Providing Better Healthcare Requires Proactive Technology
Providing great healthcare in the United States is an increasingly complicated affair. While an aging population is driving up our national healthcare expenditure, from just 12% of GDP in 1990 to 18% today, a complex, slowly-evolving policy framework has failed to keep pace. Elsewhere, a constant stream of new innovative therapies are leading to increased costs and greater competition from non-traditional healthcare providers.
The good news is that many of these challenges can be mitigated with better technology. Following our recent visit to the Ohio State Medical Association’s 2018 Education Symposium, we thought we’d discuss some of the topics that most concern our healthcare clients, and explain strategies we use to help those clients streamline and secure their operations.
An Urgent Need for Improved Cybersecurity and Compliance
The threat of cybersecurity attack is a growing concern for healthcare providers, who along with financial services firms are one of the leading targets for cyber criminals. Although the problem of cybersecurity is a frequent topic of discussion, there’s still a pervasive lack of readiness on the part of providers. According to the most recent HIMSS Cybersecurity Study, 75% of respondents said that their organization experienced a significant security incident in the last 12 months.
Good cyber security takes expertise and sustained effort. At the most basic level, this should include regular network maintenance and the proactive patching of software to close security loopholes. In the healthcare field, this critically important step often requires significant attention to detail, as many EHR vendors may have neglected to include reliable bug reporting features in their software, leading to important issues being underreported.
More complex cybersecurity risks, such as malware and insider threats, can be very difficult for small and medium organizations to manage on their own. That’s true even if they have the resources to do so, and most of them do not. According to a report by Black Book, more than eight in ten provider organizations lack a director for cybersecurity, and only 11% plan to hire a cybersecurity officer in 2018. This means that a great number of healthcare providers are going it alone. Some of these organizations will attempt a DIY approach to cybersecurity. Others will partner with an inexperienced technology services firm that fails to fully address the security issues unique to their organization.
In both these cases, the provider is leaving itself open to both a data breach and serious repercussions. There is virtually no replacement for true cybersecurity expertise, whether that capability comes from an internal resource or an external service provider.
Smarter and More Efficient Cloud Computing Adoption
Healthcare providers feel a dual pressure. On one hand, the state and federal government expect an increased quality of care, while on the other hand healthcare providers face the business imperatives of cutting cost and delivering more with less. Cloud computing can be an important tool in dealing with those dual pressures and delivering high-quality, affordable services to patients.
One area where there’s been sustained growth has been using the cloud for data storage, backup and disaster recovery. With the help of complementary technologies such as data encryption, compression, and de-duplication, many healthcare providers are finding that the cloud offers a secure, efficient data archiving and backup solution. These solutions allow them to avoid the large capital expenditure associated with purchasing hardware infrastructure and flexibly provision their storage resources as needed, while also remaining confident that data is protected in a separate off-site location.
Cloud computing is set to play a key role in other healthcare IT developments as well, such as the rapidly developing revenue cycle management (RCM) sector. RCM software merges clinical and administrative data to help practices automate tasks, and gain greater insight into claims process. The market for RCM software is expected to reach a total value of $43.3 billion by the end of 2022, and cloud computing is poised to play a key role in its development as a means of providing increased flexibility and data transferability among end users.
Improving Customer Engagement and the Patient Experience
According to a report by CDW Healthcare, over 70% of organization said that improving customer engagement is a top priority. There are number of ways that you can leverage technology to enhance the experience of your patients, even when managing an increased patient workload. Providers that provide a positive patient experience typically perform better financially, providing an extra incentive excel in this area.
One way to provide a better patient experience is to optimize your EHR system. This can help patients stay better informed about their treatment, and subsequently feel in control of their healthcare. Being able to quickly provide medical records to a patient, who in many cases is seeing multiple providers for a chronic condition, is a key part of what John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess, call EHR 2.0. Because optimizing EHR systems can also provide greater interoperability with other IT systems and applications, it’s become a central focus in the drive to provide more responsive, more patient-centric healthcare.
Other means of providing a better patient experience with technology include tools like online portals, which facilitate communication between doctors and patients and better reflect how customers exchange information in their day to day lives. In a similar way, online bill payment systems provide an ease and flexibility that consumers have grown accustomed to, and can make receiving payments faster and easier for providers as well.
A Trusted Healthcare IT Partner for 20 Years
Technology can bring new levels of efficiency, security, and profitability to your organization, but to ensure the maximum benefit and security, each aspect of your IT system should be carefully deployed and maintained. For twenty years, Astute Technology Management has helped healthcare organizations across Ohio develop and implement cutting-edge healthcare IT solutions. We’re proud of the many rewarding client relationships we’ve build during that time, and are always happy to answer any questions about our healthcare IT services and experience.