The healthcare industry has gone through a major upheaval in the last couple of years. Technology has been an ever-present part of the industry.
But the pandemic has brought forth various issues like distributed data, rising prices, data integrity, privacy risks, and poor patient experience among others.
These issues have indeed led to increased technology adoption in the healthcare industry. But there is still a long way to go. Stakeholders are unsure of how to implement and use technology. In addition, the general perception is that technology will be expensive and disrupt the existing workflow.
As a CIO, you first need to understand your organization’s unique challenges instead of diving head-first into technological solutions.
Let us understand the problem and explore how the IT + healthcare industry can be the solution you are looking for.
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1. Cybersecurity Concerns
Safeguarding data is a challenge that all organizations face, regardless of the industry. Cyberattacks are not a recent phenomenon but have been at an all-time high since the pandemic.
According to a report, 93% of cybercriminals can get inside company networks. According to another report, 32% of businesses have not updated their cybersecurity plans since the pandemic.
When it comes to the healthcare industry, there are several other vulnerable points that can be exploited.
For example, medical imaging devices like MRI, CT scans, X-rays, and ultrasounds have been running on legacy systems. Unfortunately, this does not help protect them from the more recent and sophisticated cyberattacks.
You need to ensure medical devices and data systems are routinely updated. You can also partner with third-party IT service providers that ensure safety guidelines from federal laws like HIPPA are followed.
Telehealth is a provision using which healthcare providers may tend to patients’ needs remotely. Telehealth has been around for some time, but it was underutilized until 2020.
According to the CDC, the first quarter of 2020 saw a 50% increase in telehealth visits compared to the same period in 2019.
Telehealth is not a replacement for in-person visits. But, experts believe the trend will continue to gain traction and become more advanced with its offerings.
Security becomes an issue as patients and healthcare providers rely on personal devices for these appointments. So, you need to focus on building an infrastructure that makes telehealth convenient and secure.
You can consult with IT companies that specialize in building healthcare mobile apps and web services.
3. Payment Process and Invoicing
Inefficient or standalone invoicing software can make life difficult for both employees and patients. The process of generating a bill could be time-consuming and cumbersome. If the details are not clearly and timely communicated, the result could be frustrated patients.
You should be able to share documents with patients electronically. It would help if you also made it easier for patients to make payments by offering them payment modes like net banking, credit card, and wallets.
So, you need to invest in software that can be integrated into your existing IT infrastructure. Spend time training employees so that they can leverage the features of the invoicing tool.
Practices like paperless documents and multiple modes of payment can help improve the patient experience.
4. Data Integration
Healthcare providers, insurers, and patients generate a large amount of data. This data needs to be centralized for the patient to receive the proper treatment and care.
But the issue is that the data is spread across multiple stakeholders and often in different versions. For example, a patient may have switched insurance plans. The plan change may be updated on the insurer’s end, but the hospital may have the patient’s old records.
There is a difference in the format of data generated as well. For example, you have doctor’s notes and prescriptions, lab results, medical history, and so on. Currently, there is no system in place that can store and make sense of such a diverse data set.
You can start by exploring IT + healthcare industry storing solutions that will help consolidate patient data. Then, you can build on top of the system to make data-driven decisions.
Healthcare reforms and regulatory changes are necessary to safeguard patient interests. The healthcare industry has to follow guidelines from HIPPA, CMS, and JCAHO. These regulations can result in extra work in the form of data maintenance or reporting requirements.
If you fail to comply with these guidelines, you can expose your organization to lawsuits and penalties.
You can invest in software that let you store only compliant versions of data. Then there are quality management systems that ensure medical devices are up-to-date.
You can also seek help from an MSP specializing in healthcare to keep your business compliant.
6. Healthcare Prices
The rising cost of healthcare is a significant concern among the population. Moreover, healthcare providers not being upfront with their prices lead to patient confusion.
In January 2021, CMS introduced a rule requiring hospitals to publish prices for several medical procedures. But a survey shows that most hospitals in the US largely ignore the rule, with less than 6% compliance.
Noncompliant hospitals are supposed to be charged a fine of $300 to $5,500 per day. These fines, though, have not been brought into effect yet.
Like every other product or service in the market, patients today look up medical procedures and their costs and compare them before choosing a healthcare provider. And this consumer behavior is here to stay.
So, meet with insurers and other stakeholders to decide how best you can offer price transparency to patients.
How Can MSPs Help the Healthcare Industry?
MSPs can help healthcare providers conduct transactions that are seamless and secure. In addition, you receive access to skilled personnel that can help streamline and automate processes. This can free up your employee time from redundant tasks.
With outsourced help desk companies, you can access a contingency workforce that can help you scale in times of need. In case of any technical issues, you have help on hand 24/7.
All these benefits can help employee morale and improve the quality of patient care offered.
IT healthcare industry practices can help identify gaps in your infrastructure and leverage technology to fill in those gaps.
Data integration, cybersecurity concerns, compliance, and telehealth are challenges that will persist in the near future. Learn to embrace technology, as it can help you meet rising patient expectations.
You can also consult with an MSP specializing in healthcare to understand how you can best customize processes to improve patient care.