Category Archives: Video Conferencing

The ED Epidemic (and what to do about it)

polycom photo vid conNationwide, the epidemic of Emergency Departments (Emergency Rooms) being used as “primary care” by patients who don’t necessarily require emergency care has been on the increase for years. Although it varies from state to state, there are a number of variables that contribute to these occurrences. However, in all cases, an over-crowded ED can translate into ED physicians becoming a more limited resource. It goes without saying that any patient seeking care for a non-emergent event potentially procures the physicians’ time away from patients with potentially life threatening conditions.

Estimates vary in regards to the percentages of ED patients who actually need emergent care, with some rates as low as 30%. The trend isn’t decreasing any time soon. In fact, healthcare systems such as Scripps Health Network (San Diego) have seen up to a 160% increase in the number of emergency room visits for non-emergent care in a single year.

Something must be done–and soon–because what’s happening in California ERs is a public health crisis, and it’s happening now.” – Chris Van Gorder, CEO, Scripps Health

Van Gorder suggests that telemedicine can play a key role in reducing ED overcrowding by encouraging preventative care for the elderly. In some areas, elderly populations may not seek preventative care due to access limitations and/or logistical issues involved in seeing a physician. A recent study supports his theory.

“A three-and-a-half year study concludes that the use of “high-intensity” telemedicine at senior-living communities significantly reduces visits to emergency departments (ED).

Acute illness among senior-living community residents often leads to emergency department visits,” said Dr. Manish Shah, vice chair of research in the department of emergency medicine at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. “We found that these virtual doctors’ visits reduced the rate of emergency department use by 18 percent over the course of a year.” 

Technology can certainly play a key role in the resolution of “ED overcrowding” by not only being used as a preventative measure, but also if it utilized at the point of care during the triage process.

New York Presbyterian’s Health System is an 11-facility network and is now utilizing a telemedicine platform called NYP OnDemand. Early returns indicate that this platform is dramatically reducing patient wait-times for patients with non-life threatening and non-emergent conditions.  The process is fairly straight-forward. Patients checking into the ED for non-emergent or non-life threatening conditions have the opportunity to go into a designated room and speak to a physician via a telemedicine application.  The physician is housed in another room within the facility, but has the ability to serve multiple telemedicine exam rooms. This application also allows for these physicians to serve and triage urgent care patients in remote locations (home, etc.).  Each visit (telemedicine exam) is approximately 30 minutes (depending upon the patient’s condition) and helps reduce the number of non-emergent patients in the ED.  This not only assists with staffing efficiency, but also helps ED physicians focus more effectively on the higher acuity patients.

“It’s all about delivering care more efficiently”, said Daniel Barchi, the system’s chief information officer. “If we can create an environment where a virtual visit allows that doctor to see many patients in a really efficient model, that’s the ultimate goal,” he said.

Thus, telemedicine technology applications play a key role in facilitating greater access to preventative care and more efficient treatment of non-life threatening conditions in ED and urgent care settings.

“I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription, is more telemedicine.”

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.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/emergency-rooms-facing-public-health-crisis.html

#2: http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/4-ways-to-reduce-non-emergency-er-use

#3: http://www.med.wisc.edu/news-events/telemedicine-reduces-ed-visits-among-senior-living-community-residents/46498

#4: http://www.pressreader.com/usa/modern-healthcare/20170320/281724089366113

 

Carey Cox

About Carey Cox

Carey Cox has spent his 17 year career in various roles within the health care industry including sales, consulting, and operations management. Carey has been involved in a number of capital system sales roles including life safety, infant security, audio-visual, and clinical education. He had operational oversight of two Baylor pain management centers and served on various committees for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. His internal knowledge of health care operations, his leadership experience and his ability to build and strengthen relationships give him a unique insight into clinical workflow and process throughput. Carey holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and also volunteers in a mentoring program for young adults entering into the workforce. During his tenure at TeleHealth Services, he has been instrumental in expanding the TeleHealth footprint in Dallas-Ft Worth (Methodist Health System) and Houston (CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann) health care markets.

The Advantages of Telepsychiatry

Video ConferencingIf you are a technology manager in a healthcare facility, one organization that should be on your radar is the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), whose stated mission is to help “transform healthcare by improving the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.”

In addition to being a member community for sharing best practices, track local and state legislation as it pertains to healthcare and technology, and be connected to vendors and providers, the ATA also sponsors an annual conference each year.  At this year’s ATA conference, several companies were recognized for their thought leadership within the health care technology industry.  As a partner in the healthcare technology industry ourselves, we focus special attention to the awards given to thought leaders and pioneers in the field along with analyzing comparable trends to those that we see everyday as we assist our clients in implementing new technology.

Last year, our article concerning connected sensors and asthma was based upon the ATA award given to Propeller Health.

This year, our attention was focused on the Industry Leader Award that went to Geoffrey Boyce, Executive Director of InSight Telepsychiatry.

This award came as no surprise as the benefits of telemedicine, especially in connecting patients to specialists who may be more difficult to access, is a common problem in many areas of the country.  However, as sometimes happens in the life-business matrix, this award sparked some relevance based on a story I had read recently while doing research for another blog on the epidemic of overcrowding in the ER.

Chris Van Gorder is president and CEO of San Diego-based Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in California.  He recently gave his thoughts on the causes of overcrowding in the ER.  One of his main concerns was the influx of patients with behavioral health issues.

“Compounding the problem is the impact on emergency rooms by patients who also have behavioral health conditions — an increasing share of all ER visits. Acute care hospitals are woefully underfunded to pay for the psychiatrists or facilities these patients require. Yet every day, they come to us for help or are brought in by law enforcement because there is nowhere appropriate to take them. And they stay in the ER too long for that same reason.”

He goes on to expound that the problem goes beyond his experiences in California.

“Throughout this nation, emergency rooms are being misused, they are overcrowded, they’re boarding behavioral health patients while searching for someplace willing to take them, and there’s a lack of funding and focus needed for behavioral health issues both inside and outside the hospital.”

Those comments resonated with me when I originally read that piece, and when I saw Mr. Boyce recognized for his leadership at InSight, everything came together.

Thus, given this context, InSight Telepsychiatry has developed a program that specifically addresses hospital-based telepsychiatry with the stated benefits of lowering inappropriate admissions, reducing length of stays and improving emergency department throughput.

The first step in providing this health care service is setting up an exam room at the healthcare facility, (as well as at the practitioner’s preferred remote location), to perform these visits via a video teleconferencing. InSight then provides access to psychiatry practitioners that perform remote evaluations, prescribe medications, and set follow up appointments.  And all the while, this “patient assessment” function reduces the hospital’s risk and liability while also providing all required documentation back to the ER to be incorporated into the patient’s medical record.

If this is a need your health care facility could improve upon, look into InSight and what services they offer. Avidex can then assist your team in setting up the proper technology to maximize their services.

 

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.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/emergency-rooms-facing-public-health-crisis.html

#2: http://blog.avidex.com/innovation-at-ata-2016/

#3: https://thesource.americantelemed.org/blogs/jessica-washington/2017/04/26/industry-leaders-recognized-at-ata-2017-telehealth-20

#4: http://insighttelepsychiatry.com/

#5: http://insighttelepsychiatry.com/hospital-based-services/

 

 

 

Carey Cox

About Carey Cox

Carey Cox has spent his 17 year career in various roles within the health care industry including sales, consulting, and operations management. Carey has been involved in a number of capital system sales roles including life safety, infant security, audio-visual, and clinical education. He had operational oversight of two Baylor pain management centers and served on various committees for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. His internal knowledge of health care operations, his leadership experience and his ability to build and strengthen relationships give him a unique insight into clinical workflow and process throughput. Carey holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and also volunteers in a mentoring program for young adults entering into the workforce. During his tenure at TeleHealth Services, he has been instrumental in expanding the TeleHealth footprint in Dallas-Ft Worth (Methodist Health System) and Houston (CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann) health care markets.

eVisits vs. Hosted Visits: What’s the Difference?

A hosted visit is a virtual consultation between a patient and their PCP that occurs face to face, meaning that video teleconferencing systems leveraging high definition cameras and displays can be used to facilitate that interaction.

Virtual consultation between a patient & their PCP

Healthcare is a language all its own.  It has a unique lexicon that allows doctors, nurses, and staff to communicate with each other.  Pain can be dull or acute, fractures can be hairline or compound, and internal injuries can be ventral or dorsal and thoracic or abdominal.  All of this terminology matters a great deal in delivering care and in assuring positive patient outcomes.

Likewise, the world of healthcare insurance billing also has its own lexicon and intricacies and just as in the examples above, the terminology matters.  There are e-visits and hosted visits and synchronous and asynchronous care.  The technology required to facilitate these visits differs, security considerations may differ as well, and the amount of payment each type of visit receives may be different as well.  I will say that there may be some slight variation in these definitions depending on the state or locality and the insurance provider, but we want to give you a general overview of each so that when you hear the terms in the future, you’ll be able to quickly make sense of them.

e-visit

The e-visit is an electronic visit between a patient and their Primary Care Physician (PCP and/or another Qualified Health Professional (QHP).  An e-visit happens electronically via email or through a web based solution like live chat.  In either case, an e-visit cannot be held through traditional email that is not encrypted, as any private health information (PHI) could be compromised, violating HIPPA regulations.  Proper encryption needs to exist to facilitate e-visits.  E-visits can be asynchronous as in the case of email or synchronous as in the example of a live chat session.  As a caveat, if a QHP is the one facilitating the e-visit, they are required to have access to a PCP electronically as a resource during that visit.

Store and Forward

This is a type of telemedicine service that is typically used for interprofessional communication, especially between PCPs and specialists. “For instance, teleradiology relies heavily on store-and-forward technology to allow technicians and healthcare professionals at smaller hospitals to share patient x-rays for diagnosis by a specialist at another location.”  The nature of this collaboration and the necessity of the specialist to review data before reaching a diagnosis means that this typically is an asynchronous service.  Patients and specialists like dermatologists may sometimes have asynchronous visits if the patient is required to provide some type of data first for later review and evaluation/discussion.  The importance of a secure destination for the data being stored, as well as encryption on the lines of communications between parties involved are all paramount for protecting PHI here as well.

Hosted visit

A hosted visit is a virtual consultation between a patient and their PCP that occurs face to face, meaning that video teleconferencing systems leveraging high definition cameras and displays can be used to facilitate that interaction.  Due to the face to face nature of this visit, it is obviously synchronous; happening in real time for a fluid two-way communication between the patient and the PCP.  Again, the health care provider must use hardware or software solutions that meet the encryption standards developed by HIPPA to protect any PHI that may be discussed.

To sum up, E-visits and Store and Forward systems both require encrypted messaging using hardware and software that protects stored photos or personal data. This data could include information captured from wearable devices or sensors as well as patient history.  Hosted visits however rely on video teleconferencing systems to provide virtual face to face conversations.  The real time nature of these communications does not exempt them from encryption requirements protecting PHI, so the proper hardware and/or software strategies must also be in place to mitigate risk.

Knowing the difference between these services and the terminology used to describe them cannot only help determine the technology strategy for your facility or practice, but can also assure that the services are billed correctly for timely payment.

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://evisit.com/what-is-telemedicine/#8

#2: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/pam.20590/abstract

#3: http://www.priorityhealth.com/provider/manual/billing-and-payment/services/phone-and-e-visits

#4: https://www.aurorahealthcare.org/-/media/aurorahealthcareorg/documents/patients-visitors/e-care-faq.pdf?la=en

 

 

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

Aligning Outcomes

A couple months back we took a look at how important patient satisfaction is becoming in healthcare. Payments are transferring to a model that evaluates outcomes and requires that the patient is satisfied with their care in order to receive the full amount billed for the services rendered.64895307_s

One potential problem for providers however, is trying to hit a satisfaction target that varies from patient to patient. Two patients could receive identical treatment for identical issues from the same practitioner and those two people may rate their experiences completely differently.

The challenge is that patients bring their own situational implications with them. Each patient has a different history with a variety of providers, and those experiences shape the expectations of the patient. If there’s one thing that is certain about satisfaction, it is that it’s implicitly tied to expectation. If a visit to the ER, Urgent Care, or even a well check don’t measure up to the bar that the patient has already set in their head prior to their visit, you will inevitably end up with a dissatisfied patient.

Given all this, it may seem impossible to even institute a program that would address the varying levels of patient expectations that healthcare providers will encounter. However, there is in fact a way to start the process.

The best way to assure that you are meeting a patient’s expectations is to be involved in setting them in the first place.

A healthcare provider that sets up a system where there is proactive communication and education with the patient on their condition, the steps being taken to treat the condition, and the range of outcomes that the patient can expect, allows the provider to set expectations for the upcoming stages of their healthcare journey.

“Gone — in many ways thankfully — are the days of the paternalist model of medicine where “doctor knows best” is the tagline. Today, patients are increasingly empowered to take part in their own healthcare journeys through access to online information. But they can only do that effectively when their decisions are guided by advanced educational sources.”

– Dr. Linda Grigis

Given that many online resources provide incorrect information to patients, some estimates say well under 50% of medical websites provide correct treatment recommendations, there is a unique opportunity for providers to invest in and curate their own patient education resources. These resources can be leveraged online before upcoming visits, during examinations or consultations on screens in the examination rooms, and even made available during extended hospitalization through the flat panels in the patient rooms. Education empowers patients to become active participants in their healthcare decisions, and people who make educated choices typically take more shared personal responsibility for the outcome, meaning they may be less likely to place all the blame on the practitioner if the preferred outcome is not immediately achieved.

At the end of the day, patient education systems can go a long way to set proper expectations and empower patients to make better, informed choices about their care, improving patient satisfaction. As an added benefit, these same systems also help educate patients on aftercare instructions and future preventative measures to take to avoid recurrence of the condition or readmission to the hospital, which can also be costly to providers and detrimental to long term patient satisfaction and loyalty.

Treating patients like partners, opening up lines of communication and education, and aligning the provider’s and patient’s preferred outcomes are all necessary to be successful in today’s healthcare environment.

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.qualtrics.com/blog/customer-expectations/

#2: http://blog.avidex.com/the-role-of-technology-in-patient-satisfaction/

#3: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/accuracy-of-medical-information-on-the-internet/

#4: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2016/12/cme-isnt-today-align-empower-patient-outcomes.html

 

Carey Cox

About Carey Cox

Carey Cox has spent his 17 year career in various roles within the health care industry including sales, consulting, and operations management. Carey has been involved in a number of capital system sales roles including life safety, infant security, audio-visual, and clinical education. He had operational oversight of two Baylor pain management centers and served on various committees for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. His internal knowledge of health care operations, his leadership experience and his ability to build and strengthen relationships give him a unique insight into clinical workflow and process throughput. Carey holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and also volunteers in a mentoring program for young adults entering into the workforce. During his tenure at TeleHealth Services, he has been instrumental in expanding the TeleHealth footprint in Dallas-Ft Worth (Methodist Health System) and Houston (CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann) health care markets.

Will Obamacare be Trump’d? (and does it really matter?)

On the 20th of January, a new president took office. Barack Obama graciously exited the White House handing the keys to the inbound Donald J. Trump. President Trump was a vocal opponent of the Affordable Care Act, (ACA), and had promised to reverse it once in office. 20558323 - close up of male doctor holding tablet pc with medical appWhat ultimately happens to President Obama’s signature piece of legislation is yet to be seen. It may be revamped or it may be scrapped altogether, but when it comes to technology adoption in healthcare, does it really matter?

To answer that question we need to look at a few other pieces of legislation as well as general trends in healthcare.

The first piece of legislation that is important is the Tele-Med Act of 2015. We detailed the implications of this bill in another post about a year ago.

In general, The Tele-Med Act of 2015 may just lower existing barriers to implementing telemedicine services, especially across state lines. Now, as it is a federal bill, it really only applies to Medicare currently, but it would set a precedent for other private insurance companies to follow and open up the boundaries that may currently prohibit them from offering services in neighboring states.”

Now that piece of legislation seems to be taking it’s time getting through committees, but there is one other important thing about the bill you should know. It was introduced by a Republican and there are 27 cosponsors of that bill with equal “D”s and “R”s following their names.

The second piece of legislation that may lend some insight into what the future role of technology in healthcare may be is the ECHO Act. ECHO stand for Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes. This act became law on December 14th 2016, and it applies to examining how the use and integration of technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models can impact better health outcomes. It would pave the way for technology like video teleconferencing and distance learning to be used to actually facilitate knowledge and resource sharing between healthcare facilities to better train staff and make more efficient use of limited resources and specialists. This bill also had bipartisan support when introduced.

Despite whatever political rhetoric and posturing seems to be going on, one thing seems clear. Both sides of the aisle agree that telehealth will be a large part of the solution to our healthcare problems. It will decrease costs, increase efficiency, and create access for those that may be in underserved or rural locales where the quality of care is not currently up to par.

Even if the ACA is scrapped, the trends towards using technology to allow healthcare professionals to share information more effectively and to connect doctor’s to patients for after care, follow up visits, counseling, etc will still continue due to bipartisan bills and laws that were passed apart from the ACA. The ACA does not impact the need for us to use technology to allow patients to self-manage their own care to drive the desired outcomes. However, creating solutions that are truly engaging for patients/families will have the highest impact on reducing costs.

One idea of reform needed to make plans more affordable is that of breaking down the invisible lines between the states when it comes to providing and billing for care. It would seem that telehealth would have a strong role in this scenario if implemented as well as a way to bridge the geographic gaps.

At the end of the day, an objective look at the types of healthcare bills that are being introduced and passed, illustrate that both sides of the aisle see technology as a way to make healthcare more affordable and to create better patient outcomes. Despite what reform or repeal happens with the ACA, it doesn’t seem like the new House, Senate, or President will “trump” that trend.

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/are-you-ready-the-tele-med-act-of-2015/

#2: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/3081/cosponsors

#3: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/2873/cosponsors

#4: http://www.healthcare-informatics.com/news-item/telemedicine/senate-passes-bill-use-project-echo-nationwide-telehealth-model

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

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

If you are an avid follower of technology news, you can’t help but have heard the term “AI”. AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, a field of technology pioneered by Alan Turing when he created a machine to break the German’s Enigma Code during World War II. The end goal for those developing AI will be the creation of a sentient machine that can think like a human being. Needless to say, that is still a long way off. However, during the course of 2016, the field of AI saw many advancements and investments, and the large number of those were related to healthcare applications.33728200 - doctor is using tablet pc

Why is that?

“Machine learning is improving diagnostics, predicting outcomes, and just beginning to scratch the surface of personalized care.”

In order to understand exactly how technology can contribute to better patient outcomes, we need to look beyond the vision of the sentient robot and focus in on two very specific areas where AI can assist medical professionals today.

Predictive Analytics

The first area of AI that is immediately accessible to today’s healthcare professional is predictive analytics or the use of a computer to analyze large amounts of data to make recommendations on care or predict potential health issues before they arise. Analyzing data means that you must first be collecting it and providing access to the data to the system in question.

The proliferation of devices that collect patient data has already begun. There are wearables like the familiar Apple Watch or FitBit, but there are also implantable and ingestible medical sensors that can relay information on everything from blood sugar and oxygen levels to the frequency of asthma attacks in the varying quality of air. We put together a list of some interesting sensors last year, but one thing is for certain: The ability to collect and communicate patient health data is only increasing.

Of course the course of treatment is still determined by a living, breathing doctor, but having a relevant, data driven history of the patient’s health only makes that diagnosis and treatment plan better.

Deep Learning

Deep Learning takes over where predictive analytics stops. According to one definition,

“Deep Learning is a branch of machine learning based on a set of algorithms that attempt to model high-level abstractions in data by using model architectures, with complex structures or otherwise, composed of multiple non-linear transformations.” 

That definition, being as clear as mud, can really be boiled down to this. Deep Learning allows computers to analyze not only the data, but also to catalog the human responses to that data, allowing the computer to reach its own conclusions (learn).

Predictive analysis would say that a patient has high sodium that may lead to hypertension and should be assessed for cardiac health, where deep learning would go a step further and recommend potential treatments based on the treatment of other patients that fit the same profile.

Again, deep learning requires that both the data from the patient and the response of the physician are both accessible in order to draw these correlations. Again, deep learning is not a replacement for the experience and discernment of a physician, but can be helpful in situations where a doctor is not yet available. According to Forbes’ Bernard Marr, 30% of providers will use this type of technology by 2018. He even puts forth an example of a patient visit that leverages deep learning.

“Imagine walking in to see your doctor with an ache or pain. After listening to your symptoms, she inputs them into her computer, which pulls up the latest research she might need to know about how to diagnose and treat your problem.  You have an MRI or an x-ray and a computer helps the radiologist detect any problems that could be too small for a human to see. Finally, a computer looks at your medical records and family history and compares that with the best and most recent research to suggest a treatment protocol to your doctor that is specifically tailored to your needs.”

Now imagine the added benefit of the same technology to those in a remote location who need emergency care and are able to receive it via telemedicine.

In discussions on healthcare reform, there are always discussions about breaking down artificial barriers between patients and caregivers to deliver better and more efficient care. However, this may be one instance when adding an artificial layer, in the form of technology using artificial intelligence, may actually be of benefit to both the patient and the physician.

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.hpcwire.com/2016/12/26/capitalizing-machine-learning-life-sciences-financial-services/

#2: https://www.wired.com/2014/06/ai-healthcare/

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

#4: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/predictive-analytics-machine-learning-deep-artificial-mark-rabkin

 

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

Misery Loves Company

We’ve all heard the term “Misery loves company.” It is typically used in a way that suggests that people who are unhappy like to be with other people that are unhappy or that people who are miserable wish others ill will. But what if “misery loves company” meant something else 33827079 - patient using digital tablet while reclining on hospital bedcompletely, and that understanding the phrase better could generate better patient outcomes in healthcare?

The answer to the “misery loves company” riddle, may have just been solved. Recent research has shown that a group of brain cells called “mirror neurons” may play a key role. They are activated when we experience emotions ourselves, but also when we watch others go through an emotional state. The vicarious experience actually makes the mirror neurons fire in our brains creating a similar emotional state in us. It is the physiological manifestation of empathy, and it also helps explain why film and plays may be so cathartic and riveting.

From a healthcare perspective, knowing this is a huge benefit, especially from a facility’s visitors policy perspective. Creating ways for patients to have positive interactions with their friends and loved ones can have a direct impact on their health, recovery, and ultimately their happiness.

“So during and after a visit from a loving and cheerful friend or relation, mirror neurons will stir similar positive feelings in the brain of the person in the hospital bed, lifting their spirits and making them feel better.”

In fact, Dr Matthew Ratcliffe of Durham University goes even further to assert that,

By being with someone who has a smiling face — such as a hospital visitor — mirror neurons motivate a similar response in our own brain, leading us to make a similar gesture and even directing us towards a similar emotional reaction.”

So creating ways for patients to interact with family and friends and lowering the barriers to those interactions can have an impact on the patient’s happiness as well as how they perceive their medical condition. Given that a happy patient is a satisfied patient, and currently more and more healthcare payments are being tied to patient satisfaction and positive outcomes, it is to the healthcare provider’s advantage to find ways to lower the barrier to these interactions. Many hospitals have already expanded their visitation hours to better accommodate patients’ family and friends. Chris Clarke, who oversees the Tennessee Hospital Association’s Center for Patient Safety relays that “There is a renewed focus on patient-focused care that means better engaging with patients’ families.”

Visitation policies only go so far as they only apply to family and friends who can physically make it to the physical location. However the absence of a loved one can likewise have a negative effect on the patient’s recovery.

“Meanwhile, friends failing to turn up for a visit could actually be bad for the patient.

Not only are they deprived of the benefits of loving contact but their feelings of rejection activate the very areas of the brain that generate the sting of physical pain.”

-Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence: The New Science Of Human Relationships

This is where technology can play a key role. High definition video conferencing systems, installed in patient rooms, offer another way for patients and their friends and family to connect. Given that the mirror neurons respond to observing the emotions of a patient’s visitor, the video component is actually key in generating a positive emotional state.

Video conferencing provides the experience of an in person visit, eliminates the awkwardness that can sometimes accompany a traditional phone call, and most importantly, can leave the patient feeling just as happy as they would in the case of an in-person visit due to the brain’s physiological reaction.

The benefits of video conferencing in remote patient diagnosis, increased access to specialists, and to higher quality care in rural areas have been well known for some time. However, there is an additional benefit to these systems in the case of providing communication between patients and loved ones in their time of need, resulting in better patient satisfaction.

It seems that in a scientific sense, misery does indeed love company, not to spread the negative, but rather to replace it with the positive.

HealthAV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. TeleHealth Services and Avidex divisions of Telerent Leasing Corporation, are pleased to announce the emergence of HealthAV, excellence in Healthcare Professional AV design and system integration services. Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.

healthcare

Resources:

#1: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-410783/The-proof-visiting-people-hospital-really-does-good.html

#2: http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2013/07/02/patient-satisfaction-hits-physician-pay/#53b7241e133f

 

#3: http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/healthcare/hospitals-expand-visiting-hours-to-accommodate-patients-families

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

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

Carey Cox

About Carey Cox

Carey Cox has spent his 17 year career in various roles within the health care industry including sales, consulting, and operations management. Carey has been involved in a number of capital system sales roles including life safety, infant security, audio-visual, and clinical education. He had operational oversight of two Baylor pain management centers and served on various committees for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. His internal knowledge of health care operations, his leadership experience and his ability to build and strengthen relationships give him a unique insight into clinical workflow and process throughput. Carey holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and also volunteers in a mentoring program for young adults entering into the workforce. During his tenure at TeleHealth Services, he has been instrumental in expanding the TeleHealth footprint in Dallas-Ft Worth (Methodist Health System) and Houston (CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann) health care markets.

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/

Carey Cox

About Carey Cox

Carey Cox has spent his 17 year career in various roles within the health care industry including sales, consulting, and operations management. Carey has been involved in a number of capital system sales roles including life safety, infant security, audio-visual, and clinical education. He had operational oversight of two Baylor pain management centers and served on various committees for Baylor Health Care System in Dallas. His internal knowledge of health care operations, his leadership experience and his ability to build and strengthen relationships give him a unique insight into clinical workflow and process throughput. Carey holds a Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration and also volunteers in a mentoring program for young adults entering into the workforce. During his tenure at TeleHealth Services, he has been instrumental in expanding the TeleHealth footprint in Dallas-Ft Worth (Methodist Health System) and Houston (CHI St. Luke’s Health and Memorial Hermann) health care markets.

Calling in Sick

When you think of a school nurse, you may imagine a cheery, young health professional whose day consists of waiting for the random child to come into the nurse’s office nee6539946 - smiling nurse sitting and working at her computerding their temperature taken, maybe aspirin for a headache, or a skinned knee from the playground cleaned and bandaged. Perhaps if the child is deemed sick and potentially contagious, the nurse may call the child’s parent(s) to come and pick them up from school. The stakes in these instances seem relatively low, so it is no wonder that when faced with budget cuts, schools look at the full time registered nurse as an unnecessary expense. They may instead train someone in the office on basic triage and transfer the responsibility for minor ailments to teachers as well.

But are the savings worth the true cost?

The truth is, the role of the school nurse has changed dramatically over time. According to a recent cost-benefit study of school nursing services,

“During the past few decades, several major changes in our society have greatly increased the demand for school nursing services, including a rise in the number of students with chronic health conditions and mental health problems, an increase in the number of students with special care needs, and improved medical technology. As a result, school nursing services have expanded greatly from their original focus of reducing communicable disease–related absenteeism to providing episodic care, managing chronic health conditions, caring for students with disabilities, promoting health behaviors, enrolling children in health insurance and connecting them with health care providers, tracking communicable diseases, and handling medical emergencies.”

Given this, if today’s educational environment and student needs require access to a nurse’s presence at school and the financial state of the school or district cannot support a full-time nurse, what is a responsible school to do?

Today 45% of schools in the US have a full-time nurse, yet only 25% have no nurse at all. So what are the other 30% of schools doing? They either have a part-time nurse or they share a nurse between multiple schools or campuses.

Sharing a nurse across multiple schools can be challenging. In districts where the schools may be close geographically, there is time spent traveling back and forth and given Murphy’s law, I could almost guarantee that in emergency situations, the nurse is most likely at the wrong campus when the event occurs.

In more remote or rural areas, where the district may be a whole county or multiple counties, travel between campuses on a day to day basis may be physically impossible. In these situations, if the school cannot afford dedicated nurses, they either opt out of having a nurse altogether or parents just have to hope their child only needs a nurse at school on Tuesday.

So whether you are a school that currently shares a nurse looking for more efficiency, a school that has opted out of a nurse altogether because there are not sufficient funds and sharing is nearly impossible, or even one of the 45% of schools that currently has a full-time nurse but may be forced by budgetary cuts to reconsider that cost, there is something you should be looking at… telemedicine.

Telemedicine can greatly increase the efficiency of sharing a nurse between schools by eliminating the need for travel between locations. In districts with schools that are close together, this eliminates the time and expense of traveling constantly between locations. In places where schools are far apart, this may mean access to a nurse where none was ever available before.

Telemedicine allows schools to make a small one time investment in video teleconferencing technology like high definition cameras and video monitors to facilitate real time, face to face conversations between students and nursing professionals. Enhanced systems could also utilize relatively inexpensive biometric hardware like heart rate and temperature sensors allowing nurses to collect current vitals from the students that they are looking at and talking to, greatly increasing the quality of care prescribed.

The ability to record and store these nurse-student encounters also provides the district a record of mental health counseling and medical treatments. When combined with access to the students’ Electronic Health Records (EHRs), this also helps mitigate any liability the school or district may have in providing these healthcare services to students.

Telemedicine in the school nurse’s office may just be the way to help schools with full-time nurses reduce costs without sacrificing the health of their students, a path to increased efficiency and better quality of care in schools that share nurses, and a way for those who could never afford a nurse to get access to one. Given that the health of our children is at stake, it’s definitely an investment worth making.

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://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1872779

#2: http://www.nasn.org/Research/CostBenefitAnalysis

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