home healthcare is beneficial for patients

Why Is Home Healthcare Better Than Nursing Homes?

home healthcare is beneficial for patients

There are many reasons to choose CDPAP over a traditional homecare program. (Photo courtesy of freedomcareny.com)

The following guest post on home healthcare was submitted by Jack Vincent.

As we get older, it can be very hard for us to take care of our home and ourselves with great results. In fact, our bodies just can’t handle the pressure of managing a home, which is why it can be a magnificent idea to ask for help. Usually, there are 2 options in this regard. You either have the option to enter a nursing home, or you can get home health care.

But is home health care better than a nursing home? Yes, because not only does the patient get to stay in his home, but he can also receive dedicated supervision. Plus, many other extraordinary benefits can be accessed this way as well.

1. The patient gets to stay at home

As we mentioned above, being able to stay at home is imperative for any person that needs dedicated home care. Usually, it can be very stressful to accommodate in a nursing home, whereas home healthcare is a lot easier to handle. Basically, any older person can handle the idea that someone else takes care of their needs within their home. Opting for a nursing home is just too much in many situations. That’s why a lot of older people that need dedicated care prefer home healthcare instead of nursing homes.

2. More affordable

The reality is that many nursing homes tend to be very expensive. Home healthcare is cheaper than that, which in the end does tend to bring in front quite a lot of interesting benefits! What you will like in this case is that you get to spend less without having to worry about any potentially significant expenses. That does pay off a lot if you want to spend less but still get the very best treatment for your senior.

3. Postpones or even prevents institutional living

Aside from being something new, institutional living is not for all seniors. Yes, plenty of them just can’t accommodate to the nursing home life. They want to stay alone or with someone at home, which is why home health care is the right option for them. The value is indeed there, all you have to do is to follow the desires of your senior and focus on his needs to get the best results.

4. It promotes healing

The home healthcare services are designed to help a senior heal and stay healthy. Not only are they focused on well being, but they also bring in support and the satisfaction that you are not alone. It certainly pays off a lot, which is what you want to have in the end.

5. It reduces re-hospitalizations

Why is that? Because home health care makes the most of one great resource, which is the friendly environment. A senior is going to feel better and recover a lot faster in a friendly location such as his/her home. It certainly shines, and in the end, this will work to your advantage. It does tend to pay off a lot especially if you require professional and fast home care.

6. It protects personal freedom

When a senior goes to dedicated institutions such as nursing home for the day to day care, they do have to remove some of their day to day freedom. It may not sound like much at first, but this does come with multiple benefits in the end. Having your sense of freedom and getting a say in everything that pertains to your life is something that every senior wants to have, that’s for sure.

7. Easier for the family

Aside from being perfect for the senior, home healthcare is fantastic for the family as well. It just makes things simpler, since the family and friends can visit a senior without a problem while he lives within his/her home. Things do get a lot more complicated when a senior goes to nursing homes, because that’s where you have to deal with visiting hours and other similar stuff. Yes, nursing homes can provide good care, but the family will have to be in the second place, and that may not be that good in the end.

8. It provides a safe place to deal with any health problems

In case a senior has health problems, the last thing he/she wants is to spread the disease. Thanks to home healthcare, a senior can contain any infections and health issues within their home. Other people will not be affected, and he/she can still receive the proper benefits and care without that much of a hassle. That’s what makes things worth it in this situation and the value is indeed there for sure.

9. Improved bladder control and bathing

It can be hard for a senior to deal with bladder and bathing issues within a nursing home. The home healthcare services are designed to bring in front a very rewarding and unique experience, which in the end works to his/her advantage. After all, nothing is more important than having someone that will handle these problems and which will provide personalized care at all times. It certainly pays off, and it brings in front a rather distinct and unique value.

10. Immediate access to medical care

Once you opt for home healthcare, a senior will be able to reach some very good results, and in the end, the overall value will be second to none. Not only will this provide a very rewarding value, but the experience will be worth it at all times. It certainly shows that the quality and value are there, you just have to access them!

As you can see, there are many reasons why home health care is better than nursing homes. If you want to receive the ultimate value for your family or if you are a senior that requires extensive care, home health care is certainly the way to go. It does pay off a lot, and you do receive the quality and value that you may need. Don’t hesitate and check it out; you will not regret it!

Author bio: Jack Vincent is a writer, blogger, and loves teaching and educating others. When he’s not substitute teaching at his local elementary school, he spends most of his free time helping his mother who is dealing with dementia.

5 Reasons Why Health Care Needs Better Cybersecurity

5 Reasons Why Health Care Needs Better Cybersecurity

healthcare cybersecurity to improve patient safety

The rapid digitization of healthcare has pushed many providers to improve cybersecurity. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock).

The following is a guest post submitted to RightPatient on improving cybersecurity in healthcare.

When healthcare first started to go digital, the problems were largely related to mechanical reliability. Computers weren’t so reliable, and there was no internet to really bring them together. Keeping hard backups was really the biggest concern.

Yet that’s changed considerably in the past decade. Nearly all healthcare providers store at least some of their records online. As a result, there are fewer opportunities to completely lose a patient’s records and collusion among practitioners is becoming considerably easier. Conversely, the chance of having records stolen is dramatically increased.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there were over 300 data breaches in 2016 (with over 500 victims), and that’s just in the United States. The question so many are asking is why.

As it turns out, there are many reasons.

Healthcare is Going Paperless

Both for space and for purposes of preservation, healthcare practitioners are doing what they can to cut down on the rooms filled to the brim with patient files. Instead, that information is stored on servers, both onsite and offsite. There’s less room for losing physical files, patient information can be located and sent faster, and providers can more easily see a complete history.

This centralization is certain to improve patient outcomes but it comes with the risk of creating major “honey pots” for hackers and thieves. Rather than stealing file folders, these cybercriminals only need to breach a single database to acquire hundreds, if not thousands of patient records.

The only recourse is to improve cybersecurity measures to help reduce or avoid breaches entirely. Otherwise, patients (and we’re all patients, including providers) face the risk of identity theft or worse.

Fraudulent care is a major problem because per the law, all treatment must be recorded. Care rendered to the wrong person can prove very difficult to remove from records, which could prove problematic or even dangerous for the victim, although the FDA contends that thus far no one has been injured or died as a result of data breaches.

It’s the Law

5 Reasons Why Health Care Needs Better Cybersecurity

(Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Not everyone realizes that maintaining cybersecurity that meets current procedural standards is actually the law. HIPAA compliance doesn’t just extend to patient confidentiality in person, but also applies to information stored digitally.

Those in practice that do get hacked face stiff legal penalties, particularly if they are shown to be taking inadequate care in preserving their patient records safely. Although state requirements vary, there are a few basic requirements both for minimizing liability and for complying with the law:

• At least two hard copies of records need to be maintained, one of which is stored offline
• Digital records must have copies stored online
• Health care providers must perform risk assessments and provide security measures that are adequate* to minimize risks to patient information and privacy

*Note that what constitutes “adequate” seems to vary and the requirement is generally vague at best.

Breaches are Increasingly Common

Earlier we discussed that 2016 was a year that featured over 300 major cybersecurity breaches in the healthcare industry. What’s important about that value is that it represents an over 20 percent increase in the number of hacks as compared to the year before, which numbered in the mid-200s.

Far from becoming less frequent and more controlled, data theft is actually on the rise. And the cost of theft isn’t getting any cheaper either. Research done by the Ponemon Institute continues to show yearly increases in costs to providers as a result of cybersecurity woes.

At present, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that the number of breaches or the cost per incident is likely to decrease through 2017 or beyond.

Most predict a continued increase in cost.

Private Practices Are Favorite Targets

The victims of data theft aren’t just major hospitals or data centers. In fact, private practices face just as many, if not more risks than do large institutions. Small practices tend to have a considerably lower budget for cybersecurity and thus are actually more vulnerable because it’s just that much easier for hackers to force their way in.

Government entities have been concerned for years that the problem isn’t limited just to large institutions. In 2012, the FBI director actually stated that “only two types of companies” exist: “those that have been hacked and those that will be.

Private practitioners and their patients would be wise to heed this warning and take steps to minimize the inevitable fallout that comes with data theft. Not taking the risk seriously could prove devastating particularly for offices with just a single doctor on staff.

BYOD Also Means BYOP

One last addition both to healthcare and standard businesses that presents a major risk to patient records is the so-called “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD for short) policy. This procedure has grown in popularity because many employees own devices that are far more capable than those being provided by offices.

But BYOD can quickly become a BYOP (bring your own problems) policy if not handled appropriately. Employees rarely maintain security on their personal devices in a way that sufficiently protects the businesses they work with.

Employers would be wise to implement security requirements for their workers in the form of locked devices and security software. That means both anti-malware apps—for preventing infected software from being installed—and internet security apps, with Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) increasingly the most important due to the amount of hacks that involve direct invasion of unsafe connections.

Solving the Problems

Putting a stop to security breaches isn’t likely something that will happen overnight. But it is something we should all be cognizant of enough to begin minimizing risks. Nothing replaces vigilance and there may not ever be a catchall solution to cybercrime.

The cost of negligence may be more than we can imagine. And with insurance premiums up and healthcare costs continuing to rise, this is one bill we can’t afford to pay.

How will you help healthcare improve its cybersecurity? Do you have any concerns? Tell us in the comments.

About the Author: Faith is a cybersecurity expert and technology specialist. As a professional and patient, she is interested in helping businesses maintain more secure environments for the safety of themselves and those they serve. With medical hacks on the rise, Faith finds herself speaking out on the topic of patient records often.

revenue cycle management in healthcare

7 Tips to Improve Your Revenue Cycle Management in 2017

revenue cycle management in healthcare

Follow these 7 practical tips to improve revenue cycle management at your healthcare facility. (Photo courtesy of pexels.com).

The following guest post on improving revenue cycle management in healthcare was submitted by Yeshwanth HV.

Amid ever-changing regulatory environment, Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) has become one of the most important concerns for healthcare leaders in the US. Effectively managing it ensures that there will be lesser accounts receivable, fewer complications and speedy recovery of patient payment, all of which will make a healthcare practice more efficient and responsive in terms of operational changes and growth. However, effective management of the revenue cycle has proven elusive to the providers in the current healthcare landscape. The good news is there are specific ways in which you can achieve this elusive feat. Here are seven tips that will help you to effectively manage your revenue cycle:

Set Benchmarks and Measure Them

Lord Kelvin, a famous British mathematician and engineer, once said: “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” This is very true with regards to healthcare, especially if you are thinking on the lines of improving efficiency and productivity of your RCM practices.
Hence start by identifying a set of benchmarks that are most important for the success of the organization such as average time taken to submit a claim, average reimbursement rate and so on. If necessary opt to use comparative data from your competitors to keep you on the right path. Next measure the performance of your practice using the benchmarks that you have zeroed-in on and see to it that you slowly improve your performance over time.

Get the Money You Are Owed

While evaluating the performance of metrics as suggested above, make it a point that you also keep a close watch on the collection rate. Tracking this metrics helps you to make sure that you don’t leave significant amount of accounts in collections on the table, which can impact the financial stability of your practice.

An ideal RCM practice should be able to recover around 96% percent of accounts in collection. Take appropriate measures to bring your rate up to this mark or at least ensure that your collection rate is above 85 percent so that percentage of patients with outstanding bad debt will not get out of hand.

Audit Workflow

Conducting regular audit of your typical RCM workflow – from patient scheduling to final claim submission – is a great way to streamline your operations. It helps you to discover issues and inefficiencies that may be hampering your ability to process claims in an expedient manner.
But make sure that you include your frontline staff in this process by taking feedback from them about things that are holding them back. This may help you uncover crucial flaws that you may have overlooked or taken for granted.

Track Denied Claims

Tracking every claim that is denied will help you to identify trends in mistakes with regards to billing, coding and other RCM related processes. The insights gained through these discoveries can be used to train your resources and augment your RCM practices.

Look Ahead to Regulatory Changes

Rules governing healthcare are in a constant state of motion. For instance consider the last five years. First it was the Affordable Care Act (ACA), then ICD-10 implementation and now it is a possible repeal of ACA. In such an every-changing environment, it is always beneficial to make it a regular practice to stay aware of new statutes, guidelines and codes that might come your way, and be prepared with effective counters to avoid revenue cycle disruptions arising due to these changes.

Pay Attention to Self-Pay Balances

A rise in the popularity of low-premium but high-deductible plans is likely to correspond with a rise in self-pay balances. And this can pose a serious challenge to the financial stability of a practice, just like in the case of accounts in collection.
To mitigate the hurdles posed by this trend, you have to proactive and find out a way to work with individuals so that their accounts do not have to go into collection.

Make Sure Your Current RCM Practice Meets You Needs

Never take anything for granted and make it a standard practice to periodically question the value that your RCM system offers. Also make research ongoing into pricing, service offerings and the latest software systems so that when your RCM system is lagging, you are perfectly aware of things that need to be done.

The Bottom-line

Navigating through the chores of today’s healthcare landscape is not easy. To be successful in such an environment, healthcare practices should be prepared to undertake a transformational RCM approach that focuses on improving the function as well as the flow of each moving part.

Author Bio: Yeshwanth HV is a healthcare writer at MedBillingExperts, a leading provider of healthcare business process outsourcing services such as medical billing, medical coding and revenue cycle management services to medical practitioners and healthcare organizations worldwide. Dedicated towards the healthcare industry, he has authored several blogs and articles that have received rave reviews in the industry. Prior to MedBillingExperts, Yeshwanth worked with CIO Review and has authored several bylined pieces for the quarterly editions of the magazine.

solving the patient ID crisis in healthcare

Does Renewed Call for National Patient ID Signal…Anything?

solving the patient ID crisis in healthcare

Will the latest letter to Congress asking for the 18 year HHS moratorium on a national patient identifier encourage them to act? (Photo courtesy of pexels.com).

Early last week, a group of 25 healthcare organizations representing providers, payers, and health IT companies submitted a letter to members of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations asking for the removal of a nearly twenty-year-old provision preventing HHS from adopting or implementing a national patient identifier. (source: http://bit.ly/2oQ9PEJ). The goal is to prod Congress to include specific language in the FY18 Labor-HHS spending bill that allows HHS to assist private sector organizations in promoting patient matching initiatives. It’s an unprecedented move to bring yet more attention to the growing and complex problem of accurate patient identification and data matching that continues to plague the healthcare industry from top to bottom, affecting just about every element of care delivery as patients move in and out of the care continuum.

As we have written about before on this blog, we have been saying for years that healthcare simply has to solve the patient ID dilemma and adopt a more holistic approach to patient matching that effectively addresses authentication at the host of new touchpoints borne from the digital health revolution. In fact, hospitals and healthcare systems who invest in patient ID solutions that only cover identification in physical, brick and mortar environments are doing themselves a disservice and severely limiting their ability to ensure patients are kept safe no matter where or in what context they seek care. If any of these institutions plan to participate in local, regional, or national health information exchanges (HIEs) or adopt interoperability standards in the spirit of open and fluid data exchange, they will quickly realize they made the wrong investment choice.

To frame the urgency of the situation, the letter stated:

 “According to a recent study of healthcare executives, misidentification costs the average healthcare facility $17.4 million per year in denied claims and potential lost revenue,” the letter stated. “More importantly, there are patient safety implications when data is matched to the wrong patient and when essential data is lacking from a patient’s record due to identity issues.” (Source: http://bit.ly/2oQ9PEJ

The letter even went on to point out that important initiatives like precision medicine and disease research could continue to suffer and lose significance in the absence of solving the patient ID issue not to underscore the potential negative impact on the aforementioned HIE and interoperability efforts. What’s clear is that millions and millions of research and development capital and manpower has been invested in advancing personalized medicine, data exchange, and interoperability in the absence of solving the problem of inaccurate patient identification and to be honest, we feel that many are starting to get a little nervous.

The question becomes – will this letter actually move the needle and capture lawmaker’s attention? Considering the new administration’s failed efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare and their healthcare agenda moving forward, our guess is probably not. While we applaud the effort, past attempts to bring this issue to the forefront in the spirit of including language and funding in the HHS appropriations bill that lifts the 18 year moratorium on patient identification have generally stalled. In our opinion, there are too many more high profile healthcare issues at play that diminish the urgency of solving patient ID in healthcare. Unfortunately, achieving accurate patient ID in healthcare doesn’t carry enough political clout to be considered something worth immediately pursuing and it’s simply not enough of a concern of lawmaker constituents for them to kick up a fuss at the fact that it remains unsolved. At least not yet, anyway.

We wonder….would this group of 25 healthcare organizations be better served to build a larger and more widespread groundswell of support among us, the patients, about achieving accurate patient ID in healthcare instead of going after the big fish (Congress)? Could an argument be made that it’s a more effective strategy to build consensus among patients who, indirectly, can then place pressure on their respective lawmakers to take action? Is it more effective to attack and leverage the power of the voter vs. swaying the whims of Congress? Perhaps, however it should be noted that grass roots efforts take an enormous amount of time to organize and execute, and the issue of accurate patient ID in healthcare simply can’t afford to wait any longer. 

So, we wait. Cautiously optimistic that when framed in the larger context of tangential initiatives failing in the absence of accurate patient ID, 2017 could indeed be the year that Congress takes a step forward in solving the issue. Heaven only knows if they will act, but a step forward is surely more powerful than 18 steps in place.

 

 

patient safety

4 Ways To Encourage Patient Safety In Your Dental Office

patient safety

Patient safety in a dental office is often interconnected with the quality of care received. (Photo courtesy of 123RF).

The following guest post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Emma Sturgis.

Safety is an important element of any business that serves the general population, and dental offices are no exception. Providing a safe environment is one way that dentists can help their patients relax and have a good experience during dental appointments. Following are 4 ways that dentists can encourage patient safety in their dental clinics and offices.

Follow OSHA Standards For Bloodborne Pathogens

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has established standards to keep both staff and patients free from exposure to bloodborne pathogens. These standards include:

– employee training
– proper disposal of hazardous waste materials
– personal protection gear such as gloves, masks, gowns, and eye protection
– written plan on how to control hazardous waste, needles and other “sharps”, and what to do if anyone is exposed. This plan should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
– proper documentation of the infection controls in place

All the employees should be aware of what the standards are for handling biowaste products to prevent bloodborne pathogen contamination. Knowing and following the standards keeps not only the patients safe, but the staff as well.

Modern And Well-Maintained Equipment

Using modern up-to-date equipment is another way dental offices can encourage patient safety. Not only should the equipment be modern, but it must be maintained to keep it safe and identify any weaknesses that could lead to an accident.

Procedure and medical chairs are a perfect example. Each chair needs to be designed for the comfort and safety of not only the patient, but the dentist and other staff members as well. The chair needs to be able to be positioned so that the dentist has easy access to the patient without strain or getting tired during long procedures.

Avoid Cross-Contamination By Keeping A Clean Environment

It goes without saying that every inch of the dental office or clinic needs to be clean. It’s not enough that things look clean. Surfaces need to be wiped daily because if there is dust, there is bound to be bacteria as well. Chairs need to be carefully wiped between each patient. Things like drawer handles, x-ray switches, and anything that gets touched needs to be wiped with an antibacterial disinfectant wipe. In addition, the front desk and the waiting room need to be clean and clutter-free. This will help the patient to feel comfortable that the entire dental practice is a tight operation where nothing is overlooked.

Radiation Safety Practices

Exposure to radiation happens whenever x-rays are taken of a patient. Another way to encourage patient safety is to practice radiation safety for both the patient and the dental staff. Ensure that the x-ray machine is operating at peak efficiency with periodic inspections. Make sure the lead aprons are used as required and are in good shape with no cracks or tears. Any aprons that are showing their wear should be discarded and replaced. Proper storage of the lead aprons will help prolong their life and prevent radiation leaks. Ensure that any dental personnel using the x-ray machines are trained in the proper use of the machines for both patient protection and their own.

Patient safety and overall quality of care go hand in hand. If a patient sees that safety is a top priority in dental offices and clinics, their perception will be that the overall care provided is also a top priority. Dentistry has risks and hazards just like any other medical procedure. From the high speed drills, to the chemicals used in dental procedures, to the fact that dentistry takes place so close to the airway, the risks involved with dental work can be life-threatening. Keeping the focus on patient safety will help minimize the risks. Patient safety is an important part of every dental practice.

Emma is a freelance writer currently living in Boston, MA. She writes most often on education and business. To see more from Emma, say hi on Twitter @EmmaSturgis2

How Professionalism Helps You Put Your Patient's Care & Safety First

How Professionalism Helps You Put Your Patient’s Care & Safety First

patient safety

Developing a professional approach to healthcare factors into establishing patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of flickr).

The following guest post on patient safety was submitted by Hannah Whittenly.

Medical professionals are expected to live up to certain standards. As expert care givers, their patients expect them to be objective, knowledgeable, sympathetic, and detail-oriented. It isn’t easy in some situations or over the course of a long shift, but maintaining professionalism is important to productive interactions with colleagues and patients. Here are some ways it affects the quality of the treatment patients are receiving.

Respect for Patients

Patients can experience a range of emotions. They can be disrespectful or abusive to their own caregivers, particularly nursing staff. It’s important to remember that the patient needs help. Nobody likes to be the target of someone else’s stress, but a patient may be going through a difficult time whereas a professional is doing a job objectively. Professionalism means self-restraint. Empathy and respect for patient dignity are essential to good care.

Team Work

Hospital staff are part of a team, which can include everyone, 24 hours a day. The team should be focused on providing the best patient care. That’s hard to do if there’s even one team member that’s consistently rude, tardy, or demanding. Any healthcare organization is committed to making money by ensuring that efficient treatments take place. That isn’t possible if the team doesn’t work well together. Professionals accept their responsibility to each other, and that’s the best environment for the patient—it also ensures that they are in a safer atmosphere.

Appearance

Everyone recognizes that visual information forms our initial judgement of new people, particularly when it comes to healthcare. Hospitals are associated with cleanliness and dedicated, highly trained staff. A clean and professional caregiver inspires immediate confidence in the patient. Looking slovenly and unkempt tells patients that this individual is unhygienic, lazy, or just doesn’t care. A patient that has no confidence in a caregiver makes it much harder for the team to do its job. Not only that, but the confidence that a patient has in you will make them calmer and more responsive to treatment

Career

Maintaining a professional attitude and sense of duty can mean a lot to patients and coworkers, but in a competitive field it won’t necessarily earn the opportunity to provide better care in a supervisory role. Advancements in education, such as getting your online bachelors in nursing, will help to further a medical career. It will require greater demands on personal time, but an online nursing degree is the best chance to fit course work into a busy schedule. Superior knowledge makes it possible to provide superior care.

Patient care and safety are always the primary concern. The ability to provide them consistently and professionally will add greater value to the organization and the community.

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.