By Ben Flock, chief healthcare strategist, TEKsystems.
As technology advances, so does the healthcare industry, with technological breakthroughs increasing the ability of healthcare professionals to serve their patients, record and transfer patient data and more efficiently complete other tasks necessary to keep the industry moving. IT services provider TEKsystems recently released the results of a survey that polled almost 200 healthcare IT leaders (e.g., IT directors, chief information officers, IT vice presidents and IT hiring managers) in late 2017/early 2018 on a range of key issues, including technology maturity, workforce planning, critical roles and the top trends shaping healthcare IT today.
The results revealed a shifting focus from IT leaders: healthcare is behind the curve on initiatives that have the potential to shape the industry going forward, including artificial intelligence (AI).
Business demand is driving both the interests of IT leaders and the prioritization of AI in healthcare. Value-based care, regulatory mandates and the consumer push for precision/personalized care are driving the business prioritization of AI. These results indicate that while IT leaders know AI in healthcare is the future, they are currently taking a cautious approach to utilizing the technology. This is very likely rooted in security concerns, as there are federal, state and even local mandates dictating the protection and privacy of patient data.
Although cautious, healthcare organizations are actually proceeding on the AI front. As evidence, survey data shows a high percentage of healthcare organizations are in the implementation, evaluation or refining stage with respect to specific technology applications that leverage AI – digital health systems (75 percent) and telemedicine (51 percent). This pragmatic approach to AI will continue, and healthcare organizations will address this emerging industry imperative by providing IT resources, as well as enabling platform technologies and repeatable solutions capabilities in secure applications and solutions that leverage artificial intelligence.
To ensure IT employees are aware of the need to be cautious when implementing AI initiatives, organizations must ensure adequate onboarding and ongoing risk and compliance (R&C) training is provided. An annual “check the box,” activity, R&C training isn’t enough to help employees and third parties manage risk appropriately. The best strategy is to implement a risk-based approach by focusing on higher risk functional areas with direct access to consumers and/or protected health information (PHI), and creating targeted training. Simple education and awareness tactics can dramatically improve compliance when employees and third parties understand how to apply teachings to their area.
To face and handle several challenges along the way, the healthcare industry is looking towards the IT sector for the best tools and equipment. As demands for better treatment and diagnostic procedures continue to rise, it is best for healthcare organizations, especially hospitals, to upgrade their infrastructure and deliver the best results to this end.
Big data, demands for better therapeutic methods, as well as increasing management-side complexity are challenges that clinics and hospitals will have to address. Automation is nothing new in this respect, but it demands wider adaptation among healthcare organizations that struggle with outdated equipment and lackluster patient information management.
With that being said, it is imperative for these organizations to look into hospital management systems and how they can help streamline regular and complex operations.
Automation saves costs
Automation points the way to the future of healthcare technology. One thing’s for sure, there will be a high dependence on automated systems for such areas as healthcare denial management and revenue accounting. Through an effective software product, a hospital can make significant cuts to operational costs, enabling the savings to be channeled towards the development of better facilities and the procurement of advanced equipment.
Automation lightens the workload
Hospital staff have a lot of things on their plates. More often than not, they will have to handle routine tasks such as validating patient data and organizing a large bulk of information. Using intelligent solutions to everyday responsibilities enables you to lighten the workload on your staff so they can focus on more important functions.
Automation streamlines medical billing
Another high point of using effective hospital management software is that it allows an organization to make proper computations for their patients. This has always been a challenge that hospitals need to endure way back when accounting software was not as sophisticated as it is now. But with recent innovations in modern tech, it is possible for hospitals to reduce the amount of paperwork in accounting and to bill their patients without the possibility of a dispute.
Now that at least 96 percent of hospitals have implemented an electronic health record (EHR) most organizations are facing the reality that the technology has not truly helped them achieve their clinical quality and financial goals.
Electronic, enterprise-wide data is essential to manage highly complex, high-cost patients that providers care for every day. However, EHRs typically do not deliver the insight or tools providers need to manage these high-risk or the near high-risk patients when they are not in the hospital.
If the EHR does offer such population health management (PHM) capabilities, it typically requires an excessive amount of manual data access and manipulation, leading to even greater costs. That means patients who require more intensive care support at home, or who could highly benefit from timely and targeted intervention, face care delays simply due to lack of provider resources.
The Medicare Access and CHIP Re-authorization Act (MACRA) of 2015’s Merit-based Payment System (MIPS) brings this challenge into clear focus, highlighting how individual providers and healthcare organizations need automated patient interventions to efficiently deliver care throughout the continuum. Automation and more precise outreach not only helps care managers work more efficiently, but it also forges stronger engagement between providers and patients for long-term clinical quality and financial gains.
Gaps In Technology Capabilities According to a recent survey conducted by our company of more than 800 healthcare professionals, most organizations seem to understand how crucial PHM technology is to MIPS success. Few professionals, however, are apparently taking full advantage of available opportunities to better their organization. For example, 80 percent of healthcare professionals reported they have the necessary technology for PHM or to manage MIPS performance, but only 30 percent reported they are able to automate interventions across populations.
Automating interventions is becoming a critical piece of PHM to reduce the significant resources required to analyze data and conduct outreach. Currently, a care manager can spend approximately 40 percent of their time just searching for patient data, while PCMHs require 59 percent more staff per provider to fulfill care management requirements.
Streamlining the data aggregation combined with technology that continuously analyzes data and initiates communication with the patient will eliminate the manual efforts that burden the care managers and providers assigned to PHM today. More importantly, such technology delivers consistency and predictability for patient interventions, an essential component to modify patient behavior and yield successful outcomes.
Yielding More Precise Guidance Guidance to deliver precise and effective interventions and outreach is possible, yet very limited if confined to single-practice EHR data alone. By only utilizing a provider’s own patient data, organizations will be limited to a partial view of a designated population and the accuracy of patient care-gaps will be substantially degraded. Numerous other data sets, including EHR data captured from unaffiliated providers as well as non-clinical sources, must be included for more accurate outcome predictions and targeted interventions.
For example, by including data from community providers that co-manage patients, data from regional and national HIEs (Carequality/Commonwell), as well as other key data points concerning social determinants of health will yield much more accurate risk scoring and prioritize patients for interventions. Information such as patients’ nearby relatives, home address, and car ownership can change frequently and be incorporated into sophisticated algorithms that help predict behaviors and outcomes.
A care manager can then use those analytic capabilities to stratify these patients into risk categories for more frequent interventions that can be initiated automatically based on pre-defined rules. Patients at varying risk levels for acquiring Type-2 diabetes, for instance, may need different levels of support from the provider to help them make the healthcare and lifestyle choices to better manage their health and improve their outcomes.
According to the Office of Coordination of National Health Information, 50 percent of healthcare dollars are wasted on inefficient processes. Transformative innovation must not only change the current way things are done, it must be disruptive by having a meaningful impact on time, quality, cost and operational effectiveness – it must dramatically simplify and accelerate the process it enables.
There are very exciting ways in which digital technology is creating transformation across the entire healthcare system in areas such as connected health, artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, mobile data gathering, analytics, digital therapeutics and remote patient monitoring. All of these technological developments will improve healthcare efficiency, but more importantly they will drive the delivery of individualized care and dramatically improve patient outcomes as follows:
Access to Care
Connected health, or telehealth, is enabling the delivery of care to rural areas, where access is often nonexistent or very limited. It is also being used to address growing medical staff and physician shortages by providing access to timely care through collaborative tools such as eConsults. Telehealth delivers faster, less expensive and more convenient healthcare and in doing so significantly improves patient outcomes.
Conventional patient engagement systems display information at the hospital bedside, which is only one of many relevant ways to connect with patients. Companies are now integrating artificial intelligence or ‘virtual’ health coaches into interactive educational platforms, resulting in higher utilization and engagement, and delivering more robust, actionable content.
Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
A vast array of innovative wearables and sensors such as the biosensor bra patch, implantable glucose sensor, electronic tattoos and the cardiac mapping vest are revolutionizing remote monitoring capabilities. These remote monitoring systems have the potential to help achieve triple aim goals by leveraging the latest advancements to collect and analyze patient data beyond the bedside. Patients and providers can use smart phones, tablets and apps to remotely assess, diagnose and monitor their patients. Electronic monitoring can be an effective solution to identifying issues as they happen while also enabling more effective tracking of patients post-discharge, improving compliance and adherence, and reducing the number of re-admissions.
The healthcare sector is increasingly bombarded with new medical equipment. It is extremely important to maintain equipment efficiency to provide quality care and cut costs. Read on to learn about the equipment concerns of the healthcare sector and how important equipment efficiency can be!
The healthcare industry, whether labs, clinics or hospitals, use a vast variety of specialized equipment, devices, and medications to serve patients better. If you don’t keep track of your equipment, it can result in your staff spending a lot of time in looking for it. This involves putting your patient’s life at stake just because medical equipment you have could not be traced at the point of need. When hospitals have to continuously deal with increased patient demands, understaffing and rising costs, effective equipment management eventually becomes vital.
Let’s take an example of stainless steel surgical instruments and equipment found in a dentist’s office and even hospitals. They cost more than $100,000 and cannot be replaced easily because of limited availability and high costs. The large amount invested is a pretty good reason to track and manage equipment.
Equipment efficiency does not only provide high-quality patient care but also saves cost. Simply put, hospitals need to give high-quality care using fewer resources at a reduced cost. It is important that while you cut the cost, the quality of care should not be compromised. Hospitals and health systems of all sizes can benefit by rethinking factors like the distribution, asset acquisition and management of medical equipment. They can improve their overall capacity, quality of care, workflow and productivity by maintaining the efficiency of their equipment.
Equipment management concerns and importance of equipment efficiency
1. The rise in the number of medical equipment As the technology advances, it becomes more tightly integrated into patient care. This is the reason that you notice the rise of medical assets across hospitals. In the year 1995, there were 8 devices at the bedside while in the year 2010, there were 14. Such a rise in medical assets comes with additional requirements of reporting and maintaining quality care. Not just that, caregivers no longer have the time to search for equipment and need the assets to be readily available. When they are not readily available, you need to purchase the equipment which is an obvious financial expenditure. Along with that, commitment to an asset expands to maintenance, user training, and service – all of which have an impact on a hospital’s budget.
Among medical equipment, mobile assets are found in thousands and denote tens of millions in total investment. The GE Healthcare states that hospitals own 35000 inventory SKUs and the utilization rate is between 32 percent and 38 percent. This means hospitals are basically overspending billions each year particularly on mobile assets that are not utilized properly. Low utilization rate means a drop in revenue.
It should be remembered that simply cutting down inventory alone is not going to fix under-utilization because workflow has a huge role to play. Hospital managers need to optimize workflow before they try to adjust the number of assets and that can be solved using equipment tracking software. They can easily develop a replacement strategy for equipment using equipment tracking solution. After all, you can’t just decide to purchase a new telemetry monitor when a nurse tells you that she can’t find it in the storage room.
2. Hospital incidents and quality care The hospital should be able to provide quality care to its patients. Patients should be able to get treatment and care without patient developing infections like post-operative hemorrhages, pulmonary embolisms, respiratory failure and reaction to transfusions. The CDC states that hospital infections account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99000 related deaths.
Equipment efficiency achieved with an online equipment management system can do wonders. Let’s take an example of preventing the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease in England. When surgical instruments were properly tracked and timely sterilized using a properly maintained sterilizer, it helped the medical specialists to prevent the use of infected instruments with other patients. Preventing the spread of disease actually begins with proper equipment management.
Secondly, having the correct quantity of medical equipment and supplies when needed, helps to prevent patients from being denied any health services. You need to keep accurate and timely data on equipment or supplies when they go low and need to be re-ordered. A medical inventory software can help you do that and enhance the overall performance of employees.
Guest post by Fizzah Iqbal, content writer, Incubasys.
After a number of initial coin offerings being launched in the cryptocurrency market, blockchain development companies plan to introduce blockchain technology to the health records (EHR) industry. The Electronic Health Record (EHR) is a digitised version of patient’s medical history maintained by their doctors over a period of time. It includes information on demographics, diagnosis, vital signs, past medical history, progress over time, lab tests and more.
Owing to the de-centralised nature of blockchain system, it securely stores health records and maintains a single version of the truth that cannot be tampered with. This is of significant importance to different medical organisations and individuals like doctors, hospitals, labs, and insurers who can request permission to access a certain patient’s record from the blockchain without involving an intermediary. It offers two-way benefits; first, doctors and medical organisations get access to patients’ details and history without losing any precious time waiting for approvals from any intermediary and provide better patient care based on more accurate data, second, patients have more control over who sees their data.
The biggest challenge faced by healthcare systems throughout the world is how to share medical data with known and unknown parties for different reasons without violating patients’ rights and ensuring data security. Creating a trusted environment for decision-making regarding EHRs is challenging for medical community since each EHR stores data using different workflows which makes tracking data recording rather ambiguous. The growing focus on care coordination and EHR access across the care continuum has raised questions about ways to ensure that multiple providers can view, edit and share patient’s data without violating their rights and privacy in any way.
It’s not only about the problem of data sharing logistics in HER instead every solution that requires serious contemplation in a national healthcare system needs to put patient’s privacy and rights first in their list of priorities. And although laws have made health care data more accessible, vast majority of hospitals and doctors still cannot share data safely and securely. The time has arrived where solutions are needed in which patients themselves control whom to share their data with and where to remain pseudonymous.
Healthcare data is inherently sensitive in nature. Besides that the constant challenges of interoperability, patient record matching, and health information exchange have created opportunities for blockchain development companies to come up with a blockchain-based solution.
Once a blockchain solution is deployed to manage EHRs, it becomes a unified and common backbone for digital health. The biggest advantage of using this backbone is that each hospital or care provider no longer needs a specific version of databases or software to access patient data. Any information presented by EHR on the distributed ledger of a permissioned blockchain would be perfectly reconciled community-wide with the assured integrity throughout without any human intervention.
The use of blockchain technology to manage EHRs reduces the time it takes any medical representative to access patient’s information, enhance system interoperability and improve data quality. It also enables a reduction in overhead costs especially for development and maintenance of legacy health record systems. What blockchain does for everyone in healthcare system is that instead of relying on a designated intermediary for information exchange the de-centralised nature of blockchain allows any approved party to join in and either access information, share or exchange without the need to build data exchange channels between certain organisations.
MedPilot uses patient demographic data and payment historyinformation from the practice management system to categorize accounts in order to tailor content, frequency and message medium, boosting engagement rates and patient satisfaction.
MedPilot transforms patient financial care through technology-enabled services.
When Jacob Myers, our CEO, worked as a revenue cycle management consultant he noticed numerous solutions to help providers work with insurance companies, but saw a huge void on the patient side of the equation. MedPilot was founded to help providers more efficiently and effectively work with patients to help them understand and resolve their medical expenses.
MedPilot partners with practice management softwares and revenue cycle companies to help them add value to their provider clients who are interested in better patient solutions.
Because of changes in the health insurance landscape, patients now account for more than 30 percent of healthcare payments. Providers used to overlook patients and only focus on collecting from insurance companies, however now patients can no longer be ignored.
Who are your competitors?
Most healthcare providers engage revenue cycle companies who specialize in insurance billing to also manage patient balances. The old school manual methods of working with patients is time-intensive and laborious, so these vendors don’t put a lot of effort into helping patients.
How your company differentiates itself from the competition and what differentiates MedPilot?
Typically, revenue cycle teams only utilize costly patient statements and occasional phone calls. Now close your eyes and picture the exact opposite …
MedPilot pulls in patient demographic information and billing data from the practice management system into our platform. Our software then uses data science and behavioral targeting to inform our specialized Patient Services team on the best times and frequencies for phone calls, texts, emails and statements to drive patients to our proprietary online bill pay.
For example, if a patient drops off on our help center, we would pause statements and prioritize their account to receive a call from our smart dialer, saving money, resolving the account quicker and increasing patient satisfaction.
MedPilot’s business model is a percent of successful transactions on our platform when working with healthcare providers directly. We utilize a licensing fee-model when engaging with RCM and practice management companies.
GlucoMe enhances the way diabetes patients and medical teams work together by changing the traditional face-to-face diabetes care paradigm with an AI-enabled digital diabetes clinic.
The number of diabetes professionals has remained flat over the last decade. Conversely, the population of those with diabetes is growing. GlucoMe makes it possible for diabetes professionals to successfully manage this growing population by treating the right patients, at the right time, at the right cost, no matter their location and provide effective and continuous care to up to 10X more diabetes patients than with the current standard of care. The solution encourages a combination of face-to-face in-clinic and digital (virtual) visits enabling ongoing communication, treatment changes as necessary and immediate intervention as required.
Dov Moran is one of Israel’s most prominent hi-tech leaders, entrepreneurs and investors. He is known as the inventor of the USB memory drive (sold his company M-systems to SanDisk for $1.6B). In addition, Dov was the Founder and CEO of Modu, which developed a revolutionary modular phone (acquired by Google in 2011. Modu’s assets are the basis for Google’s modular phone Project Ara).
Yiftah Ben Aharon is a technology executive. He was head of R&D for the machine learning investment fund and led software development at Modu after serving in the IDF’s elite 8200 intelligence unit.
Moran is diabetes T2 patient and faces the challenges of diabetes management daily. Ben-Aharon has a parent with diabetes. He is a primary caregiver and is deeply involved in the diabetes monitoring loop. One day they were discussing how it was possible that in the era of smart technologies, diabetes patients were still facing the challenge of clinical data availability. Some of the smart monitors that were available in the market were expensive and practically available to only around 25% of diabetes patients globally. That was the starting point for solving the connectivity issue to ensure the continuum of clinical data for professional analysis and for all patients.
Moran and Ben Aharon started with developing smart monitors for their own use. They shared their invention with others. The feedback was so encouraging and enthusiastic that they started a company. GlucoMe began with providing clinical data, thereafter analysis functions and later developed its AI platform. Today GlucoMe is an end-to-end solution that includes diabetes monitors, a mobile app and a digital diabetes clinic with software for healthcare professionals.
GlucoMe provides healthcare providers and insurance companies with new digital capabilities to easily review and assess massive quantities of data – real-time information, trends, analysis, treatment recommendations – and treat for up to 10 times more patients than they could with only face-to-face office visits.
In 2017, diabetes expenditure came to some $727 billion, and is expected to increase to around $776 billion during the coming two decades. In 2017, an estimated 8.8 percent of the adult population worldwide had diabetes. However, the number of healthcare providers worldwide has either not increased at all in certain areas or not increased nearly enough to provide adequate attention to the growing number of patients who have diabetes. Until now, it’s been an uphill battle. GlucoMe’s technological advances have made it possible to make this ratio work.
Who are your competitors?
GlucoMe has several competitors on different aspects of the solution whether is it software or hardware. Companies like Glooko, Livongo, One Drop and alike can be considered GlucoMe’s competitors. All are US companies, which are for the most part not currently active outside of the US.
How your company differentiates itself from the competition and what differentiates GlucoMe?
Some of the competitors are mostly the device companies and some are coming from the software direction. There are several parameters that can differentiate GlucoMe from competition: affordability of the GlucoMe’s monitors, their universality, simplicity of operation and connectivity (GlucoMe’s BGM is the only one to transfer data to both iOS and Android through its microphone. It does this using audio connectivity), in addition to several software features where GlucoMe is leading the way.
By Gary Anderson, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.
When you “Google” your practice’s name, are you satisfied with the reviews that pop up? If not, chances are that your main issue has nothing to do with the patient care you give and everything to do with the patient service you provide.
You know the saying, “The customer is always right?” Patients especially feel that way. So, if you fail to give them the top-level treatment they seek when they’re feeling the most vulnerable, your reputation will suffer. And let’s face it: In the healthcare industry, your reputation is everything.
Make sure that your staff thinks more about why they are there, not just what they are doing. This is where proper training and management come into play. If each employee understands his or her unique purpose at your practice and sees it as important, this will have a positive impact on the patient service you provide.
See Your Practice through the Patient’s Lens
Take the necessary steps to experience what your patient does at your practice. For instance, park exactly where the patient does. Is it easy to reach your building’s front door, even for someone on crutches? And when you enter the reception area, do you automatically receive a warm greeting or a cold shoulder? Patients have already made up their minds about your practice before they even get to the exam rooms. So, be sure that what patients experience in the front of the office is just as favorable as what they’ll experience in the back.
Teach Employees How to Address Patient Complaints
Every one of your employees should know how to handle patients’ concerns or complaints effectively. For instance, your employee shouldn’t be quick to tell a patient “I don’t know how to help you.” Instead, he or she should eagerly say “I will find you somebody who can help you ASAP.” Then, the employee should follow through on what he or she has promised. This will make a huge difference in how the patient perceives your practice.
Get Comfortable with Saying “Sorry”
“Sorry” can be one of the hardest words to say. Nonetheless, it is a word that every employee in your office should learn. Your employees need to become comfortable with apologizing for any service lapses that a patient points out, rather than being apathetic or defensive. Using training devices such as role-playing can help to make “sorry” a more natural part of your patient’s language when appropriate.
Focus on Being Blame Free
Realize that if an issue crops up in your practice, your employee is not necessarily always to blame. Sure, if it occurs once, the employee might be at fault. But if the mistake happens twice, your system might be at fault. So, investigate the system, and fix any glitches you see. Your employee will be happier, and this translates to happier patients and ultimately a happier you.
Vyasa Analytics provides a highly scalable deep learning platform for organizational data, enabling conceptual querying and collaborative analytics to help inform key decisions derived from your most valuable information assets.
Vyasa Analytics provides deep learning software and analytics for life sciences and healthcare organizations
Dr. Christopher Bouton earned his Ph.D. in molecular neurobiology from Johns Hopkins University and sold his first big data software company, Entagen, to Thompson Reuters in 2013. Living in India for four years as a boy, he developed a great respect for Vyasa – an important Hindu figure, storyteller and compiler of information – and believes that AI approaches will help us better compile and gain insights from our data systems. In 2016, he founded Vyasa Analytics to apply AI in life sciences and healthcare.
Vyasa engages with life sciences and healthcare organizations to educate the industry about deep learning technologies, including speaking alongside executives at conferences and events. Dr. Bouton is also a frequent contributor and commentator to industry publications.
In 2016, the pharmaceutical industry spent some $157 billion on research and development. This figure is set to increase to more than $180 billion by 2022. The healthcare analytics market was $8.69 billion by 2016 and is estimated to reach $33.38 billion by 2022.
Vyasa is positioned to capture hundreds of millions of dollars in these markets by allowing organizations to conduct analytics on data relevant to their research. Other analytics companies in the space experiencing rapid growth include Lattice.io (acquired by Apple for $200 million), BenevolentAI (valued at $1.7 billion) and Exscientia (recent deals with GSK for $43 million and Sanofi for $273 million).
Who are your competitors?
While there are many deep learning companies, Vyasa is the only one applying deep learning to life sciences and healthcare specifically.
How your company differentiates itself from the competition?
Focusing in the life sciences and healthcare verticals is a key differentiator for Vyasa. In partnership with life sciences and healthcare organizations, we build software to help design better therapeutics, free up researchers for higher-level thinking and solve problems that matter for humanity.
Business model: Vyasa has a B2B business model. Every project is a blend of software licensing and services, provided to the life sciences or healthcare organization to advance their research goals. We are projecting upwards of $3 million in revenue in 2018.