Testing Times for Healthcare Software: The Top 10 Issues

By Manish Mathuria, chief technology officer and co-founder, Infostretch.

Manish Mathuria

The truism that “prevention is better than cure” is especially true in software, where a defect can have serious, sometimes life-threatening, consequences. Digital health presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for those operating in this competitive and demanding market. The pressure to innovate and advance is immense, but so are concerns about safety, functionality, cost and privacy, to name a few.

When clinical insights combine with IT brilliance, the results can lead to fascinating health innovations. Radical new approaches, such as wearables and mobile devices which monitor, analyze and diagnose conditions, bring special meaning to the importance of error prevention versus recovery.

Lightning-fast technological innovation, fierce competition and stringent regulation combine to bring special challenges to a tester. The implications of software failure are severe. Another adage, “evolve or die,” springs to mind. The traditional testing function is what needs to evolve in this sector perhaps more than any other.

The quality assurance approach to testing must now make way for quality engineering, a new way of tackling quality control which focuses on improving the inherent design of the product throughout the software development life cycle. Why? Because traditional testing, performed at the end of the SDLC is out of its depth in the new era of digital transformation.

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Central and Southern Ohio HIMSS Announces Spring Conference 2019

The Central and Southern Ohio chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (CSO HIMSS) announced its Spring conference titled “AI, Blockchain and Care: The Future ABC’s of Healthcare” will be held on Friday, May 10, 2019, at the Conference Center at OCLC, 6600 Kilgour Place, Dublin, Ohio.

The conference will open with a welcome from the CSO HIMSS program hair, Caitlin Graham, CSO HIMSS president, Ajay Sharma, and will include a presentation of Scholarship Awards to recipients Shreya Patel from Ohio State University and Melissa Schulte from Miami University. The conference will feature keynote addresses from Dr. Tina Moen, chief pharmacy officer of IBM Watson Health and Ed Marx, CIO, the Cleveland Clinic.

The conference will conclude with a blockchain panel discussion with two members from the HIMSS National Blockchain Task Force on the panel topic “ABC’s of Healthcare with blockchain. The Reality Today and how to make it work for you tomorrow.”

Ajay Sharma, president of CSO HIMSS said, “The CSO HIMSS Chapter likes to be at the forefront of educating our members with relevant trends for the healthcare IT ecosystem. AI and Blockchain are both areas that are being talked about in a healthcare provider setting due to clinicians being inundated with data. With cloud adoption, storage discussions start in the Petabytes. We are sure that in the not too distant future, the concept of ‘only Petabytes’ may sound quaint. AI provides hope to many in IT to tame that data challenge and be able to provide faster and more efficient care for our patient populations.”

In addition to the educational aspect of the event, there’s also the opportunity network with other attendees and innovative sponsors. Sponsors include Cisco, IBM, AHEAD and Box, Commvault, Nutanix, Path Forward IT, Zones Healthcare IT Solutions and Covermymeds.

Interested participants can register for the conference at http://csohio.himsschapter.org/event/cso-himss-annual-spring-conference

Additional information is available on the CSO HIMSS website at http://csohio.himsschapter.org/ and via social media on Twitter at https://twitter.com/CSOHIMSS and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Csohimss.

Technologies Providing A Greater Patient Experience

Computer, Business, Typing, KeyboardWhether you work in a hospital, dentist, doctor or dermatologist’s office, providing your patients with a positive experience should be a priority. The increased costs of healthcare premiums and deductibles that are often passed down to subscribers, has caused a lot of people to become more aware of the type of treatment they receive from medical professionals. Like with other industries, consumers are starting to shop around to ensure they’re getting the best experience possible.

Patients are more inclined to visit a medical professional who can not only treat the problem but someone who gives them a supportive and positive experience every time they visit. Healthcare providers are urged to understand that this experience is not only tied to the success of treatment. They must work diligently to ensure their patients’ needs are accommodated from the time they schedule the appointment to the time they’re treated.

One powerful and innovative resource that medical professionals like a dermatologist in Mckinney TX or a dentist in Miami FL are technology. Medical practices would be wise to leverage the use of technology to their advantage. Such tools can help to enhance the patient experience which leads to better doctor-patient relationships and overall patient outcomes. Though there are lots of technological resources out there to consider, below are a few features one might consider implementing in their practice:

Online appointment setting and reminders

With a hectic schedule, how in the world does a person find the time during traditional business hours to set an appointment with their doctor? The answer is, they don’t. It simply gets put off for days. Then, when they finally set an appointment, it’s often missed simply because they forgot.

Medical practices can help patients with this problem and reduce their no call, no show visits by implementing online appointment setting features with reminders. Allowing patients to go online whenever it’s most convenient for them and pick a date and time for an appointment provides a convenience they can get behind. With a reminder being texted or emailed to them a few days before, you also help them to stay on track with their health.

Electronic patient forms

When someone makes an appointment to see the doctor, chances are they’re on a schedule themselves. Meaning, they don’t necessarily have the time to spend the next ten or fifteen minutes filling out paperwork. This increases wait times and inconvenience the patient. Healthcare providers can remedy this problem by allowing patients to complete their forms online. This way the patient can complete the forms prior to showing up and get seen faster.

Telemedicine

There are patients that simply have a hard time making it in to visit the doctor. Some face mobility challenges while others lead busy lifestyles that don’t allow them to slow down. Healthcare providers can assist their patients in making their health a priority by offering telemedicine features. This is a technological tool in which medical professionals to consult, diagnose, and prescribe medication for their patients remotely. This helps to shorten wait times for patients who are in office, it increases patient interest in caring for their health, reduces healthcare costs, and strengthens the doctor-patient relationship.

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Healthcare Provider Fatigue: What Can Be Done?

By Brooke Faulkner, freelance writer; @faulknercreek

Despair, Alone, Being Alone, ArchetypePicture a long day — one that’s longer than most. Maybe you wake up early, have a checklist of morning tasks to do, then head off to catch a flight. Once you land, you have to change, make your way to a work conference, give a speech, and mingle for an hour. Back at the hotel, you unpack, shower, and work some more until 1 a.m., when you can finally sleep.

Exhausting, right? Now imagine that for that entire day, you’re on your feet and working. There’s no flight to relax on and no mingling with people for an hour. During that time, your main goal is to take care of others; you’re solely responsible for their health and well-being. How exhausted would you be then? This is what doctors and nurses go through, and for anyone outside of the healthcare industry, it’s nearly impossible to envision what a week, or even a shift, is like.

What is healthcare provider fatigue?

Healthcare providers work incredibly long hours. Nurses often work 12-hour night shifts — sometimes even longer if there’s a nursing shortage. Doctors may work for double that, especially when they’re new to the job. Indeed, medical residents in the United States can work up to 28 hours in one shift. Without proper rest and sleep, fatigue and burnout can set in. This can impact the individual’s health and well-being, and it can also have negative consequences for patients.

There’s another type of burnout, too: compassion fatigue, a central problem to balancing work and personal life as a nurse. This happens when healthcare providers are emotionally or physically distressed from forming emotional connections with their patients. This often happens when dealing with patients who are going through a serious medical event, like a trauma or a chronic illness. Creating a work-life balance is one of the best ways to combat compassion fatigue.

Consequences of healthcare provider fatigue

When healthcare providers don’t have enough time to rest and sleep, it can result in negative patient outcomes, such as inaccuracies when administering drugs, injuries from accidental needle sticks, surgical errors, and poor operation of medical equipment. Other signs of burnout include:

The good news is that burnout is manageable. Healthcare organizations have to treat burnout before it becomes a problem. Once they do so, job performance and the number of errors in patient care will both be improved.

6 ways to improve healthcare provider fatigue

Fatigue isn’t a random occurrence; it’s the culmination of patterns related to scheduling disorganization and poor organizational policies. Since you can point to specific causes of fatigue, the problem can also be fixed with personal and organizational changes.

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How Digital Technologies Will Transform the Patient Experience

By Jean Turgeon, vice president and chief technologist, Avaya.

Jean Turgeon

By 2020, healthcare spending around the globe is expected to reach $8.7 trillion, and as part of this spend, healthcare providers are looking to digitally transform by innovating legacy processes and driving better patient experiences. With recent advances in customer-relationship management (CRM), and electronic health record (EHR) technology, providers have an opportunity to significantly update communication channels for patients to reach them.

For patients, the first point of contact with a hospital is essential, whether they’re seeking assistance for a serious health risk or checking in with a doctor. Communications infrastructure plays an integral role in the delivery of this care. By utilizing popular technologies already in patients’ hands, such as smartphones, social media and instant messaging, providers can easily contact patients and offer support above and beyond the traditional telephony services offered. Beyond this, providers can implement AI to connect these channels and create a holistic profile for patients – seeing where and when they reach out for support, and mapping resources to fulfill these needs.

This connected health approach, creates efficiencies by pooling and analyzing data that is beneficial to both healthcare providers and patients. For instance, AI can be used to quickly match appointments for patients with specialists or doctors who have office hours that best align with their schedule. The benefits of this are two-fold, first in time-savings, second in literal savings, as every missed appointment or open time slot averages $200 lost for the healthcare provider.

In addition, third-party applications can be integrated and used to create a custom service that aggregates data and populates a profile for the patient, including financial information, insurance details, demographics, and medical history into the EHR system. By connecting data-sets, and taking the administrative tasks away from hospital staff, AI elevates burdens and streamlines the appointment and admission process. This intuitive profile building, and patient-physician matching can extend to critical situations, such as an ER visit.

Using connected communication solutions, an ER physician can automatically trigger messages to key personnel when admitting a patient, just by placing an order in the EHR system. For instance, a bed placement specialist will be alerted of the patient-need, and can determine if a bed is available. Or, a message can be sent to the transport team to collect and guide the patient.

Moving beyond the check-in and doctor assignment process, patient alarms and bedside requests can be advanced beyond the simple “click-and-wait” approach of many healthcare providers. Automated workflows combined with AI-enable technology, such as speech enabled self-services, can be used bedside to ensure patient requests are routed efficiently to the appropriate hospital staff. In practice this will mean fewer delayed treatments, and greater patient safety and satisfaction. Rather than the on-call medical staff being alerted to the bedside for a pillow request, a smart workflow could alert hospitality staff to deliver a pillow to the room and eliminate the need to go back and forth. Not only would this stop physicians having to relay messages to other team members, slowing the speed of assistance, it will ensure that appropriate staff are tapped for appropriate patient-needs – streamlining workflows and efficiency.

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How Stratified Patient Data and Electronic Health Records Can Help Improve Cancer Care

By Mike Doyle, CEO, COTA, Inc

Mike Doyle

Most of us know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and understand first hand the tidal wave of emotions and questions that come immediately after diagnosis. One question that sticks out to providers is the seemingly simple: “How many patients have you seen who are just like me?” and perhaps even more important: “Why are you confident that I can reach the magical five year survival rate?”

Unfortunately, with systems of record like the electronic health record, neither of these questions is easy for the provider to answer. The challenge is, in today’s oncology world there is both a combination of clinical confidence based on peer-reviewed data and the artistic necessity to understand what could work based on perceived comparable patients. Oncologists do incredible work to save lives, however, there is more to be done to help support the people who are making the most important decisions at the most critical inflection points.

Meaningful data to improve cancer care

Prior to the creation of EHRs, physicians stressed that they did not have enough access to data. While data is now being stockpiled within the depths of EHRs, physicians still do not have access to everything the data has to offer. The available data in EHRs is often fragmented, disorganized, and sometimes simply incomplete, making it difficult to glean any real value from this information after it is collected.

Essentially, the EHR can be compared to a messy bureau in your bedroom. While bureaus are intended to organize your clothes — socks in one drawer, t-shirts in another, etc. — sometimes socks windup in the pants drawer. All of the valuable information and data is in the EHR, but is sometimes lost in the wrong “drawers,” making it hard for clinicians to find the important information and make sense of it to impact patient care. While physicians are doing the best they can by adding information into EHRs, technology has not caught up to allow physicians to extract insights and put that data to use.

Fortunately, with the use of outside technology, we can pull real-world data (RWD) and real-world evidence (RWE) from the EHRs. This can unlock the insights hidden within the available data and uncap the potential for improving and personalizing cancer care, while reducing overall costs.

Unlocking hidden insights

The technology available today knows how data should be arranged. It knows when something is misplaced, and knows how to make sense out of it. Through advanced algorithms and clinical input, technology can essentially sort and gather RWD from EHRs and then group together similar patients based on their own biology, disease states, and other phenotypic factors, allowing for insight into treatment plans and potential outcomes.

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How Physicians Are Using Technology To Improve Foot Health

Technology will forever be advancing, therefore, so will the medical world. As we understand more about technology, we understand more about our bodies and how we can best help ourselves to live a long, happy, and healthier life. Physicians that work in the podiatry setting have found many ways to use technology to improve foot health. If you need to see a podiatrist for any reason, understanding the latest technology can aid you in making a choice about which physician and clinic are right for you.

Sound wave therapy

Sound wave therapy is used for many different medical purposes and is an alternative form of therapy. This kind of therapy uses sound energy to restore vibrational energy in the body. The frequencies and waves that are omitted by sound wave therapy machines produce resonance. Physicians have found that sound wave therapy can be used to treat many foot issues in patients and improve overall foot health. One example of this is reducing the pain caused by foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis, which is the most common cause of pain in the heel. For those who have a sprained ankle, sound wave therapy can promote healing and reduce any discomfort.

Video gait analysis

Your posture and the way you walk can cause many feet or ankle issues that mean your doctor sends you to see a podiatrist. If this is the case and your issue is down to walking or exercising, a physician in the podiatry department may watch you walk on a treadmill, assessing your gait. Your gait is the manner in which you walk and can often determine the cause of a range of foot issues. Although a physician may be trained in podiatry, this doesn’t mean they can see everything, and this is where video gait analysis comes in. As the name suggests, a camera can record your every movement, making it easier than ever for a physician to understand exactly what is going on. If you are diagnosed with a gait problem, such as walking on the side of your feet rather than the soles, you may have to wear insoles for over-pronation.

Laser removal of fungal infections

Fungal infections can be very embarrassing and extremely irritating. If you are suffering from a fungal infection, visiting a physician who uses laser removal means a quick and painless procedure that can get rid of your infection in no time. As the name suggests, this machine uses a laser to target any fungus on the foot or around the nail beds. One of the most common forms of fungal infections that are cleared up with the use of laser therapy is onychomycosis.

If you are suffering from any form of foot problem, speaking to a physician who is trained in podiatry is the first step to recovery. Finding a clinic that uses the best forms of technology means you will get quicker and more precise treatment to restore your foot health sooner.

Clinical Communication Comes of Age: Using A Mobile Maturity Model To Develop A Sustainable Mobile Strategy

By Adam Mahmud, healthcare lead, Jamf, and Si Lou, CEO, PatientSafe Solutions.

Today’s healthcare workforce is increasingly mobile. The industry has seen a dramatic increase in the use of mobile devices by both staff and patients, but often as single point solutions that do not solve for the fragmentation of clinical workflow at the point of care. Health system IT and clinical leadership are responding with a more strategic approach to clinical communication and collaboration to improve the care delivery experience at scale.

PatientSafe Solutions partnered with HIMSS Analytics to survey more than 300 healthcare leaders about the current state and future plans for mobile communication in their organizations. The vast majority of hospitals (77 percent) have invested in some form of mobile app to support communication amongst the care team, the most commonplace being secured messaging. However, clinical workflow suffers from the continued use of multiple, single-point device and applications. The average care team member — from physicians to nurses to allied health professionals – must use as many as five different devices or modalities to communicate and execute a defined plan of care.

The study also found that that nearly 50 percent of respondents plan on standardizing and consolidating onto a smartphone platform to streamline care collaboration. We all know by now that smartphones present the opportunity to deliver care at the bedside in a more effective, personalized and productive manner. However, despite investment in secured messaging and the desire to move towards smartphone-based platforms, the care team’s communication, care collaboration and documentation workflow still can be disorganized, incomplete and at worse, not secure. To address the clinical mobility challenge, PatientSafe developed the Mobile Maturity Model for Healthcare as common framework to assess the current state of mobile adoption in your health system and align the various people, technologies and processes to be successful with mobility at scale. Our goal? To get industry-wide participation in using and evolving the healthcare mobile maturity model – so clinicians and patients benefit from a streamlined, secure, context-rich mobile care experience.

The Mobile Maturity Model seeks to assess and categorize an organization’s proficiency in six key capabilities: infrastructure management, mobile device management, integration planning, application selection, workflow design and outcomes management.

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Technology Helps Mitigate Healthcare Disparities In Hispanic Communities

By Mario Anglada, CEO, Hoy Health.

Mario Anglada

Proven technology and digital communications are being used to leverage decades of health industry knowledge and speed access to care among Hispanic communities. These solutions and digital access align with Hispanic use of new technology tools: 84 percent of all Hispanics are online and Hispanic internet smartphone usage is 10.5 hours per week – 25 percent more than the national average.

Now, these innovative technologies are enabling a growing number of Hispanic consumers to access several cash-based primary care and pharmacy solutions, such as:

Solutions such as these are simplifying access and delivery of quality health and wellness products. Thanks to these technology platforms, individuals are enjoying improved access to care, opportunities to learn about their health, determine their wellness needs, purchase lower cost medications, manage their chronic conditions and engage in behavior modification solutions to help them lead healthier and more productive lives.

These solutions also give Hispanics access to products and services anywhere and at an affordable price, whether it’s domestically in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, or internationally in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, in either English or Spanish, and without the need for any type of insurance or third-party payment.

This level of innovation holds great promise for closing gaps in care for under- and uninsured Hispanics in the United States, meeting cultural needs and with respect for affordability of care.

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Mint.com Founder Launches “Vital”

Vital, the AI-powered software increasing productivity and improving patient health in hospital emergency rooms, today announces a $5.2 million Seed round led by First Round Capital and Threshold Ventures (formerly DFJ Venture). Vital uses artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to triage patients before they see a doctor, making it easier and faster for providers to coordinate care and prioritize patients.

Raised to help grow the Vital team of engineers and data scientists, and to bring its secure, cloud-based software to emergency rooms across the United States, the round also includes Bragiel Brothers, Meridian Street Capital, Refactor Capital and SV Angel, with angel investment from Vivek Garipalli, CEO of CloverHealth; and Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg, founders of Flatiron Health. Josh Kopelman, founder and partner at First Round Capital, will join Vital’s board of directors.

Aaron Patzer

“The HITECH* Act was well-intentioned, but now hospitals rely on outdated, slow and inefficient software – and nowhere is it more painful than in the emergency room,” said Vital founder and CEO Aaron Patzer in a statement. “Doctors and nurses often put more time into paperwork and data entry than patient care. Vital uses smart, easy tech to reverse that, cutting wait times in half, reducing provider burnout and saving hospitals millions of dollars.”

Patzer brings capital to Vital from his success with Mint.com, which transformed bank data into an easy consumer product. The decision to take on an even higher-stakes, more regulated industry came after seeing firsthand the antiquated software hospitals use. Teaming up with Justin Schrager, doctor of emergency medicine at Emory University Hospital, Patzer invested $1 million and two years of peer-reviewed academic study, technical research and development to create Vital.

“Vital successfully built software with a modern, no-training-required interface, while also meeting HIPAA compliance. It’s what people expect from consumer software, but rarely see in healthcare,” said Kopelman. “Turning massive amounts of complex and regulated data into clean, easy products is what Mint.com did for money, and we’re proud to back a solution that’ll do the same in life and death situations.”

*The ACA’s Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health