Visit any hospital, and you will likely see signs reminding care providers and patients alike to wash their hands after using the restroom, before mealtime, and following contact with any potentially contaminated surfaces. While hand washing remains the most critical step in combating the spread of infectious diseases, it just isn’t enough in healthcare facilities that are often the breeding grounds for dangerous and even deadly bacteria.
Technology has entered our hospitals to increase the ease of access and specialization of care. With the rise of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), the healthcare industry is turning to tech companies for new methods of cleaning, disinfecting, and monitoring compliance of infection-prevention policies.
HAIs by the numbers
HAIs are infections patients get while receiving medical or surgical care. These conditions are preventable when infection prevention techniques are used by nurses, doctors, and other care providers. However, it’s estimated that about one in every 25 patients contracts an HAI. Every year HAIs cost between $35 billion and $45 billion for acute-care hospitals alone. While progress is being made to prevent some HAI’s, more work needs to be done, especially with germs that have gained resistance to powerful antibiotics.
More than 23,000 Americans die yearly from infections caused by germs that no longer respond to medications. The CDC released a new report in April 2018 regarding nationwide laboratory testing that uncovered more than 220 instances of germs with “unusual” antibiotic resistance. These germs cause hard-to-treat or even untreatable infections each day in the only place many people feel can heal them.
Modern medicine utilizes many invasive procedures to prolong and even improve the lives of patients across the country. We are able to transplant organs, repair devastating traumatic injuries, and replace joints that were once considered irreparable. However, these procedures bring the risk of infections.
Surgery isn’t the only department susceptible to hospital infections. Patients in any type of inpatient and outpatient unit can come into contact with deadly germs in their rooms, on surfaces, and on the hands of those who care for them. The most common types of HAIs include surgical site infections, Pneumonia, Clostridium difficile (an intestinal infection), bloodstream infections and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.
The importance of cleanliness
Keeping patient care areas clean is critical to patient safety and wellness. As more data becomes available about the risks of HAIs and the subsequent cost to the healthcare system, more administrators, physicians, and policymakers are turning to the technology industry for solutions. However, it’s essential to note that cleaning in a hospital or another facility-based setting isn’t a simple process. It requires a multi-modal approach to remove soil from surfaces and healthcare equipment, as well as organizing an environment that is optimal for patient safety.
Facility policies must focus on controlling contamination along with the health and wellness of patients and staff. Using harsh chemicals poses significant risks to environmental services personnel who touch and breathe in these chemicals. The process of cleaning a patient room or other direct-care area is time and labor-intensive too. All of these factors have caused the industry to search for new methods of cleaning and surveillance.
In the age of technology, many aspects of our daily lives have increased in ease, efficiency and even effectiveness. In other words, tasks are less complicated or difficult and we can do things faster and better than ever before.
Since we can use smartphones to communicate, research, navigate, and play in ways our forefathers couldn’t have imagined, why not apply the same resource to our physical health? The app store offers a couple of million applications, many of them free, including fitness apps.
Just like there are apps that track your social media followers, calendar, and sleep (among other things), there are also apps that track your health. Whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or weight lifter, there are apps that can improve your workout experience.
Our friends at Bestow picked the 12 best fitness apps, all of which have high ratings on the App Store. Read the infographic below to learn more.
In today’s world of smart devices and advanced monitoring software, the field of healthcare is one of the main beneficiaries. Monitoring a patient’s activity and state as accurately as possible could be considered one of the pinnacles of modern healthcare, and there is plenty of technology on the rise to help us get there.
One such contributor is Qolty, a Los Angeles startup emerged from the functional web of the Conduct Science network. Conduct Science works to pool together the best providers of healthcare equipment and give them a platform to distribute their equipment to doctors worldwide.
Qolty has been one of the main partners of Conduct Science since 2016, and it is not hard to see why. Offering technological solutions ranging from digital e-consent to the ability to let your healthcare provider know instantly if you check into an emergency room or similar.
Instead of relying on paper surveys which could get accidentally destroyed or misplaced, Qolty sends surveys and questions to patients over a HIPAA compliant platform. This means that it is tailored to the required levels of patient data protection.
The healthcare industry is enormous. It’s one of the largest industries in the world. It also happens to be more complex than most industries. To begin with, the amounts of data collected are mind boggling. Around the world, 16,000 hospitals collect patient data while nearly 5 million patients use remote monitoring devices that collect even more data. The estimated compound growth rate of these patients that use such devices is 18 percent per year, according to an article from Essaywritingland.com.
Needless to say, there is rapid development and progress in the industry, with specialists looking for new solutions that are more effective every day. A lot of the time, the latest technology will be considered in the search for these solutions. In the case of big data, the most efficient solutions are the ones that make it possible to tap the data and use it to gain insights that will ultimately help improve the healthcare industry.
The impact of big data on healthcare is huge. Healthcare providers are doing their best to utilize it to improve health services, and some of the solutions are quite fascinating.
Healthcare for high-risk patients
Complications and costs in healthcare always go up when a large number of patients seek emergency care at the same time. The problem is that the outcomes do not improve as the costs rise, which means a change in the emergency department is in order.
The digitalization of health records is a good place to start. Patterns in patient conditions can be identified faster and more effectively. Health institutions that have used predictive analytics have seen significant reductions in their ER visits. The reason is that they were able to identify patients who repeatedly resorted to emergency services from them for crises. They were then able to identify the chronic issues they had and provided appropriate treatment plans to correct them. That led to a reduction in emergency visits.
With the help of big data, it is much easier to create a healthcare program centered on patients that checks for those with high-risk health issues and ensures more effective and appropriate treatment can be administered.
In a world where everything has gone tech-savvy, even seniors are looking for ways to manage their health and safety through technological advances. Although tech gadgets are great for helping your elderly parents be safe in their own homes, there are a few things that you can get to prevent slips and falls as well, some high-tech and some low-tech. Read on below for a few of those gadgets to be revealed.
There are many common causes of slips and falls among the elderly, with falling down the stairs being among the most common. While this is an expensive safety precaution, having a stairlift installed in your parent’s home can go a long way towards preventing them from taking a spill down the stairs. If it is possible to move their stuff to the ground floor, then that is an option, but most seniors want to be able to go up the stairs in their own home, and a stairlift can help them do this safely while maintaining their independence.
HIMSS today shared insights on what’s next in health on the heels of the HIMSS19 Global Conference & Exhibition. This year’s event – which saw more than 43,000 attendees from 90 countries around the world and featured nearly 500 education sessions on 24 education topics – highlighted current industry priorities and offered a glimpse of what the industry can expect to see in the coming year.
Interoperability was a hot topic, with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) each unveiling sweeping and highly anticipated rules aimed at reducing information blocking and allowing patients easier access to their health data. Additionally, HIMSS Analytics released a new maturity model for enterprise imaging, an important step in establishing standards and benchmarks for a digitized imaging IT environment. And the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, featuring demonstrations and use cases for today’s latest interoperability solutions, continued to be the most trafficked area of the exhibition floor.
Another theme that was top of mind for this year’s attendees was patient engagement. The HIMSS Patient Engagement & Experience Summit, a pre-conference specialty program, highlighted how patient-friendly technology is improving the care experience. More than 1,400 exhibitors showcased offerings to improve the patient experience, ranging from artificial intelligence solutions to precision medicine breakthroughs and more. Keynote sessions featuring public sector leaders from both the current and former administrations emphasized how digital health is maturing and empowering patients to take greater charge of their health.
The cornucopia that is the annual HIMSS conference and tradeshow – healthcare technology’s biggest event – is behind us, but what’s left in the wake is wonderful, inspiring even, if not a bit overwhelming. The reactions to this year’s event have been overwhelmingly positive. Interoperability in the form of data sharing and a ban on patient health information blocking by CMS (through proposed rules released the first day of HIMSS) set the tone.
This was followed by CMS administrator Seema Verma taking a strong tone in all of her presentations at HIMSS, with the media and during her keynote speech. The federal body made it clear that data generated from patient care is, unequivocally, their data. While these themes heavily influenced the show, there were other takeaways.
There are many other diverse opinions about what came out at HIMSS19 and the themes that will affect healthcare in the year ahead. For some additional perspective, I turned to healthcare’s thought leaders; people who are a lot smarter than I. Their responses follow. That said, did we miss anything in the following?
Dr. Geeta Nayyar, Femwell Group Health and TopLine MD
After spending a week surrounded by some of the most intellectual and innovative minds globally in healthcare at HIMSS19, I’m even more confident that the shift toward patient engagement mass adoption is well underway and ON FHIR. The new CMS/ONC proposed law around interoperability and penalties for “information blocking,” are both touchdowns for the quarterback, which remains to be patient engagement. The robust discussions during the pre-conference HIMSS patient engagement program, reflected a move to a consumer-centric approach evidenced by the presence of Amazon, Google and Microsoft at the show. The keynote by Premier’s CEO Susan Devore shared a consumer-centered, provider led vision, “with data flowing seamlessly and being analyzed and effectively leveraged to guide decision making at the point of care.” Collaboration in healthcare is the key to everyone’s success. I was inspired to see her and so many women coming together to support each other in HIT, as Dr. Mom remains the healthcare decision maker in the households, we are all ultimately trying to reach.
Andrew Schall, Modernizing Medicine
Physician burnout continues to be a hot topic coming out of HIMSS19 and many feel that EHR platforms may be a part of the burnout epidemic. There were several sessions that focused on user-centered design at HIMSS this year including one that focused on the iterative approach to software development and user experience. First, I think that the industry is recognizing that one-size-fits doesn’t work for EHRs. Additionally, I believe that improvements will come in large part from the greater involvement of practicing physicians in designing specialty-specific EHR workflows and interfaces. A combination of powerful technology like AI and augmented intelligence, as well as well-designed EHR solutions with an intuitive user interface and user experience, will help ease the physician burden and automate time-consuming and administrative tasks like coding and billing – ultimately reducing burnout.
Shane Whitlatch, FairWarning
HIMSS 2019 showcased the ongoing digital transformation to make healthcare responsive to patients across a continuum of care. Enabling patients to be able to access, use and own their personal health data, while ensuring privacy and security was the central takeaway of this year’s HIMSS. Notable, critical moves to support this goal included: the Department of Health and Human Services announced proposed rules to enhance interoperability and data access with payor data; ongoing security and privacy efforts to ensure appropriate patient access to their data while mitigating emerging risks from items including medical devices to nation-state attackers; and artificial intelligence and machine learning initiatives to effectively manage the tsunami of data in healthcare while promoting optimal healthcare.
Tripp Peake, LRVHealth
The best part of HIMSS this year was we seemed to get away from a single buzzword. Healthcare is hard, there’s no silver bullet. The Precision Medicine Summit got into the weeds about how to really roll out a program in a provider system. The AI companies stopped talking about AI for AI sake and were more focused on ROI. Everyone seemed more balanced about VBC: yes, inevitable, but also gradual. Consumerism was probably as close to a central theme as existed. And I continue to be excited about the energy, creativity, and commitment of the entrepreneurs in this market.
Don Woodlock, InterSystems
Anytime you bring 43,000 healthcare professionals together in one location, you will never have a shortage of opinions on the future of the industry. We are at the cusp of a revolution in healthcare, driven by technological advancements. Some key trends we saw at HIMSS19 were, no surprise, around artificial intelligence, where people are trying to enhance predictive risk scoring and improve patient engagement. Additionally, there were profound announcements around mandating application programming interface (APIs) to improve the flow of healthcare data across the ecosystem. As interoperability becomes liquid, it will become the critical component of every healthcare system, driving the industry to new heights.
Paddy Padmanabhan, Damo Consulting
On day one of the conference, the HHS sucked the oxygen out of the room by dropping a proposed 800-page rule on data and interoperability. The rule aims to aggressively expand interoperability by making it mandatory for providers and health plans participating in government programs such as Medicare Advantage, CHIP and others to make patient data available to patients as a condition for business. CMS head Seema Verma and ONC Chief Don Rucker drove the message home repeatedly during the conference. Indeed, Seema Verma declared it an epic misunderstanding that patient data can belong to anyone other than the patient. A somewhat sobering counterpoint was voiced by Epic Systems CEO Judy Faulkner in a media interview where she suggested that interoperability challenges go well beyond data sharing by EHR vendors. Regardless of where it may fall, interoperability will continue to dominate healthcare IT agenda for some time to come. Related issues around new and emerging data sources, especially social determinants of health, will gain prominence in the coming months.
Erin Benson, LexisNexis Health Care
The proposed rule on interoperability of health information influenced most conversations at HIMSS. In the context of cybersecurity, the rule served as a reminder that it’s just as important to let “good guys” in quickly and seamlessly as it is to prevent unauthorized access. We want to enable value-based care and give patients the ability to manage their own health by having access to their records. We also want to keep costs low and efficiency high by enabling interoperability and giving partners, vendors and employees necessary access to systems. Therefore, a cybersecurity strategy needs to strike a balance between user engagement and data security.
Mike Morgan, Updox
The power of consumerism is really impacting healthcare and the need for patient engagement is alive and well. Providers across the board must look at new technologies and ways to redefine patient engagement to better communicate with patients and partners but do it via channels that are easy for staff and customers to use. New applications, such as telehealth and secure text messaging, have changed how healthcare communicates and consumers are demanding that immediate, convenient engagement.
Vince Vickers, KPMG
HIMSS19 seemed to have the most decision makers at the conference in five-plus years when a lot of healthcare organizations were still looking at implementing electronic health records. We might be ready for another wave of healthcare IT investment after healthcare organizations digested those investments made in electronic health records. The key is now around optimizing EHRs – interoperability, improving ease of use, enhancing analytics — or dedicating resources to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems to make themselves more efficient in the back office. We’re also seeing healthcare organizations position themselves to be more consumer-oriented, partly to address new entries from some of the tech companies, such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and a multitude of others, that wanted to make a big splash at HIMSS.
The megalithic healthcare conference, HIMSS19, has come and has gone from the vast former swampland of central Florida. While I’m a relative newcomer to the show’s trajectory – I’ve been to four of the annual tradeshows since 2011 – this year’s version was, for me, the most rewarding and complete of them all. This could be for one of several reasons. Perhaps because I no longer represent a vendor so sitting in the exhibit hall in a 30×30 booth with a fake smile wondering when the day’s tedium would end and the night’s socials would begin may impact my rosy outlook.
Or, maybe I was simply content to engage in the totality of the experience, attend some quality sessions, meet with many high-class people and discuss so-called news of the day/week/year. Doing so felt, well, almost like coming home. Or, perhaps my experience at the conference this year was so good because of running into former colleagues and acquaintances that drove me to such a place of contentment while there. No matter the reason, I enjoyed every minute of my time at the event.
Something else felt right. An energy – a vibe – something good, even great, seems/ed about to happen. Something important taking place in Orlando, and I was blessed to be a part of it. Kicking off the week, CMS created news – like it does every year at about this time – with its announcement that it will no longer allow health systems and providers to block patients from their data. This was a shot across the bow of interoperability and the industry’s lack of effort despite its constant gibberish and lip service to the topic.
Another fascinating thing that finally occurred to me: no matter the current buzzword, every vendor has a solution that’s perfect for said buzzword. Be it “patient engagement,” “interoperability,” “artificial intelligence,” “blockchain”; whatever the main talking point, every organization on the exhibit floor has an answer.
But, no one seems to have any real answers.
For example, after nearly a decade, we still don’t have an industry standard for interoperability. Patient engagement was once about getting people to use patient portals for, well, whatever. Then it was apps and device-driven technologies. We’re now somewhere in between all of these things.
AI? Well, hell. It’s either about mankind engineering the damnedest algorithms to automate the hell out of everything in the care setting (an over exaggeration) or that AI/machine learning will lead to the rise of machines, which will help care for and cure people – before ultimately turning on us and killing or enslaving us all (again, I’m overly exaggerating).
By George Mathew, M.D., chief medical officer for the North American Healthcare organization, DXC Technology.
In mid-February, nearly 45,000 health information and technology professionals, clinicians, executives and suppliers gathered to explore healthcare’s latest innovations at the annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Orlando, Florida.
These “champions of healthcare” examined the greatest challenges facing the industry — including an aging population, chronic disease, a lack of actionable information and increasingly demanding consumers. They also explored how new solutions are being enabled by technologies such as predictive analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and telemedicine.
The following four trends drove much of the conversation at HIMSS19 and will continue to shape the next wave of healthcare transformation.
Organizing and innovating around patients
As patients gain access to more information about their health and new technologies empower them to be proactive consumers of healthcare, the industry is focusing on how patients as consumers will drive new models of care. Topics such as patient engagement, patient-centric health information exchanges, personalized care and the consumerization of health were prominent during HIMSS19 learning sessions and conversations around the expo hall.
Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionize all fields, and healthcare isn’t exempted.
This technology, which involves machine and deep learning, enables computers to gain the capacity to better understand and process complex forms of data. Essentially, they would have the ability to learn through examples.
When implemented correctly, it’s a development that comes with many possibilities, especially in a data-driven field like healthcare. Machine learning has the potential to improve patient care, provide faster service and diagnoses, and generally provide a better experience for both healthcare providers and patients.
Anyone involved in healthcare (which basically means everyone) can stand to gain from learning more about how AI might affect the industry.