Tag Archives: Healthcare

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing the Right AV Partner for Healthcare Facility Design

baylorplano1 “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln

There is no substitute for proper planning. Can you imagine building a healthcare facility without first determining the layout of the ER in relationship to the path an ambulance needs to take to enter the hospital? Or building a radiology department without first considering how the MRI machine will be able to get into the room? The truth is that planning is critically important in building a facility that can deliver exceptional care, and a great deal of time, effort and expertise go into the endeavor.

Now ask yourself this question.

thhbp4With technology becoming more and more integral to the delivery of efficient care and positive patient outcomes, can you afford not to plan properly for its integration into the facility?

In today’s world of healthcare, technology is no longer about a paging system in the ER and a TV in the waiting room. There is an interconnected world of equipment that allows data to flow freely between departments and other facilities. The systems of today, more than ever before, are in desperate need of pre-planning to work successfully and perform their valuable functions.

Given all this, partnering with a technology company that understands the ins and outs of the modern healthcare facility and its needs is essential. In choosing a partner to assist in designing the technology for your facility, it is imperative that they understand four underlying principles of any heathcare technology plan.

Distribution- The very nature of today’s interconnected devices means that there has to be some way to get data, audio, and video from one location to another. Camera feeds from the OR may be fed into other areas of the building for recording for insurance purposes.   A simulation lab’s video feed may be pushed off-site for distance learning and collaboration with medical schools. Electronic Health Records, EHRs and MRIs need to flow from radiology to oncology. In any of the above scenarios, there needs to be a plan for distribution of these signals in the facility and beyond.

Bandwidth- Given the flow of information in the facility and to other locations as described above, bandwidth is essential to distribution. Partner with a technology firm that understands how assure that systems operate efficiently and utilize the best methods of distribution that properly allocate bandwidth. Strategies may include separating video streams from data, utilizing both wired and wireless networks, and using higher end cabling like 10G or Fiber for equipment with higher data input and output requirements.

Security- This one may be obvious but needs to be emphasized here none the less. If you are sending data off-site, whether for providing telemedicine services or for sharing information, HIPPA requires your team to make every reasonable effort to keep it secure. Work with partners who understand the differences between consumer teleconferencing applications like Skype and other professional grade, hard codec based video communications. Align yourself with a team who understands how to plan a network that separates wired and wireless networks for public devices like digital signage networks and patient entertainment systems from other devices that may contain sensitive patient data like EHRs.

Management- Any good plan includes an understanding of how the system will be maintained after its implementation. There is a great piece on choosing a long term partner for managed services here that you should take a look at.

Again, there is no substitute for proper planning, and as such, choosing the right partner to assist in this stage is invaluable. Just as you scrutinize the resume, training and education of a new surgeon joining your team, you should seriously evaluate the credentials of your chosen technology partner to make sure they have the proper experience and knowledge to deliver the patient experience you strive for.

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.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/planning

#2: http://blog.avidexav.com/dont-wait-simulate/

#3: http://blog.avidexav.com/just-in-case-vs-just-in-time-effectively-managing-audio-video-systems-in-healthcare/

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

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

Don’t Wait, Simulate!

manican
There’s a great opening scene in Pixar’s Monsters Inc. where a monster cracks the door of a young child’s closet, quietly approaches the bed, and then just as he’s about to scare the kid from his peaceful slumber, the child wakes up screaming. The monster is taken by surprise, screams as well, and ends up accidentally injuring himself several times. Then the alarms sound, the camera pans out, and you see that it is not in fact a real child but a robotic simulation. The monster is in training on a sound stage, being observed by both instructors and his peers, and unfortunately, he has failed to pass this part of the real life simulation.

Of course this is a computer animated movie, set in a parallel universe, but the reality of this type of simulation in our world is not far from the truth, especially in the world of healthcare.

Medical simulation is an extremely valuable tool used today to train new medical professionals, and AV technology is essential in maximizing these simulation environments. You will find simulation labs everywhere from vocational trade schools to major universities to world class hospitals. The technology is not only experienced and utilized by the student, but as in the animated example above, also by instructors and the students’ peers.

Let’s take a brief journey through the technology that makes these simulation labs so valuable from the three perspectives of the student, the instructor, and the student’s peers.

The Student

A critical component of every medical simulation is the patient. Fortunately, students don’t get to practice on actual people having major medical emergencies, so instead a technologically advanced surrogate is used. The high definition mannequins or advanced patient simulator is the first major component of a modern simulation lab. These mannequins blink, breathe, and have heart beats and blood pressure. They can exhibit symptoms of physical, neurological and psychological illness and even respond to drug administration. When coupled with an array of medical equipment like EKGs and blood oxygen meters, students can start to assess symptoms. PCs or touch screens that give the students access to the simulated patients sensitive medical history and Electronic Health Records, EHRs, can also be used in tandem. A virtualized audio system may also be integrated so the student can alert the appropriate staff of the patient’s condition through the use of the facilities code system and a public address system as well. This combination of a patient simulator, sensors, medical equipment, displays, microphones, and speakers all help to realistically recreate the environment in which the student will be working in the future.

The Instructor

If there is one thing that is certain about patients, it’s that they are all different. A simulator is only as good as it is programmed to be, and going through a few pre-canned scenarios may be helpful to some degree, but in the real world, things don’t always go as planned. It is for this reason, technology also allows the instructor to control these simulated environments. Typically there is a control area outside of the simulated patient room, where the instructor will use a control system to initiate a condition in the patient simulator. This means that a touch screen of some kind will most likely be used. A computer or processor is needed to send data to the patient simulator. The instructor can create unique combinations of symptoms and patient responses to them, keeping the student in the mode of active thinking, an important skill set to be had by any medical professional.

A camera system can also be employed to give the instructor a more detailed look at the way the student handles the initiated emergency and/or condition. There may also be a two way communication system between the control area and the simulated patient room so that the instructor can listen and even coach the student on next steps.

The Student’s Peers

Finally, technology can allow observers not directly involved in the simulation to witness it first-hand without having to be hands on.   Many simulation labs have an observation window where other students can sit and observe the simulation and the involved student’s response to the instructor triggered events. There are also displays that may show these students duplicate vital data available on the machines in the room. Those same screen may relay what type of event the instructor has triggered, so they can observe what would be the typical response of a professional given those parameters.

The cameras in the simulation room may also be leveraged with some type of codec to encode the video for live streaming over the internet or for live video teleconferencing, to make the simulation available in other rooms or other campuses live and simultaneously. These same cameras also facilitate recording for later distribution, in classroom teaching, or even a review of the active student’s role in the simulation and how they performed.

As you can see, technology has allowed simulation to reach new heights in medical schools and facilities across the US and the world. A strong working knowledge of Audio Video technology has become increasingly valuable in designing, installing, and maintaining these systems as well.

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.laerdal.com/us/SimMan3G

#2 http://blog.avidexav.com/cracking-the-code-of-state-of-the-art-hospital-communication/

#3: https://www.wctc.edu/programs-and-courses/health/hps-lab.php

 

 

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

“Lobbying” for Better Patient Experiences

“What’s the difference between a Dentist and a Sadist? A Sadist has newer magazines.” –Jerry Seinfeld

The quality of entertainment in waiting rooms and medical lobbies in the past has been suspect at best. Old magazines, Reader’s Digest, and medical pamphlets strewn across a couple of end tables in a white room with fluorescent lights were the norm and an easy target for jokes. However, there was little correlation that could be drawn between the potential quality of care and some old magazines, so this was easy to overlook and make the subject of a joke or two. However, in today’s world of technology intensive medicine, ushospital lobby 2ing subpar technology in these spaces is no joking matter.

We’ve always heard that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. The patient experience starts when a new patient makes an appointment, and usually the next impression is formed in your facility’s lobby. You may be thinking that the quality of the doctor can easily overcome any impression the new patient may get from their lobby experience.

But is that completely true?

Granted, no amount of effort spent in lobby design can overcome the anchor of an inept physician. However, in today’s world of healthcare, where medicine and it’s doctors depend on an assortment of high tech equipment to properly diagnose and treat their patients, can a low tech lobby send the wrong impression about the provider’s investments in technology?

Here are some tips for using technology in your lobby in a way that will assure your patients have a lasting first impression that is in line with your commitment to modern medicine and exceptional patient outcomes.

  1. Keep it neat. This may seem like the most ridiculous tip to start with, but experience in visiting medical lobbies around the country will tell you it is very often overlooked. People pay attention to lobbies. There are even Pinterest pages dedicated to them for goodness sake. One of the worst things to do is to invest in technology, and then have it installed crooked with cables hanging down and the satellite box and or media player sitting precariously unsecured on top of the sagging mounting hardware. It may leave your patient thinking that attention to detail is low here or “I hope they don’t leave stuff hanging out of me after surgery.” If you are investing in technology, invest in the proper installation by a professional to go with it. It makes a huge difference. 
  2. Set the tone. The lobby design game has officially been “upped”. There is more to using technology in these spaces than hanging a couple TVs playing Judge Judy. Lobby design today considers everything form calming patients’ fears to creating privacy areas to supporting their mental and spiritual needs. Invest in things like quality audio, sound masking technology, customized lighting, and unique content on your screens that help set this tone. 
  3. Get engaged. The best way to create a memorable experience is to get the patient involved. There may be a high level of anxiety or curiosity about your practice and/or the upcoming experience. Use technology in a way that helps satisfy this curiosity and allay any concerns. An interactive facility map that highlights research areas or high tech laboratories, digital collages of patient testimonials and positive outcomes, or even a video introduction to your doctors and their education and specialties are all great places to start.
  4.  Think outside the rectangle. If you invest in technology in the ways suggested above, you need to make sure that patients are drawn to it. Everyone has a 4” HD screen in their pocket, so a plain TV on the wall may not garner much attention. Think of using arrays of screens to make larger canvases or even unique shapes and aspect ratios that beckon patients and reinforces the unique nature of your practice instead of leaving patients “to their own devices”.
  5. Make it personal and portable. Remember that 4” HD screen in everyone’s pocket? Use it to your advantage. Create unique ties from your lobby technology experience to those devices to make data portable and easily accessible for future reference.

Remember that technology today is all around us, and our experiences with it are getting increasingly more elegant. The technology in the lobby area should mirror the commitment to technology in other areas of the facility and practice. Just as much thought should be put into the technology in these spaces as was put into the decision to buy a euro-inspired espresso machine for the lobby instead of that truck-stop coffee pot. First impressions still matter. Make yours positive and lasting.

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.pinterest.com/explore/medical-office-design/

#2: http://www.hfmmagazine.com/display/HFM-news-article.dhtml?dcrPath=/templatedata/HF_Common/NewsArticle/data/HFM/Magazine/2015/Jun/last%20detail-design

#3: http://www.catamaranrx.com/Insights/Innovation-Center/

#4: http://www.bdcnetwork.com/4-hospital-lobbies-provide-healthy-perspective

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

How Healthy is Your Technology Experience?

horse eatingA year ago, one of my two horses decided to step on my left foot. After applying 1,800 pounds of pressure on my foot, my quarter horse walked away. I was rushed to the hospital for a visit with my ER doctor. I remember them asking about my pain level when I got into the waiting room…then they administered the proper amount of pain meds to make my stay comfortable.  For the hour-and-a-half I waited to get x-rays and a walking cast fitted, my pain started to subside. I was glad I whimped out and told them a “9” because I could not have handled not getting the pain relief sooner than later. If you need some “pain relief” at your hospital, don’t wait until it hurts. Call me now and I’ll give you the right amount of pain meds to make your daily stay at the hospital much more enjoyable!

When assessing a patient complaining of pain, it is always important to qualify the level of pain the patient is feeling in order to properly prescribe the appropriate care and/or medication. Today, most doctors and facilities use a Universal Pain Assessment Tool in order to qualify each patient in a more objective way. These tools ask patients not only to rate their pain on a scale from 1-10, but also allow the doctor to ask questions about daily activities in order to compare the stated pain level with the actual effects the level of pain is having on the patient’s activities.

In the spirit of that same philosophy we’d like to ask you to assess the health of the audiovisual technology in your facility. First, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your patients’ technology experience? Is it a 10? Is it a 7? Is it a 2? It may be hard to give yourself a rating. (See how your patients feel when you ask them about their pain?)

Never fear! Just like with the pain assessment tool, we’ve included a small checklist below to help you get an idea of how healthy your experience really is. Take a minute to quickly answer the 10 questions below and find out if your technology experience throughout the patient journey is strong like an ox or flat-lining and in need of some CPR.

1) Does your lobby technology assist patients in checking in and/or navigating your facility? Y N
2) Do you use digital signage to inform patients about your facility or potential services and treatments offered? Y N
3) Do your patient rooms utilize up to date technology equivalent to what patients would have at home? i.e. HD programming, flat panels, etc. Y N
4) Do you use interactive technology to allow patients to control blinds and lighting in their rooms? Y N
5) Does your facility have an interactive patient engagement system to educate patients on things like after care and discharge instructions? Y N
6) Are you using speakers not only for messaging and background music but also for sound masking and privacy? Y N
7) Are you utilizing a patient tracking system to assist both staff and patients’ families in staying up to date on each patient’s progress? Y N
8) Do you leverage technology in the OR or a simulation lab to create opportunities for knowledge sharing and or consulting/training? Y N
9) Are you utilizing video teleconferencing, voice lift systems, and effective video to hold meetings and train remote employees or conference with other facilities? Y N
10) Do you leverage telemedicine to promote better patient outcomes, enhanced aftercare, and reduce readmissions/return visits? Y N

Now count up all of your Yes’s above, giving yourself 1 point for each one. How did your score compare to the rating you gave yourself initially? Use the scale below to get an idea of the overall health of your technology experiences. (Please click on image to enlarge.)

pain tool

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://compass31.org/living-at-an-8/

#2: http://blog.avidexav.com/creating-better-patient-outcomes-through-interactive-technology/

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

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

#5: http://blog.avidexav.com/telemedicine-a-428-million-silver-bullet/

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