Category: Editorial

Healthcare’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020: EarlySense

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EarlySense works to improve patient safety with contact-free, continuous patient monitoring. Its products are designed to give clinicians constant, contact-free access to a patient’s level of motion, heart rate and respiratory rate (the single highest indicator of adverse events).

Founded in 2004, EarlySense is dedicated to empowering facilities to improve quality of care.

Its real-time delivery of actionable data, combined with a suite of patient data management tools designed to empower clinical staff to identify potentially critical situations early, before they become high risk.

Its U.S.-based headquarters is in Woburn, Mass.

What is the single-most innovative technology you are currently delivering to health systems or medical groups?

EarlySense is on a global mission to raise the standard of patient care throughout the healthcare continuum via contact-free continuous monitoring (CFCM) and AI-powered predictive analytics. The EarlySense sensor, placed under the patient’s mattress, tracks multiple data points every second (more than 100 data points per minute), including respiratory rate, heart rate and movement without ever touching the patient.

How is your product or service innovating the work being done in these organization to provide care or make systems run smoother?

EarlySense’s patient monitoring system is used in health facilities around the world to assist with early detection of patient deterioration and empower health teams to help prevent adverse events. The integrated sensor utilizes artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to notify care teams of clinical changes which may be detected hours before an event becomes critical.

As a result, health teams can take action to help reduce adverse events, including code blue events which are a result of cardiac or respiratory arrest, preventable ICU transfers, patient falls, pressure ulcers, and hospital readmissions.

What is the primary need fulfilled by the product or service?

Currently, the vast majority of global health teams use outdated, inefficient “spot checking” methods to monitor general care patients. This means that hospital, post-acute care and nursing home staff are checking patients’ vital signs once every six to eight hours. The most notable pitfall of spot checking is the “data desert” it creates for health staff, where vital sign readings and patient-specific issues are only monitored and addressed a few times a day. Additionally, these readings can vary depending on measurement tools/equipment and methods, and even staff mood, training, skills, and individual approach towards patient conditions.

With EarlySense, healthcare providers can capture patient data continuously, as opposed to relying on inefficient “spot checking” methods alone, and be provided with a full picture of patient health to identify key trends in patient vitals and provide proactive care.

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How To Digitize Workflows and Enhance EHR Usability

By Paul Banco, CEO and co-founder, etherFAX.

Paul Banco

Applications have a direct impact on hospital workflows. While the former captures data, the latter passes it along to inform other processes and procedures. If either is impeded by usability, the consequences can have a ripple effect throughout an entire organization. Sending and receiving patient information fast and securely is critical to delivering quality care.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines EHR usability as “The effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction with which specific users can achieve a specific set of tasks in a particular environment.

In essence, a system with good usability is easy to use and effective. It is intuitive, forgiving of mistakes and allows one to perform necessary tasks quickly, efficiently and with a minimum of mental effort.” Unfortunately, the lack of EHR usability and interoperability are still huge concerns for the healthcare industry.

According to a study conducted by Mayo Clinic researchers, modern electronic health records (EHR) are less user-friendly than Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Excel, and Google. Using the System Usability Scale (SUS), Electronic Health Records were marked with an unsettling “F” and a SUS score of 45.

The results were then cross-referenced with physician burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI). The study clearly showed that SUS scores have a direct impact on emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and overall burnout within the healthcare sector.  As system usability decreased, emotional exhaustion and depersonalization scores increased, as did the risk of burnout.

The coronavirus pandemic in particular has shed a spotlight on the lack of EHR usability and interoperability. With more than two million COVID-19 cases in the United States, hospitals have been overwhelmed with the increase in protected health information (PHI) being exchanged, documented, and managed. Slow transmissions and busy signals associated with limited PSTN-based fax numbers and legacy systems have prevented patient records, test results, prescriptions, and insurance information from being processed efficiently.

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HHS Announces Health IT Awardees Focused on Data Sharing to Support Clinical Care, Research, and Improved Outcomes

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announces four awards totaling more than $2.7 million under the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects in Health Information Technology (LEAP in Health IT) funding opportunity.

The LEAP in Health IT awardees will address fast-emerging challenges in interoperable health information technology (health IT), thus advancing opportunities for the adoption and use of health IT standards across the health care ecosystem.

The four new LEAP in Health IT awardees will address development and testing for data sharing functionalities to support clinical care, research, and improved outcomes. The 2020 special emphasis notice for LEAP in Health IT solicited applications focused on three areas of interest: (1) advancing registry infrastructure for a modern application programming interface-based health IT ecosystem; (2) cutting edge health IT tools for scaling health research; and (3) integrating healthcare and human services data to support improved outcomes.

“The LEAP program was created to bring future-focused outcomes closer to the present. This third cohort will inform the implementation and refinement of standards, methods, and innovative techniques to create breakthroughs in how we approach health care and research,” said Steve Posnack, deputy national coordinator for health IT.

The 2020 awardees are:

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COVID-19 and The Financial Storm Ahead For Providers

By Pete Bekas, director of product consulting, MedeAnalytics.

Pete Bekas

COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on our nation’s health system. In hard-hit cities like New York and Chicago, we watched makeshift hospitals open, military hospital ships deployed to support overflow patients, and operating rooms turned into intensive care unit rooms.

While providers focus on treating coronavirus patients, the lack of other services, such as outpatient surgeries, radiology services and other procedures, is resulting in extreme revenue loss.

Across the country, healthcare organizations are seeing 40% to 80% declines in monthly charges with some of the most profitable services lines only seeing 20% of their normal monthly volumes during the pandemic.

As we live with social distancing and providers continue to follow guidelines from professional associations to postpone and cancel non-urgent cases, healthcare organizations are just now starting to see the financial impact that COVID-19 is having on their organizations. We know that it takes payers approximately 35 days to process and pay claims. This processing time means organizations are about to enter financially-troubling times.

To add to the financial stress of diminishing volume of elective cases, organizations are seeing clinical staff contract the coronavirus or need self-quarantine because of symptoms. This requires healthy staff to put in longer hours resulting in overtime, which adds to the cost to care for those who need it the most.

Pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs have caused more even more stress within the healthcare sector. These actions have been taken in departments that have seen their patient volumes cut in half. Many physicians have seen cuts to their paychecks as organizations take drastic measures to conserve cash as they look to weather to the financial storm that is only weeks away.

Federal Government Relief

In mid-April 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services started depositing money from the CARES Act. Approximately $100 billion in relief funds will be sent to hospitals and other healthcare providers. The initial $30 billion was distributed based on the Medicare fee-for-service payments to providers during 2019; approximately $62 was given to providers per $1,000 paid in 2019. (Organizations where Medicare is not a large payer may have received little or no financial help in the initial round of relief putting them in a more difficult situation.) Although these funds come at a much-needed time, the question is how long the money will help hospitals and providers, given we are nowhere close to being back to normal patient volumes.

Nevertheless, additional relief is said to be on its way. (CMS said it would offer advanced payments loans to providers; this has since been put on hold.) Recent legislation is looking to add additional relief funds for our fragile health system. The damage, unfortunately, has already been done and it will take quite a while to recover.

Getting Back to Normal

The individuals who most often use profitable healthcare services, such as outpatient surgery and radiology are believed to be at the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus. As states begin to remove stay-at-home orders and we return to the new normal, how long will patients continue to defer medical services because of the fear of being exposed to the coronavirus?

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3 Powerful Insights From Apple’s API Strategy

Image result for apple logoApple is one of the biggest technology companies in the world. It is also one of the largest API platforms. Thus, developers can learn a lot from examining Apple’s strategy when it comes to APIs. In this article, we’ll consider powerful insights we can learn from how Apple uses APIs and maintains them.

Build Your Apps With Your Public APIs

When iOS was first launched, Apple developers used internal classes to handle operations such as tables and scrolling in the in-built applications.

These internal classes, however, were not available to third-party developers. Instead, Apple created public APIs that were comparatively harder to use and less performant than the internal classes.

To make it easier for third-party developers to build apps for iOS, Apple rewrote their apps to use the same classes as the external developers. They chose to do this even though it meant slowing down their apps for a while. Doing this, however, forced Apple to improve the performance and ease-of-use of their public interface.

If your development team has to work with special APIs that aren’t available to third-party developers to build your application, there are likely multiple issues with your external API. Working with the same APIs available to external developers including other free public APIs will enable you to ensure that your external API is easy to use and efficient.

Focus On The End User Experience

Software developers often talk about the Developer Experience (DX) when it comes to consuming APIs. While it is vital that the Developer Experience be as ideal as possible, there is another very important component that must not be overlooked – the end user experience.

Apple takes the user experience of the apps on their devices very seriously. If a developer fails to keep up with Apple’s API changes, it reflects poorly on Apple. Apple views the end users of third party applications as their customers. This focus on the end users prevents Apple from shipping bad APIs or promising to provide developers with features that might not work.

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How Tech Is Being Used to Improve and Expand Mental Health Options

Technology is changing different sectors, including the mental health sector. This happens in different ways, including the development of skills, and directly impacting mental service delivery. Most people can study and become professionals, not to mention that experts can now serve clients with ease because of technological advancements.

One of the significant advantages of technological advancements in the mental health sector is improved education. Apart from experts quickly securing their degrees and diplomas after studying online, many schools have been exploring the online learning platform. For example, they are offering PPS credential online to become a school counselor in California. Such opportunities make it possible for experts to advance their academics during the pandemic.

The fact that research has been simplified and made easy with improved technology means that more people, especially professionals, can build their knowledge and advance their careers. What’s more, technology gets used to promote treatment interventions and assessments of patients. As such, better remedies can be administered to mental health patients, helping to improve their lifestyle.

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How Tech Is Improving the Lives of Seniors

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Technology dominates the frontier of healthcare. Due to the growing elderly population, a lot of recently developed medical technology is meant to improve the lives of seniors. 

The following are some of the leading tech options available:

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Connecting Throughout the Patient Journey

By Kelly Conklin, chief clinical officer, PerfectServe.

Kelly Conklin

I promised myself that I wouldn’t start this post by talking about the “unprecedented times” brought on by COVID-19, and I wanted to avoid using the words “new normal.” Both phrases are such a common part of my life these days that they almost seem trite.

Alas, I’ve clearly broken my promise. Why did I give in so easily? Because these “unprecedented times,” challenging and sad though they’ve been, are the impetus for a lot of promising change in the world of healthcare, and I’m optimistic that the “new normal” is going to be a friendlier, more convenient, and more modern experience for patients, thanks to the effective deployment of patient engagement technology. It doesn’t negate the tragedy of the pandemic by any means, but this is a positive development that — if properly nurtured — will pay dividends long into the future.

Most of us have heard about the explosion in telehealth this year. An April report from Forrester indicated that virtual visits were likely to number more than one billion in 2020, and though current use of telemedicine is still above pre-pandemic levels, it’s estimated that only 21 percent of encounters in July were virtual — down from nearly 70 percent in April.

So what’s the real story? Has COVID-19 ushered in permanent changes to the care delivery process, or has 2020 been a year of temporary workarounds that will largely disappear once the pandemic has been contained?

While many people will continue to prefer in-person visits when possible, I think one of the biggest wins to come from the glut of COVID-induced changes over the last six-plus months is that providers — and the technology vendors they depend on — were forced to “meet patients where they are” to maintain continuity of care.

This radical patient-centric focus caused many in healthcare to ask some provocative questions. Does every visit need to be in person? Can we facilitate provider-to-patient communication from a distance without asking patients to download yet another patient portal app? How can these more convenient workflows be incorporated into a post-COVID environment?

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What To Know About Evolving Tech In Chiropractic Care

Technology has impacted every industry in some way, and the health industry is particularly revolutionized by the information technology movement. The chiropractic branch of healthcare has grown over the past decade; this practice focuses on the nervous system and musculoskeletal system and the impacts that these systems have on a person’s overall health.

Typically, disorders in these regions involve back pain, neck pain, and joint pain, and chiropractors take a conservative approach towards pain management and healthcare, which can drastically minimize a patient’s dependence on prescription painkillers. Chiropractors also spearhead rehabilitative and therapeutic exercises and provide lifestyle counseling. With the myriad of benefits offered in chiropractic care, it’s ripe with opportunities for technological advancements. Here’s what you need to know about the evolving tech in chiropractic care:

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Risk-Based Pricing Should Be the Future for SaaS in a Post-COVID World

By Blake Marggraff, CEO, CareSignal.

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Blake Marggraff

If you’re in the healthcare technology sector, you already know that business has been booming. Five years ago, the industry was valued at $125 billion. Now, COVID-19 is fueling the fire as health systems invest heavily in technology to care for patients remotely.

Industry growth isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either: With a compound annual growth rate of 13.2%, the healthcare tech market size is expected to balloon to $297 billion by 2022.

Healthcare SaaS companies and those investing in them are invigorated by this growth — and they’re capitalizing on opportunities to solve new problems created by the pandemic.

In parallel with healthcare tech innovation, healthcare itself is also experiencing a shift. The incumbent health systems and payers, representing trillions of dollars in revenue, are shifting away from the old-school fee-for-service economics and into value-based care models. As COVID-related financial pressures on health systems and payers mount, more healthcare organizations will move toward risk-based models to ensure long-term sustainability. This trend was already underway pre-COVID; now, it’s become almost necessary to succeed financially.

According to data from both HFMA and Numerof & Associates, the risk appetite is only going to grow stronger in healthcare. Healthcare SaaS companies can expect that this demand for risk will trickle down, and healthcare organizations will demand more risk from their SaaS partners.

Taking on more risk can do a lot to drive growth for healthcare SaaS companies — especially in light of COVID-19. And with the rapid growth projections in healthcare tech overall, it’s clear there’s a lot to gain for companies that can align their value with risk-based business models.

Risk-based pricing models are the responsible (and lucrative) choice for healthcare SaaS companies today

When a recent study compared clinical and financial outcomes for patients involved in value-based care models to those in fee-for-service models, it found that risk-based contracts achieved their stated goals of providing better services at lower costs. Risk-based pricing models are working for healthcare, as they put a heavier focus on value for patients. Similarly, healthcare SaaS companies can be rewarded for taking on more risk.

What’s more, as businesses across the country teeter on the brink of bankruptcy, it seems at best inappropriate for healthcare SaaS providers with little to no overhead to shy away from a share of the risk involved in financial contracts. Especially with the growth in healthcare tech, rapidly growing healthcare SaaS companies likely have the cash on hand — or access to venture capital — to enable a smooth transition to risk-based pricing models and better serve their enterprise customers.

But that doesn’t mean risk adoption is a form of charity — not by a long shot. For healthcare SaaS companies, risk can produce rewards and fuel growth in a few ways:

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