Dymin Blog

The Most Pressing Technology Challenges in Healthcare and What You Can Do About Them

Posted by Scott Breitman on Jun 22, 2021 5:27:41 PM

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Healthcare IT has revolutionized the industry, making it easier than ever for doctors to access patient records, discover potential drug interactions before they cause harm, and track outbreaks as they emerge in communities. Electronic medical records (EMRs), for example, give authorized healthcare workers information about a patient's allergies, past illnesses, and ongoing conditions.

Despite the benefits of healthcare IT, the industry and individual providers face several challenges. How you address these issues could help define the success of your medical care and practice. Luckily, medical practice management services can usually find solutions that prevent small concerns from evolving into major problems.

 

Ransomware Prevents Healthcare Works From Accessing Patient Records

It's difficult to overestimate the benefits of electronic medical records when used correctly. A few advantages of EMRs acknowledged by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) include:

  • More coordinated, efficient care for patients
  • Reduced medical errors
  • More reliable prescribing
  • Reducing costs for providers and patients
  • Streamlined coding and billing
The more healthcare organizations rely on the benefits of electronic health records, though, the easier it becomes for criminals to blackmail them. Cybercriminals use malicious software called ransomware to block your access to patient records. Without access to information, providers cannot treat patients efficiently and accurately. It's a terrible situation that often ends when hospitals and other provider organizations accept the ransom demands and pay large sums of money to regain patient files.
 
Ransomware attacks happen so frequently that they cost the U.S. healthcare industry about $21 billion in 2020, according to The HIPAA Journal.
 
 

Preventing Ransomware and Other Attacks

All healthcare organizations need robust cybersecurity systems that make it difficult for hackers to infiltrate their networks, install malware, and steal data.
 
A managed service provider (MSP) gives you the most effective way to prevent ransomware and other attacks, including phishing and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which is when someone uses thousands or even millions of bots to request information from your network, rendering it inoperable.
 
A reliable managed service provider can help by:
  • Keeping your software updated to patch security holes
  • Monitoring your network for signs of irregular or suspicious activity
  • Training employees to recognize common signs of phishing attempts

With the right provider, someone will address the issue quickly, shut attackers out of your network, and fix any damage.

 

Complying With HIPAA Healthcare IT Regulations

Everyone making critical decisions in the healthcare industry understands the importance of knowing and following HIPAA regulations. Some parts of HIPAA are easy to implement. Others probably sound a little technical or complex, especially if you don't have a practice large enough to hire its own IT team.

As a manager or administrator, how can you "evaluate the likelihood and impact of potential risks to e-PHI"? That sentence, and others in the healthcare IT regulations, might sound completely foreign.

 

Making Healthcare IT Regulations Easier

You don't have to handle all of your organization's compliance requirements on your own. Managed services from a healthcare IT provider can handle the difficult parts for you.

You know you need a managed services provider when you:

  • Have questionable protection for your network and devices
  • Don't have or understand data security controls
  • Lack resources for risk improvement
  • Do not have proper documenting procedures
  • Aren't certain whether you have the right administrative tools

A lot of healthcare organizations are in these positions. It makes sense to transfer the responsibilities to a company with medical practice management and healthcare IT experience.

 

Connecting With Patients Through Telemedicine

Telemedicine has brought so many benefits to the healthcare industry. Anyone who didn't understand its importance learned differently during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Like any technology, there are benefits and challenges to telehealth.

Benefits include:

  • Reaching patients in rural areas or who feel too sick to come to your office
  • Email and text reminders that help patients follow instructions
  • Recording health measurements without requiring an office visit
  • Sharing information with other healthcare providers

The downsides include:

  • Concerns about protecting a patient's privacy
  • High out-of-pocket costs when insurance companies do not cover telemedicine services
  • Some tests require in-person visits

 

Solving Telemedicine Problems

Healthcare IT cannot solve insurance problems or create new technologies that let you perform all tests remotely. A managed service provider can, however, improve your security to ensure you conform to HIPAA requirements.

Some managed service providers can even train staff members to install equipment at the patient's residence.

 

Interoperability Between Apps and Systems

Interoperability ensures that the apps and computer systems can exchange data without losing important information. As big data becomes increasingly important to tracking health outcomes, researching disease, and detecting emerging viruses, healthcare providers require interoperability. Without it, a physician using App A might not have access to a patient’s information because another doctor created the file using App B.

 

Improving Interoperability in Healthcare

No one can force the healthcare systems of every country to use the same apps, operating systems, and data storage services. Application Programming Interface (API), however, can translate data before it moves from one system to the next.

Healthcare managers can make interoperability easier by making sure they choose technology with strong integration and API features.

 

EMR Privacy

EMRs have revolutionized the ways that doctors and organizations treat patients. Instead of finding a paper file for each patient, healthcare providers can access digital files via mobile devices.

EMRs have obvious benefits, but they can also create privacy issues. It’s relatively simple to prevent someone from stealing a paper file from a locked office. It seems more challenging to prevent hackers from stealing information stored electronically.

 

Keeping Medical Records Private

Cloud security plays a critical role in protecting the privacy of medical records. Healthcare providers need to choose cloud service providers that encrypt data. Even if hackers access the files, they cannot read the information.

Antivirus software can also provide a layer of security that protects records from malicious applications like ransomware, keyloggers, and spyware.

 

Dymin Systems Can Help Your Healthcare Organization Overcome Technology Challenges

Do you have other questions about healthcare technology? Get the answers and services you need by scheduling a remote or in-person conversation with the experts at Dymin. Our healthcare IT professionals can provide the solutions you need to care for patients, adopt new technologies, and streamline operations while staying within HIPAA requirements.

 

Image Credit: Photo by Marek Levák on Unsplash

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Topics: Healthcare IT, HIPAA, HIPAA compliance, IT security, telemedicine, patient records, IT technology challenges, ransomware, telehealth, managed services provider, healthcare technology,, electronic medical records, EMR, security compliance