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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on July 12th, 2017

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5 Healthcare Basics that Medical Professionals Should Be Reviewing Constantly

Healthcare Advice

Things definitely do not stay the same for long in the world of medicine. Healthcare professionals therefore have enormous amounts of information to go through so they can stay up-to-date on the basics.

It’s important for you and your team to stay aware of changes and updates within the medical industry, so you can better serve your patients as well as keep revenue flowing smoothly within your organization. In fact, if you do not remain current, potential employees will be able to tell that you’re not properly informed about the industry, and this could cause problems for future recruitment.

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Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals cannot rest on the knowledge they gained while in school. This is because advances in biomedicine, pharmaceuticals, computer technology, and software continue to present themselves, requiring even the savviest of medical workers to spend time staying on top of these developments.

With that in mind, here are five healthcare basics you need to keep up with:

1. Patient Security/Safety Guidelines

The safety and security of each patient you treat should be of the utmost importance. With the advent of computer systems networked via the Internet, healthcare cyber security and ransomware protection become crucial to medical practices.

Failure to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996) or
HIPPA can expose patients to criminal hackers. When you don’t secure your systems, patients will be subject to identity theft and economic hardship if thieves manage to drain their bank accounts with the help of data that they loot from your servers.

And now that we are storing our sensitive information in the cloud, patient data is more at risk than ever. “Healthcare is the industry most frequently targeted by cyber attacks, with 164 threats detected per 1,000 host devices, according to a recent Vectra Networks study,” noted a report from eSecurity Planet.

You can improve the situation through properly training your staff on the essentials of healthcare cyber security. Some medical organizations find it useful to bring in a consultant to address the staff and make sure they know how to protect patient data.

It’s also crucial to keep your software updated. Your software provider should have a good track record of improving software in response to cyber security threats.

In addition, members of your team should be instructed to not share passwords or leave them written down in plain view. Sometimes a criminal needs just a single stolen password to compromise the entire network.

The results to your organization could be devastating, with the loss of patients who leave, infuriated that you failed to protect them. You’d face a potential lawsuit and could even have to close your doors if too many patients decided enough was enough.

If you’re still using a paper-based system, it’s really time to switch to an EHR solution. Just make sure that you have a good understanding of security basics before you deploy the EHR.

2. The ICD-10 Transition

The World Health Organization is in charge of administering and maintaining the International Classification of Diseases, with the latest version being ICD-10.

Because the new code base contained thousands of new and more precise codes, the U.S. government extended the deadline for a few years before the mandatory switchover became mandatory. The additional codes will allow for easier billing as well as facilitate important research being done by researchers involved in protecting the public’s health.

Although ICD-10 has been out for a while now, it’s still important to make sure you know all of the correct codes. Tools like an ICD-10 coding converter can help with this. You’ll be presented with the most appropriate new code when you type in a code from the older ICD-9 code base.

3. Technology and Software Developments

As computers become smaller and more powerful, software developers are able to create ever-sophisticated and nuanced applications. When it comes to medicine, you should stay updated on such basics as the latest in Electronic Health Record (EHR) and Practice Management software. Adopting changes in software from one year to the next can make the difference between remaining competitive with other practices and falling behind.

Electronic Health Records software lets your team create digital records for each patient. You can also set up a patient portal with the EHR, enabling easier communication between them and your staff (no more waiting on hold on the phone for routine requests).

If you’re still relying on a paper-based system, it’s best to educate yourself as soon as possible on such basics as EHR software so you can deploy it in your office.

Practice Management software streamlines your practice’s business operations, such as producing reports for weekly staff meetings or checking on each patient’s insurance status. PM software also lets you sort out problems with denied claims so you can quickly fix and then resubmit them.

Medical billing software is better for your practice to use than generic billing software. It will have features specific to the field of medicine. Analytics will help you discover patterns in billing that you can address immediately, such as delays from certain insurers.

Using dedicated software and making sure that you always keep it up-to-date will bring you an increase in efficiency, a decrease in errors, and better cash flow.

4. Legal/Political Shifts

With new political changes, the President and Congress will often have healthcare changes in mind that they will pursue in order to fulfill their promises to the voters.

This means that healthcare and insurance policies can change with a new administration. Medical professionals as a matter of course will have to remain aware of shifts in the political winds. Whether the changes will be beneficial or might wind up leading to more problems is something that you will have to determine through regular, judicious reading of the news.

5. Rising Health Issues

Medical professionals cannot predict which diseases may become more emergent than others without access to statistics and the latest studies and projections. A number of health issues are becoming more prominent and they deserve your attention, including:

  • Obesity
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Cancer
  • Behavioral Issues

Keep current with your subscriptions to peer-reviewed journals so you can have access to new information as it appears, to better take care of each of your patients.

Remember that professionals will typically need to know the medications for each condition and patient, as well as how the various prescription and over-the-counter drugs will interact with other medications and herbal supplements.

With so many basic healthcare topics to remain current on, it can be difficult to get all the information you need to do your job as effectively as possible. New details can change the way you diagnose and treat patients, as well as how you maintain patient records and use the information that you store. Getting alerts about cyber security as how it relates to healthcare will be invaluable as you shore up your own office’s defenses.

Key Takeaway:

  • The medical/healthcare industry is always innovating, which underscores the need of professionals to stay aware of changes and updates.
  • Healthcare cyber security is an increasingly important issue to keep tabs on in healthcare, because of the growing threat of ransomware and other forms of malware hitting providers’ computer systems.
  • While version 10 of the International Classification of Diseases code base has been out for a while now, it’s a good idea to use an ICD-10 coding converter to make sure you get it right.
  • Legal and political changes can dramatically affect how you will deliver healthcare and get reimbursed, so it’s crucial to stay on top of developments.
  • With rising health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and obesity, medical professionals have a greater need to remain current on the basics.

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About Stephen O'Connor

Stephen O'Connor is the Director of Brand and Digital Marketing, responsible for many aspects of Advanced Data Systems Corporation’s (ADS) marketing, including product marketing, customer acquisition, demand generation, brand, brand design, and content marketing.

Stephen has more than 20 years of healthcare industry experience. Prior to ADS, Stephen spent 11 years at Medical Resources Inc. (MRI), most recently as the Manager of Marketing & Internet Services, where he and his teams were responsible for all marketing efforts and the market positioning of MRI’s services.

Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional.