User-Centric Design: The Key to Health IT Innovation

By Kali Durgampudi, chief technology, innovation officer, Greenway Health.

Kali Durgampudi

Like so many industries in today’s Third Industrial Revolution, the pace of innovation in healthcare today is fast and ever-changing. New technologies – like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and voice recognition – are at the heart of applications and tools that are becoming demanded by patients and more ingrained in clinicians’ daily workflows.

For vendors developing new solutions based on these technologies, it appears they find themselves in a ‘race,’ striving to be first-to-market in order to establish their competitive edge. But being on the bleeding edge of innovation isn’t always easy. The healthcare industry has not been immune to this rapid quest for first-mover advantage. Often when this occurs, these new solutions sacrifice the quality and functionality required to deliver on promised improvements.

Think about the initial introduction of the electronic health record (EHR). Billed as a way to make practices and physicians more efficient, many early EHR solutions had the opposite effect – creating a significant learning curve and adding to physicians’ workloads overall. While EHRs may have made great strides toward digitizing medical records, taking paper and manual processes out of the equation, they often created new problems that placed different burdens on practices, providers and patients. In fact, in the early days, physicians reported spending more than half of their workday – an average of six hours – using the EHR, plus another 86 minutes after hours.

But EHRs are not the only healthcare technology solution attributing to this challenge – it transcends innovation across the entire health IT sector. As an industry, we must take a step back and slowdown to ensure all new technology can deliver meaningful change to practices, providers and patients.

How to Design New Healthcare Technology with the End-User in Mind

A key to ensuring healthcare technology delivers true benefits is considering how it will fit into day-to-day operations of the end-user – whether that be a patient, a nurse, a surgeon or a billing manager. Before introducing any new technology to the market, make sure your first intention is to get it right.

To do that, engineering teams must employ “user-centered design,” a concept that emerged in the mid-1980s. This approach, defined by the International Standards Organization, “aims to make systems usable and useful by focusing on the users, their needs and requirements, and by applying human factors/ergonomics, usability knowledge and techniques.” The goal ultimately is to enhance effectiveness and efficiency, improve human well-being, user satisfaction, accessibility and sustainability, and to counteract possible adverse effects of use on human health, safety and performance.

User-centered design in healthcare could entail shadowing a nurse to observe his workflow when triaging patients, following a surgeon to see how she develops post-op papers, or interviewing patients to understand how they obtain healthcare information in their daily lives.

With that experience, you can then ascertain what capabilities would make users’ lives easier or more effective. From there, determine if there’s a way to improve an existing product on the market to fulfill needs, or whether a completely new platform is required. 

Key Questions to Answer When Implementing a User-Centered Design Approach

There are several questions you must consider when following this method:

Continue Reading

The Impact of Front-Line Primary Care In Improving Access For Mental Health Outcomes

By Ed Cladera, MD, medical director, AristaMD

Over the past few years, there have been encouraging improvements in the realm of mental health care in the United States. Initiatives to improve mental health outcomes, such as the Affordable Care Act (2010), have been primarily aimed at requiring increased insurance coverage to encompass mental health services at levels comparable with physical medical care.

Despite these improvements, such policies do not address issues caused by access challenges within the referral system, and many of the one in five adults suffering from mental illness in the United States still are not accessing the mental health care they require and need. In particular, there exists a shortage of mental health providers across the country, and these health professionals are likely to be out-of-network for many patients. Further barriers preventing patients from obtaining care include travel, missed work time associated with appointments, and the social stigma of seeking mental health care.

Faced with these challenges, patients with mental health issues are resorting to emergency departments in search of mental health services. Hospital emergency departments lack access to psychiatric services and mental health resources. Further, as patients are improperly treated in urgent care settings, this can lead to reduced access to care for those with acute medical issues, which then results in poorer overall outcomes at the highest cost of care.

To address these multi-faceted challenges, value-based care models have placed particular importance on the role of primary care, as these organizations are uniquely positioned to promote innovation and efficiency through proactive and coordinated care. When it comes to mental health services, primary care providers (PCPs) serve at the front line of care and are positioned to be an excellent means of providing access to mental health care to a patient population in need. However, many PCPs lack adequate resources to treat these often complex and specialized issues.

Telehealth technologies, such as telepsychiatry and eConsults, can support primary care practices by creating networks to provide timely, documented, and standardized access to mental health professionals. This equips PCPs to more effectively manage patients with mental health concerns, reducing wait times and improving mental health outcomes.

AristaMD’s eConsult platform connects PCPs with adult and pediatric psychiatry, addiction medicine, and behavioral health specialists to provide care planning support and treatment recommendations. Ninety-one percent of AristaMD’s mental and behavioral health eConsults have been shown to include medication regimen guidance including initiation of treatments, diagnostic recommendations, and medication dosage adjustment, all of which can be managed within the primary care setting with the support of specialty insight.

Continue Reading

New Study of Independent Medical Practices Reveals Love/Hate Relationship with Technology

By Aaron Perreira, director of integrated marketing, Kareo.

Over 70% of independent medical practices agree that the time demands of electronic health records (EHR) data entry detracts from care delivery. Simultaneously, 69% of independent practices state that integrated technology solutions are needed to improve the efficiency and profitability of their practices. This interesting “love/hate” relationship between independent practitioners and technology was shared in the recent 2019 State of the Independent Practice Industry Report, published by Kareo, a cloud-based medical software company.

The report was based on a nationwide survey designed to uncover the current challenges and expectations of independent practitioners in several areas of their practices, including care delivery, billing, patient engagement and regulatory compliance. Attitudes regarding the role of technology emerged in each of the areas surveyed.

Providers are increasingly reliant on their EHRs to manage their day-to-day clinical operations and maintain regulatory compliance. For many practices, the use of EHRs began when the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 was signed into law by President Obama on February 17, 2009. The HITECH Act was created to motivate the implementation of electronic health records by providing monetary incentives for being able to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records.

At that time, the market was flooded with more than 700 EHR vendors looking to capitalize on the EHR gold rush. Many practices adopted EHRs at that time, however since then, as the regulatory standards and consumer requirements for EHR technology continued to evolve, an increasing number of software providers have failed to keep up with technology and have fallen out of the race. This has left many providers tethered to antiquated, ineffective systems. More established practices (in practice for 10 or more years) appear to be more gun shy in that they likely adopted their EHR several years ago and had to suffer through poor implementations of costly but under-performing software that didn’t deliver on the value that was promised.

Despite government mandate, penalties and incentives, only 64% of respondents are currently using an EHR today. This low figure likely represents both the entry of newer practices that haven’t yet implemented their EHR platform and the fact that some practice specialties such as mental health, are more likely to still be using paper-based records and haven’t made the switch to electronic records.

Continue Reading

5G and Patient Care

By Alaap Shah, JD, MPH, and Ebunola Aniyikaiye, JD, MBA, MPP, Epstein, Becker, Green.

Alaap Shah

Patient care in the U.S. continues to modernize through rapid digitization, increasing connectivity among the internet of things (“IOT”). Supporting a robust infrastructure that allows for large scale flow of information through interconnected systems requires modernization of network technologies. One such technology advance is 5G.

5G is similar to its predecessor wireless technologies, such as 3G, 4G and LTE, but promises to have the capability to transmit 10 to 100 times more data than 4G in the same amount of time. 5G will also overcome issues related to latency, capacity, and customization that currently plague predecessor technologies. As the roll out of 5G progresses, the health industry is considering its potential impact of 5G on the healthcare ecosystem. Many believe that 5G will revolutionize healthcare delivery, and ultimately contribute to improved patient care. 5G appears poised to impact healthcare by facilitating faster and more seamless transmission of patient information at much larger volume than possible today. As such, 5G can improve patient care by facilitating Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), enabling remote care paradigms, and improving access to care.

Ebunola Aniyikaiye

One sector that will benefit from 5G’s ability to allow for fast and voluminous data transmission is AI. AI technologies are powered by algorithms that process complex and large data sets at exceptional speeds.  With the arrival of 5G, health organizations may be better positioned to implement AI solutions directly into their delivery of care models. Advances in AI coupled with the power of 5G would foster care delivery that is data-rich and data-driven to improve quality of care and outcomes.

Additionally, adoption of 5G will likely increase access to high-quality care, by supporting remote care paradigms in the health industry. For example, remote radiological imaging and remote robotic surgery will likely thrive in the 5G world. The secure transport of extremely large, high-resolution image data is required for successful use of these technologies. The capacity of 5G to transmit these types of data at scale in a real-time or near-real time fashion will likely be transformative. Patients will be able to gain access to care from specialists they otherwise could not have had access to previously. For the same reasons, 5G will further untether providers from historical brick and mortar facilities such as hospitals and clinics.

Continue Reading

Reflections From HCEG: 3 Challenges For Healthcare Executives To Focus On In 2020

By Eric Hamborg, co-founder and chief commercial officer, MOBE.

Last month, I was honored to join some of the country’s most elite healthcare executives at the Health Care Executive Group Annual Forum – a closed-door forum to engage in in-depth discussions about challenges and opportunities facing the healthcare industry today. It’s an event I look forward to every year as we discuss pressing issues and how we can better collaborate across the industry to drive meaningful change and innovation.

Each year, the event culminates with a Top 10 list of challenges, issues and opportunities that HCEG members and forum attendees are expecting to confront in the coming year. Over 100 execs from the country’s leading healthcare organizations all worked together to develop this predictive list – debating, ranking and voting on 25 topics compiled from webinars, round tables and the 2019 Industry Pulse Survey.

As a co-founder of MOBE, I could relate to many of the Top 10 issues – they’re the challenges we grapple with every day as we bridge the gap between lifestyle choices and medical care in order to support individuals in achieving their best health outcomes. While the full list included several important topics, there were a couple that continually came up in my conversations with other executives at HCEG, and seem to be particularly important as we consider the needs of today’s healthcare consumer and the industry’s future:

Cost and Transparency

Healthcare costs continue to soar and consume 15% to 20% of the U.S. GDP, so it’s not surprising to see “Cost & Transparency” ranked first on the Top 10 list for 2020. Anytime we discuss challenges or innovation in the healthcare space, cost will remain central to the conversation.

The U.S. has the highest unit costs for nearly all services and procedures – yet we’re not even in the top 10 countries for health outcomes. Why the disconnect? This is the point where healthcare executives, news outlets, and politicians might start pointing fingers at each other. However, HCEG proved to be a venue for diverse thoughts and provoking conversations, arriving together at the core of our most imperative issues and what it will take to pursue progress. In all of my conversations, one word continually came up: transparency.

Although transparency alone won’t solve our cost problems, it’s a key part of the solution. At MOBE, we’ve found this can be particularly powerful for individuals in a hidden population with high-deductible plans, who make up 15% to 20% of the healthcare spend within our clients’ commercially insured populations. Promoting transparency from all corners of the industry will help to equip the consumer with the information they need to make better healthcare decisions.

Holistic Individual Health

Most exciting to my colleagues and me was seeing holistic individual health make it on the top 10 – an encouraging signal that we are on the right path here at MOBE. Throughout the forum, healthcare executives repeated the need for identifying, addressing, and improving an individual’s overall well-being in order to promote a frictionless and connected healthcare experience.

Continue Reading

Tips For College Grads With Their Future Medical Careers

After constant studying, medical internships, and rotations, in the end, graduating with a medical degree is a proud moment. Even with the excitement, most of the students get overwhelmed on what to do next so they can land their first job. The searches for the ideal healthcare job is both exhilarating and overwhelming. To most students, however, who spend their years in school concentrating on studying and not the outside world; it is even more strenuous.

Continue Reading

Mobile Apps To Maintain Your Oral Health

Modern people have to deal with a busy schedule every day. As a result, people find it challenging to take care of their oral health. Unfortunately, we tend to put a career on top of everything else. Once you have made the decision to focus on diet, workout, hydrating, and sleeping properly, you experience that such healthy lifestyle is like your second full-time job.

We have high technology to help us maintain general oral health. In this article, we have prepared the best applications to keep you motivated to stick to a fitness routine, diet program, and teeth routine. We hope that your dream to have a Hollywood smile will come true very soon, together with a healthy mind and body. It is essential to visit a dentist regularly, but you have to be sure that the clinic is safe and has a good reputation.

Continue Reading

Everything That You Must Know When Choosing An Adult Day Care Center

Grandparents, Outdoors, SnugglingIt is a personal choice if you want to seek professional care for your aging parents or grandparents. As a family member, it is ultimately your responsibility to understand all the pros and cons of daycare organizations. Only then you can make a decision about which one is the most suitable for you and also is the best in terms of everything. Adult daycare centers also called senior daycare organizations such as Skylark adult daycare.

They are excellent options if you are seeking a safe and secure place for a senior member of the family during the daytime. It is often the case that the other family members are busy at their workplaces throughout the day. As a result, the senior members of the family are deprived of the care that they require. As we all know, people need extra love and care when they are growing old, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they get that.

When we compare all other living facilities as well as in-house care, an adult daycare center is always a more reasonable and economical option for aging people. It is because they have not only special medical requirements but also several emotional and social needs. The people at an adult daycare center know precisely how to deal with them most delicately. This article is all that you must see if you are deciding to enroll any of your family members in a daycare center.

What is an adult daycare center?

Adult daycare centers are organizations or places that have professional people who are trained to deal with aging people, especially with special medical requirements. Here we are talking about older adults suffering from brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Other professional people know how to take care of people suffering from several different physical problems.

Continue Reading

Hospital-Generated Waste: Implementing A System For Its Proper Management

Healthcare organizations around the globe are dealing with increased volumes of waste, and few are the hospitals and clinics that have actually implemented a system that excels, in terms of both environmental protection and in-house convenience. 

As a stakeholder at a hospital, one of your responsibilities is to improve your waste management practices. If the way you are currently handling things on the premises isn’t exactly advantageous, perhaps you need to get organized and adopt a different strategy. 

Considering the fact that hospital-generated waste often involves safety concerns, some of the waste being ether infectious or hazardous, following a few guidelines is recommended. What are the factors that you should acknowledge on the subject? How can you make things more efficient in the waste management department? 

Here are some important details to look over and use in any healthcare environment: 

Handling

Waste handling is one of the first tasks that come into play here, and an important one as well. The most relevant recommendation here is to increase safety awareness among staff members who are in charge of handling hospital waste. Injuries or contamination can happen if handlers don’t keep up with necessary safety precautions. 

Your staff members should not only receive reminders on the matter, but should be put through period training, where they can learn about the risks associated with waste handling, and what procedures and techniques to use when dealing with different types of occupational accidents. Waste handling should always meet compliance regulations, so test your staff members before assigning responsibilities. 

Identifying waste reduction opportunities

What many healthcare centers fail to do is trying to reduce their waste. Waste reduction opportunities exist in any hospital, these only need to be identified and pursued properly. Make it your priority to put together an action plan that allows you to find the best ways of reducing the amount of waste your organization produces. 

An example of waste reduction possibility could be the following: Evaluate your supply ordering practices. This will prevent you from having to throw away perishable products because they’ve surpassed expiration date.  You have multiple other solutions available, so assess the current situation the hospital finds itself in, and make possible adjustments. 

Continue Reading

Vital and Emory Healthcare Collaborate To Build Modern Emergency Room EHR

Vital Electronic Medical Records EHR Aaron PatzerVital — AI-powered software in hospital emergency rooms — announces its inaugural development partnership with Emory Healthcare. As part of the strategic collaboration, Emory Healthcare becomes a lead research partner in developing and implementing Vital’s software to improve overall efficiency and satisfaction for patients and clinicians across multiple Emory emergency rooms. Vital was conceptualized and co-founded by Justin Schrager, assistant professor of emergency medicine and ER doctor; with award-winning technical CEO Aaron Patzer.

Vital’s software is the first partnership out of the Emory University Innovation Hub, designed to identify unmet patient needs and find innovative solutions to put the patient at the center of care delivery. Vital’s live track board and real-time predictions of patients are being developed in the Emergency Departments of Emory University Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, and Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital. The goal of this pilot program is to measurably reduce wait times and overall length of stay for patients, while increasing patient satisfaction.

“We are overjoyed to have Emory Healthcare as our primary development partner and pilot sites,” said Patzer. “We are impressed with the commitment Emory leadership has made towards technological innovation and tackling truly challenging problems in emergency medicine. Working closely with top emergency physicians and nurses is essential to producing software that meets the needs of clinicians.”

Vital uses artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to triage patients,, making it easier and faster for providers to coordinate care and prioritize patients with a fast, reliable, and incredibly user-friendly system.

Continue Reading