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Digital Health: Gaining a Competitive Advantage

  Apr 21, 2017 | By Michelle Maskaly [1]   Imagine asking someone who their primary care physician is, and them responding by saying it’s their iPhone. That could be the future of digital health. Digital health is one of those industry buzzwords that make healthcare executives both excited and nervous. Excited, because it’s seen as innovative, cutting edge, and can create potential for new programs and ideas. Nervous, because of cost, regulations, and the reality that it could mean a complete overhaul of the way a pharmaceutical or healthcare company has traditionally done business. What’s driving the digital health trend? It’s actually very simple. The answer is, mobile devices. “We no longer go online, we live online,” said David Blair, head of industry–health for Google, during his presentation at eyeforpharma’s Philadelphia conference this week. “It’s no wonder you can’t list your iPhone as your primary care doctor.” If you think this isn’t the case, consider the statistic Blair cited–there are four-times as many Android devices activated every minute than babies born. He also explained that time spent online is up 33 percent in just four years. Patients are increasingly taking more control of their healthcare options, and as they spend more time on their mobile devices, they can, “swipe you out of the way, or click on you, and engage.” “There is a massive shift in point-of-care,” Blair explained. “We can provide care anywhere. We no longer have to go to a physical location.” Now that we know mobile devices are playing such a large part in healthcare these days, what’s the secret sauce to capitalizing on it? “Make...

Telehealth: A Vital Tool in the Home Healthcare Space

Health systems are using digital health tools and telehealth platforms to better care for patients after they leave the hospital, as well as those most at risk of returning. The platform adds critical value to a struggling home healthcare service line.   March 02, 2017 | Eric Wicklund– Editor, mHealthIntelligence   A North Carolina-based health system is one of several using telehealth to improve its home healthcare services – a critical move in light of expected cuts in home health reimbursements from Medicare. FirstHealth of the Carolinas, a five-hospital health system based in Pinehurst, N.C., reportedly saved almost $2 million by using telehealth to care for high-risk patients who don’t qualify for Medicare-funded home health services. The health system used a grant from the Duke Endowment to create a care management program for selected patients in its Medicare Advantage plan. Under the pilot program, launched in late 2015, the patients were visited by a home health nurse within 48 hours of discharge, then given an mHealth enabled tablet that allows them to track their own vital signs and send that data to FirstHealth. The digital health platform also enabled patients to access personalized health and wellness information and collaborate with FirstHealth on an ongoing care plan. According to health system officials, while the telehealth platform cost roughly $700 per patient for a 60-day care plan, rehospitalizations would have cost the health system more than $8,000 for each patient – none of which is covered by Medicare, and some of which could have cost the health system even more in penalties. “We looked at – for all the patients we...

Telemedicine saves time, travel costs, even air quality, new study finds

Findings confirm the benefits of telemedicine in terms of real savings to patients and to the environment By Heather Mack | March 22, 2017   While telehealth policies, technological advancements and utilization continue to grow, whether it actually reduces healthcare costs and improves outcomes is still a point of some contention. As the bulk of such analysis focuses on the bottom line of health plans and employers, researchers at University of California Davis instead are looking on how it impacts patients at a more basic level: driving costs. Spanning across two decades – and undoubtedly many fluctuations in gas prices and internet connectivity capabilities – the study, which was published in the online journal Value in Health, examines 18 years of UC Davis’s own clinical records from 1996 to 2013, evaluating inpatient and outpatient interactive video visits for 19,246 patients. Typically, the patient would still visit their primary care doctor, but they would then together consult a UC Davis specialist via video consultation. The cost savings were measured based on patient travel to a telemedicine center near there home versus traveling to UC Davis Health in Sacramento for specialty care. Collectively, telemedicine visits saved patients nearly nine years of travel time, five million miles and $3 million in costs. Of course, on a more granular, individual level, those numbers are a little more modest: over 20 years, one person could see a cost savings of four hours of driving time, 278 miles and $156 in direct travel costs. The study was regional, but California is a big state, and many rural areas are underserved not just by medicine but...

Use of Locum Tenens Physicians Keeps Growing

Rise in hiring of locum tenens by hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations driven by physician shortage and employed physician model January 20, 2017 Ken Terry, Contributing Editor, Medscape Medical News In a reflection of changing practice patterns, an increasing number of hospitals, medical groups, and other healthcare organizations are hiring locum tenens physicians to fill gaps in care, according to a new survey released by Staff Care, a firm that staffs healthcare facilities. The survey found that about 48,000 physicians work in locum tenens positions, up from 44,000 in 2014 and 26,000 in 2002. Of the 206 managers of healthcare facilities who responded to the 2016 survey, 94% said they’d employed locum tenens physicians within the past 12 months, compared to 91% in 2014 and 74% in 2012. Forty-seven percent of the facilities were actively seeking locum tenens doctors, up from 42% in 2014 and 39% in 2012. Primary care doctors were the most sought-after locum tenens practitioners. Almost 44% of the facility managers had hired temporary primary care doctors in the past year, compared to 35% in 2014 and 28% in 2012. Also in demand were hospitalists, behavioral healthcare providers, and emergency medicine physicians. About three quarters of the managers had used at least one locum tenens physician in a typical month, and 24% had used four or more, up from 18% in 2014. Just more than a quarter of the managers had hired locum tenens nurse practitioners or physician assistants, compared to nearly 10% in 2012. Locum tenens physicians were mainly used to fill in until permanent doctors were found in certain specialties or to address staff turnover....

Why we need team-based chronic care management

February 7, 2017 | By Ruth Perry Primary Care Development Corporation A few years ago I was involved in the case of John Smith (not his real name), a patient who was referred by the hospital emergency department (ED) to a care management team in a low-income urban community in New Jersey. John was a homeless man who’d been living in an emergency shelter for three years with insulin-dependent diabetes, blindness, and chronically low sodium levels. The team consisted of a nurse case manager, a social worker, and two community health workers. Because of John’s multiple disorders, his management was complicated and he fell into a cycle of bouncing between the ED and his assisted living facility. During one particularly difficult weekend, John was brought to the ED three times. Only after the nurse case manager and I spoke to his treating physicians at the hospital and nursing home were we able to determine the cause of all his ailments. They placed him on appropriate medication. The care management team continued to work with him, arranging an appointment with an ophthalmologist who determined that his blindness was due to cataracts, which were corrected with surgery. With his vision restored and his medical conditions managed, John was able to find stable housing, was linked to primary care, and is currently living independently. He had no further ED visits. This is an extraordinary case where the application of team-based chronic care management (CCM) was able not just to help a patient get healthy, but to take control of his life again. This is not an isolated incident; countless others have had...

The Telehealth Movement

Our professionals at Assurgent Medical Staffing are constantly looking for innovative ways to provide opportunities for doctors and medical facilities. Right now, the most innovative concept in healthcare is Telehealth. Our goal is to help medical practices, hospitals, and clinics understand the benefits of utilizing telehealth in their facility, while at the same time providing an opportunity to medical providers to reach more patients in a more efficient and less time consuming manner. Telehealth, also known as Tele-Medicine, is booming right now. An article published on Forbes.com in September 2015 brings to light 5 different companies who are leading the way in this industry. However, before we get into the five leading “tele-companies”, where did the idea for telehealth come from? The article pointed at two different factors that paved the way for Telehealth. First, telehealth is modeled off of online banking. With online banking, it took some time for people to understand the convenience of its use. Today, most people never step foot into an actual bank unless it is for a purpose that cannot be dealt with online. Telehealth is expanding, and will likely end up being utilized in the same fashion. The other company that has paved the way for Telehealth is Microsoft. Microsoft came out with their Kinect Motion Sensor in order to create a better gaming experience. Little did they know that this technology would be so useful in the medical field. The human skeletal tracking system can be used for musculoskeletal health. Microsoft’s Senior Director for Worldwide Health, Dr. Bill Crounse explained, “I have seen Kinect being used in applications for physical medicine and...

Projected Physician Shortage

Predictions show that by 2025, our physician workforce is not going to be large enough to meet the demand. According to a 2013 report prepared for the Association of American Medical Colleges, or AAMC, there are 767,100 physicians who are actively practicing that have completed their graduate medical education, and are under the age of 75. Of these physicians 26% are between age 55 and 65 years old, meaning many of them will retire over the next 10 years. This could remove almost 30% of our physician work force. In addition, the amount of physicians completing their graduate medical education each year, around 29,000, is remaining the same. Another factor for these predictions is that younger physicians, in the millennial’s generation, are more likely to prefer to work fewer hours than physician’s from older generations. Census data shows that male physicians between 26 and 35 worked 5.3 hours less each week in 2011 than the demographic in 1980. While those 35 and over worked about the same amount.  The study projects that 46, 100 to possibly 90,400 less physicians will be working in 2025, than the projected supply...

Assurgent Medical Staffing Gives Back

Assurgent Medical Staffing Gives Back In today’s world, it is easy to get caught up in the daily hustle. At Assurgent Medical, our professional staff is focused and driven to meet all of our deadlines. However, this does not mean that we do not have the time to give back to our community. Many of our team members give back by volunteering, coaching little league, and doing random acts of kindness within our community on their own. At Assurgent Medical, we take this one step further and make volunteering a priority as a company. Preserving a spirit of generosity includes getting out of the office, and giving back. Assurgent Medical has partnered up with Open Hand Atlanta, to help prepare and package meals for homebound seniors, friends and neighbors throughout metro Atlanta, who are struggling with a chronic or critical illness. During our last volunteer opportunity this past Tuesday, our staff helped Open Hand Atlanta pack over 545 meals and route 1395 meals! Take a look at our team, all dressed and ready to go to work.       If giving back is important to you, be sure find a company to work with who has similar values! You can feel confident in Assurgent Medical to meet your Medical Staffing needs. Please give us a call today and see how we can help...