How Your Augmented Reality Solution Can Help to Ensure Compliance
Augmented reality (AR) is growing at an incredible rate, and it is increasingly being adopted and applied within healthcare settings. By understanding how businesses and healthcare firms are using AR, we see the technology’s potential. In terms of its specific value for compliance, that becomes apparent in how common it is for human error to cause a violation.
With augmented reality solutions, healthcare covered entities can get their staff members the information they need to make the right choice in real-time, as an enhancement to their vision.
What is augmented reality, and what is its potential?
Augmented reality is the the use of technology to provide enhancements to your real perception by overlaying digital information within your environment. This field of technology is similar to virtual reality but very distinct from it as well. Virtual reality generates a completely artificial atmosphere, while augmented reality keeps the current view but augments it with an additional layer of data.
AR is expanding at a rapid pace, according to industry research studies. Take a report from Zion Market Research released in January 2018. Estimating the size of the market at approximately $3.33 billion (USD) in 2015, the authors expected revenue within the field to hit $133.78 billion by 2021. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of augmented reality will be 85.2% between 2016 and 2021 if this projection is accurate.
Use of augmented reality within business & healthcare
When we think of augmented reality, we may think of silly applications such as Pokémon Go or its use in futuristic sci-fi movies such as Minority Report. However, the huge growth expectations for AR suggest something that is obvious when you look at the way the market is developing: augmented reality is being deployed increasingly within business.
An analysis from the Society of Human Resource Management notes that AR, whether deployed through headsets or as an enhancement to phones or tablets, gives employees incredible powers such as X-ray vision, heat-sensing, and immediate access to experts. As opposed to replacing workers with machines, augmented reality is a way to improve the way that machines and people function by better integrating their capabilities.
AR accelerates design and reduces time-to-market by limiting the requirement for physical prototypes. It enhances safety, naturally improving compliance and saving lives.
For instance, consider a manufacturing setting: AR allows employees to get access to the information they need immediately, without having to pick up a tablet or phone. If they step out of their workstation to go locate a particular part, their augmented reality system can show them exactly where they will find the component. If a piece of equipment is not working properly, AR can help them determine what has gone wrong, repair it, and start everything running again rapidly. Whenever any staff members get stuck and need assistance, they can access an expert right away; the experts can either check their live stream or examine pictures shot from the employee’s point-of-view.
The key point here is that any situations that are outfitted with augmented reality give those using it better access to information. This access is further indicated by applications within healthcare.
One way providers use augmented reality is to help nurses locate veins more quickly and easily, according to physician and best-selling author Dr. Bertalan Meskó. Meskó uses the example of AccuVein, which has an AR tool for this purpose. Vinny Luciano, a marketer for the firm, noted that the nurse does not locate the vein with the initial stick in 2 out of every 5 intravenous injections; for the elderly and children, the figures are even worse. Through AR, using a system such as AccuVein or a similar one, doctors or nurses operate a handheld device that scans the area and makes the veins visible. These devices improve the practitioner’s ability to find a vein by 3.5 times, which explains why they are so popular, having been used for more than 10 million patients.
Another great application within medicine is to allow patients to be able to better understand their symptoms. This use of augmented reality is critical because patients often have difficulty communicating what they are feeling and observing at the doctor’s office; they also may not know whether a situation is truly severe or not. AR is being used to better inform patients in this manner within ophthalmology. EyeDecide creates a simulation to allow the patient to see what a specific condition would look like, layered over their own point-of-view. The patient is able to see an approximation of how their vision would be impacted if they experienced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or cataract, noted the Monthly Index of Medical Specialties. Access to this information allows patients to understand both the symptoms and the overall condition. This integrated approach could improve diagnosis in some cases; it can also motivate patients to make lifestyle changes to avoid the long-term impact evident in the simulation.
HIPAA violations often because of human error
Augmented reality delivers real-time, environment-specific information; and HIPAA violations often occur due to lack of information. The assumption that augmented reality, when deployed through HIPAA compliant architecture, is helpful within a healthcare setting is in part based on the idea that better access to information would help avoid noncompliance that arises from employee error.
It helps to review when these violations actually arise. As opposed to the common notion that HIPAA violations are always the result of unavoidable hacking efforts, here are top violation reasons from Becker’s Hospital Review (June 2016):
- Improper employee disclosure (such as sharing details with family or friends)
- Mishandling of records (such as leaving protected health information, or PHI, in a room when a second patient enters)
- Stolen or lost devices (giving easy unauthorized access to data if they are left unencrypted)
- Unencrypted text messaging (allowing unauthorized parties access through a communication means without added security)
- Social media (such as posting a photograph of a patient without their consent)
- Unlawful access of patient records (which can occur because of employee curiosity or as a favor for a friend)
- Face-to-face breaches (common in rural areas, when someone asks about a loved one seen by the provider)
- Failure to collect authorization (including anything beyond payment, treatment, and healthcare operations)
- Accessing files from unpermitted locations (such as using a home computer to access records, with the screen left on when another family member uses it)
- Insufficient training (failing to train all employees but only properly informing management and medical staff).
You can see how common human error is. Its frequency is also evident in an April 2016 report from Verizon, which found that more healthcare breaches were caused by human error than for any other reason.
Any human error could be better avoided if healthcare personnel have immediate access to HIPAA information within an augmented reality setting.
Importance of compliance within healthcare AR
Since human error is so common within medicine, it is necessary for healthcare organizations to do everything they can to maintain compliance. Augmented reality can deliver information to your personnel immediately so that they are sure to make the right moment-to-moment decisions.
That said, the augmented reality solution itself is a potential attack vector. When you set up an AR solution, be certain that all systems are certified for compliance with HIPAA and HITECH. Business associate agreements are helpful, but all third parties with which you contract should care as much about patient privacy and IT security as you do.
Author Bio: Adnan Raja has been the Vice President of Marketing at Atlantic.Net for 14 years. During his tenure, the hosting company has grown from having a primarily regional presence to garnering and developing attention nationwide and internationally. In collaboration with a skilled and dedicated team, he has successfully led a full spectrum of marketing campaigns, as well as handled PR work with major news outlets and the formation of key strategic alliances.