Transforming Patient Care with Technology

In today’s health care fields, technology is ever changing and progressing at a rapid pace. From patient satisfaction to innovative engagement interaction, the health care industry is paving the way for collecting and analyzing data.

The Affordable Care Act provides hospitals incentive to provide better care while at the same time increasing patient satisfaction. Because patients have more choices than ever, it is important that hospitals encourage innovative and effective patient engagement.

The way technology is progressing today, is by having patients participate in their own healthcare.

Healthcare providers are empowering their patients by encouraging them to track their own health progress from diagnosis through treatment and even into recovery via handheld devices (mobile and tablet).

Patients are using two-way communication to connect directly, by receiving medical notifications via mobile apps and asking doctors questions in real time. By removing the human error of not following up with doctor referrals, automatic referral requests are now being sent ensuring the continued care of patients.

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are just the tip of the technology iceberg. Now, the industry is using data warehouses to not only keep providers informed, but they are enhancing patient care by bringing a broad data range of figures together to predict the best methods of care. Metrics such as outcomes, lifestyle, biometric, and genomic data points are being combined together to create smarter approaches to care.

The future for the healthcare industry is bright. Products like electronic underpants used for bedridden patients to prevent bedsores, and bacteria killing light bulbs are currently being tested. Machines like robotic smart nurses are being invented and produced to assist human nurses with daily activities like moving patients between beds by wheelchair.

Click the infographic below to see the impact technology is having on the health care industry and improving patient care.

Cybersecurity: What Health Informatics Professionals Need to Know

Health informatics is one of the hottest areas of health care. But the fact that it forms the junction of health care and information technology makes it an attractive target for cybercriminals. They have proven adept at infiltrating health care institutions using a variety of tactics.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, for example, provides a Breach Portal with some startling statistics.1 The portal shows that data about more than 120 million people have been compromised in more than 1,100 separate breaches at organizations handling protected health data since 2009.

The reason attacks can successfully skip past the various layers of health care security technology in place is that cybercrime has evolved to encompass many different attack vectors. For many years, web-based threats posed the most danger to organizations. But according to Osterman Research surveys2, email is now the top avenue of infiltration into organizations, with social media becoming the fastest-growing sector of concern within cybersecurity.

Health informatics professionals dealing with the security of patient information, therefore, may find that existing defenses are aligned more with web-based threats while the email channel is relatively poorly protected – hence the rise of phishing in its various forms as the bane of the health care security world.

Phishing:

Phishing emails are sent to large numbers of users simultaneously and attempt to “fish” sensitive information from unsuspecting users by posing as reputable sources. In health care, the ploy is to trick the user into either clicking on a link to infect the PC, open an infected attachment, or go to a fake health care website to enter login credentials, financial information, social security data, or credit card details. According to the Verizon 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report3, 30% of recipients open phishing messages. Another 12% click on attachments.

Spearphishing:

Spearphishing is a targeted form of phishing aimed at specific individuals or a small group. The instigator has studied the health care provider, gathered information from social media sites, and is determined to con a hospital administrator or clerk into handing over the keys to the kingdom. With data such as travel plans, family details, employment history, and various medical affiliations being on public view in Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, emails that seem to be legitimate often successfully fool users into compromising the network.

Watering holes:

A watering hole is a place you tend to visit frequently and which is trusted. This might be a regularly used website, a partner’s portal, or a vendor marketplace. By compromising that location, the bad guys seek to piggyback one’s access into the corporate network.

Misleading/Malicious Websites:

Cybercriminals have gotten clever about registering website URLs similar to legitimate health-care sites4. Healthcare.gov, for example, has Healthcare.com, Healthcare.org, Healthcare.net, Health-Care.org, and Obamacare.com piggybacking off its good name, with many of these sites looking for personal information.

Medical Device Insecurity:

As medical systems and devices adopt more wireless and web-based technologies, the risk of exposure to malware magnifies. This is so much the case that the Food and Drug Administration issued an alert about cybersecurity to manufacturers of medical devices, and hospitals with regard to their networks.5 In essence, embedded computer systems inside medical devices can be compromised or even used to infiltrate health care security networks and databases. Hospital networks may are vulnerable because of unauthorized access, and out of date antivirus software and firewalls.

Ransomware:

Perhaps the most dangerous threat to the health care industry is ransomware . Instead of merely infecting systems with nuisance ads or spam, such an attack shuts down a desktop, a server, or an entire network. The most famous strain is the Cryptolocker malware and its numerous variants, which encrypt files and demand a ransom in order to receive the key to decrypt the files.

Improving Healthcare Security

As a result of threats such as these, the discipline of health informatics demands a deep understanding of cybersecurity.

In addition to data analytics, mobile health, population health, and mobile health apps, The University of Scranton Online Master of Science in Health Informatics program gives graduates a grounding in health-care security. This includes how to combat web-borne threats, how to detect network incursions as soon as they occur, how to isolate suspicious behavior and detect malware that has found its way past the firewalls, and how to develop strategies to defend against phishing, and more. Armed with these skills, those graduating from the program are going to be a sought-after commodity in the job market.

 

To learn more about Health Informatics education at The University of Scranton, click here.

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Sources:

  1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights. (n.d.). Breach portal. Retrieved from https://ocrportal.hhs.gov/ocr/breach/breach_report.jsf
  2. Cimpanu, C. (2016). One in five companies gets malware infections via social media. Retrieved from http://news.softpedia.com/news/one-in-five-companies-get-malware-infections-via-social-media-502603.shtml
  3. (2016). Verizon 2016 Data breach investigations report, Retrieved from http://www.verizonenterprise.com/verizon-insights-lab/dbir/
  4. Ristau, V. (2013). Technically speaking, health informatics cybersecurity/Main categories of risk. Retrieved from http://blogs.dlt.com/health-informatics-cybersecurity-main-categories-risk/
  5. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). FDA Safety Communications: Cybersecurity for medical devices and hospital Networks Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm356423.htm
    (2016). White Paper: How to transform employee worst practices into best practiceshttps://info.knowbe4.com/whitepaper-employee-worst-best-practices-enterprise-security

7 Must-Have Skills for Hospital Administrators

The primary role of hospitals is to administer quality care, but, behind the scenes, hospitals are large institutions that run like any big business. That’s why successful hospital administrators must combine a passion for the well-being of patients with managerial know-how.

The former may be why you entered the health care field in the first place, but developing business skills could help you take your career to the next level. Not sure how to build those skills? Enrolling in an advanced educational program, such as The University of Scranton’s online Master of Health Administration program, will help you improve in the areas where you may need some help.

The top skills you’ll need to be a successful hospital administrator include:

  1. Industry Knowledge

The health care industry can be extremely competitive and receiving a master’s degree can take your career even further. The mostrespected master’s in health administration programs in the country are backed by The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education (CAHME), the only organization that can officially recognize programs offering a master’s in healthcare management. Employers know that job applicants with a CAHME-accredited MHA have received a quality education, honed the necessary skills and built a network of industry contacts, all of which helps them excel as hospital administrators. As one of the only CAHME-accredited online MHA programs, The University of Scranton’s Master of Health Administration degree gives graduates a leg up on the competition when applying for jobs.

  1. Leadership

Hospital administrators are the executives of the hospital. On a big-picture level, they are expected to inspire the organization to deliver the best care possible.1 Day-to-day responsibilities include overseeing staff and ushering in new policies. Leadership skills, as well as an ability to command respect, are necessary to excel in the role.

  1. Critical Thinking2

CAHME-accredited MHA programs arm future healthcare leaders with the analytical skills they need to determine the best course of action for their hospital. The job calls for solutions-oriented professionals who can make informed decisions by looking closely at data and predetermined goals.

  1. Relationship Building

Within the course of a day, a hospital administrator might interact with doctors, the hospital’s governing board and members of its finance team.3  Building strong relationships every step of the way and communicating effectively can rally staff behind a common cause and help keep the organization running smoothly. Establishing trust is key, as is making decisions that align with the long-term goals of the organization.4

  1. Ethical Judgment

Healthcare administrators must have high ethical standards.5  Many of the hospital’s decisions fall on the administrator and possessing a steadfast moral compass ensures the right ones will be made.6 The University of Scranton’s Master of Health Administration builds Jesuit values into the program to ensure graduates are ready to make ethical decisions in the field.

  1. Adaptability7

This is an exciting, yet challenging, time to be in the healthcare industry: Baby boomers are expected to live longer than previous generations, which will place more demand on hospitals, and the Affordable Care Act has changed the way care is provided and how it’s paid for.8Adaptability is a key skill if hospital administrators want to keep up with the ever-shifting healthcare landscape—and they will need to. Administrators must be willing to challenge the status quo and usher in appropriate changes.

  1. Quick Thinking

Doctors and staff turn to hospital administrators for both big decisions and small ones. Administrators should be comfortable making decisions on the fly, but they also need to readily take responsibility for the success and failure of these decisions.9

 

For more information about The University of Scranton’s graduate MHA programs, click here.

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Sources:

  1. Stefl, M. (2008). Common competencies for all healthcare managers: the healthcare leadership alliance model. Retrieved from http://www.healthcareleadershipalliance.org/Common%20Competencies%20for%20All%20Healthcare%20Managers.pdf
  2. Cyprus, J. (2016). 7 skills you must have to be a great hospital administrator. Retrieved from http://www.healthworkscollective.com/jennacyprus/333819/7-skills-you-must-have-be-great-hospital-administrator
  3. Cyprus, J. (2016). 7 skills you must have to be a great hospital administrator. Retrieved from http://www.healthworkscollective.com/jennacyprus/333819/7-skills-you-must-have-be-great-hospital-administrator
  4. Garman, A.; Fitz, K.; Fraser, M. (2006). Communication and relationship management. Retrieved from  http://www.healthcareleadershipalliance.org/Communication%20and%20Relationship%20Mgmt.pdf
  5. Garman, A.; Fitz, K.; Fraser, M. (2006). Communication and relationship management. Retrieved from http://www.healthcareleadershipalliance.org/Communication%20and%20Relationship%20Mgmt.pdf
  6. Healthcare Management Degree Guide. What qualities would make me a good healthcare manager. Retrieved from http://www.healthcare-management-degree.net/faq/what-qualities-would-make-me-a-good-healthcare-manager/
  7. Cyprus, J. (2016). 7 skills you must have to be a great hospital administrator. Retrieved from http://www.healthworkscollective.com/jennacyprus/333819/7-skills-you-must-have-be-great-hospital-administrator
  8. Johnson, D. (2015). These charts show the baby boomers’ coming health crisis. Retrieved from http://time.com/3852306/baby-boomer-health-charts/
  9. Cyprus, J. (2016). 7 skills you must have to be a great hospital administrator. Retrieved from http://www.healthworkscollective.com/jennacyprus/333819/7-skills-you-must-have-be-great-hospital-administrator

The Surprising Necessities of Health Informatics

Experts in health informatics are becoming an integral part of the insurance industry as more insurers work with health-care providers to find cost-effective ways to enhance the quality and safety of patient care.

The Affordable Care Act has led to changes in the delivery and reimbursement of health-care services, prompting health care systems, health care providers, and insurance companies to work together to improve patient outcomes and the bottom line.

With the advent of electronic medical records, health-care providers have been turning to health informatics professionals to manage sophisticated health information systems. Insurers also are using informatics to help health-care providers enhance the quality of patient care while simultaneously reducing costs.1

Today, insurance companies rely on health informatics experts who are adept at analyzing medical data to spot emerging trends, to improve health literacy, reduce hospital readmissions and visits to the emergency room, and help individuals prevent and manage chronic and costly medical conditions.2

Labor experts expect the demand for a well-trained health informatics workforce to grow, and those holding an advanced degree are likely to have their pick of jobs. A Burning Glass Technologies analysis3 of job postings nationwide showed that health informatics jobs remain open longer than many others because of a shortage of candidates. Informatics positions constitute the eighth-largest share4 of health-care occupation postings.

The role of Big Data

The field of health informatics is at the crossroad of where health care meets information technology. Experts in this field are involved in the collection, managing, and processing of clinical and medical information. With their keen analytical skills, health informatics professionals turn data into useful information that can ultimately lead to improved clinical outcomes at a lower cost to patients, providers, and insurers.5

Insurance companies have access to a treasure trove of health data gleaned from policyholders’ billing claims, health assessments, wellness programs, lab readings, medications, family history, and more. Insurers can run computer algorithms on huge amounts of health data to better understand the health needs of their members, including identifying gaps in care plans to optimize patient care.

Building healthy communities

For example, insurers can use data to identify and assist individuals who are at risk of developing chronic and costly diseases before symptoms appear. This information can be used by health-care providers to develop patient education and wellness programs to keep people healthy.6

In addition, health informatics experts can use data to identify individuals who have a chronic illness and need help to avoid serious consequences. For example, educating diabetics on the importance of visiting their primary care provider for periodic foot checks is a cost-effective way to reduce the number of diabetics who need costly amputations and rehabilitation because their disease has progressed.

Avoiding hospital readmissions

With the cost of preventable hospital readmissions totaling $17 billion annually,7 the federal government launched an initiative that penalizes hospitals that have avoidable readmissions. Some insurers are using health informatics to identify and connect frail or sick patients who are likely to be hospitalized with free health coaches.8 These coaches can help patients by coordinating care, providing transportation to medical appointments, and resolving medication issues – all with the goal of keeping people healthy and out of the hospital.

Click here to learn more about Health Informations education at The University of Scranton.
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Sources:

1-2 & 5-6: PWC. Advancing healthcare informatics: The power of partnerships, 2016, http://www.pwc.com/ Accessed 23 August 2016.

3. http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/top-3-perks-patient-engagement

4. http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/health-informatics-among-fastest-growing-fields/2012-06-04

7. http://revcycleintelligence.com/news/preventable-readmissions-cost-cms-17-billion

8. http://khn.org/news/insurer-uses-patients-personal-data-to-predict-who-will-get-sick

Want to Make a Difference with your Career?

Start a Career as a Hospital Administrator

The future is bright for those who want careers in hospital administration. Due to increasing demand for hospitals, clinics and treatment centers to provide quality care for a larger number of people, hospital administration jobs are growing in quantity. The industry is currently competitive, with hospitals working to earn and keep the qualified candidates they hire. Salaries are booming, with plenty of promotion potential through a career as a medical administrator. Health care management requires a great deal of skill and education from applicants; qualifications typically acquired during an Master’s of Health Administration program. Graduates can expect a challenging career that makes a genuine enhancement in the quality of people’s lives.

High Demand

The field of hospital administration is due to expand fairly significantly in the next several years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) gives two reasons for this increase. First, people of the Baby Boomer generation are now in their 50s and 60s. As they get older, their health care needs will grow. Second, the BLS observes that hospitals need trained health care administrators to streamline processes and manage daily functions so that medical staff can meet the higher demand for preventive care and treatment. Since many aging people expect to live longer, healthier lives at home, their need for facilities that provide care outside of a nursing home will also increase.

Salary Expectations

As demand for health care administrators increases, so does the competition for qualified managers.  The BLS maintains data on average salaries in the field. As medical and health services management changes to meet upcoming needs for quality improvement in processes, salary grows. In 2012, the median hospital administrator salary was $88,580 per year. By 2014, that number had increased to a median hospital administration salary of $92,810 per year. While these numbers represent a median of all health care managers in various clinics, treatment centers and hospitals, the pay between facility types can be quite disparate.

Someone working as a medical administrator in a nursing home brings home a mean salary of $85,730 per year, while someone in management at a specialty hospital can expect an average $116,640 per year for a hospital administrator salary. In short, this is a field with a great deal of salary potential and growth opportunities.

Assessing the Field

People are sometimes surprised by the sheer size of the hospital economy in the United States. In its annual survey, the American Hospital Association records a total of 5,686 hospitals in the U.S, of which about half are not-for-profit community hospitals. While these numbers might not be particularly impressive, data on the accessibility and use of these hospitals shows the increasing need for hospital administrator jobs. In all these hospitals, there are 914,513 staffed beds. Each year, people are admitted to U.S. hospitals over 35 million times. The expenses for all U.S. hospitals total about $859 billion, which explains the pressure on hospital administration to make processes more efficient and eliminate unnecessary waste.

Educational Requirements and Skills

To land a job in health services as a medical administrator, applicants are encouraged to pursue a Master’s of Health Administration degree. In their studies, prospective health care administrators are expected to cover a variety of subjects, including accounting, human resources, ethics, law, and health administration. This broad spectrum helps to describe the kind of skills and knowledge that hospital administrator jobs require.

In particular, applicants must be current on all topics and trends in health care administration, adept in their use of technology, detail-oriented, engaged in problem solving, and comfortable in a leadership role. Some hospitals give preference to prospective administrators who also hold a nursing degree or medical degree, but this additional education is not typically compulsory. With a combination of training and experience, people who work in hospital administration can enhance the way hospitals are run.

Responsibilities

Based on the skills described, the hospital administrator job description can be quite broad, depending on the size and needs of the particular institution. However, most people who take a job as a health care administrator need not worry that they will be expected to do everything related to hospital administration on a daily basis. Rather, it means that those who want hospital administrator jobs have a wide assortment of potential departments and positions to choose from, including:

  • accounting
  • finance
  • insurance
  • medical records administrator
  • health information technology

Depending on the demands of the job and the 24-hour nature of hospital work, people may be expected to work nights, weekends, or irregular shifts. Employees in the industry with a great deal of talent and experience along with a good work ethic may eventually be promoted as a health administration executive.

Certifications Available

While professional certifications are not necessarily required in a hospital administrator job description, there are a few certifications available in the hospital administration industry. Anyone who wishes to become a medical administrator in a nursing care facility must maintain a license in accordance with their state.

In addition, the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management offers two certifications, the Certified Medical Manager and the Health Information Technology Certified Manager. The first certifies a person to act as a health care administrator in a sole provider clinic, while the second notes that the certification holder has demonstrated expertise in a variety of health care technology systems, a vital skill for the industry.

The American College of Health Care Administrators provides two certifications for management of nursing care facilities, including Certified Nursing Home Administrator and Certified Assisted Living Administrator. These certifications can be used toward state licensing requirements.

Optional Fields

Many professionals in health administration careers ultimately choose to work in a hospital, but not all. Since there are several different types of facilities and industries who make products or provide health care services and treatment to individuals, all kinds of businesses and institutions need qualified health care administrators. There are also medical administrator jobs in the following fields:

  • pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • nursing home management
  • private clinic management
  • home health care management
  • consulting

The appeal for varied institutions that can provide care to all different kinds of patients with a range of needs means that specialized facilities will continue to grow. At the rate the industry is booming, people can search for the job that really speaks to them, in an area that more accurately suits their career goals and expectations.

Improving Quality of Care

The major increase in demand for hospital administration jobs comes largely from reforms to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). This government institution created a new set of standards in 2005 as a means to ensure that hospitals were maintaining high standards for patient care and case management. The federal government cannot dictate how privately-owned hospitals are run, but CMS can deny reimbursement for treatment for Medicare and Medicaid patients for hospitals and clinics that do not meet CMS quality standards. CMS requires that relevant health care facilities provide evidence that they meet specific benchmarks for medical records management, patient data acquisition, and long-term health care outcomes.

Power to Change Lives

Changing standards for hospital efficiency and patient outcomes means that hospital administrators have more power than ever to change lives.

The American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) notes that the industry is likely to change and grow over the years. Despite mergers and acquisition of institutions and facilities within the field of health care, the need for effective hospital management remains strong. In a recent study by ACHE, health care executives observed that management needs and opportunities at freestanding hospitals are steadily increasing in number and importance. This change demonstrates the awesome power medical administrators have to influence people’s lives, because the day-to-day business of the clinic, treatment center, or hospital improves people’s health and their ability to function in their normal lives.

Job Satisfaction

Ultimately, satisfaction in hospital administration jobs is dependent on the person who holds the position. However, the evidence shows that a medical administrator can select from all different kinds of jobs at a growing variety of institutions. They command a salary and industry growth rate much higher than the national average. As a result, people in these positions retain more power over their career paths for the duration, whether they wish to be promoted into a position as a health care executive or have ambitions to make more lateral moves into other relevant industries.

Those who wish to hold a job in business management can choose almost any industry they like. However, as the health care field of hospital administration continues to advance, the number of hospital administration jobs also grows. Hospitals need college graduates with the skills to change processes and improve efficacy and quality of care. To do this, students need a Master’s of Health Administration, experience in the industry, and the desire to make an impact on health care. This education and experience prepares graduates for one of the many jobs available in health care administration. Whether applicants choose to become a medical records administrator or they have their sights set on a health care executive position, they know that they are helping people to live better lives.

 

To learn more about the Master’s of Health Administration program at The University of Scranton, click here.