The use of information and telecommunication technology (ICT) is transforming the healthcare industry:
IT allows telemedicine, digital-related services to support clinical health care and even telehealth, care at-a-distance. Computing technology is enabling doctors to connect and communicate through the Web or mobile tools with colleagues and other clinics and reach out to relevant medical specialists, from virtually anywhere, at any time, to assist in diagnosis and treatment of patients. Even examinations through a live IP video conference feed are now possible through real-time telehealth consultation for faster medical care.
In essence, telehealth and telemedicine are promising technologies for improving the overall quality of healthcare in providing a value-added system of care delivery. However, even though digital health may be positively changing the medical industry, there are concerns about the safety of confidential patient information processed digitally. This is true, especially, when handling electronic health records (EHRs) and when managing health-related information across computerized systems.
According to a year-long examination of cybersecurity by The Washington Post, IT security researchers revealed that the healthcare industry is vulnerable to hacking threats and cyber-attacks. The security professionals say that health information privacy (HIP) is at risk and the framework for sharing between doctors and health care providers is a big concern. Cybercriminal are potentially able to exploit patient information and steal their identity to commit identity fraud. Impersonators could even gain medical care services and coverage, see a doctor, get prescription drugs, and file claims under the victim’s health insurance plan.
With digital transformation of healthcare already in full swing, EHRs becoming more used at hospitals and clinics, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act incentive payments going ahead and the launch of the Obamacare insurance website, some people question the integrity of the digital health system where hackers are able to possibly break into and steal information through security data breach flaws.
Encryption and authentication are apt security measures to assure patients that their information and identity will be protected, IT security experts say. Those simple measures are a front line of defense when it comes to security of health and medical data that is transmitted over a network. This is something HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) mandates; encryption must be utilized when medical information is going to be passed over an open network such as the Internet, and it comes optional when dealing with a closed network.
It is important to know that health care providers are responsible for safeguarding protected health information under HITECH and HIPAA regulations.
“Some hospitals and clinics take proactive measures to reduce the risks regarding data privacy; they have strengthened information privacy by implementing a shred-all policy and safeguarded patient information by means of encryption and authentication; yet, not all health-care organizations are doing enough to provide effectiveness of their data protection efforts”, conveys security experts from Shred-it
At a minimum, the following information security tips should be followed by healthcare professionals:
- Healthcare organizations have to take security very seriously. Data security awareness training in a healthcare environment is paramount to teach people about threats and attacks.
- Health care facilities may want to consider carrying out risk assessments in identifying loopholes in their health delivery systems and have safeguards in place, as needed.
- Health care providers collecting, sharing and/or storing patient information on PCs or mobile devices ought to protect it according to established security policies and compliance.
- Patients, physicians and insurers need to be wary of online scammers who may solicit information from patients through digital means to commit identity theft.
Digital health futurists, like Fard Johnmarare, are optimistic that telehealth and telemedicine will change health-care delivery for the better; the goal is to expand and improve upon the services already offered at medical facilities to care for patients even when they cannot be seen face to face, and to serve those residing in rural and medically underserved areas and populations.
As for security defense measures, essential servces like document shredding Toronto are needed to protect sensitive data from being compromised. They’ll be beneficial for the safety and efficiency of these new health delivery systems, which are so vital for the future of Healthcare IT.
As Canadian medical colleges continue turning away applicants in the thousands, and a growing number of Caribbean Medical Schools open their doors to international students, inefficiencies of supply-and-demand in the medical provider marketplace continue to spark public debate. Both Canada and the United States project severe physician shortages in just a few years. Yet in these developed nations, thousands of well-trained medical students cannot obtain career advancement. Five trends bear watching:
1. The Law Controls
In the Canadian legal system, laws and not academic standards ultimately control the right to practice medicine. If the public voted to admit high school graduates with one year of training as licensed physicians, for instance, Canadian medical societies could do little about the situation except protest. Today, some Caribbean medical institutions find their medical board-passing graduates unable to obtain residencies in Canada or the USA, a practical necessity for employment in many jurisdictions. As the physician shortage increases, will public demand for qualified medical assistance ultimately produce a change in the laws governing licensing of Canadian physicians? Economists might answer in the affirmative. For example, perhaps legislators will eventually permit anyone passing medical boards to qualify for automatic volunteer residencies?
2. Flourishing Caribbean Medical Schools
Academic institutions in the Caribbean have benefited in recent decades from an influx of fee-paying students from Canada and other developed nations. The global physician shortage suggests this trend will continue, especially as more teaching hospitals arise in the region. Some established allopathic physicians in Canada could soon face competition from Canadian Caribbean-trained MDs.
3. Holistic Medicine
Holistic medical concepts have gained ground in North America since the 1980s. As Canadian physicians face greater competition from Caribbean-trained allopaths, licensing bodies in other under-served medically-related fields in Canada, such as Clinical Psychiatry and Veterinary Medicine, will face pressure to reduce barriers to entry into these professions.
4. Revamping Medical Training
As the University of the People has demonstrated, technology exists today to train remotely in a growing number of subjects. In the past, physical attendance at a University remained a prerequisite. Yet that situation no longer pertains. While considerable evidence supports the importance of clinical education in medicine, perhaps the arrival of more teaching hospitals in third world nations will offer opportunities for distance medical learners. Educators in North America might want to ponder that issue as tuition spirals upwards.
5. Inefficient Medical Markets
Ultimately, in a capitalist system, market forces of supply and demand will determine the allocation of physician resources. A sufficiently large contingent of qualified, unemployed Canadian Caribbean-trained School of Medicine graduates who have demonstrated the ability to pass medical boards will produce changes of some kind in the North American medical school system. Unfortunately, unless they begin implementing reforms soon, experienced medical educators might find that the momentum for making changes has passed from their professional organizations to legislatures.
Supply-and-demand will ultimately control the future of medical admissions policies in Canada. Inefficient markets eventually correct themselves.
Please note, CCS pocket guides are no longer available for order online. All orders received prior to March 25th will be fulfilled.
Please see our online versions or check out our smartphone apps.
On February 14th. Drs. Derek Exner and Ratika Parkash, Co-Chairs of the Primary Panel for the CCS Guidelines on Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy: Evidence and Patient Selection, along with Drs François Philippon and David Birnie, presented the new CRT Guidelines during a one-hour webinar.
We are pleased with the outcome of this on-line session which included 40 participants from across Canada, many questions that contributed to good discussion and the positive and constructive feedback we continue to receive.
During the session, our presenters completed the following:
- Reviewed the appropriate selection of patients for CRT
- Discussed the role of CRT pacing
- Described the risks and benefits related to patients with AF, RBBB and chronic RV pacing
- Explained the technical issues related to CRT including vascular access and lead placement
- Discussed the role of imaging in assessment of CRT
For the first time, the CCS is making this on-line session available with audio and video recording. You will be prompted to enter your email address and then your first and last name to download/stream the file.
CRT Webinar Recording Available
Thank you to the presenters and participants for contributing to a successful CRT knowledge translation activity.
If you attended this session, please take a few minutes to complete the CRT Webinar survey.
A group of clinicians consisting of cardiologists and nephrologists is working together to develop a case based discussion of the key concepts and approaches to the management of Hyponatremia. We have all heard that optimal treatment pathways for hyponatremia are not well defined, and therefore management varies widely. In order to understand this variability, three congestive heart failure cases with varying complexity were chosen for the survey.
So, please participate and test your “Sodium IQ”
We are pleased to announce that the following guidelines are now available in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology both online at www.onlinecjc.ca and in the February print issue:
- The 2012 Canadian Cardiovascular Society Heart Failure Management Guidelines Update: Focus on Acute and Chronic Heart Failure
- 2012 Update of the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dyslipidemia for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in the Adult
- Canadian Cardiovascular Society Guidelines on the Use of Cardiac Resynchronization Therapy: Evidence and Patient Selection
The CardioRisk Calculator is based on the 2012 Dyslipidemia Guidelines and the 2011 Canadian Consensus Paper on statin intolerance. The algorithm allows for rapid assessment of Framingham Risk, Vascular Age, Metabolic Syndrome and other factors supporting treatment and management of adults with dyslipidemia and heart risk. Comparative drug tables and a calculator for determining percentage changes in LDL required to reach target are also included.
Click here to view the CardioRisk Calculator
Our experts have developed three interesting cases on hyponatremia in congestive heart failure. These cases cover key concepts and approaches to the management of hyponatremia with multiple-choice questions at various clinical decision points. Please participate; test your knowledge of hyponatremia and learn from our multi-disciplinary expert panel Dr. Jonathan Howlett, Dr. Anique Ducharme, Dr. Peter Liu, Dr. Daniel Bichet, Dr. Karen Yeates, Dr. Steven Soroka.
Did you miss our Dyslipidemia or CRT Guideline Webinar?
We know space was limited so we recorded the webinars and posted them on our website for on demand viewing. You can view the slides and hear the audio along with participant questions and our expert panel’s responses. Webinars are a convenient way to learn about the newest guideline updates and recommendations.
You will be prompted to enter your email address and then your first and last name to download/stream the file.