Category Archives: Telemedicine

3 Tips for Better Wayfinding in the Modern Healthcare Facility

49213316 - spacious waiting room in a modern clinicWhen most people think of a hospital or a medical facility, the first thing that comes to mind is not design. However the modern healthcare facility is no longer permeated by sterile white walls, industrial grade linoleum floors, and stainless steel sinks as its primary design cues. Design is now an integral part of healthcare. If you don’t believe me, take a look at modern waiting rooms and patient rooms. They utilize soothing colors, cutting edge materials, and innovative technology to soothe anxiety and provide comfort to their patients and their visitors.

Design has even permeated places like radiology rooms. GE Healthcare has a whole division dedicated to design, creating environments like adventure rooms in children’s hospitals that make nerve racking procedures like MRIs more palatable for children.

However, design in healthcare today doesn’t stop at the doorway of the “rooms” within the facility, but extends into the hallways, passageways, and breezeways that connect all the areas as well. Nowhere is this design more important than in the category of wayfinding.

Wayfinding includes traditional environmental signage, like the color coded signs that depict room numbers and room types and also includes digital wayfinding and technology design as well. A properly designed wayfinding system will utilize both the analog and digital counterparts and is key in creating comfort in a foreign environment.

“Airports and hospitals have one very important thing in common: Lots of anxious visitors trying to find their way, many of whom have never (or rarely) been there.”

An investment in good wayfinding can greatly reduce anxiety for both visitors and patients, assuring that family and friends can be connected as quickly and as easily as possible in what is typically an already stressful situation.

Here are 3 opportunities for using technology in your wayfinding design to provide exceptional experiences to your patients and their friends and families.

  1. Interactive Kiosks- Go to any mall in America and you’ll find a Directory with a “you are here” star denoting your location as well as the locations of every store in the mall. An interactive kiosk in your healthcare facility takes that concept and kicks it up a notch. Visitors can come into the facility, approach the kiosk and search for their loved one by name, locate their room, and then get directions to that part of the facility based on their current location. If your facility also utilizes a patient tracking system, data from that system can also be leveraged to let visitors know that the patient may be in a different location or unavailable during testing etc.
  2. Digital Signage– Healthcare facilities are already using traditional environmental signage to denote departments, floors, specialties, etc within their facilities, as well as note room numbers and designations. Given that, what is the advantage of utilizing a digital signage system? Small displays outside each patient room can denote the patient’s name so that visitors find them easier. Signs in hallways or above departments can be changed easily to accurately describe the current use of the space. Upcoming events, department schedules, and other important information can all be updated to inform patients, staff and visitors about important events.
  3. App Based Navigation– Healthcare facilities like the Mayo Clinic are also leveraging personal devices in their wayfinding. Specialized mapping apps that utilize location services in the devices can give visitors and patients a turn by turn walkthrough of the facility, assuring they reach their destination as intended. The app also extends beyond the clinic to help users find accommodations and restaurants during their visit to the facility.

As you can see, adding a digital component to wayfinding can add flexibility and detail that environmental signage cannot easily offer. The digital component is meant to supplement traditional signage or volunteer and staff assistance, not replace it. Technology design doesn’t stop at the waiting or patient room, it extends to every passage way of the facility. A properly implemented digital wayfinding system can reduce anxiety and frustration for patients and visitors and increase overall patient satisfaction, which is always a good thing.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/blogs/kristin-zeit/hospital-wayfinding-and-anxiety-factor

#2: http://newsroom.gehealthcare.com/scienceandempathy/

#3: http://blog.avidex.com/patient-tracking-systems-reducing-the-cost-of-healthcare-and-waiting-room-anxiety/

#4: http://www.healthcarefacilitiestoday.com/posts/Digital-wayfinding-improves-hospital-navigation-patient-experience–1382

Jeff Miller

About Jeff Miller

Jeff has been working in the professional AV integration industry for over twenty years. During that time he has served as Designer, Project Manager and/or Account Executive for hundreds of projects. As an Account Executive at Avidex, he specializes in Medical, Education, and Control Rooms. He can be reached at jmiller@avidex.com

Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

“For when my outward action doth demonstrate The native act and figure of my heart In compliment extern, ’tis not long after But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve”

-Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello

When Shakespeare first penned the words “I will wear my heart upon my sleeve” in 1604, he meant them in the way we are all familiar with today. That someone who wears their heart upon their sleeve is so open and transparent in their wants, desires, and thoughts and that it is easy to know these things just from looking at them and speaking with them. 58312743_sHowever, in a technological twist of fate, those words may be truer in a literal sense today than they ever have been before all due to a very interesting category of products: wearables.

When most people think of wearables, the most common example that comes to mind is most likely Fitbit. Considering that Fitbit has 19 million registered users and that there are 29 million registered Fitbit devices in over 50 countries that makes sense. Fitbit revolutionized personal fitness tracking, and in doing so, opened up the door for some amazing opportunities to increase the quality of care in telemedicine.

There is a consensus that telemedicine is more efficient than traditional office visits, saving wait and travel times, offering quicker access to healthcare professionals, and reducing costs of services. Given all this, why is there still some hesitation by some providers and patients to utilize telemedicine? One reason is that there is still a perceived advantage to being in the room with a physician. The physician can actually check vitals and get potentially important information on blood glucose levels, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, etc while there with the patient. However in today’s connected world, technology, especially in the form of wearable, embeddable, and even ingestible connected medical sensors, all of this data can be gathered instantly remotely as well, and presented to the physician in real time while they conduct the appointment through a high definition video feed.

If you missed our previous blog on the variety of sensors out there in the marketplace today for remote healthcare, you should take a look at it here just to catch up. Technology has moved at an amazing pace, and to come full circle, is bringing Shakespeare’s “heart on your sleeve” analogy to its technological manifestation.

There is a brand new category of wearable clothing being developed that integrates sensors right into clothing to track biometric data. Textile electronics are allowing computers to literally be woven into the clothes we wear, and yes, some of these sensors are even woven into the sleeve to track heart rates.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), an organization known mostly in the past for internet standards and protocols, has taken an amazing role in these endeavors and “dedicated chips have been developed for health care monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment.” The IEEE has even shifted its tagline to relate the greater role of the internet in our daily lives and continued health. They now summarize their mission as Advancing Technology for Humanity. Sounds like a common goal.

Given all this, technology is in place today to maximize the efficiency of providing remote services without compromising the quality of care. Wearables and other medical sensors, used in combination with telemedicine can assure that both patients and physicians are confident in the diagnoses being made and the treatments being provided because all of the important data needed to make good decisions is available to them…remotely.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: https://www.fitbit.com/

#2: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/fitbit-statistics/

#3: http://blog.avidex.com/up-with-telemedicine-down-with-healthcare-costs/

#4: http://blog.avidex.com/deliver-better-care-be-more-sensor-tive/

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

Are You Putting your Patients on Blast?

You are already a bit nervous. You are having a very personal medical issue that you find a bit embarrassing. In fact, you are even a little nervous about talking to your doctor about it. You sit quietly in the examination room after your vitals have been taken, awaiting the arrival of the physician. As you sit on the examination table, you hear the physician say “hello”. You quickly realize however that he has not entered your room but the one next door. You can’t help but listen in as he discusses your neighbor’s maladies in great detail. Your curiosity turns to apprehension as you realize that if you can hear them, then they will be able to overhear your conversation with the physician as well.33824120 - female doctor sitting with patient on hospital bed

If you have ever been to the doctor to discuss a sensitive medical issue, you may identify with the anxiety of the patient above. How would your anxiety level and perception of the doctor’s office change knowing that everyone was able to hear what you assumed was going to be a private conversation protected by the doctor patient relationship?

There has been a lot of discussion in healthcare and on this blog about the Health Information Portability and Privacy Act (HIPPA) and its implications with regard to security of patients’ electronic data and communications. However, HIPPA covers all healthcare communications, including oral communications. That communication could be between healthcare professionals or between doctor’s and their patients, and in all cases, HIPPA privacy rules apply.

Protecting oral communications can be tricky, and some may argue that it is difficult at best. HIPPA specifically refers to communications breaches that can be “reasonably prevented”, which is a rather vague standard to meet. However there are some simple solutions and steps to take that can definitely meet that recommendation.

Healthcare providers that are designing and constructing their own facilities can easily promote construction techniques that minimize something called the Sound Transmission Class, or STC. There are multiple techniques that can be used in construction that involve everything from decoupling sheetrock from studs, building interior wall all the way to the hard cap ceiling as opposed to just above the acoustic grid, and using acoustic treatment materials on walls and other hard surfaces.

For smaller healthcare providers and independent physicians building a new facility from the ground up, or doing an extended tenant improvement to an existing space is just not possible, feasible, or cost effective. In these cases all is not lost. Many turn to technology as a viable and less expensive option to create speech privacy. They do this in two different ways via a sound system. One way is very intuitive but the other may be something you are unfamiliar with.

Many healthcare facilities utilize music in waiting rooms and examination rooms. The purpose is two-fold. First, there is a psychological calming effect proven to be associated with certain pieces or styles of music, and putting patients in a state of relaxation can have a positive impact on the quality of care. Secondly, having a base level of music in the background can potentially obscure other conversations in nearby areas that may have been easily heard if the space was completely quiet. An added bonus of these type of sound systems is that they can also be used with local paging systems to call physicians, nurses, or even patients.

There is another type of audio system that can also be used increase speech privacy and it typically goes unnoticed. In many cases having music in an area where a doctor may be trying to evaluate a condition or explain a delicate treatment to a patient can be counterproductive. IN these cases a sound masking system may be your best bet.

A sound masking system uses speakers that typically face upward into the ceiling spaces. Instead of playing music, they play a sound similar to airflow. This base level of white noise acts as a barrier to other sounds traveling through the same space and masks them. It reduces sound transfer and the intelligibility of speech and as such, increases privacy. Think of it as a pair of noise cancelling headphones for your healthcare spaces.

At the end of the day, as healthcare providers, you want your patients to feel safe and comfortable with their doctor patient interactions. Investing in technology to increase speech privacy not only helps you avoid potential fines that may result from a HIPPA audit, but more importantly protects your patients and makes them feel secure and at ease with you as their healthcare provider. Isn’t that really the end goal anyway?

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://bok.ahima.org/doc?oid=59139#.V8RvGPkrLIV

#2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_transmission_class

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

A FastPass for VA Wait Times?

21497517 - group of patients sitting in waiting room of a doctor“The waiting is the hardest part”- Tom Petty

Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place. The Waiting Place… for people just waiting.” – Dr. Seuss

You look down at the face of your daughter as the initial excitement of being at Disneyworld gives way to the reality of the situation at hand. She has had her heart set on riding Frozen Ever After but the full ramifications of a 300 minute wait are starting to set in. The whole day will be wasted waiting for this 3 minute experience to start.

If you’ve ever been to a Disney Park, you can identify with the situation above. It is frustrating to say the least, and waiting in line is never any fun. Now take the scenario above, substitute a Veteran for your daughter, a needed doctor’s appointment or prescription for the Frozen Ever After ride, and turn that 5 hour wait time into several days, weeks or even months. How would that situation make you feel?

Given the gravely different stakes of waiting for medical care and waiting for an amusement park ride, you may be taking exception to my analogy. However, I did not come up with the comparison, Robert McDonald did. He is the Secretary in charge of Veteran’s Affairs, and he took more than a little heat for his comments, saying that like Disney, wait times at the VA shouldn’t matter, only the end experience.

I will refrain from debating the quality of the experience of VA medical care in this blog. There are varying opinions on that subject and efforts under way to make those end experiences better. However, given that the VA chief specifically stated that Disney doesn’t track or care about wait times so they shouldn’t either, I wanted to offer a couple thoughts on that specifically.

First of all, as others have pointed out as well, Disney does track wait times, and arguably just the fact that they do means they care about them as well. The reason they care is that wait times do affect the overall experience. If you are familiar with the peak-end theory, it says that experiences are not remembered in whole but are typically remembered based on what the peak emotional point was and how the experience ended. If the peak emotion is the frustration of waiting for 300 minutes, then the end experience is brought down by that. So how did Disney address that and could the VA take a lesson from it?

Disney took their knowledge of rides and wait times and being the innovative company that they are, addressed them with technology. They created a FastPass kiosk system to allow guests to reserve a place in line while being able to do other things in the park and not spend all their time waiting. Could technology offer a similar solution and net benefit to the VA as well?

There is definitely an opportunity to utilize technology. To give them credit, the VA has started to use online appointment requests and scheduling for patients’ to choose preferred dates etc for appointments. However these appointments still seem to be farther out than needed. Online systems also don’t solve the problems of waiting at the VA for urgent care or prescriptions. It seems that a kiosk based system such as Nexistant could be beneficial in allowing patients to check in, see their place in line, and even have the system send them a text when their place in line was coming up within the next half hour, allowing them to do other things while waiting.

For patients needing follow up visits or for those who need periodic check-ups for chronic care conditions, telemedicine systems could be key in giving veterans access to nurses or physician’s assistants who may are well versed in this type of care and qualified to provide continued care instructions as well as determine whether a physician needs to be engaged ASAP via the video call to better assess new developments or an unexpected, prolonged recovery.

Both of these ideas, if implemented on a wide scale could take the unnecessary insult out of the wait times, and provide a type of FastPass for care and information that not only increases efficiency and reduces costs for the VA, but also decreases wait times while increasing quality of care for our veterans who have sacrificed so much already.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.popsugar.com/smart-living/Frozen-Ever-After-Wait-Time-41738934

#2: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2016/05/23/va-chief-compares-waits-for-veteran-care-to-disneyland-they-dont-measure-and-we-shouldnt-either/

#3: http://nexistant.com/

Jeff Miller

About Jeff Miller

Jeff has been working in the professional AV integration industry for over twenty years. During that time he has served as Designer, Project Manager and/or Account Executive for hundreds of projects. As an Account Executive at Avidex, he specializes in Medical, Education, and Control Rooms. He can be reached at jmiller@avidex.com

The Audits are Coming! The Audits are Coming!

Ever since the Woodrow Wilson and the 16th Amendment gave us a Federal income tax back in 1913, Americans have had to worry about being audited by the government. The modern IRS was born in the 1950s and they get very busy every year after April 16th, pouring through millions of income tax filings, looking for mistakes and potential revenue.35078610 - file folders with patient health records label and private stamp

This year, starting March 21st, another government agency started its second round of audits. These audits however have nothing to do with taxes. The Depart of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is conducting audits on healthcare providers and facilities that focus on HIPPA violations.

This second round of audits identifies 180 areas of focus for HIPPA compliance by healthcare providers. If you want to review all 180 of them (and you probably should), there is a not-so-easy to navigate webpage that explains them all at HHS.gov here.

Of course we all benefit from the security of our private medical information. Medical identity fraud is on the rise, so much that there is even a Medical Identity Fraud Alliance dedicated to addressing it. Of course healthcare facilities and providers are already concerned and are taking precautions to avoid private patient information falling into the wrong hands, but the added pressure of an audit and potential fines and sanctions raise the stakes even more.

With that, I’d like to offer 3 areas you may want to evaluate in your facility or practice to make sure you are compliant.

Confidential Communications- There is a delicate balance in play when it comes to patient communications. HIPPA has guidelines that require providers to facilitate access to a patient’s Private Health Information (PHI) in case they need access to it. This means Electronic Health Records (EHR) and other PHI cannot just be locked down in a vault. This makes things trickier as providers need to figure out how to provide secure access without compromising privacy. This confidentiality extends beyond verbal and written communications to electronic forms of communication as well. Healthcare providers should not only be evaluating their server client and storage area networks, but also their phone and video patient interactions. Providers should be choosing telemedicine platforms and hardware that make the “best effort” to secure patient information. Consumer grade cloud based teleconferencing may not be seen to fit this definition by the auditor looking into your procedures. Make sure you are confident in the encryption method and secure transmission and storage of any remote health care services you are providing via telemedicine.

Business Associate Contracts- As a healthcare provider, you most likely work with several other business to provide the best care for your patients. These associates could include pharmaceutical manufacturers, staffing companies, or even outsourced IT and data centers. They may also include technology providers that install and manage technology within your facility. HIPPA requires not only that you take the best effort to protect your patients’ PHI, but that you also choose partners that do the same. Make sure to enter business associate contracts with companies that understand the healthcare space and HIPPA requirements. This is your best bet in mitigating liability and avoiding sanctions and fines that may not even be your fault.

Facility Access Controls- One area of HIPPA compliance that may or may not be on your radar is physical access to your facility. Healthcare providers have a responsibility to limit access to information in the form of EHR and physical specimens (blood, DNA, Urine, etc) that may compromise a patient’s privacy. There is also a HIPPA guideline that states that a provider has a responsibility to verify the identity of anyone requesting access to a patient’s PHI. This is not only electronic access, but also physical access. The best way to control physical access and verify identity is to implement an access control system similar to that which would be used in a data center. Access control systems can use a combination of verification methods like key cards, PINs, and even biometric devices like fingerprint scanners, hand geometry readers or retinal scanners to assure the right people are accessing the appropriate patient information.

At the end of the day, you still may find an HHS auditor contacting you from the OCR. However, doing a proactive review of the technology within your facility may just help you avoid fines and sanctions by eliminating issues before the real audit ensues.

 

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/audit/protocol/index.html

#2: http://medidfraud.org/

#3: http://blog.avidex.com/theres-more-to-hippa-than-encryption-choosing-the-right-vtc-platform/

#4: http://blog.avidex.com/choosing-the-right-av-partner-for-healthcare-facility-design/

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com

Innovation at ATA 2016

As a health care professional, if you were in Minneapolis, Minnesota from May 14th to 17th this year, you were most likely at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual conference, ATA 2016.WebRTC If you were not there or if this event has not historically been on your radar… it should be!

The ATA’s annual conference is the world’s largest and most comprehensive meeting focused on telemedicine, digital, connected and mobile health” and “the premier forum for healthcare professionals and entrepreneurs in the telemedicine, telehealth and mHealth space.”

It is a place where physicians, healthcare providers, and healthcare entrepreneurs and innovators all come together to share case studies, explore new ways to deliver care, and showcase groundbreaking new technology.

With so many talented people all in one place, it seems appropriate that each year several are recognized with ATA President’s awards for their achievements and contributions. This year, at ATA 2016, the President’s Award for Innovation in Remote Healthcare went to a company called Propeller Health.

Propeller Health uses connected sensor technology in combination with a mobile app to help patients manage asthma and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder). In short, their sensor attaches to the patient’s inhaler, recording dosages, when they are taken, and utilizing the capabilities of the patient’s mobile device to combine this data with things like weather conditions and geographic location. This not only help patients manage the timing of their medication, but also to proactively prescribe preventative action to avoid episodes based on local conditions that have historically triggered their personal symptoms.

Propeller has a great video on their homepage as well as a “How It Works” page if you’d like to see their explanation of the technology.

Now on its own this is a great piece of technology worthy of the award it was given. It makes a dramatic difference in the daily lives of those suffering from asthma and COPD. Their studies show that using Propeller results in up to 79% fewer asthma attacks, 50% more symptom free days, and 50% more doses of medication taken on schedule. That is a huge jump in the quality of life for those using the technology. As a stand-alone, personal health management system it has huge value. However, as with most things, there is a bigger picture and potentially larger benefit when combined with other technologies and communicating the data to the patient’s physician.

Propeller, when combined with fitness tracking applications, could also correlate asthma and COPD data with heart rate and blood oxygen levels. It could create a secure transmission of data to a secure file in the patient’s Electronic Health Records so that any relevant events can be assessed by the patient’s physician during scheduled check-ups. It would also allow for alerts to be generated to alert the healthcare provider if events are becoming more frequent or more severe to proactively assess the current treatment plan and adjust it if necessary.

Propeller is a prime example as to how the Internet of Healthcare and all of its connected sensors can be leveraged to deliver better quality of care and reduce unnecessary visits to the doctor’s office which promotes efficiency and greatly reduces costs as well.

Congratulations to Propeller Health for their President’s Award this year at ATA 2016. If you didn’t make it to the show this year, maybe we can connect there in 2017 to explore the floor together!

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://hub.americantelemed.org/ata2016new/about/aboutata2016

#2: http://hub.americantelemed.org/ata2016new/events/event-description?CalendarEventKey=5401bbe1-60af-4911-98a0-1654b9c11688&CommunityKey=cee2dcb7-7be2-4d04-9090-40ec1e264035

#3: https://www.propellerhealth.com/

#4: https://www.propellerhealth.com/how-it-works/

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/next-stop-the-ioh-will-there-be-an-internet-of-healthcare/

#6: http://blog.avidex.com/deliver-better-care-be-more-sensor-tive/

Jeff Miller

About Jeff Miller

Jeff has been working in the professional AV integration industry for over twenty years. During that time he has served as Designer, Project Manager and/or Account Executive for hundreds of projects. As an Account Executive at Avidex, he specializes in Medical, Education, and Control Rooms. He can be reached at jmiller@avidex.com

Why You Should Medicare about Alternative Payment Models

Early in my career, around 1995-96, I was selected by Vice President Al Gore to sit on a senatorial/congressional Sub-Committee to talk about reimbursement for “video teleconferencing for medicine.” I remember Senator John D. “Jay” Rockefeller, IV, the chair, telling us all in the first meeting that “one day, this will be the biggest thing in medicine.” After putting the first “payment plan”11280389_s legislation in motion for telemedicine, we are all still waiting for his statement to come true! Today, at last, we are a few steps closer to his famous statement…

“Simplicity is the soul of efficiency.” –Austin Freeman

If this quote is true, and I believe it is, it is not surprising that telemedicine had a slow start when it was introduced to health care. The technology itself has never been overly complicated, however navigating the ever winding web of HIPPA compliance and the insurance systems payment models stifled any growth that telemedicine was poised to show early on.

As of late, that has all started to change. Many technologies now actively address patient privacy, encryption, and secure data storage that mitigate any potential threats to the security of patient’s medical information. Many states are also now passing legislation to make sure that telemedicine services are paid by insurance companies just like in person visits would be. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS), have put quotas into place for services that need to be billed using Alternative Payment Models (APM).

What is an APM exactly and what is the purpose of promoting them?

“All alternative payment models (APM) and payment reforms that seek to deliver better care at lower cost share a common pathway for success: providers, payers, and others in the health care system must make fundamental changes in their day-to-day operations that improve quality and reduce the cost of health care.” –CMS

The take away here is that better care at a lower cost requires “fundamental changes” in the way healthcare providers run their operations. And as we all know, change is never easy. There must be some promise of reward to drive it forward, which is why APMs are so important. They provide the pathway for change by providing stronger incentives to do so.

Telemedicine services fall squarely in the wheelhouse of APMs as they promote physician efficiency, improve access to and potential quality of care, and can be provided for a fraction of the cost of face to face visits. It is for these reasons that CMS is aiming to grow payment of services paid through APMs to 30% of all services by the end of this year (2016) and to 50% of all services by 2018. The 2018 goal also links 90% of all payments through all payment models to quality of care, not just a fee for a service.

No longer will patients be paying for “time” in front of a medical professional, but their care and the payment of it will be more directly linked to the value of the service provided. Providers will be incentivized for providing the best quality of care in the most efficient manner possible or they may not be paid at all.

The question then is not whether or not healthcare practices and facilities will be substantially affected by APMs, but rather if they are ready to provide services like telemedicine that fit the bill. With the amazing advantages in technology like those in Web RTC and several technology grant programs being offered today, there really are very few reasons that forward thinking healthcare organizations shouldn’t be ramping up their telemedicine services ASAP.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: https://www.cms.gov/

#2: https://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Health-Care-Payment-Learning-and-Action-Network/

#3: http://blog.avidex.com/breaking-through-the-telemedicine-payment-barrier/

#4: https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2015-Fact-sheets-items/2015-01-26-3.html

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/just-browsing-webrtc-for-healthcare/

Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at bobh@avidexav.com

Telemedicine: Putting Inmate Healthcare Costs on Lockdown.

Read any of the headlines on America’s prison system today and you will find a common theme. It’s expensive to maintain. Incarcerating people is often necessary to protect society, but it does 19606432_scome at a steep financial cost. We all know the system is expensive, but I doubt many of us know exactly where the money goes. You may be surprised to know that up to 30% of the cost is related to providing healthcare to inmates.

“Typically 9 to 30 percent of corrections costs go to inmate health care. This amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars nationally…” -The Urban Institute

One of the reasons that care is so expensive is that in the United States, we treat our prisoners rather well, and as such, are required to provide them with medical care comparable to that which they would receive if they were not incarcerated. Most times this means transporting them off site to receive healthcare evaluations and services, and providing transportation to and these appointments can really add up.

“In Washington, D.C., for example, inmate medical services in its jail cost about $33 million in 2012, a quarter of its corrections budget. This does not include the cost of sending corrections officers to guard prisoners who receive medical treatment outside the jail.” -The Urban Institute

The cost of sending corrections officers to guard inmates at these appointments should not be minimized or overlooked.

“The cost of guarding inmates transported to medical care outside of prison is approximately $2,000 per inmate per 24 hours. Even for part of a day, the costs associated with transporting an inmate to care can be substantial.” –The Urban Institute

The system is not only very inefficient but it also potentially puts the public safety at risk by removing prisoners from the facilities designed to contain them and instead putting them on the road with armed guards where an escape attempt may be more likely.

So how do we responsibly decrease the cost of care and reduce travel to and from off-site healthcare facilities while still providing humane and comparable care to those in prison?

It seems that Telemedicine may in fact be the answer.

According to The Urban Institute’s report on this subject, “Telemedicine also can reduce costs where demand for a medical specialty does not justify specialized doctors to be available on regular schedules inside the jail. It is especially useful for some specialties, such as radiology, dermatology, and psychiatry.”

Telemedicine creates great efficiencies in providing care that reduce costs anywhere from $200-$1000 per inmate. Not only does cost of care go down, but the quality of care potentially increases, as “telemedicine expands the pool of medical specialists who can be used, as some doctors may be reluctant to practice in a correctional setting.” Better care for less? That sounds like an upside for both the correctional facility and the inmate.

So if your correctional facility would like to save money on providing care and time on transporting inmates to medical appointments all the while increasing public safety and the quality of care, you should be exploring implementing a telemedicine system at your facility. The start-up costs are mainly related to purchasing the appropriate audio video hardware, so from a technology cost perspective, the hurdles are lower than they have ever been and a great technology partner is never more than a phone call away.

Do you want to put your healthcare costs on lockdown? Telemedicine is the answer.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

 

Resources:

#1: http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/412754-Opportunities-for-Cost-Savings-in-Corrections-Without-Sacrificing-Service-Quality-Inmate-Health-Care.PDF

#2: http://blog.avidex.com/choosing-the-right-av-partner-for-healthcare-facility-design/

Jim Colquhoun

About Jim Colquhoun

Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at jcolquhoun@avidexav.com

Telemedicine: Civil War

There is no question that in the modern world of medical marvels, doctors have achieved superhero status. Much like Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark they are blessed with charm in their bedside manner and with superior intellect. Now combine these natural abilities with 21st century technology and you have a force to be reckoned with. Illness do your worst!

One area of medical technology that has helped doctors deliver care faster than a speeding locomotive is telemedicine. 33805115_sMany healthcare practices have been implementing telemedicine as a growing part of their practice, especially given advances that have been made through both legislation and insurance reform to crash through the traditional barriers that made providing care in this manner somewhat difficult in the past.

Now, the challenge can be just connecting patients who value remote care with practices that provide it. And that is where a new app from Astia Health comes into the picture. Their tagline is simply “Healthcare when you need it!”

Astia is a mobile application that provides patients with access to triage nurses and physicians for appointments concerning everything from anxiety to bronchitis to abdominal pain. Astia promises remote care virtually via telemedicine that is not only affordable and convenient but also HIPPA compliant as well to protect patients’ privacy.

Now before you start to think Astia Health is looking to put your practice out of business, they are not. They partner with existing clinicians to allow them an easy entry into the telemedicine market. It allows healthcare practices to get involved in telemedicine without dealing with the pitfalls platforms like Skype may present.

Of course there are still technology needs to be considered at the clinicians practice to make sure that care is delivered in the best way possible while protecting privacy and mitigating any liabilities, but choosing a great technology partner can alleviate those concerns as well.

Astia also takes things up a notch from traditional telemedicine, in that if the symptoms cannot be properly diagnosed and an appropriate treatment recommended virtually, they can dispatch a mobile diagnostic unit to the patient for treatment. Unlike an ambulance, it provides non emergent care to the patient, and it also starts at around $200! It’s not only a value added convenience for the patient, but it also helps alleviate the waiting rooms in Urgent Cares and ERs that are filled with patients with non-emergencies. It’s like a medical Batmobile to the rescue.

So unlike the superhero vs. superhero epics we see today in the theaters, there really is no need for a healthcare civil war between telemedicine application platforms like Astia Health and traditional healthcare practices. Instead, there is the perfect opportunity to form an alliance. Healthcare practices should be teaming up with tech savvy partners to make sure the proper technology is in place, and then leverage platforms like Astia to help connect patients to these newly added services. It’s a win win…for everyone.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://blog.avidex.com/the-telephone-bill-you-actually-want/

#2: http://blog.avidex.com/breaking-through-the-telemedicine-payment-barrier/

#3: https://astiahealth.com/

#4: http://blog.avidex.com/theres-more-to-hippa-than-encryption-choosing-the-right-vtc-platform/

#5: http://blog.avidex.com/choosing-the-right-av-partner-for-healthcare-facility-design/

Jeff Miller

About Jeff Miller

Jeff has been working in the professional AV integration industry for over twenty years. During that time he has served as Designer, Project Manager and/or Account Executive for hundreds of projects. As an Account Executive at Avidex, he specializes in Medical, Education, and Control Rooms. He can be reached at jmiller@avidex.com

It’s Good to be an Organ “Droner”

50877847_sDrones are everywhere. Applications range from military use for fighting terrorists to aerial photography to recreational use by hobbyists and even Amazon has announced it would like to start using them for package delivery. Imagine being able to deliver packages in dense urban areas without having to worry about traffic or parking. Now imagine that instead of delivering your nephew’s birthday present, the drone is delivering something much more critical…medical care.

Before you scoff at the idea, let me share a quick scenario.

Imagine your 21 year old daughter is in desperate need of a heart transplant. You wring your hands, hoping that somehow a heart will become available in time to save her life. 8 miles away, a 27 year old dies in a car crash. It’s both a tragedy and a miracle as he is an organ donor and his heart is a match. Your heart soars until you remember that the route from the crash to the hospital, that seemingly short 8 miles, takes 2 hours to traverse at this time of day in Chennai, India. It will take another miracle for police to clear the road to get the heart there in time.

This is a true story, and luckily, the second miracle also occurred. A whole team of police had to clear the route for the heart to arrive and they amazingly got it to the hospital in 13 minutes and saved the young girls life. But when minutes are the difference between life and death, should we have to take that chance? Metropolitan areas in New York City and Los Angeles have equally horrific traffic problems. Even dispatching a helicopter may present some delays in getting flight clearances and in finding a suitable landing location. Not only that, helicopters are a limited resource that may not be readily available for organ transportation. So isn’t there a better way?

Some students in Spain thought there was, and they developed a purpose built drone with a refrigerated storage compartment specifically for the purpose of transporting organs quickly and efficiently from one location to another. They are currently running a test program in India, and if successful, there is no reason that the same programs couldn’t be implemented in the US as well.

Drones in healthcare may not be so far-fetched after all.

Now think of extended applications. What about a drone that delivers medical care to those trapped in a mine? Or drone that uses a video teleconferencing system to respond to an accident and give bystanders instructions on what to do until the paramedics arrive? Or a drone that includes a defibrillator for a heart attack victim? (Here’s a great video on that idea as well.) The scenarios abound.

Then consider that the size and cost of the drones mean that a large network of them could be deployed. Imagine a series of roadside pedestal “garages” with drones at the ready every few miles, able to be dispatched to accidents and assess injury severity for positioning more scarce EMT and Paramedic resources. Now that may be very valuable indeed.

All too often we see technology positioned in films and pop culture as being a potential threat to the human race. However, in today’s world it seems technology is once again in the service of saving lives instead. After all, it’s good to be an organ “droner”.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

Resources:

#1: http://www.newsweek.com/2016/02/05/india-organ-transplant-drones-419013.html

#2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-rEI4bezWc

#3: http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/ambulance-drone-tu-delft-vergroot-overlevingskans-bij-hartstilstand-drastisch/

Anthony Paoletti

About Anthony Paoletti

Anthony brings over 23 years of audiovisual experience and has worn nearly every "hat" in the industry; from Consultant to End User; Account Representative to Install Technician; Project Manager to Systems Engineer. Contact Anthony at apaoletti@avidexav.com