing and give out correct help. I believe that getting used to dealing with AI when going to the doctor would take some time, but if the help it gives is correct, I would have no problem using it.
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How Tech Is Changing The Space In Modern Medical Facilities

How Tech Is Changing The Space In Modern Medical Facilities | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Two organisations are revolutionising environments of medical facilities.

Healthcare is morphing every day as it adopts and adapts through new innovations in technology that can help improve care, protect privacy, and boost outcomes and bottom lines. Two organisations that are contributing to the revolutionist of medical facility environments are DIRTT and Cambridge Sound Management.

One constant in the healthcare game is the need for upgrades, remodels, and additions to physical space. But that requires construction work, which is often dirty, messy, and can introduce contaminants and irritants into the sterile hospital environment. They can also result is costly shutdowns or stoppages of care.

Enter DIRTT, a technology-driven interior construction company that offers clean installations relying on materials manufactured offsite so there’s no construction dust or debris, meaning no facility shut downs. This efficient means of construction can be upwards of 40 percent faster than traditional builds.

Another way technology is helping improve the overall healthcare experience is by protecting patient privacy. HIPAA requirements are strict regarding the dissemination of patient information, and many healthcare practices and institutions have had to engage in costly remodels to help protect that privacy with new alcoves and other structures that prevent sound from carrying during patient exchanges. And yet, acoustics and sound privacy are often overlooked by architects in planning open waiting areas or patients rooms, where sound travels easily through glass and over walls or partitions.

 

Now, Cambridge Sound Management is working inside the walls of medical facilities to improve speech privacy for patients. Their Qt Patient Privacy System is a speech protection system designed specifically for medical office reception areas, exam rooms, and pharmacies. It is a sound masking solution that protects conversations between patients and staff in all types of medical facilities. Using emitters installed in the ceiling, the system adds a low level of background sound into the space, making human talk unintelligible from a distance.

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The Healthcare industry is undergoing massive technological changes

The Healthcare industry is undergoing massive technological changes | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The health care industry will see a 21% increase in IT jobs by 2020, according to research by the University of Chicago. Across all health care sectors, there is a demand for creative, thoughtful uses of health informatics, mobile technology and digital diagnostics.

Many of these new inventions have yet to be approved by the FDA, a process that can take up to 10 years. But that's not stopping the research and development of new technologies. Here are 10 types of tech that are changing the course of health care.

 

Digital diagnostics

Making health care more accessible includes providing digital diagnostics options for people who need it, especially those who can't get to a doctor's office. This is one of the main themes of digital health. One example of digital diagnostics is Neurotrack, a software-based Alzheimer's diagnostic test that can detect impairments on the hippo campus (the first area of the brain to be affected by the disease) by evaluating eye movement.

 

Ultra-fast scans

GE showcased its breakthrough ultra-fast CT scanner earlier this year, which can capture a still image of a heart in one beat. The company said that according to research, about 60% of patients have heart rates of higher than 60 beats per minute and are turned away from scans because their heart beats too fast to scan. With this Revolution CT, doctors can see specific areas of the heart that they could not before.

 

Wearables

Wearable technology is going to play a huge role in health care in years to come. The Consumer Electronics Association reports that sales of fitness trackers and smart watches will reach $1 billion this year. But monitoring fitness is only the beginning. For instance, Intel teamed up with the Michael J. Fox Foundation to use wearables to find certain characteristics of Parkinson's disease.

 

Health informatics

More than half of US hospitals use some type of electronic records system, but only 6% meet all the federal mandates, according to a recent study out of the University of Michigan. According to researchers at the University of Chicago, 50% of health care dollars are wasted on inefficient record keeping processes. Electronic records have been shown to save large hospitals anywhere between $37 and $59 million. It streamlines the medical care process and lowers malpractice claims, and increases coordination between providers. The federal government set a mandate to have some electronic system in place by this year.

 

Digital therapy

Digital therapy is important for patients who need at-home care, can't afford to travel to a clinic, or have no way to get to a clinic for therapy. Well frame is a platform that combines mobile technology with artificial intelligence to provide patients with care after they've returned home from the hospital or doctor's office. It's been described as a "GPS navigation system for patients." There is a daily to-do list for the patient and a tracker for diet and exercise, but an advanced algorithm adapts the content based on the information from patient and healthcare provider. The company has performed trials with cardiovascular, pulmonary, and mental health patients.

 

Concierge medical services

Startups are making it easier to pay out-of-pocket for on-demand health care services. For example, GoodRX allows you to compare prices for drugs at different pharmacies and save up to 80%. One Medical Group was created by doctors to build a better system for doctor's visits. In certain cities, you can search for an office based on your needs, find same-day appointments, email access, online scheduling, and trained primary doctors.

 

Networks and coaching

With mobile technology, it's easier than ever to have a customised diet or health plan. Thrive On is personalised coaching for mental health, offering plans by assessing your sleep, mood, stress, anxiety, and body image. Retrofit offers coaching and expert advice for weight loss and weight management.

 

Self-insurance

With the onset of Affordable Care Act, more consumers have had to manage their own data and health future. Several startups are using this as an opportunity to offer insurance, benefits, and solutions services. Health solutions platforms such as Jiff, which connects employee behaviours to company benefits and incentives, are becoming more common.

 

Hackathons

Hacking is becoming an increasingly popular tool to solving real world problems, especially in the health care industry. Health care, which usually evolves slowly, is being revitalised with software developments, hardware inventions, apps, and wearables, and many of these ideas are born out of hackathons. MIT held a hackathon earlier this year that drew 450 people from various backgrounds such as engineering, journalism, medicine, and IT to tackle global health, diabetes, and hospital IT.

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Technology And The Changing Business Of Health Care

Technology And The Changing Business Of Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Three years after the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare,” scholars and political pundits have paid much attention to the macroeconomic effects of the law. Will Obamacare bend the health care cost curve?  What will be its impact on the federal budget deficit? How will it affect the bottom lines of small businesses and the economic security of the middle class?

When it comes to these questions, one can find a wide disparity of opinions among analysts, physicians, and even the authors of this commentary. But when it comes to the micro-economic ramifications of Obamacare — the effects the law will have on the business of delivering health care, especially in the non-hospital setting — there is little uncertainty: change is coming. As tens of millions of previously uninsured Americans obtain coverage, thereby allowing many to shop for doctors for the first time, the health care market will grow dramatically. Physicians thus will need to find ways to extend their capacity so that they can take advantage of this unique opportunity to expand their practices.

As the fee-for-service model continues its decline — and physician reimbursements come to be based on the quality, not quantity, of care — providing preventive care and promoting wellness will become a business, and not just clinical, priority.  Meanwhile, Americans will take more ownership over their health care as they obtain insurance, face higher deductibles, and gain more knowledge through newly available price and quality information.  Physicians will need to foster closer individual relationships with patients and prioritise not only cost efficiency, but also customer service, much in the way other businesses have in increasingly competitive retail sectors.

 

Changing Physician Reimbursement

A key concern of health care policymakers remains the skyrocketing cost of care.  The leading target of reformers is the outdated fee-for-service model, which creates incentives for doctors to provide more costly — and sometimes unnecessary — care. Indeed, studies show that hundreds of billions of our health dollars are spent each year unnecessarily. The lack of adequate transparency, a volume-driven payment system, defensive practices, prohibitive administrative costs, and the lack of adequate chronic care coordination are some of the reasons why.

In March 2012, the National Commission on Physician Payment Reform (of which Sen. First was a co-chair) recommended the abandonment of the fee-for-service model. First argued that the model is “the major driver of higher health care costs in the United States [because it] contains incentives for increasing the volume and cost of services (whether appropriate or not), encourages duplication, discourages care coordination, and promotes inefficiency in the delivery of medical services.”

Policymakers encapsulated this perspective in Obamacare, and Medicare has joined the private sector in pursuing initiatives designed to improve efficiency. The Centre for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, for example, is poised to serve at the cutting edge of delivery models that will gradually erode the fee-for-service structure under Medicare. Already, according to the New York Times, “an estimated 428 accountable-care organisations now cover four million Medicare enrol lees and millions more people with private insurance.” Indeed, evidence is mounting that payment arrangements that reward outcomes are already helping to slow the cost of care.

In time, we expect the fee-for-service model under which many physicians have worked their entire careers to no longer dominate, and for accountable care organisations and patient-centred medical homes to proliferate. The economic incentives that have guided physicians as they have built their practices will change dramatically. Instead of being rewarded for the quantity of care they provide, doctors will operate under a payment structure that emphasises preventive care and patient wellness.

This era of “person-focused medicine” will require doctors to form closer, stronger relationships with patients — not only to tailor wellness plans to each individual, but also to ensure that patients are taking the steps necessary to enhance their own health, such as taking medications or following dietary recommendations. No longer will it be enough to simply see a patient once a year for a checkup.

Indeed, physicians will need to form these stronger relationships not only for the health of their patients, but also for the health of their own practices. As the prominence of employer-provided insurance continues to decline, and high-deductible and defined-contribution plans continue to grow in popularity, patients will inevitably become more price-sensitive. Americans are becoming more motivated to seek greater value in health care. With the implementation of Obamacare, they will become more informed about their options. This represents a potential challenge for physicians working under the ACO model, for whom doctor shopping represents a direct threat to the bottom line.

 

The Growing Demand For Care

At the same time, most models estimate that, with the help of government subsidies, some 7 million previously uninsured Americans will acquire coverage in the first year after health care exchanges launch in October, with tens of millions more to follow over the next five years.  Groups like Enrol America, which Sen. Daschle is involved with, will help to usher the uninsured into the exchanges, providing them with information to help them pick the appropriate plan for their needs. With greater ability to afford regular health care, these new health care consumers represent an enormous opportunity for physicians to grow their practices.

Physicians would do well to respond to these changes by building deeper relationships with each individual patient and striving to deliver excellent customer service. But, at the same time, the entry of tens of millions of new consumers into the health care marketplace threatens to put a severe time strain on physicians.

Evidence suggests that the demand for physicians already outstrips supply. State-level studies compiled by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) found alarming doctor shortages across the country, a problem that is already worsening due to a growing and ageing American population. Add in the expansion of the health care market brought about by Obamacare, and the AAMC estimates that the United States will likely face a shortfall of 63,000 doctors by the year 2015, and 130,000 doctors by the year 2025.

The challenge, then, is clear. Physicians will have to find a way to expand their practices to handle more patients, while at the same time forging closer relationships with them in order to improve the health outcomes upon which reimbursements increasingly will be based. Many health care experts argue that physicians can increase their patient load capacity through team-based organisational models; others have looked to the enhanced scope of practice approaches that have increased the roles of nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and pharmacists.

 

Technology as a physician extender 

These changes can help, but we believe that advances in smartphone technology, data analytics, and other innovations have put us in a place where technology can play a necessary and critical role in meeting these challenges. Unlike expensive new scanners and tests, the information technology required to meet patient demand is inexpensive and easy to incorporate into a physician’s practice. Over time, it should save money, not cost money.

For instance, technology can eliminate inefficiencies that plague physicians’ business operations (especially small practices). Online scheduling can help avoid revenue losses by filling appointments more efficiently. Physicians who regularly see 10 to 20 percent of their appointments turn into no-shows could make use of previously wasted time by putting appointment books online. Other advances in information technology can free up time currently spent on paperwork, patient follow-up, and other administrative tasks so that physicians can focus on the actual work of providing health care. And, as we have written, health information technology will be particularly important as physicians evolve their practices to account for new delivery and payment models.

From information technology that makes the operation of the physician’s business more efficient; to telemedicine that can allow physicians to assess a rash or read an MRI without scheduling a visit; to consumer electronics that allow patients to collect their own data and physicians to tailor care to each individual — these advances can serve as extremely effective “physician extenders” that assist physicians in expanding their capacity to match growing demand. They can help physicians build the kind of strong patient relationships that many thought would be impossible when the era of house calls came to an end.

Patients too are increasingly expecting these conveniences. Recent studies found that the majority of Americans plan to use social media and the Internet to find and review care providers, to check their symptoms, or to track their own health data. Mobile health and medical applications for smartphones are predicted to reach 142 million downloads by the year 2016. Large majorities of Americans report that they would like far more transparency, online scheduling, and email communication with care providers, as well as access to an electronic medical record to review information and email reminders when they are due for a visit. They also want the opportunity to receive diagnostic test results via email.

In addition, patients report that they will act on these preferences. A Price WaterhouseCooper’s Health Research Institute study asked patients what would guide their choice between two physicians with equivalent reputations. The top answer was, unsurprisingly, cost, at 20 percent. But 19 percent answered that they would choose physicians whose offices were more technologically advanced. In particular, 59 percent of “Generation Y” patients say they would switch doctors for one with better online access.

Finally, as mentioned above, the movement away from fee-for-service will create a further need for physicians to use technology to efficiently forge a close relationship with patients. In many of these coming models of care, if a patient under a physician’s care decides to leave his or her medical home or accountable care organisation to seek other care, the physician will be responsible for those expenses. Similarly, if a patient with a chronic condition does not follow practice guidelines to stay healthy, this could have financial (as well as clinical) consequences that the physician would have to face. In such a world, new advances in patient communications and health monitoring are critical for providers.

 

Change And The Need To Adapt

In sum, physicians need to expand their capacity in order to take advantage of the coming market transformation. They need to encourage patients to take ownership of their health care to secure outcomes under new reimbursement models. And in this era of doctor shopping, they need to provide the service patients are looking for.

Change is coming to the business of health care. In order to survive – and thrive – under Obamacare, physicians must adapt. And as they seek to do so, technology can be a critical asset.

Technology cannot eliminate all the uncertainty that comes with a major change in federal health care policy. Physicians must demonstrate resilience, innovation, collaboration, and leadership in the face of new developments.  And they must remain engaged in the public policy sphere as the implementation of Obamacare proceeds.

But technology can play a critical role as physicians seek to adapt their practices to the new landscape. This entails delivering customer service that inspires patient loyalty, offering new options for partnering with patients to achieve better outcomes, and expanding physicians’ capacity so they can take advantage of the coming influx of new patients.

While physicians may be hesitant to embrace the emerging economic reality of health care in America, we urge them to embrace the technologies that will help them succeed in the new reality.

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Major breakthroughs that will dominate Healthcare

Major breakthroughs that will dominate Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Virtual Reality

Once The New York Times gave out Google Cardboard's with its newspapers, it was clear virtual reality was going mainstream. But now that Facebook’s Oculus Rift just became available for pre-order, virtual reality is going to become a booming industry. With really sophisticated devices on the market, it might have its biggest year ever in 2016. It will be used to let medical students gain realistic experience in examining patients or to let patients see what would happen to them the next day at the hospital for stress release.

 

Augmented Reality

A Novartis chief announced that the digital contact lens patented by Google would become available in 2016. As it will measure blood glucose from tears, it is supposed to change diabetes treatment and management. Moreover, Hololens from Microsoft also comes out in 2016 which will have a huge impact on fields from medical education to architecture and engineering. It could help medical students do dissections for many hours a day from any angles without the formaldehyde smell.

 

Fibretronics

2015 was not the year of smart-clothes no matter how much we anticipated it. Even the ones with the biggest market potentials like HexoSkin were only traditional shirts with built-in devices in their pockets. But fibretronics are clothing materials with microchips implanted into them. They can react to body temperature or the mood of the wearer, among others. Google has started collaborating with Levi’s to create true fibretronic materials, which could be used to interact with technology through our clothes in novel ways. Imagine this in the OR. As the first promising collaborations in this area came out in 2015, expect to see the first tangible results in 2016!

 

Smart Algorithms Analysing Wearable Data

2015 was the year of wearable health trackers. A swarm of devices became available, Amazon launched its Wearable Marketplace and millions of activity trackers were sold. But gaining actionable insights from the constant stream of wearable data is not easy. We need clever algorithms and apps that merge data from several devices and apps, and help us draw meaningful conclusions. It would help lay people put more emphasis on prevention and have a healthier lifestyle. I had experience with Exist.io, one of the earliest attempts, but it still needs to go a long way.

 

Near-Artificial Intelligence in Radiology

IBM’s Watson supercomputer has been used in oncology to assist medical decision-making. It proved the clear benefits of such a system by making diagnoses and treatment cheaper and more efficient. IBM’s Medical Sieve project aims to diagnose most lesions with a smart software, leaving room for radiologists to focus on the most important cases instead of checking hundreds of images every day.

 

Food Scanners

Food scanners like Scio and Tell-spec have been in the spotlight since 2014, but as early developer prototypes have already been mailed to their first users in 2015, 2016 could be the year they become generally available. This would enable anyone to find out what’s really on their plates, providing clear benefits not just to people looking to gain weight or eat healthier food, but people with dangerous allergies as well.  

 

Humanoid Robots

One of the most promising companies developing robots is Boston Dynamics, acquired by Google in 2013. Since then, they only released teaser videos about animal-like robots and Pet man, the humanoid robot. Many technologies they are working on seem to be at a stage where they are ready to become actual products, the first signs of which we’ll see in 2016.

 

3D Bioprinting

Organovo has been in the focus because of 3D printing bio materials for years. They announced successfully bio printed liver tissues in 2014 and they seemed to be 4-6 years away from printing liver parts for transplantation. But first, these bio printed livers could be finally used in the pharmaceutical industry to replace animal models when analysing the toxicity of new drugs. If it goes through in 2016, I feel printing actual liver tissue for transplantation could become a commercial service within the next decade.

 

Internet of Health Things At Home

Last year, I released a concept art of a bathroom of the future. All the elements in that image from the smart toothbrush to the digital mirror were partially available in 2015. But an array of sensors will reach the general public in 2016 making IoT a reality in our homes. The long-term goal is to make these devices communicate and learn from each other. This way we would not have to analyse the data of the devices ourselves, but the device manufacturers could merge their findings and share a digestible report with us when there is something to take care of.

 

Theranos – Thumbs Up Or Down

The end of 2015 saw Theranos embroiled in a scandal. The company claims to perform blood tests from one drop of blood in a transparently priced way. Concerns were raised by the Wall Street Journal about the validity of their claims, and we are waiting for Theranos to reveal the details of their medical technologies.

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How technology will change ICU care in your hospital

How technology will change ICU care in your hospital | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The intensive care unit (ICU) is due for a makeover. Even though healthcare technology itself has improved, there haven’t been many advances in care administered in the ICU since the 1960s. Some doctors are working to change that by better integrating new tech advances into daily ICU processes. 

 

Endless alarms

One of the biggest problems providers are trying to solve is alarm fatigue in the ICU. Various types of equipment and devices, such as pumps and pulse-rate monitors, all end up making noise at once.

Eventually doctors and nurses end up tuning the sounds out, which can be dangerous for patients if an alarm is actually serious.

Often, these sounds are due to the inability of devices to communicate with each other. The article mentions what’s being done to change this – particularly, updating devices so they’re able to seamlessly transmit and share patient information.

This would not only reduce the likelihood of duplicate alarms sounding, it would also make the lives of clinical staff much easier. They’d have to deal with fewer machines setting off false alarms, so they can spend more time with patients.

Many medical device vendors have committed to making their products more capable of interoperability and sharing data between other devices from different manufacturers. So better device communication is coming in the not-too-distant future.

 

Time-saving sensors

Another development to save time and improve care in the ICU: the installation of sensors that would alert clinicians about critical tasks they must perform for patients.

For example, patients must have their beds at specific angles to keep them from developing pneumonia. Most nurses currently check angles manually – even using protractors in some cases. But new sensors, costing as little as $2 each, can monitor the angle of a patient’s bed and alert nursing staff when it needs to be adjusted.

 

Apps to sort data

Better data filtering would also be beneficial in the ICU. Hospital equipment collects thousands of data points about each patient per day. Much of it is saved in the patient’s records via an electronic health records (EHR) system. But it’s not always saved in the most organised way, so it’s hard for providers to find the information they need about each patient’s condition.

Several apps have been designed to change that and their creators hope they’ll become more common in the ICU as time goes on.

One app, called AWARE, is billed as an “electronic intern” that identifies crucial health details doctors need and organises them based on the organs they affect.

EMERGE, another app, analyses EHR data to let providers know if a proposed course of treatment or medication may be harmful to patients, which can be useful in preventing never events.

 

More tech benefits

Technology has a host of other benefits for the ICU. Many hospitals don’t have full-time critical care physicians on staff. However, facilities can take advantage of telemedicine and have intensivists remotely monitor patients’ conditions.

Plus, recent research shows that using telehealth in the ICU reduces mortality rates, since remote experts can quickly alert doctors and nurses to significant changes in a patient’s condition.

Some hospitals are even using technology so staff can make better personal connections with patients in the ICU. They’ve placed a tablet next to each bed so patients and their families can enter in personal details about themselves, including photos.

The tablets also allow them to note their recovery goals and any fears they have about their hospital stay. This helps staff give each patient more personalised care.

 

Next steps

Hospitals need to be aware these options exist for their ICUs. With these new technological advances in mind, it’s critical to look over your hospital’s current care protocols and decide which practices need to be updated.

Because patients in the ICU are critically ill, and hospitals are being judged on patient outcomes, it’s key to stay on top of developments regarding any technology that can help you boost the quality of the care your facility provides to its sickest patients.

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Top healthcare technology advances for 2016

Top healthcare technology advances for 2016 | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Affordable Care Act's new payment models have hospital leaders searching for effective ways to reduce costs, while increasing care quality. As the 2016 technology market will be inundated with innovations, ECRI Institute has released its annual list of the top technologies, many pointing the way toward value-based care.

"Hospital leaders have to deal with a lot of new technology issues – and demands from different departments in their facilities," said Robert P. Maliff, director of ECRI’s applied solutions group, in a press statement. The list is meant to assist leaders attempting to update and implement new technology.

ECRI takes an "evidence-based" approach in their assessments of healthcare innovations over the course of the year, officials say.

"We present hospital leaders with unbiased guidance to support informed decision making and help them understand how new innovations will affect care delivery," said Diane C. Robertson, ECRI's director of health technology assessment, in a statement. The topics and trends  it expects will most affect healthcare over the next year:

 

Mobile stroke units

MSUs use specially-outfitted ambulances and staff members, in conjunction with telemedicine to perform blood tests, CT scans and TPA tests before the patient arrives at the hospital.

 

Medical device cyber-security

Most healthcare IT leaders integrate stringent security features for network infrastructures and EHRs - but not for their mobile devices. As many devices are attached to patients' EHRs, C-suite members must perform threat assessments and know the devices and software connected to crucial patient data.

 

Wireless wearable sensors

As an increasing number of consumers turn to wellness apps, devices and wearable sensors, healthcare officials must learn how to utilise this data to reduce hospital stays and readmission for those with serious and chronic conditions.

 

Miniature lead less pacemakers

Next-generation pacemakers are 10 percent of the size of conventional pacemakers and are designed for only one heart chamber. It's more effective than traditional models, but only ideal for 15 percent pacemaker patients.

 

Blue-violet LED light fixtures

These lights provide continuous environmental disinfection technology to kill harmful healthcare-related bacteria – a major cause of morbidity, mortality and increased healthcare costs in the U.S.

 

New high-cost cardiovascular drugs

Three newly-approved home care cardiovascular drugs are expensive compared to standard-of-care medications, but short-term data has lauded efficacy.

 

Changing landscape of robotic surgery

The robotic surgery landscape is rapidly changing; vendor competition is set to explode in early 2016 with a switch from mainframe to tablet-type programs.

 

Spectral computed tomography

Spectral computed tomography will reenter the health tech conversation due to new tools and increased marketing. The tool builds on traditional CT scans by adding depth to the physiologic function of soft tissue with a dual-layer detector.

 

Injected bioabsorbable hydrogel (SpaceOAR)

Approved for prostate cancer patients, SpaceOAR is designed to protect tissue and healthy organs from radiation treatment. Currently there is limited reimbursement for this product's use, but studies have shown the barrier to be highly effective.

 

Warm donor organ perfusion systems

New technology provides warm perfusion of lungs and hearts to eliminate the issue that two-thirds of organs are never used by hospitals, as viability deteriorates harvesting, preserving and transporting.

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Popular Consumer Apps Changing Healthcare

Popular Consumer Apps Changing Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Pokemon Go

It’s the most downloaded mobile game in U.S. history, but is

Pokemon Go a healthcare app? Jonathan Halvorson, writing for The Health Care Blog, makes the case that it might very well be.

“The game comes first,” he says. “That turns out to be the smarter path to actually engage large numbers of people to be active. Self-reports and early data from tracking devices reveal a massive jump in walking, almost certainly tens of billions of additional steps in just one week.”

In contrast to Pokemon Go, many fitness apps designed specifically to get people moving have proven ineffectual. Halverson predicts the lessons learned from the success of Pokemon Go will inevitably “change the face of both gaming and health and wellness tools generally.”

While Pokemon Go is the latest popular consumer application showing promise for tracking and improving health, it’s certainly not the first. Here are 6 other ingenious healthcare use cases for well-known apps.

 

Tinder for Organ Donation

As reported in MedCity News, users of Tinder, the popular online dating app, may soon be able to  swipe right on their mobile screens to register as an organ donor. The campaign to engage potential donors on Tinder in the U.S. follows a similar campaign last year in the UK.

 

Google Maps the Zika Outbreak

Google Maps have long been utilized by public health researchers for visualization of health threats. For real-time monitoring of the Zika Virus, Boston-based HealthMap.org offers a global view of the outbreak complete with a timeline of confirmed and suspected cases pinpointed by location using Google Maps.

 

Twitter IDs Food Poisoning

As reported in 2014 on the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the Chicago Department of Public Health actively monitors Twitter to help identify reports of food-borne illnesses. Health inspectors in other cities, like New York and Las Vegas, report using similar techniques as well as pulling in data from restaurant review sites like Yelp.

 

Facebook for Suicide Prevention

Facebook recently announced the global rollout of new features for suicide prevention, including a drop-down menu that allows users to flag posts as suicidal. Flagged posts are expedited for internal review, and if deemed suicidal, both the reporter and the person who posted the content are met with a variety of help options, developed in conjunction with mental health groups.

 

Uber as Ambulance

For emergency transportation to a hospital would you rely on Uber? The company doesn’t recommend it, but there’s ample anecdotal evidence that more patients are using the ride service as a more reliable and less expensive alternative to ambulance service. Uber is forging relationships with hospitals for non-emergency transportation, as highlighted in this announcement from Hackensack University Medical Centre.

 

Google Cardboard Enables Life-Saving Surgery

Google Cardboard turns a smartphone into a virtual reality headset using just a piece of cardboard folded to enclose the device. The inexpensive technology, when paired with a 3D viewing app, helped Miami doctors create a virtual map of a child’s heart that aided a life-saving surgery.

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Advanced Sweat Sensors For Medicine

Advanced Sweat Sensors For Medicine | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Eccrine Systems, a Cincinnati-based company developing advanced, wearable, sweat-sensing systems, has raised $5.5 million in Series A funding with participation and support from CincyTech Fund IV and other sources within the CincyTech local, regional and national investor community. The company plans to utilise the funding to accelerate the development of non-invasive, sweat-sensing systems for use in medicine, industry and sport. 

Founded in 2013 based on innovative research and intellectual property that originated from the University of Cincinnati and the Air Force Research Labs at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Eccrine Systems’ non-invasive, electronic wearable systems measures and transmits real-time data about human sweat. The company’s technology platform addresses a spectrum of monitoring applications including industrial toxicity, fitness-for-duty, stress management, treatment effectiveness and various medical conditions.

 

“Sweat holds great promise as the best non-invasive source for acquiring the type of molecular data and physiological insights that the medical community has historically collected and analysed from blood,” said Robert Beech, CEO and co-founder of Eccrine Systems. “However, the use of sweat has been limited by the lack of means to accurately capture and report its real-time contents in the context of daily life, whether during work, sleep or play. Advances in microfluidics, nanotechnology, miniaturised electronics and power management are now making it possible to engineer wearable sweat-sensing systems to monitor a wide array of sweat molecules in real time.”

 

The company was recently awarded a $3.96 M contract by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory to focus on the development of a next generation, non-invasive sensing system for the monitoring of specific molecular bio-markers in human sweat. The science of real-time sweat analysis is in its early stages, but recognition of its importance is rising rapidly within the world of wearables applications.

Beech states, “The state of non-invasive wearables today is about where medicine was prior to the use of invasive blood tests. Heart and respiration rates, skin temperature, blood pressure, range of motion and similar biophysical measurements were all possible back in the early 1900’s. It wasn’t until blood molecular levels could be measured accurately that the medical community was able to rapidly assess and confirm someone’s health or treatment status with a high degree of confidence.”

 

“Sweat has to assume the role of blood to realise an acceptable level of confidence about data and insights derived from non-invasive applications, otherwise much of the hype about the actionable value of wearables data will remain in serious question.”

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How to Incorporate Real-Time Technology Into Your Health Organization

How to Incorporate Real-Time Technology Into Your Health Organization | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Today, doctor-patient communication is infrequent and asynchronous. Most people have one conversation with their doctors per year, and the average Millennial consults even less frequently. To provide quality care, doctors need better and more frequent patient medical data. In this guest post, Derek Frome, director of product marketing and content at a HIPAA-compliant data stream network, offers new ways to connect with patients. 

When I suffered from asthma this summer, my doctor tested my lung function, prescribed a few medications, gave me a follow-up appointment for three months down the road and sent me home.

Since then, it’s been radio silence.

That made me wonder: How does my doctor know I’m OK or that my medications are doing the trick? And, in the age of connectivity, why would I wait three months to tell my doctor whether the treatment worked?

 

Better patient experience

Now, patients are turning to online resources for medical advice rather than consulting actual physicians. And many consumers are utilising fitness-tracking devices and programs to improve their health instead of reaching out to their doctors.

So what do healthcare organisations need to do to get the doctor-patient relationship back on track?

The key is reaching patients where they are and communicating with them in the ways they prefer, which is why mobile healthcare apps are just what the doctor ordered.

Mobile apps allow patients to communicate with physicians whenever and wherever it’s necessary. Instead of playing phone tag or ignoring health concerns because they can’t make time for an appointment, patients can simply chat with a doctor through a mobile messaging app. For their part, physicians can use an app to send patients reminders about tests, appointments and medications that could significantly increase treatment compliance.

Mobile apps enable doctors to gather more data about patients’ health than ever before. With real-time technologies, doctors can monitor patients on an ongoing basis, share health metrics and even prevent health emergencies.

The technology has quickly become popular among patients and healthcare providers and health insurance professionals. Ginger.io, for instance, allows patients to connect with therapists for live video chats, while Glooko helps diabetes patients log metrics to keep their family and care teams updated. Jiff aggregates information from many of these apps into a single platform to connect employees with their health benefits.

 

Integrate into your facility

To integrate real-time healthcare apps into your organisation's communication infrastructure:

  1. Decide which benefits to focus on.Evaluate where apps could be used to strengthen your organization. Do you want to improve communication between doctors and patients? Would your patients benefit from regularly monitoring health stats? Or is drug compliance your organisation's focal point?
    Wake Forest Baptist Health chose the Mobile Smith customisation app for its Comprehensive Cancer Centre. The app provides patients with the tools they need to navigate the facility, connect with other cancer patients, try on virtual wigs and more.
  2. Find HIPAA-compliant solutions.Any app, program or technology your organisation employs must comply with HIPAA rules on data security. Selecting an application that doesn’t protect your patients’ information creates unnecessary liabilities. So if it doesn’t meet HIPAA standards, don’t waste your time and money.
  3. Prioritise ease of implementation, but beware of all-in-one solutions.The intersection of healthcare and technology is changing rapidly. Today’s top apps might not even be contenders three years from now. To avoid going all in on a short-lived system, make sure the solution you choose is easy to use and works across popular operating systems like iOS and Android.

 

And watch out for companies that over-hype their products’ capabilities. In the past year, a number of app developers – like UltimEyes, Mole Detective and MelApp – have been reprimanded by the Federal Trade Commission for misleading consumers.

With more and more patients skipping regular check-ups, it’s time to connect with patients in new ways. So if you want to rebuild your organisation's doctor-patient relationships, just remember – there’s an app for that.

Derek Frome is director of product marketing and content at PubNub, a HIPAA-compliant data stream network for real-time applications. PubNub enables customers to build, scale and manage real-time functionality for web and mobile applications and IoT devices.

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How Millennials Are Impacting Healthcare IT

How Millennials Are Impacting Healthcare IT | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Stay tuned for a series of blog posts this week and next filled with #HIMSS16 Hashtags. We’ll be covering several Health IT topics and would love for you to join in on the conversation!

Millennials between the ages of 18 and 24 have been changing the norms as consumers. Nearly all business sectors have been affected by millennials because they are not sticking to traditional consumer trends. Below I highlighted 5 ways in which millennials are changing the world of healthcare:

 

1) Millennials are more likely to use telehealth

According to a Harris Poll survey, Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 are most likely (74%) to be interested in telehealth compared to only 41% of individuals age 65 and above. A separate joint survey between Sales force and Harris Poll found 61% of millennials would support the use of telehealth to eliminate in-person visits.

 

2) Millennials are more likely to get the better bang for their buck

Millennials are the most likely age group to price check medical and dental care (FAIR Health Survey). They are also more likely to ask for a discount, request a price check and ask for cheaper treatment options. Unfortunately, millennials are also more likely to forgo care when compared to baby boomers because they feel it is too expensive.

 

3) Millennials prefer to use mHealth

According to the ‘State of the Connected Patient’ report, 71% of millennials said that they would like to schedule appointments, share health data and manage preemptive care from their mobile device. 40% of patients also said they do not currently receive preventive care from providers.

 

4) Millennials check online reviews 

Half of Millennials and Gen Xers use online reviews to select their healthcare provider compared to only 28% of seniors. 50% of millennials and Gen Xers also compare insurance options online, meanwhile only 25% of seniors use online options.

 

5) Millennials want to work for healthcare companies

According to a survey conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars (NHSS), 8 health-related companies have been listed as top 25 specific companies for which millennials want to work. They are listed below:

  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (Memphis, Tenn.) — ranked No. 3 overall
  • A “local hospital” — No. 6
  • Health Care Service Corporation (Chicago) — No. 9
  • Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — No. 10
  • Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.) — No. 14
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield (Chantilly, Va.) — No. 22
  • UnitedHealth Group (Minneapolis) — No. 23
  • Atlantic Health Service — No. 25
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Board Challenges in Managing Digitization and Innovation in Hospitals

Board Challenges in Managing Digitization and Innovation in Hospitals | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Dandolo Partners has just released a new report looking at the contribution of information technology to innovation and digitisation in Australian hospitals. The report is a result of discussions with a range of key hospital stakeholders (hospital executives and board members, government representatives, technology experts) and secondary research. The work focused on three questions:

 

The report addresses the role of the hospital board and senior executives in capturing the benefits associated with this digital transformation. It looks to make the distinction between the enormous innovations that have driven the clinical procedures and device areas and the relatively slow rate of transformation in the information technology sector in Australia. It identifies the major information technology based issues that have prevented hospitals from capturing value from innovation and digitisation in terms of three specific challenges:

 

Innovation is the engine that drives digitisation in our hospitals. It creates the ability for hospitals to use information technology to capture the needed improvements in care quality and cost that will enable our communities to address its pressing challenges. Hospitals need to foster their capabilities in both areas to enable success. This process needs to be driven from the most senior leadership positions within hospitals. The aim of this report is to encourage the issue of digital transformation becoming a key responsibility of the board.

The report concludes with a final discussion about risk and highlights the implications of doing nothing or not enough as being “potentially devastating.” The possible outcomes of inaction encompass leaving poor performance undetected, systems inoperable, patient and organisation data exposed and the institution deemed culpable.

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Innovative technologies could save millions of lives in the developing world

Innovative technologies could save millions of lives in the developing world | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Imagine two babies being born at the exact same time: a little girl in Sweden and a baby boy in Mozambique. What are their chances for a long, healthy life?

In the Scandinavian country of the easily assemblable IKEA furniture and the most secure car in the world, life expectancy in 2015 reached 81.98 years, while in the South African Mozambique with 11.64 billion dollar in public debt and deep political insecurity, life expectancy in 2015 was only 52.94 years.

In case one of the babies falls ill, the differences in their chances for getting to the doctor in time and receiving adequate treatment is also striking. In Sweden, 328 doctors are available for 100,000 people while in Mozambique there are only 3 doctors for the same amount of people in need.

 Certainly, there are significant differences in the general social, economic or political background within both the developed and developing country-groups, but unfortunately it could be considered as a fact that the population of developing countries have to face much worse health conditions, their life expectancy is much lower, and they are in dire need for creative and innovative medical solutions.

 

So who and how can help the baby boy in Mozambique? 

In 2013, the WHO released a report about how innovative and still affordable medical technologies should reach underdeveloped regions. Unfortunately, the conclusion was that there are still too many barriers for which developers have not yet found the solutions. The greatest impediments are the lack of conditions for on-site manufacturing, administrative hindrances such as receiving regulatory clearance or certainly the biggest issue: financing.

And of course, it does not need any more explanation that modern technologies which could solve some of the biggest medical challenges in the developing world are expensive. Besides, according to a 2016 study, medical technology development and sales are concentrated in high income countries. In 2009, approximately 75 percent of the sales of medical devices concentrated in the U.S., Japan, and Europe. Currently, only 13 percent of manufacturers are located in low and middle-income countries. This further widens the inequality gap and draws the attention of developers to regions with huge sales potential instead of regions in need of medical innovation.

Thus, only a handful of entrepreneurs think that it is rational enough to bring disruptive — smart, cheap and better — (medical) products to the developing world. In spite of the fact that disruption is often not about overtly expensive, state-of-the-art, sci-fi solutions, but really smart, cheap ways of solving problems that bring the cost of care significantly down. In any case, according to Clay Christensen, a Harvard Business School professor, a disruptive product addresses a market that previously could not be served or it offers a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing product.

In the developing world, where resources are scarce, ideas truly matter. Thus, as in the age of discoveries where only the most courageous knights were able to cross the “seven seas,” only those with the most disruptive ideas have a chance to really make a change. This approach often allows technology in poorer regions to leapfrog developed one. As an example, mobile banking in Africa is with quantum leaps ahead of Western standards, because it provides a uniquely good fit for the problems of the continent.

 

Small organizations with big ideas

There are already inspiring projects and startups which in spite of the administrative difficulties, financial burdens or other problems, improve medical technology by making it affordable in the developed world.

Globally, over 30 million people need mobility devices such as prosthetics, while 80 percent of the world’s amputees do not have access to modern prosthetics. One of the solutions comes from the awesome idea behind the e-NABLING the Future project. As Jennifer Owen, the owner of the website describes its essence, it is basically a global network of passionate volunteers who by sharing 3-D printing designs, video tutorials and other information about building prosthetic hands enable volunteers, doctors or anyone on the field to make a difference by literally “giving a helping hand” to those in need. Success stories come from all over the world: there are now children and adults with super-hero style or more traditionally shaped prosthetic hands in Chile, Ghana, Indonesia and many more countries.

The potential in 3-D printing mesmerized also NGOs working in the field of medicine. Médecins Sans Frontières, aka Doctors Without Borders, is investigating how 3-D printing and virtual reality technologies can help the organization set up field hospitals that are well suited to their environment and the situation being addressed. In addition to their traditional 2-D plan drawings, the team also created 3-D models and a virtual reality reproduction of a recently designed facility in the Philippines that was built to help people after a 2013 typhoon. In Haiti, the organization Field Ready is working on 3-D printing on-demand birthing kits, including umbilical clamps, simple little things such as oxygen splitters for oxygen tanks, and they also encourage small scale manufacturing of agricultural tools via 3-D printing. Another startup, re3D under its Give-a-Bot program offers its Gigabot — an affordable desktop printer — to local communities or organizations with “big ideas.”

To address the poor patient-doctor ratio in some parts of sub-Saharan Africa and to avoid the need for patients to travel long distances to gain access to treatment, for example Himore Medical in Cameroon has designed CardioPad, which is a wireless solution enabling the efficient monitoring of cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) from a long distance throught Bluetooth and a mobile network. Botswana-based Deaftronics attempts to tackle a similar problem. It has manufactured the first solar-powered hearing aid unit, Solar Ear. This technology is game-changing in a country where there are only 12 audiologists and five audiology centers for a population of over two million.

In India, Saathi developed a fully biodegradable sanitary pad with the core made from waste banana tree fiber. Through such a groundbreaking innovation local farmers are supported as their work is needed to the production of pads while the biodegradable waste does not harm the environment. With the spread of Saathi pads around India, it becomes feasible to make annually 108,000 tons of such waste environmentally friendly.

 

What can we do for him?

As patients and doctors, we can always support innovation which goes beyond the hype (e.g., Theranos).

Beyond the financial and general support, we need more courses as the one provided by D-Lab Health teaching medical technologies for the developing world and thus broadening the horizons of innovators, educators, and other experts.

And of course, we need to sew the following words on the flag of 21st-century knights who want to change medicine and medical treatment in the developing world: disruptive ideas, curiosity, and courage.

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Is Data from Wearable Tech Helpful or Just Adding to the Clutter?

Is Data from Wearable Tech Helpful or Just Adding to the Clutter? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Wearables are getting some major hype recently, especially since the release of Apple’s Health Kit and with the growing popularity of Fit bit. Eventually, the technology will be widely used by providers to receive medical data from patients, helping to promote disease prevention and to improve treatment compliance. Wearables will allow for more frequent collection — and organisation — of accurate and objective medical information. The conventional approach of keeping a health journal or reviewing personal medical data solely at office visits will surely fade when patients are able to effortlessly transmit a food log, blood pressure reading, or symptom summary directly to their physician’s electronic health record. However, notice that the above sentences are written in future-tense. In reality, we are many steps away from the successful implementation of wearable devices in healthcare.

Compared to myself, possessing a “realist” skepticism, Sumit Mehra, CTO of Y Media Labs, a company into mobile application development, is much more enthusiastic about the future of mobile data and its promising use in healthcare. He zealously states that “preventing disease is the Holy Grail of modern medicine.” This is very true, but we in medicine are aware that making such statements is akin to announcing that not smoking is a great way to avoid COPD and lung cancer. For a patient, developing motivation and maintaining compliance are the true barriers to living a disease-prevention lifestyle. Will wearables help that aspect of care?

 

Mehta goes on to say, “Applications, devices and technologies behind the 'quantified-self' movement are exploding in number, precisely because of their power to collect, interpret and communicate the personal health data that professionals so desperately need.” The issue with this statement is the assumption that more data will lead to better outcomes. That might absolutely be true, but as I’ve written in the past, we in healthcare already have a vast amount of data. The problem is organising it and presenting it to providers in a simple, interpret able fashion, while avoiding the tendency to add more clutter to the EHR screen. That is the true challenge of this upcoming “big data” movement.

Needless to say, there are a few challenges to overcome before wearable technology can be commonplace in the medical field. First, I’m guessing that most of the pioneers of these devices aren’t quite the demographic that would benefit most from their usage. Physically fit young people and those participating in the “quantified-self movement” are essentially the exact opposite of a person with chronic medical conditions. Generally, the patients who need the most help from these devices are mostly older in age and not tech-savvy. Therefore, for such patients to use wearable technology, developers need to make them as simple-to-use as humanly possible. Unfortunately that isn’t the case for the current devices. Accenture conducted a survey which showed that 83% of consumers who purchased smart devices — including wearables — had difficulty using them. This certainly creates some work for user interface (UX) designers. Best of luck to you all. Offering a solution, Terence Eden suggests testing your UX designs on drunk people.

 

Another challenge for wearable technology is the fact that patients aren’t interested yet. Maybe the devices aren’t fashionable. Alternatively, it is quite possible that wearables may simply be another distraction that prevents the bearer of the device from getting anything done (see Facebook and Twitter). Regardless of the reason, only 15% of patients asked their doctor about integrating health information into their medical care according to Zina Moukheiber of Forbes. The demand just isn’t there yet.

Additionally, there will be major concerns for privacy, access to data, and clinical usefulness, but those topics can be addressed at another time. Despite the set-backs, I do see a promising future for wearable technology, but let’s not get lost in the excitement of having neat, new things. Healthcare is about curing disease and we measure that by observing outcomes after interventions. Wearables have not yet passed such scrutiny. Maybe with time…

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Study: Six in 10 Patients Have Shared Medical Information via Mobile Device

Study: Six in 10 Patients Have Shared Medical Information via Mobile Device | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

One in four patients in the U.S. have emailed or texted a photo of a medical issue to a physician, according to survey findings from San Francisco-based Ketchum Global Research & Analytics.

Ketchum conducted an online survey of 2,000 respondents who own a smartphone in April 2016 for its Ketchum mHealth Monitor, which maps adoption of wearable technology, app and artificial intelligence for personal health and wellness.

Of those respondents, more than half (58 percent) with smartphones have shared medical information with a medical professional via the Internet on their smartphone, mobile app or wearable device.

The study findings also indicate that Americans are managing their health on their own from their smartphones or fitness trackers. Almost half (47 percent) of respondents have an app that tracks fitness, working out, health or medicine. In addition, 83 percent of people who use fitness or workout apps use them at least once a week.

 

“This study points to a shift in people’s attitudes and readiness to use technology to manage their health,” Lisa Sullivan, executive vice president and North American technology practice leader for Ketchum, said in a prepared statement. “With U.S. smartphone adoption at 68 percent, now is the time for businesses that have a stake in the healthcare industry to push to develop approachable, intuitive mobile tech offerings that help the ever-increasing mobile user population improve something as personal and important as their health.”

The study also evaluated the emerging use of artificial intelligence, A.I., for health and wellness. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said they were comfortable using A.I. Although 32 percent said they are likely to use an A.I. search tool, like Siri, only 9 percent would use an artificially intelligent therapist, the study findings indicated.

“In addition to improving patient experiences, mHealth technology also has the potential to help offset some of the rising costs of healthcare,” Sullivan said. “Studies have shown correlations between leveraging mobile apps for patients with chronic diseases and cost savings, so the power of mHealth can truly be quantified in a way that makes sense for a company’s bottom line.”

 

Ketchum’s survey results also uncovered other findings that reveal a few speed bumps and opportunities for businesses engaging on health. Nearly a quarter (21 percent) of respondents have stopped using certain health and fitness tracking apps.

Although the majority of Americans said they have used technology to interact with a medical professional, most (63 percent) said they still prefer face-to-face interaction with their healthcare providers.

“Nearly one-third (32 percent) said they are likely to use an A.I. search tool and 31 percent an A.I. health tracker, but they aren’t too convinced about using an A.I. medical adviser (18 percent) or an artificially intelligent therapist (9 percent),” the study authors wrote.

As part of the study, Ketchum researchers also identified five types of mHealth users, segmented by current attitudes toward mHealth, health behaviours and overall mobile/technology adoption.

 

Ketchum researchers identified some mHealth users as “discerning digital,” who are super users who want to be constantly connected, but may also struggle with feeling too available. They are advocates of mHealth but still like face-to-face contact with medical professionals. Some mHealth users could fall into the category of “swayable seekers,” a group that wants to expand their smartphone repertoire beyond just making calls. “They feel confident about managing their health and get a lot of their medical info online. The majority feel like they have a lot to learn about using mobile tech for their health,” the study authors wrote.

 

According to Ketchum, a third group was identified ashealth tech hesitators,” a group that admits they don’t manage their health very well and aren’t happy with their physical well-being, and they’re not exactly comfortable sharing information online either.

In addition, there is a group called “app-athetic agnostics,” who like mobile technology but many just don’t use any type of mHealth, nor do they care to in the next year.

Finally, Ketchum identified a fifth group as “low-tech lifers,” or traditionalists who don’t think mHealth has had a positive impact on their lives, nor do they foresee it having a positive impact in the future. 

 

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5 technology Trends about where healthcare industry is headed

5 technology Trends about where healthcare industry is headed | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

1) Value-based train picks up steam, especially for those slow to embrace alternate payment models.

We all know the official timeline the Centres for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) laid out in early 2015 – 90% of payments would shift from fee-for-service to value-based payments by 2018. Despite the clear, unambiguous move to value, some in the industry have been slow to transition their organisation. However in 2016, expect to see these organisations finally make clear moves to alternative payment models. The significance of this shouldn’t be understated, especially as it pertains to technology adoption.

 

2) Care Management/Coordination Record rises in importance, as team-based care models expand.

Some call it a Care Management Medical Record and others call it a Care Coordination Record. Regardless of the term, the concept is essentially the same. Electronic medical records (EMRs) excel at capturing in-person encounters, but as care expands beyond those encounters, capturing and tracking what happens between patient visits will be of utmost importance. In addition, enabling care teams to stay on the same page about a patient’s care plan, track action steps and reduce the friction of working together will be crucial to succeeding in a value-based world. Expect to see the Care Management Record concept start catching fire in 2016.

 

3) Terms ‘care coordination’ and ‘patient engagement’ continue to be abused, misused and watered down.

These terms by themselves have become almost meaningless. There are countless healthcare vendors claiming to deliver on one or both of these capabilities. Seemingly, most companies use these terms “in name only” in an attempt to capture market interest. The onus is on every product company to be very clear just how it enables patient engagement or care coordination. In 2016, the market will start weeding out those products that are patient engagement and care coordination in name only, while rewarding those companies that are actually able to deliver clear value.

 

4) Integrating devices and device data into care delivery processes will remain a niche activity.

The enthusiasm around wearable, trackers and remote monitoring is exciting, and there’s enormous potential for device data to impact the delivery of care in ways that benefit both patient and provider. But the technology hasn’t caught up with the promise of what it can be, and that won’t change in 2016. Not only is the technology not yet able to deliver, but the incentives and processes to support wide-scale deployment aren’t in place yet. Although all signs point to wearable becoming an integral part of delivery of care, this won’t happen next year.

 

5) Demand increases for consumer-grade user experiences in healthcare enterprise software.

For so long, clinicians on the front lines of care delivery have struggled with software that’s hard to use, difficult and downright frustrating. The biggest culprit for poor user experiences in healthcare software has to do with the enterprise purchasing process. Often, vendors build for buyers who aren’t the end users. If the end user and the buyer were the same, you’d see healthcare software vendors value user experience like what we see in other B2B industries, not to mention B2C industries. Regardless, in 2016 we will see more buyer-value products with consumer-grade user experiences. Much of this has to do with end users’ reluctance, and sometimes outright resistance, to adopting technology in their work life. Clinicians often get a bad wrap for being technology averse. But in reality, it’s not that they’re averse to technology; it’s that they’re averse to bad technology.

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Emerging Technologies In Healthcare 2016

Emerging Technologies In Healthcare 2016 | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Here we are again, jumping into a new year. 2015 brought us consternation over Meaningful Use, continued EHR adoption, a much-improved economy, and the somewhat surprising decision from the Department of Defence to implement Cerner. It was also the first full year of LearnHealthTech.com. At the end of 2014, I made some predictions for 2015 that I think turned out to be fairly accurate. I believe Healthcare IT in 2016 will continue to present lots of opportunities, so let’s have a look at what I think things will look like.

 

Continued EHR Adoption

Even though most of the largest Healthcare systems in the country have already set their long-term EHR strategy, there are still some deals that are either in the works, recently signed, or heading into optimisation phases. A high profile example is the December 20th announcement by Vanderbilt University Medical Centre to replace McKesson and other systems with Epic. The 17,000 employee health system is scheduled to go live in 2018.

Additionally, the overall EHR market will remain strong due to the Department of Defence selecting Cerner this summer for their system-wide implementation. As the DOD project unfolds, competition for Healthcare IT skills will only grow, possibly drawing off talent from private hospitals and those who may be tired of working with Epic and other technologies. Those who have, or are able to obtain military security clearance should have an advantage.Many large EHR implementations that were done two or three years ago are now emerging from “The Valley Of The Black Ink” of payments to vendors.

These organisations are now looking to make the most of their EHR purchases, and may now be ready to fill analyst positions to optimise their systems.

 

Population Health/ Health Data Analytics

Population Health was a big deal in 2015, as Hospitals and other Healthcare organisations entered into many Accountable Care Organisation (ACO) agreements. The results for some early ACOs have started to come in, with some doing better than others at improving care and lowering costs. Since we’re only a couple of years into the whole ACO concept, we can expect to see more activity, as all entities involved really want the concept to work.

 

Healthcare Cyber security

2015 was the year of the Healthcare hack. Some of the high-profile hacking incidents in 2015 occurred at Anthem, Premera Blue Cross, Community Health Systems, and UCLA Health System. Federally levied fines against organisations increased in 2015, and will likely continue the trend in 2016. Expect to see greater vigilance and more opportunities for Healthcare IT security positions.

 

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring involves the use of various technologies to collect medical data outside the traditional clinical setting. The main thing that comes to mind is telemedicine video visits, where patients conduct online visits with physicians remotely. Telemedicine has been feasible for several years now, but the main barrier has been the political and insurance barriers to getting organisations paid for video visits. Expect to see increased legislative activity to support Telemedicine in 2016.

 

Remote ICU Monitoring – e-ICU

Another aspect of remote patient monitoring is the advent of technology to remotely monitor ICU patients. It sounds pretty creepy and scary to have someone monitoring multiple critical patients from 100 miles away. However, consider that five million patients are admitted to ICUs each year, and among those, about 10% will die in the ICU. The level of care is very resource intensive at a time when the supply of skilled critical care clinicians is low. And of course, it’s no secret that critical care is very expensive. According to the Society of Critical Medicine, ICU care makes up at least 13.4% of hospital costs and 4.1% of National Healthcare costs.

The e-ICU solution doesn’t leave a facility without onsite critical care res-ponders, but adds sophisticated technology to monitor ventilator, cardiac, and vital signs data. A remote ICU physician can actually respond faster to a critical event than they could physically arrive at the bedside of a patient.

 

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How to Identify and Take Action Against Medical Theft

How to Identify and Take Action Against Medical Theft | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Identity theft comes in many forms, and one of the most overlooked is medical theft. While most people associate identity theft with credit card fraud, medical theft has been quietly increasing every year, including a 22 percent spike from 2014 to 2015.

Medical theft involves the falsifying of individually identifiable health information to gain access to property or services. In other words, a perpetrator uses a victim’s personally identifiable information (PII) to create fictitious medical records and then leverages those records for personal gain.

Preventing the theft of medical records will go a long way toward reducing instances of identity theft. And stopping medical theft will begin with a deeper understanding of how.

 

The Fight Against Medical Theft

Healthcare information is passed through a number of hands. From the patient to the provider to the insurance company and back again, everything needed to commit identity theft is frequently airborne. Once it reaches a resting place — be it with public health records, law enforcement agencies or research facilities — medical information is left vulnerable to prying eyes thanks to often shaky safekeeping.

There are many ways medical theft can be carried out, but each can be placed into one of three categories.

  1. Insider Mistakes. With so many employees handling data, it’s inevitable that carelessness will surface. Sensitive data will be emailed unencrypted or personal information will be saved to a portable device, which is then lost. The mismanagement of medical information opens up many doors for medical theft to happen. 
  2. Insider Maliciousness. Medical theft is sometimes the result of a true inside job. It could be a disgruntled employee or one who has been bribed by an outside agency. Purposefully leaking sensitive data can be carried out for revenge or personal financial gain.
  3. Outside Attack. Even with careful employees who carry no malicious intent, outside adversaries can still get their hands on what they want by hacking into systems and servers.

 

Stopping Medical Theft

Warding off medical theft is a fight-fire-with-fire approach. The crime is carried out with the help of technology, and it’s technology that will also hopefully one day wipe it out. Until then, the arms race continues.

As we march forward, there are five basic things that every healthcare provider, insurer or other handler of sensitive information can do to ward off medical theft.

 

HIPAA

It’s so painfully obvious and yet so painfully true: abiding by HIPAA standards will significantly reduce the threat of medical theft. And with so many management software platforms available that make it easy to remain HIPAA compliant, there really is no excuse anymore.

 

Secure data centres

Out of sight, out of mind is an easy mindset to adopt when your files are tucked away in the data. But many handlers of healthcare information don’t realise how tangible the data actually is.

Servers still rely on physical data centres. Those servers are subject to the same weather storms, viruses, short-circuits and burglars that any other hard drive or physical storage system are, although generally they are protected with far better security protocols than most independent servers. Handlers of PII and other healthcare information should be clued in on the parameters of the physical security and backup protocol of their data. And if those data centres don’t measure up to SSAE Type II accreditation or ISO 27001 certification, it’s time for an upgrade.

  

Email use

Email is a fantastic way of sending messages to patients and colleagues. But it is a terrible way of sending PII. Despite being against HIPAA protocol, many in the healthcare industry still do it.

In terms of sensitive material, email should only be used to send a link to encrypted data that can only be opened by the email recipient. Which brings us to the next point of discussion - encryption.

 

Encryption 

It’s not enough for data to be encrypted only during transfer. Files are just as vulnerable during a state of rest and should be treated with the same defence. And encryption protocols for data at rest should reach the level of AES 256-bit encryption.

 

Password protection

A study conducted by TeleSign revealed that 40 percent of people reported having a password stolen within one year’s time. The same study disclosed that 73 percent of online accounts are protected by a duplicated password.

The combination of those two things sets up companies for the domino effect: one password is hacked and then that same password is used to unlock all sorts of doors.

To adapt, companies must expand password configuration to include expiration, complexity controls and more.

Companies have a number of self-defence weapons at their disposal but the most effective angle of attack is simply being proactive. Businesses must not just invest in these measures but also buy into them from a strategic sense.

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5 technology trends that will affect hospital care

5 technology trends that will affect hospital care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare technology is always changing and evolving. Hospitals that want to keep up need to stay on top of the latest tech trends and incorporate them into patient treatment, especially as quality of care becomes more crucial to profitability and survival. 

Pragati Verma, a representative from telecommunications company CenturyLink, wrote an article for Forbes about the latest up-and-coming tech advances that every hospital will be using in the next decade to improve patient care and boost outcomes.

 

Changes to watch

Facilities may want to start looking into these five emerging technologies now so they can start preparing:

 

  1. Connected medical devices. Start-up companies are investing millions of dollars into creating insulin pumps and pacemakers that can pick up signals and automatically transmit data to networked computers. These devices will also allow patients to see how they’re working in real-time, giving them the chance to monitor their own health. Other wearable devices track patients’ general fitness level and vital signs, and they’re already popular among health-conscious people. Technology for medical devices will only expand in the next decade, and hospitals can use them to improve patient outcomes.
  2. Quantified health data. Right now, patient data’s being collected and stored in different ways, including in electronic health records. And connected medical devices are in their infancy, storing their own information on patients. The next step is processing all this data from multiple platforms in a way that’s meaningful for providers and patients, and several companies are stepping up to accomplish this goal. Companies will translate and analyse this health data, making it an integral part of patients’ care plans instead of having it sit on computers, unused.
  3. Medical records on-the-go. Right now, most electronic health record (EHR) systems are hosted on physical servers.  As security technology improves, more EHRs will be hosted on web-based platforms. This means providers and patients can access them more easily on laptops, tablets and smartphones via a secure log-in to a website or online portal. Even better – this lays the framework for a more comprehensive health record, since access won’t be limited to a physical computer.
  4. On-call doctors via telehealth. The days of the traditional house call may be long gone, but technology offers new ways for providers to check-in on patients outside of an office visit. Telehealth is on the rise, and more payors are reimbursing providers and hospitals for treating patients remotely. The technology used to provide telehealth has gotten more sophisticated, and it’ll only get better over the next decade when combined with other emerging healthcare tech used to monitor vital signs from afar. In some cases, telehealth may even replace visits to the ED for certain urgent, but not life-threatening, illnesses.
  5. 3-D printing. Advances made in the field of 3-D printing have the potential to drastically transform the care provided at hospitals. Increasingly, this technology’s being used to improve prosthetic for patients – and it’s being talked about as a possible enhancement for joint replacement surgery (one of the biggest procedures being scrutinised by the feds). Down the line, 3-D printing may even revolutionise organ transplants – researchers are already looking at the feasibility of duplicating body parts like the outer ear.
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The Impact of Technology on Healthcare

The Impact of Technology on Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Technology today affects every single aspect of modern society. In fact, there isn’t an industry out there that hasn’t been affected by the hi-tech revolution.

Whether we are talking about transportation, communication, security, banking or healthcare, they all rely on technology in one way or another.

But nowhere is this immense impact more apparent than in the field of medicine and healthcare.

Technological breakthroughs are revolutionising the way healthcare is being delivered.Modern technology has changed the structure and organisation of the entire medical field.

From widespread adoption of electronic medical records, to advances in bio-medical engineering and technology, modern healthcare and its delivery methods are changing at an ever increasing rate. But what impact will these changes have on medicine and overall care delivery?

 

The Advantages of Technological Innovation

Without doubt, medical technology is indispensable to people’s health and improved quality of life. It also contributes billions of dollars to the economy. There are many benefits that innovative technology brings to the table when it comes to healthcare.

For example, the widespread adoption of electronic health records has resulted in significant savings in health care costs as well as improved patient health and safety. In more and more healthcare facilities, patient files are being kept in databases that can be accessed from anywhere in the facility.

This is not only a time saver but it also results in better data coordination and management.It is also technological innovation that has opened the door to more non-invasive procedures.

Diagnostics have never been easier and more accurate, especially due to advancements in areas like nuclear medicine. Nowadays, numerous methods of imaging allow for technicians and physicians to examine a patient’s anatomy without needing invasive procedures to form a diagnosis. The demand for MRI technologists and radiologists has also increased as a result of rapid advances in imaging technology.

Minimally invasive surgeries, especially within the disciplines of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, have also become more common in recent years. The development of better instruments and more advanced technology have allowed surgeons to perform procedures in minimally invasive ways that just wasn’t possible a few years ago.

 

The Dark Side of Technology

Technology can also bring hidden dangers if you aren’t careful. The internet in particular is known for this. Though some would disagree, the infinite stream of medical knowledge available online is not necessarily a good thing.

 

 Websites like Web MD can be a great resource for living a healthy lifestyle, but they should never be used to replace your physician. Far too often a simple ache can be misconstrued as something far more serious.

Self diagnosis is a dangerous road to go down. At best you’ll scare yourself into thinking something is seriously wrong when it isn’t.

At worst you’ll misdiagnose yourself and cause serious damage to your health and well being. There’s a reason it takes nearly a decade to become a doctor.

Unfortunately the internet provides a cheap and “easy” way to avoid going to the doctor. In the long term, however, it may wind up costing you much more than you ever expected.

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