Increase Patient Happiness with Patient Scheduling Software

increase patient happiness with patient scheduling software

As with other professions, many in the medical community are taking advantage of some of the benefits offered by advances in information technology. By doing so, these medical professionals hope to increase patient satisfaction, decrease patient wait times, and improve the accuracy of their services. In this article, we will discuss some of the newer features becoming available in software applications specifically designed for the medical industry.

Self-Scheduling Features 

More and more medical offices are allowing patients to schedule their own routine appointments online. Patients appreciate the 24/7 availability of scheduling an appointment, along with the ability to reschedule or cancel their appointment if necessary, through a secure portal. By allowing patients to schedule appointments, it frees up office staff to focus on patients with more complex medical issues.

Automate Patient Waiting List

Sometimes patients are unable to see their physician as quickly as they would like. In the past, many medical offices kept a manual wait list and would contact patients if a spot became available. New software applications can automate this process by sending out text messages to those on a waiting list. A patient can respond directly to the text and accept the newly available appointment if they desire. Automating the process helps reduce the chance that a physician has an open slot, and allows patients to receive medical care in a more timely manner.

Organized Scheduling 

Automated software applications can help create a more efficient scheduling process. These applications allow office personnel to quickly determine which providers are taking new patients, which insurances a provider may accept, as well as ensure appointments are scheduled in blocks of time rather than haphazardly scheduled throughout a provider’s day. By providing office staff with all the information they need, they can match patients with the necessary provider, process insurance information, and fill a provider’s schedule in an organized manner.

If you would like to know more about software applications for automating medical offices, please contact us.

6 Ways Technology is Changing Healthcare

6 ways technology is changing healthcare
6 Ways Technology is Changing Healthcare

Technology is a well-accepted facet in healthcare that’s changing the lives of both doctors and patients. Although it has gotten a bad rap from a small percentage of tech users in society, it’s still safe to say that – the pros outweigh the cons in this department.

There are numerous benefits technology has laid for us in recent years and we can’t even begin to enumerate them one by one (we’d need pages for that!). And speaking of healthcare, this significant sector in society also has the technology to thank for its successful agenda.

If you are a digital-illiterate who’s at loggerheads with this highly-esteemed advancement, here are six ways to convince you how technology is changing healthcare.

1.  Efficient Diagnostic Reports

Can you imagine hospitals without X-ray devices, CAT scanners or MRI machines? People should thank their lucky stars these were invented, otherwise, a lot of diseases and conditions will be misdiagnosed without the help of these pieces of equipment. Diagnostic reports are vital in the healthcare industry. Technology aids in physical exams, testing results, garnering patient health status, and the list goes on. Due to more efficient diagnostic reports, a lot of medical institutions have shied away from inaccurate diagnostic procedures that lead to errors. Some advantages of digital diagnostic methods are:

•    Fast and quick navigation

•    Easy and visceral data displays

•    Convenient data retrieval

•    Timely results

•    Accurate evidence

•    Streamlined work procedures

2.  Patients Take Control of their Health

When patients are dealing with recurring illnesses, it’s essential to always keep up-to-date information on the proceedings. Communication is hindered in some countries where gadgets and broadband internet are scarce. On the other hand, patient portals are now giving patients control to take over their entire life by monitoring their health information online. With everything uploaded online and easy access to the portal, patients can better understand their medical condition. However, let’s not forget the fact that there have been a lot of security breaches in the past – an important drawback to digital dependence. In terms of patient portals, it’s critical to use the most reliable encryption methods to protect patient information at all times.

3.  Interactive Communication

How many of you here are absent-minded? How many of you here are busy? Or better yet, how many of you here are scared to communicate with their doctors? Email platforms and other instant messaging software are bridging the gap between hustling doctors and patients alike. There are excellent emailing features which automatically remind a patient if they have upcoming follow-up appointments or tests.

4.  Revolutionized Health Monitoring Devices

As I’m typing this, my heart rate is 70 beats per minute with a resting heart rate of 57 (yes, it’s low, I’m an athlete). It’s my fitness watch! Technology has really outdone itself with these cutting-edge health monitoring devices. If you search online, we’re sure you can find some of these:

•    Fitness watches that monitor your heart rate, sleeping patterns, calories burned, and more

•    A portable gluten tester which counts your glucose levels

•    Blood pressure monitors have also gone wireless these days

•    EKG app that lets you read your heart’s status in your mobile phone

•    A scarf which has an integrated air filter that fights off external toxic elements

•    A headband which tracks your brain’s activities and helps you manage stress

The list is endless!

5.  Robotics for Convenience

AI has offered people convenience in their daily lives. Take for example Echo, Alex or Roomba, these AI robots can aid in the day-to-day minor tasks like turning the lights on, weather reports or even cleaning the house! In healthcare, robotics also helps doctors and nurses in their daily tasks such as transporting supplies, locating proper vessels and tubes or alerting for assistance. Disabled patients also take advantage of robotics through rehabilitation.

6.  Prevent the Onset of Pandemics

Let’s look back to the biggest and most unfortunate Ebola outbreak in history which happened in Africa from 2015 to 2016 and killed more than 11,000 people. Africa, an underprivileged country with the minority deprived of internet access, is susceptible to various epidemics due to the lack of fast communication between the government and its people. The use of technology can help warn people of epidemics present in their location and it also educates them on the proper measures whenever an onslaught occurs.

It’s a given fact that some conventional people often question why technology is important in healthcare and that’s okay. A lot of different technological breakthroughs in the health industry has really motivated innovators and medical institutions to prove to everyone that technology is now a momentous part of the future of healthcare.

Author Bio: Kerry Brooks, driven by the passion for blogging, writes about health, beauty, fashion, food, travel and more. She loves to spend her time travelling. She also blogs at KemperMedical, one of the leading national and global distributor of premium medical products including radiation protection products and radiology/ medical imaging supplies. 

Why Should You Hire HIPAA Compliance Consultants?

why should you hire hipaa compliance consultants

HIPAA compliance consultants
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Some of the most sensitive personal information involves our health and medical history.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) lays the groundwork for safeguarding health-related data by providing standards that companies need to meet.

If you work with any data of this kind – even as a subcontractor to another company – you must comply with HIPAA standards.

What can happen if you don’t follow HIPAA regulations?

Violating HIPAA standards can result in a range of financial penalties, including steep fines amounting to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. The amount you pay depends on the number of violations, whether they’re repeat violations, how quickly you correct them, and whether or not they stem from a relatively innocent misunderstanding vs. more deliberate forms of neglect. In some situations, you may face the threat of a prison sentence.

It’s imperative to avoid HIPAA violations not just a spare yourself the legal penalties. HIPAA compliance also makes you more trustworthy to consumers and business partners. By protecting sensitive healthcare data, you reduce the chances of a costly data breach that can destroy your company’s reputation.

Hiring HIPAA compliance consultants

Consultants will guide you through all the necessary steps to making your business compliant. They can assist you with implementing every safeguard. These security measures include encrypted transmissions, restricted access privileges, safe data disposal methods, audit reports, and secure data storage and backups.

As discussed in a recent article from Beta News, verifying your company’s compliance involves multiple complex steps, including identifying your vulnerabilities and determining the risks of various security lapses. Consultants are invaluable throughout this process and with ensuring your continued compliance.

Don’t hesitate to contact us for our assistance.

IT Support for Medical Practices: Are You Prepared for Data Breaches?

it support for medical practices are you prepared for data breaches

it support for medical practices When you’re faced with the ever-increasing threat of cyber attacks, the only way to protect your medical practice is to develop a comprehensive data security program.

Along with the sensitive data collected by most businesses, such as names, addresses and bank account information, medical practices are also responsible for safeguarding a wide variety of private patient data, ranging from current medications to history of illnesses.

Medical practices must at the very least meet HIPAA guidelines for protecting patient information and complying with certain standards for electronic data security.

As discussed in a recent article from Diagnostic Imaging, part of your cyber security program should also include a response plan to a data breach. If your system experiences an unauthorized intrusion, how would you react? Do you have strategies in place for containing the damage from the intrusion? Do you have reliable ways of detecting a breach, along with employees who have the expertise to respond effectively? Who would you notify?

Working with IT Professionals

IT professionals with experience assisting medical providers and healthcare companies can help your medical practice develop a powerful cyber security program.

This program would include technological safeguards against data breaches and reliable IT support for system monitoring and maintenance; the IT support personnel you work with would also respond quickly and effectively should a breach occur. Furthermore, your cyber security program would involve training your employees in safe practices to better protect your patients’ data.

Medical providers remain an attractive target for cyber criminals. When working with IT experts, you reduce the chances of experiencing an embarrassing, damaging data breach and violating HIPAA standards.

If you’re looking for powerful and trustworthy IT support for medical practices, don’t hesitate to contact us.

The Ups and Downs of Electronic Medical Records

the ups and downs of electronic medical records

The case for electronic medical records is compelling: They can make health care more efficient and less expensive, and improve the quality of care by making patients’ medical history easily accessible to all who treat them.

First Person: Which ‘HT’ to Treat: Hypertension or Hammertoe? (October 9, 2012)
Redefining Medicine With Apps and iPads (October 9, 2012)
Small wonder that the idea has been promoted by the Obama administration, with strong bipartisan and industry support. The government has given $6.5 billion in incentives, and hospitals and doctors have spent billions more.

But as health care providers adopt electronic records, the challenges have proved daunting, with a potential for mix-ups and confusion that can be frustrating, costly and even dangerous.

Some doctors complain that the electronic systems are clunky and time-consuming, designed more for bureaucrats than physicians. Last month, for example, the public health system in Contra Costa County in California slowed to a crawl under a new information-technology system.

Doctors told county supervisors they were able to see only half as many patients as usual as they struggled with the unfamiliar screens and clicks. Nurses had similar concerns. At the county jail, they said, a mistaken order for a high dose of a dangerous heart medicine was caught just in time.

The first national coordinator for health information technology, Dr. David J. Brailer, was appointed in 2004, by President George W. Bush. Dr. Brailer encouraged the beginnings of the switch from paper charts to computers. But in an interview last month, he said: “The current information tools are still difficult to set up. They are hard to use. They fit only parts of what doctors do, and not the rest.”

Long before computers, many hospitals and doctors charged for services in ways that maximized insurance payments. Now critics say electronic records make fraudulent billing all too easy, and suspected abuses are under investigation by the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Like all computerized systems, electronic records are vulnerable to crashes. Parts of the system at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center were down recently for six hours over two days; the hospital had an alternate database that kept patients’ histories available until the problem was fixed.

Even the internationally respected Mayo Clinic, which treats more than a million patients a year, has serious unresolved problems after working for years to get its three major electronic records systems to talk to one another. Dr. Dawn S. Milliner, the chief medical informatics officer at Mayo, said her people were “working actively on a number of fronts” to make the systems “interoperable” but acknowledged, “We have not solved that yet.”

Still, Dr. Milliner added that even though there a lot of challenges, the benefits of information technology are “enormous” — improved safety and quality of care, convenience for patients and better outcomes in general.

Patients at Mayo’s headquarters in Rochester, Minn., and its Arizona and Florida sites can see their records online, even via an iPhone app; those in Mayo’s network of doctors’ offices and hospitals in the upper Midwest will eventually have similar access.

In the rare event that a large-scale system goes down at Mayo, backup measures are ready, teams are called in to make rapid repairs, and if necessary “everyone is ready to go on paper,” Dr. Milliner said.

Reliable data about problems in the electronic systems is hard to come by, hidden by a virtual code of silence enforced by fears of lawsuits and bad publicity. A recent study commissioned by the government sketches the magnitude of the problem, calling for tools to report problems and to prevent them.

Based on error rates in other industries, the report estimates that if and when electronic health records are fully adopted, they could be linked to at least 60,000 adverse events a year.

The report, to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, analyzed ways of forestalling hundreds of information technology “hazards” at seven hospitals and health systems. A typical example would be drug orders transmitted by an electronic app to a pharmacy using a different app. 

“It’s hard to keep them speaking the same language, to automatically link a medication in one app to exactly the same medication and dose in the other app,” said Dr. James M. Walker, chief health information officer of the Geisinger Health System, who led the study.

The Obama administration will issue a report on patient safety issues in early November, the current national coordinator, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, said in an interview. That report was requested last year by a panel on health I.T. safety at the Institute of Medicine, a unit of the National Academies of Science.

The institute recommended that the government create an independent agency like the National Safety Transportation Board to deal with patient safety issues, and it called for an end to “hold harmless” clauses that protect software manufacturers from lawsuits but can limit the freedom of doctors and hospitals to publicly raise questions about errors or defects.

Elisabeth Belmont, a lawyer for the MaineHealth system, based in Portland, advises hospitals to reject contract language that could leave them responsible for settling claims for patient injuries caused by software problems. “One software vendor was surprised when my client opted to walk away and purchase the software from another vendor who had a more reasonable approach on these issues,” she said.

The institute also recommended that software manufacturers be required to report deaths, serious injuries or unsafe conditions related to information technology. So far, however, neither a new safety agency nor such a reporting system has been adopted.

Some of the largest software companies have opposed any mandatory reporting requirement. But Gail L. Warden, chairman of the institute’s patient safety panel, said in an interview that the industry was divided on the issue; some companies were accustomed to regulations for their widely used medical devices for imaging, for example.

Critics are deeply skeptical that electronic records are ready for prime time. “The technology is being pushed, with no good scientific basis,” said Dr. Scot M. Silverstein, a health I.T. expert at Drexel University who reports on medical records problems on the blog Health Care Renewal. He says testing these systems on patients without their consent “raises ethical questions.”

Another critic, Dr. Scott A. Monteith, a psychiatrist and health I.T. consultant in Michigan, notes that Medicare and insurance companies generally do not pay for experimental treatments that have not proved their effectiveness.

A Medicare administrative contractor, National Government Services, said recently that it would deny payment for treatments using “cloned documentation” copied from electronic records rather than individualized patient notes composed by doctors and nurses to show medical necessity. Dr. Monteith said the electronic systems were “disrupting traditional medical records and, beyond that, how we think” — the process of arriving at a diagnosis. For example, the diagnosing process can include “looking at six pieces of paper,” he said. “We cannot do that on a monitor. It really affects how we think.”

Deborah Burger, a registered nurse for more than 30 years who works with pain medicines and anti-anxiety drugs for colonoscopy patients, said electronic systems offered “drop-down menus of so-called best practices.”

“The problem is each patient is an individual,” said Ms. Burger, who is president of the California Nurses Association. “We need the ability to change that care plan, based on age and sex and other factors.”

She acknowledged that the system had one advantage: overcoming the ancient problem of bad handwriting. “It makes it easier for me to read progress notes that physicians have written, and vice versa,” she said.

Some experts said they were hopeful that the initial problems with electronic records would be settled over time. Dr. Brailer, who now heads Health Evolution Partners, a venture capital firm in San Francisco, said that “most of the clunky first-generation tools” would be replaced in 10 years. “As the industry continues to grind forward, costs will go down,” he said. “Tools are being simplified.”

Mark V. Pauly, professor of health care management at the Wharton School, said the health I.T. industry was moving in the right direction but that it had a long way to go before it would save real money.

“Like so many other things in health care,” Dr. Pauly said, “the amount of accomplishment is well short of the amount of cheerleading.”