The healthcare industry in the United States is changing rapidly, and with the evolution of the industry comes many challenges both for patient care and satisfaction and healthcare industry regulatory compliance. To address these changing dynamics, Verizon formed a healthcare organization specializing in healthcare technology solutions which utilize new technologies and mobile connectivity to assist the industry in regulatory compliance, improve the care delivery process, provide new models for patient care and improve patient satisfaction.
For patients who suffer from chronic diseases, which account for 75-percent of all healthcare spending, hospital readmissions are an especially large problem. Readmissions are expensive for patients and healthcare systems. In fact, one in five Medicare patients return to the hospital after 30 days for the same or related condition, costing the Medicare program $15 billion annually. Readmissions cause American hospitals to forfeit $300 million each year in federal penalties.
Mobile health (mHealth) solutions ranging from blood glucose monitoring to virtual clinical visits using video, web and secure cloud technology help improve patients’ access to healthcare and quality of care, and help reduce the costs to healthcare systems associated with the treatment of chronic diseases and unnecessary readmissions. Continuous sharing of patient information including blood glucose levels, weight, blood pressure, temperature and other vital statistics from a remote device to a secure cloud, gives rise to a year round culture of care. Research over time has shown that clinical outcomes improve when patient data is effectively shared between clinician and patient. With wireless mHealth solutions, patients and clinicians are able to monitor patient information on an ongoing basis, make adjustments to treatment plans and raise awareness of environmental, consumption and activity impacts on a patient’s health in real time.
Providing secure devices and data management for the healthcare industry can improve communication among professionals within a healthcare facility. For healthcare professionals, such as ER doctors and nurses, whose jobs requires their mobility within the facility, having secure devices for communication and messaging is essential. Likewise having secure devices and data management solutions for satellite healthcare facilities within the same network and for emergency vehicles can improve communication, improve efficiency and save lives.
These mobile health solutions positively impact patient satisfaction. On the Medicare patient satisfaction form (HCAHPS) four of the nine key topics involve communication: communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff and transition of care. Utilizing mobile technology solutions can improve communications between patients and care givers, enhance the discharge process and help identify areas of excess noise in a hospital leading to higher metrics on the patient satisfaction survey.
The implementation of these mHealth technology solutions necessitates a high degree of data security. According to the 2014 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, physical theft and loss of data accounted for 46 percent of all data security incidents reported in 2013. Additionally, a 2014 publication from the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Telemedicine and e-Health showed that at least 45 percent of 106 physicians surveyed believe patient information breaches occur at least occasionally. These data breaches can cause significant legal and financial repercussions to healthcare facilities.
Healthcare technology developments allow the healthcare industry to collect patient data using wireless-enabled devices, store that data securely and provide access to that data by both patients and healthcare providers. Verizon has invested billions in transmission security efforts and infrastructure growth. Leading cloud and data security experts help manage the privacy controls that secure patient data as it is transmitted wirelessly from the patient’s device to a HIPAA-compliant cloud where it is stored. Utilizing mHealth, the healthcare industry is able to improve reimbursement models, meet legal compliance standards, meet HIPPA compliance standards and improve security.
The fusion of healthcare with technology brings countless benefits. mHealth solutions can reduce costs, improve efficiency, meet regulatory compliance mandates, manage privacy mandates, improve communications, expand access to care, monitor patients remotely and on an ongoing basis and improve patient care and clinical outcomes. As healthcare providers, insurers and healthcare administrators come together to adopt technological advances in the healthcare industry, we will see wider adoption of mHealth and the innovation of faster and more robust solutions coming to market.