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Sony Suffers Further Attacks

Sony Suffers Further Attacks | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Sony has been attacked again, with a distributed-denial-of-service attack gang claiming credit for knocking the company's PlayStation Network and related store offline.


Visitors to the PSN sites - which support multiplayer gaming and distributes Sony's movies and games - have instead been seeing the following error message: "Page Not Found! It's not you, it's the Internet's fault."

Sony says via Twitter that it's aware of the outages: "We are aware that users are having issues connecting to PSN. Thanks for your patience as we investigate."


A hacker or gang called Lizard Squad claimed credit for the attacks in a Dec. 8 message posted to Twitter at 12:29 a.m. GMT. The disruption follows the group in recent days claiming that it disrupted other gaming networks, including Valve's Steam, and Microsoft's Xbox Live. And Lizard Squad says the disruptions are just a "small dose" of what it has planned for December. "Unlike Santa, we don't like giving all of our Christmas presents out on one day. This entire month will be entertaining," the group tweets. The gang previously claimed credit for a series of August DDoS attacks against Sony, as well as for a tweet about explosives being aboard an American Airlines flight on which Sony president John Smedley was traveling, which caused authorities to divert the flight. No explosives were found; the FBI launched a related investigation.

Lizard Squad has been cagey about its motives and declined to say who's funding its DDoS attacks against gaming networks, saying only that they're "interested parties." But whoever's behind Lizard Squad claims that it previously sold "DDoS as a service" to the public, starting at about 300 euros ($370) per hour to disrupt a site.

Sony's Latest Security Setback

The PSN and Sony online store disruption is only the latest of many information security setbacks for Sony, following a massive hack attack against Sony Pictures Entertainment, which resulted in attackers obtaining what they claim are "tens of terabytes" of Sony corporate data and digital media, as well as using wiper malware to erase an unknown number of Sony employees' hard drives and "brick" their computers, which prevents them from booting.

Sony has not responded to repeated requests for comment about the hack, for which a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace - or G.O.P. - has claimed credit.

To date, G.O.P. has reportedly leaked about 40 GB of stolen Sony data, which remains in circulation on BitTorrent networks. The data includes exhaustive lists of Sony's passwords for social media networks, private details for 47,000 employees - including the Social Security numbers for Expendables star Sylvester Stallone and other actors - as well as other HR-related information, including copies of disciplinary letters and termination notices, Mashable reports.

Sony employees recently also received an e-mail, allegedly from G.O.P., warning them that "your family will be in danger" unless they signed their names to an e-mailed petition in support of the hacker's activities. The e-mail also stated that the attacks and leaks to date were "only [a] small part of [a] further plan"'. The attackers declined to elaborate on what that plan entailed.

'Unprecedented' Attack

In the wake of the attacks, many information security experts have been asking if Sony's defenses were sufficient, and whether it should have been able to rebuff attackers. Furthermore, much of the leaked data appeared to be stored in unencrypted format, and security experts say many of the passwords being used by Sony - which were also leaked - were weak.

But a report into the investigation from digital forensics investigations firm FireEye, which was hired by Sony to investigate the attack, suggests that the hack attack that victimized Sony Pictures Entertainment would have compromised most organizations. "The attack is unprecedented in nature," Kevin Mandia, chief operating officer of FireEye, says in a Dec. 6 report addressed to Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton and also distributed to Sony employees, The Wall Street Journal reports. "This was an unparalleled and well-planned crime, carried out by an organized group, for which neither SPE nor other companies could have been fully prepared," Mandia says.

One explanation for the Nov. 24 hack attack - and subsequent data leaks - is that it was commissioned by the government of North Korea, in retaliation for the forthcoming comedy The Interview, in which a tabloid TV reporting team, heading to Pyongyang to interview dictator Kim Jong-Un, are approached by the CIA to kill him instead.

While referring to the film as a "terrorist act," North Korean officials have denied having any ties to the Sony hack. But in a statement issued Dec. 7, a spokesman for the country's National Defense Commission referred to it as a "righteous deed" that may have been launched by its "supporters and sympathizers."

Still Suspected: North Korea

The FireEye investigation team, however, says North Korea is "likely linked" to the attack, three anonymous sources with knowledge of the FireEye investigation tell the Journal, citing as partial evidence the Korean-language and timing of builds - which correspond with working hours in North Korea. But other security experts have said those details could also be "false flags" planted by attackers to fool investigators.

New details about the attack continue to surface. Citing people with knowledge of the investigation - who spoke on condition of anonymity - Bloomberg reports that the Sony data was first leaked from an IP address tied to the five-star St. Regis Bangkok hotel, located in the capital of Thailand, at 12:25 a.m. local time on Dec. 2. But it's not clear if the attackers may have been working from the hotel, or merely routing their data via its systems.

Information security researcher Liam O Murchu at Symantec tells Bloomberg that at least one of the command-and-control servers used by attackers to communicate with the Sony PCs they'd infected with their malware - known as both Destover and Wipal - used an IP address in Bolivia that was also used in the 2013 Dark Seoul campaign that targeted South Korea banks and broadcasters. South Korea has attributed that attack to North Korea, although multiple security experts interviewed by Information Security Media Group have suggested those allegations have not been fully confirmed.

"This is the same group that was working in Korea a year ago," O Murchu says. "There are so many similarities - this must be the same people."

Anti-virus vendor Kaspersky Lab likewise reports seeing "extraordinary" similarities between the wiper attack against Sony, Dark Seoul, and the 2011 "Shamoon" attack against Saudi Arabia's national petroleum and natural gas company, Saudi Aramco.



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Kyle Greene's curator insight, October 18, 2017 12:08 PM

This article addresses the hole in Sony's security covering the Playstation network. Sony has been on the receiving end of multiple attacks over the years, and it is because cyber security was never really prioritized in the past. Now Cyber Crime is on the rise and Sony need to find a way to prevent DDoS from occurring, because it has lost them a lot of revenue.

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Bridging the Gap Between eHealth Vision and Current Realities 

Bridging the Gap Between eHealth Vision and Current Realities  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The rise of health-related technology solutions is correctly perceived by healthcare professionals as a revolution that will ultimately drive improvement in patient care and increase practice efficiency. This efficiency improvement allows providers to take on more patients and increase profits. It seems like a win-win situation for patients and providers but unfortunately, there are barriers to the adoption of telehealth, telemedicine and mHealth (mobile health) that will take some time to overcome.

What are the adoption barriers in Australia? Why does eHealth offer great potential for Australians? How can we roll out eHealth solutions that benefit healthcare providers and their patients?

 

Go Digital

Perhaps the most visible “challenge” of technology in healthcare was the attempted introduction of personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR), now rebranded as myHealth Record, in 2012. Despite costing $1 billion, adoption rates by Australians were around 20 per cent, with even healthcare providers unsure how to implement the system in their practices. In 2016, policymakers have decided to introduce an opt-out system where all Australians will have an account automatically unless they deliberately cancel it. This may increase perceived adoption rates but actual usage is another matter entirely as clinicians have yet to see value in it. Targeted training and national promotional campaigns are expected to reverse this trend.

 

With the correct security policies in place, changing from paper-based data to a digital format is not only advised, it is essential, especially in a technological age where collaboration is possible between healthcare profession, their colleagues, specialists and patients. When patient care is the focus, relying on couriers or fax machines to share documents is far less effective than many other solutions available today, such as video conferencing, remote diagnostics and health monitoring devices, for example.

 

Early adoption

Hanging on for dear life to obsolete paper-based methods is a mistake when you consider that even government legislation is driving a conversion to digital. It is the early adopters that will succeed, surpassing the efforts of their competitors in keeping pace as legislative requirements evolve. Early adopters are open to change, can easily adapt their processes to meet changing needs and, yes, will also be more efficient. Whether it is the use of practice management software to simplify administration and store medical records or the sharing of data for consultation with specialists in another region, those who rely on paper-based processes are at a disadvantage. Early adopters and the forward-thinking entrepreneurs that provide working solutions to the healthcare industry all encourage Australians to embrace new technology that will provide tangible benefits to all, not only by improving efficiency and level of care but also streamlining processes and increasing practice profits.

 

Technology

Perceiving future trends, an increasing number eHealth firms that bridge the gap between ideas and products is turning vision to reality, providing a wide range of solutions that solve tangible issues in a country where patients are often located a long distance from healthcare providers. These include but are not limited to:

  • Data availability – The use of cloud-based solutions allows any browser-based device to access on-premise data from anywhere. The use of permission-based access ensures all data is safe and can only be viewed by your healthcare professional
  • Integration of practice management data with medical record storage (including X-rays and images) and compliance with industry and legislative requirements
  • Remote home-based health monitoring for patients with ongoing conditions
  • Video communication with colleagues, patients and specialists for quick diagnostics
  • Patients can monitor themselves using mobile apps or specific hardware that uploads data to your healthcare provider in real-time
  • Secure storage and backup of all data that far exceeds paper-based file storage that is easily compromised or destroyed
  • The use of mobile clinics – a fully equipped mobile clinic can perform as well as its on-premise counterpart if the correct technology is implemented

 

The use of these solutions can result in reduced clinic visits without impacting on care levels, allowing clinicians to prioritise clinic time for those who need it. It is only a matter of time before all clinics adopt technology to eliminate the problems associated with the long distances between clinics and their patients. Some will go on the road with mobile clinics and perform their tasks in exactly the same way as from the main clinic. Others may prefer long-distance video consults. It really doesn’t matter what process is used as long as patient care levels are maintained, data is secure and all processes comply with industry best practices.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Online Healthcare Can Reduce Your Printing Costs

Online Healthcare Can Reduce Your Printing Costs | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Arguably one of the biggest expenses in a healthcare business is contributed to the toner and paper costs.

Although a lot of clinics are now moving to a “paperless” practice, printing is still a requirement for prescriptions, reports and referrals.

 

On average, a medical centre prints 900 pages per month per provider and close to 1600 pages per month per reception desk.

The average printing costs per page are around the $0.04 per page which is roughly $432 per year per provider. This does not consider the costs of the drums, repairs, paper and ongoing troubleshooting.

 

Working with our printing partners we have come up with a few effective steps which will reduce your printing costs and increase the lifecycle of your printers.

 

Standardise The Printers

The most effective way to reduce your printing costs is to ensure that all the printers in the clinic are of the same brand and model. This means that you can acquire the toner at a cheaper rate (buy in bulk) and service and support the printers at a lower cost.

 

Use Original Toner

Although it is tempting to acquire the cheaper toner from the web, it is important to know that the original toner can guarantee more prints which equates to a lower cost per page and more importantly, using the original toner will not affect your printer.

Aftermarket toners are made with low-quality products which will damage the drums, sensors and other parts of your printer. Ultimately by saving a few dollars per month on toner, you are reducing the lifecycle of your printers.

 

Acquire High-Quality Printers

You get what you pay for right? Make the initial investment a good one and you will give yourself a high 5 for years to come.

What you need to look for is a printer with a long product life for the toner, drums and other parts. Most personal printers cost less than the toner and that is because they are manufactured to be replaced within a short amount of time.

In terms of high-quality printers, they will last for years and if you were to look at your investment across a 3-year span then you will see that high-quality printers and toner will cost less over that period.

 

Consider A Print Management Solution

This is new on the market and it is where you don’t pay for the printer or setup but rather pay a monthly fee against the usage.

For example, you want a top-tier printer which comes at a cost of $600 and you calculate that you will need $600 worth of toner in the first year.

Over a 3 year period, you will spend $2400 on the printer and toner. This excludes any repairs or maintenance.

A print management solution will give you the printer and all the toner you need and base it on a cost per page. Usually 1 or 2 cents per page. The solution also covers any repairs and replacement to the printer.

This means that at the end of 3 years you would’ve paid less and ensured that you didn’t need to replace the hardware.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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What is involved in telemedicine and how much does it cost? 

What is involved in telemedicine 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 healthcare 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, a 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.

Navigating the waters of telemedicine can be much easier with the help of industry experts working alongside you and your clinic's employees.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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What Software Is Needed In A Medical Office

What Software Is Needed In A Medical Office | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Many medical and clinical offices are progressing to computer-based organizational systems for their offices. Filing, billing, and prescription services are all online now in a majority of practices, subsequently making offices run more efficiently and reducing stress for patients.

If you are preparing to open a new medical office or upgrade your older system to a computer-based one, here are six of the software programs and services you’ll want to look into.

 

Top 6 Medical Office Software Tools for Your Business


There are many different software programs and packages available to suit your needs, depending on your type of practice. Here are 6 ways to schedule patients faster and more efficiently:

 

1. Electronic Medical RecordsThere is a reason that it is difficult to find any medical office that still uses a paper filing system for patient records. Electronic Medical Records, or EMR software, makes all the information you need instantly available without the worry of a page or note getting lost.

 

2. Electronic Prescription software-Prescription software can be integrated with your EMR of choice to automatically submit prescription orders and save time filling medications

 

3. Medical Billing Software Medical billing software can also be integrated with your EMR software to create instant invoices for services rendered. Most billing software also includes the ability to file insurance information and accept credit and debit card payments.


4. HIPAA SecurityIt is always necessary that you have a good security suite to protect your clientele’s extremely sensitive personal information. For any medical office your security system must meet all HIPPA standards.

 

5. Accounting SoftwareAccounting software is designed to help you handle your inventory and general expense accounts without the need for professionally trained and educated accountants.

 

6. Recovery SoftwareIn the event that your computer comes down with a virus, or your computer’s hardware fails in any way, it is very important that you have a system in place to automatically back-up your data to an outside source and restore it when your computer issues are solved.


Keep in mind also that it is very important that you have a decent technical support plan in place also for all of your equipment and software to get you back up and running in case any issues with your programs should arise.

 

How to Reduce Stress in a Medical Office
You will need a scheduling program that automatically protects against common scheduling programs such as double-booking, understaffing, and patient no-shows.

Scheduling software can help you manage patient and staff schedules and send automatic reminders so your patients don’t miss their next appointment.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Getting Patients to and from the Clinic or Pharmacy Just Got Easier with Uber Health and Lyft 

Getting Patients to and from the Clinic or Pharmacy Just Got Easier with Uber Health and Lyft  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

In the ever expanding world of health information technology ridesharing leaders are getting into the game. Uber Health and Lyft are now offering patient transportation, pharmacy pickup and EHR integration.

 

Uber Health allows healthcare providers and caregivers to request rides for their patients. Rides can be scheduled up to 30 days in advance, or can be booked on-demand. Booking requests are made via text message or phone call, so patients are not required to have a smart phone to participate. The service is HIPAA compliant.

 

There are already more than 100 customers using Uber Health, including MedStar Health, Collective Health, LifeBridgeHealth, and Manhattan Women’s Health.

 

Lyft is integrating with Allscripts Sunrise EHR to cut down on missed appointments. The EHR integration will allow prompts from Allscript’s EHR to ask the patient if they need transportation automatically when an appointment is scheduled. Clinicians will then see real time scheduling updates and the ETA of their patients. This niche service has huge potential. According to the Washington Business Journal, missed appointments cost US providers and insurers upwards of $150 billion a year.

 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans are also expanding their partnership with Lyft that provides no-cost transportation to enrolees who request a ride to pick up their prescription at Walgreens or CVS. This program is currently in pilot in Pittsburg, with CVS picking up the bill, and Chicago with Walgreens picking up the bill.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Why every healthcare clinic should have digital displays

Why every healthcare clinic should have digital displays | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Healthcare clinics provide invaluable services to millions of patients every day. Yet with hectic schedules, unexpected emergencies and inevitable wait times, a day at the clinic doesn’t always go as expected.

 

Digital signage helps healthcare clinics improve the patient experience by sharing engaging and entertaining content. With screens in lobbies, waiting rooms and offices, relevant ads and information flows throughout the clinic to inform and entertain patients.

5 ways digital displays help patients and staff members

1. Make wait-times more bearable

In clinics, patients often perceive wait times as longer than they really are. Streaming the news, social media feeds and other media feeds entertain visitors to reduce perceived waiting times.

2. Educate patients with infotainment

A trip to the doctor’s can be stressful, especially with health concerns on patients’ minds. Digital screens are used by clinics to educate visitors with informative content to encourage patients to monitor their own symptoms and prepare questions for their upcoming visit.

3. Keep customers up to date

With digital signage, healthcare facilities easily update patients on what’s new at the office, including recent hires, additional services, opening hours and upcoming office closures.

4. Improve caregiver services with updated information

Digital displays inform employees of room schedules and changes, internal information and facility updates, all in real-time. Alerts can also be displayed on the screen to quickly react to emergencies.

5. Help patients and visitors find their way

It can be difficult to navigate a large medical facility like a hospital, especially in stressful situations. With numerous floors and countless hallways, interactive wayfinding kiosks and screens help patients and visitors find their way.

The added benefit of added revenue from digital signage

Not only can digital signage improve the patients and visitors experience, but it gives healthcare facilities the ability to make additional revenue. With a fairly long dwell time, clinic screens are well suited for brands and advertisers to promote their products.

Waiting room audiences also often have similar needs and interest — everyone waiting for the dentist will have oral hygiene on their mind. This means advertisements can be targeted to the right audience, benefiting brands with better ROI and patients with more relevant information.

Ready to add digital signage to your healthcare clinics? Here’s how:

1. Install your screens

Start by deploying a digital signage network. Individual clinics may not necessarily need this step, as they only have one screen to manage. However, clinic owners with multiple locations should have every screen connected through a digital signage network.

2. Schedule your content

Determine what content you want playing on your screens. Consider how long patients are in front of the screen, what content they will be interested in and what kinds of brand messaging would benefit them.

3. Create your content

From staff bios, wellness tips, promotions and informative messaging, creating your own content can give your clinic an edge and bolster communication with patients and visitors. 

4. Sell your ad space

Ad space can either be sold directly to the advertiser through one-on-one conversations or through automated programmatic purchasing. While direct sales are the traditional way to sell digital out-of-home advertising space, more buyers are looking to buy screen time through automated bidding systems.

5. Subscribe to a service

No time to create and manage your own content? Join a network that will install your screens and deliver effective, targeted and educational content to your patients.

 

Ready to get started with digital signage in your healthcare clinic?

From improvements in patient care to added revenue, a digital signage network enables you to do more with your screens.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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Recording clinical data in e-clinic

Recording clinical data in e-clinic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

There are many ways to securely and accurately record clinical data in e-clinic, and the method you choose is largely a matter of personal preference. We look at all the options below, including Word templates, PDF forms and hard-coded clinical questionnaires.

1) Appointment notes

Some practitioners simply choose to make free format notes which are linked to the appointment record. e-clinic also lets you to set up your own appointment notes templates, allowing you to order your notes into sections and complete text for each section. An outcome can be recorded for every appointment. Appointment notes are logged with the date, time and practitioner and can be securely locked. You can also makes notes on phone calls and other events.

2) Attaching files and photographs

A practitioner may also typically attach files or photographs to the patient record during the appointment. These may be facial photographs, x-rays, scanned documents or blood tests. You can also attach video or audio files.

3) Annotating images

e-clinic allows you to annotate an image or chart to show things like areas of pain or injection sites. We have some standard images but most practitioners prefer to load their own, which may reflect the paper charts and forms they were previously using.

4) Word templates

Many people prefer to record clinical notes into Word. You can create your own template for any treatment and then copy and paste ‘bookmarks’ into the template. These pull through information from the patient’s file like name, age, date of appointment, date of birth and so on, as soon as the template is opened. You can also add items like checkboxes. Once the template is opened and the patient information pulled through, you can then add your own notes during or after the consultation or treatment. You would then simply save the Word document with there patient record.

5) PDF forms stored as data

A sophisticated way to record clinical data in e-clinic is with a custom PDF form. If you already have skills in creating PDF forms using Adobe Acrobat, you may want to create your own, but we normally find that clients prefer us to do this as bespoke development. A paper form can be transformed into a PDF with drop-downs, checkboxes and free text areas. The form is called up and completed during consultation or treatment, then stored against the patient record. The most impressive aspect is that, unlike with Word template, input is stored as data fields, meaning it can be reported on or exported at a later date.

6) Hard-coded clinical forms

Any medical or clinical form can be hardcoded into e-clinic by our development team. A form created in this way can include drop-downs, checkboxes and free text and fields are stored as data.

7) Consent forms

A basic consent form can be created in e-clinic and signed on an iPad by the patient. Consent forms created in this way would simply consist of text, which the patient reads and then signs. If you want a more complex consent form which encompasses checkboxes for example, it would be better to create it as a Word template or ask us to create a hard-coded form.

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How to Prepare Your IT Department for Telemedicine 

How to Prepare Your IT Department for Telemedicine  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

You've read all about the benefits telemedicine can offer not just to your patients, but also to your practitioners and your clinic as a whole. You've done your research and have decided to take the leap, bringing telemedicine technology and services into your clinic - congratulations!

 

While this is an exciting time for you and your clinicians, it's important that you work closely with the other side of your telemedicine operations - your IT department - to ensure as smooth a transition and adoption process as possible. Here are a few things to make sure you cover with your IT department before you go live with your telemedicine solutions.

Get your infrastructure ready

One of the great things about modern telemedicine technology is the flexibility it allows - aside from the software and hardware, all a clinic needs is an Internet connection. Well, almost. It's essential to ensure that your Internet speed is capable of handling the rigors that may be placed on it by telemedicine technology such as videoconferencing. According to the American Telemedicine Association, any operation that offers one- or two-way videoconferencing should have a broadband connection capable of supporting speeds of 500 kbps both downlink and uplink. With many modern telemedicine encounter management software products used today, the amount of bandwidth taken can be adjusted or allocated between video and data sources accordingly.

The ATA recommends using the most reliable means available of connecting to the Internet. So for many applications such as a clinic, this means your IT department should hardwire your telemedicine equipment directly to your modem rather than relying on a WiFi connection and a router. Satellite and WiFi connection are used frequently for telemedicine applications, but users can experience noticeable differences in the communication speed, image quality and intermittence of signals.

Have a hardware plan in advance

Do you know if your telemedicine equipment will be arriving preassembled, or will you need to construct it upon receiving it? If the latter, are you and your IT department comfortable with doing so reliably and safely?

It seems like a minor point, but if you're a first-time adopter of telemedicine, try and find equipment solutions that are fairly low-maintenance in terms of requirements on your end. This means either shopping for equipment that is available out of the box as a telemedicine system, or trying to find an end-to-end solution provider that can take care of all your requirements. Trying to source multiple pieces of equipment from multiple vendors can make getting support or maintenance a nightmare. Try and find a "one-stop shop" to make the process as simple as possible.

Interoperability with existing software or hardware

Interoperability is a term used widely these days, and everyone claims it. The truth is, it would be impossible to deliver interoperability that would satisfy everyone's needs, but the best case scenario at this point in time is to use telemedicine products and technologies that can be easily integrated with your existing workflow and follow standards-based guidelines for transferring or transmitting data - such as HL7 integration.

Don't forget privacy

One of the sticking points that telemedicine has faced in recent years is that of privacy in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It's a requirement that any Internet connections used to discuss sensitive patient information should have encryption using secure socket layer (SSL) and system-user identifiers such as logins and passwords.

Similarly, any cloud-based servers used to store patient data should be encrypted as well to prevent cybersecurity risks.

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Servers In Medical Centres

Servers In Medical Centres | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Servers in medical centres are a common aspect if IT support & maintenance. Here’s a tip for Healthcare IT Support.

 

Some use a PC which is configured to act as a server, other healthcare organisations would have implemented a professional business grade server to store their medical applications and finally, some use cloud based server which are essentially virtual servers.

 

At some stage in the business’s lifecycle, the network or IT environment begins to slow down, become slightly unreliable and you hear more and more frustrations from the staff.

 

The typical knee jerk reaction will always be to reinvest into a new server and replace the old one. This can be an expensive, complex and frustrating exercise if its not completed by a dedicated healthcare IT professional.

 

In this blog we wanted to share something a little different; some strategies which will make your network more reliable, increase the lifecycle of your server and finally, help you save your money.

Our hot tips are:

 

Monthly Server Maintenance
By far the easiest and most important task. The monthly server maintenance can be implemented by your IT provider (or if you are interested, email us and we will give you the steps on how to do it).

The monthly maintenance includes installing all the new server operating system updates, the clinical software updates, updating your antivirus and third party software.

 

Other tasks include checking your disk space and removing any temporary files, rebooting the server and finally, deleting any unnecessary files in the downloads or documents folder.

This activity will ensure that your server is up to date and the reboot will run all the required servers correctly.

 

Upgrade Your Firmware Every 6 Months
We highly recommend you engage an IT professional for this activity. According to the world’s leading technology vendors, over 90% of hardware reliability issues are due to the lack of updating the machine’s firmware.

 

Firmware is a software product which managed the hardware of your server and it effects the way it behaves. By upgrading the firmware of your server, you are installing the latest updates, fixes and patches which directly relate to your server.

 

Some benefits of firmware updates include a faster server, less over heating, less server lockups and most importantly, a longer lifecycle.

 

Add More RAM & Hard Disk Space
When you purchased your server it would’ve had little load on it. Your staff numbers were limited and back then it didn’t have to support new updates.

 

As your clinic grows and the network requirements become more, your server will begin to feel the load. Its memory is now at full capacity and its working as hard as possible.

 

By upgrading the RAM and hard disk space (if you are not sure how to do it, contact your IT provider OR US), you are essentially giving your server more resources to handle the extra load.

This upgrade usually costs about 15% the price of a new server and in turn, saving you more money and giving your network more firepower.

 

Manage Your Backups Correctly
Running a backup is one of the most memory heavy tasks a server can do. A backup can take up all the memory and CPU power. Our strategy is to always ensure that the backup of your server and clinical data is running outside business hours. This way you won’t feel the network on the server.

 

Implement The Right Configurations
A very open term I know however configuring the server in the right way does play a big part on how it behaves when processing data and ensuring that your clinic staff can access their medical applications.

 

A simple example would be implementing an Active Directory role (technical I know however this is important). If your server is setup as an active directory then it can manage and facilitate how the users access the data in a more efficient way.

 

Another recommendation would be to setup your server as DHCP and DNS. This way when you access your clinical applications (Medical Director, Genie, Best Practice etc..) then the network computers can quickly find the server and locate the clinical database.

 

Check The Firewall Settings
Most of the connection issues (speed, reliability) relate to 3 core aspects, the quality of the connection between the computer and the server, the way the server is configured and finally, the way the firewall is configured.

 

Depending on which firewall solution you have in place, it needs to be configured correctly so that it allows undisturbed access to the clinical applications from the clinic’s computer.

 

If the firewall is not configured correctly then you will notice that the network will be slow, so will the server and finally, so will the clinical applications.

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Cloud Computing Supports Telemedicine Growth

Cloud Computing Supports Telemedicine Growth | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Today’s healthcare professionals enjoy convenient access to a multitude of tools that would have amazed previous generations. Unfortunately, lack of awareness or access to technical experts means that many practices are unable or unwilling to take advantage of the latest technological advances, advances that increase efficiency, security and productivity. Others are intimidated by the technical jargon often associated with eHealth. All that is needed to eliminate all these issues is a partnership with a provider that specialises in the health industry, rather than deal with IT companies that are themselves unwilling to recommend healthcare-specific solutions that they are unfamiliar with

Providers of healthcare solutions are familiar with the inner workings of practices and clinics and can easily review existing processes and recommend solutions that will integrate technology in the best possible manner. They will also support any new technological solutions, leaving medical professionals more time for patient care, which will ultimately provide substantial benefits that aid early diagnosis and prolong lives.

 

Providers without healthcare knowledge will recommend solutions that they are familiar with, ones that are normally selected by traditional commercial enterprises. Such solutions are generally unsuitable for healthcare clinics and practices and often require expensive customisation, assuming that they can even be customised sufficiently to meet existing regulations.
Smaller clinics and practices do not have an on-site IT team and often eliminate IT requirements by automating server maintenance, data backups and archiving using a cloud solution. In such a scenario, it is the provider that is responsible for all of these activities.

 

Telemedicine allows easier collaboration and involves the use of mobile or other internet-enabled devices. Advantages include instant videoconferencing, remote consults, immediate access to electronic health records and the elimination of geographical issues, where patients are unable to visit the practice or clinic in person. These collaborative features are used between medical teams in multiple locations, between mobile clinics and their headquarters and of course can be used by any medical professional on the move.

 

When cloud services are used, connectivity is possible from anywhere a broadband signal is present, whether to a PC or portable device. This is ideal for patients in remote are rural areas and eliminates the time and expense necessary to consult with a specialist in the traditional manner. With videoconferencing, for example, no travel is required yet an excellent service is provided by the healthcare professional involved. Even follow-ups are possible online. Security concerns are also eliminated as a travelling professional accesses data remotely and never stores it on their own personal devices.

 

There are additional cloud benefits for healthcare professionals and these include:
• Scalability – you pay for the amount of space you use and it can be increased on demand
• Automatic updates – the provider’s IT team install security patches promptly
• Disaster recovery – automated regular backups take place and are restored when active data is lost
• Redundancy – multiple broadband connections are available. When one fails, another takes over
• Flexibility – if additional bandwidth is needed, it is readily available. This is not possible with traditional networks
• Works from anywhere – an internet-ready device, a 3G or broadband connection and you are good to go
• Collaboration – depending on requirements, there are specific software applications available to aid collaboration between team members and patients
• Document management – a single document repository allows secure and controlled access to confidential information
• Security – the use of the cloud ensures data is never stored in portable devices, given that thousands are lost or stolen every year
• Green-tech – the carbon footprint for each practice or clinic is substantially reduced, with cloud servers using less power per client due to virtualisation technology
• Cost savings – every clinic and practice uses the latest in hardware and software technology but without the initial investment. Ongoing IT maintenance costs are also dramatically reduced

When it comes to telemedicine, in addition to data management and document control features, there are software applications available that maximise patient turnover per clinic, improve patient care and even improve follow-up treatment and remote monitoring processes.

 

With benefits of this magnitude and with evolving regulations to embrace technological advances in eHealth, clinics need to install a telemedicine solution sooner rather than later or give competitive advantage to those that adopt now. This is especially true if patients and colleagues are in other geographical areas. In fact, government services are already active for eligible aged-care homes and to patients of Aboriginal Medical Services throughout Australia.

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2018 predictions for healthcare facility design

2018 predictions for healthcare facility design | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

E4H Environments for Health Architecture, an architecture firm focused exclusively on healthcare, recently released seven predictions for healthcare facility design trends in 2018.

“From Emergency Departments to micro-hospitals, to the amenities in and locations of hospitals, the year ahead will see continued changes in how healthcare providers are designing and equipping their facilities to meet both patient and market needs,” said Jason Carney, AIA, E4H Partner, in a release. “Add in the pressures of rapidly evolving regulations and payment models, and healthcare design has never been more dynamic than it is now.”

Following are seven top design trends in healthcare for 2018, as envisioned by E4H partners from across the country:

 

BEHAVIORAL HEALTH DRIVES EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT RECONFIGURATIONS

Reflecting both the national opioid-abuse crisis and rising awareness of mental health conditions, hospitals are recognizing an intense need to accommodate cognitively impaired patients more effectively and more sensitively. Hospital leaders are seeking a careful balance in separating patients who pose a risk to themselves and others from the general Emergency Department (ED) population, while ensuring all patients are treated with compassion and dignity. At facilities such as Connecticut’s Waterbury Hospital and Newport Hospital in Rhode Island, areas within the ED are being designed for people and families who are experiencing or approaching a crisis requiring behavioral-health or addiction-management intervention. Because patients with cognitive impairment and behavioral issues often require longer stays in the ED than the general population, an emerging best design practice is adding features for them such as bathroom showers, places to securely store belongings, and access to decompression space.

 

VIRTUAL REALITY BECOMES A CRITICAL PLANNING TOOL FOR HOSPITAL DESIGN

In 2018, more healthcare clients will benefit from virtual reality (VR) technology as they partner with architects to imagine and design complex spaces like operating rooms. VR technology is becoming smaller and more mobile, enabling architects to take VR equipment directly to end users in order to harvest their insight interactively and obtain immediate design feedback. The ability to use VR goggles and headsets to visualize space in three dimensions and coordinate both the room design and placement of equipment is improving facility efficiency and safety. VR headset technology breaks through the traditional limitations of a screen to put people “in” the design to experience, evaluate, and comment on everything from casework configurations to outlet quantities and furniture arrangements.

 

MICROHOSPITALS

According to US News & World Report, microhospitals are now operational in 19 states across the U.S., providing services similar to larger hospitals (ED, pharmacy, lab, radiology, and surgery) in a smaller envelope. This model offers greater accessibility and convenience for residents and is a cost-effective market growth strategy for providers. These mini-hospitals are roughly 15,000 to 50,000 square feet, open 24/7, and maintain between five and 15 inpatient beds for observation and short stay use. Recent changes to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services policy regarding reimbursement schedules for satellite facilities, authorizing microhospitals with dedicated emergency departments as eligible for both 340B discounted drug pricing and the Outpatient Prospective Payment System, will make microhospitals an increasingly popular option. E4H Architecture has designed 28 micro-hospitals in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, and Ohio.

 

MAKE SPACE FOR TELEHEALTH

Both for patients at home and those in medical facilities, telehealth is an increasingly integral mode of healthcare delivery. Healthcare consulting firm Sg2 projects that in the next two years, the volume of virtual healthcare patients will rise 7 percent and in-home healthcare services will rise 13 percent. Installation of sophisticated patient monitors with robust communications platforms is enabling patients to consult seamlessly with physicians and care team professionals. Increasingly, telehealth is being utilized for specialty services like radiology, psychiatry, and dermatology as a way to obtain a specialist’s opinion without the inconvenience of an additional office or hospital visit. Healthcare facilities should start thinking now about how to best incorporate telehealth services into their master plan. Telehealth affects facility design in several ways, including how treatment rooms are configured to accommodate remote consultation and providing infrastructure for the technological equipment. Lighting, privacy, and aesthetics of rooms used for confidential telehealth consultations are all important concerns that need to be addressed by architects and designers. Telehealth technology is also transforming lobbies, common spaces, and admissions areas. Increasingly these areas are being designed to include accessible areas for kiosks or tablets from which patients can register, view their records, or videoconference with a provider.

 

HOSPITALS TAKE A CUE FROM THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY 

The healthcare industry is embracing the trend of removing out-patient services from traditional, larger hospitals and moving them to more consumer-friendly environments. In some cases, this trend has been shown to create operational efficiencies and improve clinical outcomes, such as decreased re-admittance rates. E4H recently worked with a New York hospital to convert a 27-unit physician and nurse dormitory into temporary housing for immunocompromised patients. Procedures like bone-marrow transplants (BMTs) exemplify a unique need for extended care: In the first phase of treatment (surgery and post-op), those undergoing BMTs must be served as hospital inpatients. In the second phase, patients are vulnerable to infection and require monitoring for complications, but typically do not require a full suite of hospital inpatient services. For this second phase, the New York hospital administrators worked with architects to serve this “in-between” population, providing a facility that feels more like a hotel than hospital, with cozier interior design; private, suite-style rooms; and specialized air and water filtration systems to protect immune-suppressed patients. Rather than an inpatient charge nurse, a uniquely skilled concierge service provides front-desk response to at the front desk of the patients’ daily needs.

 

MOVE TO MALLS

As the delivery of healthcare continues to improve, an increasing number of same-day services and procedures may be performed outside hospitals, in community locations chosen for ease of access and improved customer convenience. Established retail locations are and will become even more attractive to developers of microhospitals, outpatient imaging, urgent care and ambulatory surgery centers, and medical office buildings. This approach serves not only convenience-minded patients but also providers interested in growing market share.  Trends that Walmart and Panera consider for their locations–demographics, quality of highway or transit access, parking– all translate to healthcare as well. In Kingston, NY, E4H is helping Health Quest to transform a former Macy’s retail space into a new state-of-the-art outpatient medical services facility. It will enable consumers to access urgent care, ambulatory surgical care, primary care, diagnostic imaging, and oncology services in an easy-to-reach location.

                                              

ACUTE CARE NEEDS CONTINUE TO GROW

In 2018, we will continue to see healthcare services moving from inpatient to outpatient facilities, but hospitals will also see growth in patient-day numbers. As Baby Boomers age, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next 20 years, and the total demand for inpatient care will only grow. Additionally, as services are pushed to outpatient facilities, remaining inpatients will increasingly be the sickest and most acute, requiring longer stays. Maximizing the efficiency of space and movement of medical staff to serve this inpatient population, including with more private rooms and fewer shared rooms, is critical to healthcare facility design. In the last two years E4H has designed new private, room bed towers at the Heart Hospital at Baylor Plano, Eastern Maine Medical Center, and University of Vermont Medical Center.

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Cloud Backup Solutions 101- A Primer for Healthcare Organisations

Cloud Backup Solutions 101- A Primer for Healthcare Organisations | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Some businesses rely on onsite backups, whether in the form of external hard drives or perhaps tape or storage media such as DVDs or DVD-RAM, all of which are subject to failure. Hard drives typically have a life span of three to five years and even high-grade disc-based media is easily damaged by careless handling or incorrect storage (near a magnetic source, for example).

Legislation and E-health Driving Change

With the introduction of electronic medical records and legislation on data privacy, businesses are legally obligated to secure their clients billing, medical and personally identifiable information (PII). Many companies have a disaster recovery plan that includes an offsite data backup solution. For convenience, this primarily takes place in the cloud, as the process of storing onsite backups in a fireproof safe or manually transporting backups to another location is widely considered obsolete.

Business Continuity?

Whether your business network is on-premise only, already in the cloud or a mix of the two (typically known as hybrid IT), business continuity is the aim and most organisations seek to include a solution that allows staff to continue working, even if the power or broadband service is down. When your business processes are in the cloud, restoring from backups is easy and business continuity is assured. Likely, your clients will not even know that there is a problem with your on-premise network as normal service is uninterrupted. Cloud service providers have several redundancy options in place so cloud services are rarely impacted by hardware failure.

Moving to the Cloud

If your business does not have an automated backup solution in place, it is certainly worth considering, as onsite hardware failure can jeopardise your business’s reputation, even if just a few hour’s data is lost. When a hard drive fails, specialist recovery is possible but is expensive and requires specialist knowledge and equipment. When data protection is the aim, an automated and real-time backup offsite is the only failsafe solution and use of the cloud ensures local disasters (whether hardware, fire or water damage, or extreme weather conditions) have no impact on your business data.

Cloud Provider Selection

All cloud providers are not created equal and like any other industry, service quality varies as does administration access. Ideally, your cloud service provider understands healthcare processes and the importance of immediate access to data in a clinical environment. Professionals in this area will offer a customised solution to fulfil all your backup and restoration requirements. This solution should include but is not limited to:

Onsite analysis of your existing broadband solution—Your broadband may well be adequate for general business use but when backup schedules are involved (even if daily backups are scheduled outside business hours, you cannot afford to miss a backup due to broadband outage. Possible service provider recommendations could include an additional broadband connection, dedicated line or provision of a router that offers a 4G SIM redundancy option.

 

Backup method and process­—The way you backup can determine the success of the solution. The speed of the process is determined by the speed of the broadband connection.

Data Storage—Data must be stored in a location that complies with state laws. For example, selecting a provider with U.S. servers is not compliant.

Remote access—Can the backup be performed remotely if needed? Can the resulting backup be accessed and verified remotely?

Auditing—Once a backup is performed, it needs to be verified as good. Many companies have found that unchecked backups are corrupt, failing when they need them the most.

Exit Clauses—Every customer has a right to change service providers if they wish. Verify that your potential providers offer the facility to migrate your data to a new provider easily and that it is very clear who own the data involved.

 

Disaster Recovery Plan

Auditing and indeed backups themselves are a key part of any disaster recovery plan. To ensure business continuity and comply with governing regulations and industry standards, healthcare organisations are responsible for the storage, backup and security of their data.

 

Fortunately, cloud service providers are held to a higher standard than typical businesses and their infrastructure must incorporate redundancy options, security and backup processes that are very costly for smaller companies to implement.

 

In conclusion, from a cost perspective, it makes sense for healthcare organisations to use the cloud for backup, storage and security. In doing so, business owners can relax, secure in the knowledge that real-time automated backups of all data are carried out in a secure manner. All that is really needed to ensure business continuity in a cloud environment is remote access using an internet-enabled device. AND ensuring the internet is present is easily achieved by adding an on-premise router to the network, with redundant connections to a 4G mobile network. If you haven’t already, can your business afford not to automate data backups in the cloud?

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4 conditions your clinic can tackle through telemedicine 

4 conditions your clinic can tackle through telemedicine  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Living with a debilitating disease can be overwhelming. Not only does it have an impact on overall wellness and longevity, but also the time, effort and money patients spend traveling to see specialists can limit the quality of care they receive. Still, these physician visits are critical to health outcomes, so patients could benefit from an easier way to keep their plan of care on track. That's where telemedicine comes in.

 

Technology is positively impacting the health care industry in various ways, and telehealth is an example of an effective tool for those living with chronic conditions. There is a direct correlation between access to care and quality of care, and telehealth closes the geographic gap to where and when people can get the care they need

4 chronic conditions supported with telemedicine

The ability to increase access to care via telemedicine has proven to be a convenient way to manage chronic disease. Here are four common conditions that telehealth can assist with:

 

  1. High blood pressure - According to Health IT News, someone living with hypertension can utilize telemedicine to connect with a specialist via video conferencing and discuss data from their wearable device

  2. Diabetes - Rural patients managing diabetes often lack access to a specialist. Telemedicine has proven a viable way to manage diabetes and when necessary, provide a high level interaction between patients in rural areas and diabetic specialist in larger urban centers.

  3. Depression - Discussing anxiety or other feelings related to depression with a psychologist can be done via telemedicine, as Mark Rood, MD, told the Cleveland Clinic. It's the same type of conversation that would happen in the office, so telehealth takes away the time and effort spent to meet in person.

  4. Arthritis - Determining one's range of motion doesn't have to happen face to face. With telemedicine, a patient living with arthritis can demonstrate how well he or she is healing and ask for additional recommendations if pain has worsened.

 

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Homecare Technologies Extend the Reach of Healthcare

Homecare Technologies Extend the Reach of Healthcare | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Fitness bands may well have been among the first widespread consumer-driven instance of personal health monitoring, but advances in technology have since changed healthcare forever. Clinics, hospitals and healthcare providers throughout Australia are adopting clinical and practice management solutions that reflect advances in technology and related legislation and standards that ensure data privacy and security.

 

The progression from paper-based record keeping to today’s digital medical records and e-health initiatives lead to improved efficiency, proactive healthcare solutions and of course, increased the ability to save lives by using data analysis to predict at-risk groups.

 

As investors and tech entrepreneurs continue to make their presence felt in healthcare, future healthcare applications are only limited by the imagination. Healthcare providers are now embracing technology to provide added healthcare solutions to those most at risk, namely the elderly and those with disabilities or acute conditions such as diabetes.

 

Homecare Technology Overview

The elderly, those with disabilities or acute conditions can avail of a wide variety of health monitoring solutions (generally in the form of wearable devices) that collect data by monitoring vital signs and send it over the Internet to their healthcare provider. This data allows a diagnosis to be made, whether that involves a request for additional tests, a change in medication or a precautionary hospital stay for extensive monitoring.

 

The range of wearable devices is already quite extensive, with the healthcare provider selecting one that is suitable for the condition involved.

 

Who among us is willing to give up our independence? The same is certainly true of the elderly but by using wearable devices, many can stay in their own home, with a home carer where necessary. Medical alerts are possible with these devices and obviously, can also save lives when vital signs reach dangerous levels, immediately alerting healthcare providers.

 

Collaborating to Improve Quality of Life

In the elderly and those with disabilities, improving quality of life is a key aim and again, the use of the Internet and connected devices can certainly help. Video conferencing allows direct consults with medical professionals. Those living alone can contact their family and friends in real-time and ward off any feelings of isolation.

By using these collaborative methods, patients can reduce risks of mental illness and depression. By actively monitoring the health of those at risk, governments can reduce the costs of hospital admissions by using the data received to implement an enhanced triage process.

 

Home carers also benefit as they no longer worry about their patients between visits. They can check on them at any time using cloud solutions linked to onsite cameras in the patient’s home, for example. They are also confident that if vital signs change, they will receive an alert that prompts action.

 

Technology Benefits

It is certainly true that the modern healthcare provider has benefitted from technology. Routine admin tasks are automated, staff training is easier thanks to computer-based materials and with electronic medical records, wait times are reduced as a patient’s medical history is readily available. With ubiquitous high-speed broadband and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, medical professionals can work from anywhere. They can consult with a specialist in other locations, share medical data to aid diagnosis and even use remote video to teach surgical techniques.

 

In conclusion, when home carers, patients and healthcare providers are all connected, it makes sense to assume that a better quality of healthcare will result. With the combination of technology, internet and a growing list of online services available, we, as a society, are better positioned to ensure that our sick and elderly live longer and enjoy a better quality of life to boot.

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Cloud Backup Solutions - A Primer for Healthcare Organisations 

Cloud Backup Solutions - A Primer for Healthcare Organisations  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Some businesses rely on onsite backups, whether in the form of external hard drives or perhaps tape or storage media such as DVDs or DVD-RAM, all of which are subject to failure. Hard drives typically have a lifespan of three to five years and even high-grade disc-based media is easily damaged by careless handling or incorrect storage (near a magnetic source, for example).

Legislation and E-health Driving Change

With the introduction of electronic medical records and legislation on data privacy, businesses are legally obligated to secure their client's billing, medical and personally identifiable information (PII). Many companies have a disaster recovery plan that includes an offsite data backup solution. For convenience, this primarily takes place in the cloud, as the process of storing onsite backups in a fireproof safe or manually transporting backups to another location is widely considered obsolete.

Business Continuity?

Whether your business network is on-premise only, already in the cloud or a mix of the two (typically known as hybrid IT), business continuity is the aim and most organisations seek to include a solution that allows staff to continue working, even if the power or broadband service is down. When your business processes are in the cloud, restoring from backups is easy and business continuity is assured. Likely, your clients will not even know that there is a problem with your on-premise network as normal service is uninterrupted. Cloud service providers have several redundancy options in place so cloud services are rarely impacted by hardware failure.

Moving to the Cloud

If your business does not have an automated backup solution in place, it is certainly worth considering, as onsite hardware failure can jeopardise your business’s reputation, even if just a few hour’s data is lost. When a hard drive fails, specialist recovery is possible but is expensive and requires specialist knowledge and equipment. When data protection is the aim, an automated and real-time backup offsite is the only failsafe solution and use of the cloud ensures local disasters (whether hardware, fire or water damage, or extreme weather conditions) have no impact on your business data.

Cloud Provider Selection

All cloud providers are not created equal and like any other industry, service quality varies as does administration access. Ideally, your cloud service provider understands healthcare processes and the importance of immediate access to data in a clinical environment. Professionals in this area will offer a customised solution to fulfil all your backup and restoration requirements. This solution should include but is not limited to:

Onsite analysis of your existing broadband solution—Your broadband may well be adequate for general business use but when backup schedules are involved (even if daily backups are scheduled outside business hours, you cannot afford to miss a backup due to a broadband outage. Possible service provider recommendations could include an additional broadband connection, dedicated line or provision of a router that offers a 4G SIM redundancy option.

 

Backup method and process­—The way you backup can determine the success of the solution. The speed of the process is determined by the speed of the broadband connection.

Data Storage—Data must be stored in a location that complies with state laws. For example, selecting a provider with U.S. servers is not compliant.

Remote access—Can the backup be performed remotely if needed? Can the resulting backup be accessed and verified remotely?

Auditing—Once a backup is performed, it needs to be verified as good. Many companies have found that unchecked backups are corrupt, failing when they need them the most.

Exit Clauses—Every customer has a right to change service providers if they wish. Verify that your potential providers offer the facility to migrate your data to a new provider easily and that it is very clear who own the data involved.

 

Disaster Recovery Plan

Auditing and indeed backups themselves are a key part of any disaster recovery plan. To ensure business continuity and comply with governing regulations and industry standards, healthcare organisations are responsible for the storage, backup and security of their data.

Fortunately, cloud service providers are held to a higher standard than typical businesses and their infrastructure must incorporate redundancy options, security and backup processes that are very costly for smaller companies to implement.

In conclusion, from a cost perspective, it makes sense for healthcare organisations to use the cloud for backup, storage and security. In doing so, business owners can relax, secure in the knowledge that real-time automated backups of all data are carried out in a secure manner. All that is really needed to ensure business continuity in a cloud environment is remote access using an internet-enabled device. AND ensuring the internet is present is easily achieved by adding an on-premise router to the network, with redundant connections to a 4G mobile network. If you haven’t already, can your business afford not to automate data backups in the cloud?

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

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

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How to Choose the Best Dental Software for Your Practice 

How to Choose the Best Dental Software for Your Practice  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Are you considering purchasing a dental management system for your practice? It’s essential to choose a software system that will enable you to not only maintain rigorous data and records but also to better manage your enterprise, no matter its size or location. Here are a few tips to get you started.

 

Cost
This would have to be one of the main considerations in any practice, as purchasing software and hardware is usually a costly affair, and often involves paying for annual upgrades as well. However, the important thing here is to get value for money, rather than simply going for the cheapest option. 
One way round the matter of cost is to use an online (cloud) program rather than buying a software package and downloading it to your system. With a cloud program, you get to use the software over the internet for a monthly fee, and backup services and upgrades are included in the cost. Other savings can come from a reduced need for hardware and IT specialist fees, and the fact that you only need to pay for the modules you really need.


Training and Support
When things don’t go as expected or you have some questions about using the software, one thing you would certainly want is support from an expert from an Australian company who understands how your business operates and what it needs. Make sure to look into the levels of training and support that are included in any systems you are considering.


Integration and Flexibility
An integrated system is one where the various software modules you use ‘talk’ to each other, and where data entry is minimised and data integrity is maintained. This makes it important to look for a system that provides an integrated approach for all the data modules you use, and one that is flexible enough to provide you with the extra features or add-ons you need as your business grows and changes.


Practice Management
In any dental clinic, it’s necessary to keep all data and customer records up-to-date and accurate. However, equally important is that the software system you use assists you in better managing your practice. This can come through additional modules such as digital imaging, 3D charting, appointment books, patient plans, accurate reporting, communications and invoicing.


Capability and Access
If you run multiple clinics you may want to consider software that will enable you to manage all your clinics from the one location, such as through multi-practice integration. 
Ease-of-access is another factor you should consider. Cloud-based programs enable continual access from any location where a secure internet connection is present.


Centaur’s Solution
All these features are available with Centaur’s Dental4Windows (D4W) software system. Add-on features of the program include eAppointments, which allow patients to book online, eForms for capturing patient data, Mediasuite dental imaging software, 2D and 3D clinical charting, HICAPS / Medicare link, stock control, and many others. The system also comes with initial and ongoing training and ongoing support.

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How to build a strong business worthy password 

How to build a strong business worthy password  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

DO’s

- Use a passphrase instead of a password

o Using a sentence or phrase instead of just one word can be much easier for you and harder for others to guess e.g. allgoodcowsliketoeatgreengrass or if you want it shorter you can substitute it for, agcltegg

- Use abbreviations or purposely misspelled words

o Love to laugh > Luv2Laf

- Replace some letters with symbols or numbers eg. $ for S, 3 for E

o BEST BOSS > B3STB0$$

- Use punctuation! , -

- If you really have a bad memory maybe use:

o A list of password reminders instead of using the password itself e.g. your favorite place may help you remember tr0p1CALPAR1dice

o Passphrases as they can be much easier to remember rather than an acronym of some sort

o LastPass, KeePass, RoboForm, and password keep all passwords accessible and secure with one password

- a hard time figuring out a password? maybe the best option for you is:

o to use a random password generator! The generator will collect letters, numbers, and symbols for a completely randomized password, the catch with this one though is you may have to write this down somewhere for safe keeping as you may find it hard to remember. There are many free services online you can just search ‘password generator’

 

 

DON’Ts

- Consecutive numbers or letters e.g. abcde, qwerty, 1234,

- Including personal information such as a name or birth date

- Reuse the exact same password for everything

o Even the slightest change within the same password can count as a different password

- Use repeating characters e.g. aaaaa, ttt222, 666

- Make all the characters numbers, uppercase or lowercase letters

- Tell others what your password is

- Keep your password the same forever

- Use words found in the dictionary 

o These words can be much easier to guess and spell

 

Date posted: 2018-03-23 | posted by: ozdoc

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How to Create A Medical Practice Business Strategy

How to Create A Medical Practice Business Strategy | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

When doctors begin a practice, a great first step is to create a medical practice business strategy.

 

A Medical Practice Business Strategy is a formal process. It helps to identify your mission, values, goals, projects, timing, barriers, opportunities, and strategies.

 

A well-structured strategic business planning process can help your practice in both the short and the long term. Having a clear strategic plan for your business means providing clear direction for your team. It also helps prevent wasted activities that may actually work against each other.

 

It also offers an opportunity for medical practice owners, medical practice team members to collaborate in choosing the future direction of the practice.

 

The 5 Key Parts of Medical Practice Business Strategy

To begin the process of starting a medical practice business plan, set aside several hours as a team, and break the medical practice business strategy into 5 key areas:

1) Medical Practice Mission Statement

Your mission statement is the overall purpose and driver for all behavior. It should be clear, concise and motivating for all team members. Ideally, it should reflect the practice’s direction for the next 5-10 years.

2) Medical Practice Values Statement

Values are a little more intangible at times, but still very important. Consider what’s important to your medical practice, and how you deliver care. They way you interact with patients and each other are all going to reflect the values you espouse.

3) SWOT Analysis

Take the time to think through the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that are specific to your practice in your location. Given your practice mission and values, in what areas do you excel? Where are you weaker? Based on this, what opportunities and threats to do you see to your practice in the next 5-10 years?

 4) Medical Practice Goals

What are the practice’s specific goals? Financial goals are important, but also think about things like staffing, marketing, IT needs, operations, etc? If this is a new practice, this is the time to think in terms of creating an ideal practice. If this is an established solo or group practice, then perhaps it is a revision of what has been set in the past.

5) Medical Practice Projects

Within each goal will likely be several projects that need to be completed. Of course, any new projects come with a price tag. As these projects will likely be in addition to the day to day operations, have you estimated the time cost of each project? Do your team members have the skills and ability to accomplish the projects on your list?


Should you do it yourself, or hire a professional?

In any medical practice, there are likely to be differences of opinion, and someone outside the organization with no personal stake in the outcome can often help to be a guide for the discussion. An experienced external facilitator or medical practice consultant can also bring to the table lessons learned from other medical practice business strategy planning sessions.

It is very easy to skip this process when starting a medical practice. However without a medical practice business strategy, you also are likely to miss opportunities and make some expensive mistakes as you grow your practice.

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Design Of A Mobile Health Clinic

Design Of A Mobile Health Clinic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

A mobile clinic allows the health provider or health business to deliver its services from multiple locations. Simply put, you go to the patient, they don’t come to you.
The concept of mobile and virtual health clinics has grown rapidly and both are now key business models for health businesses in Australia.

Mobile health clinics have certainly grown in both numbers and services offered, as you now have clinicians and health practitioners flying into towns to hold a clinic or even doing a roadshow-like journey through rural and remote areas.

Mobile health clinics are also increasing in metropolitan areas where health practitioners or health businesses are going into the corporate, government and educational sectors to offer their services to the staff of those organisations.

Simply put, doctors, allied health professionals and community workers are now becoming more mobile and as such, are having a bigger reach.

Most health practitioners agree that the biggest challenge in a mobile health clinic is to be mobile. In order words, the ability to access all the necessary clinical and business tools and offer the same service as an in-house health clinic is the greatest challenge.

Below are some tips on how to design a mobile health clinic (from an IT perspective)

Know what tools you need to complete your tasks in a mobile environment, this includes:

  • The clinical software applications you currently use (MD, BP, Genie, Pathology)
  • The billing applications you currently use (BP Management, eClaims)
  • The communication/messaging applications you currently use (Argus, Healthlink)
  • The administrative tools you currently use (Outlook, calendar)

Ask your current eHealth IT consultant to perform some research on

  • Cloud solutions specific to the health industry
  • Remote desktop solutions
  • Remote access solutions

At REND Tech, our Cloud for Health solution allows mobile, virtual and FIFO businesses to access their complete clinical IT environment from anywhere (home, office, mobile office), at any time and using their preferred device (iPads, tablets, laptops).

Before agreeing on a solution/vendor, ensure that

  • You have thoroughly tested the solution and it meets your requirements
  • Your data and applications are hosted in Australia
  • Your data, applications and complete IT environment are backed up daily
  • You are happy with the security levels provided
  • There is ongoing IT support and maintenance to ensure that your solution is always available.
  • You have tested the solution using wireless, networked and 3G/4G connections

By following the steps above, you should be well and truly on your way to having an excellent IT foundation for your mobile health clinic.

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5 Steps to Becoming a More Effective Clinic Manager 

5 Steps to Becoming a More Effective Clinic Manager  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it
1) Choose a practice management system

Using a practice management package like e-clinic makes managing a clinic significantly easier. A good practice management package will allow you to store patients’ personal data, book appointments and keep a record of appointments and their outcomes, record clinical information, manage invoicing, keep track of stock levels, contact patients via email, text or letter, and target patients with appropriate marketing campaigns. An effective practice management system should lead to a reduction in your workload and a decrease in your stress levels. Having a good computer system in place should also improve the accuracy and reliability of your data. Although the quality of your data is very much dependant on the person who enters it, there should be less scope for human error.

2) Train staff well

Training offer businesses the opportunity to expand the knowledge of employees, but some employers see training as expensive and doubt how cost-effective it is. Employers can also be concerned about staff members missing out on work time while completing training. However, despite some perceived drawbacks, training and development provides both the business as a whole and the individuals with skills, knowledge and other benefits that make the cost and time a worthwhile investment.

There are many benefits to training your team. Firstly, an employee is likely to feel loyalty to your practice if they feel that you care enough to spend money on their personal and professional growth. Providing training is also likely to improve the morale of staff at your clinic; this is because a culture that encourages learning and fosters education creates a positive, motivated, and committed workforce. Also, employees who have received job-specific training are more likely to be productive and confident. However, it is important that employees receive ongoing training and support: technology is changing all the time and therefore it is vital that employees keep up to date with changes. At e-clinic, we offer regular training courses to refresh knowledge, learn advanced skills. or train up new starters.

 3) Delegate to others

Delegation is assigning responsibility and authority to someone in order to complete a clearly defined and agreed upon task, while you retain ultimate responsibility for its success. Delegation will improve the efficiency of your clinic as well as the development of your team.

Delegation improves the efficiency of a clinic as it allows work to be transferred to other employees whose skillset is a good match for the work in hand. The role of a clinic manager involves planning and strategizing the next steps for your practice and your team. Delegating work to other employees allows you as a manager to lessen your workload. You can then focus your time on planning the next move for the team and growing the business.

As a clinic manager and team leader, you possess important abilities and transferable skills that can and should be passed on to team members. An effective way of doing this is to give them the confidence and permission to develop their skills and then delegate tasks to them so that they can use these new skills. As an added bonus, delegating gives you as a clinic manager the opportunity to develop your own coaching and mentoring skills.

4) Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty

We’ve discussed delegation, but it’s very important for a clinic manager to remember that they should know how to complete every job role in the office with a certain degree of efficiency and expertise. Members of a team look to the clinic manager for leadership and guidance, so they need to know that their manager will be able to help them if they require assistance. If there are certain tasks that the manager isn’t trained in, there’s no harm in asking an employee to teach them – this fosters a good team spirit and a supportive environment.

5) Create processes for everything

Have you ever had to listen to yourself repeating the same instructions to colleagues? Or struggling to remember how to complete a task you last tackled a month ago? Remember feeling frustrated by the time and effort wasted? It doesn’t have to be this way, and creating processes for every task you undertake in the clinic is the way to solve it.

To summarise: a process is a set of instructions for carrying out a specific task. While you’d expect process creation to take some time, it generally takes an hour or two at first but pays off massively in the long run.

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Protecting Data and Minimising IT Risks for Your Medical Practice 

Protecting Data and Minimising IT Risks for Your Medical Practice  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The digital age has revolutionised the medical and healthcare industry in many ways, with technology and innovation serving as defining factors of success. Information Technology (IT) has made the medical practice less stressful by streamlining systems using innovative hardware and software resulting in a positive shift in medical operations and management over time.

 

The IT systems used in a medical practice rely on a high level of knowledge and expertise when it comes to the design and development of hardware and software. To operate these systems, internal staff must undergo extensive training. Alternatively, systems management and support can be outsourced to a reliable specialist company to provide IT solutions exclusively designed to suit the needs of modern healthcare providers.

 

Medical IT service providers optimise medical processes, protect data and minimise IT risks by utilising cutting-edge hardware and software solutions. Another reason more hospitals are switching to outsourcing companies is that they reduce overall operating costs. Medical IT service providers also take care of multiple departments, which in turn allows hospitals and medical practitioners to focus on serving their patients first and foremost.

 

The investment in IT solutions for medical practice has surged over the years. More and more hospitals and healthcare providers are switching to an easier and practical IT solution that offers database integrity, network security, backup reliability and support. Ozdoc have been known to provide the highest quality outsourced information technology and systems management services to the healthcare industry, since their establishment in 1992.

 

Ozdoc provide quality IT solutions for medical practices, drawing on innovation and extensive expertise within the healthcare industry. Ozdoc are the most trusted medical IT support services provider due to their trusted network of highly trained IT technicians and support professionals. They keep hardware and software systems up to date, ensure backup procedures are in place and provide support and training to staff whenever they need it.

 

Ozdoc have transformed medical practices by introducing advanced systems design as well as exclusive innovations in IT for medical practices. With their decades of experience in delivering functional and technical IT solutions for medical practices, Ozdoc ensure the demands of health practitioners as well as the expectations of their patients are met. The professional staff at Ozdoc design, implement and support custom IT solutions that meet the unique needs of hospitals and individual healthcare providers.

 

Ozdoc build an IT infrastructure that provides healthcare providers with rapid access to patient-specific information as well as a robust e-connectivity infrastructure that integrates databases ensuring smooth monitoring and tracking of patient files.

 

From project planning to installation, setup and maintenance, Ozdoc work with healthcare providers every step of the way. They ensure full protection of data by continually monitoring the main server and critical infrastructure to make sure it functions efficiently. Ozdoc ensure there are no data breaches and that no cyber-criminal activity can infiltrate or disrupt operations. Ozdoc IT solutions add efficiency and remove stress with their cutting edge, exclusive IT for medical practice solutions. With Ozdoc's advanced technology, healthcare providers can maintain a healthy, growing patient base, providing each patient with quality care as well as a comprehensive range of services.

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Make Technology Work For You This Year 

Make Technology Work For You This Year  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

I hope December has been good so far for you and your business. Not sure about you but I’m looking forward to a five day break at the end of the year where I’ll be driving to Brisbane and stopping at a few places on the way.

 

2013 has been a year of implementation and profits. Health businesses that implemented new age solutions and treated their clinic like a business have demonstrated growth, profitability and great success in patient services.

 

I personally believe that this is the only industry where you can comfortably say you’re in a multimillion dollar business that actually helps people. Congratulations to those who found success in 2013 and for those who faced a few challenges, don’t worry. We’ll help you reach that extra level in 2014.

 

This week’s blog is a little different, I’ve taken a chunk from our Business Growth Footprint program and will give it to you for free. The Business Growth Footprint highlights critical aspects of health businesses that focus on risk management and revenue growth. Here I have focussed on the technology part and will share more management and business growth strategies in the future.

 

Neglecting the technology of your clinic is a little bit like neglecting a toothache. Before you know it you’ll end up with a root canal and be a couple of thousands of dollars out of pocket (happened to my friend ? ).

 

On a serious note, practice managers and health business owners have three main frustrations that ultimately turn to three different fears when it comes to neglecting business systems.

Staff downtime, staff frustration and time wasted finding someone to fix the resulting issues usually turn into staff dissatisfaction, job dissatisfaction and loss of income.

 

I’ll help you avoid turning those frustrations into fears by giving you a few easy tips that I know will work very well in your business.

 

Move on from Windows XP

Problem: I can’t stress how important this is. Avoid going to work one morning and not being able to launch Medical Director or Best Practice. Imagine calling for support and being told “We can’t help you”. Your doctors are now ready to see patients but they can’t access any data. This is a typical windows XP scenario.

Solution: I’m going to list out the steps you need to take to handle this:

  • Find someone (or you can do it) who’ll be able to migrate your clinical information and business data from the XP computer to the new one.
  • Contact your clinical vendor for more details.
  • Purchase a Windows 7 computer with at least 4GB RAM, 500GB Hard drive, i5 processor and at least three years warranty.
  • Backup your data and arrange for the migration to be completed outside business hours.
  • Ensure that printers, scanners, PKI certificates, pathology software, business software and emails are all migrated as well.
  • Record the new machine serial number and warranty details in your asset register.

 Systemise your practice

Problem: This is for practice managers and business owners. How frustrating is it trying to do your job but you keep being distracted with other aspects that are not as important? Don’t you wish that your business and team were working in an efficient and productive way?

Solution: Create an online process portal. Your staff will be able to use this portal to access all the relevant steps on how to complete a process. An example would be training a new staff member. Here is what your process page should look like:

  • Write down the title of the process
  • Write down why this process is important
  • Write down who is responsible for this process
  • Write down when this process needs to be used
  • Write down the steps to complete this process
  • If possible create a video showing how to complete this process

Increase your online footprint

Problem: Other clinics in the area are expanding and are seeing more patients. You are also unable to recruit suitable GPs or health professionals to your clinic.

Solution: The reality of this new era in the digital and social world is that having an online footprint (website, social media pages) is the best way to build your business’s reputation and increase exposure.

Websites also help take some of the workload from the front desk staff and allow them to deal with priority tasks.

Create a simple website with the following pages:

  • Profile of the health professionals
  • Profile of the different services
  • Useful information for the patients
  • Contact us page
  • About us page
  • Create a business Facebook page and ask your staff, relatives to share it. This is the number one method for building a quick online footprint
  • Assign one of your staff or health professionals to write a quick tip every week and post it on your website. Educating your patients builds trust.
  • tip every week and post it on your website. Educating your patients
  • builds great trust.

I’ve seen more and more new health businesses pop up in Australia and take on a perceptive online approach. Provide an online website and use it to educate patients whilst at the same time build business creditability. Some may think a websites or social media pages aren’t relevant but research shows that new patients will always check online before using the services of a health business.

Audit your IT platform

Problem: Your complete technology infrastructure has failed as it doesn’t meet the software requirements for 2014. Backups have failed and you’ve lost your clinical data. Doctors are now so P****d off you are about to have a nervous breakdown.

Solution: Start 2014 with an audit of your IT in your business. Have a professional assess your server, computers, network, backups, clinical data size (very very important), security policies, risk management policies and disaster recovery policies. The audit will give you specific knowledge on areas of improvement that you can address before it turns into a disaster. Remember, prevention is better than the cure and this is especially true when it comes to technology.

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Bridging the Gap Between eHealth Vision and Current Realities 

Bridging the Gap Between eHealth Vision and Current Realities  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The rise of health-related technology solutions is correctly perceived by healthcare professionals as a revolution that will ultimately drive improvement in patient care and increase practice efficiency. This efficiency improvement allows providers to take on more patients and increase profits. It seems like a win-win situation for patients and providers but unfortunately there are barriers to the adoption of telehealth, telemedicine and mHealth (mobile health) that will take some time to overcome.

What are the adoption barriers in Australia? Why does eHealth offer great potential for Australians? How can we roll out eHealth solutions that benefit healthcare providers and their patients?

Go Digital

Perhaps the most visible “challenge” of technology in healthcare was the attempted introduction of personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR), now rebranded as myHealth Record, in 2012. Despite costing $1 billion, adoption rates by Australians were around 20 per cent, with even healthcare providers unsure how to implement the system in their practices. In 2016, policymakers have decided to introduce an opt-out system where all Australians will have an account automatically, unless they deliberately cancel it. This may increase perceived adoption rates but actual usage is another matter entirely as clinicians have yet to see value in it. Targeted training and national promotional campaigns are expected to reverse this trend.

With the correct security policies in place, changing from paper-based data to a digital format is not only advised, it is essential, especially in a technological age where collaboration is possible between healthcare profession, their colleagues, specialists and patients. When patient care is the focus, relying on couriers or fax machines to share documents is far less effective than many other solutions available today, such as video conferencing, remote diagnostics and health monitoring devices, for example.

Early adoption

Hanging on for dear life to obsolete paper-based methods is a mistake when you consider that even government legislation is driving a conversion to digital. It is the early adopters that will succeed, surpassing the efforts of their competitors in keeping pace as legislative requirements evolve. Early adopters are open to change, can easily adapt their processes to meet changing needs and, yes, will also be more efficient. Whether it is the use of practice management software to simplify administration and store medical records or the sharing of data for consultation with specialists in another region, those who rely on paper-based processes are at a disadvantage. Early adopters and the forward-thinking entrepreneurs that provide working solutions to the healthcare industry all encourage Australians to embrace new technology that will provide tangible benefits to all, not only by improving efficiency and level of care but also streamlining processes and increasing practice profits.

Technology

Perceiving future trends, an increasing number eHealth firms that bridge the gap between ideas and products is turning vision to reality, providing a wide range of solutions that solve tangible issues in a country where patients are often located a long distance from healthcare providers. These include but are not limited to:

  • Data availability – The use of cloud-based solutions allows any browser-based device to access on-premise data from anywhere. The use of permission-based access ensures all data is safe and can only be viewed by your healthcare professional
  • Integration of practice management data with medical record storage (including X-rays and images) and compliance with industry and legislative requirements
  • Remote home-based health monitoring for patients with ongoing conditions
  • Video communication with colleagues, patients and specialists for quick diagnostics
  • Patients can monitor themselves using mobile apps or specific hardware that uploads data to your healthcare provider in real-time
  • Secure storage and backup of all data that far exceeds paper-based file storage that is easily compromised or destroyed
  • The use of mobile clinics – a fully equipped mobile clinic can perform as well as its on-premise counterpart if the correct technology is implemented

The use of these solutions can result in reduced clinic visits without impacting on care levels, allowing clinicians to prioritise clinic time for those who need it. It is only a matter of time before all clinics adopt technology to eliminate the problems associated with the long distances between clinics and their patients. Some will go on the road with mobile clinics and perform their tasks in exactly the same way as from the main clinic. Others may prefer long-distance video consults. It really doesn’t matter what process is used as long as patient care levels are maintained, data is secure and all processes comply with industry best practices.

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Homecare Technologies Extend the Reach of Healthcare

Homecare Technologies Extend the Reach of Healthcare | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Fitness bands may well have been among the first widespread consumer-driven instance of personal health monitoring, but advances in technology have since changed healthcare forever. Clinics, hospitals and healthcare providers throughout Australia are adopting clinical and practice management solutions that reflect advances in technology and related legislation and standards that ensure data privacy and security.

 

The progression from paper-based record keeping to today’s digital medical records and e-health initiatives lead to improved efficiency, proactive healthcare solutions and of course, increased the ability to save lives by using data analysis to predict at risk groups.

 

As investors and tech entrepreneurs continue to make their presence felt in healthcare, future healthcare applications are only limited by the imagination. Healthcare providers are now embracing technology to provide added healthcare solutions to those most at risk, namely the elderly and those with disabilities or acute conditions such as diabetes.

 

Homecare Technology Overview

The elderly, those with disabilities or acute conditions can avail of a wide variety of health monitoring solutions (generally in the form of wearable devices) that collect data by monitoring vital signs and send it over the Internet to their healthcare provider. This data allows a diagnosis to be made, whether that involves a request for additional tests, a change in medication or a precautionary hospital stay for extensive monitoring.

 

The range of wearable devices is already quite extensive, with the healthcare provider selecting one that is suitable for the condition involved.

 

Who among us is willing to give up our independence? The same is certainly true of the elderly but by using wearable devices, many can stay in their own home, with a home carer where necessary. Medical alerts are possible with these devices and obviously, can also save lives when vital signs reach dangerous levels, immediately alerting healthcare providers.

 

Collaborating to Improve Quality of Life

In the elderly and those with disabilities, improving quality of life is a key aim and again, the use of the Internet and connected devices can certainly help. Video conferencing allows direct consults with medical professionals. Those living alone can contact their family and friends in real-time and ward off any feelings of isolation.

 

By using these collaborative methods, patients can reduce risks of mental illness and depression. By actively monitoring the health of those at risk, governments can reduce the costs of hospital admissions by using the data received to implement an enhanced triage process.

 

Home carers also benefit as they no longer worry about their patients between visits. They can check on them at any time using cloud solutions linked to onsite cameras in the patient’s home, for example. They are also confident that if vital signs change, they will receive an alert that prompts action.

 

Technology Benefits

It is certainly true that the modern healthcare provider has benefitted from technology. Routine admin tasks are automated, staff training is easier thanks to computer-based materials and with electronic medical records, wait times are reduced as a patient’s medical history is readily available. With ubiquitous high-speed broadband and mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, medical professionals can work from anywhere. They can consult with specialist in other locations, share medical data to aid diagnosis and even use remote video to teach surgical techniques.

 

In conclusion, when home carers, patients and healthcare providers are all connected, it makes sense to assume that a better quality of healthcare will result. With the combination of technology, internet and a growing list of online services available, we, as a society, are better positioned to ensure that our sick and elderly live longer and enjoy a better quality of life to boot.

 

Can we really afford to ignore these benefits? I would encourage all of us to be innovators in this area rather than cling to outdated processes and technology. What do you think?

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Tips, Hacks, and Hope for a Better EHR System 

Tips, Hacks, and Hope for a Better EHR System  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

All conversations about physician burnout eventually come around to the topic of EHR systems. The ongoing struggle with EHR systems is a chronic complaint, and physicians can feel that they are held hostage to their software. "If you're using a particular system, you have to go along with the flow," says Ron Sterling, president of Sterling Solutions, a healthcare information technology consulting firm in Silver Spring, Md., "even if that's not that way you would have done it yourself." However, there are ways to make the arrangement a little more comfortable. And there is reason to hope that things may soon improve.

 

Personalize

"My system had the option of voice recognition software, and that saves a ton of time," says Peter Basch, MD, a general internal medicine physician in Washington, DC, and medical director of EHR and IT policy at Medstar Health. Even if voice recognition costs a little more at the outset, it generally saves money in the long run because it increases efficiency. If you've tried voice recognition before and weren't pleased, it may be worth a second look. "These programs have become much better, in the past few years" says Janis Orlowski, chief Health Care Officer for the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

 

You can also improve your relationship with your software by getting personal. "Medical language is a constricted vocabulary," says Basch. "Depending on your specialty or your practice, you tend to say the same things over and over." Basch recommends taking the time to personalize your software with macros and templates. "It takes a little time up front, but saves a huge amount of time in the long run," he says.

 

Power in Numbers

Of course, some of the problems must be addressed by vendors. "Many EHRs are put together without thinking of the user," says Basch. He describes such systems as being like a scalpel, but with the physician holding the blade end— "painful and not very efficient," he says. "EHRs are cluttered with redundant information," Orlowski points out. "Why are we including past surgeries, allergies, and so on every time? EHR's need to be smarter about displaying data," she says. You can no doubt add your own list of inefficiencies. But how to get software companies to listen?

 

"Vendors do listen to customer complaints," says Sterling. "But they wait for a general consensus before making changes." The best way to get the ear of your vendor is approach them as a group. If many doctors—particularly ones from the same specialty—have similar complaints, they're more likely to get results an individual grumbler here and there. Sterling also says that your chances of success are greater the more specific you can be. Rather than saying "I don't like the way this system handles orders," say something like, "I don't like that I have to cancel an order for a patient who is refusing care. I'd like to be able to leave the order as a recommended medication."

 

If your EHR is contributing to your burnout, it might be worth the time effort to try to improve your relationship with the software.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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