Health Technology, Digital Healthcare
Article | August 16, 2023
A wealth of evidence supports the health benefits of keeping pets: increased life span, exercise, improved mental health, and a sense of purpose. But for older adults and those with disabilities, the responsibilities and expense of owning an animal can be overwhelming, and caregivers are often forced to take on those burdens themselves. To make matters worse, dementia patients can pose a physical threat to live animals.
What alternate solutions exist for those who cannot safely or practically keep a live pet? Fortunately, information technology and robotics have advanced to the point that realistic, robotic emotional support pets are becoming a legitimate option. As research in this area advances, experts have found that robotic emotional support animals can offer a myriad of benefits similar to those associated with live pets. Robotic companions can also help caregivers.
Robotic Emotional Support Animals in Practice
Imagine the following scenario: An elderly woman with dementia suffering from Sundowner’s Syndrome relies on a strict daily regimen established by her caregiver. This routine is a delicate dance, balancing the patient’s meals, medication, and personal care, all designed to keep her as relaxed as possible.
One afternoon, as the caregiver prepares dinner, the caregiver realizes that the patient’s beloved dog is nowhere to be found. She runs outside to look for the dog, leaving the patient to fend for herself. The patient is agitated over her missing dog and suddenly alone in a kitchen with pots and pans boiling.
Fortunately, the caregiver finds the dog outside, but the patient is now too overwhelmed to eat or take her medication. Despite the caregiver’s best efforts at redirection, it’s a rough evening for everyone.
How a Robotic Emotional Support Animal Can Ease the Role as Caregiver
As any experienced caregiver knows, consistent emotional support for patients is critical. A robotic emotional support animal can significantly ease a caregiver’s role in this respect. Robotic companions replicate many benefits traditional pets provide – affection, responsiveness, and companionship – without the associated caregiving demands, such as feeding walking, or veterinarian visits.
The Benefits of Robotic Emotional Support Animals
The owners of pets are known to enjoy
Reduced impact of depression
Lower blood pressure
Reduced triglycerides and cholesterol
Longer survival rates after a heart attack
30% fewer doctor visits after age 65
Longer life spans
Robotic companion animals provide genuine comfort, mirroring the emotional connection that living pets provide while lightening the caregiver load. Uplifting conversations about the robot companion elevate the moods of both patient and caregiver, potentially reducing feelings of burnout. In embracing such technology, senior care and assisted living facilities can foster an environment that makes staff and residents all smile a little more.
Article | August 31, 2023
Affordable healthcare is the need of the hour and interoperability is the means to that end. The healthcare ecosystem is looking into ways they can enable this affordability as soon as possible, and that is where FHIR comes in. FHR promises an on-demand exchange of secure healthcare information. It has become an increasingly popular protocol, thanks to its commitment to ensuring interoperability in the app economy, via apps.
The privilege enjoyed by consumers and participants in most industries is the ease of accessibility of information. With most of it being on the cloud, a URL ensures access to the same information regardless of where it is being accessed from or which internet enable device. This is the privilege FHIR aims to introduce in healthcare, over the current document-based approach where forms are either faxed, emailed, or electronically exchanged.
FHIR is for
Building new healthcare apps
Develop cloud-based health apps that integrate with social networks
Providing a simple to use standards-based API for cloud-based health integration services
The government looking to implement a national EHR
FHIR Aims to Reduce Cost
The medical expenses of an average American in a year are north of $12k and rising. The reasons are the unnecessary complications in the healthcare IT infrastructure. With FHIR, HL7 aims to reduce the burden on providers in sharing and accessing healthcare data at the point of care, thereby reducing the administrative expenses spent on moving data back and forth. It also promises to grant on-demand access to patients – enabling them to make better-informed healthcare decisions.
What is part of FHIR?
Pre-defined Resources and API
A common way to represent data as building blocks and rules for connecting them
Target support for common scenarios
Familiar tooling and technologies using web standards
Multiple Libraries available for faster implementations
Concise and easily understood specifications, RESTful API and JSON
Leverages cross-industry web technologies
Thick client, browser, or mobile devices
Supports human readability as the base level of interoperability
Large Community for Support
Heaps of open-source software and training events, webinars, and connectathons
Specification feedback welcomed, including update requests-tracker
Base resources can be used as it is, can also be adapted for local requirements
Seamless exchange of information using messages or document
Start The FHIR
Health plans are jumping on the FHIR bandwagon faster than ever thanks to the Interoperability and Patient Access rule as well as the latest proposals. Do not get left behind or sustain the ramifications of non-compliance with CMS regulations.
Health Technology, Digital Healthcare
Article | July 14, 2023
Your patients have grown to trust your expertise and recommendations in matters regarding their healthcare. As the sector transitions into a more digital playing field, uninterrupted network connectivity is more than just a bonus; it’s a necessity.
While there are many different challenges to completely integrating your practice into the digital world, internet outages are the costliest. Downtime can be caused by various factors, which can compromise patient safety, the faith your team instills in you, and your practice’s reputation and revenue. However, investing in the means to maintain a resilient network lets you maximize your network uptime to optimize resources.
We'll look at four different strategies and their benefits for your infrastructure so you can focus on what you do best: providing healthcare excellence to your patients.
Strengthening Network Infrastructure
The traditional way of doing things may be great for your remedies and techniques. Still, with a growing number of patients and their contextually relevant demands, your network needs to be able to accommodate many different booking requests, increase user activity on your server, and store sensitive patient information.
High-speed internet connections enhance your network performance and let you, your team, and your patients make the most of your uninterrupted uptime. Fiber-optic networks, when combined with load balancing and proper segmentation, can diffuse and direct network traffic efficiency and prevent congestion, which prevents downtime due to overload.
Implementing Network Monitoring and Management Tools
Much like your patients visit your practice to ensure everything is all right with the current state of their health, your network must also receive the same treatment. Identifying and pre-emptively resolving potential issues and vulnerabilities will prevent much more destructive or expensive problems from occurring.
Use real-time tools to monitor your bandwidth usage and gain visibility of potential bottlenecks. Tools that offer risk monitoring deliver alerts about critical events that pose a threat to your business continuity. Your IT team will be better equipped to troubleshoot issues promptly and optimize performance.
Conducting Regular Network Assessments and Audits
Once you have the proper monitoring tools to manage your network topology better, proactive troubleshooting is a great way to spot-check whether your current solution is working as it should. A network audit is much like proactive troubleshooting; you are looking to see if anything could harm the overall system and catch it before it can develop.
When auditing a network, the primary focus should be security measures. If patient and confidential data is not secure, the smooth operations of your business are the least of your worries. When conducting an audit, consulting with a network service provider will help identify issues with your protocols, data encryption, and firewall configuration.
Establishing Redundancy and Disaster Recovery Plans
Backing up private and confidential data is crucial to ensuring that sensitive information is not lost or exposed. Minimizing network downtime can often be achieved by having backup systems that will keep running in the event of an attack or outage. For example, a dedicated Cloud Access Network, power supplies, and switches will go a long way.
When creating an internet contingency plan, outline steps and protocols with your team that you will take in the event of a complete failure, including things such as brand reputation management, customer service, and data loss prevention.
As the lines between in-person and digital are blurred, navigating the complexities of implementing a robust network is paramount to your business.
Strengthening your infrastructure, integrating redundant systems, and conducting regular audits and assessments with the proper monitoring and management tools will help you maximize uptime usage and minimize network downtime.
Although overwhelming, working with a reputable network service provider can help you embrace your network topology to remain competitive.
Health Technology, Digital Healthcare
Article | August 21, 2023
Discover the potential of EHR implementation in revolutionizing clinical processes. Uncover strategies for addressing EHR ethical issues, ensuring integration that prioritizes patient-centered care.
Amidst the fusion of healthcare and technology, integrating electronic health records (EHRs) has emerged as a transformative element in modern medical practice. As a digital repository for a patient's medical journey, EHRs present unprecedented prospects for elevated care quality, improved data accessibility, and cost-effectiveness. Nevertheless, these advancements bring forth an array of EHR ethical issues that demand meticulous attention. In this context, establishing and adhering to the best practices for the ethical training of EHRs assumes paramount importance and a moral obligation. By skillfully navigating the intricate convergence of technology, patient confidentiality, and conscientious healthcare, these ethical EHR best practices illuminate the path toward a future where innovation and ethical principles harmoniously coexist.
1. Upholding Privacy and Confidentiality
Revealing a patient's information to external parties should strictly happen with the patient's explicit consent or within the parameters defined by legal regulations. Data stemming from clinical interactions is confidential and requires rigorous protection. The effective operation of EHRs requires authorized access by healthcare institutions, insurers, and related entities. Access by users is contingent upon predefined role-based privileges. The administrator identifies users, specifies the extent of information accessibility, and allocates exclusive usernames and passwords. Users must be conscientious about responsibly utilizing the information they access within their designated roles. Therefore, assigning user privileges plays a pivotal role in securing medical records. However, while regulating data access remains crucial, it doesn’t completely ensure confidentiality. Strengthening security through comprehensive privacy and security protocols remains essential for reinforcing patient data's inviolabilit.
2. Safeguarding Against Data Breaches
Ensuring patient privacy and safeguarding sensitive medical data is paramount in EHR ethical training. The imperatives of inadequate data security, encompassing compromised medical information, unauthorized access due to weak password safeguards, and the lack of encryption, accentuate the immediate need for a holistic approach. Employing strategies such as secure cloud storage, robust password protocols, two-factor authentication, and encryption is pivotal in enhancing data security, preventing the mishandling of patient records, and abiding by ethical standards. The potential legal and financial consequences of breaches underscore the criticality of these practices in maintaining patient trust and confidentiality within the digital healthcare domain.
3. EHR System Implementation
The integration of EHRs within healthcare organizations poses significant challenges, including resource waste, provider dissatisfaction, diminished patient trust, and potential safety risks. Successful EHR development, implementation, and upkeep demand substantial investment and collaboration among stakeholders, including clinicians, IT experts, educators, and consultants. Clinicians' active engagement is often underestimated, leading to the failure of EHR projects; therefore, clinician-led guidance is crucial in tasks such as EHR selection, workflow design, and quality improvement. Thoroughly mapping workflows before selecting an EHR is crucial, while maintaining user-friendly interfaces remains essential for success. Neglecting these aspects can reduce efficiency, compromise care, and increase safety threats. By prioritizing comprehensive planning, engaging clinicians, and optimizing user interfaces, healthcare institutions can ensure ethical and efficient EHR integration, ultimately enhancing patient care and safety.
4. Maintaining Data Accuracy
Upholding data accuracy stands as a fundamental principle in the ethical EHR domain. The integrity of information guarantees its unaltered and precise nature, contributing significantly to the enhancement of patient safety, reduction of healthcare errors, mitigation of health disparities, and betterment of public health. Nevertheless, concerns have been voiced regarding the reliability of data input into electronic records. The improper utilization of functionalities such as 'cut and paste' can lead to misleading portrayals of a patient's condition and treatment, breaching ethical standards. This practice poses elevated risks to patients and increases the liability of clinicians and institutions. Challenges also arise from drop-down menus that limit a clinician's choices, potentially giving rise to substantial errors, especially under time constraints. The collaborative efforts of clinicians and vendors can address software concerns, promoting user-friendly, reliable EHRs while tackling EHR ethical issues. Furthermore, data loss during transfers raises pertinent concerns about the accuracy of the database, a critical aspect as patient care decisions hinge on this data.
5. Guaranteeing Data Authenticity
The assurance of documentation integrity pertains to the accurate and precise nature of the comprehensive health record. This includes principles of information governance, identifying patients, validating authorship, handling amendments and corrections in records, and auditing documentation validity while submitting reimbursement claims. EHR tools offer flexible documentation options through the utilization of templates and smart phrases, assisting in precise record-keeping. However, if these tools are misused, doubts about data integrity can arise, making information unreliable and possibly raising concerns about fraudulent activity. Established policies and procedures, including audit functions, must be in place to ensure proper billing. With adequate safeguards, records may accurately represent the patient's condition at admission and over time. Providers must understand the importance of reviewing and refining default data to ensure that only patient-specific information for that visit is recorded. In contrast, irrelevant data from default templates is removed.
6. Validating Dictation to Prevent Errors
Voice recognition systems lacking a validation step pose considerable challenges in maintaining data accuracy and preventing documentation errors within organizations, particularly when it comes to ethical issues with electronic health records. EHR companies need to implement a protocol requiring providers to promptly assess, modify, and validate dictated information. Given these documents' frequent use and sharing, precise and high-quality documentation in EHR systems is of utmost significance. The adoption of EHRs has led to substantial shifts in provider workflows and documentation processes. However, providers still need to clearly outline or fully understand comprehensive best practices for maintaining high-quality documentation in EHRs. Advancements are necessary to enhance documentation tools and methods, with a renewed emphasis on the essential aspects of data accuracy and quality. This should precede the widespread implementation of interoperable health information exchange initiatives.
7. Ensuring Accurate Documentation
Maintaining the integrity of documentation is compromised when incorrect information finds its way onto the wrong patient's health record. Patient identification errors can influence clinical decisions, endanger patient safety, violate privacy and security, and lead to redundant testing and escalated expenses for patients as well as providers. The propagation of patient identification mistakes can rapidly expand within EHR, personal health records, and Health Information Exchange (HIE) networks as information disseminates. Failing to implement advanced front-end solutions that incorporate robust matching algorithms or innovative techniques like biometrics or fingerprinting can expose organizations to risk. EHRs can incorporate targeted alerts to anticipate safety problems, like blood type inconsistencies or allergies, during treatment, addressing EHR issues. Organizations must institute a patient identity integrity program, integrating performance improvement metrics to monitor error rates and duplicate records in their electronic master patient index. Policies and procedures must ensure the accuracy of critical demographic data, facilitating the linkage of records within and across systems. Addressing the initial point of data capture as a primary front-end verification is also vital within policies.
8. Preserving the Authenticity of Audit Trails
Effective audits are crucial to ensuring that the health record documentation aligns with the reported level of service, fulfills reimbursement requirements set by payers, and guarantees that only authorized personnel access patient medical records and make entries. The audit trail must encompass the user's name, the triggering application, workstation details, the specific document, a description of the audited event (such as amendments, corrections, or deletions), and the timestamp. This audit trail outlines modifications (including deletions) within the health record and provides auditors with a foundation for compliance audits. Inadequate audit trail functionality within EHRs raises concerns about the integrity of health record documentation, potentially exposing organizations to legal liabilities and inadvertently fostering or shielding criminal activities. It may become challenging to ascertain if corrections or amendments were executed, who authorized the changes, or the nature of the modifications. In addition to the inherent unintentional errors that documentation might encounter, audit trail functionality can aid in detecting instances where records are altered to obstruct the disclosure of detrimental information. Organizations can utilize EHR trends to leverage audit trail features for identifying and analyzing patterns in health record usage. Typically, users can generate reports over specific time frames categorized by provider or provider type, with results directed to a compliance committee or the organization's governing body.
9. Fostering Compliance Awareness
Enhancing ethical EHR training involves a strategic focus on ensuring providers are well-versed in compliance and legal risks, starting from the EHR training phase. To address EHR problems, organizations should implement educational initiatives aimed at mitigating compliance issues. Staff education must emphasize the integrity of health record documentation, with a continuous program monitored and provided quarterly or annually. Addressing the 'who, what, why, and how' ensures a solid grasp of organizational practices that uphold individual best practices, encompassing identifying potential fraud, universal and administrative security measures, data validity, authorship, continual education's significance, and strategies for daily fraud prevention.
10. Conducting Feedback Sessions
Contrary to common assumptions, ongoing training is essential post-EHR implementation. After installing the EHR and initiating patient interactions, challenges inevitably emerge—be it staff unfamiliarity with functions or the need to revamp workflow processes. Promptly identifying these concerns to prevent errors and swiftly resolving them involves collecting feedback from EHR users among the staff, particularly in relation to EHR ethical issues. During the weeks after the system's launch, contemplate arranging routine meetings to gather insights. Ensuring diverse representation, including clinical staff, physicians, administrators, billing, and front desk personnel, is crucial. Seek input on their adaptation to changes and areas requiring improvement. Determine if specific training concepts need reinforcement. Surveys can be used in place of frequent meetings. Subsequently, prioritizing problem areas aids focused resolution by promptly addressing critical matters. The introduction of incremental changes helps staff adapt to the EHR seamlessly, safeguarding patient care continuity during the transition.
The Path Ahead
Following these ethical EHR training best practices ensures the accuracy and reliability of patient data, leading to improved clinical decision-making and patient safety. By maintaining documentation integrity, professionals can confidently provide quality care and reduce the risk of errors. Ethical EHR training further strengthens compliance with legal regulations, safeguarding both the organization as well as the healthcare provider from potential legal liabilities. Moreover, adhering to best practices promotes efficient workflows, enhancing productivity, and streamlining operations. Patient trust and confidence are strengthened as professionals demonstrate their commitment to data security, confidentiality, and ethical conduct. Ultimately, by upholding ethical EHR training standards, professionals contribute to a robust healthcare system by fostering positive patient outcomes, maintaining trust, and supporting the principles of ethical healthcare delivery.