Category: Editorial

Three Ways Today’s Healthcare CFO Is No Longer A Traditional CFO

By Tim Susterich, chief provider network strategy and contracting officer, HealthBridge Financial, Inc.

Tim Susterich

Though healthcare CFOs still occupy a traditional role in many organizations, the role has significantly expanded in recent years. No longer can a CFO of a major healthcare system simply focus on cash flow, financial planning and balancing the books. Today, the role must be more strategic and visible, both inside and outside the organization.

Here are three ways a modern healthcare CFO can add more value to his or her organization.

1. Be More Visible

Visibility within the organization is critical. Today’s CFO can’t be holed up in her office. She must be more visible, walking the hallways, meeting people and taking her leadership outside of the finance department. From physician network teams and registration/scheduling to telemedicine and population health departments, the CFO must take an active role to ensure she has her pulse on what is going on, always with an eye to ensuring that patients have access to quality, affordable care throughout the system.

Healthcare today is broader than the four walls of the hospital.  Its reach includes the emergency room, the physician’s office, the home, and the community. Because the CFO often weighs in on where money is best spent, the CFO needs to have visibility to every aspect of the system. The CFO can play a critical role in helping deliver the best healthcare experience for a health system’s patient population.

2. Focus on Community Health

Health systems are a community asset and sometimes even the crown jewel of the community. A dynamic CFO works with community leaders to ensure that the healthcare needs of the community are being met.  Much work has been done around the Social Determinants of Health, so we know that where people live, learn, work, and play affects a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes.  Being ever-present and building strong bridges to the community can preserve or even grow market share.  But most of all, it can lead to better clinical outcomes, with happier and healthier patients. Community involvement allows people to have frequent positive experiences with their local healthcare system, which ultimately supports the system’s success and competitive advantage.

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How To Create A Digital Front Door In Healthcare

By Dessiree Paoli, senior solution manager, Interlace Health.

Dessiree Paoli

Even before the pandemic, rural hospitals were closing at record rates. According to a report by the Chartis Center for Rural Health, 19 hospitals in rural America closed in 2019. By 2020, one in four hospitals were at risk of closing — and COVID-19 has only worsened their financial challenges. This is particularly problematic for aging populations and the rural communities that already face barriers to proper healthcare.

As a result, many healthcare organizations are left wondering how they can improve the patient’s journey in healthcare and overcome major obstacles moving forward. They’re handling the drastic increase in telehealth visits, rescheduling clinical trials, promoting digital relationships with doctors, re-evaluating health portfolios, and more.

Given the various challenges healthcare providers and professionals face, what is the best path forward? It starts with establishing a patient-first approach. The industry has to take what it’s learned from an unprecedented 2020 and consider how to reach more patients in 2021 and beyond.

Digital Transformation and the Patient-First Approach

This starts with the role of digital in the changing industry. Advancements and shifts in the digital healthcare experience are likely here to stay. Many of the new tech-based processes brought about by the pandemic (e.g., telehealth, virtual check-ins, new technologies for remote intake) will become standard elements of the digital patient journey.

While industry professionals initially scrambled to adopt these tools, the benefits of digital transformations in healthcare were immediately apparent: convenience, reduced exposure to illness, and increased accessibility. Healthcare organizations became more proactive in reaching their patients, which led to better treatment and quality of care.

But digital transformation is not happening in a vacuum. The push to implement more technology in healthcare processes has also created a push for a more local, results-based approach to healthcare. Decentralized healthcare systems work to improve efficiency and quality of care; they can also enhance communication between a referring provider and the partner organization, ensuring a smooth continuation of care when it’s needed.

The ultimate goal of this push is to open up a “digital front door in healthcare.” This strategic and patient-first approach creates engagement during every interaction with the healthcare system. Why? A well-rounded healthcare strategy doesn’t rely on one component of the patient experience to determine the quality of care — and neither should a digital strategy. Instead, it must take a comprehensive approach that keeps patients engaged and informed.

The marriage between a patient-first approach and a digital front door strategy has the potential to be incredibly powerful. A digital-first, patient-centric approach can propel your organization into the future of healthcare. Here are three suggestions to get you started:

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Your Patients Cannot Afford Inefficient Payment Options

By Mike Peluso, chief technology officer, Rectangle Health.

Michael Peluso

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, it is becoming abundantly clear we can no longer separate physical and fiscal care – patients cannot afford it. Provider payment systems and practice management solutions, too often regarded as an afterthought, can play a significant role in the financial well-being of patients by preventing the accumulation of debt and absorbed costs.

In the coming years, the lasting implications of the pandemic will no doubt result in a financial burden that compounds these challenges, creating an urgent need to streamline payments and administrative tasks on behalf of patients.

A Patient Need, Unfulfilled

The effect of inefficient and inflexible payments is best understood on a broad scale. According to a 2021 study by Rectangle Health and PYMNTS1, there is a significant disconnect between the payment solutions patients are interested in and the solutions they are offered. Per the study, 63% of patients are “very” or “extremely interested” in using payment plans, though only 44% were offered them. Many patients are also interested in access to digital payments, but they are not offered options either.

To put this financial disconnect into a medical equivalent, consider a patient with a heart condition who is dependent on the provider administering swift and decisive treatment. Waiting to get treatment would only exacerbate the issue and have potentially fatal consequences. Similarly, an inefficient practice management system that allows a patient to miss payments builds debt. The consequences in practice management, however, are not restricted to a single patient – others may absorb costs, too, build debt of their own and the entire practice can be put at risk.

Medical debt has a significant and well-documented impact on patient health. When patients miss payments, they are more likely to avoid their provider and assume they cannot afford to treat new health issues that emerge. A 2016 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation2 found that about three out of 10 patients reported problems getting health care they needed directly as a result of unpaid bills.

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3 Ways To Find Work-Life Balance As A Physician

person wearing lavatory gown with green stethoscope on neck using phone while standing

As of 2018, there were nearly one million physicians in the United States alone. That number has undoubtedly grown, because the healthcare industry is in high demand. 

Being a physician is one of the most rewarding positions you can take on in the healthcare industry. But, it also means that many responsibilities fall on your shoulders – not just when it comes to patient care, but everything that comes with it.  

You’re also the first person in the line of fire if someone should make a complaint against your practice. So, between working long hours, having to deal with malpractice insurance, and never knowing each day what your patients will bring, it can be hard to find a healthy work-life balance.  

If you’re a doctor anywhere in the world, it’s important to be able to relax and unwind when you’re at home. It’s equally important to spend time with your family and friends, and leave your work at work. 

So, how can you strike a healthy work-life balance as a physician? Continue Reading

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Here’s Why Clinical Trials Are More Important Than You Might Think

At some point in their lives, most people will face the daunting task of having to choose between medical options. It’s during these instances when the importance of clinical trials is heavily emphasized. Each and every medical option presented to us has been scrutinized meticulously, and yet, few people will ever know of the rigors and challenges that accompany clinical trials. This piece is meant to give credence to the researchers who ensure that the medical solutions we use are safe and effective.

What Are Clinical Trials?

A clinical trial is a process that tests the safety and effectiveness of drugs and medical devices. Clinical trials are often sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and are conducted by research teams composed of medical professionals and experts.

Before a medical solution can be mass-produced and delivered, it must first undergo a lengthy process that involves laboratory testing and clinical trials before being approved by the FDA. This process can take from five to 10 years. So, why is this lengthy process necessary?

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One Big Question Healthcare Technology Professionals Should Be Asking Right Now: How Are Healthcare Technology Dealing with Rising CyberAttacks During COVID?

Response from Bram Jansen, chief editor, vpnAlert.

Bram Jensen

The recent digitalization of the business world is putting businesses at risk of cyber attacks more than ever before. Big data analysis has the potential to offer protection against these attacks especially against coronavirus research.

Analytics is an essential element in leveraging cyber resilience. With more advanced and persistent attacks on the vaccine research libraries and the basic fact that every health-organizations must protect itself against all varieties of attacks while an attacker only needs one successful attempt, health-organizations must rethink their cybersecurity concepts. They have to go ahead of pure prevention towards the PDR paradigm: Prevent – Detect – Respond.

Lastly, modern big data security analytics solutions give various automated workflows for responding to detected threats, such as disrupting clearly identified malware attacks or submitting a suspicious event to a managed security service for further analysis. Automated controls for cybersecurity and fraud detection have been recognized as one of the important business drivers for future adoption in this study.

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How Does Mobile Communication Impact The Patient Experience?

By Alexa Lemzy, customer support manager, Textmagic.com.

Alexa Lemzy

Mobile communication technology in healthcare has the potential to improve the patient experience greatly. With a 75% increase in usage last year, telehealth has proven itself a valuable tool during the global pandemic, and it’s predicted to continue at a high adoption rate in the future.

This is because it offers many benefits to the patient experience beyond reducing unnecessary in-person contact. It also enables healthcare providers to support patients with more information and better communication between appointments. This is particularly valuable for patients who prefer the convenience of digital communication and self-service options.

Improved Follow-Up

It can be difficult for patients to take all the information on board when they are given a complex diagnosis or treatment plan. They may only realize later that they didn’t understand something or instruction they don’t remember.

Following up appointments with a text to summarize the details gives patients a chance to process the information and note any details they missed in-person. A follow-up text is also an excellent opportunity to prompt patients for any questions or concerns they didn’t mention during the appointment.

Patient Feedback

Mobile communication methods like texting and instant messaging make it simpler to check up on patients during or after treatment. Scheduling an automated text message that follows appointments that patients can reply to with any concerns or new developments.

A text or message lets patients reply at a time that suits them without interrupting their day. While a phone call could put patients on the spot, making them forget details they wanted to discuss, a text gives them time to think of everything they want to include in their reply.

Besides reaching out to patients, it is easier for them to contact you, either directly or through an app or chatbot. Providing these automated response methods lets patients get immediate answers to simple queries such as checking appointment times or medication instructions. Questions they can’t answer can be passed onto a healthcare provider for a more detailed response.

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One Big Question: What Question Healthcare Technology Leaders Should Be Asking Right Now

New Reports finds Biggest Threat to Healthcare ...

Response from Sarah Johnson, RN and the health ambassador, Family Assets.

I’m an RN and the health ambassador for Family Assets, an eldercare and senior living resource for older adults and caregivers.

Working in eldercare and watching how telehealth technology has radically reshaped geriatric care during the pandemic, I think the most important question healthcare technology professionals should be asking themselves right now is: given that hospitals and healthcare facilities have been prime targets for cybercriminals, largely because of aging infrastructure, what needs to be done to make the rapidly expanding healthcare tech industry more secure?

I think the obvious answer to this is the development of much more robust digital security protocols at individual institutions and a massive educational initiative for healthcare providers and workers. This should include, among other things, scheduled stress testing that probes for cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

Too many organizations, within and outside of healthcare, are completely unprepared for the cyberthreats they face and are not diligent enough when it comes to monitoring and probing for weaknesses.

All healthcare technology professionals should have this issue front and center

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10 Signs You Need To See A Doctor Right Away

8 Types of Headaches and why it is important to take them ...

For a lot of people, each bruise, bump, or cough means a rush to the nearest emergency care. But for a larger portion of the adult population, the trips to a medical professional are few and far between. All of us are always trying to cut down on the visit to the medical center but there are times when our body will be screaming that it needs a doctor. You should never neglect these signs as it could mean something is significantly wrong with your body. If you notice the below-mentioned signs, you need to see a doctor right away.

  1. You have persistent headaches

Research shows that one in twenty adults suffers from a headache on a daily basis. But this does not mean that it is a common ailment and should not be treated. Headaches are a symptom of ailments that can be as minor as an eye strain or dehydration and can also be as major as an infection, meningitis, brain injuries, or even tumors. If you have a pounding in your head that no painkiller can handle, you need to speak to the doctor. Take your headaches seriously.

  1. You are losing weight without trying

Losing weight is like a dream for many people but if you notice that the pounds are falling off without any major effort or changes in your food habits, you need to see a doctor. If you are not exercising or dieting, it means you are experiencing early symptoms of various cancers and you should not avoid this sign.

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Why People Are Missing Contact Tracer Calls On Mobile Phones

As most of us would agree, modern smartphones have become hugely useful when it comes to providing us with increased ease and convenience. You can now do so much on your phone, from browsing and making purchases online to taking videos and photos, accessing social media, download and using a huge range of apps, and more.

Mobiles have also proven very useful in terms of helping to battle the ongoing global pandemic, as it means that people can go online with ease to check information, make arrangements for testing, get updates on the virus, and receive calls from contact tracers if they have been exposed or infected. When it comes to the latter, contact tracers often use mobiles to try to get in touch with those who have been diagnosed with COVID as well as those who have been exposed via contact with infected people.

Not Always Successful

As our infographic shows, contact tracers are not always successful in contacting people on mobiles, and this is for a range of reasons. While they do try to call three times, their calls can still go unanswered, and this means that they are unable to get or provide the information they need to with regard to exposed contacts.

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