Introducing Big Data in Healthcare – Evolution or Revolution?

Most companies now a days are digitizing their ways and means of functioning. It helps keep a better track record of things, makes communication easier, helps in faster research and makes the overall work culture more efficient. Big data provides insights into a lot of aspects which may seem like too much information in the beginning but does prove to be relevant at some point of time or the other in the future. But is healthcare an industry that can benefit from big data? Can data-driven approaches change the way the world of healthcare works and make it evolve? As a matter of fact, yes! The role of big data in healthcare is huge as it helps in building better health profiles and predictive models around individual patients so that they can better diagnose them on intricate levels and find out ways and means to treat a disease.

One of the main things that healthcare industry today lacks is understanding the biology of the disease. We have broad perceptions about how a disease is caused and presumptuous conclusions about how it should be treated. This is where big data comes into the picture and helps aggregate more and more information at deeper levels to understand the root cause of a disease. From DNA, proteins and metabolites to cells, tissues, organs, organisms, and ecosystems, there can be multiple reasons to how a disease first comes into being. These scales of biology can be integrated with big data.

Currently, the involvement of big data in healthcare is at a fairly nascent stage. The more we delve into it, the better will we be able to aggregate data and develop models based on the behaviour of an individual suffering from a particular disease. These models will make it easier to answer questions and can be refined as and when more information is collected or changes in behaviour are witnessed.

One way in which big data can be adopted in healthcare is by the incorporation of wearable devices and mobile apps for patients. These will represent the future of not just the research of diseases but that of medicine as a whole. On an average, an individual spends ten minutes in front of a physician in a year; some don’t even do that. Wearable devices or apps can longitudinally monitor your state on a daily basis and provide you with a much better and more accurate profile in terms of who you are, what your baseline is and how deviation from that baseline may predict you sliding into a state of disease. This, in turn, will help you and your doctor intervene sooner and prevent you from the severity of the disease. There are already glucose monitors with an interface with digital apps, which then connect directly with healthcare providers based on what they’re seeing with your glucose profiles.

While the introduction of such devices is evolution, in a larger picture it will bring about a major revolution in terms of the way things work between doctors and patients. A patient’s data collection will act like a dashboard of themselves where they can see all the information about their health. This means that they will not need to see a physician every time to understand what their body is going through. Simultaneously, when a severe difference, change or abnormality in the body arises, they can visit a doctor and make it easier for the doctor to interpret what is going on since the basic information is already available to him. That will make the procedure of discerning the disease much faster and more efficient.

One of the major problems in making the idea of big data for healthcare a success is the engagement of people. Everyone has grown up in an environment that is completely counter to this kind of a system. If that can be cracked and the required transformation in the mindset of people can be brought about, big data will definitely change the way the world looks at medicine. Appropriate adaptation of means and devices will hopefully make the world a healthier and happier place in the years to come!

How Doctors Can be More Engaged With Their Patients

Patient engagement can be considered the holy grail of healthcare. As healthcare providers look towards technology and tools to improve operations and costs and boost patient engagement, doctors too, are now opening up to technology use to help their patients manage their health better. However, while healthcare providers look at providing ‘value’ to the patient by utilizing technology, the essence of patient engagement in the real sense is illustrated only when the physician and the patient work together not only during times of poor health but in times of good health as well. Considering doctors are busy and pressed for time, they can leverage the same technology to stay connected with their patients and enhance the patient experience. As almost 80% of the doctors own a smartphone, they can now connect with their patients on the go.

Telemedicine

Gone are the days when the good old doctor could come for a home visit to assess your physical health. However, doctors can use Telemedicine technology to connect with patients on an ongoing basis to assess their current health conditions. In countries, such as India, where there is a huge rural population and skewed doctor-patient ratios, telemedicine can be leveraged to ensure that proper health care services reach a majority of people. In the urban landscape too, doctors can leverage telemedicine facilities to interact with patients and help them manage their health. Considering the amount of time we spend traveling from one point to another, telemedicine can be a huge boon when you just want to discuss preventive medicine or take immediate advice if a health problem needs to be addressed in the emergency room or it can wait until the next morning.

Patient Interaction Systems

Doctors can also leverage Patient Interaction Systems to improve their patient interaction. A great patient interaction system will enable two-way communication by SMS, email, and even IVR. Appointment confirmations, instant notifications and updates, post appointment messages etc. can be delivered by these systems. When doctors are proactive about their interactions with their patients, they too are more satisfied. This can improve a doctor’s online reputation as these interactions can increase patient response rates to social media and other surveys. Along with this, doctors can also send out post-consultation updates to their patients using chat and SMS services to ensure that the patient does not miss out on any vital piece of the information that he/she needs to maintain his health.

Mobile App

While mHealth has become quite popular with patients, digitally inclined doctors too are leveraging mobile apps to improve their practice. Doctors can use mobile apps to look up drug and disease information, discover other providers for consultations and referrals, find lab guides, get answers to critical clinical questions, centralize all patient related information for easy access, view and share medical information, get feedback and even monitor a patient remotely. Further mobile apps are a great way to keep track of patient appointments and avoid overlaps along with address the needs of running a practice. Practice management becomes very easy with mobile applications as all important documents are hosted in one place and are integrated. Since no time is wasted looking for previous history and other relevant information when a patient comes for a physical meeting, the doctor can utilize the time to concentrate on having a meaningful conversation and boost effective interaction with the patient.

Tutorials

We are now entering the age when patients want to leverage preventive healthcare. However, there is a serious lack of qualified information regarding the same. Most people reach out to Dr. Google to get answers to some of their pressing health care queries as they feel that their doctor might not have the time to answer their questions – They, after all, are not unwell. Doctors can become a part of this preventive healthcare drive by leveraging technology and uploading tutorials on preventive healthcare and give practical advice to people on how they can manage their health better and answer the questions that are asked regarding the topic in discussion. This information can greatly benefit the patients as they will be getting their information from a qualified and dependable source and thereby increase the scope for patient engagement.

By leveraging technology, doctors can ensure better physician-patient interactions, enable preventive health care and ensure that their patients are more involved in their personal care. High patient engagement then, just becomes a consequence of these great interactions.

Financial Management Best Practices for your Practice

Physicians across the country are starting their private practice every day. While doing this, physicians find themselves not only consulting with patients but also find themselves donning many hats in order to run the practice successfully. From being the administrator to the HR to the finance guy, a doctor pretty much has to focus on all aspects of the practice to make sure it is running profitably and that patients are positively engaged. This challenge becomes greater when a doctor has multiple practices to run. Since financial strength is critical to keep a practice running smoothly here are a few finance management best practices that physicians should follow:

Assess all Charges

For proper financial planning, you need a comprehensive view of the charges of your practice. So, it is essential to identify every service that is performed and capture it in an electronic health management system. All vendors, nurses, technicians, staff should be trained to fill in the EHR documenting what services they provide and ensure that proper coding of the services has been done. You have to make sure that no revenue is left on the table owing to improper procedure documentation or wrong diagnosis codes.

Ensure Productivity

The mathematics here is pretty simple – the more productive your providers are, the more financial success your practice will see. Making sure that you have clear and efficient processes in place that enable productivity by ensuring that the entire healthcare ecosystem is connected across a common platform, requires minimal typing to fill and update records, has a central repository that stores attachments such as x-rays and reports in multiple file formats, are just a few ways to ensure this. Additionally, using a healthcare management system, you can foster collaboration by allowing electronic sharing and tracking of reports, lab orders, prescriptions, patient referrals to save time and increase the productivity of the staff. Medical practices also should ensure that the physician’s time is leveraged productively by making sure they are not double booked with a proper appointment management system that gives a consolidated look at the physician’s multiple schedules across multiple clinics.

Provide Clean and Accurate Insurance Information

Providing clean and accurate insurance information forms and very important part of good finance management practice. Making sure that all

insurance information and processes are in place and that all insurance related information is gathered the first time around should be on priority to ensure that the initial submission happens smoothly. Even the smallest mistake can lead to insurance claim denial which can lead to delayed payments which, in turn, increases costs by impacting the revenue stream. To streamline this process and also to identify areas of improvement in processes and systems it becomes essential to conduct periodic audits.

Warrant Effective Collections and Correct Accounting

Having an effective billing system in place forms the crux of a good finance management system. For this, the billing department of a medical practice should be educated clearly on the collection policies and the processes for the same. Along with collection of money that is entitled to the practice, billing departments also have to be properly guided on how to work on claims denials, follow up on aging claims, the process of collecting claims from patients, how and when to send claims to the collections department and when to write off a bad debt. All practices should have simple processes in place that are straightforward enough to understand and implement so that there is minimal resistance during documentation which is essential for compliance.

Implement Correct Accounting and Compliance

You cannot talk about finance management without speaking of proper accounting and compliance. Given that the current healthcare ecosystem has to navigate a rather treacherous compliance landscape, it becomes all the more essential to maintain proper records of all income and expenses. All inflows from multiple clinics, referrals, endorsements, consultation fees, transactions that happen on a daily basis should be properly documented. This will not only ensure that the end of year audits are completed without issues and taxes are filed correctly but also guarantee complete regulatory compliance.

Maximize Revenue Opportunities

Good finance management for medical practices should also look at avenues to maximize revenues. Evaluating contractor payer rates, negotiating best rates with vendors and maintaining cost structures become important components in maximizing revenue opportunities. Further, reviewing costs such as supplies, phone contracts, operational expenses and liability

insurance periodically helps in weeding out unnecessary outflows and increasing revenues.

Paying close attention to finance management aids the success of any medical practice. Ensuring that day to day operations are conducted smoothly are critical to implementing long-term financial goals and also to ensure long-term viability of any practice.

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10 Uses of Your Smartphone beyond Candy Crush

Over the last decade, the smartphone revolution has radically changed our lives. From banking to retail the smartphone has become a powerful tool meant for collaboration. Much like everything else, medicine and healthcare have not remained oblivious to the charm of the smartphone. Innovative digital technologies, cloud computing, machine intelligence have dramatically changed the perception of healthcare.

In this blog, we take a look at 10 ways in which physicians can leverage their smartphone for things other than checking emails.

1. Practice Management – Practice management for doctors on the go can be a huge task. Who has the time to shift through multiple files and databases to get information? Smartphone apps can help busy doctors manage multiple clinics and their related administrative concerns from a central repository.

2. Patient Management – Doctors can now very conveniently convert their smartphone into their personal assistant. Right from accessing important patient information and history to logging complete patient interactions within seconds, doctors can leverage their smartphone to access medical records, previous prescriptions, lab tests etc.

3. Appointment Management – Who wants to manage multiple calendars that anyways run overfull all the time? Busy doctors need an efficient appointment management application that can help them plan, schedule and organize their days without overlaps easily.

4. Case management – How much of precious time is wasted looking for the relevant case file which has to be fetched manually by an already overworked hospital worker. With the help of smartphone applications, doctors can get all the case related data right in the palm of their hand.

5. Referral Management- How many times in a day do you think doctors refer patients to other doctors? How many patients do doctors meet in a day? Now try isolating who you had referred to which doctor and who you hadn’t referred at all. While referral management might seem very easy, it can sometimes snowball into something quite unmanageable. Use your smartphone for easy referral management instead.

6. Record Management –When everyone is going paperless wouldn’t it just be easier to go paperless when managing patient records as well? A smartphone application with specialty-wise templates can help doctors enter and manage patient records easily with minimal typing. Minimum effort but maximum benefit.

7. Multiple file storing – When we say medical files, most people assume reports and prescriptions. However, medical files also include X-Rays, pictures, videos along with test results. Doctors can use save and access these files from their smartphone quite easily.

8. File sharing – Just having access to online medical records is not enough anymore. A smartphone application that is smart enough will allow doctors to not just view all files, reports, X-Rays of patients but will also allow them to share it with the concerned people.

9. Practice Analytics – Doctors can now put their smartphone to good use for practice analytics. With the help of data-driven insights, they can understand the kind of patients they are getting, commonalities between patients, identify frequently

conducted tests, factors contributing to recurring ailments etc. all of which contribute greatly in disease management.

10. Financial Management – With everything that they already need to manage, do doctors have the time for managing their own finances, transactions, billings, referrals, consultation fees etc.? Most would say no. However, doctors can use your smartphone to manage all these and know exactly how their finances are shaping up.

Using the smartphone, physicians and doctors can early remove the barriers that impede optimal performance for them. All they need to ensure is that they get a single solution with multiple capabilities that can meet all their needs.