Survey: Gen X Leads Charge On Digital Health Adoption

Smart Watch, Apple, Technology, StyleAmerican consumers are moving toward making mobile health applications a part of their regular routines to manage chronic conditions or daily health and fitness, according to a 2019 online survey conducted by Redox. Nearly one-third of respondents said they use or are open to using mobile apps to manage a condition or their fitness routines. Gen Xers (35- to 54-year-olds) are at the forefront of patients clamoring to take control and manage their health with mobile apps.

The survey of 1,019 American adults found that the Gen X group is 37% more likely than Gen Z (18- to 24-year-olds), 31% more likely than baby boomers (55+), and 4% more likely than Millennials (25- to 34-year-olds) to manage a medical condition with a mobile app. Gen X is 48% more likely than baby boomers, 15% more likely than Gen Z, and 7% more likely than Millennials to use a mobile app for health and fitness.

“In leading the adoption curve, it seems that Gen Xers are not only technically savvy but also highly engaged in their well-being to help ensure they can maintain good health for as long as possible. The survey shows that Gen Xers are most likely to use mobile apps to help them take care of their health,” said Niko Skievaski, Redox co-founder and president. “But over time, more consumers will start to become comfortable monitoring, managing, and sharing health information.

As apps become commonplace in a person’s lifestyle, their comfort and confidence with the technology only gets stronger. Once they’re convinced there’s value in using apps and that their data is secure, they’ll demand apps that can deliver benefits on important health issues – from chronic conditions to preventive healthcare.”

Mobile App Benefits and Concerns

Like the adoption curve that financial and retail applications experienced a decade ago, widespread support for mobile health apps may take some time as consumers gain confidence in their privacy and security features. Of the respondents not using mobile health apps, privacy and security is cited as the top reason.

Baby boomers are the most concerned about privacy and security, topping Millennials by 54% and Gen X by 23%. Gen X selected privacy and security as a primary reason 25% more than Millennials.

Conversely, 42% of respondents are willing to share their information with doctors and providers – with baby boomers 13% more willing than Millennials and 8% more willing than Gen X. And females are 18% more likely than males to share information across all generations.

When asked why mobile apps are helpful, the top responses are enhanced communication with doctors and providers and the ability to engage with their personal health.

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3 Ways to Ensure HIPAA Compliance with Patient Privacy

By Melanie Purkis, product leader, Liquid Web.

Melanie (Brickner) PurkisThe rapid digitalization happening in healthcare promises to streamline patient care and the availability of patient information.

Overall, advancements in technology fueling this are a step in the right direction. That said, there are side effects to this trend that put sensitive patient data at risk. 

Healthcare organizations are rife with sensitive personal data, ranging from health records to social security numbers, birth dates, and addresses. This makes them an appealing target for cybercriminals looking to steal and profit from that information. One recent survey reports that the majority of hospitals (82 percent) have had a significant security incident in the past year. 

Healthcare organizations must protect sensitive patient data as mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the regulatory framework for the healthcare industry. As breaches continue to rise, healthcare providers and others in the industry must understand how to properly secure this sensitive data. 

Here are three ways to ensure HIPAA compliance with patient privacy. 

Ensure Technical Safeguards are in Place

Healthcare organizations must protect sensitive patient data from external and internal threats. While digital health records may improve efficiency, this electronically protected health information (ePHI) must be kept safe via technical safeguards. 

This includes access and audit control requirements that determine access control capabilities for all information systems that have ePHI and ensuring that activity within these systems can be traced back to specific users. Organizations also need formal policies for access control. 

Authentication and integrity are also critical, meaning that healthcare organizations must protect ePHI from being altered or destroyed and must also secure that data while stored at rest. Authentication can be accomplished via digital signatures, checksum technology, and error-correcting memory. 

Data in motion must also be secured, especially with the proliferation of electronic medical records (EMR) and health information exchanges (HIEs). Healthcare organizations must be able to securely transmit patient medical records between facilities. 

Apply Administrative Safeguards

Healthcare organizations bear responsibility for both Protected Health Information (PHI) and Personally Identifiable Information (PII), which requires the proper categorization of each type of data. Each type of data requires its own unique treatment, making it paramount that the information is properly classified. 

Administrative safeguards break down into the following categories: 

These areas help organizations implement policies and procedures to guide employees in the proper care and use of ePHI. This may include security training requirements along with a delegation of security responsibilities within an organization. 

Prepare for Compliance Audits

It may sound obvious, but preparing for and submitting to compliance audits on a regular basis can help healthcare organizations stay in check and avoid expensive HIPAA fines. By employing a feedback loop based on the results of reviews, organizations can inform future decisions regarding security. Organizations should be conducting internal reviews ahead of scheduled audits to go over daily logs and to seek out anomalies, errors, and other suspicious activity that could signal a threat. 

More than simply scanning for these anomalies, organizations must also have an appropriate and measured response mechanism in place. The ability to quickly respond to security issues is incredibly important and requires documentation and training. 

This new digital environment makes for exciting new opportunities in the healthcare space. Unfortunately, it also brings with it new threats and security concerns that must be addressed. HIPAA compliance requires a comprehensive strategy to protect PHI and PII, including the right technology, the right safeguards, and the right training. 

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Web Forms Are the Lifeblood of Data Collection In Healthcare

By Chad Cragle, information security officer, FormAssembly.

Data collection is one of the most important processes in healthcare today. But outdated methods of data collection have made it increasingly difficult to both efficiently collect data and keep it secure. How companies collect patients’ health information is extremely important, as personal data can easily be exposed in the event of a breach.

As we saw earlier this year, the Quest Diagnostics breach caused about 11.9 million patients to have their data exposed. These kinds of breaches are especially delicate compared to other types of breaches, since you can usually replace credit cards or social security numbers, but you can’t retract what is released to the public. This kind of leaked information can have a negative effect on patients’ lives, perhaps in areas like job applications or relationships.

To prevent these data breaches from occurring, it is essential to have the proper precautions in place. Manual data entry presents its own challenges – it is tedious and allows room for error. Manual data entry will not cut it, as we have seen from recent data breaches.

We need a new method of collecting and storing data in a way that is simple, secure and compliant with regulations such as GDPR and HIPAA. This is where web forms enter the picture.

Web Forms are the Key to Securing Healthcare Data

Web forms are transforming the way that data is collected and stored. This data is collected through a method where it is encrypted in transit and at rest, enabling safeguards to ensure that this data cannot be seen by those who do not have access. At our company, for example, we use TLS 1.2 to make sure that the entire data collection process, from the web browser to the endpoint, is encrypted.

These forms benefit users, providing a simple, hands-off process to collect data: all they need to do is click the box, type in the information needed, and they are then able to mask the data and send it off. Though this process might seem daunting, I’ve found that companies and healthcare professionals can use a paid service to collect data. And by doing so, they are freeing up time and resources.

Doctors and other healthcare providers should focus on diagnosing and treating patients, not collecting their information. Utilizing web forms frees up medical professionals to do what they were trained to do, leaving the responsibility to the form builder to take care of all the security measurements and checks to make sure that this data is safe.

Companies and Healthcare Organizations Need to Take Data More Seriously

Regulations such as GDPR in the EU and HIPAA for healthcare professionals are drastically changing how companies and healthcare organizations are handling their customer or patient data. GDPR was a great example of transparency, forcing companies to tell consumers that their data is being collected and how it is being used, mainly in the form of “cookies” on websites. And in the future, I believe we’re going to see a more robust security framework arise, such as in states like California, where harsher regulations such as the CCPA are rolling out, and other states are beginning to follow suit.

Healthcare professionals are also looking into data mining to diagnose patients without even seeing them in person. Even now, companies like Cambridge Analytica collect hundreds of data points on a certain person, and they receive this information from the various websites they visit.

I can see a point where data mining in the healthcare industry will be huge, as healthcare professionals could potentially diagnose a condition that a patient has just from looking at their data- either from the websites they visit, comments they posted on social media, or even over the phone.

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Why Our Patients Are Leaving Us

By Erin Jospe, MD, chief medical officer and SVP of  account management, Kyruus.

As clinicians, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide care that meets the clinical needs of our patients and to call upon our colleagues when their skills are needed. We advocate for our patients in word and deed, and we are committed to our common mission of caring for our fellow human beings with warmth, sympathy, and understanding as much as with scalpels and drugs. We took the Hippocratic Oath, and we execute upon it in a deeply personal way.

However, for something that is inherently so personal for many of us, it is shocking to learn that so many of our patients—60%, in fact—are prepared to switch to another provider. It feels like a betrayal, and we can’t help but feel hurt just a little if we continue to cling to the idea that healthcare should be more than merely transactional.

Healthcare consumer research shows that patients do continue to value the quality of their interactions and experiences with us, with 84% saying that our communication skills and approach are extremely or very important to them. Likewise, 88% of respondents hold our clinical expertise in the same regard. So why are so many looking for new providers?

The answer is access. Access in the form of a sooner appointment. Access in the form of online scheduling. Access in the form of a more convenient location, accurate insurance information, and insightful feedback from other patients like them. Access is what matters when it comes to where and with whom consumers choose to receive their care.

Being seen quickly is consistently one of the top priorities consumers cite when selecting a provider. Nearly 60% have searched for a provider who could see them sooner and 39% have actually switched to see a different clinician as a result. We can conclude from this that having alternative sites of care and delivery mechanisms that can accommodate this need for timeliness can, at a minimum, keep patients within our networks.

Because convenience is such a prominent driver in patient behavior, we need to embrace it by either creating space within our schedules – which is often nearly impossible – or integrating with other care modalities, such as through virtual visits and urgent care or retail clinics, when appropriate, to ensure our patients’ needs are met.

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Blockchain To Conquer Pharma Supply Chain

By Dmitriy Nortenko, CEO and founder, QA Madness.

Dmitriy NortenkoHealthcare and pharma is one of the fastest-developing industries today, with 2019 characterized by a diversity of startups developing blockchain-based solutions to track and trace global drug supply.

The Quality Assurance engineers at QA Madness predict the active use of blockchain and the growth of traceability system solutions. This trend was offered in 2018 by the Global Future Council Report on Health. But since we get more and more healthcare digital software that functions on the blockchain, I think the trend will be gaining traction in 2020.

Blockchain has all chances to revolutionize the industry, making the global pharma export/import/supply transparent and safe. Blockchain can divide pharmaceutical suppliers and customers as well as to provide secure record-keeping of each transaction. This is by far the most effective and transparent way to ensure trust among the supply chains.

Although usually blockchain apps differ, they share a common approach — creating nodes, digital financial transactions distributed among several parties. That means blockchain creates a corruption-resistant system where the nodes detect legitimate data and, therefore, enable them within the system.

The data itself looks like a series of chronologically organized transactions with a unique digital signature. Such mapping supports stable activity regulation where a person, system or company openly links to the data they contributed.

Therefore, digital signatures, hash values, encryption — all standard security features will come in handy for those who develop a blockchain app for tracing pharma products.

The benefits such traceability system brings

Data protection. Blockchain capacity combines streamlined visibility of stakeholders’ movements through the supply chain transits with private data messaging. The system prevents sensitive business data leakage. Permission-based private messaging controls the list of partners you trust.

Trust and transparency. This is about certifying the drug & material suppliers and the opportunity to trace the whole journey in any supply chain. The possibility to trace stakeholders at any supply chain stage is by far the most effective way to eliminate global illegal drug shipping. As a result, drug safety blockchain creates a greater sense of trust between pharmaceutical companies and patients. Moreover, medicine turn back policy will become much more effective through the traceable supply chain.

Easy and fast management. Blockchain pharmaceutical supply helps to identify the trusted trading and supply service providers. The technology sends quick batch reminders to detect the exact location and source of medicines maintaining increased safety of patients’ health.

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Can Your Healthcare Cloud Stay Afloat Without All 5 Of These Critical Areas?

Lightning, Thunder, Lightning StormBy Ramachandra Annadi, technical architect, Qentelli

Cloud technology has made its way into IT since Continuous Delivery became a priority to nearly every business sector, including the healthcare industry. In fact, many hospitals and healthcare organizations are now housing electronic medical records in a cloud-based environment, giving medical teams a more convenient way to access patient data.

Even studies show that  cloud computing in healthcare is set to hit $40 Billion by 2026, which is no surprise since the cloud offers numerous benefits including reducing IT costs, providing quick access to business applications and forms, and supporting medical teams with on-demand and easy access to patient data from anywhere, via computer or even on a mobile phone.

However, major concerns still exist with the cloud including challenges with security and privacy which is why healthcare organizations have to be extremely careful with the type of solution they deploy as healthcare data breaches can be very risky and costly. In fact, data breaches cost healthcare organizations millions of dollars each year because patient data is classified as extremely valuable on the black market.

So it’s extremely important that organizations have security features in their cloud like perimeter and internal firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and data encryption to ensure they are operating under maximum security.

The Accelerate State of DevOps 2019 report showcases key findings on the cloud and claims to be the largest research of its kind, presenting 6 years of research comprising data from more than 31,000 professionals across the globe. Focusing on the required practices and capabilities to deliver powerful business outcomes that can shape progressive businesses and medical teams, the report talks about various aspects from culture to cloud adoption.

The report once again warns the enterprises, to ‘Excel or die!’ while giving insights about what the key characteristics of cloud computing are as defined by National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST.

However, one glaring finding in the report shows that only 29% of the respondents using cloud infrastructures agreed or strongly agreed that they meet all five of the below essential characteristics of cloud computing.

Let’s see how important these characteristics are for cloud efficiency.

On-demand Self-service

It is definitely one of the most prominent reasons why the cloud on-demand model has gained so much popularity in the healthcare sector.  While maybe not essential, having an on-demand self-serving portal to access the cloud’s accounts, tap into subscribed cloud services, and access tools to provision and de-provision services unilaterally as needed – can all significantly improve the user experience for physicians, nurses and other medical teams.

This clearly empowers business agility. On the other hand, it’s a good idea for a reliable IT rep to manage control over on-demand resources as it reduces administrative burden, but it should be controlled with a corporate channel as well to avoid risks like Shadow IT. Most of the enterprises that depend a lot on the cloud, encourage their IT departments to have cloud inventory management and perform periodic cloud audits to prevent hiccups and ensure efficiencies.

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How To Achieve Your Dream Medical Career

For those of us who have long dreamed of becoming a nurse, a surgeon, a doctor or another health professional, it’s often all we can concentrate on as we leave school and head to college, university and medical school. In each and every career in the medical field, you’ll need to sacrifice time and energy in order to really get ahead and to qualify for the jobs you’re most excited about taking. In this short article, you’ll learn how to best pursue your dream medical career, learning the best and simplest tips to get you into the positions you yearn for.

Education

There’s no doubt that education is a cornerstone of medical professionals. But simply – you will not be able to work anywhere near patients without at least three years of hard training – and, in the case of doctors, many more years than that.

One of the concerns, when you’re training to be a nurse, a doctor or a surgeon, is how you will support yourself. How can you afford to pay for college or medical school as you work on achieving your dreams? Happily, you may be able to take out a loan, or make use of a student bursary, in order to support yourself – check with your school and other professionals in college administration to see how you can support yourself during your studies.

Passing Exams

Whether you’re a doctor, a nurse or an orderly, passing your exams is your key to qualifying to work with patients in a professional capacity. Until that point, you’re still in training, and you’re not eligible for a full-time wage or a wage befitting of all your experience and training. A major milestone for nurses here is the anesthesia board review course at Valley Anesthesia, which tests whether you’re abreast of the right medical levels to apply to patients. You cannot operate as a professional nurse without it.

There are many more tests and courses that medical professionals can take over the course of their careers to boost their skills and impress colleagues and specialize in the provision of better care. It’s these courses, and their attached exams, that’ll lead you to progress towards your dream medical career, well after your official education has completed.

Dedication

As well as a fine education, medical professionals need to know that they’ve chosen the right careers and that they’re going to bring vigor and energy into their new roles in the world of professional medicine. Dedication is the name of the game: half-hearted medical professionals cost lives and all too frequently find themselves fired, or worse.

As such, be prepared to work longer hours than your friends who chose to work in offices in the city. Be prepared, too, for variation, excitement, and a whole raft of emotions that makes your job as a medical professional not only thrilling but also, occasionally, exhausting. Self-care can help here – applied to make your weeks and months a little calmer and more peaceful in the face of all your work.

There you have it – the three things you need to succeed as a medical professional in the modern world.

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Manage HIPAA Compliance For Your Business

By Ken Lynch, founder, Reciprocity.

The HIPAA outlines the standard security practices that organizations handling protected health information (PHI) need to adhere to. Whether your business is compliant with the HIPAA or not can have a huge impact on how you handle your business. If you are non-compliant, you risk being involved in data breaches, which results in a domino effect. A single breach can lead to the loss of valuable customer data, expensive lawsuits, PR nightmares, and even the loss of your business. 

Even without a data breach affecting your business, you still need to be compliant to be competitive in the health industry. Security-conscious businesses in the industry will only agree to do business with you as long as you are compliant. Lastly, compliance will help you evade fines from regulatory bodies as well as appearing on the wall of shame, which is a site that lists health-related organizations that have undergone data breaches. Lucky for you, as long as you commit to understanding HIPAA compliance, it will typically be quite easy for you to know what to do. 

Here are some insights on managing HIPAA compliance for your business:

What To Expect?

If you are supposed to be HIPAA compliant, you will either be a covered entity or business associate. Covered entities are organizations that have direct access to the customer and their PHI (doctors, insurance companies, and pharmacies). Business associates, on the other hand, work with the covered entities in a non-healthcare capacity, and they have access to PHI. These can be lawyers, IT personnel, accountants, and administrators. Regardless of where you fall, you need to adhere to four HIPAA rules:

1. The Privacy Rule

This rule looks to protect the privacy of PHI. It outlines how and when actors in the health industry can and cannot use health data. The data it protects includes past, present, and future health information of protected individuals, payment data, the details of the care any individual was provided with, contact information, identifying numbers (ID and social security numbers), and even fingerprints. 

2. The Omnibus Rule

The Omnibus rule outlines how business associates should carry themselves out and how they interact with the covered entity. Recent updates to this rule expanded the omnibus rule to storage companies, sub-contractors, and even consultants. It prohibits actors from using PHI for the wrong reasons such as marketing or using genetic information to underwrite insurance policies. 

3. The Security Rule

The security rule is meant to control how businesses handle electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). It requires businesses to have the right safeguards for protecting the confidentiality security and integrity of ePHI. These safeguards are divided into three, including:

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Digital Dentistry Will Soon Be The Rule, Not The Exception

two white dentist chairs inside white painted roomDental hygiene related apps have been a feature of the medtech world for a few years, but only now are they permeating professional dental care. Forbes has noted the trickle of algorithm-led dentistry into clinics, and is now predicting that digital dentistry will become a key component of everyday practice. For many patients and clinics alike, these new developments will enable greater levels of care.

Involvement in daily habits

The key to healthy teeth is good habits. As noted by clinicians at the experienced Gresham emergency dentist, Main Street, education into how to keep teeth clean and what foods to avoid will do much of the work without individuals needing to visit a professional. When the patient returns home is where the hard work begins. Increasingly, dentists are using apps that combine with smart technology, such as the toothbrush, to gain an all-in picture of patients and their habits. According to the New York Times, these platforms are becoming increasingly common, and will become standard practice within years.

Improving clinic efficiency

With the connection to patients made, startups have found ways in which to further develop technology’s role in the clinic. Most recently, Tech Crunch reported that developers VideaHealth have introduced a software suite that can help dentists to look into key signs of dental disease, and in some cases even cancers, such as misshaping of the mouth and throat. Using sophisticated imaging technology within peripherals or the toothbrush, this is ultimately improving efficiency in the dentist clinic – and keeping costs down.

Using big data

Data sharing has always been a sticky subject in the medical world. Measures like GDPR and HIPAA, while initially causing consternation and some frustration, have ultimately cleared the lines on what can and what can’t be shared, and how. As a result, big data is now there for use in medical applications, including dentistry. According to Dentistry IQ, this will enable dentist clinics to pull data from a staggering range of sources and improve patient outcomes.

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HIPAA Compliance and The Cloud

Sunset, Dawn, Nature, Mountains

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

Developments in technology have had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. We can hardly get through an hour without tech having an effect on what we’re doing, let alone a full day. From the morning alarm on our smartphones, to the Bluetooth sound system in our cars, to the social media accounts we share everything on, technology surrounds us.

Perhaps one of the aspects that many of us think the least about is how it has utterly transformed the way we manage our healthcare data. The development of electronic health records and, even more importantly, the cloud, have brought about all sorts of changes. Many have the potential to impact our lives in both positive and negative ways depending upon how they are managed.

When it comes to our health data, there is an added urgency in making sure everything is safe and secure no matter where it is ultimately stored. Well managed data can mean a more efficient and effective healthcare service, while mismanaged data can lead to the loss of personal information and an unraveling of the privacy most of us have come to expect in a professional healthcare setting.

Medical Records, HIPAA and the Cloud

In 1996, the United States government passed HIPAA, a landmark healthcare act that helped to create and enforce privacy and data security requirements associated with medical information. The act has since been expanded in an effort to keep up with modern technologies, and nearly everyone involved in the healthcare system is expected to follow the rules. Because of this legislation, one can expect that their medical records will be kept private unless they choose to release them, no matter where they are stored.

Cloud-based data storage and technology provides numerous benefits to the healthcare system including things such as better dataset analysis, improved efficiencies in individual patient care, and a much lower cost. However, it can also lead to a number of concerns, especially when it comes to HIPAA compliance. HIPAA rules not only apply to the medical facilities that are using cloud technology, but also to the tech vendors as well.

Unfortunately, just because cloud technology providers are not exempt from HIPAA rules, does not mean that they necessarily follow them. There is no real certification process and the government doesn’t exactly clear companies to work with healthcare organizations. It is completely up to the healthcare entity and the tech provider to make sure their services are meeting the necessary HIPAA standards.

Loopholes in the System

It may come as somewhat of a surprise to both patients and healthcare providers to learn that there are popular new aspects of medicine and technology that aren’t necessarily covered by HIPAA regulations. For instance, HIPAA does not cover anonymized data such as the data that is collected during genetic testing. Essentially, this allows for a patient’s anonymous information to be shared at will.

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