Tag Archives: Windows medical tablets

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Why Patients Want Telehealth – And How Providers Can Benefit From It

A recent study reveals how patients feel about telehealth. More than 50 million U.S. consumers are willing to switch to a provider that offers telehealth services. Notably, patients want telehealth for a broad scope of issues ranging from minor tasks like getting prescription refills to managing chronic conditions and as an alternative to late-night ER visits.

65% of consumers want their primary care physician to offer telehealth video calls, not emails, or phone calls. Notably, most patients do not wish to switch a PCP because they trust their physician, but 20% are willing to make the switch to get the service.

According to 2017 Consumer Telehealth Index [pdf], 67% of adult patients delay visits to doctors. The reasons are obvious – high costs of care and, most importantly, long time it takes to see a doctor or nurse. For most U.S. consumers living in a city, it takes 18.4 days on average from the day they make an appointment to the day they visit a doctor. Once in the office, the visit takes 120 minutes on average – 100 to get in, 20 to talk to the doctor.

Having trouble to squeeze the visit into a busy schedule, or hoping the problem would go away on its own contribute to the list of reasons Americans are reluctant to see a doctor.

The patients delay seeking care for serious health issues, not just minor ones. A third of delayed visits accounts for serious conditions that could have cost the payer and the provider significantly less had the initial visit to the doctor been timely. Late diagnosis translates into aggravated conditions and more expensive treatment.

Delayed visits for routine checks and minor issues – preventative exams, flu shots – can lead to equally serious ramifications.

Time, Location, and Cost Benefits of Telehealth

With the waiting time and the tediousness of getting a brick and mortar appointment with the doctor, consumers value the time-saving advantages of telehealth. The survey estimates that when using telehealth video conferences with their physicians, patients spend an average of 5 minutes waiting, and 8-10 minutes “seeing” the doctor.

The great convenience of being able to have a video conference with a doctor from home, office or while traveling has significant cost savings for the payers. Increasingly more health plans now cover telehealth at a lower cost than a typical visit to the doctor.

Interestingly, the U.S. adults report their concerns were resolved completely in 64% of in-office visits to the doctor, and in 85% of telehealth video calls. A separate study found repeat visits for the same conditions within two weeks were lower for telehealth than for office visits.

Areas Where Consumers Want Telehealth

Emergency Rooms. 20% of Americans are willing to have a video call as an alternative to the late-night ER visits. The Houston Fire Department’s ETHAN program is a telling example of how telehealth averts low-acuity ER visits, ambulance rides, and makes the work of ambulance teams more productive and fast.

Traditionally, ER is a place with long waiting lines, and high costs, for both provider and payer. ERs, on the other hand, are highly overloaded, which does not help increase productivity or reduce staff burnout.

Telehealth is a lower cost alternative to an ER visit. Timely video calls help avert low-acuity ER visits, decreasing the pressure on the emergency care facilities, and the cost of care for the provider and the patient.

Follow-up visits. With preventable readmissions being a pressing financial concern for the providers, reducing the readmission rate is critical. 52% of patients want to use video conferences with their doctors for post-discharge follow-up visits.

Telehealth helps doctors achieve a greater level of control over the post-discharge care, give timely reminders and identify serious symptoms on time. Likewise, patients are less stressed physically during a video call than a visit to the office. Patients enjoy greater control over their treatment and are more likely to adhere to recommendations than with the office visits.

Chronic conditions. 60% of adult Americans want to have regular video conferences with their physicians to help them manage a chronic condition. Chronic conditions’ cost is high for the provider and the payer. So, telehealth solutions for such chronic conditions as diabetes and hypertension make care more accessible for the patients.

Getting a prescription refill is particularly tedious. So, most patients want their PCP to be available for a video call to get their prescription refilled. Half of female respondents are willing to have routine birth control-related visits via video calls.

79% of respondents who care for an elderly relative would like to be able to participate in the video conferences with the doctor. They expressed the need to be more informed and involved in the treatment. The group conferences doctor-patient-caregiver have a great potential to improve outcomes.

What This Means for Providers

One of the key takeaways from HIMSS17 was the urgent need for a patient-centric approach. As patients get more choices, they will inevitably switch to providers and care plans that offer more for less money. Telehealth allows patients achieve that goal – get an accessible care in a convenient format for the same or lower cost.

Doctors, on the other hand, want telehealth because it lifts the burden. ER units are more focused on acute patients, with the rest diverted via telehealth. Physicians service more patients in less time with video calls rather than office visits.

Combine that with the ability to complete EHR documentation instantly, during the video visit, sign prescriptions, view medical images, and get live updates from remote patient monitoring devices. That way, a doctor minimizes the time spent on the EHR documentation after work (2-3 hours of uncompensated time daily).

The benefits of telehealth for minimizing preventable readmissions and improving outcomes are significant. As much as in-room infotainment systems, telehealth solutions offer many user-friendly formats for educational material.

Now that providers see the wisdom in investing in telehealth, it is vital to screen solutions carefully.

Providers are responsible for electronic patient health information (ePHI) privacy and security. They need to control the flow of confidential data to and from their systems. Therefore, advanced authentication and remote administration are a must. Windows medical tablets have a biometric reader, CAC/Smart Card, and RFID Imprivata SSO. Add in the Windows native authentication mechanism, end-to-end encryption for incoming and outgoing data, and you get a compliant and secure solution.

Bring Your Own Device is not the best fit for the task. A fleet of disparate operating systems, rooted Android and jailbroken iPhone devices, poor cyber security awareness, bad browsing and downloading habits mean there is very little a provider can do to protect ePHI.

The providers need a reliable solution with minimum investment and maximum output. Windows medical tablets offer high ROI. Most programs are designed for Windows primarily, so you don’t need to cripple a desktop program to squeeze it into a mobile operating system.

Windows medical tablets have legacy ports, USB mini and regular ports, and allow encrypting data on external drives. They can run EHR. Resources of a Windows medical tablet are far superior to those of a typical BYOD device. Multitasking and viewing medical images is a breeze with Intel 5th-gen Intel processors.

Add in full-shift uptime with durable batteries, or hot-swap batteries, MIL-STD components, antimicrobial coating, barcode reader and full disk imaging, and you get a durable powerhouse that lasts for years.

Despite the seemingly low initial cost of BYOD, the total cost grows exponentially when you need to deploy mobile-dependent healthcare solutions. Only medical grade tablets are capable of powering your clinical needs, providing the security, resources, and usability required by your staff.

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Data At Risk – BYOD vs Medical Tablets in Healthcare

You would be hard-pressed to find a healthcare worker who does not use a smartphone or tablet for work. Be it for taking notes during a phone conversation, searching for references, using medical apps, tapping out a quick email on the go, video conferencing with a patient, or signing medical image files and prescriptions, medical professionals are enjoying the benefits of the mobile technology.

However, extending healthcare data into employees’ personal devices is not without risks. Blurring traditional security perimeters and aggravating the problem of loss of data visibility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is one of the top causes of data breaches in healthcare.

Acknowledging The Problem

A recent report by PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) rates the mobile devices third on the list of top health industry issues.

The 6th Annual Benchmark Study on Privacy & Security of Healthcare Data by Ponemon found that the security flaws in the employees’ personal mobile devices are the top security threat. The cost of data breaches in healthcare was $6.2 billion in 2016.  The average cost of a data breach per healthcare organization is more than $2.2 million.

HIPAA Journal published the list of the largest healthcare data breaches in 2016, with BYOD mobile devices and insiders causing the data breaches with the most harm to patients. Even when the insiders do not mean to cause a data breach, their behavior and the lack of cybersecurity awareness create a fertile ground for hacks.

Healthcare organizations have tight budgets, so adopting BYOD seems like a cost-effective strategy with little to no investment required. However, the advantages of the BYOD pale when you look at it from the perspective of data security, HIPAA compliance, and the cost of identifying and mitigating a single data breach. Nearly half of all Ponemon respondents experienced more than 5 data breaches in 2 years. Top that with the fact that many data breaches go undetected for months, sometimes years.

Criminal attacks top the list of causes of data breaches, with the malicious insider following suit. Ransomware plagues the healthcare sector, according to numerous industry experts speaking at HIMSS17. Employee negligence and the insecurity of BYOD, the use of public cloud services and consumer-grade mobile apps for telehealth have created a vast attack landscape the criminals are exploiting successfully.

Patient billing information, Social Security numbers, and employee records are the low hanging fruit that earns hackers a fortune. According to Experian, the value of healthcare records is around $50 on the dark web, more than the cost of a stolen Social Security or credit card number.

BYOD in Healthcare

As the medical workers use the same device as their work and personal phone, the organizations lose control and visibility of the healthcare data they are liable for protecting. A recent report from a security firm Skycure found that 99% of doctors use mobile devices to share patient data, including the medical images. They use SMS and consumer apps such as WhatsApp, FaceTime, Skype and Google Hangouts for work. 14% of BYOD devices used by doctors are not password-protected.

Both iOS and Android have OS-level vulnerabilities, and being the two most widespread mobile operating systems in the world, they are also the two most targeted platforms with thousands of exploit kits available on the dark web. More than 5,000 malware variants targeting smartphones, and 250,000 ransomware variants are released quarterly, according to security experts.

Google and Apple release new versions of their mobile OSs leaving large populations of users with devices that no longer support these newer versions. At the same time, the newer versions come with numerous vulnerabilities. Add in the trend to jailbreak iOS and root Android, and the threat landscape becomes insurmountable for an average healthcare organization.

Consumers delay installing security patches, and fail to use passcodes. BYOD devices used in healthcare often end up in the wrong hands. Friends, and children of the medical staff access these mobile devices on a regular basis.

On the software level, BYOD devices are jam-packed with consumer apps and games. Banks and insurance companies are blacklisting apps such as WhatsApp, Skype or Google Hangouts, prohibiting employees from using them for any work-related communication. Numerous organizations have banned games like Pokemon Go due to their privacy-invasive features. Even if the developers of these apps mean no harm, their apps can be compromised and used by malicious actors.

Now, the doctors rely on consumer apps to deliver care. According to PwC, mobile health app adoption has doubled since 2015, with 81% of clinicians saying the apps help coordinate patient care. Yet, privacy is not on the table for the majority of consumer grade apps.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study that scrutinized Android diabetes apps. At the time of the study, the researchers found 271 apps on Google Play. Six months later, 60 of the apps were no longer available. 81% had no Privacy Policies. 41 apps had privacy policies, but 80% of those collected user data, 50% of them shared user data without the user consent. Only 4 apps’ policies claimed they would ask users for permission to share their data with third parties. The point is: the market of consumer mobile apps is unregulated. The developers often do not know if they are liable to any federal regulations. Accountability as such is non-existent for consumer mobile app developers.

Medical Tablets

Windows is considered to be the most secure mobile OS platform by security experts, and hackers alike. The hackers disfavor Windows mobile devices due to multiple layers of security, such as encryption, Windows authentication, and sandboxing. The business, military and industrial users turn to Windows tablets instead of Android or iOS. Consumers, however, base their buying decisions on ads and OS adoption among family and friends. Device security is seldom a factor.

In medical tablets, embedded RFID Imprivata Single Sign-On and fingerprint scanner/biometric reader, or Smart Card/CAC reader paired with Windows authentication protect the health data from unauthorized access. Your staff can leave their medical tablets in the patient rooms, at the reception desk, in hallways, without compromising the data security. The health data is secure with the medical tablets even in the event of a device loss or theft.

Full disk encryption, remote lock and wipe and advanced remote administration allow your IT admins to locate the device or wipe it. Sandboxing allows your admins to isolate some programs while blacklisting apps and connections allows protecting the ePHI from potentially harmful applications or games.

Medical tablets allow for remote device control, so your admins can push updates, patches or troubleshoot remotely. With medical tablets, you have the full data visibility and control without compromising the usability and security. Windows is the most adopted OS globally, so your employees won’t have trouble getting used to the user interface and functionality of the Windows medical tablets.

In addition, medical tablets come with regular and mini USB ports, which means your staff can use regular USB sticks or hard drives to write, read and encrypt data on external storage.

Usability-wise, medical tablets are easier to use. They come with a digitizer stylus, and recognize input form a gloved hand. Medical tablets come with barcode scanner embedded, so you get multiple devices in one.

Conclusion

The allure of BYOD is its cost-free immediacy. The price of BYOD, however, is high when data breaches occur, when providers lose data visibility, and control. If protecting patient data is on the table, providers need solid security. Solid security is not an instantly downloadable commodity, but a result of the design choices that put security at the core of the medical tablet’s concept.