What You Need To know about the Future of Healthcare - Techindia

Tag: future of healthcare

How To Provide A Quality Healthcare Management Services for Clients?

Quality management in healthcare is aimed at improving effectiveness of treatments and increasing the satisfaction level of clients with the medical services provided. Management of quality is focused on patients, as it is the patients’ satisfaction that is the ultimate judge of the level of healthcare services.

A healthcare system includes not only hospitals, but other components such as pharmacies and health clinics as well. A robust management of all these systems is required to ensure effectiveness of treatment and satisfaction for clients. Below are some elements crucial to providing quality healthcare management to clients.

Improving Quality of Care:

Improving quality of care and reducing costs is a key feature of the Affordable Care Act. In 2015, a new provision provides that physicians will be paid according to the quality of care they provide and not the volume they treat.

The WHO (World Health Organization) stresses on strict standards for management of quality of care. Quality of care in layman terms refers to providing the right healthcare service at the right time in the right manner. WHO defines it as a process for making strategic choices in health systems and further provides that improving quality of healthcare involves making improvements in six areas of healthcare:

  1. Delivering effective and tested treatments.
  2. Manner of delivery focused on optimal resource utilization.
  3. Right healthcare at the right time by professionals with requisite expertise.
  4. Treatment in line with patients’ preferences and local customs.
  5. Equitable healthcare irrespective of gender, location, race or status.
  6. Safe treatments minimizing risk to users.

Administrative Cost Reduction:

Administrative costs in the US account for up to 25% of healthcare costs, and a large percentage is wasteful expenditure according to several reports and studies.

Automation can help reduce administrative costs. Taking health plans online by explaining key benefits to members online, providing online enrollment and moving documents online can reduce costs by cutting down on labor intensive tasks. Electronic health records not only reduce paperwork and cut down administrative costs, but also reduce medical errors leading to quality healthcare for clients.

Professional Medical and Healthcare Teams:

Having professional medical and healthcare teams is central to quality healthcare management – healthcare teams comprise of allied healthcare professionals including pharmacists, physicians, dentists, nurses and other medical practitioners. Several areas report shortage of trained human resources to meet the health needs of growing population. Legislative measures to increase the number of healthcare professionals, especially in areas of shortage can help meet the goal of timely healthcare administered by professionals of right specialization. Telemedicine can be used to provide care in remote areas.

Telemedicine Adoption:

Telemedicine can be defined as exchange of medical information from one place to another using electronic media to improve a patient’s health condition. Use of live interactive videos for primary consultations, storing and forwarding diagnostic reports online and remote cardiac patient monitoring are all made possible by adoption of telemedicine. It provides several advantages by improving accessibility, reducing distance, reducing costs and offers better quality consultations especially in mental care and ICU telemedicine; thereby providing quality healthcare for patients giving them access to premier healthcare without traveling long distances.

Reducing Denial of Services:

While healthcare maybe considered a basic right, there have been many instances of denied healthcare due to lapses in medical insurance. In 2014, Affordable Care Act prohibited insurance companies from refusing to sell or renew policies based on an individual’s pre-existing conditions or gender. Strong implementation of this provision would reduce occurrences of denied medical services to patients, raising the quality of care nationwide.

Big Data: A Big Step Forward in Healthcare

We’ve been living in a digitized society for over a decade now. Everything we do is read, filtered and stored for posterity. Healthcare like every other industry has experienced this progress—whether pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, diagnostic centers or care homes, digitized medical records have been collected and stored in electronic databases over the years and have now been made easier to find, use and action as needed for the entire healthcare community.

Organizations now have insight into promising information/knowledge that was earlier not available to them. This existing big data can help find new treatment methods for specific conditions; solve the mystery of possible side effects, suddenly occurring symptoms, re-admissions, irritations, etc. The benefits as we know are plenty: improved patient care, reduced wait times, increased diagnostic speed, and higher patient satisfaction. The recent advent of new technologies has further improved the industry’s ability to work with this diverse, complex data.

Several innovative companies (both new and existing) are busy designing progressive applications and tools that will help healthcare stakeholders identify opportunities, ease concerns, and receive/give all-round care. According to a report published by McKinsey & Company, over 200 businesses created since 2010 are developing a diverse set of innovative tools to make better use of available healthcare information. This is just the beginning, as more and more innovative ideas get created and actioned, we can anticipate the birth of newer technologies that will reduce increasing healthcare costs, intensify security and protect patient privacy, complying with all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) patient-confidentiality standards.

Governments globally are working towards making healthcare data (i.e., public data on patients, clinical trials, health insurance, medical advances, etc.) more transparent and accessible. For example: The 2009 American Open Government Directive along with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Health Data Initiative (HDI), are starting to liberate data from agencies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) [Source: McKinsey & Company].

This new knowledge is creating a whole new mind-set. Patients, who once just followed Doctor’s orders, now take on a more intimate role in their treatment and decision-making. They have access to highly qualified professionals from across the world and can make lifestyle choices that can help them nullify their condition and/or prevent any further occurrences. Doctors can make real-time, evidence-based diagnosis, enabling quicker action and recovery.

Then there is predictive/prescriptive analytics and Genomics, where big data plays a very radical role. For example: When a patient comes to The ER with chest pain, the doctor’s often find it difficult to decide whether the patient needs to be admitted or can be sent home safely. With predictive algorithms, the patient’s saved history will aid the doctor’s judgment.

Here’s another example: It is likely that a patient’s medical records saved overtime, could on an ordinary visit to the hospital enable the doctor to spot a gene marker indicating Alzheimer’s. At one time, gene sequencing was an art known to a few experts, but with big data it would become as common as a regular blood test. This can help the doctor prescribe the right exercise, nutrition, medication, etc. in advance helping delay the symptoms or completely cure the disease.

Big Data is the future of healthcare. It will revolutionize medicine and increase life expectancy. Healthcare organizations that are open to new ideas; willing to ramp up their capabilities and treat innovation as the foundation of their brand, will be the ones progressing towards a better tomorrow, both for the caregivers as well as the patients.

MOBILE HEALTH TECHNOLOGY: AIDING BETTER DECISION MAKING

Today, comfort is the foremost concern and the key feature of care for all healthcare providers. Whether physical distress or emotional anxiety, different patients have different needs and caregivers must consider all factors before they make a decision.

Taking a medical decision can be overwhelming. Even, if it is a collaborative process where patient and physician make the decision together, the problems are often complex. The intensity is higher when the illness in question is life threatening. Also, the information available is either the patient’s side of the story or the result of multiple tests/examinations conducted. There is always a chance that the decision is incorrect.

According to a survey by PWC, one-third of the physicians said that they make decisions based on incomplete information for over 70% of their patients. They feel that patient compliance and assessing the limited information provided to them is the biggest obstacle in providing efficient care. According to an analysis by Health Research Institute, only half the physicians surveyed said that they access electronic medical records (EMRs) while visiting and treating patients. In fact, 88% of the physicians have indicated that they would like patients to be able to monitor their own health and vital statistics.

With the advent of sophisticated mobile health solutions, things in the medical world are changing for the better. Physicians and consumers alike are taking to characteristics such as convenience, cost-effectiveness, data accuracy, new ways to manage care and better health outcomes that these applications offer.

On the flip side, there is the fear of too much information. Considering that most of these apps record minute-to-minute movement of the patient, the data that is being collected is enormous. While taking a medical decision, the physician wants to see only the important aspects in the data, not every minute detail recorded. In fact, too much information can slow down the decision-making process, as there is that much more data to sort through before arriving at a diagnosis. This is where services provided by companies like Techindia come into play; they not only monitor and collect the data, but also analyze and sort through it in a short span of time making the physician’s work easier.

Physicians have already begun to adopt this new advancement. According to the PWC report, physicians believe that they can reduce office visits by upto 30%. 56% said these devices accelerate their decision-making process and 40% said that it decreases administrative time. Among the consumers, 20% use these devices to monitor fitness, 18% are very specific that they want their doctors to consistently monitor their health, while 40% are willing to pay a monthly fee for the service. Majority of the consumers have indicated satisfaction post the use of mobile health devices, clearly signifying that these gadgets offer valuable benefits to both patients and physicians.

Mobile health solutions are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It is imperative for caregivers to adopt these technologies to provide effective care and stay ahead of competition.

AN OUTLOOK ON ELECTRONIC ICU MONITORING SERVICES

Telemedicine can make it possible for a group of doctors and nurses to monitor several rooms of patients from a single location. Electronic ICU monitoring applies this remote telemedicine technology enabling monitoring of many critical patients from a single room.

eICU – A Remote Care Strategy:

As the number of intensivists lags behind the critical care needs of an aging population, tele ICU makes it possible for intensivists in one location to monitor ICU patients in remote locations through audio video connections. The intensivists in the centre can receive patient information such as psychological data, medical records and treatment information, and communicate with doctors in the remote location who can provide care to the patients in the ICU as directed.

The Idea Behind eICUs:

Between 2000 and 2020, the number of people over the age of 65 is going to substantially increase in US, meaning the need for critical health care will also increase. According to statistics, this will far outweigh the number of intensivists in the country leading to poor critical care for patients.

eICU technology can alleviate this problem by enabling 24/7 intensivist care across locations, increasing the quality of care and reducing costs as well. The main idea behind eICU technology is to increase access to critical healthcare. Patients can access critical health care in their local hospitals, as intensivists can take over more areas from a single location; helping patients by not only reducing transportation costs but also reducing the stress of shifting to other critical health centres.

How eICUs Improve ICU Care:

ICU beds account for 30% of the costs in US hospitals and it is widely believe that 24/7 care provided by intensivists in ICUs can bring down the mortality rate significantly. Moving over shortages of trained personnel and cost barriers, eICU technology offers increased accessibility, better resource utilization and reduced costs by leveraging intensivists in one single location to monitor ICUs across geographies.

eICUs also give the advantage of proactive care, as ICU patients need constant monitoring because their condition changes rapidly. Remote monitoring experts have access to sophisticated analytics and they can pro-actively identify changes in the patients’ condition before they turn critical.

Outcomes Made Easy:

While barriers of costs and acceptance remain, early adopters of eICU technology can benefit from improved clinical and cost outcomes. Lower mortality rate, shorter ICU stays and better resource utilization through 24/7 monitoring of patients via intensivist controlled command centres are factors directly contributing to increase quality of care, lesser administrative costs and higher revenues for the hospitals in the longer run.

Conclusion:

With more than 5 million patients admitted to ICUs in US every year, hospital costs are high not only in terms of finances but also in terms of clinical outcomes due to high mortality rates and under-staffing. Several researches have proven superior clinical outcomes from ICUs staffed with dedicated intensivists. eICU technology, currently, provides the most cost effective and technologically advanced intensivist staffing model that can help hospitals improve financial as well as clinical outcomes, while increasing patient satisfaction by providing critical care in local hospitals, much more accessible to patients.

TOP 5 CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING THE BEST MEDICAL BILLING SERVICES

The decision to outsource billing services for your medical practice can have significant impact on your practice as well as revenue by freeing up more time for your patients and saving you the hassle of managing an internal billing department, if you are successful in choosing a professional and experienced billing service.

It can be an uphill task finding the right service provider to manage the revenues for your company. In this post, we’d share the top 5 criteria that can help you make the right choice.

Quality and Level of Services:

The basic services provided by a medical billing company include claim generation and submission, following up with carriers and preparing patient invoices and providing patient support.

Many companies also offer extras that can make your revenue collection system much more efficient.

  • Payment follow-up – Many billing companies follow up with patients who do not pay their bills on time, crucial to optimum revenue collection for your practice.
  • Denied claims – What are the procedures in place for following up on denied claims?
  • Practice Management – Many billing service providers report back on monthly basis on billing issues and provide insights and feedback for improved practice management.

Before selecting a medical billing service, you must agree on the level of services provided by the company for smooth functioning.

Use of Latest Technology

Latest medical billing software offer many advantages, provided trained staff is available to utilize the technology.

  1. What are the procedures in place for data backup, data recovery, patient information sharing and handling and security of data?
  2. Is the technology HIPAA compliant?
  3. How are the superbills and claims shared?
  4. Is the billing service in line with your company’s Electronic Health Record (EHS) system?
  5. Does the service provider have an integrated EHR system?

Quality of Billing Staff

Apart from the number of years the billing company has under its belt, the experience and expertise of the staff is also important.

The staff must be aware of your specialty-specific codes and procedures employed by your company as well as the carriers. Staff experienced with Medicaid or Medicare would definitely increase operational efficiency.

It is also worthwhile to check for AMBA (American Billing Medical Association) certification that tests the staff for knowledge on coding, medical terminology, HIPAA compliance and carriers.

Consider Pricing Options

Various price models are available and the choice ultimately depends on the size of your practice, average claim size and volume and the service package provided by the billing company.

  • Percentage model – In this model, the billing company will charge a percentage of the total collections. It is one of the most popular models as it provides incentive to the billing company on the basis of the revenue collected.
  • Fixed fee model – Here, the billing company will charge a fixed amount for each claim submitted by it. This can turn out to be a lesser expensive model, but isn’t very popular with service providers due to lack of incentives.
  • Partly fixed model – It is possible to have a flat fee model for certain carriers and percentage basis for others. The method is not very common, but can prove to be more cost effective than a purely percentage based model.

Check out the Company is Certified

The billing company must be HIPAA (Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act) compliant and protect the patient’s personal information in alignment with your company standards.

The staff must also be AMBA certified. To maintain AMBA certification, 15 continuing education credits are required each year.

THE IMPORTANCE OF MONITORING HIGH-RISK PATIENTS

High-risk in the medical world is a very complex and controversial term. To monitor a ‘high-risk’ patient, you should first understand what the term means and entails. It depends on the individual’s past, his current state, and professional observation. We can label a patient as high-risk based on:

  • Demographic information such as age and gender.
  • Diagnosis (Clinical information – disease type, disease burden, co-morbidities)
  • Patient activation/motivation.
  • Behavioral Health Diagnosis.
  • Existence of multiple co-morbidities.

When treating a high-risk patient, sometimes, we find it hard to prioritize. For example, in some situations, test results might indicate poor conclusions, but the actual risk might be relatively low, but in other situations with good test results, the risk might actually be high, but is elusive. As you see ‘risk’, in the medical world, is a very debatable term. However, as a caregiver, the priority of any institution/doctor is to completely assess the patient and provide a detailed and informative report, so that the patient or their family can make an informed decision about the quality of care. Also, with high-risk patients you never know when a change can occur for the good or bad, precisely why you require efficient monitoring.

An institution or even a private nursing home might be able to monitor a high-risk patient effectively during the day and would possibly have a different set of staff doing the same at night. But, this is not only expensive, but can also lead to misses and slips that might prove costly. Take for example surgical patients; they are definitely at risk of intra or post-operative complications. According to PubMed, insufficient tissue perfusion and cellular oxygenation due to hypovolemia, heart dysfunction or both is one of the leading causes of perioperative complications. Definitely, competent pre- and post-operative management guided by effective and timely hemodynamic monitoring can help reduce risk arising from complications.

While, pre-operative care is one high-risk situation, there are others as well, such as patients suffering from severe chronic conditions, physically or mentally disabled individuals, etc. To assist and avoid any fatal errors – whether it is to prevent overcrowded ERs, for pre-operative care or re-hospitalizations, most healthcare providers now look to connected care solutions.

According to mhealthintelligence.com, a new project at Massachusetts General Hospitals uses smartphones to monitor high-risk mentally disabled patients. The app, which is called Cogito, developed by an MIT-based company, tracks the mood, location, frequency of phone calls and texts, etc. to gauge the behavior and state of the patient and to provide immediate care in case of emergency.

Another example is Techindia’s Cardiac Rhythm Interpretation Services. Patients from across the globe are monitored on real and near real-time basis and the data (arrhythmia, if any) is scanned, analysed and reported accurately within a very close timeframe. In fact, emergency reports are reviewed, annotated and delivered within 5 minutes of the occurrence of the cardiac event to any location in the world. Besides, all the reports are available to be viewed/availed via mobile devices.

Remote monitoring is the way of the future, especially where high-risk patients are concerned. A system that can monitor, record, analyze and report every single movement that occurs within or outside the patient can definitely improve quality of care.

TELE-BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SERVICES: IMPROVING QUALITY OF CARE

To improve quality of health and wellness, it is important to treat the person as a whole. Sometimes, in the process of treating physical illnesses/problems one forgets to pay attention to the most important facet of healthcare and treatment—the behavioral aspect. What we don’t realize is that ignoring mental health while diagnosing physical illnesses can lead to some terrible outcomes, both from money as well as the patient’s health perspective.

According to National Comorbidity Study, access to behavioral health treatment is limited. Apparently only 40% of the people with any behavioral disorder actually receive treatment. Out of this only 22% receive quality care from a mental health specialist. The remaining 12% receive care from a psychiatrist, which helps in the initial stages, but cannot really provide long-lasting solutions for intense behavioral disorders.

What we need is a strong link that provides the right all-round care. Access has been one of the main concerns when it comes to addressing behavioral discrepancies. With technology, especially in the healthcare sector now reaching new heights, people are finding it easier to connect and discuss their concerns. In fact, the concept of telehealth holds great promise in the advancement of mental health treatment.

Providing behavioral assessment via telephone, email, videoconferencing, etc. is now becoming an integral part and a well-known practice in the medical field. Telebehaviorial health, e-counseling, e-therapy, online therapy, cyber-counseling, or online counseling are enabling people to get the much needed help from psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, counselors, etc. from across the world. There are multiple reasons for this increasing acceptance and growth—it is convenient and enables one to get immediate treatment as soon as possible; insurance companies provide cover for the services; and people feel more comfortable discussing their behavioral concerns/issues via the above mentioned modes of communication as opposed to a face-to-face meeting.

A study indicated that these services significantly helped decrease hospitalization rates in rural areas with remote access. Another research paper showed that these services were extremely effective for low-income groups especially adults.

According to the “Top Health Industry Issues, 2016 report”, a lot of youngsters (72% aged between 18–44 years) are enthusiastic about using telehealth services. In fact, to address and encourage an environment of acceptance and well being, companies are prioritizing behavioral healthcare. As per a report by PWC, in October 2015 at the New York Stock Exchange, a CEO Mental Health Summit was convened to discuss strategies to support mental health awareness, acceptance, prevention and recovery in the workplace.

With demand for mental telehealth services growing, shortage of providers and the access being remote, this line of medicine is bound to continue its growth. More and more, doctors, payers, policymakers will look at this as a practical solution. While there definitely are a few legal and regulatory compliance’s that need to be worked with, this new technology will be the best way to connect general care with mental health specialists to improve the value and the quality of care provided.

CONNECTED HEALTHCARE: THE NEXT LEVEL TO PROVIDING CUTTING-EDGE SMART SOLUTIONS

We live in a world driven by data. Every single thing we do can be recorded, analysed and made available to us with a click of a button. Be it shopping (a variety of e-commerce sites), eating (foursquare), traveling (Uber, Ola), etc. Companies that never paid attention to healthcare are now forging alliances with start-ups to capitalize on the new digitally connected world. Businesses are restructuring to adapt to the growing influence of technology driven customers.

The healthcare industry is not far behind, from tele-medicine robots, toilet sensors, fetal monitors to remote patient monitoring, connected healthcare – a concept elevated by the “Internet of Things (IoT)” is driving the healthcare industry to a new high, to create services with or without direct human intervention. ‘IoT’ are expected to become active participants in Healthcare monitoring, business, information and social processes where they are enabled to interact and communicate among themselves and with the environment by exchanging smart data and actionable information, crunched out of real time analytics.

The idea that you can now collect, monitor and transfer data over a secure network with absolutely no human interaction is just mind-blowing. What is even better is that this will only increase efficiency, cut costs and improve patient-care by a 100 fold. In fact, IoT is revolutionizing healthcare as we speak!

It is unimaginable how with technology, you can get unique, remote, life-critical data in real-time, analyze it, and provide the necessary prognosis without putting the patient through multiple tests. Here are a bunch of innovations that indicate how we have progressed beyond belief with IoT:

  • Cardiac diagnostics is acquiring a significant amount of interest today. With remote cardiac monitoring, you can now monitor your heart from home and helps speed diagnosis and time to treatment.
  • Reduced hospital-acquired infections due to hand hygiene compliance monitoring.
  • ECG just got simpler! You don’t need to go to a hospital any longer. The bluetooth-enabled ECG electrodes can now gather, record, analyze and upload your heart diagnosis into the cloud.
  • The fetal monitors, electrocardiograms, temperature monitors, etc. not only track vital health information, but also make it available to your physician anytime, anywhere. Thus, decreasing direct patient-physician interaction, while at the same time ensuring great medical care.
  • “Smart bed” is another stunning invention. It detects the patient’s behavior in and around the bed. It indicates whether the bed is occupied or not. It also adjusts itself to provide the best support to the patient without any manual intervention.
  • Now the doctors can keep track of your health and progress without being physical present. In fact, innovation in smart technology indicates that we might be looking at medication dispensers that automatically upload data to the cloud. So, once this becomes a reality, your doctor is going to know if you have not followed his advice! Also, in case of emergency the care team monitoring the patient will be alerted immediately.
  • Research got faster! It has single-handedly helped to advance research, management and care in the industry. There is actually a protein research and analytics tool** that checks reliability and accuracy and provides standardized, quantitative and reproducible analysis of proteins in research samples while reducing work-flow.

Who could have imagined that there would come a day when we actually design smart solutions to improve health and our environment with the intelligent use of data. Whether it is crowd-sourcing physicians for medical advice, developing mobile apps to guide patients on their visit to a hospital, or consulting with patients, who aren’t even in the same room. Going forward, the healthcare world is only going to get smaller and more intimate.

WE EXCEL WHERE OTHERS USUALLY FAIL

In an industry that is already marred with several business continuity challenges, high availability of resources is a critical success factor. At Techindia, resource availability is taken care by a highly competent team of executives, who work day and night to ensure business continuity for our global clients. Further, our world-class offshore centers, systems & connectivity and fool-proof processes ensure that our clients get only the best from us.

We have seen several service providers falter in this department. Most of our first customer touch-points have revolved around resource availability.

THIS WAY OR THAT, YOU WIN ALWAYS!

Whether you are in pursuit of maximizing resource costs, or looking to enhance patient engagement, or looking to adopt latest technology; we have answers for all your requirements. Customer satisfaction remains our prime focus. Our unbeatable value proposition of the healthcare domain and our operational capabilities combined with quality are bound to significantly improve the performance and profitability of your business.

Reach out to us and we will be happy to share demonstrable success stories. In the last decade+ of our operations, We have handled some of the largest healthcare providers in the US and have built long-standing relationships through sheer delivery and customer satisfaction. You could be one of them too!