Looking Ahead at Healthcare IT

News and Insights

Looking Ahead at Healthcare IT

February 26th, 2013

Healthcare is on everyone’s minds lately – affordability and the rising cost of health insurance, getting adequate care and the increasing burden on constrained healthcare resources. Not surprisingly, healthcare providers are looking into ways to improve patient care and overall experience and increase efficiency, while decreasing costs. IT has and will play an important role in enabling healthcare professionals to do this.

So, what’s going on in the world of healthcare IT?

  • Mobile health: In answer to the question, “Which mobile computing devices are doctors in your organization using for medical purposes” in InformationWeek Healthcare’s 2012 Priorities Survey, 66% cited iPads or other tablets, up from 45% just a year earlier. Tablets are small, portable and generally affordable. With the right software and applications, they can give healthcare workers instant access to patient records and test results, as well as foster collaboration and sharing. Moreover, with BYOD, healthcare workers can use the devices they want, while employers save on their own costs.
  • Telemedicine: Using telephone and online video consults, healthcare providers are able to bridge the gap between physician resources and geographic barriers and growing patient demand. Plus, we can all agree that “visiting” your doctor in the comfort of your own home beats fighting your way through traffic just to spend an hour in the waiting room and 10 minutes with the actual doctor.
  • Patient portals: With financial incentives for the “meaningful use” of EHR, healthcare providers are implementing systems that allow patients to contact providers, renew prescriptions and quickly access their own health records, all online.
  • Big data: For long-term health and care, providers need integrated client-focused databases for in-depth analytics. A report from Frost and Sullivan indicates that while “only 10% of U.S. hospitals implemented health data analytics tools in 2011, that number will grow to approximately 50% adoption in 2016.” Furthermore, organizations need to be able to store and maintain that data, while keeping it secure.
  • Apps: Today’s apps can track fitness, wellness, exercise and diet. App-enabled devices can assist in home monitoring and management of chronic diseases.
  • Cloud: The cloud and virtualization allow healthcare organizations to shape their security, management and data center environments. Secure virtual servers extend IT capabilities, for more effective storage that enables workers to access software tools and data on the go.
  • Data breach prevention: BYOD presents an even greater challenge than for other organizations due to HIPAA-HITECH regulations to protect patient records. And, unfortunately, with the increasing amount of personal data available online, there is also a greater threat of outside cyber attacks. Providers must implement IT that balances ready access with patient safety.

Lantana Communications works with healthcare providers to update their IT infrastructures with cost-effective solutions. We offer a complete package, the Integrated Core Communications Solution (ICCS), including battery backup, internal and external security, switching, wireless and unified communications – all from top manufacturers.

  1. Otto Hoffman

    Poor patient–provider communication due to limited English proficiency (LEP) costs healthcare providers and payers through lower patient use of preventive care, misdiagnosis, increased testing, poor patient compliance, and increased hospital and emergency room admissions. Scarcity of bilingual healthcare professionals and prohibitive interpretation costs hinder full implementation of language service despite federal and state laws requiring their provision. We review recent published literature and unpublished data documenting the use of telephonic and video interpretation methodologies to improve healthcare communication with LEP persons. For example, a cooperative of nine California public hospitals and their associated community clinics, psychiatric facilities, skilled nursing facilities, and public health departments have implemented shared video interpretation services with video/voice-over Internet Protocol call center technology that automatically routes requests for interpretation in 15 languages to a pool of 30 full-time interpreters and 4 trained bilingual staff. For organizations seeking to initiate or expand their language services, the Internet provides access to translated documents, promising practices, step-by-step guides, planning tools, and research briefs. Such recent technological advances make provision of language services—to respond to federal and state mandates and improve access and quality of care to LEP persons—more feasible than is widely believed. Increased government and foundation support, and collaboration among provider organizations themselves can catalyze these efforts.

  2. Carlo I. Robbins

    The abstinence of effective personal and professional healthcare communications can lead to poor health outcomes. In order for there to be effective personal and professional communication between the healthcare professionals and clients, there must be consideration for patients who are low literate and face many obstacles when reading healthcare information. The complex process of reading can be categorized into five steps; input, decoding, encoding, output and feedback. The healthcare provider should be able to recognize the sensory input level of the patient. Health literacy is one of the risk factors for the patient not comprehending and resuming poor health knowledge. Effective communication can improve outcome measures such as patient satisfaction, adherence to treatment, and disease treatment outcomes (Stewart, 1995). Patients and clients who have low health literacy are more likely to have increased rates of hospitalizations, health care costs, noncompliance with medication, medication instructions, depression and complications with diabetes. Healthcare providers can break this barrier by providing the patient with nonmedical terms, pictures and diagrams.

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