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What Are e-Health Applications? About e-Health

Richard Bailey
by Atlantic.Net (31posts) under HIPAA Compliant Hosting
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e-Health applications are the software used to create, manage, and maintain data that is relevant to the patient or a healthcare organization. The data could be for treatment planning, organizing patient results, creating patient health records, or tools for health insurance payments.

e-Health (also referred to as eHealth or Electronic Health) is a neologism that represents how information technology can be used to improve patient health and improve the health care system as a whole.

Cloud computing and mobile telecommunications have fueled the growth of e-Health applications, and healthcare organizations and patients globally are embracing digital healthcare. Many previously manual processes have been supplanted by e-Health applications; electronic prescriptions and electronic health records have become the norm. Experts predict that this sector of healthcare will only grow in the future, as the technology has already helped to reduce waiting times and some of the workloads put upon medical professionals.

Digital health has become extremely popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, as technology has allowed healthcare professionals to deliver front line medical services to patients despite local surgery centers and hospital departments being forced to close down. HIPAA-compliant telemedicine has thrived during the Covid-19 pandemic, and video conferencing with patients has proved a popular alternative to in-person visits.

Atlantic.Net has worked tirelessly with our healthcare clients to help them achieve a smooth transition to digital health. Using our decades of experience within the HIPAA compliant hosting sector and backed by our business associate agreement (BAA), we help them transition to e-Health apps as part of their digital transformation strategies.

In this article, we will look at some of the healthcare applications that are already being used in the healthcare industry, and we will look at future technology and discover where the technology might lead us too.

e-Health Applications in 2020

Implementations of health care apps have become commonplace in 2020. While we have already mentioned electronic prescription apps, where the patients can request appointments, update personal details, and even chat with a physician are also readily available. Telemedicine is thriving, and the number of HIPAA-compliant video conferencing services is growing day-by-day.

The rules of HIPAA compliance advise that telemedicine must be HIPAA compliant. The easiest way to achieve this is to leverage a HIPAA compliant hosting service and bolt on your applications on top of the service. This creates an infrastructure that is inherently secure and compliant, leaving only a few decisions to be made about choosing the right apps.

Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) is already in use by hospitals and medical practices, and US legislation demands numerous physical, technical, and administrative safeguards are met before any record is digitized. Data is encrypted in and out of VPN networks, and records are encrypted at source for added protection.

Top 4 e-Health Apps

Some of the most popular e-Health applications in the United States are:

  • Doximity – this is a professional medical network with over 1 million verified healthcare professionals as members. It provides HIPAA compliant voice and video telemedicine and the sending of HIPAA secure faxes.
  • Visual DX – this is a diagnosis deep learning tool that can help physicians diagnose illness or provide a second opinion using huge archives of redacted data results and medical imaging.
  • ClotMD – this is an app focused on preventing blood clots using smartphones and wearable tech to monitor a patient’s INR level.
  • Medici – this is another HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform with features such as file sharing and realtime text chat with integrated medical payment capabilities.

Top e-Health Application Growth Opportunities in 2020

  • Blockchain
  • Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)
  • Wearable Tech

Blockchain

Blockchain is a rapidly evolving technology potentially set to revolutionize the e-Health Application industry. You might be familiar with Blockchain being used for decentralized Bitcoin transactions, but the technology also has great potential in healthcare, in particular for the storage of medical records.

Traditionally, covered entities like hospitals, surgery centers, and insurance companies would all use different, non-compatible computer systems. Information exchange often proves difficult and makes the patient’s experience slow and tedious as results are shared between entities’ disparate systems.

Application data can be stored in a blockchain that is used to transfer information securely between each covered entity with no need for a secure, physical network connection between them all; a peer-to-peer network over the internet is all that is needed. The data is secure and almost impossible to tamper with.

e-Health Application data is protected by a hash and a proof-of-work algorithm, just like a digital fingerprint. If the data is changed, a new hash is generated and data is stored in a new block, along with a new reference that links to the previous block.

Now, add in multiple users to the same blockchain; in this scenario, each user has a copy of the blockchain, and when a new block is added, everyone gets a copy. Blockchain then validates the block with all the users to create consensus, meaning that all users have validated the data integrity.

To tamper with the data, the block will need to be changed and compromised on over 50% of the users, and the proof-of-concept would need to be changed (which requires an awful lot of CPU power). If every hospital in the United States adopted this technology, it would prove nearly impossible to crack.

Blockchain technology allows the development of a vast interoperable network, ensuring valuable real-time patient data can be exchanged rapidly and efficiently between healthcare providers, patients, and authorized third parties, such as insurance companies. The technology can reduce operational costs, maximize the accuracy of electronic health records, and promote strong data security practices.

Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM)

The global Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) market leverages innovative new technology, allowing patients, in particular the elderly and those with chronic conditions, to effectively monitor their health and improves access to high-quality care and patient outcome. RPM is already commonly used to monitor patients’ blood pressure, pulse rate, oxygen level, and heart rates.

The data is used for early detection of illness or health issues or to track ongoing ailments. Despite the clear benefits of RPM, there are several risks associated, including the threat of a data breach, potential device malfunction, and application vulnerabilities to ransomware, malware, and viruses.

HIPAA-compliant hosting for RPM will mitigate these risks, as patients may understandably have privacy concerns about how sensitive RPM data is collected, processed, and deleted by e-Health Applications.

Wearable Tech

What makes Remote Patient Monitoring work is the use of wearable tech. Hospitals can provide patients with wearable medical devices, and the data from those devices can either be downloaded after the treatment cycle or uploaded directly over the cloud. Wearable tech is everywhere; smartwatches, smart glasses, and smartphones work seamlessly with applications such as Strava, Run Keeper, and others.

One group of medical researchers benefiting from wearable tech are those who study of diabetes. The future of diabetes self-management is set to be revolutionized by continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology, which provides real-time feedback to inform and guide healthy food choices and lifestyle changes.

Dexcom aims to launch a next-gen CGM system in late 2020 and is partnering with Apple to allow diabetics to access their glucose tracking data on an Apple Smartwatch. Meanwhile, Fitbit has teamed up with San Francisco-based tech company Sano to develop a wearable, coin-size patch using tiny needles to track glucose levels. These technologies will enable patients to gain a greater understanding of how their body responds to food and exercise and allow them to adapt their lifestyle choices based on better information.

To conclude, e-Health applications and the associated technology are only going to thrive in the future. The Covid-19 pandemic has proven that this technology is reliable and gets the job done. Any e-Health application must be running on a HIPAA-compliant hosting platform, as data integrity and the protection of patient health information are essential to the success of the apps.

It is debatable whether blockchain or future technologies that employ it will ever become HIPAA-compliant. Regardless, e-Health applications will continue to thrive, as they have proven that they can become everyday parts of our healthcare system and processes, such as digital prescriptions. Other applications that are already the norm include Internet forums and health-related social platforms, Internet-based literature related to healthcare, web apps directly used by patients, patient-generated health data (PGHD), Internet messages between patient and clinician, and of course, electronic health record portals.

Ready to Get Started with e-Health Applications?

Atlantic.Net stands ready to help you attain fast compliance with a range of certifications, such as SOC 2 and SOC 3, HIPAA, and HITECH, all with 24x7x365 support, monitoring, and world-class data center infrastructure. For faster application deployment, free IT architecture design, and assessment, visit us at www.atlantic.net, call 888-618-DATA (3282), or email us at [email protected].

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