RightPatient-augments-the-benefits-of-telehealth

The Benefits of Telehealth and How to Ensure Patient Safety During Virtual Visits

Telehealth is nothing new – it has been around for quite some time now, especially in the U.S. Unfortunately, its potential was not fully realized before the pandemic because healthcare providers were too wary about using it whereas pundits were busy arguing and analyzing the drawbacks and benefits of telehealth. As a result, not many patients were exposed to virtual visits – leading to telehealth becoming nothing more than a rarely used add-on that was just collecting dust in the drawer of unused tools, figuratively speaking. However, as we all know, the pandemic changed everything, and telehealth became essential. The pandemic allowed telehealth to show its potential as it was quickly thrust into the limelight.

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RightPatient prevents medical identity theft during virtual sessions

Let’s take a look at how virtual sessions are transforming healthcare, the benefits of telehealth for everyone involved, and how patient safety can be ensured during these remote patient visits.

How telehealth became relevant again

Technology has slowly but steadily become an integral part of the U.S. healthcare system – AI, wearables, machine learning, and other technologies are being tested to detect whether they improve healthcare outcomes for the masses or not. Unfortunately, as previously mentioned, it was ignored due to a number of factors, and the benefits of telehealth were also overlooked. One of the biggest advantages of telehealth is that it offers patient care beyond the walls of hospitals and health systems. This basically means that patients can get care right from the comfort of their homes or anywhere they want – enabling true, remote care. The future of telehealth looked quite promising. 

And then, a certain novel virus overwhelmed the entire world and burdened healthcare systems. 

Hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients as they were coming in huge numbers – healthcare facilities had to allocate all their resources to serve patients. Moreover, due to the nature of the virus, other patients were not allowed into hospitals and they were diverted towards telehealth – the rest is history.

Telehealth’s usage increased dramatically as regular patients started using it and caregivers started adopting different telehealth platforms to accommodate their patients. While telehealth’s usage has been slowing down somewhat, it’s still here to stay. 

That being said, let’s take a closer look at the benefits of telehealth enjoyed by patients and healthcare providers.

Benefits of telehealth

It makes healthcare more convenient than ever

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RightPatient ensures patient safety during telehealth visits

Before telehealth became a force to be reckoned with, many patients had to travel long distances to see their physicians in person, something that is cumbersome, expensive, and inconvenient. However, thanks to telehealth, patients can see their physicians from their preferred locations. Patients don’t need to travel miles – all they need is an internet connection and a communication device. Patients can simply book an appointment, get the link to the virtual session, and consult with their physician(s) at the location and time that works best for them – making a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Moreover, telehealth helps globetrotting physicians provide healthcare services to their patients while they’re out of the country – ensuring that all of their patients are cared for.

It enables remote access to healthcare services

One of the biggest advantages of telehealth is that it takes healthcare out of the hospitals, that is, it enables patients to get healthcare services from the comfort and safety of their homes. Telehealth was extremely helpful when the pandemic hit in full force. It was one of the key instruments that helped reduce infections since it helped patients receive care without putting themselves at risk of contracting the virus by visiting hospitals.

However, with the pandemic, telehealth has also shown how useful it can be in providing remote care to patients that either cannot come to healthcare facilities or are not willing to. Since most patients are now familiar with telehealth, healthcare providers are also investing heavily into it – some are developing their own telehealth platforms whereas others are using established solutions to support their patients.

While telehealth can never fully replace inpatient visits that are required for lab tests, surgeries, etc., it can handle patients that have chronic diseases but are not able to visit hospitals. All in all, telehealth’s future looks bright, something that was uncertain before the pandemic.

It reaches more patients

Most patients usually prefer going to the closest healthcare provider for check-ups and getting treatment. However, many live in rural areas and do not have the means to travel to the city. Fortunately, telehealth breaks down that barrier as it does not impose any physical limitations – a patient can consult a physician that is thousands of miles away. This opens up new opportunities for the caregivers as they can serve a larger population. 

There’s more to telehealth

While there is no doubt that telehealth is here to stay, it’s still in its early years and can put patient safety at risk. For instance, during telehealth sessions, patients can face the same issues they do during inpatient visits, such as patient misidentification. Moreover, many experts are concerned about medical identity theft that might occur with telehealth visits. Fortunately, RightPatient can help prevent that – improving quality and safety in healthcare

RightPatient enhances patient safety

A leading touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient is being used by caregivers to protect patients from healthcare fraud, medical record mix-ups, and more. RightPatient can also be used across the care continuum, making it ideal for telehealth sessions. It helps patients validate their identities, preventing medical identity theft by red-flagging fraudsters.

RightPatient supports telehealth sessions as well as inpatient visits – contact us now to learn how we can help enhance patient safety for your healthcare facility.

Telehealth in the Covid era - from coordinating care to saving lives

Telehealth in the COVID Era – From Coordinating Care to Saving Lives

How telehealth evolved due to Covid

Even before the novel coronavirus pandemic broke out across the world, technologies like telehealth video conferencing were penetrating more and more institutions with the promise of new efficiencies for doctors and patients. 

Telehealth in the Covid era - from coordinating care to saving lives

The COVID‐19 emergency disrupted even the most stable healthcare systems, speeding up the introduction of new care modalities. Multiple telehealth solutions got the green light in clinics and hospitals to permit the delivery of comprehensive, high-quality care in new conditions.

Training and care coordination for pandemic responders

In the hectic first months of the pandemic, when governments and health systems were working out a response to an unprecedented situation, telehealth proved to be an indispensable tool for training and collaboration. 

Thanks to specialized telecommunications solutions, doctors from different institutions and even countries have been able to carry out distance education courses, deliver critical COVID-19 training for rural providers, and streamline real-time collaboration with out-of-hospital providers.

Addressing the needs of vulnerable groups

Domestic violence victims

Recent surveys have shown that the pandemic has had an impact on domestic violence victims as well, with people in abusive households facing a higher risk of isolation, depression, and suicide due to widespread social distancing and lockdown measures. 

Telehealth can go a long way in providing domestic violence victims and survivors with important psychological services whenever and wherever it’s comfortable for them. One example is The Zepf Center, a non-profit behavioral health center in Ohio that is now partnering with Bethany House and the YWCA of Northwest Ohio to install telehealth systems on-site and run an awareness campaign. The project will enable abuse survivors to connect with much-needed psychiatric, therapy, and case management services. 

Elderly patients

Out of all at-risk demographics, the coronavirus has especially heavy consequences among the elderly. In a situation where seniors have to minimize close contact with other people and postpone non-urgent medical visits to avoid contagion, their healthcare routines are being disrupted and key services become unavailable.  

New telehealth initiatives are now targeting care delivery to elderly patients that stay at home for their safety or experience poor availability of care due to hospitals predominantly treating COVID-19 patients. In Maine, elderly residents will get access to wellness services and advanced care planning with the help of telehealth in a program coordinated by the University of New England.

Within the program, osteopathic medicine students and family medicine practitioners will be trained to deliver their services, such as annual and routine preventive care for seniors, via telehealth platforms.

Rare disease patients

Before COVID-19, people with rare diseases already routinely turned to telehealth to reach specific experts without traveling a long way. In the last months, the same technology turned from convenience to a life-saver, since many rare disease patients take medications that adversely affect their immune systems and increase the risk of infection. By moving face-to-face consultations online, users are able to receive the care they need regularly and safely. 

For example, hemophilia patients in Ireland benefit from a well-developed EHR system that simplifies the use of telemedicine for managing hemophilia treatments. Surveys among such patients have shown that 94% are satisfied or very satisfied with telehealth physical therapy, and 63% express interest in a remote exercise class by video or via an app.

Tackling emerging challenges of telehealth delivery 

Despite multiple advantages and high levels of motivation among stakeholders, telehealth video conferencing initiatives still face many hurdles in their implementation. Let’s have a closer look at some of them. 

Accessibility

Not all telehealth solutions that are currently in use accommodate well for people with visual impairments, motor impairments, and language barriers. The pandemic has also highlighted the inequalities in access to a stable phone or broadband connection, especially in rural areas. For example, among elderly Americans, just 55% own a smartphone or have broadband access at home. 

A related factor is the lack of familiarity with telehealth technologies among patients and doctors alike. Most elderly patients are comfortable with telephone consultations, and a much lower number can confidently use video conferencing. 

A concerted effort is needed to tailor telehealth solutions to the needs of patients and, on the other hand, to improve digital health literacy among affected patient subgroups. 

Scalability

Quite simply, the pandemic has put all digital systems in healthcare under increased pressure, and scalability has become an issue for many telehealth providers. 

Developers introduce highly available architectures to help doctors reach geographically distributed patients and support a larger number of concurrent connections. Another way of addressing the issue is cloud-based autoscaling – an approach that leverages the flexibility of the cloud to ramp up resources in real-time depending on the performance and current demand.

Regulation

To address the migration of multiple healthcare services to online platforms, regulatory bodies in many countries had to ease the existing restrictions around telehealth. In March 2020, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the U.S. reduced barriers to telehealth access. 

Among other changes, CMS dropped the rule that stipulated telehealth recipients needed a prior relationship with their healthcare professional of choice, which allowed doctors to offer consultations to new patients using telehealth. The easing of HIPAA requirements in telehealth also enables physicians to use popular videoconferencing platforms like Zoom and Skype for remote consultations.

Security

A lot of experts have been concerned about security issues that lead to cases of telehealth fraud and medical identity theft. Many hackers have even forced themselves into telehealth sessions, showing that an extra layer of security is required. 

Fortunately, medical identity theft is preventable if a robust patient identification platform is used to validate patients’ identities, and that is exactly what RightPatient does. It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses patients’ photos to verify their identities and can be used across the care continuum, making it ideal for telehealth sessions. 

Conclusion

According to a report by The National Organization for Rare Disorders, before the pandemic, only about 0.01% of healthcare appointments in the U.S. were done via telehealth. By mid-April 2020, that number had risen to 69% of total appointments.

For many, a shift from in-person visits to telehealth in the current period improves safety and accessibility of qualified medical assistance. However, healthcare providers and regulators should take into account that for certain populations, the benefits of this transition also create new barriers and limitations. As we all work to minimize the COVID-19 risks, the efficiency and equitability of care delivery with telehealth should be examined in relation to various patient demographics.

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Reducing Healthcare Fraud and Abuse During Telehealth Sessions

Healthcare fraud and abuse have been around for a significant amount of time – affecting healthcare providers, patients, and everyone else involved in the delivery of care. While most people think that it only affects patients financially, it has far more sinister consequences. For instance, medical identity theft, in many cases, causes the victims’ EHRs to become corrupt. Since the fraudster poses as the patient and might obtain healthcare services, their information gets recorded within the EHR, rendering it corrupt. Unfortunately, healthcare fraud is only increasing, demonstrating that it won’t be resolved soon. Moreover, experts are worried that healthcare fraud might bleed over to virtual visits (telehealth and telemedicine) as well since the majority of healthcare is using telehealth due to the pandemic. 

That being said, let’s take a closer look at the explosion of telehealth and its usage, why it might face healthcare fraud and abuse, and some practices that can help mitigate these cases. 

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Telehealth’s explosion in a nutshell

One interesting fact about telehealth is that it has been around for quite a few years. While it has been debated between healthcare experts and patients regarding its benefits and drawbacks, it never got the push required for it to evolve – until the pandemic. 

Once COVID-19 hit the US in full force, telehealth was promoted for non-COVID-19 patients who required medical attention. Moreover, rules surrounding telehealth were relaxed in order to help healthcare providers adopt it. As a result, telehealth’s usage skyrocketed, and while it does have some flaws, it proved that virtual visits are the way forward.

Telehealth raises concerns about healthcare fraud and abuse online

While telehealth grows, so does online healthcare spending, attracting the eyes of hackers and fraudsters – ultimately leading to healthcare fraud. The NHCAA (National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association) stated that a whopping $68 billion is lost due to healthcare fraud each year. 

But why are healthcare fraud and abuse related to telehealth?

Well, while most of us have gotten used to navigating life during the pandemic by now, when it started, it was an environment that created confusion, fear, and panic among the general public – patients included. Moreover, as previously mentioned, many regulations were relaxed in order to ease telehealth adoption. This created ways for fraudsters and criminals to take advantage of patients and caregivers via malware, bogus cures, charities, etc. For instance, there were cases where hackers and fraudsters gained access to telehealth sessions. 

As a result, not only should healthcare providers aim to secure telehealth platforms, but they must also adopt practices that help protect patient information and prevent medical identity theft during virtual visits as they become the new normal.

Reducing healthcare fraud and abuse during telehealth sessions

Use graphical elements to detect outliers

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Healthcare is vast, and any healthcare provider has to store lots of information or data regarding their patients, operations, etc. Using this information by itself might be counterintuitive as outliers would be very difficult to detect, especially regarding healthcare fraud schemes such as kickbacks. Data visualization, on the other hand, provides a visual representation and ensures that outliers and suspicious trends can be identified swiftly. However, its success depends on one aspect – the quality of data. 

Provide security training whenever necessary

Medical identity theft and data breaches are quite common in the healthcare space. As a result, hospitals and health systems need to train their employees regularly and effectively to prevent falling into the pitfalls of malware, phishing schemes, etc. Ensure that the training sessions highlight the most recent breaches and how they occurred, emphasizing the importance of preventing such cases within your organization. 

Aim for HIPAA compliance to reduce healthcare fraud

In order to prevent healthcare fraud and hackers from breaching data, the foundation within the hospital has to be strong first. In this case, the foundation is known as HIPAA compliance. 

Now, HIPAA compliance can be an administrative burden for most healthcare providers since there are several rules and regulations to follow. However, ensuring HIPAA compliance can lead to preventing medical identity theft as well as data breaches, as most of the rules are regarding the protection of medical information known as PHI (protected health information). Also, HIPAA talks about providing training to the necessary personnel so that they are updated about the most recent changes.

Fortunately, there are many solutions available that can streamline HIPAA compliance and reduce the administrative burden, but the one that stands out the most is HIPAA Ready. It is a robust HIPAA compliance management application that keeps HIPAA related information in a centralized location. It can also be used to conduct internal audits, identify, and address security gaps – strengthening security efforts. However, the best part is that it can be used right from a smartphone, putting HIPAA compliance in the palm of your hand.

Implement solutions that prevent medical identity theft

Some factors make data breaches inevitable. Firstly, many healthcare providers have a very meager cybersecurity budget, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. Secondly, hackers are always coming up with new tactics to breach and steal patient information. These two factors alone make data breaches virtually unstoppable.

While healthcare data breaches seem to be inevitable, medical identity theft can be prevented – with RightPatient. 

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that attaches patients’ photos and biometric data to their medical records upon registration. For subsequent visits, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform runs a search and provides accurate medical records in seconds. Whenever a fraudster tries to assume the patient’s identity, RightPatient red-flags them, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

Moreover, RightPatient is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the care continuum – making it ideal for virtual visits such as telehealth sessions.

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Improving Quality of Care for Patients – 3 Tech Trends to Watch Out for

2020 feels like yesterday – while it did seem like the longest year due to COVID-19 and a number of other issues, we’ve finally stepped into 2021. The pandemic did bring a lot of hardship, took a lot from us, and has changed our lives forever. However, it did also show new ways to do things we thought were never possible. For instance, virtually everyone has worked remotely (many still are doing it) and telehealth usage exploded. COVID-19 changed reality for everyone and everything, but it affected healthcare the most, especially that of the US. Many hospitals had to shut their doors, whereas many health systems closed down some of their facilities. However, one of the most dramatic changes to healthcare was telehealth, and it looks like it’s here to stay. The pandemic has also forced many to adopt or come up with technology that has the potential to improve the quality of care for patients – let’s take a look at some of the promising ones.

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3 tech trends that can improve the quality of care for patients 

Telehealth

Quite unsurprisingly, telehealth is the tech to look out for in 2021. Telehealth has been growing immensely, and it’s finally getting all the attention it deserves. Since the pandemic started, the focus has been on two things – treating COVID-19 patients by allocating whatever resources required and diverting non-critical patients to virtual sessions. Months later, telehealth has been the icing on the cake – it helped reduce infections as well as helped patients receive care online without having to leave the safety of their homes. While it still might have some issues to iron out, all trends point toward a healthcare system that significantly uses virtual care. 

Moving toward the cloud

Some large players are entering the healthcare system and they are definitely going to attract the attention of hospitals and health systems to store their data online. With data breaches becoming more common than ever, it shows that most of the existing cybersecurity measures taken by hospitals are not up to the mark, mostly because of budgetary issues. 

While not everything can be moved to the cloud, many critical pieces of information can be, and that can ultimately help healthcare providers as it can be used to securely access data from anywhere – something that has become mandatory since the pandemic. 

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All of this cannot only make sharing and retrieving data more convenient but also improve healthcare processes by making them faster and more reliable – improving the quality of care for patients.

Touchless solutions 

Due to the pandemic, the entire world is working hard to reduce or eliminate touch-based processes or solutions. Even in the healthcare space, touchless solutions will be seen in the coming years. However, did you know that such a solution already exists and that many forward-thinking hospitals have already been using it? 

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that has been helping responsible healthcare providers for years. It is tried and tested, is versatile, and is helping enhance patient safety. But why exactly should more healthcare providers adopt it going forward? Well, that’s because the pandemic has shown everyone how deadly physical contact can be and how quickly people can get infected.

Quite naturally, it means that everyone knows about the cons of touch-based solutions. Most patient identification platforms require physical touches from patients – raising infection control issues. Fortunately, RightPatient is entirely touchless – it attaches a photo and biometric data of the patient with their EHR. After enrollment, all a patient needs to do is look at the camera – the platform performs a search and provides the appropriate medical record in seconds. 

Moreover. RightPatient is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint within the healthcare facility, making it feasible for telehealth sessions. Patients are sent an SMS or email after they schedule appointments. They are required to provide a selfie and a photo of their driver’s license – RightPatient automatically compares the pictures, ensuring remote authentication. 

RightPatient not only solves a crucial problem of healthcare providers (patient misidentification), but it also helps improve patient safety, reduce duplicate medical records, and prevent medical identity theft effectively. Be a responsible healthcare leader now and use RightPatient to improve your bottom line by improving the quality of care for patients.

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4 Practices Regarding Telemedicine That Enhance Patient Protection

COVID-19 is a phenomenon that will impact us for years to come, if not decades. It has shaken the entire world to its core and has changed everything we know. COVID-19 affected our daily lives, changed the way we interact with others, and made masks as well as sanitizers crucial necessities. Since many of the COVID-19 patients required urgent care, the US healthcare system had to come up with other ways for hospitals to serve non-COVID-19 patients without exposing them to the virus. Fortunately, tailor-made solutions already existed – telehealth and telemedicine being the biggest players. As a result, hospitals have been diverting a significant portion of their non-critical patients to virtual sessions – changing healthcare and the patient experience forever. That being said, let’s explore what the patients think about telehealth, what experts are saying about it, and how to ensure patient protection while improving quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

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How telemedicine came into play

Since the novel coronavirus hit the US, it has been overwhelming healthcare providers, their frontline teams, and virtually everyone who is involved in the caregiving process. Due to capacity restrictions and patient safety concerns, caregivers had to redirect at least one-third of their less critical patients to telemedicine. Naturally, its usage shot up significantly in the beginning, and while it has been declining for some time, it is expected to increase as COVID-19 cases are once again rising. The bottom line is that telemedicine and telehealth are here to stay, although some issues need to be addressed.

Let’s take a look at what over a million end users, i.e. patients, think of telemedicine, according to a recent survey by Press Ganey.

Patients’ perceptions regarding telemedicine

The first thing to highlight is that while most patients do appreciate the convenience telemedicine offers, it has a lot of wrinkles to iron out to make it seamless and more effective.

The good things

While many patients were being exposed to virtual visits for the first time, they did find it satisfactory. Many even said that they were likely to give good ratings to their caregivers after virtual visits, just as much as they would during inpatient ones. Telemedicine could successfully lead to a bond between the patient and the physician, and many patients felt that their physicians were more attentive during these virtual sessions. A patient even noted that during inpatient visits doctors would be looking at their computer screens anyway, which felt like they were distracted. During the virtual visits, however, the doctor had direct eye contact with her. 

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What needs improvement

While telemedicine itself is good, the process and ease of getting to virtual visits are not – these need significant improvements, especially with scheduling sessions and making audio or video connections.

However, there are a few more issues that require attention which, according to experts, might hamper patient protection – let’s dive in.

Experts are worried about patient protection

Healthcare data breaches have been increasing significantly, and are occurring even now. Moreover, the risk of a breach is higher during virtual sessions, ultimately endangering patient data. Healthcare providers need to strengthen their security measures and ensure patient protection during virtual visits. With restrictions eased regarding communication tools like Zoom, Skype, and similar utilities, as well as hackers turning their attention to virtual sessions, patient data security is at more risk than ever.

Practices that improve patient protection during virtual visits

Provide training and ensure awareness 

There is nothing more effective than raising awareness among your employees, and the best way to do this is by providing them with training. Clearly explain to them the consequences of data breaches, and also provide them with sessions where they can learn about the do’s and don’ts regarding emails, opening links, accessing patient data, etc.

Follow practices that safeguard patient information

Encrypting data might be the oldest trick in the book, but it can make it difficult for hackers to use the information.

A few practices must be followed to ensure patient protection during both virtual and inpatient visits:

  • Ensure that patient data is encrypted during rest and transmission.
  • Use reputed antivirus and firewall applications.
  • Use only verified and licensed software and keep them updated.
  • Restrict access to any unauthorized parties.

Use enterprise-level video conferencing platforms

While hospitals initially got the chance to use tools such as Zoom, Skype, Meet, etc., these have added cybersecurity risks. Telemedicine has grown significantly now, with many enterprise-grade platforms available that have enhanced security out of the box. While deploying them might be costly, they can be critical for ensuring patient protection during virtual sessions, eliminating the chance of hackers gaining access during these sessions.

Use solutions to mitigate risks and ensure patient protection

While there are many practices and strategies available that might strengthen cybersecurity efforts, hackers always come up with plans that ultimately could result in data breaches. Moreover, not all caregivers can upgrade their security measures due to several factors, especially budgetary constraints. As a result, having a response plan to mitigate the risks and consequences is crucial. Also, while it might seem like data breaches are unstoppable, medical identity theft is not – it can be prevented with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses patients’ faces to identify their records. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the facility – making it perfect for virtual visits.

After scheduling appointments, patients need to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license; RightPatient automatically extracts the data and compares the photos for a positive match, verifying identities remotely. New patients are provided with unique biometric credentials. If a fraudster attempts to assume the identity of the patient, the platform will red-flag them, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

During inpatient visits, enrolled patients only need to look at the camera – the platform runs a search to identify the patient and provides the correct medical record within seconds.

By doing so, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft even after data breaches, protecting patient information, eliminating litigation costs, and mitigating the consequences.

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Improving Remote Patient Outcomes by Addressing 5 Elements

The pandemic has been an unprecedented event that has taken much away from us since it started. However, hospitals in the affected countries felt its heat the most, and arguably the worst affected one is the US healthcare system. COVID-19 forced hospitals to divert regular patients to telehealth, leading to the explosive growth that it very much needed. Since telehealth is here to stay, more and more caregivers are adopting it and allocating resources for their online patients. While doing so, healthcare providers need to ensure that patient outcomes are optimal and immaculate.

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Let’s take a look at five elements healthcare providers need to consider and address to improve the patient outcomes of their remote patients.

5 addressable elements that can improve online patient outcomes

Catering to patients’ expectations

While telehealth has been around for quite some time in the US healthcare system, healthcare providers and patients did not pay much attention to it. Experts kept arguing about its merits and drawbacks, whereas patients were reluctant to try it. 

Telehealth achieved mainstream popularity only after the pandemic hit the US, and after almost a year, both patients and caregivers still might need some adjustments. For starters, caregivers need to identify patients’ expectations and work on addressing them.

A seamless check-in process and reduced wait times are good starting points, as these are some common requests. Moreover, if there are any temporary issues with the service, patients need to be notified immediately to avoid dissatisfaction. Conducting small and engaging surveys is another good strategy to determine what patients expect during the virtual sessions.

Training telehealth staff members

One of the best ways to improve online healthcare outcomes is by ensuring that patients have the best possible experience, and that can be done only if the telehealth team works effectively.

As already mentioned, telehealth is quite new to virtually everyone, and providing training sessions to the telehealth teams is a must to ensure that they use this solution to its maximum potential.

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Not only can training help improve efficiency, but it can also help caregivers provide patients with a seamless, intuitive, and engaging experience, improving patient outcomes in the process.

Ensuring ample security

Patient safety and confidentiality are necessities that any and all healthcare providers must ensure, and virtual sessions are no different. Something that is often brought up in regard to telehealth is security – data breaches are at an all-time high. Experts have been predicting that there will be fraudulent cases during telehealth sessions, as hackers and fraudsters may try to disrupt the entire session.

Hospitals and health systems must ensure that ample safeguards are used to protect patient information, prevent data breaches, and identity medical theft. Caregivers must go the extra mile and ensure that patient outcomes are error-free, safe, and optimal. 

However, while data breaches have so far been inevitable, medical identity theft is not. It can be prevented, but more on that later.

Ensuring reliability

A solution is as good as its reliability, and the same goes for telehealth options. Healthcare providers have a variety of options – they can either choose from the vast number of third-party solutions, or they can develop their own in-house. Whichever option they choose, healthcare providers must ensure that the solution is reliable and doesn’t break down unexpectedly or under pressure. If it fails, it can result in detrimental patient outcomes. For instance, equipment or technology breaking down in the middle of a telehealth session can be potentially dangerous for the patients, especially those who need urgent care.

While choosing third-party telehealth solutions, reading reviews can be quite helpful to determine their reliability. Also, pilot testing them provides a first-hand experience as to how reliable they are in real-time.

Ensure accurate patient identification for improved patient outcomes

Patient identification errors have been a prevalent but overlooked issue within the US healthcare system, and while many caregivers are still struggling with it during the pandemic, it will very likely be an issue during telehealth sessions as well. Imagine this: if the patient is misidentified right from the start and the wrong EHR (Electronic Health Record) is used, then the entire process will be full of errors. Moreover, as previously mentioned, medical identity theft during telehealth services is a growing concern. However, all of this can be mitigated with RightPatient.

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that is used by responsible caregivers to accurately identify their patients. It locks patients’ medical records with their photos and their biometric data during registration. Moreover, it is versatile enough to be used at any touchpoint across the healthcare facility, making it ideal for virtual sessions like telehealth and telemedicine. 

Patients receive an SMS or email after scheduling their appointments, after which they have to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically compares the photos for a match, ensuring correct patient identification. 

Within healthcare facilities, the patient only needs to look at the camera – RightPatient performs a biometric search and provides the correct medical record after finding a positive match.

Not only does RightPatient prevent medical record mix-ups, but it also red-flags fraudsters, preventing medical identity theft even after a data breach and improving patient outcomes in the process.

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Protect Patient Information During Telehealth Visits by Addressing 7 Issues

The pandemic has been spreading like wildfire, and its effects on the US have been devastating – over 12 million people have been affected by it. Hospitals barely kept up with the pandemic’s effects when it first hit the country. Now that the winter has arrived, COVID-19 cases are increasing rapidly. One of the previously overlooked aspects of healthcare, known as telehealth, has gained much attention during this period. As it ensures that non-critical patients could receive healthcare services without the risk of contracting the virus, officials were quick to redirect such patients to telehealth. As a result, telehealth usage surged and it finally got the attention it deserved. However, like everything else, it also has pros and cons, and healthcare providers must address the risks associated with telehealth to protect patient information, improve healthcare outcomes, and enhance patient safety – let’s explore.

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7 issues healthcare providers must consider regarding telehealth

Cybersecurity risks

Since telehealth requires the internet, hackers are always working on new and innovative ways to steal patient data and sell it to unethical individuals, who will later assume the identities of the victims to use the healthcare services fraudulently.

Phishing attacks

One of the most common tools used by hackers is phishing, and while simple, it is quite effective. Hackers pose as officials and lead the unassuming healthcare employees to click on the links they provide. As a result, hackers gain access to the targets’ accounts and can access or steal information. 

While these attacks happened prior to the pandemic, telehealth is at huge risk as well now. Phishing tactics that are currently used rely on social networking, and it might lead to users being victims down the line. Moreover, there are many instances where hackers posed as credible organizations like Microsoft.

Hackers

Hackers have been constantly trying to access patient information to steal or use it for themselves, and the sudden growth of telehealth makes it much easier for them. If telehealth sessions are done using unsecured networks, hackers can just add themselves to the session and steal patient information. They are now targeting providers using obsolete systems that have security issues and vulnerabilities, as that will be much easier to gain access to.

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Uncertainty regarding rapidly changing rules

As the situation surrounding COVID-19  is evolving, the rules are being constantly updated. Thus, it is quite crucial to ensure that providers are up to date regarding the changes surrounding telehealth usage in order to ensure telehealth services are delivered in a manner that can protect patient information.

Fraudulent activities

There’s a much broader scope for fraud in telehealth than inpatient visits – such as kickbacks, charging for services that weren’t actually provided, misrepresentation, and so on. Even CMS is closely monitoring in order to reduce such risks. Providers must ensure that they are not being charged falsely by having all the required documentation on hand at all times.

Patient misidentification

An issue that can be commonly seen during inpatient visits, patient identification errors may very well bleed over to virtual sessions as well. The premise is just the same – misidentification at the front-end due to issues such as duplicate medical records, overlays, or human errors leading to medical record mix-ups. All of this ultimately leads to delayed care, detrimental outcomes, and compromised patient safety. Thus, accurate and secure patient identification is crucial.

Medical identity theft

One can safely assume that medical identity theft is the end result of most of the concerns listed above. Let’s explore why it is so prevalent and how it takes place.

Well, the hackers aim to steal patient information from healthcare providers, and the ones who are high-risk are the ones that have vulnerabilities such as keeping patient data unencrypted or using unsecured means to transmit or receive it. After stealing the information, they sell it to hackers for steep prices – up to $1000!

This information is available on the black market, and fraudsters buy it to pose as the victims. Armed with the credentials of the victims, they can easily pass themselves off as the patients and have access to healthcare services, expensive medical equipment, prescription drugs, and more. That’s not all – the victims will be fraudulently billed for the services used by the impostors.

Experts are predicting that such cases will transpire with telehealth visits too, and with the issues listed above, it won’t be that hard. Fortunately, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft and protect patient information.

RightPatient can protect patients during telehealth visits

RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses patients’ faces to verify their identities. While data breaches might seem inevitable, RightPatient can mitigate its losses by preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

Patients are required to take a selfie and submit a photo of their driver’s license after registration. The platform automatically compares the photos for a match and verifies patients’ identities remotely, making it ideal for telehealth sessions as well. Fraudsters are red-flagged whenever they try to use the platform and pass themselves off as the patient. RightPatient helps protect patient information, enhance patient safety, and accurately identify patients across the care continuum.

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Medical Identity Theft Prevention Becomes Crucial as Telehealth Usage Rises

The novel coronavirus, infamously known as COVID-19, is a phenomenon that has changed our lives forever. Wearing masks, using sanitizers, and practicing social distancing has become a part of our daily lives, especially for those who need to leave their houses every day. It has disrupted business operations and even forced many into bankruptcy, causing businesses to shut down. One of the most affected industries is healthcare, and it is safe to say that the US healthcare system has been severely affected by the pandemic. Hospitals have shut down, and those that are open are facing unprecedented losses. However, telehealth has experienced a meteoric rise in both popularity and usage. While more patients and caregivers are adopting telehealth, healthcare providers need to ensure that such visits are not plagued with medical identity theft cases. Let’s take a look at the rapid rise of telehealth, how people are adapting to it, and how medical identity theft prevention can be ensured with RightPatient.

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Telehealth is becoming mainstream

Let’s take a look at a recent survey by Amwell. The research sheds light on the fact that patients and caregivers are far more open to using telehealth now compared to the pre-pandemic period. The numbers clearly illustrate this: in 2019, 8% of patients and 22% of caregivers had virtual sessions, whereas in 2020, the number is around 22% for patients and a whopping 80% for caregivers. This is predominantly because the pandemic forced hospitals to shift their focus to the COVID-19 patients, leaving others with the option to get treated via virtual sessions rather than inpatient visits.

Some of the key findings from the study regarding telehealth are:

More scheduled virtual visits compared to urgent care visits

According to the survey, patients leaned towards scheduled virtual visits compared to urgent care visits. 54% of patients had scheduled virtual visits with their physicians, whereas 21% of patients who had at least a virtual visit had an urgent care visit as well during 2020.

Virtual specialty care is growing rapidly

Unsurprisingly, telehealth is being used by more patients every day. 42% of patients had virtual visits with their regular specialists, and 13% had virtual visits with new specialists this year. Moreover, specialists such as cardiologists, surgeons, and others stated that they had seen more patients virtually compared to 2019. This led to specialists being more open to telehealth as well – it was the only way to treat some patients due to COVID-19.

More patients were opting for telehealth

2020 had three times the number of patients using telehealth compared to 2019. 59% of the patients who used telehealth stated that their first usage was during the pandemic, and an overwhelming 91% of the patients were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the visits.

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Healthcare providers, on the other hand, said that they saw almost four times more patients this year compared to 2019, and 84% of providers were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the platforms. 

Medical identity theft prevention must be ensured

While all of the above statistics show that telehealth has a promising future ahead, it also has to ensure patient safety. There are many risks associated with conventional inpatient visits such as medical identity theft, patient misidentification, medical errors, and so on. While not all of these issues will bleed over to telehealth, many experts are predicting that telehealth might witness medical identity theft cases. Thus, responsible caregivers should ensure medical identity theft prevention to secure safe, undisrupted healthcare visits – for both virtual and inpatient visits.

How data breaches, medical identity theft, and telehealth are related

Healthcare data breaches are becoming common because hackers can steal patient information and sell it for up to $1000. Data breaches are endless nightmares for healthcare providers – causing HIPAA compliance issues, loss of goodwill, unwanted publicity, and finally, medical identity theft. Fraudsters buy the information from the hackers to assume the identities of the patients and use the victims’ healthcare services illegally. Since many healthcare providers don’t have robust patient identity verification systems, they are unable to identify the scammers. These are the cases that occur within healthcare facilities. 

Telehealth has been largely ignored in the pre-pandemic world. People were debating about its pros and cons, and since it didn’t provide the same level of flexibility as conventional healthcare, its future was uncertain. However, the pandemic changed the public’s perception regarding telehealth. As the statistics above demonstrated telehealth’s acceptance, experts have predicted that hackers and fraudsters will focus on it as well. If they acquire the login credentials of patients, fraudsters can also impersonate the victims during telehealth sessions, committing medical identity theft virtually. Thus, medical identity theft prevention becomes crucial.

RightPatient ensures medical identity theft prevention

Thankfully, healthcare providers can prevent medical identity theft with RightPatient. It is a touchless biometric patient identification platform that uses the faces of the patients to prevent healthcare fraud and protect patient data. With a powerful photo-based engine, RightPatient ensures that the patients are who they say they are. After scheduling appointments, patients receive an SMS or email and they need to provide a personal photo and a photo of their driver’s license to verify their identity. The platform automatically matches the photos, ensuring remote identity verification.

RightPatient ensures accurate patient identification across the continuum of care, starting right from appointment scheduling. During hospital visits, all the patient needs to do is look at the camera – the platform matches the current photo with the one saved during registration, creating a touchless, easy, and hygienic experience. RightPatient is preventing duplicate medical records, reducing claim denials, preventing medical identity theft, and enhancing patient safety for leading healthcare providers. Be a responsible provider and protect patient data with RightPatient now.

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Telehealth Is Here to Stay – Ensure Patient Data Integrity While Using It

To put it bluntly, the coronavirus pandemic has been catastrophic for the entire world. The U.S. has been leading with the highest number of cases – 6,550,637 at this point. However, there has been a silver lining in the whole coronavirus pandemic – telehealth. Not only did it experience a meteoric rise in the U.S., but it also helped to flatten the curve – patients don’t have any risk of contracting the virus when they use telehealth. While the increased usage of telehealth demonstrates that it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future, healthcare providers must ensure that they are protecting patient data integrity during these visits. Let’s see how accurate patient identification can help.

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Telehealth’s rise

Telehealth isn’t anything new – it’s been in the healthcare space for quite some time now. Sadly, people were busy debating its pros and cons for years. However, 2020 will be remembered as the year of telehealth – its potential was showcased during the pandemic.

People praised its elimination of the physical barriers required for healthcare – people would be able to consult with their caregivers without having to worry about the novel coronavirus – a stable internet connection and a communication device are all they need. It enabled healthcare services to be continued at a time when social distancing was required – creating a win-win situation for all. Laws were relaxed regarding telehealth while providers and officials urged patients to use telehealth instead of coming for hospital visits. Quite naturally, the usage increased exponentially. Let’s take a look at an example – MUSC Health and its experience with telehealth. 

They used “virtual urgent care technology” – something that was initially created to provide patients with a way to be observed for non-critical cases, and converted that to screen potential COVID-19 patients. Moreover, they had the capabilities and resources to dramatically adapt tools to better fight the pandemic. They also enabled remote patient monitoring and a telesitter program as part of their approach, and they believe that telehealth is here to stay. Overall, healthcare providers in the past few months have observed that telehealth can be used to provide patient care while mitigating the risk of contracting COVID-19. 

Some stats regarding telehealth usage

The current stats are in line with the providers’ experiences with telehealth. McKinsey & Company stated that in 2019, a meager 11% of the U.S. patients were using telehealth. As of April 2020, 46% of the patients are using telehealth. Even healthcare providers witnessed around 50-175 times more patients using telehealth visits compared to the pre-pandemic period. However, one has to consider the risks associated with it just like with inpatient visits, for instance, patient data integrity, patient identification, and medical identity theft. 

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Patient data integrity must be ensured

It’s quite natural that some of the issues plaguing conventional healthcare might be seen during telehealth visits as well. One of the biggest challenges is preventing medical identity theft. 

Healthcare data breaches have been occurring more than ever, where most of the stolen patient data is sold off to fraudsters. They then assume the identities of the victims and use their healthcare services. This leads not only to billing the victims for services they never used but also corrupts the patient data – because the fraudsters’ data is saved in the victims’ medical records. Thus, patient data integrity is compromised in the process.

Experts believe that the pandemic will lead to increased numbers of medical identity theft cases. This is because patient data is not adequately protected by the majority of caregivers due to budgetary issues. Moreover, with the pandemic causing arguably the worst financial crisis healthcare has ever faced, providers need to consider every option in order to survive.

RightPatient ensures patient data integrity – even during telehealth visits

While healthcare data breaches are inevitable, medical identity theft can be prevented. One of the reasons why medical identity theft has become a major threat is because there is no proper patient identity verification system in place to prevent these crimes. Most of the patient identification systems use credentials – something that can be stolen or transferred. 

Fortunately, RightPatient can help prevent medical identity theft. It uses the thing that fraudsters or hackers cannot steal – patients’ visual likeness. Using a photo-based search engine, RightPatient matches the photos of the selfie provided during appointment scheduling with the patient’s driver’s license. Fraudsters are red-flagged immediately, preventing medical identity theft in real-time.

During inpatient visits, all the patients need to do is look at the camera – the platform matches the photo it takes with the one it saved during registration. This creates a safe, hygienic, and touchless environment for everyone involved – something which became more crucial than ever due to the pandemic.

RightPatient helps maintain patient data integrity by ensuring that the accurate medical record is associated with the correct patient every time, preventing medical identity theft, and avoiding duplicate medical records. Try RightPatient now to see how it can help you enhance patient safety during these trying times.

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How Can Medical Identity Theft Occur During Telehealth Visits?

Telehealth has been around for years, but it has only been growing exponentially for the past few months. One of the biggest propellers that caused the surge in telehealth usage is the coronavirus pandemic, while the other reason is its benefit of taking healthcare out of the regular setting and setting up safe and remote environments for the patients and caregivers. While many predict that telehealth is here to stay after seeing how it can benefit caregivers and patients, health systems and hospitals need to focus on another important aspect – how can medical identity theft occur during telehealth visits, and is it preventable? Fortunately, it can be – with RightPatient. Let’s dive deep.

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Telehealth skyrocketed due to COVID-19

Since telehealth was introduced, experts in the US healthcare system have been busy debating its pros and cons, affecting its growth and questioning its capabilities. However, as the pandemic has shown, telehealth has been extremely crucial for the US healthcare system during its ongoing battle against the pandemic. It has helped reduce the risk of more COVID-19 cases as non-COVID-19 patients were recommended to use telehealth instead of inpatient visits.

As previously mentioned, the biggest benefit of telehealth is that it enables patients and caregivers to engage in healthcare remotely. All they need is a good internet connection and devices to communicate with each other – eliminating any chances of contracting the virus as opposed to inpatient visits during the pandemic. Thus, it is no surprise that telehealth demand has been sky-high, with experts predicting over one billion visits during 2020 alone. While providers are quickly adapting to the changes and using telehealth, hospitals and health systems must also think about a serious problem – how can medical identity theft occur during telehealth usage?

Medical identity theft is all over the place

Medical identity theft is nothing new. Hackers steal valuable patient information through healthcare data breaches. They sell it for up to $1000 per record on the black market to fraudsters. Since healthcare is quite expensive, these fraudsters prefer buying patient information from hackers for a much cheaper price, shifting the healthcare costs onto the shoulders of the victims.

Medical identity theft is becoming quite prevalent. In 2019 alone, more patient records were breached in comparison to the previous three years combined. Medical identity theft leads to lawsuits, patient safety issues, settlement costs up to $250,000, unwanted attention, and loss of goodwill. Thus, it becomes increasingly necessary to ensure that medical identity theft is prevented, even during telehealth visits.Medical-identity-theft's-effects-can-be-mitigated-with-RightPatient

But how can medical identity theft occur during telehealth? Well, the stolen information can be easily used by the fraudster to bypass the obsolete patient identification systems most hospitals have – just like inpatient visits. Moreover, many patients sometimes even give their credentials to their family members or friends willingly – aiding them in medical identity theft. 

Such cases lead to added costs like medical record clean-ups, lack of patient data integrity, and patient safety issues, among other problems. Hospitals are facing huge losses already due to the pandemic, and they need to recover their losses if they want to survive in the future. One of the best ways to do all of that is by ensuring positive patient identification.

Accurate patient identification with RightPatient

RightPatient is the healthcare industry’s leading touchless patient identification platform. It locks the medical records of the patients with their photos upon enrollment. Whenever the patient comes, all he/she needs to do is look at the camera and the platform matches the photos and provides the correct medical record within seconds. RightPatient seamlessly integrates with the major EHR systems, enhancing the experience for providers as well. It is hygienic too, enhancing patient safety and reducing infection control issues.

While it has been ensuring accurate patient identification for providers for years, RightPatient brings the same expertise to telehealth. It can also be used to remotely validate a patient’s identity. Patients receive an SMS or email after scheduling an appointment, after which they need to take a selfie and photos of their driver’s license. RightPatient automatically matches the photos of the driver’s license and the selfie to validate patient identity – preventing medical identity theft in the process.

RightPatient has been successfully protecting over 10 million patient records and preventing fraudsters from harming patients while reducing healthcare costs, denied claims, lawsuits, and boosting the bottom lines in the process. Protect your patients – even during telehealth visits – with RightPatient.