Posts Tagged: healthcare technology

Healthcare NLP and Unlocking Unstructured Data Potential

healthcare NLP

Data is everywhere in healthcare. It is the fuel for how the industry is evolving, growing, and delivering care. Data management is complex in the field for many reasons. Unstructured data is one of the most challenging aspects. However, healthcare NLP (natural language processing) is an excellent tool to help unlock the potential of this information.

How Does Healthcare NLP Work?

NLP uses AI to extract unstructured data from EHRs or other HIS (health information systems). In addition to extraction, EHRs are using NLP to provide speech-recognition capabilities during patient visits. There’s no lack of EHR dissatisfaction from clinicians. An AMA (American Medical Association) survey found nearly half of users have some point of frustration with their EHRs.

With the right technology, NLP can improve interaction with EHRs and deliver insights from this mountain of unstructured data.

How Can NLP Deliver Insights Related to Unstructured Data?

By using NLP, you can aggregate unstructured data from multiple sources for analysis. NLP converts the text to structured data, which healthcare systems can use to:

  • Classify patients
  • Extricate insights
  • Summarize information

When you can do this, healthcare NLP can provide opportunities in several areas.

EHR Data Is More Usable

EHRs typically arrange information by patient visit, which isn’t the most feasible way to find what you need. Instead, NLP makes things like history more visible, and that can assist a provider in care plans.

You can isolate by specific words and builds a model of the use of that descriptor. This data would have been buried otherwise. As a result, the clinician could have spent excess time on searching or may have missed a diagnosis.

Predictive Analytics for Population Health

NLP enables predictive analytics that can help improve population health challenges. Since it can analyze unstructured data from multiple sources, NLP is a great tool for predictive analytics at scale. This process is the source of many studies and could be a gamechanger in SDOH (social determinants of health) and healthcare hurdles around COVID-19.

Access to More Data

One of the most exciting aspects of NLP in healthcare is that excerpt capabilities. The biggest barrier to healthcare data management in many ways is accessibility. Most analytics tools have limitations on what they can obtain and process. NLP can do much more such as extracting data from pathology reports, so that clinicians can discover answers to complex questions around diseases.

NLP Only Works with Quality Data

The problems with NLP are like any other data problems. The issue is quality—garbage in, garbage out, as they say. If your EHR or HIS has inaccurate, incomplete, and inconsistent data capture, NLP isn’t a magical tool that can make something out of nothing. To employ NLP and derive benefits, the quality of data matters.

The Best Use Cases of NLP in Healthcare

NLP still has challenges to work out before it can reach its potential with unstructured data. In addition to use in predictive analytics and quality improvement, it’s also effective for decision support. Such a scenario could be flagging patients in an EHR with a family history of a specific diseases. Flagging could initiate communication to those patients of possible risks and what screenings they should undergo.

The future trajectory includes much more such as inferring meanings to add context to patient records and semantics. Semantics are hard for NLP but coming along. The improved technology will be able to decipher subjects and objects.

NLP Healthcare: Technology to Fuel Data-Driven Decisions

The use of NLP in healthcare will grow, as the industry generates more data each day. That data is critical in care delivery, cost reduction, forecasting, and more. It could possibly become a key feature in an EHR or HIS, and its value could revolutionize decisions about proactive healthcare and treatment plans for patients.

2021 Healthcare IT Trends: A Look Ahead

2021 healthcare it trends

2020 will go down as one of the most disruptive years ever. The world of healthcare was upended by the pandemic, exposing many weaknesses in the healthcare IT ecosystem. The issues around interoperability were always present, and the year began with HHS and CMS attempting to solve them with the new interoperability rule. With 2020 in hindsight, what 2021 healthcare IT trends can the industry expect?

Digital Transformation Accelerates Even Faster

COVID-19 fast-tracked digital transformation for many healthcare systems and hospitals. Telehealth adoption soared as well as remote work. The new demands of a world where people needed to stay home accelerated the need to embrace healthcare digitization

The transformation isn’t over. There are still many challenges that healthcare organizations face—bandwidth, regulations, costs, and more. However, in 2021, the role of healthcare IT and CIOs will continue to evolve and expand to achieve digital transformation. 

Cybersecurity Threats Persist

Ransomware was the leading cybersecurity threat for healthcare in 2020. In October, six hospitals were hit in one day. The consequences of the ransomware shutdown systems and caused operational issues. These incidents and others uncovered vulnerabilities around redundancy and monitoring. 

In 2021, healthcare IT leaders will need to improve their cybersecurity posture with a proactive approach. The thinking must move from “if” to “when.” A possible response to this 2021 IT healthcare trend is to leverage new tools like AI to thwart cyber-attacks. Additionally, organizations will need to rethink business continuity practices so that they never lose their data.

Telemedicine Will Become the Norm

2021 healthcare it trends telehealth

Telemedicine had not taken off until it became mandatory. The move also meant that CMS expanded coverage to 85 new services for telehealth. That move made telemedicine more accessible, yet challenges remain. These include lack of broadband internet, interoperability, and integration.

Look for providers and telehealth platforms to work on these issues to perfect the model. Patients will also have a higher demand for the services, especially those with chronic conditions. The industry could see a hybrid care model for patients, limiting in-person appointments, and shifting to telehealth when possible for convenience. Finally, telehealth could encourage more people to keep up with regular visits since they can do so from the comfort of their homes. 

EHRs Evolve to Meet New Demands

EHRs have been around for over two decades. They seem to be in a constant stage of reiteration. Both the interoperability rule and the pandemic made these iterations more rapid. In the new year, EHR giants will capitalize on even more technology advances, such as integrating virtual assistants, using AI, and moving toward easy, secure data exchanges. 

Big Data Management Becomes More Prominent

Managing healthcare big data isn’t a new trend, but after 2020, it’s a bigger priority for healthcare providers and payers. Looking at healthcare data related to COVID-19, it’s very clear to see the mismanagement of it. The need, moving forward, is for centralization, security, and management. In response, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google all have healthcare-specific clouds. 

By using AI engines and advanced technology, big data can deliver insights that lead to better decision-making and care delivery for the greater public and on an individual basis. Right now, the data is more reactive. Where the industry needs to move to is delivering predictive analytics. 

The Patient Experience

2021 healthcare it trends health app

The interoperability rule, as well as proposed HIPAA changes, emphasize the patient experience. It’s about giving them better and easier access to their patient records. The objective is to transition to value-based care and motivate consumers to be more involved in their health. These drivers will lead to more consumer-friendly apps where patients can view records, make appointments, communicate with clinicians, and more. 

The industry could see partnerships with big tech to make this possible. In October, Google launched a healthcare interoperability readiness program to assist healthcare organizations with compliance with the rule and deliver better experiences. 

2021 Healthcare IT Trends: What’s on Your Radar?

As you prepare for 2021, what healthcare IT trends are on your radar? Do you have concerns around interoperability, big data, compliance, or redundancy? InfoWerks can likely help—we’re experts in healthcare data management. Explore all we can do for you.  

The Role of Pharmacy Automation in the Healthcare Ecosystem

pharmacy automation

Manual medication dispensing is rife with challenges. It’s tedious, repetitive, and error-prone. However, pharmacy automation changed the game for pharmacy operations. By using technology, pharmacists and their staff can spend their time on more high-level work to improve patient outcomes. 

What role does pharmacy automation plan in the healthcare ecosystem? It’s critical to dispensing and care management. Find out why. 

What Is Pharmacy Automation?

Pharmacy automation describes any task that leverages technology to handle and distribute medications. Robotics and pill counters are the most common forms of automation. It enables pharmacies to streamline workflows and reduce the risk of errors. Its benefits often include boosting prescription volume and efficiency.

Pharmacy Automation Tools in Demand

Pharmacy automation is a fast-growing segment. According to a new report, experts predict the industry will grow at a CAGR of 8.35% and be worth $8.03 billion by 2027. This growth is due in part to the proliferation of a large majority of consumers taking daily prescriptions. 

According to a study by Georgetown University, 131 million people, representing 66% of U.S. adults, take prescription drugs. That number is higher for those aged 65 to 79 at 87%. They average 20 prescriptions per person. Those under the age of 65 take three to six drugs, and only 53% of this population use prescribed medications. 

That’s a high volume of patients and prescriptions. As the population ages and lives longer, more people will begin to become part of these population groups. 

Pharmacy Automation Is Now Affordable for All

In the infancy of pharmacy automation, adopters tended to be central fill facilities and large health systems, dispensing by the thousands every day. The latest generation of automation tools is more accessible. They’ve become extremely affordable, enabling community pharmacies to use it. 

It Doesn’t Replace Jobs

Using robotics for dispensing and filling isn’t a case of technology taking over jobs. Rather, most pharmacies that employ reallocate resources to other areas. The ability to move people from repetitive work means they can focus on bigger picture things like consulting more with patients and expanding services, such as providing vaccines or programs for those with chronic diseases like diabetes. It allows the pharmacy staff to provide more patient-centered services.

What Types of Meds Should You Automate?

If you’re going to use robotics in your pharmacy, you’ll need to consider the “right” drugs for this capability. Pill counters are the low-tech version of automation. Robotics are more sophisticated, as they fill, label, and cap. Robots can fill every script, so maximize the potential by using it for your top 100 products that you dispense.

Be Aware of Regulations

In some states, you can’t automate the filling of controlled substances. Understand the state regulations on what you can and cannot automate. In most cases, you’ll be automating prescriptions with high volumes that don’t fit in the controlled category.

Are Automation Tools Customizable?

There are some automation systems available to customize to fit your specific needs and workflows. The type of pharmacy you have may inform this (i.e., specialty pharmacy, mail order, etc.). You may also wish to have a solution that integrates with your pharmacy software or an EHR. By doing this, you can reduce paperwork and back and forth with providers. It also provides price transparency. 

pharmacy automation technology

Automation Is Accelerating Changing Pharmacy Business Models

Pharmacy is evolving. It’s always been on the frontlines of public health, often being a resource where no others exist. As pharmacy business models continue to change, automation is helping shape both dispensing and care management.

For dispensing, it’s all about speed and efficiency. In this use case, automation reduces costs, errors, and wait time. 

With the support of automation, care management becomes more feasible. Pharmacists focus more attention on complex patients and preventative services like immunizations and clinical testing, including COVID-19 tests.

What’s the Future of Pharmacy Automation?

2020 has been a very disruptive year for healthcare, pharmacy included. In a pandemic, there’s a strain on resources, so it seems practical that automation can relieve some of this. With technology becoming increasingly sophisticated, innovations are certainly on the horizon. What are your thoughts on pharmacy automation predictions? Share them with us!