By Tiffany Lily, healthcare experience consultant, TTEC Digital.
For years, patients had only a few channels in which they could interact with their healthcare providers. They saw their care team in-person during check-ups, interfaced with support and appointment scheduling staff at the front desk, or called to get in touch with a clinician to answer their questions.
Over the past decade, however, this short list of touchpoints has expanded to include a broad portfolio of digital tools and communication channels—creating new opportunities for patients to personalize their healthcare journey. When the pandemic halted in-person appointments, these alternative touchpoints quickly became the primary channels by which patients could interface with their providers.
Broadly speaking, the Great Telehealth Experiment has been a monumental success. In the spring of 2020, telehealth appointments were 78 times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Even as the dust has settled on pandemic-related lockdowns, telehealth usage remains 40 times higher than pre-pandemic levels.
But telehealth is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this emerging “digital front door” approach to healthcare. Now, patients expect even more. They’ve seen the potential of the digital-first experience and how it can positively impact their lives, and they’re eager to see healthcare begin to replicate the last best experiences they encounter every day from many of the most well-known retail giants. More importantly, surveys show they’re willing to seek out and even pay more for the providers who can meet their high expectations.
To build patient loyalty and promote positive patient experiences, healthcare organizations face a golden opportunity to augment telehealth capabilities with a robust ecosystem of supplementary tools and channels that allow them to adapt to the new healthcare journeys patients prefer in the digital healthcare era. In many ways, healthcare is undergoing the same growing pains ecommerce organizations experienced just a few decades earlier, with one major difference: many healthcare organizations simply don’t have the comprehensive strategic view or technological know-how to build out this digital ecosystem on their own.
Fortunately, the path to patient experience transformation doesn’t have to feel daunting. After decades of engagements helping healthcare organizations move to the forefront of digital care, we’ve identified a handful of the most common process-based best practices that your organization can use to frame up its digital transformation.
By Travis Schneider, chief corporate development officer, Tebra.
Two-thirds of economists believe an economic downturn is in the pipeline for the U.S. economy. While there has been a myth that the healthcare industry is recession-proof, historically, that has not been the case. Expert reports suggest the health sector tends to be affected later during a recession and typically takes longer to bounce back.
Independently owned practices tend to see the effects more quickly than other healthcare institutions. The rising cost of medical care often delays many Americans, with nearly seven out of 10 putting off an appointment or procedure due to the cost. Independent practices must take a proactive approach to safeguard their business and continue delivering care to patients.
Invest in Practice Growth
Many businesses tend to cut expenses at the first sign of a recession, and marketing expenditures are often the first on the chopping block. However, previous recessions have proved that businesses that continued to market during times of a downturn were not only able to stay in business but also bounce back faster. As the lead generating funnel for a practice, it can be detrimental to reduce marketing efforts. Investing in practice growth technology and clinical management software are worthwhile marketing investments that will help retain a practice’s patient base, expand its market share, and attract new patients.
There are three main types of healthcare providers: doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. Each profession has unique skills and responsibilities when it comes to providing care for patients. This article will take a closer look at what each profession entails and its role in the healthcare system.
The role of doctors, nurses, and pharmacists as healthcare providers
They each have unique skills and responsibilities when it comes to providing care for patients.
What does a doctor do, and what is their role in healthcare?
The medical doctor is one of the most important healthcare providers. They are in charge of identifying and treating illnesses and wounds. Doctors also play a vital role in preventative care, offering advice on diet and exercise to help patients avoid illness. In addition to their clinical work, doctors also spend time conducting research and teaching other healthcare professionals
What are the responsibilities of a doctor in a Medical Clinic?
Medical doctors working in a clinic are responsible for many tasks. These include diagnosing and treating illnesses, providing advice on preventative care, conducting research, and teaching other healthcare professionals. They may also be involved in patient education, helping patients to understand their condition and how to manage it. Continue Reading
A modern activity tracker is not just a pedometer, it is a smart device designed to increase your attention to the risks that affect your health. Fitness bracelet, sports bracelet, smart bracelet – it doesn’t matter how the manufacturer specifically classifies their device, the unifying factor is the functions that monitor your health indicators.
How To Select A Fitness Tracker For You
The bracelet on the arm focuses on those indicators that are easiest to collect – these are the time of your activity, the quality of sleep, the number of steps per day, the approximate number of calories burned, heart rate and training intensity.
The second factor influencing the cost of the gadget is the method of notification of the achieved indicators – this can be an external screen, a connection to a smartphone or laptop via Bluetooth, and even Wi-Fi, vibration and light indicators.
Additional functionality in the bracelets are GPS sensors – in this case, you can record jogging, hiking or even walking more accurately, along with the route and speed of movement.
In addition to fixing, most bracelets also support the setting and calculation of the implementation of certain daily norms – this is a way to motivate and even control your exercises. Thanks to the bracelet, you can detect a lack of physical activity, receive timely notifications about the need to warm up, monitor your training schedule and your own health.
MRI machines are some of the most important – and expensive – pieces of equipment in any clinic or hospital. And while they offer a wealth of diagnostic opportunities, setting one up is no easy feat. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the things you need to keep in mind when setting up an MRI machine in your own clinic.
One of the most important things you need to consider when setting up an MRI machine is its location. The machine needs to be located in a room that has good ventilation, as the MRI machine produces a lot of heat during operation.
Additionally, the MRI machine cost often tends to be high, thus vital to ensure that the staff handling it is thoroughly trained to avoid additional costs.
How to choose the right MRI machine for your clinic
The first is the type of machine you need. There are two main types of MRI machines: low-field and high-field. Low-field machines are less expensive and have a shorter scanning time, but they don’t provide as much detail as high-field machines. High-field machines are more expensive and have a longer scanning time, but they provide better image quality.
The second factor to consider is the size of the machine. If you have a small clinic, you’ll need a smaller machine. If you have a large clinic, you’ll need a larger machine.
The third factor to consider is the type of scanner you need. There are two main types of scanners: whole-body scanners and extremity scanners. Whole-body scanners can scan your entire body at once, while extremity scanners can only scan one part of your body at a time.
The fourth factor to consider is the warranty. Some MRI machines come with warranties, while others do not. You should always get an MRI machine that comes with a warranty so that you can get it repaired or replaced if something goes wrong with it.
Did you know that automating healthcare administrative tasks can save up to 3 hours a day for the teams? Additionally, it improves work-life satisfaction by approximately 40%.
There is no secret that the healthcare industry is demanding and requires 24*7 service. That means the doctors, nurses, lab assistants, and the administrative and management team have to be on their toes to address the patient and their family’s needs.
Apart from this, the administrative team must schedule and manage the meeting between different departments, document everything, and keep track of the hospital assets. All these are time-consuming and daunting tasks.
Fortunately, using the tips below, you can manage them seamlessly, thereby increasing work efficiency.
Rely On Electronic Health Recording Systems
Every medical institution is required to keep a record of its patients. Traditionally, this information was recorded as a patient’s paper chart; however, this digital era calls for an electronic health record (EHR).
Simply put, healthcare EHR systems are patient-centered, real-time records that securely and promptly make information accessible to authorized users. It is designed to go beyond the typical clinical data collected in a provider’s office. Instead, it is inclusive of a broader view of a patient’s care, even though it does contain patients’ medical and treatment histories.
In fact, the latest development in EHR systems enables the healthcare staff to streamline the workflow, manage patient logistics, and empower caregivers.
Investing In Unified Communications (UC) System
Even though almost all industries abandoned pagers years ago, they are still widely used in hospitals as the main staff communication tool. The reason being is that cell phones may interfere with the operation of some medical devices (proven by a 2016 study).
A unified communications (UC) system is thus required. It incorporates a wide range of technologies that, when used in a hospital setting, make it easy to track, monitor, and communicate patient data.
Providers can simply use the central hub created by a UC system to view a patient’s current clinical state, location, and impending procedures. The UC system allows hospital employees to communicate with nurses, doctors, and other medical staff members with frequent updates.
Install Asset Tracking Software
Lastly, numerous equipment, including IV poles, feeding pumps, and EKG monitors, are present in even a minor hospital. However, manually updated spreadsheets and hard copies prevent healthcare workers from having immediate access to the required information. The hospital also runs the danger of over-purchasing to guarantee equipment availability. Contrarily, a resource can be in high demand and frequently unavailable, which would impede hospital workflow and be upsetting for staff (and patients).
Fortunately, all this data is gathered via asset-tracking technology into a single database for rapid access and management by medical staff. They can easily find medical equipment, check maintenance logs, and ascertain the status of each hospital asset. As a result, patients receive care more promptly, inventory costs are decreased, and hospital flow is improved.
To manage the healthcare institution’s administrative tasks, finding and integrating the right software solutions is necessary. So, look around the current tasks your admin team is monitoring and introduce new technology and programs wherever necessary. As an added benefit, a well-administered hospital will enable you to earn the customer’s trust.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has made no secret of its intentions to crack down on fraud, abuse, and waste, throwing more budget dollars into audits, heightening program integrity oversight of Marketplace plans, and exploring new methods of using advanced technology to conduct more rapid and thorough documentation reviews.
Historically, as CMS goes, so do commercial payers, putting healthcare organizations in the crosshairs of an unprecedented level of third-party external audits. To emerge relatively unscathed, organizations need to put in place proven processes that guide immediate and effective actions in the wake of adverse findings.
With limited time to correct the internal processes or billing practices that contributed to the problems, many organizations are turning to corrective action plans (CAPs) to streamline and accelerate their response to unfavorable outcomes. Those that do also realize the added benefit of having their chances of future billing compliance risks significantly reduced while their ability to achieve revenue integrity is enhanced.
The Audit Environment
The signs of an aggressive audit environment are everywhere. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in its 2022 budget, allocated a staggering $2.6 billion to halting fraud, abuse, and waste in its Medicare and Medicaid programs – up from $180 million in 2021. A primary target is Medicare medical review of fee-for-service claims – which CMS has likely increased due to a robust rate of return to the Trust Funds (estimated to be more than $9-to-$1, based on a three-year rolling average).
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has also ramped up its scrutiny of how well provider organizations complied with requirements tied to the use of nearly $180 billion in Provider Relief Funds and with recently enacted mandates such as the No Surprises Act. One survey found that almost 25% of hospitals respond to as many as 2,000 external audit-related monthly requests from multiple sources. While results of many of those audits are confidential, Medicare Fee-for-Service data show a 6.26% improper payment rate in their 2021 report.
When audits by commercial payers identify problems such as overpayments, they may require the provider organization to generate and implement an actionable CAP for the relationship to continue. And while a CAP is not required when a RAC audit uncovers issues with billing practices, the offending provider organization should act swiftly to not only remedy the immediate problem – generally by refunding the overpayments – but also to identify and address any underlying practices or processes that may put the organization at risk for future issues and liability.
Audit pressure isn’t just external. Many healthcare organizations are also ramping up internal scrutiny – and they’re not always happy with the findings. When looking specifically at internal audits, the Healthcare Auditing and Revenue Integrity: 2021 Benchmarking and Trends Report from MDaudit found that more than 30% of the time, audit outcomes are unsatisfactory and have not met acceptable thresholds.
The biggest healthcare innovation in the last twenty years is … data. Every day, healthcare organizations use data to operate more efficiently, improve patient care, and advance medical research. Over the last 24 months, the industry used data to advance mRNA technology, which laid the groundwork for the COVID-19 vaccines, and even led to a new treatment for type-two diabetes.
The recent medical breakthroughs speak to the power of data and the vast potential it has to help improve lives. Unfortunately, as data becomes more valuable, the threats become more dire. As the attackers evolve, organizations need to take a holistic approach if they want to defeat the threats.
The Critical Risks to Healthcare Data
Ransomware is the leading risk. Sensitive data is a honey pot to cybercriminals, and because healthcare organizations maintain so much of it (i.e., medical records, patient forms, health insurance claims, provider and patient communication records, etc.) they are vulnerable targets.
Cyber attacks on healthcare organizations have become so frequent that 45 million people were directly affected in 2021. This summer, one of the largest healthcare cyber incidents to date struck more than 2 million patients across 50 facilities in an attack on Shields Health Care Group.
If the right systems aren’t in place, recovering after a cyber attack such as ransomware can be an exhausting process that takes weeks or months. Even more concerning, businesses are sometimes unable to fully restore data lost in an attack. Aside from productivity disruption, losing critical healthcare data could impact an organization’s ability to maintain its operations. If you are a hospital or healthcare provider – this could be catastrophic. Some often resort to paying large ransoms to resolve the issue, but this should never be the solution.
Changes in healthcare privacy laws will have significant consequences for medical practices. This summer, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft of its HIPAA Security Rule guidance, the first update since the guidance’s original landmark issuance in 2008.
It’s sorely needed.
According to a ClearDATA report on the state of cloud security in healthcare providers in 2022, there is a significant disparity in how healthcare leaders assess their organizations’ cloud-based cybersecurity health. Many healthcare providers mistakenly believe their cloud infrastructure is safe and secure when they actually fall well short of the minimum threshold for proper protection against an increasingly risky landscape.
So it’s unsurprising that 2021 saw healthcare organizations weathering the most data breaches since 2009. But with clear instructions and accountability from technology providers, healthcare organizations can protect themselves against cyberattacks.
The Responsibility of Each Healthcare Organization
Guidelines from the federal government are meaningless without careful compliance from each healthcare organization. It’s critical that you review how noncompliance can negatively affect an organization.
Because healthcare organizations may not be fined or directly punished, the potential fallout of noncompliance is easy to underestimate. But threats are everywhere and the chance of a cyberattack is likely. If you are not proactive, you will eventually leave yourself open to a breach — and that attack can come with dire financial consequences.
Organizations that remain vigilant, proactive, and in line with NIST’s updated HIPAA guidelines can lessen their vulnerability to cyberattacks. It requires an expenditure of resources, sure, but that cost should be seen as a critical investment in your organization’s viability and the privacy of your patient data.
With new threats and challenges emerging in the digital world every day, maintaining optimal IT security has become a daunting task for any organization. More than ever before, healthcare organizations are feeling the heat from regulators regarding cyber security. In this blog post, we look at some of the top healthcare IT security tips you should know to keep your organization safe from cyberattacks.
With more than one billion records being compromised every year, data privacy and protection is a topic that cannot be ignored anymore by any organization without risking its reputation significantly. Considering how many patient records are digitized these days, it’s not surprising that hackers are increasingly targeting healthcare companies with ransomware attacks or other ways to get access to confidential information.
Know Your Employees And Monitor Behavior
Healthcare organizations often deal with extremely sensitive data, and thus it’s important that your employees are aware of what information is private and what information can be shared publicly. It’s also important to keep an eye on how your employees are using their devices at work.
If you notice that someone is downloading files from the network that they shouldn’t be accessing, it might be an indication of malicious behavior. It’s also important to keep an eye on the devices your employees are using. If your organization has BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, it’s important to make sure that those devices are secured against malware or other threats.
Ensure Strong Passwords And Network Security
While there are many different ways for cybercriminals to break into your network, weak passwords remain a commonly exploited vulnerability. It’s important to make sure that your employees are using strong passwords containing a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.
To avoid having to reset passwords on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to suggest the use of password managers. Another important network security tip is to implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for all critical systems. This will help to prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data.