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Telehealth, Video Tech Tools and HIPAA Compliance

Telehealth, Video Tech Tools and HIPAA Compliance | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telemedicine has been around for years, but as a healthcare service it has been underutilized. Today, virtual visits for medical care have skyrocketed because of the COVID-19 outbreak and other factors.

 

Telehealth is experiencing a revolutionary moment like never before. By the end of 2020, virtual medical care usage is estimated to reach upwards of 1 billion interactions, according to analysts at Forrester Research. 

 

In addition, some restrictions that were barriers to entry before have been lifted in response to the public health pandemic. And in March 2020, the Trump Administration expanded Medicare's coverage allowing beneficiaries to receive more extensive care through telehealth visits. These are done using video and audio applications. 

 

With the advent of stay-at-home orders and social distancing, technology is healthcare's solution for delivering continuous patient care. Tech tools' enable widespread access, bringing an unprecedented reach to a larger patient population.

 

For medical practitioners, the shift of using video platforms to communicate can come with risk and HIPAA compliance concerns. OCR asks that telehealth sessions be conducted in a private environment.  Sometimes this could be achieved with a simple task such as closing an office door or lowering one's voice.  

 

The Office for Civil Rights has issued an announcement, guiding on which audio and video communication platforms are acceptable and not acceptable for patient interactions during the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

As stated officially by OCR on its website:

"OCR will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency."

In this blog post, we will highlight some of the video communication platforms that follow OCR's public health emergency guidance. Of course, keep in mind that compliance regulations might change in upcoming months.

Telehealth video calling platforms to use amid the pandemic

Under OCR's notice, covered healthcare providers can use certain platforms for non-public facing video communications with patients, as these platforms are HIPAA compliant and will enter into Business Associate Agreements (BAAs).

Some of these are:

  • Skype for Business / Microsoft Teams
  • Updox
  • VSee
  • Zoom for Healthcare
  • Doxy.me
  • Google G Suite Hangouts Meet
  • Cisco Webex Meetings / Webex Teams
  • Amazon Chime
  • GoToMeeting
  • Spruce Health Care Messenger

Zoom is on this list, but with the recent rise in security attacks from threat actors joining Zoom meetings uninvited, we have seen advice from various  entities to use a different video platform when communicating with patients, until all security and privacy issues with Zoom are fixed. No one wants to deal with Zoom-bombing during an important medical visit. 

It's important to note that these technological tools are third-party providers and they may pose privacy risks. However, using FaceTime, for instance, during the pandemic is not necessarily a compliance violation, depending on a case by case basis. 

What if patient does not have access to video telehealth formats

If the telehealth session is being conducted in good faith during this public health emergency, then OCR permits the use of audio methods like wireless phone, landline phones to conduct the session. If using email or texting, they ask the covered entity to try and utilize safeguards whenever possible, such as secure email or secure texting.  

Avoid using TikTok for telehealth sessions

On the other hand, OCR stated the following public-facing applications are not to be used when providing telehealth services, even during the public health crisis. OCR is not the sole government agency warning about TikTok's security implications. The wildly popular app has come under fire for underage privacy and international security concerns by U.S. lawmakers and security professionals. 

 

Using public-facing communications could be an evidence of bad faith on the part of the provider, which could make the provider liable for OCR enforcement actions. 

Avoid using these platforms for telehealth:

  • Facebook Live
  • Twitch
  • TikTok

Not only that, the guideline explains to avoid using any public-facing technology, meaning the session can be seen by a group. 

 

For privacy protections and peace of mind, OCR advises to turn to HIPAA compliant technology platforms. There are vendors available, who will enter into a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with a covered entity.

 

Check with the vendor to see if that's the case. When in doubt, reach out to third-party HIPAA experts to ensure your following compliance regulations as you transition to doing telehealth. 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

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How to Pick the Best Business Phone System for You

How to Pick the Best Business Phone System for You | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Did you know that consumers prefer a personal relationship with small business owners? Well, recent reports indicate that 60% of customers communicate with small entrepreneurs over the phone.

 

For entrepreneurs, knowing how your customers love to communicate with you is an insightful revelation.

 

It helps you provide a communication system that offers them the best experience.

 

Are you unable to decide on the best business phone system for your new establishment? You need to keep in mind the phone systems today are not merely tools for making and receiving calls.

 

Customers will want a unified system that permits an array of communication options.

 

That way, your employees can also connect to clients in whichever way they choose.

 

The market has countless phone systems options, and you could easily fall into confusion. But you could turn that to your advantage by knowing the killer selection tips.

 

What Features Should You Consider as a Solo Entrepreneur?

You probably don’t wish to incur a whole new expenditure installing a new system. As such, you need to adopt a phone system that will sustain the establishment in the future.

 

You likely have expansion goals in the future, and you will not run the business alone forever. You can envision the number of staff you are likely to have soon.

 

Check out some key phone system features for a sole proprietor.

1. Scalability

Scalability is a crucial feature for your sole enterprise if you have expansion goals. You can easily add phones to the system each time you hire new staff. The VoIP system could be a good option for adding your new team.

2. Call Logs

If you run the business all alone, the information coming your way could be overwhelming. If you choose a phone system with call logs, you’ll never miss a beat. With call logs you can view all incoming, outgoing, fax and missed calls to your business phone number(s).

You can even filter logs to view only calls made to a specific queue, extension or calls made to/from an individual number.

3. Call Handling Rules

Although your business is small (for now), with the right business phone system, you can give callers the type of experience that has only been available to large enterprises that can afford to spend a fortune. Fortunately, modern systems make features like call handling rules available for everyone.

Using call handling rules, you can route incoming calls to a single destination, or different destinations based on the day and time or the Caller ID of the call received. You can send calls to voicemail, menus, custom greetings, or even your computer.

 

Does Your Business Have More Than Five Employees?

If you’ve got a small team handling your business, efficiency is the name of the game. You’ll want to look for a solution that covers all of these bases.

1. Is It User-Friendly?

Some aspects of the system could seem simple to you but remember you won’t be handling calls alone. You need a system that your team can comfortably handle and serve customers in the best way.

Look for a solution that is intuitive and be sure that the provider offers technical support.

2. Mobile Applications

A part of your team could be sales and marketing individuals, and I bet they spend most of their time out. So, how do they keep in touch with clients?

Your VoIP phone service should support extensions for each team member. 78% of adults own a mobile phone, and you could take advantage of the fact. Your team can receive calls away from the office using a mobile app or softphones.

3. Call Recording

Call recording is an excellent way to support your training and quality assurance efforts. Look for a system that lets you choose to record all calls, all incoming calls, all outbound calls, or a custom setup that you choose.

You may have to pay a bit extra for call recording, but it can be a big productivity booster, so it’s worth it.

 

What If Your Business Has More Than 10 Employees?

Well, congratulations! Your business is taking the right path. However, you have to upgrade your business phone service.

You are probably wondering what features would work best for your big team. Here are some of the features to inquire about as you talk to your phone service providers.

1. Conference Calls

Your team is big, and you don’t want to limit their productivity. They will probably need to communicate with different clients at the same time using your network.

Choose a service that gives each employee an easy-to-configure conference bridge that has a dedicated number and is password protected. This allows your team to easily set up a conference call without having to plan ahead or use a third-party conferencing provider.

2. Call Routing

Everyone seems busy at their desks, and it could be challenging to know who among the team members is available to respond to a call. Your system could solve the puzzle for you!

Make sure the VoIP phone system can route calls to whoever is available.

3. Emergency Management

Some emergencies could cut off communication in your business, and you shouldn’t take chances. Your business needs to keep moving despite the weather — thus, your system ought to eliminate possible downtime.

The recovery infrastructure needs to be topnotch and ensure communication keeps flowing after the disaster, power failure, or weather emergency.

4. Call Data Records

Call data records give you insight into your business activities. Are there certain times of day, days of the week, or parts of the year that require additional staffing? Is every employee who is expected to be engaged on the phones pulling their weight? 

Your system can do more than help you make calls, it can help you manage your business.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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How Does HIPAA Enforcement Work?

How Does HIPAA Enforcement Work? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

HIPAA enforcement takes place on both the federal government and state government levels.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights receives and investigates complaints, and issues penalties and fines.

 

Enforcement action can be taken with respect to any of the HIPAA Rules. These rules include the HIPAA Privacy Rule, the Security Rule, the Breach Notification Rule, and the HIPAA Omnibus Rule. 

 

When an individual reports a violation, files a complaint or discloses a breach, OCR reviews the complaint, report, or disclosure.

 

OCR may then pursue enforcement in the form of investigations or audits. Audits are randomly conducted. Thus far, HHS has publicly announced, with respect to each audit it has conducted, when the audit was to take place, and what the audit consisted of.  

 

Investigations, in contrast, are made in response to a specific complaint. Upon receiving a complaint, OCR seeks information from the entity against whom the complaint is filed, about the extent of its HIPAA compliance.

 

Investigation sometimes results in the entity that is the subject of the complaint taking voluntary steps to improve its compliance. In addition, after an investigation starts, HIPAA enforcement can take the form of OCR providing technical assistance to an entity to resolve the matter. Technical assistance consists of OCR’s advising the entity as to what is expected of it in terms of HIPAA compliance.

 

Typically, an entity agrees to make specified changes. 

In addition, state attorneys general can enforce HIPAA. The ability to do so was given to states in the 2009 amendment to HIPAA that appears in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act. 

 

States were reluctant to take enforcement actions in the initial years after the amendment; however, recently, states have not only engaged in more vigorous HIPAA enforcement activity but have joined together with other states in multistate litigation. 

 

There are significant consequences for breaking the HIPAA laws in new ways as well: The first multistate litigation was brought in December of 2018. Arizona and 15 other states filed suit, asserting claims under HIPAA as well as various applicable state data protection laws.

 

The suit was filed as a result of a data breach in which hackers infiltrated WebChart, and stole the electronically protected health information (ePHI) of approximately 4 million individuals. 

 

As shown above, consequences for breaking the HIPAA law can be severe. Covered entities can address their obligations under HIPAA by working with Compliancy Group.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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Challenges and methods for securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS)

Challenges and methods for securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Medical data is a valuable commodity for identity theft. Despite HIPAA privacy rules being in effect for more than two decades, millions of health records, including images, have been stored on unsecured servers by healthcare provider officers across the United States. 

 

A ProPublica investigation revealed that 187 servers in the U.S. with medical records such as X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, for instance, are findable with a simple online search. One imaging system had open internet access to patients’ echocardiograms, which were minimally secured. 

 

While securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) can be challenging, in part, because of the need for multiple providers to access the same data, the images stored in PACS are Protected Health Information (PHI) and must be kept private in accordance to HIPAA rules. 

 

To address this issue, in September 2019 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released new draft guidelines to secure PACS, Special Publication 1800-24C - Securing Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS). 

The Challenges of Securing PACS

Over the past decade, healthcare images have shifted from hard copy to mostly digital. These digital images are easier to share, speeding up the diagnosis time.

 

Of course, the fact that healthcare images can now be uploaded, shared on personal mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, and stored digitally, also makes them a target for cybercriminals. 

 

PACS also interact with multiple other systems: electronic health records, regulatory registries hospital information systems, and even government, academic, and commercial archives. This creates plenty of potential security gaps for cybercriminals to lurk and steal this data. 

 

Here are the most common challenges in securing PACS:

  • Monitoring and controlling internal user accounts and identifying outliers in behavior (e.g., large number of downloads in a small period of time)
  • Controlling and monitoring access by external users
  • Enforcing least privilege and separation-of-duties policies for internal and external users
  • Ensuring data integrity of the images
  • Securing and monitoring connections to the system
  • Securing and monitoring connections to and from systems outside of the in-house system
  • Providing security, data protection, and access management without affecting productivity and system performance

 

As you can see, these are common cybersecurity challenges. The draft PACS security guidelines are adapted from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework. While the challenge of securing medical images is real, this is a framework that any HIPAA-covered entity can use to help secure their PACS.

A Security Architecture for PACS

Using commercially available products, NIST created a reference network architecture. It provides an example for healthcare providers to separate their networks into zones to decrease cross-network access and, thus, risk. 

 

The NIST SP 1800-24C guidelines are just that: guidelines. Information technology professionals need to adapt the architecture and framework guidance to their particular organization’s IT stack and security goals. 

 

To mitigate risks, the NIST practice guide’s reference architecture includes technical and process controls to implement. They are:

  • A defense-in-depth solution, including network zoning that allows for more granular control of network traffic flows and limits communications capabilities to the minimum necessary to support business function
  • Access control mechanisms that include multi-factor authentication for care providers, certificate-based authentication for imaging devices and clinical systems, and mechanisms that limit vendor remote support to medical imaging components  
  • A holistic risk management approach that includes medical device asset management, augmenting enterprise security controls and leveraging behavioral analytic tools for near real-time threat and vulnerability management in conjunction with managed security solution providers

 

NIST Cybersecurity Guidance also recommends a thorough cybersecurity risk assessment to identify areas of weakness and to help determine how to optimize your network for cybersecurity.

 

Recommended capabilities for a secure PACS environment include:

  • Role-based access control
  • Authentication
  • Network access control
  • Endpoint protection
  • Network and communication protection
  • Micro-segmentation
  • Behavioral analytics
  • Tools that use cyber threat intelligence
  • Anti-malware
  • Data security
  • Segregation of duties
  • Restoration and recoverability
  • Cloud storage

The Importance of User Training

While not included in this particular NIST publication, it is always good to remember that user training is critical to the success of any cybersecurity initiative. Many Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) images are shared via mobile devices. 

 

Password protections are also important, as is understanding HIPAA compliance involving social media and basic HIPAA security procedures.

 

PACS do enable better patient outcomes, but they are a potential target for cybercriminals. Following the guidance from NIST, healthcare organizations can help ensure the continued privacy of their patients’ protected health information. 

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare: 4 Recommendations to Remain HIPAA Compliant

Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare: 4 Recommendations to Remain HIPAA Compliant | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

A research study, the State of Clinical Communication and Workflow in healthcare organizations, revealed that 51% of IT respondents planned to implement smartphones for clinical communications.

 

This shows that secure mobile messaging is a priority for healthcare providers as they seek to improve patient care.

 

Email alerts that remind patients of an upcoming doctor’s appointment are useful reminders to prevent missed appointments. But the benefits of mobile messaging in healthcare extend far beyond this capability. 

 

Health industry professionals and IT professionals working in healthcare also overwhelmingly believe (90%) that a unified app that integrates communications with clinical workflows will achieve better clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. 

 

Mobile messaging can improve patient care through improved communications as well as allowing a care team to share information about a patient to improve collaboration.

 

But mobile messaging poses cybersecurity and privacy risks if not handled appropriately. One of the main compliance requirements for mobile messaging is HIPAA Privacy and Security compliance and that protected health information (PHI) must be secured. HIPAA compliance is not optional.

Is Text Messaging HIPAA Compliant?

Not always. Here’s why:

  • SMS messaging isn’t secure and the data is vulnerable to unauthorized access in transmission.
  • Messages on a wireless provider’s server aren’t encrypted.
  • Messages can be deleted at any time by either the sender or receiver.
  • Smartphones can be lost or stolen, increasing the risk of exposure of PHI on the device.

You cannot simply use your phone to text a patient a diagnosis or ask a colleague their opinion. 

 

However, the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not prohibit mobile messaging, though neither does HIPAA provide specific recommendations for protecting PHI sent via mobile messaging. 

 

As with any other technology used to store or transmit PHI, the HIPAA Security Rule provides a list of controls that will allow secure mobile messaging when followed: unique user identification, automatic logoff, encryption/decryption, auditing, integrity management, authentication, and transmission security. 

 

HIPAA-covered entities and business associates must apply these rules to be able to use mobile messaging securely. 

 

4 Recommendations for Secure Mobile Messaging in Healthcare

Healthcare providers want to be able to share patient information via mobile devices to improve patient care. How can a HIPAA-covered entity take advantage of mobile messaging and stay within the HIPAA rules? These four recommendations will get you started.

  1. Conduct a risk analysis. Before implementing mobile messaging, assess the level of risk. Will users need more training to use the tools properly? Is the infrastructure robust enough to secure PHI? . 
  2. Factors for a secure texting platform. There are five factors to check for in a secure mobile messaging solution:
    1. Messages are encrypted in transit and at rest.
    2. The platform requires recipient authentication.
    3. Where does the data live? If it’s in a cloud platform, does it have secure hosting to archive and/or download sensitive content?
    4. Are emergency recovery procedures (data backup, disaster recovery, etc.) in place?
    5. If using a third-party provider, will the vendor sign a business associate agreement and commit to implementing administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect any PHI that the vendor accesses? 
  3. Audit trails and controls. Messages must have an audit trail to track who sent what data and when they sent it. Messages related to a patient should be stored as part of a patient’s health record. Document retention and disposal policies should be enforced as with any other record. 
  4. Policies for phone loss. Whether the smartphone used is personal or provided by the company, policies must be in place to prevent a breach of PHI. This can include the ability to retrieve and/or delete data remotely, requiring two-factor and/or biometric authentication to access the device, and extensive security training for users.

Mobile Messaging Can Be HIPAA Compliant

Solutions for secure, HIPAA-compliant mobile messaging exist and can be found on the Internet. Regardless of whether you create your own system or use an existing one, your organization is responsible for your patients’ PHI. 

 

Conduct reasonable due diligence, follow these four recommendations, and continually evaluate your cybersecurity defenses and your organization will reap the benefits of mobile messaging.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Top 10 Phone Systems That Work Best With Salesforce

Top 10 Phone Systems That Work Best With Salesforce | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Computer telephony integration (CTI) has transformed communications. This powerful technology — which enables computers to interact with telephone systems — lets companies engage with their customers, improve collaboration and automate call handling tasks.

 

There is an abundance of CTI technologies out there. One of these is Salesforce, which offers a fully integrated, cloud-based telephony solution for businesses. Here are ten phone systems that integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

1. Avaya

Avaya has been at the forefront of telephony technology for years. Salesforce-Avaya integration, however, lets marketers make personalized calls and capture valuable call data. Now, they can automate many of the tasks associated with telephone marketing — like call dialing and data entry — and seamlessly move customers through the sales lifecycle.

 

Combining Avaya and Salesforce provides businesses with multiple ways to connect with their clients. They can integrate social network profiles, for example, or send out an email during a phone call. Companies use these platforms to reduce IT and staff overheads, streamline their sales processes and communicate more efficiently with their customers.

2. Asterisk

Marketers who integrate Asterisk with Salesforce automate their entire workflow. This technology allows teams to engage with their clients, follow up on lucrative leads, and facilitate conference calls. With Salesforce, businesses have everything they need on one screen, including customer information and upsell opportunities.

 

An Asterisk-Salesforce integration eliminates the need for data entry. Calls are logged through the Salesforce CTI platform automatically, and marketers access valuable analytics — call volume reports, customer wait times, average call length, etc. — with just a click of a button.

3. Cisco PBX

Cisco PBX phone systems have revolutionized telephony communications for many small businesses. Now, Cisco PBX CTI integration provides businesses with unparalleled insights into their customers. The result? More effective telemarketing, better customer engagement, and greater revenue growth.

 

Companies who combine Cisco PBX with Salesforce capture interactions and create tasks that automate sales processes. There’s no more data entry — Salesforce logs call durations, notes, customer information, etc. — and call analytics generate real-time metrics that help brands fine-tune their marketing campaigns. What’s more, Cisco PBX-Salesforce saves all of this information in the cloud, which provides brands with peace of mind.

4. Nextiva

Nextiva is an award-winning cloud-based phone service provider. Salesforce is the world’s leading CRM system, with more than 100,000 business customers. Nextiva-Salesforce integration enhances the entire caller experience and provides marketers with powerful business intelligence.

 

The combination of these two technologies lets brands recognize incoming callers, log notes, review call histories, add sales gamification, and more. Accurate analytics lets marketers target customers at every point during the sales cycle, too, from the first contact through to the final purchase. Sales teams access all of this valuable data from one centralized, easy-to-use dashboard.

5. RingCentral

RingCentral specializes in cutting-edge call solutions, with a suite of tools that enhance business messaging, video conferencing and team collaboration. RingCentral-Salesforce integration, however, takes telephony to the next level. This technology powers small, medium, and large firms that want to boost productivity and reduce the costs associated with call handling.

 

With RingCentral and Salesforce, brands manage complex data flows and target valuable customer segments through their telemarketing. This platform keeps everything in one place: call recordings, call histories, contact information, metrics, and gamification. A unified dashboard combines call logs and data for better quality assurance and compliance, too.

6. 3CX

3cx is a software-based IP phone system that powers Salesforce. When talk teams fuse these two technologies, they deliver better customer service and drive business growth. 3cx-Salesforce integration lets agents identify incoming calls and route them to the correct department, which saves both time and money.

 

Businesses get real-time call insights, which fuel marketing campaigns and provides them with valuable business intelligence. They can personalize call experiences, too, something that increases customer engagement and moves callers through the sales funnel. Personalization provides brands with a hefty return on their investment: companies reach more prospects in a quicker timeframe.

7. Elastix

Elastix innovates communications by blending email, instant messaging, IP and PBX. Agents get more out of their marketing and sales campaigns, however, when they integrate this solution with Salesforce — cloud-based CRM software that bridges the gap between companies and their customers.

 

Elastix and Salesforce integration sends sales into the stratosphere and produces shorter lead response times. Agents can also convert more prospects into paying customers, which accelerates revenue. These two technologies are powerful tools for customer service, too. Company representatives resolve customer problems quickly by accessing call logs and leaving notes for staff in other departments.

8. 8×8

8×8 is a tech brand that produces VoIP PBX systems for small and medium companies. Combining these products with a Salesforce Dialer, though, could consolidate sales and marketing efforts and provide a stable, reliable CTI platform that improves lead conversion.

 

With 8×8-Salesforce integration, marketers and customer service staff can view customer information — contact details, previous interactions, likes, interests, etc. — before, during and after a phone call, which provides agents with opportunities to upsell and cross-sell products and services. They can also check call histories to solve pain points and provide solutions to common problems. There’s no need for data entry, either: Salesforce logs information automatically.

9. Panasonic PBX

Salesforce integration for Panasonic PBX optimizes connectivity and lets businesses engage with prospects through a simple dialer. Companies can record, log, and track calls — all from a simple user interface — and then maximize call performance. The combination of these two technologies provides businesses with other benefits, too.

 

Talk teams can route calls from a toll-free number and send out SMS messages during or after a phone call. Then there’s call analytics, which helps companies pinpoint trends and patterns among their customer base.

 

Panasonic PBX has been a leader in business telephony for more than 25 years. But brands can expect even better results when they integrate this telephone system with Salesforce.

10. Microsoft Lync

When Microsoft Lync and Salesforce join forces, businesses can leverage the latest telephony technology. With click-to-dial, for example, marketers can click on any phone number on any web page and communicate with customers and clients. The click-to-dial feature also works on spreadsheets and emails.

 

Managers can access critical call analytics, too. These metrics help companies reduce call handling times and identify sales staff who generate the most revenue. All of this information is available on a single dashboard, making it easy to spot the latest telemarketing insights.

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HIPAA and Medical Record Copy Fees

HIPAA and Medical Record Copy Fees | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Patients often request copies of their medical records. Traditionally, state law governed the subject of medical record copy fees.

 

State laws typically permit providers to charge a per-page copy fee, of up to a certain dollar value, or to charge a flat fee of up to a certain amount for the entire medical record. Many covered entities simply charge the maximum amount that state law allows. 

Such state laws (and the healthcare providers acting in accordance with them), however, cannot do an end-run around the HIPAA right of access rules, the latter of which provide that medical record copy fees must be reasonable.

 

Medical record copy fees that are flat fees, untethered to the actual costs of reproduction, may be considered excessive under the HIPAA Privacy Rule’s right of access provisions. When the two laws are in conflict, HIPAA, the federal law, prevails.    

The HIPAA Privacy Rule’s Right of Access and Medical Record Copy Fees

This point – that HIPAA preempts contrary state law – has been reiterated under guidance provided by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Civil Rights. This guidance specifies that HIPAA, through its right of access provisions, limits the amounts that a covered entity may charge a patient requesting access to his or her medical records.

Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule Right of Access, medical record copy fees must be reasonable and cost-based.

This means that providers may only charge for the following:

  • Labor for copying the PHI requested by the individual, whether in paper or electronic form.  

           i)Labor for copying includes only labor for creating and delivering the electronic or paper copy in the form and format requested or agreed upon by the individual, once the PHI that is responsive to the request has been identified, retrieved or collected, compiled and/or collated, and is ready to be copied.

 

Labor for copying does not include:

  • Costs associated with reviewing the request for access; 
  • Searching for and retrieving the PHI, which includes locating and reviewing the PHI in the medical or other records, 
  • Segregating or otherwise preparing the PHI that is responsive to the request for copying.
  • Supplies for creating the paper copy (e.g.,  paper, toner) or electronic media (e.g., CD or USB drive) if the individual requests that the electronic copy is provided on portable media.  
    • However, a covered entity may not require an individual to purchase portable media; individuals have the right to have their  PHI e-mailed or mailed to them upon request.
    • Labor to prepare an explanation or summary of the PHI, if the individual in advance both chooses to receive an explanation or summary and agrees to the fee that may be charged

 

In sum, costs associated with updates to or maintenance of systems and data, capital for data storage and maintenance, and labor associated with ensuring compliance with HIPAA (and other applicable law) in fulfilling an access request (e.g., verification, ensuring only information about the correct individual is included, etc.) and other costs not included above, even if authorized by State law, are not permitted for purposes of calculating the fees that can be charged to individuals.

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6 Communication Tips to Regain Patient Trust After a Medical Record Breach

6 Communication Tips to Regain Patient Trust After a Medical Record Breach | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Even with a perfect cybersecurity strategy and implementation, including performing all required steps to be HIPAA compliant, your medical practice could still be hacked by cybercriminals. 

Doctor’s offices and other businesses who collect private customer information (payment information, addresses, personal health details, and more) to deliver services are regularly targeted by cybercriminals.

 

In the third quarter of 2018, the Protenus Breach Barometer reported 117 health data breaches with 4.4 million patient records compromised.

 

It’s important to note that doctors and other healthcare providers aren’t the only businesses that need to comply with HIPAA regulations. Other businesses that work with protected health information (PHI) must also comply with HIPAA privacy requirements. These include businesses such as billing companies, lawyers, and financial consultation services to mention a few.  Such companies are usually contracted by covered entities and are known as business associates.

 

A critical and often overlooked aspect of a cybersecurity strategy is knowing what to do if you do experience a data breach and, secondly, what you can do to regain the trust of your patients. It is best to be prepared and have a strategy for how you will address the incident. An incident response plan provides the steps a business will take if a hacker successfully penetrates their defense, resulting in a medical records breach. 

 

Beyond the legally required steps that covered entities must take, taking the necessary steps to rebuild trust with customers is an equally important component of recovering from a data breach. 

Trust: A Key Component for Any Successful Business

People do business with companies they trust. A successful data breach of PHI can cause patients to lose trust in your practice. Once trust is lost, customers often will take their business elsewhere. 

A survey by SAP found that “abuse of customer data could cause 80% of consumers to abandon your brand.”

A HIPAA data security breach is a serious matter than can seriously impact any covered entity’s bottom line and longevity.

Report the Breach to Authorities and Explain What Happened to Your Patients

For any covered entity this step is mandatory because it is legally required. For an overview of notification procedures, read How do I report an unsecured Protected Health Information (PHI) Breach?

Any company that experiences a security breach should explain to their customers what happened. This is near-universal advice given for how to handle a breach. Covered entities need to contact affected individuals via First Class Mail or email (if they have permission). 

 

Email is faster and will give affected individuals a better chance to protect themselves from identity theft and other financial harm in a timely manner. 

 

Beyond simply alerting individuals, explaining what happened helps to rebuild trust. Research indicates that honesty and openness is good business. In a study on brand recalls and the effect on customer loyalty by The Relational Capital Group, a link between honesty and continued loyalty was evidenced in two noteworthy findings:

 

  • 91% of consumers agreed that companies make mistakes that lead to product recalls.
    • 87% agreed with the statement that they are “more likely to purchase and remain loyal to a company or brand that handles a product recall honorably and responsibly, even though they clearly made mistakes that led to a safety or quality problem.

Have Your Facts Correct

While it is important to contact your patients quickly, a mistake many companies make is to respond too quickly. Move quickly, but thoroughly to investigate the facts of the matter so that you do not over or under-report the number of affected individuals or other details. 

Communicate in Plain Language

The healthcare industry uses a lot of jargon and acronyms. Minimize jargon when explaining the data breach to your patients. All communications must be simple, clear, and concise. 

Your patients have had their personal information stolen. Now is not the time to use language to “obfuscate” (or in other words, “hide”) what happened and what they should do next. 

Empathize

Healthcare communication often lacks personality and is clinical. When delivering post-op instructions to a patient, it is important to impart the information in a direct, non-emotional manner. 

In a data breach, that is typically not the right approach. Tailor your message for your audience and be sympathetic to the additional aggravation the breach of their personal data has caused in their lives. 

Share Security Tips and Advice

For covered entities, this is required. For any other business, it is good advice. In your notification to affected individuals, include suggested steps to help them secure their information, such as paying extra attention to fraudulent charges on credit cards, changing passwords, etc. 

Get Your Employees Involved

Providing thorough, ongoing information security training for employees is essential. Not all PHI breaches are via cybercriminal hacking attacks. Human error and carelessness can also result in costly HIPAA violations. 

Cybersecurity should be an evolving program, requiring continuous tweaking and updating which includes regularly reminding employees of how important a security culture is and training them on the correct procedures.

Medical Record Data Breaches: A Matter of When, Not If

Many companies and cybersecurity professionals believe that hacks are inevitable. Whether because of ingenious hackers, employee errors, a missed patch, or any of a multitude of other reasons, a PHI data breach could happen to you.

Creating a cybersecurity plan in accordance with HIPAA compliance regulations will keep your office as secure as possible. Following the steps and suggested tips in this post will help you keep or regain your patients’ trust if your network is hacked and a PHI breach occurs. 

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HIPAA Cyber Security Practices

HIPAA Cyber Security Practices | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates safeguards to be in place to secure protected health information (PHI). PHI is any individually identifying health information such as name, date of birth, financial information, and medical history.

 

The incidents of healthcare organization hacks has increased exponentially over the last few years. As the most targeted sector of the U.S. economy, implementing HIPAA cyber security practices is essential to protecting PHI.   

Server Hack Lasting 9 Years Compromised PHI of 2.9 Million 

Virginia based, Dominion National, was the victim of a server hack that took 9 years to detect.

 

Dominion National is an insurer, health plan administrator, and administrator of dental and health benefits. 2.9 million patients were affected by the breach, with exposed information including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, addresses, email addresses, taxpayer ID numbers, bank account information, group numbers, subscriber numbers, and member ID numbers. However, exposed information varied by person. 

 

As required by law, affected individuals received breach notification letters and two years of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. To prevent future incidents Dominion National has implemented enhanced alerting and monitoring software. 

 

Mike Davis, Dominion National President, stated “we recognize the frustration and concern that this news may cause, and rest assured we are doing everything we can to protect your information moving forward. We are committed to making sure you get the tools and assistance you need to help protect your information.”

How to Prevent a Server Hack

Healthcare servers hold a wealth of patient information and are continually targets for hackers. To ensure that the data held in a server is protected, there must be systems in place to prevent access from unauthorized individuals. 

 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) identifies ten practices organizations should implement to increase their cybersecurity:

  1. Email protection systems
  2. Endpoint protection systems
  3. Access management
  4. Data protection and loss prevention
  5. Asset management
  6. Network management
  7. Vulnerability management
  8. Incident response
  9. Medical device security
  10. Cyber security policies

 

An organization that incorporates these ten practices into their security practices will limit their risk of exposure.

Need Help with HIPAA Cyber Security?

Compliancy Group gives healthcare providers and vendors working in healthcare the tools to confidently address their HIPAA compliance in a simplified manner. Our cloud-based HIPAA compliance software, the GuardTM, gives healthcare professionals everything they need to demonstrate their “good faith effort” towards HIPAA compliance.

 

To address HIPAA cyber security requirements, Compliancy Group works with IT and MSP security partners from across the country, who can be contracted to handle your HIPAA cyber security protection.

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Cybersecurity: What Every Telemedicine Practitioner Needs to Know

Cybersecurity: What Every Telemedicine Practitioner Needs to Know | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telemedicine, which enables health professionals to provide treatment to patients remotely, is especially useful in rural areas, where people are distanced from healthcare facilities. It can also play a considerable role during natural disasters when professionals cannot reach affected areas or must operate outside of traditional medical settings.

 

But because of the nature of the platform — and the technology used — telemedicine is susceptible to outside attacks, particularly cyberattacks. Communication and digital exchanges are often done via the open internet. A patient will have a live video chat with a health professional via a mobile app, for instance. That feed and any data from the exchange is vulnerable to snooping or outright theft, especially if one of the parties is using an unsecured network connection.

 

Cyberattacks Are More Dangerous in Health Fields

There’s no reason to downplay general theft. The risk of hackers scooping up personal data is always a concern, but when attacks involve highly sensitive health details, the risks are much higher. Not only could the data be used to harm and damage others, but its misuse can also harm the professionals and, by proxy, the facility they work for. HIPAA law dictates that all communications and data exchanged between doctors and patients be secure — if not, healthcare providers face massive fines and penalties.

 

What makes the whole thing even more alarming is that, in today’s landscape, it’s not a matter of “if” you will experience a cyber attack or data breach, but “when.”

Norton Security, which claims "protection against viruses, malware and more," estimates that by 2023, cybercriminals will successfully steal 33 billion records per year.

 

To provide an even better perspective, consider this: By 2018, nearly 70 percent of businesses had experienced some form of cybersecurity attack, with over half experiencing a data breach. Out of all small businesses that suffer attacks, 60 percent close within six months of an event.

 

It’s a very costly, very damaging problem from which the healthcare and telemedicine industry is not exempt.

How to Prevent Attacks and Mitigate Damage When They Do Happen

Preventative measures are important, and understanding how to deal with an attack or breach can be instrumental in lowering risks. Assuming that a breach can and will happen allows you to better lock down your systems and data. For example, putting stringent authentication and user access measures in place help ensure that only the right people can interact with certain types of data. This means if a lesser user’s account were to be hacked, the attacker wouldn’t have access to sensitive information.

The first recommendation is that you follow ISO 27001 standards and develop a process of internal audits to measure compliance and performance. This set of management standards deals specifically with information security and proactive protection measures.

 

Here are some ways to improve general security and mitigate the risks of a breach:

  • Hire a third-party data security provider or a consultant to understand what’s necessary to protect your network, systems and hardware
  • Establish user access protocols to prevent unauthorized users from accessing high-level information; in other words, keep people in their lanes
  • Use strong authentication measures to identify users and require the use of strong passwords
  • Educate personnel on the importance of security and ensure they understand what role they play
  • Use data encryption for all information sharing and open streams so that any exchanged information is locked behind a security protocol
  • Develop the entire platform, app or tool with security in mind as a foundational element
  • Create a response plan for cyberattacks: how you lock down affected systems and networks, prevent future data loss and tampering, and regain control
  • After a breach, always inform the necessary parties involved, including customers and patients, as well as regulatory bodies

 

While many of the solutions discussed here are valuable, many tactics can help telemedicine practitioners prevent and protect against cyberattacks. The most obvious involves awareness and preparedness, which means educating yourself and your personnel on modern security.

 

This is not something that can be continually brushed aside or avoided. Security must always be a “now” practice that is honored and put into place as soon as possible. It’s especially true of for telemedicine, which involves the facilitation and exchange of highly sensitive information across open channels.

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What are the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules?

What are the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

What are the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules?

 

The HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules establish national standards for electronic transactions and code sets to maintain the privacy and security of protected health information (PHI). These standards are often referred to as electronic data interchange or EDI standards.

The regulations, detailed in 45 CFR 160, 45 CFR 162, and 45 CFR 164, aim to make health care systems more efficient and effective by streamlining paperwork associated with billing, verifying patient eligibility, and payment transactions.

HIPAA Administrative Simplification Standards

HIPAA regulation includes four standards covering transactions, identifiers, code sets, and operating rules. The HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules illustrate how switching from paper to electronic transactions reduces paperwork burden and increases payment speed for health care organizations. Additionally, information can be exchanged faster and claim statuses can be checked more easily.

HIPAA covered entities (which include health care providers, health plans, health care clearinghouses) and HIPAA business associates must adopt these standards for transactions that involve the electronic exchange of health care data. Such transactions may include claims and checking claim status. Other such transactions may involve encounter information, eligibility, enrollment and disenrollment, referrals, authorizations, premium payments, coordination of benefits, and payment and remittance advice.

Unique identifiers, such as a Health Plan Identifier, Employer Identification Number, or National Provider Identifier, are required for all HIPAA transactions.

Code sets are standard codes that all HIPAA covered entities must adopt. These codes have been developed for diagnoses, procedures, diagnostic tests, treatments, and equipment and supplies. HIPAA details several code sets including NDC national drug codes; CDT codes for dental procedures; CPT codes for procedures; the HCPCS health care common procedure coding system; and the code set for the international classification of diseases (ICD-10).

Updates to the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules

The HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules were updated after the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 to include new operating rules specifying the information that must be included for all HIPAA transactions.

HIPAA covered entities must follow national standards, which were set to protect patients’ privacy (HIPAA Privacy Rule) and improve PHI security (HIPAA Security Rule), in addition to the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules. The Final Omnibus Rule, which was enacted in 2013, now includes HITECH Act standards in its HIPAA regulations; the standards added new requirements for breach notifications in the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services both administers and enforces the HIPAA Administrative Simplification, whereas the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights typically enforces the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notifications Rules.

The HIPAA Administrative Simplification Regulations apply to all HIPAA covered entities and HIPAA business associates, not only those that work with Medicare or Medicaid.

Addressing the HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules with Compliancy Group

Compliancy Group allows health care professionals and vendors across the industry to address the full extent of their HIPAA regulatory requirements, including HIPAA Administrative Simplification Rules, with our HIPAA compliance solution, The Guard. The Guard is a web-based HIPAA compliance app that allows users to confidently address their HIPAA compliance so they can get back to running their business.

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5 Ways Attackers Are Targeting the Healthcare Industry

5 Ways Attackers Are Targeting the Healthcare Industry | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The healthcare industry is one of the largest industries in the United States and potentially the most vulnerable. The healthcare sector is twice as likely to be the target of a cyberattack as other sectors, resulting in countless breaches and millions of compromised patients per year. Advancements in the techniques and technology of hackers and identity thieves could escalate these vulnerabilities into a major crisis if the healthcare industry doesn’t adapt.

Cybersecurity in Healthcare

In 2015, over 113 million patients in the healthcare industry were the victims of an information breach, resulting in lost patient revenue and identity theft. The high volume of cyberattacks on healthcare organizations may be an indicator; the average organization receives 32,000 cyberattacks on a daily basis, a much higher rate than other industries experience. A lack of cybersecurity infrastructure and the high value of personal information makes these organizations likely targets for cybercriminals.

The healthcare industry’s increasing reliance on electronic medical records and internet-connected medical devices means the problem of data breaches could increase in the coming years. In 2017, the estimated total losses from cyberattacks amounted to $1.2 billion, and this number is expected to grow as the attack surface of the healthcare industry increases. The same way consumers and patients have their own resources to protect against identity theft, healthcare organizations need their own systems in place to protect against cyber threats. The following list covers the biggest threats to the industry going forward.

1. DATA BREACHES

The healthcare industry has the highest rates of data breaches out of any sector. Of the 551 data breaches in 2017, 60% were in the healthcare industry. In some cases, hackers have broken into healthcare databases undetected and maintained access for weeks before they were discovered.

The most common types of data breaches are hacking and malware-based attacks. Hackers can sell healthcare data and medical records for over 100 times more than personal data from non-healthcare industries. But not all data breaches are cybersecurity-related; a data leak can also occur through an employee or a lost laptop.

To thwart data breaches, healthcare organizations should ensure that data is encrypted at every point between the patient and an organization’s data storage. Trainings for healthcare staff on data security can also help reduce the number of accidental disclosures.

2. RANSOMWARE

Ransomware attacks tripled in 2017, and the healthcare industry receives more of these attacks than any other industry. A ransomware virus disables a computer or server until a ransom is paid to the hacker. Hospitals use their IT systems for critical patient care, making ransomware potentially life-threatening if it causes a delay in critical care processes.

In 2016, a ransomware attack rendered the hospital network of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center inoperable until the administration paid out $17,000 to the attackers. An analysis of the attack showed that the hackers had gained access to an outdated server without using hospital staff as an entry point. Attacks like this demonstrate the importance of a two-part approach to cybersecurity that involves staff training and rigorous network security protocols.

3. SOCIAL ENGINEERING

Hackers looking to exploit a healthcare network’s security system often target hospital staff and other human victims in order to gain access. This type of attack happens through social engineering as a means of subverting even the most rigorous security systems. Phishing attacks, the most common social engineering approach, use a manipulative email to trick a victim into clicking a link or entering their password information. These emails will often download malicious software directly to the system, granting the attacker unlimited access.

Unlike other security threats, social engineering approaches can be combated only through education. Trainings for staff and administrators on identifying a phishing email and avoiding malicious links. Many organizations employ a strategy known as “red teaming,” where trained cybersecurity professionals play the role of attackers and test the organization’s preparedness.

4. DISTRIBUTED DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACKS

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are purely disruptive and are a popular tactic for hacktivists who want to shut down a network out of protest, malice or anarchism. These attacks create a coordinated assault from several hundred to several thousand computers, which overwhelm a network or server to the point of inoperability.

In 2014, Boston Children’s Hospital was embroiled in a controversial custody case involving a 14-year-old patient. The sensitive nature of the case spurred the hacktivist group Anonymous to conduct a successful DDoS attack, which resulted in over $300,000 in damage and lost productivity over a one-week period. Healthcare is often connected closely with politics, and it’s likely that DDoS attacks could occur more frequently in the future. Protecting against these attacks requires close coordination with service providers to ensure that critical networks can remain operational under a DDoS onslaught.

5. INSIDER THREATS

A healthcare organization’s cybersecurity system is only as strong as its weakest link. Even the most rigorous cybersecurity network can be bypassed by an insider, making this type of attack one of the most difficult to prevent. Many disgruntled or criminally motivated employees have compromised healthcare organizations by installing entry points to a hospital’s network from the inside.

Insider threats aren’t necessarily malicious. The increasing number of personal devices in hospitals poses an additional insider threat to these organizations. Smartphones, tablets, and laptops are allowed at 81% of healthcare organizations, but only half of these organizations have plans in place to secure these devices. Personal devices are often unencrypted and may be carrying malicious viruses or “worms” that can compromise connected networks.

Cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field. Healthcare organizations must be ready to invest in ongoing security protocols to remain ahead of the most common attacks. Complete security might be impossible, but a reduction in service interruptions and lost data could help healthcare organizations exponentially going forward.

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HIPAA Physical Security is Just as Important as Cyber-Security

HIPAA Physical Security is Just as Important as Cyber-Security | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it
HIPAA Physical Security is Just as Important as Cyber-Security

There are many misconceptions when it comes to HIPAA and security controls for covered entities. While security is related to technical measures such as encryption, firewalls, and security risk assessments, it also addresses physical and administrative safeguards that must be in place to protect patient information. In order to comply with HIPAA regulation, healthcare organizations must address each standard and safeguard outlined in the HIPAA Security Rule.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has now released new information further emphasizing the importance of physical safeguards for healthcare organizations across the country. HIPAA not only requires technical controls to protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of protected health information (PHI) but also proper physical security controls.

 

Physical safeguards are generally seen as the simplest and cheapest forms of protecting PHI, yet many organizations tend to overlook this important element of security. There are even some physical security controls that cost nothing- such as simply locking up portable electronic devices when they are not in use (laptops, portable storage devices, and pen drives).

 

Although this may seem like a very basic form of security, it is one of the most effective ways of preventing theft. To illustrate the importance of HIPAA physical security safeguards, OCR focuses on a 2015 HIPAA settlement with Lahey Hospital and Medical Center that affected 599 patients. This breach and subsequent HIPAA fine were triggered by the theft of an unencrypted laptop from the Tufts Medical School-affiliated teaching hospital.

 

The laptop was stolen from an unlocked treatment room off an inner corridor of the radiology department and contained ePHI. Lahey Hospital was fined $850,000 for failing to implement physical controls–a high price to pay for something that could have been avoided if some simple physical security safeguards were in place.

 

Prior to the Lahey Hospital settlement, QCA Health Plan paid $250,000 to OCR in 2014 for potential HIPAA violations. QCA Health Plan neglected to implement physical safeguards for all workstations to restrict access to ePHI to authorized users only. In this case, an unencrypted laptop was stolen from an employee’s vehicle.

 

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI) also settled a HIPAA violation with OCR in 2012 for $1.5 million. Again, this incident was related to the theft of an unencrypted laptop, resulting in the exposure of patients’ ePHI.

 

In 2016, Feinstein Institute for Medical Research settled potential HIPAA violations with OCR for $3.9 million. Feinstein Institute failed to physically secure a laptop that was stolen from an employee’s vehicle containing the ePHI of 13,000 patients.

 

In July 2016, the University of Mississippi Medical Center was fined $2,750,000 for a failure to implement HIPAA physical security safeguards. An unencrypted laptop that contained ePHI of approximately 10,000 patients was stolen from its Medical Intensive Care Unit.

Preventing HIPAA Physical Security Breaches

It is up to covered entities and their business associates to decide on the most appropriate physical security safeguards that will protect their patients’ ePHI. One way organizations can implement these physical security controls is by adopting an effective compliance program.

 

Compliance Group gives health care organizations confidence in their HIPAA compliance with The Guard. The Guard is our HIPAA compliance web-app that covers every element of HIPAA compliance.

 

Our Compliance Coaches will guide users through every step of their compliance program with the help of our HIPAA compliance web-app. The Guard is built to address the full extent of HIPAA regulation, including everything needed to implement an effective HIPAA compliance program that will help safeguard your practice from violations and fines.

 

With The Guard, health care professionals will not only address their physical security safeguards but the technical and administrative safeguards as well, along with the other HIPAA requirements.

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Inforadiologia's curator insight, June 30, 2019 10:18 AM
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Telemedicine Checklist

Telemedicine Checklist | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telemedicine services are rapidly expanding, with many providers realizing that they can expand their reach and revenue by utilizing improved connectivity and convenient technology.

 

Telemedicine takes several forms, including consultation directly in the office, school-based consultation to provide emergency services to students, home video consultations, and even integration of biometric data from a person’s health wearables.

 

While telemedicine is indeed beneficial for all stakeholders, it is equally important for providers to make sure they are well-versed with the entire process before they step into it.

 

In order to offer effective primary care and enable truly coordinate care, providers must consider all the planning element that are part of successful telemedicine ventures.

 

Here are the important steps to be taken care of when starting telemedicine.

 

1. Identify Your Mission and Goals

 

Before you do anything to start the process at all, you must sit down and ask yourself certain questions. Why do you want to engage in telemedicine? What are your goals? Do you want to grow your practice? Are you looking to increase your access? Are you interested in saving time or making extra money? Do you think these goals are realizable?

 

It is imperative to have the answers to these basic questions in mind, so you know which path to take right from the beginning.

 

2. Identify Your Patients

 

Once you know what you want to do and have a rough plan on how to achieve it, you must determine your target market and create your patient panel.

 

Do you want to acquire new patients or merely communicate better with your existing patients? Which areas will your patients be in? What health issues will you focus on? Will your patients be tach-savvy millennials or older patients with caregivers? Knowing your patient panel will automatically narrow down and simplify the next steps in the process.

 

3. Create a Relevant Profile

 

As a provider, while you may have all your work experience listed down on your resume, it is essential to update it before diving into telemedicine and to make yourself seem suitable for the job.

 

It is important to update and highlight licenses, since these are critical in matching you with potential positions and patients. Additionally, make sure you make your remote experience stand out, if any. You should also emphasize on the additional skills needed for a telemedicine provider, for example, listening and conversational skills.

 

4. Manage Your Licenses

 

Having multi-state licenses will ensure that you get the most-suited telemedicine position. While telemedicine recruiters may help you in obtaining licenses, there is no denying that they are looking for providers who already have licenses secured before they apply for the job.

 

5. Research HIPAA-Compliant Platforms

 

When considering where to apply, you must research which telemedicine platforms are HIPAA compliant. You should also consider whether the platforms you are looking at are cloud-based, what equipment do they require, what are the training requirements and options, what are the billing procedures, will you need IT support, will you be able to import patient data into your EHR, etc. 

 

6. Reach Out to Telemedicine Recruiters

 

Do some research on the latest clinical outcomes and trends in telemedicine, and then reach out to a recruiter to find you jobs in the area of expertise you would like to focus on.

 

While you may search for jobs online, remember that this area of medicine is still relatively new, and recruiters can guide you and help you find the best jobs at top companies. Following this, make sure you speak to a few companies and evaluate their benefits before finalizing one.

 

7. Acquire Legal Consultation

 

It is wise to obtain legal advice on your telemedicine contract before you finalize it. This is especially necessary and beneficial if there are two organizations involve through your telemedicine practice.

 

You must take into account state laws like prescribing laws, which may be different in the area your patients are. To keep a track of these matters, it is recommended that you have a legal counselor’s services handy.

 

8. Assess Needs and Identify Resources

 

Identify the needs of your telemedicine practice and identify the resources that you have at hand, and those you will need to acquire.

 

At this point, you will also have to determine whether you need a team. If you do, you must focus on administrators, finance managers, clinical operations supervisors, and technical support personnel.

 

9. Set Up Your Office

 

This is perhaps the most important part of the telemedicine experience, because you will have to pick the perfect place to facilitate your telemedicine practice. Ideally, this can be a quiet and secluded corner of your home and must be set up to look professional on video calls.

 

It is also important to make sure you acquire the best technological equipment, since your computer and your internet connection will be your most important tools in the process.

 

10. Engage in Networking

 

Once you are ready to indulge into the process, you must then insert yourself into the telemedicine circle of professionals. If you don’t find any people doing this in your area, it is wise to use social media to reach out to fellow professionals. Communicate with peers and follow different organizations.

 

Additionally, attend telemedicine events around the country to create a constructive network and to learn from those doing similar work.

 

Taking care of these essential steps should ensure the smooth beginning of your telemedicine career. Over time, successful providers not only continue to take steps to improve their care delivery and maximize patient satisfaction, but they also stay connected with industry peers.

 

Eventually, if done right, this could be a life-changing move in your career and could potentially help you excel in the modern care delivery landscape.

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How Does a Cloud Phone System Work?

How Does a Cloud Phone System Work? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

What Is a Cloud-Based Phone System?

A cloud-based system is a phone system that uses your internet connection instead of traditional phone wires or cellular services.

How Is a Cloud Phone System Different From Traditional Phone Systems?

Traditional business phone systems consist of three components. The telephones, the PBX software and hardware that controls calls and handles other features like voicemail, and a physical connection to the telephone network through PRI lines.

 

That’s a lot of software and hardware for a business to pay for, install, and maintain.

 

Cloud phone systems (also called VoIP) make all of that unnecessary. Your provider takes care of the software and hardware. All you need is a connection to the internet and an endpoint which can be a traditional desk phone, software in your browser, or an app on your mobile phone.

 

You get out of the business of running a phone system, but get to enjoy all of the features of an enterprise-class solution. How cool is that?

What Is the Call Quality Like?

Call quality was a big problem in the early days of VoIP, but now that high-speed broadband connections are ubiquitous, call quality is usually exactly the same as a traditional land-line.

 

Of course, you need to test any solution you consider to make sure it plays well with your broadband and devices. Look for a solution that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract.

What About My Cell Phone?

Your cloud phone service should be as portable as the internet connection you use.

 

Some providers even offer an app to make using your cell phone easier. This makes it easy for your employees to answer work calls on their cell phones without anyone knowing the difference.

Can a Cloud System Grow As My Business Grows?

Absolutely. Many businesses start small, with a few employees or even just one owner. They then grow to employee hundreds or thousands.

 

With a traditional system, you would need the help of a full IT team to add additional lines or extensions. You would need to rewire the copper wires on-site if you want to add any upgrades.

 

With a cloud-based system, an administrator just needs to use the admin panel. From there, he or she can add anything they’d like. No on-site maintenance needed.

 

Not to mention the fact that it can make a smaller business look even larger and more professional.

How Secure Is It?

There are always security risks in a phone system. With a cloud system, there are far more security measures.

 

Data encryption, network security, HIPAA-compliance measures, secure voice, and video, and more all work together to make sure your calls are safe.

No Maintenance, Really?

With a cloud-based system, you don’t have to worry about any maintenance. Any time there is an update (bug fixes, net features), they are added to the software.

 

Then, as those updates are released, your business phones will automatically update. You can focus on the parts of your business that really matter, not on your phone upgrades.

How Much Will a Cloud-Based System Cost?

A cloud-based system is surprisingly affordable. The biggest cost to think about is the internet connection. But, if you already have that, then you only need to think about the setup and the monthly bill.

 

Prices vary based on features, so it’s smart to shop around. One word of caution, however. Cheaper doesn’t always mean better. Make sure you add features, quality, flexibility, and support into the equation during your evaluation.

 

You can absolutely find an affordable solution that will meet your needs.

 

When you do the math, a full year of a cloud system will cost far less than half the prices of a typical system.

 

How Difficult Is the Setup?

Every solution is different, so keep setup in mind when you look at your options. With Phone.com, you simply fill in a few details about your needs and business, log into the control panel, add the ap to your mobile phone and begin making calls right away.

Choosing the Right System

Depending on your business size, needs, and budget, there are several provider options.

 

Phone.com is a solid option for almost any business size looking to get the right phone system installed.

 

In addition to all the usual perks that come from a cloud-based phone system, phone.com users also get extra features like call blocking, call screening, hold music and more.

 

Thanks to these tools callers believe they are dialing into a large and professional organization (even if you’re just getting started).

Cloud-Based Systems Are The New Age Phones

Businesses are walking away from traditional phone systems and it’s easy to see why. A cloud phone system offers a maintenance-free solution to voice service worries.

 

Everything is hosted off-site, on secure networks, and to top it off, it’s easy on your pockets.

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Bedside Manners Via Telehealth – Understanding How Your Screenside Manners Matter

Bedside Manners Via Telehealth – Understanding How Your Screenside Manners Matter | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Using telehealth technology still requires good bedside manners - just call it your screen side or website manners. So what do providers need to know that is different between an in-person encounter compared to a telehealth encounter? 

 

The space involved with making that first impression via telehealth is significantly smaller than meeting in-person in a clinical setting.  Besides being two-dimensional, your space is limited to the size and quality of the monitor projecting your image on the other end of the connection. 

 

You only get one chance to make a first impression – so make it good.

 

Important factors to consider to help develop and maintain a positive patient-provider relationship:

 

Prior to encounter – being prepared is always the best practice.

  • Equipment – understand how to use and test; know who to contact to troubleshoot; ensure good placement of the camera, microphone, and speakers
  • Physical space – clear of distractions; good lighting; private and secure (HIPAA)
  • Provider Appearance – professional; solid, non-distracting (preferably light blue) colors
  • Preparation – review patient history chart/file

 

During the encounter – a little extra explanation can go a long way to foster relationships.

 

  • Confirm connection quality (hear/see) and security of space (HIPAA)
  • Introduce self (and others), organization/location
  • Have patient introduce self and any others in the room
  • Explain the process of taking notes, and only briefly looking away from the camera as necessary, otherwise maintain eye contact
  • Periodically ask the patient if he/she has any questions or anything to say
  • Reiterate any instructions or follow-up procedures for a patient prior to disconnecting

 

Developing your screen-side manners in today’s telehealth world is just as essential as developing good bedside manners. 

 

Patients still need to feel they are being heard and understood by their provider whether in-person or via video connection. The tasks that happen during an in-person visit, (e.g., jotting down notes, or looking at an image), are seen directly by the patient.

 

These same actions may not be as visible via video, and require some explanation to keep the patient engaged. The patient still needs your full attention.

 

Empathy is no less important in telemedicine. Being prepared, clearly communicating, and focusing on your patient will help foster a positive patient-provider relationship.

 

 You can still make meaningful eye contact via telehealth, but the trick is looking directly at the actual camera, and not the projected image of the patient on your screen.

 

Body language can speak louder than words, but telehealth creates a situation where not all body language is actually visible. 

 

While a thoughtful hand to the chin while thinking maybe commonplace, on video the same action might communicate disinterest. 

 

Controlling reactionary movements is vital for telehealth. While standing bedside, a simple action like shifting weight from one leg to another has minimal visual impact compared to being on video and then seeming to shift out of the view of the camera.

 

Similar to developing a good bedside manner, a good screen-side manner takes practice.  Telehealth is unique in that you can record yourself and review the video before ever connecting with a patient.

 

By examining your recording, you can get a better understanding of the patient’s perspective of the telehealth connection. This process allows you to make adjustments that might not happen otherwise, creating the best patient encounter possible.

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Top 10 Applications of Computer Telephony Integration

Top 10 Applications of Computer Telephony Integration | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

There are countless of CTI (computer telephony integration) applications that make implementing the technology one of the best things you can do for your business.

 

1. Pop-up Screen/ Screen Popping


CTI integration allows you to implement a pop-up screen interface for your agents. Through this, you get a feel of the immense possibilities when communication integrates with information.

 

The screen popping CTI application opens up a dashboard whenever your agent interacts with a caller. This shows relevant information about the caller, as you’ve configured it in the system and depending on the applications and software you’ve integrated with your CTI.

 

You can display and log call origin, IVR selection, authentication status, as well as the caller’s issues, purchase history and support history, among other data.

 

2. Speed Dialing


CTI’s speed dialing system is perfect when your team has to meet outbound call objectives.

 

Speed dialers can be configured to continuously make calls, bypassing wrong numbers and busy signals. Agents are patched in only when a person answers the other end of the line.

 

This often comes with a report on call volume, wait times and other call metrics. Increase the productivity of your sales team through CTI’s speed dialing.

 

3. Phone Flexibility/ Phone Control


How you make yourself accessible to your clients, prospects, and the team is flexible through CTI’s phone control or phone flexibility application.

 

You can easily configure the system to “find you” when you’re not logged into the system. Use your mobile devices or laptop to connect.

 

This can set you and your team apart from the competition. Accessibility can be your edge when it comes to sealing deals and starting co-beneficial business relationships.

 

4. Call Routing


CTI’s intelligent call routing lets you become more responsive to your callers. Route calls according to their IVR selection, demographics, call history, agent specialization, and availability, among other factors.

 

This can mean faster call processing, happier (or less frustrated) callers, and more efficient call agents.

 

5. Call Transfers


Call transfers are also better implemented through CTI. This isn’t just about transferring calls from person to person.

 

CTI’s call transfer application allows for seamless agent transitions, wherein data about the caller is transferred too.

 

This unburdens the caller from having to repeat their information. It cuts call processing time, which is especially important in compound support calls.

 

6. IP Telephony and Conferencing


Collaboration has improved by leaps and bounds because of IP telephony, particularly through its low-cost IP-based broadband multimedia telecommunications.

 

A direct result of this is the more rampant use of conferencing applications.

 

In the past, sales presentations had to be done in person. Inside salespeople, then, were not as effective as those in the field.

 

Today, the location has become irrelevant. IP telephony and conferencing applications bridge the gap – connecting agents with prospects and customers as if they’re meeting face-to-face.

 

How effective your team is in utilizing this application depends on their skills, and the available sales information and supporting tools.

 

The technology is already there – fully developed – for you to integrate and optimize your sales processes.

 

Other IP telephony and conferencing applications include team collaboration, multi-location meetings, and remote training sessions.

 

7. IVR (Interactive Voice Response)


Your IVR application is perhaps your first-line interaction with your audience. It is your first try at making a good impression. Configure your CTI’s IVR application correctly and optimally, and you get efficient, personalized and data-driven interactions – not to mention, happier customers and prospects.

 

Your IVR application uses keypad and voice DTMF tones to communicate with your servers. Through IVR selections, callers can reach specific persons or departments.

 

They can also do basic account processes, such as status inquiries and password updates, among other tasks.

 

An optimally configured IVR can cut down call processing time, reduce call traffic and make a good first impression.

 

8. Advanced Call Reporting Functions


One of the best things about CTI is that you can put together data into reports that help you see the big picture. Analyze the many aspects of your business, such as call traffic, inbound and outbound sales calls, and support requests.

 

Through CTI’s advanced call reporting functions, you can parse through historical data to gain insight on how effective your team or call agents are.

 

See where there are support gaps and do something about it. You can also assess real-time data when you want to zoom in on your agent’s interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

 

9. Voice Recording Integration


Voice recording integration plays an important role in contact centers where the quality and integrity of interactions are crucial. Voice recording applications allow you to record and archive voice calls in order to improve your team’s effectiveness, reduce liabilities and comply with industry standards (such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard/ PCI DSS).

 

Record calls and accesses these later on for future assessment. Or, you can also conduct real-time monitoring across mixed telephony environments.

 

Through Voice Recording Integration, you don’t just have textual data as the basis for agent training, reporting and assessment.

 

You also have voice data that protect you from liabilities and support the initiatives and changes you implement for your operations.

 

10. Call Center Functions


Because the development of CTI into what it is now was partly in response to the needs of the call center industry, it’s not a big surprise that call center functions are some of CTI’s top applications.

 

Automatic caller authentication, whisper coaching, call barging and warm transfer (among so many more call center functions) are key functions that drive the adoption of CTI technology.

 
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What to Include in Your Incident Response Plan

What to Include in Your Incident Response Plan | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cybersecurity data breaches have almost become a way of life. We hear about businesses impacted by security incidents and data breaches every day. 

 

As the adage goes, it’s not “IF”, but rather “WHEN” a security incident will take place at your business. 

 

It is therefore a best practice for every business to create an incident response plan. An incident response plan delivers two cybersecurity benefits to your business:

 

  1. Systematic response to incidents which helps to minimize information loss or theft and service disruption.
  2. Use of the information gained from an incident to help prevent future threats by strengthening system protections and to be better prepared for handling future incidents.

 

A breach of your information is always stressful. Don’t compound that stress by not having a plan to address a successful cyberattack. 

 

Before creating an incident response plan, you must create an incident response policy.

 

Create an Incident Response Policy

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recommends in its Computer Security Incident Handling Guide that an organization should create a policy before building an incident response program.

This policy:

  • Defines which events will be considered incidents
  • Establishes the structure for incident response
  • Defines roles and responsibilities
  • Lists the requirements for reporting incidents

Develop your policy to include all applicable regulations and laws under which your business operates. Compliance requirements such as those associated with HIPAA and HITECH, Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) will drive your policy requirements. 

The 4 Phases of the NIST Incident Response Lifecycle

Once the policy has been created, NIST outlines four broad phases an incident response plan should include.

NIST identifies four phases in an incident response lifecycle:

  1. Preparation
  2. Detection and Analysis
  3. Containment, Eradication, and Recovery
  4. Post-Event Activity

 

Each of the four phases includes a number of actions. Here’s an outline of what you can include in your organization’s incident response plan.

Preparation and Prevention

“Prevention” in the context of incident response is essentially your information security strategy and the software tools used to implement your strategy. It is your layered defense against cybercriminals -- firewalls, encryption, antivirus software, data backup, user training, etc. 

 

Part of being prepared is having a complete list of your information security tools (including any portions of your IT infrastructure managed by a third-party managed service provider). 

 

Effective response is based on communication. Smartphones are an excellent way to communicate with and coordinate team members while responding to an incident.

 

It may be a good idea to have some of the information below as hard copy or on devices not connected to an organization’s network (it will be difficult to coordinate a response if, for example, you are victimized by a ransomware attack and cannot access your plan):

  • Contact information for primary and backup contacts within your organization plus relevant law enforcement and regulatory agencies that may need to be alerted
  • An incident reporting mechanism so users can report suspected incidents (phone numbers, email, online forms, or secure messaging systems)
  • Issue tracking system
  • Space to respond. Identify a permanent “war room” or temporary location where team members can centralize their response to the incident
  • Secure storage facility to keep evidence if needed

Detection and Analysis

Attacks can come from anywhere and take many forms - a denial of service attack, ransomware, email phishing, lost or stolen equipment (such as a laptop, smartphone, or authentication token), etc.

 

Once an incident is positively identified, follow defined processes to document the response (which can be helpful in showing a good faith effort to limit the impact of the breach on customer data should you end up in litigation or are investigated as the result of a breach).

 

Identify your affected networks, systems, and/or applications and determine the scope of the incident. From there, the response team can prioritize next steps from containment to further analysis of the incident. Recommendations for making analysis more effective include:

 

  • Profile networks and systems so changes are more readily detectable
  • Understand normal behavior so abnormal behavior is more easily spotted
  • Create a log retention policy
  • Perform event correlation
  • Keep all host clocks synchronized
  • Filter data to investigate the most suspicious data first
  • Run packet sniffers to collect additional data

 

These techniques should be used in conjunction with one another. Relying on a single method will be ineffective.

 

Document incidents as they are found. A logbook is one way to do so as are laptops, audio recordings, or a digital camera. 

 

Those affected by the incident need to be notified as well. For an incident that affects customers, a message on your website, email notification, or other communication will be needed. 

 

Often, breach notification procedures are driven by laws applicable to your industry, your state or your country, or a combination of these.

Containment, Eradication, and Recovery

Develop containment strategies for different incident types as containment for malware entering your network from an email will be different than for a network-based denial-of-service attack.

 

Document your strategies for incident containment so you can decide the appropriate strategy for the incident (e.g., shut down a system, disconnect it from the network, disable certain functions).

Once an incident is contained and all affected elements of the IT infrastructure have been identified the eradication and recovery process begins.

 

For larger systems, this could take months to move from high-priority to lower priority systems. Systems may be able to be restored from backup or may need to be rebuilt from scratch. As eradication and recovery proceed, steps can also be taken to tighten security measures. 

Post-Event Activity

Information security is an ongoing, iterative process. A key part of any incident response should be to learn from it:

  • Were the procedures followed? Were they effective?
  • Did we do anything that slowed the recovery process?
  • What could we have done differently?
  • Are there steps we can take to prevent a similar attack?
  • Were there indicators of the attack that we can use to prevent/detect a similar incident?
  • Do we need more resources to detect, analyze, and mitigate future events?

Apply what you learn to improve your cybersecurity defenses and response to the next incident.

Testing, Testing

Test your plan once per year. EIther working with an independent third-party or internally, create a scenario and walk your team through it.

 

This not only allows team members to understand their roles, but will also help you identify gaps or weaknesses in your plan. 

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What are HIPAA Operating System Requirements?

What are HIPAA Operating System Requirements? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The HIPAA Security Rule, requires covered entities and business associates to develop effective administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure protected health information (PHI) is secure.

 

The Security Rule does not impose minimum HIPAA operating system requirements for a business’ computer systems.

 

Indeed, the HIPAA Security Rule generally does not impose any specific HIPAA software requirements (including HIPAA operating system requirements) on entities.

 

No provision of the Security Rule tells you, for example, what kind of antivirus, antimalware, or firewall software to purchase.

 

 The absence of a security rule grocery shopping list is very much by design. The Security Rule was written to provide flexibility for covered entities to implement HIPAA cybersecurity measures that best fit their particular organizational needs.

What are HIPAA Operating System Requirements?

HIPAA indirectly regulates operating system requirements.  

The Security Rule mandates requirements for information systems that contain electronically protected health information, or ePHI. ePHI is defined as any protected health information that is created, stored, transmitted, or received in any electronic format or media. Information systems must contain security capabilities, or features, that are sufficient to satisfy the technical safeguard implementation requirements of the Security Rule.

 

These HIPAA operating system requirements include (among others) audit controls, unique user identification, person or entity authentication, and transmission security.

 

The administrative safeguard implementation requirements of the Security Rule requires that entities perform a risk analysis, in which any known security vulnerabilities of an operating system should be considered. In performing the analysis, entities should ask themselves, “Is my operating system vulnerable to being exploited?

 

If an operating system is vulnerable to exploitation, the risk analysis must reflect that fact, and you must take whatever steps are reasonable to address the vulnerability.

When is an Operating System Vulnerable to Exploitation?

An operating system is vulnerable to exploitation when that operating system contains known vulnerabilities for which a security fix is unavailable.

 

Security fixes may be unavailable for a number of reasons. One reason why a fix might be unavailable is because the manufacturer of the operating system no longer provides support for that system, as in, no longer provides new security updates, non-security hotfixes, assisted support options, or technical content updates. This “dropping” of support for an operating system is colloquially referred to sunsetting of the operating system.

 

Microsoft “sunset” its popular Windows XP Operating System in 2014, advising users that security updates would no longer be provided for Windows XP. Microsoft advised users that “Security updates patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by malware and help keep users and their data safer. PCs running Windows XP after April 8, 2014, are not considered secure.”

 

Windows XP was launched in 2001. In 2009, Windows released its Windows 7 operating system. The most current version of Windows, known as Windows 10, was launched in 2015.

 

Microsoft has announced that support for Windows 7 will end on January 14, 2020. After that date, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or support for computers using Windows 10. Accordingly, Microsoft has advised Windows users, “Now is the time to upgrade to Windows 10.”

 

Continuing to use an operating system that has known vulnerabilities identified in a risk analysis, does not suffice to meet the required risk management component of the HIPAA Security Rule. 

 

Risk management requires organizations to “Implement security measures sufficient to reduce risks and vulnerabilities to a reasonable and appropriate level.” By definition, if you are using an operating system that no longer offers security measure support, you are improperly managing your risk, and, if, as a result of that impropriety, your organization’s ePHI becomes compromised, you are subject to being audited and fined by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

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Telemedicine and Smart Cities

Telemedicine and Smart Cities | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

You can put the word "smart" in front of just about anything these days — including an entire city. But what does it actually mean?

 

The concept of smart cities is incredibly exciting. Cities have always been social, cultural and productive centers of society. But the city of the future will help us work and play even smarter, commute more quickly, and make use of more advanced and affordable products and public services. That includes health care.

As the world explores what smart cities are capable of, we're seeing more ways they'll impact the telemedicine industry and vice versa. Let's take a closer look.

 

A Holistic View of a City's Health 

 

Conducting a more proactive monitoring of public health is probably the most important part of a smart city's data-driven telemedicine system. Thanks to electronic health records, location technologies, and cheap and rugged remote sensors, public health officials have an easier time than ever studying disease patterns and profiles, tracking public health worries and outbreaks, communicating with the public about new issues and seasonal disease cycles, understanding and making changes to how people move about a city, and much more.

 

This brings us to one of the best features of smart cities: smart hospitals. A number of facilities across the U.S. are using more advanced devices and data-gathering systems to better understand changes, even in real-time, that concern citizens on a daily basis. These insights can cover any number of factors associated with city living, including air and water quality, the effects of weather and climate on health and even the relative stress and happiness in one city compared with another.

 

Better Access to Health Care Even in Rural Areas 

 

It's a long-running pattern, but residents of cities generally enjoy better access to health services and medical specialists. As a result, residents of rural areas, and those who live a little farther from city centers are more likely to suffer from chronic health problems and to have greater restrictions on their physical activities. Cities are known for their smog and pollution, but they offset some of the harm thanks to convenient access to health infrastructure.

 

Making cities even smarter seems at first glance like it might make health care inequality even worse. But it may actually do the opposite. Cities have more choices than rural areas when it comes to health care, but residents still face wait times and lines, often for issues that didn't require a visit in the first place.

 

To that end, we can expect that telemedicine will cut down on congestion in cities, plus make it far easier for rural residents to communicate with doctors and specialists with the same ease as rural citizens. With telemedicine and remote video consultations, distance from a metropolitan area is less likely to decide the quality of one's health care or their life.

 

More Efficient Public Institutions 

 

In the U.S. and elsewhere, it's a fact of life that countries must feed, clothe and shelter prison inmates and residents of correctional facilities. This portion of the population is frequently written off or forgotten about, but these are citizens too, and they deserve as quick and competent a response as anybody when they find themselves in poor health. 

 

Telemedicine can provide a vital function by making it easy for cities to see to inmates' health needs. New York City alone is home to around 55,000 residents of its correctional system, which means the already limited availability of specialist doctors isn't always able to answer the call. Instead, telemedicine makes it simpler for specialists to check in with patients when they can't be there in person while cutting down on the time and expense of transporting these individuals to appointments. 

 

Walkability and Self-Service Health Care 

 

Futuristic cities have long been depicted with swarms of flying cars, but that dream is still a little way off. In the meantime, we're busying ourselves rethinking our urban layouts, including making a push to install bike lanes and generally make our cities more walkable and more amenable to cleaner, healthier living. 

 

Smart technologies like internet-connected cars, plus city infrastructure that can talk to them, will make it easier than ever for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate intersections safely and quickly. Couple this with the fact that insurance companies increasingly turn to wearables to keep customers honest about -- and committed to -- healthy lifestyles. These wearables lend themselves to telehealth in a number of ways, from making remote data sharing simple, to automatically alerting emergency responders, for example, if an elderly resident falls in his or her apartment, or in a park, and can't signal for help themselves.

 

The truth is, we're only beginning to appreciate what's possible with telemedicine and smart cities. As more medical device manufacturers move into making devices for a connected world, while still maintaining the quality set in place by ISO 13485, it’s easy to see how the relationship between telemedicine and smart cities is just starting. 

 

The potential here is part of the reason why we will collectively activate some 36 billion internet-connected devices by the year 2021.  

 

By that time, we'll have even more robust industrial standards for helping public and private data systems work better together, and we'll have an even more thorough understanding of how the advancement of technology can improve how we live and how we pursue health care services. 

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Andrea Shaji's curator insight, November 18, 2019 7:18 PM
More advanced cities are the ones being benefited the most. 
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Future Scope of Computer Telephone Integration - Future of CTI

Future Scope of Computer Telephone Integration - Future of CTI | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For all intents and purposes, it does seem like the future of CTI is today. The technology has come a long way since the simple screen population technology.

 

In fact, back in 1996, an article by Guy Matthews predicted three CTI technologies that would shape how the masses communicate in the future: internet phones, faxback, and international callback. All of which are now readily available – or even basic – with today’s CTI technology.

 

So, what lies in the future of CTI? Has technology reached its peak? What should we look forward to when it comes to CTI integration?

The Future of CTI in the Clouds

Cloud computing has paved the way for the mass adoption of CTI, as well as other technologies. It has made powerful systems, platforms, and applications available to practically all kinds of businesses. Through scalable service offerings, small- and medium-sized businesses can use technologies, such as CTI, to compete on the same level as companies with more technical expertise and thicker wallets.

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That’s the beauty of cloud computing – and, in the world of IT, it is huge. Projections made by technology research company Gartner Inc. peg the worldwide market for public cloud services to be worth around $204 billion in 2016. Alongside this, the cloud application services (SaaS) industry is worth billions of dollars too, with a projected 20% yearly growth. The SaaS industry is seen to grow to $132.57 billion by 2020.
 

These numbers reflect the future of CTI. As the cloud computing industry grows, cloud-based CTI services become more accessible, at low leveled off rates. Because of this, the CTI market will lean further towards cloud-based services. You just won’t be able to deny the key selling points: cost-effectiveness, scalability, and accessibility.

CTI “Mobilization”

The future of CTI is also mobile. According to a study made by the Emergence Capital Partners (ECP), there are more than 300 mobile enterprise app companies in operation. These companies focus on key segments that include communications, task management, and events and contact management. This falls right in the turf of CTI integration and unified communications.

 

To date, there is an increased demand for a better communications platform, one that consolidates your interactions with your contacts, clients or prospects, whether it’s through voice, email, chat or SMS. This platform makes such information available across your desktop and mobile devices.

 

A future where mobile access is already a requisite part of CTI integration is a future where business booms. According to research firm Forrester, companies that encourage the use of mobile applications grow faster than those that don’t. After all, agents and employees who are not tied down to one place tend to become more accessible, reliable and productive.

Social Media Integration

Social media is part of the future of CTI too. Through CTI integration with business applications, such as CRM, communications on social media can be accessed through a singular platform. There is no need to switch platforms to respond to social media interactions.

 

What should be noted, however, is the increasing use of social media to interact with businesses. Companies miss out if they neglect interactions within this channel.

 

There is still a need to make social media communications easier and simpler for your agents and sales team. The future of CTI – where businesses get the full advantages of optimizing their marketing, sales and support processes – demands social media integration that is unified and efficient across all devices, regardless of agent location.

Improved Security

As with all technological advancements, communications technology deals with attempts to exploit its vulnerabilities on a regular basis. This is ‘business as usual’ in technology. However, with the massive amount of data that comes with CTI integration, the future of CTI has to be more secure. In fact, according to a 2016 survey by Society for Information Management (SIM), 36% of IT heads rank security as their number one concern

 

Improved security when it comes to CTI integration has to cover all the bases, from cloud-based data to on-site and third-party hosted information. Ultimately, this impacts how you do business and how you are perceived by your target market.

Better User Experience

Applications integrated with your CTI system upgrade fast and regularly. This improves the scope of technology. In many cases, upgrades also introduce new ways for you and your team to accomplish tasks and goals. This increased efficiency requires that you adapt to upgraded technology fast.

 

Improving the user experience through simplified and intuitive interfaces is a way to hasten your team’s learning curve. Improved interfaces are actually crucial since your CTI system is integral to your business’ day-to-day. The faster the learning, the quicker you can get back to efficient work.

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5 Barriers to Telemedicine Adoption and How to Overcome Them

5 Barriers to Telemedicine Adoption and How to Overcome Them | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telemedicine is one of the most notable advancements making waves in the digital transformation of healthcare. Telemedicine poses wins for healthcare organizations seeking to improve patient access while controlling costs, as well as healthcare consumers looking for more convenient ways to engage with providers.

 

With 71 percent of providers reporting the use of telehealthand telemedicine tools, it’s clear that the industry is sold on the benefits of virtualized care. Telemedicine market projectionssuggest that the industry will reach roughly $20 billion by 2025.

 

The patient and provider benefits of telemedicine are manifold—including reduced readmissions through remote patient monitoring, reduced costs via virtual access to specialists, and improved patient engagement—but barriers to adoption still linger. Here are five key challenges giving healthcare executives pause when it comes to telemedicine adoption and recommendations on how to successfully navigate those hurdles.

 

1) Understanding what comprises telemedicine. Due to varying state and federal definitions, as well as variance between Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial payer guidelines on what constitutes telemedicine, confusion still exists regarding what services will and won’t be reimbursed. Establishing a keen understanding of what virtual services qualify and how those services are reimbursed for each payer is vital. This will lay the foundation for quantifying the potential revenue impact of adoption.

 

2) Concerns around the cost to implement. Costs associated with telemedicine program adoption can include a myriad of factors, from video conferencing adoption to remote patient monitoring expansion. To mitigate the potential for expense sprawl, executives should identify key, phase-one telemedicine service offerings. Weigh earnings potential against anticipated program implementation and support costs to justify those telemedicine coverage areas.

 

3) Added data vulnerability. With healthcare security breaches on the rise, executive teams remain cautious of any patient data exposure risk. Many view virtual care delivery as an additional layer of potential threat. As with other IT implementations, thorough security protocols and routine audits should be put in place to guard against the real-time exposure of protected health information (PHI).

 

4) Potential for fraud and abuse. Telemedicine agreements can be subject to federal kickback laws, particularly in situations involving referrals for additional services. Providers must remain up-to-date on the regulations governing telemedicine services to ensure regulatory compliance and proper eligibility for reimbursement.

 

5) Patient awareness of and trust in virtual care offerings. Even with the proper broadband and internet resources in place to support patient adoption of telemedicine, providers may encounter patient reluctance to engage virtually. Healthcare organizations must cultivate trust by educating patients on offerings and what they can anticipate during virtual visits. Providers should also address security concerns with patients.

 

To ensure that engagement in telemedicine is a long-term trend as opposed to a short-term fad, healthcare providers will have to address and overcome these challenges. By implementing a telemedicine strategy that addresses these challenges head-on, providers can overcome barriers and rise to meet growing consumer demand for more convenient provider engagement options. As more healthcare organizations pivot to embrace new digital health platforms, telemedicine adoption, specifically, is quickly emerging as a key differentiator in an increasingly competitive landscape.

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These 6 Healthcare Cybersecurity Tips Could Save You Thousands

These 6 Healthcare Cybersecurity Tips Could Save You Thousands | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

n 2017 alone there were more than 330 data breaches in the US medical and healthcare sector, which exposed 4.93 million patient records.

 

What’s more, data breaches in the healthcare sector are among the most costly with the average breach costing $408 per stolen record. In comparison, the global average of other industries across the world is $148 per record. The medical and healthcare industry in the United States is particularly vulnerable to data breaches. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Healthcare organizations store a high volume of patient records with valuable and private data
  • A lack of mobile security protocols with the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend makes it easier for hackers to breach a network.
  • IoT medical devices and other popular technologies in the healthcare industry like multi-cloud IaaS or SaaS environments provide cybercriminals with more opportunities to hack into a network.
  • The healthcare industry is one of the lowest performing industries when it comes to endpoint security, and the sector as a whole ranks poorly in terms of cybersecurity strength compared to other major industries, making it an easier target for cybercriminals.

 

Chances are you don’t want to spend $50,000 or more in fines for a HIPAA violation, so it’s more critical than ever for you and your healthcare organization to implement the required cybersecurity protocols to ensure you’re protecting sensitive patient data from cybercriminals and hacks.

 

Here’s how you can improve your IT security and make sure you’re implementing healthcare security best practices.

1. Ensure All Employees are Properly Trained

One of the best ways to prevent the risk of data breaches is to make sure all employees and contractors receive the training they need to meet HIPAA requirements and keep data safe.

A proper employee training program will include factors such as:

  • Disaster Response
  • Fire Response (RACE) and Prevention
  • Workplace Violence Prevention and Response
  • VIP Security Control
  • EMTALA (Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act)
  • Command Center Operations
  • HIPAA Controls and Compliance
  • Training on The Joint Commission and other Accrediting Bodies
  • Crime Prevention
  • Safety Compliance

What’s more, your training program should go beyond initial training to provide frequent updates to your employees so they can stay on top of the latest trends and threats.

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2. Prioritize Real-Time Evaluation and Response

Want to save your organization thousands of dollars every year? A study by Ponemon Institute discovered that IT teams wasted 425 hours per week trying to solve false negatives and false positives. Healthcare organizations saved an average of $2.1 million yearly by implementing a system where IT teams were able to evaluate security posture in real time, patch all devices for known vulnerabilities, and proactively address emerging threats with data controls and/or patch distribution. This also increases your chances of preventing the risk of an expensive cyber-attack.

3. Leverage the Power of Automation

Since many healthcare organizations are decentralized, it can be more difficult to coordinate software patching and updates. To make sure software updates are fast but thorough, leverage the power of automation where possible to eliminate any vulnerabilities a cybercriminal might exploit.

4. Restrict Access When Needed

Even though employee training is critical, ensuring that your employees can only access sensitive or critical data on a need-to-know basis is another healthcare security best practice.

 

All data should be stored in a centralized location that is protected by a role-based access control system. Those with access should only see what they need to do their jobs and once the information is no longer required access should be removed automatically.

 

Moreover, technologies should be implemented to track and analyze data access as a way to spot suspicious activities.

5. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place

To comply with HIPAA Security, you must have a disaster recovery plan in place and ways to recover and maintain ePHI (electronic Protected Health Information) in case of an emergency. That means you should be backing up all files regularly so data restoration can be quick and easy. A good rule of thumb is to back up your data both locally and remotely (ex: on a recovery disc as well as on a cloud-based server) and you should aim to store all backed-up information away from the main system whenever possible.

6. Encrypt All Data

Data encryption makes sensitive information unreadable, which makes it much harder for cybercriminals to gain access to that data even if a network is hacked or a mobile device is missing or stolen.

 

It’s also important to make sure that all data is encrypted not only when it is at rest (being stored) but also when it is in motion (ex: sending an email). This way sensitive information is protected at all times.

 

Since the healthcare industry is one of the most frequent targets for cybercriminals and one of the most expensive when it comes to addressing a data breach, it’s vital to implement these healthcare security best practices and stay on top of the latest trends in IT security. Help your organization avoid the risk of data breaches and costly fines and give yourself peace of mind knowing that all HIPAA requirements are being met and your patients can trust their sensitive information in your hands.

 

Following these tips will help keep your healthcare company safe and reduce the risk of expensive cybersecurity threats.

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Net Benefits of Telemedicine for Urgent Care Centers

Net Benefits of Telemedicine for Urgent Care Centers | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Practice EHR discusses net benefits of telemedicine for Urgent Care Centers.

 

Telemedicine is becoming the new norm for giving and receiving care. Today’s patients are more connected than ever before and 64 percent of Americans report they would seek care via telemedicine, according to an American Well telehealth survey.

 

In its early stages, telemedicine seemed like another on-demand solution taking patients away from urgent care centers (UCCs). Today, urgent cares are realizing the benefits of integrating telemedicine into their operations, such as better flexibility, accessibility and in some cases, better patient satisfaction and outcomes.

 

Fortunately, telemedicine also has financial advantages. Telemedicine empowers UCCs to provide a convenient and cost-effective service for patients, while at the same time improving revenue. Have you considered telemedicine for your urgent care? Read on to learn more about the financial benefits of telemedicine:

Net-Benefits of Telemedicine

1. Increase the number of patients you see each day.

Telemedicine helps you work more efficiently and see more patients in less time. A virtual visit takes less time than an in-person visit, allowing your urgent care to increase the number of patients seen in a day, without having to extend office hours. For example, a clinic with three providers that completes two virtual visits per day, at an average reimbursement of $50, will earn $109,500 in additional revenue in just one year.

 

For UCCs who do feel the need to provide extended office hours, telemedicine is a feasible and cost-effective solution when you have a cloud-based electronic health record (EHR) with integrated telemedicine capabilities. Consider virtual extended hours, where a patient can be seen via a virtual visit conducted by a remote on-call physician. This idea eliminates in-person visits during extended hours, which keeps costs low, drives revenue for your clinic and at the same time provides better accessibility for patients who may be in need during those off-hours

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2. Better allocate your resources.

Today, consumers have more options than ever before when it comes to their care. Long wait times can result in low patient satisfaction and fewer patients. If your clinic is experiencing long wait times, consider how you can incorporate telemedicine for services that don’t require an in-person visit, like for the flu or an emergency medication refill. Providing virtual visits for these scenarios is a much more efficient and cost-effective way for your patients and your clinic.

 

Telemedicine can also help multi-location UCCs balance their patient volumes and wait times, without having to spend money on additional resources. The Journal of Urgent Care Medicine cited an example of an urgent care that decreased patient wait times and increased patient satisfaction by equipping facilities with telemedicine capabilities in two locations. In other words, UCCs can leverage providers in lower-traffic locations to conduct virtual visits immediately and remotely for patients who are waiting to be seen at the busier location.

 

3. Reach more patients.

In addition to load balancing, telemedicine can easily enable UCCs to reach a larger pool of patients to generate more revenue. Urgent cares who use telemedicine can expand their services to reach patients across one state or multiple, instead of being limited to patients who only live within a 3-5 mile radius.

 

4. Achieve competitive advantage.

Research from Accenture indicates patients want a better healthcare experience and they are leveraging technology, such as telemedicine, to do so. However, the same research also suggests patient demands for virtual care options are outpacing what’s currently available. This provides a significant opportunity for urgent cares. UCCs were the catalysts for convenient, on-demand healthcare; those who continue to evolve with their patients will successfully differentiate themselves in today’s competitive healthcare market.

 

To continue to lead in the on-demand market, urgent care centers will need to adopt technology, like telemedicine to meet patient expectations. The good news is telemedicine is a smart investment that can result in improved efficiency, patient care, cost-savings, revenue and more. Incorporating telemedicine into your UCC isn’t difficult, and there are affordable, telemedicine solutions on the market today. UCCs that incorporate telemedicine, have a lot to gain and very little to lose.

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How to integrate your Phone System with Google Apps through CTI?

How to integrate your Phone System with Google Apps through CTI? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

With VoIP (voice over internet protocol), companies are now able to access cheaper, more accessible phone systems all over the world. While VoIP phones have become common, particularly in North America and Europe, there is still a broad growth trend in Asian, African, and Latin American markets. Asian Pacific Markets expect an estimated 14% growth over the next five years, a significant increase considering the dense technological saturation in the area, caused primarily by escalating high-speed communications networks.

 

In markets where there isn’t such an extreme jump in internet infrastructure, there are also significant gains in the adoption of IP phone technology. In Africa, VoIP growth is stunning (80% in South Africa, for example). Because governments own traditional phone infrastructure in Africa, and also because of the challenges expanding utilities to less urban or more isolated areas, mobile VoIP has been replacing traditional phone systems for emerging and growing businesses.

 

Given contemporary global markets and the push toward global expansion, even companies that have long-established traditional phone infrastructure are adopting VoIP systems for their call centers and sales teams. Global calls are more than just person-to-person voice; they now include video, conferencing, and text, whether in Asia, Europe, or North America.

 

With VoIP phone systems, businesses can integrate their phones to their computers and smoothly connect all aspects of sales and service. SMEs and larger enterprises can all benefit from merging data and communications functions; with IP phones, users gain key communication features, all the while letting their VoIP service providers handle IT, updates, and data hosting. Businesses, regardless of size, can benefit from efficiently merging voice and data functions and gaining innovative communication features, while their VoIP service provider takes care of the technology.

 

CTI (computer telephony integration) software lets users integrate their phones with their CRM or ERP platforms to provide more efficient, cheaper, and easier customer communications.

 

With sales, agents can contact more potential clients, improve customer/agent interaction, and create a more collaborative sales team performance. With service, CTI software gives customers options of self-service or live agents, gives automatic call routing, reduces handle times, and gives management the opportunity to review call center performance.

 

It follows by implication that it’s important for businesses to find the best VoIP phone system and CRM for their needs. Some companies need a comprehensive system that works seamlessly across a host of different silos, whereas other businesses need customizable specifics for one element (IT, for example). Businesses must understand their budgets, dominant departments, as well as the need for scalability, and make decisions accordingly.

 
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