Tag: Adrian Johansen

The Future of Telehealth After The Pandemic

Woman Having A Video Call

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

COVID-19 has brought a great deal of change to how we live our lives. The need to maintain safe-distance protocols has seen many industries shift to remote operations wherever possible. In healthcare spaces, this has been a significant challenge. We have been forced to adapt to achieve the delicate balance between ensuring patients get the care they need, and reducing the risk of exposure.

This is where telehealth has really come into its own. While the numbers are still up in the air, one recent study found that insurance claims for telehealth services increased 2,938% between November 2019 and November 2020. Patients and professionals alike have in some ways been forced past their personal and technological roadblocks, discovering the many benefits that utilizing care services remotely can offer. Indeed, as we start to see some light at the end of the dark tunnel that has engulfed our society over the last year or so, telehealth has become a more permanent feature of our healthcare landscape.

This raises some interesting questions and some important issues about the near future of telehealth. We’re going to take a look at what we are likely to see as we emerge from the pandemic. What tools and practices could make a difference? What problems do we still need to solve?

Improving Safety

Remote appointments are already starting to make our lives safer. Particularly for those in rural communities who may not have immediate access to doctors, telehealth means that medical professionals can visually assess conditions and give advice. However, as we move toward the future there needs to be an emphasis on how medical professionals can treat a wider range of conditions, preventing patients from taking the unnecessary risk of exacerbating their conditions by traveling to doctors’ offices.

Part of this involves producing an infrastructure with various providers that supports collaboration. Facilities must build relationships that allow them to assess a patient remotely, then hand off to a specialist, traveling nursing staff, or pharmacist who can visit patients to undertake further care. Alongside these relationships, it’s important to build, and frequently assess, robust protocols that ensure that these collaborations are undertaken efficiently and safely, without any points at which patient welfare slips through the net.

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Can Preventive Health Technology Curb Medical Debt?

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By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

Medical debt is one of the many painful and confusing problems of the modern U.S. healthcare system. While care solutions develop and improve, costs only seem to go up along with the confusion faced by many patients. But can new preventative health technologies offer a reprieve from these high costs and corresponding debt?

As millions of Americans struggle with bills, especially in the wake of the pandemic, technology is here to help. Remote healthcare and cloud data innovations are creating a variety of solutions from the safety of home — even the U.S medical debt crisis.

The Unfortunate Reality of Medical Debt

Before the pandemic even struck, 137 million Americans were struggling with medical debt. Individuals and families alike find it all but impossible to meet their financial obligations to the healthcare industry and the result is negative for both patients and providers. With nearly half the total U.S. population facing medical payment difficulties, the question must be asked how we got here and what we can do about it.

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How Emerging Tech Will Impact The Healthcare Industry In 2021

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By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

“We believe consumer health technologies — apps, wearables, self-diagnosis tools — have the potential to strengthen the patient-physician connection and improve health outcomes,” said Dr. Glen Stream, Chairman of Family Medicine for America’s Health. It is this sentiment that will perhaps shape tech adoption in healthcare through 2021 and beyond, the keywords being accessibility and connectivity.

As the world reels from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we look to medical advances that will shape the future of healthcare. Emergent healthcare tech must connect a socially-distanced world to offer greater healthcare solutions for a greater portion of the population. Through cloud data and artificial intelligence, these solutions are increasingly possible.

Consumer-focused, accessible technologies are transforming the healthcare industry, with impacts likely to be felt as we move into 2021. COVID-19 quickened this transformation, and now healthcare professionals and patients alike look to benefit from the connective devices and technologies of the future.

Entering the Matrix through Digital Healthcare

A few years ago it might have seemed absurd to entertain the notion of increasingly virtual healthcare. The coronavirus changed that. Now, state and local governments are breaking down barriers to allow for novel, digital treatment plans that can take place over a smartphone video call. This has been a groundbreaking shift in terms of healthcare accessibility.

Telehealth innovations are emerging that offer everything from cardiology to infectious disease treatments all through virtual platforms. Care providers are even cutting costs through tele-paramedicine, which allows emergency patients to speak with specialists before they even make it on an ambulance. In turn, unnecessary transportation can be avoided for cost savings for patients and providers alike.

Throughout 2021, we will likely see vertical growth of telemedicine as more and better data analytics, paired with smart software, build a matrix for remote healthcare possibilities.

Alexa, Track My Medical Records

The digitization of healthcare is trending into smart home systems. These hubs of living room convenience are making waves in at-home healthcare, offering care coordination for chronic disease management. In the landscape of COVID-19 concerns, such innovations offer the kind of safety and accessibility needed for vulnerable patients.

Programs designed with Amazon’s Alexa in mind have made possible the tracking of diabetic information, blood pressure, medication compliance, and more for the benefit of at-home users. The online nature of these devices offers physicians the ability to experience real-time metric tracking alongside wearables to better monitor patient health.

Meanwhile, the improvements made in voice recognition through smart home devices have streamlined everything from the ability for users to get quick insurance quotes to assisting medical coders in medical transcription practices.

With the need for safe, at-home care, smart home systems and voice recognition tech will be a stable of healthcare solutions for the future.

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Taming the Tech: Navigating Technology and Ethics In Senior Care

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

In the age of COVID-19, the role of technology in supporting senior care has perhaps never been more important or apparent. Telemedicine is increasingly proving its power to ensure continuity and quality of care from the safety and security of the patients’ home.

But today’s technology is about far more than just protecting seniors and the vulnerable from potential exposure to the virus. Now, more than ever, technologies are being developed to optimize patient care and to support seniors who wish to age in place, living out their golden years independently at home.

As promising as these technologies may be, however, it’s not all roses and champagne. The reality is technology is developing so quickly that it can be hard to keep up, particularly from a moral and ethical perspective. We’re only just beginning to understand the implications of this tech invasion. It might prove to be a tremendous help but also a tremendous harm for some seniors.

Before we jump too quickly on the technology bandwagon when it comes to senior care, there are some ethical considerations we need to keep in mind.

Why It Matters

The simple fact is that today’s technologies are making it easier than ever for seniors to remain in their own homes without putting their health and safety at risk. Thanks to an array of new smart technologies, caregivers can remotely monitor their loved ones from secure portals that can be accessed on most any mobile device.

The devices allow caregivers to monitor the physical activity in the home through motion detectors, including the ability to identify potentially significant changes in activity patterns. Wearables can even remotely track users’ vital data, such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood glucose, or sleep quality. Best of all, caregivers are able to receive immediate alerts when monitors detect an emergency, such as a fall or a medical issue.

Not only that, but caregivers can also use smart systems to emulate the kind of continuous care seniors would traditionally receive at an assisted living facility. They can monitor and remotely control the home’s temperatures, for example.

And, for seniors who are experiencing cognitive decline, caregivers can set up medication reminders — with the medication’s name and proper dosage — on their loved one’s smartphone, tablet, or PC. Since memory-related medication non-compliance is a particularly common, and particularly dangerous, health challenge for seniors, this may well be the key to your loved one’s health and longevity.

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The Benefits of Remote Patient Monitoring In The Time of COVID-19

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

COVID-19 has changed the medical world. As the amount of cases continues to rise with more hospitalizations and deaths than ever before, the medical community is scrambling to keep up. How can we protect the health and welfare of our chronically ill patients without putting them at risk for the disease? What about the real possibility of putting ourselves at risk? And then we have to consider mental health patients, who depend on their counselors and group meetings to cope.

Luckily, technology has come to the rescue for many. With the use of telehealth, high tech wearables, and the many applications that patients can now download on their smartphones, we are not completely vulnerable. We just need to think outside-the-box, so to speak. We can provide patients the care that they need and deserve without putting ourselves at undue risk. It’s just going to look way different than the traditional ways we are used to.

This article takes a look at these “high tech” ways of keeping in touch with patients and monitoring their conditions without exposing them or ourselves to COVID-19 or any other highly infectious diseases for that matter.

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Examples of Changes Big Data Has Brought To Medical Treatment

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By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

Technology has always been at the forefront of improving our understanding of diseases, but the rise of big data has taken this to new heights. Big data in healthcare isn’t new, but it is worth discussing over and over again because it has not yet reached its full potential. No one even knows what its full potential looks like yet.

Even still, the application of big data in healthcare has now reached a point where it’s producing meaningful results not only for researchers but also for clinicians and patients.

Big data has provided changes to the way people in healthcare and research work, but what about the changes it’s provided to specific treatments? These changes are already here, and they’re indicative of both what’s to come and what’s possible for both individuals and patient populations.

What is Big Data in the Healthcare Context?

Big data is a broad concept with applications in a wide swath of fields. In the healthcare context, big data refers to the practice of collecting, analyzing, and using data from many different sources, including patient data, clinical data, consumer data, and physical data. In the past, it was possible to collect only a few types of data in smaller volumes because the tools needed to process and apply it were unavailable.

In this way, big data goes hand-in-hand with other technological developments, like machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). Before machine learning, both clinical studies and applications were massively limited in terms of their scope: you could only handle a certain volume of data or a set variety. Veracity was also a problem with big data sets, which impacted the validity of studies.

Today, big data is a huge part of healthcare. You can find it in the creation of electronic health records (EHRs), pharmaceutical research, medical devices, medical imaging, and genomic sequencing. It differs from previous advances because it encompasses what data scientists call the 3Vs of Big Data: volume, velocity, and variety.

Big Data Reintroduces Old Treatments

Evidence-based medicine is at the core of modern practice. From diagnosis to treatment, physicians and specialists rely on an extensive foundation of research before making decisions. Medical big data has the ability to impact predictive modeling, clinical decisions, research, and public health. But it does so with greater precision: big data uses temporal stability of association. It leaves causal relationships and probability distributions behind.

Hypertension represents an ideal case study of the impact of big data on medicine. Despite the various effective medicines, including beta-blockers, the rates of uncontrolled hypertension in the general population are still very high. Scientists are using big data and machine learning to identify other drugs that may be working against beta-blockers to prevent the patient from gaining control of their blood pressure. One study identified proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) and HMG CO-A reductase inhibitors as drugs that weren’t previously considered to be antihypertensive but that actually improved success rates in hypertension treatment.

Without big data, it would be both time-consuming and expensive to rerun studies on these kinds of drugs. Moreover, there simply wouldn’t be enough data available to do it.

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The Future of Cybersecurity In Healthcare

Ransomware, Cybersecurity, Cyber

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

Anyone who watches the news should be aware of the constant threat of identity theft. Every day, hackers create new scams and tactics to steal private information that they can sell to the highest bidder or use to take out loans and credit cards and put victims in debt. Unfortunately, few industries are as exposed to these threats as the healthcare industry.

Every time someone goes to the doctor, they are sharing personal details with their medical provider and other staff, which gets logged into a computer for later — and hackers are eager to unlock this treasure trove of private info. As technology advances, so will the threats, so extra precautions will be necessary. Below are the threats coming down the pike and how to prevent them.

Emerging Healthcare Threats

Healthcare will always be a huge target for cyber thieves simply because of the pure amount of information that is created with every doctor’s appointment or surgical procedure. An emerging threat that is gaining steam is ransomware attacks, where hackers take control of patient data with the hope of illegal profit.

Just one example includes how, early in 2019, hackers gained access and encrypted the data within the computer system of provider NEO Urology. Fearing the worst, the staff paid the requested $75,000, and the data was freed. It was a painful price to pay for a threat that could have been avoided.

All it takes is one successful scheme to bring the criminals out of the woodwork. Since the NEO hack, several other ransomware attacks have occurred around the country, including instances in New York and California, where thousands of patient records have been compromised. When these attacks occur, it is not only patients that face the consequences, but also the business, as the cost to repair a corporate image and fix the damage could cost a company millions.

New technologies are on the horizon, but they too must be safeguarded from cyber threats. Lately, the idea of integrating artificial intelligence into hospitals has been gaining steam, as experts believe that this technology could limit the number of hospital errors as well as assist with earlier detection of medical issues. However, while this technology continues to evolve, it is still open to the risk of cybercrime.

As a first step to securing your hospital systems, a penetration test should be completed. Penetration testing involves inspecting your system for vulnerabilities, such as weak firewalls or poor security policies, and creates a report, so you know what to fix to protect patient information involved. Your baseline security should be intact before adding any new features.

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Healthcare Marketing and Recruitment Strategies

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

Office, Business, Colleagues, MeetingHow did you first hear about your doctor’s office or primary care facility? Were you passing by and saw a sign, or was it the closest place to your house when it came time for a checkup? Chances are neither was the case; if you had a choice in your healthcare provider you probably heard about them and the quality of their work through some sort of marketing strategy.

Although many of us try not to think too much about it, every single healthcare facility we visit is a business. Ultimately, this means they are subject to the many ups and downs of running a business, which includes the need for a recruitment strategy, and a brand identity, and marketing. Hospitals, clinics, and every healthcare professional out there strive to build brand recognition and positive brand identity their patients will remain loyal to and newcomers will flock towards.

Most moderate to large healthcare facilities invest substantially in marketing strategies that are likely to build trust with patients and draw a steady stream of new patients. In 2020, healthcare marketing and recruitment are more important than ever and much of it is happening digitally. Here are some online methods healthcare organizations can capitalize on to improve their online presence and brand reputation.

Capitalize on tech gains

Technology in the healthcare industry is expanding capabilities at an astounding rate. The things that are possible — such as electronic medical records or smartwatches that send health data directly to your doctor — were only dreams two decades ago. Advances in technology, especially in the realm of big data, offer substantial marketing and recruiting opportunities for the industry.

In essence, the rise of big data has turned healthcare on its head (for the better). Within the hospital setting, it allows healthcare professionals to easily consolidate patient data and reveal potential healthcare concerns that otherwise may have gone unnoticed, greatly improving patient outcomes. From a marketing perspective, it can help identify where needs in the community may be and enable marketing professionals to more accurately design targeted outreach campaigns.

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First Do No Harm: The Ethics of Healthcare In 2020

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

It’s perhaps the greatest gift a person can have, but we usually take it for granted until it’s gone. Without it, nothing else in life is quite the same. And once it’s gone, it can be very hard to get it back. And while patients play the ultimate role in safeguarding and directing their health, the truth is that no one can do it alone. No matter what your role in the healthcare industry may be, you are charged with a sacred obligation to treat your patients with respect, honor, and care.

No matter who our patients are — rich or poor, young or old, sick or well — they depend on healthcare experts to help them protect this most precious gift of health. They expect and assume that those whom they entrust with their lives and the lives of those they love will be respectful of that trust, will care for them and their dear ones ethically and honorably. But what does this mean for your clinical practice? What do healthcare ethics look like in the year 2020?

Honoring the Human in the Technological Age

Privacy is one of the most sacred rights and significant concerns in healthcare. However, there’s no escaping the fact that we live in the era of big data, and there’s also no escaping the fact that big data can be a tremendous asset in healthcare. Even if a patient is thousands of miles away from home and from their primary healthcare providers, electronic health data can facilitate the sharing of essential medical records, from scans to lab results, with just the click of a button.

Big data can also make diagnosis much quicker and more accurate, and can give physicians instant access to the latest research to ensure that patients are receiving the best, most state-of-the-art, evidence-based therapies.

But how, in this age of big data and breathtakingly fast technological evolution do we ensure that respect for the human is not lost? How do we avoid reducing individual patients to a mere system of lab results and scans? How do we prevent losing the person in a sea of data sets? That will and must be one of the principal ethical considerations in 2020.

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HIPAA Compliance and The Cloud

Sunset, Dawn, Nature, Mountains

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

Developments in technology have had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. We can hardly get through an hour without tech having an effect on what we’re doing, let alone a full day. From the morning alarm on our smartphones, to the Bluetooth sound system in our cars, to the social media accounts we share everything on, technology surrounds us.

Perhaps one of the aspects that many of us think the least about is how it has utterly transformed the way we manage our healthcare data. The development of electronic health records and, even more importantly, the cloud, have brought about all sorts of changes. Many have the potential to impact our lives in both positive and negative ways depending upon how they are managed.

When it comes to our health data, there is an added urgency in making sure everything is safe and secure no matter where it is ultimately stored. Well managed data can mean a more efficient and effective healthcare service, while mismanaged data can lead to the loss of personal information and an unraveling of the privacy most of us have come to expect in a professional healthcare setting.

Medical Records, HIPAA and the Cloud

In 1996, the United States government passed HIPAA, a landmark healthcare act that helped to create and enforce privacy and data security requirements associated with medical information. The act has since been expanded in an effort to keep up with modern technologies, and nearly everyone involved in the healthcare system is expected to follow the rules. Because of this legislation, one can expect that their medical records will be kept private unless they choose to release them, no matter where they are stored.

Cloud-based data storage and technology provides numerous benefits to the healthcare system including things such as better dataset analysis, improved efficiencies in individual patient care, and a much lower cost. However, it can also lead to a number of concerns, especially when it comes to HIPAA compliance. HIPAA rules not only apply to the medical facilities that are using cloud technology, but also to the tech vendors as well.

Unfortunately, just because cloud technology providers are not exempt from HIPAA rules, does not mean that they necessarily follow them. There is no real certification process and the government doesn’t exactly clear companies to work with healthcare organizations. It is completely up to the healthcare entity and the tech provider to make sure their services are meeting the necessary HIPAA standards.

Loopholes in the System

It may come as somewhat of a surprise to both patients and healthcare providers to learn that there are popular new aspects of medicine and technology that aren’t necessarily covered by HIPAA regulations. For instance, HIPAA does not cover anonymized data such as the data that is collected during genetic testing. Essentially, this allows for a patient’s anonymous information to be shared at will.

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