Hospitals across the U.S. spend roughly $125 billion on health care cybersecurity to help protect outdated systems and patient information. With so many new digital patient engagement tools and methods of monitoring patients, hospitals are constantly undergoing growing pains regarding compliance and regulations.
Finding the solution to compliance and patient satisfaction is difficult, but the payoff is twofold. First, hospitals can stay compliant even in the ever-shifting regulatory environment. Second, this compliance helps smooth out the patient experience, from ordering a prescription to providing sustainable services long term, which gives them a more comfortable environment for treatment.
While the help of a health care compliance and regulation partner streamlines the process, understanding where challenges stem from goes a long way toward identifying potential areas of growth.
Regulatory Changes Over the Past Few Years
The health care industry has always existed in an ever-shifting regulatory landscape. These changes have accelerated in recent years, driven by current events and public health emergencies.
The first major impact is the most obvious: COVID-19. The pandemic introduced multiple changes to regulations and procedures, as patients were unable to come into the hospital in most cases. Changes included:
- Vaccine procedures
- Who is qualified to give vaccines
- Which healthcare facilities and patients should receive vaccines first
- Ivermectin guidelines
- Mask and social distancing protocols
- How long an employee must stay home if testing positive
- Testing for COVID-19 and other illnesses
While the specific changes vary from state to state, the procedural shifts will impact how health systems adapt to challenges in the future. Overall, the shifts have led to increased reliance on digital patient engagement technologies. Done right, these now-common tools outlined below can allow hospitals to maintain compliance while improving both care and patient satisfaction.
USP 800, which went into effect in 2019, dictated standards for safely handling hazardous drugs to minimize risk of exposure to health care personnel, patients, and the environment. This changed decontamination and cleaning procedures, documentation, and controls to have as little impact on those that come in contact with them as possible.
The Drug Supply Chain Security Act (or DSCSA) introduced a way to trace the full transaction history of every medication that passed through a pharmacy or hospital to protect these businesses and assist in compliance. The next component of this law will go live in November 2023, and will put stricter guidelines on trading partners for more compliant transactions.
Know the Lowest Price Act
The Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018 prohibits prescription drug plans under Medicare or Medicare Advantage from restricting a pharmacy from informing an enrollee of any difference between the price, copayment or coinsurance of a drug under the plan and a lower price of the drug without health insurance coverage.
Finally, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) is the public law that creates the framework for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous solid waste. The law describes the waste management program mandated by Congress that gave the United States Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) jurisdiction to develop the RCRA program. The RCRA is often used interchangeably to refer to the law, regulations and EPA policy and guidelines.
How to Prepare for Compliance Changes
With so many changes over the past few years and new regulation adjustments being considered, hospitals need to be prepared for the next compliance evolution. When evaluating tools that drive compliance requirements, hospitals should be evaluating these in the light of how these tools enable them to a) drive/capture additional revenue, b) enhance efficiency thereby increasing operating margin and c) decrease potential risk to the organization.
D2 offers a comprehensive suite of tools that inform hospitals of pending regulatory changes. These actionable alerts include the specific impact of the regulations—and what steps hospitals need to take to comply. If it’s about to be passed on a federal or state level, hospitals are alerted on how this will impact the front and backend operations and potential requirements on how to prepare accordingly.
Of course, regulations also vary from state to state. This is a particular challenge for hospitals and pharmacies with multiple locations. Tracking the details of this shifting landscape can be a full-time job.
D2’s compliance tools keep hospitals out in front of these changes, even on a state-by-state level.
Updating Digital Health Tools for Compliance
Many hospitals don’t have access to the new technology needed to improve patient care while maintaining compliance. Either they don’t have the resources, or they have connectivity issues between different legacy systems. For example, there are more than 200 different EMR systems in the market and connecting an EMR system to new software while staying compliant is difficult. If a new software tool needs to be added to a hospital’s tech stack, ensuring the new software communicates efficiently with existing systems is challenging at best.
Enlisting a partner like D2 makes the adoption process easier; using EMR connective tools that don’t need to impact hospital IT systems helps achieve the transaction and allows the various systems to begin communicating.
Partners like D2 simplify connectivity issues across multiple systems, not just EMRs, and give hospitals a streamlined way of updating their technology and while keeping existing systems running longer. Using specialized tools and services, hospitals can speed up their technology implementation process and improve physical and digital patient engagement.
Using Digital Patient Engagement Strategies
The patient engagement experience is vital for a hospital’s success. The easiest way to improve patient outreach while retaining cost savings is through digital solutions. These services extend to more than just electronic health records and can successfully drive engagement and convenience for both patients and staff.
Fill Management for Prescriptions
Hospitals and pharmacies can use engagement platforms for fill management for prescriptions to track patient compliance with their current prescriptions. This acts as a refill tool if they don’t already have one, digitizing the prescription process, organizing the billing and management, and reducing the burden on staff.
Instead of calling multiple times to schedule a patient appointment, a digital scheduling solution automates the scheduling process. Patients are advised through text, email or automated calls leading up to the day of their appointment and the scheduling office is alerted if the patient needs to move their appointment. D2’s experience suggests that 85- 90% of patients will use digital engagement across all ages, which is a 3x improvement over traditional telephonic intervention.
Patient Satisfaction Surveys
The benefits of tracking the patient’s journey don’t stop at providing them with an enjoyable experience and high-quality care; hospitals should always strive to improve this experience whenever possible. One such way is through satisfaction surveys, especially around the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). Through digital patient satisfaction surveys, hospitals can learn where patient expectations lie, where to improve care coordination, and how to drive better patient outcomes as a result.
What Does the Ideal Hospital Experience Look Like?
A perfect future for hospitals involves being prepared for the constant pipeline of new technology. Implementing a digital front door strategy and consistently using high-quality technology leads to greater patient satisfaction and decreased stress for staff.
Take QR codes for example. Currently, upwards of 60% of prescriptions aren’t filled. If a patient is enrolled in a digital prescription program, they can be assigned a QR code with a set prescription. If they go to a hospital or pharmacy, all they have to do is present the QR code, have it scanned and access their prescription. It reduces hassle for the patient and helps reduce stress on staff while accelerating patient access to medications.
The right technology gives hospitals better ways to follow up with patients as well as improving cybersecurity and digital protections.
Noninvasive technology innovations create opportunities for hospitals to better engage patients, take stress off staff and keep up to date with compliance changes to meet state or federal laws. The right technology partner helps everyone come out ahead.
Providing Health Care Technology and Better Patient Outcomes
Maintaining consistent patient care requires the aid of technology, but hospitals and pharmacies have enough to handle without the added strain of keeping up with the newest technology on the market. D2 Solutions offers a streamlined solution through our health care technology services.
Streamlining employee workflow, creating a better patient experience, and maintaining regulatory compliance are all achievable with the right partner. D2 has listened to our clients and has spent more than seven years building technology tools to address real-world issues. Why wait? Join the many pharmacies, hospitals, physician offices and others who are benefiting from D2’s technology solutions.