June 2016 - Techindia

Month: June 2016

AN OUTLOOK ON ELECTRONIC ICU MONITORING SERVICES

Telemedicine can make it possible for a group of doctors and nurses to monitor several rooms of patients from a single location. Electronic ICU monitoring applies this remote telemedicine technology enabling monitoring of many critical patients from a single room.

eICU – A Remote Care Strategy:

As the number of intensivists lags behind the critical care needs of an aging population, tele ICU makes it possible for intensivists in one location to monitor ICU patients in remote locations through audio video connections. The intensivists in the centre can receive patient information such as psychological data, medical records and treatment information, and communicate with doctors in the remote location who can provide care to the patients in the ICU as directed.

The Idea Behind eICUs:

Between 2000 and 2020, the number of people over the age of 65 is going to substantially increase in US, meaning the need for critical health care will also increase. According to statistics, this will far outweigh the number of intensivists in the country leading to poor critical care for patients.

eICU technology can alleviate this problem by enabling 24/7 intensivist care across locations, increasing the quality of care and reducing costs as well. The main idea behind eICU technology is to increase access to critical healthcare. Patients can access critical health care in their local hospitals, as intensivists can take over more areas from a single location; helping patients by not only reducing transportation costs but also reducing the stress of shifting to other critical health centres.

How eICUs Improve ICU Care:

ICU beds account for 30% of the costs in US hospitals and it is widely believe that 24/7 care provided by intensivists in ICUs can bring down the mortality rate significantly. Moving over shortages of trained personnel and cost barriers, eICU technology offers increased accessibility, better resource utilization and reduced costs by leveraging intensivists in one single location to monitor ICUs across geographies.

eICUs also give the advantage of proactive care, as ICU patients need constant monitoring because their condition changes rapidly. Remote monitoring experts have access to sophisticated analytics and they can pro-actively identify changes in the patients’ condition before they turn critical.

Outcomes Made Easy:

While barriers of costs and acceptance remain, early adopters of eICU technology can benefit from improved clinical and cost outcomes. Lower mortality rate, shorter ICU stays and better resource utilization through 24/7 monitoring of patients via intensivist controlled command centres are factors directly contributing to increase quality of care, lesser administrative costs and higher revenues for the hospitals in the longer run.

Conclusion:

With more than 5 million patients admitted to ICUs in US every year, hospital costs are high not only in terms of finances but also in terms of clinical outcomes due to high mortality rates and under-staffing. Several researches have proven superior clinical outcomes from ICUs staffed with dedicated intensivists. eICU technology, currently, provides the most cost effective and technologically advanced intensivist staffing model that can help hospitals improve financial as well as clinical outcomes, while increasing patient satisfaction by providing critical care in local hospitals, much more accessible to patients.

TOP 5 CRITERIA FOR CHOOSING THE BEST MEDICAL BILLING SERVICES

The decision to outsource billing services for your medical practice can have significant impact on your practice as well as revenue by freeing up more time for your patients and saving you the hassle of managing an internal billing department, if you are successful in choosing a professional and experienced billing service.

It can be an uphill task finding the right service provider to manage the revenues for your company. In this post, we’d share the top 5 criteria that can help you make the right choice.

Quality and Level of Services:

The basic services provided by a medical billing company include claim generation and submission, following up with carriers and preparing patient invoices and providing patient support.

Many companies also offer extras that can make your revenue collection system much more efficient.

  • Payment follow-up – Many billing companies follow up with patients who do not pay their bills on time, crucial to optimum revenue collection for your practice.
  • Denied claims – What are the procedures in place for following up on denied claims?
  • Practice Management – Many billing service providers report back on monthly basis on billing issues and provide insights and feedback for improved practice management.

Before selecting a medical billing service, you must agree on the level of services provided by the company for smooth functioning.

Use of Latest Technology

Latest medical billing software offer many advantages, provided trained staff is available to utilize the technology.

  1. What are the procedures in place for data backup, data recovery, patient information sharing and handling and security of data?
  2. Is the technology HIPAA compliant?
  3. How are the superbills and claims shared?
  4. Is the billing service in line with your company’s Electronic Health Record (EHS) system?
  5. Does the service provider have an integrated EHR system?

Quality of Billing Staff

Apart from the number of years the billing company has under its belt, the experience and expertise of the staff is also important.

The staff must be aware of your specialty-specific codes and procedures employed by your company as well as the carriers. Staff experienced with Medicaid or Medicare would definitely increase operational efficiency.

It is also worthwhile to check for AMBA (American Billing Medical Association) certification that tests the staff for knowledge on coding, medical terminology, HIPAA compliance and carriers.

Consider Pricing Options

Various price models are available and the choice ultimately depends on the size of your practice, average claim size and volume and the service package provided by the billing company.

  • Percentage model – In this model, the billing company will charge a percentage of the total collections. It is one of the most popular models as it provides incentive to the billing company on the basis of the revenue collected.
  • Fixed fee model – Here, the billing company will charge a fixed amount for each claim submitted by it. This can turn out to be a lesser expensive model, but isn’t very popular with service providers due to lack of incentives.
  • Partly fixed model – It is possible to have a flat fee model for certain carriers and percentage basis for others. The method is not very common, but can prove to be more cost effective than a purely percentage based model.

Check out the Company is Certified

The billing company must be HIPAA (Health Insurance Accountability and Portability Act) compliant and protect the patient’s personal information in alignment with your company standards.

The staff must also be AMBA certified. To maintain AMBA certification, 15 continuing education credits are required each year.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF OUTSOURCING TELERADIOLOGY SERVICES?

Teleradiology makes it possible for medical images (X-Rays, Ultrasounds, MRI) taken at one location to be transmitted and reviewed at another location by trained radiologists, to overcome the issues of cost, shortage of staff and provide expert advice, even in remote locations.

Outsourcing teleradiology services to countries such as India can significantly improve patient care by ensuring 24 hour service and quick turn-around time (because of different time zones). In US, the number of radiologists is limited, while the number of scans to be reviewed is continually on the rise. An outsourcing company can fix the gap by hiring experienced radiologists in offshore locations to review the scans and provide reports. It also frees up time for the resident radiologists who can review the reports on the subsequent day.

Outsourcing teleradiology services has the following benefits:

Available 24*7

Having a service provider with 24*7*365 days service can relieve the resident radiologists from working nights and thereby reducing the scope of error. With 24 hour support services, the radiologists are free from being on-call at night. Turn-around time is quicker, as weekend and holiday support is also available.

Improving the format of reports

Sometimes, especially if you are dealing with a specialized practice, it is not possible to find radiologists with your sub-specialty in the location. Teleradiology gives you access to super specialist radiologists without having them on your panel. When dealing with experienced service providers and specialized staff, they can provide invaluable advise on improving report formats and help you with a standardized form that is widely accepted across the world.

Quick completion of priority cases

If your hospital or clinic receives a lot of accident cases or urgent cases, especially at night, teleradiology can ensure quick completion of priority cases because of the availability of round-the-clock service. Imaging results can be instantaneously shared through a DICOM viewer for faster diagnosis. It is also possible to communicate and take a second opinion from a specialist for priority cases without having to visit the specialist physically.

Cost Effective

Outsourcing teleradiology services can be extremely cost effective for hospitals, clinics and even private practitioners:

  1. Increased medical facilities without the need to increase staff.
  2. 24/7 service at much lower costs.
  3. No need for radiologists to travel, as images can be transferred to any location with the teleradiology facility. It also saves the cost of printing images or packaging and posting them as images are shared online.
  4. Quick access to high quality reports and consultations, while limiting overheads.

If you have decided to outsource teleradiology services, always choose a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) compliant teleradiology service provider, employing trained and certified radiologists.

THE IMPORTANCE OF MONITORING HIGH-RISK PATIENTS

High-risk in the medical world is a very complex and controversial term. To monitor a ‘high-risk’ patient, you should first understand what the term means and entails. It depends on the individual’s past, his current state, and professional observation. We can label a patient as high-risk based on:

  • Demographic information such as age and gender.
  • Diagnosis (Clinical information – disease type, disease burden, co-morbidities)
  • Patient activation/motivation.
  • Behavioral Health Diagnosis.
  • Existence of multiple co-morbidities.

When treating a high-risk patient, sometimes, we find it hard to prioritize. For example, in some situations, test results might indicate poor conclusions, but the actual risk might be relatively low, but in other situations with good test results, the risk might actually be high, but is elusive. As you see ‘risk’, in the medical world, is a very debatable term. However, as a caregiver, the priority of any institution/doctor is to completely assess the patient and provide a detailed and informative report, so that the patient or their family can make an informed decision about the quality of care. Also, with high-risk patients you never know when a change can occur for the good or bad, precisely why you require efficient monitoring.

An institution or even a private nursing home might be able to monitor a high-risk patient effectively during the day and would possibly have a different set of staff doing the same at night. But, this is not only expensive, but can also lead to misses and slips that might prove costly. Take for example surgical patients; they are definitely at risk of intra or post-operative complications. According to PubMed, insufficient tissue perfusion and cellular oxygenation due to hypovolemia, heart dysfunction or both is one of the leading causes of perioperative complications. Definitely, competent pre- and post-operative management guided by effective and timely hemodynamic monitoring can help reduce risk arising from complications.

While, pre-operative care is one high-risk situation, there are others as well, such as patients suffering from severe chronic conditions, physically or mentally disabled individuals, etc. To assist and avoid any fatal errors – whether it is to prevent overcrowded ERs, for pre-operative care or re-hospitalizations, most healthcare providers now look to connected care solutions.

According to mhealthintelligence.com, a new project at Massachusetts General Hospitals uses smartphones to monitor high-risk mentally disabled patients. The app, which is called Cogito, developed by an MIT-based company, tracks the mood, location, frequency of phone calls and texts, etc. to gauge the behavior and state of the patient and to provide immediate care in case of emergency.

Another example is Techindia’s Cardiac Rhythm Interpretation Services. Patients from across the globe are monitored on real and near real-time basis and the data (arrhythmia, if any) is scanned, analysed and reported accurately within a very close timeframe. In fact, emergency reports are reviewed, annotated and delivered within 5 minutes of the occurrence of the cardiac event to any location in the world. Besides, all the reports are available to be viewed/availed via mobile devices.

Remote monitoring is the way of the future, especially where high-risk patients are concerned. A system that can monitor, record, analyze and report every single movement that occurs within or outside the patient can definitely improve quality of care.

HOW TO PREVENT SLEEP DISORDERS AND MAINTAIN A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE?

Do you know that more than $15 billion are added to the National Health Care costs with more than 70% Americans suffering from some kind of sleep disorder?

If you look visibly tired on most days, have trouble waking up and cannot start the day without a pit stop at your nearest Starbucks, it is possible you are not getting enough sleep leading to low productivity and efficiency.

Tiredness, fatigue, irritability, lack of concentration, and even obesity are common symptoms as well as triggers for sleep disorders.

What is a Sleep Disorder?

Good sleep is necessary for good health. A sleep disorder is a medical condition affecting your sleep patterns and quality of sleep adversely. A large population suffers from chronic sleep disorders such as insomnia, narcolepsy, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

Do you know there are more than 84 kinds of sleep disorders known in the medical world?

Types of Sleep Disorders

Insomnia – One of every three people in US suffers from insomnia or sleeplessness at some point in their life. The main culprits leading to this condition are stress, anxiety, too much caffeine or liquor and other lifestyle factors. The patient may not get restful sleep or find it difficult to sleep at night and feel sleepy at odd hours. Following tips can help prevent insomnia:

  • Maintain a routine
  • Exercise regularly
  • Cut down on caffeine
  • Avoid heavy meals at night
  • Relax your mind before sleeping with light music, light reading or deep breathing

Restless Legs Syndrome – This disorder is characterized by uncomfortable sensations felt in the limbs while sleeping. Most patients constantly move their legs while sleeping and may also wake up during night to move around as movement soothes the tingly, prickly or painful sensations they feel while sleeping. About 10% Americans suffer from this sleep disorder that may be alleviated with the following remedies:

  • Drink water and having bananas to keep your potassium level in check
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid too much sugar or starch in your meals before bedtime as it can cause blood-sugar fluctuations
  • It can also be a good idea to maintain a diary of triggers so that you can identify and avoid them

Sleep Apnea – Sleep apnea is found in all age groups but more than half the cases are reported in patients 40 years or above in age. The patient feels obstruction in breathing that disrupts the sleep. The pause can last up to few seconds and normal breathing usually resumes with a gasp. As the airway becomes choked during sleeping, the condition can be serious if left undiagnosed. Over 10 million Americans suffer from this disorder and many cases remain undiagnosed. Here are some tips that can prevent or help with mild cases of sleep apnea:

  • Lose weight
  • Treat congestion and other breathing problems promptly
  • Stop smoking and limit the intake of alcohol
  • Consult a physician who can recommend a CPAP mask and other effective treatments

Conclusion:

Minimum 7-8 hours of restful sleep is essential for our bodies to function optimally. If you are not getting adequate sleep, have problem falling asleep or do not feel refreshed after a night’s sleep, it is time to analyze your sleep habits. It is probable you are suffering from a sleep disorder and small lifestyle changes can help in alleviating the symptoms. For chronic cases, your physician may refer you to a sleep center, where specialists can design effective treatments based on your sleep patterns.