RightPatient-protects-medical-records-even-after-data-breaches

Protection of Medical Records is Critical as Data Breaches Appear Unstoppable

Healthcare data breaches are nothing new, especially in the U.S. Even before the pandemic, data breaches were common among hospitals, and why wouldn’t they be? With hackers selling one stolen medical record for up to $1000, medical records can be a lucrative business. However, since the pandemic, data breaches have become significantly more common. But there are some factors to consider in this context. For instance, because of the pandemic, healthcare providers understandably had a lot on their hands – a surge of COVID-19 patients, adapting to the rapidly changing environment, setting up virtual healthcare, and so on. Hackers took advantage of this situation and focused their attacks on healthcare facilities. Let’s look at the problem, explore why it is still occurring, and determine how the protection of medical records IS possible with positive patient identification.

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Recent data breaches show the importance of protecting medical records

Cyberattack forces a hospital to go back to analog methods! 

That’s not a piece of news we hear every day, is it? Well, the information of a whopping 1.4 million patients was exposed due to an incident back in June at St. Joseph’s/Candler. After detecting suspicious activity, the health system decided to shut down the IT systems, using paper documentation to mitigate the effects of the attack. However, things are better now, as their IT systems have been mostly restored. 

Information of more than 637,000 patients exposed

The attack led to unauthorized individual(s) accessing New Mexico Health’s network, compromising information for more than 637,000 patients. Names, addresses, birthdates, health insurance information, medical record numbers, were among the data accessed by the unauthorized party. The health system has been providing complimentary services to the affected patients after notifying them of the attack. 

All of this goes to show how important the protection of medical records is, especially if hospitals want to avoid huge losses in addition to those caused by the pandemic. Fortunately, RightPatient can prevent fraudsters from tampering with EHRs and even prevent medical identity theft in real-time – more on that later. For now, let’s see why data breaches are still occurring. 

Why do hospitals fail with the protection of medical records? 

There are quite a few reasons why data breaches still wreak havoc across healthcare facilities. 

Firstly, most healthcare facilities have extremely backdated security solutions or very basic (not robust) modern solutions.

Secondly, their IT infrastructure is outdated – and security relies on good IT infrastructure. 

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Thirdly, most facilities have not updated their systems in view of the recent data breaches. In other words, they don’t learn from the mistakes of others. 

There are, however, other external factors that limit the effectiveness of cybersecurity teams. The biggest issue they face is budgetary – generally, cybersecurity receives a very meager portion of the hospital’s budget. Thus, even if they wanted to, they couldn’t ramp up their cybersecurity measures. 

Moreover, hackers are coming up with new and innovative ways to steal patient information and disrupt hospital operations. As previously mentioned, hospitals and health systems are prime targets because hackers get significant amounts of money by stealing patient information and selling it on the black market. 

All in all, healthcare providers cannot be blamed entirely for becoming targets of data breaches – there are both external and internal forces that make them inevitable.

However, while data breaches are inevitable and seemingly unstoppable, their most common consequence, medical identity theft, IS preventable. 

RightPatient ensures the protection of medical records

There are several reasons why RightPatient is the leading touchless biometric patient identification platform. It ensures accurate identification of registered patients at all times. The platform is extremely easy to use for both patients and hospital employees – it becomes part of the EHR workflow. RightPatient is also safe, hygienic, and prevents HAIs (hospital-acquired infections), as it is touchless. However, it also prevents medical identity theft in real-time. 

When fraudsters attempt to pass themselves off as patients, RightPatient will establish that the fraudster does not match any saved medical records, simply by using the face – thus preventing medical identity theft. 

Several healthcare providers have added millions to their bottom line thanks to RightPatient. When will YOU make the move to the leading touchless patient ID platform?

RightPatient-contactless-patient-ID-platform

Improving Patient Safety in Virtual & In-Person Visits is a Must as COVID Cases Spike

While it seemed like the pandemic was waning in the U.S., it looks like it’s far from over. Unfortunately, the delta variant is here to wreak havoc once again – just look at the current scenario of the COVID-19 spikes across the states. The delta variant has even forced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to update its guidance on wearing masks. CDC has once again asked even fully vaccinated individuals to wear masks, a decision that has sparked backlash and confusion among the general public. That being said, let’s take a closer look at the current situation, what hospitals are doing now, and how improving patient safety during patient visits (both in-person and virtual) is crucial – something that RightPatient can help with.

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COVID cases are increasing once again

Florida has seen a huge spike – over 21,000 cases in a single day, and this is the highest since the pandemic! Earlier, the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day was slightly over 19,000 for the state.

Florida has also set a new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations – around 10,207 patients who were infected with the notorious virus. The previous record of the state was 10,170 patients per day.

Moreover, in San Fransico, around 233 healthcare workers tested positive for COVID-19, most of who were fully vaccinated. 

In Massachusetts, there was a new surge of COVID-19 patients, and almost three-fourths of them were fully vaccinated! 

Vaccinations are increasing too, fortunately!

Amongst all of the havoc caused by this new COVID-19 surge, vaccinations are fortunately increasing too. Around 800,000 people were vaccinated on July 25th – the highest doses in a single day in weeks. 

How are hospitals responding?

Hospitals, especially in the U.S., never seem to catch a break, do they? 

Well, many hospitals, if not all, are facing an increased number of patients – both COVID-19 and otherwise. Unfortunately, the non-COVID-19 cases are due to COVID-19 itself, ironically. These are the patients who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get healthcare services since the pandemic began. 

For instance, according to an official at Stanford Healthcare, they are completely full and are “outstripping” beds every day. These include both COVID and non-COVID cases. However, the non-COVID-19 ones need urgent care as they are quite ill. They delayed elective procedures themselves, or their dates were pushed back, due to, you guessed it, the pandemic.

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Many hospitals, as a result, are once again, working hard towards improving patient safety. Healthcare providers are either postponing or reducing non-emergency and elective surgeries at their facilities. Others are changing their visitation policies, such as restricting in-person patient visitors (barring exceptional cases), allowing virtual visits, minimizing patient visitors, and so on. 

As for providing healthcare services, the pandemic already showed how telehealth can be used to care for non-COVID-19 patients – the latter can just be in their homes and avail healthcare services. In fact, many healthcare providers are incentivizing patients for using telehealth during the surge. Lee Health, for instance, is waiving its charges for certain virtual visits. 

However, the doors are still open for critical non-COVID-19 patients, and for improving patient safety, hospitals need to implement strategies that eliminate physical contact, prevent infection control issues, and improve patient outcomes

RightPatient can help with all of that, fortunately.

Improving patient safety with RightPatient

RightPatient is the leading touchless biometric patient ID platform used by several healthcare providers. However, other than ensuring positive patient identification, using RightPatient benefits hospitals and patients in several ways.

RightPatient is perfect for the post-pandemic world as it identifies patients accurately safely and hygienically.

For appointment scheduling and virtual visits, patients only need to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license during the registration process – RightPatient does the rest. For in-person visits, patients only need to look at the camera during the registration or verification process.

All of this ensures that the accurate medical record is selected every time, all without requiring the patient to touch any screens or devices – reducing infection control issues.

RightPatient also ensures that accurate information is fed into the appropriate EHRs each time – boosting patient data integrity, improving patient outcomes, and more. 

RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification, is touchless, improves patient outcomes, prevents patient safety incidents, and reduces infection control issues for everyone in the facilities.

How are YOU improving patient safety at your healthcare facility?

Improve-the-revenue-cycle-management-with-RightPatient

Healthcare Revenue Cycle Management Optimization is Crucial as In-Person Visits Increase

Believe it or not, while COVID-19 was arguably one of the worst problems faced by the U.S. healthcare system, it was just ONE of many. That’s right, there are a plethora of issues that have been hampering healthcare for years, causing patient safety incidents, lost revenue, and more. Unfortunately, these losses went through the roof due to COVID-19 – they were estimated to be around $323 billion in 2020. While the pandemic is slowly waning, things are going in the right direction as providers are opening their doors for in-person visits. To recover from the pandemic’s financial losses, healthcare revenue cycle management optimization must be one of the topmost priorities for health systems – let’s take a closer look at why it’s important and some strategies that can help with revenue cycle optimization.

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Revenue cycle management in healthcare facilities

Healthcare revenue cycle management might be quite complex, as it contains many intricate processes, but it is simple enough to understand.

Revenue cycle management, in a nutshell, is used by hospitals and health systems to keep track of the “revenue” they receive by treating patients. It has many steps, but RCM starts from the first interaction with the patient, for instance, appointment scheduling, and continues until caregivers receive the final payment. 

If broken down, revenue cycle of healthcare facilities usually contains 7 components:

  • Preregistration
  • Registration
  • Charge capture
  • Claim submission
  • Remittance processing
  • Insurance followup
  • Patient collections

As this list shows, the revenue cycle starts from the first interaction with the patient and ends with receiving the full amount for providing healthcare services to the patient.

RightPatient-optimizes-healthcare-revenue-cycle-management

While it might seem simple, healthcare revenue cycle management is quite complicated and difficult, especially when it comes to collecting claims from the payers (insurance providers). 

Why optimizing RCM has never been more crucial

While it was always important for healthcare providers to improve RCM within their facilities, doing so now might ensure their survival and get them through this trying time. COVID-19 has drastically affected healthcare providers, and while some received bailouts in billions, others had to close their doors permanently. The rest of them are simply struggling through the financial losses, but as in-person visits are increasing, things look brighter for the caregivers, as long as they are implementing strategies that optimize RCM right from the start. 

That being said, let’s take a look at some of the strategies that can be employed to optimize healthcare revenue cycle management.

Strategies that enhance healthcare revenue cycle management

Examine the entire RCM process to identify gaps

While the age-old saying is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”, rapidly evolving environments beg to differ. How do you know that it’s working out fine for you? Unless your denied claims are reduced to virtually zero, there’s always room for improvement. 

Improving-revenue-cycle-management-RightPatient

Analyze the entire RCM process to see if there are addressable gaps that require improvement – even the smallest ones matter. Talk to patients, survey your RCM team, take a look at the current numbers, and determine where you want the numbers to be. If issues are not found, then great – the problem might not lie in RCM, but if issues exist, work on them. RCM is evolving rapidly, and with the changes brought about by COVID-19, introducing technology in almost every aspect of the service to improve efficiency and collaboration has become the new normal. And speaking of collaboration, let’s move to the next point. 

Improve collaboration between your front-end and back-end RCM teams

The traditional practice is that the front-end and back-end teams work towards the same goals, but separately. However, if they work more collaboratively then the entire process will become seamless and it will help optimize RCM as information is never lost or misinterpreted – helping to receive payments much faster and in greater numbers, improving the bottom line. 

Using solutions that guarantee accurate patient information

When it comes to RCM, one of the biggest impediments to its optimization is denied or rejected claims – most of which can be traced back to billing and coding errors. On the front-end, if the patients are misidentified or if inaccurate medical records are used, then there are bound to be inconsistencies that are picked up by the payers. These errors lead not only to billing errors and denied claims, but can also be detrimental to positive patient outcomes – affecting the bottom line and the goodwill towards the hospital. As a result, ensuring patient data integrity and accurate patient identification is a must – both of which can be done with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a tried and tested biometric patient ID platform that safely and accurately identifies patients using their faces. The patient only needs to look at the camera – the platform does the rest, making it an entirely contactless process, something that is crucial in the post-pandemic world.

Not only does RightPatient make identification faster and accurate, but it also ensures that accurate information is fed to the registered patients’ EHRs every time they opt for healthcare visits, reducing billing and coding inconsistencies and denied claims in the process.

How-to-Protect-Patient-Data-with-RightPatient

How to Protect Patient Data at Your Hospital

The U.S. healthcare system has never had a shortage of problems – it has always dealt with several issues simultaneously. The exorbitant prices, the lack of price transparency, medical identity theft cases, lack of patient identification in hospitals, preventable medical errors, and archaic laws are just some issues that plague healthcare. Healthcare data breaches have unfortunately been growing at an exponential rate. With no signs of them stopping anytime soon, it becomes crucial that healthcare providers, professionals, and everyone involved with patient information be vigilant regarding protecting the data. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at how to protect patient data within hospitals and health systems with 5 practices. 

How-to-Protect-Patient-Data-with-RightPatient

Why protecting patient data is becoming so important

Those who are familiar with the U.S. healthcare system know that data breaches are occurring left, right, and center. These data breaches have several grave consequences such as patient information being stolen, being sold in the black market, being used for medical identity theft, patient data integrity failure, litigation costs, loss of goodwill – the list just goes on. And all of this might occur simply because a healthcare staff member opened an external email without being wary of the possible risks. 

As a result, healthcare professionals and facilities need to be on guard at all times against such cyberattacks so that they don’t lead to data breaches, disruption of operations, or the most common endgame – medical identity theft.

With the “why” out of the way, let’s dive into the “how”, to be more precise, how to protect patient data.

How to protect patient data with 5 practices

Work on HIPAA compliance

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, mandates that healthcare providers along with anyone else dealing with patient information protect patient information effectively at all times. It provides many rules and regulations that cover a lot of aspects, and if applicable organizations aren’t ensuring compliance, then they’ll be heavily penalized. 

However, working on HIPAA compliance just for the sake of avoiding penalties won’t help. HIPAA provides several guidelines on how to protect patient data at rest and during transmission. If these guidelines are taken as starting points, not only will HIPAA compliance be ensured, but patient data will also be protected – reducing chances of data breaches. There are even solutions such as HIPAA compliance software that can also aid in compliance – helping identify security gaps and reducing the administrative burden in the process.

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Improve user authentication practices

Patient data can be breached from anywhere, and with many healthcare staff working remotely, the risks are just increasing. Putting safeguards in place that enforce limited access to everyone that deals with patient information can slow down breaches. This way, even if the hacker has access to the employee’s account, they will only have restricted access to sensitive information.

Always encrypt sensitive information 

Encrypting sensitive information makes it useless for hackers – it makes the information unreadable by outsiders or unauthorized users. Enforce employees’ use of encryption whenever transmitting sensitive patient information.

Provide training on patient data security whenever required

Too many training sessions on patient information security can be ineffective and counterproductive, and too few can reduce its importance. Instead, find the sweet spot for your organization to provide training sessions regarding patient information security.

For instance, whenever there’s news about another data breach that can provide meaningful information, conducting a training session and disseminating the information to the employees can help – learning from others’ mistakes might just be the thing that will prevent a data breach. Also, regularly provide updates on how to handle external emails and requests – the safest bet is treating each email as a suspicious one.

Implement solutions that protect patient data

Several constraints prohibit healthcare providers from fully being protected against data breaches – cybersecurity budgets and hackers coming up with innovative ways to attack being the most common ones. However, while data breaches might seem inevitable for many, patient data can be protected, but how?

RightPatient is the answer.

It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that prevents medical identity theft in real-time. By ensuring accurate patient identification, RightPatient successfully red-flags fraudsters during the registration process. This prevents fraudsters from tampering with the EHRs, ensuring patient data integrity, and protecting patient data in the process. 

How are you protecting patient data at your healthcare facility?

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Revenue Cycle Optimization Efforts Are Hampered by Duplicate Medical Records

Medical record errors such as duplicate medical records and overlays are issues that keep resurfacing time and again, especially when they lead to patient identification errors. We’ve already taken a closer look at duplicate medical records, how they are created, and how they impact patient safety. However, these are not the only problems medical record errors create. Another prominent issue is that duplicates jeopardize your revenue cycle optimization efforts by creating denied claims. Let’s take a look at exactly how that happens, how denied claims can take up your valuable resources, and how RightPatient can help combat duplicates and overlays, and in turn, optimize revenue cycle management.

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How duplicates get created

To understand how duplicate medical records affect the revenue cycle, let’s take a brief look at how duplicates and overlays get created. These usually originate during the registration process, especially if the healthcare providers don’t have any effective patient identity verification system in place.

For instance, patients keep coming in and they need to be identified immediately so that they can be treated. This clearly shows that hospital registration desks are environments that are always hectic and staff is under pressure, more so for busy or larger hospitals. If you factor in outdated or ineffective patient identification platforms, duplicates are bound to occur, along with problems such as infection control issues that are associated with touch-based patient identification platforms.

Coming back to duplicates, the registrars have a very small window to identify the accurate medical records from an EHR system that might house thousands of records. Name changes, common names, misspellings, and nicknames only make matters worse. For instance, the medical record is saved under the name “Richard Grayson”, but the patient uses his nickname “Rick Grayson”. These are bound to create identification issues, and when the registrar can’t find the accurate record, they might end up creating a new one – leading to a duplicate record. Furthermore, existing duplicates will create more confusion for the registrars – AHIMA (The American Health Information Management Association) has stated that larger healthcare facilities have around 20% duplicates.

That’s how medical record errors usually begin, and while we’ve already talked about how it impacts patient safety, how exactly does it affect revenue cycle optimization and a hospital’s financial performance? Let’s analyze the issue.

How revenue cycle optimization is hampered by duplicates

According to a Black Book report, 33% of denied claims were caused by patient identification errors in 2017, costing the average healthcare provider $1.5 million and the entire U.S. healthcare system a whopping $6 billion per year. Let’s see how duplicates lead to denied claims that hamper the revenue cycle.

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It’s quite straightforward – as duplicate medical records consist of incorrect, obsolete, fragmented, or incomplete information, these lead to coding and billing errors. Moreover, as duplicates hamper patient care, litigation costs regarding such cases are not unheard of. Not only do healthcare providers lose money, but they also lose their goodwill – these stories spread like wildfire, whenever they occur.

Coming back to duplicate records and revenue cycle, let’s take a look at how they are related. One of the more common places where denied claims occur due to duplicates is during surgical procedures, according to an article from HIM Briefings. Let’s use the example provided by Letha Stewart from QuadraMed within the article.

During the presurgery phase, the patient comes in and is registered as “Richard Grayson” and has the medical record number 111. As previously mentioned, common names lead to confusion among the registrars, and thus, without an effective patient identifier, the registrar couldn’t find the accurate medical record on the day of the surgery. As a result, a new record gets created under “Rick Grayson” with a different number, for instance, 222. When the insurance provider verifies the claims regarding this surgical procedure, it will notice the glaring discrepancy – there are different medical records involved for a single procedure. Moreover, the insurer most likely will use the patient record available at their end, and seeing that the records don’t match, the claim will be denied. While this is a simple but illuminating scenario, this is how most of the claim denials that stem from duplicate medical records occur. To sum it up, incorrect, fragmented, or incomplete patient data and discrepancies lead to denied claims that impact revenue cycle optimization efforts.

Providers dedicate FTEs for fixing medical record errors

Duplicate records and overlays need to be identified and fixed to prevent impediments to revenue cycle optimization. Most providers do that by dedicating their full-time employees (FTEs) from their HIM departments. While these activities are necessary, they also consume a significant amount of resources and time. According to Stewart, many providers dedicate around five FTEs to solve these issues. However, if providers don’t have an effective patient identifier in place, they cannot take the load off their FTEs and they’ll need to continue fixing these errors for quite some time, leading to lower productivity and higher costs. Given the current pandemic, providers need to mitigate costs as much as possible. That’s where RightPatient can help them.

RightPatient enhances revenue cycle optimization

As we’ve mentioned several times, going to the root of the issue, patient identification, is the best strategy. If you avoid duplicates and overlays at the frontend, you won’t have to deal with them later and face consequences like denied claims, allocating FTEs for fixing the issues, and higher costs. But how can RightPatient help with that?

RightPatient is the leading touchless biometric patient identification platform used by many providers to prevent duplicates. With its photo-based search engine, RightPatient identifies patients from appointment scheduling and beyond. Be it remote patient validation or identification within the healthcare facility, RightPatient ensures that the correct medical record is provided every time within seconds. Reduce denied claims, prevent duplicates, and enhance patient safety with RightPatient now.

medical record safety

Peace of Mind: A Short Guide To Who Handles Your Private Medical Information

The following guest post on who handles Protected Health Information (PHI) was submitted by Brooke Chaplan.

From basic information such as your height and weight to the types of medications you are taking, your health history, diagnoses, billing information and more, your healthcare providers have access to an incredible amount of very personal information about you and others in your family. This is information that you do not want to fall into the wrong hands. This begs the question of who actually has access to all of the information in your medical file.

Peace of Mind: A Short Guide To Who Handles Your Private Medical Information

Many patients are unaware of how many people have access to their sensitive medical information.

Well-Trained and Screened Candidates

In most healthcare offices, hospitals and other settings, the administrative or medical team that has access to your records is usually well-trained and thoroughly screened. These individuals typically must pass a thorough background check before being permitted to work in the office, and the office often has safeguards and high-tech protocols to prevent employees from mishandling or abusing the information that they gain access to. Some of the professionals with the most access are healthcare administrators that hold a degree in their field.

Your Health Insurance Company

If you are one of the many millions of Americans who have access to health insurance, your health insurance company may keep track of your medications, treatments, diagnoses and more. Health insurance professionals are often required to uphold strict standards of confidentiality in the same way your healthcare providers are. In addition, as is the case with hospitals and medical offices, health insurance companies usually go to great lengths to prevent employees from misusing or abusing the data that they come across over the course of their regular work day.

Potential Hackers

In 2015, as many as a third of all Americans were impacted by a security breach that involved their healthcare data or records. Information such as their address and Social Security information may have been passed on to hackers. Some hackers sell the data they obtain through their attacks, and others use it personally with malicious intent. For example, with your name, address, Social Security number and birth date, they can commit identity theft. Many medical offices and hospitals are aware of this and other potential risks to their patients, and they regularly take steps to continuously update and improve technology in an effort to reduce this risk for their patients.

Your private data should remain private at all times, but the unfortunate reality is that the system in place in the healthcare industry right now is not perfect. Patients should make inquiries to their healthcare providers to learn more about the steps a particular office or hospital is taking to keep their data from falling into the wrong hands.

Author bio:

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.

him health information management

5 Most Significant Tech Trends In Health Information Management (HIM)

The following guest post on trends in Health Information Management (HIM) was submitted by Broadwater.

The sheer power of technology has paved the way for the development of the latest tech systems in Healthcare Information Management (HIM). We have witnessed how the Electronic health systems have gone through many changes over the past few years. These advanced breakthroughs are deployed with a goal to enhance the efficiency of healthcare information management systems, and to promote something that will allow health care facilities to deliver the best possible treatment and care to every patient. Let’s walk through the 5 biggest technological trends that embark a great contribution on modern Healthcare Information Management.

5 Most Significant Tech Trends In Health Information Management (HIM)

Learn about new technologies positively impacting Health Information Management (HIM) departments in healthcare.

Mobile Access

Imagine this: a physician had to be physically present in the office in order to examine a patients’ case. Gone are those days. Thanks to the rise of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets; more doctors are now able to work remotely, conveniently storing healthcare records over a cloud. Traditional IT infrastructure is now being replaced by cloud based azure windows virtual desktop with the help of daas providers which makes it easy for doctors to keep an eye on their office by sitting at home. This way, they can easily access pertinent information regardless of where they are, through the use of mobile devices. This is especially useful during medical emergencies, where a patient can receive quick and efficient diagnosis and treatment, wherever their doctors are.

Electronic Health Records

While Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) contain patient information about diagnosis and treatment, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) provide a more detailed view of the medical story of the patient, including allergies, previous medications, immunization records, and other relevant data. Through electronic storage of the patient information, health care centers do not only save on paper files, but it also provides a much easier and more convenient access by the health care provider. Thanks to its reliable searchable database that makes finding Healthcare Information Management simpler and more efficient, thus improving the way healthcare services are provided.

Virtual Conferencing

To provide a top-line healthcare service, doctors have to consult with peers. And obtaining a second opinion on patients’ medical records from a peer specialist is a smart way to ensure that patients receive proper diagnosis and treatment. At present, video conferencing makes way for a much easier and more effective consultation. Doctors are now able to speak with other experts around the world in the comfort of their own homes or offices.

Unified Communication Platform

While video conferencing is a great choice to seek outside help, unified communication systems benefit Healthcare Information Management within a medical facility. When multiple nurses and doctors are working on the same patient, it is necessary that every bit of information should be up to date and readily available for everyone’s access. This means that an open line of communication is the key to efficient healthcare service. With a unified communication system, information can be easily updated though text, email, micro-blogging and IM. Most importantly, every member of the team can readily view the thread.

Privacy and Security

One of the most pressing concerns regarding Healthcare Information Management in an online setting is the risks of security issues. In today’s world where every bit of information can be accessed using any device and from any location, it is paramount that healthcare information management teams should take all the essential measures to prevent any issues. Privacy and security can be reinforced thorough password protection, and a strict verification process. The management should have a keen eye for malware, viruses and other attacks that can pose threats to the integrity of the patient information.

Medical science gets more and more cutting-edge in terms of technological development as the years pass by. A high-performing medical tool or a new procedure can make the difference between life and death. Be assured without a doubt there are tremendous changes that await us in the field of Health Information Management.

Author Bio (Broadwater)

Broadwater is a team of dental experts committed to delivering the most comprehensive dental care in the industry. The team uses state-of-the-art dental materials and techniques in order to make sure that you experience comfortable and high quality treatment. With local labs and the finest quality dental materials available such as digital x-rays and intraoral camera, the team carefully chooses techniques that are clinically proven to ensure patients receive the best care. http://broadwaterfamilydental.com/

EHRs

8 Misconceptions About EHRs That Must Be Dispelled

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.

EHRs

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

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.

Andrea 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

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.

The Importance of Maintaining Patient Data Integrity

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

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.

An effective way of ensuring patient data integrity is by using solutions that protect patient data by preventing medical identity theft, duplicate records, and mix-ups. Solutions like RightPatient do so by ensuring accurate patient identification across the continuum of care. By ensuring that the accurate medical records are identified every time patients use healthcare services, mix-ups and duplicates are prevented easily. Moreover, it prevents medical identity theft in real-time by verifying patients’ identities using their faces. Several healthcare providers are already benefiting from using the platform and are maintaining patient data integrity. 

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.

biometric patient identification solutions prevent duplicate medical records and overlays

New Podcast: The Impact of Duplicates and Overlays on Health Information Management (HIM)

biometric patient identification solutions prevent duplicate medical records and overlays

Our latest podcast features HIM Director Erin Head discussing the impact of duplicate medical records and overlays on health information management (HIM).

Erin brings a wealth of experience to health information management (HIM) work flow and managing patient data integrity so naturally we were excited to tap into her knowledge base to better understand the HIM “front line” – a deeper discussion about the day to day activities in the trenches and a firsthand account of the negative impact of duplicate medical record and overlay identification and reconciliation. Our conversation with Erin covered the following topics:

— How duplicate medical record reconciliation impacts HIM workflow and other job responsibilities sacrificed due to duplicate/overlay reconciliation

— The average FTEs health information management spends reconciling duplicates and overlays and the financial impact on the hospital if FTE’s that are currently cleaning up duplicates and overlays could be reallocated to more revenue generating activities such as coding

— How the shift to quality vs. quantity based care impacts the responsibilities and sense of urgency for HIM

— Whether the ONC cost estimate of $60 per duplicate record is low or high compared to her own experience

— The impact on HIPAA violations that duplicates/overlays cause and the cost if a hospital releases information to wrong patient

— How the introduction of the patient portal complicates management of duplicates

— How the implementation of a biometric patient identification system helps to lower the burden of reconciling duplicates and overlays and allows health information management to focus on their core competencies

For a full version of the podcast, please visit the landing page for more information. 

Have an idea for a podcast or know a healthcare professional that would be a good candidate to interview? Email us at: info@rightpatient.com with your ideas!