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Why Healthcare Advocacy is an Underappreciated Aspect of Healthcare

Why Healthcare Advocacy is an Underappreciated Aspect of Healthcare

The healthcare system is not only growing but is also getting increasingly complex. It is common for patients to see multiple specialists, which often makes it harder for them to manage bills and keep track of treatments. 

In fact, about 52 percent of patients cannot correctly navigate the system. Healthcare advocacy can prove to be a savior and help patients deal with the complicated healthcare system.

Why Healthcare Advocacy is an Underappreciated Aspect of Healthcare

Introduction to Healthcare Advocacy

The purpose of healthcare advocacy is to make it easier for patients to manage their healthcare, especially for seniors with cognitive impairment or for individuals dealing with issues such as exhaustion and stress.

Patients often have to spend hours going through documents such as insurance forms that they do not always understand. It is even common for patients to misunderstand options or diagnoses, which can result in major issues such as missed appointments and wrong dosage. This is when healthcare advocates come to play. 

They offer direct and customized assistance to patients and make healthcare easy to access. Moreover, they educate patients and guide them through insurance questions, administration tasks, legal issues, and more.

Companies can choose to hire independent health advocates or work with advocacy organizations. Furthermore, even hospitals often offer advocates in the form of nurses. These advocates offer a variety of services, including:

  • Coordinating with specialists and communicating with providers
  • Explaining patient rights and confusing information
  • Identifying resources and making referrals
  • Clarifying medical conditions and diagnoses
  • Reviewing bills and getting errors corrected
  • Reviewing insurance policies, explaining different terms, and advising on policies 
  • Information about available insurance benefits and technologies such as telehealth
  • Helping people with hospital admissions and discharge procedures
  • Assisting with meals, home care, housing, and more, especially when dealing with older patients
  • Helping with disability filings, legal concerns

The Importance of Advocacy in Healthcare

The best way to understand the importance of advocacy in healthcare is to examine patient support roles and healthcare policy. Advocacy can be on an individual level or large scale, while the former focuses on individual patients, and the latter focuses on the system and ways to improve it.  

Large Scale Advocacy

Leaders and lawmakers sit down to create healthcare policies, but they don’t do it alone. They often get organizations onboard and seek expertise from different corners to ensure the policy is effective and efficient. 

The purpose of large-scale advocacy is to guide these policymakers and support a reliable and well-informed decision-making process. It encourages reforms and changes that improve the system in the eyes of the latest research. The aim is to improve technologies and cultivate better relationships in the industry. Moreover, it encourages policies that take into account factors such as the changing socioeconomic situation of the country. 

Through influencing public policy, healthcare advocacy aims to improve the community and individual healthcare and reduce health disparities. Large-scale healthcare advocacy does not only work to improve the policies but also to ensure they get approved quickly. Furthermore, healthcare advocacy works to secure the finances needed to support the introduction of new healthcare policies.  

A great example of large-scale healthcare advocacy was seen during the pandemic when experts jumped into action to create efficient policies. They shared their expertise with the lawmakers and highlighted technologies such as telehealth. These policies have helped control the pandemic and things are already back to normal in most parts of the world. 

Something similar was seen during the AIDS crisis when advocacy groups came together to start AIDS research, ultimately resulting in the development of treatments that have proven to be highly effective. 

In addition, healthcare advocacy groups are also working to reduce racism in the industry by ensuring all groups get access to healthcare. They’re educating healthcare providers, policymakers, and people to combat discriminatory practices.

Individual Scale Healthcare Advocacy

Healthcare advocacy on an individual level does a very important job of helping individuals navigate through the complex system. The main job of advocates is to ensure patients receive the care that they require without having to deal with unnecessary costs, paperwork, or hassles. They work to improve safety and optimize care delivery and answer all relevant questions a patient may have.

By helping patients, they also help organizations improve their engagement. Reports suggest that about 42 percent of physicians believe that healthcare advocacy has helped improve quality outcomes, whereas 38 percent believe that it can be good for patient experiences. Similarly, about 26 percent agree that it can help save patient costs.

Healthcare advocacy helps all patients, regardless of their background or status. This is very important because not all patients have family members or loved ones to take care of them or to explain the system. As a result, patients often end up delaying procedures, choosing the wrong procedure, or suffering from more pain and anguish.

6 Important Ways to Use Medical Records for Patients

6 Important Ways to Use Medical Records for Patients 

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have played a major role in the digital transformation of the healthcare industry as a whole. And, in particular, they have helped patients benefit from more accurate diagnoses and higher-quality, uninterrupted medical care. 

But how can healthcare providers make the most of their medical record system to support the treatment and long-term care of patients? Here are just five ways to use EHRs to deliver higher-quality healthcare to patients.

6 Important Ways to Use Medical Records for Patients

Delivering More Accurate Diagnoses

Although advances in screening technologies and healthcare have significantly reduced the risk of misdiagnosis, recent estimates show that, on average, 1 in 20 adult patients seeking outpatient medical care receive a wrong diagnosis. 

What’s more, some long-term conditions have much higher misdiagnosis rates. For example, although neurologists can easily answer questions such as “what is epilepsy?” or “what are the symptoms of epilepsy?” diagnosing this condition remains challenging.  In fact, an estimated 20-30% of people with epilepsy are believed to have been misdiagnosed, according to Epilepsy Foundation. 

Electronic medical records have helped treatment providers in determining hard-to-diagnose conditions like epilepsy by providing access to accurate real-time and historical data, which assists in predicting patient risk, timely addressing risk factors, and reducing human error.

New Telemedicine Opportunities

One of the best ways in which EHRs are helping advance healthcare is through the telemedicine opportunities they provide. 

Telehealth and virtual care are playing a pivotal role in helping the healthcare system cope with the unprecedented pressure stemming from an aging population and the need for more accessible, quality care. What’s more, telehealth services help providers boost care accessibility and reduce burnout.

With EHR systems featuring telehealth capabilities, providers can introduce an additional real-time communication channel to boost provider-patient relationships. Telehealth has also helped providers deliver continued care to those with long-term or chronic conditions, especially in the case of patients with mobility issues or living in remote areas.

Integrations With Health-Tracking Devices

The latest Electronic Health Record systems can integrate with health-tracking devices, such as mobile apps and smartwatches. These wearable devices monitor real-time health data relating to a wide range of conditions, including heart rate, glucose levels, quality of sleep, and seizure intensity and frequency. 

From a patient’s viewpoint, these tools deliver better control over one’s health and allow high-risk individuals to take preventive steps. On the other hand, providers can access real-time and accurate health data about their patients and enhance insights on treatment effectiveness, recovery progress, and condition development. 

Boosting Patient Satisfaction

Medical records are essential for clinics looking to improve patient identity, satisfaction, and care. EHRs and patient portals allow patients to enjoy a direct communication channel with their providers, seamlessly schedule follow-up appointments, and retrieve details of their medical history in no time. 

From a provider’s viewpoint, EHRs provide healthcare clinics with quick access to patient data and a secure information-sharing system. What’s more, EHR systems support clinical decision-making, reduce the likelihood of human error, and deliver clinical alerts and reminders.

Seamless Care Through Collaborative Data Collection 

Interoperable medical record systems allow healthcare clinics and care providers to share collaborative datasets and access real-time information, which is essential to provide patients with ongoing, uninterrupted care. 

This is particularly important in the case of patients who deal with a range of healthcare providers and specialists during their treatment journey, where the communication of patient information is critical. 

Improved Quality of Life Through Risk Management

One of the key roles of EHRs is to reduce the risk of human error to a minimum. Through EHRs, clinics no longer need to deal with error-prone, labor-intensive data transcription processes, and can instantly deliver data to other providers involved in a patient’s treatment. 

Moreover, many healthcare facilities are using innovative solutions to ensure accurate patient identification. For instance, a touchless patient identification platform like RightPatient helps ensure patient data integrity and helps identify the correct medical record each time the patient comes in for a visit using their photos. 

High-risk patients can also benefit from uninterrupted monitoring of their condition and risk factors, thus reducing the likelihood of dealing with more severe health conditions in the future. 

Although the cost of EHR systems and the differences between one system and another are two of the most significant adoption barriers, medical records are already yielding considerable benefits in the diagnosis, treatment, and clinical care of a range of conditions.

5 Ways Patients Can Pay Healthcare Costs

5 Ways Patients Can Pay Healthcare Costs

The cost of healthcare is a concern for millions, and so thinking about how you’ll cope as and when you’re hit with a big medical bill is best done in advance.

5 Ways Patients Can Pay Healthcare Costs

Here are just a few examples of ways that patients often pay for treatment, so that you can put your own plans in place.

Personal loans

When faced with significant healthcare expenses, taking out a loan is a solution to help spread the costs over a longer period, rather than having to suffer a major hit to your finances all at once.

You should read more about personal loans to ensure that you know what to look for in a deal, and how to find a lending arrangement that suits you.

Insurance

Health insurance, whether as part of a public scheme or from a private provider, can protect you against the bulk of the costs that you’ll face when you need to use healthcare services, or receive ongoing treatment for a condition.

The cost of cover will vary depending on the scheme, as well as according to your own medical history and circumstances.

Local programs

In the case that the financial strain of paying for medical aid and prescription drugs is too great, there are social service agencies in all states which may be in a position to provide support.

Often people will use a combination of resources to pay for healthcare, and again it’s down to the unique situation of each individual, as well as the services in your area.

Savings

The idea of saving for a rainy day is a tried and tested way to ensure that if you suddenly find yourself lumbered with expensive healthcare to pay for, you won’t have to be entirely reliant on outside assistance.

Paying into a healthcare savings pot on a regular basis means that there will always be money available for when the unexpected happens. And of course, you can always use this cash for other emergencies as well, depending on the type of savings account you choose and the terms of use that apply to it.

Crowdfunding

It’s a reality of the modern world that running crowdfunding campaigns to pay for medical treatments is not just possible thanks to technology, but also necessary because of the way that the healthcare industry operates today.

Setting up a crowdfunding page on one of the many mainstream platforms that support this will allow you to share your scheme with friends and family, as well as potentially getting donations from complete strangers who are compelled to contribute out of an ethical sense of duty to their fellow human beings.

Other points to consider

It’s worth talking briefly about the opportunities you have to make savings on healthcare costs so that the price you pay for treatment isn’t as steep regardless of how you choose to fund it.

For example, it’s always a good idea to get in touch with the pharmaceutical firms which supply any prescription medicines that you require in order to see if there are any affordable alternatives to what you’re taking, or if they offer discounts.

Also, it may be worth taking out additional insurance in the case that you’re the main breadwinner in the household. Disruption to your income caused by prolonged poor health can be a catastrophe, so accounting for this rather than hoping for the best is useful.

Final thoughts

You rarely have to face healthcare costs alone. Whether you borrow from a reputable lender, use insurance, or source the funds from your savings or those around you, there’s always a path forward.

How Can Healthcare Information Systems Eliminate Diagnostic Errors

How Can Healthcare Information Systems Eliminate Diagnostic Errors?

When you visit a medical professional for your problems, you want to ensure that you get the correct diagnosis. Otherwise, you’ll receive the wrong treatment plan and won’t remedy your issue. This situation can be extremely frustrating and cause you to go without the proper treatment plan for your ailment.

How Can Healthcare Information Systems Eliminate Diagnostic Errors

Fortunately, healthcare information systems have several ways that they can eliminate diagnostic errors to ensure you get the correct treatment. Please continue reading to learn how healthcare professionals work to eliminate these errors.

Building Knowledge

Healthcare professionals must rely on constantly changing information and stay up to date to give the correct diagnosis. For example, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, healthcare professionals had to adjust quickly to ensure patients received proper care.

Experts in the field work constantly to ensure that they have the most up-to-date information available for doctors to examine. When a team of professionals works to ensure correct information, patients don’t have to worry much about receiving the wrong diagnosis.

Moreover, many healthcare providers are using innovative solutions to ensure that patients are identified accurately to prevent patient mixups, patient data integrity issues, and diagnostic errors. For instance, RightPatient, a leading touchless biometric patient identification platform, is used by several healthcare providers across the US. It uses patient photos to identify their EHRs accurately. Whenever a new patient comes in, RightPatient takes a photo and attaches it with the patient’s EHR, and during subsequent visits, returning patients just need to look at the camera – the platform takes a photo, runs a biometric search, and provides the accurate EHR. 

How Diagnostic Errors Happen

Unfortunately, there are situations where a patient might receive the wrong diagnosis and wrong treatment plan. Patients and doctors must work hard to ensure these diagnostic errors don’t occur so patients can stay healthy. The following are several reasons diagnostic errors have occurred in the past.

Not Enough Time To Monitor Symptoms

A doctor must take the time to monitor a patient’s symptoms. For example, when a doctor can monitor symptoms frequently, they can give a proper diagnosis. Alternatively, if a patient gives a doctor information by word of mouth, then there is a chance that information gets misconstrued.

Inexperienced Doctor

When a doctor is new to the field, there’s a higher chance that they will hand out an incorrect diagnosis. If you’re a patient seeking a doctor for treatment for your ailment, then it’s important that you research your healthcare professional to ensure that they have plenty of experience. An experienced doctor has seen your ailment before and knows what diagnosis to provide.

No Follow Up Appointments

Healthcare professionals must schedule follow-up appointments to ensure the treatment plan works for the patient. It is also imperative that patients attend these follow-up appointments to give accurate treatment information to the doctor. If a doctor doesn’t schedule a follow-up appointment, they have no way to monitor the patient’s treatment plan.

Lack Of Testing

The final reason diagnostic errors occur in Healthcare is the lack of testing. Some lab tests can be expensive, and patients can only sometimes afford them if they have insurance. If you can afford thorough lab tests for your ailment, it’s best to go through this testing to get the proper treatment plan.

The Importance Of Patient and Doctor Communication

Doctors and patients must keep open communication and provide accurate information to each other. You need to give your doctor the correct information when they ask to avoid receiving the wrong treatment plan.

In addition, certain medications can interfere with each other and create dangerous health conditions, so be open and honest about the medications you take to your doctor.

Dementia is a common condition people get as they age, and it’s important to maintain open communication with your doctor to receive a correct dementia diagnosis. Please read more to learn about an accurate dementia evaluation.

What To Do If You Receive The Wrong Treatment Plan

If you receive the wrong treatment plan for your ailment, you must immediately communicate this problem with your doctor. Call your doctor’s office and inform them about what’s wrong with the treatment and the symptoms you experience. The last thing you want to do is go too long without the right treatment and risk your condition worsening.

Blockchain - Opportunities for Healthcare

Blockchain: Opportunities for Healthcare

How is that exciting if the data is recorded as a distributed database? Yes, with the assistance of Blockchain you can do this task quickly. This distributed database is known to be a block. The Cryptography technique joins these blocks together to store the recording in digital format. A famous currency Bitcoin is managed according to this block-chain technique. Because it protects the transaction terms.

Blockchain - Opportunities for Healthcare

Yes, it is impossible to cheat, hack, and change the recorded data once information is added to it, but there are different ways to structure the data. Each “block” has a massive amount of information. Specific storage is kept for an individual block. When the storage capacity is filled then that block is closed. At that moment the locked block connects to the previously sealed one. Through this process, the network chain is formed as a blockchain. When new information is added, new blocks are formed and included in the chain.

Scope

Blockchain technology is being used to solve problems in many fields, including healthcare.

It protects the patient’s data and general involvement in the patient’s health. Also can decrease costs. Blockchain provides the benefit to transfer the patient’s records from one hospital to chemist’s organizations, surgeons, and other laboratories for problem-solving. 

It plays an important role in the medical field by saving the life of any patient by identifying the serious disease. So, Blockchain technology is considered one of the best for protecting, medical data sharing, and enactment in the field of healthcare. 

It increases the rate of awareness in the analysis of medical issues. Mainly, this technology reduces the patient’s fear of coping with their medical data as it provides the highest level of security system. 

For accessing the data, the system offers interconnection, verification, adaptability, and answerability. Patient issues like sugar level and blood pressure data can also be determined and stored by attaching some useful devices and also with the help of things on the internet. 

It is very helpful for the doctor whose patients require these values at a normal level. The exchange of health information gives more security and enhances the healthcare quality consists of some main steps.

  • Information about the health of the patient.
  • Monitoring systems and things on the internet provide the ability to collect more data.
  • Increases the advocating through electronics. 
  • Messages are kept with complete security.
  • It claims full medical assurance.  

Benefits

  • For protecting the data, blockchain encodes all the data. 
  • It uses the highest level of security to guard each sort of data. 
  • Virtual and real-world value can be held because of its digital system.
  • The term transparency gives the benefit to get ownership of any company.
  • Blockchain is a much cheaper, faster, and better option for the care of patients. 
  • This system updates from time to time for sharing the data between the provider and patient.
  • Smart deals always maintain the balance in the data. 
  • Most efficient system.
  • It decreases the mistakes and scams that occur in clinical trials. 
  • Organizations and researchers get the inclusive spectrum of data without any interruptions. 
  • This technique explores the disease timely which helps to eradicate the origin of the disease. 
  • Blockchain also shields information about DNA (genomic data). 
  • In blockchain networks, electronic medical records (EMRs) guard the data and send it to other medical centers with full safety. 

Applications

Effects analyzer of the specific process: Patient’s recorded secure data provides the opportunity to analyze the effects of specific problems or diseases. After identifying, it is easy to accomplish the disease. Blockchain provides the capability of storing data and making the results faster. You can straightforwardly collect significant data in case of surgery or any other crisis. 

Clarity and welfare: Some patients’ diseases take a long time with the doctors. This system gives security and honesty for a long time. In case of any erratic ailment, it also offers the tracks for clinical terms and support in cure. Transparency allows exchanging of medical data between some physicians and medical laboratories to recognize the issue speedily without anxiety.   

Antiseptic evaluation: Blockchain technology is used to check the results of clinical experimentations. It explores whether the desired result is matched with the analysis result or not. This useful system can also allow suggestions for reasonable medicines by monitoring the chain. 

Decreases the extra and needless expenses: Blockchain gives the biggest opportunity to complete the whole treatment from verification of problems to cure with nice time management. This benefit saves the patient’s life, time, and also money. Many problems of clinical treatment like report completion, interoperability, failure, and theft of data all are resolved by time management property.  

Information about origin: For any problem solution, finding out the origin of the problem is the main and essential step to eradicating the issues. That’s why blockchain is considered the most valuable and most used mobile app. It gives the display key points about any medical issue of high quality. This would increase the better medication options. Clinical trials, medicinal products, vaccines, and medications are all factors that become well in their sector by this wonderful system. 

Keeping records about health: In the world of medicine, keeping health records is pleasantly done in blockchain coordination. Assurance supervision, allocation of records for healthcare, keeping the healthcare data by electronics, and performing the task for management are all applications in the medical field by the system of the blockchain.  

Conclusion

Blockchain is the system in which we can store information by making the blocks. These blocks are interconnected with each other. No one can hack, change or copy the recorded data. This process is used worldwide in fields. The healthcare sector is one of the important parts.  Blockchain saves the patient’s data with full protection. You can exchange data with other medical laboratories to diagnose without any fear of missing, copying, or changing the saved data. After studying the above benefits and opportunities, you can understand how important blockchain technology is in the healthcare center. For any curing of the disease must select blockchain technology to save life and money.  

How Technology Is Transforming Patient Care

How Technology Is Transforming Patient Care

Technology has been successfully utilized in many industries over the years to benefit people’s lives, with healthcare being no exception. One of the most notable milestones in the relationship between healthcare and technology has been seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw an exponential rise in the use of telehealth as patients and medical providers sought new ways to safely access and deliver healthcare.

How Technology Is Transforming Patient Care

Digital devices, apps, and remote monitoring are some of the ways patients stay in touch with their medical providers to receive the care they need. According to estimations by McKinsey,  telehealth adoption showed a sharp rise from 11% in 2019 to 40% in 2021. This acceleration could result in up to $250 billion of current US healthcare being potentially virtualized. This article will explore the field of telehealth and its benefits for patient care in more detail.

What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, is the delivery of health services through the use of telecommunication technologies such as computers, tablets, and smartphones to facilitate the provision of healthcare from a distance. Rather than in-person visits, telehealth allows patients and providers to do the following:

  • Schedule appointments, order medication, and communicate over the phone or via video conferencing.
  • Send and read messages through secure and reliable means.
  • Check symptoms or vital signs through remote monitoring devices, allowing healthcare providers to check on the progress and status of their patients from home.

In this way, telehealth solutions offer increased flexibility and convenience for both patients and healthcare providers.

Many healthcare providers can even ensure accurate patient identification remotely with touchless biometric patient identification platforms like RightPatient. When such a platform is implemented, it ensures that the patient receives treatment according to their EHR, ensuring patient safety and preventing medical identity theft in the process. 

The Benefits of Telehealth

The digitization of many healthcare practices can improve patient experience in a number of ways as outlined below.

  • Better access to healthcare: As it is offered from a distance, telehealth offers the ability for more people to access medical care. This enables those who previously may not have had such access, such as the elderly, disabled people, or those without the means of transportation, to the healthcare services they need.
  • Less risk of infection: Without the need for in-person contact between patients and healthcare providers, the risk of contamination or spread of infectious illnesses is also significantly reduced. 
  • Easier for patients: Without the need to travel to see a doctor, take time off work or wait in a waiting room, telehealth makes it easier for people to receive the care that they need. Such services eliminate the need for sick, disabled, or medically vulnerable people to have to travel to their appointments, and patients who require in-home care such as those at Husky Senior Care can also find this of particular benefit.
  • Better follow-up care: With regular alerts, automated messaging, and other consistent means of communication offered through technology, medical providers are better able to monitor their patients’ progress reducing the risk of any adverse consequences following surgery, medication, or missed appointments.
  • Access to specialists: Telehealth makes it possible for patients to receive healthcare from medical providers in specialist fields who are based in other cities or other countries.

With all of the benefits outlined above, it seems that telehealth is here to stay and will continue to grow, enabling healthcare providers to deliver services to their patients remotely.

A Guide To The Future of Electronic Health Records (EHR)

A Guide To The Future of Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Administrative tasks in the healthcare industry are essential, but they can also be labor-intensive, extremely time-consuming, and dangerously prone to human error. 

So, it isn’t surprising that, since their introduction in the 1970s, Electronic Health Records (EHR) have played a pivotal role in transforming the healthcare industry – both in terms of efficiency and quality. 

While these systems are still in their infancy and not entirely faultless, they have the potential to propel the healthcare sector into the future. Discover how below. 

A Guide To The Future of Electronic Health Records (EHR)

Electronic Health Records: An Overview

Electronic Health Records (EHR) refer to the digital counterpart of a patient’s paper chart. Typically used in hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities, these digital charts offer a collection of systematized information about a patient or the local population. 

Since these records are often stored in internal cloud infrastructures, they can be easily accessed, shared, and recovered by different authorized healthcare providers and facilities.

Just after their invention in the late 1960s, EHRs existed in rudimentary infrastructures, and they were mainly used in academic inpatient and outpatient medical facilities. 

However, thanks to the technological advancements that took place in the 1990s and 2000s, digitized patient data became more popular, and they underwent significant upgrades between 1992 and 2015. By 2011, nearly 60% of clinics were regularly using EHR technology in combination with paper charts. 

How EHRs Affect the Healthcare Industry

Over the past 10 years, the crucial role played by EHRs became evident and, according to estimations by Nature, 96% of hospitals and 86% of physicians’ offices in the US now use digitized medical records. 

There are many reasons for the mass adoption of electronic health records that took place in the past years, and most of them are connected to the benefits this technology offers to most medical facilities. 

Thanks to EHRs, clinics can now reduce the risk of human error, transfer critical patient information to other providers and facilities, and update a patient’s health record in real-time. What’s more, EHRs are user-friendly for both healthcare providers and patients, and they can be integrated with other systems within a certain healthcare setting (including billing and scheduling systems).

In terms of boosting the efficiency of clinical settings, EHR has played an essential role in helping the healthcare system boost automation and deal with the unprecedented demand fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic and the aging population. 

Adoption of EHRs: Challenges and Benefits

Undeniably, the implementation of electronic health records can boost the quality and efficiency of the healthcare system, reduce paperwork, and even put patients in control of their health. What’s more, EHRs have helped clinics streamline patient management, build relationships of trust, and make better clinical decisions.

However, most clinics using EHRs today do so in combination with traditional paper charts, mostly due to the adoption challenges this technology is facing today. 

Some of the greatest concerns hindering the widespread adoption of EHR include patient data security, physician error, data breaches, and loss or damage due to poor software infrastructures. The cost of use, training needs, and the limited tech abilities of less tech-savvy physicians are additional minor challenges. 

The Future Potential of EHRs

Since their introduction over forty years ago, electronic medical records have evolved drastically. Thanks to EHR optimization and improvement strategies, physicians are now able to seamlessly access and consult real-time patient data, monitor at-home care, and schedule appointments. 

What’s more, as emerging technologies become more affordable and widespread, EHRs gain new, powerful functionalities, including:

  • GPS technology can provide patients with remote assistance and greater security levels.
  • IoT devices can monitor vital signs and deliver personalized reminders (i.e.: medication alerts).
  • Greater levels of interoperability allow for greater ease of use and access
  • Enhanced patient safety when touchless patient identification platforms like RightPatient are used. 
  • Live video streaming platforms support remote communication with patients and telehealth services.
  • Greater levels of integration with billing, appointment scheduling, and patient management software will allow for more streamlined workflows. 
  • More ad hoc EHR solutions that fit the specific needs of a certain clinic, hospital, lab, or facility, also through app extensions and customized functionalities.
  • Customized user experience for patients and healthcare providers
  • Faster EHR adoption and cycle times to deliver consistent and integrated data in real-time across multiple facilities.

While it is impossible to foresee the exact extent to which EHRs will change the healthcare industry, it is already evident that this technology will play a crucial role in helping the global healthcare industry cope with the unprecedented demand for quality, affordable, and accessible care. 

Best Practices for Healthcare IT Resilience & Reliability

Best Practices for Healthcare IT Resilience & Reliability

We might think of cyberattacks as mostly targeting big businesses and individuals, but over the last few years, there have been multiple attacks on healthcare IT infrastructures. Cyberattacks have been aimed at medical, educational, research, and public health organizations and many attacks have shut down critical systems and attempted to steal important data. Such attacks can create chaos in healthcare organizations and can potentially create delays to care. Therefore, it’s crucial that organizations working in the healthcare sector utilize best practices to improve the resilience and reliability of their IT systems to prevent cyberattacks from happening. 

Best Practices for Healthcare IT Resilience & Reliability

Here are some of the top methods your organization can use to enhance its IT resilience and reliability.

Select the Right Framework

First off, it’s important that healthcare organizations select a cybersecurity framework to help them measure and understand the effectiveness of their IT infrastructure and thereby prevent catastrophic cyberattacks, such as ransomware attacks, from happening. With the right framework, organizations can understand and map their abilities to fight threats. Armed with a comprehensive initial assessment, decision-makers and others can then take the right precautions to stay protected against future cyberattacks.

Utilize Visibility Engineering

To develop more resilient systems, healthcare organizations need to focus on visibility engineering, which refers to the design and implementation of mechanisms that capture and report data about assets. Your organization can then gain key insights into things like its applications, server, and data.

In order to determine which of your key assets are worth protecting, you need to first establish the value of your assets. You can do that by mapping out and monitoring your key organizational assets that are required to deliver critical healthcare services. It’s easiest to develop and deploy visibility engineering practices in the cloud rather than on-premises. Using cloud APIs and analytics tools, you can collate and produce reliable data that can give you invaluable insights into your assets. In turn, you can effectively tighten your IT resilience and reliability.

Use Threat Modeling

Using the above methods, you can strengthen your IT resilience and reliability, but it’s just as important that you know how to improve your operational stability to improve resilience further in the face of cyber threats. Therefore, you should make use of threat modeling in both your on-premises and cloud workflows. You can then understand precisely how specific threats could affect your operations and take the appropriate action to prevent attacks from happening. Your healthcare organization should regularly use threat modeling for daily operations. You should also use threat modeling when onboarding service providers and new technologies. By doing so, you can identify the most important tactical security priorities and stop vulnerabilities that threaten your organization’s IT resilience.

Conduct Tabletop Exercises

Even when your healthcare organization uses the right methods to prevent cyberattacks and threats from happening in the first place, your entire organization still needs to be prepared for responding to cyberattacks should they happen. You can do that by using tabletop exercises. The exercises should be carried out by leaders in the organization and your technical response teams, but they should also be carried out by non-technical providers such as clinical teams and people who work in public relations. When you utilize tabletop exercises effectively, you can highlight your organization’s risks and vulnerabilities and know what actions to take should a cyberattack occur. Tabletop exercises should be regularly scheduled.

Establish Antifragile Mechanisms

Antifragile mechanisms enable organizations to learn from failures and make rapid improvements to their systems to be better protected against future cyber threats. The most well-known antifragile mechanism is purple teaming, which is a collaborative exercise that’s performed between people attacking and people defending the attacks. So, purple teaming is a kind of fire drill. Doing the exercise with the utmost realism is a crucial component of purple teaming. The exercise involves observers as well as participants. By simulating actual threats, healthcare organizations can get a much better idea of how resilient and reliable their IT security measures and protocols are and adapt as required to improve their systems.

Another popular type of antifragile mechanism is autonomic security operations, which identify threats using advanced data analytics and use automation to take appropriate actions against those threats.

Make Sure All Elements of Your IT Infrastructure Are Resilient Against Threats, Such as Service Desks

Lastly, it’s important that your healthcare organization uses a secure and modern IT service management solution in order to eliminate barriers to employee support services. That means using a service desk that acts as a point of contact for service requests, configuration changes, and problem management. As with all other components of your organization’s IT infrastructure, it’s vital that things like service desks and help desks are reliable and resilient against threats.

Final Thoughts

With the right approach toward your healthcare organization’s IT resilience and reliability, you can better ensure your IT infrastructure isn’t affected by cyberattacks and threats. So, make sure you introduce the above best practices.

Why Seniors Are Targets for Medical Identity Theft

Why Seniors Are Targets for Medical Identity Theft

No one likes to think about their sweet and caring grandfather being the target of identity theft. Unfortunately, criminals often cherry-pick the elderly as unwilling accomplices for their crimes. Medical identity theft, which is on the rise, is frequently the tool criminals use to commit fraud and theft using the names and personal information of the elderly.

So, why are older people so vulnerable to the threat of medical identity theft? There are many reasons criminals prefer to target seniors in their attempts to scam people and profit off of the identity of others. Here’s what you need to know to keep yourself or your loved ones safe.

Why Seniors Are Targets for Medical Identity Theft

What Is Medical Identity Theft?

Everyone knows what identity theft is — someone steals your personal information and pretends to be you for a specific purpose, such as using your credit card or opening an account in your name. Medical identity theft is a specific kind of identity theft that involves insurance fraud for financial gain.

To commit medical identity theft, a criminal begins by accessing someone’s personal medical information. If they have access to that person’s name, social security number, and other important details, they can use it to bill insurance companies for procedures that the person did not receive. Even caregivers and family members of seniors who can no longer care for themselves full-time have been known to commit medical identity theft.

Medical identity theft can be hard to prevent. Data breaches are common in the healthcare industry and most people have had their information exposed. It’s a very profitable form of identity theft fraud due to the difficulty of catching criminals and the high costs billed to insurance companies.

Seniors Often Have Chronic Health Issues

One reason seniors are frequent targets for medical identity theft is that they often have chronic health issues. This makes it relatively easy to bill for treatments and procedures that never actually happened. It’s more believable for a senior to have ongoing health issues that require treatment than it is for a person who is young and healthy.

Older People Can Be Less Tech-Savvy

Another problem that tends to make seniors disproportionally targeted for medical identity theft is that older people are frequently less tech-savvy than younger generations. A senior might not know how to protect their privacy online and they might not monitor their healthcare billing regularly, since that could involve accessing an online portal.

There are, of course, seniors who have embraced technology and know how to use it well. However, that doesn’t always protect them from medical identity theft. If their data was exposed during a breach at a major health organization, it could be used for fraud purposes.

While there are major benefits to digital health storage, such as the availability of biostatistics to boost public health initiatives, electronic records also open people up to the theft of their sensitive health information. It’s important to help seniors protect their information if they don’t know how to follow best practices themselves.

The Elderly Are Often More Trusting

Although people do gain wisdom as they get older, some people also become more trusting. They might provide their personal information to someone without realizing the risks of doing so. Unfortunately, that often leads to unscrupulous people targeting and taking advantage of aging people who are excited to create new social bonds with people they believe to be friends.

They Want to Maintain Their Independence and Can’t Risk Speaking Up

When seniors discover that they have been victims of medical identity theft and other scams, they are often embarrassed or worried about what will happen if they speak up. If the perpetrator is a relative, they might not want to get that person in trouble with the law. This makes it harder to catch people who commit medical fraud.

Or, they might be worried that their relatives will worry about their ability to care for themselves and insist on moving them to an assisted living facility. Most seniors who still live independently don’t want to give that freedom up.

Ways Seniors Can Help Prevent Medical Identity Theft

It’s not always possible to prevent medical identity theft, but there are steps seniors and their loved ones can take to reduce the chances of becoming a target. These include:

  • Securing important documents in a safe or similar location 
  • Shredding documents containing personal information (including prescription labels) when they are no longer needed 
  • Being skeptical of phone calls, emails, and texts that ask for insurance information
  • Monitoring healthcare billing notices for fake charges
  • Be careful about clicking on links, especially those sent in emails
  • Know the laws surrounding patient data

Sadly, family members cannot always be trusted. Many people steal from elderly family members. Seniors need to be extremely careful about who they trust with their personal information and decision-making power. By taking these simple steps, older adults can reduce the chances that they will become victims of medical identity theft.

Moreover, healthcare providers also are proactively combating medical identity theft using various tools – one of which is RightPatient, a touchless biometric patient identification platform. During the registration process, patients only need to look at the camera – the platform attaches photos to the appropriate medical records. Whenever a registered patient returns for a visit, the platform matches the live photo with the saved one, effectively preventing medical identity theft. If a fraudster comes in and tries to impersonate the patient, RightPatient will red-flag the individual in real-time. 

Tips for Maintaining Patient Health and Well-Being with Tech

Tips for Maintaining Patient Health and Well-Being with Tech

Technological advances are creating seismic changes in virtually every industry, and healthcare is no exception. Providing effective patient care can present a number of significant challenges that have historically plagued the healthcare system at large.

These issues have incurred severe costs over time in the form of wasted resources, care failures, and even lives in many cases.

Tips for Maintaining Patient Health and Well-Being with Tech

Applying technology to solving these problems can fundamentally change the quality and effectiveness of the healthcare system. One area of healthcare that is experiencing particular innovation is that of patient health and well-being. Thanks to technological trends and advances over the past five years, our capabilities in this area have skyrocketed.

In this article, we’ll explore the top areas where tech is revolutionizing patient care.

Why Maintaining Patient Health and Well-Being is Vital

It could be argued that maintaining patient health and well-being is the single fundamental purpose of the healthcare system at large. However, there are several practical and operational ways of understanding this concept that help distinguish patient health and well-being from other systems within healthcare. Maintaining effective protocols for ensuring patient health and well-being is important in a few ways.

Patient health and well-being directly contribute not only to patient outcomes (e.g. the ultimate effectiveness of the treatment or care they receive) but to the patient’s experience and perception of the care they receive. Ultimately, not only the individual patients but healthcare providers, friends and family, and other stakeholders all benefit from favorable patient experiences.

Mitigating lawsuits, decreasing workplace stress for medical professionals, and increasing long-term engagement with healthcare are just some of the advantages the healthcare system can experience when it prioritizes patient health and well-being during the care process.

Top Technological Solutions Raising the Bar for Patient Health and Well-Being

Technology can be used to increase the average level of patient health and well-being in several ways. Here are a few of the top strategies for approaching this goal (though this is not an exhaustive list):

Leveraging the Power of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and Patient Identification Tools

Having systems in place to better maintain and access patient records while providing care can create a number of benefits for both patients and medical professionals. Having a patient’s health history and profile information immediately available while providing care can help medical personnel avoid making costly mistakes or misdiagnoses.

A touchless patient identification platform like RightPatient helps prevent patient safety issues, misdiagnoses, and duplicate medical records. RightPatient utilizes biometrics to identify patient records accurately each time patients come in for visits (both physical and telehealth), preventing mix-ups, duplicate EHRs, and more.

It can also save time by mitigating redundant tests or procedures. This can improve patient outcomes and can also improve their experiences while receiving care.

Implementing Biotech Tools for Better Monitoring and Data Capture

The prevalence, quality, and availability of consumer-accessible biotech and medical monitoring tools have reached unprecedented levels. This makes self-monitoring and new approaches to instituting care possible that utilize more sustained, accurate, or multifaceted data.

Tools for tracking blood pressure, heart rate, stress levels, sleep quality, blood samples, and more can be used by patients at home and in their daily lives. The resulting insights can much improve diagnosis as well as the treatment plan development process.

Utilizing Highly Viable Telehealth Options

Telehealth capabilities have also experienced rapid improvements and scaling over the past 3-5 years. This was partly propelled by necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The quality of telehealth services has made telehealth care an accessible, understandable, and preferred option for many patients across the country.

While telehealth won’t completely replace in-person healthcare provision (at least for the foreseeable future), it provides a helpful option for many patients and healthcare entities that can make certain types of healthcare provision much more efficient and convenient for both patients and care professionals.

Telehealth will likely be implemented in increasing measures, both to complement and replace certain types of in-person care, as the healthcare system continues to evolve.

Increasing Medical Professionals’ Access to Databases and Resources

The internet and its organization of information into accessible, centralized places have changed the way medical professionals can access medical knowledge. This can change the process of healthcare provision as well as increase its quality.

Doctors can use a medical prescription database on their phones to check instantly for drug incompatibilities or allergy dangers when writing prescriptions. Nurses can pull up the latest research from a medical database to answer a patient’s questions on the spot. Medical journals can be instantly cross-referenced to provide helpful insights when diagnosing a difficult case.

The wealth and accessibility of medical information and data have fundamentally changed the game for the healthcare process.

Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics into Surgeries and Diagnoses

Emergent technologies are increasingly making a place for themselves in healthcare provision. Already, AI-capable software is being used to analyze large amounts of data for trends and insights. It can also be used to detect subtle nuances in test results and scans that are indiscernible to the human eye to help diagnose health conditions.

Robotic technology is being utilized in surgeries that require more precision or smaller movements than a human surgeon can perform. These technologies are rapidly expanding and iterating. Though many are still in the early stages of development and adoption, their use will continue to increase because of the clear benefits they present.

Tech Trends Continue for Patient Health and Well-Being

These technological trends and more will continue to develop and will be increasingly implemented to improve patient health and well-being in the coming years. Other technologies that are currently in embryonic or experimental stages will continue to emerge as well that will continue to shift the way tech is applied to healthcare.

It’s important to stay on top of technological solutions that are available now, as well as keep an eye on the technological horizons for significant developments that are sure to come.