Friday, December 30, 2011

The Benefits of Getting Online Prescription Refills

Online prescription refills are a convenient way to order your lifestyle and ensure you always have the medication you need to deal with chronic health conditions. There are a number of benefits to getting your refills online instead of making a physical visit to your doctor, and this kind of service is especially useful during periods of transition, like when you are moving house or away on vacation.

Saving Time

As life gets busier we end up with less time on our hands to do the things we need to. Once you have been diagnosed with a chronic health problem and get a prescription to make it more manageable, all that is left is to get your refills and maintain your health. Sometimes, this can be inconvenient, and you may not be able to find the time to visit the doctor, to go through the motions of a discussion and walk out with a piece of paper.

Using an online service means you can choose when you want to do it, and after one quick and efficient phone call with a medical practitioner, in the comfort of your own home, you can go and collect your medication directly from the pharmacy of your choice at a time that works for you.

In An Emergency

If you find yourself in an emergency situation where you run out of your medication unexpectedly and need it quickly, this kind of service is much faster than a conventional visit to your family doctor. You may discover this after hours, over the weekend or once you have arrived somewhere exotic for a vacation.

Using an online service means that, 10 to 30 minutes after you have booked and paid for your consultation, you will get professional medical help.

If You're Moving

Moving to a new area is always a lot of work and entails a lot of logistics. Remembering to find a new family doctor may not be high up on that agenda until you realize you have run out of medication. Getting your prescription refills from an online service means that you can get anonymous help online and pick your prescription up from the pharmacy nearest to you.

If the thought of something quicker appeals to you, just remember that the online resource you go for needs to employ the services of US-licensed doctors for medication to be prescribed, both legally and for the sake of your good health. Make sure you investigate this fully before making any commitments or pulling out your wallet.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Reluctance to Change Into EMR

"I don't want to sit in front of a patient looking into a laptop," says a Denver doctor. "I'd rather look into the patients' eyes". You can still continue to give that "personal" care when you are in front of the patient. They need that from you, and nothing in this world can replace that. You don't need to stare into a computer, if you were to just review her digital history, even before the visit, just as you would flip through a bunch of papers in a file folder medical record. But imagine if you were to order a test for the same patient, after the visit, with a click of a button, and get access to the results instantaneously, once the tests are completed. Wouldn't it mean better and quicker care?

Resistance to Change. Doctors have got used to a particular methodology and workflow. A patient walks in. The Doctor's assistant pulls out a physical file folder containing the patient's medical history, a record of his/her visits to the doctor, his/her lab and other diagnostic test results, and the handwritten notes about the patient's history. As the doctor begins consultation, it's easy for him/her to quickly thumb through the pages and get up to speed on the patient's medical history.

About a year back, we made a decision to move from NY to NJ. My 8 year old daughter, a chronic Asthma patient, had one of her usual attacks. We took her to a local doctor in NJ, who requested that we physically bring in and hand over her past medical records from her Pediatrician in NY. She said, we could have them fax the records, or have them even mail the records. There was no way of her receiving or viewing a digital version of her past medical history with a few secure access codes instantaneously, nor was there a way for the NY practice to digitally transmit the records and avoid valuable time lost, or even loss of confidential patient history, in the course of this physical transfer. The doctor gave her some temporary medication, based on our relaying her history, and had to wait for the physical records to be released from the NY practice after a bunch of red-tape processes and signatures, to get a detailed grasp on her history.

Today doctor's are under increasing pressure to scan these paper files and convert them to electronic medical records (EMRs). In fact, the Federal Govt. has set a goal for every American to have an EHR by 2014. However, despite nearly $17 billion in economic stimulus money that is dedicated to medical records scanning, many small practices are reluctant to make the change.

Why are doctors so reluctant to change. In course of a recent visit to a major practice in NY, I realized that they had implemented Allscripts EMR. This is one of the most acclaimed electronic health application available today. It not only makes the doctor's workflow much easier and convenient, but its plethora of mobile features, including its well known e-prescription and CPOE, improves quality of care, and raises patient safety to new heights. Inspite of this, an insider mentioned that at an astonishing number of doctors within the practice, are not very happy to work with AllScripts or any EMR for that matter.

Why this reluctance? It is not that they are averse to computers. Most doctors today have depended on digital information and computers, to secure their Medical Degrees. So what is it? It may be for multiple reasons. Maybe they did try an EMR, in the days that EMR was newly introduced, but were left with a "not so comfortable" experience due to lack of information or customer support, or the vendors were not trained in how and which system works best for that specific clinic. Therefore, those doctors must have even gone back to using paper after spending thousands of dollars on a system that either was not customizable or did not integrate well with the other practice management or billing programs. Or, maybe, they feel that the modern day EMR, and other e-Health applications are going to gradually undermine their capabilities of efficiently and effectively handling the Patient Care workflow, by themselves. Though, this definitely is not the case; since the e-health applications are just tools for them to use, in order to improve patient care and safety.

Then why this reluctance to change? Why do we have to think that we need to literally drag a doctor, kicking and screaming, into this digital IT world to make everyone's life and efforts more meaningful?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, that have the computation ability to engage on behaviors that humans consider intelligent. It develops Expert Systems that runs conversational software - technology that enables machines to converse with humans in natural language. AI has progressed a long way. It has started influencing decisions. It has begun to facilitate data delivery, analyze data trends, forecast, develop data consistency, quantify uncertainty and suggest mitigating steps, anticipate users' data needs, provide them the necessary information in the most appropriate forms, and even suggest alternate courses of action.

Artificial Intelligence through Expert and knowledge based systems, is being used within the clinical environment. Expert Systems contain medical knowledge and data repository, especially about a very specific task, and are able to compare and reason with this data collected from individual patients to come up with justified conclusions. The knowledge base within the expert system is derived from a set of rules.

As Enrico Coiera had laid out in his Guide to Medical Informatics, the Internet and Telemedicine, there are different clinical/healthcare tasks to which AI and expert systems can be applied. Some of them are:

Generating alerts and reminders. An expert system attached to a monitor can warn of changes in a patient's condition. It might even scan laboratory test results or drug orders and send reminders or warnings through an e-mail system.

Diagnostic assistance. An expert system can help come up with likely diagnoses based on patient data.

Therapy critiquing and planning. Systems can either look for inconsistencies, errors and omissions in an existing treatment plan, or can be used to formulate a treatment based upon a patient's specific condition and accepted treatment guidelines.

Agents for information retrieval. Software 'agents' can be sent to search for and retrieve information, for example on the Internet, that is considered relevant to a particular problem. The agent contains knowledge about its user's preferences and needs, and may also need to have medical knowledge to be able to assess the importance and utility of what it finds.

Image recognition and interpretation. Many medical images can now be automatically interpreted, from plane X-rays through to more complex images like angiograms, CT and MRI scans. This is of value in mass-screenings, for example, when the system can flag potentially abnormal images for detailed human attention.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Top 4 Reasons for Using Bottleless Water Coolers

You must be wondering why use bottles water coolers, when the supply is directly reaching you from natural resources. Think again before you take a call on which drinking water system to install at home or at office. In a recent survey, it has been found out that the tap water is contaminated with cancer causing elements, in more than 31 US cities! Simply connect the coolers with your resource and enjoy the benefits of pure and safe water.

Bottleless water coolers have surpassed not only the traditional water systems but also saves time and energy spent in filling up bottles. Now, clean and cool drinking water would be easily available just by connecting a cooler permanently which is perfectly attached with the water line of the building. So why should you take the risk?

Benefits of Bottleless Water Coolers

The following are some of the most important benefits of bottleless water coolers:

Temperature adjustment

These coolers not only provide safe and tasty drinking water, but it has several advantages. In these coolers, temperature can be adjusted according to the need of the members. Therefore, water at room temperature, hot, warm and cold drinking water is easily available with just the click of few buttons. It involves the technology of ozonation and contains antioxidants which are healthy for the human body. 

Cleanliness and technology

Many bottleless water coolers use reverse osmosis membrane technology while many use the nano ceramic filtration technology to ensure clean and bacteria-free water supply. These are generally made of stainless steel and are durable. Such coolers also do not require regular cleaning. You need to just change the filter annually, or as and when required. The exterior of the dispenser and the dip tray can be conditioned and sterilized at intervals. 

Eco friendly

These are environment friendly too! It does not use plastic cans or bottles. This kind of cooler is highly attractive to look and perfectly suits the contemporary lifestyle. The cabinet for this particular water cooler is generally available in executive gray and milk white color which is a perfect fit for any kind of interior or exterior d├ęcor. By installing this cooler, you can be sure of crystal clear, hygienic and odor free water. 

Cost effective

Bottleless water coolers are cost effective as you need not worry about its maintenance as it is maintained by the company you are getting it installed from.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Are You Sure You Are Billing Right?

If you are a super good administrator or multi taking physician who's got the Midas touch this article is obviously not for you. But if you belong to the multitudes of healthcare professionals who are struggling to handle healthcare billing reforms, medical billing regulations, a hectic practice and uncooperative patients, here is help at hand.

Medical billing is not rocket science but can come a close second!

They say the truth lies in the details. When it comes to medical billing the truth lies in painfully excruciating closely documented details. The fact of the matter is that medical billing being referred to as medical billing is in itself oversimplifying and diluting the complexities that are a part of the field. The whole process depends on a long drawn list of medical codes. But take heart if you code the medical bills that are to be sent to the insurer right you've covered a lot of ground.

The secret code to quicker insurance receivables

There is no magic code unfortunately but if you pay attention to your medical coding process it can fasten the pace at which the insurer processes the claims. Though CPT codes and HCPCS codes are usually the medical codes that pop to your mind, there are other lesser known codes you'd be better of knowing about:

Revenue codes: These are the codes that specify the location or medical department in which the patient received or was administered medical treatment. It is an important code and if you miss out on or assign the wrong revenue code or rev codes as it is usually called, you don't get paid. Make sure that you go through the revenue code manual in your desktop before creating your claims.

Professional and technical component codes: There are some medical fields like radiology that require extensive technical procedures such as scans and x rays and imaging facilities as well as medical practitioners bill separately for the professional medical service rendered and the technical components of it. A little bit of knowledge in what are split billable services can help you make that call to your insurer that much more confidently!

Inpatient vs. outpatient codes: There are a separate set of medical codes that apply for medical services provided to inpatients and medical services for outpatients. Clinics and health centers usually treat out patients and the AHA has laid down several guidelines for billing and coding for outpatients.

Well there are a lot more technicalities and intricacies involved in medical billing and a minor slip up in any one of them can lead to the whole rigmarole of calls to the insurers and documenting billing records, once again. The best advice would be to take it one step at a time and pay close attention to every step!