According to a recent study released by the Center for Connected Medicine in partnership with The Health Management Academy, there are three main categories of health information technology (HIT) that will be in the spotlight for 2019:
The survey represents the outlook as defined by 44 healthcare executives across 38 health systems with average annual revenue of $5.3 billion. Medical practices of all sizes and disciplines could be affected in some manner by these three forces. Let’s delve into each area to define why these are important and how they could affect your practice.
What it is: Cybersecurity means protecting your practice against the unauthorized or unlawful use or theft of your patients’ or your practice’s sensitive/personal electronic data.
Why it’s important: Cybercriminals can attack any type of business. However, healthcare data is especially attractive because of the vast amounts of personal data that is stored. In addition to identity theft, malicious hackers can use this information to obtain fraudulent government benefits, make expensive purchases, gain access to prescription medications, cause medication mix-ups and many other disastrous activities. With strong cybersecurity measures in place as well as comprehensive disaster data recovery plans at the ready, your practice will sustain minimal damage.
How it can affect your practice: Not surprisingly, healthcare data breaches can cause your patient base to lose their trust in your practice. A particularly widespread cyberattack could destroy your practice entirely. It’s vitally important that your practice invests in the proper technology, security measures and internal staff training to be proactive in thwarting and quickly reacting to any type of cyberattack. Adopting data encryption technologies is one way to render unauthorized access useless. Patients are becoming more savvy about cybersecurity; recognizing what practices have adopted security measures to protect their data is very common now. Make sure your practice is high on that list or you may lose those patients to your competitors.
What it is: According to HealthIT.org, telehealth is defined as “electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”
Why it’s important: People live very busy lives. Taking time to visit a doctor’s office, if it is not absolutely necessary to do so, may cause people to skip an appointment entirely. Telehealth allows the transfer of medical information via electronic methods at a location that is more convenient, quicker and easier for the patient. Telehealth may not only encourage patients to be more proactive about follow-up care (and improve their overall health); it may also save your practice time because the virtual appointments can be more efficient.
In the study mentioned earlier, “HIT leaders overwhelmingly expect government and commercial reimbursement to provide the majority of funding for telehealth services by 2022; internal funding and patient payments are expected to provide the majority of funding for telehealth in 2019.”
How it can affect your practice: In addition to saving time, your practice may save money using telehealth methods to communicate with patients and provide follow-up on treatment protocols. In fact, by offering this technology, your practice may become more attractive to busy people who would rather schedule virtual office visits, ultimately boosting your revenue.
What it is: Interoperability is the capability of different computer systems and software programs, specifically HIT systems in this case, to communicate with each other and allow health-related information to be safely and effectively delivered.
Why it’s important: The sharing of information among doctors, laboratories, pharmacies, hospitals, etc., allows for patients to receive better overall care, regardless of where they receive the care. Interoperability allows for the agency treating the individual to have access to a more complete view of the patient. Your patients can also become advocates for themselves if the interoperability is extended to patient information portals.
How it can affect your practice: The seamless flow of information can be difficult to achieve. There are many types of IT systems that have varying levels of sophistication and security. By investing in improvements to your interoperability process, the transferred patient data may be more useful and easier to access. Interoperability can also give your patients more power to securely access their personal information online. All of these benefits work together to build stronger patient trust in your practice because you have made efforts to provide this advanced level of care.
How Can Your Practice Prepare?
Cybersecurity, telemedicine and interoperability are destined to be important factors in 2019 and beyond. If your ophthalmology practice is overwhelmed by the concepts and/or the implementation of these technologies, there are many companies that can help. The trick is to find the very best ones that can meet your specific needs.
To aid in your research, Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, has developed a Management Services Organization (MSO) that has researched specific resources to help ophthalmology practices adopt cybersecurity protocols, set up telemedicine technologies and establish secure and effective interoperability practices (among many other ophthalmology services). Members of The Administrative Advantage MSO™ have special access to these organizations, along with significant discounts. It is our goal to help our members provide the very best patient care while also saving money and boosting revenue.
To learn more about how The Administrative Advantage MSO™ can help your practice prepare for the technology challenges of 2019, contact Advantage Healthcare Consulting, a division of Advantage Administration, today.