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To Enjoy Advantages of Telemedicine in Healthcare, Providers Must Protect Patients Online

Telemedicine, many times used interchangeably with the word telehealth, has grown tremendously during last year because of COVID-19. Whilst it’s been available for a long time (decades, really), its future was uncertain before now. Healthcare experts mainly debated about the possible advantages of telemedicine in healthcare, while patients were wary regarding online doctor appointments.

Still, because of COVID-19, practically everything is different, and desperate times required drastic measures. Rules enveloping virtual visits got relaxed, so, more providers and their patients got exposed to this new phenomenon called telehealth. 

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Online appointments currently have numerous supporters 

The user base for telehealth has soared, with numerous healthcare professionals and their patients supporting it and saying they want it to be a permanent part of healthcare after the emergency is over. It was also extremely helpful and convenient throughout the pandemic. That being said, let’s look closer and examine the advantages of telemedicine in healthcare plus the way providers can safeguard their patients throughout these appointments. 

A few advantages of telemedicine in healthcare

Telemedicine is cost-efficient for all

The universal understanding regarding virtual healthcare is that it is less expensive than in-person visits. Plus, it saves time, no need to travel to use it, etc. Whilst that’s correct, online healthcare is also less expensive for healthcare providers. Think about it – for most online appointments, all the provider requires is an online platform, the proper devices to connect with their patients, plus a steady, secure online connection. These types of appointments get rid of a lot of the costs linked with traditional healthcare – i.e. registration desks, using paper products, fewer staff members required, etc.

The AHA (American Hospital Association) even agrees with the aforementioned – online healthcare saved over 11% of costs for many hospitals

Online appointments provide access to many more patients 

Even the toughest critics can’t refute the fact that telehealth offers top-notch care to many more patients than in-person appointments. Consider how it worked before COVID-19 – the majority of patients in rural areas were unable to get to a suitable hospital for several reasons.

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An example of one of the top advantages of telemedicine in healthcare is that one can use it from any place – so it’s quite convenient for those who live in rural areas. Whilst a tiny amount of providers offered online appointments prior to the pandemic for rural patients, the pandemic showed how helpful telehealth can be for routine patients too. Online appointments assisted in providing top-notch care to a huge number of patients who had various problems – a lot still use this and the experts want it to become a permanent option for healthcare. 

Telemedicine fits more people’s needs

Preventive medicine, improved quality, superior scheduling experiences – online appointments can meet all those things and even more! 

Numerous experts say because patients are more involved with telehealth appointments than with in-person appointments, the former could encourage more preventive medicine usage. Patients, likewise, feel that they are getting more personalized care with telehealth appointments since they report during in-person appointments that their physicians do not even look at them – only at their computer screens. These cases, along with other factors, might cause a surge of usage that helps to improve healthcare outcomes in the future. 

Online appointments offer a superior quality of care for a lot of patients, particularly rural ones, as described earlier. With online appointments, patients can pick which provider they want, and they can even be miles away and still get one that meets their precise healthcare needs. 

Finally, with online appointments, patients can merely pick the timeframe that works best for them, so, scheduling is easy. Whilst that also can happen with regular in-person appointments, the patient now doesn’t have to wait hours or longer to see their doctor, all they have to do is log in at their appointment time and see their doctor.

Still, whilst telehealth has a huge possibility, it remains pretty new, so several challenges have to be solved – one is protecting patient information online. 

Providers have to safeguard their patients online to enjoy the advantages of telemedicine

Patient records and data are very sensitive information, which is one of the dominant reasons most data breaches occur in the healthcare industry. Hackers can sell a medical record for thousands of dollars on the black market, and the scammers then buy them and use them to get healthcare and the actual patient is charged with the bills. While this normally happens in traditional in-person appointments, a lot of experts believe it can also occur in online appointments, so, the healthcare providers have to safeguard their patients’ information while they are in an online appointment too. 

Luckily, RightPatient comes with lots of great experience in protecting patient data as well as avoiding medical identity theft in real-time.

One of the top touchless patient ID platforms utilized by many healthcare providers, RightPatient detects patients via facial recognition and averts scammers from trying to pass as the real patient during the registration process and beyond.

RightPatient can be used during telehealth appointments – so it is perfect for protecting your patient’s information as well as stopping identity theft during virtual visits. Patients only need to take a picture of themselves and a picture ID like their driver’s license – RightPatient takes it from there. 

Is your facility ready to safeguard your patients’ info and stop medical identity theft in real-time? 

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Curbing Healthcare Identity Theft During Telehealth as it Gains the Biden Administration’s Support

So, this topic shouldn’t surprise you, but many folks are happy about the announcement. You can’t help but have seen that the use of telehealth soared after the COVID-19 pandemic occurred in the United States along with the easing of any of the surrounding restrictions. Telehealth is here to stay now, but there are concerns regarding healthcare identity theft. Ok, its usage has fallen slightly currently, although there is an ever-expanding amount of healthcare specialists, patients, and providers who wish to institute these virtual visits into a permanent healthcare option. Luckily, that appears to be a good possibility since the Biden administration supports this, so long as it meets precise conditions. Nevertheless, there are additional problems to solve – the most important one is medical identity theft occurring during a session.

Therefore, let’s look closer at the role of telehealth in healthcare, the reason lots of folks now support it, the way the Biden administration supports it, as well as the way RightPatient can avert medical ID theft cases during a remote session. 

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Telehealth is getting more popular amongst providers and users 

Telehealth has existed for many years, however, it only revealed its full potential when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred. Since people weren’t able to see their providers in person and many elective procedures got postponed indefinitely, healthcare givers, as well as the government, rushed to provide another method of treating non-critical patients. Telehealth proved to be the answer.

Since another method of treating patients was urgently needed, telehealth got elected, and many of its previous restrictions got lessened. Telehealth got very popular amongst caregivers and patients. A lot of younger patients even decided they prefer telehealth sessions and will use them after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

Though, a lot are concerned that whenever the pandemic ends, the restrictions on telehealth will return and it will again be hard to use.

The future of Telehealth seems great – Yet there’s a need for the correct framework

Luckily, that is not going to occur, as the Biden administration has said it is going to support expanded telehealth access when the COVID-19 problem ends. Because it assisted in providing virtual care as well as has also ensured patients were safe during this unprecedented timeframe, it has earned a substantial amount of backers who profited from telehealth, so wish to carry it on.

Congress is looking at the present scenario, contemplating which of the regulations on virtual care ought to change whenever the Covid emergency is done. Currently, there are about forty-three bills that have provisions regarding telehealth that have been generated since the start of the pandemic, according to the Alliance for Connected Care.

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Still, HHS Secretary, Mr. Becerra, asserted that everyone must be able to access telehealth, and care quality must be ensured. The Biden administration aims to ensure U.S. citizens get top-notch healthcare through virtual appointments – he said they do not wish folks to get billed for items that do not improve the services. 

Healthcare identity theft can happen during a virtual visit as well

So, whilst telehealth’s future seems bright, a few issues must be ironed out. The healthcare providers additionally have to work to ensure patients get the top care and stay safe from medical identity theft.

One of the concerns some have overlooked regarding telehealth visits is medical identity theft cases that may happen in a session. Exactly like the way healthcare frauds as well as healthcare identity theft occurs in an in-person appointment, experts predict these will happen in virtual visits too. Healthcare suppliers must make sure that is averted – something they can accomplish via better identification of patients during the telehealth visits. Thankfully, RightPatient assists with doing that, and even more! 

RightPatient averts healthcare identity theft in real-time

For years RightPatient has prevented medical ID theft as well as healthcare fraud, thus, safeguarding millions of patient records throughout several top hospitals and many health systems. RightPatient leads the way in touchless biometric patient ID platforms which makes sure patients get identified correctly throughout the care field. Consequently, when a bad actor attempts to pass themselves off as a patient, RightPatient red flags them, avoiding medical identity theft instantly, even during virtual visits. 

RightPatient does not just assist in preventing healthcare identity theft, but it additionally safeguards patient information, ensures patient safety, and decreases litigation costs related to identity theft incidents.

Since the Biden administration backs telehealth, the future of using it looks great. Yet, caregivers must avert problems connecting to virtual appointments, and serious issues such as medical ID theft can be avoided with RightPatient.

What is the way you prevent these cases of identity theft in your medical facility?

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4 Promising Health IT Practices That Improve Patient Outcomes

The pandemic, when it hit the U.S., spurred its healthcare providers to adapt to the rapidly changing landscape it forced on everyone. Hospitals and health systems had to search, come up with, and implement drastically different practices that many experts thought weren’t possible. Just look at telehealth – its future was quite uncertain. However, during the pandemic, both its popularity and usage skyrocketed as hospitals and health systems relied on it to provide care to non-critical patients without risking the latter’s safety. That’s just one example – there are similar promising health IT practices that are trending and set to grow in the future and improve patient outcomes in the process. Let’s take a detailed look at some of the more popular health IT practices that can improve quality and safety in healthcare facilities.

4 trending health IT practices that help improve patient outcomes

The increased role of IT teams

As the pandemic forced healthcare providers to switch from in-person visits to virtual ones, implement practices to aid remote work, and ensure that data management is accurate, it was the IT teams’ responsibility to ensure that everything went smoothly. Moreover, cybersecurity attacks were higher than ever since providers already had their hands full.

CIOs and their IT teams not only had their hands full during the pandemic but they also had added responsibilities and expanded roles to play. As COVID-19 cases are decreasing, healthcare providers are aiming for a different approach to providing better and safer healthcare services to improve patient outcomes in the process. As a result, CIOs and relevant IT personnel are in huge demand.

Talking about cybersecurity, let’s move on to the next point.

A much-needed focus on ramping up cybersecurity

As previously mentioned, hackers had upped their game last year. While many hackers had promised not to attack healthcare due to the unprecedented crisis, not all hackers shared the same sentiments. Unfortunately, many of them did attack while healthcare providers had their hands full with COVID-19 cases. This not only led to them stealing patient information and selling it to fraudsters on the dark web, but many incidents also disrupted healthcare operations. In fact, the IT systems of many hospitals were rendered unresponsive or slow as the information within the systems was locked and not available for use.

So, what did healthcare providers do to mitigate the issues? 

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Well, many of the hospitals saw what their contemporaries were going through and opted for better cybersecurity practices. While getting a new cybersecurity solution includes several impediments, hospitals opted for simpler solutions. For instance, many had cut off access to external emails whereas others focused on stricter screening of external emails. 

However, while data breaches seem inevitable and as most caregivers cannot upgrade their cybersecurity solutions due to various reasons, they CAN prevent the endgame of most data breaches – medical identity theft. For instance, RightPatient prevents medical identity theft in real-time by identifying fraudsters during the registration process. The patient identification platform can prevent fraudsters from accessing services even if the data is breached, reducing litigation costs. 

With cybersecurity attacks at an all-time high, it looks like healthcare providers are thankfully changing their approach and are working to rectify security gaps by providing better training to employees regarding cybersecurity practices, going for a proactive approach rather than a reactive one, and by hiring competent security professionals – helping enhance patient outcomes in the process. 

Expanded telehealth usage

Is the rapid growth of telehealth even surprising at this point? 

Before the pandemic, telehealth didn’t have a bright future. Apparently, it has been around for a long time, but experts were busy talking about its demerits, patients were wary of it, and there was a lack of consistent interest. As a result, telehealth was collecting dust, figuratively speaking. However, the pandemic changed everything – it showed how useful telehealth was. As regulations were relaxed around telehealth, it helped reach more patients and provide care to the non-critical ones, rapidly expanding its userbase.

Telehealth was one of the most trending health IT topics last year, and it still is reigning, as many actually prefer telehealth over in-person visits now and have said they will continue to use it even after the public health emergency is over.

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Many healthcare providers, as a result, are going for a hybrid approach. They are planning to offer both in-person and virtual care, providing the best of both worlds to their patients. Not only will this help increase patient satisfaction, but it will also speed up processes and keep the patient volume down during in-person visits, something that’s quite necessary as the pandemic is not over yet, helping improve patient outcomes.

Utilizing contactless solutions can improve patient outcomes

There’s always been growing interest in contactless solutions for any given industry, but the pandemic has pushed it to the forefront – virtually everyone knows the risks of physical contact now. Therefore, many are developing contactless solutions for healthcare facilities that can reduce hospital-acquired infections and improve patient safety. However, did you know that such a solution has been in use for several years in many hospitals and health systems?

RightPatient, our touchless biometric patient identification platform, has been serving several healthcare providers for years, and it only requires patients to look at the camera. The platform does the rest and provides the accurate EHR to the registrar – improving patient safety, preventing duplicates and overlays, and reducing medical errors in the process. As previously mentioned, it also helps prevent medical ID theft in real-time by red-flagging fraudsters during the registration process.

That was just an example of how a touchless solution has been transforming patient safety in several ways – there are more solutions on the way that can improve patient outcomes and boost the bottom lines in the process.

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Patient Data Integrity During Virtual Visits Must be Ensured as Experts Debate About Telehealth

Let’s face it – telehealth has been a huge driving force that made treating non-critical patients possible during the pandemic. Once COVID-19 hit the U.S. in full force, every healthcare provider dropped their regular operations and scrambled to care for the overwhelming number of COVID-19 patients. Regular patients, however, were pushed towards remote visits, resulting in telehealth’s explosion in popularity. One of the best aspects of virtual visits was that patients received care right from their homes – one can even say that telehealth somewhat helped “flatten the curve”. While the major effects of the pandemic are fortunately behind us, many are questioning telehealth’s future now. That being said, let’s take a closer look at what experts think, why many are advocating for telehealth, and why ensuring patient data integrity during such visits is a must.

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Telehealth is universally acclaimed

While countless brave frontline healthcare teams worked to save COVID-19 patients that went to hospitals in huge numbers, telehealth helped non-critical patients during the pandemic. As more people agreed to virtual visits, healthcare providers, patients, vendors, insurers, and everyone else involved realized telehealth’s potential and approved its usage.

In fact, telehealth has become so popular that as we return to the “old normal”, many healthcare providers, experts, consumer groups, advocates, and even state Medicaid officials are pushing Congress to keep its expansions in place so that even more people can access and benefit from using it. This is because all of these people believe that virtual visits can transform healthcare. For instance, many services that used to warrant in-person visits can now effectively be provided via video communication platforms, sometimes, even audio calls are enough!

But, like everything else, there are two sides of the coin, and telehealth is no exception. 

There are skeptics of telehealth – many worry about patient data integrity

While telehealth has been growing at a rapid pace since the pandemic, there have been skeptics concerned about it. However, telehealth is no stranger to adversaries.

Telehealth has been around for several years, and since its inception, it has had its fair share of detractors. Why else do you think it took so long for telehealth to be where it is today? 

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While it can be said that telehealth is “transforming” healthcare, there are skeptics worried about the “side effects” it might bring. Even among supporters, there’s concern regarding its usage, costs, medical identity theft that will cause patient data integrity issues, and inequality for low-income patients. In fact, many fear that it will become a tool that will simply increase costs without adding additional value. While there might be safeguards in place down the line to control costs, the fear of medical identity theft bleeding over to virtual visits is quite natural. It occurs with in-person visits, and without proper safeguards, fraudulent cases might become a part of virtual visits too, hampering patient data integrity – let’s see how it might happen.

Medical identity theft is a common concern regarding telehealth

During in-person visits, the lack of a positive patient identification system leads to fraudsters getting away. Fraudsters are usually armed with the information required to bypass the security measures – most of the time, these security measures are questions regarding the patient. If the fraudster has access to the patient’s information (many buy the information from the black market), it’s easy to know the right answers. As these caregivers cannot accurately identify patients, fraudsters get access to healthcare services, medical devices, etc., and if they opt for treatment, it hampers patient data integrity. The same can happen during virtual sessions too – as long as there’s no effective way to identify patients accurately, fraudsters cannot be stopped. 

Thankfully, RightPatient can prevent medical identity theft during telehealth visits and in-person visits. 

RightPatient protects patient data integrity

As a touchless patient identification platform, RightPatient is being used to protect millions of patient records across a variety of health systems and hospitals. Using patients’ photos, the platform validates whether the patient is real or a fraudster, preventing medical identity theft in real-time. 

RightPatient makes patient identification in hospitals and virtual visits accurate, prevents impostors, and reduces substantial costs down the line – try our platform now to see how it can boost the bottom line at your healthcare facility.

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4 Innovative Ideas that can Bolster Transformation in Healthcare

It’s quite safe to say that healthcare has undergone radical changes since the pandemic struck with full force. While COVID-19 has had unprecedented effects on everyone and everything, it affected hospitals drastically and forced them to come up with alternatives that have led to transformation in healthcare, for instance, telehealth. While the pandemic is hopefully behind us as we return to the “old normal”, let’s take a look at some ideas that healthcare executives believe will transform healthcare and some technologies that already exist such as contactless patient identity verification solutions.

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4 ideas that bolster transformation in healthcare

Patient engagement and patient monitoring going full digital

While we have been hearing about remote patient monitoring and digital patient engagement for quite some time now, the CIO at Cherokee Nation Health Services believes that adopting said solutions into healthcare will vastly improve healthcare outcomes as patients will be more engaged regarding their health and wellness by putting the power in their hands. Not only do such solutions improve patient outcomes but they also allow both caregivers and patients to engage with each other in a more proactive manner beyond the healthcare facilities’ walls by means of text messaging, digital platforms, and chatbots, leading to a digital door, per se.

Introducing meaningful technology in relevant department(s)

The future of healthcare is digital, there is no doubt about that. Healthcare providers that are still using ancient methods and obsolete technology are beginning to feel the heat as the disadvantages keep on piling up. However, innovative hospitals and health systems are going the other way – they are overhauling their processes by implementing technology in almost all of their departments. For instance, while many are using RCM solutions, others are introducing technology in their HR department, inpatient services, nursing department, and so on. While it might not directly generate transformation in healthcare, implementing useful and relevant technology in various departments can bring in better talent, optimize operations, and improve healthcare outcomes – boosting the bottom line. 

Making telehealth a permanent part of the facility

While telehealth has been around for a long time and has not seen success until recently (in response to COVID-19), many caregivers are still quite wary about it. However, even the most skeptical ones cannot deny that it has introduced significant transformation in healthcare. For instance, patients can communicate with their caregivers from the safety and comfort of their houses and reduce significant risks and expenses, among other things. Caregivers can also divert non-critical patients towards virtual visits, reducing the pressure on physical locations and staff and keeping the physical patient volume low, something that is a must to keep COVID-19 at bay. 

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While telehealth can never replace conventional healthcare or in-person visits, it has definitely become an extremely useful tool of healthcare itself, something that caregivers must utilize to its full extent. It can save costs, improve patient satisfaction, enhance outcomes, and keep COVID-19 at bay – creating a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

Implement contactless technologies can truly introduce transformation in healthcare

Speaking of COVID-19, it has spread the fear of getting infected via physical contact to virtually everyone. This is quite surprising, as healthcare providers have always had this fear of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). Hospitals that take patient safety seriously have always focused on infection control, and these are the ones that are always looking for contactless solutions. 

While COVID-19 has pushed infection control into overdrive, many recent innovations in this area include touchless IoT-based systems, patient check-ins, payments, and so on. However, did you know that touchless solutions were already being used in several hospitals across the U.S.?

That’s right – RightPatient is a touchless biometric patient identification system that responsible and innovative healthcare providers have been using for many years. Since it attaches patients’ photos to their medical records, patients only need to look at the camera to validate their identities. It can also be used at any touchpoint across the care continuum – making it ideal for telehealth. RightPatient has been ensuring patient safety, hygiene, reducing denied claims, preventing medical identity theft, and much more via accurate patient identification.

Are you one of the providers who’s looking to introduce transformation in healthcare to your facility?

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The Advantages of Telehealth and Why Hospitals Must be Cautious With It

Telehealth has been around for a while now, even if it only came to prominence during the last year. A paper from the University of California, Davis suggests that telehealth started in the early 1960s. Authoritative websites run by major healthcare providers have been around for at least 20 years. The last year or so has seen remote solutions come into their own, with regular consultations held by video call, support groups for all kinds of ailments moving to online platforms, and routine telephone screening used to allocate patients to the appropriate staff member – exposing virtually everyone to the advantages of telehealth.

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Given the pandemic, people were told to shelter in place. The healthcare system had no spare capacity to deal with seeing patients face to face. Patients were told not to attend the hospital or their regular clinic. Elective surgeries were canceled and routine appointments became virtual, conducted first by telephone and then by video call. The stuff of science fiction suddenly hit the mainstream – slowly demonstrating the advantages of telehealth.

Medical staff members are dealing with ever more complicated cases, among other things. Anything which can simplify and streamline this necessary engagement has to be tried, at least. The pandemic allowed a trial that otherwise might have been seen as driving patients away.

Remote healthcare has been growing in the last few decades. From emails requesting medical records or consultant second opinions, to routine online forms to fill out for regular repeat prescriptions or book appointments, the ability to integrate technology in healthcare is clear. Many primary healthcare practitioners no longer accept requests for repeat prescriptions by telephone but instead require patients to fill in their details online. Imaging reports can be filed online and shared electronically with a patient’s care team, while telephone or video consultations can save a patient having to visit the clinic unless a physical exam is necessary. This may allow the patient to fit the call into a scheduled break at work or arrange for others to take care of dependents for a short time.

The advantages of telehealth everyone loves

Telehealth does not necessarily even need anything more than a cellphone connection. A video connection may be preferable in some cases, but most screening and initial consultations can be carried out over the phone. No costly and time-consuming travel for the patient, no risk of delays for the practitioner. In these times of social distancing, it is best to minimize in-person contact, and telehealth is ideal for this. Patients who have been advised to shelter in place can still receive advice, treatment, prescriptions, and counseling with no risk to themselves or their specialist.

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Telehealth also speeds up the sharing of information between healthcare teams. A report and images can be shared by email over a secure link far quicker than a physical package can be delivered. Sharing patient information online can expedite care, which in turn can improve patient outcomes, quality, and safety in healthcare.

Telehealth needs to be used with caution

While there are numerous advantages of telehealth, it still needs to be used with caution. Technology can be used to help healthcare, as long as it is used securely and correctly. No one wants a patient safety incident resulting from misdirected confidential information or an incorrect bill, after all. Telehealth is more than simply a way to help hospitals improve their finances. Facilities need to ensure they can demonstrate to patients and staff that telehealth is secure as well as slick. It can allow patients to access healthcare when they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, as it will put them in touch with a regular member of their team who is familiar with their case. This means a higher quality of care than if the patient was simply searching online for treatment options.

One option which is not mentioned so often is that telehealth visits can be billed faster. Good for the provider, not so great for the patient, who may also have to attend an in-person appointment for a physical examination after screening. Both the initial virtual consultation and the appointment on site are likely to be chargeable, even though initial screening has often previously been free. Some providers may decide to offer a package of mixed virtual and face-to-face appointments, but should always make this clear to the patient.

Telehealth is not for everyone

Telehealth is convenient for those who are busy and anyone who can get to grips with new software quickly. For patients who are not technologically aware, anyone who lives off the beaten track, in rural locations, or off-grid altogether, it is likely to be more of a challenge to access. Virtual consultations have their place, but in-person healthcare must remain for those who cannot or choose not to access it online.

Some patients will, after all, have reservations about virtual appointments due to concerns about data and personal security. A biometric touchless patient identification platform like RightPatient may help calm their worries. Because it is biometric rather than in-person or touchscreen activated, it can prevent medical identity theft during both telehealth or in-person visits.

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Improving Revenue Cycle in Healthcare Facilities in a Post-Pandemic World

The pandemic hasn’t only been difficult for the healthcare sector in terms of the number of patients treated and the severity of symptoms. For the American healthcare system, it meant a huge loss of revenue for everyday treatments, as every available resource pivoted to caring for the patients affected by COVID. Those facilities that couldn’t pivot were left with no option but to close and file for bankruptcy as their income was hit. Some managed to survive by furloughing their staff or redeploying them to care for the large number of seriously ill patients which COVID produced. As a result, revenue cycle in healthcare facilities took a huge hit.

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Some organizations, though, were luckier than others and were able to deploy remote triaging and virtual consultations by phone and video using the latest videoconferencing software – all of which can be bolstered by utilizing a touchless biometric patient identification platform such as RightPatient. This allowed them to continue to treat patients, and earn income, which softened the blow to their finances and helped both patients – who suffered no break in treatment – and staff – who were retained rather than furloughed.

Revenue cycle in healthcare facilities during the pandemic tanked, to put it mildly. Normal service dropped off a cliff and around three-quarters of healthcare providers had to put revenue cycle management in place, as well as ensuring employees could practice remotely and maintain effective social distancing when they did have to attend their workplace.

The return has started, remotely

Now that treatment cycles are returning to pre-pandemic levels in many places, the staff members are also returning to their usual roles. They are returning to treating their regular patients and making sure of their incoming revenue whilst minimizing the losses their facility may have suffered.

In order to optimize their abilities, staff members have learned how to use technology to help them assist patients remotely during the pandemic. This approach is likely to remain in place for those patients who are unable for any number of reasons to attend an in-person consultation.

One of the most popular ways to use tech in medicine is by organizing a remote consultation, by telephone or video call. This helps staff to find out quickly what ails their patient and can help them triage the patient more effectively, immediately. They can tell the caller at once whether they need to attend, offer an appointment if so and have all the notes from the call available when the patient comes in. If a referral is needed, the process can be started straight after the phone call, without waiting for an appointment or paperwork.

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Of course, processes still need to be followed. Not only does that enhance patient safety, but it also embeds the familiar for both patient and healthcare employee. Sorting out the paperwork before the patient arrives is of prime importance, and means everyone will know what is going to happen and what they can expect to be billed or paid for. Staff should check whether there is an authorization for the service under the patient’s insurance and what the patient’s responsibility is regarding this. Ensuring everyone is aware of charges and can reconcile them quickly is better for the provider’s income levels too. Being organized allows accurate expenditure planning, which helps everyone balance incoming revenue against outgoing expected payments.

Communication is key for improving revenue cycle in healthcare

Face-to-face, by email, text, shared app, or phone: no matter how teams communicate, it is best that they do. Patients with comorbidities or multiple conditions need dovetailed treatment, a patient pathway across several providers, and it is best to schedule appointments logically. Scheduling several simple appointments across nearby providers in one day is a possibility to reduce travel headaches for the patient, although it may make it an expensive time when the bills come due. That also relies on the finance and revenue cycle team knowing that they are to bill a particular insurance company for a defined treatment to a named patient on a given date. Communication makes all of these processes simpler and can help provide the necessary paper or electronic trails to ensure timely billing, and therefore prompt payment. The notification to finance should come from the clinical team, as they are treating the patient. They also know exactly which procedure was undertaken and how, so are best placed to ensure the billing is correct. 

An efficient billing cycle is one way to ensure reliable income, as everyone knows what is due to be paid, by whom, and when. It’s not just the medics and revenue billing team who have a part to play here either. Every healthcare professional who attends to the patient has a responsibility to produce documentation for their part in the patient’s care – all of this works towards optimizing revenue cycle management in healthcare facilities.

Technology can enhance revenue cycle in healthcare facilities

Accurate billing is essential when attempting to collect revenue. Billing the wrong patient, or a different insurance company, can delay payment and cause extra effort and paperwork for no gain. Correct patient identification at the start of the treatment cycle makes billing much simpler. A biometric touchless platform such as RightPatient can help eliminate patient misidentification and the nearly $5 million of denied claims which result.

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It’s Time to Improve the Patient Experience as In-Person Medical Visits Are Back

Now that lockdown is easing, in-person visits to medical facilities for non-urgent reasons can resume. Masks are being removed, people can come into closer contact than they could previously, and the routines of everyday life are returning. This is where hospitals can put into practice new ways of working which were adopted because of the pandemic and improve the patient experience.

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RightPatient improves the patient experience

More virtual appointments to prevent waiting times and improve punctuality for those patients who do need to be seen in person. Telephone triaging so that the patient is routed to the correct specialist faster. Individual consultations rather than groups which may encourage patients to be more open about their ailment, or group sessions held remotely so patients who work better with a support network can still have that feeling of accountability. All of these, when used appropriately for the individual patient, can improve the patient experience, reduce patient safety incidents, and improve healthcare outcomes.

Virtual consultations may not be for everyone

Of course, a touchless biometric patient identification platform such as RightPatient can improve quality and safety in healthcare where it is used. As hospitals and other healthcare locations move towards dealing with higher numbers of routine patients again, anything which can simplify the process should be welcome. There is a significant backlog of routine procedures which need to be undertaken having been canceled in favor of treating COVID infected patients, so all the staff members are likely to be busy for some time to come. Some workers were furloughed, other facilities had departments closed and remaining staff diverted to caring for acutely ill patients. Now, they need to return to their more usual work, while picking up the pieces of disrupted patient treatment pathways and working to improve the patient experience.

Naturally, this had a knock-on effect on medical income, with the loss to hospitals estimated to be somewhere between $320 billion to $325 billion. Now that people are receiving vaccines at speed and the rate of infection is slowing, medical facilities can begin to work on regaining some of that lost income and treating those patients who may have chronic conditions or have developed one after overcoming COVID.

Normal, but not normal

Just because everything is opening up again doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t be alert to the potential for new variants of the virus. Like ‘flu and colds, the COVID virus mutates, and there is always the risk that the next outbreak could be just as virulent. Keeping social distancing, minimizing queuing, and ensuring adequate ventilation are practical ways to reduce risk to staff and patients. However, technology has a part to play too.

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RightPatient has been improving the patient experience for several hospitals

Remote consultations save time, effort, the patient’s money, and improve the patient experience

Telehealth, the use of virtual or remote appointments rather than in-person consultations, has become popular for first consultations, initial triaging, counseling, and any discussion where actual hands-on physical examination is not required. For some people, it may be mentally less stressful to undertake healthcare appointments in this fashion. For others, it may be simpler and quicker, removing the need for time off work or lengthy journeys. Using telehealth the professional can easily work out which patients to call in for an in-person examination and who simply needs a new prescription or a referral to further care. Telehealth can take the form of a telephone call or video consultation, so most patients should be able to start their treatment pathway virtually. The reduced numbers of patients attending the facility will lower the likelihood of infection and reduce risk to staff and those patients who are clinically more vulnerable to the virus.

The public’s awareness of and engagement with healthcare staff has increased due to the pandemic. More people have been coming into contact with a wide variety of medical professionals as a result of the events of the last year. These people are not just those infected with the virus, they are members of the public who have struggled with loneliness and isolation, mental health issues, grief and loss, as well as those whose domestic arrangements were not suited to extended shelter-in-place requirements.

For many of these people, a remote solution is easier than an in-person visit. Actually leaving the house may be impossible for some, depending on their circumstances. It may be safer for them to remain at home, to have their medication delivered to them, and not to put their long-term health at risk by attending hospital in person. Hospital-acquired infections are a big risk to immunocompromised patients, and after a year of keeping themselves safe, they may be reticent about venturing out too far.

Touchless biometric patient identification solutions such as RightPatient can help healthcare providers ensure that they are treating accurate patients. Because RightPatient is biometric, patient identification is visually by camera rather than confirming answers to questions – it helps improve the patient experience during both virtual and in-person visits.

RightPatient can help healthcare providers treat their patients with less disruption and lower risk to the patients. The providers are still paid for their time and expertise, but the patient avoids an in-person visit unless an examination or procedure is indicated. That’s more convenient all around.

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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.