Close up of IV drip bag in hospital

Is your healthcare organization in good health?

by Ron Nielson

Carts don’t come before horses. Effects don’t come before causes. Cures don’t come before treatments. And what’s true in farming, physics and medicine is just as true for your healthcare operation.

The health of your entire organization can only improve from a foundation of happy, satisfied patients. Happy, satisfied patients, in turn, are supported by safe, secure operations that work smoothly to easily share information with patients, payers and other providers. When you break it all down, it becomes apparent that for your organization to succeed, it’s important that privacy and security and interoperability work together to provide the best patient experience possible. Is your organization doing as well as it could when it comes to the following key elements?

Interoperability: Technology and workflows

When was the last time you reviewed your organization’s entire data infrastructure? Do you periodically assess all its elements, including your electronic health records systems, vendor neutral archives, other storage capabilities and communication systems? You might be surprised at the improvements you can make by closing gaps that may come to light when reviewing these systems. Next time you take a look at your infrastructure, pay particular attention to areas where you might be able to centralize your data storage capabilities, integrate your systems and standardize data transfer methods and technology to achieve the greatest results.

Similarly, are you making it a point to review your organization’s workflows? Specifically, do you have a handle on where all your information comes from, where it needs to go, and how well it’s making that journey in terms of safety and efficiency? Such assessments can help to identify and unblock clogs that keep your organization from being able to capture, transform and manage patient data efficiently.

Privacy and security

With respect to these vitally important areas of your organization, here are some questions you can use to evaluate your privacy and security measures:

  • Are you locking down all workstations, printers and multifunction devices?

  • Are you leveraging up-to-date encryption and decryption capabilities for transmission and storage of PHI?

  • Do you conduct thorough and comprehensive annual risk assessments, including making actual hacking attempts based on real-life scenarios, on your data management systems and processes?

  • Do you make sure that your entire staff, from top-level executives to the maintenance staff, are trained and regularly updated on HIPAA requirements?

  • Do you partner with vendors whose patient data management processes meet HIPAA standards and guidelines?

Asking questions like these can go a long way toward preventing unauthorized access to patient health information (PHI). Beyond that, they can also help protect your organization from the financial and damage to your reputation that can be wrought by a major security breach.

Enhance your healthcare interoperability for better patient experiences

Improve the overall health of your organization by assessing your privacy, security, patient experience and interoperability efforts.

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Patient experience

Last, but certainly not least, it’s important to try to provide the best patient experience possible. This can be greatly impacted by the quality of privacy and security and steps toward interoperability that your hospital is employing. On one hand, setting up measures to protect patient data and private information can help to improve patient experience if it is handled with care. However, if overlooked, data breaches and clunky workflows can quickly cast a negative perspective on the overall patient experience. With this in mind, it’s important to look at the patient touch points within your organization such as paper processes, charting and data entry to streamline and create a smoother experience.

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