Over the last few years, hospitals and healthcare practices throughout the country have started adopting new technology that helps them provide better care to their patients and make life easier for their employees.
For example, 64 percent of physicians now send electronic messages to their patients via text or email. Meanwhile, 63 percent allow their patients to view their medical records online.
Are you looking for new ways to bring your practice into the 21st Century? Listed below are seven of the top healthcare technology trends you ought to know about and consider implementing in your practice.
Electronic Medical Records
Electronic medical records (or EMR for short) are one of the most popular tech trends in the healthcare world.
Lots of practices have started using EMR to simplify the process of searching for patient records. EMR has also made it easier for patients to access their medical records online.
Even though plenty of practices are making use of EMR, there are still a lot of them that haven’t made the switch yet. The sooner you start making your files available in a digital format, the sooner you’ll start reaping all the benefits of EMR.
For example, EMR provides immediate access to patient records. It also helps physicians make better decisions about their patient’s care.
They can spot patterns more easily when everything is in front of them. This, in turn, allows them to choose the best treatment approach and avoid missing something important.
Blockchain has started to make its way into the healthcare world, and it’s not showing any signs of leaving.
Blockchain technology allows healthcare practices (and other businesses, for that matter) to store digital information without taking up a ton of space. It also allows them to store their information in a more secure way since it cannot be copied.
In the digital age, patient security and privacy protection are of the utmost importance to many healthcare professionals.
Blockchain systems allow practice owners and managers to ensure they’re keeping patient records and information safe. It also helps them to avoid expensive and harmful (on many levels) data breaches.
In 2019, many people are looking for new ways to get things done without leaving their homes. They have groceries delivered to their door, for example, and they communicate with friends and family via video chat.
Lots of healthcare practices are jumping in on this trend and are making it easier for patients to have their medical needs met from the comfort of their own homes as well.
Telemedicine allows patients to talk to doctors, receive medical advice, and even have prescriptions filled, without having to make a special trip to the doctor’s office.
Physicians are also using these same technologies to communicate with each other in more effective ways and come up with better, more comprehensive solutions for their patients.
Artificial intelligence is for way more than gaming. It’s also one of the biggest healthcare trends of 2019.
Physicians and researchers have started or have plans to start using artificial intelligence in a variety of ways.
As artificial intelligence technology becomes more refined, it will be easier for healthcare professionals to monitor their patients and provide better diagnosis and treatment.
It will also likely enhance the telemedicine world as well, as it will make it easier for physicians to see their patients without having to be in the same physical location as them.
Wearable health monitoring devices are not new. However, they’ve become more popular than ever, and they’re also becoming more advanced.
As these devices become more accurate and able to provide more details about the wearer’s health, it’s likely that many physicians will start relying on them to gather information about their patient’s health and daily habits.
As provider adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) approaches near-universal levels, a study from The Doctors Company shows the frequency of claims in which EHRs contributed to injury continues to rise.
Analyzing EHR-related medical malpractice claims that closed between 2010 and 2018, The Doctors Company uncovered that the pace of these claims tripled, growing from a mere seven cases in 2010 to an average of 22.5 cases per year in 2017 and 2018.
While EHRs are not often the primary cause of claims, the study shines a light on potential risks they may pose in care delivery, as well as the top factors that contributed to the claims. The study showed that EHR-related claims were caused by either system technology and design issues or by user-related issues. Among the top findings:
Top user-related issues stem from incorrect information, pre-populating or copying and pasting, and hybrid health records or EHR conversion.
Top system technology and design issues were problems with electronic systems and technology failure.
Of those injuries that occurred in 7 percent or more of claims, adverse reaction to a medication and death were by far the most prevalent.
Diagnosis-related allegations represented nearly one-third of the total.
Two specialties—family medicine and internal medicine—received the highest percentage of claims where EHRs are a factor, followed by cardiology and radiology.
Based on this data, study author Darrell Ranum, JD, CPHRM, vice president of patient safety and risk management at The Doctors Company, identified the following steps to prevent EHR-related risks that may ultimately contribute to an adverse event:
EHR general dissatisfaction is well-known. Despite how hard electroni? patient records can be to use, a number of doctors are saying the technology has made them better caregivers.
Our friends at Belitsoft (a medical software development company) have brought you answers to some important questions. Why do physicians prefer using EHRs and how this technology improve their workflow? What EHR features make doctors keep up to date? Read on to find out!
Quick access to comprehensive medical records
EHR is advocated as a doorway to smarter and more accessible healthcare. The Surescript report found that one-third of surveyed can easily determine which other care providers a patient has visited. Specialists are able to compile a comprehensive patient history by using any hit found in their records.
“Having real-time access quickly and reliably to medical information and data 24/7 is important to make this happen. Instead of hunting for lab work in a paper chart or trying to find a specialist’s consultation, I can access the information I need rapidly and focus on the patient in front of me.”
It is usually hard to detect common hospital-acquired infections in a crowded building where patients might get infected at every turn. The research published in JAMA Internal Medicine, “is a brilliant example of how we can learn from data in the electronic health records,” said Robert M. Wachter, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF.
The idea belongs to the UCSF Health Informatics team. They realized that each patient’s EHR contains detailed info about every step they had made for every test. Using these digital breadcrumbs found in the records, specialists were able to track patients in time and space, thus discovering a significant source of infection.
Dr. Jen Gunter supports EHR implementation and says she really loves the system. One of the features Jennifer highlights is a full integration with pharmacy services.
She has noted that many patients can’t remember their medications or doses, and even go off the meds she prescribed. Thus, for example, Dr. Gunter can take a guess and potentially have a patient buy an expensive medication.
Alternatively, she can call the pharmacy (if she remembers which services she used) to see if they can track down the right medication history and then she or her nurse appoints a follow-up visit if they get the answer.
However, the only viable option for Dr. Gunter is to use an EHR system. Thus, she can confirm the info with the electronic records and talk with a patient about how and why deviations happened.
By Adarsh Jain, editor, Transparency Market Research.
Timely diagnosis and advanced treatment measures are imperative for better healthcare outcomes. But, little have we realized the criticality of patient’s history in treatment. It is human to remember information about major healthcare incidents, but it is impossible for individuals to store every detail of medical history. And sometimes, the lack of details on medical history can be the difference between life and death.
Over the years, as information technology and computers began finding applications in healthcare diagnosis and treatment, it is also emerged as a critical tool to store and retract data. Synonymous to a business, where all major decisions are data-driven, healthcare providers, too, realize the need for data on patient’s health to decipher treatment and diagnosis. As we realize the potential for big data analytics across industry verticals, cloud computing has enabled tech giants develop tools that could come in handy in critical situations. Transparency Market Research states that the global electronic health records market stood at $3,225 million in 2016, and predicts that it will grow to $38,278 million by the end of 2025.
Electronic Health Records are Older than the Internet
It was in 1960s, three decades before the internet bubble, when attempts were made to introduce electronic health record systems. Larry Weed first developed a system to record problem-oriented health records. And, in 1972, Regenstrief Institute, developed a possible system to record health data electronically. However, huge cost and lack of feasible infrastructure remained an impediment to electronic health record tools.
Things began to change at the turn of the century when internet became a phenomenon, and tech companies began sensing the need for data-driven approach for every business. In short order, tech giants – from Google to everyone else — started working to develop products for electronic health records.
North America At the Forefront
It is, perhaps, safe to state that U.S. is at the top when it comes to healthcare infrastructure. With consistent financial and policy-level support from the U.S. government, and conducive environment for pharmaceutical, medical devices, and the IT industry, the region has leaped miles ahead from others. And, electronic health records is no different. Out of the $23,225 million reaped by the global electronic health records market, more than 46% came from North America.
While the overall market share for North America is expected to dip marginally by 2% by 2025, TMR analysts predict that it will continue to hold a mammoth share of growth in the eight-year-forecast period. Of the $15,000 million growth potential, North America alone is expected to garner $6,000 million.
How Government Policies Made a Difference?
The market for electronic health records in North America owes a large share of its success to favorable government policies. From Presidents George W. Bush to Barack Obama, each have introduced policies, set up bodies, and funded projects that have today, led to a robust set up for electronic health records in the U.S. It was in President Bush’s regime that the first move to improve healthcare IT became evident. With budget for the sector doubled, the Bush government also introduced an exclusive position in the cabinet for the National Health Information Coordinator. Further, the government under Bush also set 2014 as the deadline to adopt electronic health record systems. Taking cues from here, the Obama government too increased funds for initiatives promoting implementation of electronic health record systems.
The Influence of IT Infrastructure
Most tech giants in the world are headquartered in the U.S. and this provides North America the advantage over other regions. With conducive environment created by the government, there is little for tech giants to worry about. And with history for electronic health records born in the country, the spirit for developing products has always been higher in the region. Efforts are underway to soon launch products that could change the approach of healthcare in the country, and attempts look ripe to expand the efforts globally. A fallout of the efforts in the U.S. is taking shape in Asia Pacific, where both government, and business organizations, have begun taking baby steps in moving towards a future in electronic health records.
Healthcare is one of the fastest-growing segments of the digital universe, with data volumes expected to grow by 48 percent annually. Healthcare applications will be the principal driver of this data growth, with EHR penetration in the US already reaching more than 80 percent and expected to reach 95 percent by 2020.
In addition, the healthcare space has matured to the point where EHR replacement has become commonplace, and up to 50 percent of health systems are projected to be on second-generation technology by the year 2020.
So why are these data points an important consideration?
Healthcare organizations have been facing
the major challenge of storing and securing patient information. This is not
just the problem with the providers, but for payers and patients too. While
transitioning to complete digitization of practices, healthcare leaders,
specifically CIOs, often find it a daunting task to identify the areas where
they need to scale up their technological approach.
EHRs are likely the necessary evil for
healthcare. No doubt they solved so many problems; however, they opened gates
to other problems. The complications with the legacy systems compel hospitals
to shift to modern technological solutions.
Right now, the story of mergers and acquisitions in the space is also like an adventure movie. According to KLAS Research, the number of EHR vendors dropped from more than 1,000 to around 400 now — the reason being the rise in mergers and acquisitions.
Where does the actual problem lie?
The journey of shifting from legacy systems
to advanced technology is also ripe with its own set of complications. As the
landscape is molded by M&As, consistent EHR replacements are not rare
In this scenario, organizations face two
Legacy systems have
to be maintained so that organizations are able to access the read-only PHI.
The cost of
migrating data from one EHR to another is unreasonably high.
Moreover, since these EHR replacements are directly linked to the retention of the data from the legacy systems for about a decade. Most states require Protected Health Information (PHI) to be retained for about seven to 10 years.
How is data archival the solution we need now?
Transitioning between EHRs require a
holistic approach to keep their data secure, and the best way here is data
archival. Data archival is a simple process of archiving the entire data from
legacy systems into a unified platform so that it can be kept secured for a
long duration. It is the perfect solution to the above-stated two problems: it
is easier and can be done at one-tenth of the price.
For instance, in the case of legacy systems, the EHR vendor can charge up to $10,000 a month for keeping the system running even after the transition. However, in the case of data archival, this entire process is fast, cheap and much more efficient. Also, it eliminates the necessity of keeping the legacy systems running.
The archiving process serves multiple
functions and has the following major advantages over other data-retention
It allows legal
decommissioning of the legacy systems
It ensures the
integrity of the vital healthcare data
It creates the
opportunity to realize opportunities for immediate Return on Investment (ROI)
It minimizes the
risk of maintaining the historical data
It develops a
centralized repository for all your legacy systems’ data
And many more …
What is the perfect data archival strategy?
The procedure of data archival mainly
consists of two major steps: identifying the need for data archival and
adopting the best archival solution. It is important to analyze the need first
and then take action. It is a complex process and involves complex compliance
requirements to be fulfilled.
So what is needed to be done now? Here is the list of essential prerequisites to be considered and followed religiously before archiving your crucial healthcare data:
Understand your healthcare data
The first step is to understand your EHR and legacy system data. One organization might be focusing on archiving the data from a single EHR while the other might be looking for a solution that can archive the data from multiple data sources. Everyone’s data needs are different and, thus, requires a different data archival approach.
Familiarize yourself with your state regulations
Every state has its own regulations to archive the data. The state of California might need you to archive your data for six years, while the state of Minnesota might have a span of more than 30 years. These regulations need to be considered and understood efficiently before investing in a data archival solution.
Chalk out your technological requirements
The next and
most important step is to identify the extent and the varieties of
technological features your organization might need. Every organization has
different needs which should be analyzed and understood well in advance. Based
on these insights, the final decision can be made about any data archival
solution and its abilities.
The road ahead
The space of healthcare is among the most diverse and ever-changing fields. New mergers, efforts towards making the practice data-driven, empowering providers with access to every single bit of data about their patients, and whatnot; these factors have compelled organizations to keep shifting towards a better option — a better EHR. And in this story, the ultimate goal is to make this transition as smooth as possible. It is important to ensure that organizations get rid of all their legacy system headaches instantly. With data archival, it is finally possible.
Most of us know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and understand first hand the tidal wave of emotions and questions that come immediately after diagnosis. One question that sticks out to providers is the seemingly simple: “How many patients have you seen who are just like me?” and perhaps even more important: “Why are you confident that I can reach the magical five year survival rate?”
Unfortunately, with systems of record like the electronic health record, neither of these questions is easy for the provider to answer. The challenge is, in today’s oncology world there is both a combination of clinical confidence based on peer-reviewed data and the artistic necessity to understand what could work based on perceived comparable patients. Oncologists do incredible work to save lives, however, there is more to be done to help support the people who are making the most important decisions at the most critical inflection points.
Meaningful data to improve cancer care
Prior to the creation of EHRs, physicians stressed that they did not have enough access to data. While data is now being stockpiled within the depths of EHRs, physicians still do not have access to everything the data has to offer. The available data in EHRs is often fragmented, disorganized, and sometimes simply incomplete, making it difficult to glean any real value from this information after it is collected.
Essentially, the EHR can be compared to a messy bureau in your bedroom. While bureaus are intended to organize your clothes — socks in one drawer, t-shirts in another, etc. — sometimes socks windup in the pants drawer. All of the valuable information and data is in the EHR, but is sometimes lost in the wrong “drawers,” making it hard for clinicians to find the important information and make sense of it to impact patient care. While physicians are doing the best they can by adding information into EHRs, technology has not caught up to allow physicians to extract insights and put that data to use.
Fortunately, with the use of outside technology, we can pull real-world data (RWD) and real-world evidence (RWE) from the EHRs. This can unlock the insights hidden within the available data and uncap the potential for improving and personalizing cancer care, while reducing overall costs.
Unlocking hidden insights
The technology available today knows how data should be arranged. It knows when something is misplaced, and knows how to make sense out of it. Through advanced algorithms and clinical input, technology can essentially sort and gather RWD from EHRs and then group together similar patients based on their own biology, disease states, and other phenotypic factors, allowing for insight into treatment plans and potential outcomes.
By Aaron Perreira, director of integrated marketing, Kareo.
A nationwide survey conducted by Kareo reveals an interesting fact for everyone involved in healthcare technology. One of the primary sources from which independent medical practices get advice and information on adoption of new technology is their billing companies.
Independent medical practices remain the primary healthcare delivery system for patients in the U.S. Physician-owned practices see 990.8 million visits, or 3.1 visits per person in the U.S. each year. In contrast, hospital outpatient visits number 125.7 million per year, or .4 visits per person. At the same time, these independent practices – small businesses in most cases – are greatly impacted by the rapidly changing healthcare arena.
Regulatory changes, technology infrastructure demands and increasingly large administrative burdens have put pressure on independent practices in recent years, and they do not have the resources or economies of scale that larger hospital practices have to address them. Experts agree that the primary hope for independent practices thriving efficiently and cost effectively in the emerging healthcare landscape depends upon the effective integration of technology.
One of the steps many independent practices take to help alleviate some of their administrative burden is the outsourcing of billing. Nearly one-third (28 percent) of physicians and medical practitioners who do not currently outsource medical billing indicated that they plan to do so over the next two years. As a result, medical billing companies expect an average revenue growth of 12 percent during 2019 as utilization of outsourced billing by independent medical practices continues to increase. Of course, the primary service billing companies bring to practices is – billing.
The survey highlights that extensive revenue cycle expertise at the specialty level is a successful strategy for building a billing company to scale. Forty-seven percent of small billing companies specialize in order to differentiate themselves, while 58 percent of medium-sized businesses do. As might be expected, large billing companies tend to diversify across a wider range of medical specialties, responding to the rapid growth (11 percent since 2012) in multi-specialty medical practices.
Billing companies are also becoming specialists in patient collections because of the significant increase in high deductible insurance plans – the average deductible for employer-based plans reached nearly $1,500 in 2018 and the average deductible for individual A?ordable Care Act (ACA) Bronze plans was more than $5,800 in 2018. Of those surveyed, patient balances account for an average of 23 percent of total collections.
Significantly, billing companies have found an important path to growth in value-added services. Despite the rapid growth of healthcare technology solutions, many smaller practices are still slow to adopt new technology. Billing companies serving small, independent practices have the opportunity to recommend technology to help them improve efficiency, stay competitive in the healthcare delivery marketplace, and run a more profitable practice. Helping medical practices implement and leverage technology is something that 75 percent of billing companies report doing today, with the adoption of integrated EHR and billing software the top area of focus.
With the establishment of value-based payment models that tie reimbursement to the documentation of quality care, many billing companies are seeing the importance of having their clients use a certified EHR that is integrated into their billing platform. The current replacement rate for EHRs is estimated to be as high as 50 percent in the United States, presenting significant opportunity for billing companies to advise on replacement options that will streamline their revenue cycle management process. The survey shows 86 percent of high-growth billing companies are statistically more likely to recommend an EHR solution to their clients that integrates with their billing software/practice management solution.
The Kareo survey points to an interesting chain – the future of American healthcare depends on independent practices. The success of independent practices moving forward depends on technology. And the recent Kareo survey shows that adoption of technology by independent practices depends, to a great extent, on their billing companies.
The healthcare industry has traditionally relied on the pen-and-paper archiving system, creating huge but impractical data libraries. However, the situation is changing in the last couple of decades with the introduction of electronic health records (EHR).
According to the report, more than 80 percent of the US hospitals adopted at least a basic EHR system. It’s a major improvement that drastically changes the way medical practitioners complete their everyday tasks. But what makes EHR systems so powerful? How can they contribute to the overall productivity in the field of medicine?
We will give you the answers to these questions in this article. Keep reading to see how EHR are impacting the healthcare industry.
5 ways EHR changes healthcare
There are many ways EHR is helping healthcare to advance, but some solutions already proved to be very important for the functioning of the medical staff. We made a list of the five most important improvements here:
Speed and productivity
The first way digital health records are influencing the healthcare industry is obvious: they help the system become better and more productive. Medical staff no longer has to write things down. Instead, all entries are just a few clicks away, so the whole process becomes faster than ever before. This gives doctors and nurses more time to do what they are trained to do – help patients to get better.
The second way EHR is changing medicine is probably the most important. Namely, patients get an enhanced treatment due to the precision and transparency of medical records. For instance, a doctor can instantly see previous health problems of a patient and determine whether this person is allergic to certain drugs or substances.
By Gevik Nalbandian, vice president of software development, NextGate
If you wanted a clear snapshot of the progress we’ve made—or rather, haven’t made—in patient data sharing and exchange, look no further than a new report from the American Hospital Association (AHA) and six other national hospital associations—America’s Essential Hospitals, Association of American Medical Colleges, Catholic Health Association of the United States, Children’s Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals and the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare.
Urging all stakeholders to “unite in accelerating interoperability,” the report, released January 22, is a grass roots effort to get hospitals, EHR vendors, consumers, health information exchanges (HIEs), government and medical device companies to come to the table, play their respective roles, and make full interoperability a reality.
The benefits of interoperability are obvious: better care coordination, improved patient safety and care quality, reduced costs, increased efficiencies and the conduit to population health. Interoperability is also increasingly a legal requirement and prerequisite for reimbursement.
So why has healthcare’s goal of industry-wide interoperability remained so elusive?
Interoperability, as it was envisioned, should be built on transparency and connectivity, allowing a patient’s critical health information to be easily accessible, regardless of where treatment is being administered. By creating an infrastructure that supports the sharing of patient data along the care continuum, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and long-term post-acute care (LTPAC) facilities can offer the best care possible. As a result, organizations that participate in interoperability best practices are positioned to become preferred providers.
Unfortunately, interoperability is still a work in progress for many organizations. While more than 95 percent of hospitals and 90 percent of office-based physicians are now utilizing electronic health record (EHR) platforms, many struggle with — or have reservations around — sharing information outside of their facility. As such, silos represent a great barrier to realizing a fully implemented state of interoperability.
The current data gap can drastically impact care. For example, a patient experiences a serious medical incident — such as a fall or stroke — and arrives at the hospital where staff may not have access to existing patient data which could inform the best delivery of care. Or perhaps they’re able to access that data, but not right away. Care is now delayed, which can be additionally concerning depending on the time-sensitivity of the patient’s condition.
Taking this example a step further, let’s explore what happens after care at the hospital has concluded. The patient requires rehabilitation, and a continuation of care document (CCD) is issued to a post-acute care facility. From there, the patient’s information is transferred by less-than-foolproof methods such as fax, for example. A glitch as simple as a jammed paper feed could prevent critical information from reaching the appropriate caregiver.
As value-based care and payment-care models are moving toward the forefront, blind handoffs of patient information are no longer viable, as they drastically increase the financial risks hospitals and payer groups are subject to — not to mention the clear detriment the system has on delivery of care.
Closing the gap
The larger question is how does the industry get from Point A to Point B? The easy answer is to liberate the data through a cloud-based infrastructure that supports an efficient, easy-to-access data exchange between all caregivers. An integrated solution would connect stakeholders across the care continuum, providing accurate insights when needed, eliminating data silos between care partners, and enabling more confident decision-making.
These systems would promote:
Optimized transitions: Data needs to travel with the patient — or before movement — discretely across all systems.
Patient visibility: Data should reflect the most current ADT information, identifying and sharing where a patient is and from where they’ve been discharged.
Central view of LTPAC patients: This facility-agnostic feature should offer automated updates of a patient’s functional progress.
Ongoing status and monitoring: Maintaining continued care is facilitated through alerts and notifications to caregivers regarding any change to their status or well-being and meaningful feedback on care pathway progress.
Facility performance: Beyond understanding a patient’s status, it’s also helpful to understand how facilities in and out of their PPN have performed.
The concept of interoperability, in some ways, seems contradictory to traditional best practices. Healthcare organizations are charged with protecting patient data at all costs, and the idea of sharing data in a way that opens access to a wider group of stakeholders could give pause. Regulatory infractions for data loss in the healthcare industry can be steep, and the number of well-publicized data breaches in recent years reinforces how valuable health records are to both the organizations who keep them and those who try to steal them.
So, it should go without saying that an EHR “superhighway” must be developed with security in its DNA, taking stringent regulatory requirements into account. The good news is that the newest breed of information exchange platforms is being built with security roles in mind, drastically reducing the possibility of data loss.