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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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Health technology and innovation

Health technology and innovation | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Understanding digital health technologies

Key findings:

Caregivers share similar views with consumers on the promise of digital technology to help caregivers work more as a team, increase patient-clinician interaction, put diagnostic testing of basic conditions into the hands of patients, promote self-management of chronic disease using health apps.

Recommendations:

  • Speak the same language by using consistent terminology that minimises confusion.
  • Make patients aware of alternatives.
  • Promote “good” apps by asking six key questions about integration, interoperability, feedback, behaviour reinforcement, outcomes measurement, and sustainability.
  • Determine when digital interventions make the most sense by avoiding broad-based clinical protocols.

One company’s experience:

Ochsner Health System in New Orleans has started to integrate health apps into its clinical operation by having physicians write app prescriptions. Earlier this year, the health system opened its own Apple-inspired “O Bar” to help patients choose from a curated selection of wearables and apps, said Richard Milani, MD, chief clinical transformation officer. Ochsner physicians can “prescribe” apps and wearables using mock prescription pads. So far, patients have downloaded 2,000 apps, mostly focused on fitness, diet and women’s health. Several hundred devices have been purchased, mainly blood pressure cuffs, glucose monitors and fitness trackers. In the United Kingdom, Cambridge Healthcare has created its own apps formulary to guide caregivers.

 

Adoption and continued use of digital technology is critical

Key findings:

  • Providers participating in new, risk-based payment models are heavier users of digital health technology than providers with more of their revenue based on traditional fee-for-service payments.
  • As healthcare companies must figure out which financial and non-financial motivators attract patients and caregivers to digital health technologies and lead to their continued use.

Recommendations:

  • Forge innovative payment contracts for digital health and show evidence that digital technologies save insurers and employers money.
  • Reinforce desired behaviours through a behaviour change program that enables, educates, supports, guides and motivates patients and clinicians.
  • Create patient incentives that align with clinician goals and incentives.
  • Balance financial and non-financial incentives–such as access to information to sustain the use of digital health tools.

One company’s experience:

A large health system in the Southwest has taken to market a new bundled care initiative (e.g., high risk pregnancy) in which it guarantees quality and price. The bundled offering relies heavily on combining analytics and EHR decision support, patient engagement tools, and mobile health. The health system has adjusted its business model upon the expectation that 25% of revenue will come through its mobile health approach in which many physicians have been put on salary instead of perverse fee-for-service incentives that reward volume rather than value.

 

Generating meaningful, actionable insights through analytics

Key findings:

  • Healthcare executives view data mining and analysis as most important during the next five years, but analytics do not appear to be top of mind among physicians.
  • Seventy percent of clinicians are not sharing information with caregivers outside of their practice, with the exception of pharmacists, to coordinate care today.
  • Merging information about a patient’s financial status, home life and other social and environmental factors is essential for establishing a personalised care approach and determining which digital interventions will work best.
  • Healthcare companies can protect at-risk revenue by anticipating medical problems using predictive analytics.

Recommendations:

  • Listen to data signals, relying on fragmented data to start to build a picture of the patient as the technology improves.
  • Combine administrative and clinical data into one view to give clinicians more flexibility to determine care strategy.
  • Expand the data web with traditional non-traditional health companies that share complementary goals and mutually useful data.
  • Own the insights from data-sharing relationships to gain more control over privacy and security and use analytics know-how to serve community caregivers.

One company’s experience:

Based on sophisticated mapping the health system did to identify geographic areas with high numbers of members with certain conditions, Kaiser Permanente has proposed to partner directly with the City of San Leandro, Calif., in a public health effort around air quality, according to Mike Holland, director of Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Lab. As part of a proposed project, Kaiser Permanente would rely upon information from the city’s environmental sensors and use its patient database to send text notifications to patients with pulmonary issues recommending that they stay indoors when air quality is expected to be poor.

 

Rethinking the workforce and informing workflows

Key findings:

  • With growing demands to synthesise information and coordinate care for patients, providers must tap technology and the entire workforce to truly reduce costs and improve quality.
  • Physicians that staff more nurse practitioners or physician assistants appear to be ahead on digital adoption, but they might be missing opportunities to use extenders to learn more about patients and how to manage their care. Only half believe extenders have enabled them to better coordinate care across settings and just one-third are using them to analyse more information about their patients.
  • Clinicians still follow an art rather than a science because too much data and too few algorithms prevent them from quickly deciphering reams of raw data.

Recommendations

  • Healthcare companies must design new processes for the care team alongside technology implementation and new protocols for digital health.
  • Use information to extend the care delivery team to nurses, pharmacists, social workers, nutritionists, community health workers, and families.
  • Teach through simulation so that staff can envision how they will treat patients and how their jobs may change in new care models.

One company’s experience:

One company in New Jersey developed a patient access centre that transcends general appointment and surgery scheduling by predicting who is likely to need follow up after discharge. For patients assigned to the health system’s accountable care organisation, the centre's community-based care managers rely on data from the health system’s information exchange–administrative and clinical–to ensure the right information is flowing to the right people at various transitions of a patient’s care and when to intervene.

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How Digital Technology is changing the Landscape of Health Care?

How Digital Technology is changing the Landscape of Health Care? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

How will tech today, and in the future, make healthcare better?

Technology is having an impact on our lives everywhere we go. From the way we shop to the food that we eat, technology is changing everything we do.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in healthcare, where technology is helping us beyond convenience, it is helping save lives.

The impacts have been substantial already, but in future these developments are likely to be even more pronounced.

So which technologies are having a real impact on healthcare?

 

Non-Invasive Techniques

Surgery is always a dangerous procedure, regardless of what is being done. The reason that good surgeons are some of the best paid people in the world is because their job is incredibly difficult and requires considerable skill.

New technology is making some surgical procedures less likely, which is therefore decreasing the risk of death that every surgery brings.

We have seen through the use of pulses, lasers, ultrasounds and magnetic stimulation that these techniques can be considerably safer than traditional surgical procedures.

Some of these are not new, such as X-Ray imaging, but we are seeing through new technology that the pace of change and the levels of success are constantly increasing. The future is bright for this kind of medical care and is a key element in reducing the chances of death whilst being treated.

 

3D Printing

Although currently limited mainly to prosthetics as a common use for 3D printing, the truth is that it has almost endless possibilities when the technology develops further.

We have seen that 3D printing can provide prosthetics at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods. They can even be made into completely custom designs, as the famous video with Robert Downey Jr giving an Iron Man prosthetic to a fan shows.

In future 3D printing could potentially create organic matter to order, which means that it could be anything from new skin to match exactly in skin grafts, to fully formed hearts or lungs that could be transplanted.

 

M-Health

M-Health allows data to be collected about a patient through everyday life. This is then collected by a mobile device and can be transmitted to a doctor directly or stored in a database to track how a patient is reacting to a treatment over time.

The benefits of this are hard to overstate. It gives doctors the kind of insight that they would never be able to achieve through traditional time slots and clinical evaluations. These sessions will have significant time constraints and also are experienced outside of a patient’s regular routine.

Having access to this data gives doctors the unique opportunity to view the patient’s reaction when outside of a clinical environment, which aids in recovery, treatment and condition monitoring.

It can even be configured to alert the patient and doctor if levels drop or rise sharply and may require medical attention.

 

Genetics Database

The genetics database may not be something that many people will be aware of on an individual level, but across the healthcare community will have a huge impact.

It will give clinicians a huge database that can be used to establish best treatments, the way that diseases affect different demographics or even how viruses spread in particular areas. It will essentially be the best possible opportunity for doctors to make the best decisions about the treatment of patients through crowd sourced medical information.

It will allow the best possible treatments to be administered that will not only suit the individual, but also make considerable differences to the effectiveness of them, based on in depth information. It will mean that somebody with a certain blood pressure, of a particular age, from a specific place and with a certain activity rate, can get the treatment that is likely to be the most successful for them.

It also means that when outbreaks like the Ebola crisis of 2014 occur, the genetics of the disease from the earliest patients can help prevent the disease spreading as rapidly in other areas of the population.

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Elements which should consider in Digital Healthcare

Elements which should consider in Digital Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Going digital is not as easy as it may seem. Industry players have to take a deep breath and dive into careful analysis and strategy development. It is exceptionally important for industries, such as healthcare, where the cost of failure is incredibly high.

For years I’ve been working with healthcare providers and have gained a good understanding of how much value digital solutions may bring to them.  At the same time, it isn’t an easy task to implement a solution which will move services they provide to the next level. The ultimate key to success is the development and implementation of the appropriate digital strategy.  My hope is that this article will help digital change executives and others involved in a digital transformation of healthcare businesses to consider five major elements of getting a successful digital strategy off the ground. Using my years of experience, I’ve developed a road-map for the development of the digital strategy.

 

Informational support

Patients are your primary audience, therefore when developing the strategy think of them first with the following point in mind: today’s patients want more information.

They have acquired quite profound medical knowledge these days and want more information about the treatment. Continuously, they ask how they are being treated, what medications are used and why, how patients with similar diagnoses were treated and what the result was. Searching for this information, they create communities to discuss the issues, treatment methods, physicians and medications. Sometimes patients’ communities save lives, like what happened with e-Patient Dave, who managed to find the medical treatment by turning to a group of fellow patients.

In a world where patients demand more information, delivery of relevant content becomes one of the essential points in the development of digital strategy.

 

Access to medical services

Access to medical services goes hand in hand with the delivery of relevant information. Awareness triggers asking more questions and raising more patient cases, hence the lines at clinics get longer. However, physicians have about 15 – 20 minutes to examine a patient and write prescriptions, which is quite a limited time slot. Implementing medicine technologies would notably improve the situation. Medicine is not the panacea, but it provides physicians with multiple opportunities like remote monitoring of chronic patients, support systems, accelerated feedback and provides better experiences for patients in rural areas. All kinds of digital tools to speed up and automate scheduling a doctor appointment can be a great help for patients.

 

Medical adherence management

Digital technologies are also valuable in monitoring chronic patients. Quite often, these people require more doctors’ attention, but the limited time for an appointment is a real problem. Digital technologies can facilitate the process. With applications serving for control medical adherence, doctors can be sure their patients won’t forget to take a pill or miss an appointment. The same applications may help to exchange information between patients and doctors in real time. This exchange may include symptoms collected via a patient’s device, medical test data sent to the patient’s device and information about pills taken (or not) by a patient. This exchange can help doctors to take corrective steps when required, like giving a call to a patient or a caregiver when a problem with medical adherence has been detected. 

 

Treatment process management

The adoption of digital technologies can help not only manage medical adherence but also the whole treatment process itself. Digital technologies provide physicians with opportunities to adjust the treatment on the basis of the received tests, and make the changes if there are improvements or if something goes wrong. Patients can see a treatment schedule in their devices as well as an associated medication schedule, and receive notifications in order to not miss an appointment or a pill. And again, the option to share symptoms history works well in this process as it allows quick changes based on a real patients’ feedback.

 

User experience optimisation

The quality of services at hospitals can be considerably improved by digital technologies. Simple things like registering appointments online, appointment reminders, to-do lists, mobile payments, QR codes, quick patient access to EHR (electronic health records) or sending the result analysis to smartphones can advance the level of healthcare services and optimise user experience.

 

Connecting patients and HCPs

For years, quick connection between patients and doctors was one of the most important and sometimes difficult things in healthcare. By implementing digital technologies, doctors and patients can have a close connection. Be it a smartphone or a web app, it would allow a patient to consult or call a doctor when it is really necessary. Digital technologies cut the distance; that is what hospitals really need. Connecting doctors, medical staff and patients better organises the whole process. Tools mentioned above, such as apps for real-time communication, sharing symptoms, sending medical test results to patients’ devices and medicine are excellent examples of how digital technologies can help doctors to provide a better outcome to patients.

 

Digital skills of your employees

As Accenture states in its report, the major barrier to digital transformation is the lack of digital skills; 44 percent of business leaders agree with that opinion. Therefore, staff training should not be omitted.

It is interesting that many doctors are already using smartphones and tablets to facilitate the process of communication and interaction with patients. Physicians are really interested in digital tools and services. According to the JournalMTM research, 94 percent of surveyed respondents had smartphones (95.2 percent students vs. 92.5 percent physicians). Of those with the technology, 82.9 percent stated they have used it at least once in a clinical setting. Respondents perceived fast access to information to be the greatest benefit to mobile medical technology (96.6 percent), as well as simplified access (75.5 percent) and easier medical calculations (70.8 percent).

As you can see, doctors are already trying to go digital. What you need is to perform thorough research, check the skills of the staff and teach them to use the digital technologies. They are ready to accept the digital challenge.  

 

Workload optimisation

In hospitals all over, doctors need new processes and workflows that allow them to increase work efficiency, improve diagnostics and treatment, and what is more, advance their relationships with patients.

Therefore, optimisation of workload is an important benefit digital technologies provide. Thinking about your future digital strategy, you may want to consider a paperless data exchange – a mobile doctor’s dashboard where they can check their patients’ data and manage treatment plans, apps for nurses to help with task management and urgent requests processing, and many other tools to digitise and therefore optimise business processes efficiency.  All of that quickens the pace, reduces workflow disruptions and increases productivity. Hence, hospitals and clinics can work with more patients without the negative impact on the quality of treatment.  

 

How can your medical staff and doctors benefit from going digital

Implementation of digital tools brings tangible advantages, like reducing paperwork time and increasing patients’ face time. Moreover, with digital tools, physicians can receive symptoms and medical conditions data prior to meeting with a patient in-person, thus decreasing the time for recollecting a case history.

“Doctors today face two important issues,” says Todd Skrinar, a partner in the Life Sciences Advisory Practice at Ernst & Young. “They’re working in a more constrained cost environment, doing more with less. And they’re being forced to change the way they deliver services because of that. Digital technology will enable more mobility of the healthcare practitioner, and health records will be more readily available.”

Having “digital assistants” in their hands, doctors get more opportunities to deliver better treatment. Digital tools broaden the limits that have prevented the improvement of service delivery.

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How Information Technology Improving the Quality of Health Care in United States

How Information Technology Improving the Quality of Health Care in United States | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Introduction

In 1969, when the Internet was known as the DARPAnet and the World Wide Web was nothing more than a glint in a creative student's mind, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality funded its first project in medical information. Since then, the Agency has continued to support research and development projects in the use of information technology to improve health care, awarding $250 million dollars to fund more than 150 projects in medical informatics. Today, the Agency is still blazing this technology trail with projects that seek to develop the knowledge and tools needed to improve the quality of care in the U.S. health care system.

 

Clinical Informatics to Promote Patient Safety (CLIPS)

AHRQ's fiscal year 2001 appropriation included $50 million for initiatives to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. Accordingly, the Agency developed a series of research solicitations (RFAs) to:

  • Design and test best practices for reducing errors in multiple health care settings;
  • Develop the science base to inform these efforts;
  • Improve provider education to reduce errors;
  • Capitalise on IT advances to translate effective strategies into widespread practice; and
  • Build capacity to further reduce errors.

This represents the single largest investment the federal government has ever made to address the problem of medical errors.

One of these solicitations was the Clinical Informatics to Promote Patient Safety (CLIPS) RFA, which focused on the use of IT to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. The CLIPS RFA generated enthusiasm among patient safety and informatics researchers and resulted in a large number of competitive proposals from a wide range of public and private sector organisations. Many proposals involved research using handheld wireless devices, electronic medical record systems, computerised decision support tools, or electronic prescribing applications. Other areas of proposed research included simulation models for education and training, automated error alerting mechanisms, structured electronic data sets, digital eye technology, database applications, computerised patient self-monitoring and communication tools, wearable mini computers, bio-metric technology, Internet and intranet applications, cognitive science and human factors engineering, data mining, and barriers to electronic prescribing.

 

Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Program

Like many other federal agencies, AHRQ devotes 2.5 percent of its extramural research budget to support the Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) program, which helps small businesses develop innovative technology that will lead to improvements in health care quality in the United States. Over the past two years, AHRQ has funded 20 SBIR projects that have focused on developing innovative IT tools for improving patient safety and overall quality of care. For example, one group of investigators developed a web-based communication and disease management system that provides clinical information and facilitates communication between patients with asthma and their providers. They are currently assessing the impact of their program on compliance with asthma management guidelines and overall quality of care. Another group of researchers is developing a prototype information exchange system that provides immediate access to patient information and facilitates communication during emergency response situations by integrating Internet resources, fingerprint technology, and smart cards. Finally, a third group of investigators is developing a computerised medical monitoring device that is enabled with a Bluetooth wireless network. The device automatically collects, analyses and transmits patient data, and also alerts patients and providers to potential problems. The group is currently developing working prototypes of a weight scale, glucose monitor, and thermometer.

 

Integrated Delivery System Research Networks (IDSRNs)

The Integrated Delivery System Research Network (IDSRN) was developed to capitalise on the research capacity of large integrated delivery systems in the United States. The network includes nine partners that encompass a wide variety of organisational care settings and provide health care services to more than 55 million people. These IDSRN partners are well suited for conducting relevant research due to (1) their ability to collect and maintain administrative, claims, clinical, and other data on large populations that are clinically, demographically, and geographically diverse; (2) their access to many of the country's leading clinicians, health services researchers, and health care facilities; (3) their expertise in quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including emerging areas with important policy or managerial implications; and their leadership and management authority to implement and evaluate various interventions, including financial and organisational changes. The AHRQ is taking advantage of the research capacity of the IDSRNs to generate results within a relatively quick turnaround time (e.g., 12–18 months) to study various ways that IT can improve the quality of health care in diverse settings. In FY 2001, sixteen IDSRN projects were funded, and seven of these projects specifically targeted to the use of IT in health care.

For example, two network partners are studying how automated electronic reminders affect compliance with recommended guidelines for the management of patients with diabetes. Another network partner is studying how different integrated delivery systems in California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, North Carolina, Utah, and Idaho transfer medication information within each system. Another partner is studying the use of automated computerised reminders that utilise the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to improve screening and detection of patients at increased risk for tuberculosis. Finally, two partners are studying how electronic communication can be used by patients and providers to improve quality of care.

 

Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs)

One of the innovative ways AHRQ is supporting important outcomes research is through the development of the Primary Care Practice-Based Research Networks (PBRNs). The PBRNs are made up of community-based, primary care clinicians working together with experienced health services researchers to address clinically relevant health care issues and translate research findings into practice to improve quality of care. The PBRNs were established in September 2000, when 19 networks from across the country were funded with planning grants. The PBRNs represent a wide variety of practice settings located in 50 states and the District of Columbia, providing access to more than 5,000 primary care providers and almost seven million patients. The PBRNs foster a “user-driven” agenda, where clinical and research ideas emanate directly from the “front-line” clinicians who are seeing patients in their daily practice, and they provide the Agency with a unique opportunity to conduct “real-world” effectiveness research in “living laboratories.” Despite its brief tenure, the PBRN program has met with great success, as evidenced by the program's recent expansion to 36 networks and an increase in the FY 2003 budget to $3 million dollars.

Many of these recent awards will support the development of the PBRNs' IT infrastructure and evaluate ways of using IT to improve quality of care. For example, one PBRN is testing the feasibility of clinicians using handheld devices with computerised algorithms for assessing and counselling patients who smoke. Another network is testing an Internet-based communication, surveillance, and data management system to enhance linkages between community practices, state health departments, and the State Epidemiological and Bio-terrorism Surveillance System. A third network is testing the use of a computerised automated reminder system for lipid management within an electronic medical record. The system integrates a patient's clinical information with current research findings, calculates the risk of cardiovascular disease for an individual patient, and generates reminders to the clinician. Finally, three PBRNs are developing interactive surveillance systems to recognise bio-terrorism events.

 

Translating Research into Practice (TRIP)

In health care, many clinical practices are not based on good scientific evidence regarding an intervention's impact on important outcomes or quality of care. Sometimes this occurs because evidence from well conducted, randomised controlled trials is not available. However, even when good evidence is available and there is strong consensus regarding the effects of an intervention, there is often inappropriate utilisation of the intervention, resulting in sub-optimal care. Studies suggest that it takes an average of 17 years for research evidence to be incorporated into standard clinical practice. The use of IT can help overcome this gap in knowledge management and application through tools to enhance the translation, implementation, and dissemination of important research findings in clinical practice. With this in mind, AHRQ launched its Translating Research into Practice (TRIP-I) program in 1999, funding 14 projects to generate new knowledge about facilitating the use of rigorously derived evidence to improve patient care.

Building on the success of TRIP-I, AHRQ launched TRIP-II in September 2000, funding 13 projects that focused on implementation issues, such as organisational and clinical characteristics, that are associated with successfully translating research findings into clinical practice in diverse settings. With TRIP II, the Agency emphasised the use of IT as a key strategy for translating research into practice and improving quality of care. One group of investigators is using an interactive, multi-media computer program to improve diabetes-related knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and compliance with self-care recommendations in clinics serving predominantly African American and Hispanic patients. Another group of investigators is assessing a computerised decision support system that provides automated reminders, alerts, and guidelines in the outpatient setting. A third group of investigators is evaluating Internet-based learning modules designed to increase screening of female patients who are at risk for chlamydia infection and to decrease the incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease in primary care practices. Finally, investigators are evaluating the impact of a quality improvement model using electronic medical records and academic detailing on adherence to clinical practice guidelines for prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke in 22 primary care settings across the United States.

 

Bio-terrorism Preparedness

Even before the events of September 11, 2001 and the subsequent anthrax attacks, AHRQ was supporting research initiatives to improve the nation's ability to respond to bio-terrorism. In fiscal year 2000, the Agency received $5 million to support and conduct research to improve the capacity of the nation's health care system to respond to incidents of bio-terrorism. By 2002, funding for bio-terrorism initiatives had increased to $10 million dollars.

The Agency's bio-terrorism efforts have focused on assisting clinicians, hospitals, and health care systems in the following areas:

  • Emergency preparedness of hospitals and health care systems for bio-terrorism and rare public health events;
  • Technologies and methods to improve the linkages between clinical health care systems, emergency response networks, and public health agencies; and
  • Training and information needed to prepare community clinicians to recognise the manifestations of bio-terrorism and manage patients appropriately.

The Agency's bio-terrorism research is a natural outgrowth of its ongoing efforts to develop evidence-based information to improve health care quality. (Some of these projects were previously described in the discussions on the IDSRNs and PBRNs.) Other examples include: the use of computer simulations to develop models for planning citywide responses to bio-terrorism attacks, including optimal distribution of antibiotics to ambulatory patients and improvement of hospital treatment capacity; development of an electronic “Real-time Outbreak and Disease Surveillance” system to provide early warnings of infectious disease outbreaks so treatment and control measures can be initiated; and generation of an evidence report on the ability of currently available IT and decision support systems to serve the needs of clinicians and public health officials in the event of a bio-terrorist attack.

 

Conclusion

Health care has lagged far behind many other industries in harnessing the capabilities of IT to improve services, knowledge, communication, outcomes, quality, and efficiency. Given the complexity of modern medicine, it is inevitable that IT will play an ever increasing role in improving health care quality. As noted by the IOM's Committee on Quality Health Care in America, “Information technology must play a central role in the redesign of the health care system if a substantial improvement in quality is to be achieved over the coming decade.” To make significant progress, a major re-engineering of the health care delivery system is needed, which requires changes in technical, sociological, cultural, educational, financial, and other important factors.

Research is needed to:

  • Evaluate the role of IT in improving clinical decision making, information management, communication, costs, and access to care;
  • Assess barriers to successful implementation of proven IT, as well as strategies to overcome these barriers so that all patients and providers have access to technologies that can improve safety and quality of care;
  • Generate solutions to eliminate the digital divide;
  • Document the costs and resources associated with adopting and maintaining proven IT applications; and
  • Evaluate transfer-ability of IT solutions to other health care settings.

The AHRQ is working diligently to develop a portfolio of IT initiatives. The Agency's research and demonstration projects will provide the evidence needed to guide future IT implementation to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health care delivery in the United States.

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Technology Is Helping Shape the Future of Health Care

Technology Is Helping Shape the Future of Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

It is no surprise that in a new ranking created by Dell with IHS Economics, seven of the top overlap with the American Fitness Index’s list of healthiest U.S. cities. These cities are arguably some of the most connected and most educated, and their infrastructure supports recreational activity.

But health is not just an outcome of development – it is a prerequisite. And never before has such an incredible tool been available for communities to engage people in making healthy lifestyle changes: technology.

Just as technology is giving providers more ways to care for and engage their patients in a variety of places, it is also providing the means for governments to reach people with health care information, businesses to tailor wellness programs for their workforce, and people to take charge of their own health.

Chronic illnesses – such as heart disease, stroke, asthma, diabetes, and obesity – are responsible for seven of 10 deaths every year in the U.S., and treatment of these chronic illnesses accounts for 86 percent of U.S. health care costs, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. However, while they are among the most common and costly of health problems, chronic illnesses are also the most preventable and manageable, because they often respond to choices we make in our daily lives. To conquer chronic illness we have to create new habits, and that is not always easy.

Patient engagement is one way to change habits. When health care providers effectively engage patients to participate in their care, patients begin to take more responsibility for their own health and adopt healthier habits. Effective engagement of patients with chronic illnesses can lead to reductions in hospital visits, decreased morbidity and mortality, and improvements in treatment adherence and quality of life.

To truly influence positive behavior changes, health goals must fit meaningfully into patients’ everyday lives. People must be surrounded by opportunities to embrace healthy lifestyles, and that requires involvement of the entire community – care providers, governments, businesses, and, of course, the people living there.

 

Care Providers
Technology gives caregivers unprecedented opportunities to engage patients and provide excellent care, anywhere; technology also provides patients and health care providers with a valuable feedback loop.

Telehealth, remote bio-metric monitoring, and technology-assisted health coaching are powerful tools in the fight to improve chronic care outcomes because they provide in-the-moment support to patients learning to manage diet, exercise habits, and medication routines. For example, an FDA-cleared mobile app that delivers real-time motivational messages, behavioural coaching, and educational content right to the mobile devices of patients with Type II diabetes has demonstrated significant drops in their A1C levels.

Even simple text message programs can make a difference. Text2Breathe, a program of the Children’s National Medical Center, sends care information and reminders to parents of children with asthma, helping reduce emergency room visits.

 

State and Local Governments
State and local government agencies have immense power to use technology to spearhead healthy lifestyle and disease prevention programs. For example, in response to Philadelphia’s high rates of chronic illness, city officials recently launched Philly Powered, a multimedia campaign designed to encourage Philadelphians to become more physically active. The campaign features a mobile-friendly website that lists the city’s free or low-cost places to get fit, provides educational information, and includes a social media component enabling Philadelphians to share tips on how they include exercise in their busy lives.

Portland State University, in conjunction with the Oregon Department of Transportation, is piloting a smartphone app called ORcycle to collect data and feedback about bicycle routes, infrastructure problems, and accidents in order to improve infrastructure suitability for bicycling in Oregon.

 

Businesses
Chronic illnesses affect businesses through absenteeism and retention problems, and businesses are uniquely positioned to promote healthy lifestyles for workers and their families. Employers, in cooperation with their health plans, can identify the need for wellness programs and services, such as preventive screenings, tailored to lowering both health risks and costs.
Companies are increasingly integrating technology into their wellness programs. For example, includes a virtual wellness portal that imports numbers from on-site health screenings and provides employees with an action plan, educational information, and email and text reminders to help them stay on track. Some companies are adopting wearable technology as part of their wellness programs to incent employees to get fit. To protect employee health information, these kinds of initiatives must be designed with data security and privacy in mind, to maintain the trust essential for an effective health care program.

Technology gives communities in all geographies unprecedented means to invest in the health of human capital and very real opportunities to shape the future of health care – today.

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Biggest Technological Advancements for Healthcare in the Last Decade

Biggest Technological Advancements for Healthcare in the Last Decade | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Devices like smartphones and tablets are starting to replace conventional monitoring and recording systems, and people are now given the option of undergoing a full consultation in the privacy of their own homes. Technological advancements in healthcare have contributed to services being taken out of the confines of hospital walls and integrating them with user-friendly, accessible devices.

The following are technological advancements in healthcare that have emerged over the last ten years.

 

 The electronic health record : In 2009, only 16 percent of U.S. hospitals were using an EHR. By 2013, about 80 percent of hospitals eligible for CMS' meaningful use incentives program had incorporated an EHR into their organizations. "For such a long time we had such disparate systems, meaning you had one system that did pharmacy, one did orders, one that did documentation," says Jeff Sturman, partner at Franklin, Tenn.-based Cumberland Consulting Group. "Integrating these systems into a single platform, or at least a more structured platform, has allowed more integrated and efficient care for patients," he says.

While the EHR has already created big strides in the centralization and efficiency of patient information, it can also be used as a data and population health tool for the future. "There's going to be a big cultural shift over the next several years of data-driven medicine," says Waco Hoover, CEO of the Institute for Health Technology Transformation in New York. "Historically, that hasn't been a big part of how medicine is practiced. Physicians go to medical school and residencies, but each organization has its own unique ways they do things. That's one of the reasons we see varied care all over the country. When data is what we're making decisions off of, that's going to change and improve outcomes of the consistency of medicine delivered."

 

 mHealth : Mobile health is freeing healthcare devices of wires and cords and enabling physicians and patients alike to check on healthcare processes on-the-go. An R&R Market Research report estimates the global mHealth market will reach $20.7 billion by 2019, indicating it is only becoming bigger and more prevalent. Smartphones and tablets allow healthcare providers to more freely access and send information. Physicians and service providers can use mHealth tools for orders, documentation and simply to reach more information when with patients, Mr. Sturman says.However, mHealth is not only about wireless connectivity. It has also become a tool that allows patients to become active players in their treatment by connecting communication with biometrics, says Gopal Chopra, MD, CEO of PINGMD, and associate professor at Duke University Fuqua School of Business in Durham, N.C. "Now I can make my bathroom scale wireless. I can make my blood pressure mount wireless. I can take an EKG and put it to my smartphone and transfer that wirelessly," he says. "mHealth has the opportunity to take healthcare monitoring out of the office, out of the lab and basically as a part of your life."

 

 Telemedicine/telehealth : Studies consistently show the benefit of telehealth, especially in rural settings that do not have access to the same resources metropolitan areas may have. A large-scale study published in CHEST Journal shows patients in an intensive care unit equipped with telehealth services were discharged from the ICU 20 percent more quickly and saw a 26 percent lower mortality rate than patients in a regular ICU. Adam Higman, vice president of Soyring Consulting in St. Petersburg, Fla., says while telemedicine is not necessarily a new development, it is a growing field, and its scope of possibility is expanding.  

The cost benefits of telehealth can't be ignored either, Mr. Hoover says. For example, Indianapolis-based health insurer WellPoint rolled out a video consultation program in February 2013 where patients can receive a full assessment through a video chat with a physician. Claims are automatically generated, but the fees are reduced to factor out traditional office costs. Setting the actual healthcare cost aside, Mr. Hoover says these telemedicine clinics will also reduce time out of office costs for employees and employers by eliminating the need to leave work to go to a primary care office.

 

 Portal technology : Patients are increasingly becoming active players in their own healthcare, and portal technology is one tool helping them to do so. Portal technology allows physicians and patients to access medical records and interact online. Mr. Sturman says this type of technology allows patients to become more closely involved and better educated about their care. In addition to increasing access and availability of medical information, Mr. Hoover adds that portal technology can be a source of empowerment and responsibility for patients. "It's powerful because a patient can be an extraordinary ally in their care. They catch errors," he says. "It empowers the patient and adds a degree of power in care where they can become an active participant."

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How EHealth Empowers Patients And Healthcare Providers 

How EHealth Empowers Patients And Healthcare Providers  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Over the last couple of years we have seen a great rise in the number of websites, mobile ehealth apps and in house devices. All offering patients new ways to take control of their health. This has resulted in more self-tracking and testing patients using ehealth products and services.Healthcare providers on the other hand are finding ways to use this technology to their advantage. Reducing costs, enhancing care management and improving outcomes.

Patients however need guidance. So they are not left to track and interpret the collected information on their own. This is why healthcare providers need to focus on engagement and education. Empowering patients will help them fully benefit from the patient generated ehealth data.
 
The Self-managing Patient

Today’s digital patient has unlimited access to tools to self-test, self-diagnose and self-treat. The number ofwearable health and fitness devices are growing by the day. Apple Health, Fitbit and Samsung’s S Health are just three examples of healthcare tracking platforms.

Users can measure anything from blood pressure to nutrition and activity levels. Putting valuable healthcare data in the hands of the patient. Allowing them to self manage their own health. And even check hydration levels, brain activity and sunlight exposure.

This data does not just affect patient empowerment – it’s also of great value to healthcare providers.

 

Patient Empowerment through eHealth

Technology offers patients great benefits. It gives them more valuable health insights and more control over the outcomes. Resulting in patients rapidly adopting technology as an important health asset.

High quality health data empowers patients to choose how, when and where they receive care. It allows them to choose the manner in which they receive care, diagnosis and treatment. And offers more options and increased convenience.

They can choose traditional service at a hospital if they prefer the in person approach. Or can decide on a more convenient virtual visit with a tele- physician or even request a house call.

 
As this trend seems to be here to stay, healthcare providers worry patients might be getting a little too independent. Patient empowerment through patient education and patient engagement has been a focus of hospitals for a while. Important now is to focus on patient empowerment outside the hospital. And ensuring patients can still reach professional help when needed.
 
Healthcare Provider Empowerment through eHealth

Patient empowerment through data, information and technology is a great thing. But patients should stay aware of the importance of physicians. There is still a strong need for professional guidance and intervention. Only professional healthcare staff can accurately translate and act upon the collected data.

Ehealth data doesn’t just empower patients, it empowers healthcare providers as well. Tracking this continuous stream of data can provide completely new insights into a patient’s health. Healthcare providers have to find the benefits of this valuable information. Incorporating the eHealth data into the care process and workflow.

This can massively increase efficiency – allowing for cost reduction. But it can also help move into a more preventative based model of care. Detecting possible health risks and issues before they’re visible.

 

There is no way we can keep patients from self tracking, diagnosing and treating. They will use the information they receive from their wearable or in-home device. But it provides healthcare providers with a great opportunity to lead the way – using patient generated data to improve patient outcomes and patient experience.

 
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Why Doctors need an All-rounder Healthcare Solution?

Why Doctors need an All-rounder Healthcare Solution? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Every person loves technology just because it makes your life easy. Each day a new problem is discovered, a solution is also researched for. This is how the tech world is growing each day. Just like the synapses connecting neurons in the human body, every doctor would like an interface which connects his entire clinical workflow. It’s a common requisite that a single solution meets many problems simultaneously.

 

A doctor’s time table has a tight schedule where he would be meeting many patients a day and some days would have unexpected numbers too. As a doctor you have to be more service minded and attend patients whenever there is a need. The doctor would be desirous to have a system which can save his time as well as take a good record of his complete clinical workflow.

 

Any doctor would find it helpful if he finds a flexible system which is cost effective and easy to use. The doctor would be comfortable to control activities from patient scheduling to the inventory management on his own rather than depending on the admin alone. A doctor needs an all-rounder healthcare solution as it is tough to handle when there is a large volume of data. An organized connection will allow a smooth work flow which will reduce chaos and makes it easy for doctors as well as the patient. A doctor would want an all-rounder healthcare solution.

 

  • To keep a record of patient data and record of the day-to-day activities
  • To have a single ‘touch point’ for data access
  • To have a seamless control over the entire continuum of care
  • To be cost effective by using a single set up rather than purchasing many and connecting them
  • To be able to access data from any point of the world and also for easy sharing
  • To have an efficient space management

 

There is no wonder why doctors are shifting towards using EHS(Electronic Health Solution),Patient portals, etc. as they have found advantages in such systems which can an efficient interface connecting them with the patients. The advantages of using the internet connection and the cloud in the medical sector have helped them trust HITaaS which they have already accepted to be a part of their profession. The future will see doctors using more of systems like BlueEHS and completely move from their conventional methods so that their professional life becomes more easy and flexible.

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Will Wearable Devices Change Patient Outcomes? | Blog

Will Wearable Devices Change Patient Outcomes? | Blog | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Nine months ago, I started wearing an activity tracker, and it’s completely changed the way I approach health and fitness. And I’m part of a major trend. Whether you want to measure heart rate, activity level or caloric burn, there’s an ever-growing number of devices that do the job. Both non medical and medical companies are trying to get in the game, from theNike Fuelband to Fitbit to Apple’s new iOS Healthbook.

 

In a perfect world, a single tracker would do everything, à la the Star Trek Tricorder. But in real life it doesn’t work that way. The resultant explosive growth — a potential multibillion-dollar market — has left us with fragmented solutions that aren’t engaging the patients who account for the greatest share of healthcare spend.

Nine months ago, I started wearing an activity tracker, and it’s completely changed the way I approach health and fitness. And I’m part of a major trend. Whether you want to measure heart rate, activity level or caloric burn, there’s an ever-growing number of devices that do the job. Both non medical and medical companies are trying to get in the game, from theNike Fuelband to Fitbit to Apple’s new iOS Healthbook.

 

In a perfect world, a single tracker would do everything, à la the Star Trek Tricorder. But in real life it doesn’t work that way. The resultant explosive growth — a potential multibillion-dollar market — has left us with fragmented solutions that aren’t engaging the patients who account for the greatest share of healthcare spend.

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Will Healthcare Interoperability Become The Next Health IT Mandate? 

Will Healthcare Interoperability Become The Next Health IT Mandate?  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Lack of healthcare interoperability continues to throw its weight in the road of progress, stopping much traffic in its tracks.

 

But you know that already, don’t you; you work in healthcare IT. That electronic health records lack the ability to speak with their counterpart systems is no surprise to you. In fact, it’s probably caused you a great deal of frustration since the first days of your system implementation.

From my perspective, things are not going to change very soon. There’s not enough incentive for vendors to work together, though they can and in many cases are able to do so. The problem, though, is that vendors are not sure how to charge physicians, practices, hospitals and healthcare systems for the data that is transferred through their “HIE-like” portals that would connect each company’s technology.

 

The purpose of this piece is not to diverge into the HIE conversation; that’s a topic for another day. However, this is a piece about what have recently been listed as the biggest barriers physicians face when dealing with the concept of interoperability.

According to a recent report by Internal Medicine News, “Technical barriers and costs are holding back electronic sharing of clinical data.”

 

The magazine cites a study in which more than 70 percent of the physicians said that their EHR was unable to communicate electronically with other systems. This is the definition of a lack of interoperability that prevents electronic exchange of information, and ultimately will fuel health information exchanges.

 

It is notable that 30 percent of physicians said that their EHRs are interoperable with other systems. That makes me wonder if this is a verified fact or perception only verified by a marketing brochure.

Another barrier, according to the report, is the cost of setting up and maintaining interfaces and exchanges to share information. According to this statement, physicians are worried about the cost of being able to transmit data, too, which puts them in line with vendors, who, like I said, are worried about how they can monetize data transfer.

 

An interesting observation from the piece: “Making progress on interoperability will be essential as physicians move forward with different care delivery models such as the patient-centered medical home and the medical home neighborhood.”

What amazes me about this conversation is that given the purported advantage employees gain from the mobile device movement and how BYOD (bring your own device) seems to increase a staff’s productivity because it creates an always-on mentality. I don’t think it’s a stretch to think the same affect would be discovered if systems were connected and interoperable.

An interoperable landscape of all EHRs would allow physicians and healthcare systems to essentially create their own always on, always available information sharing system that would look a lot like what we see in daily lives with the devices in the palm of our hands.

 

Apparently, everyone wants and interoperable system; it’s just a matter of how it’s going to get paid for. And moving the data and the records freely from location to location opens up the health landscape like a mobile environment does.

Simply put, this is one issue that seems to resemble our current political landscape: a hot button issue that needs to be addressed but neither side wants to touch the issue because no one wants to or is able to pay for it.

 

One of the problems with this approach is that if we wait long enough, perhaps interoperability also will be mandated and we’ll all end up on its hook.

 

So, let’s take a lesson from the mobile deice world and allow for a greater opportunity to connect healthcare data to more care providers on behalf of the patients and their outcomes.

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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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9 Things Hospitals Can Do Now to Tighten Data Security

9 Things Hospitals Can Do Now to Tighten Data Security | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In fact, nearly 90 percent of all healthcare organisations experienced at least one data breach within the past two years, according a May Poneman Institute study, and data breach costs are expected to hit $2.1 trillion globally by 2019.

Hospitals are hiring experienced security information pros to combat cyber criminals, but more can be done. Consider the 9 strategies below to intensify digital security efforts in your health system.

 

Hire professional hackers

The Mayo Clinic did just that a few years ago, hiring a team of security experts to hack everything from respirators to ultrasound machines. These so-called “white hat” hackers were thorough and ruthless, according to one of the participants. But the exercise worked, uncovering a host of security holes along with recommendations for fixes.

 

Make mobile devices harder to hack

The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement is gaining momentum. But employee-owned devices open hospitals up to data security threats, such as device loss, use of unauthorised applications and password vulnerabilities.

Could your IT team lock or wipe data from employee phones, if needed?  Review your mobile governance policies and find out what you can legally do to secure sensitive data on employee-owned devices.

 

Scrutinise Medical Device Security

Beyond mobile devices, any networked medical device (an MRI, for example) that receives and transmits data represents risk.

“The more devices you hook up, the greater chance you will connect to devices with malware in them,” says Susan Boisvert, R.N., Senior Risk Management Consultant, in Hospitals & Health Networks.

Ensure you have a thorough audit trail for the devices used in your system, and review and tighten your security requirements for medical device suppliers.

 

Increase employee awareness

Human error is a leading cause of healthcare data breaches.

Sixty-nine percent of surveyed healthcare organisations confirmed their greatest security concern is “negligent or careless” employees, says the Pone man Institute. And sixty-two percent of respondents claimed they were either unaware or unsure of how medical identity theft affects patients.

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Train and educate employees about security basics. Change generic or default passwords. And monitor employee email and social media activities to ensure what happens in the hospital stays off of Facebook.

“Given the sensitive nature of data at hand and all the regulatory and compliance requirements within their industry, health leaders must incorporate better practices when it comes to protecting patient data,” writes Darren Leroux in HealthcareITNews.

 

Make identifying breaches a team effort

"See something, say something" is a popular mantra in airport security. Encouraging that same culture of responsibility in a hospital through education and incentives may help prevent a costly breach through early identification.

According to the Pone man Institute, almost half of healthcare organisations within the past two years discovered a breach through an employee, and nearly one-third of data breaches were revealed because of patient complaints.

 

Implement training on how to avoid phishing attacks

It is becoming increasingly difficult to spot an elaborately designed phishing email scam.

“Companies need to do a better job of training employees how to spot phishing attempts. This is the easiest point for thieves,” writes Thomas Lewis, CISSP, CISA, QSA in LBMC.

“It is well worth the time to implement training programs. The most effective method utilises programs that are set up internally to mimic phishing attacks,” he explains.“This has been shown to be very effective at raising awareness of how to spot phishing attacks and train employees on how to avoid them.

 

Assess Your Visitor Management systems

A hospital’s greatest security threat may be its very own people – including employees, contractors, and visitors – who come and go regularly and frequently within a public facility.

“Daily visitors pose the biggest threat to organisations,” writes Kim Rahfaldt in Security Today. 

Visitors “could have a police record, be on a terror watch list or be an angry spouse of a woman working on the 8th floor,” she says. 

Visitor Management systems let you track when preapproved guests arrive, perform check-ins, and issue secure guest passes. A VM system can also flag potentially problematic visitors and deny them entry – such as a recently terminated, disgruntled employer or an individual who lacks authorised access to a particular part of the hospital.

 

Disable laptop cameras and microphones

This tip is perhaps the easiest (and cheapest) to implement.

First, use a piece of coloured tape to conceal your computer’s webcam. Then, disable your microphone to prevent an audio hack. (Or, just connect an extra pair of earbuds with an attached microphone to your audio jack before snipping off the earbud/microphone portion, as Kellen Beck of Mashable suggests.)

Why? Smooth attackers can potentially gain access to your device via your webcam, writes David Geer iniboss. And cyber thieves may be listening to your private conversations from your device’s microphone.

Keeping your activity private will give you much needed peace of mind.

 

Talk the talk

Lastly, communicate beyond the four walls of your own hospital.

“Talking to counterparts at other health care organisations and information security industry groups about what they are seeing as far as attacks, and also protocols they have tried which worked and didn’t work is vital to planning for the future and knowing what types of attacks may be coming,” writes Matthew Chambers, CIO in Scrubbing In. 

“There is no perfect system or program to prevent every attack by the guys in black hats. But a comprehensive approach to information security can go a long way in keeping the most crucial data – patient information – out of their hands,” he adds.

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Technologies Impacting the Future of the Healthcare Sector

Technologies Impacting the Future of the Healthcare Sector | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Technologies Impacting the Future of the Healthcare Sector : Evaluating the Role of Disruptive Technologies in Transforming the Delivery of Healthcare

 

NEW YORK, May 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Technological advancements are disrupting the healthcare industry. There is an increasing trend toward personalised and precise medical treatments, such as personalised genomics, which provide outputs at a much lower cost and at a faster speed than has ever been possible. Precision medicine has also driven the development of targeted drug delivery, which improves the efficacy of drugs, while reducing side effects. The increasing occurrence of auto-immune disorders has spurred research interest in microbiome therapies, which focus on using the body's own microbiota as a defence against pathogens.

Another hot technology area revolutionising neuroscience is optogenetics, which attempts to rewire the brain through the use of optics and genetics. The success of optogenetics in vision recovery has provided an impetus for funding in this space. The rising incidence of chronic and lifestyle disorders, along with the difficulty of finding donors, has led to research in printing live tissue, currently used in pharma for toxicology testing. Long-term R&D in this space is geared toward the development of 3D printed organs, which truly represent the next frontier in healthcare advancement. However, just as technologies are disrupting healthcare, the reverse can be said to hold true. Healthcare is moving toward increased patient empowerment, leading to the development of wearables, mHealth and telemedicine.

Advances in Big Data have enabled more real-time healthcare solutions such as biosensors, leading to greater patient engagement. Digital transformation has also been key to enabling path-breaking development in genomics platforms, such as rapid genome sequencing. Organisations are moving toward new care delivery models that increasingly focus on delivering patient value, leading to redefined revenue pathways. This research service provides a deep-dive analysis into some of the most disruptive technologies, trends and business models impacting healthcare today, providing decision-makers with key insights for strategic planning.

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RFID for live Medical Monitoring

RFID for live Medical Monitoring | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telemonitoring, RFID chips and miniature sensors are just some of the new technologies designed to ensure better response times for medical staff and a better doctor-patient relationship.

 

French charity Calydial received the innovation prize at last year’s HIT (Health Information Technologies) fair for its tele-medicine projects, which include monitoring patients with kidney failure. Calydial’s doctors can remotely monitor patients undergoing dialysis, live, thanks to a system of surveillance cameras set up by the patients’ bedside.

 

RFID FOR LIVE MEDICAL MONITORING

In the United States, RFID technology has been tested since the mid 2000s , for a variety of medical uses including supply chain tracking in radiology centres, tracking equipment and hospital staff’s movements,and monitoring radiotherapy patients, resulting in optimised hospital productivity and more personalised patient care.

RFID tagging is also in  pharmaceutical packaging, enabling for example pharmacists to track expiry dates, or doctors and patients to monitor doses taken. Canadian company Information Mediary Corp. specialise in this market, selling smart packaging that can record and transmit the date and time on which a pill is removed from  pack , remind the user when to take the medication again and detect any side effects. This data can then be converted into a PDF or Excel spreadsheet. See the video demonstration

 

SENSORS TO DETECT BREAST CANCER OR MONITOR PACEMAKERS

Embedded in the lining of clothes or bed linen, micros-sensors will soon be able to monitor a person’s temperature, blood pressure, cardiac activity, and, if embedded in the fibres of a bra, even assess the risk of developing breast cancer. According to a report by a French pharmaceutical industry specialist, these sensors will also be able to release medication from capsules embedded in plasters.

These sensors are also used to monitor patients with pacemakers, by transmitting data from the patients’ home to the doctor. This system is currently marketed by Sorin, a pharmaceutical company that specialises in technologies for cardiovascular diseases.

 

GPS PATCHES

Miniature sensors embedded in the skin of patients have been tested since 2011 to monitor and locate disabled people and Alzheimer sufferers.

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How Technology is Improving Medical Care?

How Technology is Improving Medical Care? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A wide variety of digital innovations are revolutionising healthcare — and technology in medicine is here to stay. How are these changes impacting the delivery of care, and what skills are needed to succeed in this bold new world?

 

It’s no secret that, as a society, technology has become a part of our everyday lives. In fact, almost 60 percent of American adults own a smartphone, and 42 percent of  that same population (American adults) owns a tablet computer.

Though technology has been permeating almost every aspect of our lives, until recent years the medical field has been largely unaffected by the rapid pace of technological innovation that is characteristic of the Digital Age. However, this is changing. As geneticist Eric To-pol puts it in his book, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, “Medicine is about to go through its biggest shakeup in history.”

This ubiquity of technology is beginning to extend into the medical field. Advances in medical technology are changing medicine by giving physicians more information — as well as better, more specific data. To-pol has this to say about the changing landscape of medical technology:

This is a new era of medicine, in which each person can be near fully defined at the individual level, instead of how we (have previously) practice medicine at a population level. We are each unique human beings, but until now there was no way to determine a relevant metric like blood pressure around the clock while a person is sleeping, or at work, or in the midst of an emotional upheaval. This represents the next frontier of the digital revolution, finally getting to the most important but heretofore insulated domain: preserving our health.

 

New Medical Technology: Innovations

So just what are these new advances in technology? According to Topol, they apply to almost every aspect of health.

We can remotely and continuously monitor each heartbeat, moment-to-moment blood pressure readings, the rate and depth of breathing, body temperature, oxygen concentration in the blood, glucose, brain waves, activity, mood — all the things that make us tick,” he says. “For the first time, we can digitise humans.”

The main purpose of all of this innovation is the gathering of information, leading to more specific, personalised care. Tech professionals in the medical field can assemble data about individuals from genome sequencing, imaging and biosensors, then integrate it with traditional medical methods to find the best approach to patient care.

The following are just a few of the many innovations that have occurred in medical technology over the past year alone. Some of these leading technologies are still being developed, while others are slowly being introduced into mainstream medical practice.

  • The modern hospital experience: Several medical technology companies are looking to update hospital stays to keep pace with the needs of modern patients. For example, NXT Health is improving room design to “eliminate wasteful redundancy and technological clutter that plague many modern healthcare facilities.” To more easily integrate changing technology, these new rooms would feature interchangeable parts that are easily adapted to the specific situation of a patient. The seamless design would have a minimal impact on facility operations while increasing patient comfort and connectivity.
  • Surgery simulation: The Roswell Park Cancer Institute has partnered with the University of Buffalo’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences to create the Robotic Surgery Simulator (RoSS). This innovation allows real-world views of surgeries while eliminating the need for a live environment to train aspiring surgeons. It gives these medical professionals the space to experiment in a simulated environment, rather than risking making mistakes on real patients.
  • Streamlined lab testing: The lab testing process could be changing very soon, due to companies like Theranos, who have “designed a way to run tests with micro-samples of blood, one-thousandth the size of a typical blood draw.” This practice will provide a better patient experience while reducing the cost of many widely used lab tests.
  • Mitochondrial DNA transfer: Though the first successful transplants of mitochondrial DNA occurred in the late 90's, these procedures are currently becoming a more potentially viable option for the reduction of gene related diseases. The process, in which “two parents contribute normally to in vitro fertilisation and a third party contributes the mitochondrial DNA,” is being perfected so that its usefulness will soon be difficult to deny.

 

The Future of Healthcare Technology

With widespread innovations like these affecting patient care practices, it is not surprising that the way medical records and information are stored and shared is changing as well. These technological advancements are cost-effective and improve the ability of medical professionals to diagnose and treat health issues of all kinds. Three of the main changes that are revolutionising the future of healthcare are electronic medical records, health information exchange and ICD-10.

 

Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Over the past few decades, both medical billing and coding have switched from being paper-based to a computerised format. Electronic medical records offer a wide variety of benefits to the medical field. As Milt Freudenheim, a New York Times contributor, points out, “They can make healthcare more efficient and less expensive, and improve the quality of care by making patients’ medical history easily accessible to all who treat them.”

EHRs have also gained federal funding: The government has given $6.5 billion in incentives. With support from both the public and private sector, doctors benefit from the introduction of EHRs as well. They can access “all the care a patient has ever received and can figure out possible illnesses,” while streamlining the treatment process and preventing unnecessary costs.

 

Health Information Exchange (HIE)

HIE gives health care professionals and patients the information access they need. It allows for the secure sharing of patient medical history between physicians of all specialities, while also allowing patients to access data about their own health. Because health information exchange creates improved communication and care quality, it provides “safer, more effective care” based on the needs of each specific patient. According to HealthIT.gov, “new payment approaches that stress care coordination and federal financial incentives are all driving the interest and demand for health information exchange.”

 

ICD-10 and Medical Billing

The International Statistical Classification of Diseases, or ICD-10, is the latest innovation when it comes to diagnostic tools. It is essentially an enhanced medical coding system that includes over 14,000 different codes globally, as well as additional subcategories. This means that patients and insurance companies can be billed for services and procedures in a highly specific way. And in the United States, ICD-10 classification is even more extensive — it includes additional codes that push the total to 76,000 ways that medical procedure claims can be processed and paid. This beneficial tool allows countries to retrieve and store all diagnostic information in a streamlined, efficient way. However, healthcare facilities must install new software and train staff to follow ICD-10 guidelines. This is another area where trained health informatics professionals are invaluable.

 

The Vital Role of Health Informatics

None of this tech innovation would be possible without the field of health informatics. With the rapid development of new technologies, “formidable health information systems” are required in order for medical practices and facilities to keep up. And as technology becomes more and more necessary for the effective functioning of our healthcare system, people proficient in the field of health informatics are more in-demand than ever. The interdisciplinary field combines information technology, health and communications and aims to improve patient care quality and interaction between medical professionals. To put it simply, health informatics is the science that makes the transition to digital healthcare practices possible. Trained professionals in this discipline work to “collect, store, analyse and present health data in a digital format.”

The new approaches to medical coding, health information exchange and billing outlined above require specialised databases that are customised to meet the needs of each physician and medical practice. Professionals in the health informatics field also ensure that patient data is secure. This involves server configuration and assigning strict access credentials. All of these new and emerging requirements fall under the domain of health informatics.

 

Health Informatics Education and Outlook

Job growth and demand in the health informatics field reflects this newfound importance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics-projects a 22 percent increase in employment through the year 2022, a rate that is much faster than the national average for all occupations. Individuals who are considering a career in this in-demand field often choose to pursue undergraduate study in health informatics, enabling them to be a valuable part of today’s rapidly changing healthcare system.

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Healthcare Technology In The Workplace

Healthcare Technology In The Workplace | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Whilst the fact that healthcare apps are becoming more prominent in the consumer space is not new, some may be surprised to learn that they are actually becoming more popular in the workplace, too. A recent article on the Workplace Savings and Benefits website looks into how healthcare technology is due to shake up employee behaviour and workplace etiquette.

It seems that healthcare apps and wearable technology are due to have a huge impact on employee welfare; in fact, by implementing the technology into workplace programs, the article notes, a company will be able to use incentives to reward behavioural changes in its employees. Competitions could also be introduced, as well as aids to help manage mental illness within the workplace, such as depression or even emotional states such as feeling stressed.

With the UK looking to implement various digital healthcare initiatives, it was only a matter of time before the world of work also looked to the same. Various pieces of technology such as Google Glass and the Health-Kit from Apple, as well as Fit-bit and Pulse bands are the most likely culprits to be adopted by corporations in a bid to get their staff up and about.

By tracking their heart rate, food consumption, activity and exercise, employees will become more aware of their overall health and hopefully take action against inactivity - thus improving their well-being and overall performance at work.

This will be made more likely if an employee is aware that the company is actively tracking their performance on the health scale as well; however this may not be enough to get the laziest worker out of their seats. One thing that needs to be taken into account in order for employees to understand the benefits of healthcare technology in the workplace, is that communication is key; companies need to discuss the healthcare data that is gathered and ensure employees are aware of its relevance and what it means in order to promote a healthy lifestyle.

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Top Medical Technology Innovations

Top Medical Technology Innovations | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Against the backdrop of health care reform and a controversial medical device tax, medical technology companies are focusing more than ever on products that deliver cheaper, faster, more efficient patient care. They are also making inroads with U.S. Food & Drug Administration regulators to re-engineer the complex review and approval process for new medical devices.

As the regulators, politicians, and corporate executives hash out these details, industry engineers and scientists continue to push through new ideas for improving and managing human health. Every year, industry observers like the Cleveland Clinic and the medical device trade press single out their favorite technology trends. These thought leaders agree that today's best technologies strike a balance between reducing the overall cost of medical care and increasing safety and survival rates—and isn't that what health care reform is all about?

 

Cutting Back on Melanoma Biopsies

With the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, a huge number of dangerous-looking moles are actually harmless, but has always been impossible to know for sure without an invasive surgical biopsy. Today dermatologists have new help in making the right call — a handheld tool approved by the FDA for multispectral analysis of tissue morphology. The MelaFind optical scanner is not for definitive diagnosis but rather to provide additional information a doctor can use in determining whether or not to order a biopsy. The goal is to reduce the number of patients left with unnecessary biopsy scars, with the added benefit of eliminating the cost of unnecessary procedures. The MelaFind technology (MELA Sciences, Irvington, NY) uses missile navigation technologies originally paid for the Department of Defense to optically scan the surface of a suspicious lesion at 10 electromagnetic wavelengths. The collected signals are processed using heavy-duty algorithms and matched against a registry of 10,000 digital images of melanoma and skin disease.

 

Electronic Aspirin

For people who suffer from migraines, cluster headaches, and other causes of chronic, excruciating head or facial pain, the "take two aspirins and call me in the morning" method is useless. Doctors have long associated the most severe, chronic forms of headache with the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), a facial nerve bundle, but haven't yet found a treatment that works on the SPG long-term. A technology under clinical investigation at Autonomic Technologies, Inc., (Redwood City, CA) is a patient-powered tool for blocking SPG signals at the first sign of a headache. The system involves the permanent implant of a small nerve stimulating device in the upper gum on the side of the head normally affected by headache. The lead tip of the implant connects with the SPG bundle, and when a patient senses the onset of a headache, he or she places a handheld remote controller on the cheek nearest the implant. The resulting signals stimulate the SPG nerves and block the pain-causing neurotransmitters.

 

Needle-Free Diabetes Care

Diabetes self-care is a pain—literally. It brings the constant need to draw blood for glucose testing, the need for daily insulin shots and the heightened risk of infection from all that poking. Continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps are today's best options for automating most of the complicated daily process of blood sugar management – but they don't completely remove the need for skin pricks and shots. But there's new skin in this game. Echo Therapeutics (Philadelphia, PA) is developing technologies that would replace the poke with a patch. The company is working on a transdermal biosensor that reads blood analytes through the skin without drawing blood. The technology involves a handheld electric-toothbrush-like device that removes just enough top-layer skin cells to put the patient's blood chemistry within signal range of a patch-borne biosensor. The sensor collects one reading per minute and sends the data wirelessly to a remote monitor, triggering audible alarms when levels go out of the patient's optimal range and tracking glucose levels over time.

 

Robotic Check-Ups

A pillar of health reform is improving access to the best health care for more people. Technology is a cost-effective and increasingly potent means to connect clinics in the vast and medically underserved rural regions of the United States with big city medical centers and their specialists. Telemedicine is well established as a tool for triage and assessment in emergencies, but new medical robots go one step further—they can now patrol hospital hallways on more routine rounds, checking on patients in different rooms and managing their individual charts and vital signs without direct human intervention. The RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot produced jointly by iRobot Corp. and InTouch Health is the first such autonomous navigation remote-presence robot to receive FDA clearance for hospital use. The device is a mobile cart with a two-way video screen and medical monitoring equipment, programmed to maneuver through the busy halls of a hospital.

 

 A Valve Job with Heart

The Sapien transcatheter aortic valve is a life-saving alternative to open-heart surgery for patients who need new a new valve but can't endure the rigors of the operation. Manufactured by Edwards Life Sciences (Irvine, CA), the Sapien has been available in Europe for some time but is only now finding its first use in U.S. heart centers—where it is limited only to the frailest patients thus far. The Sapien valve is guided through the femoral artery by catheter from a small incision near the grown or rib cage. The valve material is made of bovine tissue attached to a stainless-steel stent, which is expanded by inflating a small balloon when correctly placed in the valve space. A simpler procedure that promises dramatically shorter hospitalizations is bound to have a positive effect on the cost of care.

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How Technology Can Deliver Broad Improvements in Health Care ?

How Technology Can Deliver Broad  Improvements in Health Care ? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A physician by training who is board-certified in several specialties, Dr. Kizer was California’s top health official before serving as undersecretary for health in the Department of Veterans Affairs in the 1990s. At the VA, he is credited with modernizing the nation’s largest health system, including adopting one of the first major electronic health records systems. He later was founding president and chief executive of the National Quality Forum, which sets quality standards and performance measures for U.S. health-care providers. He recently answered questions from The Wall Street Journal’s Laura Landro. Edited excerpts follow.

 

WSJ: What does population health mean, and why is it important?

 

DR. KIZER: Population health refers to the health status or health outcomes of a group of people who share one or more common characteristics. Populations can be defined by age, gender, race or ethnicity, where they live, type of health insurance, clinical conditions such as diabetes or asthma, or any number of other characteristics.

The term population health was introduced about a decade ago to recognize the important role that factors other than health care have in determining health outcomes. Prominent among these factors are education, employment, housing, transportation, public safety, lifestyle and the environment. Many people are surprised to learn that these social determinants of health have more to do with reducing preventable deaths and improving population health than health care itself.


WSJ: How can technology help improve population health?

 

DR. KIZER: Many of the new information and communication technologies have begun to be used in health care in recent years. These include the internet and smartphones, electronic health records, health-information exchanges, telemedicine, and many types of wearable devices and mobile health applications.

Use of these technologies to improve population health is still in its infancy, but it is clear that they will fundamentally change the nature of health care in coming years by connecting patients and caregivers in ways previously unimaginable, making health care more convenient, helping people stay healthy and patients recover from illness more quickly, and coordinating care across caregivers and sites of care.

These new technologies necessitate that we fundamentally redefine what access to health care means, since access is no longer only about face-to-face visits. Information can now be exchanged between caregivers and patients in multiple ways, which means we can design innovative ways to tailor health care to someone’s individual needs and lifestyle. The stage is set for a virtual-care revolution.

Apps, for example, are being used for in-home monitoring of lung function in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and to track the weight of patients with congestive heart failure so that fluid retention can be detected and treated before hospitalization is needed. Apps for managing asthma are being used to track an asthmatic’s medication use and to communicate a child’s asthma-action plan among caregivers and family members, reducing emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

Social media help tell patients when it’s time for a cancer screening or cholesterol check, and remind diabetics to take their medications. Tele-mental health care is increasingly used to help manage behavioral health conditions. Mental-health patients often prefer this kind of communication to face-to-face visits, which may result in better treatment compliance. These technologies also can help overcome transportation, language and other access barriers to health care for rural and inner-city populations.

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Patients Want More Digital Health Tools From Primary Care Physicians

Patients Want More Digital Health Tools From Primary Care Physicians | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Patient adoption of digital health tools remains low, but interest in virtual care services is high, as a new survey report finds that the majority of consumers say they are choosing their primary care provider, in part, based on how well they use technology to communicate with patients and manage their health.

A survey conducted by Harris Poll, on behalf of Salesforce, found that 59 percent of all health-insured patients, and 70 percent of millennials, say they would choose a primary care doctor who offers a patient mobile app (allowing patients to make appointments, see bills, view health data, etc.) over one that does not.

The survey polled 2,000 adults, among whom 1,736 have health insurance and a primary care doctor. The 2016 Connected Patient Report aimed to examine how consumers communicate with their healthcare provider and their interest in telemedicine and wearable devices.

The report found that people primarily interact with their physicians through in-person visits, phone calls and emails, but are open to virtual care treatment options enabled through technology.

When polled about how they communicate with their healthcare provider, 23 percent of respondents set up appointments in-person and 76 percent do so over the phone while only 9 percent use a portal, 7 percent use email and only 1 percent communicate via text. However, those last three forms of communication are higher for millennials—13 percent use portals, 11 percent communicate with their doctor via email and 4 percent communicate via text.

More consumers are using portals to get test results (23 percent) and to get prescriptions and refills (11 percent).

Almost a third of respondents (29 percent) report using a portal to look at their current health data.

However, the majority of consumers (62 percent) are still relying on their doctor to keep track of their health records, and only 25 percent report having access to their health data through a single self-service portal provided by their healthcare provider and/or insurance provider. In addition, 15 percent said they use multiple portals or websites to keep track of their health data provided by their healthcare provider. Only 6 percent of respondents have their own electronic method, whether scanning, saving to desktop or an online file storage, to keep track of health data, and 29 percent keep their records in a home-based physical storage location like a folder or shoebox.

Sixty-three percent of insured adults say their primary care physician provides virtual care services enabled by technology, but these are mainly delivered through legacy technologies such as phone

(53 percent) or email (28 percent). Only 10 percent reported their primary care physician enables communication through a health provider app on a mobile device and 7 percent of respondents’ doctors provide the option of texting with a doctor or nurse or instant messaging with a doctor or nurse. And, only 3 percent of respondents say their primary care physician provides the option of a webcam call with a doctor or nurse.

More than a third of respondents (37 percent) say that their primary care physician does not provide any virtual care services.

Despite this, mobile engagement is important among respondents, as, in addition to 59 percent who favor primary care physicians who offer a patient mobile app, 60 percent would choose a physician who offers home care over one that doesn't, and 46 percent would choose one who offers virtual treatment options over one who doesn't. Just 38 percent would choose a doctor "who uses data from patient’s wearable devices to manage health outcomes" over one that doesn't.

And, the survey findings indicate that 62 percent of U.S. adults with health insurance and a primary care provider would be open to virtual care treatments such as a video conference call as an alternative to an in-office doctor’s visit for non-urgent matters.

The survey findings also indicate that patients want their doctors to have access to their wearable health tracking device data to provide more personalized care. In fact, 78 percent of these patients who own a wearable would want their doctors to have access to data created by the device so providers can have more up-to-date views of their health (44 percent), use health data trends to be able to diagnose conditions before they become serious or terminal (39 percent), and give more personalized care (33 percent).

And, 67 percent of millennials would be very or somewhat likely to use a wearable health tracking device given to them by their insurance companies in exchange for potentially better health insurance rates based on the data provided by the device.

When polled about their post-discharge experiences, 61 percent of respondents say that improvements can be made in the post-discharge process, such as better communication between their primary doctors and other members of their care teams (38 percent).

“Patients today are choosing their providers, in part, based on how well they use technology to communicate with them and manage their health,” Joshua Newman, M.D., chief medical officer, Salesforce Healthcare and Life Sciences, said in a statement. “Care providers who build deeper patient relationships through care-from-anywhere options, the use of wearables and better communications post-discharge, will be in a strong position to be successful today and into the future.”

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Safe Texting In HealthCare : Do’s And  Dont’s 

Safe Texting In HealthCare : Do’s And  Dont’s  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Texting is the most popular feature of a smartphone and 97% of Americans sent texts to their friends and family because texting is easy, quick and an effective method to communicate. However, texting is considered as an unsafe method of communication for healthcare purposes. In the healthcare world there are many rules that govern this form of communication.

 

The privacy and security rule of HIPAA/HITECH covers communication of electronic protected health information (ePHI) that includes social media, email and text messages. For example, the nurses at a nursing facility sent patient information to the medical providers through a text message. Though there was no evidence that an unauthorized person viewed the messages, CMS chalked out a ten point remediation plan to train staff and appoint a HIPAA security officer and change the HIPAA policies and procedures of the nursing facility.

 

Immediate action was taken by CMS because texting creates a record, unlike a telephone call. In a telephone call, it is easier to know that you are communicating to the right person. While texting sensitive patient information is not at zero risk, because at least one third of people who have text their medical information to public surveys say that they have sent it to the wrong person by mistake. Further, HIPAA/HITECH privacy violation rules can charge fines up to $50,000. It is advisable to avoid the tendency to text patient information to a colleague for a quick patient consultation.

 

HIPAA Compliant Texting

 

Even though texting has many downsides, a secure mobile messaging compliant with HIPAA can be used with the following rules:

  • Secure data centers – Offsite or onsite data centers must adhere to high levels of physical security and policies. This is to control and conduct continuous risk evaluation for data exchange through texts.
  • Encryption – ePHI must be encrypted both in transit and at rest.
  • Recipient authentication – Confirmation that text communication containing ePHI goes only to the intended recipient
  • Audit controls – The ePHI message must be automatically recorded and it should be available for any type of audit such as sender, receiver, content, etc.

The volume of text messages indicates the preference for all to follow this method of communication. The number of texts sent by American in 2008 was 1 trillion and the number of text sent by Americans last year was 1.92 which is almost the double. Therefore texting cannot be abandoned fully, but the HIPAA rules mentioned above can make it safer to send and receive patient information through texting.

 

Appointment and Wellness Reminders using Text message

 

It may be a practice in your clinic to send reminder texts to patients for appointments. There are statistical evidence that text reminders reduces the rate of patient no-show. HIPAA rules does not regulate communications that are not a part of ePHI.

 

Text reminders help patients to follow medication, healthcare and recommended lifestyle. Researchers point out that text reminder help patients with chronic disease to manage diabetes. It helps African Americans to take their medication for time, especially those suffering from high blood pressure. Reminder texts help people to exercise and maintain their physical activity levels. In addition to the above advantages, more research is required to find out more best practices in texting patients.

 

Secure texting for the above services are now made available by Healthcare vendors through simple apps that allow medical professionals and physicians to use texting within a HIPAA approved platform. Government agencies usually do not use these apps, so it is important to make sure that these apps are HIPAA compliant. If you wish to avail texting service using a third party secure texting platform check for the three guidelines that offer security to PHI: integrity, confidentiality and availability. Nowadays, more than 80% of medical clinics and physicians use EHRS to communication with patients. Electronic health record systems allow communication with patients through text or email over a secure patient portal that meet the Meaningful Use requirement.

Whichever method of electronic communication is used, train your staff at the medical clinic to never transfer ePHI over a non-secure mode to save yourself from being penalized.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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Getting Started with Digital Transformation in Healthcare

Getting Started with Digital Transformation in Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The phrase digital transformation has been a big buzz word in healthcare and across other industries. The words digital transformation likely bring two questions to mind: what is it and what does it mean to me? Although it seems like a catchphrase, digital transformation is a business imperative even for healthcare organizations. Organizations that delay transformation or ignore it will risk becoming irrelevant.

 

What is Digital Transformation?
Trends analyst Altimeter defines digital transformation as “the realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touch point in the customer experience lifecycle.”

 

What does it mean for Healthcare Organizations?|
The technology and market research firm Forrester believes all companies will become digital predators or digital prey by 2020. Furthermore, as consumers in other industries like retail, patient and member demands are escalating and their customer experience expectations are based on the experiences that companies like Amazon are providing. Today’s competitive markets demand that organizations evolve faster, become more efficient, and focus on memorable customer experiences.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

Contact Details :
inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com/tdr

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