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HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage

HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage | Healthcare and Technology news |

HIPAA compliant cloud storage is contingent on several aspects. To use a cloud storage and be HIPAA compliant, it is important to ensure that the cloud service provider


(CSP) has sufficient safeguards to secure the protected health information (PHI) that is transmitted, stored, or maintained on behalf of their covered entity (CE) client. Additionally, they must be willing to sign a HIPAA business associate agreement (BAA).

Security Measures for HIPAA Compliant Cloud Storage

Cloud service providers must have certain measures in place to secure PHI and track access to PHI. These include the following:

  • Access controls: each person with the ability to access data stored by the CSP must have unique login credentials. The HIPAA minimum necessary standard requires access to PHI to be limited, so that it is only accessed for a specific purpose. Utilizing unique logins allows organizations to designate different levels of access to PHI based on an employee’s job function. 


  • Audit logs: unique login credentials also allows audit logs to be created. Audit logs establish normal access patterns for each employee (what information they access, how frequently they access it, and for how long). Being aware of each employee’s access patterns is the key to detecting insider breaches.


  • Encryption: HIPAA compliant cloud storage platforms should utilize end-to-end encryption (E2EE). E2EE is a means of protecting sensitive data by converting data into code that can only be read with a decryption key. E2EE is the best way to prevent unauthorized access to PHI.


  • Data backup:HIPAA requires healthcare organizations, and their business associates, to backup patient data. Data backup ensures that organizations that experience a breach, or natural disaster, are able to quickly restore data.
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What Will CIOs Most Need for the Journey Ahead? Halamka and Branzell Urge CIOs To Be “Revolutionaries”

What Will CIOs Most Need for the Journey Ahead? Halamka and Branzell Urge CIOs To Be “Revolutionaries” | Healthcare and Technology news |

In opening addresses to the CHIME Boston event, cosponsored by the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2—a sister organization to HCI under our Vendome Group LLC corporate umbrella), two nationally recognized healthcare IT leaders spoke Monday morning, May 18, of the challenges facing patient care organization CIOs today and going into the next few years.

Speaking at the CHIME LEAD Forum, being held at the Hyatt Regency Cambridge in Cambridge (Boston), Massachusetts,  John Halamka, M.D., CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and Russell P. Branzell, president and CEO of CHIME, spoke passionately about the need for CIOs to help shape the futures of their organizations—and their own futures. At a time when technology is advancing rapidly, when the U.S. healthcare system is going through a fundamental shift from volume-based to value-based payment, and when CIOs are facing ever-growing “to-do” lists, both Halamka and Branzell, both among the best-known healthcare IT leaders in the U.S., urged CHIME LEAD Forum attendees to focus on strategy and the future, and to keep their eyes on the bigger picture of healthcare system change.

Halamka, whose organization continues to pioneer in so many areas of healthcare IT, noted the difficulty for CIOs of helping to lead change even as their own organizations undergo regular management and other organizational disruptions. “It’s really hard as CIO when things are constantly changing,” he told the audience of healthcare IT leaders. “I’ve had seven CEOs in my term at Beth Israel Deaconess.  So I as a healthcare IT leader try to be as open and consistent as possible. I’ve not ever had a situation that I’ve suddenly changed course in such a way that people are confused,” he said, noting that a certain type of management constancy, allied to perpetual flexibility, will be key for CIO success going forward.

It is particularly difficult now that CIOs are pelted daily with new requests and demands from inside and outside their organizations, Halamka said. “People say, ‘OK, I get it, we need to be prepared for the accountable care future, we need to prepare for care management and care in the home, and even though there’s this cool project that some stakeholder wants, we really don’t have the bandwidth for that.’ And so what not to do” as a CIO “is as important as what to do, because each of us gets this laundry list of hundreds of things that stakeholders wants.”

He said with a bit of humor, “The technique I usually use is not to say ‘no’; ‘no’ is such a negative word, so loaded with emotion. So, I say, ‘not now.’” Meanwhile, he added, “My role on the resource side is not to create fear, uncertainty and doubt, but to explain to the board what we need to do.”

Focusing on the strategic and being a strategic leader, Halamka said, has really helped him help to guide his colleagues forward at BIDMC, where that organization’s culture of innovation has been moving forward continuously. For example, his team has just created a new app that interfaces with the smartphones of BIDMC patients and allows the organization to upload data from their smartphones. The organization went live with that app, BIDMC At Home, about a month ago, beginning with the uploading of patient body weight; glucometer data from diabetics will come next. What is important, Halamka emphasized, is to create an environment of transparency, accountability, and true leadership, in which CIOs can be assured that the other senior leaders, and all the organization’s stakeholders, will follow their lead in pursuing innovation.

He also shared his perspective that CIOs need to constantly engage with “VUCA”: the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity inherent in their operating environment.

Branzell, whose address came immediately after Halamka’s, shared a slide that he used to help frame what he called the journey to the “CIO 3.0.” The evolution of the CIO role has been thus, he said: pre-CIO, IT operations directors were technical managers, and their role was advisory. The “CIO 1.0” was a supportive role, focused on being an application purveyor. The “CIO 1.5” is an enabler role as a knowledge purveyor. The “CIO 2.0” role is a driver role, with the CIO functioning as a service broker, project advisor, and venture capitalist. Most patient care organization CIOs, he noted, are struggling to move into and through the “2.0” role phase; his view is that only 10-15 percent of CIOs are”2.0s,” in his view, while 40 percent each are “1.0s” or “1.5s.” What does the “3.0” CIO look like? The handful of true 3.0 CIOs are truly driving change and transforming their organizations, he said.

Towards the end of his address, Branzell shared his “Rules of the Revolutionary CIO” for his audience. Those five “rules” are: “Don’t ever accept the status quo; ‘Semper Gumby’—always be flexible; plagiarism [in operating innovations] is a skill, not a crime; don’t evolve, revolt!”—and, finally, “Make somebody mad today!!!!” (all four exclamation points his).

He closed his address by stating firmly that “Radical change is what will save this industry. And that’s a tough one for us, because we don’t want to stick our necks out.” And he added that John Glaser, formerly the CIO of Partners HealthCare once told him, “Russ, don’t be afraid to get fired. Because,” he quoted Glaser as saying, “Your fear of being fired will keep you from doing what is right and what is important.”

Tuesday, the Health IT Summit in Boston will begin in the same location. HCI will provide coverage of that event as well.

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What your healthcare practice can learn from telemedicine companies

What your healthcare practice can learn from telemedicine companies | Healthcare and Technology news |

6 ways telemedicine companies satisfy patients

1. Convenient care

In the U.S., patients spend an average of 34 minutes traveling to receive healthcare services, according to Altarum. Add this to time in the waiting and exam rooms, and even a simple healthcare appointment can take hours out of their day.


Telehealth is a major time-saver because people can receive care from anywhere in a matter of minutes. This boosts patient satisfaction levels because it’s easy for people to fit appointments into a hectic schedule.

2. Short wait times

Virtual visits with telehealth providers allow patients to avoid long waits. For example, telemedicine company LiveHealth Online claims to connect patients to doctors in a matter of minutes.


This is important to people, as nearly one-third (30 percent) have walked out of an appointment due to a long wait time, according to Vitals. Furthermore, one-in-five has changed doctors because of long waits.


Clearly, patient satisfaction rates are largely tied to wait times, which likely plays into the growing popularity of telehealth companies.


3. After-hours assistance

People get sick at all hours of the day, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a traditional practice open at 2 a.m. Telemedicine companies make it possible for patients to receive care without having to make a pre-dawn trip to the emergency room.


For example, telemedicine company Virtuwell offers 24/7 care. This allows patients to seek treatment promptly at any time of day without leaving the comforts of their home.


Additionally, the ability to receive care at any hour makes treatment more accessible to patients who work during standard office hours. Telemedicine allows them to seek care without having to take time off work.

4. Cost-effective treatment

U.S. healthcare spending averaged $10,739 per person in 2017, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Insured patients typically only pay a portion of the total cost, but 8.5 percent of Americans (or 27.5 million) didn’t have any form of health insurance in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.


Telemedicine companies make healthcare more affordable to everyone. For example, iCliniq offers an annual treatment plan for $99, where patients can receive 50 hours of online chat time with a family physician, general practitioner, or general surgeon.

5. Greater access to care

In rural areas, the patient-to-primary care physician ratio is just about 40 physicians per 100,000 people, according to the National Rural Health Association. 


This can make it difficult for people to receive standard care — and even more challenging if they need to see a specialist. Telemedicine companies are a game-changer for these communities because residents are able to get the care they need.

Beyond that, telehealth allows rural patients to have a choice of providers — something they might not have otherwise. In some cases, this can make it possible for them to receive better quality care than the offerings in their local region.


6. Increased patient engagement

Telehealth companies make it easier than ever for patients to take control of their health. When people have the right tools at their fingertips, there’s no excuse for not using them to better themselves.


Since telehealth offers convenient access to providers, patients are more inclined to reach out with questions and concerns. Taking an active role in their health can allow people to see positive results that encourage them to keep up the good work.


Telemedicine companies are surging in popularity, and that’s not likely to change. This doesn’t mean your brick-and-mortar practice will become obsolete, but there’s plenty of lessons to be learned.


Take a look at reasons these companies are so successful and, when possible, find ways to provide the same level of care. Gain a competitive advantage by offering the convenience patients want with the personal touch only a dedicated provider can give.

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