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how to increase patient safety in healthcare

The Last 10 Years: How Technology Has Increased Patient Safety

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

Advances in health IT have increased patient safety in healthcare.

The following guest post on how health IT technology has increased patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Hannah Whittenly.

With healthcare demand growing in an aging population, medicine has become a competitive field. It’s increasingly difficult for administrators and staff to manage facilities and costs while still maintaining quality and safety in patient care. Thankfully, new technologies over the past decade are helping to keep patients protected. Here are just a few of them:

Image Archives
Picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) are cross-platform, online repositories for medical imaging records like x-rays and MRIs. PACS enables file sharing so that medical consultants and specialists from anywhere in the world can review diagnostic imaging in moments. Even within the same facility, all physicians and nurses are looking at one common, complete set of medical images.

Patients can accumulate quite a lot of these images over a lifetime of medical care. New PACS systems can automatically archive older images that are no longer relevant and organize new ones. Shared, updated information leads to faster diagnoses and more effective treatments.

Bar Codes and RFID

Bar codes and RFID chips are a way to instantly provide information. While they’ve been around for a while, mobile apps and better optical and radio frequency scanners are making them incredibly convenient. Bar codes or chips can be affixed to equipment, bottles of medication, patient beds, entry and exit points, and even patient and employee badges.
Strategically placed scanners can record and track movements so that nothing is misplaced and workflows can be analyzed for better efficiency. Monitoring also helps to provide better physical security for staff and patients. In emergencies, wandering patients or needed staff members or equipment can be almost instantly located.

Health Information Technology

Modern HIT systems are becoming praised as the solution to streamlining hospital practices. Efficient digital record keeping and reporting is helping to eliminate medical errors that were once a source of concern for patients, administrators, and insurers. Mistakes sometimes led to a patient being forced to undergo needless surgeries or treatment, or given the wrong medication.
Unique patient IDs associated with electronic records have helped to overcome this problem. Sinus and allergy tests and treatments, like those that Premier Surgical Associates does, improve the quality of life for patients of all ages, and now become permanent records for future reference. Every detail in any treatment is electronically documented to keep records updated and provide opportunities for analysis and improvement.

Biometric Patient Identifiers

There are a few areas of the human body that are unique to individuals: fingerprints and iris patterns for example. Because those areas are completely unique, they can actually be used to identify a person. This is important in the case of death, hospital emergencies, and in the case of a missing person situation. Although technology has been being used to track fingerprints for a while now, iris cameras are becoming more available and are being used as biometric patient identifiers.

Due to the fact that such devices require that a patient willingly interacts with the technology, acceptance is a key part of any biometric patient identification deployment. It is critical that healthcare organizations that deploy biometrics for patient identification offer a clear and transparent explanation to patients that the technology is in place to protect their identities and help prevent medical errors.

Though technology continues to evolve, once proven and put in place it provides advantages and consistent results. Today’s medical technology is developing into a reliable system for improving care and patient safety.

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

smart devices are improving our health

The Medical Industry’s Smart Solutions

smart devices are improving our health

Advances in medical technology are extending life expectancies and improving our health and well-being. (Photo courtesy of pexels.com)

The following guest post on smart solutions in healthcare was submitted by Ronald McCarthy.

The medical industry is now progressing more rapidly than ever. Innovations are being made yearly and people’s lives are changing so much that the expected lifespan of a person born in this decade can be over a hundred years old. The life expectancy has increased because medical technology has allowed humans to detect diseases that would previously go undetected until the ailment was in its last stages and had affected the sufferer’s health very harshly. This would conclude to doctors being unable to treat the patient back to health and many cases would result in fatalities.

The medical field has progressed so much that applications have been introduced to keep track of our health and lifestyle. This not only helps the patient have a better life with a stricter schedule, but it can provide the doctor with the information he/she needs to diagnose any disease and give a clear insight into the patient’s problems. Multiple gadgets and machines are now under development that will let users connect them to the internet. This internet connection does not mean that you will be watching YouTube and surfing through Facebook or Twitter, but instead, they will let machines stay connected with each other. The internet connection will guarantee that the machines stay updated to their surroundings and carry out their assigned tasks efficiently. Here are the following things that have now been introduced to assist the doctors in their prognosis.

Smart Watches:

Wearable technologies have stepped into the health sector and are helping people keep a record of their sugar levels, blood pressure, and their dietary needs. One fine example of this is a smartwatch, MOTIO HW. It has been specifically designed to detect any signs that show whether the person is having difficulty in breathing or not breathing at all. This is especially useful for people with apnea. It uses its sensors to monitor the wearer’s movements and daily behavior.

Smart Patch:

Technology doesn’t get smaller than a patch on your underarm. TempTraq is a specially designed pad like a patch that can be stuck on your underarm and be used to monitor your temperature. Upon placement, it reads your body heat and sends the information to your smartphone. It is specifically very handy as you can place it on your baby and check her fever without you having to get up from bed.

Smart Scalpel:

These devices are designed in a way which lets them target a specific tissue that indicates any form of cancer. It can also detect and remove a defected vascular or nerve tissue. This piece of equipment is specifically used for processes which require extreme precision and are related to microsurgeries. Other procedures that could use this technology are anastomosis of blood vessels or nerves, cerebral aneurysms, acoustic neuroma removal and brain tumor resection.

Heart Rate Monitor:

For people with heart problems, it is rather a painstakingly long task to go to the doctor to check if their heart is healthy and has a normal BPM. Yet QardioCore is a belt-like structure that you wear around your chest and its sensors close just over your heart. The sensors then update your heart rate to your smartphone, hence letting you keep track of your health.

Electromagnetic Acoustic Imaging:

Combining bioelectromagnetism along with acoustics for a biopsy result similar to a CT scan may seem like a crazy idea, but science has proved that its a great step towards medical success. It is a much safer method and is able to provide images that are parallel to MRI in quality. The cost of having a CT scan is also high but this particular method can help you get the job done for a much cheaper price.

Science has proven time and again that it has the capacity to help us live a better and a longer life. The methods that were considered expensive can now be done in a cheaper way with more precision, while your everyday routine can be tracked down, therefore motivating you to follow a healthier diet and workout regime. There is no denying that this is perhaps only the beginning of the smart devices age and there are a lot more things to come in the future.

Ronald Mccarthy is a lifestyle and Health enthusiast. He uses his interests to share valuable insights through passionate writing in the domain. His aim is to spread knowledge about his interests to a larger audience and share interesting topics for the interest of the valued and general reader. For recent updates Follow him on Facebook and Twitter

Mary Mirabelli Thrive presentation at 2017 Northern CA HFMA Conference

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

I was staying in Silicon Valley for a few weeks when I realized my visit overlapped with the HFMA Northern California Chapter’s spring conference. I decided to join Mike and meet some interesting individuals, fluent in the language of healthcare, of course. Words cannot express how valuable that decision proved to be.

The weekend began effortlessly enough, as the drive from San Francisco was a mere hour and a half. I walked into the conference just in time to be greeted by a group of friendly and charming people, one of whom was a grinning and caffeinated Mike.

Our booth was decorated by stunning, new pop-up banners his team had designed to perfection.  So far, the stage was set for an unforgettable and impactful conference. I quickly learned how unforgettable it would truly be.

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

Mary Mirabelli, Vice President at Global Healthcare Services at HP as well as HFMA National Chairperson, took the stage at the show’s onset. As she began speaking, my mind raced with the sole thought of talking to her after her presentation about a potential partnership with HP (of course J). After giving an introduction and describing some of her accomplishments, Mary suddenly shifted to the topic of the show for this year – Thrive. What I imagined was a topic limited to “thriving” within the realm of healthcare suddenly took a turn to encompass a far more expansive and meaningful definition.

Mary shared her story with us – not the edited version, but the real one including life’s challenges and difficult moments. Taking the crowd through a short journey of her own life, she shared the impact of losing her parents at age 14 as well as being a double cancer survivor. Life had taken the craziest jabs at her, but her spirit never shattered. She always stood up and kept moving forward. I was surreally touched by this woman’s story, so much so that I requested to take a photograph with her to show my daughter.

 Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

The day proceeded as well as it had began, with great insights from Dignity’s Head of Innovation, to a superb lunch with a side of fantastic conversation with Gary Krboyan from St. Mary’s Home Health Services. Gary is a numbers man, and provided a wise perspective on who RightPatent should target in the home health market. To add to all the fascinating conversation, Mike got to talking with Dignity and Sutter about our mobile app. Suffice it to say, the conference was an amazing experience.

Thrive: What Did I Take Away From The HFMA Northern California Spring Conference

Unfortunately, I had to head out of the conference early to meet a self-proclaimed “connected guy” for dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf.  As I was driving back to San Francisco through the rolling green hills to the left and never ending orchards to the right, I kept thinking about Mary and how she thrived regardless of the obstacles that stood in her way. As an entrepreneur, I experience my moments of extremes, as Vinod Koshla of Koshla Venture always mentions: “For entrepreneurs, highs are high and lows are low. It’s a lone journey.” Mary’s experience and tenacity inspires me today, and I hope it does the same for you – to always get back up and thrive.

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.

patient safety in healthcare

Patient Safety Awareness Week 2017 – We Are All Patients

patient safety in healthcare

What can patients and doctors do together to ensure better patient safety in healthcare? (Photo courtesy of pixabay)

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

Everyone is a patient. Whether it’s a simple cold or a complicated surgical procedure, sooner or later, we all need a doctor – and Patient Safety Awareness Week is a time to reflect on how healthcare organizations and patients can work together to keep everybody safe, healthy and happy.

The week marks the culmination of the United in Patient Safety campaign, and this year, will take place from 12 to 18 March.

We put a lot of faith in our doctors – and in theory, medical professionals take a great deal of pride in ensuring you receive the highest quality of care. But no matter how knowledgeable or skilful your doctor may be, accidents happen.

Here’s the reality: hospitals are places of trauma, where sick and seriously injured people look for help. This means that doctors are often overrun with a variety of crises, and feel compelled to work long hours seeing many different patients, often long into the night.

These working conditions would make anyone crabby – but they can make doctors exhausted, and prone to making serious errors under pressure. And those mistakes can put your health, safety and even your life at risk.

How Many Fatal Medical Mistakes Occur Every Year?

New research shows medical errors are a major problem. A study by Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests that as many as 250,000 deaths per year in the United States alone are due to some form of medical error. The study’s authors believe that medical error should now be regarded as the third leading cause of death in the country – and that many of these fatal mishaps are preventable.

In fact, the researchers caution against blaming so-called “bad” doctors, and point instead to an array of systemic failures that could lead to mistakes being made. These oversights include poor coordination of care between doctors and facilities, fragmented insurance networks, absent safety protocols, and avoidable variations in physician practice patterns.

Good News! Our Hospitals Are Becoming Safer

Efforts to avoid these mistakes from happening are working. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently concluded that the number of illnesses or injuries that occur in hospital, or hospital-acquired conditions (HACs), has been steadily declining since 2010.

The agency estimates that between 2010 and 2014, hospitals were able to reduce HACs by 17 percent, a sure sign that local and national efforts to improve patient safety are paying off. A total of 2.1 million fewer HACs were experienced by patients in those four years, which is good news for anyone who finds that they need to be admitted to hospital, as it represents an overall increase in safety – and comes at a time when hospitals all over the country have ramped up their attempts to reduce adverse events.

Clearly, hospitals are embracing their duties of safety and care – and it’s not just your health that stands to benefit. By paying attention to the negative impact of unnecessary errors, the nation’s hospitals managed to save as much as $19.85 billion in costs between 2010 and 2014. Those savings are crucial, as they enable healthcare practitioners to offer their patients an ever-improving standard of care.

What Can Doctors Do About the Safety Standard in Hospital?

The resident experts in each hospital are responsible for improving conditions – and a new poll shows that more and more of those specialists are making progress. In the AHRQ’s Hospital Survey on Patient Safety Culture, 76 percent of respondents graded their work area or unit as either very good or excellent – while less than half of them reported at least one safety-related incident in their facility in the past 12 months.

While each medical error is as unique as the patient being treated, there are patterns and trends that present themselves over time. Some common causes of serious medical errors include poor planning, doctor fatigue, and failure in communication among healthcare staff, prescription of incorrect medication or dosage, and pharmacist error.

Some steps doctors and other healthcare workers can take to prevent mistakes are:

1. Plan meticulously before each and every surgical procedure or outpatient treatment;
2. Get enough rest and adhere to federal guidelines regulating doctors’ working hours;
3. Ensure open lines of communication between staff members and specialists, and from one stage of treatment to the next;
4. Look out for medication interaction issues due to previous prescriptions; and
5. Print each prescription notice neatly and clearly, and make sure the patient understands how, and how regularly, to administer their medication.

What Can You Do to Avoid Becoming the Victim of a Medical Error?

Hospitals are unique places, where traumatized patients seek help from frazzled or fatigued doctors. While strict safety standards are designed to prevent serious accidents, the combination of high stakes and human nature is bound to lead to mistakes every so often.

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to ensure those errors don’t leave you more ill than when you walked in, or worse.

The first and most important step to take in avoiding a serious or even fatal medical mistake is to look past the white coat. Doctors are people too – they face challenging working conditions and a range of other strains and stressors, and despite their years of training and insights into mysterious illnesses, they are capable of making mistakes.

Here’s how to check in on your doctor’s diagnosis, and guarantee that you are receiving proper care:

1. Research as much as you can about your condition and the required treatment plan;
2. Study your doctor for signs of fatigue, and report them to management if you feel they are too tired or overworked to examine your case properly;
3. Make sure you know each individual in your healthcare team by name, including not just your primary care physician but nurses, surgeons and specialists, and ask questions to check that they are communicating openly with each other;
4. Be honest with your doctors about your full medical history, and tell them about any other medications you might have been prescribed by another doctor; and
5. Double-check your pharmacist’s instructions and make sure you understand how and when to take your medication.

improving patient safety in healthcare saves lives

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Emma Turner is a blogger writing for http://nursingschoolsnearme.com, a website helping students and established nursing professionals in a range of topics.

 

 

healthcare tech is changing the industry

Healthcare in the Digital Age: 5 Technologies That Are Changing Healthcare

healthcare tech is changing the industry

Learn more about the top 5 technologies changing the healthcare industry. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

The following guest post on 5 technologies changing the healthcare industry was submitted by Emily Walters.

Healthcare isn’t what it used to be, and that’s a good thing! It’s no coincidence that the healthcare revolution aligns with the Digital Era, and how we approach our well-being, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, is getting faster, better and more accessible thanks to technology. It might seem like the healthcare industry is behind others when it comes to tasks like digitizing documents for a paperless environment, but that’s not the case. With regulations like HIPPA ensuring security compliance, it just takes healthcare a little longer to get fully on board with special technology that’s much more comprehensive and advanced than what’s readily available to other industries.

We take a lot of technology for granted, but consider these five technologies that are changing healthcare, and it’s easy to see how far we’ve come:

1. Fitness trackers. Whether you couldn’t imagine life without your Fitbit, heart rate monitor in spin class or Apple’s health app, how we track, compete, encourage ourselves and promote our fitness has shifted drastically thanks to these devices. They’re not perfect, and in some cases fitness trackers have been linked to negative practices such as orthorexia, but for most devotees they’re fun and easy ways to help move more and encourage healthy eating. When you know exactly what you’ve consumed, how long you’ve worked out and to what degree, and your tracker is telling you to get up and move because you’ve been sitting too long, it’s like having a 24/7 personal trainer at a very small fraction of the cost.

2. DietSensor. It’s another app, but one with a new approach to a healthier lifestyle. This recent development, and others like it, can scan nutritional labels to instantly gauge how an item fits into your diet (keeping in mind that a diet is something we all have, for better or worse). Learning to read nutritional labels is a skill that’s gone by the wayside. However, whether you teach yourself to be a better label checker or prefer to rely on the quick scan of technology, it’s a critical part of choosing a healthier lifestyle. Reading nutritional labels isn’t a skill that’s taught at school, and it’s rarely taught at home—often because those who should be teaching it are clueless, too. Nutritional labels have become increasingly confusing in recent years with ingredients we can’t pronounce and additions to labels to include items like “sugar alcohols.” A great app can be personalized so you’re getting the information you both need and want. For example, maybe you’re embracing a carb-cycling lifestyle and need to know net carbs instead of just a breakdown of carbohydrate types.

3. Healthcare data storage solutions. Embracing a paperless environment isn’t just kind to the environment, though you may get extra brownie points for that. It’s also a means of minimizing human error and double work. With cloud storage available, patient files (and more) can be instantly uploaded, downloaded, shared and viewed with those granted access anywhere in the world. Even with the threat of security breaches, soft copies of files are generally more secure than hard copies. Data storage designed specifically for healthcare can also help sync a patients’ many healthcare providers including GPs, mental health experts, physical therapists, nutritionists and even personal trainers.

4. New glucose monitoring systems with no prick. There are a few on the market, but a popular option in Europe and Australia is the Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash Glucose Monitoring System. Instead of daily finger pricks previously required of those with diabetes, it’s a sensor that you wear for 14 days that tests blood sugar levels 14 times throughout the day completely discomfort-free. Overall, technology is revolutionizing medical tests and routine precautions making approaches easier, more flexible, and more comfortable than ever. Those with diabetes aren’t the only patients who need frequent blood tests, but they make up the majority of such patients.

5. Virtual reality. VR options were big on Santa’s wish lists during the past holiday season, but they’re more than just fun and games. Virtual reality can help medical students “experience” future situations in a much more realistic fashion, and VR can also help the elderly or those with agoraphobia and PTSD slowly re-immerse themselves into a space that’s safe and accessible while mimicking the real world. There are a variety of VR offerings available, and doing your due diligence to find the right match for you is critical to having a successful experience.

Another technological breakthrough that’s been around for a while is being able to connect with healthcare professionals virtually. There’s been a boom in the number of physicians, mental health experts, and other healthcare professionals “meeting” with patients via video conferencing. It’s a faster, easier, and sometimes more affordable way for patients to get the care they need. As an added bonus, patients who are immobile, in rural areas, or for other reasons that have trouble seeing a medical professional in person suddenly has instant access to the help they need.

Technology is far from perfect, and there’s no telling what kind of medical technology breakthroughs we’ll experience in the coming years. However, with every offering there’s a chance to learn, grow and make sure the next breakthrough is even better. Technology can only improve if tested, though. For those in a position to try out new technology solutions, do so, and share your experience. It just might help drive the next generation of medical technology.

Emily Walters is a freelance content writer. She has written for a variety of industries including business, healthcare, technology, and travel. Aside from writing, Emily enjoys traveling, gardening, and paddle boarding.

Patient-Safety-Malpractice-of-Medical-Law

How Important is Patient Safety Against the Malpractice of Medical Law?

patient safety in healthcare

The fear of medical malpractice has a direct impact on patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of flickr)

The following guest post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Paul Trevino.

A patient that approaches a doctor is most likely in need of some sort of medical treatment. The patient trusts that the doctor has the necessary expertise and ability to improve if not relief his medical condition. Medical practitioners are responsible for the wellbeing of all their patients, and should treat everyone equally. Sadly, a lot of patients nowadays are not properly taken care of. Over the years, there have been lots of case of malpractice, and the reasons vary. Some say physicians are no compensated fairy; they work extra shifts, thus making them unable to focus and make sure patients are attended properly.

Nonetheless, that’s certainly no excuse to be negligent at work. The medical profession is a noble profession. It helps sustain life, thus making patients feel safe as they walk into a hospital. They deserve to be looked after because most of have health insurance, and the money that they pay helps the doctor have a personal life outside the hospital as well.

Patient expectations in medical facilities

Because it helps sustain life, the medical profession is a noble profession. Having a proper conduct when treating patients is a fundamental part of a doctor’s professional and ethical standards. In spite of this fact, there are physicians that don’t abide by the rules. Some practice defensive medicine; others don’t report incidents and are hesitant when doing a job they should master. The risk of undergoing malpractice litigation is a relevant factor
that plays a part in their behavior.

Defensive medicine is related to performing unnecessary tests and medical procedures, thus deviating from fundamental guideline practices and ignoring high risk patients. In terms of malpractice litigation, the risks involved often affect a physician’s behavior toward their patients. Following an incident, the patient can proceed with taking legal action against the healthcare professional in the hopes of preventing further incidents from happening again.

Why do patients feel unsafe in healthcare facilities?

Prior research has rendered pertinent information as to why some patient don’t feel safe in healthcare facilities. Certain physicians are used to practicing defensive medicine in order to preserve a doctor-patient bond. That being said, the most common incidents happen when patients don’t report them. Lack of feedback, time scarcity on formerly reported incidents, and even the level of bureaucracy present in many institutions have compelled many physicians to stop reporting accidents, regardless of their nature.

In some circumstances, doctors don’t disclose essential information to patients because of a faulty medical care culture, where employees are too afraid that they’ll get fired if they report misconduct or incidents. As for the medical legal system, there’s a lack of insight as far as understanding in what circumstances a certain incident occurred. Additional reasons that might compel physicians to practice defensive medicine might be related to financial burdens and increased costs of liability insurance.

How Important is Patient Safety Against the Malpractice of Medical Law?

(Photo courtesy of flickr)

Furthermore, litigation risks dismays physicians from sharing sensitive information regarding incidents to their patients. Healthcare workers may not be able to provide a patient with all the required details following an error due to perceived lacks of legal protections from the law. If a physician thinks that disclosure can persuade a patient not to file a complaint, they might endorse sensitive information; otherwise they prefer to keep quiet and not reveal too much.

A senior patient’s relationship with his caregiver

Unlike general physicians that work in hospitals, caregivers tend to develop different relationships with their patients. In some case, they become extremely close and the bond nearly become a friendship. But caregivers must also develop a sense of responsibility. Otherwise they are predisposed to medical malpractice, too. Many have been accused over the years that they don’t look after their patients, or that they don’t have the skills to provide enough advice to help the patient recover.

How Important is Patient Safety Against the Malpractice of Medical Law?

(Photo courtesy of flickr)

Malpractice is a very sensitive topic in the medical environment. Both caregivers and physicians should do everything they can to make sure their patients are on the right path to recovery. Whether you have a loved one currently living in care homes in Maidstone, or you’re considering hospitalization, it might be a good idea to know more about the rules and regulations of the facility. This will help you provide the best possible care for your beloved relative.

Paul Trevino is interested in writing about health and fitness related issues. He has a deep knowledge at this field. He also enjoys reading fitness magazines at his free time.

using healthcare analytics to make smarter decisions

Healthcare Analytics: Reshaping the Future of Healthcare

using healthcare analytics to make smarter decisions

The collection and interpretation of healthcare analytics is fundamentally changing modern healthcare delivery. (Photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

The following guest post on healthcare analytics was submitted by Yeshwanth HV. 

As healthcare enters the digital age, the practice of medicine will change for the better. It will move away from the clasp of largely reactive decision-making, which was inaccurate and expensive to say the least, and into the realm of evidence-based medicine; thereby becoming more proactive, connected and personalized. In simple words this means that the days of long trips to hospitals that culminated into a series of referrals followed by questions and answer sessions, and tests that were repeated over and over again will be a thing of the past. Patients will start receiving treatments and be prescribed medications that are customized as per their unique needs. With comprehensive medical information about the patient along with a repository of knowledge base that includes every aspect of treating patients with similar medical conditions, care teams will be able to devise accurate healthcare plans that can mitigate any harm to life or safety of patients.

If you think that this form of care is too “futuristic” and can only exist in animations shows such as ‘The Jetsons,’ let me get you acquainted with the reality. The truth is this form of care is already happening and will eventually be integrated into every routine healthcare protocol.

The ‘magic’ that made this possible

Yes, hospitals and other healthcare practices have scrutinized operational and financial data since ages, but the magic started happening when they started to track and analyze healthcare data. When healthcare related data is gleaned from a variety of sources – starting from EHRs and disease registries to direct patient surveys and even digital health devices used by individuals – providers can obtain a well-rounded view, which enables them to analyze every patient, understand their needs and proactively reach out to provide personalized care. When diligently used, the intelligence gained from analytics can move beyond improving healthcare outcomes and give a new lease of life to a hospital’s bottom line.

Factors driving this move towards analytics

The first reason is the cost. It is no secret that ‘reactive’ healthcare is a lot heavier on the pocket when compared to ‘proactive or preventive’ healthcare, which is essentially conceived with an objective to keep individuals out of costly healthcare settings such as emergency rooms.
The other crucial factor that is encouraging this trend is the shift from fee-for-service model to accountable, value-based care models that essentially link quality of care and reimbursement. For healthcare providers, this move means that their survival depends upon the usage of analytics to streamline financial and operational performance of the organization.

How does it work?

Not long ago, providing evidence-based treatment meant that hospitals had to follow a series of well-tested care protocols. However, with greater access to healthcare data and advancements in analytics, we have entered a new era of evidence driven care. By accumulating and analyzing data from diverse feeds over an extended period of time, care providers can understand the exact reasons for bad outcomes and therefore realign their strategies to provide most effective care to individual patients as well as to a particular section of patient populations.

Healthcare providers can also leverage analytics to recognize patterns in a population’s health and precisely estimate individual risk scores. Based on these scores, they can priorities the work of individual healthcare team, allowing them focus more time on the most vulnerable individual.
What’s more healthcare analytics, whether based on risk assessment, EMRs or claims data, can categories patients prior to service and tackle a potential concerns before they pose any real threat to the patients. It can also quantify everything – from emergency room visits, treatment outcomes and readmissions to wait times and utilization of expensive services – and offers a level of transparency that is good for both healthcare outcomes and for business. For instance it can help providers to set up internal benchmarks to gauge quality and cost performance, and provide a detailed understanding of how well they stack up against their counterparts. It also can help hospitals to swiftly make crucial decisions pertaining to reducing costs, optimizing resources, improving care quality and enhancing their competitive positions.

The benefits of healthcare analytics on the patient side are also equally compelling. By arming patients with timely and relevant information, and enabling them to have an extensive understanding, healthcare analytics has opened up a new era of customized healthcare.

Conclusion: Changes are coming; be ready to embrace it

In developed nations the usage of healthcare analytics is growing at a rapid pace. As a result of this, very soon the roles of patients, physicians, hospitals and other healthcare organizations will see some drastic changes in the coming years as mentioned below-

• Patients will become better informed and assume more responsibility for their own care

• Physicians will assume more of a consultant role than a decision maker and will advise, warn and help individual patients. They will start witnessing more success as care becomes more accurate and proactive. And they will have more time to interact with patients and build long lasting relationships

• Hospitals will start witnessing fewer unnecessary hospitalizations, resulting in revenue losses initially. However, overtime, admissions will become more meaningful, the market will adjust, and accomplishment will rise

All in all, changes are coming. Be proactive and ready to embrace the new world order that will take healthcare to the next level.

Author Bio:

Yeshwanth HV is a healthcare writer employed by MedBillingExperts, a leading provider of healthcare business process outsourcing services such as medical billing, medical coding, medical records indexing and healthcare analytics 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.

patient safety in healthcare

The Importance of Pre-Procedure Preparations for Patients

patient safety in healthcare

The damage to mental and emotional states can have a huge effect on procedural success and post-operation recovery. (Photo courtesy of pixabay.com)

The following post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Ian Pearson.

Too often, in this age of modernization, the human element is given short shrift. Machines build our automobiles, sew our clothes and harvest our crops. Society has decided that economy and efficiency are vital for our needs and, in most cases jobs can be done better and faster by taking humans out of the equation.

That simply doesn’t work with health-care.

Automation works well in some fields, but it is severely lacking when it intersects with common human frailties and fears. Nowhere is this more discernable than the interaction of patients and care givers. As the pressure rises within the medical community to see more patients in less time, the patients are the ones who suffer. Not just physically, but the damage to mental and emotional states can have a huge effect on procedural success and post-operation recovery.

Simply put, people aren’t machines and they need additional care.

For most people, especially those who are not familiar with medical procedures, any kind of operation is a frightening and mysterious ritual where they have to put their physical well-being in the hands of a near-total stranger. When that person doesn’t have the time to explain – in detail – what the operation will do, the benefits that will come from the operation and the risks inherent in all surgical procedures the patient is already starting from a position of emotional weakness.

Unfamiliarity with surgical procedures when combined with obvious apprehension can make communication from the patient to the caregiver difficult. It is the doctor’s job to recognize this apprehension, to take it into account when explaining the procedure and to ensure that the patient understands all of the ramifications of what is happening

Sometimes it means holding the patient’s hand.

Clear communication and obvious empathy will go a long way towards making surgical procedures successful and make the patient feel that they aren’t just another product on an assembly line. Dehumanization is a real risk when it comes to medicine. Preventing it should be one of the top priorities for any caregiver. Especially since it can be corrected easily and quickly by keeping in mind just how frightening and mysterious these procedures are for the average patient.

Quality healthcare begins with the first visit, before any medicine is practiced, by humanizing the patient and treating them with all of the dignity and respect they should expect. Talking with them, making their concerns important and not shutting them out of all aspects of the decision making process should be the mantra of all caregivers.

It’s easy to forget that the patient is the most important part of any procedure.

From the patient’s point of view, much of the knowledge displayed by doctors is foreign. Most people do not have a medical background to fall back on when procedures are being explained to them and don’t understand the importance of different steps in the procedure, let alone talking about pre-procedural and post-procedural preparation. For most of us, once the operation is successfully over, the patient is fixed, cured or relieved of whatever ailment brought them in to the doctor’s office in the first place.

We understand, on a logical level, that there is more that needs to be done, but, emotionally, we have come through the worst of it and we will be fine going forward. One of the caregiver’s jobs is explaining that this attitude can be detrimental to the long-term healing that comes after any surgical procedure. No matter how minor an operation is, it is traumatic to the human body and there will be long-term effects from it.

Caring for this emotional side is as important as keeping the surgical instruments clean and should be taken into account when looking for a doctor to perform any procedure that you need or want done. Emotional and physical preparation – with facts, procedures and empathy – is much more important to the patient than to the doctor. A surgeon may have performed hundreds of open heart surgeries, for example, but few patients go through it more than once. The patient is much more frightened than the doctor is, believe me.

As the rate of non-critical surgical procedures rise, it becomes even more important for healthcare personnel and patients to be on the same page. As plastic surgeons in Sydney put it, dispelling misconceptions and fully explaining the risks and benefits of your procedure should be the top priority for all healthcare professionals.

Preparing yourself for the medical preparation.

As a patient, your emotional security is as important as your physical health. When looking for a doctor or hospital to conduct a medical procedure you should feel comfortable, informed and understood. You are not a cog in a great big machine; you are an individual with fears and worries that are unique to you. Finding medical support that empathizes with your concerns will go a long way toward making your procedure successful.
Without your understanding of what is happening, your procedure is much less likely to be successful.

Aside from primary area of interest and expertise in business consulting, Ian could be tagged also as a passionate sports fan, nature and photography enthusiast, always trying to keep up to date with tech innovations and development, with a particular interest in trying to master the fine art of Social intelligence.

voice biometrics improves patient engagement in healthcare

Voice Assistants: New Technology in Healthcare

voice biometrics in healthcare

Voice biometrics is helping to improve patient engagement in healthcare.

The following guest post on voice recognition technology in healthcare was submitted by Kate Voss.

The capacity for speech is one of the greatest tools that humans possess, yet most of the healthcare field still operates on the written word and on conventional keyboard-and-mouse computer interfaces. With voice recognition technology appearing poised to break through in the healthcare industry, however, that may finally be changing. Once viewed as a novelty and an unnecessary burden, voice control has already begun to prove its ability to offer greater efficiency, reduce common errors and improve patient engagement.

The Rise of Voice Recognition

Voice recognition has been around in some form or another since the 1950s, but it’s only in the past half-decade or so that the technology has reached the mainstream. Artificial intelligence systems such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have taken the tech world by storm, taking on the role of digital assistants and integrating voice control into everything from Internet-enabled thermostats to alarm sensors for children and the elderly. This rise has been fueled in part by rapid improvements in voice recognition technology, driven by advanced machine learning and increasingly sophisticated algorithms that have made voice recognition quicker, more responsive and – most importantly – more accurate than ever before.

Voice Recognition in Healthcare

The medical field as a whole has been hesitant to embrace the technology of voice recognition, but early adopters have already begun to reap the rewards. Accurate speech-to-text programs have shown the ability to transcribe physician’s’ notes more accurately than the average human medical transcriptionist, and voice recognition models offer a method for reducing all-too-common issues with illegible handwriting and insufficient documentation of procedures. If adopted on a more widespread level, these factors may facilitate the creation of more accurate, comprehensive and cost-effective electronic health records. Additionally, voice recognition can be used to build more secure data access systems as part of a biometric single sign-on platform.

Boosting Patient Engagement

Though much of the focus on voice recognition in the healthcare industry is on developing technologies to aid providers directly, it only represents one side of the coin. Patient engagement also benefits from such technology, particularly in the form of a conversational user interface. Surveys have indicated that some people feel more comfortable when speaking to a computer than when speaking to a human, leading them to share more readily and provide more detailed information. The ability to simply speak rather than navigating complex websites and apps means that more people can engage with and take a more direct role in their health and treatment. Many older patients, in particular, are able to use voice commands to do things they may otherwise be unable to do because of a lack of computer skills, arthritis, poor eyesight or other conditions.

The Future of Voice Recognitionvoice recognition is helping improve healthcare

As vocal recognition technology continues to mature and becomes more widely adopted, the level of integration both in daily life and in the medical field will likely increase. Experimental pilot programs have already leveraged devices like the Amazon Echo to provide post-discharge information for patients, answer common health questions and manage basic needs like transportation and medication scheduling. Features like this may become common practice in the future, providing patients with a more informative and engaging healthcare experience. Voice recognition is also likely to take on a more expanded role in the daily routine of healthcare providers as well, potentially making the laborious human transcription process and paper-based records a thing of the past as speech recognition becomes even more accurate and reliable.

Though security, reliability and logistical challenges remain, vocal recognition appears to be the wave of the future in healthcare. In a field that is so highly dependent on timely, accurate documentation – and a field in which, according to a 2006 report by the National Academies of Science’s Institute of Medicine, illegible handwriting causes more than 7,000 unnecessary deaths per year – the ability to quickly and precisely transcribe information is invaluable. Widespread adoption could slash operating costs and eliminate a significant burden on healthcare workers, allowing them to see more patients and focus on delivering high-quality care.

Voice Assistants: New Technology in HealthcareKate Voss is a freelance tech and science writer with a strong interest in the development of voice control interfaces and their use in healthcare. A graduate of Michigan State University, she is now based in the Windy City of Chicago, IL.