The healthcare industry plays an important role since it impacts people’s lives in various ways. As innovations continue to evolve, they have brought about significant changes in the quality of health services, particularly in delivering dependable and high-quality patient care.
Apart from advancements, the healthcare industry has faced many challenges. Most of these challenges result from regulatory or legislative mandates, security threats, and process changes brought about by new technology, to name a few.
Healthcare is something that’s been around for a while, especially in the western world, but as with all things, digitalization is omnipresent and something that’s unavoidable.
In this article, we’ll explore how digitalization is affecting healthcare, what changes it can make, and what challenges this could pose for both patients and healthcare professionals. Whether by adopting a DDC system or just by making data easier to work with, we have plenty of talking points below that’ll give you a better understanding.
What changes can digitalization make?
Digitalization can make a number of changes to healthcare, both good and bad. On the positive side, digitalization can improve efficiency and accuracy in healthcare delivery. It can also make it easier for patients to access their medical records and get second opinions from other doctors.
On the negative side, digitalization can lead to information overload for both patients and doctors, and it can pose a risk to patient privacy if data falls into the wrong hands.
Of course, even though the increase in technology poses challenges and issues in healthcare, the benefits generally outweigh any detractions. With us now being able to monitor patients from home instead of the hosital, we can treat more patients and complete more tasks from a distance, which is excellent at a time when contagious infections are currently more prevalent than usual.
Digital health is a rapidly growing field. As it expands, so must the security of medical devices, especially in an increasingly vulnerable digital space. While the various features and advantages of the connections in healthcare services are undeniable, they also bring security considerations.
The best practices can help companies protect patient data on their devices and prevent attacks. For example, Techumen’s healthcare IT security services and others are trying to protect companies from the risks associated with their connected devices. However, aside from using these healthcare security servers, companies and healthcare providers must use pro tips to ensure medical device security. Some of these are:
Implement Security By Design
Security by design is the first step in embedding security into your product. It’s a process that considers all aspects of a product, from development and manufacturing to deployment and operation. It’s not just concerned with keeping hackers out; it also focuses on minimizing end-user risks. You must, therefore, identify potential threats before they become a reality.
A career in medical radiography can be a rewarding job. You will be among the patients needing tests conducted with specialized machinery and tools. As a radiology expert, you will be the one who lines up the machines, explains the procedures, and performs the necessary tests.
Plus, you will be checking the results of the test to make sure that everything looks good. You will probably be able to read the image at a glance, but your job is to take the pictures and send them up to a radiologist for them to read and write up a report for the doctor that ordered the test in the first place.
But the question for those contemplating this type of career is what they can expect in the life of a medical radiography technician. Is it full of stress and danger, or calm and helpful? Well, it is a combination of them both. Let’s look at what you can expect from the time you clock in until the time you leave for the day.
The last 24 months have transformed the role of the cloud in healthcare. Before, software solutions were usually only accessible on-prem. There was no real impetus for healthcare organizations to modernize their disconnected systems when they were contained within a facility’s four walls. For clinicians laser-focused on patient care, trying new tools from the IT department was a low priority. Both of these factors made the adoption of modern cloud solutions extremely slow.
But the rise of telehealth and remote work during the pandemic changed all that. Now, efficient collaboration across many locations is a business need — and a key to effective patient care. More healthcare organizations are making the decision to shift their systems to the cloud to facilitate easier file sharing, more streamlined workflows, and other benefits.
However, transitioning to the cloud isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. For healthcare organizations in particular, modernizing technology systems requires careful change management and a well-thought-out governance plan. Skip these steps and your organization risks missing out on the full benefits of cloud.
The sources of healthcare organizations’ technical debt
Data security and regulatory compliance are top concerns for healthcare providers when it comes to technology solutions — and for good reason. Healthcare organizations handle large quantities of highly sensitive personally identifiable information (PII), and both HIPAA and data privacy regulations like the GDPR and CCPA carry heavy penalties for violations that lead to a breach.
However, these legitimate concerns have led many healthcare organizations into deep technical debt. A widespread — and inaccurate — perception that on-prem solutions are more secure than cloud delayed adoption of modern, streamlined workflow and file management solutions. At the same time, concerns over compliance drove the adoption of pinpoint solutions from vendors able to claim their products were specifically designed for healthcare customers.
In recent years, the global healthcare industry has been under heavy attack by cybercriminals. The sector stands in fourth place among the most targeted industries, and one-fifth of its spending is dedicated to cybersecurity. The global healthcare cybersecurity market was valued at $12.6 billion in 2021 and is expected to expand at an annual growth rate of 18.3% from 2022 to 2030.
93% of healthcare organizations faced a data breach
The healthcare industry has suffered from significant growth in the number of cyberattacks. Forty-five million records of patients were exposed to healthcare attacks in 2021, a number that has tripled in the last three years. One-third of all significant data breaches targeted hospital accounts.
Thirty-four percent of data breaches are related to unauthorized access to healthcare networks. Furthermore, 1.5 billion users’ personally identifiable information (PII) was leaked due to third-party violations in 2021. Ninety-three percent of healthcare organizations experienced a data breach in 2016-2019 and a quarter of physicians couldn’t identify the common signs of malware.
AGS Health opened in 2011 with offices in Chennai, India, and New York City. As the company celebrates its 11th anniversary, it now employs a 100% graduate workforce of approximately 10,000 employees, serving more than 100 major healthcare providers across the U.S. As the company continues to grow, AGS Health is diversifying its global operating locations.
Jaipur was selected as the newest office location, in part for its skilled talent pool. By partnering with local universities, AGS Health is able to recruit and train recent graduates on medical coding and revenue cycle management in the AGS Health Training Academy. “We believe the quality of talent in this region will allow us to continue delivering world-class service as we grow,” said Patrice R. Wolfe, chief executive officer of AGS Health. The company has already begun hiring for the Jaipur location and expects to be staffed at approximately 350 team members by August, with a goal of scaling up to 3,000 as operations are established.
By Ashley Walsh, vice president of client services, iQueue for OR, LeanTaaS.
After a two-month decline, COVID-19 is rising again, in the form of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant.S. On top of managing perpetual variants, health systems will continue navigating the ongoing staffing shortages that have been exacerbated by pandemic-related case surges.
These escalating shortages of clinical staff cause massive challenges for health systems, including fluctuations in surgical case volumes and ongoing backlogs of deferred procedures – a vicious cycle that can be costly to health systems.
Health systems often turn to hiring or spending more to mitigate the strain of staffing shortages, but that is not always the best answer as demand and capacity will inevitably fluctuate. AI-powered technology can help bridge the fundamental gaps between supply and demand in health systems. Here are three ways AI-based technology can improve efficiencies and combat critical resource challenges heightened by COVID-19 patient surges.
Optimize Scheduling and Communication
One of the biggest challenges health systems face during patient surges is scheduling inefficiencies. Health systems are often forced to temporarily close some of their surgical sites, then manage them as they re-open at different paces with specific location-based criteria for rescheduling cases. Clinic schedulers struggle to keep up with changes through back and forth calls, emails, booking forms, or fax messages. Instead of relying on outdated and inefficient communications, health systems can implement centralized AI-based scheduling tools.
Baptist Health Jacksonville, for example, successfully utilized an electronic case scheduling tool during a COVID-19 surge. In July 2021, the system had to shut down elective surgeries at three hospitals and two ASCs for nearly two months, and all non-critical surgical procedures requiring a bed needed to be rescheduled. To keep up with ongoing demand and changes in scheduling and regulations they used an automated scheduling platform that allowed in-app communication, streamlining the process across the entire health system. Instead of spending time with circular calls and emails, Baptist Health was able to quickly respond to scheduling changes, reduce errors and alleviate stress on an already overburdened staff.
Enhance Workflows with Backlog Visibility
As mentioned, there have been a significant number of surgeries needing to be rescheduled from patient surges, leading to a growing backlog of cases. As hospitals struggle to match their limited OR staff and resources with this built-up demand, these staff and clinic schedulers are further limited and burdened by inefficient workflows. This leads to poor use of available OR time and space and higher costs for the health system overall.
A solution is to provide accessible backlog transparency. Backlog management solutions offer complete visibility into the surgeon’s backlog so that staff and schedulers can execute recovery strategies appropriately, including by shifting volume, extending hours, and building effective block schedules. By supporting their personnel in adjusting and reallocating resources quickly, health systems can improve workflows, maximize OR time and reduce extra work for staff.
The onset of the pandemic in 2020 has taught the medical community quite a few lessons, and the very first one of those lessons is resilience and drive in times of dire need. How the global medical community came together to produce vaccines and develop treatments for COVID-19 is truly commendable, and these efforts have culminated in there is a renewed appreciation for research and innovation in the medical field.
Likewise this year we are going to witness several healthcare technology trends bear fruit, and given below are four healthcare technology trends that you need to know about:
Telehealth is quickly gaining popularity in the medical field and is essentially defined as the use of digital communication tech to facilitate healthcare and pertaining services. The devices used in telehealth may include computers, tablets, smartphones, and essentially anything that allows a patient and a medical practitioner to connect digitally.
Telehealth essentially gained momentum during the pandemic since many patients preferred not coming in for a checkup. The benefits of telehealth include an expansion of healthcare access, reduced transmissible infections, and urgent care.
2. Medical IoT
Internet of Things or IoT is essentially defined as a network of physical devices that can communicate with each other and exchange data. These devices communicate through sensors and software. Medical IoT is similar to conventional IoT, and the only difference being is that the network is made up of medical devices.
Medical IoT uses wearable devices, medical screens, monitors, and other applications that suffice patients’ healthcare needs. The combination of AI, machine learning, and IoT allows these devices to offer insights into patient conditions and signal oncoming health conditions.
By Christine Cooper, CEO and member; and Jack Towarnicky, member, aequum LLC.
Effective healthcare consumerism requires timely access to accurate provider and hospital fees and estimated out of pocket costs of services – before receiving care. Price transparency puts employer-sponsored benefit plans in the driver’s seat, empowering participants with information that helps them be more prepared, involved and informed in proactively making cost-conscious decisions about their health care options and utilization.
This empowerment is especially important in today’s economy. Many workers are “financially fragile” and have not set aside savings specifically earmarked for out-of-pocket medical expenses, including regular cost sharing – deductibles, copayments, coinsurance. As healthcare continues to see rising cost inflation, price transparency is more in the spotlight, triggering a (re)introduction of healthcare consumer strategies. By taking advantage of price transparency, making comparative cost and quality information available, and capitalizing on cost containment opportunities, plan sponsors and their participants can fully optimize the value of their health benefits plan.
Taking Advantage of Price Transparency
There is complexity in healthcare due to a lack of price transparency. This is especially prevalent in medical billing. Health policy changes have been enacted to make cost information in the healthcare industry more easily available to consumers with the expectation that price transparency will provide better metrics for healthcare spending. The appeal of price transparency is based on the view that increased consumer choice and less information asymmetry will aid in achieving higher-quality, lower-cost health care.
Legislation is now in effect to better enable Americans with knowing the true cost of provider health services before receiving care and submitting a claim. Federal law now supports employer-sponsored health plan access to price transparency with added levels of protection and fairness. Executive Order 13877—Improving Price and Quality Transparency in American Healthcare to Put Patients First, significantly expanded the requirements for hospital and other medical provider price transparency.