How to Securely Go Digital in Healthcare

Li Liu, Product Marketing Manager at Foxit Software
SEPTEMBER 23, 2019
computer

Paper products, sorting, storage and mailing cost the healthcare industry billions of dollars annually. Eliminating paper is no longer an option; it’s a necessity that relies on timing and developing the right strategy. The benefits of going paperless include better collaboration between departments and more insights on patient care, which result in improved patient satisfaction, increased clinical productivity and cost reduction.

Patient treatment is complex, and those with multiple conditions often need to be managed by numerous specialists with a high degree of collaboration. Paperless healthcare technology makes it easier for patients to quickly check on their records, reminders, history and lab work.  A growing number of healthcare organizations require medical records to be compressed, web-optimized, and easily accessible through various platforms. Foxit Enterprise Automation server solutions can handle high volume compression in any application where you need compact, searchable patient document. Faxed documents and unsearchable image files are often difficult and time-consuming to locate and retrieve. However, many healthcare organizations are starting to find ways to efficiently and securely deliver large text-searchable files.

With advanced document creation and editing tools, enhanced healthcare document technology has never been easier to implement. Unlike traditional paper records, which cannot be converted to different formats, collected or distributed, Foxit document solutions can fill that void.
 

Leverage Mobile Solutions

Making patient-centered records available and safe is important. When migrating to paperless, patient consent data collection is especially at risk. Transitioning to an electronic health system is no longer sufficient to enable communication. It's now necessary to consider internal workflow vulnerabilities, too. When the process of capturing consent becomes inadequate (i.e., missing patient signatures from paper documents), the legal ramifications of malpractice claims increase significantly.

To proactively manage these legal risks, informed consent processes need to be significantly improved. This can be done by using a comprehensive solution that utilizes digital signatures, mobile scanning features, auto-complete data collection and SDK enterprise application enablement. The key is to find a solution that eliminates the risks associated with managing paper documents while leveraging digital technology on smartphones, tablets and Windows-based mobile devices to create a positive patient care experience and improve clinical efficiency.
 

Patient Confidentiality

Recent reports show that the healthcare industry is falling short in its security efforts. Between 2009 and 2018, there have been 2,546 healthcare data breaches involving more than 500 records, HIPAA Journal reports. Compared to other industries, healthcare is much more complex and heavily regulated. Staying compliant in healthcare is a balancing act involving legacy technology, organizational challenges and strict regulations. A small selection of these regulations includes:
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Payment Card Industry (PCI)
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH)
To effectively manage risks, the IT department needs to proactively manage regulations in advance rather than reacting to new updates. Inability to keep up with these ever-evolving risks can lead to severe consequences, including monetary losses, legal ramifications and civil penalties.

It’s tempting to believe that by going digital, security will be easier than with traditional paper, however in many instances where unprotected data are distributed across many channels, security risks increase. On top of that, new security patches require updated software, but because of legacy systems in place, IT staff are forbidden from patching, updating or modifying — even if the task is easy.

According to a 2017 report by Verizon, 58% of all healthcare data breaches and security threats are the result of insiders, with medical records (treatment plans, identities and history) being the focus of breaches. Compromised patient data is one of the most prevalent healthcare security threats. Without careful oversight, these electronic health records (EHRs) — as well as other patient information — can quickly become sabotaged or even worse, subjected to ransomware.
 

Interoperability with PDF API/SDK

Healthcare application programming interfaces (APIs) have started a digital revolution, and the leaders of the healthcare industry are beginning to realize the importance of open APIs in expanding the reach of their organizations. The benefits of this transformative technology will pave the way for health IT interoperability, increased quality of care, cost reduction, enormous innovation and incredible patient experiences.

For patients, it means the ability to control their health data without going through a third-party. With the growing popularity of connected health systems that include smart gadgets such as sensors, the Apple Watch, etc., patients would benefit from the integration of smart devices with EHR systems because more data means more meaningful insights into diagnosis and treatment.

For hospitals, it means the ability to expand upon the offerings of existing EHR systems with third-party software apps for clinicians. Doctors can readily use a mobile note-taking app to provide more efficient patient treatment. The ability to develop mobile charts, drawings, treatment notes, interactive consent forms and intuitive signatures that integrate with the EHR system is incredibly important. Doctors can now create, sign, email, save and archive digital forms directly on a smartphone or tablet and hospitals have the freedom to customize any document or form.

Finally, here are some things to consider when looking for PDF technology to embed in healthcare applications:
  • Do you need integrated access to healthcare databases?
  • Do you have built-in tools for scanning text searchable files and digitizing patient health records?
  • Does your platform allow integration of health data from smart devices?
  • Have you set up backup systems or archival methods for patient records?
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