Now that we are in 2019, its time to really take your health seriously. We aren’t talking about the usual “let’s lose a few pounds” as a New Year’s resolution; what we mean is taking advantage of the technology, information and health products available these days that can help your health today, tomorrow, and the rest of your life.
This is true whether you’re a young professional or a retiree, and it’s never too late to make some life-altering changes. Outline your goals beforehand and make a list of what you need to do to achieve them. With the advances in technology over the last several decades, staying on top of your health is easier than ever before.
If you’re retired, chances are your health needs are a bit different. Staying active is crucial, even if it’s only a walk around the neighborhood each day. This prevents muscle atrophy and weakness. If you’re struggling with movement and slowing down, consider investing in a remote monitoring with predictive analytics, especially if you live alone. These services can prove to be life-saving in the event of an emergency and it’s one way technology is helping to improve the quality of life for seniors. You can also make your home more mobility friendly if you have trouble getting around. This will limit the amount of stress you put on your body.
Caring for mental health
At least one in five Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, so chances are you know someone who does. Mental illness can lead to many devastating consequences including drug addiction, homelessness and relationship failures. The first step to getting help is recognizing that there’s a problem and getting a diagnosis from a qualified doctor as each diagnosis is treated differently in terms of medication and coping habits. There are many ways to get help including facilities that offer ACT therapy, rehabilitation and psychological help. In cases where medication and other forms of therapy fail, some doctors turn to TMS therapy, which uses an external electromagnet to stimulate the nerves in your brain that affect your mood. It sits on your head, offering a non-invasive method of treatment.
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions–if not the most popular–is weight loss. Whether you have 5 or 50 pounds you want to lose, with a lot of hard work and dedication, you can make it happen. Try out new exercise routines streamed right to your smartphone or tablet via apps, and increase your activity to burn more calories in addition to overhauling your diet. It’s okay to indulge in sweets, but keep consumption to a minimum.
Technological innovations are helping medical experts advance and improve the healthcare industry. The advancements are not just quick, but also efficient. Some of the technologies allow healthcare professionals to diagnose diseases with 100 percent accuracy. Through technology and science, medical researchers are creating innovations that are improving, expanding and transforming the healthcare industry.
Technological advancements, like artificial intelligence, are aiding experts in creating new technologies in short periods. Also, machine learning applications are helping scientists analyze data incredibly fast. Here are the top medical technology breakthroughs this year:
When it comes to medical research and healthcare technology, radiology has been among the fastest growing sectors. Cutting-edge technological advancements and optimized manufacturing using Leading2Lean have enabled the creation of multi-functional systems that simultaneously diagnose a wide range of medical problems, symptoms, signs and biomarkers without being cost-prohibitive. Looking into the coming few years, both patients and physicians could see multi-functional MRIs, systems that detect the percentage of the cancerous cells in the body and a variety of other machines that offer an almost instantaneous diagnosis.
Smartphone applications and chatbots are currently making waves in the therapy field. It is another technological advancement that might bring mental health treatments back to human-to-human interactions. Teletherapy, which involves delivering therapeutic sessions by video-enabled interfaces, is probably an essential technological advancement of mental health.
As society becomes evolved about the roles of mental healthcare, the higher the demand will be on psychiatrists and therapists. When looking at 2018 in review, the number of healthcare providers, were not enough to meet the demand of the patients. The main problem with mental health is that demand is always higher compared to supply.
In almost every way, this technology is similar to traditional therapy. Patients visit their doctors and sit face-to-face with them and discuss the issue. But instead of a chair, patients use FaceTime and Skype or other video conferencing services. The benefit of teletherapy is that you will not travel to any place and you can have your session from wherever you are and whenever you are able.
Improved cancer recovery resources
Health experts are using cutting-edge genomics technology to diagnose and treat cancer while minimizing the utilization of radiation therapy. Experts forecast that the genomic sequencing technology will help revolutionize all aspects and processes of cancer treatment. As a result of the medical technology breakthroughs this year, scientists are developing new treatment techniques based on genomic alterations.
It began in the 1980s with those wonderful word processors. Electric typewriters bit the dust, and health records could be entered and saved on floppy discs. This was only the beginning.
We’ve come along way, baby. As technology came to disrupt every sector of the economy, healthcare was no exception. Consider all that has happened in this sector and where we are today.
Consolidated health records in the cloud
Anyone who has been to a doctor recently understands this. That doctor may have your entire health history, from multiple providers, all in one place. This technology allows any provider to provide better care protocols according to each individual’s unique history and make recommendations for testing, etc. that will not be duplicating those already done.
Patients can also access their full health histories and provide access to family members as well. This allows more control of patients over their own healthcare and allows them to make better decisions for future care.
Use of big data for treatment protocol decisions
Now that providers have access to health data from all over the globe, they can review research studies, identify effectiveness based on specific symptoms, DNA makeups, and more. The net effect is this: research from all over the world is now available through tools that gather data, churn it, categorize it, and provide reports based on specific queries. Ultimately, better care for all can occur because of this shared data. Amy Castello, a healthcare writer for Trust My Paper, says this: “I conduct a lot of research on a number of healthcare topics. One of the most interesting is the strides that have been made in the use of big data. I see a future of customized care solutions that
Use of AI and machine learning to identify and predict disease outbreaks
When artificial intelligence is applied to bag data gathering, environmental conditions can be analyzed for their contributions to disease outbreaks. Likewise, when there are higher than average disease conditions among certain demographics or in certain geographical areas, AI can analyze data and report common characteristics that may be contributing to those outbreaks.
Development of vaccines
Every year, a number of medical reporting organizations isolate the specific viruses that have resulted in flu outbreaks. All of this information is then physically reported during a consolidated meeting, and decisions are made for the next vaccine composition. Now, all of the data can be digitally reported, and the recommended vaccine compositions determined by the use of artificial intelligence. Ultimately, this can serve to reduce some of the human “guesswork” that now occurs.
A decade ago, patients had to travel to their doctors’ offices for regular checks on chronic conditions. Now, wearable devices provide ongoing data electronically, so that patients are monitored from home, with alerts to their doctors when conditions change that they might warrant an office visit or hospitalization. Getting real-time data of this sort not only increase efficiency of care but results in lower costs for both providers and patients.
Every person, from the newest employee to the CEO, can either strengthen or weaken an organization’s security posture. For this reason, healthcare companies need to help their employees take precautions against the latest ransomware scams, otherwise their organization may be the next ransomware victim.
One of the main reasons healthcare has become such fertile ground for ransomware hacks is the shift to digitalized personal healthcare records in a rapid time frame. Less than ten years ago, most physicians updated patient records manually and stored them in color coded file systems. By the end of 2017 industry data suggests that approximately 90 percent of office-based physicians have moved to electronic systems (electronic health records/electronic medical records) for the storage, retrieval and management of electronic health data. Virtually all of these systems are online and internet accessible. Electronic healthcare medical records really made the healthcare industry a perfect target for ransomware attempts.
But, the cost of a ransomware attack goes far beyond any extortion payment. When considering the associated costs including downtime, lost revenue, angry patients or customers, attack mitigation and recovery expenses, brand reputation damage, and non-compliance fines, in retrospect the cost of the ransom itself may seem trivial.
When United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) was impacted by the global WannaCry outbreak of 2017, it brought hundreds of NHS facilities to a standstill for several days, resulting in the cancellation of thousands of appointments and operations, as well as the urgent relocation of patients from impacted emergency centers. In April 2017, Erie County Medical Center lost access to 6,000 computers due to a ransomware attack, which resulted in six weeks of manual operations and a recovery process that ultimately cost the medical center $10 million.
Unfortunately, security technologies can only do so much to protect your organization against an attack. Ransomware typically spreads through phishing emails or by visiting an infected website. Even the most advanced antivirus and anti-ransomware solutions can’t stop Fully UnDetectable (FUD) threats that were conceived by cybercriminals to directly evade existing security layers and harm data. In fact, the majority of ransomware victims have some traditional Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware protection in place and yet still fall prey to attacks.
Even if your organizations has backups, you may be surprised to find that you are still vulnerable. Today, many criminals do reconnaissance on their victim’s network and compromise backups before deploying the encrypting malware to increase the odds that the organization will pay the ransom.
But paying the ransom doesn’t always work out either. A study by the CyberEdge Group shows that of the 39 percent of ransomware victims who have paid, less than half recover their data. It also leaves the victimized organization vulnerable to another attack. If the root cause of the breach is not corrected, another day can bring another ransom request.
Ultimately, it is up to your organizational leaders to decide whether or not to pay. Healthcare organizations are a favorite target of cybercriminals because they are more likely to pay up when computer downtime can introduce life or death consequences. Regardless of your position on paying cybercriminals a ransom, the best strategy is to avoid being placed in a compromised position in the first place. But how?
Obviously, all healthcare organizations want to avoid being a ransomware victim, but cybersecurity is a complex problem that requires multiple layers of defenses. Small to medium size healthcare organizations are particularly vulnerable since many believe they don’t have adequate financial or technical resources to defend themselves against the onslaught attacks.
Industry experts estimate that a company with 50 employees may have to spend upward of $50,000 to deploy sophisticated endpoint technologies such as antivirus, anti-malware software and firewalls to keep intruders out and then thousands of dollars each year to keep everything up to date. Even when making this investment in security, it doesn’t guarantee a breach won’t happen. Just one wrong click by an employee is all it takes.
5 Ransomware Prevention Tips to Help Employees
In the face of this rapidly-growing threat, healthcare organizations should take concrete steps to deploy the technologies needed to protect systems from ransomware attacks. But employees need to educated on how ransomware is distributed and taught how to be cautious when clicking on online advertisements or email links, visiting a new website, and opening attachments from unfamiliar or suspicious senders.
Being a healthcare professional is an honor, but it’s not without its challenges. Most providers are required to work long hours with few breaks to provide adequate coverage to their patients. The fluctuating workload and constant exposure to life, death and everything in between essentially takes a toll both physically and psychological on healthcare professionals. Working in such a fast-paced, high-demand atmosphere almost non-stop can lead to employee burnout.
When doctors, nurses, or supporting staff becomes physically and emotionally exhausted as a result of work-related stress and pressures, it’s only a matter of time before there is a decline in their performance. Healthcare providers become overwhelmed and are unable to provide the high-quality of care and treatment their patients deserve. This puts the organization, provider, and patient at risk. Some, even become so consumed that they quit, leaving medical practices and hospitals understaffed (which creates higher risks for burnout in other staff who have to pick up the slack).
To minimize the risk of burnout in your healthcare organization, it is imperative to develop a workplace environment that supports the well-being of your staff. First, knowing when an employee is on the verge of a breakdown or burnout is vital. Some signs might include:
Emotional or physical fatigue
Overly sensitive or insensitive to emotional information
Lack of empathy or sympathy for their patients
Withdrawal or isolation
Lack of concentration
Careless or increased mistakes
Poor decision making
Drug or alcohol abuse
Frequent call outs
Get them help
The idea here is preventative measures but in the event that you notice a staff member struggling or experiencing the above-mentioned destructive behaviors like substance abuse, knowing where to send them for help is ideal. This includes recommending an addiction treatment center in Los Angeles or some other city where they can get affordable, confidential help with their addiction or dependency issues.
Other ways to help your providers
Healthcare organizations have a responsibility to ensure their providers are physically and mentally capable of providing adequate services to their patients. A major part of this means providing a working environment where staff members well-being is a priority and they feel supported, heard, and encouraged. Here are some things you can do:
Offer solutions to their problems
Your employees need to know that they have someone they can turn to if there are problems in the workplace. Upper management and/or the HR department need to not only make themselves available to listen but must be willing and ready to provide assistance where they can. Whether that’s helping them to resolve a conflict with a coworker, looking into more advanced technology to improve productivity and decrease their workload, or updating breakrooms to make them more accommodating, it is the responsibility of the organization to make sure that they are meeting the needs of their providers.
By Sean Otto, vice president of business development, Cyient.
The approval of electrocardiogram’s (EKG) through the FDA that enables atrial fibrillation detection right from a patient’s watch band is just one example of how the digitization of medical devices, a part of the Internet of Things movement, is leading product development and innovation in medicine. However, while medical devices built on a connected services platform include components for data storage, security, accessibility, and mobile applications, along with advanced analytics, successfully implementing artificial intelligence to drive actionable intelligence remains a challenge from an execution perspective.
According to Gartner, 85 percent of data science projects fail. Successful integration of data science into medical device development requires a rethinking around the role of data science in product design and life-cycle management.
Viewing data science as a product
While data science is rightly defined as the process of using mathematical algorithms to automate, predict, control or describe an interaction in the physical world, it must be viewed as a product. This distinction is necessary because, like any medical product, data science begins with a need and ends with something that provides clear medical utility for healthcare providers and patients.
It is erroneous to restrict the realm of data science to just the designing of algorithms. While data scientists are good at fitting models, their true value comes from solving real-world problems with fitted data models. A successful algorithm development process in data science includes business leaders, product engineers, medical practitioners, and data scientists collaborating to discover, design and deliver. For instance, a typical data science integration with a medical device product would include many of the following activities:
Identifying the medical need
Identifying proper data variables
Developing the right analytic models
Designing analytic algorithm integrations
Performing testing and verification
Deploying beta versions
Monitoring real-time results
Maintaining and updating algorithms
Considering data science as a product or feature of a product provides organizations with a different paradigm for execution focused on a tangible outcome. Data scientists are trained to develop accurate models that solve a problem, but the challenge many companies face is operationalizing those models and monetizing their outputs. Furthermore, conceptualizing data science as a product will ensure companies focus on its implementation, rather than just its development.
Advanced analytics: Part of the process, not an afterthought
Designing intelligence (even AI) into a connected medical device first depends on whether the data is being used to make a real-time decision or report on the outcome of a series of events. Most companies don’t realize the layers of advanced analytics that create actionable intelligence. By understanding these layers, which range from simple rule- and complex rule-based analytics to asynchronous event rules, complex event processing, and unsupervised learning models, companies can move quickly into developing mature analytics that have an impact from day one. As a company matures its analytics system from descriptive and diagnostic to predictive and prescriptive, it should also evolve to include strategic opportunities to provide business value, including automating decisions that can be delegated to a smart decision-support system.
Successful integration involves viewing advanced analytics as an architecture and not as a single solution to be implemented. The best way to make sure that you are successful in analytic development is to follow a continual process of discovery, design and delivery. For instance, data science architecture may begin with a business question, requiring you to determine if you have the right data and can actually leverage that data in the existing IT system. If you don’t answer this basic question, you will have challenges fully vetting the analytic opportunities available to you.
Recognizing common challenges in data science execution
Data science execution is often impaired by common missteps, like incongruence between customer and business needs and solving technical problems when it’s too late to have a positive impact. Another significant mistake from the business side is treating data science like a one-time accomplishment and not realizing it is a continuous process, or like a software development process with an unwarranted fixation on tools rather than skills and capabilities.
By Erica Doherty, healthcare industry and solution strategy director, Infor.
You may be familiar with the Gallup study that identified—across industries and organizations—that 68 percent of employees are not engaged in their work. That is not only disheartening, but scary, especially when talking about workers in the healthcare industry.
Overall, the price tag of disengagement is calculated as a $400 billion hit against employers. There is no doubt the health system revenue chain depends on employee attendance, retention and patient satisfaction scores. However, there is something much more important at stake, which is that nurse disengagement puts patient lives at risk.
There are three top indicators of mortality risk in the healthcare setting: nurse engagement level, the ratio of the number of nurses to total patient days, and the percentage of overtime hours per year, according to a Gallup study of more than 200 hospitals. Beyond safety incidents, Gallup also showed that a high level of engagement across all types of workers leads to a 21 percent higher productivity rate and lower turnover rates.
But what is engagement? Put simply, engagement is an emotional commitment to an employer and its mission. That is obviously an important factor for bedside caregivers, who are called on to offer patients more than experience and education, but also the soft skills of compassion and personal attention. Truly, all employees in healthcare impact the patient directly or indirectly. The engaged hospital worker listens, is helpful and conscientious about the entire patient experience and has been found to make fewer errors.
What healthcare leaders can do to improve employee engagement
So how do you, as a healthcare leader, create more engagement and a culture of continuous caring? Identifying the most effective technology for your organization is a key piece in solving the employee engagement puzzle. Using technology, you can discover underlying causes of disengagement.
Identifying a human capital management (HCM) solution that impacts employee engagement will have the biggest impact on your organization’s employee engagement levels. Several factors should be considered. An HCM solution that streamlines and automates key HR data contributes to keeping caregivers focused on the bedside and leaders focused on their employees—not administrative tasks. For example, one way to address disengagement is through a solution that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to automate, inform and augment work by answering simple questions like an employee’s PTO balance, or even identifying an employee who may be a flight risk and offering suggested activities about how to retain them.
In addition, what creates a meaningful work environment for one employee may be different for another. Figuring this out starts with the hiring process. Technology can understand the behavioral DNA of an employee and then match them to the best fit position and the culture of their employer. The next step is to provide those behavioral insights to managers so they know how to create an atmosphere that creates happiness for that employee and suggests how to lead them in a way that fosters meaning and appreciation.
By Brooke Faulkner, freelance writer; @faulknercreek.
Up to a fifth of patients with serious conditions are first misdiagnosed, and that leaves tremendous consequences. With the help of healthcare technology, doctors are able to diagnosis patients more effectively and easier. For example, migrating patient data from paper to online, known as electronic health records (EHRs), has greatly aided the medical world. Technology, especially using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics, has enabled doctors to make faster, more accurate diagnoses, and thus provide better care.
The volume of big data
Duquesne University estimated there to be 150 exabytes of healthcare data collected in 2011. Four years later, they reported about 83 percent of doctors had transitioned from using paper to electronic records. By now, with the ubiquity of the cloud, these numbers have assuredly gone up.
Massive amounts of data make predictive analytics possible, as trends can be spotted and analyzed. By spotting patterns, diagnosis of a disease becomes easier even for doctors unfamiliar with a specific disease or symptom. Uploading symptoms allows a computer to compare records and identify symptoms comorbid of other problems. This allows even specialized doctors to recognize issues outside of their field. Medical mistakes lead to the death of some 440,000 people each year; while misdiagnosis is only a part of this number, correct diagnosis and treatment will reduce it.
Big data can even be collected in the form of PDFs as part of telemedicine. A doctor can send PDFs to patients as part of a poll or survey or simply to collect symptom information from the patient. From there, data entered in the PDF can be collected and analyzed, generating patient data or feedback for the doctor.
Google flu trends
Google ran what can best be called an experiment from 2008 to 2014. Using artificial intelligence, the search engine recorded flu-related searches in an attempt to predict the severity of an outbreak, as well as the affected geographical area.
It was a flawed model, and tried to use big data as a replacement, rather than a supplement, for traditional data collection and analysis. It completely missed a flu outbreak in 2013, the data off by a massive 140 percent, and Google Flu Trends ended its public version in 2014. The algorithm monitoring flu-related search terms was simply not sophisticated enough to provide accurate results. While new data is no longer available to the public, historical data remains available to the Centers for Disease Control and other research groups. It’s possible that once the algorithm and predictive analysis is capable, the program will continue.
Vyne Medical, the leading provider of healthcare communication and data management technology for more than 800 hospitals and health systems, today announced a partnership with Adventist Health System for implementation of its Trace communication management and quality assurance platform.
One of the nation’s largest faith-based health systems, Adventist Health System will implement Vyne Medical’s Trace platform to manage critical communications including voice, fax, electronic, image and document exchange.
“As we work to streamline and simplify the care process for consumers and providers, we needed a solution built to support the intricacies of our workflow,” said Tim Reiner, senior vice president of revenue management for Adventist Health System. “With Trace, we can capture many types of communication and integrate them with our existing systems to create a more complete patient record and ultimately enhance the consumer experience for those we care for.”
Physician orders. Trace will be implemented as the single platform to manage both fax and electronic orders for Adventist Health System. Orders will be available in real time with features such as alerts, notifications, worklists and reservations to establish an electronic workflow for order management.
Voice recording. Staff will use one of three Trace recording applications – on-demand, auto-record or face-to-face recording – to record interactions with patients, physicians, payers and other providers. Recordings will be indexed to the patient account and referenced to support strategic initiatives such as quality assurance, compliance, patient experience and financial performance.
Quality assurance. An audio search function will allow managers to search recordings for key words and phrases to ensure the appropriate use of scripting and identify training needs. The Trace Quality Assurance tool will be used for quality assessment of recorded interactions, allowing managers to produce online scorecards and track performance by associate, team and performance measure.
“Trace will help us reach our long-term goal of eliminating faxing and other paper-based processes,” said Brent Snyder, executive vice president and chief information officer for Adventist Health System. “A secure, auditable workflow for orders will increase our efficiency, reduce delays and help us provide better service to our physicians and patients.”
“We are excited to partner with Adventist Health System in its effort to enhance quality and efficiency,” said Lindy Benton, CEO and president of Vyne. “Through this work, we are committed to reducing costs through automation while improving key performance indicators.” Continue Reading
Today, the level at which the vast majority of us place our reliance on mobile devices for the completion of so many of our tasks every day, even some of the more complex and daunting tasks, has risen so high. All over the globe, so many users from every field now increasingly make use of their tablets and smartphones for their highest of multitasking abilities and their effectiveness.
Decades ago, physicians, paramedics and other healthcare providers had to rely on costly medical equipment to assist their patients in moments of emergencies. But with the significant advancement that has been recorded in the mobile app market of today, perhaps all of these things have changed. The vast majority of medics and paramedics today now make use of very easy-to-use, data-driven and less expensive mobile gadgets and the medical mobile apps that are found in them.
As a result of the fact that everyone of us make use of mobile devices on a daily basis, having to learn the method in which a particular medical mobile app can be employed is not going to consume too much time for a skilled paramedic or medic. A well-established, well-tested medical mobile app also offers rather accurate results; therefore, for physicians who are on the move at all times, this could be a very useful innovation.
As a result of the significant impacts of medical mobile apps in the healthcare system of today, many mobile app developers are working to develop even more medical mobile apps. However, there are still many challenges that these mobile app developers encounter while developing these apps. Below are some of these issues, and how they can be surmounted.
Predictability of results is not always accurate
No matter the level at which a mobile app developer attempts to develop an infallible medical mobile app, there is no way she or he can be utterly certain that it would be completely free of trouble, unless and until it has, as a matter of fact, been developed and sent to a specific mobile platform. There is a phase in which the app would be tested. In the course of this testing phase, specific issues may crop up, and that is the time the main trouble will come up, while attempting to solve the problem.
Unavailability of life-saving app
The immense usefulness of medical apps has been acknowledged by the United States Food and Drug Administration. As a matter of fact, research points out that there is a large number of users of smartphones who are making use of mobile apps in mobile healthcare. The number, according to research, was projected to hit a greatly surprising 500,000,000, by the end of the year 2015. But despite this development, no mobile app developer can ever lay claims to develop a life-saving app. While the apps available are efficient at testing a particular condition, they do not have the capability of granting relief to a patient that is critically ill. In addition to that, there might have been some technical irregularities or malfunction during the process of developing the app, or during its testing phase. As a result of this, such an app may be risky for use to patients.
Mobile Platforms Fragmentation
Another big challenge that developers of mobile apps encounter is the range of operating systems and mobile devices in the mobile market of today. Issues like this are hard to confront, but there are some other problems that exist. They include problems regarding network connectivity, standardization of mobile design, and so forth. Also, the development of an app for different mobile devices with mobile features that are different can come as a big challenge to the mobile app developer. Other challenges include making a choice on the ideal mobile platform or platforms and cross-platform formatting. All of these issues can pose even tougher problems for the app developer. All of these challenges may jointly lead to a medical app that is not completely effective or does not meet the requirements of the end user.