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6 Emerging Digital Transformation Trends That Will Revolutionize The Healthcare Industry in 2022

Technological advancements are scaling new heights every day. Consequently, many technology-based solutions have been widely integrated into the healthcare industry, aiming to enhance efficiency and optimize clinical workflows. Considering how technology provides convenient solutions for all modern problems, the wide adoption of technology into the healthcare landscape is inevitable. The clinics that adopt the latest technologies continue to thrive as intelligent systems continue to propagate. The forthcoming times are set to witness the large-scale adoption of innovative technologies into the healthcare landscape.

What is Digital Transformation for Healthcare?

Digital transformation in healthcare is a cumulation of the latest trends and innovations in digital technologies that significantly enhance healthcare operations. The harnessing of advanced technologies like AI, ML, IoT, and other cloud technologies is the backbone of this transformation.

Modern technological advancements in healthcare allow efficient handling of critical medical data, medical records, medicine orders, and other data. The impact of pioneering technologies like IoT devices, wearable gadgets, real-time medical data monitoring, and many other digital technologies is massive in making healthcare more advanced and accessible. The adoption of novel technologies opens up new business models and productivity potential.

Remember the days when we had to travel for hours for a follow-up visit that would last for about 5 minutes? Thankfully, there’s an alternative to this type of event now. What is that alternative? Digital Healthcare. Specifically, it is called Telemedicine or mHealth apps. Now let’s delve deep into technologies that are fuelling this digital transformation and know about them in detail.

  • AR and VR:

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are among the most promising emerging technologies. They allow researchers to perform risky procedures virtually before carrying them out on human beings.

AR and VR empower doctors to study 3D models of human organs and tissues in simulation labs. They can even help doctors in clinical trials to test medicines on virtual organs to predict how a real person will respond to the treatment. Better known as ‘virtual patients’ or ‘organs-on-a-chip,’ this use of AR and VR technology can substantially reduce animal testing in cosmetics and fast-track clinical trials.

That’s why the global AR & VR healthcare market size is expected to reach 9.5 billion USD while growing at 27.2% CAGR from 2021-2028.

  • Blockchain:

Imagine you lose access to all your medical history and medicine orders because you lost the file containing them? We know how difficult it is to store and transfer critical patient files securely. But thanks to Blockchain, it can be a distant memory. What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a decentralized peer-to-peer network that allows shared digital ledgers to enhance the security of digital transactions and information sharing. In short, it can enable us to share our complete medical information with chosen doctors securely. Thus, Blockchain improves medical records access and EHR.

Blockchain allows safe information sharing without the need for a third party, and it ensures great transparency through its public-private key system.

How this complies with HIPAA and GDPR regulations remains to be seen. But, interpretability, security, and transparency offered by Blockchain currently have no match.

  • IoT and Wearable Devices:

Cutting-edge automation techniques bundled with modern machine learning programs are well-equipped to bring futuristic visions of healthcare into reality.

IoT is a central building block to making healthcare more advanced. So much that two terms are often confused and even used interchangeably. At its core, IoT combines sophisticated hardware setups including various devices and sensors to advanced connectivity to enable a real-time seamless network of interconnected devices to facilitate data collection and monitoring. What does this mean for the healthcare sector?

Well, at first, it can facilitate the operation of smart wearable devices and the overall healthcare network system. For example, various medical monitoring devices like blood oxygen meters, heart rate indicators, blood pressure monitors, and IV drop meters can be attached to a patient’s bed and monitored in real-time by the nurses remotely. The devices can also be programmed to alert nurses when there is a change in a patient’s predefined condition. With the advancement of smart wearables like smart fitness bands and smartwatches, healthcare has been more accessible and timely.

In the healthcare sector, IoT can also be used for hospital operations and equipment maintenance, among others. The IoT in Healthcare is already worth 158.07 billion USD with 50 billion connected devices as of July 2020 and is set to grow exponentially.

  • AI and ML:

AI and ML hold tremendous potential in terms of advancing healthcare. Artificial Intelligence (AI) replicates human decision-making by incorporating advanced algorithms. In comparison, Machine Learning (ML) utilizes past data to generate accurate outputs. Put together, they create networks of autonomous, interconnected devices and utilize big data to optimize workflows and drive intelligent actions into the physical world to boost revenue.

AI has demonstrated its use cases in many fields, but in healthcare, AI was seen as a futuristic technology until AI showed its uses in medical research and patient monitoring. Let’s take the example of a drug discovered by AI, which is set to enter human trials soon. This medicine is developed by AI to help people suffering from OCD.

The advanced algorithms based on AI and ML have the potential to predict treatment and care plans for patients, and they hold the promise of advanced preventive medicine.

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA):

There’s no denying that healthcare is a labor-intensive sector, and many times, it faces a shortage of labor. One way to address this is by incorporating automation techniques, especially RPA. RPA can take on high-volume repetitive tasks of the healthcare industry and divert human resources for more value-added activities. It can make a huge impact in large healthcare organizations by relieving mundane administrative operations.

  • Data Analytics:

All the interconnected IoT devices generate vast amounts of data, commonly referred to as big data. The analysis of these data is foundational to the efficient working of smart wearable devices. The integration of advanced data analytics facilitates data analysis and derives useful information from it to enhance patient monitoring and system feedback. The utilization of big data facilitates data-driven decisions based on real-time data.

Take the example of the recent use of data analytics to identify distinct ‘types’ of a virus. In the UK, King’s College of London developed a symptoms study app and used input gathered in the app to identify six distinct types of a virus during the COVID-19 pandemic. They utilized data from 4 million users to analyze their symptoms and create the model to understand the different reasons behind their symptoms.

Conclusion:

Cloud technologies coupled with best cybersecurity practices allow the above-mentioned technologies to truly usher in the digital era. These technologies make the treatment, prevention, and management of diseases much more efficient that could save many lives in years to come.

If you are a healthcare organization looking to leverage modern technologies, look no further than the full suite of healthcare transformation products of EMed HealthTech. Starting from online pharmacies to Telemedicine and pharma ERP, our products are developed using the most advanced technologies that enable you to leapfrog in the online space and future-proof your business.

Would you like to add any other trend? Do let us know in the comments section.

What Are The HIPAA Rules And How To Ensure HIPAA Compliance?

Medical information is predominantly exchanged over the electronic mode nowadays, thus increasing accessibility and convenience but also simultaneously raising concerns over the privacy of critical protected health information (PHI).

Many countries have designed their own rules and regulations aiming to address this issue. In addition, some private entities have also framed their own standards to remove any loopholes in government-designed rules.

Background of HIPAA:

HIPAA Compliance is a must for digital healthcare solutions. Before HIPAA was enacted into the law, healthcare organizations were following different standards to safeguard the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI), but the lack of industry-wide agreed standards was a big hindrance in maintaining the confidentiality and security of sensitive patient information.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed into law on 21st August 1996 to regulate the handling or transmission of healthcare information. It gives control to patients over their health information and stipulates penalties in case of violation of these rules.

Basically, the HIPAA Suit consists of three main sets of rules. 1) Privacy Rule, 2) Security Rule, and 3) Breach Notification Rule.

  1. The Privacy Rule aims to protect the privacy of individually identifiable health information by restricting access to only required entities.
  2. The Security Rule sets forth certain technical procedures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data.
  3. Breach Notification Rule stipulates organizations to provide notification following a breach of PHI.

We will talk more about the HIPAA rules in detail later on. Let us first know what PHI is and why it is critical to secure it.

What constitutes PHI?

The critical health data is categorized as protected health information (PHI) by HIPAA. That includes the details related to the patient’s past and present physical or mental health condition, payment details of the patient, components of a patient’s medical record. In addition, PHI also includes many standard identifiers, such as name, address, birth date, insurance information, patient contact details, medical test results, social security number, and biometric identifiers of the patient (e.g., retina scan, fingerprint, or voice recording). Sometimes, this also includes data collected from medical equipment also.

Why is healthcare data critical?

In most cases, the healthcare data is permanent and can not be changed easily. Biometric details especially are more vulnerable as they can not be altered at all. So if that data is compromised in a data breach, it is compromised forever. And because it contains unique identifying information that is permanent in nature, it has higher implications when it gets compromised as it can be used to forge identities.

What are the best data handling practices as per HIPAA?

As healthcare data consists of sensitive personal data, robust security measures must be implemented to secure it. To protect patients’ data while complying with the HIPAA rules, the following steps are suggested:

  1. Secure Data Collection: Only authorized persons should be able to collect, use, or access the data and whoever collects data should also be made responsible for its security. The admin should frequently monitor which users are accessing what data and from what devices.
  2. Locate the health data storage: The health data can be stored over many electronic devices, so these devices must be secured with strong and unique passwords. Also, use two-factor authentication whenever possible. Also, do not forget to log off or lock the systems when not in use.
  3. Encrypt data: Healthcare data must be encrypted with the highest security standards during the storage and transmission of information. When the data is encrypted, getting access to it won’t be enough to read it, as it will need a key to decrypt and decipher the data. That’s why HIPAA rules strongly recommend data encryption.
  4. Always Use Latest Technologies: Obsolete or older versions have higher chances of data leakage. That is why it is cardinal to utilize the latest technologies to handle, store, and access EHR data.
  5. Educate the staff about HIPAA guidelines: At the end of the day, your staff must understand HIPAA rules to implement them properly. So, train them properly and make sure your staff is not the weak link in the chain.
  6. Conduct regular data security audits: To identify weak links and vulnerabilities in your security infrastructure, HIPAA recommends regularly conduct data security audits.
  7. Secure Data Backup Facilities: The data backup facility or data center of a healthcare institute where all the sensitive information is stored should have robust security. CCTV cameras should be installed at the premises, and access should be restricted, and biometric or other means of rigorous authentication must be implemented.

How to ensure HIPAA-Compliance Platform?

We have seen that building HIPAA-compliant software from scratch is a complex process consuming significant time and resources. To rid yourself of all these complexities and procedural headaches, you can instead choose a readymade HIPAA-compliant platform and start your telehealth business with it.

But you might be wondering how to choose the best HIPAA-compliant software? So, here are our tips to ensure you choose the best HIPAA-compliant platform vendor:

  1. Verify end-to-end encryption.
  2. Check the encryption standard.
  3. Inquire whether they conduct security audits or not.
  4. Find out where the information is stored.
  5. Sign an agreement of undertaking.
  6. Verify the security of servers.
  7. Search about the company and read reviews of their users.

HIPAA Act of 1996:

HIPAA was passed in 1966 to ensure that the advances in electronic technology do not erode health information privacy. In addition, it aimed to simplify administration processes of dealing with electronic health care transactions, unique health identifiers, and security. This act sets conditions and limits the disclosure of such information.

HIPAA Privacy Rule:

This rule was published in December 2000 and was later modified in August 2002. This rule sets standards for protecting identifiable health information of health plans, healthcare providers, and health care clearinghouses who conduct the standard health care transactions electronically. Compliance with the Privacy Rule was mandated on 14th April 2003.

Highlights of this rule are as follows:

  1. It defines how a patient’s data can be used and disclosed.
  2. PHI can be disclosed to a third party with the patient’s discretion, and even then, the information shared must be minimum necessary to perform the task.
  3. Patients can inspect and obtain a copy of their records and request a correction to them.
  4. The healthcare organization must inform their clients about their business practices and entertain complaints from the patients if it fails to adhere to HIPAA rules.

HIPAA Security Rule:

This rule was published in February 2003. It sets national standards for protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronically protected health information. Compliance with the Security Rule was mandated on 20th April 2005.

Highlights of this rule are as follows:

  1. Confidentiality: Secure information from unauthorized access.
  2. Integrity: Ensure data integrity by securing the data.
  3. Availability: Make sure that the data is available for the authorized personnel at all times.
  4. Frequent internal audits of ongoing operations must be conducted.
  5. Role-based access to patient data must be implemented.
  6. PHI should be transmitted through encrypted channels.

HIPAA Breach Notification Rule:

The HIPAA Breach Notification Rule mandated that the covered entities should notify affected individuals. It allows patients to examine and obtain a copy of their health records and ask for corrections.

Highlights of this rule are as follows:

  1. In case of a data breach, the organization must inform all the stakeholders involved. Breaches affecting more than 500 patients must also be reported to the media and HHS. Such breaches must be reported within 60 days of discovery.
  2. Penalties for failing to comply with HIPAA rules.

The state of HIPAA rules today:

Since its enactment in 1966, HIPAA rules have witnessed many additions and revisions in their original form. The big modifications in the original HIPAA rules are only three. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 promoted EHR and encouraged data interoperability. It expanded the HIPAA rule scope by increasing potential legal liabilities for non-compliance and more stringent enforcement. The latest modification was the HIPAA omnibus final rule passed in 2013 that implemented HITECH rules more strictly and introduced advanced measures to strengthen the privacy and security protections for health information established under HIPAA. HIPAA is still considered the benchmark for patient data handling practices.

Do you want a comprehensive IT solution for the healthcare sector that is fully compliant with HIPAA rules? Contact [email protected] for more.

While I have tried to cover the most important HIPAA rules based on research, feel free to add more in the comment section to make it insightful for the readers.

Importance Of Healthcare IT Solutions in Patient Care

What is the Importance Of Healthcare IT Solutions in Patient Care?

The role of IT in healthcare has grown significantly in recent years, as the advancement of technology has helped streamline the healthcare industry, which has benefitted patients and providers alike. But what is the role of technology in patient care? Does it have any positive impact on patient experience? Let’s take a look at how technology has advanced patient care.

When we talk about patient care, there are many factors that we have to take into consideration. Patient care is at a critical juncture today: wherein modern technologies are now replacing traditional practices to make healthcare more accessible and advanced.

While the adoption of IT solutions in healthcare is picking up the pace to improve patient care, it is essential to look at how exactly they improve patient care.

The need for Healthcare Information Technology (HIT):

Traditional health care consisted of doing everything manually and mostly on paper. And most of the healthcare infrastructure was centered in the urban areas, which increased the disparity between healthcare of urban and rural residents. In addition, there were many roadblocks for rural patients.

The use of IT in healthcare has been termed Healthcare Information Technology (HIT). Let us now learn more about what HIT is, how it benefits healthcare as a whole, and how it improves the quality of patient care.

Let’s face it: Patients find it difficult to remember to take medicines on time, store their medicine orders securely, refill their medicine orders on time, keep their medical records discretely, and many more. Healthcare IT technologies provide convenient solutions to all these problems. How? Let us address them one by one.

How do advanced Healthcare IT Solutions impact patient care?

  1. Accurate and Accessible Documentation: It is no secret that healthcare involves heavy documentation of critical data with high-risk mix-ups. Healthcare data is often written on paper, including patient information, lab results, medical records, medicine orders, and medication lists. Apart from human errors, this data is at risk of being stolen or accessed by some unauthorized person. Furthermore, patients find handwritten information harder to decipher and often carries the risk of transcription errors.

Electronic documentation provides a reliable and accurate method of storing and distributing such data securely. But how does it improve the accessibility of such data?

HITs consist of advanced digital data collection and management platforms, commonly known as Electronic Record Management Tools. They enable healthcare providers to send and access patient data electronically and patients to submit, edit and access their data from anywhere.

  1. Streamlines Critical Processes: When IT solutions automate your routine repeated tasks, such as online booking, data entry, and other administrative tasks, you can now utilize your time in doing other quality work and divert resources to making the patient experience more pleasing.
  2. Telemedicine: Telemedicine solves two fundamental problems of healthcare—unavailability of doctors in rural areas and long traveling for doctor consultation.

Telemedicine enables patients to get virtual doctor consultation irrespective of their location, and additionally, they don’t have to travel for a visit also. This increases the productivity of everyone involved. This is a boon for people residing in distant regions and for people with limited mobility.

  1. IoT and Wearables: The Internet of Things (IoT) enabled devices and sensors empower patients to share their real-time health conditions like blood pressure level with the doctor. They can also alert doctors instantly in emergencies like heart attacks and strokes, which boosts patients’ chances of survival.
  2. Personalized Medical Advice: AI can be trained on the vast amount of data gathered by various smart devices.

As per a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO), “The Health Information System collects data from the health sector and other relevant sectors, analyses the data and ensures their overall quality, relevance and timeliness, and converts data into information for health-related decision-making.”

Such data can provide personalized, immediate medical advice to the patients by understanding their health conditions. This may come in handy when there’s an unavailability of doctors.

  1. Preventive Healthcare: Smart wearable devices can gather data about patient conditions, allowing doctors to analyze them and take preventive steps.
  2. Secure Medicine Order Storage: One of the main drawbacks of traditional healthcare infrastructure was that patients needed to keep all their medicine orders securely. And if one of the medicine orders gets lost, they have to face many hurdles. EMR (Electronic Medical Records) store all the patient records and doctor notes securely and enable patients to access their data from any authorized device. The latest addition to keeping health data secure is Blockchain. It forms an unbreakable network to keep patient data decentralized and transparent.
  3. Pill and Refill Reminder: Many digital health solutions provide pill reminders to patients via push notifications, texts, or emails. This way, patients never forget to take their medications on time. Furthermore, patients often forget to refill their medicines. To address this, healthcare apps remind patients to refill their medications in advance.
  4. Appointment Booking: Earlier, patients had to waste a reasonable amount of time just waiting in lines, and even that didn’t ensure them a guaranteed appointment. Even when patients just need to go for routine checkups, they have to wait for hours. Now with an online appointment booking facility, the patients do not need to wait in long queues for hours to book an appointment. HITs enable patients to book an appointment at their preferred slot and travel to the clinic at that particular time.
  5. Patient Education: Modern technologies like AR and VR boost patient engagement by allowing them to visualize medical procedures via 3D models. In limited cases, it even allows doctors to preview the effect of the treatment. It improves communication between doctors and patients and allows doctors to choose the best treatment for the patient.

Conclusion: Today, various technologies, especially IT, have massively improved healthcare delivery by streamlining processes, reducing operational costs, and increasing efficiency. Thus raising the standard of healthcare. The modern look of healthcare not only benefits the patients, but the society as a whole.

I hope you now understand the importance of healthcare IT solutions in patient care. You can get in touch with us if you want to know how we can help you digitize your healthcare operations.