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Healthcare Compliance

Healthcare Compliance | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Developing a comprehensive compliance program is no longer optional for healthcare providers. Successful Compliance programs provide protections for provider entities, and patients alike. There is no single “best compliance” program. Providers with limited resources must still develop and maintain an active compliance program. Larger organizations may have entire departments dedicated to maintaining compliance standards. Healthcare providers compliance programs should be customized to each entity, based on the identifiable areas of risk. The OIG adoption of the underlying principles to provide a baseline of compliance structure that can be adjusted to the specific needs of the organization. At a minimum compliance programs should:

  1. Establish clear internal guidelines in the form of published policies and procedures relative to billing, staff behavior, and patient protections.
  2. Provide an atmosphere in which employees are free to report potential compliance issues in an unfettered risk free environment.
  3. Identify a Compliance Officer who maintains overall responsibility for the entities compliance and reporting processes.
  4. Establish strict management and control over protected patient health and financial records.
  5. Ensure technologies are in place to monitor compliance efforts and programs with the organization.

Creating Compliance Programs

Compliance programs impact the entire spectrum of a facilities financial and clinical operations.  As such it is important to develop an appropriate structure of policies and people to administrate, provide advice and ensure adherence to published compliance regulations.  Creating a compliance structure will not eliminate Audits, but can provide additional levels of protection for the providing facility.  Identifying the correct staff to implement the compliance program is the first of several steps.  Developing a compliance structure includes adherence to CMS billing standards, coding accuracy, and accurate translation of health records to the Revenue Cycle solution.

Maintaining a Compliance Program

As regulations change, facilities must adapt and evolve their internal governance processes.  Billing regulations change frequently requiring providers to stay on top of the latest software revisions, as well as monitoring the changing “code sets” that enhance the billing process.  A good compliance program will include a clearly defined process of systems maintenance and staff re training.  Staying current on the latest compliance trends is an integral part of any compliance program.

Compliance Audits

Compliance audits are among provider’s most stressful activities.  As such providers must have a clearly defined audit process.  The process must include timely provision of requested patient records/charts that are fully completed, uniform in presentation, and clearly and consistently labeled.  Having a solid compliance program in place and in practice will prepare a client well for any audit activity.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Reporting’s Rising Role in Healthcare Success 

Reporting’s Rising Role in Healthcare Success  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Today’s healthcare market is saturated with hospitals, health systems, and physician practices tackling EHR optimization, cost analytics, and other data-related projects. The industry has made great strides to establish a digital, real-time record of patient care. As that clinical, operational, and financial data piles up, one of the industry’s latest challenges is identifying ways to make that valuable information actionable.

When viewed collectively, data tells a story of what has happened over time. In the healthcare setting, effective data capture helps providers easily assess a myriad of pertinent business metrics, including (but by no means limited to):

How many patients were seen today?

Which patients presented with co-morbidities?

On average, how long was the reimbursement process by payer?

What is the Accounts Receivable impact?

By monitoring business performance, healthcare stakeholders can understand where they stand today relative to past periods and peer organizations. Analysis of that data illuminates areas for improvement and the progress the healthcare organization is making in pursuit of long-term goals. As value-based care initiatives continue to take root, performance reporting also fuels reimbursement under quality payment programs like the Merit-based Incentive Payment System and Meaningful Use.

Hospitals working towards the triple aim of improving population health and patient experience while reducing the cost of care will have to leverage analytics to trend patient outcomes and identify improvement opportunities. With patient health, regulatory compliance, and reimbursement on the line, reporting stakes have never been higher. Amid the proliferation of data-oriented business processes and payment models, reporting expertise and analysts will be among healthcare’s greatest assets.

As your healthcare organization undertakes the complex process of broader clinical and financial reporting, build a successful data management strategy by keeping the following reporting considerations in mind.

Start with your current process.

How are you capturing relevant data now? Analysts should shadow staff members to see what information they are trying to get and how they are presently documenting those details. This can help you identify points in the data capture process that can be improved upon, or are perhaps being overlooked. Help employees understand the “why” behind data capture requirements. Demonstrate how current practices impact the data staff members see in reporting results.

Avoid knowledge gaps by involving reporting stakeholders early on.

In almost every healthcare setting there are gaps in the data being captured. Involve reporting in all implementation initiatives to make sure your organization is consistently capturing the right variables. This is particularly true among clinicians preparing to report on new metrics under MACRA’s inaugural Quality Payment Program period. Set field requirements in your EHR or other healthcare IT platform to ensure the necessary data makes it into the system.

Format reporting data in a manner that highlights actionable insights.

How do you want to see reporting data portrayed? Data may need to be sourced as a dashboard, manipulated in Excel, or sent to a third party, depending on the project at hand. In most use cases, a visual representation of data can help administrators more easily:

  • Compare performance data to other hospitals.
  • Track metric performance over time.
  • Visualize outliers, high-performance areas, and low-performance areas.

Armed with that insight, stakeholders can quickly identify downward trending financial KPIs, clinical quality measures that best support the organizations value-based reporting endeavors, and more.

Develop a data governance strategy.

Avoid common data quality “gotchas” by developing a data governance plan that cultivates consistency in how data is documented. Implement EHR rules that bar duplicate data entry and support field normalization. Establish a data source hierarchy to defer to the highest quality data source in cases where fields may come from multiple sources.

End-users often have not considered the impact that data documentation has on the reporting perspective. Data quality issues revealed during reporting often drive process or policy changes and can shed light on training opportunities. Reporting is a data mining process that supports more effective decision making on behalf of the organization. With reporting and analytics poised to play an expanding role in healthcare initiatives like population health management and improved utilization management, now is an ideal time for healthcare organizations to engage reporting expertise to establish a strong foundation for data-driven success.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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10 Trends You Can Expect from Healthcare in 2018 

10 Trends You Can Expect from Healthcare in 2018  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

With 2017 almost in the rear-view mirror, it is time to look forward to 2018 and how healthcare will evolve in this year. The last year has been an eventful one for healthcare, from the uproar in healthcare regulations to potential mega-mergers. Needless to say, it’s a time of transition, and healthcare is in a very fluid state- evolving and expanding. There are certainly going to be new ways to keep healthcare providers and health IT pros stay engaged and excited, and here are our top 10 picks:

 

1. The future of the GOP Healthcare bill

The Republican healthcare reform bill gained immense traction this year. In their third attempt at putting a healthcare bill forward, the senators and the White House officials have been working round the clock to gather up votes, but somehow, the reservations persist. The lawmakers have insisted that Americans would not lose their vital insurance protections under their bill, including the guarantee that the plan would protect those with preexisting conditions. However, as it so happens, even these plans have been put to rest. Perhaps sometime in 2018, the GOP may pass a budget setting up reconciliation for tax reform, and then pass tax reform. Then, they would pass a budget setting up reconciliation for Obamacare repeal, and then pass that- it all remains to be seen.

2. The ongoing shift to value from volume

Despite speculations, healthcare providers, as well as CMS have pushed for more value-based care and payments tied to quality, but it’s been going slow. Although providers have been slightly resistant to take on risk, they do recognize the potential to contain costs and improve quality of care over value-based contracts. And perhaps as data assumes a central role in healthcare, the increasing availability of data and smarter integration of disconnected data systems will make the transition easier and scalable. Notably, with a $3.3 trillion healthcare expenditure this year, there has been slow down the cost growth. 2018 is expected to be much more impactful as it builds on the strong foundation.

3. Big data and analytics translating data into real health outcomes

Big data and analytics have always brought significant advancements in making healthcare technology-driven. With the help of big data and smart analytics, we are at a point in healthcare we can make a near-certain prediction about possible complications a patient can face, their possible readmission, and the outcomes of a care plan devised for them. Not only it could translate to better health outcomes for the patients, it could also make a difference in improving reimbursements and regulatory compliance.

4. Blockchain-based systems

Blockchain could arguably be one of the most disruptive technologies in healthcare. It is already being considered as a solution to healthcare’s longstanding challenge of interoperability and data exchange. Bringing blockchain-based systems will definitely require some changes from the ground up, but 2018 will have a glimpse of by innovation centered around blockchain and how it can enhance healthcare data exchange and ensure security. 

5. AI and IoT taking on a central role

2018 can witness a good amount of investment from healthcare leaders in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things. There is going to be a considerable advancement in technology, making the use of technology crucial in healthcare and assist an already unbalanced workforce. AI and IoT will not only prove instrumental in enhancing accuracy in clinical insights, and security, but could also be fruitful in reducing manual redundancy and ensuring fewer errors as we transition to a world of quality in care.

6. Digital health interventions and virtual care to improve access and treatment

In December 2016, many were suggesting that wearables were dead. Today, wearables are becoming one of the most sought-after innovation when it comes to digital health. And, the market is quickly diversifying as clinical wearables gain importance and as several renowned organizations integrate with each other. Not only wearables- there are several apps and biosensors that can assist providers with remotely tracking patient health, engage patients, interact with them, and streamline care operations. As technology becomes central to healthcare, 2018 will be the year when these apps and wearables boost the patient-physician interaction. 

7. The increasing importance of security

We deal with a tremendous amount of confidential and critical information in healthcare. It’s not just patient health information- it goes from credit card information to digital footprints. As the plethora of devices and systems storing information grows in size, a focus on ensuring becomes extremely vital as a breach could range from something as slight as information being stolen to as dangerous as a person being physically harmed. 2018 may be high time we took a good, hard look at the security of our infrastructure.

8. Payer-provider collaborations

Over the years, healthcare insurers have been stepping into primary care delivery model, encouraging prevention and wellness. At the same time, we have also witnessed the trend of hospitals and healthcare systems getting into the insurance part to take control of the complete patient care process. 2017 saw a lot of merger activity and 2018 will continue to see this synergy focused on value-based care, direct primary care, chronic care management, and patient engagement.

9. Possibly stable healthcare costs

Analysts predict that the healthcare industry will observe a growth of 6.5% in 2018, only half a percentage point higher than in 2017. And, after the changes like copays and network sizes are made to benefit plan design, this growth rate could be as low as 5.5%. Healthcare has long waited for an inflection point, where the spending will take off. But as it so happens, healthcare seems to be settling into a ‘new normal,’ where the fluctuations are more attuned and the growth rate remains in a single digit, with providers seeking strategies that would improve care management, optimize resource utilization and bring the costs down.

10. The future of ACA

There have been several debates and speculations regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act. With a new GOP healthcare bill on the cards, some things will stay the same, but with differences- people can still sign up on healthcare.gov, but the sign-up period would be shorter. They can still get subsidies to help lower their premiums or reduce their deductibles and copays, but some plans will be much more expensive. The future of ACA is still cloudy, and the attempts to repeal and replace ACA have been laid to rest, for now, but one thing is certain- a lot fewer people will enroll for ACA in 2018, fearing a repeal. 

This is definitely an amazing time in the digital health world. There may be complexities and uncertainty, but for any healthcare system deeply passionate about realizing data-driven outcomes, looking for technology that can drive their core processes and help them win with value-based care- 2018 will be the year!

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Hospitals, payers and docs collaborate on prior authorization 

Hospitals, payers and docs collaborate on prior authorization  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Dive Brief:

  • Multiple healthcare stakeholders, including the American Medical Association, American Hospital Association and America's Health Insurance Plans, are coming together to streamline prior authorization processes.

  • Prior authorization can assure appropriate, cost-effective care, but it can also create a burden for hospitals, payers and patients, the group acknowledges.

  • A consensus statement highlights the groups’ “shared commitment to industry-wide improvements to prior authorization processes and patient-centered care,” and calls for selective application and regular review of therapies that may not require such approval.

Dive Insight:

Also included in the group are the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), all calling for improving transparency and communication to improve prior authorization processes.

 

Tom Nickels, executive vice president of the AHA, said hospitals and health systems “are committed to delivering the best care for patients in the most efficient manner,” which are “goals we share with our partners in the health field.” “These principles provide a good starting point for providers and health plans to work together toward continuous improvement in quality of care and health outcomes while reducing unnecessary administrative burden,” said Nickels.

 

The consensus statement includes healthcare leaders working together to:

  • Reduce the number of healthcare professionals needed for prior authorization requirements
  • Regularly review services and medications that require prior authorization and remove ones that are no longer needed
  • Improve channels of communications between the stakeholders “to minimize care delays and ensure clarity” on prior authorizations
  • Protect continuity of care for patients
  • Accelerate industry adoption of national electronic stands for prior authorization

Richard Bankowitz, M.D., chief medical officer of AHIP, said the collaboration will improve the “process, promote quality and affordable health care, and reduce unnecessary burden.”

 

AMA Chair-elect Jack Resneck Jr., M.D., called the consensus “a good initial step.”

 

Prior authorizations have become the norm in healthcare, particularly for pricey procedures and tests. They have helped keep down costs, but at the expense of more work for providers. A December 2016 AMA survey found that physicians were completing an average of 37 prior authorizations each week, which took about 16.4 hours to process.

 

Through this initiative, healthcare stakeholders hope to improve patient care and remove administrative burdens for providers, payers and pharmacists, while maintaining checks in the system to keep costs under control. 

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Connecting the Dots: Referrals between Medical Care and Community Resources 

Connecting the Dots: Referrals between Medical Care and Community Resources  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Policymakers and providers all agree that addressing patients’ non-medical needs will be critical to improving health, health care, and health care costs, but little progress has been made towards integrating traditionally segmented services. What can and should a health care organization do? Realistically, most health care organizations will not build new lines of social services into their core clinical operations. Instead, leading organizations are connecting the dots by optimizing referrals to existing community resources. Based on phone interviews and site visits with executive leadership, frontline providers, and community partners, we highlight the work of nine innovative health care organizations. Here, we offer practical steps to reflect upon where your organization stands and where it might look to be in a referral model for community resources.

 

Starting point: Does your team have a useful resource library?

Useful is the key word here: we’re not talking about a static laundry list that simply names local community resources on a website or a print out. Useful resource libraries not only catalog existing community resources but also include pertinent details such as eligibility criteria. For example, at one organization we interviewed, health coaches use their electronic resource library to match the patient’s age, income, and residence profile with available community resources. To create the most useful resource library for your organization, we suggest querying your care team about what essential pieces of information would help them effectively and confidently refer patients to community resources.

Importantly, a resource library is only as useful as it is accurate and up-to-date. Organizations will need to identify who will monitor and update the resource library at regular intervals by visiting program websites, calling program contacts, or surveying providers about their experiences with listed community resources. For example, one organization we interviewed created a dedicated committee to appraise over 300 community resources that engage with their providers. Clearly, modifications to the resource library are to be expected, so electronic resource libraries (e.g. in a cloud-based platform or in the EHR) will be more dynamic than binders. Two organizations we interviewed are even using or contracting with companies that have created web-based resource libraries (e.g. Aunt Bertha, NowPow).

Next step: Who is responsible for referring patients?

Remember, the resource library is a tool not the solution. Organizations must lay out what roles will best enable referrals to community resources. Depending on your unique organization, referrals to community resources might be done through an entire team, an individual, or outsourced partners. For example, one larger organization we interviewed developed multidisciplinary teams of nurses and social workers, making specialized referrals and handoffs for particular social service domains (e.g. a housing team, transportation team, and nutrition team). In contrast, another organization used a single, centralized point person to make all referrals into the local community. Alternatively, two organizations we interviewed piloted with external partners (such as Health Leads) whose staff executes the referrals to specific community resources.

In addition to defined roles, organizations must not forget to develop associated workflows. What is the workflow to identify the patients with social service needs? What is the provider’s workflow to connect with whomever will make the community resource referrals? Are there workflows in place to follow-up regarding the referrals made to community resources? While developing these workflows, organizations need to consider what the preferred modes of communication are and which documentation platforms will facilitate the workflows. For example, one organization we interviewed built workflows into their EHR by tailoring the existing social service pathways of the Pathways Hub Model to fit the organization’s particular patient needs, staffing structure, and provider network. By strategically designing roles and workflows that support patient referrals to community resources, your organization shares responsibility for the success of the referral model.

Final move: Are you evaluating the impact?

Evaluating your referral model is crucial not only to intelligently decide what to keep, drop, or adapt but also to assess the impact of your work. All of the organizations we interviewed found it challenging to demonstrate that referrals to community resources directly influenced larger outcomes such as total costs of medical care. More immediately, data points that organizations may want to capture include the number of patients with different types of social service needs and the number of complete and incomplete referrals made to each community resource. For example, one organization we interviewed is tracking their rate of unsuccessful referrals to community resources in order to reveal where gaps in the community persist and subsequently inform advocacy efforts.

Furthermore, evaluating your referral model sets the foundation to build a business case for social service partnerships. A few organizations we interviewed were interested in entering financial arrangements with a curated network of community partners based on quality and other performance metrics, although these were generally still in the early stages of development. As organizations look to harmonize data collection and evaluation efforts, partners will need to agree upon the types of data, preferred reporting formats, and interval of reporting requests. In fact, based on interviews with community partners, we learned that many community partners are motivated to collect and exchange data on shared patients in order to improve their value proposition with grant funders and secure future funding.

Following the lead of innovative organizations, there are valuable opportunities for health care organizations to use a referral model with community resources. Health care organizations that leverage their local communities can more effectively match patients with comprehensive services critical to improving health status. Improving the referral model is a key sPolicymakers and providers all agree that addressing patients’ non-medical needs will be critical to improving health, health care, and health care costs, but little progress has been made towards integrating traditionally segmented services. What can and should a health care organization do? Realistically, most health care organizations will not build new lines of social services into their core clinical operations. Instead, leading organizations are connecting the dots by optimizing referrals to existing community resources. Based on phone interviews and site visits with executive leadership, frontline providers, and community partners, we highlight the work of nine innovative health care organizations. Here, we offer practical steps to reflect upon where your organization stands and where it might look to be in a referral model for community resources.
 
Starting point: Does your team have a useful resource library?
Useful is the key word here: we’re not talking about a static laundry list that simply names local community resources on a website or a print out. Useful resource libraries not only catalog existing community resources but also include pertinent details such as eligibility criteria. For example, at one organization we interviewed, health coaches use their electronic resource library to match the patient’s age, income, and residence profile with available community resources. To create the most useful resource library for your organization, we suggest querying your care team about what essential pieces of information would help them effectively and confidently refer patients to community resources.
Importantly, a resource library is only as useful as it is accurate and up-to-date. Organizations will need to identify who will monitor and update the resource library at regular intervals by visiting program websites, calling program contacts, or surveying providers about their experiences with listed community resources. For example, one organization we interviewed created a dedicated committee to appraise over 300 community resources that engage with their providers. Clearly, modifications to the resource library are to be expected, so electronic resource libraries (e.g. in a cloud-based platform or in the EHR) will be more dynamic than binders. Two organizations we interviewed are even using or contracting with companies that have created web-based resource libraries (e.g. Aunt Bertha, NowPow).
Next step: Who is responsible for referring patients?
Remember, the resource library is a tool not the solution. Organizations must lay out what roles will best enable referrals to community resources. Depending on your unique organization, referrals to community resources might be done through an entire team, an individual, or outsourced partners. For example, one larger organization we interviewed developed multidisciplinary teams of nurses and social workers, making specialized referrals and handoffs for particular social service domains (e.g. a housing team, transportation team, and nutrition team). In contrast, another organization used a single, centralized point person to make all referrals into the local community. Alternatively, two organizations we interviewed piloted with external partners (such as Health Leads) whose staff executes the referrals to specific community resources.
In addition to defined roles, organizations must not forget to develop associated workflows. What is the workflow to identify the patients with social service needs? What is the provider’s workflow to connect with whomever will make the community resource referrals? Are there workflows in place to follow-up regarding the referrals made to community resources? While developing these workflows, organizations need to consider what the preferred modes of communication are and which documentation platforms will facilitate the workflows. For example, one organization we interviewed built workflows into their EHR by tailoring the existing social service pathways of the Pathways Hub Model to fit the organization’s particular patient needs, staffing structure, and provider network. By strategically designing roles and workflows that support patient referrals to community resources, your organization shares responsibility for the success of the referral model.
Final move: Are you evaluating the impact?
Evaluating your referral model is crucial not only to intelligently decide what to keep, drop, or adapt but also to assess the impact of your work. All of the organizations we interviewed found it challenging to demonstrate that referrals to community resources directly influenced larger outcomes such as total costs of medical care. More immediately, data points that organizations may want to capture include the number of patients with different types of social service needs and the number of complete and incomplete referrals made to each community resource. For example, one organization we interviewed is tracking their rate of unsuccessful referrals to community resources in order to reveal where gaps in the community persist and subsequently inform advocacy efforts.
Furthermore, evaluating your referral model sets the foundation to build a business case for social service partnerships. A few organizations we interviewed were interested in entering financial arrangements with a curated network of community partners based on quality and other performance metrics, although these were generally still in the early stages of development. As organizations look to harmonize data collection and evaluation efforts, partners will need to agree upon the types of data, preferred reporting formats, and interval of reporting requests. In fact, based on interviews with community partners, we learned that many community partners are motivated to collect and exchange data on shared patients in order to improve their value proposition with grant funders and secure future funding.
Following the lead of innovative organizations, there are valuable opportunities for health care organizations to use a referral model with community resources. Health care organizations that leverage their local communities can more effectively match patients with comprehensive services critical to improving health status. Improving the referral model is a key step in connecting the dots between medical care and community resources, a small move toward systematically caring for the whole person rather than the discreet set of problems bringing a patient into a given provider’s office.tep in connecting the dots between medical care and community resources, a small move toward systematically caring for the whole person rather than the discreet set of problems bringing a patient into a given provider’s office.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Pros and Cons of a Radiology Information System

Pros and Cons of a Radiology Information System | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Pros and Cons of a Radiology Information System

RADIOLOGY INFORMATION SYSTEM

 

It can be extremely difficult to get by with an outdated, paper-based system to manage all the patients you treat in your radiology practice. Owners and managers of radiology-focused practices who fail to computerize their operations run the risk of losing patients as well as staff because most people dislike putting up with inefficiencies when more suitable alternatives are now available.

So, if you have been seeing a decline in your patient population or are having difficulty attracting and holding onto a competent work force, part of the problem might be your antiquated methods for record keeping.

Most healthcare professionals are aware of the need to modernize their methods and work with a state-of-the-art radiology information system or RIS but may not be sure about what a RIS actually is.

 

RIS software has increasingly grown in popularity in practices across the country in recent years because of the efficiency and convenience it brings to the workflow. A RIS helps you keep track of all patient data, including giving staff easier access to images, faster documentation capability, and a more convenient way to schedule appointments.

To help you in the decision making process with your key stakeholders, here are pros and cons of a radiology information system that you’ll want to become familiar with.

Pros of Radiology Information Systems

Before selecting and implementing a RIS at your facility, here are major pros for you to consider:

  • Better communication with referring doctors
    • It’s important to consider the medical professionals outside of your office who may need to be involved in a patient’s care. A RIS can integrate with the referring doctor’s electronic health record or EHR system, so you can access patient data easily and quickly.
    • The result is a better experience for referring doctors, which dramatically increases the likelihood they’ll refer more patients to you. All other things being equal, the medical practice that makes things easier for the referring doctor should expect to get more patients thanks to the RIS.
  • Faster payments
    • A chief benefit of a RIS is that you can use it to verify insurance before a patient visit. The electronic payments you are now capable of receiving means that you get paid faster.
  • Improve efficiency
    • It’s much faster to find, input, and create reports from patient data when the records are computerized. Remember how tedious it is to sift through paper records, especially if they have become disordered.
    • With the information digitized and no longer needing to be entered into records a second or third time, not only are you working more efficiently, your staff is on track to dramatically reduce errors.
  • Meet MACRA requirements
    • The Medicare and CHIP Reauthorization Act, or MACRA, which congress passed in 2015, has reporting requirements you must adhere to.
    • With a RIS, you get MACRA dashboards that will ensure that you’re meeting the reporting requirements for MACRA. You can remain confident that you’ll get proper reimbursement and avoid penalization for non-compliance.

Cons of Radiology Information Systems

While there are many benefits to deploying a radiology information system, there are a few drawbacks that you and your stakeholders should consider so you can address them head-on once you pull the trigger and select a RIS. Here are the chief cons of any RIS that are worth keeping in mind:

  • Security concerns
    • Anytime you introduce a new computer system to your network, you have to account for hackers trying to break in and steal sensitive patient information. You have a mandate to protect these details, to meet HIPAA requirements. If your system is not properly secured, a computer criminal can breech the RIS in a number of ways. For example, an employee may click on a link in an email or text message that contains dangerous malware that infects your system.
    • Many medical practices are contending with a new type of attack on healthcare IT systems known as ransomware. A version of malware that keeps you from accessing patient records, it’s an insidious attack. The criminals gain unauthorized access to the network and then hold the data hostage.
    • Victims are instructed to send money to the criminals before the patient records will be unlocked. This is risky for patients because of the potential for identity theft, the release of their private details and the draining of their bank accounts. What’s more, it can destroy a practice’s hard-won good reputation in the community and lead to the business needing to be shut down.
    • However, this threat should not deter you in your efforts to install a new RIS. You can alleviate hacker fears if you work with a secure vendor that will ensure your system has the latest software security protocols in place before deployment.
  • Learning curve for staff
    • As with any new technology, when you first implement the RIS, there can be a period where the staff is not used to the software. Mistakes will be made in the beginning, to be sure, no matter how computer-savvy you are.
    • It’s best to go with a vendor with experience in developing RIS software that has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, with everything the employee needs easily located in the menu options and keyboard commands.

Is a RIS right for Your Practice?

It’s difficult to imagine any radiology practice that wouldn’t benefit from an RIS. The sheer convenience that comes from computerizing patient records should be enough to convince any stakeholder. But the ability to schedule patient appointments much faster is another important selling point.

The fact that you can share information on patients with referring physicians in an instant over the network is another clear benefit that is difficult to ignore. You may wind up getting more referred patients once these doctors see how much easier it is to work with you as compared to a practice that has to dust off the fax machine or use messengers to deliver vital documents when time is of the essence.

Running your radiology practice will go much more smoothly when you computerize as much as possible and add a RIS to your system. You will save a great deal of staff time inputting patient records, scheduling appointments, accessing the latest images and sharing information with referring doctors.

Now what remains is for you to select the most appropriate RIS application for your practice and look into training to help bring your staff up to speed on using this important software tool.

Key Takeaway:

  • Trying to get by with an old-fashioned, paper-based method for keeping track of patient records is a hindrance to your practice.
  • Radiology practices that fail to computerize run the risk of losing patients as well as employees who know about more efficient options.
  • Before you decide to implement a radiology information system in your practice, it’s useful to consider the pros and cons.
  • Make sure that your software provider updates the RIS software periodically.
  • You may need to allocate time and other resources to ensure that your staff is properly trained in using the new RIS.
  • Referring physicians will appreciate the convenience you offer by transmitting patient information via a network from the RIS.
Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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Wearables and HealthIT

Wearables and HealthIT | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The market for healthcare wearables is expanding and is now going beyond smart watches and fitness trackers. In a study by PWC, it was noted that consumers are now showing solid support for wearables, with almost 60% seeing value in connected fitness bands, watches, eyeglasses and clothing. And health remains the No. 1 reason that consumers are buying these devices.

 

In a prediction by Tractica by 2021, healthcare wearables will be worth $ 17.8 billion. This could potentially be true with devices like Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike and the like’s going beyond fitness tracking, typically mounted on the wrist, ankle, or belt—track the physical activities of the wearer, including steps taken, stairs climbed, sleep hours and quality logged, and distance traveled. But wearables are now going beyond all of these fitness monitors.

 

There could soon be medical sensors that could be made to track health from inside, with this new technology patients will be able to ingest the sensors in the form of a pill and once the work is done, the pill will dissolve. The aim behind an ingestible capsule is that make the operation of tapping vitals, a simple task without the need of wearing a band or a device.

 

There are talks of IBM creating chips that are a piece of software that can be implanted into the brain to prevent seizures. There’s also talk of stomach acid being used to power batteries. In reality, there is no telling where this rapidly paced industry will head to next.

With so much happening on the wearables front and a lot of data being generated, the future could see doctors studying both medicine and statistics.

Key benefits of wearables include:

  • Easy monitoring of patients: This is especially true for patients with chronic ailments, who need to be in constant touch with the vitals, they need to be aware of any sudden change in vitals that could impact their health
  • Reduce Care co-ordination: Reducing the demands on family doctors and other primary care providers. The knock-on benefits could be even greater: by improving quality of care, reduced hospital admissions and bed stays.
  • Data analytics and big data: with the use of data so collected, the research work on various diseases and ailments has been expedited. The analytic s allows for an in-depth study of the vitals and helps in making decisions for providers.
  • Reduce costs: with easy patient monitoring and reduced care coordination the costs of hospitalization have reduced considerably.
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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:40 PM
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Does mobile technology help in improving mental health?

Does mobile technology help in improving mental health? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As part of a recent study on mobile technology, when a user told Cortana that he/she wanted to commit suicide, the program redirected the user to a web search page while Siri replied with information from a National suicide hotline. S-Voice offered some human touch and responded “I want you to be OK, please talk to me,” but didn’t offer any other outside help.

To questions with respect to depression, these programs only responded with “I’m sorry to hear that” and “It breaks my heart to hear that.”

 

In this study conducted by Northwestern University, Stanford University and the University of California-San Francisco, researchers surveyed the responses of Google Now, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Samsung’s S Voice to assess questions related to mental health issues or abuse. The results were incomplete and inconsistent responses from these conversational agents. Though most of the people rely on Smartphones to access their health data or information about medical conditions, addressing mental health issues through mobile technology hasn’t made much headway.

 

This study in itself is enough to suggest that tech companies as well as the healthcare sector need to ramp-up their efforts to research about mobile tools for addressing mental health issues. Researchers from the University of Manchester and Lancaster University said that “Previous research has indicated that interventions delivered in this format are acceptable for people with Serious Mental Illness (SMI). However, a comprehensive systematic review is needed to investigate the acceptability of online and mobile phone-delivered interventions for SMI in depth”.

Mobile apps are increasingly being used to track social interaction, moods, human behavior and speech & voice levels to help people suffering from mental issues. These apps can help to reduce instance of negative behavior and can be used as an alternative treatment method for people affected by depression and anxiety. Naturally, experts believe that these apps should be backed by clinical evidence to ensure effectiveness before release to consumers.

 

During the trial of a cognitive behavioral therapy app, Catch It, conducted by the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, the University of Liverpool’s Computer Services and the University of Manchester’s School of Psychological Science, researchers found a significant reduction in negative behavior amongst 285 participants in six weeks.

One of the report’s authors, Professor Peter Kinderman, said “This type of therapy cannot remove problems, but it can help people deal with them in a more positive way. It is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle,”

 

What concerns experts is the limited attention span of patients when using mobile technology to treat mental health issues. The key to improving these patients condition is to keep them engaged throughout the process and, a mobile tool might lack in that area due to the absence of human interaction. To be completely effective, patients would need to use these tools regularly on their own. Unfortunately, technology makes us impatient and shortens our attention spans. Moreover, Users of mobile health apps discontinue its usage after sometime of download confirming the low engagement level of most of the health apps.

 

To successfully treat mental health issues, the Healthcare sector would need to come out with engaging mobile solutions that make patients come back again and again for improved way of thinking to alter their behavioral patterns. While a human touch would still be required, because essentially mental health issues occur as a result of human relationships only, Smartphone apps can serve as a mode to gather passive data for mental health professionals who are unable to track their patients’ behavior.

One way or other, mobile technology is expected to play a significant role in the mental health segment.

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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:41 PM
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Operating Room Advances: 4 Tech Updates that are Revolutionizing the Surgical World

Operating Room Advances: 4 Tech Updates that are Revolutionizing the Surgical World | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

In recent years, the medical field has made astounding advances with the help of modern technology. These improvements have saved countless lives and made illnesses that could not be treated a mere few decades ago either curable or manageable. One of the areas of medicine that has most benefited from technological advancement is surgery. Here are just a few of the dozens of technologies that are changing the operating room and making surgeries safer and more successful. 

  
Surgical Robots

One of the most exciting breakthroughs of recent years has been the incorporation of robots into surgical procedures. Beginning with the Da Vinci surgical robot, more and more operating rooms have begun to use robotic systems to execute delicate surgeries. These robots are still controlled by human surgeons, but thanks to their greater degree of stability and ability to work in very small spaces, the robots can perform operations with a higher degree of precision than human hands are capable of achieving. Fully automated surgical robots for simple tasks like suturing incisions have also begun to make their way into the surgical theater. Many even believe that fully-robotic surgeries may one day be possible, albeit under human supervision. 

  
Electrosurgical Technologies 

Far from the comparatively primitive set of hand tools, stitches and sutures that surgeons once had access to, the modern operating room contains a plethora of complex pieces of electrical equipment. Among these pieces of equipment are electrosurgical tool, which use electrical energy to perform tasks such as making incisions of cauterizing wounds. While these technologies are of considerable usefulness, they also produce hazardous by-products in the form of smoke. To facilitate their increased use in surgery, smoke evacuation technologies have also had to be developed. Smoke pencils and other Smoke evacuation devices, in particular, are quickly becoming a standard tool in operating rooms because of their efficacy in eliminating this common environmental hazard.

Virtual Reality Surgical Planning

One side of surgery that most people never get to see is the planning phase, in which surgeons and support staff determine the best methods and approaches for operations on particular patients. This process can be long and labor-intensive, but the use of virtual reality for visualization has improved in considerably in the past couple of years. Surgeons can now use VR technology, coupled with patient imaging scans, to plan the exact route of the surgical process. This kind of planning is faster and, in many cases, more successful than more traditional methods, allowing for lower delay times prior to surgery and a more efficient operation in the actual operating room. 


Precision Brain Biopsy Needles

One of the most delicate biopsy procedures has always been the brain biopsy. Without extreme caution, a biopsy of brain tissue can cause disastrous complications. New so-called "smart needles," however, are making this procedure much safer for patients and much easier for surgeons. These needles incorporate imaging technology that allows surgeons to directly see blood vessels and other tissue. When combined with software that is capable of recognizing blood vessels, these needles can substantially reduce the risk of accidental vessel damage during a brain biopsy. Similar technologies have been created to reduce the risks associated with other internal procedures.

  

The rapid advance of computational and mechanical technologies in the last several years has greatly benefited surgeons and the medical professionals who assist them in the operating room. As these technologies continue to improve and become more accessible to hospitals, they have the potential to improve surgical performance and save many more lives. For these and other high-tech surgical instruments, the future is looking extremely bright.

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Amazing Technologies Changing The Future of Dermatology 

Your body’s best guard in a hostile world: your skin

Everything is written on your skin. Every wrinkle, spot, and color tells a story, and not only a medical one. This miraculous organ can show you as a litmus paper whether you have a disease. For example, people with few red blood cells may look pale, while patients suffering from hepatitis have yellowish skin color. Yet, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The skin protects you against moisture, the howling winter winds, the scorching sun rays, the swarm of germs and toxic substances. It acts as the most reliable thermostat: helps you prevent dehydration and protects you from the consequences of too much heat or cold. It allows you to feel sensations: touching, itching and even pain. As weird as it sounds, the skin also acts as a storage room: its deepest layer can store water, fat or metabolic products. If it is injured, it produces wounds. And while it protects you from an unimaginably huge amount of parasites, bacteria, viruses, and germs, sometimes the price for not letting these disease agents into the organism is its own disease.

Skin cancer is too common

According to statistics from the WHO, currently, between 2 and 3 million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. Data from the US Skin Cancer Foundation suggests that each year over 5.4 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are treated in more than 3.3 million people only in the US. The annual cost of treating skin cancers there is estimated at $8.1 billion: about $4.8 billion for non-melanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma, which is an insanely huge number. And what is even scarier? For example, the fact that according to the estimations One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.

The situation is not a tiny bit better in other countries. In 2014, 15,419 new melanoma skin cancer cases were diagnosed, Cancer Research UK found. The results of their surveys also indicate that incidence rates have increased by 119 percent in the UK since the early 1990s. And if you look at the last decade, this number still reaches 45 percent. International trends aren’t a cause for more hope, either. A study found that the incidence of cutaneous malignant melanoma has steadily increased over the past 50 years in predominately fair-skinned populations. Moreover, incidence rates of melanoma continue to rise in most European countries (primarily Southern and Eastern Europe), whereas, in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, Israel and Norway, rates have become rather stable in recent years.

Luckily, digital technologies are on their way to help dermatologists diagnose and treat skin diseases better and more effective. Innovative solutions have a huge impact on healthcare in general, but in case of certain subfields, such as surgery, even the transformation of the whole specialty can be expected. Looking at dermatology, it will probably not experience such a radical turn as surgery, but the shift will still be determining. Technology has been shaping dermatology praxises for years, and this will accelerate in the coming years. Here, I decided to enlist all the digital solutions which help medical professionals truly bring dermatology into the 21st century.

Telemedicine

As you can easily detect if you have a skin problem, and smartphones coupled with super-fast internet connection make it easy to send pictures or footage anywhere, telehealth solutions appeared naturally in dermatology. The options of teledermatology services are soaring. FirstDerm, Spruce, Direct Dermatology, SkinMDnow, Zwivel or iDoc24. They all work based on the same principle: they promise patients to connect them to a dermatologist online for consultation within a very short period of time. Usually, people can load up their photos to a certain platform, and dermatologists give advice based on it.

The popularity of the platforms shows there was an urgent need for this solution. iDoc24 had already more than 7,000 cases submitted from all over the world. It also turned out that the majority of the issues were rather harmless: iDoc24 found 70 percent of all their reviewed cases could be self-treated and they advised the patient to undertake further tests in all the remaining 30 percent of cases. It is a win-win for everyone: patients do not have to wait in crowded waiting rooms for an exam, while dermatologists can deal with the easier cases in shorter time online.

2) Big Data

The analysis of Electric Health Records (EHRs) and other huge data sets allows for the optimization of even such mammoth-like systems as healthcare. Data analytics help improve the quality and coordination of care, reduce the incurred costs and avoid unnecessary use of resources. Dermatologists also recognized the huge potential of big data to bring lasting change to their specialty.

The American Academy of Dermatology introduced a clinical registry called DataDerm in 2016. The database was created by dermatologists and connects data on millions of patients from thousands of dermatologists throughout the US. It eases the pain of reporting and allows medical professionals to demonstrate the quality of care they provide, to payers, policy makers, and the medical community. At the same time, it gives every member a private analysis of his or her practice’s data against national averages – down to the patient level. It is great for setting standards in dermatology, measuring each participant how they perform and ensuring the average quality of care.

3) Robotics

Amazing high-tech machines appeared on the stage of medicine lately. The New Jersey-based company, Canfield Scientific have recently installed the first commercial Vectra WB360 whole-body skin lesionmapping system. It is able to take a 360-degree scan of the entire body and identifies all the lesions on the skin. But what is even more exciting, the potential in robots helping dermatologists, especially aesthetic dermatologists in the future.

Many skin cancer types and other skin problems are treated with laser therapies, and a study found that robots might be able to help there. Researchers compared the accuracy and consistency of laser irradiation treatments carried out by humans and robotic arms, and investigators found the robot-guided treatments to be superior to the manually guided treatments. In the future, we can expect laser therapies to be carried out by “robotic surgeons” with humans controlling the process.

4) Artificial Intelligence

Deep learning algorithms are especially good at recognizing certain images, thus they will certainly have a place in the future of medical specialties dealing with medical imaging, such as radiology or dermatology. For example, IBM decided to let dermatologists leverage on the results of its deep learning platform, Watson in order to diagnose melanoma and other types of skin cancer faster, more accurate and preferably without the need for many biopsies. At the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, experts found that their deep learning system was able to achieve a 76% accuracy at diagnosing melanoma cases based on dermatology images, while the average accuracy for the eight dermatologists on that data set was 70.5%. It is a very promising result!

Researchers at Stanford University carried out a similar experiment. They created an artificially intelligent diagnosis algorithm for skin cancer with the help of an algorithm developed by Google that was already trained to identify 1.28 million images from 1,000 object categories. Then, they made a database of nearly 130,000 skin disease images representing over 2,000 different diseases; and trained their algorithm to visually diagnose potential cancer. From the very first test, it performed with inspiring accuracy. It performed at least as well as dermatologists participating in the research, which is very impressive! Now, the team is considering to make the algorithm smartphone compatible in the near future, bringing reliable skin cancer diagnoses to our fingertips. Mind-blowing innovation in sight!

5) 3D Printing

The answer for organ shortages of all kinds, including skin, as well as to the increasing reluctance to test new cosmetic, chemical, and pharmaceutical products on animals, is 3D printing. Many innovators recognized it already and plenty of research is going on. Scientists at the Spanish Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in collaboration with the bioengineering firm BioDan Group have presented a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that can create an entirely functional human skin. James Yoo and his team at the Wake Forest School of Medicinein the US has also developed a similar prototype that can create synthetic skin. San Diego-based bioprinting firm Organovo teamed up with cosmetics giant L’Oréal in 2015 to supply 3D-printed skin.

3D printing could ensure that critical tissue shortages, which were reported for example in Australia in 2016or in Japan in March 2017, would never again hamper the tasks of medical professionals.

6) Regeneration

Injuries of the skin take a long time to heal. For a 10 mm cut, it takes 1-2 weeks to turn into a scar and then slowly fade away. Researchers are working on various innovations for shortening the healing process and accelerating the natural responses of the human organism for more effective skin regeneration.

Healthpoint Biotherapeutics developed a skin cell spray to improve conventional treatment for leg ulcers. According to a study, applied prior to wrapping the leg with compression bandages, the spray both improved the extent of healing and did it in less time than healing with bandages alone. Another remarkable innovation is ACell’s MatriStem, an extracellular matrix, which helps regrow tissues – it even induced the regrowth of an amputated fingertip in 2010. A very similar extracellular matrix helped treat a US Marine who lost 70 percent of his thigh muscle in a mortar explosion in Afghanistan. Researchers at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh applied a “cocktail of proteins” and growth factors derived from pig bladders. After a few weeks, his leg muscles started to grow back! Simply amazing!

7) Social media

Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the social media platforms which everyone with an internet connection knows and uses. They are wonderful communication tools, sources of information and common knowledge, they function as community building platforms and spaces for promoting great causes. It is no different regarding healthcare – or dermatology, for that matter.

For example, Webicina, the first medical web 2.0 guidance service, offers Dermatology and Web 2.0, a free comprehensive resource containing all the web 2.0 tools from quality blogs and communities to online slideshows and mobile applications. It was designed to help medical professionals interested in dermatology find the best resources online. Moreover, La Roche-Posay, a division of L’Oreal, uses social media to promote its SOS Save our Skin campaign, which it does in conjunction with the US Women’s Dermatologic Society. The American Academy of Dermatology launched its 2017 SPOT Skin Cancer campaign, which is encouraging women to check both their partners and themselves for signs of skin cancer. The AAD started the #SpotSkinCancer hashtag on social media and encourages everyone to share their photos or videos to raise awareness how important it is to detect skin cancer in time.

8) Health sensors

As the market for wearables and health sensors is exploding, you can find all kinds of tiny gadgets measuring your vital signs and health parameters. In the future, some of these devices will not only do measurements but offer diagnosis or participate in the treatment of certain diseases. Skin-related conditions might be the first to diagnose or treat with small, sensor-like materials or gadgets. This year, L’Oréal introduced its wearable sensor for measuring sun exposure and notifying the user when they are about to get sunburn. The patch changes color to warn against skin cancer.

What’s more, a group of Indian researchers presented a unique patch for treating skin cancer at the Society of Nuclear Medicine’s Annual Meeting in 2012. The patch is infused with phosphorus-32, a radioactive isotope used to treat some types of cancer. The researchers carried out a small study on the effectiveness of the patch and the results were very promising. Ten patients with skin cancer on their faces were treated with the patch, and three months after the treatment, biopsies showed no sign of their tumors. When biopsies were performed again at six months, however, the basal cell carcinomas had returned in two of the patients. I believe it is a great achievement, and I hope to hear about more similar research projects in the future.

9) Nanotechnology and nanoparticles

Nanotechnology proves to be a fertile field in dermatology and especially in cosmetics; as nanoparticles make their way into UV-light absorbing sunscreens and anti-aging products. When properly engineered, nanomaterials may be able to topically deliver retinoids, antioxidants, and drugs such as botulinum toxin or growth factors for rejuvenation of the skin in the future.

Yet, nanotechnology also has to offer a lot in the fight against cancer. Researchers also are reviewing the use of nanomaterials for the treatment of melanoma. In particular, gold, when turned into a nanomaterial called nanoshells, has been shown to be a useful treatment for melanoma in animal studies. So, perhaps skin cancer will be treated by gold in the future. Who knew that everyone’s favorite jewelry material has such beneficial traits?

 

Although the above list certainly has its limitations, it shows the vast potential of digital technologies to change the landscape of dermatology very soon. Thus, a student who wants to become a dermatologist might better become friends with disruptive innovations to get the most out of them when they start practicing.

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jeremybdda's curator insight, November 20, 2017 4:11 AM
Nanoparticules et pansements
Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:41 PM
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AI in healthcare: The unevenly distributed future is here

AI in healthcare: The unevenly distributed future is here | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

AI. Cognitive. RPA. Autonomics. Machine learning. Deep learning.

All these terms fly around in IT organizations today as CIOs, battling marketplace uncertainties and cost pressures, look for ways to enhance enterprise performance. As with most technology trends, the hype tends to overhang reality by a significant margin in the early stages of adoption, much in line with Gartner’s hype cycletheory.

 

Early this year, I wrote a piece that discussed how emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain will drive precision medicine this year. Halfway into the year, the signs are that the use of AI technologies has definitely picked up momentum.

 

A recent study by consulting firm Accenture provides us some interesting data points. Artificial Intelligence or AI in healthcare is expected to grow more than 10x in the next five years, to around $ 6.6 billion, at a compounded rate of over 40%. AI represents a $150 billion savings opportunity for healthcare, across a wide range of applications: robot-assisted surgery, clinical diagnosis and treatment options, and operational efficiencies, to name a few. In my firm’s work with healthcare technology firms and enterprises, there is definitely a palpable excitement about the growing demand for AI in healthcare. Before unpacking what that means, it may be worthwhile defining some of the terms that are used interchangeably and synonymously with AI.

 

At the operating levels, autonomics and robotic process automation (RPA) refer to software that runs on pre-determined rules and eliminates the need for human intervention (a good example is fetching benefit eligibility information in a health plan or managing routine IT infrastructure operations). In many cases, these tools – sometimes referred to as “bots” – learn from patterns of requests and remediate/update their algorithms to respond in a more intelligent fashion over time. At higher levels of application, cognitive and AI systems aim to “mimic” humans in terms of reasoning and judgment based on techniques such as neural networks and Bayesian models that help these technologies come close to making decisions in a human-like manner. However, as IBM CEO Ginni Rometty points out, these techniques are more about augmenting human intelligence today, not replacing it (man and machine, not man vs. machine).

 

There is no doubt that these emerging technologies can transform healthcare. There is a rapidly growing body of use cases and successful applications of AI in operational and clinical areas. Here are a few examples of how AI technologies are currently being applied in the healthcare and life sciences sectors.

 

Health plans: There is considerable traction today applying RPA tools and AI technologies for improving productivity and efficiencies in health plans. By codifying workflow rules and enabling self-learning through ontological patterns and databases, these technologies are being used in areas such as provider data management, claim approvals and exception management, fraud detection, and customer service operations.

 

Health systems: AI and automation tools have found wide applications in a range of functions including revenue cycle operations, diagnosis and treatment, and population health management initiatives. IBM’s Watson Health engine, for example, has made significant strides in applying cognitive and AI technologies in the field of oncology and diabetic retinopathy, allowing the search and analysis of vast amounts of data and knowledge to provide clinicians with inputs for targeted intervention options.

 

Life sciences: Pharma companies have started successfully applying AI tools in clinical trial phases of new drugs by automatically generating content required for regulatory submissions and reviews. On the other side of the equation, these tools are being applied in pharmacovigilance for case intake and reporting on the adverse effects of drugs. There is increasing interest in the use of AI for improving efficiencies in supply chain operations. 

 

Across all of these segments, there are several commonly used applications, an example of which is the use of AI technologies for IT infrastructure operations in detecting and remediating network errors and application failures. Another example is the use of AI in patient engagement programs, especially for managing chronic conditions such as diabetes through automated alerts and interventions based on analysis of real-time data gathered through intelligent devices and wearables.

 

As the use of AI technologies gains momentum, more use cases will surely emerge. As healthcare transitions from a fee-for-service to a value-based care era, the need for advanced technologies for everything from precision medicine to increased operational efficiencies and improved patient engagement will drive the adoption rates for these technologies. Many of these initial projects are in pilot phases, and in the broader context, there is a relatively small number of healthcare enterprises that are investing in these technologies and programs. That is par for the course for new technologies in any field. Mainstream adoption may be a bit further away, and in the current environment of policy uncertainty, many of the smaller enterprises are likely to be in wait and watch mode, choosing to stay with business as usual till there is some clarity.

 

To paraphrase the sci-fi writer William Gibson, the future is already here, only it is unevenly distributed. This may be the most accurate summary of AI in healthcare at this time.

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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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10 Biggest Technological Advancements for Healthcare in the Last Decade

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

The reach of technological innovation continues to grow, changing all industries as it evolves. In healthcare, technology is increasingly playing a role in almost all processes, from patient registration to data monitoring, from lab tests to self-care tools.

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

 

1. 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."

 

2. 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."

 

3. 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.

 

4. 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."

 

5. Self-service kiosks. Similar to portal technology, self-service kiosks can help expedite processes like hospital registration. "Patients can increasingly do everything related to registration without having to talk to anyone," Mr. Higman says. "This can help with staffing savings, and some patients are more comfortable with it." Automated kiosks can assist patients with paying co-pays, checking identification, signing paperwork and other registration requirements. Mr. Higman says there are also tablet variations that allow the same technology to be used in outpatient and bedside settings. However, hospitals need to be cautious when integrating it to ensure human to human communication is not entirely eliminated. "If a person wants to speak to a person, they should be able to speak with a person," he says.

 

6. Remote monitoring tools. At the end of 2012, 2.8 million patients worldwide were using a home monitoring system, according to a Research and Markets report. Monitoring patients' health at home can reduce costs and unnecessary visits to a physician's office. Mr. Higman offers the example of a cardiac cast with a pacemaker automatically transmitting data to a remote center. "If there's something wrong for a patient, they can be contacted," he says. "It's basically allowing other people to monitor your health for you. It may sound invasive but is great for patients with serious and chronic illnesses."

An article by Kaiser Health News, National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio discussed the effects a home monitoring system had on readmission rates for heart disease patients at Duluth, Minn.-based Essentia Health. The national average rate of readmissions for patients with heart disease is 25 percent, but after Essentia Health implemented a home monitoring system, the rates of readmission for their heart disease patients fell to a mere two percent. And now that hospitals are being financially penalized for readmissions, home monitoring systems may offer a solution to avoid those penalties.

 

7. Sensors and wearable technology. The wearable medical device market is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 16.4 percent a year, according to a Transparency Market Research report. Wearable medical devices and sensors are simply another way to collect data, which Dr. Chopra says is one of the aims and purposes of healthcare. He says sensors and wearable technology could be as simple as an alert sent to a care provider when a patient falls down or a bandage that can detect skin pH levels to tell if a cut is getting infected. "Anything we are currently using where a smart sensor could be is part of that solution," Dr. Chopra says. "We're able to take a lot of these data points to see if something abnormal is happening."

 

8. Wireless communication. While instant messaging and walkie-talkies aren't new technologies themselves, they have only recently been introduced into the hospital setting, replacing devices like beepers and overhead pagers. "Hospitals are catching up to the 21st century with staff communicating to one another," Mr. Higman says, adding that internal communication advancements in hospitals followed a slower development timeline since they had to account for security and HIPAA concerns.

Systems like Vocera Messaging offer platforms for users to send secure messages like lab tests and alerts to one another using smartphones, web-based consoles or third-party clinical systems. These messaging systems can expedite the communication process while still tracking and logging sent and received information in a secure manner.

 

9. Real-time locating services. Another growing data monitoring tool, real-time locating services, are helping hospitals focus on efficiency and instantly identify problem areas. Hospitals can implement tracking systems for instruments, devices and even clinical staff. Mr. Higman says these services gather data on areas and departments that previously were difficult to track. "Retrospective analysis can only go so far, particularly in places constantly changing like emergency departments," he says, but tracking movement with a real-time locating service can highlight potential issues in efficiency and utilization.

These tools also allow flexibility for last minute changes. "If [a physician has] an add-on case today, do they have instruments on hand, and where are [the instruments]?" he asks. At the most basic level, these services can ensure equipment and supplies aren't leaving the building, and for high-cost equipment and supplies of which hospitals may only have one or a few, being able to track their location can help verify its utilization, he says.

 

10. Pharmacogenomics/genome sequencing. Personalized medicine continues to edge closer to the forefront of the healthcare industry. Tailoring treatment plans to individuals and anticipating the onset of certain diseases offers promising benefits for healthcare efficiency and diagnostic accuracy. Pharmacogenomics in particular could help reduce the billions of dollars in excess healthcare spending due to adverse drug events, misdiagnoses, readmissions and other unnecessary costs.

Before a full-fledged system of pharmacogenomics comes to fruition, the healthcare industry needs a tool that can aggregate and analyze all the big data and digital health information, Mr. Hoover says. "When we really start to have the ability to study a lot of that data, it's going to transfer how we match up that information at the population, individual and macro levels," he says. "The ability to actually compare that information is going to be valuable as we move forward, making sure medications we are taking are going to work for us."

 

Tools for big data analysis for pharmacogenomics are still being developed, but data analytics and data aggregation for the purpose of population health may be the next big advancement on the horizon. "Understanding and connecting all these variables is going to be profound as it relates to moving forward in healthcare and designing interventions and analyzing patient populations and ultimately improving the lives and health of the American population," Mr. Hoover says.

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6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care

6 Ways Health Informatics Is Transforming Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The fact that technology is rapidly transforming health care should come as no surprise to anyone. From robotic arms that perform surgery tonanorobots that deliver drugs through the bloodstream, the days of being tended to by the human country doctor seem to have fully given way to machines and software more in keeping with the tools of Dr. McCoy from “Star Trek.”

 

However, technology’s evolutionary impact on health care isn’t all shooting stars and bells and whistles. Some of health care’s most important changes can slip beneath the radar due to their more pedestrian presentation, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t just as revolutionary as mini robots zipping through veins. Take the burgeoning field of health informatics, for example. A specialization that combines communications, information technology, and health care to improve patient care, it’s at the forefront of the current technological shift in medicine. Here are six ways it’s already transforming health care.

 

1. Dramatic Savings

Health care isn’t just expensive; it’s wasteful. It’s estimated that half of all medical expenditures are squandered on account of repeat procedures, the expenses associated with more traditional methods of sharing information, delays in care, errors in care or delivery, and the like. With an electronic and connected system in place, much of that waste can be curbed. From lab results that reach their destination sooner improving better an more timely care delivery to reduced malpractice claims, health informatics reduces errors, increases communication, and drives efficiency where before there was costly incompetence and obstruction.

 

2. Shared Knowledge

There’s a reason medicine is referred to as a “practice,” and it’s because health care providers are always learning more and honing their skills. Health informatics provides a way for knowledge about patients, diseases, therapies, medicines, and the like to be more easily shared. As knowledge is more readily passed back and forth between providers and patients, the practice of medicine gets better — something that aids everyone within the chain of care, from hospital administrators and physicians to pharmacists and patients.

 

3. Patient Participation

When patients have electronic access to their own health history and recommendations, it empowers them to take their role in their own health care more seriously. Patients who have access to care portals are able to educate themselves more effectively about their diagnoses and prognoses, while also keeping better track of medications and symptoms. They are also able to interact with doctors and nurses more easily, which yields better outcomes, as well. Health informatics allows individuals to feel like they are a valuable part of their own health care team, because they are.

 

4. The Impersonalization of Care

One criticism of approaching patient care through information and technology is that care is becoming less and less personal. Instead of a doctor getting to know a patient in real time and space in order to best offer care, the job of “knowing” is placed on data and algorithms.

As data is gathered regarding a patient, algorithms can be used to sort it in order to determine what is wrong and what care should be offered. It remains to be seen what effects this data-driven approach will have over time, but regardless, since care is getting less personal, having a valid and accurate record that the patient and his care providers can access remains vital.  

 

5. Increased Coordination

Health care is getting more and more specialized, which means most patients receive care from as many as a dozen different people in one hospital stay. This increase in specialists requires an increase in coordination, and it’s health informatics that provides the way forward. Pharmaceutical concerns, blood levels, nutrition, physical therapy, X-rays, discharge instructions — it’s astonishing how many different conversations a single patient may have with a team of people regarding care, and unless those conversations and efforts are made in tandem with one another, problems will arise and care will suffer. Health informatics makes the necessary coordination possible.  

 

6. Improved Outcomes

The most important way in which informatics is changing health care is in improved outcomes. Electronic medical records result in higher quality care and safer care as coordinated teams provide better diagnoses and decrease the chance for errors. Doctors and nurses are able to increase efficiency, which frees up time to spend with patients, and previously manual jobs and tasks are automated, which saves time and money — not just for hospitals, clinics, and providers, but for patients, insurance companies, and state and federal governments, too.  

 

Health care is undergoing a massive renovation thanks to technology, and health informatics is helping to ensure that part of the change results in greater efficiency, coordination, and improved care.

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What Your Healthcare Organization Needs to Know About Measure Selection and EHR Configuration 

What Your Healthcare Organization Needs to Know About Measure Selection and EHR Configuration  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Participation in pay-for-performance plans like MACRA’s Quality Payment Program (QPP) poses new challenges for resource-strapped healthcare organizations. Many provider sites lack the time and technical expertise needed to retool their EHR implementation to document new metrics under value-based reimbursement models like the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

 

Nonetheless, that is precisely what clinicians must do to deliver on quality reporting requirements. When using EHR documentation tools, many factors must be considered for a provider to get credit on having met clinical quality measures (CQMs). How that information gets stored in the EHR directly affects reporting. Many healthcare organizations are finding that customizing an EHR to recognize when a measure has been met—preferably in a manner that poses as few interruptions to patient engagement as possible—is easier said than done.

Overcoming EHR Limitations

Many outpatient and inpatient settings still struggle with common EHR data management headaches. As clinicians bring new quality measures into the EHR, those underlying data management issues can foil even the best-laid reporting plans.

Discrete Data Capture

The push to better document clinical quality is causing a transition in EHRs to focus more on structured or discrete data that is easier to trend over time. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers still receive patient data from healthcare affiliates via fax. Those faxed documents show up as attachments in the patient chart and are not fully integrated into the patient data file. If that information was sent via HL7 interface instead, details on the care rendered by that hospital or other healthcare entity would flow into the EHR as discreet data variables. For many providers today, capturing that information in a manner that makes it usable in reporting and analytics still requires timely, manual data entry.

Documentation and Data Consistency

Provider sites with multiple clinicians may also encounter issues related to the slightly different way that each EHR user documents care. MIPS and other quality programs require consistency and a high degree of specificity in clinical documentation. If a clinician does not get diagnosis specifics into the patient chart, that patient may not be included in the CQM calculation they need to be included in. Many clinicians are having to modify their documentation process during patient encounters so they and the staff can capture all the necessary information in the EHR.

Clinical documentation will have even bigger repercussions under the Cost component of MIPS, which is slated to be factored into performance scores in coming years. Take, for example, a patient that is in for the flu. That patient has a certain anticipated cost impact (the average Medicare spending per beneficiary), calculated based on past medical history and services rendered. If a patient goes to a physician and has the flu but also has diabetes, heart failure, and asthma, that flu patient is probably going to cost more to care for. If the physician only submits the flu diagnosis and fails to document patient co-morbidities then the healthcare organization will not get the same allowance under the MIPS Cost category and could be labeled as “higher cost” than a comparable provider encounter for a patient that required fewer resources to care for.

Clinicians, coders, and staff need to make a mental transition away from “we’re submitting claims” to “we’re submitting data” to better serve clinical reporting initiatives and patient care analysis.

Making Informed CQM Selections

Beyond adapting to new data management processes, clinicians reporting under value-based programs also have a great deal to learn as they layer in additional quality measures under MACRA. One of the biggest challenges clinicians and administrators face is selecting the best measures for their specific healthcare organization. With limited spare time on their hands, many healthcare teams are leaning on outside expertise to help them evaluate the implications of various measure selections.

Measures Without Benchmarks

Many quality measures under MACRA are carry-overs or “relics” from other reporting programs. For these CQMs, providers can look to prior performance averages to evaluate the likelihood of success should the healthcare organization elect to report on those measures. That data does not exist for some CQMs, which are referred to as “measures without benchmarks.” On measures that have no benchmark data available, providers will be limited to a maximum of three reporting points instead of the ten points available on measures with benchmarks established.

To further complicate things, details on the availability of some benchmark data will not be calculated until after the March 2018 QPP reporting deadline. Providers may wish to further diversify or report on additional measures that could help offset low point earnings on measures without benchmarks.

Topped Out Measures

Another CQM caveat that providers should be aware of relates to “topped out” measures. These relic measures from other reporting programs are very engrained in many healthcare settings. Medication reconciliation, for example, was a requirement under Meaningful Use. Widespread adoption and universally high compliance rates on that measure makes it more difficult for clinicians to out-perform peers. Achieving maximum points on such measures requires a perfect or near-perfect score.

Keep average performance thresholds in mind when evaluating CQM selections, not just the healthcare entity’s individual performance track record. Look at a broader set of measures to maximize MIPS score potential. Clinicians could earn more points by scoring 70 percent on a non-topped out measure than they would earn scoring 95 percent on a topped out measure. Some topped out measures will likely be eliminated in future years to help diversify CQMs, as was the case under Meaningful Use.

Understanding the intricacies of CQM selection and EHR data management will be vital to success under value-based payment programs. Healthcare administrators and clinicians who proactively work to better understand the impact of various measures and streamline EHR processes will be best positioned to maximize program incentives.

 

Does your organization have the resources it needs to successfully navigate MIPS

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Healthcare Compliance Consultants 

Healthcare Compliance Consultants  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

With the Affordable Care Act going into effect, the sheer number of hospitals, insurance companies, and other healthcare providers, that have struggled to successfully implement major changes in their working – without assistance – has increased drastically. Before that, most of the physicians were comfortable in their working. With the major reforms looming; many doctors decided to join hospitals, and by default – leave their private practice. If only they approached the correct issues by hiring the right team, or even the right person, everything would have been different. This is where a healthcare compliance consultant becomes the most useful.

Healthcare compliance consultants can notice the full potential of a practice, a hospital, or any other health facility. They base their strategies on data analysis, knowledge, professionalism, and dedication – while showing the right way to an efficient, low-cost working. Therefore, many healthcare providers since have decided to hire a healthcare compliance consultant.
The global healthcare consulting market is constantly growing. With a value of over $6 billion in 2014, the market amounts to 7% of the whole healthcare consultant industry. With the aspect of further growth, especially in the U.S. – which holds almost two-thirds (62%) of the whole $6.33 billion because of the reforms – the competition in the field is also rising. Meaning, finding the right consultant, whether an individual or an agency, can be challenging.

What to Look for in Healthcare Compliance Consultants

Due to the consultant’s high level of importance to their client, one might ask – what should you even begin to look for in a healthcare reform consultant? My first response to that question is knowledge, this is essential. You need an individual or a team that understands the emerging healthcare market. Reliable consultants have the tools to monitor trends and factors that influence the industry. They depend on data, but still develop their own view of the way the entire system functions. An independent thinker will always understand things better than anyone else. Look for someone that has a unique point of view. It can be wise to test the person’s or the team’s knowledge by having them around for a while. It is a small investment, but it will eventually pay off. Look for someone that will blend with your team and will be interested enough to see what’s beyond the medical practice. These individuals develop suitable strategies that will help you save, improve your management, and teach you how to stand on your own feet. Always look for a well-educated, experienced person. In the healthcare compliance consulting field, a Bachelor degree is the minimum criteria. In case you decide to hire a consultant company, inform yourself on their latest successful projects. Evaluate their views, approaches, and values. It is important for the company to invest in professional development and growth. Getting references can be helpful during the evaluation. However, consultants only show their success. Digging a little bit deeper, for example, spending time in networking can reveal some unexpected information.

Secondly, look for experience. In consulting, the power of experience can’t be underestimated. Many companies don’t include individuals with a minimum of 10 years of experience as their team members. While the size of the consultant company doesn’t make a huge difference, many years of experience are an advantage in solving big projects.

Finally, you must take into account the overall efficiency of your new consultant.The right consultant will have backup plans, but still get manage to finish the project on time. Simply because the team has failed to finish a project in a timely manner before; doesn’t mean that you should hesitate to hire another consultant now. Additionally, an efficient consultant will approach the problem with long-term goals in mind, offering quality work that will stay with your practice, even after the project is officially over. They will provide you with the necessary guidance that will help you manage your practice in a more profitable and efficient way.

Benefits that come from having the right consultant on-hand.

Now as you could imagine, there’s a vast amount of benefits that can come from having a consultant on your team throughout the healthcare reform and implementation processes. First and foremost, the overall easier managing of large projects is one of the main benefits that’s noticeable almost right away. Have you ever tried to fix a problem without a success? With the consultant’s management skills and technical expertise, your project has higher chances to succeed. It is of great value that a consultant develops a strategy by finding the causes of the problem. They will focus on the major issues that need to be solved and by making the project a priority, you will maintain profitability and improve patient service. The consultant is an outsider. Sometimes the issues you might not know you’ve had, will be revealed by a person that is not familiar with the situation and has a clear point of view. Meaning, you need an individual or a team that will commit and spend their time focusing their attention on a particular field.
The second benefit is huge: the increased ROI. The initial cost of the consultant won’t overweight the saving that you will make in the long run. Consultants develop an in-depth strategy that includes all your costs, research on your competitors, measures that you can take to save, and much more, that contribute to organized, effective, and improved practice. Keep in mind that bringing your practice to that level requires an individual or a team that is able to see the flaws and propose an efficient approach.

Watch your practice grow exponentially.

As well, you begin to learn how to run a practice as it is – a business. Many physicians and hospitals are dedicated and focused on providing the best medical service to their patients. Usually, they don’t think of running their practice as a business. This brings them to the point when they face many problems and hope to solve them on their own, or with a help of their team. Eventually, they realize that their team can’t solve all of those problems. Dealing with a complex issue that requires dedication, plan, and analysis can’t be solved by a non-expert team in the field. Healthcare consultants have the required tools and a team that not only will help you solve your problem, but understand the operating and management your business needs.
Next, you will save time figuring out everything by yourself. Implementing planning strategies in your practice is not your expertise. Even if you think you know the best way to run your business, trust me, there is someone that is much better. Spare yourself of all the struggles. You will save time, energy, and money. And save your team the extra effort of figuring everything out. Let them do what they do best. Serve your patients.
In conclusion, you will also improve the quality of your services and operations. Healthcare compliance consultants pay attention to every detail in your practice. They collaborate with your team, developing a new way to improve everyday operations, which leads to the final goal – helping patients. By improving the quality of your overall working, you have higher chances to reduce medical errors, improve patient safety, improve staff, and create a safe environment. Healthcare compliance consultants provide a plan with realistic goals for your organization, set a reasonable deadline, and finished the project successfully. They are well-informed, knowledgeable, innovative, and great leaders.

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4 Healthcare Software Trends to Watch in 2018 

4 Healthcare Software Trends to Watch in 2018  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare has always been an industry where innovative technologies transform the way services are delivered and received. It’s also one of those sectors that can be affected by slow movement in innovation, due to the complication of its formalities, tasks, processes and regulations.

 

The good news is that the industry’s innovative side has finally taken off in the last few years, and software is playing a major role in reshaping the healthcare sector.

 

What does that mean for you, the medical professional: dentist, doctor, ER practitioner, risk manager, nurse, etc? It means that both your practice and your patients’ experiences will improve over the course of the next decade with the help of some amazing new technology.

 
In terms of software, the following four healthcare software trends are most likely to impact the healthcare industry in the next few years:

1. Multi-Speciality & Niche Specialty EHR Software

A multi-specialty EHR for software has several benefits for specialty practices spanning to multiple domains. It ensures improved compatibility and prevents a patchwork approach to integrating a separate EHR system for every specialty. This can help bring down the added time and expense of interconnecting different groups of specialists. Healthcare organizations can find the investment costs, financial health and reputation of differentEHR software on software evaluation sites, and make a sound IT software decision based on their needs.

2. Patient Portals & Self-Service Software

With patients rapidly becoming active players in their own healthcare treatment, portal software is on its way to becoming mainstream. It enables patients and physicians to interact online and access their medical records. In addition, portal software can be an extraordinary ally for the patients who use it, helping them catch errors and becoming an active participant in ongoing treatments.

Patient Kiosk software is another interesting development. It can help patients with checking identification, registering with clinics, paying copays and signing official paperwork. However, institutions have to be careful when using it to ensure that human-to-human communication isn’t entirely eliminated.

3. Blockchain Solutions

Healthcare professionals and technologists across the globe see blockchain tech as a means to streamline and secure the sharing of medical records, giving patients greater control over their information and protecting sensitive details from hackers. In order to achieve these goals, custom-built healthcare blockchains are needed. Startups like Patientory, Burst IQ, Hashed Health, doc.ai and others are gearing up to introduce blockchain tech to the EHR software industry, providing a way to store health records. When required, professionals can request to see their patients’ data from the blockchain.

4. Consumer-Grade UX in Enterprise Software

For almost a decade, physicians at the front line of enterprise healthcare delivery struggled with software that’s difficult to use, confusing and downright frustrating. The biggest culprit of poor UX is linked to the purchasing process of the enterprise.

 

Oftentimes, vendors create software for buyers who aren’t end users. If the buyers and end users have the same personas, healthcare software vendors can deliver the same user experience as seen in other B2B industries.

 

Regardless, in 2018, expect more consumer-grade user experiences and buyer-value products. Additionally, enterprise healthcare management will bank on analytics and machine learning to improve visibility into healthcare efficiency for personnel and employers. This will reveal usage patterns and reduce inappropriate and unnecessary care.

 

From detecting fraud to slashing healthcare spending, advanced healthcare software could very well be the silver bullet that eliminates all kinds of healthcare inefficiencies.

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AI must overcome data challenges to reach healthcare potential 

AI must overcome data challenges to reach healthcare potential  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Dive Brief:

  • Rapid digitization of health information in EHRs and other repositories is creating new opportunities for AI in healthcare, but challenges in data accessibility, privacy and security persist, according to a new ONC report.
  • Frustration with legacy medical systems, the omnipresence of networked smart devices and consumer comfort with at-home services offered by Amazon and other tech vendors is driving interest in AI's potential.
  • Smartphone, social and environmental data can all be potential sources to fuel AI's use in healthcare. However, the report concludes such data must be high quality and reliable. Otherwise, AI's promise will not be realized in healthcare.

Dive Insight:

AI is a hot healthcare topic but still needs to be translated into reality, especially in an industry as complex as healthcare. 

During the second quarter of 2017, CB Insights counted 29 investment deals in the healthcare AI space — a record number — and predicted 2017 would set a six-year high.

 

Enthusiasm is expected to stay heated into 2018, with demand for tools that go beyond noting social determinants of health to using that data to inform patient care plans.

 

While investors will continue to fund wearables and biosensors, what grabs their attention are specific clinical use cases these technologies can support, Megan Zweig, director of research at Rock Health, told Healthcare Dive recently.

 

Tech giants including IBM Watson, Microsoft, Google and Apple are staking a claim in the space, too. Last month, Google launched Deep Variant, an open-source tool that uses AI to create a picture of a person’s genetic blueprint using sequencing data. The goal is to pinpoint specific genes or gene mutations that can help providers better manage disease states.

 

But challenges to widespread use of AI in health remain, as the ONC study shows. Among these are the acceptance of AI applications in clinical practice, difficulty leveraging divergent personal networked devices and AI solutions, access to quality training data on AI applications in health and gaps in data streams.

 

The report belies a large obstacle for rampant AI use. White noting the importance of high quality and reliable data, the industry has a data standards problem at the moment which needs to be ironed out. 

 

Currently, different vendors and clinicians send unstructured data in medical records back and forth across EHR systems through continuity-of-care documents, which are format flexible. If the promise of AI relies on reliable data, standards will have to be well-defined to ensure the data are high quality.

 

On the bright side, the industry seems aware that healthcare is close to a breaking point at interoperability. The growing Internet of Things and consumerism in healthcare naturally demands a more networked, connected industry approach. 

 

CMS Administrator Seema Verma in a town hall webcast on Wednesday with American Hospital Association CEO and President Rick Pollack said interoperability will be a topic of interest for the agency. She told listeners they will hear more from CMS in the future.

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The Future of Emergency Medicine: Innovations Making Patients The Point-of-Care 

The Future of Emergency Medicine: Innovations Making Patients The Point-of-Care  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
Six minutes before brain damage

Car crashes, home injuries, fires, natural disasters. The difference between life and death often depends on the speed and efficiency of emergency care services. The work of doctors, paramedics, and nurses being in the first line of the battle against early and meaningless death or paralyzation is extremely difficult and inspirational at the same time. Sometimes there are only seconds left to save a patient’s life. In case of high-risk patients, each minute waiting for treatment significantly reduces their chance of surviving. This includes cardiac arrest patients, where brain damage typically starts within four to six minutes.

No wonder that millions of people (including The Medical Futurist team) jittered through more than 300 episodes of Chicago County General Hospital’s ER starting from the 1990s, and that the gig ensured a standing place for George Clooney among the biggest stars. The suggestive power of doctors and nurses saving lives also gave a rise to medical documentaries, such as the BBC’s An Hour To Save Your Life, the American docudrama entitled Untold Stories of the ER with re-enactments of real-life medical stories or the more recent incarnation of ER, entitled Chicago Med.

Patients to the hospital or hospital to the patient?

In spite of the impression through the television screens that the emergency department is one of the most important medical specialties, the field is relatively new and it is mostly the product of the accelerated, globalized world we live in. Some experts say that modern emergency medicine services were first developed in the United States in the 1960s; as a response to the increased traffic accidents due to the boom of cars on the newly built American highways. Later one, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and Singapore followed shortly thereafter, developing their respective emergency medical systems in the 1970s and 1980s.

While the aim of emergency care is the same in every country – providing timely care to victims of sudden and life-threatening injuries or emergencies in order to prevent needless mortality or long-term morbidity –; two different approaches emerged. The Anglo-American model represents the “patient to the hospital” practice, while the Franco-German model means the “hospital to the patient” way of thinking.

 

The latter is used in most European countries, and it means that medical doctors supported by paramedics treat more patients on the scene of an accident or in their homes then bringing them to the hospital, thus emergency care happens on the scene or en route to the hospital. In the case of the Anglo-American model, fewer patients are treated on the spot, and they rather transport the injured to the emergency room as fast as possible for treatment. Currently, countries in the developed world use some practices from both models, but the latest digital technologies will rather push emergency medicine in the direction of the “hospital to the patient” approach. Let me show you how!

We collected the latest innovations making it possible to treat medical and trauma emergencies faster and more efficient than ever before. Dávid Márkus, first aid expert and medical student at Semmelweis Medical School, helped us a lot with finding the relevant directions. He is also the developer of a chatbot on Messengerthat teaches people how to do proper CPR in Hungary.

1) Apps simplifying communication, administration and in-flight emergency care

Pulsara is a Montana-based U.S. start-up whose app simplifies communication in emergency care. It allows paramedics to alert an emergency department before arrival with the patient. It does so not only by calculating the estimated time of arrival based on GPS, but users are able to attach pictures of the ECG, the injury, the medicine list of the patient, send the personal data and the parameters of the patient, etc. Alerting the stroke team/cardiologists or anyone else who might be involved in the treatment of the patient this way allows the ED workers to prepare much better and faster for the arrival of the critically ill patient.

On its website, the team said they got the idea when a group of physicians, fed up with the pitfalls of their current acute care protocols, posed the question at a dinner table “How can we improve patient care in our facilities?” I hope in the future, they’ll have more fruitful dinners like this one.

 

Full Code Pro is a free and easy-to-use app developed by the American Heart Association. It makes it easy to document critical interventions, a „code” during critical events such as CPR or cardiac arrest resuscitation. It not only allows the worker to record events (e.g. shock) with only one tap, measures times, counts down according to the protocol but also helps the team by having a metronome built in to optimize chest compression rhythm. Full Code Pro makes it easy to administer cardiac arrests, and also gives an opportunity to debrief the case so that the team can learn from the collected data as well. Thus, you can fully focus on the patient without sacrificing proper documentation. A win-win situation!

Dr. Ray Bertino, Clinical Professor of Radiology and Surgery at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, worked with a team of aviation experts to develop airRx, the world’s only smartphone app that’s designed to help physicians deal with some of the most common in-flight medical emergencies. The app contains the 23 most common medical emergency situations that could be encountered during a flight, various flight and cabin crew roles, as well as the medico-legal implications for volunteering to assist. It could give a piece of mind for doctors traveling on board of an airplane as well as passengers fearing that something might happen to them while going from San Francisco to Beijing.

2) Video game for practice & 911 chatbot for real situations

Airway EX is a professional video game developed by Level Ex, a Chicago-based start-up applying video game technology to healthcare. The app allows practicing anesthesiologists, CRNAs, and medical professionals to simulate the performance of airway procedures. It provides realistic endotracheal intubation scenarios so that the doctors and paramedics can better prepare for difficult airway management. The app scores the worker’s speed, the caused damage, bleeding and also monitors the virtual patient’s vital signs while the procedure takes place. Moreover, it can be used anywhere – on the subway, at home or on the Bahamas during holidays (but we don’t recommend that).

 

The 911bot, a messenger-based chatbot was developed during a Disrupt Hackathon in New York with the aim to help users in emergency situations. It lets anyone report emergencies to the authorities through a quick image-based interface, which might be a lot faster than making a phone call. And as your report is sent through the system, it offers options to send extra information and pictures or video footage. As most people are frozen when a lethal or serious accident happens, the app gives advice on how to handle the situation well and how not to cause even more harm to the injured or bystanders.

3) Portable ultrasound, ECG & other point-of-care devices

The appearance of pocket-sized, user-friendly and portable diagnostic devices make it easier and faster to treat a patient on the spot. No matter whether its ultrasound, ECG or laboratory testing, behemoth machines are things of the past.

While some years ago ultrasound diagnosis was the privilege of radiologists, nowadays emergency medical specialists have an opportunity to use bedside point-of-care ultrasound devices (PoCUS) to answer some yes-or-no questions (e.g. intraabdominal bleeding). Ultrasound machines such as SonoSite’s or Clarius’ hand-held products allow any doctor to use them easily while working on a code or a critically ill patient.

 

Yet, we all know it’s not only about the size. Not so long ago, it was a huge innovation that a smartphone was able to make a one-lead ECG. However, even if it showed the rhythm, it wasn’t able to replace standard 12-lead ECG. In many cases, if the doctor does not see all the 12 leads, a possible heart attack might be easily mistaken. Now, Smart Heart Pro allows users to make a 12-lead ECG with a smartphone or tablet wirelessly, that is as accurate as a similar standard bedside exam.

Luckily, the long hours waiting for laboratory blood test results will also be over soon with hand-held, lightweight point-of-care testing (PoCT) devices, such as the i-STAT testing equipment. Abbott’s fast and accurate blood analyzer allows doctors to evaluate the patient’s blood sample on the spot and wirelessly transmit the results or the data to colleagues. Invaluable time gain during emergency situations!

4) Medical drones

Drones have great potential in making the transport of drugs, vaccines or medical aids faster. Thus, they could greatly support the work of emergency services. Google, the tech giant with a significant medical portfolio, patented a device that can call for a drone in emergency situations to fly in with life-saving medical equipment on board. You would push a button, and a drone would appear on the spot. How amazing would that sound?

And what about drones delivering automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) directly to people who have just suffered a heart attack? Researchers from the University of Toronto are already experimenting with the ideabased on their inspiration from ambulance drones in the Netherlands. AED-carrying drones have also been tested in Stockholm with promising results: it arrived at the patient within a quarter of the time that ambulance took to arrive. And drones are not simple transporting machines: they can provide instructions to the bystanders on providing CPR, using the AED and they also allow the dispatch team to give feedback via its own video connection. It is estimated that within 1-2 years this lifesaving innovation can take place in the daily routine in Sweden, and hopefully other countries as well.

5) Driverless ambulances

As the development of driverless cars continues, the potential for turning cars into points-of-care and the use of their unmanned driving capacity will become more and more obvious. There are already some governments considering driverless ambulances as technology taking some of the strain off the emergency services. These ambulances would work as “medical taxis”. They would pick up low-risk patients and transport them to the nearest hospital or clinic for treatment. With the introduction of these ambulances, the need for paramedics to respond to every call – regardless of severity – would be greatly reduced. Although it might be less comfortable for people to get into a driverless car to the hospital at first. Could you imagine sending your wife in labor to the emergency unit in a driverless ambulance? We’ll probably have to get used to the idea!

Concerning “moving ambulances”, in the future, the car will be a place to measure vital signs passively and store the recorded data in clouds. Then it will either notify the patient if there is something wrong or keep a finger on the pulse on the long-term. Mercedes-Benz salesman Rob Tinkham described how one of their cars can already tell if the driver has become too tired to drive. He added that the seat belt, the steering wheel or practically anything the driver might touch, can be used as a biometric sensor to gain information about the driver. It could help detect a drop in blood sugar or an imminent heart attack. Perhaps, our driverless car will notify the emergency services and the robot receptionist of the hospital in the future if there is an urgent matter to handle.

A possible emergency scene from the future

Digital technologies not only help patients receive care quicker and in a more efficient manner, but they can also support emergency care units to handle situations safer and more confidently. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security published an imagined scenario about how technological innovations would help the work of emergency service providers 15 years from now.

Their clothing made of smart, light materials would protect them from gunshots or punctures. They might easily turn on the high-visibility mode of their clothing if they go to dark places or work at night. Sensors and wearables would monitor their own health and fitness while providing their location. Using self-driving ambulances, first responders would have the time to prepare for situations and receive patient data already on the way to the scene. This could help bring exactly the right equipment to the patient in need. It would be easier to access patient data and monitor vital signs through various sensors, wearables – or digital tattoos. Moreover, with the help of exoskeletons, first responders could lift patients with less effort.

 

The future of emergency services looks more streamlined, data-based, efficient and faster than ever before, while both taking the needs of the patient and the limitations of caregivers into consideration. So, hopefully, within a couple of years, no one will have to wait for an unnecessarily long time until getting proper care. Yet, knowing what to do in an emergency situation or how to do CPR will come in handy anytime, so check out this video and keep stayin’ alive!

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The Future of Vision and Eye Care

The Future of Vision and Eye Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

More than 80 percent of perception comes through vision

Researchers estimate that 80-85 percent of our perception, learning, cognition, and activities are mediated through vision. Compared to that, our hearing only processes 11 percent of information, while smell 3.5 percent, touch 1.5 percent and taste 1 percent. Don’t you think that’s possible? Renowned scholars, L.D. Rosenblum, Harold Stolovitch and Erica Keeps explained these numbers with the following, rather convincing story.

Imagine you are in an open field, the sun shines on you, with the bees humming softly in the air. How far can you see and hear? When it comes to vision, it’s around 50 miles, talking about hearing, it’s only 1-2 miles at best! What about the smell of the flowers? Without the wind blowing, only 10-20 meters. How about touching or tasting? Well, it depends on your arm’s length, but obviously not further than that. And the same goes for your tongue and tasting.

It is almost a cliché to emphasize the importance of the eyes and vision, but it’s a luminous example to illustrate how the eyes are our most important sensory organ. Hence, if you catch an eye disease or have to face a serious eye condition, you feel very motivated to get better immediately.

 

Eye conditions affect way too many people worldwide

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness estimated in 2015 that 36 million of people are blind, and 217 million people suffer from moderate or severe distance vision impairment. It is a hopeful tendency that the prevalence of blindness and vision impairment combined has dropped from 4.58% in 1990 to 3.37% in 2015. The decrease can be attributed to progress in technology, for example in surgical techniques and concerning treating eye infections.

Yet, digital health still has a lot to do for lessening plenty of suffering which comes from not being able to see the world clearly. In the last couple of years, it actually started to undertake the task to transform the field of ophthalmology, offering its innovative solutions for the broadest spectrum of eye conditions. Treating less serious ailments gets faster, more targeted and more efficient, while the means for curing more serious and life-altering illnesses improve. Here, I outlined the way technology delineates for the future of eye care and vision.

 

With “bionic eyes” for reversing blindness

Disruptive technologies gave a huge boost to the creative minds of ophthalmology. Types of conditions causing blindness, such as AMD or retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited eye condition causing loss of sight gradually and causing blindness for an estimated 1.5 million people worldwide, have been treated successfully with mind-blowing innovations.

The California-based firm, Second Sight, the German company, Retina Implant AG, and French venture, Pixium Vision, develops implantable visual prosthetics to restore vision to patients who are blind as a result of the rare condition of retinitis pigmentosa. In 2016, The Guardian reported that a blind woman suffering from it was fitted with the implant labeled “bionic eye” in the UK as part of a trial at the Oxford Eye Hospital. She has spoken of her joy after she was able to tell the time for the first time in more than six years. That must have been truly amazing!

In 2015, surgeons in Manchester, UK have performed the first bionic eye implant for an AMD patient using Second Sight’s innovation. The 80-year-old Ray Flynn lost entirely his central vision, but with the help of the retinal implant, he could make out shapes on the computer screen. Researchers say that the implant cannot provide any highly detailed vision – but it can help patients detect distinct patterns such as door frames and shapes.

 

Brain implants and artificial retina instead of bionic eyes?

As Second Sight’s current Argus II device for helping people with retinitis pigmentosa only restore minimal vision and cost $150,000, they only sold 250 of them so far. A while ago, the company started to develop a modified version of its innovation, which completely leaves the eye out of the procedure and instead mobilizes the part of the brain responsible for processing visual information, the visual cortex. Delivering electrical pulses here should tell the brain to perceive patterns of light. The company hopes that this new innovation could help about 6 million people in the future who are blind due to other causes, like cancer, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma, or trauma. The company hopes to begin enrolling patients for trials in October and do its first implant by the end of the year. We can’t wait to know more about it!

Instead of “bionic eyes” that stimulate brain cells with lights coming from a tiny video camera or stimulate the visual cortex directly through electrodes, the Italian Institute of Technology has developed a new approach for treating retinal degeneration, with a prosthesis implanted into the eye that serves as a working replacement for a damaged retina – basically an artificial retina. Their research showed promising results for lab rats, and they plan to carry out the first human trials in the second half of 2017 and gather preliminary results during 2018.

 

The miraculous CRISPR and other gene therapies for regaining vision

CRISPR-Cas9 or as used in plain language, CRISPR, the breakthrough gene editing method, has already shown its potential future use in eye care. Experts even say the eye is an ideal place to start for the first clinical use of CRISPR. Compared to other parts of the body, the eye is easy to access for surgery, readily accepts new tissue and can be noninvasively monitored.

Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center and the University of Iowa used CRISPR to repair a genetic mutation responsible for retinitis pigmentosa in induced pluripotent stem cells derived from a patient with the disease. The team reported a 13 percent success rate at converting the mutated gene variant into the normal one which is way better than previous studies. In February 2017, experts at the Center for Genome Engineering, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) reported the use of CRISPR in performing “gene surgery” in the layer of tissue that supports the retina of living mice. After the intervention, the mice showed signs of improvement from AMD. It is a ground-breaking experiment suggesting that CRISPR can not only be used to correct mutations causing hereditary diseases but also in the case of non-hereditary degenerative diseases.

Beyond CRISPR, other gene therapies also have a great chance to become a common treatment method for specific eye conditions in the future. Early October 2017, the FDA’s advisory panel approved a gene therapy called Luxturna, which targets a rare condition called Leber congenital amaurosis. Thus, the treatment method got one step closer to full FDA approval. The agency will make its final decision by next January. If the verdict is positive, the gene therapy will be the first approved treatment in the US to correct an inherited genetic trait – but it might be followed very soon by much more.

 

Eye care patients will also become the point of care

With the advancement of smartphones and other smart gadgets at lightning speed, it is only a matter of time before portable devices will appear on a large scale in ophthalmology as well. The tiny, well-designed and connected instruments and the accompanying apps make it possible to undertake eye examinations anywhere in the world – making patients the point of care.

For example, Peek Retina is the flagship product of Peek Vision, a UK-based company and foundation, a portable ophthalmoscope that enables you to view and capture retinal images on your smartphone wherever you are. The venture also offers smartphone-based vision eye tests, e.g. for measuring visual acuity. It greatly helps physicians in remote areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa diagnose and treat patients.

The MIT-spinout company, EyeNetra developed a diagnostic device for signaling refractive errors fast and accurately. The device, called Netra, is a plastic, binocular-like headset to be used with an app which calculates the difference between what the user indicates as “aligned” and the actual alignment of various patterns. This signals any refractive errors, such as near-sightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatism. The app then displays the refractive powers, the axis of astigmatism, and the pupillary distance required for eyeglasses prescriptions. EyeNetra will make school or workplace eye examinations in the future a lot easier than today.

 

Are 3D printed and digital contact lenses the future?

Digital contact lenses sound as science fiction: the translucid layer on your eye transmitting special information about your body to an outside device. Yet, it might be a reality soon. For example, Google teamed up with Novartis, to produce digital, multi-sensor contact lenses which are designed to be able to measure blood sugar levels.

Google and Novartis said the lens would contain a tiny and ultra slim microchip that would be embedded in one of its thin concave sides. Through its equally tiny antenna, it would send data about the glucose measurements from the user’s tears to his or her paired smartphone via installed software. Originally, the companies promised to put the digital contact lens around 2020 on the market. However, in March 2017 Novartis Chairman Joerg Reinhardt talked down the chances of the project bringing visible results in the next couple of years. I truly hope this is just a temporary setback.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Washington have created a contact lens with an LED display built into it – with the help of a 3D printer! While it is really difficult to manufacture a contact lens, which is one-third of a millimeter in diameter, a 3D printer sandwiches together different layers of interacting material, which makes it easier to place together so tiny pieces. While it was only an experiment, the research has important implications to improve the display technology of small devices. Maybe Google will 3D print the next generation of digital contact lenses, who knows?

 

Healing the eye faster

Innovation in regenerative medicine is flourishing: dentistry, dermatology, ophthalmology. A few specialties which can take pride in healing injured or diseased body parts faster and in a more efficient way.

For example, researchers in Turkey developed a regenerative medicine, that can heal the front of the eye in as little as two days after surgery. The drug called Cacicol stimulates faster tissue repair, appears to relieve eye pain, burning, and light sensitivity following an invasive intervention. Scientists treated with Cacicol patients suffering from a rare disease called keratoconus who went through a surgery known as corneal cross-linking. The drug helped decrease the initial healing from 5 days.

 

Artificial Intelligence for detecting eye conditions in time

Image recognition algorithms have the capacity to transform diagnostics based on medical imaging. In 2016, Google developed an eye-scanning technique for looking at retinal images and detecting diabetic retinopathyas well as a trained ophthalmologist. The disease is quite common among diabetes patients, and if it is not spotted early enough it may cause blindness. The machine-learning algorithm uses Google’s method for labeling millions of Web images as it examines photos of a patient’s retina to spot tiny aneurisms indicating the early stages of diabetic retinopathy. A year later, the search giant announced they have begun working on integrating the technology into a chain of eye hospitals in India.

 

Google is not the only one working on A.I. solutions for eye care, though. A teenage girl from India, whose grandfather in India was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, developed a smartphone app that can screen for the disease with the help of a specially trained artificial intelligence program and a simple 3D-printed lens attachment. A truly disruptive innovation: smart, cheap and potentially life-changing!

 

Eye conditions through augmented reality

Patient education is key in prevention and it also gives the best chance for physicians arriving at the most accurate diagnosis based on their patients’ explanation of their symptoms.

The use of Orca Health’s EyeDecide could bring exactly this result. The innovative, Utah-based mobile software company’s medical app uses an augmented reality camera display for simulating the impact of specific conditions on a person’s vision. EyeDecide can fully demonstrate the consequences of cataract or AMD and thus help patients understand their actual medical state.

 

Cyborgization is upon us?

I’m hopeful that eye conditions, visual impairment, and blindness will be entirely treatable in the future, even if that would mean their replacement with fully capable technologies. I believe the biggest ethical challenge of eye implants or devices replacing visual functions could be that it might facilitate cyborgization.

What if healthy people would like to live as Neil Harbisson? As someone whose vision is extended through an external technology? What if the average user will ask for bionic eyes as it does not get tired, you can zoom with it, browse and search online, even take photos that no one else could see?

Neil Harbisson is actually an artist born with achromatopsia or extreme colorblindness meaning he could only see in black-and-white. Harbisson received a specialized electronic eye, his “eyeborg” to be able to render perceived colors as sounds on the musical scale. He is capable of experiencing colors beyond the scope of normal human perception: Amy Winehouse is red and pink, while ringtones are green. In his view, cyborgization might start with a third eye on the back of the head or an implanted sensor indicating whether there is a car behind you.

 

If you are entirely freaked out by now, I have to tell you, we are rather far from implanting third eyes into people. However, we have to start to contemplate about the possibilities of such scenarios as we will arrive at the boundaries of privacy, ethics – and the ultimate merging of the human body with technology. We have to be ready for that!

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Precision Medicine: The Future Of Health

Precision Medicine: The Future Of Health | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As science and technologies advance and demand continues to grow, healthcare systems have to evolve into a more sustainable model that maintains people’s wellness rather than just treating illness once it has occurred. Through a combination of proactive human interventions and decisions – supported and enabled by rich data and intelligence – that model will be more effective by being much more precisely directed at the individual.

Precision Medicine is based on four key pillars of care: Predictive, Preventive, Personalised and Participatory. A good illustration of how these four pillars work is the story of Dr Martinez, based on The Case for Personalized Medicine, Personalised Medicine Coalition, 3rd edition.

 

  • Dr Martinez is sitting down with his laptop. On the website that he uses to manage his practice, an alert pops up warning him that several new mutations found in 10 percent of people have been discovered to be associated with the likelihood that they might convert to type 2 diabetes. All of his patients have had their entire genome sequenced and entered into their electronic medical record. He conducts a quick search of this 2,000-patient database and finds about 80 who are at risk (Predictive care).
  • To half of those patients, he sends a strong reminder and advice on diet and lifestyle choices they can take to avoid the disease (Preventive care).
  • For the other half, whose medical records reveal pre-diabetic symptoms, he sets up appointments to consider more proactive treatment with drugs that can prevent the onset of the disease (Personalised care).
  • Patients can download an app certified by the healthcare system that will allow Dr Martinez to remotely monitor their glucose blood levels (Participatory care).

 

As that example shows, Precision Medicine depends on clinicians and citizens being proactive and working together to look after health and wellbeing. The success of that partnership relies on the healthcare system’s ability to transfer breakthroughs in data analysis across into healthcare settings – ‘from the bench to the bedside’. Massive volumes of raw, complex and heterogeneous data have to be acquired, validated, stored, processed and analysed using high performance computing systems. They then need to be interpreted and presented (through dashboards and reports) in meaningful ways to clinicians. Individual citizens can become more proactive in starting specific preventive treatments, or make lifestyle changes that prevent the onset of the disease or minimise its impact.

 

In this democratisation of medicine, genomic testing plays a very relevant role. DNA sequencing technologies are being adopted as part of routine practice as a powerful tool for early diagnosis and for personalised treatment. Getting access to the molecular profile of patients and correlating this data with phenotypic information (the expression of specific traits, such as stature or blood type, based on genetic and environmental influences) is an enormous cultural shift. This fast-evolving, immensely powerful new diagnostic tool is revolutionising healthcare and supporting clinicians, citizens, carers and society to work together in new ways to make predictive, preventive, personalised, participatory health and social care a reality for all.

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Are Wearables Dangerous for Health?

Are Wearables Dangerous for Health? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

It’s been repeatedly stressed by healthcare practitioners how beyond a balanced diet and exercise, getting sufficient sleep is vital to our health and wellbeing.

 

There are wearables that can already track our daily activities such as heart rate when we exercise and even the number of steps we have walked that day and the distance. In addition to that, some wearables can monitor your sleep patterns.

 

But how accurate are they and are they good for you?

 

Sleep specialists at Rush University Lab in Chicago reported an increase in patients who were complaining about sleep disorders. However, it was observed that those who wore wearables that tracked their sleep started to develop an obsession over getting enough sleep.

 

As most people are aware, eight hours is what is commonly referred to as the “right amount of sleep.” And because of this, people who tracked that they were getting less than that started to develop anxiety over not getting enough sleep, and the strain resulted in disrupted sleep.

 

Furthermore, sleep trackers cannot differentiate between light and day and could be tracking the wearer as asleep when they are in fact just resting. Ultimately, it has been observed that sleep trackers aren’t always accurate.

 

Remember that sleep trackers like other activity trackers are wearable digital devices that measure, amongst other things, your arm movement with a detector called an accelerometer. So it is entirely possible that the sleep tracker is indicating you are asleep when you are in fact, not.

 

If you are struggling with a sleeping disorder such as insomnia, a sleep tracker will only tell you how much sleep you didn’t get and is not sensitive or sophisticated enough to diagnose the problem. Ultimately, it may keep people from seeking the medical attention they need to fully diagnose if they have a sleeping disorder that may be detrimental to their overall health.

 

Furthermore, those who are tracking that they are getting a full eight hours of sleep may be misled that they have no sleep disorder, when in fact, they do. Their tracker may indicate they slept for eight hours, but it will not always accurately track if they were restless or had brief moments of awakening.

 

The bottom line is that too many people may be relying too much on the numbers that their wearables are recording and not on the actual quality of their sleep. Are they waking up refreshed and feeling restored? Are they energised or did they wake up more tired than before they slept because their sleep was restless and disruptive?

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How Technology Is Changing The Medical And Healthcare Fields

How Technology Is Changing The Medical And Healthcare Fields | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Astonishing Advantages In Technology

Heart attacks are terrible and can kill you, but assisted cardiology methods today are saving lives across the world. This is just one example of technological advancement, but there are quite a few different changes which you may even be surprised by.

  

Let’s start with IoT. The Internet of Things is creating a network wherein common devices are connected continuously to the internet. This provides several advantages. One, information is uploaded regarding network and device operations such that optimization can occur. Hospitals can additionally monitor patients directly and proactively.

  

The second thing that happens is a sort of “floated” cloud—a cloud on the cloud, if you will. Cloud computing is a network of servers that function together as a whole. Edge computing outsources processing to individual IoT devices, so they function similar to how the cloud does. Here’s the thing: IoT has many more devices than the cloud. It can potentially be more effective.

  

Between cloud computing and the internet of things, information can continuously gather identifying trends that are negative, and curtailing them. Outbreaks can be caught and treated earlier. Pandemics can be contained with greater speed. Additionally, lifestyle choices resulting in extended lifespans can be found and studied almost collaterally.

  

Additional Areas Of Tech Development

 

Something else that’s characterizing the medical industry today is innovations which reduce operational expenses over time, allowing for expanded outreach, development, and innovation.

  

A substantial cost-reducer in terms of research comes from automated mouse ear tags; according to RapIDLab.com, these tags: “Are the newest, most humane miniature automated mouse ear tags available…[these are] the most cost-effective automated lab animal identification on the market.”

  

Basically, imagine a tattooed barcode instead of a clip through the ear. It takes less time to apply the tag, and it takes less time to scan the tag. Instead of writing each individual number down, researchers can use a barcode scanner and just run down the line. What took hours will now take minutes. Hours are worth hundreds, often thousands, of dollars to research facilities.

  

If fifteen hours are saved a month, that works out to 180 hours a year. At $100 an hour, that’s $18,000 a year. At $1,000 an hour, that’s $180,000 a year. How much does it cost an hour to run your research operation? Many operational managers will likely find even greater savings through such solutions.

Component-Specific Production And Maintenance

Another game-changer in the medical technology industry comes from Weiss-Aug.com; according to the site: “Whether a part requires stitching of terminals, molding of multiple inserts simultaneously, laser welding or wire attachment, we can help you with the proper assembly methods for your program.”

  

Now medical institutions can outsource business needs which previously could only be accomplished through skilled employees sourced internally, or who require a regular service agreement. This can substantially curb expenses while simultaneously expediting technology advancements which are often life-saving.

  

Increasing Tech Innovations Define A Zenith In Medicine

Many medical businesses are called “practices” for a reason: as much as medicine has advanced in the last several decades, the human body seems to have become more mysterious, not less. For example: we know what DNA is, and we have some idea as to its inner-workings. But it’s an example of three-dimensional code more complicated than deliberately designed computer code—it’s beyond mankind’s ability for design.

  

Even though there are greater opportunities today in medicine than ever before, perhaps the most interesting feature of this situation is that these developments have revealed even greater potential than could have been imagined.

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Top Five Digital Transformation Trends In Health Care

Top Five Digital Transformation Trends In Health Care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Technology is changing every industry in significant ways. To help frame how, I’m starting a new series discussing top trends in various markets. First up: health care.

No one can dispute technology’s ability to enable us all to live longer, healthier lives. From surgical robots to “smart hospitals,” the digital transformation is revolutionizing patient care in new and exciting ways. That’s not all. National health expenditures in the United States accounted for $3.2 trillion in 2015—nearly 18% of the country’s total GDP. It’s predicted that the digital revolution can save $300 billion in spending in the sector, especially in the area of chronic diseases. Clearly there is value—human and financial—in bringing new technology to the health care market. The following are just a few ways how.

 

Telemedicine

Even back in 2015, 80% of doctors surveyed said telemedicine is a better way to manage chronic diseases than the traditional office visit. Why? Telemedicine offers patients and health care providers both a new wave of freedom and accessibility. For the first time, a patient’s care options are not limited by geographic location. Even patients in remote areas can receive the highest quality of care, providing they have an internet connection and smart phone. Telemedicine can also save both time and money. Patients no longer have to schedule their days around routine follow-up visits (and long office waits). Instead, they can hop on a conference call to get the prescription update or check-up they need.

Nowhere has telepresence been more useful than in the mental health field. Now, those seeking emotional support can find access to a therapist or counselor at the click of a button, often for far less than they would pay for a full office visit. Internet therapies, for instance, “offer scalable approaches whereby large numbers of people can receive treatment and/or prevention, potentially bypassing barriers related to cost, location, lack of trained professionals, and stigma.” Telemedicine makes it possible.

 

Mobility And Cloud Access

Have you ever played phone tag with your doctor while waiting for important test results? It’s so nerve-racking! That’s why mobility and cloud access have been such a tremendous help in increasing accessibility for patients and doctors alike. By 2018, it’s estimated that 65% of interactions with health care facilities will occur by mobile devices. Some 80% of doctors already use smartphones and medical apps, with 72% accessing drug info on smart phones on a regular basis. Gone are the days of paper charts and file rooms. Hospitals, insurance companies, and doctor’s offices are now storing patient medical records in the cloud, with patients able to access test results online 24/7.

Given HIPAA laws relating to patient privacy, it’s probably no surprise this has also led to an increased focus on data protection and security. According to one report, “the black-market value of medical data is greater than even that of financial information.” Believe me when I say: No industry is more focused on virtualization security right now than health care.

 

Wearables And IoT

I remember the days when going into the local grocery store and getting my blood pressure read at one of those prehistoric machines seemed exciting. Imagine: A machine that helped me manage my own well-being without setting foot in a doctor’s office. Now, mobile devices as small as my cell phone can perform ECGs, DIY blood tests, or serve as a thermometer, all without even leaving my house. With help from automation, patients can even be prompted to check their weight, pulse, or oxygen levels, and enter results into mobile patient portals. Even better: They can transmit the results to my doctor in real time. Those details, when entered regularly, can help predict one’s risk for heart disease and other illnesses, ultimately saving lives. This is far more than cool. It’s life-saving.

 

Artificial Intelligence And Big Data

Big data is king in the digital world, and health care is no exception. Yes, it can be gathered to measure customer satisfaction. But perhaps more importantly, it can be used to automatically identify risk factors and recommend preventative treatment. Even more exciting: with the rise of the Internet of (Medical) Things (IoMT), mobile and wearable devices are increasingly connected, working together to create a cohesive medical report accessible anywhere by your health care provider. This data is not just useful for the patient. It can be pooled and studied en masse to predict health care trends for entire cultures and countries.

 

Empowered Consumers

All of the above have led to an entirely new trend in healthcare: patient empowerment. While many of us have come to associate health care with high costs and long waits, patients are now in the driver’s seat, with better access to higher-quality doctors, and higher satisfaction rates overall. It’s a healthy new way to look at health care, and one that holds promise for all of us with easy access to the digital landscape. My blood pressure is already lowering just imagining the possibilities.

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Presenters's curator insight, October 24, 2017 4:16 AM
Al pensar en tecnología recurrimos a  muchos avances relacionados con la comunicación, educación... pero pocas veces nos planteamos que hay otros campos en los que también tiene una gran influencia. La industria tecnológica también está ayudando a cambiar el panorama de la salud. ¿Quieres conocer algunos de los avances tecnológicos más significativos en este campo?
Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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Wearable Technology Devices and Apps Take Patient Care to the Street

Wearable Technology Devices and Apps Take Patient Care to the Street | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Wearable technology has evolved beyond fitness bracelets and now enables patients to receive healthcare services on the go.

Similar to fitness bracelets and apps, sensors embedded in wearable devices record patients’ daily activities, and companion apps display personal healthcare data that’s programmed to respond to each patient’s specific conditions. While in operation, these companion apps transmit a patient’s data to his or her medical team, keeping them informed and the patient connected.

Below are three wearable technology devices and apps that take patient care to the street, monitoring the patient’s vital signs, medication and even pain levels.

 

HealthPatch MD
The sensors in the HealthPatch MD disposable patch, when adhered to the patient’s chest, can track a patient’s vital signs and body position to monitor and alert caregivers for concerns. The ECG sensors track heart rate, heart rate variability, temperature and respiration, while the accelerator sensor monitors physical activity, as well as records body position, and alerts a patient’s medical team if he or she falls.

Because it collects and streams your information in real time, the resulting record shows how each of a patient’s separate body systems are functioning in context with all the others. Bluetooth technology connects the patch to the related app that transmits the data to a patient’s medical office.

 

Helius
Some patients struggle with remember when to take their medications and how much they should take, but they may find the Helius smart sensor pills alleviates some of the medication guesswork. Swallowing one of these digital pills places a sensor in a patient’s stomach to register when and how often medications are taken. In the stomach, gastric fluids complete the electrical circuit within the pill and the sensor then alerts the companion smartphone app  when it detects the presence of the medicine. Helius sensors can also track related physiological activity, such has how the body responds to treatment.

In July, Helius pills were cleared by the FDA to be used as an aid in the measurement of medication adherence but faces privacy challenges when combined with other medications.

 

Quell Relief
Chronic knee pain affects 14% of Americans over the age of 24, and that number rises to 34% over the age of 65, but many refuse to take pain medication to relieve it. The Quell Relief knee brace may provide relief to knee pain sufferers, as it stimulates sensory nerves, which carry neural pulses to a patient’s brain. These neural pulses block pain signals in your body.

The product looks and acts like a standard knee brace, but has a small electrode on the inside. After calibration to your particular pain tolerance, the device delivers neural pulses over time. The Quell app keeps the record of your therapy over time and can also monitor your sleep quality.

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The digital hospital: Streamlining workflow to improve care

The digital hospital: Streamlining workflow to improve care | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Hospitals are complex ecosystems with hundreds of clinical and business processes. In this guest post, Brendan Ziolo, head of large enterprise strategy at an IP networking, ultra-broadband access and cloud technology company, gives hospital executives a glimpse at how digitization and automation of processes are key to streamlining workflows to enable providers to spend less time on non-care related tasks and more time on patients.

 

Patient care teams handle multiple patients and care management tasks. The result is a multifaceted web of workflows that can be prone to decision bottlenecks or missed/delayed tasks that can impact patient safety and care quality.

If properly integrated and automated, these processes have the potential to seamlessly unite patients, doctors, staff, assets and information throughout the hospital.

Digital strategy

But, it’s not just about adopting new technology; hospitals must have a clear digital strategy across their entire organization and IT infrastructure. To become a digital hospital, processes must be streamlined and reengineered to create paperless automated digital workflows.

Many functions within hospitals are already on their way to becoming digital. For example, electronic health records (EHRs) are being widely implemented to help track patient health data and support medical decisions. Digital medical imaging systems are quickening the process of reviewing medical images by physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Hospitals are extending workflow through mobile health (mHealth) initiatives, which enable physicians and patients to use mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to record and find the right information and resources anytime from any location. In fact, according to the 2014 HIMSS Analytics Mobile Devices Study, more than half of U.S. hospitals are using smartphones and/or tablets and 69% of clinicians are using both a desktop/laptop and a smartphone/tablet to access information.

In addition, hospitals are eliminating distance barriers with telemedicine through the use of network and communication technologies to provide broader access to standard or specialized care, regardless of location. Other functions and processes that are being digitized and automated include delivery robots that can handle a number of fetch-and-deliver tasks, and real-time location systems (RTLS) are used to locate equipment, patients and staff.

Duplication of processes

Progress is being made, yet most digital information and processes in hospitals reside in disparate systems or devices that must be interconnected and integrated to truly improve workflow and quality care. Duplication of information and processes must be avoided to eliminate unintended consequences.

Often you can find staff doing double data entry or pulling information from different systems, and jumping through hoops to pull together the knowledge required for the best patient care. There are many tasks throughout the hospital that staff spend time on every day just to get their jobs done. The goal in a digital hospital is to automate as many of these tasks as possible to improve staff efficiency, information accuracy and overall cost savings.

By standardizing procedures and breaking down processes into their component parts, digitizing, connecting and analyzing them, hospitals can realize unprecedented efficiency. Once processes are well understood, technology solutions can be leveraged to streamline these processes and integrate disparate elements. Essential to this integration is the information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure that interconnects all aspects of care delivery and hospital administration.

The big picture

The use of mobile, cloud and new communication technologies can create a platform that can capture data from disparate sources, such as EHRs, wearables, clinical information systems, mobile devices and more.

Pull it all together and a caregiver is given a holistic and real-time view of a patient’s health on any device that is accessible to the patient, or other specialists as needed, for the best ongoing care.

This is just one view of how a digital workflow could look and the impact it might have on both the patient and provider. But it’s clear that the only way healthcare providers can meet the growing expectations of the healthcare consumer is with a streamlined, digital workflow that not only improves care but still meets critical compliance and security regulations.

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Barbara Lond's curator insight, December 22, 2017 3:42 PM
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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