patient safety in healthcare

Managing Visitors in a Healthcare Facility – An Impetus to Patient Safety and Recovery

patient safety in healthcare

Following these simple visitor management tips can help to increase patient safety in healthcare.

The following post on improving patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Donald Raggs.

Healthcare facilities are becoming vulnerable almost every day in terms of patients’ safety and security. They need to be professionally managed. Healthcare facilities are highly prone to risks of security threats posed by intruders, unwanted guests, and temporary visitors. Managing hospital visitors is an important consideration for patient’s safety and recovery. Hospitals are aware enough to know that their visitors are the biggest threat to their patient’s security and infections that they may carry unknowingly from outside while they are visiting a in house patient. You may have heard hospital incidents about visitors who enter into a restricted hospital room without a visitor badge with the intention of harming patients and doing illegal activities. Hospital visitors present a potential risk to the patients and hospital staff if they are not handled precisely by the hospital security management.

It is very important for healthcare organizations to ensure that the visitors who are entering into a facility are authorized and not risky for patients. There are numbers of best practices that should be followed by healthcare organizations to manage and identify authorized visitors. These practices to manage visitors are very important to optimize patient safety and recovery in the healthcare organization settings.

Incorporate a Visitor Management System into the Facility:

Healthcare organizations essentially have to adopt a visitor management system to track the movement of visitors who visit the hospital facility for various reasons. Visitor management system is an ideal tool for tracking hospital visitors in real time. It is hi-tech software that effectively controls record & tracks hospital’s visitor traffic. It monitors each visitor in the facility and keeps records of all relevant information about the visitor in a single database. Visitor management system keeps a tight check on intruders, unwanted visitors and prevents the entry of any unauthorized or unwanted person in the facility. It effectively tracks visitors 24×7 by ID registration, visiting approvals, badge management, record keeping and process management. Visitor management system prevents the risk of crimes and unlawful acts into the facility and ensures that the visitors are good for hospital security.

Decide particular visiting hours to visit patient for relatives:

Rest is very important for the recovery of patients. Hospital authorities cannot let visitors tour 24 hours to meet patients. This increases the chances of spreading infection to the patient by the visitor unknowingly. For healthcare organization it is very important to decide particular visiting hours to meet patients. Limited number of visitors should be allowed to meet a patient at a given point of time. This is to ensure that patients get the rest they need and other patients are not disturbed.

Some of the patients can be kept out of bounds for any visitors specially the ones who have undergone a major surgery or are suffering from communicable diseases that may be spread out to the public. Visitor management system can be useful in ensuring that such patients are quarantined effectively since the visitor management system is not going to issue any badges or visiting slips to these out of bound rooms. Thus only health care workers, doctors and authorized staff of the medical facility will be able to enter these rooms who essentially are trained, dressed and qualified to take of such patients.

Provide Per Visitor a Visitor Badge to Enter the Facility:

Providing a visitor badge to each hospital visitor before entering into the facility should be mandatory. Recording each visitor’s badge number and address details of the visitor with the badge in the database should be made a practice and if possible the health condition of the visitor should also be taken into account before allowing him or her to see a particular patient. Ask visitors to show their ID and purpose of visiting the facility at various check points which will not only control the movement of visitors but will also ensure calm and noise free environment for patients who are recovering there.

Fixing a time limit and letting the visitors know their time limit should be made a practice. How long a visitor has been with a patient in the hospital room can be easily calculated via the visitor management system and a gentle reminder can be sent on his or her phone to adhere to the time limit which of course is beneficial for the speedy recovery of the patient.

A visitor management system not only ensure the safety and security of the patients within a health care facility it also ensures that patients being treated there have a speedy recovery and are not disturbed by the constant flow of visitors. Thus next time you go visiting one of your friends in the hospital which has a visitor management system in place and you are not allowed to visit your patient don’t feel bad; maybe your patient has had quite a few visits that day and you may only be disturbing him instead of comforting him.

patient safety in medical homesDonald is an independent writer and a content specialist from California. He jumped into the digital marketing scene early on. After obtaining masters in integrated marketing from northwestern university, He went to interactive marketing positions with top companies such as GE and Trackforce. As of today he is associated with Trackforce.com a leader in providing software and security management technology. Donald has great interest in technology and security. He loves writing about everything that is related to technology, security and safety.

using biometrics for patient ID in healthcare

4 Ways Tech Has Changed How Healthcare Providers Handle Patient ID Protocols

using biometrics for patient ID in healthcare

Learn more about patient ID technologies and their impact on patient safety in healthcare.

The following post on patient ID in healthcare was submitted by Anica Oaks.

Methods of patient identification are critical to matching patients with their intended treatment in busy healthcare facilities. The failure to accomplish this has led to some serious consequences for patients and providers alike, in the form of unnecessary surgeries and wrong patient amputations resulting in a marked rise of lawsuits and malpractice insurance costs. Here are some technical solutions that healthcare professionals are looking at to help solve this problem.

1. Barcodes
Barcodes offer a convenient and cost-effective approach to establishing patient identity. New patients are entered into the system and issued a bar-coded ID bracelet which can be read by scanners at various locations during treatment, and automatically checked against patient databases. The same barcode can be printed on other documentation to be sure there is a match between the ID bracelet and any medications, test results, or scheduled treatments.

2. RFID Chips
Radio Frequency ID (RFID) chips emitting a unique signal are being touted as a better alternative to barcodes. These can be embedded in wristbands, hospital beds, or patient ID badges. Sensors reading this signal can generate the matching patient records on electronic devices. One advantage over barcodes is that chips can be read from a greater distance; sensors placed throughout the facility can also monitor patient movements for safety and security. RFID chips are also harder to duplicate. For this reason they are advocated by the FDA.

3. Staff Training
Identifying patients and administering ID protocols both upon admission and before receiving treatment typically falls to the nursing staff. Today’s nurses must be technically as well as medically trained to be effective in using the various patient ID technologies. A modern ADN to MSN online program (Associate Degree in Nursing to Master of Science in Nursing) better prepares nurses to understand and apply the technologies in use.

4. Biometrics
Using biometric devices is a fairly new but effective means of positive patient identification. Patient ID in healthcare now offers biometric devices that read iris patterns or even facial structure and are then matched against existing patient data to easily confirm identities. Barcodes or RFIDs leave room for error. A biometric characteristic, however, has only one possible match. Though these systems are more expensive to implement, their reliability and ease of use may be a wise investment.

Healthcare facilities today are faced with the need for stricter standards of patient identification. This is not just to safeguard patient health and professional integrity, but to guard against fraudulent use of ID to obtain drugs or free medical treatment. Today’s technology seems to finally be up to the challenge.

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.

healthcare technology is

Changes in Technology that are Bringing Healthcare to the 21st Century

healthcare technology is

Advances in healthcare technology are radically changing our lives and well being.

The following guest post on healthcare technology was submitted by Brooke Chaplan.

Everybody knows that technology is constantly evolving, but people often fail to realize how new technology is changing the world of healthcare in particular. Here are five new technologies revitalizing the healthcare industry and making life easier for both doctors and patients alike.

Robotic Surgery Simulator

Most people wouldn’t step onto a plane that they knew was being flown by somebody in training, but the only way to teach budding surgeons has been in live operating rooms, until now. A new technology allows soon-to-be surgeons to learn new procedures in a way similar to a flight simulator. They see real footage of a surgery and get to make mistakes without endangering anybody. This new simulator could save countless lives by allowing surgeons to train without operating on a live patient.

Combination Systems

New strides are being made in the field of radiology by combining various image capturing technologies. For example, a PET-MRI hybrid offers all of the benefits of each system without the drawbacks. This allows for clearer images during various body scans and in turn, means easier and more accurate diagnoses. Students getting a radiology bachelor’s degree online and in universities are now being trained in these new systems and technologies.

Wearable Sensors

Almost all of us know someone already using this kind of technology in some way. Things like fitness apps and blood sugar monitors have inspired healthcare professionals to create sensors that can be worn throughout the day. These sensors are ideal for anybody suffering from a chronic condition, as they can broadcast vital signs to a nearby healthcare facility. This ensures that should something change in their condition, they can receive medical attention as quickly as possible.

Injected Bioabsorbable Hydrogel

This new technology has been injected into patients undergoing chemotherapy to protect their vital organs from radiation. While this treatment is not widely available yet, it has been used with great effect during studies of those suffering from prostate cancer.

Miniature Pacemakers

Having a pacemaker installed is unpleasant at best, but new technology may make the process much easier. Miniature pacemakers are 10% of the size of traditional pacemakers, and only take up a single heart chamber. While only 15% of those in need of a pacemaker are eligible for this new model, the technology itself is astounding.

As time goes on, newer and more effective technologies will continue to be developed. For now, however, these five technologies are some of the leading developments in the journey of revitalizing healthcare. Each one is not only stunning to think about but is actively saving the lives of patients.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan

prevent patient fraud in healthcare

5 Ways to Prevent Patient Fraud and Identity Theft

prevent patient fraud in healthcare

Preventing patient fraud begins with a thorough understanding of how to protect your identity.

The following post on preventing medical ID theft and patient fraud in healthcare was submitted by Meghan Belnap.

In this digital age, we can purchase anything with a click, transfer money from one bank account to another in a split second, and reconnect with people from anywhere in the world. There are so many great advantages to the internet age but unfortunately, there are serious drawbacks as well.

As technology advances, so do the dirty tricks played by criminals in an attempt to commit patient fraud and identity theft. With so much of our medical history available at our fingertips in digital form, it’s easier than ever to have that stolen from us. Here are five simple ways to avoid falling victim:

Password Protection

Hackers are skilled at decoding passwords. If the one you use is not a unique combination of numbers, letters, and symbols, you are putting yourself at a higher risk. If your password is still hacked from one site, it is important that you are not also handing them your password for everything else as well. For example, if your patient portal account password is fraudulently obtained, you do not want that to also be the password you use for your bank account. It requires keeping track of numerous passwords, but it is worth it to use different ones for each site you log in to within your digital health network.

Swipe With Caution

Card skimmers are very popular tools used by crooks to gain access to your account information. Each time you swipe a debit or credit card at a hospital or any other A.T.M. machine or gas pump, the machine reads the information stored on the black strip on the back of the card. This houses important information and it is all a hacker needs to wipe out your bank account. When you approach these machines, look at them closely. Does the area that you insert the card into seem loose or ill-fitting in any way? Does the paint color and material of it match the surrounding area? If not, there may be a skimming device attached to the machine. If you are suspicious, try giving it a tug. Is it loose? If you experience this, contact local law enforcement right away.

Monitor Accounts

If you have access to online banking, take advantage of it. Set up alerts that notify you when funds have been used over a certain amount or in ways unusual for your typical spending patterns.

Be Careful With Your Card

Keep an eye on your cards at all times. Statistics show that on average over 12 million U.S citizens identify as fraud victims annually. Professional FBI experts who are board certified behavior analysts specialize in investigative criminal or terrorist actions. While help is offered to those that are victim of patient fraud and identity theft, take the extra precautions to keep yourself safe by implementing smart daily precautions.

Identity Protection Services

There are a variety of resources available at your convenience which specialize in monitoring your social security number, name, and other personal information that could be used for patient fraud or identity theft. Most companies charge a fee to provide this service but if it prevents even one breach, it will be money well spent.

While there are numerous ways someone can gain access to your personal information, there are by far more things you can do to prevent it. Be cautious with your private details. Keep things secure both online and physically with the proper protection required. Whether it’s a safe box in your closet to keep your social security card, health insurance ID, birth certificates and other documents out of reach, or strong passwords that keep hackers out of accounts, it is possible to avoid patient fraud.

Meghan Belnap is a freelance writer who enjoys spending time with her family. She loves being in the outdoors and exploring new opportunities whenever they arise. Meghan finds happiness in researching new topics that help to expand her horizons. You can often find her buried in a good book or out looking for an adventure. You can connect with her on Facebook right here and Twitter right here.

weak hospital infection control policies endanger patient safety in healthcare

Infection Control – 5 Things Your Doctor Didn’t Tell You About C. DIFF

weak hospital infection control policies endanger patient safety in healthcare

The danger of weak hospital infection control policies is a direct threat to patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

The following guest post on infection control and patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Evan Kaden.

Every year, patients are admitted to the hospital for various reasons. Some for surgery, others for acute or chronic illnesses, but all have the same expectation: to get well. Most are unaware of the risks that come with hospitalization and find themselves uneducated about them. C. Diff infection is no exception. While the doctors and nurses are required to inform you of an infection, that doesn’t mean that they have the time to explain the details of it. This article will explain what you and your family needs to know about C. Diff and how to prevent infection.

WHAT IS C. DIFF?

Clostridium Difficile, commonly known as C. Difficile or C. Diff, is the bacteria prominently known for causing infectious diarrhea. C. Difficile accounts for approximately less than 4% of the bacteria present in the intestinal tract. Everyone doesn’t have this bacterium in their system, but those who do typically have a healthy balance. In a healthy person, the bacteria do not pose a threat, but if there is an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in one’s body, that can spell big trouble. A C. Diff infection is known as a “Nosocomial Infection”. This type of infection is one that is acquired in a hospital setting, during a prolonged stay. There are various types of C. Diff but the most common strain is the North American Pulsed Field type 1, better NAP1, which can lead to serious illness.

HOW DO PATIENTS GET C. DIFF?

C.Diff is often found in patients who are in long term care and are receiving antibiotic treatment for long periods of time. It also occurs in patients who receive a high dose of antibiotics. While antibiotics are beneficial for treating various conditions, they also destroy the good bacteria. Without the proper balance, the C. Diff bacteria that was once tamed, now has the opportunity to go rampant. Elderly patients and those with compromised immunity are particularly at risk. Patients can also contract C. Diff through physical contact. The bacterium is passed through spores found in feces. These spores can live on surfaces for months. Health facilities risk an outbreak if soiled linens and contaminated surfaces are not properly sterilized. Healthcare workers contribute to this risk when good hand hygiene is not practiced. Other factors that increase risk are: Gastro Intestinal surgery, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Chemotherapy drugs, Renal disease, a weak immune system and a previous C. Diff infection.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

C. Diff symptoms include:

Watery Diarrhea (3-15 times per day)
Severe abdominal pain
Nausea
Appetite Loss
Fever
Bloody Stool
Weight loss

C. Diff creates toxins that cause the colon to become damaged and inflamed. Different strains cause various levels of illness. NAP1, as mentioned before is the most common strain of C. Difficile bacteria. C. Difficle is diagnosed when a patient develops diarrhea during hospitalization, while on current antibiotic treatment or within two months of a past treatment. The physician will request a stool sample to confirm the presence of C.Difficile and to determine if it is a serious infection. Most cases are mild but with the right course of action can be treated efficiently and effectively.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

The first course of action is to discontinue the current antibiotic treatment. This method usually allows for the healthy bacteria to be replenished and eradicate the C. Diff overgrowth within a few days. The physician may order treatment using Metronidazole or Vancomycin. These drugs stop the growth of C.Difficile. Another form of treatment is Probiotics, which has been proven to prevent recurring infections. If the infection leads to more serious issues, surgery may be required to remove damaged portions of the colon. This is level of treatment is rare.

Safety Precautions

Most hospitals have implemented hand hygiene education and policies for the medical staff as well as protective equipment such as gloves and gowns for those who deliver direct care to the infected patient. There are signs posted on the doors and walls of patients who have C. Diff, but it can be confusing for the common person to understand. This list of precautions can save you and your family from contracting or spreading the infection:

1. Wash hands thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds frequently
(Most recommend singing the Alphabet or Happy Birthday song as a timer)
2. Ask the staff if the chairs and surfaces have been cleaned with Chlorine Bleach prior to entering the room.
3. Put on any protective gear that is placed at the entry of the patient’s room. This includes gowns and/or masks.
4. Avoid contact with the patient’s bedding. If the patient needs to be moved or cleaned, seek assistance from a nurse. Fecal matter isn’t always visible to the eye. If contact is made with the bed linens or surface, wash your hands right after.
5. Avoid using the patient’s restroom while visiting. C. Diff spores can live on surfaces for long periods of time. To avoid infection, use the visitor designated restrooms.

With rising concerns regarding C. Diff infections, it is easy to understand why patients may consider an alternative option. One of those options is CDPAP, Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. This is a Medicaid program that allows the patient to receive home care and participate in his or her care plan. This alternative provides patients who have experience past C. Diff infections with a way to be treated in the environment where they feel the safest. With the proper knowledge and practices, we can work with the healthcare community to lessen the occurrence of C. Diff infections and ensure safe experiences for all patients.

infection control is an important aspect of patient safety in healthcareEvan is a rare-breed of freelance writers who, believe it or not, doesn’t drink coffee! With a passion for sustainability and quality of life, he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had to share his thoughts and stories with people through this crazy place called the internet.

EHRs

8 Misconceptions About EHRs That Must Be Dispelled

EHRs

Despite the rising power of electronic health record systems (EHRs), they are still widely misunderstood and often misused.

The following guest post on dispelling the myths of EHRs was submitted by Andrea Bell.

Health records, whether electronic or paper-based, are an essential record-keeping tool that supports clinical decision-making at every level of diagnosis and treatment. Concerns about patient privacy and confidentiality are nothing new. The privacy matters of patients’ are as old as the practice of medicine itself.

When it comes to electronic health records of patients, privacy is always top of the list. Tablets, smartphones, and web-enabled devices have totally transformed our daily lives and the way we communicate. The healthcare industry is carefully trying to manage technological innovations and patient’s health records through computerized systems. Individuals and healthcare professionals are working in close collaboration with each other to make health data safer and accessible in order to enhance systems of treatment for patients.

Electronic health record data banks have stronger prospects for transforming the health care industry. These new systems can provide an extensive amount of information related to the patients’ medical history in a few clicks, thereby completely doing away with obsolete paper systems that delay treatment and diagnoses.

This new tool now helps staffers to process patient record-keeping more promptly than ever before. This swift service was not possible with paper-based systems where administrative officials had to search through piles of files for patient records.

Despite the several intelligent and easy uses of EHRs, there are a couple of misconceptions about the technology and debates about its functionality. Here we have tried to dispel the 8 common myths and misconceptions about EHRs.

1. Electronic health records software is less efficient as compared to paper-based systems

Many practices take great pride in adopting new technologies, but one needs to realize that it’s important to know that paper-based systems are simply less efficient than electronic systems. Its very easy to have access to patient health record information, and you can streamline workflow in general by automating patient records.

2. EHR systems are expensive

Since electronic health records have continued to progress and mature, they have also been developed for a wide variety of uses; from leading government hospitals to part-time private clinics, and everyone else in the field of medicine. With the growing change in needs, there are variations in the cost of an EHR, the quality of software and functionality. Based on the size of your practice and patient turn-over, you are most likely to find an option that perfectly suits your needs as well as your budget.

3. Once you install an EHR system, it can be used without training

Installing a new EHR system at your hospital or private practice is no guarantee that your employees or team members will start doing their jobs more efficiently or process patients more swiftly. Anyone who says they can use the system without elementary training, should be observed carefully. While some EHR systems are relatively easy to learn than others, it’s important to ensure that some basic training is provided to staffers so that they become proficient at using this system. And once you and the team become acquainted with EHR, the efficiencies will increase while redundancies will decrease.

4. EHR software makes communications between patients and employees unfriendly and mechanical

This myth that the staff, providers or other healthcare professionals entering data or transcribing text into an EHR system seems mechanical and ‘cold’ to patients and comes at the risk of deteriorating relations between the two couldn’t be further from the truth.

It can in fact be the other way around. Patients should be made to understand and appreciate at the same time that using an EHR helps secure their medical information minus the errors. In fact, it’s worth a short discussion to let the patient know how much the EHR will help them in terms of safe and secure information, there will be little or no chance of missing charts, flipping test results or anything similar.

Patients should be educated on how the EHR helps avert possible disasters in the event of fire or theft. It has been observed that medical practices nowadays post on their websites and have printed information available that the practice uses an EHR, and why its use is beneficial for patients.

5. EHR systems are a hindrance to accomplishing work

You can say that at one point a decade ago, EHRs may not have been very user-friendly, or designed for specific industries. But EHR technology has traveled a long way and is typically very easy to understand and use, and greatly helps in reducing administrative workload.

Electronic health record systems can save a lot of time from your workday by putting every minute detail from clinical files at your fingertips, while also increasing efficiency, reducing errors, and letting you work anytime and from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.

6. EHR systems are difficult to use

With the boom of electronic medical records, there were EHR systems that were quite difficult and technical to navigate for a layman. However, as the field has progressed, significant improvements have been made in this area. If we go back a decade, the vast majority of electronic health record systems were designed specifically for medical fields or for hospital settings and people who used these systems were aggressively trained.

Since then things have changed significantly. EHR systems are now being designed for different industries such as eye care, chiropractic care, and mental health. Technology is evolving at a remarkable pace and it continues to improve the user-friendliness of EHR systems, and there is a focus on intuitive and easy-to-use navigation in the latest EHR systems.

7. Physicians will be reluctant to learn and adopt a new system

The notion that practitioners or healthcare providers can only be categorized in one of two extremes when it comes to electronic health records, isn’t right. There were a few early adopters of the system who saw its potential, implemented the systems and dealt with the initial trials and errors, and on the other hand, there are also those few who would prefer realy retirement over using a new electronic system.

However, the biggest chunk of healthcare providers falls in the middle category because, at the end of the day, they have practices to run and patients to see. EHRs can’t be a barrier because there’s simply too much work to be done. So the expression that an old dog learning new tricks does not really apply to providers and physicians because their business constantly requires from them to learn new techniques, therapies, and approaches and EHR is one of them.

8. EHR systems cannot be customized for every practice

A lot of healthcare organizations and practitioners who have already implemented an EHR system say it doesn’t really matter what specialty any physician is in. Everyone has different ways of approaching the practice of medicine, but the very basics of clinical medicine are the same around the world. EHRs do require some level of customization for each health care organization and physician, and it is very much possible to do so.

Conclusion

With accurate information and logical reasoning, it’s easy to get over the misconceptions that usually circulate when implementing electronic health records software at government based healthcare organizations or private practices. Similarly, is it also a misleading fact that IT departments in healthcare organizations deploy a software just for the heck of it or just because it is the talk of the town in terms of latest technology. Therefore, with these 8 major misconceptions dispelled, I am sure there will be less ambiguity about electronic health record systems.

gaining patient trustAndrea Bell is a Freelance writer and a content contributor at www.computermateinc.com, which provides Medisoft V21 software. She writes mostly on technology related stuff. Live simply, give generously and a sports lover. Find her on twitter @IM_AndreaBell

patient data integrity and patient safety in healthcare

The Importance of Maintaining Patient Data Integrity

patient data integrity and patient safety in healthcare

Patient data integrity is important to maintain in healthcare. Learn more about how to protect it in the evolving world of digital healthcare.

The following guest post on patient data integrity in healthcare was submitted by Gabriel Tedde Cabot.

While all physicians, care providers and practices understand the importance of keeping accurate files and records for maintaining patient data integrity, the unique challenges and concerns of a digital file system may pose a greater risk than many practitioners might realize. From the struggle to keep patient records coherent and to maintain unified files across multiple applications and programs to the issues that may be caused by a data breach, today’s practices would be wise to assess the effectiveness of their records and data processes. Loss of data integrity may result in any number of potentially serious consequences, ranging from HIPPA violations to compromised patient care.

Creating and Maintaining the Right Digital Infrastructure

The first step towards ensuring digital information can be created, stored and accessed with greater accuracy is also one of the most important. Creating and maintaining the right digital infrastructure can streamline all processes that may involve patient records and ensure that inconsistencies within a file system are less likely to occur. Applications that can be linked more easily and databases that provide cross-platform support are often crucial assets for reducing errors, oversights and optimizing the efficiency of staff and associates.

The Importance of Staff and Employee Training

Having the right digital working environment is only one step in the process for ensuring more effective and accurate record-keeping, one that may be of little practical benefit when employees are not properly trained. Properly training all employees who access or use database systems, patient records and similar applications can help to minimize problems caused by user error. Assessing the current skill level, understanding and overall computer literacy of existing staff can also be quite helpful in identifying any areas that may require attention or improvement.

Failing to provide ongoing training for their staff is a mistake common to both small practices and larger facilities. Updated software, the addition of new applications and changes to the daily operational process of a clinic, practice or healthcare facility often entails the need to train and educate employees who may not yet be comfortable or even familiar with new systems or tasks. Ongoing training also provides a chance for associates to brush up on any skills or concepts that may have gone unused for too long.

Performing Periodic Assessments or Audits to Ensure Accuracy

Quality assurance can go a long way, both towards ensuring that established resources and operational processes are being utilized correctly and for identifying smaller issues before they have a chance to grow into larger and more serious problems. Assessing the accuracy of past records and ensuring that patient data integrity is being maintained effectively is not a concern that should be left to chance. Further assessments should also be performed whenever new operational policies go into effect or when changes are made to the software, systems and applications used by employees.
 
Protecting Patient Information in the Digital Age

From instituting a more effective password policy to utilizing secure virtual data rooms, there are numerous ways for organisations to ensure all patient data and information is able to be kept safe and secure. Damage caused by unauthorized access to data, files and electronic information may be considerable and practitioners who fail to make online security a priority may be placing themselves and their patients at greater risk of breach or other security issue. Malware or unauthorized users who are able to gain access to electronic records may result in the loss of vital data or files and records that no longer be considered secure.

While even basic measures to enhance digital security can make a considerable difference, more effective may be achieved by organisations who elect to make use of the right resources. Contracting with third-party IT department or security specialist may provide a more cost effective solution for smaller practices that lack the financial resources needed to expand their staff. Investing in secure virtual data rooms used to store and distribute information in a safer manner can also ensure that medical organisations are not placing patient data or information at greater risk. Finding and selecting the services, resources and solutions that make it possible to reduce or even eliminate many of the most common and costly digital security risks is always a worthwhile undertaking.

Staying Up to Date With Changing Technology and Emerging Trends

With new applications, digital services and innovations continuing to shape and change the industry, practitioners and medical organizations can no longer afford to fall behind the times. Failing to learn more about new potential security risks or electing to overlook the latest security resources and solutions could prove to be nothing short of a disaster. When it comes to maintaining patient data integrity, staying up to date with the latest technology or learning more about the most recent threats and security concerns is of paramount importance.

Gabriel Cabot is a digital marketing strategist from London who enjoys reading, writing and learning about new technologies, programming, health and the Internet.

poor infection controlposes serious risks

Poor Infection Control at Hospitals Poses Serious Risks to Patient Safety

infection control and patient safety in healthcare

What is the most effective way to reduce hospital borne infections to increase patient safety in healthcare?

The following guest post on infection control in healthcare was submitted by Cade Parian.

Millions Impacted

There are an estimated 1.7 million cases of hospital-acquired infections every year. Almost 100,000 of those cases result in death.

Infections contracted in hospital settings are technically called healthcare-associated infections or HAI’s. They are caused by exposure to bacteria, fungi, or viruses while in a healthcare setting. Common healthcare procedures where infections are introduced are during surgery; catheter insertion; ventilation services; and any type of injection.

The Centers for Disease Control estimate that 1 in 20 hospitalized patients develop some type of infection.

Common Types of Infection

Some Healthcare-Acquired Infections go unnoticed with little harm. However, others are devastating. Patients endure physical pain and suffering as well as financial devastation due to the increased treatment costs. Some infections cause permanent damage and even death.

Catheter-Assisted Urinary Tract Infections – One of the more preventable infections. It often occurs when a catheter is left in a patient too long. Commonly affected areas are the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.

Pneumonia Caused by Ventilators – Infection that develops 48 hours or more after mechanical ventilation is given. The lower respiratory tract or lung parenchyma is invaded by microorganisms causing this infection.

Necrotizing Fascitis or Flesh Eating Bacteria – While rare, this serious bacterial infection spreads quickly and kills the body’s soft tissue.

Clostridium Difficile or C. diff – These bacteria live in your digestive tract. When these bacteria overgrow, it releases toxins that attack the lining of the intestines. 14,000 deaths (mostly the elderly) are caused each year.

Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae or CRE – These germs are highly resistant to antibiotics. More than 50% of the cases cause death. Most cases are caused by improper use of a duodenoscope. There are multiple types of CRE’s including:
• Klebsiella;
• Escherichia Coli or E. Coli;
• Klebsiella Pheumoniae Carbapenemase or KPC;
• New Delhi Metallo-beta-lactamase or NDM; and
• Verona Integron-Mediated Metallo-Lactamase or VIM.

Meningitis – The meninges are the protective lining around the brain and spinal cord. Meningitis often comes in outbreaks of multiple cases. Usually a contaminated instrument or drug causes the meningitis to spread.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA – These bacteria live in your nose and on your skin. When it enters surgical sites, it becomes invasive. It can lead to heart valve infections, bone infections, organ abscesses, joint infections, and sepsis or blood poisoning. The danger is bigger for MRSA, because it is not commonly killed by standard antibiotics.

Sepsis – A deadly blood infection that triggers widespread inflammation of the body. It affects over 1 million American each year. Multiple organ failure and even death are caused by sepsis or septicemia.

Infections Cost Healthcare Billions

JAMA Internal Medicine issued a study in September 2013 estimating that healthcare-acquired infections cost the US healthcare system almost $10 billion per year. Many of those infections are preventable.

The average cost of treating common hospital infections are:
• Central Line Associated Bloodstream Infections – $45,000
• Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia – $40,144
• Surgical Site Infections – $20,785
• C. Diff. – $11,000

There are several things hospital staff can do in order to minimize risk of hospital-acquired infections such as:

• Washing hands often
• Keeping patient skin clean around wounds
• Wear gowns, masks and gloves

Hospital infections should be prevented in order to reduce morbidity, mortality, duration of hospital stay, and cost. Good hygiene and aseptic techniques have generally proved to be successful, but these practices are often not sustainable. Keeping constant watch and following the simple steps above could help minimize the risk of infections.

Cade Parian is a Metro Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer representing injured people all over the nation. His folksy demeanor coupled with his ability to fit into any social and professional situation make him an attorney called upon by clients and other attorneys alike. A husband and father of two young children, he enjoys being the worst golfer on any golf course at any time when not preparing for trial or chasing children.

Biometrics-for-patient-ID-to-increase-patient-safety

Patient Acceptance of Biometrics for Patient ID Points to Hope, not Hype

The following guest post on the use of biometrics for patient ID in healthcare was submitted by Jeremy Floyd, VP of Sales with RightPatient®.

After working in the biometrics industry for over a decade, one important lesson I have learned is that public misunderstanding of the technology for personal identification often overshadows real world results. In other words, after being pounded for years with sensationalist depictions of biometrics on the big screen, on the pages of science fantasy novels, and in the media through often gross misinterpretations of how the technology works in real life, biometrics is now being used by hundreds of millions of people around the world each and every day absent of the fears and intrepidations so often described as severe limitations to widespread adoption. For every article that prognosticates the “hype cycle” of biometrics and the “fears” that consumers won’t accept it, there is a counter example of how this technology is positively impacting many different areas of our lives.

Biometrics-for-patient-ID-to-increase-patient-safety

High acceptance levels of using biometrics for patient ID have us optimistic that the technology will have a big impact on improving patient safety in healthcare. (Photo courtesy of pixabay: http://bit.ly/2iUm4uG)

From an end user perspective, deployments of biometric technology in government and commercial environments generally fall into two participatory categories: mandatory and voluntary. Mandatory participation of biometric deployments generally falls under governmental use in environments such as border control, national ID, and voter registration for example. If you aren’t willing to participate and have your biometrics captured in these capacities, you will be excluded from engaging in any of these aforementioned activities which could have a severe impact on your well being and quality of life not to mention your ability to freely travel and benefit from government services.

However, mandatory deployments of biometric technology aren’t limited to governmental initiatives and can often spill over into the commercial sector. For example, a company may decide to adopt biometrics for employee time and attendance or perhaps use biometrics for access control to safeguard entry into restricted areas. In these cases, the use of biometrics may be mandatory although questions may arise as to whether an employee would have the right to refuse participation, but that’s another discussion – a different topic for a different blog post.

When you think of voluntary deployments of biometrics from a participatory perspective, think of it’s use for patient identification in healthcare, or as an added security feature to better protect smartphone access. Both of these environments are examples of places where biometrics is offered, but end users aren’t required to participate.

As a firsthand witness to the rapid growth of biometrics for patient ID in healthcare, I have visited hospitals where the technology is used and watched how patients have reacted when introduced to it. When presented with the option of using biometrics to protect their medical identities and ensure their safety throughout the care continuum with a clear understanding of how their information is protected, over 99% of patients voluntarily opt-in and enroll themselves.

Long considered the holy grail of deployment success and a positive return on investment (ROI), patient voluntary opt-ins are perhaps the single most important aspect of deployment success and points to the hope that, just like many other industries who have been entrenched in the use of biometrics for individual identification, the use of the technology to establish accurate identification in healthcare is now an important cog in overall widespread global adoption and acceptance. This point becomes an integral ingredient for hope that other hospitals and health systems around the world may follow suit and continue the growth and expansion of biometrics for patient ID by allaying any fears that patients won’t want to participate. They are indeed participating, in staggering numbers.

Patient Acceptance of Biometrics for Patient ID Points to Hope, not Hype
Patient Acceptance of Biometrics for Patient ID Points to Hope, not Hype

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When framing your own perceptions of biometrics for individual identification, ask yourself whether the motivation to use it is commensurate with your own personal goals of ensuring identity protection for yourself and your family. In the case of patient identification in healthcare and in light of the millions who are subjected to medical errors and ID theft each year, is biometrics your best shot and the most effective way to protect yourself? Over 99% of patients where the technology is currently used say yes.

There is great hope for an expansion of biometrics for patient ID in healthcare.

biometric patient identificationJeremy has worked in the biometrics industry for nearly a decade and has real world experience with fingerprint, palm vein, finger vein, iris and face recognition technologies. He currently oversees the RightPatient™ Healthcare division of M2SYS Technology, including sales, business development and project management. Before taking over the Healthcare unit, Jeremy spearheaded the growth of the core biometrics division, working closely with Fortune 500 clients like ADP, JP Morgan & BAE Systems to implement biometrics in large identity management projects.

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

6 Tips for Helping Your Patients Feel Safe in Your Office

how to increase patient safety in healthcare

Learn more about practical tips you can adopt at the doctor’s office to increase patient safety.

The following guest post on patient safety in healthcare was submitted by Kara Masterson.

The relationship between patients and their medical care providers is fundamental to the effectiveness of treatment. A lot of people don’t feel comfortable in doctors’ offices, some more than others. Professionals such as dentists, counselors, and therapists can have a hard time dealing with scared patients. A doctor must have a way to forge a relationship and maintain it throughout, and that begins by making patients feel safe when they visit your office. Here are just a few tips to help make that possible:

Polite Staff

Some of the fears that individuals have are results of bad experiences that start at the reception desk of a doctor’s office. The first encounter that a patient gets shapes their perception of how the place operates, so if it’s a bad one, it will affect how they behave when they see you. Ensure that all the staff members know how to talk to patients and keep the comfortable.

Non-Threatening Surroundings

Fear of a doctor’s office may arise from the environment that patients have to be in when they come for their appointments. This problem is, especially a common one in dentists’ offices where patients take one look and fear sets in. Bric-a-brac spread around the room can distract patients from intimidating tools or equipment present in the settings. Kid-friendly furniture, TV, toys, and play areas can also make your office more accommodating to kids.

Initiate Conversations

Some patients find it hard to open up when undergoing therapy, making it necessary to try a few tactics to get them to talk. Therapists and counselors who have been through social work doctoral programs have the skills to communicate with patients in ways that calm their fears. You should establish a technique to talk to patients that include using the right language, words, and tone.

Sensitivity

Good bedside manners will go a long way in getting rid of fears in your patients. Things like disrobing for tests can be uncomfortable for some people, so be sensitive to their feelings and reassure them when they need it. People always like having someone there for them that is sensitive to how they are feeling.

Explain

Doctors sometimes forget that patients don’t have an inherent knowledge of what they are talking about and ramble on and on when giving information. Take the time to lay out details for a patient and take them through every step. Don’t confuse patients with jargon. By taking time to explain to your patients in their language what is happening you can really help make them feel more comfortable.

Engage

A patient may have concerns such as the cost of treatment and financing options but may be too afraid to ask you upfront. The NCBH recommends engaging patients by asking questions to open opportunities.

Overall, there are tons of different things you can do to help your patients feel comfortable in your office. You want to make sure that you space is comfortable and secure for everyone that comes in it. Not only can that help make your patients feel good, but it can help you feel good as well.

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.