May 17, 2020

5 Key Areas Where Electronic Medical Records Improve Hospital Operations

EMR
Health Tech
electronic medical records
Hospital Opera
Admin
3 min
Tablets are a central unit of hardware that surround EMR software.
If your hospital is having trouble juggling all the paperwork that goes along with its patients, then it is probably time to adopt an electronic medical...

If your hospital is having trouble juggling all the paperwork that goes along with its patients, then it is probably time to adopt an electronic medical record (EMR) mindset.

Electronic medical records make it easier for your hospital staff to track the condition of each and every patient without having to sift through years of records to do so.

With information well-being in mind, here are just a few benefits of EMR integration for your hospital.

1. Improved Communications

When the departments within your hospital communicate better, it creates a more efficient working environment.

From doctors to nurses on different health care wings, your hospital must have an ongoing flow that's free of miscommunication, which is where EMRs come into play.

EMR software helps the various departments in your hospital quickly and accurately transfer patient information in real-time.

This means your staff will no longer be playing catch-up with patients and their current health conditions. Likewise, EMRs reduces misdiagnosis and checkup/procedure repetition.

[READ MORE] Could 2015 Be the Year of the Hospital Hack?

2. Scalable Record Keeping

Before electronic medical records came along, hospitals had to devote entire wings to patient record keeping. Not only do EMRs eliminate the need for paper records, it also makes the record keeping process completely scalable.

As your hospital grows, the number of patients you treat increases right along with it.

EMR software allows your hospital to increase its patient data storage as your patients and their health information increases. Because this takes place on a digital level, your record keeping won't take up valuable space in your hospital either.

3. Efficient Treatment

As a result of more efficient, endlessly scalable patient record keeping, your hospital will improve its patient workflow. Visitations and checkups will take less time and patient turnover will vastly improve, which is good for your hospital and great for your patients.

Electronic medical records can make increased patient workflow and turnover a real possibility.

As the following article looks at, does your hospital want an accurate EMR?

Get a patient portal in combination with electronic medical records software.

A patient portal allows your patients to view their own records, submit emails to physicians, and request information on their medications.

4. Reduced Costs

Your hospital probably operates on a pretty strict budget, which is why reducing operational costs is so important. EMRs help your hospital cut costs when it comes to medical transcription and record filing.

Electronic medical records reduce the labor behind record keeping, which allows your hospital to prioritize and allocate its budget to other areas.

[READ MORE] How to Obtain Operational Effectiveness in the Health Care Arena

5. Increased Hospital Efficiency

Just like any other medical practice, your hospital's end goal is efficiency. The benefits mentioned above are just a few of the ways electronic medical records can improve the way you run your hospital.

The benefits of EMR integration and an effective patient portal also include improved access to patient information, faster lab results, and electronic prescriptions that are sent before the patient leaves his or her checkup.

On top of that, electronic medical records also include details about the patient's insurance coverage, which allows doctors and staff to concentrate on treatment.

From reduced operational costs to improved communications, it's plain to see that EMR integration is a healthy choice for your hospital.

About the author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including health care and technology

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

#Cybersecurity
#cyberattacks
#digitaltransformation
#covid19
Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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