Top Healthcare Trends for 2017 Include Telemedicine

This year promises to bring a number of significant changes to the healthcare field. As technology advances and a new administration brings change, the healthcare will continue to move in new directions. A few of the most likely 2017 healthcare trends:

  • Telemedicine explodes

MedCity News reports that last year saw telemedicine accelerate, with more people getting their care through virtual visits. This year, technologies such as cloud-based tools will make it easier than ever to offer excellent health services from afar.

  • New telehealth regulations

As telemedicine moves into the mainstream, practitioners will have to assure that they are in compliance with a growing number of regulations.

Experts say that compliance initiatives and audits will be highly active areas. It is more important than ever for healthcare practitioners to ensure that they are properly safeguarding their patients’ personal data.

  • The end of ObamaCare?

At this writing, Congress is making the moves that will make the sweeping healthcare law a thing of the past. The plans for healthcare laws to replace it are still in the works. Those in the healthcare field will need to keep up with events to know what to expect and what will be expected of them.

 

  • Changes in how we verify insurance

New technology means that it is easier than ever to verify a patient’s insurance and verify what services and medications are covered. Better accuracy means fewer uncovered procedures and fewer unpaid invoices from clients.

  • A better outlook for claim denials

The improvements in verification mean that those in the healthcare field will be taking fewer chances on procedures that are not covered by a patient’s insurance. This leads to higher patient satisfaction with less out of pocket expenses.

In 2017, the Meaningful Use incentive program is replaced by the Advancing Care Information program for those paid by Medicare. The system will give patients more latitude in the technology they use day to day to provide excellent care and to preserve patients’ privacy.

Changes in healthcare laws and preparing for additional regulations relating to patient privacy is a given. But practices and providers can ensure they are prepared for the evolving landscape by utilizing technology based solutions that both add value and meet regulation; all while improving the patient experience.




Self-Service Kiosks for Healthcare




ID & Verification Technology Drives a Better Patient Experience Especially for Millennials and Mobile Healthcare Operations

National Health IT Week highlights the digital health initiatives that the healthcare industry is embracing to provide improved patient care. The millennial demographic in particular is leading the trend in combining technology and healthcare for a better patient experience. According to a report from Communispace, millennials are early adopters of healthcare related tech, and they have led the use of wearable sensors that are tied to mobile health apps. The millennial demographic also places a great value on convenience. Unlike members of older generations who prefer to see a primary care physician whenever they have a health issue, 34% of millennials opt to visit retail clinics while 24% prefer acute care clinics when it comes to minor concerns.

To appeal to the millennial demographic and other patients who value convenience, healthcare practitioners should seek to reduce the amount of time a patient spends in the waiting room. Healthcare facilities can improve patient wait times by streamlining the check-in process with advanced technology. Acuant’s MedicScan is the best front office solution for healthcare facilities that want to streamline data intake when new and current patients come in for an appointment. Instead of making patients fill out repetitive forms, front office staff can use MedicScan to electronically gather relevant information from patient IDs. Electronic data entry allows front office staff to spend less time guiding patients through routine forms. Instead, the staff can spend more time assisting patients who have specific needs or concerns. Along with saving time, gathering data electronically prevents identity fraud, reduces manual errors and claim rejections by having accurate data from the start.Filling out insurance forms can be especially confusing, and an error on a form can lead to problems for both the patient and the practice. Insurance forms that are filled out incorrectly are one of the leading causes of rejected claims. When claims are rejected, front desk staff has to spend time revising the paperwork and then sending the new information back to the insurance provider. This lengthy back and forth process means that it can take months for a claim to be approved, which affects the finances of healthcare practitioners. With Acuant’s ability to instantly gather data from insurance cards, patients and staff can be sure that information is accurate, and claims will go through.

As the millennial demographic drives the use of technology and even mobile healthcare options, the healthcare industry should embrace the digitization of patient forms and files. Healthcare facilities and mobile operations such as Heal or Curology can use electronic data gathering solutions to quickly obtain patient information. This leads to higher accuracy, shorter wait times, and fewer rejected claims, which overall leads to a better patient experience.

How the Healthcare Industry Utilizes Identity Solutions

The healthcare industry has built up a reputation for lagging claims, mountains of paperwork, and a bureaucratic process that does more damage than good—but a lot of this negative feedback stems from poor patient and customer experience.

Take the management of patients, for example. This process is typically over encumbered by redundant forms and requests for information already on file somewhere in the system. The problem with trying to streamline patient registration or workflow has to do with poor record management and filing.

Identity solutions allow healthcare officials and institutions to improve the onboarding process by eliminating extraneous paperwork and their associated costs. It also goes beyond cutting down on paperwork. Identity solutions can help reduce labor costs, improve the flow of patient information and transactions, and reduce problems like claim rejections owed to wrong or missing information.

There’s an increasing number of ways identity solutions can be used to improve the quality and efficiency of service. As the healthcare system makes the gradual change from physical paper documents to electronic medical record (EMR) systems, the benefits—and incentives for adopting a more streamlined approach—are becoming clear.

Automating data capture during patient intake

Using card scanners such as MedicScan at the front desk of a doctor’s office or hospital allows patients to be processed in record time. Their information can be captured from an insurance card or ID, their EMR auto-populated, and their identity verified in a matter of moments. This saves time for all parties involved, particularly patients and employees. Streamlining the intake process boosts efficiency by drastically cutting down on potential for human error during intake, further reducing time spent on rejected insurance claims.

With reliable identity solutions in place, healthcare can cut labor costs and wasted time by eliminating hundreds of keystrokes per intake, which frees up resources and personnel that can be better allocated. Devoting those resources to better patient care creates a lasting impression that helps build credibility and a better reputation.

Protecting customers and the industry from fraud

Healthcare is a popular target for hackers and would-be fraudsters. Implementing stronger protection for physician portals and EMRs, and utilizing authenticating technologies easily diminishes the potential for identity theft.

When a patient’s identity and privacy are compromised, not only do they suffer financial fallout, but the industry has to deal with the fraudulent claims and any legal fees they incurred because of the initial theft. This can tarnish a business’s reputation and it’s critical to healthcare’s success to have a standardized, streamlined flow of patient information—one that includes identity safeguards.

Having the power to verify patient identity allows hospitals and other practices to confirm that any given record is accurate and up to date, and gives them the peace of mind to know that their patient data isn’t being used by malicious hackers or fraudsters. The healthcare industry uses identity solutions, in part, as a security measure. They can protect customer information from falling into the wrong hands, but also ensure that medical records and health data are accurate. Errors in patient data could jeopardize future treatments or healthcare financial limits.

Customers feel safer knowing their information is being protected and recorded accurately, which builds further trust between healthcare providers and their patients.

Creating a more mobile healthcare experience

Healthcare staff are no longer bound to desks and front offices when patient information can be effortlessly pulled up on a terminal or tablet. Providers can swipe or scan IDs, documents, and insurance cards wherever they are, which means no more running around for charts or files.

When doctors can recall patient information at a moment’s notice, it enhances the quality of their care, and their ability to interact with patients. This also applies to patient care in non-traditional settings, such as specialized pharmacy administration and home health care.

Enabling other forms of check-in and health care

Mobile identity solutions create a sense of self-sufficiency that many patients may prefer. With tablets or kiosk systems, they can handle their own registration and check-in. This is another contributing factor to lowering labor costs and improving the patient experience. Having self-service check-ins streamlines the registration process by further automating the input and recall of patient information.

These advances allow something like retail clinics to exist as well. With almost instantaneous data capture and recall, these providers can quickly process medical insurance information to make more time for seeing the patient and administering care.

Healthcare hasn’t completely adopted the current identity solutions available to the industry yet. As it does, it paves the way for a streamlined method of handling claims and patient care that reduces risk of fraud, identity theft, and lost time and revenue.

Managing Lab Standards like an Olympian

Blood doping test methods have become increasingly comprehensive and sensitive, which makes it more difficult for athletes to get away with doping. Nevertheless, scandals still make headline news. We all remember when Lance Armstrong’s transgressions were finally admitted to; he relied on extremely sophisticated deception methods including casting an entire team of cyclists, supporting health care professionals and lawyers for years, before finally admitting to doping. Most recently, Russian athletes have come under scrutiny and many were banned from competing at the Olympic games due to state sanctioned falsification of test results, indicating that the labs, or workers there were involved.

Taking banned performance enhancing drugs is more difficult than ever and often requires insiders in the lab in order to pull it off. The process for testing an athlete involves choosing a sealed container and inspecting it to make sure there is no evidence of tampering, being subject to a body search to ensure there is nothing available to substitute the sample and finally collecting and sealing the sample. It is almost impossible to tamper with the sample once collected. Paperwork before and after the collection must be carefully maintained as any mix up of results could be career ending.

Whether it is a routine blood test at a doctor’s office or a blood doping test for sports, it is crucial for labs to follow strict processes in collecting samples as well as recording results. No one wants misinformation. To prevent unauthorized people from accessing and tampering with lab samples and records, labs can take steps improve the security of their facilities and integrity of their tests.

Regularly changing passwords to digital records and varying authorization levels help prevent individuals from accessing digital records and other sensitive information. Automated patient information intake prevents intentional changes or unintentional errors. Making sure the sample matches the patient seems obvious, but there is potential for mistakes when information isn’t consistent across records. Minimizing manual entry and paperwork has more benefits than merely increasing efficiency or moving toward a paperless environment. The fewer the opportunities for tampering the better.

Acuant Solutions Boost Accuracy and Efficiency in Healthcare

The healthcare industry has been embracing digital solutions, especially in the waiting rooms of healthcare providers. Instead of managing filing cabinets filled with paper, the staff at healthcare facilities are seeing the advantages of managing electronic patient records.

Healthcare providers have begun to rely on electronic registration methods when patients come in for their appointments. This includes self-service kiosks from Clearwave, which is the nation’s leading patient registration and insurance eligibility solution – and one of our key partners.

Clearwave offers self-service check-in registration stations that help healthcare providers standardize and automate administrative and patient-facing processes. While Clearwave’s solutions make it easier for healthcare facilities by digitizing data, the company still faced a challenge: typos.

Clearwave’s kiosks have patients type in their data, and some patients type in the wrong information. Small errors can often lead to significant problems for healthcare providers, including issues with patient mix-ups and rejected claims. The kiosk was able to read some magnetic strips on insurance cards, but struggled to read all types of insurance cards. Patients with paper cards had to type in their member IDs, which were long strings of numbers that could easily be mistyped. Mistyped member IDs were the most common patient error.

We partnered with Clearwave in an effort to optimize self-service registration. Acuant’s OCR capabilities allowed digitized information to be converted into text, and then populated into healthcare forms. This eliminates the inaccuracies that come with manually transcribing data, and saves time for employees who would rather be helping patients than copying forms. Acuant’s solution is used to gather accurate data from insurance cards as well, which cuts down on the number of rejected claims a healthcare facility sees. Claims that get rejected cause headaches for both healthcare practitioners and patients, and the issue can take months to sort out meaning a delay in payment.  OCR technology also makes it easier for healthcare workers to look up patient information.

Acuant’s verification and authentication capabilities are also a big benefit to healthcare practitioners, who have to abide by strict regulatory requirements. Healthcare providers can face lawsuits due to HIPAA violations if they accidentally share information with the wrong patient. This can be prevented by verifying patient IDs. Patient ID verification also helps cut down on insurance fraud, and identity theft.

Patients prefer to use self-service kiosks because they cut down on the time it takes to fill out forms. Patients want to be in and out of their doctor’s office as quickly as possible, and card scanning technology cuts down on the time patients would spend writing down or typing in information. With self-service kiosks, hospital systems have seen their patients spend 50% less time filling out forms, and 70% less time in waiting rooms. Healthcare practitioners can prepare patient charts an average of 9 minutes before the scheduled appointment time. Acuant’s card scanning technology provides both the practice and patients with numerous benefits, streamlining the workflow and optimizing the patient intake process.

Number of Homebound Patients Expected to Rise

In 2011, a study found that two million elderly Americans were homebound. According to the Journal of the American Medicine Association, these Americans leave their homes on the rarest occasions, and can spend at least a month in their home without leaving. According to the study, 5.6% of the senior Medicare population was completely or mostly homebound in 2011. Only 12% of homebound Americans said they received primary care services in their homes, even though many need them.

In 2011, a study found that two million elderly Americans were homebound. According to the Journal of the American Medicine Association, these Americans leave their homes on the rarest occasions, and can spend at least a month in their home without leaving. According to the study, 5.6% of the senior Medicare population was completely or mostly homebound in 2011. Only 12% of homebound Americans said they received primary care services in their homes, even though many need them.

The U.S. News Health Care Index says that “services for seniors are growing as the baby boomer population ages into Medicare, the government-sponsored health care for seniors. As the group ages, the number of homebound Americans is also expected to rise, presenting a problem for Medicare.” The US Census Bureau predicts that by 2050, there will be 83.7 million people in America who are over the age of 65. This projected population of seniors is almost double of what it was in 2012.

NPR reported that “In 2013, about 2.6 million Medicare claims were filed for patient home visits and house calls. That’s up from 2.3 million visits in 2009 and 1.4 million visits in 1999, according to Medicare statistics.” There are also about 50% more homebound seniors than there are seniors living in a nursing home, and many of these homebound Americans may live alone. Homebound Americans are likely to have less education and income than other Americans. Due to this problem, doctors are emphasizing how important it is to offer healthcare services inside the patients’ homes.

Physicians like Dr. Roberta Miller, who spoke with NPR, specialize in providing healthcare for homebound patients who are too old or too sick to visit a doctor. Dr. Miller says that when doctors make house calls, they get a comprehensive view of their patients. Doctors can see their patients’ home environments, and see if they have a support system. Doctors can also see which pills their patients are taking, and if they need a new prescription. Few doctors go into home care because the compensation is low, especially with travel costs. With the Affordable Care Act, Medicare patients who were disabled and older than 64 saw an increase in their reimbursements in 2014. Dr. Miller saw an increase in requests for home physician services that year because Medicare patients were able to afford the in-home physician care that they needed. Many patients needed to be treated for multiple medical and psychosocial issues. The patients could not afford in home medical care before, so their health issues piled up.

Doctors who provide in-home care to their patients can use card scanning technology to help their patients. With card scanners, doctors can just scan a patient’s ID to put them into a digital database. Instead of asking the patient to fill out a form, which they may struggle to do, doctors can use the patient’s government issued ID to quickly gather accurate information. Doctors can also use card scanners to gather information about their patients’ Medicare plans. With card scanning technology, doctors can gather accurate information and provide the comprehensive care that their homebound patients need.

Retail Clinics Offer Accessibility to Patients

Healthcare professionals are noticing that retail clinics are offering patients convenient and low-cost primary healthcare. The convenience and accessibility of retail clinics, according to a report by consulting firm Manatt Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, can help build a culture of health in the US.

Healthcare professionals are noticing that retail clinics are offering patients convenient and low-cost primary healthcare. The convenience and accessibility of retail clinics, according to a report by consulting firm Manatt Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, can help build a culture of health in the US.

Americans visit retail clinics more than 10 million times a year, mainly because visiting retail clinics for minor issues is more convenient than visiting a doctor’s office. Some doctor’s offices have long waiting lists, so it’s easier for patients to visit a retail clinic for something minor like a seasonal flu shot or a vaccination. Up to 90% of patients at retail clinics just walk in without an appointment.

Benefits of Retail Clinics

After the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, millions of uninsured Americans received healthcare coverage, and healthcare facilities struggled to support the new influx of covered patients. Retail clinics were able to provide additional access points to patients who needed to see a healthcare professional for basic primary and preventative care, the Manatt report found.

Retail clinics are also a great convenience for patients who are travelling, and can’t get to their primary care physician. Because retail clinics accept most insurances, it’s easy for someone who’s traveling to visit one.
Another benefit of retail clinics that patients have seen is that they typically cost one-third of the price of an outpatient setting. The study reported that up to 27% of visits to hospital emergency departments “could be handled appropriately at retail clinics and urgent care centers, offering cost savings of $4.4 billion per year.” People who are uninsured can also visit retail clinics for low-cost basic healthcare.

With low costs, people are more likely to go to a retail clinic for preventative healthcare. The accessibility of retail clinics can help patients prevent and manage issues before they become too serious and costly. According to the study, “the cost of providing care and treating patients has been found to be lower at retail clinics when compared to other settings.”

There are over 1,800 retail clinics in the US – most of them run by drugstore chains like CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens. The first retail clinic opened in 2000, and now the number is predicted to increase to 3,000 by 2016. As retail clinics become more accessible, they should be prepared to take on more patients.

How Clinics Can Keep Lines Moving

One way to keep lines short at retail clinics is by minimizing the amount of forms patients have to fill out. Instead of having patients write down all of their personal information, retail clinics should use card scanners that immediately take in information through the patient’s ID.

Retail clinics should also invest in card scanners that can read insurance information, since patients often have trouble filling out insurance forms. By digitally gathering information from insurance cards, retail clinics can reduce the amount of claims that go unpaid due to errors on forms. With automatic information gathering, retail clinics can limit the amount of time patients spend filling out forms, and provide more convenience.

Help Prevent Medical Fraud with ID Verification

Healthcare computer networks have become big targets for hackers because they hold a lot of personal information about patients. In the past year, health insurance companies like Anthem, Premera Blue Cross, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield experienced data breaches that affected millions of customers.

Healthcare computer networks have become big targets for hackers because they hold a lot of personal information about patients. In the past year, health insurance companies like Anthem, Premera Blue Cross, and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield experienced data breaches that affected millions of customers. Last year in August, hackers from China infiltrated a database that belonged to Community Health, one of the largest hospital groups in the United States.

Example of What Hackers Do With Medical Information

Hackers sell the stolen information from healthcare facilities online, and affected patients then have to worry about medical fraud.

The most recent medical fraud scare involves UCLA Health System’s computer networks, which were accessed by hackers, according to an official statement made earlier in July. The hack might have exposed the personal and medical information of 4.5 million people.

The exposed personal information includes names, birth dates, addresses, and Social Security numbers. The compromised medical data includes medical record numbers, Medicare and health plan ID numbers, and information about medical conditions, procedures, diagnoses, and test results. UCLA Health System says that this private and confidential patient data has been accessed by the hackers, but there is no evidence yet that the data has been taken.

According to the preliminary findings, financial information has not been accessed. UCLA Health System is facing criticism for failing to encrypt patient files, which made it easier for the hackers to gain access to them.

Back in October 2014, UCLA Health System first noticed suspicious activity on its networks. The university hospital asked authorities to investigate, and they found that the hackers were able to access UCLA Health’s networks back in September. In May 2015, investigators confirmed that the hackers were able to access confidential patient information, but they are not sure if the patient information was viewed. UCLA officials believe that the hackers are sophisticated and may be based outside the US.

Security experts say that the data breach must go back a few years because UCLA Health System doesn’t see 4.5 million patients in a single year. The university hospital has begun to notify affected patients of the breach and is offering free credit monitoring for a year. Affected patients will also receive a $1 million insurance reimbursement policy.

Hackers are Targeting Healthcare

As hackers continue to target healthcare facilities like UCLA Health System, the healthcare industry as a whole needs to focus on preventing medical fraud by protecting patient records.

One step the healthcare industry can take to prevent medical fraud is to verify their patients’ identities. Electronic identity verification makes it harder for people to commit medical fraud using stolen identities bought on the online black market.

Healthcare facilities that use a form of identity verification can protect their patients from the complications that come with medical fraud, including false claim payments, and incorrect patient treatments.

With identity verification, healthcare facilities will also know that their patient documents won’t be accessed by unauthorized individuals, which will protect them from lawsuits related to HIPAA violations. By validating patient identification information with ID verification, healthcare facilities can protect their organizations and patients from medical fraud.

Retail Clinics Appeal to Consumers

CVS recently announced that it’s planning on buying Target’s pharmacies and retail clinics for $1.9 billion. If CVS buys Target’s 1,660 pharmacies and 80 retail clinics, it will be the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain.

CVS recently announced that it’s planning on buying Target’s pharmacies and retail clinics for $1.9 billion. If CVS buys Target’s 1,660 pharmacies and 80 retail clinics, it will be the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chain. The deal was proposed after the Affordable Care Act put pressure on medical care providers to control costs, and smaller retail clinics struggled to make profits.

Under the ACA, payments are made based on quality and costs, rather than for services, which has pushed pharmacies to become more involved in coordinating healthcare for patients. CVS’s plan to provide major clinical services shows that retail clinics are becoming popular for consumers.

Surveying Consumers on Retail Clinics

According to a study from management consulting firm Oliver Wyman, 79% of respondents were receptive to receiving care for minor healthcare episodes in an alternative setting, as opposed to a traditional physician’s office. Two-thirds of respondents were interested in receiving advice on diet, nutrition, fitness, and well-being from a retail clinic while 50% were interested in getting advice on managing a chronic condition. 57% of respondents said they would like to receive medical care and advice at a retail clinic, and would be more likely to go to the retail clinic if they had a partnership with a local hospital. Most retail clinics market themselves on the basis of convenience and access, which is important to consumers who are tired of waiting for their appointments.

A survey conducted by PwC’s Health Research Institute revealed that the healthcare sector is beginning to feel like other industries by “catering to customers expecting one-click service.” Patients are opting to go to retail clinics for care instead of traditional doctor’s offices, and expecting lab results soon after leaving.

States are now allowing nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and pharmacists to expand their clinical duties so they can provide better patient care. According to the report, “technology should ease the transition of care from doctors to others.” Medical groups who are using other staff members for care are more likely to use mobile health technologies and e-visits. Driven by expectations from millennials who were raised on technology, more healthcare providers are increasing the amount of technology in their facilities.

Mobile Technology in Healthcare on the Rise

The increased use of mobile health technologies benefits the retail clinics that are relying on pharmacists to deliver more care because they can save on costs. Retail clinics can use an ID scanner to simplify the process of filling out long medical forms.

Acuant’s SnapShell scanners are advanced camera-based image capturing devices that take high quality images instantly. Acuant’s scanner can be used to capture data from almost any source and can read and authenticate ID cards from all 50 states.

With Acuant, healthcare professionals can just scan their patient’s driver’s license to accurately obtain information about them. Because SnapShell® devices do not have any moving parts, they are maintenance free, extremely high speed and do not require any calibration. This allows healthcare professionals to quickly gather information and keep lines at retail clinics minimal.

Acuant’s MedicScan captures information from most health insurance cards, saving patients the trouble of deciphering their cards. With Acuant, retail clinics can give their patients faster and more convenient healthcare services.