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Home office cybersecurityMany professions were forced to abruptly shift to and adopt remote workspaces to be able to safely operate during the pandemic. Many physicians, real estate brokers, psychologists, and other licensed professionals who normally operated solely in person, have suddenly found themselves in a wholly foreign environment – likely their own spare room, interacting with clients and patients through a computer or phone. Certainly, many professionals have adapted to this method of practice over the last year, and some have even embraced it, or prefer it over pre-pandemic practices; however, a daunting oversight for many is the mere fact of cybersecurity. For many of these licensed professionals, client confidentiality and information protection, including HIPAA-aligned protocols, are legally required to operate. For a variety of reasons, including the necessity to suddenly shift to remote work, some professionals may not even realize that they are vulnerable to attack and that their patient/client information could be compromised at any moment.

For most of the licensed professionals listed above (and many who are not listed), patient/client confidentiality and privacy are an integral part of their practice. In addition to the requirement to follow HIPAA, it could also be the policy of the professional to contractually, and ethically, ensure confidentiality and privacy. Practicing from home greatly alters the ability to invoke the same standards that are possible in a private office space. A home office space may include visits from partners, children, roommates, or a variety of other possible visitors, and a closed door does not do much for privacy in the same way that a dedicated office space does. Licensed professionals must conscientiously think about the ways in which these conditions can affect the experience of their patient/client and agree upon a policy with those in their home office space to respect and follow client privacy policies.

Unless the home office was prepared in advance and made to mimic the kinds of resources available to the public office space, it is likely that the same types of cybersecurity programs are not in place. There have been reports of “smart” devices recording sound without the consent of the user, which could result in storage of private personal data, and criminals could access this information. Even though it is not the fault of the professional, it is ultimately their responsibility to protect their clientele through all routes possible.

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telehealth challengesAlthough telehealth/e-visits were legitimate options prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, most patients and professionals opted for in-person meetings. Since March 2020, the prevalence of telehealth appointments has skyrocketed, and in some places, it is the only option to get care from a medical professional. With this widespread adoption of a completely different way of seeing patients, there have certainly been challenges, and one that affects a variety of medical professionals.

Difficulty in Connecting with Patients

It’s an unavoidable fact that having a barrier of technology prevents the connections that normally occur in a professional-patient relationship. Treating and diagnosing a patient via phone or video removes the ability to physically connect, and for many, the “connection” that exists in telehealth appointments is superficial. It is also less personable and can feel like a negative, unfulfilling experience for all parties. Telehealth appointments are sometimes considered to be less valid because they are believed to rely on informed guesses rather than close physical examination of the possible medical issue. This does not apply for all appointments, certainly, but many patients wonder how a medical professional could diagnose a broken bone, for example, without examining it in person. This can make a patient less likely to schedule an appointment if they feel the care they receive is less valid through phone or video.

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benefits of telehealthAlthough telehealth/e-visits were legitimate options prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, most patients and professionals opted for in-person meetings. Since March 2020, the prevalence of telehealth appointments has skyrocketed, and in some places, it is the only option to get care from a medical professional. With this widespread adoption of a completely different way of seeing patients, although challenges have occurred, many medical professionals have noted pointed benefits to this adjustment.

Easier to attend

For some patients, it can be an impossible task to take time off work for a medical appointment. Similarly, for other patients, they do not have the ability to travel to an appointment or would have to plan far in advance to be able to secure transportation to a medical appointment. Having the ease of connecting via phone call or video entirely removes the stress and impossibility of having to coordinate a large chunk of time off work or a particular method of travel to attend the appointment. This not only benefits patients, but benefits medical professionals, too, who now are able to see more patients and care for patients who are normally unable to attend medical appointments.

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Illinois medical license defense attorneysHow many patients can healthcare providers treat while maintaining adequate care? Some patients would be surprised to learn that their physician might see up to 2,500 patients a year—visits during which the physician has to deliver all recommended preventive, chronic, and acute care services required. Nurse staffing has faced this problem as well, with short-staffing at hospitals leading to rising nurse-to-patient ratios. How can these healthcare providers sufficiently handle such clinic loads while providing adequate care?

For physicians, the answer heavily relies on effective delegation of workload. In a 2012 study by the University of California at San Francisco’s Center for Excellence in Primary Care, if a primary care physician does everything on their own, from screening, counseling, immunization, drug prescription, chronic care, and treatment of acute conditions, the physician could only accommodate a maximum panel of 983 patients.

Of these tasks, the time physicians spend on preventative services could be delegated to non-clinician care-team members. Those hours spent managing common chronic conditions could be delegated to other hospital personnel, such as nurses and medical assistants. In appropriately delegating these tasks, it allows a doctor more time to appropriately treat the greatest number of patients while ensuring proper care and treatment.

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Illinois medical license defense attorneyIllinois is one of the most popular states for physicians, and depending on your credentials and practice history, the application process could take between 3-6 months. Here are some tips to avoid or minimize unnecessary frustration.

Ensure You Are Eligible

It sounds obvious, but ensuring you meet your board’s eligibility requirements can save time, money, and possibly an appearance before the Illinois Medical Board.

Complete the Application

There are paper and online versions of the application available; however, it is recommended you complete the online application to avoid any unnecessary delays. In either case, you will be required to mail in supporting documents. The application contains questions dealing with adverse or non-routine situations, and if you answer “yes” to any questions related to adverse actions, the Board will require you to provide a written explanation and verifying documentation. Keep in mind the application process requires a criminal background check, which often take 6-8 weeks for the Board to receive. Since your license cannot be issued until the results of a criminal background check have been received, do not delay in submitting it.

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