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What Are Wireless Business Phone Systems?

What Are Wireless Business Phone Systems? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Small businesses take a lot of calls each day. How many? They get approximately 400 million per day.

 

Historically, growing small businesses turned to PBX or private branch exchange systems.

 

In recent years, however, small businesses chose wireless business phone systems. So, what is a wireless phone system and how does it compare with traditional PBX systems?

Traditional PBX

A PBX system basically works like a switchboard. It allows internal users to call one another on local extensions. It also routes external calls through a set number of external lines or numbers.

 

Some businesses inherit old PBX systems that prove entirely analog when they buy or lease a building. These systems will disappear over time as PBX service providers switch over to digital technology to route calls.

 

PBX solutions were deisgned for single location businesses in which all workers come into the office every day to work.

Wireless Systems

A wireless phone system performs the same essential routing tasks as a PBX system but does it without the pesky hardware. Instead, wireless systems use a cloud-based system that centralizes all of the call routing. Instead of all your calls getting routed around by on-site, analog or digital switches, the routing happens on a server at a data center.

Wireless System Benefits

Wireless systems offer a wide range of potential benefits, many that you can’t get through a PBX system or only for a fee.

 

The switch to a modern, cloud-based system makes a bunch of exciting features available. Video conferencing tops the list. With businesses relying on remote workers, video conferencing helps maintain team unity. Many providers bundle this feature in a standard part of their service package.

 

You can also take advantage of call recording services, which lets you monitor customer service calls. That lets you coach your team when they fall away from best practices. You can also record client meetings to keep track of orders or new service contract particulars.

 

Service providers may also offer integration with your CRM system. This helps keep your customer records up-to-date whenever you get a call.

Standard features you get with wireless systems include:

  • Talk and text
  • Computer-based calling
  • Multiple extensions
  • Video chat

Of course, no system lacks flaws. So, let’s move on to the pitfalls.

Wireless System Pitfalls

As with all other cloud-based applications, a wireless phone system depends on a stable broadband connection. If your broadband service is sketchy, the quality of your calls will end up equally sketchy. You could expect fade-outs, distorted speech, or dropped calls.

 

The good news is that broadband quality and reliability has come a very long way in the last few years and most people can count on having sufficient bandwidth to support calls that are indistinguishable from land-line calls.

PBX System Pitfalls

PBX systems create several pitfalls.

You’ll pay a hefty fee for the hardware and installation. That’s before you even get into the cost for the service and lines. Since cloud-based systems have no hardware, you pay no hardware or installation fees.

 

Each individual line you get from the service provider costs money (they are usually purchased in groups of 23) and you’ll pay an additional per minute rate for each call.

 

By comparison, wireless systems typically charge a small fee for each number and either a low, per minute rate for domestic calls or an unlimited calling plan.

Picking Between the Options

For many businesses, a wireless system makes a lot of sense.

You get a wide range of additional features you can’t get with PBX. You avoid steep hardware and installation costs. You can even dodge long-distance fees with a little bit of effort.

 

For any business with access to good broadband, it’s something of a no-brainer.

 

 

 

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Telemedicine Platforms Attracting Big-time Investments

Telemedicine Platforms Attracting Big-time Investments | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

We’ve seen enormous changes in the healthcare industry in recent years, mostly relating to the more efficient storage and usage of patient data through blockchain technology and the digitisation of patient files.

 

In the past two decades, the growing penetration of technology in the industry has yielded new medical devices, automated treatments, and improved diagnostic processes, giving doctors, scientists and patients renewed hope for the treatment of diseases some of which, until now, have been largely untreatable.

 

Blockchain has enabled the seamless global exchange of patient information in real time with reduced transaction costs and fewer administrative delays, enabling much faster, more secure and more efficient exchanges of health records between medical personnel.

 

But technology isn’t only transforming the way patient information is handled; it is also revolutionising the way patients receive medical care.

 

Telemedicine -- the use of information technology to remotely diagnose, treat, or continuously monitor patients - has been hailed the ‘next disruptor’ of the healthcare industry.

 

In other words, the industry has at last recognised that waiting for hours at a doctor's office to ask a simple question or get a prescription can in some cases be so burdensome and frustrating that it can prevent patients from seeking medical help.

 

About time, too. If every other aspect of our lives has been digitised -- from job hunting, to online dating, to doing the groceries -- why haven’t we yet digitised the process of receiving medical care?

 

Often, a doctor’s check-up is so simple that all that is required is a quick verbal check of symptoms and a quick glance into the patient’s eyes.

 

If this could be done remotely through video technology in less than five minutes, it benefits both the physician -- who can in turn help more patients on average -- and the patient, who needn’t risk becoming even more sick by leaving home and sitting in a crowded waiting room with other ill people.

 

By empowering caregivers to remotely interact with their patients, telemedicine has the power to completely transform health care delivery, by making it far more affordable and available.

 

In fact, it has already begun to do this: in 2018, over 7 million patients used some sort of a telemedicine service in the U.S., and that number is only expected to rise over the next few years. Over half of America’s hospitals already use some sort of telemedicine, and there are more than 200 telemedicine networks in the US alone. Inevitably, with anticipated growth comes unprecedented industry investment - and the telemedicine industry is no exception.

 

There have been huge investments in the global telemedicine market in recent years, so much so that it is anticipated to grow from its current $38.3 billion valuation to an impressive $130.5 billion by 2025.

 

This encompasses value derived not only from the services provided through telemedicine but the devices and platforms that support service delivery. 

 

As healthcare companies look for ways to reduce costs and improve patient-centered care, more and more providers -- as well as investors -- are choosing to invest in shares in telehealth.

 

According to recent studies, 56 percent of healthcare executives say they have already integrated telemedicine - and more specifically, software as a service (SaaS) business models - into organisation, while another 24 percent are currently looking to invest in telemedicine solutions.

 

The remaining 20 percent are just beginning to become familiar with the opportunities presented by telehealth and telemedicine.

 

One particular platform - Colorado-based CirrusMD, which gives patients access to a board-certified physician in less than a minute on the app or on the web - has seen the largest investment to date in the telemedicine world, with a further US$15 million in funding having just been granted for the expansion of its telemedicine portfolio.

 

The money was raised through a series B funding round led by Drive Capital, bringing its total venture capital raised to $26 million altogether.

 

Founded in 2012 by an emergency physician, the platform is available across 50 states and differs from other telemedicine platforms in that members don’t pay upfront to physicians. Instead, it teams up with integrated delivery networks who pay doctors by the hour to deliver services via its platform.

 

CirrusMD is far from alone in the telemedicine sphere, mind you. It vies for the attention of patients alongside competitors Heal, Pager, Kry, HealthTap, Snap MD, Mfine, Pager, K Health, and Doctor on Demand, the latter of which just pulled in $50 million to continue expansion of its virtual doctor platform.

 

Maven - the first telemedicine platform made specifically for women - just launched with $2.2 million in seed funding, and Spruce just raised a further $15 million for its new platform which caters to people with dermatology conditions.

 

With 25 percent of consumers admitting they would willingly switch their primary care provider for one that offers more telehealth services, and with 75 percent of people saying they would be happy to attend a doctor’s appointment remotely, it's extremely likely that the telehealth and telemedicine industry will grow at an exponential rate in the next few years, paving the way for huge opportunities for those willing to invest in the digital infrastructure that supports it.

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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. 

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Telemedicine and HIPAA 

Telemedicine and HIPAA  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The digital age has presented numerous benefits for a variety of economic sectors with the health industry among the biggest winners.

 

From faster communication between patients and health professionals to better service delivery, health organizations have seen improvements in a variety of daily operations.

 

Sadly, the digital age is a double-edged sword, and as more health organizations use the latest technology, there is the looming threat of poor data security.

 

Threats such as the WannaCry ransomware attacks, which have wreaked havoc on the economy to date, are a constant reminder that data security should be a priority for organizations looking to leverage advancements in technology.

 

For instance, while telemedicine promises improved service delivery, it introduces a security complexity.

 

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations have been a cornerstone for setting and raising the security standards in healthcare, and telemedicine might actually make it easier for health organizations to remain compliant.

 

At the same time, a lot has to be done to improve the security loopholes presented by such technologies.

 

Here are how HIPAA and Telemedicine fit with each other and the things that need to be done for better data security.

The Constant Threat Of A Data Breach

Data collected by health organizations can be a gold mine for most threat actors. Some of the Protected Health Information (PHI) data include personal addresses, names, medical history, identification numbers, and even credit card numbers.

 

In the wrong hands, these data can be used for identity theft, for buying medical supplies fraudulently, or even holding health data at ransom as in the case of WannaCry attacks.

 

The sad truth is that ePHI will be at the disposal of threat actors unless the right security controls are put into place.

 

First, unless internal organization systems are strong enough, it can be easy for hackers to gain access to networks or even user accounts. In some cases, they may only need to access a low-level user account before escalating their privileges.

 

Second, when it comes to third party business stakeholders, failing to pick security-concerned partners will easily lead to data breaches.

 

Lastly, insider threats continue to be a risk. If access control isn’t a staple of a health organization’s security system, it can be easy for a disgruntled employee to offer this data out to threat actors. All these are concerns that can be handled by HIPAA compliance, and embracing telemedicine with HIPAA compliance at the back of your mind is a step in the right direction.

How Telemedicine Has Revolutionized The Health Sector

In a nutshell, telemedicine has made the transfer of medical data at a distant quite easy. Diagnoses, medical history, lab tests, and prescriptions can be transferred more easily and cheaper than normal. It also saves the costs of having to transfer patients from their homes to hospitals for diagnoses that could easily be done via video calls.

The HIPAA Rules That Affect Telemedicine

The HIPAA guidelines cover more than the patients and doctors communicating ePHI at a distance. It deals with the communications channels and any third party involved in the communication process. Ideally, for telemedicine to be compliant with HIPAA, the parties involved need to comply with these security rules:

 

  • Ensure that only the authorized parties gain access to ePHI
  • The channels of communication used to communicate ePHI at a distance ought to be secure enough to the standards of HIPAA.
  • There needs to be a system in place for monitoring the different communications containing ePHI to prevent the chances of accidental or malicious data breaches.

 

As long as physicians have effective safeguards in place for addressing access control, the first bullet point should be easy to comply with.

 

As for the second point, insecure channels such as email, Skype, and SMS are eliminated from ever being used. Lastly, the onus is upon those in charge of the ePHI technology to ensure that there are systems in place that can help monitor communication and facilitate the deletion of unused data if the need arises.

 

Both of the last points also look to address issues relating to where ePHI is stored.

Why Conventional Communication Channels Might Not Suffice

If the ePHI created by a physician (covered entity) is stored by a third party, the third-party and the covered entity have to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).

 

The BAA ought to include details about the methods the third party will use to secure the data and procedures for auditing the data’s security in accordance with the HIPAA guidelines.

 

Since the copies of ePHI are bound to remain in the servers of conventional communication firms, such as Google, Verizon, and Skype, the covered entities ought to have a BAA with such bodies to remain compliant with HIPAA.

 

Sadly, Verizon, Google, and Skype might not enter into such BAAs, meaning that the covered entities will remain liable for fines for any breaches that occur from the lack of HIPAA compliance by these third-party entities.

 

The covered entities, telemedicine providers, might also fail HIPAA audits.

Aligning Compliance And Telemedicine

The ideal messaging solution should be secure. It should also offer the same communication speed as Skype, SMS, or email, while also complying with the HIPAA security rule.

 

This means that only authorized users should be allowed to access ePHI, the communication channel should be secure, and it should be fairly easy to monitor the activity on the channel.

 

The channels of communication should also be user-friendly enough for both patients and physicians to use during interactions.

 

Each authorized user can gain access to the channel through a centrally-issued username and password, which allows them to communicate with other users within the private communication network of the covered entity.

 

The channel should allow all types of communications, including images, documents, and videos.

 

These media should be encrypted both while in transit and at rest. As for monitoring the communication, the messages should be monitored through a cloud-based platform to ensure secure messaging policies are adhered to according to HIPAA rules.

Telemedicine Makes HIPAA Compliance Easier

While this might seem hard to believe, telemedicine might actually make compliance to HIPAA easier for health entities. Unlike convention medical services that had to introduce HIPAA compliance as an afterthought, telemedicine can be crafted with HIPAA compliance at the center of it all.

 

As such, any applications and technologies used in the communication of ePHI at a distance can leverage the latest technological advancements and data security practices.

 

These can include multiple data encryption methodologies and even comprehensive system testing.

 

Any partnerships with third-party vendors will also be based on whether they can have a sustainable BAA with them or not.

 

Telemedicine presents too big an opportunity to be ignored. Even better, the HIPAA guidelines can act as a baseline for security standards for health organizations looking to embrace telemedicine.

 

Since it is easy to be compliant, keen organizations can enjoy its perks without fearing costly fines.

 
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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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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.

Want to increase your customer experience right now?

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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How do I report an unsecured Protected Health Information (PHI) Breach?

How do I report an unsecured Protected Health Information (PHI) Breach? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Have you had a HIPAA Breach?  Here's how you report it.

If you are a covered entity and have experienced the loss or theft or accidental disclosure of unsecured or unencrypted Protected Health Information (PHI), you have most likely had a HIPAA Breach. As a covered entity you must undergo specific breach notification procedures as per HIPAA law,  if you discover a breach of unsecured protected health information.  You may need to invoke your incident response plan and involve your attorney depending on the size and nature of the breach.

Step 1- Notify the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Your obligations for breach notification to the secretary differ based on whether the breach affects 500 or more individuals or fewer than 500 individuals. If you are unsure how many individuals are affected at the time of submission, provide an estimate.  If the breach affects 500 or more individuals, you need to report the breach to the Secretary no later than 60 days of discovering the breach.

Once HHS receives your breach notification, your information along with some information of the breach will be published on the HHS Breach Portal, also known as the "Wall of Shame".  The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) will then open an investigation.

Step 2- Providing additional information after a breach has been reported

If you discover additional information, submit updates as necessary. If only one option is available in a submission category you should pick the best option, and may provide additional details in the free text portion of the submission.

If you discover additional information that supplements, modifies, or clarifies a previously submitted notice to the Secretary, you may submit an additional form by checking the appropriate box to indicate that it is an addendum to the initial report, using the transaction number provided after submitting the initial breach report.

Step 3- Notify the affected individuals

  1. It is your responsibility to notify each individual of the breach of their PHI, either by notifying them via first class mail, or if they have given permission, you may notify them via email. This notice must include a description of the breach, including the information involved in the breach, steps the individual can take to protect themselves and a summary of the steps you are taking to investigate the breach and what you are doing to prevent future breaches. 

 

What if I don’t have the contact information for Affected Individuals?

 

  1. If contact information for 10 or more individuals is incorrect, you must provide a public notice or media notification in the residential area of those affected individuals, providing them with an 800 number they can call to find out if their information was included in the breach. This number must remain active for a minimum of 90 days.  These individual notices may be substituted by providing notice on your website for a minimum of 90 days or by issuing a media statement notifying the public of the breach.

 

If the Breach Affects 500 or More Individuals:

 

3. If a breach of unsecured protected health information affects 500 or more individuals, you must notify the Secretary of HHS of the breach without unreasonable delay and in no case later than 60 calendar days from the discovery of the breach.  You must submit the notice electronically by clicking on the link below and completing all the required fields on the breach notification form.  

Step 4- Notify the media and update your website 

If the breach affects 500 or more individuals, you need to report the breach to prominent media outlets in the areas where affected or potentially affected individuals reside.  This helps inform all breach victims of the possibility of the exposure of their protected health information.  

If you do not have up-to-date contact information or addresses of 10 or more affected individuals, then you need to update your website with a notice of the breach.  A link to the breach notice must be prominently visible on your home page.

Step 5- Notify HHS annually of breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals

If a breach of unsecured protected health information affects fewer than 500 individuals, you must notify the Secretary of the breach within 60 days of the end of the calendar year in which the breach was discovered. (You are not required to wait until the end of the calendar year to report breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals; you may report such breaches at the time they are discovered.) You may report all your breaches affecting fewer than 500 individuals on one date, but you must complete a separate notice for each breach incident. The covered entity must submit the notice electronically by clicking on the link below and completing all of the fields of the breach notification form.

 

Other considerations

  • Be aware that your state may have more stringent breach notification procedures compared to the Federal Government. 
  • Be cognizant of the timeline of breach notification; delays in notification can cause fines and penalties to be levied.
  • Business Associates are also subject to the Breach Notification Rule. Business Associates must inform covered entities within 60 days of discovering the breach.  Business Associates must comply with requirements specified in their Business Associate Agreement with the covered entity.
  • Contact HHS OCR with questions toll-free at: 1-800-368-1019, TDD: 1-800-537-7697 or send an email to OCRPrivacy@hhs.gov
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Cryptomining Malware Can Affect HIPAA Obligations

Cryptomining Malware Can Affect HIPAA Obligations | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The well-established security firm Check Point recently ranked cryptomining as the leading cyber-threat in healthcare – ahead of ransomware. Cryptomining malware, also known as cryptocurrency mining malware, refers to software programs and malware components developed to take over a computer’s resources and use them for cryptocurrency mining, without a user’s authorization. This hijacking of computer resources can result in a shutdown and even total systems failure.  Cryptomining is not specifically addressed by the HIPAA security rule. However, the threat of cryptomining malware should make covered entities and business associates evaluate their Security Rule compliance efforts, and, if necessary, implementing additional cybersecurity measures as needed to protect against this unique and powerful threat.

 

Under the HIPAA Security Rule, covered entities and business associates must implement administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronically protected health information (ePHI). Cryptomining malware can compromise this confidentiality, availability, and integrity. To understand the nature of the threat posed by cryptomining malware, it is useful to first understand some basic concepts.


These include cryptocurrencycryptography, and cryptomining.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is digital money that can be purchased, transferred, and/or sold. Cryptocurrency exists solely on the Internet. This form of currency is not backed by anything tangible (such as gold), nor is it backed or managed by any bank or government. Cryptocurrency transactions, or trades, are changed and verified by a decentralized (not affiliated with anyone single entity) network of computers.

What is Cryptography?

Cryptography is a method of protecting information by encrypting it into an unreadable format known as ciphertext. Ciphertext can be converted to regular text through the process of decryption. Cryptography encrypts and protects the data used to help identify and track cryptocurrency transactions.

What is Cryptomining? 

Cryptocurrency miners engage in cryptomining to earn more cryptocurrency (often referred to as “coins” or “Bitcoins”). 

Here is how the mining process works:

Miners compete with other cryptominers to solve complicated mathematical problems. Solving the problems enables the miner to authorize a transaction and to chain together (blockchain) blocks of transactions. Once a transaction is included in a block, it is secure and complete.

For his or her mining activities, the miner receives a small amount of cryptocurrency of his or her own, The more currency a miner “mines,” the more currency a miner ends up owning. Cryptocurrency can then be sold for actual cash. 

So, you may now be thinking, …..

“What Does Any of This Have to do with HIPAA Health Care?”

Crpyotmining malware is surreptitiously installed on a user’s computer. Once it is installed, the  cryptomining malware turns the affected computer, in effect, into a mining operation – one through which the miners solve their math problems and “earn” their coins and cash.

Here’s the problem: Cryptomining has an enormous appetite for computer power.  As the malware is enabling the mining, the mining process consumes significant computing power, bandwidth, and even electricity.  Particularly persistent forms of malware consume resources even after a user has logged off.   

Eventually, a device or a network may simply become unable to mining malware’s energy requirements, causing the device or network to crash.

Since any Internet-connected device can be infected with cryptomining malware, those devices used by covered entities or business associates that are missing essential security features – which features include, but are not limited to, antivirus software, firewalls, updates and patches for operating systems – can, upon a malware attack, shut down or experience total system failure.  ePHI data thus becomes compromised. As in, lost, rendered inaccessible, or damaged beyond repair. The HIPAA Security rule thus becomes implicated, and, if an organization is found to have implemented ineffective security safeguards, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) can audit and fine that organization.

Compliancy Group Simplifies HIPAA Compliance

Covered entities and business associates can address their HIPAA cybersecurity compliance obligations under the Security Rule by working with Compliancy Group.

Our ongoing support and web-based compliance app, The Guard™, gives healthcare organizations the tools to address HIPAA cybersecurity issues so they can get back to confidently running their business. 

Find out how Compliancy Group has helped thousands of organizations like yours Achieve, Illustrate, and MaintainTM  their HIPAA compliance!

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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.

Download the Free HIPAA Regulation Checklist

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

.

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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Do doctors really hate Obamacare?

Do doctors really hate Obamacare? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Anti-Obamacare critics often claim that “every” physician they know hates Obamacare. For instance, pediatric neurosurgeon and GOP Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carsontold Fox News that “he’s spoken to hundreds of doctors throughout the country about the Affordable Care Act, and not one of them ‘liked’ President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.”

Doctors hate Obamacare, it’s alleged, because it authorizes government to “control” the practice of medicine and impose “rationing” of care, thereby harming patients.  The conservative Examiner website quotes a New Jersey family physician, Dr. John Tedeschi as saying, “Just as a guitar string has to be tuned, so does a person’s health to get the right tone. The government has taken away, or refocused the intelligence part of the tuning, and has just about destroyed the creative, or compassion component. Now, with Obamacare, we are left with an incompetent mechanism that does not have the best interest of the patient in mind.”  An ER physician quoted in the articles said that the “storm of patients [created by Obamacare] means when they can’t get in to see a primary care physician, even more people will end up with me in the emergency room.”

There is no question that some doctors (mainly conservatives) hate Obamacare, and if they were the only ones you talked to (like the ones who apparently talked to Dr. Carson), you might think that all doctors feel the same way. But the reality is that — surprise, surprise! — primary care physicians’ views are just like the rest of us, split by their partisan leanings.


A new survey by the respected Kaiser Family Foundation found that 87 percent of Democratic-leaning physicians view Obamacare favorably, while the exact same percentage of GOP-leaning physicians view it unfavorably. Independent doctors split 58 percent unfavorable to 42 percent favorable.  Because there were more GOP and independent physicians among the survey respondents, the overall breakdown of primary care physicians’ views on the ACA is  52 percent unfavorable to 48 percent favorable.  Yet only 26 percent of all primary care physicians viewed the law “very unfavorably. “  So it might be said that just one out of four primary care physicians “hate” Obamacare.

And a deeper dive into the survey results directly refutes the contention of anti-Obamacare doctors that the law is leading to poorer quality, physicians turning away patients, or longer waits for appointments:


  • Most primary care physicians say that quality has stayed the same: 59 percent said that their ability to provide high-quality care to their patients has stayed about the same, while 20 percent said it has improved, and 20 percent said it has gotten worse.
  • More primary care physicians report that Medicaid expansion has had a more positive impact on quality than a negative one: “When asked more specifically about the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA, nearly four of 10 providers (36 percent of physicians and 39 percent of nurse practitioners and physician assistants) said the expansion has had a positive impact on providers’ ability to provide quality care to their patients. About two of 10 said it has had a negative impact, and the remainder said it has not made a difference, or they are not sure.”
  • Ease of getting same-day appointments is about the same as before the ACA: “Overall, about four of 10 primary care providers said almost all their patients who request a same- or next-day appointment can get one; another quarter said most of their patients can get such appointments” which is largely unchanged from 2009 and 2012.
  • Most continue to accept new patients: “A large majority of primary care providers (83 percent of physicians, 93 percent of midlevel clinicians) said they are currently accepting new patients . . . A survey conducted in late 2011 through early 2012 found that 89 percent of primary care physicians were accepting new patients and 52 percent were accepting new Medicaid patients.  This indicates that while physicians’ rates of accepting new patients overall may have declined slightly since the ACA coverage expansions went into effect, acceptance rates for Medicaid have remained about the same.”


When asked specifically about their views on the impact of the Affordable Care Act on five dimensions, the ACA fared well, with one exception (costs to patients).


  • Access to health care and insurance in the country overall: 48 percent positive, 12 percent no impact,  24 percent negative, and 14 percent not sure.
  • Overall impact on practice: 31 percent reported no impact, 23 percent a positive  impact, 36 percent negative  and 9 percent not sure.
  • Quality of care their patients receive: 50 percent reported no impact, 18 percent positive, 25 percent negative, and 6 percent not sure.
  • Ability of the practice to meet patient demand: 44 percent no impact, 18 percent positive, 25 percent negative, and 10 percent not sure.
  • Cost of health care for their patients: 17 percent no impact, 21 percent positive, 44 percent negative, and 16 percent not sure.


However, “physicians’ responses to questions that mention the ACA by name are deeply divided along party lines. For example, by a three-to-one margin, physicians who identify as Democrats are more likely to say the ACA has had a positive (44 percent) rather than a negative (15 percent) impact on their medical practice overall. Republican physicians break in the opposite direction by about seven-to-one (57 percent negative, 8 percent positive).”

The survey also does not support the contention that the ACA is contributing to primary care physician dissatisfaction with practice and burn-out:


“Even though providers with different political affiliations do not share views about the Affordable Care Act, a large majority of primary care providers (83 percent of physicians and 93 percent of nurse practitioners and physician assistants) — both Republicans and Democrats — reported they are very or somewhat satisfied with their medical practice overall. The changing environment does not appear to be affecting overall provider satisfaction even among providers who see a larger share of Medicaid patients or work in Medicaid expansion states. Indeed, current satisfaction levels are slightly higher than what was reported by primary care physicians before the ACA. In 2012, 68 percent of primary care physicians reported they were very satisfied or satisfied with practicing medicine.”


Interestingly, Democratic physicians (56 percent) are more likely to recommend a career in primary care than Republicans (39 percent)  or Independents (40 percent).


I know that many conservative primary care doctors have a strong and principled objection to Obamacare, believing  passionately that it gives the government too much power and the physicians, and their patients will be hurt as a result.  I (and ACP) may not agree with them, but I respect their views, and their right to make their case to their colleagues and to the public.


But the Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows us that the anti-Obamacare doctors do not represent the views and experience of most primary care doctors on the front lines, never mind “all” of them.  Doctors (at least those in primary care, who knows about surgeons?) clearly don’t “hate” Obamacare.  Rather, more of them see Obamacare as doing some good things, like improving access; and doing not as well on other things, like lowering costs to patients.  Much of what they do and see in their practices remains unchanged by it, for good or bad.


And that strikes me about right, Obamacare is making many things better, but there is a lot more that needs to be done to improve quality and access, lower costs to patients, and sustain and support primary care.  Of course, such nuances do not make for as good a headline or political talking point as “Doctors Hate Obamacare.”

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Breach Risk Analysis: A four-step plan

Breach Risk Analysis: A four-step plan | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Data breaches have long been a nuisance for many industries, including healthcare and financial services.

 

In the age of our current public health crisis, HIPAA-covered entities must follow all reasonable safeguards to protect the privacy of their patients who may be infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).  However, the HIPAA Privacy Rule does offer some accommodations in such cases.

 

Business owners need to be prepared, and should always have a plan in place should a worse-case scenario occur.  One method of preparation is to understand what is a Breach Risk Analysis.

In this blog, we will give tips on how to plan for a data breach and what to do when one occurs.

Got breached? Implement a four-step plan

A data breach occurs when sensitive information about an individual is lost, stolen, hacked, or inappropriately disclosed.  Any time an organization suspects that one of these incidents has occurred, it should immediately perform a Breach Risk Analysis. 

This analysis can be conducted by implementing this four-step plan:

  1. Determine what type of data was involved
  2. Determine which person or organization the data was stolen by or disclosed to
  3. Determine if the person or organization acquired or viewed the data
  4. Document mitigating actions that were taken by the organization.

Let's stay a closer look at each step. 

Determine the type of data that was stolen

The first step the organization should take is to examine the type of data that was involved in a breach.  This step is crucial, as it helps the organization understand the significance of the data that may have been exposed. 

Even if the information breached seems minimal, it needs to be determined if information about an individual can be reconstructed.

If the breached data is found to contain sensitive information, such as client names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, the organization may have to enact extra services like extending credit reporting to the affected individuals. 

Determine which person or organization the data was stolen by or disclosed to

This step allows the organization to understand the parties involved in the breach and their responsibilities and motivations as it related to the exposed data.

 

For example, if a healthcare organization accidentally discloses Protected Health Information to another healthcare organization, that healthcare organization is still bound by HIPAA rules to protect the privacy and security of that patient data. However, if the same patient information is inadvertently disclosed to a private business or individual, the obligation to protect data is not in place.

 

If the data is found to be accessed by criminals, such as hackers, the organization must assume more nefarious attentions. 

 

Hackers are more likely to sell data so crimes like fraud or identity theft are likely committed. Anytime sensitive data is accessed by hackers or criminals, the organization should consider involving legal representation and law enforcement.

 

Determining if the person or organization acquired or viewed the data 

This difficult but necessary step allows an organization to determine if sensitive information was actually viewed by a unauthorized third party. 

 

Therefore, if the data breach involved something like spyware or ransomware, the organization must perform a forensic analysis to ascertain if not only information was viewed, but also ex-filtrated.

 

Other instances of breaches may involve sensitive information being sent to the wrong party, such as an errant fax or email.  In these instances, it is important for the organization to confirm that the recipient has properly disposed of the sensitive information.

Document mitigating actions made

Organizations should not wait until the level of exposure from a breach is determined before they start performing mitigating actions. 

 

If the breach had a technical aspect, such as ransomware, the organization must document actions such as restoring backups, removing malicious software, and any forensic analysis that was performed.

 

If the breach involved improper disclosure, the organization should document that the data was properly disposed of by the third party.

 

Organizations will always be at risk for data breaches.  The best step they can take is to be prepared for when this happens, not if.

It is always a best practice to have a breach response plan in place, and any organization can put one together by incorporating the four steps described in this blog.

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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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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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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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John Macoviak's curator insight, September 26, 2019 4:08 PM
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New HIPAA Regulations in 2019

New HIPAA Regulations in 2019 | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

While there were expected to be some 2018 HIPAA updates, the wheels of change move slowly. OCR has been considering HIPAA updates in 2018 although it is likely to take until the middle of 2019 before any proposed HIPAA updates in 2018 are signed into law. Further, the Trump Administration’s policy of two regulations out for every new one introduced means any new HIPAA regulations in 2019 are likely to be limited. First, there will need to be some easing of existing HIPAA requirements.

 

HIPAA updates in 2018 that were under consideration were changes to how substance abuse and mental health information records are protected. As part of efforts to tackle the opioid crisis, the HHS was considering changes to both HIPAA and 42 CFR Part 2 regulations that serve to protect the privacy of  substance abuse disorder patients who seek treatment at federally assisted programs to improve the level of care that can be provided. Other potential changes to HIPAA regulations in 2018 included the removal of aspects of HIPAA that impede the ability of doctors and hospitals to coordinate to deliver better care at a lower cost.

 

These are the most likely areas for HIPAA 2019 changes: Aspects of HIPAA Rules that are proving unnecessarily burdensome for HIPAA covered entities and provide little benefit to patients and health plan members, and those that can help with the transition to value-based healthcare.

How are New HIPAA Regulations Introduced?

The process of making HIPAA updates is slow, as the lack of HIPAA changes in 2018. It has now been 5 years since there was a major update to HIPAA Rules and many believe changes are now long overdue. Before any regulations are changed, the Department of Health and Human Services will usually seek feedback on aspects of HIPAA regulations which are proving problematic or, due to changes in technologies or practices, are no longer as important as when they were signed into law.

 

After considering the comments and feedback, the HHS then submits a notice of proposed rulemaking followed by a comment period. Comments received from healthcare industry stakeholders are considered before a final rule change occurs. HIPAA-covered entities are then given a grace period to make the necessary changes before compliance with the new HIPAA regulations becomes mandatory and enforceable.

New HIPAA Regulations in 2019

OCR issued a request for information in December 2018 asking HIPAA covered entities for feedback on aspects of HIPAA Rules that were overly burdensome or obstruct the provision of healthcare, and areas where HIPAA updates could be made to improve care coordination and data sharing.

 

The period for comments closed on February 11, 2019 and OCR is now considering the responses received. A notice of proposed rulemaking will follow after careful consideration of all comments and feedback, although no timescale has been provided on when the NPRM will be issued. It is reasonable to assume however, that there will be some at least some new HIPAA regulations in 2019.

OCR was specifically looking at making changes to aspects of the HIPAA Privacy Rule that impede the transformation to value-based healthcare and areas where current Privacy Rule requirements limit or discourage coordinated care.

 

Under consideration are changes to HIPAA restrictions on disclosures of PHI that require authorizations from patients. Those requirements may be loosened as they are considered by many to hamper the transformation to value-based healthcare.

 

OCR is considering whether the Privacy Rule should be changed to make the sharing of patient data with other providers mandatory rather than simply allowing data sharing. Both the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have voiced their concern about this aspect of the proposed new HIPAA regulations and are against the change. Both organizations are also against any shortening of the timescale for responding to patient requests for copies of their medical records.

 

OCR is also considering HIPAA changes in 2019 that will help with the fight against the current opioid crisis in the United States. HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan has stated that there have been some complaints about aspects of the HIPAA Privacy Rule that are stopping patients and their families from getting the help they need. There is some debate about whether new HIPAA regulations or changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule is the right way forward or whether further guidance from OCR would be a better solution.

 

One likely area where HIPAA will be updated is the requirement for healthcare providers to make a good faith effort to obtain individuals’ written acknowledgment of receipt of providers’ Notice of Privacy Practices. That requirement is expected to be dropped in the next round of HIPAA changes.

 

What is certain is new HIPAA regulations are around the corner, but whether there will be any 2019 HIPAA changes remains to be seen. It may take until 2020 for any changes to HIPAA regulations to be rolled out.

Changes to HIPAA Enforcement in 2019

Halfway through 2018, OCR had only agreed three settlements with HIPAA covered entities to resolve HIPAA violations and its enforcement actions were at a fraction of the level in the previous two years. It was starting to look like OCR was easing up on its enforcement of HIPAA Rules. However, OCR picked up pace in the second half of the year and closed 2018 on 10 settlements and one civil monetary penalty – One more penalty than in 2018.

 

2018 ended up being a record year for HIPAA enforcement. The final total for fines and settlements was $28,683,400, which beat the previous record set in 2016 by 22%.

At HIMSS 2019, Roger Severino gave no indications that HIPAA enforcement in 2019 would be eased. Fines and settlements are likely to continue at the same level or even increase.

 

Severino did provide an update on the specific areas of HIPAA compliance that the OCR would be focused on in 2019. OCR is planning to ramp up enforcement of patient access rights. The details have yet to be ironed out, but denying patients access to their medical records, failures to provide copies of medical records in a reasonable time frame, and overcharging are all likely to be scrutinized and could result in financial penalties.

 

OCR will also be continuing to focus on particularly egregious cases of noncompliance – HIPAA-covered entities that have disregarded the duty of care to patients with respect to safeguarding their protected health information. OCR will come down heavy on entities that have a culture of noncompliance and when little to no effort has been put into complying with the HIPAA Rules.

 

The failure to conduct comprehensive risk analyses, poor risk management practices, lack of HIPAA policies and procedures, no business associate agreements, impermissible PHI disclosures, and a lack of safeguards typically attract financial penalties. OCR is also concerned about the volume of email data breaches. Phishing is a major problem area in healthcare and failures to address email security risks are likely to attract OCR’s attention in 2019.

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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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How Relevant CTI Can Be

How Relevant CTI Can Be | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

CTI stands for Computer Telephony Integration and it refers to any type of technology that allows computer and phone central functionalities to be interconnected resulting in an added value service portfolio.

 

In the beginning of the telephony era, you were not given the chance of dialing; you would simply “signal” a call center and a human operator would ask you what you required. Then once you stated you wanted to call someone, that human operator would establish a point-to-point connection between your terminal equipment (phone) and the destinations.

 

The funny thing is that nowadays, when you ask your smartphone’s personal assistant to call someone, the process as perceived by us humans is, in fact, the same, and we like it better than having to dial the number or look for the contact.

 

Phone Centrals have become Computers instead of the long-gone PBX backbones, nevertheless the integration of such computers (which perform the role of phone centers) with terminal equipment’s which are in fact computers (like smartphones) and computer software like CRM and ERP Servers or Cloud-based App Services has made the CTI concept more relevant by the day.

 
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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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4 Things to Know About Telehealth

4 Things to Know About Telehealth | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telehealth has emerged as a critical tool in providing health care services. [1] The practice covers a broad range of medical technology and services that collectively define the discipline. Telehealth is especially beneficial for patients who live in rural communities and other remote areas where medical professionals use the Internet to gather and share information as well as monitor the health conditions of patients by using peripheral equipment and software such as video conferencing devices, store-and-forward imaging, and streaming media. The following information details important factors that are shaping this burgeoning field.

 

The Changing Face of Telehealth Law
Today’s competitive health care marketplace has created an environment where patients demand lower costs, higher service quality, and convenient access to services. [2] Telehealth is an innovative and valuable mechanism that provides patients with efficient access to quality services. Lowering costs and removing barriers to service access, are critical components in promoting patient wellness and population health. Convenience and cost-effectiveness are important commodities in the modern health care marketplace, as patients tend to avoid treatment that is difficult to access or too expensive. As a result, telehealth technology is emerging as a preferred choice among patients and providers. Telehealth has also attracted the attention of US legislators. They utilize this tool for improving the competitiveness of American health care services. This is especially important, seeing as health care represents 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, the resource has helped to define the role that lawmakers play in ensuring that patients benefit in a competitive health care market.

 

Reimbursement for Services Delivered by Telehealth
The laws regarding reimbursements change regularly as more service providers incorporate telehealth technology into their practices. Reimbursement procedures can vary by state, practice, insurer, and service. [3] Care providers need to understand several facts, regulations, and laws to navigate Medicare telehealth reimbursements. They must first scrutinize whether the distance between the facility (the originating site) and the patient is far enough to qualify as a distant site. The location must also qualify as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) per Medicare guidelines. Additionally, the originating site must fall under Medicare’s classification as a legally authorized private practice, hospital, or critical access hospital (CAH). For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ranks the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center as a top facility in need of physician services based on these criteria. Care providers must also use proper insurance coding to be reimbursed for hosting services that use telehealth technologies. For now, collecting reimbursements for telehealth services remains simpler for practitioners who limit the scope to which they apply the technology.

 

Telehealth or Telemedicine?
The term ‘telehealth’ is gaining popularity among medical professionals, compared to the original term, ‘telemedicine.’ [4] Some medical professionals use the names interchangeably. However, telemedicine is a term that may apply to the application of any technology in the clinical setting, while telehealth more distinctly describes the delivery of services to patients. Telemedicine is a familiar term, but telehealth more appropriately describes the latest trends in using technology to deliver treatments to patients. Depending on the organization, service providers may use a different definitions of telehealth. Although the basic premise remains similar, the context may change according to factors such as organizational objectives, and the needs of the patient population being served. Medical experts do agree on one point; telehealth is an innovative way of engaging patients, and it is highly beneficial for both providers and patients.

 

The Road Ahead
There are several areas where telehealth medicine could make a significant impact. It could be used as a tool to remotely monitor patients who have recently been discharged. It may also help treat individuals with behavioral health issues who might normally avoid treatment due to its high cost, or to avoid any perceived public stigma. [5] The largest area where technology could advance medicine is in treating the chronically ill. These patients usually require many visits with several specialists who may practice at different and distant originating sites. To move telehealth forward, organizational leaders must present evidence to peers and patients that the technology offers value. In addition, care providers must work to transition patients from using telehealth services only for minor conditions (for headaches, colds, etc.), to accepting the technology as a viable replacement for costly physician office visits. Advocates for telehealth medicine must also develop quality controls, so that this potentially transformational tool can maximize its problem solving capabilities and its service effectiveness. To harness the benefits of telehealth technology, America’s brightest medical professionals (both experienced and up-and-coming) must make a concerted effort to incorporate the tool into their practices and make it a regular service offering. Today’s medical students — as they enter a world where telehealth is becoming more pervasive — can take part in what might be a monumental change in the way health professionals think about medical treatment.

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