Members of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) called on Congress to better serve and protect the growing population of healthcare consumers who use technology – such as social media, wearables and mobile health (mHealth) apps – to manage their health. AHIMA members met with Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. on this issue, among others relating to the need for HIPAA modernization, during the 2019 AHIMA Advocacy Summit.
These technologies, referred to by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) as “non-covered entities” (NCEs), are not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) individual right of access laws, meaning that an individual often times has no right to request their sensitive health information from such technologies. Rather, in many cases, whether such health information may be shared with the individual is left up to the discretion of the application itself.
To ensure this growing patient group’s information is both accessible and protected, AHIMA recommends lawmakers develop or direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to define HIPAA NCEs in law, extending HIPAA’s individual right of access to these entities. This will ensure the same uniform data access policy for individuals using health technologies.
“As technology continues to shape healthcare, the number of patients using wearables, social media and mobile apps for health purposes has skyrocketed, but this shift in how patients record data shouldn’t affect their level of protection and access,” said AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “AHIMA’s members are pushing for a solution that balances access to information, patient protection and maximizing use of technology.”
During the Summit, AHIMA advocated for three additional key issues related to patient information and the need for a modernized version of HIPAA:
Software testing and quality assurance have grown in critical importance for companies. Over the few years, it has established itself as a formidable career choice which is unlikely to stop anytime soon. Now as the name implies, quality insurance is all about maintaining “high quality” on a constant basis. And it isn’t surprising at all to see the concept making its way to the core of several industry verticals including the healthcare.
Quality monitoring is gaining momentum for purchasers, patients, and providers who strive hard to evaluate the value of health care expenditures. Over the past decade, science has evolved in regards to quality measurement despite a few challenges that might be a counterforce to the demands of cost containment. Well, the following post explores those crucial challenges that must be addressed in the Healthcare sector. But before that let’s take a bit of a detour which will eventually lead us to the answer.
Why the healthcare sector needs QA and testing
Speed and quality are one of the core essentials that tend to serve the healthcare industry more efficiently leading to a significant amount of inventions and advancements. One of the best examples showing how digitalization is becoming more capable of transforming the industry is that more and more number of people and devices are found connected to deliver meaningful interference from the data generated.
Technology is the best support system where different kinds of applications are created to deliver best services even at a distant. A sudden increase is found in the growth of healthcare products such as wearables, followed by applications especially the ones being associated with them. It may quite interest you to know that these can be termed as products featuring a big market and will continue to have a tremendous impact on the economy even in the upcoming years. Down below I would like to mention a few reasons stating why QA and testing are crucial in the healthcare industry.
#1 Big Data Testing in Healthcare: Because of being well associated with tons of information related to their patient’s health conditions, the healthcare industry is believed to be one of the most highly data-intensive sector. Several healthcare institutions and the associated segments to devise the right strategy building the right and relevant kind of products. Initially invented to derive the right interferences and the data point big data testing also helps in making certain decisions in regards to drug inventions, disease cure, and the last but not the least research and development. These decisions are some of the best and informed ones that anyone could take.
#2 Security of applications: I am sure you will agree with me when I say that healthcare websites have the most sensitive kind of the data about their patients and their health-related information. By security testing and penetration testing, we can make the websites, as well as applications, hack proof and sustainable especially in challenging a digital scenario. It is very important to conduct quality assurance and testing to ensure security to all such applications.
#3 Usability testing in healthcare: Usability testing is the most required in the health care industry. However, there are various features and the user scenarios that a pharmacist or a nurse can continue to face during their working hours. Do you think these tasks are of prime importance? Absolutely not! In fact, they can be eased with the help of automation, adding in more number of features that will help to simplify the entire process.
QA Challenges in Healthcare Apps
Healthcare industry has also started to introduce mobile platforms across the care delivery cycle, creating a voluminous medical app market. Further, we have extracted a few QA challenges concerning testing and healthcare mobile apps and how to get over them.
Challenge #1 Users and their expectations
Software usability has been a core element in the healthcare industry. Look at those EHR systems; it is very important to come up with something that not just offers accurate physical records but also aggregate physical activity recommendations with nutrition tracking. While testing a mhealth app, thinks about situations which patients may need it. During critical cases, older patients can make the most of condition management app that aids well in finding what their actual condition is and tap the emergency call button at an extreme point.
In addition to this, healthcare mobile apps have the potential to influence the stakeholders this includes patients, caregivers, care team members, administrative staff, insurers and more. The app should adequately support their workflows, so QA specialists need to get a good picture of basic user needs. Let’s say for example if the patient likes to connect his or her smartwatch to the app to monitor heart rate while exercising or if a physician would like to review his patient’s treatment plan progress remotely.
Mobile health technologies have been on the rise for quite some time, with the number of health and fitness apps doubling over the last two years, these tools are becoming a part of our daily lives. Health apps can do everything from monitoring sleep patterns to diagnosing diseases, while other evolving technologies are paving the way for a seamless patient care experience via online patient records. An expansive infographic by the Adelphi Healthcare Informatics Master’s Degree program that follows details these important technologies.
In the beginnings of 2014, almost 50 million Americans were using health and fitness apps to monitor their behaviors. Among their most important reasons for doing so are keeping track of personal goals, staying on top of health issues, and gaining motivation. The ability to track and improve eating and exercise habits has only scratched the surface; as more and more people hop on board, the technologies will continue to get better and better.
Beyond the health and wellness applications of mobile health technologies are the value of mobile diagnoses. There are mobile technologies for diagnosing issues with the eyes, for diagnosing malaria and thyroid conditions and screening for oral lesions. These and other technologies have a wide range of applications and will only become more useful as remote areas and countries gain more access to them.
Reviewing test results online, scheduling appointments and requesting medication refills are just some of the capabilities that come along with the evolution of online patient records. Being able to interact with records and doctors in real time from miles away has the potential to revolutionize the way that the healthcare industry functions. Not only does this improve communication, but it also saves time and removes barriers that can crop up along a patient’s medical journey.
The possibilities for keeping track of health and wellness, improving the ability to make diagnoses around the world, and accessing patient records from anywhere are what make mobile health technologies exciting.
Guest post by Tom Giannulli, MS, MD, chief medical information officer, Kareo.
It seems like everywhere you look there is a new piece of wearable technology to help people monitor their health and lifestyle. The latest and greatest, of course, is the Apple Watch, which hit the newswire with a bang last month.
There is no doubt that mobile health apps and wearable technology and devices are big business. Both patients and clinicians are using mHealth apps on their smartphones and other devices. There are tens of thousands of these apps, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says this number will grow by 25 percent a year. Their research also shows that by 2018 1.7 billion people worldwide will download a health app.
Despite what the media may say, the fact is most people aren’t using these apps and devices yet according to a new study from Technology Advice. Their research found that nearly 75 percent of adults do not track their weight, diet, or exercise using a fitness tracking device or app and most cited reason was general lack of interest.
However, one interesting thing to note is that more than half said they would be more likely to use a health tracking app or device if there was a possibility of lowering their insurance premiums. Just over 40 percent said better advice from their healthcare provider would be a possible incentive to use a fitness tracker.
Guest post by Scott Parker, senior marketing analyst, CureMD.
Healthcare needs to be efficient in delivering care to the patient. What if iPad and iPhone apps provide the services healthcare professionals need? Wouldn’t that be a dream come true? The mobile healthcare market is talk of the town in healthcare circuits. The amazing thing is, mostly mobile EHRs are free. Soon to be launched CureMD’s app Avalon will be free too. It is free because you only pay for the services you use.
Medical history on fingertips: Healthcare professionals only dreamt about a day, when the ease of access in terms of patient data could take a step further, and somehow make them get off their boring computer screens. All of patient’s data is just a few taps away with mobile EHR. Providers can access an up-to-date list of current and past diagnoses of the patient; along with list of medications the patient has been formally prescribed.
Empowering patients: Mobile EHRs are not just for care providers. They are for patients as well. Patients can use mobile EHR to view their test results along with clinical summaries of their visit to the practice. They can keep track of their vaccinations, making it convenient for the providers and staff to arrange an appointment. If providers are able to empower patients through mobile EHR they are essentially empowering themselves.
Accurate sharing of patient information: Mobile EHRs provides a coordinated system of care through its function of interoperability. It allows for secure exchange of data among multiple providers, practices and healthcare facilities in real-time. This will provide a better support structure for informed clinical decisions. All in all, it reduces manual medical errors caused by humans trying to provide information through lethargic channels.