Importance of Digital Health Policy
Compliance in Digital Health
The government’s regulation and policy in regards to digital health is to boost efficiency and service delivery of health services to patients across the country. The need to integrate information technology in the day to day activities of medical professionals is important as it allows both doctors and patients to manage, track, and analyze their respective health records from a centralized database location. Digital records within the health sector are important as it allows health experts to access past data without fear of information being distorted or manually corrupted. Since digital data contains personal information of the patient, the need to protect such confidential data is important for the government to consider. Thus, the need for policies and regulations that mandate all medical doctors to safeguard and protect this information by installing security measures such as passwords for computerized databases.
For small start-ups, the government can regulate their operations by issuing the need for health department permits whereby all procedures and prescriptions are supervised and monitored under the medical laws stipulated in the permit or license. Privacy regulation is another condition to regulate these enterprises. Since they will be handling sensitive information about their patients, they will need to implement security protocols such as conducting background checks for all their employees to ensure that none of them has been accused of identity theft or online fraud. This initiative protects both the patient and the health center. Different stakeholders are affected by government regulation whereby they are forced to make extra investment in ensuring the hospital has adhered to the set regulations. For instance, investing in digital technology since the government requires the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHR). Such unforeseen costs affects the profits margins enjoyed by investors.
Policy Makers in Digital Health Regulations
The digital health sector faces revolutionary technology that aims to change how medical services are delivered to patients across the country. The introduction of health applications that monitor and assess a patient’s chronic condition or heart complications should be regulated by a government institution. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates digital health technology by analyzing medical devices and health applications that are sold to patients throughout the country. It helps ensure that individuals seeking medical assistance are not exploited by medical agencies. The World Health Organization (WHO) makes the digital health policies to ensure that all medical records in digital format are protected from unauthorized access. Furthermore, WHO offers counsel and advice to nations that are actively developing new eHealth technologies to remain objective in their innovations and to abide by the privacy laws established by the organization. Those affected by the implementation of digital health policies are medical professionals, patients, stakeholders, federal and state agencies involved in the provision of health services, and the FDA.
Healthcare data security is a critical aspect of imposing standards in the medical sector since information shared to doctors is confidential and very sensitive as it contains financial records and bank statements. The implementation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) guarantees patients that all their data is protected from malicious access. Moreover, the use of EHRs allows doctors to transform manual data into digital format which can be securely stored in online databases that are not accessible by the public except for authorized users. HIPAA compliance guarantees stakeholders and patients that there are security protocols set in place that maintain safety of information, documentation of the security measures, and evaluate the possibility of attacks and access to protected data. Transparency is assured once the medical center complies with the set standards. Patients are advised about the dangers and risks involved in respect to a particular surgery or medical operation that they need in order to get better. Doctor-patient relationship is enhanced through these consultations as the customer is aware of the pros and cons of a certain medical procedure.
Digital Health Policies in Major eHealth Markets
Standardization in the development process of medical equipment and infrastructure which helps build transnational interoperability of electronic health data and communication networks. In the United States, digital health policies are formulated by the American Health Information Community (AHIC) which makes recommendations on the best rules, regulations, and practices to enforce on the eHealth market. These policies promote rapid access to patient data, reduced medical discrepancies, and promote centralization of the entire American health care industry chain. Moreover, the policy in Europe and the US guarantee that the health care labor force is professional skilled to effectively handle any medical-related complications and emergency.
The technologies involved in the digital healthcare policy are telecare, tele-healthcare, m-Health, and video consultation. Telecare is a modern technology that allows patients to acquire medical alert systems and mobile devices that monitors their medical status throughout their life span. Tele-healthcare facilitates the diagnosis of patients in remote areas by doctors without the need for physical interactions at the office. Some of the services provided by this technology are blood pressure analysis, and medical education services. m-Health is an application installed in mobile smart devices that allows individuals to gauge their health without the need of a doctor’s intervention. Some of the applications include fitness and BMI apps that influence peoples’ lifestyle and feeding patterns. Video consultation is a real-time technology that provides video and audio capabilities to doctors who would want to advice their patients and medical staff. Its functionality is best used to bridge geographical barriers. Security and privacy compliance are enforced in these services because it is very easy for technology firms to retrieve confidential data of people using these applications. In India, Europe and the United States, these technologies were embraced by medical institutions as it eased the process of consulting and prescribing medicine to doctors. The need for physical appearance at the hospital became obsolete since patients could easily video-chat with their nurses while at the comfort of their homes. Digital technology in the healthcare industry reduced operational costs for hospitals in all the above countries.
Digital health policy has revolutionized healthcare in most developed and developing countries of the world. Patients no longer need to queue at the doctor’s office to get a diagnosis or medical prescription. Major markets embraced this new technology have some governments have invested heavily in digital health. Small start-ups in the healthcare industry cannot neglect the influence of policy makers because they are responsible for formulating rules and regulations that affect their operations and code of conduct. Due to security concerns, most governments are restrictive in the use of these technologies in order to avoid cases of identity theft and online fraud if sensitive data is leaked to the wrong people.
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