Tag: telehealth

Blockchain: Increasing Security In Telehealth

By Blaise Wabo, associate director, A-LIGN.

Blaise Wabo
Blaise Wabo

As technology continues to improve, using virtual connections in place of face-to-face meetings has surged in popularity. The healthcare industry is no different – the telehealth industry is predicted to be worth more than $130 billion by 2025. While telehealth offers many benefits to patients, particularly those who are unable to leave their homes, the technology raises several serious security concerns.

These problems primarily stem from the lack of security controls when it comes to the collection and sharing of data. During a conversation between a patient and doctor, for example, sensitive, personal patient data is often shared. When the connection between patient and doctor is virtual, it is possible that an unsecured connection could be interrupted, and patient data leaked. Home telehealth devices and sensors may also collect data that a patient would prefer to keep private, including times that the home is unoccupied. If devices are storing and transmitting this data, it is possible that it could be accessed by third parties.

These concerns have left a lingering question: how can patients still reap the benefits of telehealth while ensuring their connections and data remain secure? The answer may lie in another technology that healthcare providers have only started to adopt – blockchain.

Enabling Secure Data

Blockchain at its most basic level simply enables secure, immutable and anonymous transactions, allowing cross-network communications to take place through mutually agreed upon interactions between parties. For healthcare providers, this opens up an efficient means of transferring data and communicating between different organizations that handle patient data. Medical records can also be stored using blockchain, allowing providers to create a more complete patient history by keeping larger amounts of data and information securely encrypted in fragmented systems.

The ability to securely share data and control who has access to it will surely help to increase consumer confidence when it comes to telehealth. Blockchain requires that data is approved by both the patient and doctor before it is entered into a computer.  The data must also be verified against a previous ledger, so no single party ever has total control. This ensures multiple checks are in place and reduces the chance that an unauthorized party could access sensitive patient data, which is one of the main concerns when it comes to using telehealth.

Regulating Sensitive Communications

While it offers many solutions, federal organizations have not officially decided how regulations would apply to blockchain, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA outlines rules for ensuring the privacy and security of patient data, as well as the secure transfer of data, but it does not apply to patients; ensuring blockchain users remain compliant will be the responsibility of healthcare providers.

HIPPA guidelines for telehealth require that healthcare organizations communicate electronically protected health information (ePHI) through regulated channels to ensure security. This means that tools like Skype or unencrypted email cannot be used to communicate ePHI, limiting what could be used for cost-effective telehealth.

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What Younger Generations Demand from Health IT?

By Shawn Mike, content creator, Dynamologic Solutions.

In the age of internet and online shopping, striving to make it into the future by relying on traditional or outdated practices will get you nowhere! Thanks to the younger generations, various private and public departments are favoring online presence more now and we think, healthcare department should follow suit!

According to a survey by Accenture, the younger generations (millennials and Generation Z) will likely prefer new care models like retail clinics and virtual visits over the traditional methods. This spells trouble for the healthcare department since they still lack the tools to embrace the digital culture.

Digital Transformation in the Healthcare Sector

There is nothing wrong with the traditional health IT sector. It is just that many of the younger generations are outgrowing the traditional methods and now expect a different standard of service.

In the age of self-diagnosis from Google and WebMD, the young individuals constantly express dissatisfaction with the existing healthcare models. They are more comfortable with researching healthcare options online and are more likely to utilize non-traditional methods of engaging with the health department. Because of the reliance on the latest cutting-edge options, healthcare must understand that there is a need to adopt advanced techniques.

Currently, we are living in the digital age and the consumers are always on the lookout for a digital front-end experience. Since the internet has blurred boundaries, the younger generation is more aware of what they want and how they want it. At this point, the healthcare department seriously lacks the necessary digital tool to provide a better experience.

In a way, it is not just about the adoption of certain tools. Instead, we are talking about a complete transformation that will provide the healthcare department with the boost it needs to make things easier for the upcoming generations. The redesign will mean that high-quality, accessible, affordable, and effective healthcare can be provided through digital tools.

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Definitive Healthcare Survey: 2019 Outpatient Telehealth Adoption Remains Flat While Overall Adoption Remains Flat

Definitive Healthcare released results from its 2019 Outpatient Telehealth Study. In this survey, Definitive Healthcare polled physicians and healthcare administrators to determine to determine telehealth adoption trends, technology, and services.

•    Adoption Remains Flat 2018 to 2019: Adoption rates of telehealth solutions/services by outpatient physician practices remained relatively flat from 2018 to 2019, lingering at about 44 percent. However, the mix of telehealth technology solutions did shift this year, with an increase in two-way video/webcam, mobile applications for concierge services, and clinical grade remote patient monitoring devices.

•    Telehealth Technologies Regarded Effective: Physician practices with telehealth solutions already in place rated the effectiveness of these technologies relatively high at an average of 6.51 out of 10 – well above the midpoint, and above all other survey categories. This indicates that, despite hurdles that hinder telehealth investment or adoption, these solutions are effective when in use.

•    Providers with Telehealth Solutions Likely to Re-Invest: Roughly 65 percent of physician practices with a telehealth solution already in place plan to make further investments, up from 45 percent in 2018. Nearly 90 percent that plan to make an investment plan to do so in the next 18 months.

•    No Need to Fix What’s Not Broken: Unlike the inpatient market, the priciness of telehealth solutions was not the primary barrier for outpatient adoption. In this survey, the majority of respondents (20.2%) cited “satisfaction with their practice’s current solutions and services” as their primary barrier when considering adopting telehealth technologies. Another major barrier for respondents, at 12.6%, was uncertainty surrounding reimbursement policies from insurance companies and at the national level.

Jason Krantz
Jason Krantz

“Based on these survey results, and the trends we’ve been observing in the market, there are three main hurdles that are currently hindering outpatient telehealth adoption. There is not only a need for more clarity around reimbursement policies, but also a need for more interoperable telehealth solutions that can be accessed through EHR or EMR systems as well as a better understanding about what types of telehealth options are available,” said Jason Krantz, CEO of Definitive Healthcare. “Until some of these issues are addressed, it may be some time before substantial outpatient investment is made in the telehealth arena.”

Overcoming The Chilling Impact of Clinician Burnout: How Tech Is Changing The Landscape

By Michelle Davey, CEO and co-founder, Enzyme Health.

Michelle Davey

Today, our healthcare system is changing, and it’s changing quickly.

What’s leading the way for the remarkable shifts we’re seeing in our industry? Record-breaking investments into digital health (more than $14 billion in 2018 alone). Every day, we see digital health leaders working toward more affordable and accessible care for patients everywhere.

However, as we evolve and advance, we can’t ignore the glaring problem that still plagues the industry: clinician burnout. It’s a terrible symptom of a system that’s no longer working. Clinicians are 15 times more likely to experience burnout compared to any other working professional, and they’re killing themselves at alarming rates — the highest of any profession.

I believe the very technology we’re creating to better serve patients can also save clinicians — as long as we’re mindful of how we bring forth change. Here’s how we can do it.

  1. Tech is helping clinicians prioritize flexibility, autonomy and career mobility

Our most recent generation of clinicians are approaching work very differently than their predecessors. Studies show that more Millennials are choosing to stay at home than Gen X before them. Many attribute this to our current economic climate and a changing attitude towards work-life balance.

In healthcare, technology is keeping pace with this cultural shift by empowering clinicians to live on their own terms. How? Currently, one in five physicians use telehealth. That number is expected to triple to more than 60 percent by 2022, with many stating that they plan to adopt new technology because they’re experiencing burnout and want more flexibility.

What does this new work-life balance look like for clinicians? A level of career mobility that hasn’t been available to them until now. For example, with asynchronous medical assessments, the days of darting from exam room to exam are behind us. These software-enabled questionnaires mirror a clinician-patient interaction, so clinicians can review responses on their own time to diagnose and develop a treatment plan in a matter of minutes.

  1. Technology is alleviating the pressure felt from a growing physician shortage

Burnout is intensifying another crucial problem in the healthcare industry: our physician shortage. Recent findings suggest that by 2030, the United States will have a shortage of 120,000.

What does burnout have to do with this? Many clinicians are reducing hours at work to alleviate their feelings of burnout. This is especially true for young clinicians who are starting families. Female clinicians in particular take on a disproportionate share of child care and family responsibilities. To manage this new chapter in life, they’re often faced with taking a “career detour.”

New digital health solutions are shifting this reality, offering options that allow clinicians to work when and where they want. This is a significant win for the healthcare system. We get to retain highly qualified clinicians who might otherwise have no other option but to leave the profession–temporarily or permanently. It’s also a huge win for our clinicians. They no longer have to ask, “is it possible to work,” and instead get to decide “when and how am I going to work.”

  1. Clinicians’ jobs are becoming more and more efficient  

One reason we’re seeing the fast adoption of telehealth technology among clinicians is because it’s making their jobs more efficient–not more difficult. We might think it’s a no-brainer that technology should make our lives easier, but in healthcare, that hasn’t always been the case. For example, with past advancements like electronic health records, a common complaint was the cumbersome administrative tasks that came with them.

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Testing Times for Healthcare Software: The Top 10 Issues

By Manish Mathuria, chief technology officer and co-founder, Infostretch.

Manish Mathuria

The truism that “prevention is better than cure” is especially true in software, where a defect can have serious, sometimes life-threatening, consequences. Digital health presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for those operating in this competitive and demanding market. The pressure to innovate and advance is immense, but so are concerns about safety, functionality, cost and privacy, to name a few.

When clinical insights combine with IT brilliance, the results can lead to fascinating health innovations. Radical new approaches, such as wearables and mobile devices which monitor, analyze and diagnose conditions, bring special meaning to the importance of error prevention versus recovery.

Lightning-fast technological innovation, fierce competition and stringent regulation combine to bring special challenges to a tester. The implications of software failure are severe. Another adage, “evolve or die,” springs to mind. The traditional testing function is what needs to evolve in this sector perhaps more than any other.

The quality assurance approach to testing must now make way for quality engineering, a new way of tackling quality control which focuses on improving the inherent design of the product throughout the software development life cycle. Why? Because traditional testing, performed at the end of the SDLC is out of its depth in the new era of digital transformation.

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eConsult Platform Use In Community Primary Care Settings Reduces Uncompensated Care Provided By Hospitals

By Chris Jaeger, head of ACO and health system strategy, AristaMD.

Rural hospitals are facing severe challenges in maintaining operating margin, with uncompensated care being a major factor. Telehealth eConsult platform use in local primary care settings to improve “right time, right place, right provider care” have been shown to decrease the number of patients receiving avoidable and unnecessary care within the hospital setting, thus supporting hospital’s ability to mitigate uncompensated care.

Uncompensated care is an overall measure of hospital care provided for which payment was not received from the patient or payer group. It equates to the sum of a hospital’s bad debt — the financial assistance it provides. Financial assistance includes care for which hospitals never expected to be reimbursed and care provided at a reduced cost for those in need. A hospital incurs bad debt when it cannot obtain re-imbursement for care provided; this happens when patients are unable to pay their bills, but do not apply for financial assistance, or are unwilling to pay their bills.

Hospitals, both nonprofit and for-profit, provide uncompensated care for individuals who are uninsured and under insured.

Though there has been a noted decline in uncompensated care since the 2014 passage of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion, this has not carried over to states not part of the expansion. States that expanded Medicaid to low-income adults under the ACA recognized a 47 percent decrease in uncompensated care costs, on average, compared to an 11 percent decrease in states that did not expand Medicaid.

(Coverage map as of Feb 2019)

Uncompensated care and dropping revenue margins are causing hospitals, especially in rural areas, to close. “While Medicaid expansion has improved all hospitals’ operating margins and total margins, the effect was particularly pronounced in rural areas,” noted a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. A recent study by the North Carolina Rural Health Research Program (NC-RHRP) at the University of North Carolina Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research (UNC-CH) showed that since 2010, 89 rural hospitals in 26 states have closed.

Much of this uncompensated care could be prevented through primary care intervention. A report, released by Premier, found that six common chronic conditions accounted for 60 percent of 24 million Emergency Department (ED) visits in 2017; out of that 60 percent, approximately one third of the visits (4.3 million) were likely preventable and could be treated in a less expensive outpatient setting.

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Top Tips For Getting Started In Telehealth

By Nora Mork, tech and business writer, Australian Help.

Nora Monk

Telehealth is a really exciting field with masses of opportunity to build successful companies and to help people quite literally all across the globe. Technology has afforded us the opportunity to administer all sorts of things at vast distances and now that includes medical help. It’s not a field without some issues though and plenty of people will find getting into telehealth quite complex and confusing. So, here are a few tips for starting out in this industry.

Pick an appropriate field

Telemedicine is limitless in some ways, limited in others. This is an area with some limitations. “There are only certain sorts of medicine which it is practical to apply to the telehealth model, not to mention legally speaking,” warns Shane Marlon, career manager at PaperFellows and AustralianReviewer. You have to be able to guarantee that whatever it is you are doing will be of use without needing an ‘in-the-flesh’ consultation. But you’ll be surprised at how long that list of applicable practices is!

Look to the future

Tech development moves very, very quickly so it’s safe to say that telehealth, as a rising industry, will look completely different in ten years’ time. Now, you’re not a prophet, nor are you a trend-predicting supercomputer. However, with a little research you will quickly ascertain which elements of telehealth are set to change and develop. To capitalize effectively on these when the time comes, you need to be preparing now. For example, more detailed consultations of patients will be possible in the future, so the list of applicable fields will increase, and you need to be ready for that.

Find telehealth professionals

Though it is a relatively new field, there are already telehealth specialists who are out there. These people will be immensely useful to you as you try and develop in the industry. It’s vital that you bring in some outside expertise into your team as you develop, since it is such a new field with so few precedents in place to ensure that you are doing the right things.

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Medical University of South Carolina National Telehealth Research Network Greenlighted

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) has received a $3.6 million primary award for the SPROUT-CTSA Collaborative Telehealth Research Network. This five-year grant is focused on supporting the development of telehealth research efforts, metric development, identification of best practices and the development of collaborative policy and advocacy materials across the country. It builds on work underway as part of the SPROUT (Supporting Pediatric Research on Outcomes and Utilization of Telehealth) collaborative, an established network of institutions and pediatric providers operating within the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is a sub awardee of the grant. The other sub-awarded institutions are the University of Colorado – Children’s Hospital Colorado, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), and Mercy Clinic in St. Louis, Missouri.

S. David McSwain, M.D.

“This is a huge step forward in the development of safe and impactful telehealth programs across the country,” said primary investigator for the grant S. David McSwain, M.D., MUSC Children’s Health physician and MUSC associate professor of pediatric critical care and chief medical information officer.  “Academic research into the real impact of telehealth services is a critical component of developing and growing programs with the greatest potential to improve our health care system. Many physicians and other health care providers are hesitant about incorporating telehealth into their practices because it’s difficult to separate the theoretical benefits from the real value.”

In 2015, McSwain collaborated with a small group of pediatric physicians across the country to form SPROUT, which has since completed and published the nation’s first broad assessment of pediatric telehealth infrastructure across the country.

“That was a critical starting point,” said John Chuo, M.D., associate professor of clinical pediatrics at CHOP, co-chair of SPROUT and site primary investigator. “When we started SPROUT, we realized that we couldn’t conduct studies on pediatric telehealth unless we actually knew which institutions were providing which types of services. That information wasn’t readily available, so we made it our first investigation.”

While much anecdotal or small-scale evidence exists about the benefits of telehealth, including cost reduction, improved quality of care in some patient populations and improved access to care for some rural and underserved populations, barriers to fully demonstrating the gains made via telehealth care delivery persist. For example, there are few best practices in existence for conducting multisite telehealth research involving patient care outcomes, limited access to research trials for rural populations and limitations to care access for special populations such as children or the elderly.

“At the national level, there is no academic authority currently spearheading multi-center telehealth research studies,” said Christina Olson, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and site primary investigator at the University of Colorado – Children’s Hospital Colorado. “We have piecemeal efforts happening in terms of research, national policy development and payer guidelines. This network will provide tools, resources and guidance to accelerate the development of telehealth studies across the country. We will support champions of telehealth to become champions of research as well.”

The grant is a Collaborative Innovation award through the National Center for the Advancement of Translational Science (NCATS). The program will operate in collaboration with CTSA (Clinical and Translational Science Award) sites across the country to facilitate research development and support current and future telehealth researchers to develop projects and apply for funding. As opposed to supporting a specific clinical research study, this grant seeks to establish an easily accessible support structure around telehealth research:  tools, resources, guidance, collaboration, education and advocacy materials that will be valuable to anyone across the country who wants to study telehealth programs.

“We expect this network to become the preeminent source for evidence-based policy and outcomes data,” said Brooke Yeager McSwain, M.Sc., R.R.T, health policy consultant for the project and manager of the South Carolina Children’s Telehealth Collaborative. “Our national and state legislators have seen the benefits of telehealth for certain populations and regions. We have to demonstrate to them that this works across the country and has the potential to dramatically impact health care delivery models, particularly in value-based care.”

Alison Curfman, M.D., medical director of pediatrics at Mercy Virtual and a co-investigator of the grant, spends much of her time thinking about better ways to partner with children and their families for overall better health. “We have to ensure that children have access to every type of care that they need at the right time, no matter where they live. The technology is here. The commitment of the early-adopters is here. Our next frontier is proving to other pediatric providers across the health care spectrum that telehealth is about so much more than convenience.”

InTouch Health Unveils Integrated Virtual Care Platform, Solo by InTouch

InTouch Health, ranked 2019 Best in KLAS for Virtual Care Platforms, announced the release of the industry’s first fully integrated, end-to-end virtual care platform. Solo by InTouch delivers enterprise solutions to provide scalable, patient-centric telehealth for any use case in any setting – with packages enabling compelling price points for every situation.

Joseph M. DeVivo

“We’ve spent a lot of time listening to our customers and we heard their need for a truly integrated solution that allows a physician to have a virtual, everyday interaction with patients whether they are in the home, clinic, emergency room, inpatient in a hospital – anywhere on the care continuum locally or anywhere in the world with one platform,” said Joseph M. DeVivo, InTouch Health CEO. “Coming off the heels of winning Best in KLAS for Virtual Care Platforms, we want to continue solving our customer’s problems by delivering the most comprehensive capability on the market. The latest KLAS analysis further proved that there was an industry-wide need for EHR and third-party software integrations across platforms. In order to fill that gap, we created the next generation of our software platform to provide clinicians with an intuitive, web-based interaction that allows access to all of the tools they need through a single interface.”

With prominent healthcare leaders projecting that upwards of 50 percent of care can be delivered virtually, Solo by InTouch powers the first of its kind platform that healthcare providers can leverage for every type of user and use case, including direct-to-consumer, direct-to-patient, provider-to-provider, clinics, worksites, EDs, and more.

“Healthcare providers are facing an immense amount of pressure to retain and attract new patients from both inside the system and the external, new market entrants,” said Steve Cashman, chief commercial officer at InTouch Health. “Virtualizing their practices as appropriate creates an opportunity for providers and patients to connect in ways that can meaningfully improve quality, access, and cost. Solo by InTouch is the first of its kind integrated platform that considers health systems’ large investments in EMR systems and can offer capabilities to every user from simple follow ups, to ambulatory clinics, to emergent care.”

The new software platform runs through the proactively monitored InTouch Network and will provide the same clinical reliability InTouch customers know and trust. It will include an updated user interface for seamless virtual visits, IT integration capabilities designed for interoperability, and end-to-end care coordination, with newly-scaled pricing. Additional capabilities will also allow for the basic audio/video connections clinicians need to facilitate telehealth for low-acuity interactions, such as post-op follow-up with a patient and getting a second opinion from a colleague during a virtual visit. These new capabilities are designed to deliver the flexibility for all healthcare providers — from small practices to large health systems — to scale their telehealth services across basic, low-acuity interactions to life-saving, emergent consultations.

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Technology Trends In Healthcare In 2019

Doctor Pointing at Tablet LaptopThanks to the advent of technologies, we can witness irreversible changes in our daily life today. It is now easier to cope with our everyday routine because we have smart solutions that speed up the pace of our life and make it more convenient.

Healthcare is where technologies are expected to revolutionize treatment and research methods we are used to so much. Hence, we have prepared some technological trends that will make healthcare more advanced in 2019.

The Internet of Medical Things

The notion of The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is tightly connected with wearables. This technology is designed to transmit the patient’s data through various sensors and gadgets attached to the patient’s clothes or directly to their body. Fitness trackers and smart sensors are specifically elaborated to measure blood pressure, glucose level, pulse, heart rate, etc. Along with that, you can count calories you’ve burned, and miles walked.

Well, it doesn’t sound that innovative in 2019. But what makes it one of the most progressive trends is that the gathered data can be used in many various and innovative ways. For example, preventive medicine can benefit a lot with the help of IoMT. Research gets more accurate and timely, and it is even possible to prevent epidemics using the stats gathered in this way.

Anyway, if this is your college topic and you need thorough research of the field, you can consider getting case study help by ordering your paper online to ensure the highest quality and most accurate statistics.

Telehealth

Well … yes, consulting a doctor through your telly looks like a scene from one of those futuristic novels showing what the world would look like in the 21st century. In fact, it is what we have now. Modern technologies allow us to forget about hours spent in a clinic waiting for your doctor to invite you. That also includes waiting for the results of your tests.

Now you can consult any doctor in the world having a computer and an Internet connection. Imagine that you needed to see a reputable specialist in another country. It would be highly inconvenient to go all the way there just for a consultation. Firstly, you’d have to spend a lot of time. Secondly, you might need help to move around. And finally, it would be costly.

Today, you can contact your doctor from any spot in the world and get their consultation. It will not work in emergency cases, but it can work well if you need help with urgent but small issues. This is a good possibility for those who reside in far rural areas or require a highly specialized doctor to receive timely medical assistance.

The technology can also allow people to get consulted more frequently, which will improve the overall health of the population and establish better relations with doctors.

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