Utilizing Cloud Computing to Prevent Medical Error

Medical errors are the number one thing Healthcare providers and Healthcare users alike try to avoid at all costs.  Medical errors can mean injury or death to a patient and can mean a damaging lawsuit and loss of patient confidence for the Healthcare provider.  For this reason, many Healthcare organizations are leveraging cloud computing to better manage patient care.

A July 2014 Senate hearing on patient safety revealed that medical errors were the third most common cause of death for people in the United States, only behind heart disease and cancer.  These errors, which kill 400,000 Americans every year and cost the nation close to $1 trillion each year, are usually preventable mistakes.

While unintended patient deaths are the main concern, major complications are also a major issue, with close to 10,000 occurring daily.   In addition, it is estimated that misdiagnosis affects 12 million patients per year.  How are such gross medical mistakes occurring in a day and age in which we have such advanced technology and medicine?  And more importantly, how can we decrease this unacceptably large number of medical mistakes?

One way is by looking at and embracing Healthcare IT systems that provide revolutionary potential through the Healthcare data cloud.

In a survey conducted by the independent Gary and Mary West Health Institute, registered nurses often report that interoperability issue between different systems and devices are a major reason why mistakes are made in Healthcare.   In this survey, 60 percent of nurses believed that there would be fewer errors if medical equipment was completely integrated, meaning that rather than the equipment relying on manual transcription, it would draw on the same database of information.

In addition, 50 percent of registered nurses reported that they had seen an error occur due to lack of hardware coordination.  As nurses must often set up digital devices and gauge the information that these devices present, nurses must also regularly jot down numbers from one device and input the numbers into other devices if they aren’t interoperable.

Seeing as medical errors are not only a consumer safety issue, but also incredibly costly for Healthcare companies, fixing these issues with inoperability could mean significant savings.  West Health Institute found just that, arguing that implementing integrated Healthcare infrastructures could reach savings of $30 billion for Healthcare companies.

How to integrate Healthcare systems in order to achieve these savings?  The two simple elements could be used to help reduce mistakes are electronic health records (EHRs) and artificial intelligence.  Electronic health records contribute consistency to the data while artificial intelligence essentially gives doctors near the patient remote access to the knowledge and skill of top doctors all over the country (and potentially all over the world).

The data contained in EHRs could be used in artificial intelligence environments, systems that are becoming more knowledgeable everyday.  Tech companies are partnering with prominent physicians to design and create artificial intelligence programs that are capable of providing healthcare professionals with expert opinions on any treatments or recommendations in real-time.  Mansur Hasib of Information Week, along with many other industry analysts and experts believe that such a system, allowing access to a broader pool of expert knowledge, will minimize the number of medical errors that are made in hospitals and other Healthcare facilities.  The remote artificial intelligence system would be able to provide an immediate, real-time, second opinion by a leading specialist.

As the foundation of artificial intelligence is big data, AI is just one way in which healthcare cloud computing solutions can be used to improve the quality of care delivered to patients.  One of the benefits of Healthcare data in the cloud is that data can be updated within a few minutes of changes in the source systems.  This flexibility and ability to adapt quickly empowers payers, doctors, and national health systems to identify gaps in care, perform prescriptive analytics, provide interventional decision support, optimize treatment plans, etc.  The possibilities are numerous and exciting in nature.

The place of big data in Healthcare is not just building artificial intelligence systems, but instead big data can help in developing a myriad of applications that provide clinicians and administrators with a more comprehensive overview of treatments and processes.  When properly utilized, this increased visibility into the delivery of care would reduce the number of medical mistakes made and facilitate more effective Healthcare.

IT Mobility and Telemedicine’s Place in the Future of Healthcare

Despite the ever-growing prevalence of technology in our society, the Healthcare industry has been slow to fully adopt and embrace IT mobility solutions.  An example of this is the Healthcare industry’s reluctance in adopting telemedicine.  Rather than trying to completely replace traditional doctor visits, telemedicine is aimed at augmenting Healthcare providers’ ability to help patients, by providing offerings based around convenience and improved access to care.  Despite videoconferencing technology being available to the Healthcare industry for 20 years, telemedicine is only available to around to 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries.

The benefits of telemedicine are obvious, increased convenience and access to care.  What is not as obvious is what is holding telemedicine back from being embraced and utilized.  According to Ateev Mehrotra, a Rand Corporation analyst, “the very advantage of telehealth, its ability to make care convenient, is also potentially its Achilles’ heel…telehealth may be ‘too convenient’”.   You may be asking yourself “how can something being convenient be a bad thing?”

To answer that, one needs to look at Congress’ efforts to stifle the authorization and growth of telemedicine in Medicare due to cost concerns.  The dominant belief in Congress is that telemedicine would increase Medicare expenses.  A number of analysts, including those connected with the Congressional Budget Office, believe that giving senior citizens access to doctors online will not replace costly visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers as proponents of telemedicine claim.  Instead, these analysts believe that authorizing the widespread use of telemedicine would simply encourage seniors to use more services than they currently do, costing more money.

On the other side of the fence, proponents of telemedicine argue that enabling more beneficiaries to get care online would reduce doctor visits and emergency care, thereby reducing overall Healthcare costs.  This belief has lead the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and many other Healthcare industry officials and experts to argue that it’s time for Congress to expand the use of telemedicine in Medicare.

These calls for Congress to act have been heard, albeit not to the extent they need to be in order to drive significant change. A group of Congressman, comprised of both Republicans and Democrats, unsuccessfully tried recently to add provisions to the law that revamped Medicare doctor payment rules meant to streamline drug approvals.  The Congressmen pushing for the added provisions aimed at broadening the use of telemedicine.

Despite pushback on the aforementioned provisions and others like them from the majority of Congress and the Congressional Budget Office, there have been a number of efforts made outside of Congress by Healthcare organizations and plan providers to utilize telemedicine.  Medicare’s tight lid on telemedicine is showing signs of loosening.  This is apparent by the fact that a number of Medicare accountable care organizations (ACOs), groups of doctors and hospitals that coordinate patient care for at least 5,000 enrollees, have begun using telemedicine.  Medicare Advantage plans are able to offer the option of telemedicine and make their way around traditional regulations because Medicare Advantage plans are paid a fixed amount by the federal government to care for senior citizens.  Therefore, Medicare is not directly paying for the telemedicine services, but rather the services are paid for through plan revenue.  This could be a loophole that that other Healthcare plans and providers use in order to utilize the benefits of telemedicine.

Regardless of how it is achieved, it is clear that there is a movement towards trying to get telemedicine to be a regularly accessible form of providing patient care.  What is less clear is how Healthcare providers will approach this growing industry as it gains more traction.  As Healthcare providers enter uncharted waters with telemedicine, IT mobility will become a crucial issue for Healthcare providers, and Healthcare IT companies will be looked to for enabling the delivery of this virtual care.  If patients are to rely on telemedicine for its convenience and increased access to care, telemedicine services will have to become more reliable and more efficient.

What do you think? Is telemedicine an important part of the future of Healthcare?

Affordable Care Act – How Healthcare IT Needs to Prepare for Big Data

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare consumers are now able to receive subsidies from the government, independent of any state involvement in insurance.  With these subsidies comes increased responsibilities for Healthcare IT agencies at both the national and state level. More consumers means an uptick in data management leading to increased infrastructure and security needs.

With this new ruling on insurance comes a wide array of data for Healthcare organizations to process.  Files full of patient records must be updated and added electronically to the database. Ever increasing claims must be submitted, filed, and approved. Not to mention a massive flow of consumers enrolling in more insurance plans after the passing of the ACA. 

This does not only create an issue in terms of volume and demand for Healthcare IT to maintain and protect. However, the analytical perspective on this change opens a world of opportunities. This new data can produce leads for Healthcare providers that can either establish or spell ruin for any practice. 


Providers now have even greater incentive to integrate the right Healthcare IT technology that will manage the quality and value of this massive incoming data surge. Also required is an upgraded IT infrastructure and security measures to protect the private information accompanied by this incoming flux of data.  If healthcare providers have been dragging their feet in effectively utilizing and protecting big data, this ruling in Congress should not only motivate but also threaten any practices who still fail to understand the magnitude that big data brings.

4 Major Trends in Today’s Healthcare IT

Technology has taken over the medical industry and providers failing to adapt to the fluctuating trends face imminent Healthcare IT failure. While tradition and continuity are not without benefits, resistance to the necessity of technology in hospitals and medical practices today will impede on chances of reaching a level of success and efficiency available to them through these adaptations.

Appealing to market trends is essential in any industry. These four trends in Healthcare IT are what providers need to acknowledge to be successful today:

  1. Enterprise cloud solutions compromise what Accenture has deemed the “platform revolution”. This is a trend that Healthcare IT consulting firms like Gordian Dynamics base their services on. Smart phones and tablets can quickly relay information that once required more direct communication or physical storage devices, improving efficiency, accessibility, and productivity.
  2. Another trend is the exponentially-growing “results-driven” mindset. As Healthcare providers update their systems and services, they are constantly inquiring “How will this make us better/faster/more efficient?”. “What will this do for me?”. Businesses today want to measure success, advance competition to the next level, and achieve results! Healthcare providers today need to assess with every decision exactly what purpose and end-goal each decision is fighting towards.
  3. Third is management of big data. Patient records increase immensely every year, and letting all this data just sit there in digital file cabinets would be a fatal mistake for any practice. Healthcare providers today need to view this dramatic increase in data not as a liability but as an incredible opportunity. Analysis on big data can help providers detect patterns and improve diagnoses, better predict and prepare for inflows and outflows of patients, and more strategies to improve efficiency and productivity.
  4. Finally, enabling patients to be more involved and empowered in their interactions with physicians has become an evident trend in Healthcare IT. Health systems are integrating services such as self-scheduling, sharing of medical records online, even appointments with physicians via video chat. The traditional visit to a doctor’s office is very quickly becoming outdated as technology revolutionizes what was once a mundane process.

These trends have emerged in Healthcare systems worldwide, and are expected to continue growing in the future. Understanding and adapting to these trends will prove to be critical in determining future success for Healthcare providers.

The Privacy Problem for Healthcare IT: Need for a New Kind of PaaS

There is a new kind of PaaS emerging, not only in the Healthcare IT sector, but in all sectors of business. With a recent spike in demand, privacy-as-a-service has become an increasingly important service to be offered by IT companies. Why such a sudden and significance increase in demand for privacy-as-a-service? Two words: sensitive data. Humans have become increasingly technology-dependent, utilizing virtualization of information whenever and wherever possible in order to facilitate IT mobility.

While this shift towards integrating technology into everyday life has been extremely beneficial in facilitating improved business management, service, and access to information, it has also created a number of problems, most notably that of securing private information. Without even really meaning to, companies have become proprietors of a new kind of wealth, customers’ data. As companies control more and more customer data, customers are holding the companies to ever-higher expectations regarding the safeguarding of customer privacy and personal information.

The issue of privacy and security is all encompassing. It does not matter what market you are in or what service you provide, you are in the privacy business. If you are not able to consistently and effectively safeguard your customer’s personal information, you lose customer loyalty. If you lose customer loyalty, you lose business. It’s that simple.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand that consumers are growing increasingly concerned about their privacy. Large-scale data breaches, such as those at Target and most recently at Anthem Health Insurance, have served to fuel the fear regarding the privacy, or lack thereof, of personal information in the business world.

Customers are not only worried about hackers, but also what companies are doing with all the data they collect. The backlash is beginning. According to Harris Interactive and TRUSTe study, 89 percent of consumers responded that they wouldn’t do business with a company that doesn’t do a good enough job protecting them online, while 76 percent are likely to check websites and apps for a privacy certification seal. [i]

All this points to one takeaway: consumers are becoming more wary and businesses will suffer tremendous losses if they fail to earn the consumer’s trust and confidence in the company’s ability to protect the consumer’s private information. Consumers are going to start expecting privacy-as-a-service more and more, and if they don’t get it from you, they’ll go looking elsewhere. This means big importance and big business for Healthcare IT companies that can facilitate security solutions.

How can you get ahead of the curve and make sure your company is doing a good job of protecting your customer’s private information? Here are a few tips on how to build customers’ confidence in your ability to protect their privacy:

  • Hire the right Healthcare IT people to help you put security measures in place. Invest in top-of-the-line equipment, and train your employees to follow protocols. If you haven’t taken the proper precautions, you can’t protect your customers. It’s that simple.
  • Be transparent with your customers.  Tell them how you collect their data and why. Instead of burying your disclosure in some long-form policy that people either don’t want to read or can’t understand, make your language simple and straightforward. When presented with the opportunity, go a step further and share details about the measures you are taking to protect customers’ information.
  • Collect only the information that you need. Your company sends up a warning flag when you ask for too much information for simple online transactions. Ask customers to share only service and business-relevant information.
  • Don’t sell customers’ data. If you can’t stand the thought of losing that source of revenue, think about the income you will lose when your current customers defect because they feel you have violated their privacy rights and the negative reputation your company will receive.

As data breaches become more commonplace, privacy-as-a-service is increasingly viewed by customers as an absolute necessity, rather than a bonus service. What are you doing to assure your customers that you’re acting in their best interests with the data you collect on them? Take steps now to protect your customers — and your business.

[i] https://www.truste.com/resources/privacy-research/us-consumer-confidence-index-2014/

Healthcare IT & Remote Access: Exposing Virtualization’s Strengths and Weaknesses

While remote access helps make carrying out business convenient and more efficient, it is important to understand that with ease of use and access to information, comes the vulnerability of this information. Healthcare IT companies are instrumental not only in implementing effective remote access, but also in helping to secure the sensitive information being accessed via the cloud.

Technology that allows you to remotely access operating systems and business information, whether it be by internet connection or cellular data, is an incredibly valuable business tool. Virtualization of company and consumer data and implementation of enterprise cloud solutions enables company professionals to easily access the hospital network from anywhere.

However, while remote access is extremely beneficial, it can also put companies, and their customers, in great danger. Unsecured access from remote devices gives hackers a pathway to compromise organization networks and in the case of the Healthcare industry, gain access to patients’ medical records.

To see how destructive a data breach can be, one need only think back to Target’s massive data compromise in 2013. It is believed that the incident began when a hacker gained access to one of Target’s systems via a remote access account belonging to an HVAC company. Hacker’s utilized that access to gain a foothold on an internal system and then leapfrog to other systems inside the Target’s network. The breach, which resulted in the theft of 40 million consumer credit card and debit card numbers was extremely harmful to the customer’s affected and the retailer’s reputation.

There is no reason to believe that a similar attack could not take place on Healthcare providers. In fact, recent attack trends show that cyber thieves have been shifting focus to Healthcare due to the lucrative nature of patient health information on the black market. According to a 2015 Ponemon Institute study, medical identify theft incidents increased 21.7 percent since 2014.[i] In a growingly dangerous world of cyber-crime, implementing the correct, effective Healthcare IT solutions for remote access and cloud computing is critical to ensuring the security of sensitive information.

In today’s day in age when everyone seems to be “plugged-in,” conducting work from the road via Smartphone or at an offsite meeting on a tablet or laptop, it is safe to assume that remote access is here to stay. With that said, Healthcare companies need to look at how to arm themselves to fend off these impending cyber attacks. While integrated biometrics, such as recognition of palm prints, facial characteristics, and fingerprints are likely to help securely authenticate a person’s identity in the future, the infrastructure for wide-use of this technology is not currently in place. Therefore, in the mean time, Healthcare providers have work to do.

In order to try to combat growing attacks on data by hackers, Healthcare organizations need to be proactive in protecting their customer’s sensitive data. This can only be done if companies not only make security an ongoing practice, but also a top priority that stays at the center of business operations and data management.

[i] http://www.ponemon.org/news-2/66

Hospital Supply Chain Management and the Importance of Healthcare IT

 

A stable Healthcare IT solution is imperative for today’s medical organizations. Hospitals are a fast paced circuit of hardworking associates, facing and prevailing over new obstacles and difficulties every day. With such a high-paced environment, supplies will often go missing or undocumented. Inventory cannot be properly tracked by management leading to communication errors. Technology platforms fail to assimilate successfully leading to a greater chance of continued issues effecting the entire healthcare operation. To make things worse, rising costs (among other factors) are forcing hospitals to make cuts, often shortening staff. This leaves less people to handle even greater responsibilities. Without a reliable and robust healthcare IT system, critical work hours are lost, costs increase, and staff is left frustrated ultimately effecting the overall care for patients.

These increasing issues require a new balance of supportive Healthcare IT technology to streamline efficiencies and ultimately reduce overall costs. By removing extended manual processes, hospitals are able streamline access to critical patient and medical data allowing them to provide better care.

Leveraging the right Healthcare IT solutions are essential to optimizing supply chain management and must be a top priority for hospitals. Accessibility is also key. Information, supplies, and assistance must be quickly accessible to all staff members, because in the chaotic day to day operations of a hospital, there is little margin for error.

Partnering with organizations like Gordian Dynamics gives your institution the expertise and direction to renovating old processes and updating healthcare IT technologies. Our 4 step approach will make the upgrade and improvement process easy! Check out our customer story about a large Catholic Healthcare system who was able to improve visibility and control resulting in significant cost savings.