Tag Archives: Healthcare Information Technology

Relating ‘Big Data Trends in Healthcare’ to Wearable Medical Device Design

How are Value-Based Care, CJR, BPCI and Other Medicare Reimbursement Models Increasing Demand for Wearable Medical Devices?

IT Pro Portal recently published “Five Big Data Trends in Healthcare,” a headline that may not immediately seem relevant to medical device design and development. However, it illuminates some crucial insights into both where the medical device industry current is and where it is going, particularly in respect to:

  • Value-Based Patient-Centric Care
  • The Healthcare Internet of Things
  • Predictive analytics to improve outcomes
  • Real-Time Monitoring of Patients

Value-based care (also known as “pay for performance” and “value-based purchasing”) is a payment model that incentivizes positive outcomes for acute care patients—rather than the more traditional “fee for service” model that strictly pays (or reimburses) hospitals and clinics for services rendered (regardless of outcomes).

 

For example, instead of an orthopedic surgery center being paid for performing a knee replacement procedure (regardless of how well the patient recovers), the VBC model pays the center based on clearly-defined criteria that measures performance—which requires the center to monitor a patient throughout the entire “episode of care” and to collect and report data.

 

The CJR Example

Healthcare providers that participate in Medicare and Medicaid are increasingly getting reimbursed through the VBC model, but often with a twist: bundled payments. One such program in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model, more commonly known as CJR.

 

In the CJR model, Medicaid and Medicare link payments for multiple services for an episode of care through the Bundled Payments for Care Improvement (BPCI) Initiative. Using the knee replacement surgery example again, this would mean that the surgeon and the post-surgery physical therapist get paid based on outcome of the entire episode of care—which makes monitoring, data collection and reporting even more complicated and costly.

 

Other Key Factors

Among the many other factors for why we have seen a spike in requests to develop wearable medical devices and IoT healthcare devices, VBC, BPCI and the like have played a role because they yield multiple advantages in this context, including:

  • 24/7 off-site monitoring: Connected medical devices enable healthcare providers to collect crucial data about a patient’s recovery around-the-clock and immediately know if there are any deviations from a positive outcome.
  • Convenience for patients: Connected monitoring yields an additional benefit for elderly patients and those that have difficulty with getting transportation to their doctor because it reduces the make appointments for on-site checkups, evaluations, etc.
  • Reduced cost: Connected medical devices (and the networks for connect them) can reduce or even eliminates some administrative and clinical costs because of the reasons explained in the previous two points.

As explained in the article, “Capturing extensive patient data allows for better care coordination and patient engagement,” which could not be more true. Although that concept leans more towards healthcare IT rather than medical devices, the reality is those devices—especially wearables and IoT medical devices—are often the tools to capture and transmit that data.

 


 

DeviceLab is an ISO-13485 certified medical device development company that has completed more than 100 medical device design projects of varying complexity—including medical device software development and wireless medical device design services for the newest breeds of medical IoT, mHealth and medical wearables.

Contrasting Healthcare Cybersecurity Risks Speculation with Reality

How Hackers are Costing Hospitals Millions of Dollars Possibly Hindering Wearable Medical Device and IoT Healthcare Innovations That Could Advance Patient Care

Medical Device Cybersecurity

In our last blog, we discussed an article, “Hackers Will Target Hospitals Like Never Before in 2017.” This time, we are again discussing an article big, scary headline that relates to hackers and healthcare cybersecurity—but with a twist.

 

The twist is that last week’s headline used the auxiliary verb “will” to speculate about potential cybersecurity risks, as where this week’s past-tense headline reflects on the harsh realities and outcomes of those risks: “Hackers Hit 320% More Healthcare Providers in 2016 than in 2015, Per HHS Data.”

 

If indeed both headlines are accurate, then a certain logic dictates hackers will hit at least 321% more healthcare providers in 2017 than in 2016. But it’s not the numbers themselves that are most interesting; instead, what’s most interesting is where they came from: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

 

HHS apparently takes hospital hacking pretty seriously, as illustrated in the article:

 

“$23,505,300 was paid to the HHS Office for Civil Rights in 2016 to resolve HIPAA violations that occurred at 13 provider organizations during 2012-2013.”

 

Obviously, HHS’ concern is for the patient privacy—and violations are obviously costly…and presumably getting costlier. After all, if the average fine during 2012–13 was more than $1.8 million, and if the frequency of hacking continues to increase as expected, then presumably, HIPAA violations and the millions of dollars in fines will increase too.

 

Along with the unfortunate loss of privacy for some patients, there’s also the unfortunate economic reality involved in this: Somebody will have to pay, which usually means the customer (read: patients).

 

Extending this notion further, there’s also the economic impact on hospitals being willing to adopt new technologies—such as wearable medical devices and IoT healthcare devices—that require access to those same hackable networks and arguably make them more vulnerable. Not only does this hurt patients that might benefit from hospitals that might otherwise be more inclined to adopt wearables, but of course, it arguably slows innovation, which certainly does not benefit medical device designers and developers.

 

The article adds a point in this context:

 

“Risks are no longer just about loss or theft of data. The ransomware attacks of 2016 show how security incursions can restrict the availability of health data to providers, impacting their ability to deliver care.”

 

If there is a silver lining, it’s that healthcare and technological innovation are difficult forces to slow down. From the doctors that commit their lives to healing others to the medical device designers that thrive on making products better, faster, smaller, etc. for those doctors, one can hope that the good guys will continue to keep a step ahead of the bad guys. The pivotal factor, of course, is cybersecurity—a topic we’ve also been following closely in this blog.

 

However, as we said last week, this leads to the current technological Gordian knot in our industry: Digital security technologies like Blockchain can protect the good guys from the bad guys—but it also can make it harder to protect the good guys from the bad guys. Watch this space for more on this subject…

 


 

DeviceLab is an ISO-13485 certified medical device development company that has completed more than 100 medical device design projects of varying complexity—including medical device software development and wireless medical device design services for the newest breeds of medical IoT, mHealth and medical wearables.