From muscle cars to mobile phones and Woodstock to Wi-Fi, technology has been an important part of popular culture for the baby boom generation. They’ve had hands-on experience with everything from the first personal computers to the latest wearable devices, so it’s no real surprise that boomers are embracing emerging healthcare technologies as they move toward retirement.
A recent study by Infiniti Research finds that baby boomers are influencing the future of healthcare technology. In particular, there is a great emphasis on the development of communication, monitoring and safety technologies that can help boomers “age in place” — to live independently, safely and comfortably in their own homes.
Smart devices connected to healthcare practitioners through the cloud support a range of interactive care processes. They can provide remote monitoring of blood pressure, heart rate and other key indicators. They can assist with medication information, dispensing and dose reminders. They may even be to prevent falls and wandering by monitoring patients’ location, balance and gait.
This creates unique challenges for healthcare organizations, however. Hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices must build and maintain technology infrastructures that will allow them to acquire, store and analyze growing amounts of electronic protected health information (ePHI). They are also responsible for maintaining the privacy of that data. Both the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act set standards for protecting ePHI and create penalties for any violations.
The collection of ePHI creates competing objectives within a healthcare organization — the need for caregivers to have instant access to information that can improve patient outcomes, and the need for IT to maintain the security and integrity of that information. The trick is finding the right combination of technology and processes that allow both entities to achieve their key objectives.
SSD Technology Partners has developed specific expertise and a tested set of best practices to help our healthcare clients improve their workflows and strengthen their compliance with ePHI security and privacy standards. Our experts can conduct a risk analysis to identify potential shortcomings in how your practice collects, stores and protects patient information. We document any discovered risks and vulnerabilities, and we’ll make recommendations for ensuring your data is protected against unauthorized access. These recommendations may include implementing access-control measures such as unique user IDs, auto log-off, encryption policies and integrity controls to confirm that ePHI records are secure and have not been altered or destroyed.
Our managed services can help you maintain ePHI security through continual monitoring and ongoing application of administrative, physical and technical safeguards. Our ongoing workflow audit will ensure that all workstations and endpoints are secured and accessed only by authorized personnel. We’ll also monitor data transmission practices to ensure compliance with HIPAA and other regulatory requirements.
While many healthcare organizations are linking their electronic health record (EHR) systems to public cloud storage, they often make the mistake of assuming the cloud provider will take full responsibility for data privacy. One recent study found that as many as one-third of healthcare entities utilizing public clouds do not encrypt patient data. Not only can we help you establish secure data transfer practices, we will help ensure you remain compliant in the cloud.
Healthcare’s reliance on technology and digital records will only increase as baby boomers age into retirement. With complete and immediate access to patient records through ePHI, healthcare providers can provide better, faster and more personalized care. However, healthcare data breaches are on the rise, and the penalties for regulatory violations are severe. If you’re concerned about your risk, SSD’s Total Healthcare IT Services are just what the doctor ordered.