Technology has transformed the ways we all communicate. Perhaps nowhere has this transformation been felt more dramatically than in the healthcare industry. Healthcare providers are under constant pressure to adapt to the public’s desire to have greater access to medical professionals and services through the convenience of technology. 

Although the benefits of delivering certain medical care by electronic means are widely acknowledged, there is no agreement on how such medical treatment can or should be provided. Moreover, because the delivery of professional medical services is regulated through state licensure, the availability of telemedicine services is largely dependent upon the rules and regulations adopted by state licensing boards. Rulings from several significant cases in 2015 illustrate the difficult challenges faced by the courts in addressing issues related to telemedicine. 

Read more: Telemedicine on Trial

Let’s state the obvious: profitably managing a hospital is not for the faint of heart. With unabated regulatory reporting requirements, constant reimbursement pressures, increasing costs, deployment of complex information systems, recruitment and engagement of physicians and implementation of zero-harm cultures, hospital executives have a full plate. If you are indeed profitably succeeding on this journey, you possess both a fair understanding of your value chain and its key drivers, as well as demonstrating a tremendous amount of courage!

Reflecting on your value chain for a moment – and fully appreciating that it is not static – ask yourself whether your current resources are working on the highest value-add activities, and whether those activities are reflective of your core competencies. In other words, are there suppliers who would be more effective at managing certain non-core competencies than the ones you are using? 

Read more: Value Chain

Patient engagement is the blockbuster drug of the 21st century. With recent innovations in technology changing the landscape of patient engagement, this article discusses some emerging use cases that will help organizations make the best use of their new opportunities. 

In America, cell phones are now almost as ubiquitous as televisions. Recent PEW Research survey data shows that 90 percent of Americans own mobile devices as of January 2014, and 64 percent own smart phones as of October 2014. This data is independent of socio-economic status, education, race and gender. In a word, this means mobile is the perfect candidate to change engagement across various populations.

Read more: Patient Participation

The privacy of personal health information is often considered the foundation on which an open exchange of the information between a medical service provider and the patient is built. The privacy of this most sensitive information depends on protection from unauthorized access, while at the same time making such information available to those who have a recognized need to use it.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), among other duties, enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information; the HIPAA Security Rule, which sets national standards for the security of electronic protected health information; and the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule, which requires covered entities and business associates to provide notification following a breach of unsecured protected health information. 

Read more: Protect the Personal

This summer, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) began sending out preliminary surveys to healthcare providers in advance of the long-awaited (or long-dreaded) Phase 2 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) audits. The audits are now slated to begin in early 2016, and as the start date looms ever closer, healthcare providers may be starting to panic.

It is expected that 350 covered entities and their business associates will be audited at random, and the OCR intends to investigate areas on which entities scored particularly low in Phase 1, including encryption, security, protected health information access and data breach notification. In other words, the OCR is cracking down on exactly the vulnerable areas that are contributing to the constant barrage of data breaches the healthcare industry has seen this year. 

Read more: Phase Two

Delivering high-quality patient service while ensuring cost-effectiveness and profitability is a familiar challenge for most hospital and healthcare system administrators. While patient care is the focus, ensuring efficient revenue cycle management (RCM) is essential to an organization’s business health. However, achieving excellence in RCM can prove difficult and costly for administrators to handle themselves.

As one example, although waiting to obtain payer approval ahead of treatment may reduce the risk of lost revenue, it’s often not practical from a patient care perspective. Outsourcing payer approvals to relevant experts can speed the process significantly, thus ensuring better revenue capture. 

Read more: Robotic Software

Today, healthcare facilities are increasingly struggling to manage the presence of antibiotic-resistant superbugs and reduce the number of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) contracted by patients. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year more than 700,000 patients in U.S. acute care hospitals suffer from at least one HAI and 75,000 die as a result from these preventable infections. 

A high HAI rate can lead to poor patient satisfaction surveys, a damaged public reputation and increased employee dissatisfaction and turnover. However, applying the best practices for environmental surface cleaning and disinfection can help limit the spread of harmful bacteria. In order to help janitorial staff focus more on routine cleaning and disinfection tasks, some hospitals are turning to automated hands-free floor care machines. It would help facility managers to understand how these innovative robots solve cleaning challenges, the features to look for when selecting a machine and tips for a seamless transition.

Read more: Keep It Clean

It’s no surprise that the landscape of healthcare is ever-changing. That’s the way it has always been from technology and services to changes in staffing, workload and expectations. Time and time again, our stellar healthcare facilities rise to the challenge – the newest challenge being a shortage of providers in healthcare across the nation. The shortage runs the gamut from physicians and technicians to surgical staff, bedside nurses and all the medical practitioners  in between.

To continue providing quality care in the midst of this scarcity, we’re asking nurses to serve in more of a primary care role, but it’s so much bigger than that. The beauty of expanding the role of nurses is that it gives them autonomy to practice up to their license. 

Read more: Expanding Roles

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