Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Guest Post: Patient Engagement Technology Tool for Preventing Hospital Readmissions in Chronic Patients

January 23rd, 2018 by Allison Hart, Vice President of Marketing, TeleVox Solutions at West

While almost all chronic care patients say they need help managing their disease, less than one-third receive regular check-ins from healthcare providers.

During the past decade, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have increased the pressure on hospitals to prevent readmissions. In response to that pressure, many hospitals made changes that have led to declines in readmission rates. However, even with more measures in place to prevent readmissions than ever before, the risk of being readmitted to the hospital is still high for patients with chronic illnesses.

Studies have shown that the risk of adverse health effects increases with each hospitalization. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to keep chronic patients from readmitting once they have been hospitalized. Because of this, it is important that healthcare teams prioritize chronic disease management, and work to engage and support chronic patients. One tool that can help with this is the patient engagement technology many healthcare teams already have in place.

Survey responses indicate that chronic patients welcome efforts from their healthcare team that are aimed at managing disease and preventing hospital admissions and readmissions. A West survey found that 91 percent of chronic patients say they need help managing their disease, and at least 70 percent would like more resources or clarity on how to manage their condition. Additionally, 75 percent of chronic patients want their healthcare provider to touch base with them regularly so they can be alerted of potential issues.

Although patients with chronic conditions have expressed that they desire more assistance from their healthcare providers, they are not necessarily receiving it. For example, more than half (54 percent) of patients feel a weekly or twice-weekly check-in from their provider would be valuable, yet only 30 percent of patients report receiving regular check-ins. This shows that, in some cases, providers could be doing much more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Providers seem to be underestimating patients’ interest in chronic care and their desire to receive support. Patients have suggested that they not only want assistance with managing chronic conditions, they would also be willing to pay for that extra support. Many providers are unaware that their patients feel this way. When asked if their patients would agree to pay 10 dollars per month for additional chronic care support, just over half (53 percent) of providers answered “yes.” However, two-thirds of patients say they would be willing to pay a nominal amount for chronic care support. The eye-opening response from patients confirms that chronic disease management is in demand—more so than providers realize. It also suggests that some providers may need to do more to offer ongoing chronic disease management support.

Chronic Care Management Enrollment

One way healthcare teams can better serve chronic patients and potentially prevent readmissions is by enrolling patients in chronic disease management programs. Chronic care programs, like Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program, require a lot of communication on the part of the healthcare team. Automating some of the communication and outreach makes it easier for providers to offer ongoing chronic care support. Healthcare teams can use their patient engagement technology to:

  • Send patients messages to invite them to enroll in a chronic care program. Using information from electronic health records, healthcare teams can identify patients that are eligible for chronic care management programs. (Patients must have two or more chronic conditions to enroll in Medicare’s Chronic Care Management program.) Then, they can use their patient engagement technology to send patients automated messages with information about the benefits of participating in a chronic care program, and instructions or links for patients to enroll or get further information.
  • Schedule disease-specific preventive screenings and tests. The Chronic Care Management program mandates that patients receive recommended preventive services. Care managers can schedule and send patients automated text messages, emails or voice messages to notify them when they are due for preventive screenings and tests. Patients with diabetes, for example, would automatically receive messages when they are due for an A1C test, foot exam or eye exam.
  • Send medication reminders and messages. Providers are required to manage and reconcile medications for patients enrolled in the Chronic Care Management program. Providers can assign medication reminders and send automated messages to ensure patients know how and when to take their medication, and that they don’t forget to take it.

Communication that engages chronic patients and aids them in disease management can result in better health outcomes and fewer readmissions. Engagement communications can be easily automated, meaning outreach does not require excessive time or resources. Hospitals and healthcare providers have incentives to reduce readmissions, and in many cases, they have the technology in place to make chronic disease management efficient and effective.

About the Author: Allison Hart is a regularly published advocate for utilizing technology-enabled communications to engage and activate patients beyond the clinical setting. She leads thought leadership efforts for West’s TeleVox Solutions, promoting the idea that engaging with patients between healthcare appointments in meaningful ways will encourage and inspire them to follow and embrace treatment plans – and that activating these positive behaviors ultimately leads to better outcomes for both healthcare organizations and patients. Hart currently serves as Vice President of Marketing for TeleVox Solutions at West, where the healthcare mission is to help organizations harness communications to expand the boundaries of where, when, and how healthcare is delivered.

HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

Infographic: Healthcare Technology Trends 2017

July 12th, 2017 by Melanie Matthews

With it’s renewed focus on patient engagement and experience, the healthcare industry is adopting the latest in digital technologies to enhance the quality of patient care, data security, and cost control, according to a new infographic by Experion Technologies.

The infographic examines how nine key technology trends are impacting the industry.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Digital HealthDigital health, also referred to as ‘connected health,’ leverages technology to help identify, track and manage health problems and challenges faced by patients. Person-centric health management is slowly acknowledging the device-driven lives of patients and health plan members and incorporating these tools into care delivery and management efforts.

2016 Healthcare Benchmarks: Digital Health examines program goals, platforms, components, development strategies, target populations and health conditions, patient engagement metrics, results and challenges reported by more than 100 healthcare organizations responding to the February 2016 Digital Health survey by the Healthcare Intelligence Network.

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Guest Post: 5 Legal Considerations for Maximizing Telehealth Security

May 25th, 2017 by Ammon Fillmore and Mark Swearingen
Patient privacy and data security are key telehealth concerns providers must address.

Patient information privacy and security are key telehealth concerns for healthcare providers.

Telehealth is one of the fastest growing and developing areas of healthcare today. With this rapid growth come many questions and concerns that arise when legal and regulatory schemes are not able to keep up with the pace of development. One such concern is the legal and regulatory issues relating to the privacy and security of telehealth services. Telehealth services can be provided securely, but specific attention must be paid to information and application security in order to protect patient privacy and comply with laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”).

Healthcare provider executives who currently offer, or are considering offering, telehealth services to their patients should give attention and appropriate resources to the following areas in order to maximize the organization’s security posture and operational efficiencies.

Arrangement Structure

One of the primary decisions for a healthcare provider organization to make with any telehealth arrangement is whether the organization will provide the telehealth services itself or in collaboration with a third party. Many considerations will be part of this decision, but information privacy and security should be one of them. An organization should only consider providing telehealth services on its own if it can dedicate sufficient resources and personnel to establishing and maintaining the secure transmission and storage of patient information. Only an organization with a competent and established information technology staff should consider providing telehealth services in this manner.

If an organization chooses instead to collaborate with a third party to provide telehealth services, there are several third parties with whom the organization can collaborate to provide those services securely. Those third parties can provide anything from equipment only to a full range of services, including digital infrastructure and professional physician services. When a third party is involved, the organization must also consider how to structure the arrangement for purposes of HIPAA, including determining whether the third party will be a business associate of the organization or whether the organization and the third party will function as a single Organized Health Care Arrangement (“OHCA”) under HIPAA. These decisions will impact how information flows between the parties and who is responsible for securing that information.

Contractual Protections

Responsibility for securing information where the provider organization collaborates with a third party will be governed by the operative agreements between the parties, including the Business Associate Agreement, where applicable. Provider organizations should be sure that the agreements detail the third party’s security-related obligations and establish the third party’s responsibility for failing to meet those obligations. The operative agreements also should contain sufficient representations and warranties of the third party’s security posture, including the technical specifications that the third party will implement in order to safeguard patient information. Equally important is making sure that the operative agreements include sufficient assurances that patient information will be accessible to the appropriate healthcare provider.

Technical Specifications

Telehealth arrangements will differ in the precise technical specifications that the parties implement to safeguard patient information. However, certain technical specifications are broadly applicable and can significantly reduce security risks. One example of such a specification is the use of encryption technology. Encrypting patient information, both while stored on computer systems and during transmission between systems, is an effective means of safeguarding the information from unauthorized third parties and preventing breaches from occurring. Another such specification is authentication of the participants in a telehealth encounter, the clinicians and patients themselves. It is important that technological measures are implemented to ensure the identity of both the clinicians and patients so that all parties can have confidence that the individuals involved in the encounter are actually who they appear to be. Provider organizations should strongly consider implementing such technologies in any telehealth services arrangement.

Security Awareness

Even the best technical safeguards can be compromised by human error, so it is imperative that effective security awareness training be provided both to workforce members as well as patients. Workforce members who participate in telehealth services arrangements must be made aware of their obligations to protect the privacy and security of patient information under their organization’s policies and procedures and be sanctioned when a violation occurs. Likewise, patients should be provided with information about the security risks present in telehealth arrangements and advised of the steps they can take to mitigate those risks.

Security Risk Analysis

Provider organizations are required under HIPAA to periodically perform an enterprise-wide security risk analysis and to take steps to remediate any risks that are identified. The failure to do so can result in substantial fines and penalties to a provider organization. An enterprise-wide risk analysis considers not only the electronic health record but also any system or equipment that contains electronic patient information, which would include equipment and systems utilized in providing telehealth services. Accordingly, provider organizations should be sure to include telehealth systems in their risk analysis, including those utilized by a third party service and to address any identified risks and vulnerabilities in a timely fashion.

This article is educational in nature and is not intended as legal advice. Always consult your legal counsel with specific legal matters. If you have any questions or would like additional information about this topic, please contact Ammon Fillmore at (317) 977-1492 or or Mark Swearingen at (317) 977-1458 or

About the Authors: Ammon Fillmore and Mark Swearingen are attorneys with Hall, Render, Killian, Heath & Lyman, P.C., the largest healthcare-focused law firm in the country. Please visit the Hall Render Blog for more information on topics related to healthcare law.

Mark Swearingen

Mark Swearingen

Ammon Fillmore

Ammon Fillmore

HIN Disclaimer: The opinions, representations and statements made within this guest article are those of the author and not of the Healthcare Intelligence Network as a whole. Any copyright remains with the author and any liability with regard to infringement of intellectual property rights remain with them. The company accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

Countering 5 Remote Monitoring Cautions in Face of mHealth Uncertainty

March 24th, 2015 by Cheryl Miller


Physician champions and legislative advocates can spur remote patient monitoring success.

Physician skepticism about mHealth is a frequently cited barrier to implementing remote monitoring. But once physicians understand they can allot in-person visits for those who truly need them, then use their other time remotely monitoring other patients to wellness, they might be more willing to buy in to mHealth.

It’s all about educating the physician, advises Dr. Luke Webster, vice president, chief medical information officer, CHRISTUS Health, who shared how CHRISTUS responded to these challenges during its remote patient monitoring pilot.

  • Unclear ROI: There are always questions around ROI. We look at pre-implementation costs and pre-enrollment costs versus post-costs, including all project costs. What does that ROI mean for your organization?
  • Limited Resources: With care transitions, we took remote patient monitoring and put it on top of the care transitions program. That added additional responsibilities to the already busy workflow process. Whether you’re looking at an E-Hub model or expanding these programs into other areas of your organization, it’s important to review that budget up front. What’s expected of your outcome goals? How will you do that from a day-to-day process and biweekly performance outcomes and measures so you meet that targeted overall outcome, whether it’s reducing length of stay, cost of care, or 30-day readmissions?

    You want all of that to match. Your resources have to be identified upfront. We have been very fortunate to have our providers as champions. They buy into it; they understand it. They didn’t buy into it initially because the nurse coach thought it necessary to make that patient home visit. Sometimes it is. But she has found, with these tools, that she can better do that from her office and manage more patients.

  • Physician Skepticism: It is important to understand your champions, your available resources, backup, etc., when issues come up and you need those resources. We’re finding — and statistics state this — that physicians are still more comfortable doing face-to-face visits. Keeping those patients healthier and at home means we’re keeping them out of the facilities. The physicians and primary care providers may have some skepticism regarding that as well. They have less hands-on training with the equipment so perhaps don’t fully understand the opportunity for them to fill clinic days with patients that are truly in need of an appointment that day versus monitoring others who can be coached to wellness at home.

    It’s about educating physicians, finding those champions and engaging them in the overall process and direction of our health system.

  • Reimbursement Regulations: You need an advocate who can speak for you, represent what you’re doing, and prove the value both at a state and federal level. That should be an ongoing process and on your calendar monthly: identifying and calling your state or federal representative.
  • Rising Technology Costs: This is a booming area; vendors can’t get their products out fast enough. When you set up a budget for a program like this and look to initiate a pilot or expansion, you must look at all technology costs—not only for hardware but for software, upgrades and required support. Do you go through a third party vendor, and do you lease or purchase your equipment? When do you purchase the equipment? Just from our original pilot in late 2012 to today, we’ve seen some changes in technology. If your kits are organized to fit that original technology, how will that change 18 months later, and what will be the cost of adjusting the kits (for example, Styrofoam, boxes, etc.)?

    All of that will change. Look at those technology costs and related issues as you move forward and have a plan to how best recycle that kit.

    Remote Monitoring
    Luke Webster, MD, is vice president and chief medical information officer of CHRISTUS Health. Dr. Webster has over 20 years of clinical and health informatics experience. He specializes in health informatics and physician leadership, clinician adoption and change leadership, clinical transformation, evidence-based medicine, clinical analytics and process improvement.

    Source: Remote Patient Monitoring for Chronic Condition Management

Infographic: Healthcare in the Cloud

June 9th, 2014 by Jackie Lyons

Security, agility and accessibility are among the top healthcare benefits of cloud computing. Furthermore, cloud storage could potentially reduce health IT costs by $11 billion, according to a new infographic from

This infographic also identifies the three types of cloud computing, additional benefits of cloud storage, types of information that can be stored in the ‘cloud,’ and more.

Remote monitoring is another crucial healthcare technology utilized by organizations to obtain patient information and reduce costs. 2014 Healthcare Benchmarks: Remote Patient Monitoring delivers a comprehensive set of metrics from more than 100 healthcare organizations on current practices in and ramifications of remote monitoring for care management of chronic illness, the frail elderly and remote populations.

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Infographic: What Healthcare CEOS Worry About

May 5th, 2014 by Jackie Lyons

Some 57 percent of healthcare CEOs are worried about the rapid speed of changing technology, and 41 percent feel like their IT departments aren’t ready for the change, according to a recent survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers and an infographic from ICE Technologies, Inc.

This infographic also shows the technological progression occurring in healthcare today, including changes in IT departments, technological investments and more.

Want to know what other trends are transforming the industry and affecting healthcare CEOs? Healthcare Innovation in Action: 19 Transformative Trends examines a set of pioneering efforts supporting the industry’s seismic shift from a volume-based culture to one rewarding value and patient-centeredness. This 40-page resource delivers succinct descriptions of programs that are transforming healthcare delivery, grouped around six key innovation areas.

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Infographic: The Application of mHealth

May 2nd, 2014 by Jackie Lyons

As healthcare costs continue to rise, the popularity of mobile health (mHealth) solutions focused on patient’s goals is rapidly growing. While the data from mHealth apps has the potential to help doctors successfully manage health, only 40 percent of patients shared information from their mHealth apps with doctors, according to a new infographic from Mobiquity.

This infographic also shows the prevalence of mHealth, most popular uses and how mHealth apps drive healthier outcomes, effects of mHealth on the medical profession and obstacles to the implementation of these apps.

2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Mobile Health delivers a snapshot of mobile health (mHealth) trends, including current and planned mHealth initiatives, types and purpose of mHealth interventions, targeted populations and health conditions, and challenges, impact and results from mHealth efforts.

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Infographic: Why Advanced WiFi Is Essential to Healthcare

March 26th, 2014 by Jackie Lyons

Inaccessibility to WiFi leads to a loss in time of almost 45 minutes per day at healthcare organizations, which results in a $1 million loss each year, according to a new infographic from Inspire WiFi.

This infographic illustrates why advanced WiFi connectivity is indispensable to organizations in the healthcare industry and how it mitigates the concerns related to the complexity of wireless.

You may also be interested in this related resource: 2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Telemedicine . Telehealth’s broad reach encompasses telemedicine — the use of telecommunications technology to deliver clinical diagnosis, services and patient consultations — as well as the exploding field of mobile health. This resource documents trends and metrics on current and planned telehealth and telemedicine initiatives and includes a year-over-year comparison of telehealth trends from 2009 to present.

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HealthFitness Refines Population Health via Engagement, Tools and Technology

November 19th, 2013 by Jessica Fornarotto

Integrated health coaching continues to move the needle on population health management with interventions that keep the healthy, healthy without compromising the clinical support needed for high-risk, high utilization individuals. Dr. Dennis Richling, chief medical and wellness officer for HealthFitness, and Kelly Merriman, vice president of service delivery for HealthFitness, believe coaching offers a great opportunity to change the health status of a population.

In HIN’s special report, Integrated Health Coaching: Reducing Risk and Empowering Change across the Health Continuum, these industry experts detail HealthFitness’ move toward integrated health coaching, including the rules of participant engagement, the role of technology, and the range of self-management tools provided for participants.

Question: What strategies reach the population and increase engagement in health and wellness coaching?

Response: (Dr. Richling) One of the key strategies has been the use of an incentive that draws people toward the program. Incentives are fairly effective in getting people to do certain kinds of activities. If we provide an incentive for taking a health assessment, for instance, then we can engage them in a health advising session. We can take that external incentive and try to leverage it into an intrinsic motivation to go into our health coaching program. We see a better engagement rate when we offer an HRA, and when we provide screenings and advisement.

(Kelly Merriman) Engagement is also how long participants are choosing to engage with their coach. One of the main reasons we created our EMPOWERED Coaching program, or coaching across the continuum, is to more appropriately assign those individuals who have a chronic condition that is being well managed with somebody specially trained in lifestyle engagement techniques. Individuals working with our advanced practice coaches are much more likely to remain engaged with their coach because they’re focusing on those things that are most important to them.

Question: What is the role of technology in the various levels of health and lifestyle coaching?

Response: (Dr. Richling) We have developed a sophisticated algorithm that uses claims data and HRA data to decide which coach would be the best coach for the participant. The algorithm evaluates whether the individual has the appropriateness of care compared to chronic care guidelines, whether they are compliant to those guidelines, if they are having trouble with functions of daily living, and it also evaluates the risk for high cost in the future. These all go into identifying which professional coach would be the best fit for an individual. Technology continues to play a role after a person and coach are matched:

  • Assessment of risk is ongoing; HealthFitness’ data and technology platform can reassess a participant’s health status whenever new data becomes available.
  • Health coaches access a unique dashboard of participant-specific information via a proprietary HealthFitness technology platform. The technology populates a record with personal health risk factors, claims data, biometric screening results and previous contact with the coach and other program personnel, as well as complete activity and program information feeds.
  • The platform also displays a 360-degree interactive view of client-specific program options so the coach can reference participants to health management activities and programs from their employer, whether HealthFitness provides the services or not.

Question: What tools do you provide to your coaching participants to help them self-manage their conditions?

Response: (Kelly Merriman) We have a series of educational and self-management tools available for participants via their wellness Web site and/or the mail. For example, a coach can share documents and resources with a participant through a toolbox, which then integrates with the wellness portal. Additionally, participants are able to set up and track their focus area goals of interest. The coaching program has a mobile phone interface that allows users to track their progress remotely and stay in touch with their coach.

Q&A: Technology Can Help Case Managers with Patients’ Care, Advocacy

April 12th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

“Technology just can’t become the driver of us,” says Teresa Treiger. “It’s a tool…but if you just leave your tools in the toolbox, they’re useless.”

Prior to her presentation during a February webinar on The Role of Case Managers in Emerging Care Delivery Models, we talked with Treiger, RN-BC, MA, CHCQM-CM/TOC, CCM, president, Ascent Care Management, and self-admitted “technology geek,” about emerging trends in case management, including the use of technology in case management patient care plans.

HIN: How can case managers maximize the use of technology to manage patient care plans?

(Teresa Treiger): Case managers have to remember that technology is a tool. It’s something that will help them be more efficient, but it is not the process of case management. The case managers who maximize their use of technology, whether in their assessment or the care plans that might come out of it, rather than completely rely on it to tell them what to do at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., will thrive and continue to improve in their professional practice.

There are tools out there that people are using. I have my iPhone, and all kinds of information tucked in it. I use it for my exercise, my workouts, for logging foods, all that. None of that information is easily transferable into most health plans or hospital information systems.

There’s a way that case managers can use that information to demonstrate that their clients are taking their medications as prescribed, or are eating appropriately, or are exercising. It may not be something that crops up on their screen automatically and I certainly don’t want to see people having to transcribe from one thing to another, because that would be completely inefficient.

But using the information technology that our clients are using, as opposed to just what is available at our employment settings, is a great way of using technology to not only manage patients’ care, but also advocate for them, speak up for them. By looking at their tools, we can tell others, “No, that’s not true. They’re doing a lot. It may not be something that shows up on our information’s radar, but they are doing a lot.” If we want our patients to step up and become better self-managers, we need to look at what they’re using and figure out a way to incorporate that into working with them more effectively.

There is also Skype, instant messaging, a lot of things that are driven by privacy, and organizational policies and procedures may not allow their use unless they’re within the information system.

Technology just can’t become the driver of us. It is a tool and if you have tools that you just leave in a toolbox they’re useless.