Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How Practices can benefit from Text Messaging

People consider SMS's (Text Messaging) as the most convenient form of keeping in touch with the people around them. It is no surprise then that Text Messaging has been found to be the most liked feature on mobile phones. An affordable option for keeping in touch, Text Messaging can help healthcare immensely.

Some simple ways by which Text Messaging helps practices provide better patient care:

- Reminding Patients regarding Appointments and Lab Tests.
- Infant immunization alerts for parents
- Blood donor information and alerts
- Medication Alerts for Patients
- Diet and Exercise Alerts to ensure adherence for Patients
- Health Insurance claims update
- Messages to wish discharged patients
- Instant provision of information 24/7 via a 2 way SMS service

By using Text Messaging effectively, practices can also improve internal productivity and tighten their internal workflows. Ways in which Text Messaging helps Practice Productivity:

- Daily provision of Stock related information and special alerts on insufficient stock of items allows store managers and pharmacies to keep on top of their inventory
- Alert Messages to inform Technicians of maintenance Schedules
- Regular Shift wise schedules to staff
- Daily Message with Summary of financials to management staff
- Instant message to duty staff in case of emergencies
- Message to confirm appointment with a doctor / dentist
- End of day consultation summary

Terminologies profiling IT usage within Healthcare

Health Telematics
Health Telematics is a composite term for health-related activities, services and systems, carried out over a distance by means of information and communications technologies, for the purposes of global health promotion, disease control, and health care, as well as education, management, and research for health.

E-health is the combined use in the health sector of electronic communication and information technology (digital data transmitted, stored and retrieved electronically) for clinical, education and administrative purposes, both at the local site and at a distance.

mHealth (also written as m-health or mobile health) is a term used for the practice of medicine and public health, supported by mobile devices. The term is most commonly used in reference to using mobile communication devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers and PDAs, for health services and information. The mHealth field has emerged as a sub-segment of eHealth

The delivery of health care services, where distance is a critical factor, by health care professionals using information and communications technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and for the continuing education of health care providers, all in the interest of advancing the health of individuals and their communities.

Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that can be created, gathered, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff within one health care organization.

Electronic Health Record (EHR)
An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be created, managed, and consulted by authorized clinicians and staff across more than one health care organization.

Personal Health Record (PHR)
An electronic record of health-related information on an individual that conforms to nationally recognized interoperability standards and that can be drawn from multiple sources while being managed, shared, and controlled by the individual.

Health Information Exchange (HIE)
Health information exchange (HIE) is the electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards. It refers to the process of reliable and interoperable electronic health-related information sharing conducted in a manner that protects the confidentiality, privacy, and security of the information.

Integrated EHR
This refers to an EHR that is integrated with practice management software. Typical choices include purchasing a fully integrated product which performs all the functions of practice management software, or a stand-alone EHR which is compatible with an existing practice management system.

Disclaimer: The definitions have been used as is from multiple sources.

EMR’s for Simplified Patient Record Management

Effective management of patient records and other related documents is a critical factor in many clinical practices. Like the patients themselves, documents can come from a variety of sources. Some are for administrative and financial management, some are patient charts, and some are diagnostic while some are external reports provided by professionals at hospitals and labs. 

Maintaining the Patients Medical records is an area of key concern for any Medical professional and is also one of the reasons for an EMR being deployed. EMR’s have the ability to improve the productivity of a practice simply by effectively automating the practice workflows related to Medical Records.

Using EMR’s will help Practices by providing quick access to the records, easy searching of records, tracking symptoms and responses over time and even simplify the process the delivering the record and associated information to patients and external doctors. 

There are numerous benefits provided by EMR’s purely in terms of patient record management which lead to direct financial savings for the practice. 

  • It will cut down the time taken for average patient visit and therefore help to increase the number of patients served daily. The reduction of time is because of ease of locating previous records, setting appointments, auditing the information and co-ordination rather than because of paper entry being replaced by a computer which actually may increase the time marginally.
  • Also it may help in cutting the cost associated with photocopy, faxing, courier or any other related work. Integrated EMR’s can avail of secure emails to patients as well as the ability to provide the information to patients on encrypted Flash Drives/Memory Cards
  • Reduce Real Estate requirements for a practice due to reduction in physical storage requirements for patient health information.
  • Significant decrease in record administration time and expenses.
  • Since the digital availability of patient data provides the possibility of tracking symptoms and study responses to treatment over time easily, doctors can carry out more analysis and research than they could otherwise leading to more and better publications.