The Necessity for Automated ProcessesBecause healthcare often involves the exchange of identifying information, new compliance laws require that patient information is kept confidential and secure. To keep up with these stipulations, several leaders in healthcare are implementing process automation. Automation is defined as the use of control systems and information technologies to reduce the need for human work in the production of goods and services[i]. Historically, a negative connotation has been associated with automation as many fear that automated processes can lead to job loss. However, healthcare professionals should rest assured that automated processes cannot fully replace doctors, nurses, and other care providers. In fact, automation could potentially make their jobs easier and free up their time for what they do best—care for patients. By incorporating automation into workflows, healthcare organizations can increase efficiency and improve productivity. Automated processes also reduce human error. This alone should make healthcare professionals breathe a sigh of relief as the reduction of error not only decreases the chance of lawsuits, but it also increases patient satisfaction. By streamlining processes like patient check-ins and appointment reminders, healthcare organizations free up time to provide patients with the one-on-one patient-to-provider experience they are looking for.
Securing Information on the CloudThere has always been a bit of mystery associated with the cloud, like what exactly is the cloud, and where is our information stored? The cloud is defined as the delivery of on-demand computing resources, and it allows for data to be accessed and stored on the Internet rather than on a computer’s hard drive[ii]. In the healthcare industry, when information is stored on the cloud, physicians and other healthcare providers have the ability to access it at any time. They also have the benefit of being able to collaborate with other hospitals and providers regarding a patient’s care, thus enhancing the overall patient experience. While cloud technology has the potential to enhance both patient care and provider efficiency, healthcare organizations must familiarize themselves with HIPAA’s Security Rule to avoid penalties and mitigate any potential risks. The HIPAA Security Rule requires that health organizations take the following precautionary measures when incorporating cloud technology[iii]:
- Ensure the confidentiality and integrity of Patient Health Information (PHI)
- Identify and protect against reasonably anticipated threats to the security or integrity of the information
- Protect against any reasonably anticipated uses or disclosures of electronic PHI
- Ensure the covered entity workforce’s compliance with the Security Rule