Without a doubt, technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry. It has brought forth new tests and more effective treatments, often with higher success rates and reduced treatment times.
Some technologies have the potential to free up doctors and nurses so they can focus on patient care instead of bureaucracy. One example is how electronic health records have streamlined records management.
However, technology has also introduced new challenges and concerns for medical practices. Here are 4 tech challenges facing private practices today.
1. IT Security Has Become an Integral Part of the Healthcare Industry
Electronic healthcare records, along with digital bills and electronic payments, must be secure. This has made IT security an integral part of the healthcare industry. Furthermore, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates patient records must be secured and protected from everyone from curious visitors to hackers. Yet it is your duty to maintain these records for years and ensure they remain accessible in case they are required.
This is why you must have secure offsite backups of all of your electronic health records. This job is best outsourced to dedicated professionals. Services like Central Data Storage, for instance, will be able to help you store patient data to a HIPAA compliant cloud. They provide encrypted file sharing, backup and recovery services.
Using their services means you can ensure patient data is never permanently lost when you face a data disaster such as a cyberattack, system failure, natural disaster or even human error.
Additional IT security measures that have become essential in the doctor’s office include password management and keeping antivirus and operating system software up to date. Furthermore, you need to regularly train medical personnel and support staff in the dangers of phishing emails, as they’re targets of imposters more often than executives.
2. Interoperability Issues
Interoperability goesbeyond ensuring that the tablet computers carried by nurses connect with your wireless networks and send data to the cloud, though that forms part of it. Electronic healthcare record management systems should be compatible with patient management software, or else your team is doing twice as much data entry.
Another problem is maintaining the software and hardware used on patient monitoring devices and medical equipment. They don’t always generate data that can easily be viewed on a doctor’s device.
Medical equipment manufacturers often recommend replacing everything instead of upgrading it. Yet the sheer cost of such equipment forces many medical practices to keep using the device or equipment, though the system is outdated.
3. Asset Tracking
Asset tracking can be used to track everything from a nurse’s tablet and PCs to wheelchairs. It is often used to track valuable medical devices and prevent the theft of medical supplies.
Unfortunately, the systems don’t always provide the data that healthcare professionals need. Some may alert you when a wheelchair is taken beyond the designated perimeter but can’t pull up a report saying how many are available, for example.
Asset tracking can be heavy to implement. It may require putting tracking devices on valuable items or adding barcodes to consumables. The asset tracking must be included in the end-of-life product management, too, such as the proper disposal of medication or used devices.
4. User Adoption
A surprising number of doctors continue to use paper records out of preference, while the facility runs on electronic health records. This forces staff to manually enter the doctor’s notes into the database. Another factor is the learning curve.
Healthcare professionals have to constantly learn new techniques and new treatments. Some, however, will keep using old technology because they don’t want to have to learn how to use a new device or software on top of that.
Technology is constantly changing and this presents a number of opportunities and challenges for healthcare facilities. However, it can introduce inefficiencies or unnecessary risk if you cannot maintain control of it.
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