Article | July 21, 2022
1. Knowing The Basics
2. Importance Of EHR In A Rural Setting
3. Features That An EHR Must Have In A Rural Area
Today, we will discuss the crucial featuresof electronic health records (EHR) in rural hospitals. However, before listing out the key components, let us first understand what EHR is and how it can help the smooth functioning of medical treatment in a rural setup.
1. Knowing the Basics!
As the name suggests, an electronic health record is a computer file that stores a patient’s medical history, such as diagnosis, treatment, test results, etc. In short, an EHR is a digital version of a patient’s paper health record. It also includes previous appointments, billing details, and other general documentation. The need for an EHR popped up due to its easy and secure availability compared to patients' paper files. In addition, patients and doctors can easily access lab reports through an EHR that is updated in real-time and downloaded on any device with an internet connection.
2. Importance of EHR in a Rural Setting!
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) defines EHR usability as “The effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction with which specific users can achieve a specific set of tasks in a particular environment.' In essence, a system with good usability is easy to use and effective. It is intuitive, forgiving of mistakes, and allows one to perform necessary tasks quickly, efficiently, and with a minimum of mental effort.”
A patient's electronic health records can be beneficial in an era of digitization. It can improve patient care by minimizing the chances of medical errors, reducing test duplication, and making doctors and patients well-informed by fetching medical records anytime, thereby reducing delays in treatment.
3. Features That an EHR Must Have in a Rural Area
EHRs can prove beneficial in all areas situated far off by accessing the real-time, up-to-date data of patients’ health records and making timely decisions. When the distance between the clinics and specialists is more, an EHR report can easily be sent to look into a patient’s history before delivering treatment.
In a rural setup, EHR helps promote health awareness as patients' data can be monitored without needing to be physically present. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) Solutions can be easily deployed in places with slow internet and help maintain a lightweight EHR that can support immediate patient care and easy documentation.
Next comes the option of configuration over coding. At the Rural Health Clinic (RHC), an EHR that the local IT team can handle would be of more use than one that may require a specialist’s check or additional coding. An EHR, equipped with the ability to configure and customize as per the clinic’s workflow, will give more control to the RHCs and enable them to function efficiently.
Another significant point of an EHR in a Rural Health Clinic will be the inclusion of applications that support instant communication, like Telehealth and patient portals. These applications enable direct consultation and virtual care of patients and specialists located far off, thereby reducing the dependency of RHCs on city or urban-based facilities.
When we are discussing rural hospitals, we need to look for an application that is both affordable and functional, as rural areas mostly struggle with problems regarding budget and resources. Hence, keeping this in mind, RHCs should install a cloud-based EHR that does not require buying servers or employing IT staff.
RHCs must use an EHR application with innovative analytic tools to access and develop reports for quick patient care decisions. In addition, the system must be able to pull large chunks of data and generate reports daily.
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Article | November 18, 2022
1. Alexa, Are You There?
2. Digital Assistants-Cum-Doctor-Assistants
3. Toward An AI-Friendly Life!
1. Alexa, Are You There?
If Siri, Alexa, Google Now, or Cortana are your friends, you do not need any special introduction for today’s topic! This is because these digital assistants have become part and parcel of our lives; from completing our minimal tasks to helping us solve our problems, they make our day-to-day life simpler and more manageable. Popularly called AI, Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. Similarly, Machine Learning, also called ML, is the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.
2. Digital Assistants-cum-Doctor Assistants
The unpredictable pandemic years, which took thousands of lives, depict the rise of complexities in the healthcare industry. To deal with such cases in the future tactfully, the healthcare segment needs to be proactive and implement advanced technologies to detect, resolve, and prevent untimely death. Modern technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning help the medical fraternity perform tasks usually done by humans quickly and accurately, saving much time that can be utilized elsewhere.
Let’s take a quick tour of how AI and ML can boost the healthcare industry:
Artificial Intelligence can broadly scan patient databases or consult patients via a chatbot or online support system to understand their symptoms, send data to doctors, and get real-time diagnoses and prescribed medicines.
Machine Learning, a subset of AI, can replace traditional processes with a supervised one, as in, a patient can be treated based on similar symptoms and treatment of other patients. The process requires a quick scanning of the database, which can be time-consuming if done by human effort.
Taking technology by storm, patients suffering from neurological disorders can be treated via Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCI) backed by AI. With the help of this technology, normal bodily functions, such as the ability to move, speak or react, can be restored. It can also assist doctors in treating patients with strokes, locked-in syndrome, etc.The healthcare segment is revolutionizing, as sensitive operations such as heart surgery are being performed with robotic precision and control with AI-based algorithms. For this purpose, precision machine learning processes are being used to train robots and improve accuracy.
AI can also help in digital pathology. Instead of placing separate slides or tissue blocks and observing them manually, pathologists can do it via AI, which can help analyze digital slides using image analysis and machine learning.
3. Toward an AI-friendly Life!
If you never forget to wear a smartwatch, track daily steps, get water intake notifications, eat mindfully, and consistently monitor pulse rates, then you are already AI-friendly! You have successfully incorporated AI into your life and taken the first step towarda healthy life!
Article | December 8, 2022
Within the last two years, the healthcare industry saw an influx in patient care as COVID-19 swept through communities across the globe. The widespread shortage of patient care tools, personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical technology amid the pandemic led to an exponential rise in health expenditures and demand for essential supplies.
In response to the medical demand-supply imbalance, the governments of numerous countries increased their medical care expenditures to counter the challenges of patient care equipment shortages. For instance, according to the National Healthcare Expenditure Data, federal government spending on healthcare and medical care grew by 36% in 2020 and is estimated to reach US$ 6.2 trillion by 2028 in the U.S.
Despite the rise in medical budget allocations, medical facilities are still facing difficulties obtaining enough supplies with the growing prevalence of numerous chronic, infectious, and hereditary diseases. As a result, organizations are focusing on deploying innovative solutions, such as healthcare supply chain management software, to keep track of inventory, procurement, logistics, and others and strengthen their supply chain.
Healthcare Supply Chain Management Solutions: Key Types
Healthcare systems, hospitals, and other patient care sites require a broad array of supplies to perform diagnosis and treatment, from masks and gloves to catheters and implants. Inadequate supplies coupled with inflation is making supply chain management a crucial but complex component in providing optimal patient care across the healthcare industry. This has shed more light on the role of supply chain management in saving lives.
Effective supply chains help various regulatory agencies, including medical goods manufacturers and insurance companies, deliver essential supplies, resources, technologies, and other patient care goods to healthcare establishments. Supply chain management solutions are thus garnering massive traction among healthcare organizations for simplifying and automating manual supply chain and logistics operations.
Let’s have a look at the types of supply chain management software that assist healthcare organizations to optimize their supply chain processes
Inventory Management Software
Efficient medical inventory management is critical for the running of healthcare organizations. The software provides real-time inventory tracking, assisting organizations in closely monitoring inventory changes, avoiding shortages of both low-value and high-use patient care items, decreasing the wait time for access to medical supplies, and reducing the chances of late delivery.
Order Management Software
It is crucial for healthcare establishments to have an estimate of the demand and supply of goods to prevent shortages. Order management software enables these organizations to coordinate supply chain demand planning and forecasting. It also assists in streamlining warehouse operations, resulting in faster and more accurate order placement.
Sourcing and Procurement Software
By tapping into the power of sourcing and procurement solutions, healthcare organizations can develop robust sourcing processes and automate, streamline, and optimize their entire procurement processes. The software also assists establishments in improving their supply inventory levels, identifying the best supplier, and reducing their overall purchasing cost.
Shipping and Tracking Software
Shipping and tracking software assist in the planning and execution of the physical movement of goods. These solutions are primarily used by medical equipment manufacturers and suppliers during the delivery or relocation of patient care goods. The integration of these solutions enables organizations to track and manage numerous batches of goods in transit.
The Bottom Line
Growing competition, healthcare regulations, shipping costs, and increased logistics requirements from medical institutions have complicated the supply chain management processes. As a result, life-science companies are investing in cutting-edge supply chain management solutions to reduce numerous errors, improve logistics, and eliminate unnecessary costs spent to fix them.
Thus, several companies are now emphasizing the incorporation of cutting-edge technologies, including artificial intelligence and data analytics, into healthcare supply chain management software to reap benefits such as process automation, streamlined inventory, reduced waste, improved decision-making, and lower labor, supply, and operational costs.
HEALTH TECHNOLOGY, MEDICAL DEVICES
Article | November 2, 2022
Smoking has a lot of consequences to one’s health. It can lead to cancer, heart disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease—all of which are chronic diseases. This is part of the reason why the Health and Human Services agency reports that 70% of adult smokers want to quit. As a medical provider, adults looking to stop smoking will come to you for advice and treatment. One alternative smoking product you might want to recommend is an e-cigarette, given their prevalence in recent years.
In this article, let’s take a deeper look at whether e-cigarettes’ should be recommended for smoking cessation and what other treatment options to endorse to patients.
Are e-cigarettes approved for smoking cessation?
Electronic cigarettes, more commonly known as e-cigarettes, are devices that vaporize nicotine-based liquid to be inhaled by its user. It almost replicates the experience of smoking a cigarette due to the device’s shape and the vapor it produces. However, the FDA has yet to approve e-cigarettes for smoking cessation because there is currently limited research on their effectiveness, benefits, and risks for the human body.
Additionally, scientists at the University of California found harmful metals in the vapor from tank-style e-cigarettes. These e-cigarettes are equipped with high-power batteries and atomizers to store more liquid. These result in high concentrations of metals like iron, lead, and nickel in the vapor. Exposure to and inhaling metallic particles may impair lung function and cause chronic respiratory diseases. As such, medical providers should not recommend e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.
What can medical providers recommend for smoking cessation?
Smoking cessation medication
Presently, two FDA-approved prescription medicines for smoking cessation are Bupropion and Varenicline. Bupropion is an antidepressant that decreases tobacco cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It does this by increasing the brain chemicals dopamine and noradrenaline. This comes in a pill and can be used alongside other smoking cessation aids.
Varenicline also reduces cravings and nicotine withdrawal symptoms. It blocks nicotine receptors in the brain, decreasing the amount of enjoyment one gets from smoking. One thing to note about this is that it will take several days for Varenicline's effects to take place. Therefore, it's best to prescribe these pills 1-2 weeks before the patient quits smoking. Like Bupropion, Varenicline may be used simultaneously with other quit-smoking products.
Nicotine Replacement Therapy
Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a treatment involving nicotine consumption at gradually decreasing levels. This reduces the patient’s desire to smoke without them having to quit cold turkey. NRT involves using nicotine alternatives that don’t produce smoke, such as nicotine pouches and nicotine gum.
Nicotine pouches are oral products containing ingredients like nicotine, flavoring, and plant-based fibers. These are placed between the lip and gum, where nicotine is absorbed into the bloodstream. Different variations have different strengths. On! pouches come in different strengths: 2mg, 4mg, and 8mg. Patients may start from 8mg variants and gradually decrease this dosage as their NRT progresses. Pouches also come in a wide range of flavors—including citrus, mint, and berry—to entice users.
Meanwhile, nicotine gum is chewing gum that contains nicotine. It is chewed a few times before being parked between the gums and cheek for nicotine absorption. The nicotine gums by Lucy are a significantly better alternative for tobacco users. Like pouches, this gum comes in several flavors, such as cinnamon, mango, and wintergreen, and different strengths ranging from 2mg to 6mg.
The recommendations mentioned above—medication and NRT—are more effective when coupled with counseling. A Primary Care Respiratory Medicine study revealed that successful smoking cessation is best attained through pharmacological treatment and counseling. Sessions typically involve a patient meeting with a counselor and they discuss their smoking habits, possible causes, and how to mitigate them. Medical providers should include counseling in addition to medication and NRT.
E-cigarettes have yet to be approved by the FDA as smoking cessation aids. For now, medical providers should provide medication, NRT, and counseling to patients who want to quit smoking.