7 Innovations That Improve Operating Room Efficiency

Myth: Frequent ER Users Don't Use Primary Care

Surgeries are primary income-generating activities in hospitals and health care facilities. As such, efficiency is crucial in the operating room (OR), where time equates to money as well as someone’s life.

Numerous procedures are done in operating rooms to remove tumors or replace faulty body parts daily. And while carrying them out allows surgeons to upgrade their skills, such improvement must be matched by technologies to make surgical procedures and their outcomes better overall.

Ultimately, the operating room staff must have all the resources to minimize errors and downtime while improving patient experience. Below are a few of the emerging innovations that enhance efficiency in the OR.

  1. Technologically Advanced Surgical Cameras

With cutting-edge imaging technology, doctors can operate with surgical precision. Advanced surgical cameras are capable of not only providing three-dimensional views but also capturing high-definition images. Ultra-small in size, they can be inserted into any body cavity, helping surgeons reach any internal area. Once inside, these cameras create an accurate map of the patient’s body.

Additionally, there are surgical headlights that do more than illuminate the surgical site. Others come with video recording capabilities such as BFW’s LED surgical headlight system to facilitate minimally invasive surgical procedures.

  1. Hybrid Operating Rooms

As the name suggests, a hybrid operating room is a traditional operating room equipped with the latest technologies and imaging systems, including computed tomography (CT) scanners, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, and the like. This type of operating room also comes with modern surgical tools for minimally invasive procedures.

A hybrid OR procedure involves far more precise and efficient methods than those carried out in standard operating rooms. Setting up and maintaining one can be costly, though, with estimates reaching several million dollars.

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Life Insurance Tech That Will Impact Healthcare Providers

Life insurance is something that healthcare providers would rather not deal with. After all, it is only slightly related to the medical field, in that most insurers require a person to undergo a medical before approving their application. However, that could soon change.

If you need a refresher on life insurance, this article from Lemonade Insurance does a great job at explaining what life insurance covers. For people who do not have dependents, this information may not be something they know. Even those who do have dependents don’t always know how much insurance they should get, or whether they even really need life insurance.

The idea that technology will impact life insurance might sound strange, but it is already happening. Here’s how it will impact healthcare providers.

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Top 4 Tips To Help You Start and Run A Medical Practice

Starting and running a successful medical practice may seem like a straightforward process, but it is not. Doctors go through years of rigorous training to get the necessary certifications; however, none of the classes teach them how to run an empire. If you are in this field looking to break away from the traditional jobs available, there are certain factors that you have to bear in mind. Knowing the dynamics of the business as well as the requirements set by regulatory agencies is crucial in helping you make well-versed decisions. This article discusses top tips that will help you get the business off the ground and run it with minimal challenges.

  1. Build a website

Virtual presence is vital for a privately owned medical practice. It makes it easier for you to reach the target demographic without breaking an arm and a leg to fund marketing. Contracting an expert to help with the process may be costly. Luckily, there are website builders that offer various website templates that you can choose and customize, and that allows you to handle this phase without paying someone to do it for you. Before building the website, assess the needs of your business as dictated by your area of expertise to ensure you include all the necessary functions. Get to know more about websites by reading expert articles on authoritative sites to guarantee that all bases are covered as you begin the process.

  1. Find the appropriate location

Private medical practice compete with those provided by the government and big hospitals. For this reason, you have to be smart about the location you select to ensure that your target population can find you with ease. Additionally, few clinics or hospitals in the locale should be offering similar services and products to yours. Standing out gives you an upper hand as the clientele has to rely on your private practice to get the help they need without going out of their way.

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HL7 Launches Helios FHIR Accelerator For Public Health

A new initiative launched by Health Level Seven International (HL7) and jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) seeks to use widely recognized data exchange standards to help advance public health. The effort, called Helios, intends to strengthen the capacity and streamline data sharing across all levels of public health using the HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability (FHIR) standard.

“Public health has risen in urgency and importance over the last 18 months,” said the ONC’s National Coordinator for Health IT Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., M.P.P., “FHIR accelerators have had great success in engaging implementers as early as possible to help identify and overcome longstanding barriers to interoperability. The Helios alliance is a market-based implementation collaboration that will help to ensure FHIR development is coordinated and focused on real world public health needs.”

The initiative is the latest to use HL7’s FHIR Accelerator program, which seeks to speed the development and availability of FHIR to deliver better data that leads to better health outcomes. The Helios alliance represents an ambitious new use of the FHIR Accelerator Program, pulling together a diverse group of state, tribal, local, territorial, and Federal public health agencies, private and philanthropic sector partners, and other groups interested in the equitable and effective use of data for the advancement of public health.

“Helios is expected to become an integral component of the HL7 FHIR Accelerator Program and comprise a cornerstone to the newly announced HL7 Implementation Division,” said Charles Jaffe, M.D., Ph.D., the CEO of Health Level Seven International. “The Helios Public Health Accelerator will provide a critical step toward the direct access to data needed for public health.”

As the FHIR standard matures, there is a clear path to utilize FHIR and other existing standards to execute the interoperable exchange of data for public health. Helios members will help demonstrate the utility of FHIR and ensure public health needs are at the forefront as FHIR-based implementations evolve and rollout nationwide.

As the FHIR standard matures, there is a clear path to utilize FHIR and other existing standards to execute the interoperable exchange of data for public health. Helios members will help demonstrate the utility of FHIR and ensure public health needs are at the forefront as FHIR-based implementations evolve and rollout nationwide.

“Standardizing and automating our data flows will help us accelerate data into action,” said Daniel Jernigan, M.D., M.P.H., CDC’s deputy director for public health science and surveillance. “Organizing in this way will help ensure FHIR-based solutions are integrated, aligned, and are a complement to everything else that’s going on in the public health community.”

Organizers of Helios are encouraging other entities to participate in the effort. More information about Helios and the project’s goals can be found on HL7’s website, www.hl7.org/helios/.

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Telehealth Technologies: A Short-Term Solution That’s Been A Long Time Coming

Arlene Maxim

By Arlene Maxim, senior clinical officer, Axxess.

I’ve heard from several home healthcare agency administrators that they are preparing to don their scrubs for the first time in years to enter the front lines. This is because the long-term care industry continues to face one of its greatest threats in history, a classic business crisis of supply and demand.

In a recent survey, 88% of respondents stated their home care business was negatively affected by the caregiver shortage, and another survey reported in Bloomberg Businessweek saw 85 percent of organizations in Wisconsin did not possess the necessary staff to cover the shifts scheduled.

This problem extends nationwide. Clinicians across the United States have been tasked with providing care to an increasing patient population, which will continue to grow with what is commonly cited as the “Silver Tsunami” of 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day.

As a result, the aging population is anticipated to reach 88 million in 2050. And yet, we must consider that many retiring nurses are baby boomers fated to become patients themselves. Without enough staff to meet the needs of the growing patient population, organizations are plagued by missed visits and the consequences. Fortunately, some good has come amid the pandemic, most notably that technology has been given a boost.

Technology has also become much more prominent in healthcare with secure mobile communication that enables caregivers to spend more time on patients, along with wearable devices to track activity data and artificial intelligence to predict outcomes. Telehealth and remote care monitoring have grown exponentially due to COVID-19 and can quickly address the staffing crisis by augmenting existing practices and boosting efficiency and productivity.

Benefits of Telehealth

Through its ability to maintain patient-provider relationships over a distance, even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged telehealth as an essential component in care continuity. Telehealth also eases the impact of nursing shortages in rural communities and beyond by improving efficiency, as caregivers utilizing telehealth can help remotely care for more patients in less time.

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5 Steps For Securing Patient Portals

By Josh Horwitz, COO, Enzoic.

With the rapid shift to telehealth stemming from the pandemic, both deployment and adoption of patient portals increased. This surge in usage has exposed security vulnerabilities, and we’re now seeing that many of the patient portals in use today are ripe for fraud, phishing, and ransomware attacks. To illustrate the severity of this problem, last year the latter alone cost the healthcare industry nearly $21 billion in downtime, affecting 600 providers nationwide.

COVID-19 transformed the healthcare landscape, making patient portals and telehealth the primary means by which to communicate with providers, access treatment plans and other documents and process payments. Given the convenience this affords for patients and providers alike, these digital experiences will likely remain a primary part of the healthcare industry for years to come. As organizations continue to invest in patient portals and other telehealth innovations, it’s critical that they are cognizant of the myriad security concerns.

It should come as no surprise that hackers view patient portals as an extremely attractive target—credit card data, personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) are all accessible via these platforms. Unfortunately, because patient portals were designed with the user experience in mind, it’s not uncommon for them to have minimal security to make the process as frictionless as possible. Hackers are only too eager to exploit this and other security holes, so it’s critical that organizations address these concerns. With that in mind, read on for five important steps to shore up these vulnerabilities and enhance patient portal security.

  1. Screen for Compromised Credentials

In many cases patient portals are secured solely by a password; something that is widely recognized as a poor security practice, particularly for accounts that contain such sensitive information.?? This is largely due to the pervasive problem of reusing passwords across multiple sites–something 59% of respondents in a recent survey admit to doing. If just one of these accounts has been breached, then every other site or service associated with the exposed password is also at risk. Therefore, if a patient uses a weak or compromised password to secure their portal, there is a very good chance that bad actors could launch a successful account takeover (ATO). To address this and other password-related vulnerabilities, providers should screen credentials against a dynamic database to ensure that patients aren’t inadvertently opening up the front to hackers. Given the rate at which data breaches occur, it’s also important to implement this screening on an ongoing basis, rather than solely when a patient enrolls in the portal.

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How Physiotherapy Will Improve Your Quality Of Life

Physiotherapy offers patients the opportunity to recover from various injuries by focusing on several essential aspects of the patients’ health and well-being. The practice encourages optimal healing by promoting and improving mobility, reducing stiffness, effectively managing pain, and preventing the possibility of further injuries.

The therapy can effectively strengthen muscles while also speeding up the healing process. The treatment has been proven to help numerous patients make full recoveries from severe injuries effectively. There are multiple reasons the therapy is an excellent option for treatment, and there are also virtually no concerning risks involved.

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Healthgrades Announces 2022 Analysis of Top Hospitals For Specialty Care

Healthgrades released its 2022 Healthgrades Ratings and Specialty Excellence Awards. The ratings assess hospital performance across 31 of the most common procedures and conditions. The awards recognize superior clinical performance in 17 specialty areas and include a new category for overall surgical care. This list of all award recipients is available here.

As part of its analysis, Healthgrades has also released The 2022 Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Report: The Continuing Importance of Quality, which provides an in-depth review and data analysis to show how Americans can use quality ratings to find better specialty care. The report also includes insights from the ongoing Healthgrades COVID-19 Patient Confidence Study.

“Every American should use this information to help them decide where to seek specialty care,” said Brad Bowman, MD, chief medical officer and head of data science of Healthgrades. “Healthgrades also provides the tools for hospitals to understand how well they perform compared with other local, regional and national hospitals—and to make improvements accordingly.”

Quality data for objective measures of excellence

The 2022 Healthgrades Specialty Excellence Awards recognize hospitals that deliver superior patient outcomes across the most common in-hospital procedures and conditions, including surgical care, critical care, cardiac care and surgery, gastrointestinal care and surgery, bariatric surgery, and 10 other specialties. Full methodology is available here.

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A Telehealth Transformation Can Improve Patient Retention

Amy Miller

By Amy Miller, regional director of growth, AMD Global Telemedicine.

Fewer Americans were visiting primary care providers even before the pandemic.

According to a long-term study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the number of U.S. adults with a primary care physician slipped from 77% in 2002 to 75% in 2015. It’s a seemingly slight decline that nonetheless represents millions of patients. And due to the pandemic, fear of entering hospitals will continue exacerbating the issue, causing health systems to miss out on long-term revenue-building relationships. Fortunately, virtual care can fill in the gaps if healthcare organizations implement it appropriately.

COVID-19 made people cautious about nonessential in-person interactions, but it also encouraged them to try new technological solutions ranging from shopping for groceries online to telehealth visits with physicians. According to Kyruus’ “Patient Perspectives on Virtual Care Report,” 72% of patients surveyed tried virtual care for the first time during the pandemic, and more than 75% of them were “very satisfied.” In fact, nearly three-quarters of respondents want virtual care to be an option in the future, and half would switch providers to ensure they have that choice.

Taking Telehealth Further

The videoconference model of telehealth popularized during the pandemic has been incredibly effective at extending access to care, but it does have limitations. In particular, video-only virtual care doesn’t allow for the real-time transmission of diagnostic data from medical devices, including stethoscopes, EKGs, and ultrasounds. By offering virtual care models that integrate medical devices, physicians can diagnose and treat a wider variety of patients with more accuracy. Facilities can also extend care to treat and bill higher-acuity patients.

Patients and providers currently use telehealth primarily for one-off appointments, but organizations can leverage a more adaptable telehealth program across the care continuum and at multiple touchpoints. Achieving this goal will require health systems to view telehealth as a key part of care delivery instead of an exception. To embrace telehealth and reap the benefits of improved service quality and patient retention, healthcare leaders should follow three key steps:

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Nursing Shortage Began Well Before Pandemic; Problems Are Deeply Rooted 

Rebecca Love

By Rebecca Love, chief clinical officer, IntelyCare.

The news media has done an excellent job of covering the country’s ongoing nursing shortage since the pandemic began. But one problem I have with the coverage is that most of the reports suggest the pandemic and the subsequent burnout suffered by nurses is to blame for the shortage. 

Let’s be clear about what we in healthcare know all too well. 

Years before February 2020, when COVID-19 began to spread across the globe, a growing number of care facilities around the country were chronically understaffed. The truth is the pandemic exacerbated and brought dramatic downward pressure on an already strained workforce. The issue came to the forefront because nurses were on the pandemic’s frontlines and in the spotlight. It shouldn’t have surprised anyone that the many ways the healthcare system has failed them – going back decades – were thrust into full public view.

Earlier this month, the St. Louis Post Dispatch published a story about the high turnover in area hospitals. At one hospital system, out of a 8,500-person staff, managers are losing 160 nurses a month, according to the paper. The story is much the same around the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the nation’s care facilities will be short 1.1 million registered nurses by next year. A problem is particularly serious for post-acute care facilities, which were seeing a pre-pandemic annual turnover rate of 128%.

Before the pandemic, shortages at facilities didn’t draw much attention because there was always some way to patch shifts together. Managers could hire per diem staff or travel nurses. Then, the pandemic struck and the backup resources administrators typically relied on dried up. With so many hospitals overflowing with COVID patients, few places possessed extra nurses. 

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