Technology is changing every aspect of our lives, including how we manage our health. Healthcare is an $8 trillion industry that has always used technology to advance diagnostic tools, preventive treatment, and quality of care – all with the aim of improving and saving lives.
However, it’s also been criticized for a slow and unsteady embrace of new technology. A pre-pandemic survey noted that only 32 percent of U.S. physicians and 27 percent of U.S. consumers rated their healthcare system as performing well in terms of introducing new digital technologies.
COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the healthcare industry’s adoption and usage of new technologies, and consumers are taking note. Like other sectors, the industry has undergone years of change and challenges in a matter of months, and I predict these changes are here to stay even after the pandemic subsides. Individuals will continue to embrace technology to proactively manage their health, while health institutions will look for new ways to increase quality and improve patient outcomes using advanced technology.
Here are four examples of proven technological innovations that will fundamentally change how healthcare organizations operate and provide care going forward:
A study by the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) found that 27.8% of American adults had symptoms of depression as of mid-April 2020. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, this figure was 8.5%. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Maintaining mental health during an epidemic is as much a concern for your health as a mask, ventilation, healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, or exercise.
Rules To Rule Your Life
The impact of quarantine conditions on our mental health and well-being should not be underestimated. Life situation is not familiar to all of us. So let’s make sure you know all the rules about mental health during a pandemic.
There have been many attempted attacks by cybercriminals on US healthcare centers, hospitals, and clinics all over the country. The fear is that a ransomware attack – something that has hit individual hospitals over the past two to three years – could take down many more, leaving patients with no medical history and hospitals with no hope of helping them.
The reason behind these past attacks and the potentially large one that might come is money. The ransomware developers, otherwise known as cybercriminals, use their computing knowledge to find any small area of vulnerability within the hospital’s current IT network and send viruses and other programs through. This essentially holds the entire network to ransom (hence the name) until one of two things happen; either the hospital agrees to the cybercriminal’s demands and pays a large sum of money, or they don’t, in which case the data is deleted, or the sensitive information is leaked to the dark web, enabling other cybercriminals to use it for identity theft, fraud, or even blackmail reasons. It is not thought to be a political move.
In 2018, we at Lenox Hill Hospital found ourselves at a crossroads. Part of New York’s largest healthcare provider, Northwell Health, we pride ourselves on being one of the best hospitals in the region, as named by U.S. News & World Report.
Still, we struggled with key HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) metrics. In the responsiveness domain, we found ourselves in the 19th percentile. For RN communication, we were in the 27th percentile. And for likelihood to recommend, we were just under 50, at the 49th percentile. Our employee engagement scores, meanwhile, were similarly troubling, with engagement scores coming in at 2.54 on a five-point scale.
It was clear that things weren’t working – it’s what our patients were telling us, our employees were telling us, and the data was telling us.
So we identified a two-pronged path to address the issue: One strategy that would update outmoded roles and empower employees, and another that would digitize an established best-practice standard.
Transitioning from Unit Ward Clerks to Patient Serve Facilitators
In 2018, we were still maintaining a role known as a Unit Ward Clerk. While the work done by those team members – providing clerical and administrative support to the entire unit – is still very relevant and necessary, the title, and certain elements of the job description simply didn’t match the modern world we live in.
We evolved this team to become Patient Service Facilitators (PSF). This transformation came through a bottom-up process conducted by a multidisciplinary team that conducted assessments and interviews, analyzed qualitative and quantitative data from sources like HCAHPS scores and patient feedback, examined internal and external best practices, and ultimately designed the new role.
In the end, we wanted our patient service facilitator role to become more proactive – to serve as the face of the unit. We empowered those team members to do that through professional identity branding, as well as technology. Our PSFs are now expected to see every single patient in their unit once a day – and they round on them using tablets and automated rounding scripts, conducted through our patient engagement partner CipherHealth, that allow our hospital to quickly and easily collect information and act on problems as they arise. We tie each element of those rounding scripts to an HCAHPS domain, which allows us to more easily track progress and identify problem areas over time.
Healthcare providers account for some of the most crucial organizations in the country. And while most provide unparalleled care to patients and residents, there is often a disconnect between the quality of care provided, and the management of some administrative functions like policy management.
Mennonite Village, a 275-acre continuing care retirement community in the small northwest Oregon town of Albany, knew this first-hand. With 700 residents and five lines of service, including independent living, nursing/rehab, assisted living, memory care, and in-home services, Mennonite has more than 1,300 policies that are integral to the way the community runs.
But with no comprehensive solution to manage these policies, they were using a combination of a paper binder and Excel spreadsheets, and the management of the policies took an inordinate amount of time. While this may seem antiquated, it’s not unique. It’s also easily remedied using technology, and more healthcare organizations are turning to cloud-based solutions to manage policies than ever before.
The adoption rate of software-as-a-service technologies in healthcare are growing at a rate of 20 percent per year. Also, the cloud computing market is estimated to hit $51.9 billion by 2024 – up from$23.4 billion in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has further driven this trend, adding pressure to the need for a remote and flexible solution to manage healthcare policies and maintain compliance.
For Mennonite Village this has been an impactful change.
Setting Out to Reduce Organizational Risk
Even prior to the pandemic, Mennonite Village’s corporate compliance and risk manager, Arielle Schultz, knew they needed to find an effective, efficient way to manage policies and reduce risk. Their internal procedures required that each policy document must be reviewed and approved on an annual basis and before implementing a policy management system, this process took 40 minutes per policy to simply edit, route, and print the file. With 1,300 total policies, that amounted to more than 36 workdays just moving documents around, and if an employee was out for sickness or vacation, the process quickly became backlogged.
Schultz and her team needed a solution that could make their processes more efficient, was easy to use and could hold staff accountable. For Schultz, SaaS technology was the answer.
Online consultation is a big part of the electronic healthcare (E-Health) industry. At present, experts are investing a lot of resources into this industry for its overall improvement. Digital health technology is currently going through a revolution. AI and machine learning technologies are now being used to process medical data a lot faster and more effectively. Such technological advances have made online consultations more feasible and readily available to the masses.
There is no doubt that online consultations are playing a big part in the healthcare sector. And people should also know that these sessions will soon become the future of healthcare. Thus, people need to learn how and why they should accept this modern form of medical checkups.
Here is why online consultations will soon become the future of the healthcare industry.
Most doctors do not provide on-demand service to their patients. To consult with them, you must find a free slot in their schedule, book an appointment, and then they will be able to handle your queries. This is a common scenario in the healthcare industry.
However, with online consultations, doctors can free up their schedules a lot faster. And while you will still have to make an appointment, you do not have to wait a day or two to consult with them. Online consultations also allow doctors to handle more patients than they could with in-person sessions. So all in all, these online sessions help make room for an on-demand service model for the healthcare sector.
The medical field is always looking for ways to improve the care they provide. In recent years, there have been many advances in technology that are now being implemented into clinical settings. These changes will help make both doctor’s and patient’s lives easier. Here is a look at some of these new technologies and how they are improving patient care by making it more efficient, personalized, and effective.
Next Generation CT Scanners
The latest next generation CT scanners can take a 3D picture of the inside of your body with significantly more detail than a standard CT scanner can. This is because they provide images with less noise and have improved resolution, making it easier to diagnose many disorders better than the older technology ever could.
Cybersecurity has been a major concern facing many digitalized businesses. Hackers have developed more sophisticated ways to breach security systems and steal essential data from businesses. Such security issues may cause significant financial loss and bring a business down to its knees.
Healthcare is one of the sectors that has been hard hit by cybercrime. This is due to the sector’s adaptation of technological advancement used in areas like storing patients’ data. Unfortunately, while the technology has positively impacted the provision of services, it’s also created an opportunity for hackers to attack and steal information. As a result, healthcare becomes an easy target for cybercriminals due to the nature of their information system.
Reasons For Cyberattacks On Healthcare
As stated, the healthcare sector isn’t immune to cyberattacks and other forms of security breaches from criminals. These attacks are being targeted due to the many loopholes that the sector has.
Here are some of the reasons why healthcare is targeted:
The Password Problem
One of the major concerns affecting healthcare is the lack of good passwords. An explanation of the password problem is when healthcare workers don’t set strong passwords on their devices for fear of forgetting them. In turn, they end up using weak passwords, such as their phone numbers or names.
This makes it easy for attackers to breach security and steal important information. In addition, colleagues can guess simple passwords, and they can use them to access your accounts. The password problem affects many businesses, as well as individuals. You should, therefore, be creative with your password and make it unique.
Lucrative Medical Records
Medical records always contain important information that could be lucrative to hackers when they sell them. Such information includes names, contact information, and credit card numbers when patients pay bills through bank cards. The attackers can then use these pieces of information to directly attack the patients or sell them to other people.
Because some medical facilities aren’t well-protected from security breaches, the patients’ data aren’t safe. Therefore, attackers use these loopholes to launch attacks on people.
By Devin Partida, technology writer and the editor-in-chief, ReHack.com.
The medical industry’s growing reliance on digital technologies has come with some increased risks. That became painfully evident for thousands of patients in the wake of a recent ransomware attack on CaptureRX, a healthcare administrative service provider.
On February 6, hackers accessed sensitive patient data from multiple CaptureRX clients, affecting at least 1 million people. The company started investigating after noticing unusual activity, and by February 19, it could confirm that someone had stolen patients’ personally identifiable information (PII). CaptureRX started alerting affected clients on March 30, and the full scope of the incident is still unclear.
Health IT’s Growing Ransomware Problem
This is far from the first instance of a ransomware attack on a health IT company. Ransomware as a whole has become much more common in the past few years, and medical businesses are more at risk than most. Hospitals have more to lose in these attacks, given the sensitive nature of their data, so a successful breach could be more profitable for hackers.
In 2020 alone, there were 92 ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations, affecting more than 18 million patient records. That represents a 60% increase over 2019 in the number of attacks and a 470% increase in records affected. Since 2016, these attacks have cost the industry more than $31 billion.
The CaptureRX attack is the latest in a troubling and growing trend of ransomware attacks against health IT. If industry leaders aren’t already aware of this problem, the sheer size of this incident will likely get their attention. With these attacks becoming more frequent and expensive, the sector will likely shift in response.
When it comes to treatment-resistant mental health disorders like depression, ketamine therapy can work where other therapies have failed. While the drug carries a negative stigma because of its illegal use, it has been found to be extremely beneficial, and is even considered to be lifesaving by those who have used it. From understanding the drug to expanding its use and other ways it can help patients, here’s what you need to know.
How ketamine offers a solution
Ketamine is an anesthetic that’s been around for quite some time, but it has found a new purpose in the treatment of mental health disorders like depression, particularly for those whose symptoms are unchanged by other common treatments. One Nashville psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Barton, notes that ketamine “works much quicker than other medicines, and so it’s a real effective treatment when a patient’s been suffering for a very long time.” In comparison to other treatments, for instance, ketamine IV therapy is given in lower doses over longer people of time, making it well-tolerated by patients.
However, because of its history of being used recreationally, many may wonder what ketamine therapy feels like. Known as a dissociative anesthetic and often associated with a feeling of floating and relaxation, many describe the feeling of ketamine therapy as being in a dream-like state.
While intravenous ketamine therapy can be fast acting, sometimes improving symptoms of depression within hours of the first treatment, it’s important to take into account that ketamine therapy for depression simply isn’t for everyone. In addition to still being viewed as controversial by some and the potential the drug carries for abuse, it’s necessary to keep in mind that those who have used the drug experience varying levels of success, depending on personal factors — such as how long someone’s been depressed, or how severe their symptoms are.
Expanding the use of the drug
Due to its benefits, ketamine is surging in popularity. In fact, intravenous ketamine therapy may be safe and effective in adolescents with treatment resistant depression, according to one study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Adolescents in the study actually reported significantly greater reductions in depressive symptoms after 24 hours, compared to those who received the medication midazolam. As well as expanding for the use of younger patients, ketamine therapy for depression is becoming more widespread around the world. Ketamine is now being used in authorized clinical settings in Singapore in order to treat those with major depressive disorder who aren’t otherwise responding to treatment. For example, esketamine, a modified version of the drug, has been approved and used to treat two patients via nasal spray.