Trends That Will Dominate Healthcare in 2019

Technology perimeters every dimension of healthcare. It offers extraordinary benefits to patients and medical practitioners. The wise use of technology in healthcare can promise patient satisfaction and cost savings, which contributes to the future of any healthcare organization. Below are the latest technological innovations that have a huge impact on the medical process and enhancing care quality and patient satisfaction.


Healthtech Security

NIS2 Cybersecurity Rules are Coming: Are You Ready?

Article | November 29, 2023

NIS2 Cybersecurity Rules Approaching: Is Your Organization Prepared? The EU NIS cybersecurity regulations are evolving for 2024, and if you’re not currently aware of how they’ll apply to your organization, now is the time to get up to speed with the desired requirements. Not only is the directive being tightened, but an extended range of healthcare and related organizations will be added to the list of ‘critical entities’ that must comply. These include certain medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and organizations that carry out R&D. The Network and Information Systems (NIS) standards were set up in 2016 to protect essential services – such as water, energy, healthcare, transport, and digital infrastructure – from online cyberattacks. The updated legislation, NIS2, will have stricter rules,reporting requirements, and higher penalties for non-compliance. They will apply to medium-sized and large businesses that operate within one or more EU countries. Those based only in the UK can’t sit back; however, the original NIS regulations will still apply as part of British law. What’s more, a UK version of the rules is coming very soon, and it’s likely that the framework will closely resemble the EU’s. What will the requirements cover? There are a number of cyber risk management measures that all organizations that come under the scope of NIS2 will be required to put in place. For instance, they will need to conduct regular security assessments and risk analyses, adopt incident response and handling plans, and appoint a chief information security officer (CISO), among other obligations. The new directive will streamline and strengthen incident reporting requirements. Entities must notify regulators of any incident that has compromised data or had a significant impact on the provision of their services, such as causing severe operational disruption or financial loss. Applying information system security policies and business continuity plans will form part of the obligations, as will conducting cybersecurity testing and training for all staff. The use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) and encryption, wherever appropriate, will also be mandated. There is plenty of focus within the directive on the cornerstones of cybersecurity best practices particularly, the proper control of administrator-level account credentials, privileged access, and endpoints, all of which are prime targets for attackers. Under NIS2, organizations are being separated into ‘critical’ and ‘important’ entities. It’s important to determine which category yours’ will fall under, as each has different requirements. The third-party threat will also be addressed in NIS2 by pulling in managed service providers (MSPs) to the list of ‘critical entities’, with the aim of keeping digital supply chains secure. MSPs are often granted privileged access to clients’ corporate systems and networks, which creates security risks. What are the consequences of non-compliance? Organizations that come under the regulations’ purview will be subject to random checks, regular security audits, on-site inspections, and off-site supervision. For those found to be in breach, sanctions could include warnings, temporary suspension of certain activities, and temporary prohibition to exercise certain managerial functions. Financial penalties could be as high as 10 million Euros or 2% of an organization’s global turnover, whichever is higher. What steps should healthcare organizations take now? Organizations should take action to establish whether the EU or UK NIS2 regulations will apply to them and what their responsibilities will be. Having identified any gaps in existing cybersecurity processes, policies, and practices, they must determine what changes need to be made to address them. As a priority, they must review their incident response plans and incident management and reporting procedures. It’s also a good idea to begin assessing the security posture of partners and third parties in the supply chain and incorporating relevant security requirements into contracts. Given the framework’s focus on protecting privileged admin accounts, organizations should implement controls limiting the number of staff members with these robust credentials. Implementing privileged access management (PAM) will allow IT to control who is granted access to which systems, applications, and services, for how long, and what they can do while using them. Preparing for the introduction of the EU NIS2 regulations should be considered more than just a compliance exercise. By meeting the strengthened requirements, healthcare organizations will be building a foundation of resilience that protects them, their customers, and the essential services they provide.

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Health Technology

5 Ways AI is Likely to Benefit Medicine & Improve Patient Care

Article | September 12, 2023

Since ChatGPT’s launch in November 2022, artificial intelligence (AI) tools have become disruptive to nearly every industry. While there's been controversy about whether AI would benefit the healthcare industry, it has proven to be just as capable in healthcare as in other sectors. In the medical field, there is reason to believe AI tools may be an even more reliable and useful resource than other sectors. Medical students have been panicking over AI's threat to their career prospects. But as these systems mature, the experts increasingly believe that AI may serve as a counterpart to human medical expertise rather than a threat. How AI Tools Are Expected to Aid Medical Professionals? Again and again, as the debate over modern AI tools rages on, we encounter the analogy of the calculator. No one feels threatened by calculators, not even professional mathematicians. Instead of throwing up their hands, math experts embrace the power of these now archaic computerized devices. If the experts are correct, this may be similar to the future of the alliance between AI and humans. According to the designers and programmers who understand how these systems work as well as how information technology tends to progress, AI can be expected to help the medical profession in the following ways: Cosmetic Surgery Consultations One of the farthest-reaching applications we see develop is in consultations for plastic surgery and similar applications. Perhaps one of the easiest aspects to understand is hair-loss consultations. In our practice, we use a device known as HairMetrix, which uses an AI-driven analytical system to help determine what is causing a patient to lose their hair and which treatment options would be the most effective. Because it is AI-driven, it is fully based on visual scans and is completely non-invasive. Just like this, AI can be used in an abundance of other ways to minimize the use of exploratory surgery and improve healthcare outcomes. Improved Diagnostics Artificial intelligence is already helping medical providers deliver diagnoses more quickly. These tools can identify anomalies that might otherwise take human hours or even weeks to identify. This has improved the rate of cancer detection, among other things, which will predictably improve survival rates. Developing New Pharmaceuticals The development of new medicines is notoriously slow. Not only is testing a painstaking process, but even seeking FDA approval can take years. AI is expected to help the development of pharmaceuticals through simulation on the molecular level, allowing researchers to see how the active mechanisms in a drug will work in the body. Improved Administrative Efficiency In the medical field, administrative tasks are notoriously slow. It is believed that generative AI will be able to automate many administrative functions and innumerable office chores. It could streamline sorting patient files, accelerate the interpretation of data, and much more. Patient Access In an area where information technology is already improving patients' lives, access to medical advice is still a bottleneck in the system. AI tools have the potential to slowly bridge the gap in health disparities. Combined with the power to diagnose, this could dramatically increase the capability of online patient portals. Of course, this list of anticipated AI capabilities is far from exhaustive. Researchers and medical professionals have high hopes for these tools, and some are already proving to be more than mere speculation. In a world where AI is reshaping industries at an unprecedented pace, the healthcare sector stands poised to benefit significantly from this technological revolution. From streamlining administrative tasks to revolutionizing diagnostics, the potential of AI in medicine is vast and diverse. As we witness AI-enabled tools like HairMetrix, enhancing the cosmetic surgery consultations and AI algorithms expediting diagnostic accuracy, it's clear that we are only at the beginning of a healthcare transformation that is set to improve patient care, increase survival rates, and revolutionize medical practices.

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Health Technology, Digital Healthcare

Unlocking Better Health Online: Exploring Power of EHR Telemedicine

Article | September 8, 2023

Embark on a journey into the frontier of healthcare innovation in this article. Discover how EHR telemedicine and remote patient monitoring serve as catalysts, driving forward a new era in healthcare. Contents 1. Integration of EHRs in Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring 2. Technical Challenges and Solutions in EHR Integration 3. Financial Analysis: Cost-Benefit Assessment of Integration 4. Data Privacy and Consent in Integrated EHR-Telemedicine Systems 5. Forging Stronger Patient-Clinician Relationships 1. Integration of EHRs in Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring EHR telemedicine and remote patient monitoring have reshaped healthcare delivery by seamlessly integrating electronic health records, allowing healthcare providers and patients to exchange information effortlessly, regardless of geographical barriers. This synergy empowers healthcare professionals to access patients' comprehensive medical histories in real time, facilitating more informed decision-making during virtual consultations. During the spring of 2020, when pandemic restrictions kept most people in the US at home, the use of telehealth rose to about 51%. [Source: Elation Health] Moreover, it enhances the accuracy of remote patient monitoring by providing up-to-date data, enabling timely interventions and improving overall healthcare outcomes. Integrating EHR telemedicine systems enhances efficiency and ensures that patient care remains at the forefront of modern healthcare, transcending traditional physical boundaries. 2. Technical Challenges and Solutions in EHR Integration Navigating telehealth EHR integration and remote patient monitoring solutions uncovers a range of technical challenges, each with its own set of potential remedies. These include interoperability issues, which can be mitigated by adopting standardized data formats like HL7 FHIR. EHR interoperability solutions may involve using data exchange protocols such as HL7's Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture (C-CDA) or developing custom APIs to facilitate seamless data exchange between EHRs and telemedicine platforms. Additionally, the imperative need for data security and privacy is achieved through robust encryption and adherence to regulations like HIPAA or GDPR. Data integration challenges arising from varying EHR data storage methods can be resolved using middleware or integration platforms. Investing in telecom infrastructure and developing offline-capable telemedicine apps can address limited connectivity in remote areas. Ensuring real-time data access involves optimizing EHR databases and creating low-latency systems. Other challenges encompass integrating data from medical devices, ensuring data accuracy, scalability, user-friendly interfaces, regulatory compliance, and cost management strategies. 3. Financial Analysis: Cost-Benefit Assessment of Integration When contemplating the integration of EHR telemedicine and remote patient monitoring systems, conducting a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is crucial. This assessment covers financial aspects, including initial implementation costs (software development, hardware upgrades, training, and data migration), ongoing operational expenses (maintenance and data storage), and potential efficiency gains (streamlined workflows and improved data accessibility). It also evaluates the impact on patient outcomes, satisfaction, and financial benefits of enhanced healthcare quality, reduced readmissions, and increased patient engagement. Healthcare organizations can estimate cost savings in remote patient monitoring and explore expanding telemedicine services to underserved populations to make informed financial decisions. Additionally, this analysis considers long-term financial viability and alignment with organizational goals, including regulatory compliance costs, risk assessment, scalability considerations, and the competitive advantages of integrated telemedicine services. By calculating ROI and assessing potential risks, healthcare entities can develop risk mitigation strategies, ensuring that EHR integration in telemedicine and remote patient monitoring enhances healthcare delivery and aligns with the organization's financial sustainability and long-term success. 4. Data Privacy and Consent in Integrated EHR-Telemedicine Systems Data privacy and obtaining informed consent are paramount in integrated EHR and telemedicine systems. Patients should provide explicit consent, understanding the data collected and its intended use, with strict encryption protocols safeguarding data during transmission. Access controls and data minimization practices restrict unauthorized access, while patient portals enable individuals to manage their data-sharing preferences and revoke consent if needed. Compliance with regulations such as HIPAA or GDPR is crucial, as is maintaining comprehensive audit trails to track data access. Training, awareness, and robust incident response plans fortify data privacy efforts, fostering trust and transparency in these integrated systems where healthcare organizations and patients share responsibility for secure data handling. 5. Forging Stronger Patient-Clinician Relationships Integrating EHR telemedicine and remote monitoring systems goes beyond mere efficiency and accessibility objectives. It serves as a catalyst for nurturing more substantial and meaningful patient-clinician relationships. This fusion of technology and healthcare has the capacity to bridge physical distances, allowing clinicians to truly understand and engage with their patients on a deeper level. Patients, armed with increased access to their health data, become more active participants in their healthcare, while clinicians, with their comprehensive information, can offer more personalized and informed guidance. The potential of EHR telemedicine reaches far beyond the digital screen; it empowers both patients and clinicians to collaborate in pursuit of improved health outcomes, ushering in a new era of patient-centric care grounded in trust, communication, and shared knowledge.

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Health Technology, Digital Healthcare

Unlocking the Puzzle: Navigating EHR Interoperability Solutions

Article | September 7, 2023

Unlock EHR interoperability solutions with this article. Discover how healthcare overcomes EHR interoperability challenges to facilitate seamless information sharing for better clinical decisions. 1. Exploring Hurdles in EHR Interoperability 2. Addressing EHR Interoperability Challenges: Mapping Effective Paths 2.1 Upgrading from Outdated Legacy Systems 2.2 Managing Inconsistent Information Across Multiple Sources 2.3 Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Sharing Data 2.4 Balancing Security and Consent 2.5 Harmonizing Data Standards Across Diverse Software Systems 2.6 Optimizing Training Resources for EHR Interoperability 2.7 Strategizing Costs for Specialist-driven Interoperability Management 2.8 Navigating Budget Constraints in EHR Interoperability 2.9 Unifying Patient Identification Standards Across HIEs 2.10 Advancing Allergy Management to Enhance Patient Care 3. Embracing Interoperability for a Connected Healthcare Future 1.Exploring Hurdles in EHR Interoperability Despite significant efforts and investments in health information systems and technology, coupled with many years of widespread availability, the full benefits of electronic health records (EHRs) still need to be realized. The reality is that most physicians continue to rely on faxing and mailing patient records, just as they did a decade ago. Numerous government-certified EHR products are being used, each utilizing distinct clinical terminologies, technical specifications, and functional capabilities. These differences make it challenging to establish a unified standard interoperability format for data sharing. Interestingly, even EHR systems built on the same platform might not be interoperable, as they are frequently highly customized to an organization’s specific workflow and preferences. Given these circumstances, the article examines ten challenges and their corresponding EHR interoperability solutions to enhance patient care. 2.Addressing EHR Interoperability Challenges: Mapping Effective Paths The primary goal of healthcare interoperability is to enable seamless sharing of health-related information between healthcare providers and patients, aiding in clinical decision-making. Here are several challenges to accomplishing this aim, along with their corresponding interoperability solutions: 2. 1 Upgrading from Outdated Legacy Systems One of the significant challenges in achieving EHR interoperability is the need to transition from outdated legacy systems. Many healthcare facilities still rely on older, proprietary EHR systems that need more compatibility and standards to communicate seamlessly with modern, interconnected healthcare networks. These legacy systems often need more data exchange capabilities, leading to inefficiencies, data inconsistencies, and barriers to collaborative patient care. The intricate process of upgrading or replacing these systems while ensuring data integrity and continuity of care poses a considerable obstacle to achieving comprehensive EHR interoperability. Healthcare institutions need to implement a strategic and phased approach to address this challenge. This involves assessing the existing EHR, identifying interoperability gaps, and selecting modern healthcare interoperability solutions that adhere to industry standards, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (HL7 FHIR) and open APIs. A well-defined migration plan should be developed, including data migration, new system integration, and staff training. Collaboration with EHR vendors, IT experts, and clinical stakeholders is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition. 2.2 Managing Inconsistent Information Across Multiple Sources As patients move through different healthcare settings and encounter various medical professionals, their health information becomes distributed across multiple sources, leading to discrepancies, duplications, and variations in data. This inconsistency can compromise patient safety, treatment accuracy, and healthcare quality. Furthermore, different institutions' varying data formats, coding systems, and documentation practices exacerbate the challenge of creating a unified and accurate patient record. A potential solution to this challenge involves developing and adopting standardized data exchange protocols. By implementing common data standards and practices, healthcare providers can ensure that patient information is accurately represented and uniformly understood across different systems. In addition, robust data validation processes and reconciliation algorithms can help identify and rectify inconsistencies during data integration. Moreover, creating a centralized patient identity management system that links various patient records to a single, accurate identity can significantly mitigate the issue of duplicated or mismatched information. 2.3 Overcoming Organizational Resistance to Sharing Data This EHR interoperability challenge pertains to the reluctance of healthcare institutions, clinics, and providers to readily exchange patient information and medical records due to concerns over data privacy, competitive advantage, and operational complexities. This resistance often leads to fragmented patient care, hindered medical research, and compromised clinical decision-making. Addressing this challenge necessitates the establishment of clear data-sharing protocols, robust privacy safeguards, and incentivized collaboration. By fostering a culture of trust, emphasizing the collective benefits of data exchange, and implementing interoperability standards, the healthcare ecosystem can encourage reluctant organizations to actively share essential patient data, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes and more efficient healthcare delivery. 2.4 Balancing Security and Consent This challenge in EHR interoperability revolves around the delicate equilibrium between ensuring patient data security and privacy while enabling the seamless sharing of EHRs across different healthcare systems. Striking the right balance involves addressing concerns about unauthorized access, data breaches, and patient consent preferences. While robust security measures are necessary to safeguard sensitive health information, overly stringent restrictions can hinder the efficient exchange of vital medical data, potentially impeding timely and informed patient care, medical research, and healthcare system efficiency. Potential EHR interoperability solutions to this challenge include implementing a layered security and consent management approach. This involves combining strong encryption, authentication protocols, and access controls to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of EHRs. Moreover, the adoption of standardized and granular consent mechanisms empowers patients to regulate both access to their data and the purposes for which it can be accessed. An integrated framework that employs advanced technologies like blockchain for secure audit trails and data-sharing logs can enhance transparency and accountability. Furthermore, patient education and awareness campaigns can empower individuals to make informed data-sharing decisions, fostering a collaborative environment where security, consent, and interoperability coexist harmoniously. 2.5 Harmonizing Data Standards Across Diverse Software Systems This challenge encompasses integrating and exchanging medical data across various software platforms and applications used within the healthcare industry. To tackle this challenge, a comprehensive solution includes the widespread adoption and adherence to standardized data formats, coding conventions, and communication protocols by developers, healthcare organizations, and EHR integration software. To address this challenge, a comprehensive solution involves the establishment of standardized data formats, coding conventions, and communication protocols widely adopted and adhered to by EHR software developers and healthcare organizations. This could be achieved through industry collaboration, government regulations, and incentives for adopting interoperability standards. Additionally, implementing APIs that translate and map data between different formats can help bridge the gap between diverse software systems. 2.6 Optimizing Training Resources for EHR Interoperability This hurdle involves preparing healthcare professionals, IT staff, and other stakeholders to effectively navigate and implement interoperable EHR systems. Ensuring that healthcare personnel possess the necessary skills and knowledge to seamlessly integrate, maintain, and utilize interconnected EHR systems amidst rapidly evolving technology and standards poses a significant hurdle. This challenge involves understanding the intricacies of interoperability protocols and grasping the broader context of data security, patient privacy, and efficient data exchange among diverse healthcare entities. To address this challenge, developing comprehensive and up-to-date training programs that cover both technical aspects (interoperability standards, APIs, and data formats) and practical considerations (security protocols, data governance) is crucial. Collaborations with vendors, industry experts, and academia can ensure the training content remains aligned and updated with current EHR trends. Integrating EHR interoperability education into medical and IT curricula can also lay a foundation for future professionals. Continuous learning opportunities, including EHR analytics courses, certifications, and knowledge-sharing platforms, can further bolster the continual development of skills and knowledge exchange. This process cultivates a skilled workforce capable of fully leveraging EHR interoperability while upholding the integrity and privacy of patient data. 2.7 Strategizing Costs for Specialist-driven Interoperability Management This challenge pertains to the complex and costly task of ensuring seamless data exchange among diverse EHR systems, mainly when managed by specialists with domain-specific knowledge. These specialists play a crucial role in tailoring EHR interoperability solutions to the unique needs of their medical domains. Still, the financial implications of such endeavors can be substantial, involving customization, integration, and maintenance expenses. Finding an effective solution requires a multi-faceted approach involving standardized interoperability frameworks, modular system design, strategic resource allocation, and collaborative partnerships among EHR vendors, healthcare institutions, and specialists. By optimizing the balance between customization and standardization and leveraging technological advances like APIs and cloud computing, healthcare ecosystems can mitigate costs while achieving efficient and secure data exchange that benefits patients and healthcare providers. 2.8 Navigating Budget Constraints in EHR Interoperability This issue relates to healthcare organizations' significant financial limitations when striving to establish seamless EHR data exchange across disparate systems. As healthcare entities aim to enhance patient care coordination and data accessibility, the cost of implementing and maintaining interoperable EHR systems becomes a substantial hurdle. This challenge necessitates a delicate balance between allocating resources for EHR integration, customization, and ongoing maintenance while ensuring that patient data remains secure and accessible to authorized stakeholders. A possible avenue to deal with the budget constraints in EHR interoperability is the strategic adoption of open-source frameworks. By leveraging open-source solutions, healthcare organizations can reduce licensing fees and development costs associated with proprietary systems, allowing them to allocate resources more efficiently. Additionally, collaborating with industry consortia and governmental initiatives that promote standardized data exchange protocols can foster economies of scale, streamlining the implementation process. Moreover, investing in cloud-based technologies can offer scalable and cost-effective data storage and sharing infrastructure. 2.9 Unifying Patient Identification Standards Across HIEs The crux of this issue involves the need for consistent patient identification methods across different healthcare systems and data-sharing networks. This inconsistency results in errors, data duplication, and compromised patient safety as information is exchanged between entities. Without a standardized patient identification system, accurate matching of patient records becomes a complex endeavor, hindering the seamless exchange of EHRs and undermining the potential benefits of interoperability. To address this challenge, a comprehensive solution involves establishing and adopting a universally recognized patient identification standard that spans all participating HIEs. This standard could include using unique patient identifiers or a combination of demographic, biometric, and cryptographic identifiers to ensure accurate and secure patient matching. Additionally, implementing advanced data governance practices, strong privacy protections, and robust data validation algorithms would enhance the accuracy and security of patient identification. Collaboration between healthcare organizations, government agencies, and technology experts is crucial to developing and implementing this standardized approach, fostering a more interconnected and effective healthcare ecosystem while safeguarding patient privacy and data integrity. 2.10 Advancing Allergy Management to Enhance Patient Care Healthcare providers need help seamlessly sharing allergy-related patient data across different EHR platforms, hindering comprehensive patient care. This lack of interoperability leads to fragmented information, potential medication errors, and compromised treatment decisions, ultimately impacting patient safety and outcomes. One viable solution for addressing this challenge is to establish standardized data exchange protocols alongside a unified health information exchange framework. Implementing FHIR standards can enable the consistent and secure sharing of allergy information among EHR systems. Additionally, incentivizing healthcare organizations to adopt these interoperability EHR standards and invest in compatible technologies will promote a cohesive ecosystem where allergy data can be accurately and swiftly exchanged. Collaborative efforts among EHR vendors, healthcare providers, and regulatory bodies are essential to ensure the seamless flow of allergy-related information, resulting in enhanced patient care, reduced medical errors, and improved healthcare efficiency. 3.Embracing Interoperability for a Connected Healthcare Future With the goal of a cohesive healthcare future in mind, the value of embracing interoperability is immeasurable. This article highlights the essential role of interoperability in overcoming the challenges posed by fragmented data and improving patient outcomes. As healthcare systems continue to develop, the smooth exchange of EHRs becomes crucial, fostering collaboration among diverse stakeholders and facilitating well-informed decision-making. By creating an environment in which EHRs can seamlessly communicate, healthcare providers have the potential to offer more comprehensive, patient-centered care, minimize duplication, and expedite both diagnoses and treatments. Although achieving an interoperable healthcare ecosystem may involve complexity, the benefits of efficiency, precision, and overall quality of care underscore its necessity as a transformative journey.

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