IT Support and Hardware for Clinics
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News, Information and Updates on Hardware and IT Tools to help improve your Medical practice
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Cloud performance tests reveal the impact of location

Cloud performance tests reveal the impact of location | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

If a cloud-based EHR isn’t fast enough to meet the needs of hospitals and other medical facilities, quality of care will suffer, clinicians and support staff will become frustrated, and provider organizations operating on thin margins will have wasted valuable IT dollars on inadequate technology.

 

Several industry trends make it clear that providers are increasingly confident cloud-based EHRs can deliver data and applications at sufficient speeds because vendors have dramatically reduced latency. Epic Systems, the largest EHR vendor in the U.S., began offering cloud services in 2014 to medical groups and small hospitals. The company said in 2016 that it has seen a big shift among its customers toward cloud-based systems. One of those customers is University of California San Diego Health, which announced in August 2017 that it is migrating its Epic EHR to the cloud.

 

Cerner has also revealed that a number of healthcare systems are moving onto its hosted cloud environment. Inspira Health Network, a nonprofit healthcare organization that serves communities across New Jersey, and Bay State, an integrated health system in western Massachusetts health system, have both moved to Cerner’s cloud hosting model.

 

Another EHR vendor, Athenahealth, offers only cloud-based EHR services to its network of 56 hospitals and 106,000 providers that serves more than 100 million patients. Ellenville Regional Hospital in upstate New York, reports that running its EHR on a single network gives staff in all departments real-time access to patient records.

 

For health systems that will select their own cloud host, after considering the cost of strategic planning and security, the success of a migration ultimately rests on performance. Can EHR data, applications and services be delivered fast enough to support the needs of clinicians? Cloud performance is generally measured by average latency which represents the delay between the time when a client computer requests data and the cloud platform responds.

 

Tests have shown that distance between the cloud provider and the enterprise can have a significant impact on latency with delays of as much as 50 percent when the cloud is at a great distance.

 

Cedexis tested services and found distance was a leading indicator of performance

 

Monitoring company Cedexis performed tests throughout the United States that quantify this. Tests were performed on all of the major cloud platform vendors. The determining factor in latency performance was distance from the test client system to the servers at the cloud data center, with a deterioration of as much as 50 percent seen over longer distances within the same region.

 

For example, tests performed in the northwest region recorded latency was as low as 63 ms. when the cloud was near; a latency of 92 ms. was recorded on a cloud system at a greater distance from the test location. A test on cloud platforms in the northeast found 66 ms. latency on the low end and 78 ms. on the high end.

 

A number of vendors offer cloud performance tests that are free to be used during an evaluation process. One example is

 

CloudHarmony who offers a free service that will test performance for many of the leading vendors at a variety of their geographic locations. The test, at Cloud Harmony Speed Test will provide results for DNS query, downlink and latency.

Integration challenges


Migrating an EHR system to the cloud rarely is an all-or-nothing process. Rather, many healthcare IT managers are moving incrementally, evaluating the success of each application migration, learning from mistakes, and carefully preparing the next move based on need and experience. For example, some may decide to first migrate back-office or HR applications, and eventually, migrate clinical apps and billing data at a later date. Providers certainly can choose a one-shot migration to the cloud, but they run the risk of network and system disruptions, loss of productivity, and bandwidth limitations.

 

After cloud migration goals are set, computing models are chosen, and a migration plan established, healthcare providers can begin choosing a CSP (or more than one). For providers with concerns about potential latency issues, selecting a CSP with a hosted location close to the provider’s facilities makes sense. The provider’s IT staff and the CSP can then begin the cloud migration. This process involves addressing several integration challenges.

 

Perhaps the primary challenge is to prevent disruptions to systems or services during or as a result of the migration that would impact clinical care, staff productivity, or IT processes. Other challenges include protecting and backing up migrated data and connecting to and integrating disparate systems.

 

Integration may involve linking cloud-based apps and data with non-cloud apps in legacy systems. “An illustrative scenario could involve a multi-hospital operation which chooses to retain on-premises EHR for inpatient operations but wants to leverage public cloud services for geographically distributed outpatient clinics,” according to the Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC).

 

The CSCC argues that a successful cloud EHR migration depends on security and network connectivity.

 

“Whether you are ensuring insurance coverage for the public, developing the next generation of cancer drugs, or providing critical care/tier I trauma services, the new emphasis is being put on providing network availability, performance and security,” CSCC writes. “Although creating a highly available network might be expensive, those costs can be offset by the capabilities provided to the organization.”

 

The vast majority of healthcare providers today have moved or are moving applications, infrastructure, or development platforms to the cloud because they recognize the performance benefits and cost savings. For a cloud migration to pay off, providers must develop a realistic migration strategy and goals, choose the appropriate cloud computing and services models, find one or more CSPs whose services, support, and pricing match their needs and ensure that their networks have the bandwidth capacity to handle cloud-based workloads.

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5 advantages of cloud computing and how they can benefit your practice

5 advantages of cloud computing and how they can benefit your practice | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

While the specialty may vary, practices of all sizes across Australia are turning to the cloud to run their business. With the launch of Clinic to Cloud (C2C) in early 2015, over 1200+ healthcare professionals, operating from hundreds of different practices are now computing with our cloud-based platform. With new clinicians joining C2C daily, benefits of the cloud services are now being widely recognized and accepted as the norm.

 

So if you’re looking to open a new practice for the first time or hoping to migrate your existing practice to the cloud, let’s look at 5 advantages of cloud computing and how your practice can benefit:

 1. Staying in touch

Cloud computing is storing and securely interacting with data over the internet, rather than your computer or local server. That puts connectivity and real-time data as the clearest advantage of working on the cloud. Yes, someone changed the WIFI password without telling you or the careless construction worker nearby didn’t check before drilling. However, one can argue that servers fail and files get lost. The internet is truly an essential resource, which is why it has become so readily accessible and available from multiple sources, smartphone, portable WIFI device, personal connection, net hubs at cafes, offices and even some commercial planes will essentially keep you connected.

 

What does this mean for the clinician? Not only that your data is stored in state of the art datacentres, as long as you are connected, but you can also run your practice.  Control you practice on-site, from home, hospital, on break at your favorite café or even on the flight to your next medical conference from a desktop or mobile device. Full connectivity anytime, anywhere – this is the cloud.

 

  1. Tools of the Trade

Smartphones, tablets, and ultrabooks are essential tools for any busy working professional. With top cloud services offering dedicated mobile apps, working on the go also means working with your indispensable devices. Like the stethoscope to the physician or the scalpel to the surgeon – The Clinic to Cloud App gives you the tools to stay conveniently connected with your practice whilst on the go. For time-poor clinicians, buying time during your super busy schedule comes from having your entire practice visible from your smartphone.

 

  1. That new software smell

Top cloud providers are regularly updating and improving their software. The moment updates are released, they are made available for the benefit of all customers. You would have noticed those design changes and new features on your social media account without you manually needing to install or upgrade anything. Simply log in and updates are there. Clinic to Cloud follows suit, we typically update every 3 to 4 weeks to better user outcomes and reduce practice costs. On release date, all our subscribers then benefit with the best part being at no extra cost. For the clinician - you are not wasting time having to update your practice software or pay for often expensive IT support to run updates. It’s cloud and it’s simple.

 

  1. Soft on the Wallet

Moving to the cloud can save you large capital expenditure, as you do not have to purchase expensive servers and other I.T hardware to host your data or run your software. Accessing your cloud application, in many cases, simply requires an internet capable device (smartphone, tablet, or computer) and an internet connection. Not to mention, local servers also have expensive on-going maintenance and repair costs and backup requirements as well. Clinic to Cloud does not require complex IT infrastructure and server equipment with messy cabling disrupting the feng shui of your practice. A modern desktop or laptop computer and you are on your way to the clouds.

 

  1. Security and Data

One of the concerns with Cloud is typically security and many are concerned about the safety of Cloud hosted software applications. Although we understand the feelings behind the concern, studies have shown that the cloud is safer than on-premise servers that are susceptible to virus and hardware failure and data loss daily. Cloud solutions can be compared to Airline travel; they remain the safest way to do business.  At Clinic to Cloud, we have taken additional security measures such as to Factor Authentication and high levels of encryption.

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8 Health IT Trends to Watch

8 Health IT Trends to Watch | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

“We’re in the middle of an incredible moment in the healthcare industry, where expectations and standards are shifting.”

 

That statement was part of the opening remarks from Cerner’s Senior Vice President of Population Health John Glaser at the 2017 Cerner Health Conference. His position was a strong one: The industry, he says, is shifting from reactive sick care to proactive health management, from fragmented niche care to a cross-continuum care system and from reward for volume to reward for quality, efficiency, and safety.

 

Today, we’re watching as the physician, long considered to be at the center of the healthcare universe, is moving aside in favor of the consumer.

 

These shifts aren’t happening in a vacuum: They’re touching in every area of the industry, and they are reshaping the way the business of healthcare is done. Here’s a look at some of the top trends that will push the industry forward in 2018.

 

Consumer-centered health care


We talked a lot about the rise of consumerism in health care over the last year, and that train is not going to slow down in 2018. Increasingly, we're seeing people wanting to have a more active role in managing their own health and care (this is particularly clear when we consider the rise of mobile health apps and wearables). They expect the same level of information, detail, and options that they have in other industries when it comes to making purchase decisions, and there is a rising call for data transparency and access.

 

While there have been some great strides toward empowering the individual with healthcare organizations working to improve the patient experience, we're still waiting for the healthcare industry to wholly adapt to the needs of the consumer.

 

At Cerner, we recognize this as a new era, where the consumer will, at last, join their own health care team. That's why, at this year's CHC, Cerner President Zane Burke announced that we’re making a free consumer-directed health record available within our clients’ enterprise portals, providing individuals more control over how their data is used and shared. Each patient will have his or her information compiled on their behalf and can direct the use of that information to create their own experience.

 

The era of the consumer is here – and it’s time for the healthcare industry to embrace that.

 

IoT


From controlling the thermostat on your phone to monitoring your health with technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the way we work, live and interact with the world around us. IoT has been a popular phrase in health care for the past few years, but today, the conversation is shifting. The primary issue now is understanding how we can take the plethora of big data available from connected systems and tailor it to provide person-centric care.

 

Moving forward, we need to harness the potential of IoT to drive better efficiencies. From a data collection perspective, the advantages of connected medical devices are vast. When we can provide data bridges from disparate health care systems within a single organization, we’re making critical patient information more accessible to clinicians and care teams and ultimately impacting patient outcomes.

 

Through the use of IoT devices, we have the opportunity to deliver true virtual care for chronic condition management, virtual visits, and other care coordination activities to streamline and benefit the patient. Connected devices enable more real-time insights and health status for a person.

 

“IoT is tied to consumer enablement, which ranges from remote patient monitoring to mobile applications,” Hamilton says, “and it certainly includes the ever-increasing trend of telehealth, which isn’t going to go away.”

 

Artificial Intelligence


“Intelligence isn't a new idea,” Glaser said at CHC. Our cars tell us when the oil is low, and they’ve been doing that for years. But we’re about to take a significant leap in the intelligence of our devices. We’re already seeing this with products from companies like AWS, Azure, and Google.

 

We're in the early stages of seeing how artificial intelligence will play out in the healthcare industry. One example is in precision medicine, an approach for disease treatment and prevention that accounts for individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. This approach relies heavily on big data analytics, where machine learning algorithms and precision molecular tools make it possible to understand the mechanisms of disease and match up individual problems with personalized treatments. The implications for genomics and precision oncology are significant.

 

We’re also beginning to see AI algorithms affect and enhance medical imaging. These algorithms find patterns in images, identifying specific anatomical markers and scoping details that the human eye can’t – while simultaneously combing through a patient’s history, helping clinicians make efficient and quick diagnoses. The future of AI in health care won’t see clinicians being replaced by machines but rather empowered by them.

 

Big Data


“Data is the new oil,” Andreas Weigend, Amazon's former Chief Scientist, said recently. It’s a bold statement, but he has a point: Big data and cloud technology are changing how we interact with data, and previously untapped data sources are now attainable.

 

One of the greatest examples of big data’s implications for the healthcare industry is in predictive analytics, where data is used to identify behavior patterns in a patient or population and forecast outcomes. For example, when EHR data is organized into meaningful groups, such as social determinant factors, it can help predict hospital readmissions and can shed some insight on strategies to improve readmission rates.

 

This power to affect additional value and efficiencies within a hospital setting is no small thing. Perhaps most critically, these newfound big data insights are pushed to those that can make a difference: clinicians and care team members. Acute and ambulatory decision support, for example, can be enhanced by creating an empowered care team with a clear picture of the patient, thanks to increased access to patient data that's built directly into the existing daily workflows. And big data has exciting implications for precision medicine.

 

Whatever route organizations hoping to take with big data, it's clear that it will be a catalyst for change for the better good and health of society.

 

Data governance


As organizations begin to share data across departments and with other health systems, there can be a few questions: Who owns this data? Have the appropriate parties consented to its release? What are the rules, conditions, and terms of data sharing?

 

“Data governance is a huge thing that organizations are struggling with right now, even as they try to solve for it,” says Hamilton. In a recent survey, only 44 percent of hospital leaders said they had data governance capability across their entire organization, while 56 percent said they had inefficient governance standards.

 

What organizations really need is a governance strategy that everyone understands and can abide by, Hamilton says. In the future, we’ll see more and more healthcare organizations looking for help from external experts to create and refine their data governance protocol and practices.

 

Open platform development and API usage expansion


Open data access and increased interoperability are continuing to clear the road for development in health IT (HIT) – particularly when it comes to academic medical centers and rural health care systems. This trend will only continue to grow as open standards, like SMART Health IT and the HL7 FHIR standard, encourage a new level of collaboration and innovation.

 

As the FHIR standard matures, we’re going to see an explosion of new apps that can integrate with EHRs to help improve workflow efficiencies and achieve better outcomes. Application programming interfaces (APIs) offer direct programming access to the underlying health IT system and enable 'app' developers to create tools that can ingest EHR data and provide new services to consumers.

 

In a previous blog post, Cerner's Dr. David McCallie discussed how, through projects like SMART® on FHIR®, providers are becoming familiar with APIs that support customization of the EHR experience. However, API access is not limited to providers. A new class of APIs will give consumers the ability to access their health information on demand via apps of their choice. These APIs are emerging thanks to consumer demand, and they are also driven by major regulations coming into effect – particularly Meaningful Use Stage 3.

 

Consumer-directed access will place control of personal health information in the consumers' hands. APIs that allow the transfer of discrete data will help drive the advancement of interoperability by delivering more specific data where it makes sense within the workflow, in a way that positively impacts outcomes.

 

UX and health IT


On the coattails of the rise of consumerism in health care is a growing emphasis on integrating user-centered design into healthcare products and solutions. To optimize any solution, user experience (UX) must be engineered in at every step of the solution design process. This way, the experience for the HIT user – be they a clinician or a patient – should meet or exceed their expectations.

 

Cerner's Vice President of User Experience, Paul Weaver, discusses the integration of UX design thinking and health IT through the example of mobile health apps. "When you think about consumer apps today, there is a huge amount of competition to get people's attention," Weaver says. "If you search for a notes app on the Apple store, for example, there's probably a few hundred for you to choose from. So, if I'm an app developer, how do I design the app of choice?"

 

The answer, Weaver says, is by providing a quality user experience.

 

"In the health space, historically, this has been a little bit of a walled garden," he adds. "You go to a health provider, and they give you a link to the app they want you to use, and there's no choice in the matter." It's the responsibility of the UX team to think about that application in the context of all their other solutions available so that whatever they're designing sits alongside its contemporaries in an equal level of quality.

 

UX is about more than just creating user-friendly applications. It’s a state of mind – a perspective that favors taking a human-centered approach to creating solutions. "That's what we're starting to achieve here," Weaver says, "and we're on the cusp of it becoming real for our end users, which is fantastic. How there be anything more exciting than an application that actually helps your health?"

 

Payer-provider convergence


One of the most significant trends in today’s market is the blurring of roles between providers and payers. As the industry shifts toward value-based care, it should become increasingly easy for payers and providers to collaborate at the point of care. A person’s relevant medical history, including medications and treatment plan, should be available to both the healthcare provider and payer – that way the patient’s insurance benefits are included in the provider network and are in sync. Shared access to this data means that clinicians are empowered to provide the right care at the right time to the right patient.

 

That’s payer-provider convergence in theory – but the reality is that there are two dynamics happening in tandem.

 

“You've got providers trying to take on characteristics of a payer because they’re doing at-risk relationships, and you’re seeing the payers making a direct play into the provider market,” says Ryan Hamilton, Cerner’s Senior Vice President of Population Health. Recent moves, such as UnitedHealth’s Optum purchasing DaVita Medical Group and Amazon’s push into pharmaceutical distribution, suggest that the trend of payers and providers merging together will continue to rise.

 

Along the same lines, there’s a lot of interest right now around provider network management – and that focus is only expected to grow. “How you actually recruit, manage and maintain a high-quality network of providers is and will continue to be a huge focus for our client base,” Hamilton says.

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Avoid Clinical Data Loss

Avoid Clinical Data Loss | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Have you checked your clinical data backups in the last four weeks? Do you have a signed document from your IT vendor agreeing to your patient confidentiality policy? Finally, as a business owner or manager, do you know what security policies and technologies are in place to protect your patients’ data?

 

If you’ve answered no to any of those questions, then you’re not alone and unfortunately, your business might be at risk.

 

43 percent of the health businesses audited by REND Tech Associates in 2013 believed they implemented adequate security measures in their businesses. However, our audit results told a different story.

 

One of the costliest technology risks to a healthy business is the failure to recover current patient data easily and promptly. The inability to do so can have severe medico-legal implications for health businesses and their patients. Such risk is always linked to the backup policy that businesses chose to implement.

 

To minimize the risk of not being able to recover your patients’ data when you need it most, I suggest contracting an eHealth engineer to design and tailor a backup plan unique to your business and available technology.

 

The second major source of data loss risk is the unauthorized access to clinical patient data by IT vendors. Whilst we can agree that not all IT vendors actively choose to access clinical patient data, there have been cases reported where practices and health businesses have faced legal actions due to their inability to provide signed confidentiality agreements from their IT vendors and staff.

 

If you don’t have a signed document from your eHealth engineer stating that they meet your patient data access policy then you need to obtain one now.

 

If you’d like a confidentiality agreement template then please feel free to call us and we’ll be able to send you a generic template.

 

The third security risk to health businesses is the unauthorized access of patient data, which we all commonly know as hacking. However, most health business owners or managers aren’t aware that half the hacking cases reported aren’t external hacks but internal ones.

 

An internal hack is when an unauthorized staff member or stakeholder within the business is able to access clinical or business data that they are not supposed to.

 

To remove the internal hack risk from your business you can implement a few simple steps. The first step is to ask the clinical staff not to share their passwords with other staff members. The second tip is to ensure that no one except the business owner, manager and IT vendor can access the server. The third tip is to audit your business IT platform every 12 months. It is important to have an external eHealth engineer audit your current IT platform and check the level of service that your IT provider is delivering.

 

Ongoing regular audits ensure that your business is protected from downtime due to technology failure, medico-legal complications due to unauthorized data access and most importantly, ensuring that you can always use your backups when needed.

 

If you enjoyed this article and would like more useful tips, then I’d encourage you to visit our website for more useful articles, tips, and recommendations.

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Technological Updates For Every Hospital 

Technological Updates For Every Hospital  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Every health care facility has a need to maintain optimal technological efficiency. In a high-pressure environment, every second counts and organization is integral for overall efficiency. To ensure that your hospital stays updated instead of being left behind by constantly modernizing technologies, integrate these five updates for keeping the hospital functioning and efficient.

1. Virtualization

Storing applications and documents in physical servers is an unnecessary risk today when virtual storage is so ubiquitous for optimal security. By storing everything necessary to keep the hospital running smoothly, including applications, programs and records, in the cloud rather than on a hard drive, you not only provide better security for the hospital, but also free up space on hard drives to ensure that systems can run as smoothly and quickly as possible.

2. Core Content Management

Rather than storing electronic health records on outdated special purpose systems, connect all health records to a core content management center. SharePoint and Alfresco are excellent options for managing documents and content from a central system. This allows hospitals to maintain optimal organization and record-keeping reliability.

3. System Synchronization

To ensure that data is organized in a unified way, use context management strategies to synchronize systems so that separate programs and applications can come together at the user-interface level. This modern standard is referred to as Clinical Context Object Workgroup (CCOW), and essentially means that a user only has to edit or identify a subject once in order for the change to be implemented by all apps in that system. This is often combined with Single Sign-On (SSO) integration, which allows for a single user to sign on to all applications in a given system simultaneously with a single user name and password. The benefit of synchronizing systems and apps with CCOW and SSO is that information can be exchanged fluidly between various apps, decreasing chance of human error when it comes to confusing data neglecting to update records.

4. Location-Based Tracking

With modern tracking capabilities, it makes sense to expect equipment to be able to track itself in order to increase security. Location-based awareness means that logins can be allowed or disallowed based on location and equipment can be programmed to respond to certain locations by enabling or disabling specific features. These capabilities maximize security and broaden the potential for hospitals to customize systems.

5. HTML5 and JavaScript

As the final version of HTML was released in October 2014, web and mobile applications should be updated to HTML5 from the old HTML 4. HTML5 allows for greater integrations and enhanced functionality compared to HTML4, which will soon be phased out. Hospitals can supplement the benefits of HTML5 with JavaScript, which allows for animation and interactivity. With these updates, hospitals can remain up to date with the latest breakthrough in technology language, including the greater flexibility with the ability to work offline.

 

Phasing out outdated technology to make room for modern, updated systems and applications makes a world of difference in the overall functionality of any environment. When security, efficiency and organization are priorities, these five updates can help ensure that hospitals get the most out of their technology.

 
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7 Must-Have Features For Your Medical Clinic Website

7 Must-Have Features For Your Medical Clinic Website | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

In 2016, we are all plagued with an overabundance of information. For most of us, we want to find out only specifically what we need to know, and ignore the rest.

This is especially true for patients who are searching for a doctor online. According to the Pew Research Center, 80% of Internet users look for health information online, including 44% who search for physicians or health professionals.

 

When a patient visits your medical clinic website, they really want three things:

 

-To find out the important details they need to visit
-To feel in control of their experience
-To get a sense of who you are, and see if they trust you

With this in mind, here are 7 essentials you need to have an engaging, attractive medical website:

 

1. Patient Forms 



Make it easy for patients to schedule appointments, register and access important forms before they arrive at your office. Placing the registration form under a “New Patient” tab will make it easy to find.

 

2. News and Updates

Refreshing your site with recent news and updates will help build an online presence and allow patients to feel comfortable that their doctor is up to date on current issues. It will also help your practice rank higher in search engines, making it easier to find.

 

3. Contact Information

Prominently display contact information on every page, preferably in the top right corner, or at the bottom of the screen in the footer. Ensure also that you have entered your details onto Google Maps so that your clinic is showing up in location searches.

 

4. Patient Resources 



Providing patients with valuable content on popular health topics and link to trusted resources to give your patients the most up-to-date facts available. If there is a recent topic that is concerning people, you can also provide some general tips on these. This will help you build trust with your patients and show you as an up-to-date expert.

 

5. Services, Insurances, Payment Options

Most visitors will be interested what services you provide or insurances you accept. Making this information easy to find by having tabs at the top of the screen listing ‘Services’ and ‘Insurance’. You can also note whether there are special financial arrangements available, and whether you take cash.

 

6. Mobile Friendly Interface

According to an article by Search Engine Land, more searches now occur on mobile devices than any other platform. For this reason, your website should be viewable on all mobile browsers. Most website templates these days offer a mobile view, so this is not usually an issue, but is very important that your website is easy to navigate on a cellphone as it is on a computer screen.

 

7. Social media links and plugins. 



In a recent article by Forbes it was shown that Facebook now drives more online traffic than google searches. By having clearly displayed links to web site to your clinic’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube channel if you have any or all of these.

 

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Benefits Of E-Prescribing For Hospitals

Benefits Of E-Prescribing For Hospitals | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Many hospitals have switched to using e-prescribing for patient medications. If your hospital hasn’t gotten on board, this may be the time to change your prescribing practices. 

 

A recent blog post from healthcare tech vendor Medsphere discusses the benefits of e-prescribing.

 

The biggest: It keeps patients healthier. The World Health Organization estimates that around half of patients worldwide don’t take their medications as prescribed.

 

Not surprisingly, that has a negative effect on patient outcomes – contributing to readmissions and even death.

 

E-prescribing involves less patient legwork, which may make it more convenient for them to get their medications. When prescriptions are filled electronically, patients have 10% improved medication adherence, according to a study from e-prescribing provider Surescripts. Other research shows similar positive results.

 

Another big benefit to e-prescribing: It’s easier for pharmacists to read prescriptions. And that takes many risks out of prescribing medications, such as errors caused by misinterpreting a provider’s messy handwriting.

 

While some errors involving manual prescriptions are minor, others can significantly affect a patient’s condition. Research has shown that e-prescribing can cut down errors by over 60%, and it’s especially effective for avoiding serious errors that could cause patient harm.

 

Even better – the reduction in adverse patient drug events saves money in many ways. There’s a lower chance of readmission, which means hospitals aren’t using as many staff hours to treat patients. In fact, according to Surescripts, facilities can save anywhere from $100,000 per year for small hospitals to over $1 million each year for larger ones.

 

Besides lower costs, other benefits to e-prescribing include a more efficient workflow and better access to patient information through the system. Improved access can help hospitals spot drug-addicted patients who are “doctor shopping” so they can receive prescriptions for controlled substances.

Questions to ask

Typically, hospitals that send prescriptions electronically do so through their electronic health records (EHR) systems.

Whether your facility is looking to implement an EHR that sends e-prescriptions (which is a requirement for meeting meaningful use objectives), or it’s switching systems and needs different e-prescribing capabilities, here are several questions you need to consider, according to Medsphere:

 

  • Is the solution easy to use for providers? If the e-prescribing program isn’t user-friendly for clinicians, they’re likely to bypass the system and write prescriptions manually anyway. Plus it can slow down workflow and contribute to errors. Make sure you consider doctors’ needs when purchasing a solution.

 

  • What systems do the pharmacies we work with use? Compatibility issues can prevent prescriptions from being transmitted correctly. Double-check with the pharmacies where your hospital sends prescriptions most often and ask how they transmit information – and what network you should be using.

 

  • Is the network secure? You don’t want any sensitive patient protected health information to fall into the wrong hands while transmitting a prescription. So it’s smart to huddle with IT and your vendors to find out what technology is being used to encrypt and protect e-prescriptions when they’re being sent to pharmacies.

 

  • How do we introduce e-prescribing to patients? If you’re just starting to use an e-prescribing system, patients may not be familiar with the concept. Older patients may be especially upset if they don’t receive paper prescriptions. It may be a good idea to explain the details of e-prescribing to patients. And initially, clinicians may want to give them a printed document to take to the pharmacy when they pick up their medications.
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The Healthcare Internet Of Things: Becoming A Reality

The Healthcare Internet Of Things: Becoming A Reality | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Technology is becoming more sophisticated:

 

 As connectivity expands, new mobile devices and wearables – that offer far more sophisticated biometric, fitness and wellness tracking – are entering the market. For example, these more advanced technologies are tracking and reading muscle activity; utilizing spectrometers to measure nutrition in food; keeping tabs on electroencephalogram (EEG) levels; and measuring exposure to ultraviolet light. What is even more interesting, however, is the fact that consumer electronics, wearables and clinical devices are continuing to take on new physical forms – including digital tattoos, under-skin implants and smart contact lenses.

 

Additionally, devices are beginning to better communicate with one another, as we build out interoperable networks. This is the key principle behind the Internet of Things, in general. The possibilities for this growing interconnected network of devices are endless and include:

 

  • Connected refrigerators monitoring food input and output;
  • Connected thermostats that self-adjust temperatures to body heat metrics;
  • Televisions that can connect to real-time data dashboards breaking down your health and recommending consultations with your physician, dietician, therapist or personal trainer;
  • Light bulbs that automatically adjust the emission of UV light to stress levels and time of day.

As these innovative technologies collect a broader array of clinical and fitness data, the information gathered is becoming even more vital for health care companies.

 

Data is being integrated and converging to create a holistic picture. Devices passively capturing more data (biometric, activity, etc.) will continue to integrate together to give a comprehensive overview of a person’s health. In the future, when bringing together biometric data with detailed activity data that extends far beyond what wearables and devices currently offer, insights not previously thought possible will emerge.

 

For example, data from a car related to erratic driving combined with speech patterns from a smartphone can provide detailed insights on a person’s stress level. Taken a step further, analytics programs could integrate that data to help predict a manic episode in a person with mental health issues.

 

Technology partnerships are proliferating. Technology partnerships are vital to creating an interconnected world of devices and interoperability.  Companies are relying on specialized technology vendors to add increased capabilities to their products instead of building it all on their own. Case in point: Polo Ralph Lauren created a connected t-shirt. But the company did not build the sensor technology that already exists. Instead, they focused on their core competency, apparel, and partnered with a technology vendor to add the health tracking sensors.

 

Non-technical and consumer companies will continue to partner with technology companies to add health-focused capabilities to their product or services. We have seen these partnerships are regularly emerging with phone companies, sports teams and automotive companies. 

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Healthcare IT Is Getting Sexy & Fashionable 

Healthcare IT Is Getting Sexy & Fashionable  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Many of us have been following the wearable industry in healthcare.  Many of us have been influencing the wearable industry in healthcare.  Whichever the case, it’s true that HealthIT is getting sexier each day.

 

Some people will wear gadgets because of the practicality of them.  For example, some wear watches because it gives them the current time and date.  

 

Others wear watches because they make them look cool or rich.  And others do it for both reasons.

I belong to the latter group.  I like the practicality of the wearable but I also like the looks.

 

As of today, I’ve owned most of the modern wearables: Fitbit, Moto 360 and several Samsung Gear devices.

 

The Fitbit is OK but it’s still not a gadget I can show off.  Moto 360 is the one I hide under my sleeve in order to not be perceived as an eccentric geek (which I am).

 

There are few health management apps on it but I’m expecting them to grow.  Personally, I’m creating an app for diabetes self-management.  Of course, I am not going to market this app due to regulatory restrictions but I’ll try to get it into a proper product development work stream in the near future.

 

But like everything in technology that breaks bad:  I just can’t wait to see what the Apple iWatch will look like.  But it must be the sexiest thing in the world of gadgets.

 

Apple did it with the music gadgets.  Remember the Walkman?  Apple turned it into the sexy iPod.  Remember the Blackberry?  Apple turned it into the sexy iPhone.

 

I can bet on this fact:  Get the people to wear the gadget because it’s cool and sexy and then all other applications of it will follow through.

 

But don’t ever think that your cool and sexy health application will on its own be adopted if it doesn’t help conquer the next loved one!

 

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The IT Benefits Of Cloud-Based EHR Systems

The IT Benefits Of Cloud-Based EHR Systems | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

With cloud-based EHR systems, practices benefit from economy of scale. Many providers use the same system to minimize or eliminate redundant costs.

 

When choosing an electronic health record (EHR) system, providers have the choice of hosting the software on their own network (client-server) or an EHR system where the software is hosted on a remote server accessed through the Internet (cloud-based). While both systems have advantages over paper records, cloud-based EHR systems offer significant benefits to small practices over the client-server model. Let’s examine some of the IT advantages cloud-based EHRs bring to the table.

REDUCED STARTUP COSTS

The cost of setting up a client-server EHR is a significant hurdle to a small practice.  The startup costs can range upward of $40,000 just for a single practice. With cloud-based EHR systems, practices benefit from economy of scale. Since many providers use the same system, redundant costs are minimized or eliminated.

LOWER INFRASTRUCTURE AND IT COSTS

Client-server EHRs require the practice to purchase or lease expensive hardware. Practices must hire IT staff or pay for the services of IT personnel to set up, test, maintain and upgrade the hardware and software.

With a cloud-based EHR, all of the costs of running the system are covered by the EHR vendor or hosting company. There are no hardware, network or maintenance costs to the practice over the typical equipment setup required to run a medical care business.

COST PREDICTABILITY

The costs of a client-server system can lead to unpredictable costs. If the server crashes or an upgrade goes wrong, the practice’s emergency fund takes a hit, or worse. Cloud-based EHR systems have consistent costs that allows the practice owner to feel confident in their financial projections. The practice simply pays a monthly or quarterly access fee, much like the fee for phone or Internet.

SIMPLER IMPLEMENTATION AND SCALABILITY

The process of setting up and testing a client-server EHR is more complex than cloud-based systems, and scaling up as your practice grows usually requires additional equipment or licensing costs. Under a cloud-based EHR the practice personnel access the system through a secure web site or client software installed on their computers. Gaining capacity is simply a matter of contacting the EHR vendor and adding more users.

BETTER PATIENT DATA SECURITY

If your practice currently relies on paper records for storing patient data, imagine what could happen if you had a fire, flood or other disaster. Insurance covers new equipment, but patient data is irreplaceable. While practices with client-server EHRs generally have off-site backups, the data is vulnerable during transport and the practice must pay extra for storage costs. Cloud-based EHR records are transferred using secure encryption and backed up in multiple locations automatically at no extra cost.

 

While it might make sense for a large medical institution with a network and IT staff already in place to adopt the client-server model, we believe new practices and small health care providers looking to move away from paper records or change EHR systems will receive the greatest benefit in going with a cloud-based solution.

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Is it ok to store my clinic data in the cloud?

Is it ok to store my clinic data in the cloud? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

If like me you enjoyed gazing out of the window at school, watching the clouds go by during double maths this is for you. Everything seems to be in the cloud these days; music, pictures and all the app things I use to try and make my life a little easier. But as much as I enjoy gazing upwards what is it all really about? What does it mean for you and your clinic? Let’s start at the beginning.

What is the cloud?

In the simplest terms, the cloud means storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive. That’s probably almost as much as you need to know but please read on!

 

When you store data on or run programs from the hard drive, that’s called local storage. Everything you need is physically close to you, which means accessing your data can be fast and easy, for that one computer. But there are downsides. When information is only stored on your computer’s hard drive you are at risk from all of the usual dangers in life; coffee spills, loss of computer …. computer dying, I’m sure we all have stories along those lines. So what does it mean to have your information in the cloud?

 

Well, “The Cloud” is a buzzword that suggests everything is floating in the sky. But the reality is that the cloud is not floating above our heads, it is a physical infrastructure, its many computers all over the world. Unsurprisingly many people don’t take the time to wonder where their data actually goes or how it gets there they are just happy that it works.

What are the benefits to working in the cloud?

Working in the cloud can allow your clinic to be nimble, efficient and cost-effective. If your clinic quickly needs access to more resources, it can be scaled up quickly in the cloud. Also, if you experience any of the events mentioned above which would have a serious impact on your business your information will be safe as it’s not directly inside the damaged or lost computer. I hope that all makes sense now? Now for the really clever TM3 bit.

Cloud and Data storage

At Blue-Zinc we have a systems team who manage and develop the TM3 business cloud and as we are always trying to improve things we came up with the best possible solution available. The team has taken the flexibility of the cloud but rather than having your information roaming on random servers somewhere your data is stored in the UK (data centres certified with ISO 27001 and ISO 9001) on dedicated servers which Blue-Zinc own and the guys lovingly maintain and polish on your behalf. Security patches are regularly applied to our servers to ensure that any vulnerabilities are patched as soon as they’re identified. In addition, the SQL server database with encrypted VPN services gives users the highest levels of security available and all data is automatically backed up for you!

Feature-rich private practice software

So, with TM3, you have flexibility and safety all in one. It also means that you have access to our other cloud services Pronto, Online bookings and many more features which 10,000 practitioners worldwide enjoy on a daily basis. So, for now, my head might be in the clouds but at least I know where my data is!

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What is telemedicine involved and how much does it cost? 

What is telemedicine involved and how much does it cost?  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Now that the use of telemedicine is surging to an all-time high, organizations can easily get lost in implementing the technology just to stay on top of the latest and greatest, but it is easy to get lost in the vast amount of telemedicine technology and equipment options available.

 

If you are researching your telemedicine options, applying for a grant or just need to put your budget plans together, here are six key elements and associated costs for you to consider.

1. Medical Devices for Specialties

The specific medical devices you need may vary depending on the specialties you plan to serve with telemedicine. The good news is you don't need to have all the answers right away because many equipment providers have scalable and modular telemedicine systems. This means you can purchase just what you need to get started and then add additional devices later on as your program expands into additional specialties. 

 

The cost of medical devices for basic primary care services can range from $5,000-$10,000, and this would include devices such as an examination camera, ENT scope, and digital stethoscope.

2. Communication Platform and Video Conferencing Needs

How you plan to manage the patient-to-remote encounter is also a key component to consider for clinical telemedicine applications. Since you are communicating a patient's critical diagnostic data, the optimal choice is to do it securely and in real time. After all, the beauty of telemedicine is the functionality to have a live interaction between a patient and a remote specialist.

 

AMD Telemedicine recommends using a Web-based encounter management portal to communicate and aggregate medical device data and share it live with the remote physician. This is truly the best way to offer telemedicine services that are as close to an in-person visit as possible. For video conferencing, it is best to first evaluate any video conferencing investments your organization might have already made to see if these can be leveraged for your current application. Many times they integrate seamlessly with encounter management platforms.

 

Depending on your video conferencing needs, you can complement a Web-based telemedicine portal with either software- or hardware-based video conferencing. To go the software-based route can cost as little as $1,500 per patient site with no cost for the remote provider. The cost for hardware-based video conferencing can start around $10,000 per patient site and increases with the number of remote provider sites you need.

3. Packaging Design and Mobility

Telemedicine carts, cases, wall mounts, and other equipment are all just various ways to package the telemedicine hardware and software. Although there is a difference in how aesthetically pleasing they are (or are not), the main thing to keep in mind is whether this packaging will fulfill your intended use, not just now but also in the near future.

 

Ideally, you want a telemedicine cart or case that is modular and can be easily configured for additional medical specialties so it can evolve with your program. For some applications, such as school-based health centers or long-term care facilities, it is helpful to select a telemedicine system that is an all-in-one package. This helps streamline the purchasing, maintenance, and support for those that don't have a dedicated IT team for their telemedicine programs. All-in-one telemedicine systems that include the telemedicine software, primary care medical devices and the mobile cart/case can range from $20,000 to upward of $28,000.

4. Bandwidth and Internet Connection Recommendations

You may be pleased to know that you don't need to invest in a significant infrastructure overhaul to make telemedicine a reality for your clinic. Of course, your specific needs will vary depending on factors such as location and size or your organization, but the most important consideration is not how much bandwidth you need, but rather how reliable and consistent your bandwidth is.

 

The most common Internet connections are shared with others, which can cause the upload and download speeds to lag and be interrupted at busy times. So finding a reputable Internet service provider with a commitment to reliable service is the first step. If possible, purchase a business-grade service so you experience a more consistent bandwidth capability to ensure your real-time data is not interrupted or compromised in any way.

5. Training

You already staff your organization or practice with top-notch doctors and nurses, so the next step is to provide these health care professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to best make use of your new telemedicine technology in daily operations.

 

Fortunately, clinical telemedicine equipment training isn't a complicated need to meet, especially if your staff has any familiarity with basic medical devices and modern communication technology.

 

There are two types of training programs to ensure the long-term success of clinical telemedicine programs: user training for clinicians and nurses, and technical training and installation for the IT staff. Training programs like these can range from $200 to $2,000 per site depending on the complexity of equipment, the number of users and other factors. Additionally, the American Telemedicine Association is a fantastic resource for training and education.

6. Support

Finally, the increased reliance on network connectivity and Internet technology at your office means that you'll need to ensure that you have adequate IT staff support. This is likely more of a concern for smaller practices that may not have an in-house IT department. It's a good idea to talk to your telemedicine vendor to determine if it provides installation services, as well as what technical support options are available if you don't have an IT staff of your own.

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Doctors Software for Clinic Management  

Doctors Software for Clinic Management   | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Clinic business is extra complicated than ever, with Doctors Software for Clinic Management, you get easy solutions for each part of your routine work, from scheduling appointments to billing. We take care of your business by providing the perfect solution so you take care of your patients more efficiently. Doctors Software for Clinic Management was designed with the help of a medical doctor and clinic staff to make it a fit choice for your working environment. Our Doctor’s module is easy to use. Connection with Labs, Pharmacies and more, make your work easy and quick and it works the way you work.

 

Doctors Software for Clinic Management is an efficient and automatic way of dealing with health facility with options like Doctor’s appointments, administrative activities, patient’s treatment history, diagnostics information, and billing, etc. Doctor’s software for clinic management is good for a hospital with single/multiple locations. It was developed keeping in mind the small and medium-size polyclinics too, and the focus was especially on portability and ease of use. Doctors Software for Clinic Management covers most of the standard features often found in software made for clinics or hospitals.

 

Ease of use, manageability, multi-user functionality, the fast information retrieving in Doctors Software for Clinic Management are exemplary as compared to other such programs. Deciding to use Doctors Software program based on the cloud platform is very cost effective for the clinics. Doctors Sofware for Clinic Management is a good choice for the small as well as huge hospitals or clinic setup. It requires no much expenditure on equipment, hardware or trained IT staff. Those are the resources that a health facility, assisting an in-house IT setup to have to utilize, which are costly. This optimized Doctors Software for Clinic Management is updated, configured and maintained within the cloud through the skilled IT professionals. The users are, hence, free from the burden. It results in price saving and the staff pays attention to the main functions of the Clinic.

 

Easy to use, and Efficient

Doctors Software for Clinic Management gives rapid, simple and easy solutions for the Hospitals or Clinics to manage daily tasks. It allows for streamlining report generation, inventory management, patient management, employee’s attendance and other tasks. Doctors Software for Clinic Management smoothly integrates with your workflow. This cloud-based software program easily distinguishes scheduling for different physicians and a simple interface that consists of tabs for speedy switching across different features and functions. With these features, an easy to use patient portal, detailed reporting, and customizable workflow, Doctors Software for Clinic Management covers the various aspects of clinic management and administration.

Doctors Software for Clinic Management is very easy to use, and effective software program to control the management process of clinic or hospital. This Software Program is one of the best for individual Doctor Clinic or a hospital. In case you are looking for easy to apply and easy to keep software in your clinic or small health center, this software program is best for you. At a very affordable price, you not only get the software but also free training and support from our company.

A Product of EVision Techno Services

Doctors Software for Clinic Management is a Module of EVision’s Hospital Management System.

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Latest Technologies Improving Patient Outcomes

Latest Technologies Improving Patient Outcomes | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The Affordable Care Act has encouraged hospitals and other medical facilities to invest heavily in new technology that will improve patient outcomes and increase the number of lives saved on an annual basis. The best solution to produce a cost-effective, yet high quality experience has been to create technology that will prove to be more efficient in the near future. Through closely watching chemical reactions and choosing laboratory air stirrers of the highest quality, the improvement of healthcare technology has been based solely on evidence of what works and what is desired among the medical community. Based upon this assessment, below are three types of upcoming technology that will affect healthcare in a positive manner.

 

Mobile Stroke Units

Mobile stroke units have been highly invested in to provide critical medical care before ever arriving at the hospital. Mobile telemedicine enables staff members to perform blood tests, CT scans, and TPA tests on injured victims. Mobile stroke units are expected to save thousands of lives and radically improve patient outcomes.

 

New and Improved CT Scanners

 

Old CT scanners will soon be replaced by a new model of CT scanner that can capture a faster and clearer photo in one shot. Prior to this technology, many patients were often turned away for having heart beats that were too quick to take the CT scan. As of now, this CT scan can capture a photo of the heart in one shot. As a result, more people can benefit from the CT scan and more people can get an accurate reading on their health.

 

Cancer-Seeing Glasses

A new form of high-tech glasses has been designed to be worn by surgeons during an operation. This technology has been shown as helpful in identifying cancer within patients. The glasses are able to detect cancer cells based upon the blue glow that appears to the trained eye of the surgeon. Cancerous cells and healthy cells are normally difficult to distinguish. These high powered glasses increase the magnification and can spot cancerous cells at even an early stage. These glasses, if used in every hospital, could reduce both the time and money that is necessary to treat cancer and significantly improve patient outcomes.

As healthcare costs account for around one fifth of the United State’s annual GDP, technological investments have been deemed the best way to cut costs while improving the overall quality of healthcare. Investment in technology is predicted to be significant for the future as patients will be getting better in a faster amount of time. Within the next few years, healthcare technology will expand as long as investment and efficiency continue to flourish.

 

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How Your Clinic Can Get Benefit From An Online Scheduling Software 

How Your Clinic Can Get Benefit From An Online Scheduling Software  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Throughout the years, we have had numerous requests from our clinics for an option to have patients book their appointments online. We researched different ways in which we could do this. Originally, the plan was to link with a third party online booking software. We were unsuccessful in finding one that had all the options we were looking for, nor did they store their data in Canada. We then decided that the best course of action would be to write our own Online Scheduler.

 

Having the ability for your patients to book appointments online is beneficial for both the patient and the clinic.

 

The biggest benefit to your patients is that they can book their appointments at any time, from anywhere. No longer will they have to wait until working hours to try and reach someone at the clinic to book their appointment over the phone. Patients can book appointments from the comfort of their own home, office, or even from their mobile device.

 

Patients will be able to book their appointments directly from your website. They will fill in their name and contact information, and select the type of appointment they wish to book. They can then request an appointment date and time. The patient is never shown your schedule; they only have the option to request a date and time. If that particular slot is unavailable, the patient will be asked to select from available nearby appointment times, or to select a different day.

 

The Online Scheduler is completely configurable, and can be accessed through Clinic Essentials at any time. You can control when to allow your patients to book online as well as what type of appointment they have available to book. When the patient sends their request for a particular appointment, you will access it from the View Online Appointments button on the scheduler. You can then Accept or Decline the appointment, and send the patient an email notifying them their appointment has been accepted or declined.  The appointment will then be added to the Appointment Scheduler.

 

With your patients booking appointments online, you not only have increased traffic to your website, but you and your staff can focus on what is most important; patient care.

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Protecting Your Personal Data Stored In The Cloud

Protecting Your Personal Data Stored In The Cloud | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

IT professionals, healthcare executives, and clinicians in hospitals, health systems and clinics around the world are expressing great interest in moving more of their organizations’ IT applications and services to the public cloud. The concept of having a more flexible, scalable, cost-effective means to provide information communications technologies for their business both today and well into the future is very appealing. However, in order to make such a move, these same organizations must be extremely confident that any cloud service provider they do business with maintains the highest possible standards for data privacy and security.

 

This week, Microsoft announced a major milestone. Microsoft is the first major cloud provider to adopt the world’s first international standard for cloud privacy. That standard is known as ISO/IEC 27018. It was  developed  by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to establish a uniform, international approach to protecting the privacy for personal data stored in the cloud.  That Microsoft meets the new ISO/IEC 20718 standard for Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online has been independently verified by the British Standards Institute (BSI). Similarly, Bureau Veritas has done the same for Microsoft Intune.

 

ISO 27018 assures enterprise customers that privacy will be protected in several distinct ways. Adherence to the standard means that enterprise customers are in control of their data according to the instructions that they provide Microsoft as their customer. It means that they will know what is happening with their data at all times. In addition, the standard provides a number of important security safeguards. It also affirms Microsoft’s longstanding commitment not to use enterprise customer data for advertising purposes. The standard also requires that law enforcement requests for disclosure of personally identifiable data must be disclosed to an enterprise customer unless this disclosure is prohibited by law. Microsoft has already adhered to this approach (and more), and adoption of the new standard reinforces this commitment.

 

For health organizations, Microsoft has also been a model for meeting the information privacy requirements of HIPAA and for signing Business Associates Agreements with health customers who use the company’s public cloud resources. All of this should give healthcare customers who entrust Microsoft with their data the highest levels of confidence.

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Philippe Thuaud's curator insight, July 12, 2016 10:20 PM
A new ISO/IEC 27018 standard for cloud privacy. Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM meets the requirement and has adopted this new standard
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A Wireless Doctor In Your Pocket 

A Wireless Doctor In Your Pocket  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

A combination of disposable wireless sensors and smartphones is about to make health care more personal, immediate, and affordable. New solutions are emerging that harvest real-time health data and respond with on-the-spot warnings or suggestions. This technology will not only produce better outcomes, it will help extend the benefits of modern health care to people in developing countries and keep consumers everywhere better informed about the latest health products and practices.

The disposable wireless sensors being developed and commercialized by Gentag, Inc. are a good example. The sensors are intended for use by consumers and come packaged as either skin patches or specimen dipsticks. Gentag believes there is a huge global market for sensors that can be mass-produced, are easy to use, and work with popular smartphones and tablet computers.

Unlike telemedicine, which was conceived to conquer distance, Gentag’s technology is mainly about immediacy. Consumers can use skin patches and dipsticks at their convenience in their homes and workplaces. Smartphone apps provide instant feedback and can automatically forward results to caregivers. Problems can be spotted in their earliest, most treatable stages and therapy can begin at once.

Disposable sensors offer significant savings over traditional solutions. Most of the sensor designs lend themselves to high-volume mass production. They work with smartphones that consumers already have or are expected to have in the near future. And disposable wireless sensors avoid the costs associated with traveling to and using outpatient labs.

Gentag’s skin patch sensors typically consist of printable chemical strips and near field communications (NFC) chips. The chemical strips can test and measure parameters such as body temperature, skin moisture, and (with the aid of microneedles) blood glucose. NFC makes collecting the results as simple as a waving a mobile phone over the skin patch. (NFC sensors don’t require batteries because the phone provides the power.) Using NFC to read a sensor also helps avoid human error. Dipstick sensors can test specimens such as urine for pregnancy, prostate cancer, and other conditions.

The disposable wireless sensor-smartphone combination can be used to manage serious medical conditions. A smartphone app for managing diabetes can collect blood glucose readings from a skin patch containing microneedles and send commands to an implanted insulin pump. The app can determine when insulin is needed and whether a delivered dose was sufficient. The app can also take into account time of day, food consumed, and the patient’s past responses. Gentag hopes that skin patches with microneedles will free children with Type 1 diabetes from having to stick themselves several times per day.

Gentag’s dipstick sensor technology can detect very specific medical conditions. Monoclonal antibodies are used to produce biomarkers for particular pathogens, allergens, cancers, and drug toxicity. There are potentially thousands of biomarkers that can be detected. The urine test for prostate cancer mentioned above uses biomarkers.

Disposable wireless sensors offer additional benefits to makers of consumer health products. Manufacturers can deliver increased value by bundling disposable wireless sensors that help customers use their products more effectively and efficiently. When customers download the free apps that are required to use the disposable sensors, they identify themselves and establish direct communications with the manufacturers.

This is a big deal, because until now non-prescription consumer health products were nearly always purchased anonymously. Free smartphone apps can be used to gather demographic data, to gauge customer satisfaction, and to learn more about how customers use specific products. The apps can also be used to deliver electronic coupons, new product announcements, and health tips. Most manufacturers are likely to conclude that it’s worth the cost of giving away disposable sensors and smartphone apps to learn about and communicate directly with their end users.

There is another intriguing potential benefit of disposable wireless sensors. Modern medicine is highly information-driven, but most physiological data is collected when patients visit a doctor or emergency room. With Gentag’s technology, data can be gathered from people as they go about their daily activities. Large scale tracking of physiological data could help health care providers detect epidemics earlier and more accurately identify the warning signs for specific medical problems. Disposable wireless sensors and smartphones should also make clinical trials easier for both participants and researchers.

Technology is often blamed for the high cost of health care. However, technology has proved essential to driving down costs in industry after industry. By diagnosing health problems earlier and enabling patients to manage medical conditions at home, disposable wireless sensors and smartphones will help produce better outcomes at lower cost. It’s a bit like having a doctor in your pocket.

 

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How To Reduce Healthcare Consumers' Anger ?

How To Reduce Healthcare Consumers' Anger ? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

However, I am not angry at my doctor, my insurance company, the government, or with "the computer." I'm exasperated with the so-called professionals who installed the computer system in my doctor's office. Unfortunately, the incident I'm about to describe isn't one-off.

 

American healthcare's reliance on information technology is an unprecedented and relatively recent change. To make sure that this change is not only "meaningful" but transformative, means it must be done right. Sometimes, more often than necessary, it isn't. Healthcare IT professionals are frequently at fault, and I'd like to recommend how we can do better.

 

A few weeks ago, I called my physician's office and requested that it send a drug refill to my mail order pharmacy, because I would run out before my next office visit. Soon the office called to say that my doctor had sent the order. Great! I would have my prescription in a couple of weeks. Worry free, I could continue my road warrior job traveling to hospitals to help them make sense of the rapidly changing health IT environment. Or so I thought.

By the day before Thanksgiving, I still had no drugs. I was about to run out.

 

I went to my pharmacy's web site and learned -- ouch! -- that it had never received a prescription. Of course, I could not contact my doctor because of the holiday, not even by the following Monday; the staff had been given an extra day off to enjoy their leftover turkey.

 

"Worry free" time was over. On Tuesday, the office receptionist instantly discovered the issue. "Oh! I see what happened. We just changed computer systems and some people's pharmacies didn't get converted right. Your prescription went to the wrong mail order pharmacy." After various back-and-forths, guess what else she uncovered? The new system had reverted me to a three year old address.

 

Now I was angry and still am. This isn't personal. Of course, I "fixed" the immediate problem, forking over an extra $25 co-pay after a few days of heightened cholesterol. No, my anger is about professionalism, or lack thereof, in my chosen field – healthcare IT.

 

As an IT professional, I KNOW this should never have happened. The fault is not with the physician's office, the mail order pharmacy, nor even with the physician's parent health system -- because converting all their physicians to an EHR platform shared with the hospital was a very good idea. No, my finger is pointing at the implementation project manager for a software vendor that I won't name, and a project manager at a consulting firm that I can't name either. One or more of these people bungled their jobs in at least one of these ways:

 

  • Deciding to convert data from the old system to the new system and not doing it right.
  • Neglecting to review the results of the conversion before loading it into the new system.
  • Not having a valid testing/quality methodology to catch the mix-up, or more likely just not making sure it was properly applied.
  • Deciding to go live before the time was right. The project manager perhaps didn't know this, and so failed at his/her job. Worse, perhaps he knew of the conversion issues and didn't have the backbone to call them out and fix them before a go-live that would potentially put patients' health at risk.

IT vendors and consultants must be trusted partners in hospitals' solutions, not perpetrators of needless mistakes and risk. This is healthcare, not Macy's. When we get IT wrong, people can die!

Over my 20+ year career, I've seen a lot happen in healthcare IT. Most of it has been good, but some of it was scary, like the folly described above. When it's scary, it's usually also needlessly expensive. Those expenses eventually roll back to consumers. Hmmm…aren't ever-increasing costs a central element to consumers' anger with our healthcare system? Aside from their frequent frustration with scenarios such as my Thanksgiving experience?

 

Healthcare IT professionals can do better and should. Those who are passionate about their work care whether prescriptions get filled, diagnoses are correctly recorded, and the right healthcare is delivered. They do not see themselves as technicians, but as accountable care-delivery partners with physicians and clinicians. But many consultants and project managers don't go that additional mile or two of accountability -- one that should never be considered "extra." Let me share some principles I've learned that everyone in healthcare IT can benefit from if they really want to contribute to better US healthcare.

 

1. In healthcare IT, be careful with the Pareto principle. There's not a project I've been on where design decisions about how to get an 80% bang for our 20% buck weren't considered. This happens, especially in workflow design, where the healthcare environment is so complex you just can't get to the 100% level.   But you cannot take the same shortcuts with data. If the healthcare data isn't right, bad things happen:

 

  • Physicians rely on inaccurate (and missing) data to make clinical decisions that can injure or kill. There are many reasons for morbidity and mortality in healthcare. Information technology shouldn't be one of them.
  • Incorrect bills that exasperate patients and payers get submitted, which take time and money to fix. If too many of those bad bills get to CMS, it won't be heaven that breaks loose.
  • Items get missed. For example, charges go AWOL, causing the hospital not to be reimbursed. CFOs want to know why their revenue has dropped…CEOs and Boards want to know a lot more.

2. Eliminate unwarranted data conversion costs. Hospitals often spend ten to 100 times what it would have cost to get it right the first time. I'm working with a hospital now that experienced a flawed patient records conversion from their previous billing system. This blunder has required the hospital to maintain their previous billing platform for six years, just to have a place to look up that data. They've paid hardware and software costs, spent immeasurable IT hours just keeping the old platform running, and wasted easily as many billing hours sorting out master patient index issues. Maintenance of this legacy mess is not sustainable. Doing the right thing now – switching to a new platform and converting exactly no patient data is going to be painful, especially when reregistering patients for the first time. The hospital is wisely making this move, after immense unnecessary spending.

 

3. Watch for what you can't see. It's as important as what you can, but a lot harder to verify. It's much easier to find a duplicate charge -- even the payers will be nice enough to point these out – than a missing charge. Once you find the latter, you have to go looking for others like it, and you're likely to discover far more than you feared. A while back, during a random quality audit, my team discovered one account that appeared to be incorrectly adjusted. While the account was in the right queue to be worked, no one had noticed the problem because the payer's incorrect adjustment put the account at zero balance. Because work queries were set to ignore $0 balance accounts, this issue would not have been found were it not for the random audit.

 

4. Outliers are the most critical data. That account I mentioned previously? Once we looked further, we found almost 7,000 accounts over two years that had the same issue. We could have fixed about 90% of them with a query. It was the 10% outliers that hurt. The billing team had to touch all of the affected accounts to correct the write-offs, and refund several hundred patients who were mistakenly billed a balance after the primary payer's error rolled to the secondary payer. Assumptions that all the cases fit a certain pattern lead to dangerous shortcuts.

 

5. It doesn't matter how good your systems are if your processes are poor. I can't count the times I've been called to fix a system issue that actually was a data issue, and that the precipitating problem was the process set up to maintain the data needed by the system. Some examples:

  • Security issues where employees who were terminated had their accounts removed, but physician accounts were left active, because physicians weren't "employees."
  • Hours spent researching why something isn't working, only to learn that the test and production systems (their lookup data) were different, because no one was maintaining the test system.
  • Issues where a queue of missed charges piled up (unseen, of course) because apharmacy interface required a perfect match between the pharmacy system and the charge master, and no one was working the interface rejects list.

6. Finally, it's just as important to push for no-live as for go-live. No question, this is a difficult scenario. You're putting in a new system. You've worked nights and weekends and equally pushed your team in order to make the go-live date. Now, you have to walk into a formal go/no-go decision meeting, complete with all the hospital's executives champing at the bit. As the project manager, you are responsible for making sure that the no-go option really is an option. Remember my previous points: bad data = big costs, and in healthcare if we don't get it right, people can die. Letting a system go live before it's ready is as close to malpractice as letting a patient go home who isn't ready. I've made the no-go decision twice. I even lost my job one of those times. No one died, and the company is still in business. 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

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

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Tablet Computers For Healthcare Professionals

Tablet Computers For Healthcare Professionals | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Considering where I work and what I do, my clinical colleagues often ask me for advice when they are shopping for a new computer. Most doctors and nurses are going to be happiest with some kind of mobile solution.

 

After all, doctors, nurses and other clinicians are always on the move. A desktop just doesn’t cut it for most of us who work in healthcare.

 

Tablet computers and convertible devices that can function as tablets, laptops and (when docked) even desktops, are becoming increasingly popular in clinical settings.

 

But all such devices aren’t created equal, especially when you consider the privacy, security and connectivity needs of enterprise healthcare environments. That’s something that has become all too clear for clinicians who in recent years have purchased one of the most popular consumer tablet devices on the market and brought it into work, only to find that it just didn’t deliver what’s needed in that setting.

 

Fortunately, there are now many good choices in tablet devices that will measure up when used in clinical settings. They are available from a  wide variety of manufacturers and come in screen sizes and at price points that are a good match for clinical use.

 

For starters, we’ve come up with some key criteria to help define what we believe works best in healthcare and what you should consider before buying a new device. These are also considerations that IT professionals must consider when purchasing devices to deploy in clinical settings. I like to call this “clinical grade”. 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:

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

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