Transforming patient connectivity and data security in EMRs
The healthcare IT market is growing at an unprecedented rat...
As the healthcare sector continues to grow, technology is helping to redefine the industry.
The healthcare IT market is growing at an unprecedented rate in order to deliver exceptional patient care and aid in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses and disease. Since the mid-2000s, physicians and hospitals have digitised the way patient records are held through the adoption of an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR) system, which provides a digital record of a patient’s medical history. Leading consultants, Accenture, has even found that from 2001 - 2014, EMR usage in physician offices grew from 20% to more than 80%.
The use of EMRs have provided significant benefits for both patients and healthcare professionals; from advanced patient care coordination, patient engagement and overall clinical management. However, increased volumes of patient data have created various challenges, and are leading healthcare organisations to reassess how developing technologies can work to transform the patient experience and ensure quality patient outcomes.
Technology disruptors, such as Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft have all made significant strides in reshaping traditional models of care through the use of innovative technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), cloud and the development of health wearables, which complement the use of traditional EMRs and aim to further patient engagement. Such innovations have also granted patients with greater control and flexibility over their health data, how it is managed and who has access to such information.
The ongoing shift from a traditional doctor-patient led model to one which is increasingly value based and patient-centered is therefore set to bring a wealth of opportunities for both patients and health providers. However, with increased accessibility, data security remains a consistent challenge. IBM’s 2019 Cost of a Data Breach has stressed the need for greater focus and subsequent investment regarding the security of patient data. Obtaining data which is unchangeable, personal and highly confidential continues to increase in value and demand, leading health providers to gain the highest costs associated with data breaches. Totalling $6.4mn, more than 60% of the global average seen in all industries for the ninth year in a row, the industry has also seen high levels of attempted cyber-attacks to existing IT infrastructures. This has even led some organisations to pay substantial ransom costs to regain access to clinical patient data. Hancock Health in Indiana is one such organisation which paid up to $50,000 to regain vital patient data, medical records and confidential emails back in 2018.
As healthcare providers face ongoing pressures to transform and bolster existing security measures to retain patient trust and guarantee operational resilience, it has been widely reported that many EMRs also continue to house a lack of interoperability, creating significant complexities across the healthcare system. Without the ability to integrate with other EMR systems across the sector, health providers are at increased risks of creating delays in the delivery of patient care. Fragmented data sharing can also create further difficulties if patients receive care from several healthcare organisations. Not only that, organisations that actively promote data blocking has continued to hinder the transition towards value-based care.
It is no surprise that following repeated increased calls for an established of standards with regards to data sharing, interoperability and robust regulations, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has recently announced significant changes which will provide patients with secure access to their health data and provide ultimate transparency in how their data is ultimately used. The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the US have launched “interoperability and patient access provisions of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, and will support US President, Donald Trump’s MyHealthEData initiative, which will enable patients to gain access to their medical information.” Most importantly, it will also require “both public and private entities to share health information between patients and other parties while keeping patient data private and secure.”
“The days of patients being kept in the dark are over,” confirmed CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Unfortunately, data silos continue to fragment care, burden patients and providers, and drive up costs. These rules begin a new chapter by requiring insurance plans to share health data with their patients in a format suitable for their phones or other device of their choice. We are holding payers to a higher standard while protecting patient privacy through secure access to their health information. Patients can expect improved quality and better outcomes at a lower cost.”
Driving down costs, improving quality of care and further promoting accessibility in EMRs will no doubt see healthcare providers and technology leaders look towards the use of mobile applications and transform the way in which EMR software is accessed. With robust regulations in place, encouraging further interconnections between health professionals and patients will be key for the industry to move towards the delivery of personalised patient care which is cost-effective, increasingly data-led and places the patient at the forefront of all decision making.
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Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech
British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business.
The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing.
Birdie was born with a mission to "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront. The company was founded by Max Parmentier, after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option.
In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater.
Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients.
The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.
In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.
Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.
These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards.
“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said.
"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.”