Category Archives: Healthcare Technology

How to Cut Healthcare Cost?

Medical inflation still outpaces general economic inflation by a 4.5% growth rate. It can be a difficult act for employers to keep health insurance from financially squeezing their business, while also providing great benefits package for employees.There is no particular reason for healthcare costs to keep rising but there are many drivers contributing to the increases. Soaring prices for medical services, unhealthy lifestyles and a lack of transparency concerning prices and quality are all factors that greatly contribute to the spike in premiums. Employers may have more options for controlling their company’s healthcare costs than they think. It is completely the same with patients and here are some strategies to minimize costs without cutting benefits.

How Patients Can Cut Healthcare Costs

  1. Save Money on Medicines

There are at least several ways to cut costs on your medicines.You should definitely ask your health care provider if you can switch to generic medicines. The truth is that they have the same active ingredient, but cost a lot less than brand-name drugs.Make sure to ask your provider if there is a less expensive medicine that treats the same condition.Also, see if you can order your medicine through the mail.Don’t forget to take all of your medicines as directed as not taking your medicine or not taking enough medicine may lead to further health problems.

  1. Save Hundreds of Dollars on X-Rays and Tests

Some facilities charge hundreds of dollars more for x-rays and tests than competing providers. Sometimes, people get charged $500 for an x-ray that should be about $30 and it happens all the time. Independent radiology centers often charge less than hospitals, even though the same radiologist may be reading the x-rays. It’s common for the radiologist to be in one building in the morning and another in the afternoon. It’s the same radiologist, but one MRI costs $500 and another is $3,000.For example, a knee MRI ranges from $650 to $4,200, and a recommended fair price is $1,183.

  1. Use Your Benefits

Get routine health screenings whenever you can. These tests can catch health problems early, when they may be more easily treated. And you often do not have to pay copay for health screenings, vaccines, and annual visits.It’s also important to get prenatal care if you are pregnant since that is the best way to ensure you and your baby will be healthy.Some health plans offer health advocates or case managers. A health advocate can help you get the most of your benefits. A case manager can help you to manage complex health problems such as diabetes or asthma.Moreover, make sure to use free and discounted services as many health plans offer discounts on things like gym memberships or eyewear.

  1. Ask for a Discount

Some 61 percent of people who went to a doctor and asked for a discount actually got something. If you’ve been a loyal patient, don’t be afraid to ask if your doctor or healthcare provider can cut you a break on an office visit charge or a procedure cost. You might be surprised.

  1. Choose In-Network Health Care Providers

Depending on your health coverage, you may have the choice to see providers who are in-network or out-of-network. You pay less to see providers who are in-network, because they have a contract with your health plan. This means they charge lower rates which can be highly beneficial.

  1. Consider a High-deductible Plan

A high-deductible health plan requires you to pay a higher out-of-pocket deductible before your insurance coverage kicks in. However, monthly premiums are usually lower than traditional health plans, and if you only see your doctor once or twice a year, you may save money with this option. Just make sure you have the cash on hand to cover the deductible if you do end up needing significant care.

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Why is VOIP important for the Healthcare Industry?

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology has been gaining popularity since the appearance of smart-phones. The technology enables conversations via the medium of the Internet rather than through traditional telephonic networks. VoIPs are extremely flexible, mostly not requiring a phone number in order to function. The quality of calls is also very satisfying. Low costs and increasing flexibility has led to VoIP services finding a large number of applications in many industries. One area that is undergoing significant ‘disruption’ as a result of the adoption of VoIP services is the healthcare sector. Here are the benefits of VoIP for the healthcare industry.

WHY IS VOIP IMPORTANT FOR THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY_

  1. Improved Medical Consultation

The internet has made the world a much smaller place. This has also helped in a much better landscape for healthcare as the expertise of professionals physically far way can be utilized in order to help treat the sick. With the help of cloud, VoIP has provided instant long distance communication between specialists from all over the world. Both voice and video conferencing can help these healthcare professionals discuss with each other so that the absolute best health care can be provided.

  1. Long Distance Efficiency

Cloud-based VoIP systems are beginning to change the long distance landscape for the better, and hospitals are taking notice as well. Instead of having to deal with long distance charges from the phone company, hospitals and clinics can place calls and even video conference on the Internet. This not only reduces costs, but also creates a more dependable and efficient long distance calling platform. The cloud and VoIP create an optimized, crystal clear calling and video conferencing environment that is less prone to interference.

  1. Cost Reduction

The biggest selling factor of VoIP is that it is affordable and this is pretty important for healthcare. It can help a healthcare institution in cutting down the telephony costs by a huge margin. These funds can be proportioned off to other needed services that would help in saving lives. VoIP enables low cost calling for both, in-house or external. The plans are highly flexible with customizable services that can be chosen depending on the needs and the number of extensions that need to be connected.

  1. Priorities Can be Managed Efficiently

Most healthcare institutions receive a lot of calls on their telephonic services and it is often hard to prioritize them based on a patient’s need. This way, it is both normal and unfortunate that some patients with a greater need for medical attention are unable to reach out to a hospital because all available phone lines are engaged. When a VoIP is being used, hospitals can use customer relationship management and interactive voice response systems to determine the importance of a customer’s need through the use of automated questions, recorded queries and so on.

  1. Seamless Integration

When it comes to the installation of new technology, hospitals don’t have a lot of down time. VoIP systems install over existing computer networks, which makes the installation process fast and seamless. Because VoIP is cloud and Internet-based, most of the equipment a hospital or clinic would need is already in place. This translates to virtually no installation down time and no disruptive installation procedures like running wires or installing bulky, space-eating hardware. Thanks to Voice over Internet Protocol, hospitals are dialing-up better call efficiency.

One of the biggest barriers keeping many healthcare institutions from modernizing is the need to install new technology. Revamping a hospital’s technology infrastructure is costly and time consuming. VoIP systems, on the other hand, don’t require extensive overhauls. A fully capable VoIP infrastructure can be integrated within existing computer networks, dramatically cutting installation time. Other than VoIP-capable phones, all of the necessary equipment is already in place within most hospitals, resulting in little to no downtime and no installation disruptions.

Top Digital Transformation Trends in Healthcare

According to research, 70 percent of healthcare companies are looking to digitize their operations in order to facilitate growth. With personalized medicine and value-based care on the rise, the healthcare industry is finally recognizing the importance of a digital transformation. To better prepare you for what’s to come, here are trends you can expect to see in 2018:

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  1. Cloud computing in healthcare

The cloud access technology has increased the accessibility for both the patients and doctor alike. The patients are now accessing their test results on the cloud without having to wait for hours to get admitted. In some developed countries, it is expected that by 2019, more than 60% of the interactions with the healthcare experts and facilities will take place using mobile devices. Paper filing of the patient’s record is becoming a thing of the past. Hospitals and are all storing the patient records over the cloud and connecting the patients with the cloud to get 24/7 access to their medical records and test results.

  1. Mobile Healthcare and Telehealth are on the Rise

With a majority of consumers connected throughout the day on a mobile device, it’s not surprising that people want efficient healthcare they can access via these devices. Whether looking for a doctor on-demand, talking with a physician via an app instead of going into an urgent care, or being able to check benefits coverage on a healthcare payer app… mobility and telehealth are what patients and members want. To respond to this demand, mobile digital access will be an increasingly high priority for healthcare organizations in 2018.

  1. Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) can be tricky – there seems to be many definitions floating around. Forbes article describes it best: “IoT is the concept of connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet.” Also, Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be over 26 billion connected devices. This will foster a giant network of connected “things,” including the connection between people using said devices. Even in its infancy, IoT is making its way through within all industries and isn’t expected to slow down in the coming year.

  1. Telemedicine in healthcare

Telemedicine involves the use of telecommunication technology to remotely diagnose and treat the patients. In a survey from 2016, it was found that doctors consider telemedicine as a better way to treat chronic diseases. They say that the traditional office visits to doctors are more tiresome and demoralizing for patients.With telemedicine, patients can receive the best possible healthcare, if they just have a smartphone. It saves time and money for both the doctor and the patient. Telemedicine is finding great success in the field of mental health care. The patients needing emotional support have quick access to therapists on just a click of the button.

  1. Data Quality Remains a Medical Necessity

On the same page as real-time, accurate data, clinicians need the same afforded to their patients so providers can give the highest quality of care and avoid potential mistakes. This may not necessarily be a new trend for 2018, but it’s one that remains a top priority. Healthcare systems need to get on top of eliminating batch processing and have the most current electronic medical records (EMRs) always available for patient care.

  1. Artificial intelligence in the healthcare sector

Data is the leader in the digital world. Manipulation of the data is proving revolutionary in all the fields of digital transformation. By measuring the customer satisfaction to identifying risk factors for the patients, artificial intelligence is proving its worth everywhere. There is a new concept being discussed globally, which is the Internet of (Medical) Thing (IoMT). Using this concept, mobile and wearable devices are connected to work as a cohesive self, to create medical health reports and data.

In 2016 it was big data, in 2017 it was AI, in 2018 it’sblockchain. Every year has its trend, even when the fad has some reality to it, too much money ends up backing buzzwords with no clear path to market adoption.This year, we will see money flowing into blockchain like never before and this may well be a great technology to solve some key problems in healthcare.

Demand on AI Talent

Tech’s biggest companies are placing huge bets on artificial intelligence, banking on things ranging from face-scanning smartphones and conversational coffee-table gadgets to computerized health care and autonomous vehicles. As they chase this future, they are doling out salaries that are startling even in an industry that has never been shy about lavishing a fortune on its top talent.Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock, according to nine people who work for major tech companies or have entertained job offers from them.

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Well-known names in the A.I. field have received compensation in salary and shares in a company’s stock that total single- or double-digit millions over a four- or five-year period. And at some point they renew or negotiate a new contract, much like a professional athlete. Although AI and machine adoption is on the rise, there is negligible talent with experience in technologies like deep learning and neutral networks.

Accordingly, the average salary of AI professionals across industries are quite attractive. Moreover, HR managers and talent acquisition professionals feel that because of AI their roles will evolve into broader and more strategic productivity management roles. As there is significant talent crunch in the AI space, recruiters who can speed up their hiring process using AI automation tools will win the war for talent in the future.

While tech’s biggest firms are trying to vacuum up all the talent, the fact remains that companies of all sizes are going to need to leverage A.I. in coming years if they want to retain some sort of competitive advantage. Fortunately, Dice data has shown that tech pros don’t just care about money; they also want perks, benefits, and a positive working environment. A company that can provide those things, even if it doesn’t have the billions of a Google or Amazon, has a shot at snatching up the talent it needs.

For those tech pros looking to boost their standing within their company, there may be no better time to pick up some A.I.-related skills. Consider taking a few courses from a bootcamp or online-learning institution such as Udacity—your company may even pay for it.

Growth opportunities are hard to come by without significant investment, but artificial intelligence (AI) is a self-running engine for growth in healthcare. According to Accenture analysis, when combined, key clinical health AI applications can potentially create $150 billion in annual savings for the US healthcare economy by 2026.

AI in health represents a collection of multiple technologiesenabling machines to sense, comprehend, act and learn so they can perform administrative and clinical healthcare functions. Unlike legacy technologies that are only algorithms/ tools that complement a human, health AI today can truly augment human activity.

With immense power to unleash improvements in cost, quality and access, AI is exploding in popularity. Growth in the AI health market is expected to reach $6.6 billion by 2021—that’s a compound annual growth rate of 40 percent. In just the next five years, the health AI market will grow more than 10×2.

 

Mobile Health Industry Booming

The use of modern technologies for health-related applications is on the rise lately. The miniaturization of components and reduced manufacturing costs are helping to push mobile health into the mainstream. Moreover, the industry is projected to grow in the coming years. Telemedicine innovative solutions continue to rapidly expand in several healthcare areas such as primary health care, psychiatry, genetics, radiology and so on. A few major driving forces for the telemedicine market include increasing aged population, rising cost of healthcare and rising prevalence of chronic diseases.

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52% of smartphone users gather health-related information on their phones. That includes information about a specific medical problem or procedure, or diet, nutrition, and fitness-related information. Other popular health topics include:

  • prescription or over-the-counter drugs,
  • alternative treatments,
  • health insurance,
  • depression, anxiety or stress,

However, searching for health information isn’t the only use of mobile devices among providers. Healthcare professionals widely use mobile devices for mobile health (mHealth) services as well, which is estimated to be a $26 billion market globally by 2018. There are many factors in play that are affecting the transformation of the health industry, but much of it seems to begin with the growing ubiquity of cell phones, smartphones, and mobile devices. 17 percent of mobile phone users were using their devices to look up health and medical information, and Juniper recently estimated that 44 million health apps were downloaded in 2011.

The amount of health data is exploding in line with the growing adoption of health and medical apps, much of it thanks to the increasingly wearable, portable and user-friendly devices using smart sensors that can capture and transmit all kinds of biometric data. Smartphones are connecting with these diagnostic apps and health-measuring devices to help you stay on top of your health and fitness — like Basis’ heart and health tracker, Lark, Fitbit, and Jawbone’s Up — to name a few.

Mobile devices will also change the way that we communicate with doctors, as physicians may help describe possible treatments or procedures to patients on an iPad using multimedia, visual cues, genomic/anatomical maps, etc., prescribe post-treatment apps to our smartphones so that treatment doesn’t end once you walk out the door of the hospital, or become a solution for modern communication platforms, like Skype, that will facilitate remote checkups, treatments, diagnostics, through the phone, or over video. Got a strange looking rash? Take a picture, or scan it on this app.

As a result of this shift in mobile health use, an increasing number of mobile health apps are being developed to cater to the needs of healthcare professionals. This rapid development opens up a large market of mobile device users in all areas of medicine from otolaryngology to anesthesiology, which healthcare organizations are realizing. Everything from care collaboration platforms to mobile EHRs or EMRs is being developed, which is attracting more and more healthcare providers across the globe. In fact, the global mobile health market is expected to grow annually at a rate of 33.5% between 2015 and 2020.

Healthcare Improve US Economy

Americans surveyed in national polls consistently rank the economy as their number one concern, among others. Public health professionals can have a big impact on this serious issue. More than 17 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product is spent on health care—in many cases, for conditions that could be prevented or better managed with public health interventions. Yet only 3 percent of the government’s health budget is spent on public health measures. A 2012 study in Health Affairs notes that since 1960, U.S. health care spending has grown five times faster than GDP.

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Healthcare and Employment

Taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics,the following points show how crucial healthcare as an industry is to the American economy:

  • Noted as one of the largest industries in 2008, healthcare provided 14.3 million jobs for wage and salary workers.
  • Ten of the 20 fastest growing occupations are healthcare related.
  • Healthcare will generate 3.2 million new wage and salary jobs between 2008 and 2018, more than any other industry, largely in response to rapid growth in the elderly population.
  • Most workers have jobs that require less than 4 years of college education, but health diagnosing and treating practitioners are highly educated.

Healthcare has been noted as one of the largest employers, providing 14.3 million workers with jobs. With the need for nurses, doctors, home health care workers, medical billing and coding clerks, and medical record clerks, there may always be work available in this field.Nursing homes are continuing to be filled, hospitals are full on a daily basis, the elderly still need to be looked after, and doctor’s offices are never empty. With this unending need, healthcare has more than fulfilled the requirement for employment for those who are interested in working in this field.

How big a part of the economy is health care?

It accounts for about one-sixth of the entire economy — more than any other industry in the US. Spending on health care totals about $2.5 trillion, 17.5 percent of our gross domestic product — a measure of the value of all goods and services produced in the United States. That’s up from 13.8 percent of GDP in 2000 and 5.2 percent in 1960, when health spending totaled just $27.5 billion — barely 1 percent of today’s level, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy group.

The economy without health reform

For 40 years, health care costs have grown faster than inflation and wages. Today, the United States, including the government, employers and individuals, spends more than 16% of its gross domestic product on health care, or $7,421 per person, according to the Kaiser Foundation. If health care costs grow unabated, the country is on track to spend more than 20% of its GDP on health by 2018.

In other words, 20% of the value of goods and services Americans produce will be spent on health care alone. That can hamper economic growth and means there will be less and less money available to support education, defense and other priorities.

Meanwhile, the country’s already record high debt is set to swell to unsustainable heights due largely to rising health care costs, which expand federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid. By 2035, the Government Accountability Office estimates that all federal revenue, taxes and fees paid by individuals and businesses, will be consumed by Medicare, Medicaid and interest on the public debt.

Many citizens are still without healthcare and have been for some time. Healthcare has gone through so many transformations and while Congress continues to debate, Americans are continuing to pay higher prices for lesser quantity of products and services, while struggling to hold on to immobile wages. As time progress and with much patience, the healthcare system can eventually change the face of the U.S. economy.

Staff Engagement in Healthcare: Why It Matters

The warmth of love and hands of care are key to staff engagement in healthcare that results in pleasant patient experience.

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Staff engagement, also called employee engagement, accounts for a major portion of customer satisfaction irrespective of the business type. Essentially, the concept of customer and staff engagement in healthcare is a bit different. It is because patients are more than average customers and healthcare service is entirely different from a general service. After all, taking a pill is different from using an iPhone.

Moreover, health is a sensitive issue which outweighs every other aspect of life. Included in this article are the benefits of staff engagement in healthcare to both the patients and healthcare service provider’s organization.

What is Staff Engagement in Healthcare? Know the Basics

In common uses, staff engagement is the practice of how a manager manages their subordinates in a way that helps to achieve the organizational goal. That being said, the staff manager takes care of every process and members that work in a specific department or the organization as a whole. In addition, it also sets standards for responsibilities and liabilities for every member. When the concept of staff engagement is applied to the healthcare sector, it is known as staff engagement in healthcare.

The two basic components that determine staff engagement are:

  • Human resource management

Any activity in an organization that involves proper utilization of the abilities of employees in an organization is called human resource management (HRM). The basic elements of HRM are employee selection, recruitment, training and development, and retention. Some organizations hire a human resource manager in order to look after the productivity of their employees.

  • Line management

Line management follows a chain of command on the basis of the organizational hierarchy. For example, a staff manager supervises and oversees the activities of the subordinates in his/her department. Likewise, the CEO (chief executive officer) who holds the highest position in an organization oversees the activities of every other member of the organization.

3 Ways Staff Engagement in Healthcare is Different from Other Sectors

  1. Health is a sensitive issue. Well, it doesn’t take a great mind to understand that health is wealth. Any minor error in medication can be fatal at times. It is therefore critically important to separate health service from any other service.
  2. Patients and the average customer are different. Before we explore, let’s keep in mind the difference between a customer and consumer. A customer is an individual who buys a product or uses a service. On the other hand, a consumer is the one who exclusively uses a service. Simply put, consumers are a subset of customers. For this reason, patients are consumers rather than customers.
  3. Healthcare regulation is more stringent than other sectors. Because public health is a sensitive issue, healthcare watchdogs require healthcare providers to work in a more restricted regulatory framework. For example, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medication, veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices but stays a bit relaxed when it comes to dietary supplements.  Similarly, hospitals need to follow a well-defined set of standards in order to ensure the safety of patient health and efficacy of the services they provide.

Know the Benefits of Proper Staff Engagement in Healthcare

Proper staff management in healthcare offers a myriad of benefits to the patients and service providers. In fact, the benefits are both tangible and intangible.

  • Tangible benefits of proper staff engagement in healthcare. If you consider healthcare service as a business practice, the tangible benefits are those that can be measured in monetary terms. With proper staff management, the providers can achieve increased revenues and profits. Consequently, you can expect to get high-quality service in an organization that spends a major portion of its revenues in research, purchase of quality equipment, and recruitment of qualified staff.
  • Intangible benefits of proper staff engagement in healthcare. The intangible benefits cannot be measured directly in monetary terms but have a profound impact on how a patient feels about the services they use. Enhanced patient experience is the most valuable benefit of proper staff engagement in healthcare. As a matter of fact, happy customers are those who feel great about the services they use.

Key Takeaways

  • Staff engagement is key to enhanced patient experience and greater revenues for the healthcare provider.
  • In order to ensure proper staff engagement, the providers need to ensure that their human resource management and line management function optimally.
  • Some large healthcare organizations have a separate department and team of qualified staff for achieving their target revenues through increased patient experience.
  • Statistics suggest that a high level of staff engagement leads to patient-centered care, patient safety culture and employees’ positive assessments of the quality of care or services provided by their team.
  • In addition to fulfilling one’s on-job responsibilities, staff engagement in healthcare is an emotional journey.
  • When you visit a hospital or any other healthcare institution as a patient, watch for the following signs that indicate how the engaged hospital worker takes care of your health.
  1. The engaged hospital worker makes eye contact and responds positively to the patient’s as well as visitor’s inquiries.
  2. They help to escort the family members of the patient to their destination.
  3. Check IV lines and other medical devices at regular intervals to make sure the devices are functioning as intended.
  4. Listen to your problems and suggest the best ways to tackle them.
  5. Maintain a peaceful and friendly environment in the working area.

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Want To Know More?

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