How COVID-19 Has Impacted Healthcare: Physician Sentiment and Telehealth

By Erin Fitzgerald, chief marketing officer, Sermo.

Erin Fitzgerald

This year has presented a continuous string of unprecedented challenges around the world and in all aspects of life. Individuals, organizations and industries needed to adapt quickly to a “new normal,” which in some cases may prove to change the facets of healthcare delivery permanently.

Healthcare, typically known to be slow-moving with all of its complexities, has had to adjust rapidly to meet increasing patient cases and demands, creating problems which are hopefully only short term. For example, independent medical practices have been closing as they struggle to bring in revenue by losing patients “walking through the door.” In addition, over 1.4 million healthcare jobs have been lost since the beginning of the pandemic and the AHA estimated that America’s hospitals could lose $202.6 billion by the end of June.

Conversely, the pandemic has spurred innovation, adoption of tools and galvanized more efficient processes that actually demonstrate better success for patients and physicians. Taking a step back to look at the bigger health system, practices may never go back to their pre-pandemic ways due to this success – whether in efficiency, patient outcomes, physician workload or otherwise – revealing the lasting impact of COVID-19.

While the pandemic has significantly impacted the number of patients coming to the clinic, it has also spurred physician adoption of remote and telehealth treatment. These changes not only serve more people and provide more patient-centric care (e.g. allowing flexibility in scheduling, taking less time off work, filling out paperwork online at a person’s own convenience) but can also aid providers in maintaining a high level of care while streamlining processes and efficiency of their work. For example, telehealth systems can integrate patient records easily into a check-up and physicians can observe environmental factors of a patient’s health that they would not get in-office.

It is clear that COVID-19 is changing how medicine is practiced, such as what technology is being implemented, how patients are receiving care and figuring out adjusted treatment regimens that may be more successful. So, how will the pandemic permanently change medicine and the patient-provider relationship? How do providers feel about this time of transition and what will healthcare look like after the pandemic?

Telehealth has been an essential tool that has demonstrated its full value during this time. Physicians recognize the loss of revenue of not having patients coming into their practice, so they have used different telehealth tools to create a “virtual front door” to continue treating patients and keeping their business afloat.

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Why Upright Walkers Are Such A Significant Upgrade For The Immobile

If you or a loved one has reached a life stage where using a mobility aid, like a walker, becomes a necessity in maintaining a sense of normalcy and independence, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the mobility aid market. Once you outline a list of must-haves, you can purchase a walker suited to the physical needs and the lifestyle needs of the operator.

Scrolling through the wide range of models available on the market can make choosing the right walker unnecessarily challenging. Though the traditional walker is, typically, the most popular choice among buyers, the upright walker (the traditional walker’s upgraded counterpart) is gaining rapid popularity, and in recent years, has been marked as a personal favorite for the immobile and physically-disabled.

There are many reasons why you should upgrade your traditional walker to an upright walker. Here are some of the most common bonuses.

Maintain mobility

Upright walkers are designed to enhance walking comfort, which in turn, allows the user to remain mobile for longer durations of time, without assistance. Unlike the standard walkers that force the user to hunch over, exerting uncomfortable pressure on your back and wrists, the upright walker is designed to encourage a sense of independence, while supporting better posture, especially for seniors.

The most noteworthy feature of this mobility aid is its adjustable height, meaning you can adjust the height settings according to the operator’s stature. Whether the user needs to stand upright or bend over at a more dramatic angle, the upright walker can be adjusted to accommodate your specific needs. These customizable settings are not only convenient but have the power to alleviate any existing back and/or wrist strain the operator may have experienced with their former mobility aid.

More Customizable

Traditional walkers are engineered with a select few customizable features for their users to enjoy. However, the traditional walker can’t compete with the upright walker’s much-longer list of adjustable features that make it easy-to-use and a perfect match for your mobility restrictions. The upright walker’s incredibly flexible features conform to the operator’s daily, weekly, or monthly needs, as their physical strength slowly deteriorates or as flare-ups appear. Regardless of the state of their physical condition, their upright walker will address the user’s specific needs, even as they age or as the injury progresses. With an upright walker, you won’t have to worry about replacing your loved one’s mobility annually, which can save you a significant amount of money in the long-run.

Ideal for indoor and outdoor use

Upright walkers are designed for use in both indoor and outdoor spaces and can easily adjust to different terrains. If you only need a mobility device that helps you move freely around your home or want a walker that’s built to conquer the non-level surfaces and unpredictable weather conditions of the outdoors, an upright walker is up to the challenge.

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Jump Start Your Medical Career Fast With These Certifications

Q&A: Front Desk Success with Medical Receptionist ...

Have you always dreamed of getting into the healthcare industry, but hesitated for fear of high-costs and years of education?  While it’s true that doctors, surgeons, registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals are required to have several years of schooling and training, not all careers in the medical field do. In fact, there are some medical careers you could jump start fairly quickly. Check out this list of career options listed below: 

Medical Coder

Medical coders are an essential part of the medical team. It is your responsibility to review patient files and charts, assess the diagnosis and treatments recommended by the physician, and enter them into the database using medical codes. If this is something that interests you, you can take a certification course and complete it in six months or less. 

Pharmacy Technician

As a pharmacy technician, you would be assisting the pharmacists in filling patient prescriptions. You would essentially bottle, label, and stock medications for patient pickup. Other responsibilities include contacting physicians for prescriptions or questions, consulting with patients who have questions or concerns, maintaining the register, managing medication inventory, and resolving insurance issues. It takes approximately 24 weeks to complete training as a pharmacy technician. 

Medical Interpreter

If you’re bilingual, you might want to put your language skills to the test and become a medical interpreter. It will be your job to interpret for patients who do not speak English very well. You will be present during exams, screenings, and other medical procedures to assist with communication between the patient, doctors, and nurses. This ensures that they understand what’s going on with their health and the next steps the doctor recommends to treat it. You’ll be surprised to learn that you can complete online medical interpreter training in just 60 hours. 

Front Desk Specialist

If you have general clerical knowledge and don’t mind working behind a desk, becoming a front office administrative specialist might be something you’re interested in. As the title implies, your desk is positioned at the front of the healthcare facility. Patients entering the facility will speak with you first. 

Your job will be to check them in, obtain copies of insurance cards and driver’s licenses, collect payments, and direct patients on where to be seated. You also handle a bunch of other administrative tasks. You may be responsible for gathering patient files, scheduling appointments, answering phones, filing, making copies, and providing other clerical support to medical staff. You can find courses to complete in as little as 13 weeks. 

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AI Redefines Healthcare Organizations: Now and In the Future

Responses by Rikin Patel, chief technologist, DXC Technology Americas.

Q: What is the state of artificial intelligence (AI) within healthcare organizations and services now?

Patel: In a 2019 DXC survey of more than 600 global companies, we found nearly half (48%) of healthcare executives and board members expect artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to play a significant role in their digital strategies three years from now — the most of any technology or industry practice. Nearly one in three (32%) expect that assessing and adopting new digital tools, such as AI and blockchain, will be one of the three most critical aspects of digital decision-making in the coming year.

Of course, while discussion about AI has become ubiquitous, and while the promise has been great, adoption in healthcare has been slow. Yet AI has the potential to address multiple shortcomings in healthcare, such as misdiagnosis, treatment errors, wasted resources, process inefficiencies and physician burnout. As the need for high-quality, affordable healthcare mounts, using data to make better-informed healthcare decisions is essential. Healthcare organizations will accelerate the use of AI to better anticipate patient needs, improve treatment decisions and reduce health risks in select cohorts moving forward.

Q: What’s an example of a way in which AI is already changing healthcare?

Patel: Some healthcare organizations’ prioritization of AI is focused on facilitating the rise of precision medicine, which aims to tailor medical treatment to each individual’s specific profile by employing digital analytic tools.

The goal of precision medicine is to provide more accurate information about the patient’s condition, the population subset they belong to, and the treatments that are most effective for that group. This enables both doctors and patients to decide on a course of action that’s more precisely suited to the individual’s profile. AI, and in particular ML, takes precision medicine to the next level with the ability to read large datasets and improve accuracy and prediction of outcome for patients.

Q: How can AI and providers work together to improve health outcomes?

Patel: There is a concern among some providers that AI will replace the need for human workers; however, AI should be viewed as a tool to enhance and scale providers through the automation of simple tasks, freeing up time for providers to spend with their patients (“high tech, high touch”). AI empowers doctors and other healthcare professionals to take better care of patients by identifying and streamlining the who, what, how and where of healthcare, giving providers more time to connect with patients and deliver personalized, compassionate care.

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Technologies That Will Improve Seniors’ Living Quality in the Years to Come

Technology companies shouldn't neglect the importance of ...

The golden years are becoming that much easier with each passing year thanks to quality of life improvements made possible through technological breakthroughs. Tech is empowering seniors to age in place much longer than anticipated.  Furthermore, tech innovation is enhancing medical equipment and medications, ultimately improving seniors’ quality of life.

Data Analysis for Improved Care

Machine learning and artificial intelligence is significantly enhancing healthcare for seniors across the United States as well as the rest of the world. Tech is now capable of analyzing information in an incredibly efficient manner.  Between health monitoring systems, smart watches for seniors and in-depth data analysis, there are all sorts of new and creative ways to monitor senior health.

Predictive analytics will likely prove quite important in the future for regular doctors, dentist for sale practices and others, ultimately empowering healthcare workers to predict seniors’ health challenges. It is quite possible predictive analytics will soon accurately predict a patient’s likelihood for a potentially devastating fall, a heart attack, stroke or other medical problem. The prudent use of such predictive analytics will make it easier for seniors to obtain the care they need for high-quality living throughout the entirety of the golden years.

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5 Common Water Contaminants and How To Avoid Them

Faucet, Fountain, Water DispenserThough the United States has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world, contaminants in the water are inevitable. A contaminant is defined as anything that’s not water, after all. Most are harmless even as they give the water a bad taste, smell or strange color. Others are actively harmful. Here are five of the more common contaminants and what can be done about them.

Arsenic

Arsenic is a naturally occurring metal, but it is also a carcinogenic poison. Besides causing cancer, arsenic can damage the body’s circulatory and nervous systems as well as the liver, kidneys, lungs, heart and bladder. Arsenic is found in the rocks and soil that drinking water flows through and around.

Nitrates

Nitrates can also be found naturally in the water, but they are also byproducts of fertilizers used on crops or lawns then washed into the water supply. They can also enter the water supply through the effluvium found in septic tanks, and soil can change nitrogen into nitrates. Nitrates are especially problematic for children and pregnant women because they block red blood cells from carrying oxygen.

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The Application of Plastics For Sneeze Guards

Sneeze guards are highly transparent and can be easily installed in residential and commercial applications and do not require special mounting hardware. These clear-plastic guards are effective towards preventing the spread of germs and pathogens in commercial places like banks, restaurants, pharmacies, and check-out registers.

With these resilient materials, germs can be easily contained. They maintain optical clarity while providing durability, strength, and lightness. Plastic sneeze guards are easy to clean and sanitize, leaving it clean and safe to use in a business environment.

Plastic Sneeze Guards For Customer Service Partition Solutions

Plastic sneeze guards can be customized to suit your counter area, thereby creating the ideal solution for your business needs. If your customer partition area needs a plastic sneeze guard with a wide breadth and no pass-through section, plastic sneeze guards offer you the right solution. You can also have a portable screen guard that can be moved from one place to another.

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Seeking Nominations For Most Innovative Health IT Companies

We’re seeking nominations for the most innovative health IT companies of 2020!

These organizations must serve healthcare (obviously) in some way, and are on the cutting edge of healthcare technology innovation. You’re doing something mind-blowing, or life-saving, and your passion for serving the healthcare community oozes throughout your organization! Your mission, vision and values are apparent and evident to all who come in contact with your organization without your having to recite what each of these are.

If you feel you’re one of healthcare’s most innovative, we’d love to hear from you. The application is simple (and free)! Simply provide responses to the following questions. Be as detailed as possible. Remember, too, that whatever you submit in response to these questions will be published on this site.

We look forward to reading your responses and learning about the innovation you’re leading and driving in this awesome, wonderful and complicated world of healthcare!

What is the single-most innovative technology you are currently delivering to health systems or medical groups?

How is your product or service innovating the work being done in these organization to provide care or make systems run smoother?

What is the primary need fulfilled by the product or service?

What is the ROI of said product or service? Provide real examples of verifiable ROI of the product or service when used in or by a health system or medial group.

Provide specific examples of implementation and outcomes use cases.

Who are some of the clients and organizations served by the company? Name them.

How has the innovation advanced the field of healthcare or the practice of care?

How is the innovation changing lives — specifically?

What is the company’s go-forward strategy? What’s next, which problem is the organization working on now, and planning to solve in the future?

What are the most significant lesson learned by delivering the innovation, product or service to health systems or medical groups?

What holds your organization accountable to its mission, vision and operating values? 

List your organization’s mission, vision and operating values.

List your website and contact information.

Feel free to provide actual testimony from a user regarding the product and how it has solved a problem, created efficiency or improved processes at the point of care.

Again, please provide as much detail as possible.

When complete, please submit the answers to these questions through our Contact page.

Deadline is June 30, 2020.

Thank you!

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Can Telemedicine Options Be Affordable?

By Alexi Alizadeh, founder, Adviise.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine visits have been able to provide an increasing number of patients with virtual access to quality care without requiring in-person appointments.

However, many patients are still reluctant to accept telemedicine as an option, due to fears concerning out of pocket costs. Let us go over how telemedicine companies charge patients and the different ways that it can be the more affordable option.

How Telemedicine Companies Charge You

Paying Cash Per Visit

Several telemedicine companies ask patients to pay cash for each visit, which allows uninsured patients quick and easy access to healthcare professionals. A 2017 study shows that the average cost of a telemedicine visit is $79, compared to $149 for the average doctor’s office visit.

Paying Through Insurance

Many telemedicine companies work ‘one on one’ with doctors, who bill your telemedicine visit to your health insurance, providing an even more affordable option for many patients. As telemedicine becomes increasingly more popular, health insurance plans are starting to offer coverage for telemedicine visits on a more widespread basis. Your insurance may even cover medication prescribed to you by a telemedicine provider.

How Telemedicine Saves You Money

Eliminates Transportation Costs

An important way that telemedicine is more affordable than in-person visits is that virtual appointments eliminate the cost of transportation. With telemedicine, you can enjoy access to quality care without paying for public transportation, ride-sharing, gas or parking costs. This can be especially beneficial for families living in rural areas and forced to travel long distances to meet with their provider in person.

Eliminates Childcare Costs

Another factor making telemedicine more affordable is the elimination of childcare costs associated with a parent’s ‘in office visit’. Parents can attend a 15-20 minute virtual doctor’s appointment in the comfort of their own home, without the worry and expense of hiring a sitter for their children, traveling the 2-3 hours to and from their appointment, sitting in the waiting room, and time meeting with the doctor. 

More Affordable Than In-Person Visits

Even paying out of pocket for telemedicine appointments, they are still more affordable than in-person visits. The cost of a telemedicine session is not only less out of pocket but results in lower co-pays if your coverage is through insurance. Cost sharing will vary based on your insurance plan, but by and large insurers compensate providers for telemedicine but at lower rates, which translates into lower patient co-pays too.

Numerous follow-up appointments can rack up costly co-pays and transportation costs for such a short visit. With a quick telemedicine appointment, you can continue receiving quality care at an affordable price, right at home or work.

Telemedicine platforms offer the more affordable healthcare option for both the insured and uninsured, while also eliminating the costs associated with physical visits. Be sure to check out platforms like Adviise to find out how your insurance can help cover telemedicine visits. It is the modern doctor’s house call.

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The Key Role HIEs Can Play In Flattening The COVID-19 Curve

By Dr. Chris Hobson, chief medical officer, Orion Health.

Dr. Chris Hobson

Health information exchanges (HIEs) represent a key piece of health information technology and are ideal tools to assist providers and managers in flattening the COVID-19 case count and fatality curves. HIEs were designed from the start to enable “right care to the right patient at the right place.”

Getting real-time, complete clinical information to where it’s needed, when it’s needed assists clinicians in the delivery of individual patient care. By virtue of the high-quality data held on every patient across a population, HIEs are also rapidly becoming essential tools in population health management. Real-time, high-quality data is essential for clinical and public health decision making.

The emergence of COVID-19 illustrates how high-quality individualized data can be leveraged to help a population level effort.

COVID-19 offers the challenge and opportunity to apply HIE capabilities in a flexible way to the management of a novel infectious disease where public health measures of social distancing, contact tracing, testing and isolation are so far the only real options for management.

A range of HIE functionalities and capabilities add value here. One is the ability to generate configurable notifications to providers based on new information arriving in the HIE. The first notification type tells providers when their patients have tested positive. This can be achieved easily based on the arrival of a positive test for COVID-19 into the HIE. Providers can subscribe to alerts for specific patients, or all of their patients.

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