HealthTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Healthcare en How Fast Pace Health Urgent Care Scales Technology Quickly <p>With over 1,500 full-time employees across four states, <a href="" target="_blank">Fast Pace Health Urgent Care</a> needed the ability to scale quickly and effectively. By moving to a "clinic in a box" approach for end-user IT setups, the Waynesboro, Tenn.-based care provider has successfully been able to simplify IT management, minimize downtime and positively impact user and patient satisfaction.</p> Nonsurgical Robots Keep Hospitals Clean and Capable <p>Autonomous, intelligent and sometimes even lifelike, nonsurgical robots are becoming more common in healthcare settings. The machines can complete or augment many common tasks among human employees — a sight that might at first seem whimsical.</p> <p>But their presence is no gimmick. “Is there a robot that you could see on the hospital floor delivering drugs or towels or a meal to a patient? That is actually something that’s been picking up,” says Remy Glaisner, research director for worldwide robotics at IDC.</p> <p>By 2025, global medical robot expenditures are <a href="" target="_blank">expected to increase by approximately 20 percent</a> to reach $24.6 billion, according to Zion Market Research. </p> <p>That figure could be poised to grow even more as healthcare organizations continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic with technologies designed to reduce exposure.</p> Brian T. Horowitz Pros and Cons of Smart Speakers in Hospital Rooms <p>Smart speakers are becoming as pervasive in healthcare systems as they are in homes. <a href="" target="_blank">A report from IHS Markit Technology</a> predicts that more than 900,000 of these devices will be used across the healthcare industry by next year.</p> <p>One reason why: They help. </p> <p>In offering hospitals benefits such as improved patient outcomes and staff efficiencies, the high adoption rate comes as little surprise to Stephanie Winer Schreiber.</p> <p>“Hospitals and healthcare systems have a number of goals, but their first and foremost is how to best improve patient care,” says Schreiber, a corporate and healthcare attorney with <a href="" target="_blank">Buchanan Ingersoll &amp; Rooney</a>. “And second, it’s how to best improve a patient’s experience while improving care. Often, that involves new and different technologies to accomplish those goals.”</p> <p>Improving the patient experience can prove particularly challenging in patient rooms, exam rooms and waiting areas, says Corey Gaarde, senior technology specialist and associate vice president of design firm <a href="" target="_blank">Hoefer Wysocki</a>. For Gaarde, smart speakers are viewed as a way of introducing “concierge-level services” in each of those locations.</p> <p>Gaarde also points out that, despite the devices’ advantages, hospitals can’t simply place smart speakers in every patient’s room. To truly improve care and patient experience, healthcare systems must first consider the security and privacy concerns the devices present.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>LEARN MORE:</strong> Make smart speakers part of your care strategy.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">Smart Speakers in Healthcare: Overcoming the Challenges</h2> <p>While the use of smart speakers to improve patient care and experience is growing, challenges still remain. For instance:</p> <ul><li>Dictating notes may be faster that handwriting or typing notes, but strong Wi-Fi is often necessary to yield positive results.</li> <li>Doctors who place medical orders via the devices might accidentally order the wrong medication or dosage for a patient if they are misheard.</li> <li>There is massive risk associated with storing protected health information on another party’s servers, which may not be HIPAA-compliant.</li> </ul><p>One significant milestone in data protection came in April 2019, when <a href=";searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">Amazon</a> announced that its <a href="">Alexa Skills Kit would be HIPAA-compliant</a>, allowing skill developers to meet the rules and requirements that dictate how health information is shared and stored if they follow the HIPAA guidelines.</p> <p>Still, with hospital systems’ goals of improving both patient care and the patient experience, says Schreiber, smart speakers need to be implemented in such a way that put patients’ — and their data’s — protection first.</p> <p>As hospitals increasingly introduce smart speaker technology into a patient care setting, healthcare IT teams should prepare to address increased bandwidth needs, ensure the accuracy of voice-based tools and train clinical staff on data security best practices. </p> <p>Hospital clinical staff and IT teams should work closely together to find a balance, says Gaarde, “to figure out what they can get from a device, but also work with ethics at the bedside.”</p> Jen A. Miller Why Rugged Devices Are Necessary for Nurses <p>As nurses continue to work the <a href="" target="_blank">front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic</a>, rugged devices — which can be <a href="" target="_blank">wiped down for repeat cleanings</a> and survive drops, spills and other hazards of a healthcare setting — are more critical than ever.</p> <p>Anything can happen during a nurse’s shift, after all.</p> <p>“You always want a device that is going to maintain its worth as far as ensuring liquid doesn’t seep into it,” says Jennifer Lewis, a senior nurse manager for the <a href="">nursing informatics</a> department at <a href="" target="_blank">AdventHealth</a> Central Florida in Orlando. “And if it does, it’s not going to die on you really quickly. If you drop it on the floor in the process, it’s still going to work.” </p> <p>Lewis notes the toughness of the <a href="" target="_blank">Zebra TC51</a> handheld mobile computers used by AdventHealth nurses. A smooth, single-body surface allows for easy decontamination across the entire device without damaging it. </p> <p>Her teams also use <a href="" target="_blank">Spectralink 8440</a> wireless phone handsets that feature rubberized molding to survive drops and shocks better than a typical consumer device.</p> Brian T. Horowitz How to Stay HIPAA Compliant from Home <p>The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled most healthcare organizations to adjust their operating procedures and workflows to <a href="" target="_blank">ensure critical business continuity</a>. Among those efforts is a <a href="" target="_blank">massive shift to remote work and care</a>. </p> <p>The move, however, has made HIPAA compliance much more difficult.</p> <p>Consider a recent notice issued from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, which <a href="" target="_blank">has temporarily suspended penalties</a> for noncompliance of HIPAA rules surrounding telehealth communications:</p> <blockquote><p>Covered health care providers may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Zoom, or Skype, to provide telehealth without risk that OCR might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.</p> </blockquote> <p>The notice is helpful for providers administering care to at-risk patients, but it’s still a temporary solution — and it shouldn’t be viewed as a free pass. Healthcare providers are an increasingly attractive target for hackers during the public health emergency, <a href="" target="_blank">according to the Department of Homeland Security</a>.</p> <p>And HIPAA rules will still apply to healthcare workers once the federal provisions have lifted, no matter where or how their work is performed.</p> <p>Here’s a look at ways for healthcare staff to remain HIPAA compliant in remote settings and minimize the risk of protected health information becoming disclosed without authorization.</p> Andrew Steger This Old Tech: Why Manual Blood Pressure Monitors Still Play a Role in Healthcare <p>A routine part of almost any visit to the doctor involves a quick check of a patient’s blood pressure. </p> <p>And despite increasingly more advanced ways to do so, an inflatable cuff with a built-in measuring unit remains the most common way to perform this basic task.</p> <p>For roughly 150 years, the blood pressure monitor — more formally known as the manual sphygmomanometer — has remained the preferred way to check a person’s vitals. Here’s why: </p> Ernie Smith How Virtual Training Is Set to Change Nursing Education <p>Nursing instructors are leading the charge when it comes to adopting new educational technologies, outpacing efforts in medical and general education. The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the value of tools that supplement a hands-on experience.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Sixty-five percent of nursing education programs</a> already were using virtual simulation and other adaptive digital learning methods to enhance onsite learning and to ensure students are practice-ready, according to information services company Wolters Kluwer.</p> <p>These applications, the firm <a href="" target="_blank">notes in a blog post</a>, can address a shortage of nurse educators and eliminate patient confidentiality concerns at hospital training sites. </p> <p>And now, as educational programs of all types <a href="" target="_blank">pivot to remote learning</a>, nursing students have the advantage of leveraging digital simulation platforms designed for use outside of a traditional classroom. </p> <p>These systems — which present hundreds of real-life scenarios and teach electronic health record use — offer a lifeline, often via a laptop or tablet. Virtual sessions could cover proper use of protective gear, for instance, or how to calm an aggressive patient.</p> <p>“It’s so important that we keep students engaged in patient care activities while learning from a distance,” Hollie Moots, a nurse education specialist for Elsevier, <a href="" target="_blank">noted in a recent webinar</a>. “In order to build solid clinical judgement, our students need opportunities to apply content in the care of a patient.”</p> <p>The approach, though necessary, isn’t new: The National Council of State Boards of Nursing has long affirmed that targeted simulations could support up to half of clinical educational experiences — a viewpoint affirmed by the <a href="" target="_blank">National League for Nursing</a>. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><em><strong>READ MORE:</strong> VR addresses healthcare training needs to improve outcomes.</em></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">VR Simulations for Nurses Promote Learning from Anywhere</h2> <p>One tool poised for growth in this space is <a href="" target="_blank">virtual reality</a>, which Patricia Sengstack, an associate professor of nursing at the <a href="" target="_blank">Vanderbilt University School of Nursing</a>, calls a “game changer.”</p> <p>“We often have to train nurses on a new skill on the front lines; we could use VR to put a group of them through a simulation,” <a href="">she told <em>HealthTech</em></a> last year. </p> <p>Not only is the tech effective, it’s also enjoyable: A VR game developed at Robert Morris University that allows nursing students to practice urinary catheter insertion produced the same pass rate as students who practiced on manikins, research published in <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Clinical Simulation in Nursing</em></a> has found.</p> <p>Students who trained with VR spent more time practicing, could complete more procedures in a 60-minute period and gave higher marks to the immersive experience.</p> <p>The uses are many. At the University of Nevada, Reno, nursing students have used HTC Vive headsets to take notes while watching actors portraying a doctor and nurse <a href="" target="_blank">tend to a patient with pregnancy complications</a> — with the team asking the student for feedback. </p> <p>Although some tools may require a higher investment, other mobile headsets can be used with or without smartphones. <a href="" target="_blank">Finding VR solutions for e-learning</a> outside of a classroom can bridge the gap to support current safety measures without sacrificing lesson plans. </p> <p>A new training lab at the University of New England equipped with Oculus Rift headsets is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but nursing students may continue the virtual activities at home with a mobile device.</p> <p>“It’s still a key way to teach skills,” Dawne-Marie Dunbar, who directs the college’s Interprofessional Simulation and Innovation Center, <a href="" target="_blank">told CNN</a> last month. </p> Mikela Lea Washing Your Hands Is Important. So Is Cleaning Your Healthcare Devices <p>The onset of coronavirus has brought with it an increased focus on washing one’s hands and sanitizing high-touch areas; however, an often-overlooked source of infection, particularly in healthcare environments, is <a href="" target="_blank">mobile devices</a>. </p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">A 2018 study conducted by Binghamton University</a> finds that approximately two-thirds of healthcare workers suspect their mobile devices foster bacteria, yet nearly 90 percent never clean their phones. To better protect themselves and their patients, frontline workers and first responders should take the time necessary to disinfect devices in use. But — like so many things in healthcare — there is a proper way to do so.</p> <p>Here are some best practices healthcare workers should adopt to clean their devices properly and reduce the spread of germs.</p> Rikki Jennings What Is a Chief Nursing Informatics Officer? <p>When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, <a href="" target="_blank">Atrium Health</a> rapidly expanded its virtual capabilities. The Charlotte, N.C.-based organization needed to manage a wave of low-acuity patients while increasing touchpoints with staff. </p> <p>“We had to leverage technology in a way that enhanced the patient experience but didn’t disrupt the clinicians’ normal workflow,” says Becky Fox, a vice president and chief nursing informatics officer at Atrium Health.</p> <p>A new virtual platform allows Atrium Health patients recovering at home to text, call and videoconference with their clinicians. Nurses can monitor progress using <a href="" target="_blank">GetWell</a> — an interactive system that prompts a patient for responses and can alert teams to intervene if needed.</p> <p>Such complex efforts require collaboration with a <a href="" target="_blank">chief nursing informatics officer</a> (or CNIO) — a senior executive who helps set the strategy for the use of technology, data and evidence-based information systems to enhance processes and improve patient outcomes.</p> <p>These leaders bring "strategic vision and informatics knowledge, but also knowledge of clinical workflows to make that happen,” says Patricia Mook, Atrium Health’s system vice president of nursing operations.</p> <p><a href="" target="_blank"><b><i>MORE FROM HEALTHTECH: </i></b><i>Discover how to make the most of your IT strategy.</i></a></p> <h2 id="toc_0">Nursing Informaticists Drive Telehealth Expansion</h2> <p>The CNIO’s ability to sit in both worlds — technological and clinical — will become only more vital as <a href="">telehealth affects a widening range of medical specialties</a>.</p> <p>This spring, Atrium Health’s ambulatory video visits increased by more than 500 percent in a matter of weeks. “Our consumers are loving having their care at home; that’s the wave of the future,” Mook says. “Our informatics team will support that.”</p> <p>The need is massive: Cheryl D. Parker interviewed about a dozen nursing informatics leaders about their organizations’ responses to COVID-19 and found a common thread: “<a href="">Telehealth exploded</a>,” says Parker, president of the American Nursing Informatics Association and clinical assistant professor at the University of Texas at Tyler. </p> Novid Parsi 6 Reasons Telehealth Is Now More Important Than Ever <p>As COVID-19 spreads, healthcare providers are leveraging telehealth to protect patients and staff. Ninety-seven percent of healthcare leaders have <a href="" target="_blank">expanded telehealth access</a> since the pandemic, according to a survey from the <a href=",-increase" target="_blank">Medical Group Management Association</a>.</p> <p>Virtual care has been crucial for <a href="">screening and treating COVID-19 cases</a> from afar, but it’s also facilitating routine visits that would be risky or complicated during quarantine. </p> <p>The temporary shifts have paved the way for telehealth expansion, says Tony Buda, president and CEO of <a href="" target="_blank">Banyan Medical Systems</a>, a virtual care technology company.</p> <p>“It has led to what I believe will be the next generation of delivery systems in the U.S.,” Buda says. </p> <p>Here are some of the ways in which telehealth is now more important than ever:</p> <h2 id="toc_0">1. It Protects Medical Personnel and Patients</h2> <p>The risk of infection and surging demands on the healthcare system have made telehealth a safe and necessary tool, says Karen Donelan, a senior scientist at the <a href="" target="_blank">Health Policy Research Center</a> at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Mongan Institute. </p> <p>“Primary care and specialist clinicians are doing as many visits as possible using telehealth as a replacement for office visits,” Donelan says. </p> <p>More than 60 percent of patients say the pandemic has increased their willingness to try telehealth, according to a <a href="" target="_blank">survey by IT vendor Sykes</a>.</p> <p>Most early deployments used videoconferencing but many now integrate Internet of Medical Things devices to <a href="">monitor patients’ vital signs from a distance</a>, says Uri Bettesh, founder and CEO of <a href="" target="_blank">Datos Health</a>, a remote care and telemedicine platform. </p> Craig Guillot