Eight Advancements That Have Changed the Face of Healthcare In the Last 10 Years

By Freddie Tubbs, communication manager, Academized.

Freddie Tubbs
Freddie Tubbs

So much has changed in terms of healthcare over the last decade. Technology has advanced and improved processes – what used to take hours can now take seconds. This means a lot both to the medical community and patients alike.

It seems that almost every day, there is a new technological breakthrough.

Here we examine eight of the very best.

Online interaction

So called portal technology. Such a simple idea but so groundbreaking in its application, it simply means both doctors and their patients having access to their medical records and can interact with each other. It gives physicians the benefit of being able to see a patient’s full history while the patient can challenge and question any aspect they feel is incorrect. Acting as a safety net, it helps both sides spot any problems before they arise and gives patients more power over the information that is held about them.

Genomes

Understanding genomes and sequencing has lead to impressive breakthroughs in the treatment of cancers. Patient testing has allowed specialists to tailor treatments entirely towards individual patients, making it much more effective than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Theresa Kelly, a healthcare writer at Stateofwriting and UKwritings, said: “In my opinion this is probably the most relevant breakthrough in healthcare over the last decade. Being able to tailor treatments towards the exact needs of individuals is breathtaking”.

Fighting waiting times

Advancements in technology mean that hospitals and clinics needing to track down specialists, beds and even equipment can now use an electronic kind of tracking device. This made the waiting times much shorter which inherently relieved the stress off both the patients and the medical staff. Things happen quickly and everything is much easier to track.

Safer remotely

Gone are the days when older or vulnerable people have to wear a large buzzer around their neck in case of a fall. Nowadays, with the advancement of voice activated technology, these people have much easier time with all aspects of their lives. As a bonus, everything can be monitored remotely, and medical staff can react faster.

Messaging the smart way

With the advent of smart messaging services healthcare providers can receive the results of urgent test, the moment the are concluded and act upon them fast, especially if there is a need for a surgery or examination.

“Removing some of the anxiety that can build up while waiting for a result is almost as important as having the tests done. Healthcare professionals also get frustrated by long delays so with this advancement, everyone wins”, so says David Evans, a Tech Blogger at Boomessays.

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The Political Plausibility of Medicare for All

By Ken Perez, vice president of healthcare policy, Omnicell, Inc.

Ken Perez
Ken Perez

As widely reported, based on exit polls, healthcare—not the economy—was the top issue on voters’ minds in the 2018 midterm elections. This was due in part to the nation’s sustained economic recovery of the past two years, resulting in the current healthy state of the economy in general. In addition, Democratic Party political advertising emphasized healthcare—61 percent of pro-Democratic House ads from Sept. 18 to Oct. 15 mentioned healthcare, compared with just 10 percent of all Democratic ads in 2016.

According to several analysts, the Democrats’ success in taking back the House was largely due to their riding the “train of healthcare,” with a large proportion of Democrats in Congress supporting the idea of single-payer healthcare as embodied in Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s “Medicare for All” bill that he introduced in Sept. 2017.

Many of the most likely Democratic candidates for president in 2020 have publicly expressed their support of Medicare for All. Five of the seven most likely Democratic candidates from the Senate cosponsored the Medicare for All bill: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Some of the possible Democratic candidates from the House (e.g., Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas) and current and former Democratic governors (e.g., former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick) are also Medicare for All backers.

At this point, what is the plausibility of Medicare for All becoming law after the 2020 elections?

It would obviously require the election as president of Sanders or a Democratic candidate who supports a single-payer system. In addition, the Democrats would need to retain their new majority in the House, and they would also need to attain a 60-seat majority in the Senate to overcome a possible minority party filibuster by the Republicans, assuming their united opposition. Note that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in the Senate by a 60-39 vote, with not a single Republican senator voting for the bill.

A 60-seat Senate majority for the Democrats is not very likely to happen in 2020. Evidently, the Democrats will have 47 seats in the Senate once the 2018 midterm election results are finalized. The most aggressive current projection from a Democratic perspective regarding their Senate prospects in 2020 is a flipping of five seats presently held by Republicans (in Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina), resulting in a 52-seat majority. However, even that outcome would be eight seats short of the 60 needed. Thus, it appears that it would take some combination of executive branch meltdown (e.g., impeachment proceedings) and retirements by multiple Republican senators during the next two years in order for voters to flip an additional seven seats in the Senate to the Democrats in 2020.

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High Costs in Healthcare Today

By Karim Babay, CEO, HealthSapiens.

Karim Babay
Karim Babay

High-quality affordable healthcare is important to help eliminate healthcare disparities and works to improve the overall health of the population, whereas more expensive healthcare increase the disparity between health of the affluent and the less well-off.

The cost of healthcare varies dramatically around the world. Many health systems are struggling to update aging infrastructure and legacy technologies with already limited capital resources.

As healthcare costs increase, affordability and insurance coverage remain problematic.

In the United States, deductible cost increases are far outpacing increases in costs covered by insurance.

Brazil’s private health insurance sector lost 2.5 million beneficiaries between 2014 and 2016 due to the country’s high unemployment rate. Added to that, companies in Brazil had to cut expenses, and changing their employees’ health insurance plan to a cheaper one was a popular option.

As mentioned previously, lack of access to care causes an increase in hospital and urgent care visits.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 79.7 percent of non-admitted emergency room patient visits were due to lack of access to a healthcare provider. A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association estimated $734 billion (27 percent) of all healthcare spending was wasted on unnecessary services, inefficiency and inflated prices.

Similarly, according to Truven Health Analytics, 71 percent of emergency room visits with employer-sponsored insurance coverage are ambulatory sensitive, and could have been managed in an outpatient care center.

Moreover, as shown by the rise in medical tourism as a new industry, there is now a greater cost disparity in accessing healthcare than before. This new industry shows the cost of healthcare is such that patients are increasingly willing to travel overseas in order to take advantage of more competitive pricing for healthcare in other countries.

This makes it easier to connect patients in one geographic location to physicians in another, which can dramatically reduce costs, and create a freer and competitive market for high-quality medical services.

Today’s consumers want to take responsibility for managing their own health. Yet, most feel they don’t have the information and tools to do so. In other industries, customers can easily access comparisons of features, benefits, and costs to guide their purchasing decisions. In contrast, the healthcare industry presents a huge array of confusing choices, contact points, and service flows without any upfront pricing information.

Seventy-five percent of consumers consider their healthcare decisions as the most important and expensive decisions they make. Yet, the process of choosing and paying for medical services can be so daunting that patients often decline treatment simply to avoid the confusion and expense.

To make better decisions, healthcare consumers are increasingly expecting—and demanding—better information and more transparency from healthcare providers. They’re also asking for more of a partner relationship rather than a one-way dialog from medical provider to patient.

At the same time, as healthcare costs continue to rise, consumers are required to assume responsibility for a larger share of the costs of health plan premiums, co-pays, and out-of-pocket expenses, with no way to offset the cost.

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4 Tips For Attracting and Keeping New Patients

By Christine Alfano, senior director of marketing, Vyne.

Christine Alfano
Christine Alfano

Most practices are looking for ways to keep their chairs full by attracting new as well as continuing treatment with existing patients. Keep in mind that all of the things we’re going to discuss in this article, also apply to your existing patients. After all, with so much competition in the market today, you can never assume that just because you have seen a patient in the past they will return to your office.

Let’s get to the tip list:

  1. Make a great first impression.

    What’s the first encounter or first impression that most prospective new patients have with your dental practice? At a recent conference, dental professionals gave a multitude of answers like phone calls, the front desk person, the building/office, but most of them missed the mark.If you said, visiting your website or searching online, you get an A+! Nowadays, the way people find a new dentist is by searching online and visiting your website, so, if you’re not actively working on those two things in your practice, and want to grow your patient base, you’d better get started!

    If you have a website, make sure it’s relevant and up-to-date. A site that looks 10 years old and has out of date information or events, gives the impression that you don’t care and that’s not a good first impression.

    If SEO and responsive websites are terms that make you scratch your head, it’s okay. You don’t have to be the online marketing expert. There are a lot of great resources online for creating an online presence and there are a lot of partners and services available as well. Just be sure to invest your marketing dollars wisely, measure the results, and you will see the ROI.

  2. Hire friendly people and greet your patients.

    This may sound really simple, but hear me out. Once a prospective patient has visited your website and decided to make an appointment, your people are up to bat. Your team members and their attitudes are the thing that will leave the longest lasting impression on a patient. Make sure that you’ve properly trained everyone on office etiquette, greetings and expectations.There is nothing worse than getting to a practice, walking in and not being greeted immediately.

    Here’s a real-life example that happened to me recently. I walked into my dentist’s office for a 1 p.m. appointment, there were about four ladies at the front desk: one was on the phone, and no one else was in the waiting room. I’ve always had a great customer service experience at this practice and I love my doctor, but to my surprise, when I arrived, no one said a word to me. I went ahead and scribbled my name on the sign-in list and sat down while they all discussed what to order for lunch. They never acknowledged me, but a couple of minutes later, the hygienist came to the door and called me back for my cleaning. The appointment itself went great (as usual) but that initial experience left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and go back, of course, but I wonder if I’d been a new patient with no other good experiences to recount, would I be so forgiving? Think about it …

  1. Solicit feedback from your patients

    The best way to know how you’re doing is to ask. Whether you ask them on their way out as they setup their next appointment, send them a follow-up email survey or text message, or call them a day or two post-appointment, ask your patients if everything went okay with their appointment, if there’s anything your team could improve upon and if they have any suggestions for ways that you could better serve their needs. People like to be heard and while, not everyone may be as willing to complete a survey, you’ll never know unless you ask.

    If you have a referral program, let your patients know about it when you ask how the appointment went so that it’s more of a conversation than just a satisfaction survey. You may even want to try incentivizing them to participate. For example, if they are happy with the services provided, ask if they’d like to provide an online review or give them a card to share with a friend. Once the review is posted or the referral card returned by a new patient, you can reward them with a gift card as a token of thanks.

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How To Write An Impactful Professional Healthcare Resume

By Grace Carter, freelance healthcare writer, OX Essays.

Healthcare industry requires a number of different skills in order to be successful. The job combines organization, practical knowledge of innovations, and professionalism. Your resume should reflect this kind of experience and skill, or your chances of getting a call back are slim. Read on to find out how to write a healthcare resume that will get you an interview.

The objective statement is becoming less of a popular option, instead you should write a summary. Here you will give a quick statement, summarizing your skills and experience in a sentence or two. You’re trying to get the hiring manager interested in reading further. Your summary will go at the top of the page and include a good snapshot of your healthcare skills and experience.

Highlights

A highlights section is very important when you’re creating a healthcare resume, it will be the next section after your summary. The highlights section is similar to the summary, in that it is like a greatest hits, but it will be more exhaustive and in point form. You can include attributes, skills, and work experience here. Did you go to medical school? Are you a certified? These are all things you could potentially put in your highlights.

Accomplishments

“Now it’s time to provide some proof that you can get the job done, and do it well. Talk about some real world, quantifiable career accomplishments that are healthcare related,” recommends Sandra Bealer, resume editor at EliteAssignmentHelp. Some people will include their relevant education in this section. Have you run a healthcare business? Talk about these kinds of things, and if you can, use numbers to back up your claims. Give some details about projects you were a part of, what your role was, and how you were an asset.

Experience

 Use your work experience section to show how aligned your previous experience is with the position you’re applying for. You only have so much space, so be selective about what you include. Prioritize the experience that is most relevant to healthcare. Remember to match the keywords you are seeing in the job posting, or your resume could be filtered out by a computer program before a hiring manager even gets a chance to look at it. Put your most recent experience first, and list your past positions in reverse chronological order. Write the position you held, followed by the time period, followed by the company and it’s geographical location. Include a few lines describing your duties and responsibilities at the position. Don’t forget to use action verbs. Remember this section is for your everyday tasks, your big achievements can go in the accomplishments section.

Work on your writing skills

It’s crucial that the writing in your resume is professional and grammatically correct. One of the quickest ways to disqualify yourself is a typo or other error. These kinds of mistakes make it seem as if you can’t be bothered to edit your resume. Try out these tools for help writing your resume.

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New White Paper Shares Research Findings on Perceptions and Awareness of Medical Device Cybersecurity

Abbott and The Chertoff Group, a security and risk management advisory group, have released a white paper that shares key findings from a recent study of 300 physicians and 100 hospital administrators on cybersecurity challenges in the hospital environment. Results found that while physicians and hospital administrators view cybersecurity as a priority, the majority of them feel under prepared to combat cyber risks in the connected hospital.

Chris Tyberg
Chris Tyberg

“Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility across all of us working in today’s healthcare system,” said Chris Tyberg, divisional vice president, product security, Abbott. “Hospitals are critical hubs within this system, and as the use of advanced medical technology and attention to cybersecurity and connected health increases, it is important for us to understand the challenges hospitals face and how we can collaborate on potential solutions.”

The survey revealed several key findings, including:

Using these survey insights, Abbott partnered with The Chertoff Group to develop the white paper on connected healthcare security, which outlines key considerations for managing cybersecurity risk in the connected hospital. The white paper, “Building a More Secure Connected Healthcare Environment,” identifies members of the healthcare ecosystem can work together to mitigate cybersecurity risk while preserving the benefits of connected medical devices for patients.

The white paper calls for the healthcare industry to come together to address three key areas:

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Good Product Vs. Healthcare Compliance? Not Anymore

By Mark Ferlatte is CTO of Truss.

  Mark Ferlatte  CTO, Founder   @ferlatte   Mark was one of the engineers that helped fix Healthcare.gov in 2013-2014 during the "tech surge". Mark is one of the pioneers of Dev Ops as he built one of the first cloud computing teams for Linden Lab in 2006 and was Amazon Web Services largest customer. Mark's team also built the ecommerce platform for Linden Lab.  Mark graduated from UC Berkeley in Computer Science and is an avid cyclist, including raising money for the yearly AIDS ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. There’s no shortage of news stories and think pieces outlining the ways regulations have hurt healthcare in the U.S., from spending to physician burnout. (Notably, there’s also no shortage of stories claiming the opposite.) Regardless of this debate around benefits vs. protections, there are a few non-negotiables–like doing everything possible to prevent a breach. Patients are entrusting organizations with their health data in way that they don’t understand and failure to protect their data can lead to clear and direct harm (via embarrassment, or identity theft–healthcare records are considerably more valuable than credit card numbers, or discriminatory practices from employers).

As a result, many engineering and IT departments in the healthcare industry accept a reduced level of function and service in order to avoid costly penalties. Unfortunately, this also harms their customers because of reductions in the effective level of care.

New, smaller and more agile healthcare companies are encountering these legacy environments. For example, they may only be able to get a “data dump” every week (or month) from partners, and many of the organizations they partner with are exporting data in formats that are expensive to work with, like retro formats from ’70’s and ’80’s mainframes.

This is a problem in an era where customer service has become the crux of any business. The healthcare providers that don’t change because of the regulatory risk will not be able to build a quality consumer product, even for internal platforms. And internal products have to be consumer grade, now, as well. We’ve talked with doctors who changed jobs because their hospital adopted a medical record system that was bad.

The truth is that newer technologies can allow healthcare systems to do both, but fear of transition and possible compliance violations are holding progress back. And that’s why, in 2018, we can get a probe to Pluto but we can’t send over health records within minutes of a patient’s request. To scale a new infrastructure and workflow for the largest healthcare systems is a huge project, so changes with clear benefits–like DevOps practices, iterable software development and a constant release schedule–are met with resistance. Here are three ways healthcare systems can start digging themselves out of this:

#1: De-silo. Most have heard this advice, but acting on it is different for every organization. At a high level, most healthcare IT departments have a compliance group, an infrastructure group, a security group and a product engineering group, all working independently of each other. The compliance group (usually lawyers and analysts who often lack technical expertise), need ongoing conversations with engineering and security so that the latter understands the compliance requirements. In return, those teams can help the compliance group understand trade-offs, what’s realistic, anticipated roadblocks, etc.

Security teams tend to develop their own compliance controls internally and often don’t tie back their controls to actual regulation and policy. The infrastructure engineering teams are concerned with implementing compliance and also care that the system is always available to customers. The product engineering  team wants to build something of value that keeps customers safe and meets their needs. All of these different priorities require complex tradeoffs, making it unsurprising that systems don’t fulfill customer expectations. To de-silo here, compliance teams should act as consultants to product teams and help them understand the compliance requirements. Additionally, consider merging the defensive security and infrastructure teams into a single team with a safety and availability mandate; high-quality infrastructure and high quality security end up at the same place.

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How Virtual Care Can Address Healthcare Workforce Shortages

By Lee Horner, CEO, Synzi.

Population growth and aging continue to be the primary driver of increasing demand for healthcare services. According to a March 2018 study by the Association of American Medical College, between 2016 and 2030 the U.S. population is projected to grow by close to 11 percent, from about 324 million to 359 million.

The population aged 65 and over is estimated to increase by 50 percent while growth for the 18 and under age segment is forecasted at only 3 percent. Since seniors have much higher per capita consumption of healthcare than younger segments, the demand for services used by seniors is estimated to far outpace the demand for pediatric care.

Given the expected demand from this demographic shift, the healthcare industry will face growing staffing challenges – with predictions including a shortage of 120,000 doctors by 2030, and a lack of 446,000 home health workers and 95,000 nursing assistants by 2025. Technology – specifically virtual care platforms – can address these expected gaps by allowing providers, care managers, and visiting nurses the ability and flexibility to treat more patients virtually. With virtual care platforms, healthcare organizations can meet the heightened demand for access to care by increasing staff productivity and optimizing workflows, while minimizing costs for all stakeholders.

Increasing Staff Productivity
Virtual care platforms can help administrators optimize their available staff around patient needs. Instead of needing to hire additional team members (or outsource some of the care responsibilities to other healthcare delivery organizations), administrators can review when patients are more likely to seek out care and then match provider scheduling around patients’ preferred timing for virtual visits.

If necessary, staff can also be augmented by remote team members to address an anticipated near-term shortfall of providers. Many health systems – whether rural/remote or urban/suburban locations – struggle with being able to have behavioral health resources on-hand, all the time. Virtual care platforms help remote behavioral health specialists more efficiently provide needed diagnoses and admission/transfer decisions to their onsite colleagues.

Optimizing Workflows
Virtual care platforms can be designed to automate existing workflows and can be readily applied across roles, settings, and facilities. This ensures that the use of the technology is complementary – not disruptive – to how providers currently interact with their colleagues and engage with their patients. Greater collaboration will stem from providers being able to more easily access remote specialists for a video consult. The transition of care – including transfers between departments, floors, providers and settings – will be streamlined as all stakeholders (including the patient and family members) are included in the video-based call to align on expectations and next steps.

Minimizing Excess Costs
Technology enables healthcare organizations to leverage staff to care for more patients, around-the-clock. Instead of expending “windshield” time to physically reach at-home patients for an in-person visit, providers can convert “drive time” to “patient time” and effectively see more patients, more often. Virtual care platforms can fill expected workforce gaps by allowing providers/care managers/home health staff the ability to treat three patients virtually in the time it takes for one at-home visit.

Investment in expanding the number and type of staffing resources would not be needed. In addition, transportation costs and related liabilities associated with driving to/from patient homes and conducting in-person appointments are effectively reduced.

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The Most Useful Technological Advancements In Healthcare

It’s no secret that healthcare has greatly improved with the advent of technology. We all know the drill. The usual benefits that we’ve been able to derive from technology comes in the form of better data management, clearer communication, minimized margin of error, and the improved accuracy and efficiency of medical diagnoses.

These are all the usual advantages we hear and read about, and it’s come to a point that these are now part of the norm. Nowadays they are generally integrated into the system of any hospital. But there’s a downside to that. These advancements are sometimes forgotten because they’ve become so common in the healthcare business.

So, as a gentle reminder to appreciate the things that we already have, these are some of the ways that technology has definitely improved the healthcare industry:

Improved Communication

 The link between doctors and patients has definitely improved because of technology. For example, if you find yourself involved in a vehicular crash, there are two people you’re going to want to call: Car and bus injury lawyers and doctors. Because of their busy schedules and HIPAA regulations, most doctors can prove to be difficult to contact.

There are several platforms on the internet that allow you to get in touch with a doctor to ask for medical advice. There are many apps that are also able to translate spoken word into a language that whomever you’re speaking with is able to understand, which is handy when traveling in a foreign country.

Better Data Management and Sharing

Gone are the days when patient files had to be physically stored in filing cabinets. There was the problem of these files taking up physical space, of course, but there was also the problem of having to organize these files. Human error is always a factor, but as the scope of work increases, so do the chances that an error may be committed. Today, we are able to store medical data in computers, which also means that we are able to recover data when needed. You never know when medical data may be needed by professionals from other fields of study. Whichever the case, data management is far more secure and far more efficient today than it ever was.

Remote Observing and Alerting

 Thanks to home monitoring systems, doctors are now able to check on their patients without the need to be physically present. This reduces the costs involved with recurring clinic visits and the time spent doing so. Patients will also be able to alert emergency medical personnel if something is wrong. This is especially vital for patients who have a pacemaker put in.

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How to Keep Health Records in Proper Manner

During the busy work schedule while taking care of so many patients, keeping record of every patient can really be a daunting task. It can distract you from the real work for which you have been hired. However, keeping record of every patient is also equally important as you cannot afford to remember every detail about the patient. Without maintaining proper record about every patient, you cannot hand over your duty to your next team of nurses.

The quality of nursing service is very much dependent on how well the records have been maintained about each patient in the hospital. Any poorly written record will not only reflect the quality of work of the nurse, but it can also be fatal for a critical patient.

Besides that, there is a legal significance about the nursing records. In case any patient ever complains about the treatment then the nursing record is the only proof that is legally valid. If proper record does not exist then legally it is considered that the treatment has not happened at all. You may click on this website to learn more about various aspects of health records.

How to maintain a good nursing record

 The record must be current, accurate, comprehensive, objective but concise during the stay of the patient in the hospital. Records used to be handwritten traditionally however nowadays electronic recording is introduced. Following procedures are adopted for creating any nursing record.

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