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Challenges Facing the Telehealth Industry

Phones and laptops are now essential medical technology, as doctors’ visits have transitioned from medical offices to patients’ homes. What does it mean to IT?

Cloud communication provider Vonage marks that the former sleepy telehealth industry has jumped more than 2000% in the last month. Their customer, Doxy.me says that 139,000 new health care providers have joined their platform in just one week. They served 1,35 million patients in that week, averaging 170,000 calls each day. Another customer, Doctolib, is doing 100,000 video consultations every single day. Telehealth has suddenly evolved from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” for major health systems.

The reasons for this amazing spike are:

  • Ready-made solution 
  • Advance technologies ubiquity
  • Social distancing
  • Expanded Medicare coverage of telehealth services 
  • Relaxing of HIPAA guidelines 
  • Long term investment 

The meaning of telemedicine is broad. It’s anything from taking care of a patient’s needs through the telephone to actually having patient-doctor video interactions assisted with devices. Telehealth services can deal with a broad scope of problems, including skin concerns, minor infectious diseases, psychiatry, and minor orthopedic problems like sprains. So whether it’s loading information from your smartwatch, using blood pressure cuffs, or a remote stethoscope like Eko Health has built – telemedicine embraces it all.

According to Vidyo survey, healthcare providers identified telehealth as their top IT priority. Next comes the strengthening of data security and implementing EHRs and patient portals. Two-thirds of respondents said they expect their telehealth budget to grow over the next three years.

Notoriously resistant to reform healthcare system provokes a bunch of challenges which we split by reasons:

Legal:

  • Strong compliance. Meeting government standards for clinical data sharing is a tricky matter. Patients worry that their medical data may be hacked or sold. One mistake can lead a hospital, health system, or practice into non-compliance, which can include substantial fines.
  • Multi-state licensure. For all this progress, 21 states still do not allow to practice medicine across state borders presumingly for protecting their local licensees. Thus a provider who is licensed in California can’t provide services in Idaho. However, we can notice some legislative activity from time to time aimed to allow cross-state telehealth.
  • Parity payments. Parity within the telemedicine context means that if you’re seen via Zoom or in-clinic, insurance companies should pay roughly the same amount. Now many doctors ask the patient to come into the office because they won’t get paid otherwise. Though many providers are slowly adding selected telehealth services to their reimbursement rates, the industry reluctance prevents patients from this novel.
  • Slow adoption. In most countries, hospitals have been slow in adopting telemedicine technologies thanks to low IT budgets, legacy systems, and a lack of workforce. However, today’s telemedicine is increasingly run by startups – such as MDLIVE in the U.S., Babylon Health in the UK, and Doktor24 in Sweden – which have until now faced significant challenges in overcoming resistance from established healthcare systems.

IT:

  • Legacy systems. Legacy objections regarding security, interoperability, and infrastructure should and could be addressed with today’s technology. With moving to cloud-based environments, health systems can worry less about maintaining a secure, extensible infrastructure and instead focus more on improving both patient and financial outcomes. Larger health systems now aim to further strategic imperatives such as improving quality, reach, and patient outcomes while containing costs. Telehealth and remote patient monitoring solutions help enable these results.
  • The urgency of development. The virtual hospitals and self-diagnostic gadgets are part of a wider suite of innovations developed at breakneck speed during the pandemic response. Few aspects of the healthcare industry have left untouched in recent months as the COVID-19 pandemic seized the globe. We recommend that organizations look for an open architecture for flexibility and customization, existing integrations into EHR and clinical tools, and a platform with a vast ecosystem of third-party partners. Here you can learn more about Implementing an EHR System to Support Clinical Research that we’ve done for french Pharmaceutical Company.
  • HQ video solutions. Here are the main requirements for telemedicine video providers:
    • The solution must enable HIPAA compliance through 256-bit AES encryption for data in transit and at rest.
    • Seamless integration with EHR and EMR systems. This allows to launch a video visit directly from thу doctor’s workflow and update charts and records in real-time.
    • Ability to work in low-bandwidth environments to bring services to patients in rural.
  • Extra devices. A decade ago, fitness-trackers merely counted steps. Today they measure heart rates, and the latest Apple Watch can create an ECG similar to a single-lead electrocardiogram. Remote devices for telehealth see a surge in demand. On the horizon are devices and apps for home blood testing or biomarker signals capture later sent to physicians for evaluation.

Social:

  • Awareness and adoption – A year ago, patients would rather wait till the next day to see their primary care doctors; these days, they’d chat with a physician. This pandemic has really pushed a lot of us to try telemedicine for the first time. In their 2019 Telehealth Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power reports that customer satisfaction with telehealth services is high: 851 on a 1,000-point scale. 65% of consumers are more likely to use telehealth if the cost is less than a doctor’s office visit.
  • Low-income population. Broadband access, smartphones, and the digital kit that connects to them remain expensive, which means telemedicine may not be viable for the poor or less tech-sophisticated seniors, who need these sorts of novel healthcare solutions the most.
  • Lack of skills. Doctors and patients both need some education. The relevance of digital skills in the COVID-19 is necessary work that must be done.

Conclusion: Telehealth has helped expand access to care when the pandemic has severely restricted patients’ ability to see their doctors. It is not a solution to the current crisis, but it will be one of its lasting consequences. Today, actions taken by healthcare and IT leaders will determine if the full potential of telehealth is realized after the crisis has passed.

4 Major Logistics Challenges with Solutions Offered

A global pandemic has changed the world of retail irrevocably. In response to COVID-19, an unprecedented number of shoppers have made purchases online for the first time. Among them are old and rural consumers that will continue to adopt digital. Changes in consumer behavior will be lasting and many will maintain new digital habits in a post-pandemic world.

So get ready for the new e-commerce normal. You have little time left to update your supply chain management for improving business and providing seamless consumer experience. Below are the major problems of logistics companies.

Problem 1. Predictability

Of course, each shipper wishes to satisfy the customer. But don’t get wrong with false promises. You should be hyper-accurate with the word given. Treat it like an oath. It’s far better to indicate a 2-3 day delivery period than say 2-day and to lose.

Recent surveys show that getting an item to a customer when expected is more important than getting it as fast as possible. We’d prefer a tomorrow delivery at 7-8 pm rather than today’s from 2 till 8 pm. That makes sense, right?

Solution

Make your Service Level Agreement consistent and coherent. This is where setting realistic customer expectations becomes essential for retention and loyalty. No need to show all the backstage, as a customer wants to measure the result and get what he’d expect to for his money. In this case, the trend to increase delivery speeds at all costs can surprisingly lead to unhappy customers. The same will provoke the unexpected calls after ticking off ‘don’t call me’.

Problem 2. Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chain visibility is control over your business thanks to information. It has a direct impact on revenue growth, cost cut, and reduces invested capital. Though achieving it remains an elusive goal. Supply chain networks, technologies, regulations, and business models are continuously changing. So are the rules for success. It’s a moving target with no silver bullet for it. 

Logistics visibility software is worth investment only if companies also spend time, money, and resources to walk their supply chain, from start to finish, with their own feet.

Solution

It has never been easier for organizations to adopt automation software solutions as it is now. Cost-effective cloud-based solutions make automated field processes accessible now for smaller budgets and fleets. 

You can rely on dynamic data, which puts you in control with accurate information about suppliers, carriers, systems, and customers. Such kind of visibility data reflects rates and pricing and enables intelligent routing, automated pickups, proactive tracking, and automatic payment reconciliation. You have no right to say: “I can’t afford to automate my field processes for financial reasons.” That’s not true anymore.

Problem 3. Last-mile delivery

According to statistics, delivery executors have to make as many as 150 trips for every 100 deliveries. Such difference occurs due to fuzzy addresses, unresponsive customers, heavy traffic, or last-minute cancellation. Last-mile delivery is considered as the most important and painful element in the logistics and supply chain business. It is the key to customer satisfaction and makes up the lion’s share of delivery costs. So, if done right, it can save a ton of time and money which in turn can make your business both efficient and profitable. As such, the segment becomes the first place to implement new technologies.

Solution

Since increasingly more consumers are looking for different delivery methods, last-mile delivery has become an option for retailers looking to add value to their services. To deal with this, you need to look to AI-driven technologies that analyze big data in real-time and adapt the delivery process accordingly. 

Consumers themselves would like to check up where their parcel is. The most friendly solution for that is crowd-sourced deliveries which allow them to open a mobile app and order coffee to the office, change order details, and contact courier if needed.

Problem 4. Software Development

Although there are a variety of logistic software startup companies targeting a last-mile niche, it becomes difficult for large-scale retailers and delivery companies to incorporate such tools into one consistent system. Ready-made software demonstrates real-time data without any forecasts while the ability to predict the delivery time as accurately as possible. 

Solution

In most cases, large companies using third-party logistics services (3PL) for the last mile delivery must develop their own software solution meeting the needs of clients, retailers, and carriers.

For example, customers opt for flexibility and easy returns, retailers try to mix in-house and 3PL delivery services, while carriers struggle for cutting costs and safety.

To understand where to start, it’s better to prioritize challenges and estimate the solution cost, including a ready-to-use one and those, need crafting. We at Erbis can become your reliable partner for creating an utterly polished product.Look through latest supply chain solution developed by our team for one of the leading global logistics provider: Latest supply chain solution

Erbis IT Partner

4 Steps for Choosing Your Outsourced IT Partner

Learn how to evaluate a potential outsourcing partner and what to consider when making a selection.

Cost-cutting and the inexperienced outsourcing team responsible for the software of Boeing 737 Max led the airline to lose $19 billion. This crisis could have been avoided by answering just one question: what level of technical expertise should an outsource provider possess? 

Certainly, there is an imperative for companies to properly assess the skills of outsource partners when people’s safety depends on the product. But even for less vital products, failure to employ competent developers can mean damage to a company’s bottom line. 

Digital transformation is what moves the outsourcing market forward. Companies of all sizes improve their responsiveness to the ever-changing digital economy by rethinking legacy IT solutions and breathing new life into existing projects. They are seeking new talent, innovations, improved customer experience, and cost optimization.

Key benefits of hiring an outsourced development team:

  • Significantly reduced in-house development costs 
  • Higher operational efficiency 
  • Flexible scalability
  • Access to developers with domain expertise or highly-specialized skills

STEP 1. Are You Ready?

To begin your outsourcing journey, we recommend answering questions:

  • What is the specific need you want to focus on with outsourcing?
  • Is your business idea already proven?
  • Do you need additional help with non-development resources?
  • Is this a one-time project?
  • How will you distribute your risk and responsibility?
  • How much do you know about the tax treatment of software development costs?

Types of outsourcing models

Regardless of the size of your business and your team goals, choosing the right cooperation model is the first decision you make. If you’re ready to outsource your software development, selecting the right outsourcing model is key.

  • Out-staffing. This helps increase team size without providing any in-house infrastructure while remaining in control over the development process. You can fix a price and expect the largest cost-savings here if you have a complex task.
  • Product development. Outsourcing product development is a more expensive alternative with a focus on final results. Less management and control, though, may lead to overspending here. To get a custom solution, it’s best to prepare a detailed timeline and scope of work.
  • R&D. Innovation outsourcing operates at a higher level, applying cutting-edge knowledge to evaluate the market state, develop a proof of concept, and examine the investment return of potential development projects.

STEP 2. Early Stage Considerations

The first step is carrying out due diligence on your potential outsourcing provider to ensure they have the competencies and integrity to become a reliable partner.

Some key points to consider include:

  • Technical experience. Weigh the expertise of the outsource team against that of your own team. Study what types of software the potential provider has developed previously. Ask questions that not only investigate their competencies, but their motivation, as well. If you still have doubts, ask for a trial before signing a contract. At Erbis, we offer our potential clients a paid 3-month probation period to test our proficiency.
  • Time zone & proximity. Although there are few economic incentives to gather your team in an office, face-to-face contact improves relationships and that can impact important variables like motivation. Some outsource teams may make business trips to meet with clients in person (we sometimes do this at Erbis). Teleconferencing may be a more cost-friendly solution, in which case you should choose a partner located in a region with a comfortable time difference. 
  • Culture differences. Cultural aspects can sometimes affect the collaboration and create friction between team members. That’s not to say that working with offshore teams is inadvisable if you make an effort to ensure that both teams are on the same page. Start with introducing your company, its culture, and values. Be clear in wording and be clear on priorities and expectations. We at Erbis possess an immense knowledge of working with different cultures from the US West Coast to South-East Asia, treating all cultures and mentalities respectfully.
  • Communication approach. When outsourcing, seamless communication becomes a key factor. Give a potential outsource partner’s communications a test run before signing the agreement. Start an email thread and check: how long did you wait for a response, and did you get answers to all the questions? Did they suggest specific approaches or make only general recommendations? At Erbis, we match our working hours with the timezones of our US-based clients to bring the most value to our cooperation. Still, we recommend writing clear guidelines for communication that contribute to efficiency and mutual understanding.

STEP 3. Team structure

To start shaping your outsource team, write down what business task the team is supposed to solve. Let’s study 3 examples from our practice:

  • A project started by someone else
    In this case, we recommend resembling the original team structure and skills needed to develop the project further. A balanced team of 3-5 experts (back-end & front-end developers, QA, and design) would be able to pick up any project in a relatively short time.
  • A project from scratch
    Starting a new project, we go through the discovery phase first to understand all the needs of the customer. After that, we assemble a team of professionals, perfectly matching the unique skills required by that specific project.
  • Support and maintenance
    Usually, we start small for support and maintenance projects. First we bring on a single full-stack developer, allowing us to scale up while we’re fully operational.

    Regardless of the role distribution you end up with, some things can hardly be delegated. No matter how skilled, creative, professional, and competent the outsourced team is, you are the one in charge of your business and aware of the goals best.
Steps to setup remote team

STEP 4. Behind the contract

There are some specific red flags in software development agreements that you need to pay special attention to. Understanding the possible tricks behind IT contracts will also give you the last chance to assess the honesty of your partner before the cooperation.

  • Jurisdiction. Laws between countries often do not match. Naturally, you want to use your own country’s law as the legal measuring stick, but both sides have to agree on this on paper. If the negotiations are tough, think of using a law foreign to both parties. Thus, it becomes similarly inconvenient for each side to sue the other. British law is used in many international contracts for this purpose.
  • Staff availability. The most common type of development agreement is the time-and-materials contract. Due to the high demand for software services, the provider may redistribute some portion of the time of your team members to address new clients, leaving a project without support. To prevent it, do not only specify the team size in the contract, but also note the minimum availability of each member.
  • Rights of use. Some developers may leverage open-source tools, components, and libraries when creating software. There are some licenses unsuitable for commercial use and having them incorporated into your software can generate legal issues and costs. To stay safe, you should make your contract forbid the use of open-source software with the copyleft license.
  • Documentation. When signing a contract, make sure that the team you hire will be obligated to produce and continuously maintain the documentation of different types. Technical and user documentation should be transferred to you as often as the source code, and project documentation should be accessible for you at every time.

Always be sure that you get a lawyer with IT experience to look over any contracts. The cost of attorney review is far less than the cost of a lawsuit.

Conclusion

Now you have an idea of how to choose a promising outsourcing partner. We wish you to maintain long-term cooperation based on partnership and trust, rather than cost. At Erbis, we strive for these qualities alongside state-of-art software and flexible, reasonable prices. Our practice combines smart solutions, trustworthy staff, and cost-efficiency. Your business will take off with custom Erbis software development.