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8 Amazing Ways Telemedicine Is Changing Healthcare

8 Amazing Ways Telemedicine Is Changing Healthcare | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Not everyone has access to good healthcare. Telemedicine increasingly serves as the bridge across the access gap, providing service solutions in a wide variety of specialties, and in unexpected ways.  Telehealth practitioners provide clinical services to patients by making use of electronic communications, specifically common voice and video technology. Services might occur via teleconferencing, image sharing, or remote patient monitoring. Here are 8 amazing ways telemedicine is changing healthcare:

1. DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF STROKE

According to research carried out in Georgia, stroke patients who went to a hospital that is part of a telestroke network received treatment 20 minutes faster than those in hospitals outside the network. Because a stroke victim has an increased rate of survival in proportion to the speed of diagnosis and treatment, early treatment is crucial. Fortunately, this is exactly what telemedicine makes possible.

2. INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (ICU) MONITORING

Telemedicine provides great support within the ICU. It functions mainly to help physicians and nurses maintain their focus amid the myriad distractions that arise in a hospital. As a result, practitioners follow procedures for keeping proper track of a patient’s medication, monitoring blood pressure, and so on more consistently and effectively.

3. POST-DISCHARGE REHABILITATION

Telemedicine now helps with discharged patients as they undergo their rehabilitation at home. This is a great help considering how challenging it can be for rehabilitating patients to travel to healthcare facilities. The primary use of telemedicine in this context is allowing patients to participate in online education groups.

4. REDUCTION OF HEART DISEASE RISKS

To buck the trend of deaths as a result of cardiovascular diseases, patients must work closely with doctors for help in the areas of losing weight, quitting smoking, and so on. Through telelemedicine, patients can eliminate the hassle of frequently going to a doctor’s office. Patients are happy to go online to send and receive information from their healthcare provider, and generally find it much more convenient and efficient than a typical office visit.

5. DIABETES MONITORING

Diabetes patients benefit a great deal from telemedicine. It is easier to track a patient’s calorie intake, monitor medication and doses, and log workouts, among other things, with the help of mobile technology. Among groups of diabetic patients, older adults see the most advantage from the incorporation of telemedicine to their treatment and monitoring.

6. MANAGEMENT OF CHRONIC CONDITIONS

There are various long-term chronic conditions that can make good use of patient self-management, now possible through telemedicine. Hypertension and some varieties of digestive-related diseases are examples of such conditions. In cases like these, utilizing telemedicine for patient management reduces the number of inpatient visits the patients need to make and improves patient management.

7. ACCESS TO ORAL HEALTH SERVICES

Telemedicine improves dentistry access and services by allowing dentists to share information. As a result, specialists can recommend solutions before a condition worsens and results in excessive costs. This process is particularly helpful to those in rural areas.

8. DERMATOLOGY CONSULTATIONS

Dermatology is another area of medicine that embraces telemedicine. Patients with skin problems now can send an image of their skin to a direct dermatologist, along with their health history, and receive a determination in two days. This saves patients the inconvenience of constant referrals from one specialist to another.

Telemedicine enhances healthcare in many ways, and has made navigating healthcare easier for practitioners and their patients. Give CIS a call to find out how telemedicine can improve and expand the services you provide!

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Why Are Telemedicine Doctors Important?

Why Are Telemedicine Doctors Important? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

It’s no secret that healthcare costs continue to rise year after year. As a result, patients are having more difficulty accessing traditional physician’s services.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently reported some surprising healthcare statistics. Over 76 percent of patients place more value on access to health care than on having in-person interactions with their physicians.

The number of telemedicine patients in the United States is growing dramatically. In 2013, there were 350,000 patients who opted to consult with telemedicine doctors. By 2018, that number is predicted to be over 7 million.

It’s clear that this trend is changing healthcare in amazing ways. Telemedicine doctors are offering an incredibly important service.

This medical trend presents many significant advantages over traditional doctor-patient relationships.

Telemedicine Doctors Are Easily Accessible

Telemedicine offers a convenient solution for many patients. For example, it provides significant advantage to parents of children with chronic medical issues. Similarly, it also offers alternatives for patients with difficulty driving.

Physicians now can reach a much larger patient base. Patients have more options in choosing their preferred physicians and therapists. Physical location is no longer a barrier to quality medical treatment.

Telemedicine also serves as a viable alternative for follow-up visits. Because of its convenience, this results in a higher rate of patient compliance for after-care.

The Waiting-Room Experience Is Eliminated

The traditional waiting room experience can be difficult for many reasons:

– Patients generally do not like having to wait to be seen by their physicians.

– Being in a crowded room full of other sick people is stressful.

– The waiting room experience can exacerbate problems for patients with anxiety.

– Physicians feel guilty for taking breaks when they know there are people waiting.

Remote medical care reduces these pressures. The result is an experience that is better for all parties involved.

Results Are Overwhelmingly Positive

Communicating about medical issues through a teleconference may initially seem off-putting. However, the results have been overwhelmingly positive.  Most patients have been able to build rapport with their remote physicians easily.

Additionally, this treatment option is effective for addressing psychological issues including:

– Anxiety

– Depression

– Attention deficit disorder

– Obsessive compulsive disorder

Telemedicine Offers Cost Savings for Physicians and Patients

Physicians can introduce telemedicine into their practice with a very low initial cost. The ongoing monthly outlay is also nominal.

These savings generally pass on to patients. The typical cost for remote medical treatment can be as low as $25 to $50 per visit, depending on the doctor. Healthcare is now more accessible to people who previously may not have been able to afford it.

Telemedicine Is Now Legally Accepted in Most States

States are currently passing laws to legitimize the practice and protect patients. As of early 2017, over 30 states had enacted laws related to telemedicine.

These laws prevent state-regulated insurers from denying claims due to remote service. Telemedicine claims must be treated the same as claims for traditional services.

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Cybersecurity experts warn of ‘digital D-Day’ in healthcare 

Cybersecurity experts warn of ‘digital D-Day’ in healthcare  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

After two global ransomware attacks highlighted the potential dangers of network disruptions in the healthcare environment, cybersecurity experts are warning that subsequent attacks could have a much more devastating impact on patient safety.

 

There is particular concern over the vulnerabilities of medical devices, nearly all of which are connected to the network in some way, where the potential for patient harm is enormous. Malware could weave its way through infusion pumps and disrupt medication dosages, or cyberterrorists could coordinate a physical attack with a shutdown of hospital EHRs across a city.

 

“We’re going to have our digital D-Day, our cyber D-Day, if you will, in medical, and there’s going to be patients that die,” Christian Dameff, M.D., an emergency room physician and clinical informatics fellow at the University of California San Diego Health, told McClatchy. “It’s going to be a big deal.”

 

Beyond the inherent risks in medical devices, widespread EHR disruptions mean patients will be diverted from emergency rooms and clinicians would be left to treat patients without critical patient information at their fingertips. After the UK’s hospital system was hit by the WannaCry attack in May, emergency physicians said the impact was “undeniably dramatic” and argued that digital security “simply hasn’t been an NHS priority.”

 

The same industry concerns exist in the U.S., according to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services Cybersecurity Task Force which called for a “unified effort” among public and private entities to address some of the industry’s most pressing concerns regarding staffing shortages and medical device insecurity.

 

“Some of these attacks are like ringing the dinner bell for adversaries,” Beau Woods, deputy director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council, told McClatchy. “Once they know they can and it’s that easy, at that point it becomes a race.”

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Why Healthcare Organizations Need to Leverage Enterprise Data Lakes

Why Healthcare Organizations Need to Leverage Enterprise Data Lakes | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As the so-called “oil of the twenty-first century,” there is little doubt that data is the crown jewel of the digital economy. The Internet of Things is poised not only to shake up individual industries, but to bring them together like never before with the promise of hyper connected, ultra personalized experiences. And for consumers, one particular application of IoT is perhaps the most intriguing: the impact of connected devices on health and healthcare. Indeed, McKinsey has projected a $11.1 trillion market by 2025, nearly one-third of which will be comprised of healthcare-related devices.

 

Health-conscious wearables have rapidly gained popularity over the last few years, and are making strides when it comes to the complexity and accuracy of the data captured. These devices are monitoring everything from blood sugar to heart rate, tracking trends in medication, diet, and exercise, and communicating this information to providers to enhance and extend care beyond the doctor’s office. We can only imagine these applications growing and diversifying as technologies advance and become more affordable.

 

But like any conversation around data management, we know it’s not enough to simply collect massive amounts of data. Information must be captured in a way that makes it readily available and actionable for healthcare organizations and doctors, and in turn, their patients. Data volumes are exploding, the nature of data is changing, and the underlying technologies are being augmented or replaced by newer systems like Hadoop, MapReduce, and HIVE.

Beyond traditional healthcare data sources like EMR, PACS, transactional databases, CRM systems, and financial and prescription data, new unstructured and semi-structured data sources are rapidly emerging. The result is that the healthcare industry has become inundated by a myriad of data sources from multiple locations, all of which has the potential to make a real impact on people’s lives — but not as it exists currently.

The best way we can hope to unleash the power of big data for healthcare is to rethink how we capture, organize, and analyze it. Healthcare CIOs are already well-aware of the shifting landscape and focusing on refining and advancing internal systems, but they must also shift their focus to include integration and leveraging a system of insights.

 

Both providers and payers are in desperate need of a solution that can act as a common data platform and integrate data originating from multiple locations in a variety of formats, all while preserving all of the metadata associated with those data objects. In addition, media overrun and rising infrastructure costs pose a big problem as old data that is seldom used accumulates rapidly, reducing performance and even negatively impacting the accuracy of data analysis. This is where an enterprise data lake with archiving comes into play.

 

Think about it: medical professionals need immediate, direct and natural-language access to analysis of all patient data in its original format, as well as intelligent tools that can provide recommendations based on all of the available data. In the case of healthcare, this data consists not only of facts and figures about the patient, but highly pertinent free-form text such as physicians’ notes, radiology reports, medical journal articles, email correspondence, images such as CAT scans or MRIs, genome files, and of course, information collected directly from wearables, respirators, blood pressure monitors, and other connected devices.

 

Instead of attempting to pull this data from separate sources and manually integrating and maintaining it, all of the data from these disparate sources is fed into a single enterprise data lake that is capable of reaching across multiple internal as well as public cloud systems. Here, the data is highly organized and maintained, and any kind of external analysis tool can easily be integrated to more effectively transform the information into actionable insights for the provider and patient.

 

The beauty of this approach is that security levels can be individually maintained as appropriate to each separate database. This is critical to ensuring that patient data is managed sensitively, so organizations can adhere to the strict privacy and compliance regulations unique to healthcare. Entire patient records can be handled with complete and full control, to ensure that only the right patient data is shared with the right people. In addition, old and inactive data is automatically archived, thereby combating the high costs, potential problems, and inefficiencies of media overrun.

 

As the applications and capabilities of wearables continue to rise, we need a smarter, scalable way to collect, house, and manage the oceans of data that ensue. Organizations that leverage the enterprise data lake will be empowered to cut costs, streamline resources, and ultimately do more with their data. In the end, this will translate to higher satisfaction among providers and patients alike, and drive more effective outcomes in patient health and wellness.

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Healthcare environment: Achieving mobile security

Healthcare environment: Achieving mobile security | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Using mobile devices in the healthcare world offers many benefits, but it also present major risks when it comes to security. In this guest post, Gene Fry, VP of technology and compliance officer at a company that streamlines paper-intensive processes, and protects sensitive and business-critical information, provides a guide healthcare organizations can use to develop a culture of mobile security.

 

Mobile devices are transforming the way professionals communicate, collaborate and coordinate care in the healthcare setting. In addition to improving operational efficiencies, mobile devices have been proven to help speed up health outcomes and reduce length-of-stay. In 2016, a study of approximately 11,500 patients at two hospitals found that patients whose care providers used secure text-messaging as a means of communication had shorter lengths-of stay, compared to patients whose providers used paging systems.

While there’s no denying the potential benefits of mobile devices, their use remains a significant risk if improperly managed. Of the 260 major healthcare breaches reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2015, close to 10% involved a mobile device. Statistics such as this only go to strengthen the argument that IT leaders and CIOs need to look carefully at both sides of the coin when considering implementing a mobile strategy within an organization.

The following steps are intended to guide healthcare organizations through the process of developing a culture of mobile security in such a way that allows them to realize the benefits, while keeping risks to a minimum.

Conduct a risk assessment

The single greatest mobile-related risk to a healthcare organization is a breach of protected health information (PHI). A breach of this nature, which would fall under HIPAA, can carry significant fines, as well as both civil and criminal penalties.

To avoid such scenarios, it’s vital that healthcare organizations take necessary actions to thoroughly assess their technology infrastructure for potential vulnerabilities, and evaluate how best to protect against identified risks. Conducting a security risk assessment, which is a key requirement of the HIPAA security rule, should identify the following information:

  • every mobile device (both past and present) that has had any level of access to the organization’s internal systems, and
  • the type of information that has been accessed, stored or relayed via mobile devices.

Use the right tools for the job

Text messaging and email are inherently risky, due to a lack of encryption around the data being shared between and stored on devices. Should a device wind up lost or stolen, any data that resides on the device itself becomes under threat.

Therefore, organizations that access, store, send or receive PHI on mobile devices should only ever carry out such tasks within the secure environment of purpose-built, HIPAA-compliant applications that ensure data remains safeguarded at all times. These secure solutions can help mitigate risks by encrypting information while in transit and storage, enabling users to control and invigilate how this information is accessed.

Secure all mobile devices

Security measures such as password and PIN protection are often a device’s first line of defense when it comes to keeping sensitive information out the hands of bad actors. This considered, all devices that come in contact with PHI must be adequately protected, via the following security parameters:

  • multi-factor authentication
  • password and PIN protection
  • device encryption
  • firewalls, and
  • regularly updated software and applications.

This is particularly important within organizations that permit BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), where staff may be using the same devices for both professional and personal activities, increasing the likelihood of loss or theft.

Establish policies for mobile usage

Many security-related horror stories can be traced back to an internal source, such as an employee downloading an unauthorized mobile application, which in turn jeopardizes the security of all sensitive data stored on that device. More often than not, individuals don’t intend to cause harm by downloading non-secure applications or programs, but their seemingly innocent actions can introduce security vulnerabilities into the company’s IT infrastructure with potentially devastating consequences.

To avoid such scenarios, employers should establish clearly defined policies to encourage safe mobile usage, and ensure all staff are trained to comply with those policies, while also being made aware of any sanctions for violation.

Ideally, mobile policies should outline procedures for:

  • remote disabling and wiping
  • deletion of messages after a period of time
  • password protection and access authorization, and
  • downloading applications and files.

At the very least, healthcare organizations need to clearly define a list of acceptable and unacceptable actions, and formulate a response plan in case a device is lost, stolen or compromised.

Educate staff

Humans have always been, and will remain, the weakest link in the security chain, and the introduction of mobile devices into the healthcare workplace only accentuates this vulnerability. While the steps outlined above provide a good foundation for healthcare organizations to build upon, cracks will soon begin to show if staff aren’t adequately trained to identify and mitigate risks themselves.

The benefits of mobile technology should be embraced by the healthcare industry, not feared, but when the security risks remain so significant, that’s easier said than done.

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5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic

5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As a Doctor, you are paid to have answers.

Answers to uncertainty, answers to pain, answers to how the future will turn out.

However one area where uncertainty looms large for Doctors is how they can get started seeing patients via remote telemedicine services.

The next 5 years are expected to see explosive growth of telemedicine both in use and public awareness. Yet, questions of effectiveness, compliance, and logistics plague each doctors decision to start using a telemedicine service.

Like a wise investor, many physicians have been watching from the sidelines, tracking the ups and downs, do’s-and-don’t’s of colleagues and experts for several years to find the best practice for incorporating telemedicine into their clinics.

If you are on the verge of incorporating telemedicine into your practice, here are 5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Clinic that will help ensure a steadier introduction, and long term success.

1) Know WHY you want to use Telemedicine

Before getting started, spend some time contemplating the change. If you have a desire to increase cash payments in your practice, telemedicine can help. It can also help you with schedule flexibility. And it will also help you keep up with the latest technology and services for your patients.

Decide first about what you’d like to achieve from adding a telemedicine service into your practice. This will ensure that it becomes a part of the practice smoothly, and with a purpose, rather than something you try a few times, and then give up on. Well begun is half done.

2) Set up your Team for Success with Telemedicine

One of the dangers of suddenly offering a telemedicine option in your practice is that the team feel threatened by the change.

Hold a meeting and give them a say in how the process will work, ask for their feedback on what could be a good initial system and best practice. Get clear on the process of billing and setting appointments in the schedule before starting to offer appointments.

Doing this preparation will ensure the team back you up, as you move to the virtual consultation model.

3) Set up your patients for success with Telemedicine

For doctors, a virtual visit has a lot in common with a face-to-face visit. The location and time frame is the same, and the process of diagnosis is similar. It is familiar territory.

However, for patients, it is an entirely new experience. The majority of the population is reasonably comfortable with using video chat functionality. It is your role to give them a sense of comfort and understanding that the process is simple and effective.

Providing some form of how-to guide for your patients can be very valuable. Give patients an overview of what to expect on the call. Let them know what the fee will be, how long the call will be, when you will call, etc.

All these small details will make the process much more comfortable for your patients, and make them more willing to try a Telemedicine visit with you.

4) Have clear Guidelines for what you’ll offer via Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers doctors huge flexibility. But there must be guidelines. Let patients know what you will offer, and what you wont. Patients may have specific conditions that still need face-to-face time, and it is at your discretion which of these diagnoses you can do via virtual visits.

Telemedicine can reduce or replace 70% of routine visits can be replaced. However that doesn’t mean you should outsource your entire day to virtual visits.

5) Start slow and grow with Telemedicine

Remember that you have been practicing successfully without telemedicine for many years, and although there is a huge upside to adding it to your practice, there is no need to dive in the deep end.

You might want to offer the service initially only to your most familiar patients, those managing chronic conditions, or those at a remote location. Treat your initial interactions as a learning opportunity, and learn how you can create effective results.

Remember that technology exists to connect people. The lure of the new can sometimes cloud the focus that you are still simply speaking to your patients, just in a new, more efficient way.

For Doctors, Telemedicine is exciting and scary at the same time. Starting slow, with a clear purpose, a prepared team and informed patients can do a lot to make the transition a successful one.

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From Paper to Digital - How Mobile Technology is Changing Healthcare

From Paper to Digital - How Mobile Technology is Changing Healthcare | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

To say that mobile technology use is dramatically increasing in healthcare is a great understatement.  Today about half the adult population owns a smartphone.  By 2020, that number will increase to 80%.[1]  In fact, eMarketer found that smartphone users will number more than two billion in 2016.  With the proliferation of smartphones, mobile applications are also exploding.  Research2Guidance reports that there are already more than 100,000 health applications with over four million downloads per day.  The mobile healthcare market in general is expected to reach $58.8 billion by the end of 2020.[2]  As mobile technology and healthcare innovations combine, a new way of approaching healthcare will be established among patients, providers, and medical device manufacturers.

 

Mobile technology is fundamentally changing the way patients and doctors relate, and the way healthcare professionals perform their work, and how healthcare professionals and medical device representatives/service providers interact.  Healthcare has traditionally been a paper-centric industry with paperwork for patients to complete, charts for doctors to update, and medical device order and fulfillment done through forms and faxes.  With the use of tablets and smartphones, all of that paperwork is slowly being eliminated.  Patients are using mobile technology to track and monitor fitness and chronic conditions and then transmit the collected data to their healthcare providers.  Doctors use tablets to check patient records, take notes, and update charts during appointments.  They also communicate with other physicians, using their smartphones to share photos and questions.  Medical device reps manage sales and track inventory with sophisticated mobile apps.  This move from paper to mobile technology results in real-time visibility, increased productivity, greater efficiency, and enhanced accuracy – all of which leads to lower costs and better healthcare for patients.

 

Innovation and Risk Go Hand in Hand

Risk often follows innovation.  Some of the issues facing the advance of mobile technology in healthcare are data security, federal regulation of mobile apps and mobile healthcare devices, and software and platform compatibility. 

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) poses challenges for providers using smartphones and tablets to store and share patient information.  Some of the data security concerns raised by HIPAA are: easy access to data through weak passwords, substandard encryption, lost or stolen devices, file sharing software that could lead to data leaks, and cloud storage of data without airtight controls.[3]  These problems compound as medical centers struggle with “bring your own device” initiatives.
  • In addition to HIPAA regulations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to review a record number of mobile health apps to ensure that apps work as intended and do not adversely affect the functionality or performance of traditional medical devices.  To date, the FDA, which has been regulating mobile apps for more than 10 years, has only approved about 100 products.[4]  FDA approval might slow down some app development and cause headaches for some that are already on the market, but, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, regulatory approval may lend legitimacy to products and prove valuable for building successful and sustainable revenue models.[5]  The FDA stamp of approval might be just the ticket for a healthcare app.
  • Just as in any industry, the speed of innovation often sets a pace that is hard to match.  Healthcare stakeholders, from patients to doctors to medical device manufacturers, will find gaps between software and hardware technology that slow progress.  For example, many doctors and hospitals retain legacy systems that may not work with new mobile technology, and apps designed for use on the Apple platform may work differently on Android devices.  Compatibility from software to hardware as well as software to software may pose challenges as technology continues to evolve.

 

The Future of Mobile Technology in Healthcare

The question facing the medical device industry is: Where is mobile technology going?  The first point that must be reconciled is that the proliferation of mobile technology is going to continue, and, if computer technology is any precursor, mobile use will continue to accelerate.  That means the healthcare industry and medical technology industry will need to embrace this trend or risk being left on the sidelines. 

 

The second trend to expect is increased connectivity between devices.  Mobile devices will connect with hospital equipment and drive greater visibility and functionality for healthcare providers.  There will be clear traceability and accountability of actions and responses within the clinical environment and with that will come the opportunity to harness data at a far greater level of detail and accuracy than was previously available. 

 

Finally, mobile devices will connect systems across healthcare.  Mobile devices will connect with electronic medical records, hospital financial systems, and medical devices enterprise resource planning systems (ERP).  This will provide clarity to an otherwise opaque supply chain and reduce the cost of healthcare through improved efficiency.  Mobile technology has the opportunity to deliver improved clinical outcomes at a lower cost.                 

In summary, mobile device technology is radically altering the healthcare industry from the patient to the healthcare provider to the medical device sales rep to the manufacturer.  There are risks associated with the rapid adoption of mobile technology, but “the train has left the station” and healthcare industry stakeholders will be required to adapt or become obsolete.  The benefits of incorporating mobile technology are significant.  Advantages across the industry will include greater efficiency, cost savings, and increased productivity.  But, of course, the most important advancement will be vastly more effective medical treatment for patients.

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5 Healthy Reasons To Start Using Telemedicine in Your Practice

5 Healthy Reasons To Start Using Telemedicine in Your Practice | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As a healthcare professional, it’s likely that you’ve heard of telemedicine. If not, it’s basically a way for doctors and patients to communicate using certain tech devices. You might ask why this is important, and that’s what we’re here to tell you. There are many reasons for you to begin using this special medical care in your practice; as telemedicine solution providers, we hope to give you all the information you need about it.

1. It’s Beneficial for Those in Rural Areas

As you may or may not know, medical care sometimes is hard to find in rural regions. Often, available healthcare in rural areas is not specialized for a patient’s needs, or it is simply too far away for a patient to go in for treatment. Rural patients often are referred to a doctor in a bigger town or city, which isn’t always a possibility. That’s where telemedicine solution providers come in; we can establish a system that allows a patient to get healthcare from far away places.

2. Patients Can Get Help from Home

Let’s say a patient doesn’t have a car or feels too ill to make a trip to the hospital. Telemedicine is a great way to give that patient the care they need from their home. Using things like voice chat and video technology, a doctor can take a look at what’s wrong right away. This means that even people stuck at their house can be properly diagnosed. It’s like a virtual house-call!

3. It Offers Immediate Help

This ties in with getting help from home. Instead of waiting until the last minute to get to a hospital, a person can call up a doctor or send photos that have to do with their illness. This gives the doctor a chance to examine what’s wrong, and keeps the ill person from having to wait several hours to reach a hospital. In severe cases, this could save a life!

4. Early Intervention

Sometimes, it’s necessary to catch something right away. Take heart attack symptoms; because they’re so subtle, many people choose not to go to a hospital. This results in the heart attack happening with no time for intervention, and can even increase the chance of death. Giving people a way to quickly and easily tell you their symptoms can keep this from happening and improve their chances of survival.

5. Good Communication

The main thing people look for in a healthcare provider is solid communication. One of the common factors that drives people away from a practice is a lack of real listening and understanding. Though it may seem unlikely, talking through live video can be one of the best ways to truly understand your patient. It allows one-to-one conversation, and gives you and your patient the chance to talk thoroughly. This way, questions, answers, and suggestions can be more fully dealt with.

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Medical Identity Theft: How Hospitals Can Reduce Risk

Medical Identity Theft: How Hospitals Can Reduce Risk | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Hospitals are generally considered to be a place to seek refuge — a safe haven for both employees and patients alike. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Incidents of medical identity theft are becoming more and more common. Issues involving improper use and disposal of data, hacking, and theft result in not only adverse financial consequences but can also even have negative impacts on healthcare and personal well-being. Identity theft is something that every hospital needs to be aware of and prepared for — these steps can be helpful in preventing medical identity theft and ultimately reducing your hospital’s risk.

Reduce risk associated with personal patient information

The use and storage of patient’s social security numbers is the main source of vulnerability when it comes to identity theft. Data breaches and entry errors can mean that a patient’s information can fall into the wrong hands — compromising the safety of both the individual and the hospital itself. While much of the fraudulent use of patient information comes from stolen or leaked data, verbal or physical forms of sensitive patient information can also end up in the wrong hands. Hospital employees should take care to never discuss patient information in public areas, or with friends and families. In addition, physical forms including patient charts and records (even if they only contain the name of the patient) should be safely used and stored.

Ensure that secure methods are used in storage of patient health information

Every health organization should take necessary measures in order to ensure the safety and security of patient information. An investment in appropriate health IT may be costly up front, but it could end up providing endless savings — both financial, and otherwise — in the long run. Additionally, the use of a unique health safety identifier (UHSI) is a great measure to strengthen information and data security, with positive results extending all the way to the patient.

Avoid storing personal information of patients unless absolutely necessary

While many healthcare providers perceive that patient information — including social security numbers — must be stored for billing and insurance purposes, this simply isn’t the case. The storage of sensitive information (like social security numbers) isn’t always needed, and unnecessarily doing so may pose a risk for the patient and the hospital.

Dispose of patient information responsibly

Just as sensitive information should not be stored unless absolutely necessary, it is also imperative that patient information be disposed of in a responsible manner. Outdated or unused medical information, forms, and billing data should be shred or erased completely when no longer needed.

Assemble and utilize an advisory committee

In any healthcare setting, it is beneficial to have a diverse team of leaders that comes together to regularly review and assess security issues and vulnerabilities. By raising awareness and discussing perceived risks, hospital leaders can be well-informed when it comes to making decisions and implementing efforts to reduce risks and protect sensitive information.

Respond appropriately to issues and concerns

Not only can an advisory committee help prevent against identity theft, but the designated team of experts can be essential in addressing issues promptly and adequately. Utilization of an inventory system that tracks all processes and systems that contributed to the security breach can allow for the hospital to pinpoint the weaknesses and make necessary improvements. Once an issue is discovered, the advisory committee will be better prepared to — while looking at the data inventory — prioritize areas of concern and make adjustments that are needed.

Educate the patients themselves

As many hospitals strive to do the best they possibly can when it comes to securing patient information, actually sharing statistics and suggestions with the patients themselves can further improve the security of that information. Patients should be encouraged to keep their cards and information in a safe place and should be told to take caution when sharing sensitive details. Patient participation is crucial when it comes to combating identity theft and security tips and suggestions can be posted as signs throughout the hospital — or given to the patients in a brochure.

Medical identity theft is increasingly becoming a great threat to the safety of patients and health care providers. While there are many ways that patient information can end up in the wrong hands, there are fortunately many ways that both hospitals and patients can prevent this from happening. By working together and considering these tips, hospital staff members can ensure that the information of their patients can remain as secure as possible.

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Statistics Show an Increase in State Telehealth Policies

Statistics Show an Increase in State Telehealth Policies | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Since the American Telemedicine Association began reporting on state-by-state telehealth policies, the landscape has changed rapidly. “For the past four years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of bills introduced at the state level,” says Latoya Thomas, director of the ATA’s State Policy Resource Center.

Here’s the latest from the ATA’s deep dives into state laws and legislation on telehealth coverage and reimbursement, clinical practice policies and licensure requirements:

 

Coverage & Reimbursement

Most patients use health insurance to pay for their healthcare, so telehealth needs to be included as part of coverage, Thomas says. “To ensure better adoption and utilization of telehealth,” she says, “it needs to be built into our current health insurance system.”

So far, 31 states and the District of Columbia have enacted telehealth parity laws for private insurance. These anti-discriminatory actions ensure that state-regulated health insurers can’t deny a claim or coverage just because the service was conducted remotely, Thomas says. In the last few months alone, nine more states have introduced telehealth parity legislation: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota and West Virginia.

In another milestone, all 50 state Medicaid programs now have some type of coverage for telemedicine. But in some states, Thomas says, Medicaid coverage for telehealth falls short.

In New Hampshire, for instance, Medicaid telehealth coverage follows Medicare restrictions on geography, patient settings and provider eligibility. But, just this year, the state introduced legislation that would remove geographic barriers and expand Medicaid coverage of telehealth to urban areas.

 

Clinical Practice

Across the country, doctors’ use of telehealth tools is often limited in clinical practice, Thomas says. Through legislation, there have been many attempts to remove privileges for virtual tools, require in-person visits and narrow the definition of telemedicine, she says.

But some states are passing legislation to protect telehealth from these artificial restrictions, Thomas says. Virginia, for example, recently enacted laws to prevent artificial in-person requirements and allow ophthalmologists and optometrists to perform eye exams via telemedicine to prescribe eyewear.

 

Licensure

With communication technology becoming increasingly ubiquitous, Thomas says, it should be as easy to access a healthcare provider as it is to binge-watch a show on Hulu.

But some restrictions prohibit physicians from practicing telehealth across state lines, Thomas says. This creates confusion when doctors travel out of state for conferences, for instance, or when patients want to access the best specialists—who happen to practice across the country. “The nature of our mobile lives is such that these state-by-state requirements are quite burdensome,” she says.

 

Some state telehealth models are starting to enable cross-state practice, Thomas says. Just last month, Utah became the second state (Arizona was the first) to join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), an interstate compact to facilitate telehealth practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries. The PSYPACT will go into effect if seven states join.

The model will help patients access mental health care, Thomas says, even as the country faces a shortage of providers. “There’s no need for an additional state license,” she says. “It’s a wonderful model that we certainly do embrace.”

Expect a busy year for telehealth policy in the states as more than a dozen bills are on the dockets from Idaho to Massachusetts this legislative session. “[The bills] all carry a lot of weight and tremendous impacts to the residents in the states where they’re being introduced,” she says. “Having the conversation that the bill is introduced is a wonderful step.”

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How to stop ransomware: It's really not that complicated

How to stop ransomware: It's really not that complicated | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Ransomware. The word itself is scary enough, let alone the glimpse of just how damaging such attacks could be that the world saw in WannaCry and NotPetya during May and June. But cybersecurity experts counter that ransomware shouldn’t actually be so overwhelming to information security professionals -- if they adhere to simple best practices. 

For starters, backup files are crucial and those should be both encrypted and kept offline -- separate from the main network, according to Engin Kirda, professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer and information science at Northeastern University.

 

Lee Kim, HIMSS’ director of privacy and security said the real problem is that hospitals are often stuck running outdated, legacy systems. And even keeping pace with software patches is not always completely effective. Both NotPetya and WannaCry, for instance, leveraged vulnerabilities in these legacy systems.

In fact, Kim explained that when hospitals system must run these outdated systems, including those upon which medical devices are built, it’s necessary to make sure the ports of entry are as closed off as possible. 

 

“If an organization needs to run these systems, shelter the technology from the outside world and segment it from the network,” Lee said. “It’s always best practice to segment the network and not make it possible for one hacker to get in and pivot around your system.”

After patching, segmenting and software needs, Kim said that hospitals can increase defenses with pen testing, which actively scans the system or network for exploitable vulnerabilities.

“I can’t think of a better way to be prepared,” said Kim. “[Pen testing] should be done not just once in a blue moon, it needs to be done regularly. 

Hospitals should authorize the testing with a vendor or security employee with experience to ensure there are no disruptions due to high traffic. 

Risk assessments can also help reveal weaknesses and build defenses. 

 

“We want to make things more difficult for the attackers and reduce the volume of attacks,” she said.

Not surprisingly, the crux of the ransomware issue boils down to the biggest weakness to all networks: the user.

It’s a simple technique, hackers craft emails and trick users into action, Kirda said. “It’s just that some users don’t understand ransomware, and they end up doing things that allow a successful attack.”

 

So phishing training is critical, explained Kim. “It’s the adage of you’re only as strong as your weakest link. You can’t ignore teaching employees what to do and what not to do.”

Fortunately, there’s a lot that can be done with the human element. Naturally, employees should be trained to be cautious about opening attachments. “For an attack to be successful,” Kim said, “they just need a door or one hole to squeeze through.”

Some organizations are also labeling email as external, which can help employees determine the validity of an email sent supposedly from a member within the company. IT can add it to the bottom of every email in red. If an email is sent from outside it will push through the designated filter and notify the user it’s from an outside party.

 

Anti-phishing, user education and clearly marking emails as external or internal are basic blocking and tackling that can go a long way to thwarting attacks. Kim also recommended seeking outside help when you need it.

 

“Study up or hire someone experienced in cybersecurity,” Kim said. There are plenty of ethical hacking pointers available online, and “yet there are so many health organizations vulnerable to attacks. It’s really a twilight zone experience.” 

Ultimately, the issue lies with infosec professionals explaining why cybersecurity needs to be at the forefront of budget discussions and planning -- because it’s a safe bet that the attacks will keep on coming due to profitability. 

“Healthcare is low-hanging fruit,” Kim said. “That’s the unfortunate reality: the dragon is at the door.” 

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Telehealth drives up healthcare utilization and spending

Telehealth drives up healthcare utilization and spending | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Telehealth, which is frequently touted as an effective strategy to decrease healthcare spending, may actually be driving up costs, according to a new study by the RAND Corp. The report, published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, found that although telehealth appointments are cheaper than in-person and emergency room visits, the online and virtual resources encourage vast new utilization, ultimately driving up healthcare spending. The findings are a surprise wake-up call as employers increasingly look to offer telehealth services to their workers. About 90% of large employers said they would offer telehealth services as part of their employee health plans in 2017, according to a 2016 survey from the National Business Group on Health. The study’s researchers used 2011-13 claims data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to dive into telehealth costs. The authors compared the cost and use of telehealth visits and in-person visits for patients seeking treatment for acute respiratory infections, one of the most comment conditions treated via telehealth services.The researchers found that only 12% of direct-to-consumer telehealth visits replaced a visit to another provider. The convenience of telemedicine is encouraging people to seek care when they normally wouldn’t, said Scott Ashwood, lead author of the report and associate policy researcher at RAND Corp. “You don’t even have to go anywhere … you just have to pick up the phone.”

 

An individual may be less inclined to go see their primary-care doctor or visit the ER if they have the common cold or a high fever. But the easy access and low cost of telemedicine may motivate people to seek a clinical consultation, Ashwood said.

On average, a telemedicine appointment costs about $79 compared to $146 for a doctor’s visit and $1,734 for an ER visit, the study found.

RAND Corp. found a similar trend taking place among retail clinics. A study in November 2016 found ERs near retail clinics didn’t experience a reduction of visits from patients with low-acuity illnesses.

 

To discourage telemedicine overutilization, the authors suggested increasing patient cost-sharing for the consultations. This could encourage people to consider more critically what conditions they will seek care for, Ashwood said. “If I have to pay more out of pocket to pick up the phone, maybe I don’t,” he said.

The authors also suggested health plans reach out to patients who frequently use the ER and encourage them to use telemedicine services instead. Ashwood said patients with chronic conditions that frequently use the ER for care will effectively decrease spending if they use telemedicine instead.

“We are seeing patients responding (to telemedicine) so there is a benefit to respond to certain populations,” Ashwood said.

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Cybersecurity: How can it be improved in health care?

Cybersecurity: How can it be improved in health care? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

It has become increasingly clear that cybersecurity is a risk factor in health care data. Data breaches cost the health care industry approximately $5.6 billion every year, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. The Breach Barometer Report: Year in Review additionally found that there was an average of at least one health data breach per day in 2016, attacks that affected more than 27 million patient records.

 

In a whitepaper entitled The Rampant Growth of Cybercrime in Healthcare, health IT advisor organization Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) reported that these attacks are becoming increasingly difficult to identify, prevent and mitigate.

“Chronic underinvestment in cybersecurity has left many so exposed that they are unable to even detect cyberattacks when they occur,” the report stressed. “While attackers may compromise an organization within a matter of seconds or minutes, it often takes many more weeks – if not months – before the breach is detected, damage is contained and defensive resources are deployed to prevent the same attack from happening again.”

As organizations seek to protect their patient information from these growing threats, demand for health informatics professionals who are familiar with the current state of cybersecurity in health care is on the rise.

Cybersecurity challenges in health care

The newest cyber vulnerabilities are not necessarily an organization’s biggest cyber threat. Verizon’s 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report found that most breaches are about money and attackers usually take the easiest route to obtain the information they need. Consequently, many common threats continue to be problematic in health care, including:

●  Malware and ransomware: Cyber criminals use malware and ransomware to shut down individual devices, servers or even entire networks. In some cases, a ransom is then demanded to rectify the encryption.
●  Cloud threats: An increasing amount of protected health information is being stored on the cloud. Without proper encryption, this can be a weak spot for the security of health care organizations.
●  Misleading websites: Clever cyber criminals have created websites with addresses that are similar to reputable sites. Some simply substitute .com for .gov, giving the unwary user the illusion that the websites are the same.
●  Phishing attacks: This strategy sends out mass amounts of emails from seemingly reputable sources to obtain sensitive information from users.
●  Encryption blind spots: While encryption is critical for protecting health data, it can also create blind spots where hackers can hide from the tools meant to detect breaches.
●  Employee error: Employees can leave health care organizations susceptible to attack through weak passwords, unencrypted devices and other failures of compliance.

Another growing threat in health care security is found in medical devices. As pacemakers and other equipment become connected to the internet, they face the same vulnerabilities as other computer systems. To ensure patient safety, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration recommended that both the manufacturer that creates the device and the health care facility that implants it take preventive security measures.

Strategies for improving cybersecurity

Due to the significant financial impact of data breaches in health care, health informatics and other professionals are playing an important role in ensuring that medical organizations remain secure.
According to HealthIT.gov, individual health care organizations can improve their cyber security by implementing the following practices:

1. Establish a security culture: Ongoing cybersecurity training and education emphasize that every member of the organization is responsible for protecting patient data, creating a culture of security.

2. Protect mobile devices: An increasing number of health care providers are using mobile devices at work. Encryption and other protective measures are critical to ensure that any information on these devices is secure.

3. Maintain good computer habits: New employee onboarding should include training on best practices for computer use, including software and operating system maintenance.

4. Use a firewall: Anything connected to the internet should have a firewall.

5. Install and maintain anti-virus software: Simply installing anti-virus software is not enough. Continuous updates are essential for ensuring health care systems receive the best possible protection at any given time.

6. Plan for the unexpected: Files should be backed up regularly for quick and easy data restoration. Organizations should consider storing this backed-up information away from the main system if possible.

7. Control access to protected health information: Access to protected information should be granted to only those who need to view or use the data.

8. Use strong passwords and change them regularly: The Verizon report found that 63 percent of confirmed data breaches involved taking advantage of passwords that were the default, weak or stolen. Health care employees should not only use strong passwords, but ensure they are changed regularly.

9. Limit network access: Any software, applications and other additions to existing systems should not be installed by staff without prior consent from the proper organizational authorities.

10. Control physical access: Data can also be breached when physical devices are stolen. Computers and other electronics that contain protected information should be kept in locked rooms in secure areas.

In addition to these recommendations, health data professionals are continually developing new strategies and best practices to ensure the safety of sensitive health data, protecting both the patient and organization from financial loss and other forms of harm.

Working in health care cybersecurity

To improve cybersecurity in health care, organizations need to hire informatics professionals who can not only collect, manage and leverage data, but protect it as well. If you are interested in contributing to this field through a career in health informatics, consider taking the next step in your health informatics (HI) career by pursuing a master’s in Health Informatics. In UIC’s online program you will complete courses in health care information systems that can help you manage the sensitive patient data at risk from cyberattack.

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AI chatbots might be the money-savers hospitals are looking for

AI chatbots might be the money-savers hospitals are looking for | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Healthcare provider organizations spend a lot of money on customer service representatives taking patient inquiries via phone, e-mail or live chat. But there’s a way technology can step in and save healthcare organizations time and money: automated chat-bots infused with artificial intelligence.

 

Among organizations in various industries, healthcare providers most of all will benefit from increased use of chatbots, which are becoming more adept at their work because of advances in AI, Juniper Research said. Chat-bots could save organizations $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022, up from $20 million this year, Juniper Research forecasted.

 

“We believe that healthcare and banking providers using bots can expect average time savings of just over four minutes per inquiry, equating to average cost savings in the range of $0.50-$0.70 per interaction,” said Lauren Foye, a Juniper Research analyst.

Most chatbots use multiple technologies: natural language processing, knowledge management and sentiment analysis. 

First, natural language processing tries to understand what a user is asking about. And second, a technological methodology provides conversational flow and responses, either direct or through guidance.

 

Typically, the natural language processing will identify the intent of a question with some level of confidence and then, based on the confidence level, the chatbot will either ask a follow-up or disambiguate the question for the user.

Once the confidence level is acceptable for the use-case, the chatbot will present the proper response based on an intent taxonomy that associates the intent of the question with the desired response. More advanced chatbots will try and anticipate the next question or guide the user to relevant resources or responses based on the previous intent.

 

“The technologies that support a chatbot need a common taxonomy in place that links the intent of a question to a contextual response,” said Jeff Cohen, co-founder and vice president of cognitive innovation services at Welltok, an AI-based healthcare software company. “And how do they interact to provide users with an answer to their question? There are many different ways to interact based on the sophistication and use-case for the chatbot.”

 

In addition to natural language processing technology, chatbots typically also rely on knowledge management systems.

“Knowledge management systems are absolutely essential in order to standardize the service experience,” said Khal Rai, an AI expert and senior vice president, product development and operations, at SRS Health, a healthcare software company. “Essentially, knowledge management systems are tools that allow you to document common questions and answers and problem-solving tips that are accumulated over the life of a product or a solution.”

It requires commitment and discipline by healthcare organizations to invest the necessary time and money to build knowledge libraries, Rai added.

Sentiment analysis is another technology that can be used by AI chatbots.

 

“How does the chatbot conjure up what is needed to be said?” asked Cohen. “Most AI chatbots need some content store or ‘traffic cop’ that knows, based on the intent of the question and the context of the user, where to obtain the proper response.”

AI chatbots have been used with varying levels of success in healthcare to date, addressing use-cases including helping consumers select a benefit plan, providing customer service responses, helping triage symptoms, and guiding consumers to resources. It still is early in the adoption of AI chatbots in healthcare, experts said, but early indicators of demand and satisfaction are promising.

 

“Chat-bots will continue to get more intelligent over time, thanks to AI and machine learning techniques that will make them very efficient technology, and of course, more timely than a human can ever be,” Rai said. “However, if you’re in the business of taking care of people, it’ll be a while before chatbots are fully adopted.”

Like other innovations, AI chatbots in healthcare will be a crawl-walk-run endeavor, where the easier tasks will move to chatbots while awaiting the technology to evolve enough to handle more complex tasks, Rai added.

“Research in the areas of emotional intelligence is happening,” he said. “But it is not advanced enough at this moment to put the satisfaction of customers on the line.”

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Ransomware and electronic records access, healthcare's biggest threats

Ransomware and electronic records access, healthcare's biggest threats | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Of the varied threats facing healthcare provider organizations today, both external and internal, what rises to the top? Some cybersecurity experts have solid opinions on that.

When it comes to external threats, ransomware is the most urgent said Mike Fumai, COO at AppGuard, a cybersecurity software company.

 

“The longer term and newer threat with ransomware is medical devices,” he said. “Already hackable, but no real economic model yet for adversaries to focus on. That can change quickly. For example, they can simply extend the ransomware model by denying medical device use until a ransom is paid. The complexity of the medical device supply chain, however, poses even more exotic ransom possibilities.”

 

If a provider organization cannot treat patients because it doesn’t have access to medical equipment, records, billing processes, scheduling or vital third-party services, the impact is immediate, pervasive, urgent and even life-threatening – far worse than HIPAA fines and other typical data breach consequences.

“Healthcare providers are not prepared for ransomware attacks,” Fumai said.

 

So what should healthcare providers do to better prepare? Implement system back-ups and conduct realistic exercises to be sure they work is one tactic.

 

“Continuously conduct realistic, simulated attacks on your employees and track them individually, and on your organization two to four times per year to seek and fix human weaknesses,” Fumai said. “Form at least one peer group within 30 days with signed letters of intent to learn how to better fight ransomware and to field-test and hype-test cyber products and services before deploying them.”

 

When it comes to internal threats, access to patient records rises to the top, said George Brostoff, co-founder and CEO of SensibleVision, a cybersecurity technology company.

“Twenty-seven hospital employees in New Jersey were suspended after they improperly looked at the files of actor George Clooney, who was being treated after a motorcycle accident,” Brostoff said. “All of them had access to the files from inside the system. External hacks get all the press, but the real security issues that affect hospitals every day come from inside the building.”

 

When very private information is leaked, it is very embarrassing and damaging to a healthcare organization’s image and destroys the trust it has built with its patients. The specific data in patient records allows the source of the leaked information to be tied to the organization at fault.

 

“Most important, these leaks violate federal HIPAA rules and other regulations, which can put accreditation at risk and also open up the risk of lawsuits,” Brostoff said.

To combat problems associated with internal access to patient records, the first step is getting rid of passwords to protect any data, Brostoff said.

 

“They just don’t work, and everyone acknowledges that – even the guy who came up with the ‘Change your password every month’ approach to security,” he said. “Following industry best practices such as secure authentication, encryption and proper access policies is the only way to protect data.”

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Almost all large employers plan to offer telehealth in 2018, but will employees use it?

Almost all large employers plan to offer telehealth in 2018, but will employees use it? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Faced with another 5 percent increase in healthcare benefit costs, a growing number of large U.S. employers plan to focus more on how healthcare is delivered and paid for while still pursuing traditional methods of controlling expenses, such as cost-sharing and plan design changes, according to an annual survey by the National Business Group on Health.

 

As a result, more employees will have access to broader healthcare services including telemedicine, centers of excellence and onsite health centers during open enrollment while not experiencing major increases in their costs, the business group said.

 

The Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey found virtually all employers (96 percent) will make telehealth services available in states where it is allowed next year. More than half (56 percent) plan to offer telehealth for behavioral health services, more than double the percentage this year. Telehealth utilization is on the rise, with nearly 20 percent of employers experiencing employee utilization rates of 8 percent or higher.

 

Employers are looking for ways to reduce healthcare costs while offering services and benefits their employees value, said Ralph C. Derrickson, CEO of Carena, a white-label telemedicine technology and services vendor.

 

“Carena has several health system partners who have established valuable partnerships with employers in their community by offering a competitive benefits package with virtual care,” Derrickson said health systems are increasingly partnering with vendors like Carena to offer competitive benefits packages that include virtual consults. 

 

Telemedicine can help lower costs associated with non-emergent emergency department utilization and reduce fragmentation by preserving and building on existing primary care relationships or establishing new ones, he added.

 

There are two prevailing factors that drive employers so widely into telehealth, said Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO and co-founder of American Well, a white-label telemedicine technology and services company.

 

“The first are the return on investment numbers showing telehealth replacing higher-cost care settings, primarily urgent care and emergency rooms,” Schoenberg said. “These numbers are coming from payers but are applicable to self-insured employers just the same. Net cost savings around $200 per visit are quoted.”

The second reason is the growing appeal of telehealth as an employee perk, he said. At a time when health benefits are primarily cut, or their cost is shifted to the employee, adding modern and convenient healthcare benefits for employees can be a win for human resources leadership.

 

“There are many other factors that drive higher adoption, among them much better technologies, growing payer consensus, a regulatory requirement for reimbursement, and diversity of services that now go beyond urgent care, for example, behavioral health, child care, maternity, dermatology and more,” Schoenberg said. “But ROI and employee perk are the ones that move the needle the most.”

 

That said, while the Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey found that 96 percent will make telehealth services available in states where it is allowed next year, employee utilization of telemedicine services today is only at 8 percent at only 20 percent of large employers. So what will it take to get many more employees to start turning to lower-cost, more efficient telehealth services?

 

“Telehealth is a behavioral change and as such has its own biology,” Schoenberg said. “It is inevitable that a good part of healthcare services will be rendered over technology, as we see in retail, finance, entertainment and everything else in our lives, but it will be a gradual process.”

 

Healthcare tends to be more sensitive to quality and trust concerns than, for example, the retail business. What that means is that adoption of the new ways of getting care potentially could be much faster when they come to patients under the traditional brands they trust today with in-person care. Schoenberg believes employer telehealth branded by providers will be the way to catch more employees.

 

“The growing trend of telehealth services that bring you – the employee, the consumer, the health plan member – not to a telehealth service but to Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger, New York Presbyterian, these will translate to a much easier adoption in the minds of Americans,” he said. “This trend is now happening and will become much more visible in the next 12 months.”

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What is Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) and how does it work?

What is Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) and how does it work? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

When it comes to transferring digital images for telemedicine diagnostic purposes, it is important to adhere to the correct protocols. As the explosion of digital imaging technology has continued, so too has the improvement of standards and protocols.


A standard for communications among medical imaging devices has been set by the National Electronic Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in conjunction with the American College of Radiology since 1985.

 

The DICOM, which stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine, is the current standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging. It includes a file format definition and a network communications protocol. It has been consistently upgraded under the acronym DICOM since 1993.

DICOM files can be exchanged between two entities that are capable of receiving image and patient data in DICOM format. In this respect, it is the standard for todays medical imagining practices.

Within the DICOM standards are 4 key areas to understand and abide by:

1) DICOM Transfer Syntaxes

A Transfer Syntax is a set of encoding rules able to unambiguously represent one or more Abstract Syntaxes. In particular, it allows communicating Application Entities to negotiate common encoding techniques they both support (e.g., byte ordering, compression, etc.). A Transfer Syntax is an attribute of a Presentation Context, one or more of which are negotiated at the establishment of an Association between DICOM Application Entities.

 

2) DICOM SOPs

A Service-Object Pair (SOP) Class is defined by the union of an Information Object Definition (IOD) and a DICOM Service Elements (DIMSE). The SOP Class definition contains the rules and semantics which may restrict the use of the services in the DIMSE Service Group or the Attributes of the IOD.

 

3) DICOM Modality

A DICOM data object consists of a number of attributes, including items such as name, ID, etc., and also one special attribute containing the image pixel data.  One of attributes – DICOM modality, that represents DICOM file type. In addition, each attribute also has a Value Multiplicity to indicate the number of data elements contained in the attribute.

 

4) DICOM Space Storage

Every DICOM file type made by different machines that generate data in different sizes. We present most common features that we are facing now.

 

For doctors wanting to transfer and share digital images as a part of their diagnostic process, it is important to be aware of following and adhering to the DICOM standards. However the current generations of telemedicine software do comply with these standards, making the role of the doctor an easier one.

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What are Real Time Interactive services in Telemedicine?

What are Real Time Interactive services in Telemedicine? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The best telemedicine and telehealth technology gives doctors a way to offer immediate advice to patients who require medical attention.

Today, thanks to advances in technology, there are several different mediums utilized for this purpose, including smart phone apps, desktop software, and electronically monitored home visits.

A medical history and consultation about presenting symptoms can be undertaken, followed by assessment similar to those usually conducted in face-to-face appointments.

Here are the key methods doctors and medical professional use Real Time Interactive Telemedicine services for:

 

Teleneuropsychology is an example of this type of telemedicine that includes neuropsychological consultation and assessment over video or phone with patients that have, or are suspected to have, a cognitive disorder.


Standard evaluation techniques are implemented to assess the patient via video technology. A 2014 study by the Journal of International Neuropsychology Society found that this method provides a feasible and reliable alternative to traditional in-person consultations, although it was noted that quality standards and administration must be upheld.

 

Telenursing refers to the utilization of communicative technology to provide remote nursing services. Consultations can be made over video or phone to reach a diagnosis and monitor health conditions and symptoms.

This is growing in favor due to the low cost and high accessibility of the services to patients, particularly for those in rural regions, or a Health Professional Shortage Area (HSPA). It also has the potential to lessen the burden of patients in hospitals because it is possible to address minor ailments earlier and patients can receive advice about whether hospital admission is required.

 

Telepharmacy allows pharmaceutical advice to patients when direct contact with a pharmacist is not possible. This allows medications to be monitored and patients can be offered advice over video conference or over the phone. Depending on regulations, refill authorization may be given to allow patients to receive regularly medications when required.

 

Telerehabilitation utilizes technology to communicate and perform clinical assessment and therapy for rehabilitation patients. This usually has a strong visual element with video conferences and webcams commonly used to assist in communicating symptoms and clinical progress.

These telemedicine services are a great step forward in improving accessibility of healthcare to all patients, particularly those living in areas with limited local health professionals.

Additionally, they offer a significant benefit of reduced cost in comparison to traditional in-person appointments.

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Top 6 Robotic Applications in Medicine

Top 6 Robotic Applications in Medicine | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

According to a recent report by Credence Research, the global medical robotics market was valued at $7.24 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow to $20 billion by 2023. A key driver for this growth is demand for using robots in minimally invasive surgeries, especially for neurologic, orthopedic, and laparoscopic procedures.

As a result, a wide range of robots is being developed to serve in a variety of roles within the medical environment. Robots specializing in human treatment include surgical robots and rehabilitation robots. The field of assistive and therapeutic robotic devices is also expanding rapidly. These include robots that help patients rehabilitate from serious conditions like strokes, empathic robots that assist in the care of older or physically/mentally challenged individuals, and industrial robots that take on a variety of routine tasks, such as sterilizing rooms and delivering medical supplies and equipment, including medications.

Below are six top uses for robots in the field of medicine today.

 

1. Telepresence
Physicians use robots to help them examine and treat patients in rural or remote locations, giving them a “telepresence” in the room. “Specialists can be on call, via the robot, to answer questions and guide therapy from remote locations,” writes Dr. Bernadette Keefe, a Chapel Hill, NC-based healthcare and medicine consultant.  “The key features of these robotic devices include navigation capability within the ER, and sophisticated cameras for the physical examination.”

 

2.Surgical Assistants
These remote-controlled robots assist surgeons with performing operations, typically minimally invasive procedures. “The ability to manipulate a highly sophisticated robotic arm by operating controls, seated at a workstation out of the operating room, is the hallmark of surgical robots,” says Keefe. Additional applications for these surgical-assistant robots are continually being developed, as more advanced 3DHD technology gives surgeons the spatial references needed for highly complex surgery, including more enhanced natural stereo visualization, combined with augmented reality.

 

3. Rehabilitation Robots
These play a crucial role in the recovery of people with disabilities, including improved mobility, strength, coordination, and quality of life. These robots can be programmed to adapt to the condition of each patient as they recover from strokes, traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries, or neurobehavioral or neuromuscular diseases such as multiple sclerosis. Virtual reality integrated with rehabilitation robots can also improve balance, walking, and other motor functions.  

 

4. Medical Transportation Robots
Supplies, medications, and meals are delivered to patients and staff by these robots, thereby optimizing communication between doctors, hospital staff members, and patients. “Most of these machines have highly dedicated capabilities for self-navigation throughout the facility,” states Manoj Sahi, a research analyst with Tractica, a market intelligence firm that specializes in technology. “There is, however, a need for highly advanced and cost-effective indoor navigation systems based on sensor fusion location technology in order to make the navigational capabilities of transportation robots more robust.”

 

5. Sanitation and Disinfection Robots
With the increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria and outbreaks of deadly infections like Ebola, more healthcare facilities are using robots to clean and disinfect surfaces. “Currently, the primary methods used for disinfection are UV light and hydrogen peroxide vapors,” says Sahi. “These robots can disinfect a room of any bacteria and viruses within minutes.”

 

6. Robotic Prescription Dispensing Systems
The biggest advantages of robots are speed and accuracy, two features that are very important to pharmacies. “Automated dispensing systems have advanced to the point where robots can now handle powder, liquids, and highly viscous materials, with much higher speed and accuracy than before,” says Sahi.  

 

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4 Steps to Reducing Telemedicine Misdiagnosis

4 Steps to Reducing Telemedicine Misdiagnosis | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Telemedicine misdiagnosis is a challenge for doctors who are looking to use the platform.

For over two centuries, the Doctors in society have been the source for explaining why we feel ill, and what can be done to change that. Yet with the explosion of online information in the past 20 years, it is impossible for any doctor to have the reach of the Internet when it comes to potential diagnosis.

 

Telemedicine adoption is on the rise and the growth is quite staggering. According to Bob Doherty from the American College of Physicians, “Doctors who ignore this latest competitive force do so at their peril, as it builds upon trends like pharmacy-based clinics that are providing increasing options for patients unable to fit their medical care into a 9-to-5 time frame.”

When a patient requests a telemedicine visit with their doctor, they assume that most conditions that can be diagnosed in person can be also diagnosed over a video consult.

 

For doctors, the role to becoming qualified to diagnose takes between 10-15 years. For this reason, it is reasonable to expect them to have a higher accuracy rate than most of their patients. However, for doctors when using a virtual format, there can be a risk of telemedicine misdiagnosis.

Telemedicine misdiagnosis can occur if proper steps are not taken before, during and after the consultation. To help, here are 4 steps to ensure doctors avoid telemedicine misdiagnosis when using the platform.

 

1) Prepare before the Appointment

It is advisable to educate patients about how the virtual visit will occur, and what is to be expected. If the booking is done virtually through an App, it is good to send some form of email confirmation as well.

You may have a list of potential conditions that can be diagnosed and medications that can be prescribed via the telemedicine platform.

 

2) Listen First during the Appointment

Consider the limited time you have with the patient on the screen, and the fact that the patient has likely self-diagnosed to some extent.

According to Dr David Troxel, ‘As a caregiver, it’s safe to assume that patients will come into the office already attached to a perceived diagnosis and possibly using medications improperly, based on their own online research.’


You might start with a quick understanding of what the patient already knows, and what symptoms they are reporting with. As explained by Dr Atul Gawande, it might help to keep questionnaire checklists for any conditions that may have similar symptoms. This will help to rule out misdiagnosis or missing multiple conditions.

 

3) Setting clear next steps

Once a telemedicine visit has been completed, there must be a clear course of action in the patients mind. Whether it is to take a course of medication, to rest, or to visit the practice for tests, this should be clearly explained by the doctor during the call.

For doctors, a lot of these next steps are typically explained by assistants. But on a telemedicine call, the doctor must take care of this themselves.

 

4) Consistent Follow Up

If a patient thinks that simply calling and reporting symptoms is the only step required, they are less likely to find telemedicine effective. This is my follow up is a good idea.

If the Telemedicine platform allows the doctor to message the patient this can be a great way to further follow up check in whether the symptoms have ceased.

 

At a minimum it can be a good idea to have a member of the team call or email to check in on how the patient is recovering. This will both increase patient trust and reduce telemedicine misdiagnosis.

A large reason why patients may avoid getting clinical confirmation is either the time constraint or the cost. This is where the adoption of Telemedicine by doctors potentially plays a role in bridging the gap.

 

Telemedicine is an amazing bridging technology. It enables offer patients a more reliable source of qualified diagnosis than simply searching online. It can assist a patient in confirming an initial self-diagnosis, by allowing the doctor to use their clinical expertise to the patients’ advantage. Doctors may advise patients to either seek a specific type of over the counter solution, or they may advise the patient to visit the office for further diagnosis.

 

To reduce the risk of telemedicine misdiagnosis, there need to be stringent protocols in place. Clear diagnosis criteria and knowing which types of consultations can be diagnosed remotely is important. Proper practices will help to decrease the risk of telemedicine misdiagnosis, and increase patients health and satisfaction.

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How to Launch a Telehealth Service in your Medical Clinic

How to Launch a Telehealth Service in your Medical Clinic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Many doctors are looking at how to launch a telehealth service. Doctors today are familiar with the telehealth virtual consultation model. Telehealth a few years ago was a new concept, but today it is becoming as common as using Uber, Airbnb and Venmo.

Doctors want to add the convenience and customization of telehealth services to their medical clinic. There is profit to be made and patients want the ease of remote visits.

The challenge is to know how to get started in a way that doesn’t interrupt your regular workday and can add value to both the patients and the office.

Here are 5 suggestions to help you launch a telehealth service in your medical clinic.

1) Choose a team member to lead

The success of launching a telemedicine service in your medical practice won’t happen by accident. You will need a dedicated team member who leads the project.

Think of it as a new section of your services that will take time, and need tweaking as you go. Choose a person on the team who has a good understanding of both technology and the patient relationship. Find someone who has an interest in moving the clinic forward and making a difference in the lives of patients. These values will be important as the launch will be challenging at first.

One tip is to plan a weekly meeting to review the progress with your telehealth team leader. Talk through the project and any challenges together. This will empower them and make them feel more focussed on main git a success.

2) Understand the rules and terminology

Telemedicine regulations will vary by state to state and insurance payer. It is important to know the specific rules such as your state’s law and the billing guidelines for all of your major insurance carriers. This A-Z Telehealth guide may help you guide your patients and help smooth over any confusion.


3) Decide on a platform

Perhaps the most difficult part of deciding on to launch a telehealth service is which platform to use. Each telemedicine provider will have their own benefits. Some are less expensive but offer little customization. Some offer more customization or better Telemedicine EHR integration than others.

It is important to know how much extra work a new technology will create, alongside any costs. Remember the time you spend working out the bugs is a key factor in the success or failure of your telemedicine implementation.

4) Start slow and test your process

Many offices will think launching telehealth means diving in the deep end and offering it to all patients immediately. All this will do is cause headaches. It is better to start slow, perhaps offering one or two telehealth visit slots per day, to begin with for the first 2-4 weeks. Then you can track the progress, refine the process and slowly and profitability of those telehealth visits.

5) Offer and Market to your best patients first

You probably have a pool of long term patients who are easy to deal with and have more common, easily remedied complaints. These are the ideal group to start with. This is because they are not likely to cause extra challenges above and beyond getting used to the technology. If you have an established relationship, this makes it easier as well, as they are more understanding that this is a new service.

This guide to launch a telehealth service in your medical clinic is just the start. There is no denying it will be a challenge but is well worth the effort. It will offer a new way to care for your patients and grow your profitability. If you think through the steps, and stay the course, teleahealth will become another successful, beneficial offering for your patients.

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mHealth Study Proves Remote Monitoring Beats In-Person Visits

mHealth Study Proves Remote Monitoring Beats In-Person Visits | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

An mHealth platform for post-operative care helped patients collaborate better and more often with their doctors and reduced follow-up visits to the doctor’s office.

In addition, more than half of those using the mobile health platform, designed for breast cancer patients recovering from reconstruction surgery, said remote monitoring was more convenient than in-person visits to the doctor’s office. And there was no statistical difference in clinical outcomes between the two groups.

 

The results of a study of 65 breast cancer patients, performed by the Women’s College Hospital of Toronto and published in a recent online edition of JAMA Surgery, “are important findings given the current demands on the healthcare system and the push toward patient-centric care,” says Kathleen A. Armstrong, MD, the study’s lead author.

 

They prove, she said, that a digital health service that replaces expensive and time-consuming in-person visits is more popular with patients and doesn’t negatively affect their recovery. In addition, the platform gives clinicians better data on their patients in a more timely manner, enabling them to intervene more quickly should an adverse health issue crop up. In the long run, this would lead to fewer health emergencies and hospital readmissions.

Armstrong, who conducted the study with Peter C. Coyte, PhD, MA, and Mitchell Brown, MD, said this was the first study to use an mHealth app instead of the telephone to facilitate the conversation between patient and doctor.

 

“A growing number of procedures, including complex operations such as autologous breast reconstruction, are offered in an ambulatory setting,” she noted. “Patients using the mobile app require approximately 2 minutes to input the quality of recovery, pain visual analog scale, and photographs of the surgical site. This ease of use allows patients to submit data frequently (i.e., daily or weekly), providing a continuous, richer inflow of information than could ever be achieved by telephone or in-person follow-up care.”

 

The study, focusing on the 30-day period following breast reconstruction surgery, equipped patients with a mobile app on their smartphones that enabled them to communicate on a store-and-forward platform with their doctors. Patients were monitored daily during the first two weeks and weekly during the following two weeks through a 9-question survey, a pain visual analog scale and photographs submitted by the patient. This platform replaced the typical in-person follow-up visits conducted one and four weeks after surgery.

 

According to the study, which compared 32 patients using the digital health platform to 33 patients following traditional post-operative treatment, the mHealth group didn’t need to meet in person with a doctor as much as the traditional group; and while both groups made the same number of phone calls to a doctor, the mHealth group sent more e-mails.

In addition, while there was no difference in the satisfaction rate between the two groups, 97 percent of those in the mHealth group said the service was convenient, while only 48 percent of the patients using traditional follow-up care said that service was convenient.

 

“Follow-up via a mobile app can be used to eliminate in-person follow-up visits during the first 30 days following ambulatory breast reconstruction surgery,” Armstrong said in the study. “Patients using the mobile app attended 0.40 times fewer in-person visits for follow-up care and sent more e-mails to their health care professionals during the first 30 days after surgery than did patients in the in-person follow-up group. This finding is important because a common criticism of telemedicine or virtual communication between patients and health care professionals is whether it truly replaces in-person care.”

“Improving patient convenience without compromising satisfaction is another critical finding as we look for ways to build a patient-centric health care system that supports quicker recovery and resumption of normal daily living,” she concluded.

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Investment in Telehealth Expected to Rise

Investment in Telehealth Expected to Rise | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

American Telemedicine Association recently conducted the Telemedicine Executive Leadership survey which revealed that 83 percent executives are planning to invest in telehealth by the end of this year.

 

To keep up with the rapid growth and transformation in the industry, executives are planning these investments. Interestingly, around 98 percent of the survey participants believe that telemedicine gives a competitive edge over other organizations.

Jonathan Linkous, CEO, ATA, said, “This executive leadership survey confirms undeniably today’s leaders view telemedicine as a major driver in transforming healthcare. It comes as no surprise that 98 percent of survey respondents believe telehealth services create a competitive advantage, and I anticipate tremendous growth in the market as we continue to move toward more patient-centered solutions.”

 

The survey, which is based on responses from 171 participants serving at leading positions, also found that use of telehealth expands the reach and coverage of an organization as cited by around 84 percent respondents. The topmost barriers to telemedicine are believed to be licensure and reimbursements.

Over the next three years, there would be a rise in consumer demand that would push the growth of telemedicine as believed by approximately 50 percent of the respondents.

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Prescribing Abortion-inducing Medication through Telemedicine

Prescribing Abortion-inducing Medication through Telemedicine | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

For minor injuries and fever, the healthcare sector has witnessed a steady rise in adoption of telemedicine as it saves time and money. Recently, a study was conducted to see the impact on women after they were prescribed medication to induce abortion through telemedicine.

From January 2010 to December 2012, around 1,000 women participated in a research study wherein they underwent abortions using a telemedicine service, Women on Web. Through this service, the women were suggested only medical abortions which involves administering medicines to induce abortions, rather than a surgical abortion. Almost 95 percent of the women reported successful abortions, while a few complained about adverse effects such as surgical interventions or need for antibiotics.

The research was conducted in Ireland and Northern Ireland. As per the researchers, “early medical abortion provided through online telemedicine was highly effective. The reported rate of successful medical abortion compares favorably with the rates of those carried out within the formal healthcare system, both when mifepristone and misoprostol are administered in clinic and when mifepristone is administered in clinic and misoprostol is taken at home. The reported prevalence of adverse events is low, and, critically, when women reported experiencing symptoms of a potentially serious complication, almost all reported seeking medical attention as advised.”

A major chunk of women reside in countries which impose strict abortion laws and women are forced to administer unsafe methods to end unwanted pregnancies. Unsafe pregnancies are a major reason for maternal mortality. In the US, safety of women is cited as the main reason for offering abortion support through telemedicine.

The Irish researchers further stated, “Our results have important implications for the perception of abortion outside the formal health system using online telemedicine. Firstly, they clearly show that not at all abortions taking place outside the law are unsafe abortions. Secondly, they add an important dimension to existing evidence that women themselves report abortion through online telemedicine as a positive experience with benefits for health and wellbeing. Millions of women worldwide live in countries where self-sourced medical abortion is a potentially lifesaving option, and strengthening services outside the formal healthcare setting could be a vital component of strategies to reduce maternal mortality from unsafe abortion. Finally, given the trajectory of abortion policy in Europe and the US, the visibility, and importance of self-sourced medical abortion will continue to increase.”

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The Role Of Telemedicine In Mental Health

The Role Of Telemedicine In Mental Health | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

In a given year, one in five American adults is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. And more than half (56 percent) of the U.S. adults with a mental health condition do not receive proper treatment. While there are multiple reasons and issues keeping people from receiving proper treatment today, one variable leading to this statistic is access to quality care. Consider, for example:

  • 34.3 million American adults self-reported needing treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use, and/or needing mental health treatment 
  • there have been 4,627 designated mental health shortage areas across the country, leaving over 100 million people without adequate access to mental health services

Improving mental health in America is not a simple, one-time fix. It requires a re-thinking of how we define healthcare to include behavioral health, moving beyond the stigma so people feel comfortable seeking care, and the coming together of multiple stakeholders and experts to develop new ways to deliver that care.

While the industry works to address the issues that prevent widespread and comprehensive behavioral health services, many providers are looking to improve access to quality mental health care through telemedicine.

The Benefits Of Virtual Mental Health Programs

Data show virtual mental health counseling is at least as effective — and in some cases, more than — treating depression as traditional face-to-face. A University of Zurich study divided a group of 62 patients in half and found depression was eased in 53 percent of those given online therapy, compared to 50 percent who had in-person counseling. Three months after completing the study, 57 percent of online patients showed no signs of depression compared to 42 percent with conventional therapy (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013).

Additionally, a four-year Johns Hopkins study that included close to 100,000 veterans found the number of days patients were hospitalized dropped by 25 percent if they chose online counseling. This is slightly higher than the number of hospital visits experienced by patients who used face-to-face counseling (Psychiatric Services, April 2012).

For providers and patients alike, in addition to the positive health effects, there are numerous benefits to virtual mental health programs.

  1. Ease and convenience: patients and providers simply need a computer, webcam, and broadband internet access.
  2. Increased access: patients who live in remote areas, who are housebound, who have trouble lining up childcare, or just have too much going on in their lives to make room for regular therapy sessions, now have a connection to mental healthcare.
  3. Fewer missed appointments: patients are less likely to run into problems when they can meet from wherever they are (MDLIVE’s virtual mental health offering has a no-show rate of 3.5 percent, significantly lower than the industry average of 30-40 percent).
  4. Reach new clients: providers who offer services virtually can expand their reach to new clients across their state, not just within their local area.
  5. Customize care: leveraging a virtual platform, providers are able to turn their focus to how care is delivered through appropriately-timed assessments and tracking trends and progress over time.

From The Patients’ Perspective

For patients, access to a mental health services provider can be life-changing. While benefits of virtual mental health services differ from patient to patient, they can include: ease, convenience, privacy, access and increased choice and options. The services they need fit into their lifestyle, rather than the other way around.

  • Paulette in Nipomo, CA: “I was able to look through profiles of therapists online until I found one that matched what I was looking for. Now I am able to get the support I need, from an individual who is understanding, non-judgmental and knows how to talk to me — whether I am at home or on vacation. Having consistent access to this kind of professional support has reduced my stress and anxiety levels, and given me a sense of calm.”
  • Mary in Palm Springs, CA: “I used to do traditional face-to-face therapy, and found the inconvenience of getting there became a huge driver of stress for me. Now, I am able to see a professional I trust — while I’m sitting in my office on my lunch break. Having such easy access to the right support is helping me break down the barriers that exist from a history of stigmatization and hiding.”

While telemedicine alone cannot fix all the challenges that exist today when it comes to comprehensive access to quality mental health services, it does get us one step closer. By bridging the gap between providers and patients — and removing barriers to things like location, transportation and convenience — the industry can focus on addressing the obstacles that continue to stand in the way of achieving treatment numbers closer 100 percent.

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