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Plan a Telehealth Strategy for the Long Run

Plan a Telehealth Strategy for the Long Run | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Background

During early phases of the Covid-19 Pandemic, thousands of physicians and organizations quickly deployed telehealth to avoid disruption to care. 

 

Many who stood up telehealth as a “rapid response” are now pausing to evaluate their long-term goals and tools for telehealth and virtual care, recognizing the need to ensure stability, security and scalability of their technology and services. 

 

Additionally, many physicians and organizations have yet to deploy telehealth, but are quickly realizing it’s essential for competitive positioning, patient safety and digital presence. 

 

Pivot Point Consulting’s “Telehealth Strategic Questions” provides an excellent primer on 8 essential planning factors to launch and expand telehealth services. In this Pivot Point Perspective, we focus on key considerations to assess telehealth vendors and products and find the right partner to meet your specific needs. 

 The (Ever-Changing) Telehealth Landscape

Broadly speaking, there are several types of telehealth — as noted below. Understanding the range of telehealth services, their enabling technologies and related terminology is an essential precursor to make an informed vendor and product selection. 

  • Video Visit: a live, interactive consult between a patient and provider 
  • Teleconsult: a live videoenabled consult between a primary care provider and a specialist assisting in rendering a diagnosis and / or care 
  • Store and forward (asynchronous): transmission of diagnostic images, vital signs and / or video clips along with patient data for later review by a provider for diagnosis and care 
  • eVisits: algorithmdriven online patient assessment to inform or establish diagnosis 
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM): use of devices to collect and transmit patient data to a home health agency, a diagnostic testing facility or provider for monitoring and interpretation 
  • Mobile health (mHealth): use of phones and other devices to obtain health information, access provider and payor portals, and conduct video visits 

Find the Right Telehealth Vendor and Product

With so many types of telehealth services and so many telehealth vendors (over 300 and counting), strategic success with telehealth requires a thoughtful analysis of your current/future telehealth needs and virtual care goals, as well as deliberate discernment of vendor and products.

 

Contracting with a consulting firm specializing in telehealth and vendor selection to assist in this planning and vendor review can expedite the process and minimize long-term risk and/or product “mis-fit.” 

 

A few of thessential factors to consider when evaluating telehealth solutions are below. This list, while not comprehensive, serves as a starting point for informed decision making. 

Vendor 
  • How established is the vendor in the market? How many years has it been in business, how many clients does it have and does the vendor have a solid reputation and market ratings?  
  • What is the profile of the vendor’s clients? Having a sizable client base akin to your organization brings confidence that the vendor knows your business and workflows. 
  • What is the vendors growth trajectory  before and post COVID-19?  If they have grown significantly in volume over the past few months, can their services team support and sustain that growth?  Conversely, if they have not scaled during this period it’s worth exploring “why.” 
Product 
  • What type of telehealth does it support? As described above, there are several types of telehealth. It’s important to be clear about your immediate and long-term requirements and that your vendor and product can (and has) delivered on them.   
  • Does the product enable good “webside manner”?  The patient and provider visit experience should be equal to or better than in-person care — an easy to use, intuitive and stable product will expedite throughput and keep patients and providers returning to telehealth visits. 
  • Is it as easy as possible for your patients to use? If your need centers on visits for senior and / or home-bound patient population, assess the product from that perspective. Conversely, if you primarily see young and / or mobile-device fluent populations, carefully assess its functionality and ease from various devices. 
  • Can it integrate with your EHR?  For workflow efficiency, integrating the telehealth video platform into the EHR should be a non-negotiable. 
  • Is it supportable, secure and stable? Does the product work seamlessly across all devices and operating systems?  Is it a highly secure platform? What are its bandwidth requirements, and can you and your patients generally meet them? 
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The Top 10 Benefits of an Internet Business Phone System

The Top 10 Benefits of an Internet Business Phone System | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market is expected to reach $55 billion by 2025. More companies are making the switch to VoIP, allowing them to make calls using broadband internet instead of a conventional phone system.

 

VoIP works by converting sounds into digital communications. Then, the digital file is transferred through internet broadband. By using VoIP, companies can use the internet to make phone calls!

 

Why make the switch? Keep reading to find out. Here are the 10 benefits of switching to a virtual phone system!

 

1. Easy Installation And Integration

 

Many businesses hesitate to make major technological changes. Any change takes time, testing, and money. Installing, configuring, and maintaining a VoIP, however, is incredibly easy.

 

In fact, it’s so easy that VoIP is now the number one telephone service choice for businesses in the country. Already 36 percent of businesses are utilizing a VoIP.

 

Even someone who is less technically savvy can install a VoIP on their own. You can either call an expert technician or try it yourself. VoIP phones are pretty much plug-and-play.

 

It’s also very easy to add new users using hosted VoIP software. The web portal will make it easy for you to move, add, and change systems as needed. The simplicity means you also won’t have to worry about maintenance.

 

As a result, you’ll rarely need professional support when making changes.

 

VoIP also makes it easy for you to utilize other systems and technologies. Integrating other Softwares can enhance your operations, boosting efficiency throughout your company. VoIP integrates a wide variety of business systems, allowing you to customize your VoIP as you see fit.

 

In other words, you’ll have all the benefits of VoIP without needing someone to modify your existing IT infrastructure.

 

2. Scalability

 

One of the top benefits of using an internet business phone system is its scalability.

 

Your virtual phone system will scale along with the needs of your business. A traditional phone system, on the other hand, is usually more difficult to scale. You’ll likely need an IT expert to handle any changes you might need.

 

This scalability will support your company’s efficiency and productivity efforts. You won’t have to waste time or money making company-wide changes to your system.

 

Instead, you can use your small business phone system to add a line the next time you hire a new employee. You can eliminate lines if you’re downsizing, too. Either way, your VoIP will scale along with you.

 

3. Reliability

 

As your company grows, you’ll need a system you can rely on.

 

Some companies think that if they’re without internet, they’ll end up without a phone system as well. One of the benefits of VoIP is that you can still rely on your system even if the internet does go down. In case of an event like this, you can have your calls forwarded to your mobile phone or another device.

 

That means you won’t have to worry about weather issues or power outages impacting your business operations.

 

4. Effective Communication

 

Whether your team is big or small, you’ll need to make sure everyone can communicate. With more people working from home, it’s important to have a system that prioritizes communication.

 

With a virtual phone system, the line will ring at your desk phone a few times before ringing on your mobile device, laptop, or tablet.

 

As a result, you won’t have to worry about missing urgent calls. You’ll save time trying to check your voicemail, too!

 

5. Flexibility

 

With a mobile business phone system, you don’t need your underlying network as part of a specific technology layout. Instead, you can use your existing ethernet, ATM, WiFi, or SONET as the foundation of the network.

 

Traditional phone networks require a lot of complexity, which can make it difficult for your IT team to make adjustments. The network flexibility with VoIP allows you to create a standardized system. As a result, you can support a number of communication types and require less equipment management.

 

6. Additional Features

 

There are a number of benefits and additional features that come included with your internet business phone system. For example, VoIP systems allow clients to connect with a variety of devices. This makes it easier for you to keep your company’s productivity levels up.

 

VoIP programs often include:

 

  • Caller ID
  • Virtual numbers
  • Contact lists
  • Voicemail

You can customize these features to improve your company’s operational efficiency.

 

For example, you can have voicemails forwarded to multiple co-workers. You can also use voicemail-to-text transcriptions and send these documents to your email with ease.

 

7. Work From Anywhere Access

 

Are more of your employees working from home? A work-at-home program can help you save money on office space and decrease utility costs. Before you make that transition, however, it helps to have a VoIP in place.

 

VoIP can ensure your team communicates effectively. Employees can use the voice, fax, and data services through their internet connection.

 

Employees can communicate straight from their home offices or even abroad.

 

As a result, you don’t have to worry about a drop in communication with your team members.

 

8. Simplified Conferences

 

Traditional phone systems allow you to conference with teams and clients. However, you usually need to pay for an additional service in order to host multiple callers. With a small business phone system, you can simplify this process.

 

VoIP removes the need for dedicated phone lines. Instead, you’ll operate on a converged data network. The features are usually native.

 

With the cost already built-in, you won’t have to worry about paying more for conferencing features.

 

9. Functionality

 

With a VoIP, you’re not limited to phone calls. You can also host video-conference, allowing you to communicate with co-workers and clients better than before. Video-conferencing will allow you to share meetings, files, documents, and agendas right from your VoIP system.

 

10. Cost-Efficiency

 

Above all else, switching to a virtual phone system will help your company cut costs. These systems are cheaper than conventional phone systems. The ability to install and remove lines as needed will help you adjust your system to cut costs, too.

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What You Need to Know About Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare

What You Need to Know About Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Digital Health Communication and Messaging

Digital information is everywhere, including medical institutions where it is now common practice to utilize electronic medical records. This can be a good thing, making patient care more efficient and effective. However, it can also be an easy doorway for data thieves to access private information.

 

Many doctors and nurses utilize mobile data to aid in their daily tasks from accessing clinical data to communicating with other staff members.

 

Many primary care providers also regularly use text messaging as a way to communicate with patients for appointment bookings and cancellations. Text messaging is a quick and easy way to do this.

HIPAA

The U.S.’s Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 exists, in part, to protect personally identifiable information when being used by the healthcare industry, through regulating how it can be used and communicated. Specifically, the HIPAA Security Rule stipulates that numerous safeguards be employed by administrative and medical staff to protect personal information, including the use of encryption in digital communication where possible.

 

If medical staff and institutions follow the safeguards required by HIPAA, there shouldn’t be cause for concern. However, HIPAA doesn’t require encryption non-discriminately across the board, and there is always the possibility of human error and negligence. In particular, smaller clinics which previously had minimal security procedures in place have found it particularly challenging to comply with the requirements of HIPAA.

Safeguarding Medical Information

So, what can be done to safeguard medical communications? Secure text messaging is a viable option, though it is challenging to implement on a whole-scale level and depends a great deal on employee participation. One study found that only 31 percent of medical staff were encrypting information as standard practice before sending it to the cloud. Apps exist that will encrypt text messages, but every single device sending and receiving these texts has to be using the same system.

 

However, medical staff also need to consider the chance that someone other than their intended recipient may view their messages, making it imperative that personally identifiable information be communicated in a way that maintains patient privacy.

 

Ideally, a medical facility’s IT department will spearhead the efforts to get everyone on board. But this becomes increasingly difficult with nationwide coverage of medical care. It is one thing to secure one system.

 

It is quite another to secure two systems or hundreds of systems, as is the case with many of the larger institutions.

 

If it is deemed too daunting a task for the whole company to establish an all-encompassing encryption service. At the bare minimum, each employee’s device should use its own encryption app, and the use of encryption should be monitored with employees being held responsible for failure to comply. In addition to encryption, a passcode should be made mandatory on every device.

 

Finally, medical staff should never assume that having access to a patient’s mobile number means that they have given their consent to be contacted via text message.

 

Consent should be gained by each patient before any text-based communication occurs, and the patient should be informed that any messages sent or received may become part of their medical record.

 

Since there is no way to cease the use of smart devices or text messaging in this day and age, establishing secure mobile messaging in healthcare is a must.

 

Medical information is among the most sensitive and expensive information out there and when, or if, it gets into the wrong hands. The consequences could be far-reaching and devastating. A patient seeking medical help should not have to be concerned for the security of their personal information.

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How Does HIPAA Enforcement Work?

How Does HIPAA Enforcement Work? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

HIPAA enforcement takes place on both the federal government and state government levels.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights receives and investigates complaints, and issues penalties and fines.

 

Enforcement action can be taken with respect to any of the HIPAA Rules. These rules include the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the Security Rule, the Breach Notification Rule, and the HIPAA Omnibus Rule. 

 

When an individual reports a violation, files a complaint or discloses a breach, OCR reviews the complaint, report, or disclosure.

 

OCR may then pursue enforcement in the form of investigations or audits. Audits are randomly conducted. Thus far, HHS has publicly announced, with respect to each audit it has conducted, when the audit was to take place, and what the audit consisted of.  

 

Investigations, in contrast, are made in response to a specific complaint. Upon receiving a complaint, OCR seeks information from the entity against whom the complaint is filed, about the extent of its HIPAA compliance.

 

Investigation sometimes results in the entity that is the subject of the complaint taking voluntary steps to improve its compliance. In addition, after an investigation starts, HIPAA enforcement can take the form of OCR providing technical assistance to an entity to resolve the matter. Technical assistance consists of OCR’s advising the entity as to what is expected of it in terms of HIPAA compliance.

 

Typically, an entity agrees to make specified changes. 

In addition, state attorneys general can enforce HIPAA. The ability to do so was given to states in the 2009 amendment to HIPAA that appears in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. 

 

States were reluctant to take enforcement actions in the initial years after the amendment; however, recently, states have not only engaged in more vigorous HIPAA enforcement activity but have joined together with other states in multistate litigation. 

 

There are significant consequences for breaking the HIPAA laws in new ways as well: The first multistate litigation was brought in December of 2018. Arizona and 15 other states filed suit, asserting claims under HIPAA as well as various applicable state data protection laws.

 

The suit was filed as a result of a data breach in which hackers infiltrated WebChart, and stole the electronically protected health information (ePHI) of approximately 4 million individuals. 

 

As shown above, consequences for breaking the HIPAA law can be severe. Covered entities can address their obligations under HIPAA by working with Compliancy Group.

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Future Scope of Computer Telephone Integration - Future of CTI

Future Scope of Computer Telephone Integration - Future of CTI | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For all intents and purposes, it does seem like the future of CTI is today. The technology has come a long way since the simple screen population technology.

 

In fact, back in 1996, an article by Guy Matthews predicted three CTI technologies that would shape how the masses communicate in the future: internet phones, faxback, and international callback. All of which are now readily available – or even basic – with today’s CTI technology.

 

So, what lies in the future of CTI? Has technology reached its peak? What should we look forward to when it comes to CTI integration?

The Future of CTI in the Clouds

Cloud computing has paved the way for the mass adoption of CTI, as well as other technologies. It has made powerful systems, platforms, and applications available to practically all kinds of businesses. Through scalable service offerings, small- and medium-sized businesses can use technologies, such as CTI, to compete on the same level as companies with more technical expertise and thicker wallets.

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That’s the beauty of cloud computing – and, in the world of IT, it is huge. Projections made by technology research company Gartner Inc. peg the worldwide market for public cloud services to be worth around $204 billion in 2016. Alongside this, the cloud application services (SaaS) industry is worth billions of dollars too, with a projected 20% yearly growth. The SaaS industry is seen to grow to $132.57 billion by 2020.
 

These numbers reflect the future of CTI. As the cloud computing industry grows, cloud-based CTI services become more accessible, at low leveled off rates. Because of this, the CTI market will lean further towards cloud-based services. You just won’t be able to deny the key selling points: cost-effectiveness, scalability, and accessibility.

CTI “Mobilization”

The future of CTI is also mobile. According to a study made by the Emergence Capital Partners (ECP), there are more than 300 mobile enterprise app companies in operation. These companies focus on key segments that include communications, task management, and events and contact management. This falls right in the turf of CTI integration and unified communications.

 

To date, there is an increased demand for a better communications platform, one that consolidates your interactions with your contacts, clients or prospects, whether it’s through voice, email, chat or SMS. This platform makes such information available across your desktop and mobile devices.

 

A future where mobile access is already a requisite part of CTI integration is a future where business booms. According to research firm Forrester, companies that encourage the use of mobile applications grow faster than those that don’t. After all, agents and employees who are not tied down to one place tend to become more accessible, reliable and productive.

Social Media Integration

Social media is part of the future of CTI too. Through CTI integration with business applications, such as CRM, communications on social media can be accessed through a singular platform. There is no need to switch platforms to respond to social media interactions.

 

What should be noted, however, is the increasing use of social media to interact with businesses. Companies miss out if they neglect interactions within this channel.

 

There is still a need to make social media communications easier and simpler for your agents and sales team. The future of CTI – where businesses get the full advantages of optimizing their marketing, sales and support processes – demands social media integration that is unified and efficient across all devices, regardless of agent location.

Improved Security

As with all technological advancements, communications technology deals with attempts to exploit its vulnerabilities on a regular basis. This is ‘business as usual’ in technology. However, with the massive amount of data that comes with CTI integration, the future of CTI has to be more secure. In fact, according to a 2016 survey by Society for Information Management (SIM), 36% of IT heads rank security as their number one concern

 

Improved security when it comes to CTI integration has to cover all the bases, from cloud-based data to on-site and third-party hosted information. Ultimately, this impacts how you do business and how you are perceived by your target market.

Better User Experience

Applications integrated with your CTI system upgrade fast and regularly. This improves the scope of technology. In many cases, upgrades also introduce new ways for you and your team to accomplish tasks and goals. This increased efficiency requires that you adapt to upgraded technology fast.

 

Improving the user experience through simplified and intuitive interfaces is a way to hasten your team’s learning curve. Improved interfaces are actually crucial since your CTI system is integral to your business’ day-to-day. The faster the learning, the quicker you can get back to efficient work.

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Healthcare Providers & Vendors Need HIPAA Cloud Solution!

Healthcare Providers & Vendors Need HIPAA Cloud Solution! | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cloud solutions are quickly becoming the new norm for the way businesses operate today. Many companies are moving from legacy software systems to online “hosted” alternatives, such as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). The benefits of cloud-based solutions over desktop software are wide-ranging, affecting everything from productivity to data security. Healthcare organizations also need to take the appropriate precautions to ensure that they have a HIPAA compliance cloud.

 

It makes sense to see why so many organizations are adopting cloud-based solutions–improved efficiency, flexibility, cost reduction, mobility, as well as around the clock support are all driving forces behind the growth of cloud services.

 

Yet, HIPAA compliance cloud services also raise some concerns in regards to security and compliance, which go hand-in-hand to help organizations keep their sensitive healthcare data safe. For businesses operating in the healthcare industry, which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the US economy, these concerns escalate due to HIPAA regulatory requirements that mandate the privacy and security of patients’ protected health information (PHI). PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Common examples of PHI include names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, medical records, and full facial photos, to name a few.

 

HIPAA applies to covered entities, such as providers and insurance plans, as well as business associates who perform certain functions for, or on behalf of another health care organization that involves receiving, maintaining, or transmitting PHI.

 

For example, a cloud service provider (CSP) who are involved in handling PHI for a covered entity whether it is data storage or a complete software solution such as a hosted electronic medical record system, are still considered a business associate and need to implement a HIPAA compliance cloud.

HIPAA Compliance in the Cloud

In a nutshell, both covered entities and business associates need a HIPAA compliance cloud that allows for the creation of an effective compliance programThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released detailed, five-step guidance on cloud computing that parties must adhere to in order to maintain HIPAA compliant relationships. This HHS guidance on HIPAA compliance cloud services includes:

 

  1. Execute a Business Associate Agreement– A business associate agreement outlines what business associates can and cannot do with the PHI they access, how they will protect that PHI, how they will prevent PHI disclosure, and the appropriate method for reporting a breach of PHI  if one would occur. It also defines liability in the event of a data breach.
  2. Conduct a HIPAA Security Risk Assessment– The covered entity or business associate that works with a cloud service provider must document the cloud computing environment and security solutions put in place by the cloud service provider as part of their risk management policies.
  3. Abide by the HIPAA Privacy Rule– A covered entity must enforce proper safeguards in order to keep PHI safe and information can only be disclosed to a business associate after a business associate agreement has been executed.
  4. Implement HIPAA Security Safeguards– A business associate must comply with all three key security safeguards outlined in the HIPAA Security Rule: Physical, Technical and Administrative.
  5. Adhere to the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule- In the event of a data breach, covered entities and business associates are required to document and investigate the incident. All breaches must be reported to HHS OCR. All affected parties must be notified as well.

 

The only exception to the Breach Notification Rule is if the data was properly encrypted. If, for example, a properly encrypted device containing PHI goes missing, then there is a low probability that the data will be accessible by an unauthorized user. In this case, a breach will not have to be reported under the provisions of the Breach Notification Rule.

 

However, it is crucial that all HIPAA covered entities and business associates read the standards outlined in the regulation to determine the proper level of HIPAA encryption for different modes of data storage and transmission.

 

If a covered entity does not execute a Business Associate Agreement with a third party vendor with whom they share PHI, both organizations are leaving themselves exposed to a significant risk of HIPAA violations.

A HIPAA Compliant Cloud Will Save You Money

Data breaches are very costly–not only due to monetary penalties but also because of the long-lasting reputational damage a breach can have on an organization.

 

HIPAA breach fines can range anywhere from $100 to $50,000 per violation or record, with up to a maximum of $1.5 million per violation. When multiple violations or a large scale data breach occurs, these fines can compound and lead to millions of dollars in HIPAA fines. As if that isn’t bad enough, breaches are publicly listed on the “Wall of Shame,” maintained and enforced by HHS OCR. This list shows all HIPAA breaches affecting 500 or more individuals. Even worse, some HIPAA violations can lead to criminal charges, carrying the potential for jail time.

 

In order to avoid violations and fines, healthcare providers and business associates must comply with HIPAA regulations which means protecting the security and privacy of their patients.

Compliance Group Can Help!

Compliance Group helps healthcare professionals and business associates effectively address their HIPAA compliance with our cloud-based app, The Guard. The Guard allows users to achieve, illustrate, and maintain compliance, addressing everything that the law requires.

 

Users are paired with one of our expert Compliance Coaches. They will guide you through every step of the process and answer any questions you may have along the way. Compliance Group simplifies compliance so you can get back to confidently running your business.

 

And in the event of a data breach or HIPAA audit, our Audit Response Team works with users through the entire documentation and reporting process. At Compliance Group, we go above and beyond to help demonstrate your good faith effort toward HIPAA compliance.

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HIMSS18 – What, Where and How HealthIT can impact healthcare 

HIMSS18 – What, Where and How HealthIT can impact healthcare  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

With the annual #HIMSS18 conference just a few weeks away, most of the industry’s attention is turning to matters relating to technology, cyber security and the regulations around HealthIT. We thought it would be fitting, therefore, to team up with the wonderful folks at @HIMSS for a tweetchat focused on technology and healthcare.

 

I am a fan of artificial intelligence, machine learning and virtual reality (even though I cannot physically use VR for more than 2 minutes at a time). However, the technology that I’m most intrigued by is 3D printing – specifically the 3D printing of organs and organic material.

 

First, there is the impact this technology could have on solving hunger and nutrition. Imagine if we could “print” healthy food in places where growing it is difficult or where shipping it is cost-prohibitive. Imagine also if we could print foods that are personalized to each person’s unique metabolism and dietary needs. The impact on public health would be significant and worldwide.

 

A long time ago I read a science fiction novel that talked about the advent of this type of technology: Gateway by Fredrick Pohl. The novel made frequent mention of something called CHON-food. Pohl imagined a world where CHON machines were able to replicate food by combining four key elements: carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. The advent of these machines helped to solve world hunger and ended many of the wars for water and food that that plagued the Earth. I hope we are at the start of CHON revolution.

 

Second, there is the impact of 3D printing on surgery and transplants. Researchers are very close to being able to print human skin using organic printers that can be used in reconstructive surgeries. The impact this technology could have on burn patients would be incredible. So too could the impact on patients that need a transplant. According to UNOS, every ten minutes someone is added to the national transplant waiting list and on average 20 people die each day while waiting for a transplant. With organ-printing technology these premature deaths might be prevented. Using tissue samples, organs can be printed to exactly match the patient’s physiology. Bonus: no more worries about organ rejection.

 

I’ve got my eye on 3D printing and over the next few years I expect it to have an impact beyond technologies like AI, machine learning and analytics. However, it’s going to take time for this technology to mature. In the meantime, there are certain areas of healthcare that can use a little boost TODAY.

 

Patient engagement and behavior change is an area of healthcare I hope #HealthIT will be able to help. Patients are the most untapped resource available to healthcare. Despite all the trackers, portals and video tutorials, health literacy remains extremely low. Some would argue that the widespread adoption of EHRs had even contributed to patient dis-engagement as doctors and nurses spend more time staring at screens rather than speaking to patients about their health. I see a golden opportunity in healthcare for patient engagement technology.

 

In the early 90s, the field of behavioral economics took shape. Richard Thaler, the University of Chicago professor who recently won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, began publishing a series of papers that combined psychology and economics. His work led many to begin studying the ways that human behavior influences financial decisions. We need to apply those same theories to healthcare and design #HealthIT systems that nudge patients (and clinicians) into healthier behaviors.

I am incredibly excited about the future of healthcare. I am certain we are making progress towards a brighter day for patients, doctors, nurses, family caregivers and administrators. As I walk the #HIMSS18 exhibit hall I will be on the hunt for companies that share this outlook and whose products show clear signs of patient/provider design input.

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Computers Replacing Doctors, Innovation and the Quantified Self: An Interview with Atul Gawande | The Health Care Blog

Computers Replacing Doctors, Innovation and the Quantified Self: An Interview with Atul Gawande | The Health Care Blog | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Atul Gawande is the preeminent physician-writer of this generation. His new book, Being Mortal, is a runaway bestseller, as have been his three prior books, Complications, Better, and The Checklist Manifesto.

One of the joys of my recent sabbatical in Boston was the opportunity to spend some time with Atul, getting to see what an inspirational leader and superb mentor he is, along with being a warm and menschy human being. In my continued series of interviews I conducted for The Digital Doctor, my forthcoming book on health IT, here are excerpts from my conversation with Atul Gawande on July 28, 2014 in Boston.

I began by asking him about his innovation incubator, Ariadne Labs, and how he decides which issues to focus on.

Gawande: Yeah, I’m in the innovation space, but in a funny way. Our goal is to create the most basic systems required for people to get marked improvements in the results of care. We’re working in surgery, childbirth, and end-of-life care.

The very first place we’ve gone is to non-technology innovations. Such as, what are the 19 critical things that have to happen when the patient comes in an operating room and goes under anesthesia? When the incision is made? Before the incision is made? Before the patient leaves the room? It’s like that early phase of the aviation world, when it was just a basic set of checklists.

In all of the cases, the most fundamental, most valuable, most critical innovations have nothing to do with technology. They have to do with asking some very simple, very basic questions that we never ask. Asking people who are near the end of life what their goals are. Or making sure that clinicians wash their hands.

Once we’ve recognized the recipe for really great performance, the second thing we’ve discovered is that our most important resource for improving the ability of teams to follow through on those really critical things is data. Information is our most valuable resource, yet we treat it like a byproduct. The systems we have – Epic and our other systems – are not particularly useful right now in helping us execute on these objectives. We’re having to build systems around those systems.

The third insight is that, for the most part, the issues have less to do with systems than with governance. The people who are buying these systems, installing these systems, and determining how they’re to be used… What are they responsible for? What are their objectives? We’re having to figure out how to get quality and outcomes higher on the list of priorities of everybody running health systems.

Our dumb checklist, or our incredibly sophisticated predictive analytics algorithm, or that incredibly expensive EHR system… none of those change that fundamental failure – the failure of governance. And none of them can, no matter how you design them.

Gawande raised the example of hospitalists. He asked me about my group at UCSF, which has – by focusing on performance improvement as our core mission – become a key innovation engine at our institution.

AG: I think your hospitalist example is really important. Over and over again, it’s the pattern I see: a powerful idea creates a momentum of its own. When you’ve shown that there’s an obvious better way to take care of people. It’s controversial, and hospitalists can be used in ways that destroy the original intent. I’m sure you think about this all the time.

But when it works, it forces the leadership change. Leadership didn’t create hospitalists. Hospitalists created leadership. I think that’s the way it happens.

The same kind of thing happened with anesthesia. People didn’t say, “Oh, we have to find a better way to manage the pain of patients, because surgery is causing horrible suffering.” Somebody came up with an idea, and demonstrated that you could relieve this problem. But it required incredible system change. You had to double the number of people working in operating rooms at a time when the United States had a lower GDP than China does today. “We’ve got a better way of doing surgery. Oh, and it will involve doubling the number of physicians you have providing the care?” Is that a great model? It was dismissed as totally non-viable, can’t work. But it didn’t matter. It was too important, and it became the driver of leadership change, rather than the other way around.

A similar thing happened with Paul Farmer. There were debates for a decade about whether you could treat HIV in poor patients. Oh they don’t have watches, they can’t take the drugs, they can’t do this, they can’t do that. Farmer is like, “Fuck it!” I am going to Haiti, and I’m going to do it in a little old clinic in the middle of nowhere. And no, they didn’t change a whole country … but they changed a paradigm.

I think that’s the cool thing, that it’s not the technology. It was the values and the core idea that demonstrated you could accomplish this, that got you there.

I asked Gawande a question I asked most of my interviewees: Will computers replace physicians?

AG: The variousness of the healthcare world is pretty extreme. When we look at the way that disease presents itself, we’re moving increasingly away from science. When it turned out that lung cancer is not one disease, but rather that it’s four or five different histologic subtypes, that made it more complicated. Now we know there are 47 – and the number is growing – genes that, in different combinations, govern the behavior of those cancers. Forty-seven genes, and then you look at the multiples of different ways that people have these genes. Now we learn that the epigenetics and the expression of those genes are incredibly dependent on the environment. Did they smoke, how did that affect the genes? Did they have any kind of industrial exposure? How old are they at the time that the cancer appears?

Our cells on our little Excel spreadsheets are getting smaller and smaller and smaller. We’re getting back to the world of the 18th century “art of medicine,” where everything is becoming an “eyeball test.” The danger is that it becomes actually increasingly data-free – that every single person becomes a case of one. That becomes impossible to learn from. Period.

Where we’re moving, I think, is towards saying, “I have a class of people. I’m going to try Process A on this class of people who have some combination of these different genes,” and stuff like that. And then, does that process lead to better outcomes? The processes will be things like, “I’m going to watch them for three months. Then if X happens, I’m going to do an operation. If Y happens, I’m going to give them chemotherapy.” That increasingly becomes the way we learn.

RW: In your work as a physician, do you think care is getting better or getting worse?

AG: I think it’s massively better.

RW: Why?

AG: It’s fundamentally because of values, more than technology. I think we’ve changed our values over time. That patient suffering matters. I remember as a surgical trainee, I was expected to inflict levels of pain that today are just not acceptable. In my first month as a resident, I went into an operation to do a rib removal on a young girl. I’d never done one before; I had a month of operating experience. A fellow was standing at the door in his scrubs, saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, cut there.” The attending is in another room. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing.

The culture was, even to suggest that was a problem, meant you were weak.

Gawande asked me how I perceived the training environment today – particularly the tension between the patient and the technology.

RW: The residents’ instinct about teamwork is much better than mine was. I mean, the idea of my caring about what the nurses thought just wasn’t on my radar screen. And the residents’ instinct to get back to the bedside – when they’re spending all their time on the computers, they feel this loss and I think they’re trying to reconnect with their patients. We’re trying to create structures to allow that to happen.

But it’s hard – the residents feel they’re caught up in this world where everything they need to know is on the computer screen. That’s creating angst in their day-to-day life. You go up to the floor of the medical service in my hospital, and there are no doctors there. They come, they see the patients, and then they escape to this tribal room where all 15 residents hang out together, each doing his or her computer work. That means that many of the informal interactions that used to occur between the docs and the nurses, or the docs and the patients and their families, have withered away.

AG: Everything that they’re measured on and that defines their success happens outside the patient’s room.

RW: Correct.

AG: There’s a difference in surgery training. Everything that you’re measured on and that matters happens in the operating room. Although the patient’s asleep, the residents are having to work on their people-to-people interactions. How do you handle yourself with the nurses? How do you handle yourself with the doctors? What are your skills? They’re trying to figure it out and navigate it. It’s often a complete mystery to the students, and for a long time to the residents, too.

But except in the most egregious cases where you really piss off a patient, their success – being labeled an A versus a B – relates to “how much do I really know this patient?” It’s not getting my to-do list done for the day. Yet getting through the to-do list is the dominant task.

And we’ve both contributed to discoveries that indicate that all these little steps on the to-do list matter. It’s become an endless list of details that really, really, really matter. Do you have the right combination of antibiotics? Is the head of the bed at 30 degrees? When I think about the to-do list that I had when I was an intern, and the to-do list that the residents have today – today’s is just massively longer.

I closed by asking Gawande about the concept of the Quantified Self – patients wearing sensors and accumulating all kinds of personal data. While he is generally supportive of the concept, he has a concern, one that echoes the central theme of Being Mortal.

AG: I worry that we could become tyrannized by a combination of experts and sensors that have no close relationship to our priorities. That’s why I just keep coming back to the values. We’re here to alleviating suffering. I think it’s about this deeper connection we all have to something important.


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How Healthcare Organizations Can Turn Big Data Into Smart Data

How Healthcare Organizations Can Turn Big Data Into Smart Data | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Only a very small percentage of healthcare organizations today seem to be leading the way in healthcare data analytics, while the vast majority are very early in the business intelligence (BI)/analytics process, or haven’t even started. As a result, organizations seem to see big data as something that’s off in the very distant future; for most of them, anything outside of five years is almost nonexistent, says Shane Pilcher, vice president at the Bethel Park, Pa.-based Stoltenberg Consulting.

It is important to remember that big data is more than just a sea of information; it is an opportunity to find insights in new and emerging types of data and content.  So what are hospitals and healthcare organizations forgetting in their paths for eventual success with big data? According to Pilcher, the answer is “smart data.” In the below interview with HCI Assistant Editor Rajiv Leventhal, Pilcher talks about the difference between big data and smart data, strategies for collecting the right data, and advice for physicians in getting on board with the movement.

When you say “smart data,” what do you mean? How does smart data differ from big data?

The data that organizations are collecting today that they will be using for big data are going into this black hole (usually the data warehouse) somewhere. They are happy that they’re collecting it and preparing for when big data finally does come around to their organization, but if they aren’t careful and if they don’t monitor what they’re recording, the quality and quantity of the data when it’s to be used five years from now will not be sufficient enough. These organizations might think that they have five years of historical data to start their analytics, but in reality, the data is often not of the quality or quantity, or even the type, that is needed. That’s the smart data—that step that focuses on the type of data that they have, the volume of data, and also the validity of that data. You have to make sure that what you’re collecting is what you’re expecting.

Do healthcare organizations recognize this need?

Big data is a common theme with CIOs at healthcare organizations everywhere—they know it’s coming. However, there are CEOs at their hospitals who hear about “big data” at conferences and have no idea what it is, yet they will still come back and tell their CIOs that they “have to be doing big data.” And thus, it’s left in the lap of CIOs. But for the CIOs, they have Stage 2 of meaningful use and ICD-10 coming [for many providers, Stage 2 is here already], so they are not in the best place to be dealing with big data. So for the most part—except for about 5 percent of organizations out there, they tend to move it to sideline. It’s like looking at the side view mirror on your car and not seeing the message, “images are closer than they appear.” They see big data reflected, but it’s a lot closer than what they’re thinking. For the places that have limited resources and time, this is something that is being pushed to the side until they can get to it down the road.

How can organizations better ensure they are collecting the right quantity and quality of data?

First, you need to start developing your strategy now. Using the standard data models and approaches other industries are using doesn’t necessarily translate to healthcare IT. The amount of data, the data structure, and the data model is off the chart compared to even something as large as automotive manufacturing—the complexity isn’t even comparable. You have to develop as you go. The biggest thing I can suggest, as this industry is developing and our tools are growing, is to develop those peer networks with other healthcare leaders that are already further down the road than you. About 5 percent of healthcare organizations are right now in “stage two” of the data maturity model where they could start looking at predictive and prescriptive approaches to data. Those that are on the forefront of data analysis and intelligence are going to be critical to the rest of the industry following along. So learn from and use your peers.

And again, the quality of the data is critical. Organizations often think that they initiated the data collection, it’s implemented, and it’s working, so they turn to next project, thinking that when they’re ready, they will have it there in the warehouse. But then when it gets closer to the time to use the data, they don’t have the quantity that they thought they had. If you are collecting the wrong information or it’s incorrect, when you do your analysis, you will get wrong results and not even know it. Decisions could be devastating because your data was inaccurate leading to wrong analysis.

So you also need to assess the data on a regular basis constantly and ensure that what you think you’re collecting is actually what you’re getting. Then you can depend on the accuracy of that data when it’s time to start analyzing. Being able to analyze unstructured data for trends is very difficult, almost borderline impossible.  Yet, about 80 percent of hospitals expect to use unstructured data in their data warehouse. Turning that data into structured data, or finding a tool that can do that for you with accuracy, becomes a huge push. If organizations are not prepared for that, they are racing against time at the last minute.

You need to trust the accuracy of your data. You know that your electronic health record (EHR) is collecting certain data and dumping into the data warehouse. But is anything happening with that transfer of data that is changing it in any way? Is it remaining accurate? Was it accurate to begin with? I wouldn’t say there is an issue of incorrect data in EHRs, but people can’t 100 percent say, “Yes, it’s ready to be analyzed.”

What are some other challenges organizations are facing with big data?

Time and money are the two big ones, of course. Everyone has a limited amount of time, with more projects and initiatives than time to do them in. And dollars are tight for healthcare organizations, so the things that tend to be more in the future get less priority when it comes to budgeting than things needed for today.

But staffing is also a problem—having trained staffs who know how to analyze and know how to approach intelligence processes can be challenging. A 2012 CHIME CIO survey, from last September, found that 67 percent of healthcare CIOs were reporting IT staff shortages. The issue is that organizations either didn’t have enough staffers, or didn’t have anyone internally with that skill set. At the end of the day, almost all organizations are having problems making up a BI department.

What is your advice to helping physicians get on board with big data?

This is definitely adding to the challenge for physicians. In many cases, a lot of them can view EHRs as taking up more of their time and causing more of a workload rather than being more efficient. Often, that is accurate. EHRs do not save you time, not at the beginning. And that’s why physicians tend to be resistant; they understand the need for meaningful use dollars, and that has pushed them in the direction, even though they have been reluctant to go there in the past.

But the day we can take that information and turn it into a tool for them to better take care of their patients, creating better outcomes at a lower cost, will be a benefit to all of the efforts and work they have been doing. That is why hospitals that have implemented BI initiatives; rather than just focus on the financial, they have to focus on the patient care strategies and initiatives. Because it’s not until then do doctors see a purpose for their extra work and start to get on board.



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Docs critical to wearables success | Healthcare IT News

Docs critical to wearables success | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

As the "race to the wrist" intensifies and more and more smartwatches and fitness bands enter the market, one has to wonder who stands a better chance for success: the device that caters to the user or one that caters to the doctor?

In all likelihood, the percentage of the population that is really, truly interested in collecting biometric data – the so-called quantified-selfers – isn't going to increase by any great margin. You'll always have the super-healthy fitness fanatics, but they won't outnumber the average consumer, no matter how stylish that watch or bracelet looks or how cool it displays your heart rate and blood sugar. 

There are sure to be wearables on display at the upcoming mHealth Summit 2014 in December and the data they collect is going to be much more valuable to the doctor, the nurse, the public health worker or the health and wellness advocate (whatever they'll be called in the future). After all, they're the ones who are going to know what to do with the information, and how to use it in such a way that it holds value to the consumer.

That's the plan, at least.

The one enduring fallacy in consumer-centered mHealth right now is that a device's success in the market comes down to the whims of the wearer. That's only half the battle. If that device isn't collecting information that a healthcare provider wants or needs, and if it isn't providing an easy means of connecting with that provider and sending that information, all it's going to end up being is a fancy – and expensive – watch or bracelet.


Too many of these devices flooding the market aren't taking that provider connection seriously. They're expecting the user to find a way to bring his or her doctor, nurse or health coach into the loop, and expecting the healthcare provider to be more than happy to go that extra mile to get this information. This is the workflow intrusion that we've all been warned about.

Most healthcare providers would agree – they don't want to be inundated with all that extra information coming in from wearables. If it's of value to the healthcare of the user – their patient – then yes, but it had better be coming into their EHR or in some fashion that is easy to see, work with and act on. It would then be up to them to turn that data around and, in so doing, make it of value to the user.

Take a look at the wearable devices on display or being discussed at this year's mHealth Summit. Chances are each one is closely tied to a clinician-friendly platform, or ready to prove their ease and value to clinicians.

That's the market they want to please.



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New dimensions for wearable tech | Healthcare IT News

New dimensions for wearable tech | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

And here you thought Google Glass was the ultimate head-mounted game-changer for healthcare.

Another (admittedly smaller) Mountain View, Calif. tech company is hoping its own futuristic goggles will be just as transformative to healthcare as many expect Google Glass will be. Atheer Labs has developed what it calls "wearable augmented reality."

Leveraging Atheer’s three-dimensional immersive computing platform – offering wearers a way to interact with and manipulate data and devices that surround them – its 3D glasses, among many other uses, could be coming to clinical setting soon.

As Soulaiman Itani, founder and CEO of Atheer Labs, pointed out in press statement late this past year explaining the technology, there's a lot to think about when designing wearable computers. For example, "people cannot wear glasses that are more than 100 grams for longer than twenty minutes," he said.


"We were able to get all of the functionality and immersive experience in 75 grams," he said, "and we’re now putting it in the hands of the developers."

So for the past years or so the Atheer Developer Portal has offered access to the wearable device technology, and smart people have been working on applications that "augment the world around the user in 3D," enabling interaction via touch, voice or head motion.

Healthcare is in Atheer's sights. It's been showing off the technology at various healthcare conference, touting the ways it could change workflows offer new insights into smarter care delivery.

Sina Fateh, MD, is executive vice president at Atheer Labs, where he's in charge of optics development and the visual experience of the wearable technology. An ophthalmologist, Fateh has "expertise in binocular vision, smart glasses, visual image processing, and digital eyecare," according to Atheer officals.

Fateh tells Healthcare IT News the "augmented interactive reality" offered by these new 3D goggles can "enable clinicians to better serve patients in today’s hospitals by increasing efficiency, safety and privacy."

Efficiency gains could be in the offing too, he says. "Clinicians currently rely on desktop computers or tablets to access patients’ information. With the Atheer AiR platform, clinicians can now see information on a mobile heads-up display and have access to all this wherever they are, at the patients side, or on-the-go, and all hands-free.”

He says the glasses could also help in terms of safety and sanitation – "clinicians to access and navigate patient information with gesture control without the need to ever touch a physical surface" – and offer new dimensions to the patient record: "stereo see-through optics that allows clinicians to see medical records and images in high-resolution right in front of their eyes."

How are these 3D glasses different from, say, Google Glass, or other immersive reality technology such as Oculus Rift?

For one thing, this technology was specifically developed with input from "scientists, doctors, researchers" and other medical technologists, says Fateh.

"On a more technical level, Google Glass is a small, monocular display that can present only very limited information to the wearer, unlike Atheer’s binocular glasses which provide a large display area in front of you for a rich experience," he says.

"The interaction is also very different, with Google Glass relying on voice commands and a touchpad on the side, whereas the Atheer glasses are able to see your hands and fingers, enabling the user to naturally reach out and touch, tap and swipe the digital information they see displayed."

And while Oculus Rift is a virtual reality platform, "where the user is transported into a virtual simulated world and separated from reality," Atheer's is an "augmented reality platform that overlays relevant information onto the real world you see around you."

Notably, the AiR platform is fully compatible with the existing Android platform, he adds – enabling most Android applications to run directly.

In the next year Atheer will be "field testing" the technology in hospitals and other clinical settings, says Fateh: "We are eager to see our technology be put to use, and work with early adopters to identify other uses for it that will hugely impact the future of healthcare."

The company already has early users developing medical apps, and as early as 2015, these workflows "will be put into use in a selected number of medical facilities," he says. "It will probably take another year to get this technology into most modern medical facilities."



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The Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Small Business Phone System

The Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Small Business Phone System | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Upgrading your business’s phone system may seem like an unnecessary expense. After all, the current system still works, you might argue.

 

While it’s true, you might be able to make a few calls here and there, are you at par with your competition? Technology continually evolves, and moving with technology could give you that edge over your competition.

 

To keep up with consumer and employee demands, getting a new small business phone system might be a wise move.

 

In this article, we’ll look at a few telltale signs that your small business phone system needs an upgrade.

Types of Small Business Phone Systems

A phone system is essential for any business worth its name. There are basically three types of phone systems for businesses.

 

The choice of phone system depends on the business type, size of the business, and the budget of the company in question.

Here are the three types of phone systems for businesses.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX)

Private branch exchange doesn’t use keys on a switchboard like key system units. Instead, it uses programmable switching devices. This automatic switching means it will automatically route incoming calls.

 

Because of this feature, PBX systems can comfortably support over 50 employees. Another excellent feature of PBX systems is that it works even with power interruptions. This is thanks to its integrated UPS support.

 

With UPS, the business can remain active without electricity for a while.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

VoIP is the most advanced system to date, and it’s also the latest. This phone system utilizes the internet to establish communication.

It’s possible to host your own system. The downside to this is that it’s pretty costly. The cost goes further up depending on the number of employees you have.

 

Alternatively, a service provider can host the VoIP system. If you opt for this option, you’ll significantly cut down the cost of installation, and you also don’t have to spend much on maintenance

Telltale Signs That Your Small Business Phone System Need an Upgrade

Your obsolete phone system could cost you a lot of money on repairs and maintenance. Not to mention, you’ll be steadily losing credibility with your customers.

 

Here are a couple of signs that you need to upgrade your phone system.

More People Are Calling Your Business

Your business is doing well, and lots of customers are now on the line. If you can’t accommodate your expanding customer base, you’ll definitely lose them. If your customers get used to the “no service” message or are instantly hung up, then you’re losing credibility.

 

United States companies lose about $62 billion to poor customer interaction. Upgrading your phone system is one way to ensure you aren’t among that total.

Hosting Companies No Longer Support Your Phones

This could be the most overt sign that you desperately need a phone system upgrade. Apart from that, you may find that your business’ phone units are no longer being produced.

 

Sometimes this lack of support may only seem like a temporary hitch before things are up and running again. However, it’s only a matter of time before all support stops.

 

Don’t put your business operations at risk. When you notice phones and other hardware no longer functioning, take the bold step, and upgrade your phone system.

You Need Data Protection

Obsolete phone systems are a breeze to hack and breach. With hackers getting cleverer by the day, not upgrading your phone system is pretty risky business.

 

Data breaches cost companies between $1.25 million and $8.19 million annually. Newer systems are far more secure.

 

Think of it this way. The more your system has been around, the more vulnerabilities hackers have discovered. Sticking around with your older system makes you pretty susceptible to these data breaches.

You Have Remote Employees

When you’ve made significant growth, you’re bound to have a few remote employees. The increase in the number of remote employees is spurred by the advent of cloud setups.

 

Nowadays, small businesses can enjoy plenty of benefits from cloud-based phone systems. These phone systems are especially ideal for expanding businesses because they can comfortably accommodate many remote employees.

 

It also allows you to integrate with other useful internet resources.

Upgrade Your Phone System or Eat Your Competitor’s Dust

Look around; you’ll see companies everywhere upgrading their phone systems. Especially with the start of a new decade, it presents the ideal time for a small business phone system upgrade.

 

To be on par with or ahead of the competition, it’s a great idea to upgrade your phone system. You’ll need the right people to give your phone system a good upgrade without draining your bank.

Technical Dr. Inc.s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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4 Reasons Why You Need Telehealth for Your Practice

4 Reasons Why You Need Telehealth for Your Practice | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telehealth defined

Technology and consumer demand are changing how and where healthcare is delivered.

 

Telehealth is the “use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration,” according to the Health Resources Services Administration. Patients experience telehealth when they video conference with their provider instead of being seen in an office.

 

As healthcare consumerism evolves —driven by young consumers — patients want convenient access to care. Patients want access. They want technology that allows them to do more than schedule appointments, renew prescriptions, pay bills online and email their physicians. Physicians want to replicate the care they deliver at an in-person visit. As a result, telehealth is on the rise for providers and patients alike.

 

Patients prefer to see their own doctor virtually and will increasingly choose medical providers who offer virtual visit capabilities over those who don’t.  Similarly, providers want to see their own patients virtually, get paid for it and want video visits to integrate with their practice management workflow and the electronic health record (EHR).

Patients prefer that their telehealth provider knows them.

More than half (56 percent) of respondents to a 2015 consumer survey felt it was important to have an established relationship with a telemedicine provider and even more (60 percent) felt it was important for a provider to have access to their health records.1  Patients who experience video visits with their own doctor have both.

Consumers increasingly choose medical providers who offer digital and virtual video visit capabilities

More than half of patients surveyed expect digital capabilities and confirmed it would influence their choice in providers, according to 2019 consumer study by Accenture.  For example, 70 percent of patients surveyed are more likely to choose a provider that offers reminders for follow-up care via email or text and 49 percent are more likely to choose one that offers the ability to communicate with a doctor via video.2

 

And interest is growing; responses increased 13 percent compared to 2016.  Not surprisingly, younger consumers are leading the trend.

Providers want to see their own patients virtually.

Last year, NextGen Healthcare surveyed our provider clients to determine how best to support their telehealth needs and learned that 56 percent — more than half — use or plan to use telehealth. 4 Of those, an overwhelming majority (90 percent) preferred virtual video visits with established patients.4   Examples of these scheduled virtual visits include:

  • Follow-up visits for treatment compliance
  • Reviewing labs or images
  • Medication management and prescription refills
  • Pre- and post-procedure visits

Integration with practice management workflow and EHR is the key for provider adoption and payment.

Our survey and subsequent focus groups demonstrated the importance of integration of the virtual visit in existing workflows and EHR. 

 

Providers are adding virtual visit functionality to their services and want the same processes for virtual visits as they have for in-person visits, including scheduling, reminders, documentation and insurance or patient payment processing. This is important for adoption by physicians in the practice and payment for services.

 

Just like non-traditional care models, telehealth is on the rise. Providers who embrace the power of virtual care are going to pass those who don’t. Providing technology that is easy to use and integrated into the provider’s EHR will empower easier access.

 

With the advent of technology and healthcare merging into telehealth, providers and patients alike will experience optimal service and optimal care, something that is important to all of us expecting to receive quality care, whether at home or on the road.

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How to Pick the Best Business Phone System for You

How to Pick the Best Business Phone System for You | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Did you know that consumers prefer a personal relationship with small business owners? Well, recent reports indicate that 60% of customers communicate with small entrepreneurs over the phone.

 

For entrepreneurs, knowing how your customers love to communicate with you is an insightful revelation.

 

It helps you provide a communication system that offers them the best experience.

 

Are you unable to decide on the best business phone system for your new establishment? You need to keep in mind the phone systems today are not merely tools for making and receiving calls.

 

Customers will want a unified system that permits an array of communication options.

 

That way, your employees can also connect to clients in whichever way they choose.

 

The market has countless phone systems options, and you could easily fall into confusion. But you could turn that to your advantage by knowing the killer selection tips.

 

What Features Should You Consider as a Solo Entrepreneur?

You probably don’t wish to incur a whole new expenditure installing a new system. As such, you need to adopt a phone system that will sustain the establishment in the future.

 

You likely have expansion goals in the future, and you will not run the business alone forever. You can envision the number of staff you are likely to have soon.

 

Check out some key phone system features for a sole proprietor.

1. Scalability

Scalability is a crucial feature for your sole enterprise if you have expansion goals. You can easily add phones to the system each time you hire new staff. The VoIP system could be a good option for adding your new team.

2. Call Logs

If you run the business all alone, the information coming your way could be overwhelming. If you choose a phone system with call logs, you’ll never miss a beat. With call logs you can view all incoming, outgoing, fax and missed calls to your business phone number(s).

You can even filter logs to view only calls made to a specific queue, extension or calls made to/from an individual number.

3. Call Handling Rules

Although your business is small (for now), with the right business phone system, you can give callers the type of experience that has only been available to large enterprises that can afford to spend a fortune. Fortunately, modern systems make features like call handling rules available for everyone.

Using call handling rules, you can route incoming calls to a single destination, or different destinations based on the day and time or the Caller ID of the call received. You can send calls to voicemail, menus, custom greetings, or even your computer.

 

Does Your Business Have More Than Five Employees?

If you’ve got a small team handling your business, efficiency is the name of the game. You’ll want to look for a solution that covers all of these bases.

1. Is It User-Friendly?

Some aspects of the system could seem simple to you but remember you won’t be handling calls alone. You need a system that your team can comfortably handle and serve customers in the best way.

Look for a solution that is intuitive and be sure that the provider offers technical support.

2. Mobile Applications

A part of your team could be sales and marketing individuals, and I bet they spend most of their time out. So, how do they keep in touch with clients?

Your VoIP phone service should support extensions for each team member. 78% of adults own a mobile phone, and you could take advantage of the fact. Your team can receive calls away from the office using a mobile app or softphones.

3. Call Recording

Call recording is an excellent way to support your training and quality assurance efforts. Look for a system that lets you choose to record all calls, all incoming calls, all outbound calls, or a custom setup that you choose.

You may have to pay a bit extra for call recording, but it can be a big productivity booster, so it’s worth it.

 

What If Your Business Has More Than 10 Employees?

Well, congratulations! Your business is taking the right path. However, you have to upgrade your business phone service.

You are probably wondering what features would work best for your big team. Here are some of the features to inquire about as you talk to your phone service providers.

1. Conference Calls

Your team is big, and you don’t want to limit their productivity. They will probably need to communicate with different clients at the same time using your network.

Choose a service that gives each employee an easy-to-configure conference bridge that has a dedicated number and is password protected. This allows your team to easily set up a conference call without having to plan ahead or use a third-party conferencing provider.

2. Call Routing

Everyone seems busy at their desks, and it could be challenging to know who among the team members is available to respond to a call. Your system could solve the puzzle for you!

Make sure the VoIP phone system can route calls to whoever is available.

3. Emergency Management

Some emergencies could cut off communication in your business, and you shouldn’t take chances. Your business needs to keep moving despite the weather — thus, your system ought to eliminate possible downtime.

The recovery infrastructure needs to be topnotch and ensure communication keeps flowing after the disaster, power failure, or weather emergency.

4. Call Data Records

Call data records give you insight into your business activities. Are there certain times of day, days of the week, or parts of the year that require additional staffing? Is every employee who is expected to be engaged on the phones pulling their weight? 

Your system can do more than help you make calls, it can help you manage your business.

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Top 10 Applications of Computer Telephony Integration

Top 10 Applications of Computer Telephony Integration | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

There are countless of CTI (computer telephony integration) applications that make implementing the technology one of the best things you can do for your business.

 

1. Pop-up Screen/ Screen Popping


CTI integration allows you to implement a pop-up screen interface for your agents. Through this, you get a feel of the immense possibilities when communication integrates with information.

 

The screen popping CTI application opens up a dashboard whenever your agent interacts with a caller. This shows relevant information about the caller, as you’ve configured it in the system and depending on the applications and software you’ve integrated with your CTI.

 

You can display and log call origin, IVR selection, authentication status, as well as the caller’s issues, purchase history and support history, among other data.

 

2. Speed Dialing


CTI’s speed dialing system is perfect when your team has to meet outbound call objectives.

 

Speed dialers can be configured to continuously make calls, bypassing wrong numbers and busy signals. Agents are patched in only when a person answers the other end of the line.

 

This often comes with a report on call volume, wait times and other call metrics. Increase the productivity of your sales team through CTI’s speed dialing.

 

3. Phone Flexibility/ Phone Control


How you make yourself accessible to your clients, prospects, and the team is flexible through CTI’s phone control or phone flexibility application.

 

You can easily configure the system to “find you” when you’re not logged into the system. Use your mobile devices or laptop to connect.

 

This can set you and your team apart from the competition. Accessibility can be your edge when it comes to sealing deals and starting co-beneficial business relationships.

 

4. Call Routing


CTI’s intelligent call routing lets you become more responsive to your callers. Route calls according to their IVR selection, demographics, call history, agent specialization, and availability, among other factors.

 

This can mean faster call processing, happier (or less frustrated) callers, and more efficient call agents.

 

5. Call Transfers


Call transfers are also better implemented through CTI. This isn’t just about transferring calls from person to person.

 

CTI’s call transfer application allows for seamless agent transitions, wherein data about the caller is transferred too.

 

This unburdens the caller from having to repeat their information. It cuts call processing time, which is especially important in compound support calls.

 

6. IP Telephony and Conferencing


Collaboration has improved by leaps and bounds because of IP telephony, particularly through its low-cost IP-based broadband multimedia telecommunications.

 

A direct result of this is the more rampant use of conferencing applications.

 

In the past, sales presentations had to be done in person. Inside salespeople, then, were not as effective as those in the field.

 

Today, the location has become irrelevant. IP telephony and conferencing applications bridge the gap – connecting agents with prospects and customers as if they’re meeting face-to-face.

 

How effective your team is in utilizing this application depends on their skills, and the available sales information and supporting tools.

 

The technology is already there – fully developed – for you to integrate and optimize your sales processes.

 

Other IP telephony and conferencing applications include team collaboration, multi-location meetings, and remote training sessions.

 

7. IVR (Interactive Voice Response)


Your IVR application is perhaps your first-line interaction with your audience. It is your first try at making a good impression. Configure your CTI’s IVR application correctly and optimally, and you get efficient, personalized and data-driven interactions – not to mention, happier customers and prospects.

 

Your IVR application uses keypad and voice DTMF tones to communicate with your servers. Through IVR selections, callers can reach specific persons or departments.

 

They can also do basic account processes, such as status inquiries and password updates, among other tasks.

 

An optimally configured IVR can cut down call processing time, reduce call traffic and make a good first impression.

 

8. Advanced Call Reporting Functions


One of the best things about CTI is that you can put together data into reports that help you see the big picture. Analyze the many aspects of your business, such as call traffic, inbound and outbound sales calls, and support requests.

 

Through CTI’s advanced call reporting functions, you can parse through historical data to gain insight on how effective your team or call agents are.

 

See where there are support gaps and do something about it. You can also assess real-time data when you want to zoom in on your agent’s interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

 

9. Voice Recording Integration


Voice recording integration plays an important role in contact centers where the quality and integrity of interactions are crucial. Voice recording applications allow you to record and archive voice calls in order to improve your team’s effectiveness, reduce liabilities and comply with industry standards (such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard/ PCI DSS).

 

Record calls and accesses these later on for future assessment. Or, you can also conduct real-time monitoring across mixed telephony environments.

 

Through Voice Recording Integration, you don’t just have textual data as the basis for agent training, reporting and assessment.

 

You also have voice data that protect you from liabilities and support the initiatives and changes you implement for your operations.

 

10. Call Center Functions


Because the development of CTI into what it is now was partly in response to the needs of the call center industry, it’s not a big surprise that call center functions are some of CTI’s top applications.

 

Automatic caller authentication, whisper coaching, call barging and warm transfer (among so many more call center functions) are key functions that drive the adoption of CTI technology.

 
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Why Cyber Security is Key to Enterprise Risk Management for all Organizations?

Why Cyber Security is Key to Enterprise Risk Management for all Organizations? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Large organizations have always focused on managing risk, but the technological breakthroughs that have enhanced our world in countless ways have also transformed how leading executives engage in enterprise risk management (ERM). The pervasive and ever-expanding threat of cybercrime means that comprehensive strategies for cybersecurity are now absolutely essential for all organizations.

 

After all, a report by Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that cybercrime across the globe will cost more than $6 trillion annually by 2021.

 

The sheer magnitude and pervasiveness of the crisis represent a cybersecurity call to arms, and seemingly no one is immune. By now, the list of data breach victims reads like a who’s who of major corporations, governmental agencies, retailers, restaurant chains, universities, social media sites and more:

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security, IRS, FBI, NSA, DoD
  • Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s
  • Facebook, Reddit, Yahoo, eBay, LinkedIn
  • Panera, Arby’s, Whole Foods, Wendy’s
  • Target, CVS, Home Depot, Best Buy
  • Delta, British Airways, Orbitz
  • Equifax, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase
  • The Democratic National Committee
  • Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Under Armour
  • UC Berkeley, Penn State, Johns Hopkins

 

If you need another reason to drop everything and prioritize cybersecurity risk management in your organization’s overall ERM strategies and systems, consider the recent NotPetya malware attack. Described by Wired as “The Most Devastating Cyberattack in History,” it disrupted global shipping operations for several weeks and caused more than $10 billion in total damages while temporarily crippling such multinational companies as shipping giant Maersk and FedEx’s European subsidiary, TNT Express. All because hackers were able to infiltrate a networked but unsecured server in the Ukraine that was running software that made it more vulnerable to attack.

 

Despite these and countless other costly incidents and attacks, many organizations have not yet fully incorporated cybersecurity risks into their overall enterprise risk management frameworks.

3 Chief Obstacles to Cyber Security and ERM Preparedness

The ever-expanding list of high-profile attacks and victims could be seen as evidence that, in many instances, “the adversaries are winning,” according to Richard Spires, a former chief information officer at both the IRS and the Department of Homeland Security. Or at least that there is much work to be done to combat the ongoing threat.

 

In a piece titled “The Enterprise Risk Management Approach to Cybersecurity,” Spires poses the question: “In an era of ever more sophisticated cybersecurity tools, how is it that we are actually backsliding as a community?” And he offers three key answers:

 

  1. Complexity: IT (and cybersecurity) systems are by their nature extremely complex and in many cases far-flung, so creating airtight security is incredibly challenging.
  2. Highly Skilled Adversaries: The hackers’ tactics and methods continue to grow more sophisticated. Plus, their risk is low because they are hard to catch. They are smart and, with billions of dollars on the line, more highly motivated than ever.
  3. Lack of IT professionals: Cisco reports that 1 million cybersecurity jobs are currently unfilled on a worldwide basis and that “most large organizations struggle to find, develop and then retain such talent.” The shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals with the right skills, knowledge, and experience is an ongoing “crisis,” according to Forbes.

 

One of the leading efforts to develop protocols that organizations can use to safeguard themselves is sponsored by the U.S. Government — the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework.

 

According to Gartner, more than 50 percent of U.S.-based organizations will use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a central component of their enterprise risk management strategy by 2020, up from 30 percent in 2015. This voluntary framework consists of “standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cybersecurity-related risk,” according to NIST, which reports that version 1.1 of the Cybersecurity Framework has been downloaded over 205,000 times since April 2018.

 

Also, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) has produced “a prioritized set of (20) actions to defend against pervasive cyber threats.” CIS says its protocols are intended to provide “a roadmap for conducting rigorous and regular cybersecurity enterprise risk management processes that will significantly lower an organization’s risk of catastrophic loss.”

 

CIS, which claims its best practices could have prevented attacks like the data breach that hit the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax, also offers guidelines for the seemingly “overwhelming” challenge of how to build a cybersecurity compliance plan.

5 Helpful Tips for Cyber Security and Enterprise Risk Management

OK, how about some actionable tips for organizations looking to beef up their cybersecurity defenses and risk management profile? Chris Yule, a senior principal consultant for SecureWorks, breaks it down in laymen’s terms in a quick video. Yule’s five tips include:

 

  • Cultivate support of senior management — It is essential for organizations to have strong support for cybersecurity risk management on the senior management team and to tie it to their overall business strategy.

 

  • Limit your attack surface — Often referred to as “hardening” your potential targets and vulnerabilities, this refers to coordinating with IT in reducing your exposure and “locking things down.”

 

  • Increasing visibility/awareness — In addition to building up defenses to reduce risk, organizations must also “tear things down.” This means working to better understand the potential spectrum of risk by conducting comprehensive internal vulnerability scanning, penetration testing and “monitoring your infrastructure for the bad stuff.”

 

  • Build a culture of security among employees — Employees must be committed to cybersecurity and clearly understand their specific responsibilities. “Make sure that everybody’s trained, everybody knows what their role is within the organization to keep things secure,” said Yule.

 

  • Prepare an incident response plan — “You need to be prepared for when things go wrong,” warned Yule. Notice that he says when and not if. “Everybody will get breached at some point regardless of what you do,” said Yule, so it is essential that everybody knows “what the plan is to contain and eradicate that threat when it happens.”

 

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Is Your Hospital Technology Killing Time And Productivity?

Is Your Hospital Technology Killing Time And Productivity? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For community hospitals with small operating margins, clinician time and productivity are at a premium.

Yet, today, clinicians still lose an average of 78 minutes per day to ineffective technology use.

 

If your hospital's information technology hurts time and productivity, here’s some more bad news: Your patient care and revenue suffer, too.

 

But, don’t despair. We’re here to help you spot troublesome IT symptoms in your organization, diagnose the problems and, most importantly, treat them.

Symptoms: Signs Of Poor IT

If your hospital’s clinicians are raising the hue and cry over your IT, you already know there’s trouble afoot.

But, to restore lost productivity (and profitability), you must take stock of your surroundings and see exactly where your technology and processes are falling short.

Here’s a short list of things to look for:

  1. Paper still dominates. Paper-intensive processes dictate most of your workflow after EHR implementation is complete.
  2. Manual processes abound. Users don’t trust your systems and resort to manual data entry where automation exists, costing you considerable time.
  3. Duplicate or missing data. Patient, medication and billing information is inaccurate or incomplete, leading to mistakes in patient care and/or billing delays.
  4. CPOE delegation is the norm. Physicians routinely delegate CPOE to nurses or other staff, slowing down the entry processes and increasing the risk of error.
  5. Workarounds are commonplace. In general, users are going around your technology and completing tasks based on preference, not protocol.

Do any of these situations sound familiar? If so, your hospital’s technology is likely creating productivity, care and revenue barriers.

Diagnosis: Who (Or What) Is To Blame?

In most cases, these issues can be traced back to people, processes and technology.

People. Frequently, the source of your IT woes isn’t the technology itself, but rather the people using it. If an anti-IT mentality pervades your hospital, the shiniest, most expensive HCIS in the world won’t deliver value. User workarounds are the most common culprit behind poor data and operational delays.

 

Processes. If your infrastructure and applications don’t align with required workflow, users will find other ways to complete their tasks. Implementing an EHR or any other HCIS for a single purpose – such as meeting compliance requirements or acquiring a new system version – inevitably leads to incongruity between your technology and workflow.

 

Technology. Sometimes, your technology is actually to blame. If your organization has implemented IT best practices and disciplines but still grapples with slow systems or downtime, your technology might not be performing. Certain vendors may be slow to provide critical updates and fixes, further exasperating the issue.

Treatment: Make Your Technology Valuable

It’s time to reclaim your hospital’s productivity, time and profitability.

First, implement effective hospital IT governance and make it the driver for any IT-related decision moving forward. Effective governance looks like this:

  • A leadership team committed to the use of IT as a care and business facilitator
  • Technology purchasing and implementation based on a long-term strategy that’s aligned with patient care and business value
  • Endorsement of best practices and user adoption at all levels of the organization

Working with an experienced, qualified healthcare technology consultant is the best way to create effective governance and align people, processes and technology with business goals. A non-biased third party can be useful for assessing your IT budget against business needs and making strategic recommendations.

Once you’ve established strong governance, align your technology and workflow by surveying day-to-day operations and eliminating obstacles wherever possible.

 

By following a physician as he or she works, you’ll learn volumes about the impediments, large and small, that impact productivity and time. Then, you can use IT to drive positive change, producing tangible benefits for clinicians and staff.

Triage Your IT Now

If you recognize red flags and think your hospital’s technology is directly impacting productivity and time, don’t wait until the consequences show up on your balance sheet. Take action today and help your clinicians deliver the best care possible.

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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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5 digital trends to watch in 2015 | Healthcare IT News

5 digital trends to watch in 2015 | Healthcare IT News | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The year 2014 goes down in history as a breakout year for digital healthcare, according to a recent report from StartUp Health, whose stated mission is to help 1,000 health startups reimagine and transform healthcare over the next 10 years.

StartUp Health's calculations show that some $6.5 billion was invested in digital health in 2014, a 125 percent increase over the $2.9 billion invested in 2013.

"Signs of a maturing market continue as investors place larger bets on fewer companies," according to the report, which lists the market's top deals and investors.

StartUp Health executives also reveal the five trends they will be watching closely in 2015:

  • Healthcare reform continues to spur innovation: As incentive structures change and new penalties come into effect in 2015, providers and payors look to entrepreneurs to create effective solutions. The unmet need is evidenced as big data and analytics ($1.5 billion); population health ($1.1 billion); and healthcare system navigation ($975 million) net the largest amounts of private funding in 2014.
  • Acceleration of chronic disease & aging population leads to increased consumerism: Rising costs continue to be the second largest catalyst for innovation in healthcare. Patients are not only encouraged, but enabled through mobile technology, to manage their health through preventive measures. Consumer health companies raised $880M in 2014.
  • Clinical decision support & personalized medicine gain traction: With the advent of the $1,000 genome, truly personalized medicine is in our reach. Genomic companies raised $632 million and diagnostics $962 million this year. This data, coupled with $624 million that went into clinical research companies will revolutionize the way that diseases are treated.
  • Convergence of technology in clinical settings: Mobile and wireless technology has permeated not only our daily lives, but those of professionals in clinical settings. Practice management tools allowing physicians to focus on treatment, rather than admin tasks, raised $783 million, while those focusing on improving workflows raised $681 million. Payor-related toolkits raised $699 million.
  • Innovation globalization: More than 7,500 startups around the world are developing new solutions in digital health, based on data from the StartUp Health Network. Even within the U.S., areas outside of the Bay Area, New York and Boston are seeing an uptick in the number of companies obtaining funding.


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What could a digital future look like in health care?

What could a digital future look like in health care? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

It took me until 2010 to buy an iPhone and in just a few years, I’ve become so dependent on it, without fail, I will always make a U-turn to make sure it’s with me — my smartphone is essentially a new limb for me.

I know I’m not alone.


Most did not predict the rocket speed adoption and transformative power of modern smartphones when the iPhone launched in 2007. But, in just seven years, smartphone penetration in the U.S. is approximately 70 percent of the population, making it the fastest adopted technology in history.

While other industries have embraced mobile technologies, the health care industry is still mostly in the experimentation phase, with only a few players actually committing to mobile health solutions. That’s a missed opportunity given the vast potential for digital health to improve operational efficiencies and patient outcomes.

If we in health care don’t lead the charge with incorporating digital delivery into the current physical delivery care model within the next half-decade, outside pressures and disruptive companies will surely force this change on us.

We’ve seen recent evidence in other industries that technology can disrupt incumbents and position new players in the market at astonishing speed: retail being shaken up by Amazon, financial services with e-trade, ride sharing companies such as Uber with traditional taxi service and potentially private car ownership, and a host of others built on the principal of white glove, instant gratification service.

What could a digital future look like in health care?  It’s my job at Boston Children’s Hospital’s Innovation Acceleration Program to figure that out. But, also as a patient in the health care system here’s what I hope my future as “patient 3.0” will resemble: it will be a simplified, connected and digital experience seamlessly integrating my everyday life into health and care delivery.

1. My smartphone becomes my health care brain, connecting all the sensors in wearables on me or in my environment to analyze my health in real-time, providing me with insights when I want them. My doctor will be able to analyze my relevant data in the context of my personalized genomic data and years of electronic health record information will be visually displayed in less than a minute, powered by big data analytics. Our precious few minutes during the e-visit will be laser focused to target the right medication and treatment plan for me.

2. In my home, we will have a “robot” that is connected to all the smart devices like my fridge, coffee maker, front door, you name it. Everything in my home will be synced up to this digital ecosystem with Apple’s iBeacons or comparable technology. If I forget to take my medications my robot will tell me . Maybe even my walls or coffee maker will signal me if one of my biometric data points are out of range — and alert others if I’m unresponsive. I’m sure my prescription lenses will incorporate augmented reality to project relevant information on command about health care shopping choices.

3. I want my entire care team to know the relevant information and have it seamlessly integrated into my patient experience. I want technology to make this effortless. The last thing I want in my future patient 3.0 experience is technology creating a life of noise about every detail. The data should be contextual, relevant, and actionable. I want technology to be smart enough to adapt to my routine and notify me only when needed. See for example, Viv.

With the buzz of activity in the entrepreneurial community, the growing expectations of patients, untenable costs, and the interest of non-health care technology players like Facebook, Apple or Google, this future of health care could become a reality. And yet, my reality as a patient today? I’m lucky to have email exchanges with my doctor. What will it take to move beyond already outdated technologies?

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Why barriers between tech, healthcare are fading

Why barriers between tech, healthcare are fading | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The barriers between healthcare and tech companies are disappearing as companies focused on greater efficiency disrupt the landscape, Bob Kocher and Bryan Roberts, investors at a venture capital firm Venrock, write at Harvard Business Review.

They point to the myriad ways in which technology is promoting services, while eliminating jobs not focused on providing care, including:

  • Digital insurance markets
  • Digital price transparency tools
  • Cloud services
  • Self-service mobile applications

Reducing healthcare administrative costs is projected to save up to $250 billion a year, they say.

To seize on the opportunities that software-as-a-service offers, they urge companies to:

  • Attack inefficiencies to generate quick customer return on investment
  • Focus on improvements for the network, in which one user enhances the product's value for others, including future users
  • Use software-enabled service models, rather than pure software-as-a-service, so that it helps patients adhere to high-quality, cost-effective care

"As each innovation wave generates more data, disruption-cycle times will shorten, thereby forcing all players in the healthcare ecosystem to address inefficiency as they compete on quality and value creation. Those who fail to act will be washed away by the tide that lifts all other boats to greater productivity," they write.

Funding for digital healthcare startups in the U.S. is expected to double to $6.5 billion by the end of 2017, FierceHealthIT previously reported. The market is moving toward what global consulting firm Oliver Wyman calls Health Market 2.0--a focuse on prediction and prevention rather than traditional cures.

The transition to personalized healthcare delivery and incentives for health information exchange will boost adoption of cloud services in healthcare, with the market expected to hit $3.5 billion by 2020, according to a Frost & Sullivan analysis.



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2015 Healthcare Technology Trends -

2015 Healthcare Technology Trends - | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

There is much debate whether the long awaited ACO reimbursement model introduced through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be successful in achieving the goals of health reform. I think critics are missing the point. ACO’s are just one of many emerging and evolving reimbursement models that are moving U.S. Healthcare away from a fee-for-service, pay-for-volume approach to value-based payment models.

Even if the ACO structure is not it, the horse is out of the barn. Bundled payments, gain sharing, managed care, readmission penalties and value-based purchasing are just variations on the same theme. The growth in healthcare is moving toward payment models based on cost-effective outcomes.

The transition to a value-based payment system is going to be rocky. U.S. healthcare is broken into silos of care that are locally optimized based on a dysfunctional fee-for-service payment model. Poor hand-offs between these silos result in failed transitions that undermine clinical outcomes and waste a lot of money. In addition, there are significant gaps in visibility of outcomes, making it difficult to know what is (and is not) an effective clinical intervention. For example, up to 30% of hospital readmissions are patients that are discharged from one hospital, only to be re-hospitalized at another.

There are two potential approaches to fix the fragmented care silos. One approach is to vertically integrate. Essentially, buy up the resources required to deliver integrated care, rip out fragmented disconnected technology and replace it with an integrated platform that spans most or all of the key components of the healthcare delivery system. Kaiser Permanente is often held up as an example of what can be accomplished through a fully integrated model. Their EHR offers the kind of end-to-end integrated platform that aspires to manage virtually all aspects of healthcare delivery.

When the integrated model works well, it can be a wonderful thing in terms of improved visibility and better efficiency. However, it is incredibly difficult to pull off. The path is littered with acquisitions gone bad as the pendulum swings between waves of consolidation only to be followed by divestiture. Culture clashes, incentive misalignment and complex replacement or integration of technology systems are just a few of the barriers to overcome.

For most of the market, vertical integration, followed by a rip and replace systems strategy is just not an option. The challenge for Healthcare Technology providers in 2015 and beyond is to provide a credible alternative that leverages integration of disparate systems, spanning healthcare providers that are not financially integrated. In fact, we need technology that can enable coopetition: a care delivery system that will enable intervention solutions that span the care continuum to address the needs of specific populations, while still protecting the ability for the same players to be competitors in other parts of their business.

I see three significant trends developing as the healthcare delivery system struggles to find a path to a virtual integration model that works.

  1. Community Coalitions
  2. Narrow Networks
  3. Evidence-based Models

Community Coalitions

Healthcare is local, with the majority of healthcare costs incurred within a few miles of patient’s home. Some of the early Pioneer ACOs tried to manage the vertical integration path without the connectivity infrastructure in place and have already thrown in the towel. Too many of their patients were receiving care out of network. Not only did they have difficulty in impacting outcomes for these patients, they were not even able to track where they went until after the bills came in.

However, in some city markets, health coalitions comprised of competing healthcare providers are taking shape. Most of these participating providers have already invested heavily in EHR systems to improve care delivery within their own walls. Now they also need healthcare IT infrastructure to coordinate transitions of care beyond their walls – efficiently sharing data with selected partners, reducing gaps in visibility and improving care coordination and care transitions. To compete against vertically integrated rivals, these care networks need to span the care continuum, including hospitals, post-acute care, physicians, out-patient clinics, social service agencies, pharmacists and other community-based organizations.

The catalyst for forming a community coalitions vary – perhaps visionary hospital system or post-acute care provider, a grant funded pilot or a CMS demonstration project. In each case, some critical mass is required to get the ball rolling to establish sufficient value for other coalition partners to join. In 2015, Healthcare IT infrastructure will allow coalition providers to collaborate with other providers across the care continuum, without sacrificing each provider’s distinct competitive interests.

Narrow Networks

Health systems and other referral sources are no longer content to refer their patients to any and all post-acute providers. There are new incentives to form narrow networks of post-acute care providers that are committed to high quality and can provide credible outcome data. Until recently, health systems thrived if they kept their volume of admissions high and their length of stay low. Hospital discharge planners and case managers primarily served as expeditors to ensure that beds turned over. However, under changing reimbursement, it is no longer sufficient to get patients in and out. Health systems also need to ensure the downstream providers are capable of providing needed care so patients won’t be re-hospitalized.

In the past, very few hospitals have tracked the destination of patients leaving their facility. Even fewer have meaningful outcome data to assess which post-acute care providers have the right expertise to effectively manage high risk patients. New Healthcare IT solutions will be needed to enable networked coalition partners across the care continuum to operate as effectively as vertically integrated systems. In 2015, I believe we will see the traditional relationship-based referral process steadily displaced by data-driven informed referrals that match the right patient with the right care setting at the right time.

Evidence-based Models

Because of the growing emphasis on oncomes, there is strong interest in evidence-based models that have shown efficacy through a peer-reviewed study. Popular evidence-based models related to transitions of care include BOOST, STARR, RED, CTI, TCM, INTERACT and Bridge. However, when these academic models are implemented in the real world, the results can be disappointing. There is seldom any feedback system to ensure that the process steps of the original evidence-based models are followed. Enthusiasm for each new approach fades as the high variability of subsequent implementations fails to measure up to the results produced by the carefully controlled clinical trial.

A technology infrastructure is needed to make sure that providers can distinguish between problems with patient targeting, process execution or the model design. In 2015, Healthcare IT will enable providers seeking to build on success of evidence-based models to measure the fidelity of program and provide the teams tasked with the implementation a feedback loop that will ensure continuous improvement.



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