Hospitals Must Look to Predictive Analytics to Improve Efficiency

By Rich Krueger, CEO, Hospital IQ.

Rich Krueger
Rich Krueger

With digital information flowing from countless sources, including electronic health records (EHRs), wearable devices and digital maps that monitor global disease outbreaks, the healthcare industry is taking a big data approach to improving patient outcomes and enhancing the daily lives of countless others.

Yet one large part of the healthcare ecosystem isn’t efficiently capitalizing on the vast amount of data that is right at their fingertips: hospital operations. Many leaders and line managers are unable to take advantage of the readily available data sets from the billions of dollars invested in IT systems that would allow them to improve operational efficiency and provide an exceptional level of care. Instead, they rely largely on spreadsheets and back-of-the-envelope math along with first-hand experience to make critical daily operational decisions, such as scheduling operating rooms and reducing emergency department boarding.

Some hospitals have recognized that driving growth starts with superior planning and optimization. These forward-thinking facilities are leveraging their data using a hospital operations management software platform to revolutionize the operational and financial performance of various parts of their organization including ED, inpatient, perioperative and clinics.

The result? Higher resource utilization, better quality of care, satisfied employees and increased revenue.

Tap existing data resources to create growth

The OR suite’s multifaceted nature makes it extremely difficult to optimize for overall efficiency. As a result, millions of dollars are wasted each year. Still, it’s a primary financial driver for most hospitals and presents one of the largest opportunities for increasing profit margins through operational improvements.

In efforts to improve services while reducing expenses, perioperative leaders have been dependent on consultants, manual spreadsheets, and trial-and-error experimentation, leading to results that are often inaccurate, time-consuming, and have significant lag time to understand impact. These traditional methods should be abandoned.

Hospitals must embrace new analytics software platforms to deliver a practical application of analytics to the business of healthcare.

Predictive analytics utilizes the data gathered from existing EHRs, bed management, case management systems and external sources (such as weather) to quickly and easily see the potential impact of scheduling, staffing, and case mix changes. It empowers hospital leaders to develop optimized block and OR schedules that are easily managed and automates the staff planning and assignment process, all the while complementing traditional time and attendance systems.

At a time when hospitals cannot afford to mismanage valuable resources, analytics prevent costly trial and error and help hospitals overcome operational shortcomings in their perioperative suite. By testing “what if” scenarios, facilities can predict and manage the impact of operational changes for little expense or exposure.

Analytics software programs demonstrate measureable impact in OR operations. Impressively, analytics enabled a nonprofit medical center in Boston to increase its annual OR volume by three percent and improve utilization by more than five percent, resulting in an annual revenue increase of more than $3 million. And in New Jersey, a regional medical center used analytics to improve its OR utilization to 71 percent and improve labor productivity by 10 percent.

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What To Consider When Looking Into Cloud-Based EHR Software Systems

By Tim Scott, chief operating officer, American Medical Software.

So you are having some difficulty deciding between cloud-based and client-server based EHR software – don’t worry, you are not alone. If you look at them side-by-side, they both certainly have their ups and downs. The determining factor ought to be how your practice operates.

Let’s go through some of the benefits specifically of cloud-based EHR software to help you better get a sense of its benefits in operation. If it so happens that these benefits seem fruitful for you and your practice, then you might just have your decision made.

First off, utilizing cloud-based medical software, can make managing your software and keeping up with the changes in the medical realm that much simpler. Aside from that view, let’s look at it from an internal perspective, and how it can promote efficiency within your practice.

Cuts Costs

Installation fees are non-existent when it comes to cloud-based technology. There aren’t any servers or physical systems to install on-site. Therefore, cost is minimal to start with. Limiting headaches that come with the installations at your practice can be a pro in it of itself, but lessening costs along with that are two great benefits collectively.

Maintenance Free

As many may already know, servers can crash as they are physical pieces of hardware. Cloud-based systems don’t have that issue. When you are dealing with problems, you won’t have to contact someone to come out and take a look at your system. Cloud-based EHR can provide instant updates, resulting in less headaches and worry when having to deal with any issues you may be having.

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API’s and the World of Continuous Integration in Healthcare

By Rahul Patel, EVP of digital products and services, Persistent Systems.

Rahul Patel
Rahul Patel

There is a growing interest among healthcare organizations to leverage actionable analytics solutions to derive valuable insights from data. Advanced, AI-driven predictive modeling is working to build healthier populations that meet the demands of value-based care, and new digital experiences are reaching providers and patients through a diverse array of touchpoints. Digital health solutions, driven by new and emerging data sources, are creating a unique combination of high-touch care management complemented by automated, virtual care.

This digital transformation in healthcare is being driven by the changing nature of the healthcare landscape, as well as the demands from consumers for more say in their care. The healthcare industry is making significant investments in IT to engage and empower patients, enable caregivers and improve operating efficiencies. However, the industry is also facing pushback from the caregiver community, with many physicians feeling that interacting with an EMR reduces their productivity. Physician burnout and unrealized expectations from technology investments have created a mood of caution in digital investments.

However, the digital transformation wave is still coming, since the proven patient health benefits, as well as industry improvements, are simply too great to ignore. Given the abundance of software-driven tools, technology professionals face the crucial task of integrating applications and data among the various players in the healthcare ecosystem including doctors, hospitals, government, device makers, insurers, employers, pharmaceutical companies and patients. Seamless transitions of care between these constituencies, however, are still a major hurdle, and positive patient experience is decided by the totality of patient care carried out by all those —  both within and outside — of a health system. Shared processes between clinical entities are only possible if the data can journey smoothly from one system to another.

The problem today is that there is over-engineering in healthcare with overlapping and rich data standards and formats, and implementations that stay locked tightly in proprietary strongholds.

How to Make Interoperability Work

It is imperative that digital transformation initiatives focus on interoperability and integrations through well-defined application programming interfaces (APIs). APIs are designed so that systems with validated credentials can query and access systems widely available on the internet. Systems are then designed to respond to queries from programs with data that is machine-readable.

APIs deliver the ability to securely and efficiently access repositories of big data from wearable devices, social media, curated public datasets, research, and episodic care. They are the key to better understanding patients’ financial, social and behavioral context, and through predictive and prescriptive analytics can reveal trends across populations and micro-populations. With the explosion of disparate technologies, it will be about connecting them all quickly and efficiently to gain a competitive edge in healthcare.

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New Technology That Will Change the Future of Dermatology

Your skin says it all, as every wrinkle, sunspot, and color has a meaning behind it. In fact, this miraculous organ can display signs of illness and disease without any prior symptoms. For example, individuals with pale skin are found to have fewer red blood cells, while patients with hepatitis have yellowish skin. According to the Cancer Research UK, 15,419 new skin cancer cases were diagnosed in 2014. The study also revealed that the rise in skin cancer rates increased 128 percent since the early 1990s.

Thanks to digital technology, dermatologists will be able to treat and diagnose skin disease more effectively now than ever before. Smart algorithms will be able to diagnose skin cancer within minutes, 3D printers will produce synthetic skin to fight organ shortages, dermatologists will consult patients online, and more.  Check out some of the new technologies that will change the future of dermatology.

Teledermatology For Immediate Response

No one enjoys spending hours in the clinic waiting for results. Thanks to the latest model of consultation – teledermatology – patients can use their smartphones, share files, and improve the way dermatologists diagnose skin conditions. According to the Telemedicine and eHealth Journal, studies show teledermatology can shorten waiting times and reduce the cost of medical bills. With this advanced technique, patients can upload photos of their skin problem, where dermatologists can offer assistance.

Fight Cancer with Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology has proven to be useful in cosmetic dermatology as nanoparticles are increasingly found in anti-aging products and UV-light absorbing sunscreens. When illuminated with a specific wavelength of light, the nanoshells will heat up and burn cancer cells effectively. When developed carefully, nanomaterials will have the ability to apply antioxidants, retinoids, and drugs such as growth rejuvenation and botulinum toxin topically in the future.

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Health IT Startup: Dthera

Elevator pitch

Image result for dthera logoDthera digitized reminiscence therapy to enable people with dementia to see and hear their family and friends share familiar stories with them. Our first product, ReminX, is an artificial intelligence-powered consumer health product designed to improve the quality of life in individuals suffering from neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as seniors experiencing social isolation.

Founder’s story

Edward Cox, CEO, and David Keene, CTO, both had an upbringing similar to millions of families around the world – they grew up with a grandparent in the home. The special relationships with their grandparents included time hearing stories from the Greatest Generation – from growing up in humble beginnings to traveling across continents for war, peace, work, love and family. At the time, they didn’t realize they were engaging in reminiscence therapy, but did realize the impact social isolation can have on the elderly, especially those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. With ReminX, their goal is to improve the quality-of-life for millions of elderly suffering from dementia by digitizing and proactively advocating reminiscence therapy and making it available to all.

Marketing/promotion strategy

Edward Cox
Edward Cox

Researchers concluded that ReminX holds great promise for bringing reminiscence therapy to people suffering from dementia. Dthera is exploring additional collaborations with non-profit organizations, medical centers and elder care facilities. ReminX is available for purchase by families, caregivers and administrators at senior assistant living centers through direct response marketing. Complete this form to find out where to purchase ReminiX.

Market opportunity

Our target market is the 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia from Alzheimer’s, as well as from other neurodegenerative conditions. In the US alone, the Alzheimer Association estimated 5.7 million Americans have the disease and the cost to care for Alzheimer’s and other dementias will reach more than $277 billion in 2018. Dthera is focused on creating and delivering digital therapeutics that bring medically- validated treatments, such as reminiscence therapy, to patients suffering from dementia and severe forms of social isolation, to ease symptoms and create a better quality-of-life for them and their caregivers.

Who are your competitors?

In the digital therapeutics space, we are one of the only companies developing products for the elder care market, including dementia patients, but also people suffering from extreme social isolation.

As far as products to reach this group of the elderly, other tablets, social media or photo sharing sites could seem to be competitors with ReminX, but these products are not actually suited to this patient market. Apps and most tablets are too complicated for patients suffering from dementia to use, and none of these vehicles have active involvement of family members in the story-creation process designed into them. ReminX proprietary software includes an AI-interface app that engages family members to upload content and then optimizes it, and proprietary facial recognition software in the tablet provides feedback on what’s most effective.

Dthera designed ReminX with the elderly, their caregivers and families in mind. It automatically creates elegant documentary-like videos and plays stories on demand. There is no interface to learn, simply picking up the tablet starts stories and setting it down stops them.

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4 Ways To Boost Video Marketing Strategy

There’s a stiff competition among businesses who strive to be the best in the digital world. There are many factors that decide the fate of an online business but one of the most important ones is how it implements marketing strategies, especially video marketing strategies.

Video marketing is growing rapidly. Videos are everywhere thanks to YouTube and Facebook that allow users to upload videos without worrying about space and bandwidth, which used to be a problem in the past.

Different businesses opt for different marketing plans, some bring results and some don’t. Speaking of marketing plans, video marketing is said to be the most powerful tool in the marketing world today.

According to reports, views received on effective video content spiked to 258 percent on Facebook and 99 percent on YouTube in 2017. This means that people prefer to watch videos rather than read blogs.

Therefore, boosting video marketing strategies is of vital importance here so that you can grasp a vast audience.

Here are four ways to boost video marketing strategy:

  1. Using Facebook Live Option

With more than 1 billion active users on Facebook, businesses love to use this platform as it helps find potential customers. A few years ago, Facebook only allowed to share videos, but today it has granted us with the Facebook live option which has been doing wonders for businesses when it comes to video marketing.

According to Social Media Today, people love to spend three times more time watching a live video than watching a prerecorded one.

Businesses can go live when they are:

It is all about taking your audience on a journey and making them a part of your business world.

  1. Optimize Videos For Mobile Devices

Since the usage of smartphones is on the rise, businesses shouldn’t forget the need to make their videos mobile optimized. This is because more than 50 percent of video views come from mobile devices, 90 percent of videos on Twitter are watched on smart phones and more than 10 million videos are shared on Snapchat everyday.

Considering these high and ever growing numbers, there is a dire need to optimize videos properly so that they can play on mobile phones.

You can do this by ensuring that your videos are responsive. Using video splash screens can help play videos on different dimensions and sizes.

  1. Keep Your Videos Relevant To One Type Of Audience

It’s a loss of resources and time if you don’t know how to make videos that target a relevant audience. There are millions of successful online businesses on the internet today and it can be daunting to compete against so many businesses. Making videos that target a relevant audience is an effective step at boosting your video marketing strategy.

Users don’t watch every video that shows up on their screen which is why you need to make videos centered around what your business is about and what your customers are demanding. When you do, the results will fall more in your favor.

Other than this, you should know how to spread videos. Merely making one and uploading on YouTube is not enough. You should post these on your social media handles and even add on emails. You can learn how to send YouTube videos in email to make it happen.

  1. First Impression Is The Last Impression

It only takes 10 seconds for a viewer to close a video and turn to another. If your video has a slow start in the beginning then you’ll lose a lot of viewers. The trick is to introduce your product/service quickly and make a point in the very beginning. It sure is difficult but not impossible.

What you need is to come up with content that can hook the attention of viewers in the very beginning.

The Verdict

When you spend money on marketing your videos, you need to make sure that it is done right. These four tips can help you boost your video marketing efforts.

4 Tips to Use before Registering a Domain Name

The running of a small business is a very involved process and take a lot of time and effort to be a success. For a new small business to get their foot in the door with customers, they will need to find a way to market and advertise what they offer. With all of the many methods of advertising out there, finding the right ones will take some time and effort. Among the best ways to get your name out there is by having a website. Be sure to follow these tips before registering a domain name for your business website.

  1. Consider Your Branding

The first thing you need to consider when trying to find the right domain name is the brand you are representing. You need to make sure that your domain name is both catchy and is representative of the image you are looking to portray. The domain name does not always have to be the name of your business, it can also be related to the industry you serve. Make sure you put some time into choosing the right name that will help to boost your brand and get you the recognition you are looking for.

Doing things like envisioning how your domain name will look on a custom mouse pad or a coffee cup is important. By doing this type of visualization, you will have no problem narrowing down the selection of names you have before you. Rushing through this process may lead to you choosing the wrong domain name and having to deal with this mistake for years to come.

  1. The Extension is Important

The text that follows your web name, like .com or .net, are very important when trying to make maximum impact. There are a number of different extensions that you can use, but you want to stay with the more familiar and well-known kind. Be sure to do some research to find out the type of extensions your competitors are using. The more you are able to find out about the most popular extensions in your in your industry, the simpler you will find it to get the best one chosen.

The only way to find out more about the extensions you need is by working with the right domain name supplier. These professionals will have no problem taking the needs of your business and helping you with this important decision. Trying to make this difficult decision on your own is usually a recipe for disaster.

  1. Location is Important

You need to also think about whether or not you need a location tag at the end of the web address. If you are catering to one specific country or area, then a location tag may be the right move for you. For businesses that are not sure about their market or how far they will go, a location tag may be a bad idea and something that holds them back. By taking these options into account, you will be able to register the best possible domain name for your business.

  1. Make Your Domain Name Simple

Among the worst mistakes an online business owner can make when choosing a domain name is making it too difficult to spell. If consumers aren’t able to spell the name of your website, they will never be able to find it online. Your goal should be to make your domain name simple and memorable. The easier it is for a consumer to remember your domain name, the simpler it will be for them to find and use your site.

The time and effort you put into researching the best name for your domain will be well worth it in the end. You will need to find the right domain service to register your name with. Settling on the first service you come to may cause you to lose out on a deal later on.

When Taking the Risk and Investing In New Medical Technology Makes Sense: Understanding the Vetting Process

By Michael Garcia, RN, JD, senior vice president of operations, Houston Methodist Hospital

Michael Garcia, RN, JD
Michael Garcia, RN, JD

One of your top specialists is pushing for a new medical technology that shows great promise for patients but doesn’t yet have the backing of insurers.  What do you do? Healthcare providers frequently face this challenge.

But hospitals shouldn’t shy away from investing in non-reimbursable medical technologies that could make a qualitative difference for patients, as long as they go through a thorough vetting process on the clinical end, working closely with department physicians, and build a solid business case to show a return on investment on the administrative end.

HIFU vs. Standard of Care

In 2015, Houston Methodist, one of the largest medical centers in the US, comprising an academic medical center and six community hospitals, made this kind of decision to invest in HIFU (high intensity focused ultrasound), a medical technology for treating men with prostate conditions that had not just been approved by the US Food & Drug Administration.[1]

While HIFU was new in the U.S. and largely unknown by urologists across the country, it was prevalent and in demand in Europe and parts of Asia. This is the story of how they vetted this new technology, weighing the anticipated benefits for patients with the return on investment for the organization.

For prostate cancer, the standard of care at Houston Methodist was the radical prostatectomy, in which the entire prostate gland is removed. Looking at the number of prostatectomies hospital surgeons performed over the long term, decision-makers wanted to know if HIFU was a feasible alternative for eligible patients.

HIFU uses a probe and ultrasound device to destroy only targeted tissue in the prostate, while allowing men to retain their healthy tissue and nerve bundles that control sexual function and urinary continence. It’s a breakthrough treatment for men who qualify.

The Clinical Vetting Process

Every year Houston Methodist’s physician and executive leaders meet to discuss medical devices and authorize capital expenditures for new technology. Part of the discussion focuses on new procedures and/or new medical technology that may not be FDA approved or reimbursed by insurers yet.

Likewise, specialists pushing for new procedures must convince and win approval from the Medical Center’s physician department chairs.  Each proposal must show how a new procedure will benefit patients, how it differs from competitors and contributes to hospital growth, as well as provide information on whether the FDA pre-market approval or Medicare and insurance reimbursement filing process is underway. They must also report on any medical technologies that have been purchased for their specific department over the last several years.

Other questions under consideration from department chairs and the hospital executive team include: Is the procedure a novel idea or the latest technology of the moment? How does it compare to other procedures and is it a better alternative to what the hospital currently offers? Does it align with Houston Methodist’s mission to lead in medicine? And is there any conflict of interest for the physician requesting the device? Is this a new procedure or technology that is supported by other physicians practicing in the Houston Methodist Hospital system?

In their evaluation, Houston Methodist narrowed their search to EDAP Technomed, the makers of Ablatherm Robotic HIFU.  Physicians reviewed the manufacturer’s training and technical support, follow-up, and marketing material available to market the procedure to referring physicians.

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Nothing Artificial: Using AI and Streaming Analytics To Improve Healthcare Costs and Outcomes

By Mark Weber, SVP healthcare development, Infor

Mark Weber
Mark Weber

Big data has arrived, and in healthcare, it has landed on our desks with a resounding thud. The challenge ahead lies in discerning how to analyze information and use it to effectively improve patient outcomes, costs and efficiencies.

Many of us are already influenced by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). For example, if buying hiking boots online, items of a similar nature also appear as suggested purchases, like bug spray or sunscreen. The data analytics behind those recommendations includes a wealth of information about the user, including demographics, such as age, gender, education and income level, as well as location and other factors that influence buying decisions. It will only be a matter of time until we are able to apply the same principles to healthcare data.

Imagine a doctor who can review operational and clinical data in real time for a patient who had knee replacement surgery. After the patient goes home, she is given a Fitbit to monitor her step count. If her steps trend downward, it is probably time for someone to intervene because she is potentially in pain or not ambulating correctly. That same physician could also see where she has received care, the cost of the care, and who performed the surgery. Then, the physician could compare her progress against others with similar demographic and health backgrounds by using machine learning and streaming analytics that not only gather relevant data across the entire care continuum—from hospital to rehab facility to home—but draw inferences from that information in real time to truly influence cost and care outcomes. In addition, if the patient had three MRIs that cost $2,000 each and someone with similar demographics and health conditions had one MRI that cost $500—caregivers can explore why that happened and work toward more uniformity.

This idea is inspiring, but a more practical look can be taken for how AI can support the business operations of healthcare as an achievable first step, along with connecting that operational data with remote care, device data and patient EHRs. Here are next steps for creating efficiencies with the power of AI and interoperability:

Step 1: Unlock Human Potential

As a recent Advisory Board report states, “AI works best when paired with humans.” The goal is to use this technology to create efficiencies across the care continuum that not only help staff in their roles, but that free clinicians, caregivers and office staff to focus on more valued activities. AI can help augment and automate human tasks and functions where appropriate, and sooner rather than later it may be able to offer advice, ultimately allowing caregivers to focus entirely on patient care.

Step 2: Optimize the Supply Chain

AI can quickly answer employee queries, buy supply, such as bandages from a certain supplier, and can also track unused supplies to minimize excess inventory. In addition, AI can help alleviate the amount of time—and frustration—nursing and clinical staff spend searching for supplies by not only providing location, but automating future order and delivery.

Step 3: Enhance and Expand Employee Self-Service

For those healthcare employees without regular access to a computer, such as lab technicians, AI can quickly and accurately empower cross-functional self-service. All employees need to do is ask for answers about anything, from paid time off (PTO) balances to company holidays.

Step 3: Automate Financial Processes

AI can augment the payment process, detecting payment, vendor and invoice patterns, and suggesting automating payments for a specific invoice that is approved 99 percent of the time.

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The Da Vinci Medical Robot and AI

The Da Vinci Surgical System (as it’s more properly called) has been one of the most innovative and complicated medical technologies to have been introduced in the past 20 years. The surgical system was the first of its kind to become commercially available in the United States. Since its commercial debut in 2000, there have been 1,700 Da Vinci Surgical Systems installed in hospitals worldwide.

What Does It Do?

These robots essentially make the skills of a physician available for use regardless of distance. As of writing, there have been around 775,000 successful procedures that have been performed with the use of this hi-tech surgical system. In fact, robot-assisted surgery is the most preferred option when it comes to performing prostate cancer-related procedures. Three out of four prostate cancer surgeries are performed with the help of the Da Vinci Medical Robot.

Now, as humans, we are always looking for new ways to solve problems. One problem that the system seeks to solve is the distance between a physician and his patient. Because the robot is able to mimic the precision of the operating physician, the surgeon is, in essence, able to transfer his or her skill and precision where it is most needed — which is often a surgery table that’s hundreds of miles away.

Potential Improvements via AI

There’s a current trend that involves artificial intelligence. It started off with applications in smartphone cameras, and now it’s as viral as a Dengue outbreak. And it should be.

Artificial intelligence is an attempt to help minimize, or even eliminate, the risk of human error (because, let’s face it, no matter how skilled you may be, the best you can do is to minimize the margin of error).

Artificial Intelligence might even allow surgical robots to function autonomously, as long as these robots are given sufficient data to perform these complicated procedures. And that doesn’t seem to be very far off either, as Google and Johnson & Johnson have recently begun working on new surgical robots.

The thought of an autonomous surgical robot will definitely frighten a lot of people, but so has the concept of flying vehicles; now, look around and see how so many people fly on a daily basis.

Reservations

It’s a fact that all machines are prone to failure. While it was established earlier that these machines were built to minimize the risk of human error, we should never forget that while these machines are designed to be error-free, many things could go wrong during manufacturing and assembly.

There are also risks that involve technology where all sorts of devices are prone to hacking. What if these robots were to be compromised during the crucial moments of a procedure?

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