Fun fact: the first recorded use of electric stimulation to ease pain was in...get ready…CE 46! That’s right, nearly 2,000 years ago, ancient Roman writer Scribonius Largus described the use of torpedo fish, aquatic animals capable of electrical discharge, to heal. This system is still as common in healthcare settings as a conventional TENS Unit (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation). Similarly, many healthcare IT innovations (technological innovation, generally) are primarily foundation technologies updated to be used in powerful new ways. (Thankfully, fish are, based on my research, NOT involved in any technology roadmaps.)
The current age of healthcare innovation is being colored by new partnerships and cooperative agreements to meet changing consumer needs. Allscripts is jumping in deep with healthcare innovation by partnering with Microsoft cloud technology to develop a robust internet-based storage solution. This alliance allows both companies co-innovation opportunities. Allscripts aims to prioritize interoperability and data sharing of health information to be done securely while enhancing the patient experience and participating in value-based care reimbursement. Microsoft benefits from entering the healthcare IT space while minimizing risk by working with a known brand.
Furthermore, Allscripts has obtained several patents that will enhance and improve accessibility and delivery. One patent is a patient monitoring application that allows care teams and patients to interact directly via the electronic health records (EHR) messaging portal. Care providers have direct access to monitor patients' overall health, such as vital trends. Treatment teams can be automatically alerted when specific parameters are exceeded, allowing faster and more efficient care; patients will have the option to communicate their vital readings, such as glucose and blood pressure, to their healthcare providers. Again, improved quality of care while decreasing payer costs.
Apple is also making waves in the healthcare IT arena with its mobile health platform. Consumers can access their health records directly from their iPhone or Apple Watch to keep track of healthcare vitals that can be automatically updated into a health system's EHRs. Apple Health app allows easy access to patients’ medical records from multiple providers whenever they choose. Plus, the health records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s device passcode.
Epic Systems has announced its intention to integrate artificial intelligence/voice recognition features in its next-generation EHR. This would improve healthcare providers with increased writing efficiency. Think of an Amazon Alexa for your EHR. Cerner is making strides in pricing transparency and revenue cycle to make healthcare more cost-effective and personalize the cost of care more to consumers.
Companies have made multiple attempts in the past to develop healthcare technologies that allow people to use medical services from home. But, adoption has been a struggle. The issue has always been consumer demand for such tech. Covid-19 has changed all that, and in October of 2020, new services are paid for by insurance and Medicare. This has changed the technology drivers and created new enthusiasm and revenue streams for healthcare technology companies.
COVID-19 ushered in the work from home (WFH) revolution. What was once a rarity among a select group is quickly redefining our future workforce.
The new reality of work from home has been welcomed by most who find it has positively improved their quality of life. However, remote work has complicated some boundaries between work lives and personal lives. It has redefined how we work, how we communicate with our colleagues, the tools we use to work, times we spend working, and restructured our overall working environment and commute.
An overlooked part of the new work from home world has been occupational health. Working in an orthopedic office chair with a table at the correct height contrasts from working at a kitchen table cluttered with yesterday's mail. Likewise, sharing a workplace with a secretary is different from sharing office space with a fussy toddler.
Next, let's talk about working dynamics with co-workers. Working from home has replaced water-cooler chats, which enforced company culture and boosted employee morale.
We can all benefit from the fact that WFH is now more common, but it is not new. We have over 25 years of research that we can look back on regarding this work style.
Most research has come out of Canada and Europe, where the regulatory environment is more comprehensive. For example, in Quebec, Canada, the government specifies companies' responsibilities to provide ergonomic desks and chairs for work from home employees. Quebec WFH workers are entitled to the same benefits as in-office employees in case of work-based injuries.
As mentioned previously, many people do not have the proper office chairs, and work for extended periods in an improper atmosphere or compromised position, which can significantly impact your body and overall health. It is imperative to invest in the right chair and desk for your setup.
It would help if you were looking for a chair with adjustable features such as seat height, armrest and enough cushioning. Your monitor should be just below eye level.
Short breaks also help you. Often, when we work at home, we are consumed with daily tasks, and we do not find time to take quick breaks. Make it a point to set a timer that will go off every 50 minutes. Get up and walk, adding exercise to your daily routine.
Workers returning to an office may find that their workspace has dramatically changed. Desks will be further apart, and common areas will not be the same. Some offices will require temperature checks for employees for an extended period.
There is even thermal imaging technology, which will enable companies to scan large groups of employees entering the facility during the day. Real-time observation, alarming, and recording of body temperature will occur.
Some workers may find themselves in a more flexible work environment than what they had before COVID-19. Employees have become used to accommodating their family responsibilities over the last year.
Employers get to decide how the new workplace will be organized, especially regarding the lives of essential employees. However, they will also find that a strict workplace will make it harder to recruit the best employees who expect more.
Dr. Aning is the founder and president of My Just Checking In. The team has over 20 years of expertise and knowledge to help health care organizations improve their efficiency and profitability. Our staff can help transform your EHR implementation from a source of frustration to a successful and productive tool. Dr. Darrin Miller contributed to this article.
Subscribe to our Newsletter to get access to health-related information, job opportunities, and other resources!