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8 considerations to fast-track telehealth

8 considerations to fast-track telehealth | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

What is your organization’s overarching telehealth strategy?

 

  • Organizations need a well-defined strategy as the demand for telehealth offerings expands. Definition of what will be offered, its fit with your existing care delivery model, how patients interact with practices and adaptation to regulatory changes will be integral parts to this strategy

 

Who is working on your telehealth rollout?

 

  • Establishing and expanding telehealth requires buy-in from all levels of the organization. Clearly defined roles including executive sponsor, physician champions, marketing and IT are needed.

 

How will patients be scheduled for their telehealth visits?

 

  • Patient virtual care includes phone screens, e-visits or video visits. Organizations need to determine how to manage each option given to patients, how to route patients to the appropriate type of care and how to optimize the patient’s access and scheduling experience.

 

What updates will need to be made to your EHR?

 

  • Deploying telehealth means new appointment types, documentation workflows and billing requirements. Organizations will need to incorporate these changes into their build or maintenance cycles and thoroughly test the functionality.

 

How are you incorporating changes in reimbursement models?

 

  • Changes in telehealth billing and reimbursement are occurring rapidly. Organizations will need to adapt revenue cycle workflows and EHRs. Additionally, organizations should be having conversations with their biggest payers on reimbursement changes.

 

What are the hardware and networking requirements to offer telehealth visits?

  • Telehealth requires a great deal of technical and hardware setup and maintenance. Organizations need to plan for and manage bandwidth, system access and third-party applications and device integration.

 

What is your training plan for schedulers and clinicians?

 

  • Staff need to understand how to manage telehealth visit scheduling and care delivery. Training and tip sheets will be needed for staff managing these visits to ensure a smooth patient and provider experience.

 

How will patients know about your telehealth offerings?

  • Promoting and receiving a return on your telehealth investment requires organizations to establish and execute on a telehealth marketing and communications plan.
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Plan a Telehealth Strategy for the Long Run

Plan a Telehealth Strategy for the Long Run | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Background

During early phases of the Covid-19 Pandemic, thousands of physicians and organizations quickly deployed telehealth to avoid disruption to care. 

 

Many who stood up telehealth as a “rapid response” are now pausing to evaluate their long-term goals and tools for telehealth and virtual care, recognizing the need to ensure stability, security and scalability of their technology and services. 

 

Additionally, many physicians and organizations have yet to deploy telehealth, but are quickly realizing it’s essential for competitive positioning, patient safety and digital presence. 

 

Pivot Point Consulting’s “Telehealth Strategic Questions” provides an excellent primer on 8 essential planning factors to launch and expand telehealth services. In this Pivot Point Perspective, we focus on key considerations to assess telehealth vendors and products and find the right partner to meet your specific needs. 

 The (Ever-Changing) Telehealth Landscape

Broadly speaking, there are several types of telehealth — as noted below. Understanding the range of telehealth services, their enabling technologies and related terminology is an essential precursor to make an informed vendor and product selection. 

  • Video Visit: a live, interactive consult between a patient and provider 
  • Teleconsult: a live videoenabled consult between a primary care provider and a specialist assisting in rendering a diagnosis and / or care 
  • Store and forward (asynchronous): transmission of diagnostic images, vital signs and / or video clips along with patient data for later review by a provider for diagnosis and care 
  • eVisits: algorithmdriven online patient assessment to inform or establish diagnosis 
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM): use of devices to collect and transmit patient data to a home health agency, a diagnostic testing facility or provider for monitoring and interpretation 
  • Mobile health (mHealth): use of phones and other devices to obtain health information, access provider and payor portals, and conduct video visits 

Find the Right Telehealth Vendor and Product

With so many types of telehealth services and so many telehealth vendors (over 300 and counting), strategic success with telehealth requires a thoughtful analysis of your current/future telehealth needs and virtual care goals, as well as deliberate discernment of vendor and products.

 

Contracting with a consulting firm specializing in telehealth and vendor selection to assist in this planning and vendor review can expedite the process and minimize long-term risk and/or product “mis-fit.” 

 

A few of thessential factors to consider when evaluating telehealth solutions are below. This list, while not comprehensive, serves as a starting point for informed decision making. 

Vendor 
  • How established is the vendor in the market? How many years has it been in business, how many clients does it have and does the vendor have a solid reputation and market ratings?  
  • What is the profile of the vendor’s clients? Having a sizable client base akin to your organization brings confidence that the vendor knows your business and workflows. 
  • What is the vendors growth trajectory  before and post COVID-19?  If they have grown significantly in volume over the past few months, can their services team support and sustain that growth?  Conversely, if they have not scaled during this period it’s worth exploring “why.” 
Product 
  • What type of telehealth does it support? As described above, there are several types of telehealth. It’s important to be clear about your immediate and long-term requirements and that your vendor and product can (and has) delivered on them.   
  • Does the product enable good “webside manner”?  The patient and provider visit experience should be equal to or better than in-person care — an easy to use, intuitive and stable product will expedite throughput and keep patients and providers returning to telehealth visits. 
  • Is it as easy as possible for your patients to use? If your need centers on visits for senior and / or home-bound patient population, assess the product from that perspective. Conversely, if you primarily see young and / or mobile-device fluent populations, carefully assess its functionality and ease from various devices. 
  • Can it integrate with your EHR?  For workflow efficiency, integrating the telehealth video platform into the EHR should be a non-negotiable. 
  • Is it supportable, secure and stable? Does the product work seamlessly across all devices and operating systems?  Is it a highly secure platform? What are its bandwidth requirements, and can you and your patients generally meet them? 
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COVID-19 Telehealth Considerations

COVID-19 Telehealth Considerations | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Many healthcare providers have been working to define and implement a telehealth strategy over the past several years. In the initiatives I’ve been involved with, this has generally been a slow march through figuring out the legal, reimbursement, compliance, and physician staffing and compensation implications.

 

With current events, this timeline has obviously accelerated, with IT and clinical staff being tasked with standing up telehealth programs in weeks, if not days, to deal with COVID-19.

 

Telehealth is a key tool to limit visitors at a time of overcapacity, to reduce the risk of infection spread, and to manage non-Covid-19 care when clinics are closed.

 

Below I outline some of the key considerations I have seen in my work with telemedicine, and what that might mean in the near term for health systems scrambling to deploy telehealth functionality as soon as possible.

 

Here focused on synchronous, clinician to home-based patient communication, although launching other forms of telemedicine (clinician to clinician, virtual ICU, etc.) will have similar concerns.

 

TECHNOLOGY


For both hardware and software, there is limited time to go through assessments and procurement processes.

 

Given the time-sensitivity, the focus should be on understanding what is available to be deployed immediately. For hardware, that may mean distributing laptops to ensure clinicians have access to camera and microphone-equipped PCs, or even redistributing hardware from training rooms.

 

For software, this will entail understanding precisely what applications you currently have available, and what the licensing implications would be to scale up to additional users.

 

If a new application or additional licenses are necessary, it is important to pull in legal and supply chain as soon as possible to ensure an efficient contracting process.

 

OPERATING MODEL


The technology for telehealth is relatively easy, but getting clinician, compliance, and revenue cycle leadership buy-in is not. I recommend immediately standing up a taskforce with accountability for decision making and defining policies and procedures.

 

This group should include your IT, EMR, HIM/privacy, compliance, and physician leadership. They will be tasked with determining who is staffing the telehealth service, what the patient consent process is, patient and clinician support, and how documentation will be entered into your EMR.

 

Since time is of the essence here, pulling this group together for a couple of long work sessions is likely the most expedient route.

 

TRAINING AND SUPPORT


You will need to be able to quickly and efficiently train your providers, IT help desk, and scheduling and registration staff. Reception and call center staff will need to know the basics to direct patients to online appointments.

 

Clinicians will need tip sheets on configuring hardware, installing software, and managing appointments and documentation. Help desk staff will need to understand setup and troubleshooting, including working with “non-standard” devices as clinicians work from home.

 

You will need basic how-tos for your patients, and coordination with your marketing and web teams to publish information and links to your telehealth service.

 

LONG-TERM PLANNING


The version of telehealth that you roll out overnight is not likely to be the ideal model.

 

Once your immediate telehealth service is operational at scale, your focus can turn to the longer-term view. This plan should be focused on patient and provider usability, integration with your existing patient portal and digital front door, and seamless interoperability with your EMR.

 

Scoping out the new interfaces, services, or UI integration will allow you to plan for and allocate your team over the coming weeks. While the immediate need for Covid-19 screening is urgent, telehealth will continue to be very relevant over the coming months to allow non-Covid-19 business as usual for those with chronic conditions or requiring prescription refills.

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The Top 10 Benefits of an Internet Business Phone System

The Top 10 Benefits of an Internet Business Phone System | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The voice over internet protocol (VoIP) market is expected to reach $55 billion by 2025. More companies are making the switch to VoIP, allowing them to make calls using broadband internet instead of a conventional phone system.

 

VoIP works by converting sounds into digital communications. Then, the digital file is transferred through internet broadband. By using VoIP, companies can use the internet to make phone calls!

 

Why make the switch? Keep reading to find out. Here are the 10 benefits of switching to a virtual phone system!

 

1. Easy Installation And Integration

 

Many businesses hesitate to make major technological changes. Any change takes time, testing, and money. Installing, configuring, and maintaining a VoIP, however, is incredibly easy.

 

In fact, it’s so easy that VoIP is now the number one telephone service choice for businesses in the country. Already 36 percent of businesses are utilizing a VoIP.

 

Even someone who is less technically savvy can install a VoIP on their own. You can either call an expert technician or try it yourself. VoIP phones are pretty much plug-and-play.

 

It’s also very easy to add new users using hosted VoIP software. The web portal will make it easy for you to move, add, and change systems as needed. The simplicity means you also won’t have to worry about maintenance.

 

As a result, you’ll rarely need professional support when making changes.

 

VoIP also makes it easy for you to utilize other systems and technologies. Integrating other Softwares can enhance your operations, boosting efficiency throughout your company. VoIP integrates a wide variety of business systems, allowing you to customize your VoIP as you see fit.

 

In other words, you’ll have all the benefits of VoIP without needing someone to modify your existing IT infrastructure.

 

2. Scalability

 

One of the top benefits of using an internet business phone system is its scalability.

 

Your virtual phone system will scale along with the needs of your business. A traditional phone system, on the other hand, is usually more difficult to scale. You’ll likely need an IT expert to handle any changes you might need.

 

This scalability will support your company’s efficiency and productivity efforts. You won’t have to waste time or money making company-wide changes to your system.

 

Instead, you can use your small business phone system to add a line the next time you hire a new employee. You can eliminate lines if you’re downsizing, too. Either way, your VoIP will scale along with you.

 

3. Reliability

 

As your company grows, you’ll need a system you can rely on.

 

Some companies think that if they’re without internet, they’ll end up without a phone system as well. One of the benefits of VoIP is that you can still rely on your system even if the internet does go down. In case of an event like this, you can have your calls forwarded to your mobile phone or another device.

 

That means you won’t have to worry about weather issues or power outages impacting your business operations.

 

4. Effective Communication

 

Whether your team is big or small, you’ll need to make sure everyone can communicate. With more people working from home, it’s important to have a system that prioritizes communication.

 

With a virtual phone system, the line will ring at your desk phone a few times before ringing on your mobile device, laptop, or tablet.

 

As a result, you won’t have to worry about missing urgent calls. You’ll save time trying to check your voicemail, too!

 

5. Flexibility

 

With a mobile business phone system, you don’t need your underlying network as part of a specific technology layout. Instead, you can use your existing ethernet, ATM, WiFi, or SONET as the foundation of the network.

 

Traditional phone networks require a lot of complexity, which can make it difficult for your IT team to make adjustments. The network flexibility with VoIP allows you to create a standardized system. As a result, you can support a number of communication types and require less equipment management.

 

6. Additional Features

 

There are a number of benefits and additional features that come included with your internet business phone system. For example, VoIP systems allow clients to connect with a variety of devices. This makes it easier for you to keep your company’s productivity levels up.

 

VoIP programs often include:

 

  • Caller ID
  • Virtual numbers
  • Contact lists
  • Voicemail

You can customize these features to improve your company’s operational efficiency.

 

For example, you can have voicemails forwarded to multiple co-workers. You can also use voicemail-to-text transcriptions and send these documents to your email with ease.

 

7. Work From Anywhere Access

 

Are more of your employees working from home? A work-at-home program can help you save money on office space and decrease utility costs. Before you make that transition, however, it helps to have a VoIP in place.

 

VoIP can ensure your team communicates effectively. Employees can use the voice, fax, and data services through their internet connection.

 

Employees can communicate straight from their home offices or even abroad.

 

As a result, you don’t have to worry about a drop in communication with your team members.

 

8. Simplified Conferences

 

Traditional phone systems allow you to conference with teams and clients. However, you usually need to pay for an additional service in order to host multiple callers. With a small business phone system, you can simplify this process.

 

VoIP removes the need for dedicated phone lines. Instead, you’ll operate on a converged data network. The features are usually native.

 

With the cost already built-in, you won’t have to worry about paying more for conferencing features.

 

9. Functionality

 

With a VoIP, you’re not limited to phone calls. You can also host video-conference, allowing you to communicate with co-workers and clients better than before. Video-conferencing will allow you to share meetings, files, documents, and agendas right from your VoIP system.

 

10. Cost-Efficiency

 

Above all else, switching to a virtual phone system will help your company cut costs. These systems are cheaper than conventional phone systems. The ability to install and remove lines as needed will help you adjust your system to cut costs, too.

Technical Dr. Inc.s insight:
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What's the Best Small Business Phone System?

What's the Best Small Business Phone System? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Business Phone Systems Basics

Most businesses use a business phone system. It consists of a calling network infrastructure that manages all the communications. It is designed to handle the complex needs of companies, customer service calls, and the call routing that carries calls to the correct person. 

 

Some of the more useful features available in a business telephone system include the following:

  • Call Transfer
  • Greetings
  • Hold Music
  • Dial-by-Name Directory
  • Call Detail Records
  • Call Handling Rules
  • Text Messaging 
  • Many more

Types of Business Phone Systems

Traditional

In a traditional business phone system setup, a local PBX (private branch exchange) system is needed to manage multiple lines.

 

Physical lines connect these and then link them together within an on-site network. This system is often installed and maintained by an external company, such as an IT consultant or PBX reseller.

 

Extensions are created for each user by assigning to them one of the local PBX lines. In most cases, extensions are associated using a three or 4-digit number used to route calls to a specific person’s desk.

 

Extending this system as your company grows requires additional hardware to be added. It also takes time to have the changes made, which makes this process costly and time-consuming. 

 

Positives

  • Able to handles hundreds of lines
  • Doesn’t need an internet connection
  • Offers on-site or hosted options

Negatives

  • Expensive to upgrade or reconfigure
  • Costly monthly phone bill
  • Needs frequent maintenance and servicing

Virtual Phone Systems

Modern business phone systems go beyond tradition; they are full-service virtual solutions for small business communications that utilize high-speed internet connections and hosted software.

 

 A virtual phone system can have all the same features as an old-fashioned PBX without all the equipment.

 

These phone systems are specifically designed to meet the varied needs of a growing business.

 

They allow teams and employees to keep in touch seamlessly using a bevy of powerful tools. Virtual phone systems are powered by VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) technology.

 

The handling call routing and signal processing all done remotely, requiring only a small monthly fee, thereby saving you loads of money and time. 

 

VoIP systems are a good choice for any business, but most especially small businesses. The main reason for this is its flexibility. Adding new users and features as your business grows is easy and instant.

 

Since this system uses cloud technology, it works well with mobile phones. That makes it ideal for businesses that have virtual offices, remote employees, or a need to keep employees connected to customers on the go.

 

Having a virtual office phone system doesn’t mean “mobile-only.” You can have a virtual phone system that works with traditional handsets, computers, as well as mobile phones. These systems quickly adapt to your needs. 

 

Here are some of the critical advantages of using the cloud for your phone system:

  • Save the cost associated with housing the equipment on-site
  • As it is hosted on a third-party server, you don’t have to think about maintenance—your provider handles that
  • Since it is super easy to expand, your virtual office can grow or shrink as needed
  • Usually, monthly phone costs are a lot less than a traditional phone system
  • It is easy to install without the need for outside consultants
  • Works with smartphones and other internet-connected devices
  • You are free to choose whatever area code you want for your business
  • Callers enjoy HD call quality

One of the main concerns people have about switching to a virtual phone system is that they’ll be relying on the provider to ensure the system is up and running, rather than their own I.T. team.

 

That’s why it is critical to make a smart choice when you select your vendor. 

What are the Key Points for Buying a Small Business Phone System?

When you are shopping for a small business phone system, there are a few things that help define your search. When it comes to finding the best fit for your business keeps these in mind:

 

  • Budget: Make sure you understand all of the initial and monthly fees for the set of services that you need.

 

  • Reputation: Because the market for virtual phone systems is so hot, there are a lot of vendors on the scene. Make sure you pick one that’s been around for a while and has a good reputation for customer success. (Fun fact, our founder, Alon Cohen launched the world’s first VoIP product way back in 1995.)

 

  • Fit: Some vendors are focused on servicing giant corporations. If you are a small team, they may not be working on the kinds of features that are important to your type of business. You don’t want to pay for the development of features you will never use, so choose a vendor that is focused on the needs of customers like you.
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What is HIPAA And How To Comply With The HIPAA Security Rule

What is HIPAA And How To Comply With The HIPAA Security Rule | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a US legalization that requires healthcare professionals and institutions to secure health information from deletions and data breaches.

 

This law has become relevant in today’s dental practice due to increased data breaches caused by ransomware and cyber attacks.

 

The law’s requirements on HIPAA can be demanding and challenging to understand, but we’ve made it easy for you below. There are three areas you need to be compliant with HIPAA.

 

• PHYSICAL – these are measures that prevent loss of devices and physical theft on medical information e.g. keeping workstations away from the public eye and limiting physical access to computers.

 

• ADMINISTRATIVE – measures that make sure patient data is accessible to authorized personnel and is correct. For example, identifying which employees have access to medical information.

 

• TECHNICAL – these are measures that protect your devices and networks from unauthorized access and data breaches e.g. encrypting files that you upload to a cloud or send via email.

 

The components above represent every aspect of your dental practice from your record-keeping and policies to your building safety and technology.

 

HIPAA also requires all your staff members to work together to protect patient data and be on the same page.

 

HIPAA COMPLIANCE

 

The administrative, physical, and technical requirements for HIPAA security may be a lot of information for you to take in.

 

Additionally, it can be overwhelming for you to handle its compliance in your dental practice solely.

 

To make it easier, HIPAA compliance is an organization-wide issue. This means all your employees will have to understand and know their role in securing dental information.

 

Alternatively, you can outsource your HIPAA compliance to consultants, web services, and IT contractors.

 

This ensures your dental practice meets the required standards and makes your life easier.

 

However, outsourcing your HIPAA responsibilities doesn’t mean you ignore your legal obligations.

 

Your company should always stay on top of any HIPAA changes in recommendations and adopt advanced practices to improve medical information security.

 

Ultimately, ensure your dental practice upgrades all its old technology for better and efficient systems that contribute to medical information security.

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Bedside Manners Via Telehealth – Understanding How Your Screenside Manners Matter

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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HIPAA Cyber Security Practices

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

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

 

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

Server Hack Lasting 9 Years Compromised PHI of 2.9 Million 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

How to Prevent a Server Hack

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

 

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

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

 

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

Need Help with HIPAA Cyber Security?

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

 

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

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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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Healthcare Technology Trends for 2019 and Beyond

Healthcare Technology Trends for 2019 and Beyond | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

The healthcare industry is moving from products and services to solutions. Just a few years ago, medical institutions relied on special equipment and hardware to deliver evidence-based care. Today is the time of medical platforms, big data, and healthcare analytics. Healthcare institutions are focused on real-time results. The next decade will be focused on preventive care, and here new healthcare technology trends will come into play.

Artificial intelligence

The modern healthcare industry has already introduсed AI-based technologies like robotics and machine learning to the world. For example, IBM Watson is an AI-based system that’s making a difference in several areas of healthcare. The IBM Watson Care Manager was produced to enhance care management, accelerate drug discovery, match patients with clinical trials, and fulfill other tasks. Systems like this can help medical institutions save a big deal of time and money in the future.

 

It’s likely that in 2019 and beyond, AI will become even more advanced and will be able to carry out a wider range of tasks without human monitoring. Here are some predictions of AI trends in healthcare:

Early diagnosis

This healthcare technology trend can accurately and quickly process a lot more data than the human brain. So AI tools can reduce human errors in diagnosis and treatment and allow doctors to work with more patients. For example, image recognition technology will help to diagnose some diseases that cause changes to appearance (diabetes, optical deviations, and dermatological diseases). It’s also likely that in future people will be able to diagnose themselves. DIY medical diagnosis apps will probably ask some questions, process a patient’s care history, and then show possible diagnoses based on the current symptoms. But as this technology isn’t advanced yet, patients should be careful with DIY medical apps and self-medication.

Medical research and drug discovery

The future of drug discovery and medical research lies in deep learning technology. Deep learning is a field of machine learning that’s able to model the way neurons interact with each other in the brain. This allows medical systems to process large sets of data to quickly identify drug candidates with a high probability of success. A Pharma IQ report says that about 94 percent of pharma specialists believe that AI technologies will have a noticeable impact on drug discovery over the next two years. Even today, pharmaceutical giants such as Merck, Celgene, and GSK are working on drug discovery in collaboration with AI platforms, predicting AI to be the primary drug discovery tool in the future.

Better workflow management and accounting

There are a lot of routine and tiresome tasks that medical workers have to do apart from caring for patients. AI can reduce staff overload by automating monotonous tasks such as accounting, scheduling, managing electronic health records, and paperwork.

IoMT

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) includes various devices connected to each other via the internet. Nowadays, this technology trend in healthcare is used for remote monitoring of patients’ well-being by means of wearables. For example, ECG monitors, mobile apps, fitness trackers, and smart sensors can measure blood pressure, pulse, heart rate, glucose level, and more and set reminders for patients. One recently introduced IoMT wearable device, the Apple Watch Series 4, is able to measure heart rate, count calories burned, and even detect a fall and call emergency numbers. The FDA has recently approved a pill with sensors called Abilify MyCite that can digitally track if a patient has taken it.

IoMT technology is still evolving and is forecasted to reach about 30 billion devices worldwide by 2021 according to Frost & Sullivan.

  • IoMT will contribute sensors and systems in the healthcare industry to capture data and deliver it accurately.
  • IoMT technology can reduce the costs of healthcare solutions by allowing doctors to examine patients remotely.
  • IoMT can help doctors gather analytics to predict health trends.

 

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Why Cyber Security is Key to Enterprise Risk Management for all Organizations?

Why Cyber Security is Key to Enterprise Risk Management for all Organizations? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Large organizations have always focused on managing risk, but the technological breakthroughs that have enhanced our world in countless ways have also transformed how leading executives engage in enterprise risk management (ERM). The pervasive and ever-expanding threat of cybercrime means that comprehensive strategies for cybersecurity are now absolutely essential for all organizations.

 

After all, a report by Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that cybercrime across the globe will cost more than $6 trillion annually by 2021.

 

The sheer magnitude and pervasiveness of the crisis represent a cybersecurity call to arms, and seemingly no one is immune. By now, the list of data breach victims reads like a who’s who of major corporations, governmental agencies, retailers, restaurant chains, universities, social media sites and more:

 

  • The Department of Homeland Security, IRS, FBI, NSA, DoD
  • Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s
  • Facebook, Reddit, Yahoo, eBay, LinkedIn
  • Panera, Arby’s, Whole Foods, Wendy’s
  • Target, CVS, Home Depot, Best Buy
  • Delta, British Airways, Orbitz
  • Equifax, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase
  • The Democratic National Committee
  • Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Under Armour
  • UC Berkeley, Penn State, Johns Hopkins

 

If you need another reason to drop everything and prioritize cybersecurity risk management in your organization’s overall ERM strategies and systems, consider the recent NotPetya malware attack. Described by Wired as “The Most Devastating Cyberattack in History,” it disrupted global shipping operations for several weeks and caused more than $10 billion in total damages while temporarily crippling such multinational companies as shipping giant Maersk and FedEx’s European subsidiary, TNT Express. All because hackers were able to infiltrate a networked but unsecured server in the Ukraine that was running software that made it more vulnerable to attack.

 

Despite these and countless other costly incidents and attacks, many organizations have not yet fully incorporated cybersecurity risks into their overall enterprise risk management frameworks.

3 Chief Obstacles to Cyber Security and ERM Preparedness

The ever-expanding list of high-profile attacks and victims could be seen as evidence that, in many instances, “the adversaries are winning,” according to Richard Spires, a former chief information officer at both the IRS and the Department of Homeland Security. Or at least that there is much work to be done to combat the ongoing threat.

 

In a piece titled “The Enterprise Risk Management Approach to Cybersecurity,” Spires poses the question: “In an era of ever more sophisticated cybersecurity tools, how is it that we are actually backsliding as a community?” And he offers three key answers:

 

  1. Complexity: IT (and cybersecurity) systems are by their nature extremely complex and in many cases far-flung, so creating airtight security is incredibly challenging.
  2. Highly Skilled Adversaries: The hackers’ tactics and methods continue to grow more sophisticated. Plus, their risk is low because they are hard to catch. They are smart and, with billions of dollars on the line, more highly motivated than ever.
  3. Lack of IT professionals: Cisco reports that 1 million cybersecurity jobs are currently unfilled on a worldwide basis and that “most large organizations struggle to find, develop and then retain such talent.” The shortage of qualified cybersecurity professionals with the right skills, knowledge, and experience is an ongoing “crisis,” according to Forbes.

 

One of the leading efforts to develop protocols that organizations can use to safeguard themselves is sponsored by the U.S. Government — the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Cybersecurity Framework.

 

According to Gartner, more than 50 percent of U.S.-based organizations will use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework as a central component of their enterprise risk management strategy by 2020, up from 30 percent in 2015. This voluntary framework consists of “standards, guidelines, and best practices to manage cybersecurity-related risk,” according to NIST, which reports that version 1.1 of the Cybersecurity Framework has been downloaded over 205,000 times since April 2018.

 

Also, the Center for Internet Security (CIS) has produced “a prioritized set of (20) actions to defend against pervasive cyber threats.” CIS says its protocols are intended to provide “a roadmap for conducting rigorous and regular cybersecurity enterprise risk management processes that will significantly lower an organization’s risk of catastrophic loss.”

 

CIS, which claims its best practices could have prevented attacks like the data breach that hit the consumer credit reporting agency Equifax, also offers guidelines for the seemingly “overwhelming” challenge of how to build a cybersecurity compliance plan.

5 Helpful Tips for Cyber Security and Enterprise Risk Management

OK, how about some actionable tips for organizations looking to beef up their cybersecurity defenses and risk management profile? Chris Yule, a senior principal consultant for SecureWorks, breaks it down in laymen’s terms in a quick video. Yule’s five tips include:

 

  • Cultivate support of senior management — It is essential for organizations to have strong support for cybersecurity risk management on the senior management team and to tie it to their overall business strategy.

 

  • Limit your attack surface — Often referred to as “hardening” your potential targets and vulnerabilities, this refers to coordinating with IT in reducing your exposure and “locking things down.”

 

  • Increasing visibility/awareness — In addition to building up defenses to reduce risk, organizations must also “tear things down.” This means working to better understand the potential spectrum of risk by conducting comprehensive internal vulnerability scanning, penetration testing and “monitoring your infrastructure for the bad stuff.”

 

  • Build a culture of security among employees — Employees must be committed to cybersecurity and clearly understand their specific responsibilities. “Make sure that everybody’s trained, everybody knows what their role is within the organization to keep things secure,” said Yule.

 

  • Prepare an incident response plan — “You need to be prepared for when things go wrong,” warned Yule. Notice that he says when and not if. “Everybody will get breached at some point regardless of what you do,” said Yule, so it is essential that everybody knows “what the plan is to contain and eradicate that threat when it happens.”

 

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4 Healthcare Software Trends to Watch in 2018 

4 Healthcare Software Trends to Watch in 2018  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare has always been an industry where innovative technologies transform the way services are delivered and received. It’s also one of those sectors that can be affected by slow movement in innovation, due to the complication of its formalities, tasks, processes and regulations.

 

The good news is that the industry’s innovative side has finally taken off in the last few years, and software is playing a major role in reshaping the healthcare sector.

 

What does that mean for you, the medical professional: dentist, doctor, ER practitioner, risk manager, nurse, etc? It means that both your practice and your patients’ experiences will improve over the course of the next decade with the help of some amazing new technology.

 
In terms of software, the following four healthcare software trends are most likely to impact the healthcare industry in the next few years:

1. Multi-Speciality & Niche Specialty EHR Software

A multi-specialty EHR for software has several benefits for specialty practices spanning to multiple domains. It ensures improved compatibility and prevents a patchwork approach to integrating a separate EHR system for every specialty. This can help bring down the added time and expense of interconnecting different groups of specialists. Healthcare organizations can find the investment costs, financial health and reputation of differentEHR software on software evaluation sites, and make a sound IT software decision based on their needs.

2. Patient Portals & Self-Service Software

With patients rapidly becoming active players in their own healthcare treatment, portal software is on its way to becoming mainstream. It enables patients and physicians to interact online and access their medical records. In addition, portal software can be an extraordinary ally for the patients who use it, helping them catch errors and becoming an active participant in ongoing treatments.

Patient Kiosk software is another interesting development. It can help patients with checking identification, registering with clinics, paying copays and signing official paperwork. However, institutions have to be careful when using it to ensure that human-to-human communication isn’t entirely eliminated.

3. Blockchain Solutions

Healthcare professionals and technologists across the globe see blockchain tech as a means to streamline and secure the sharing of medical records, giving patients greater control over their information and protecting sensitive details from hackers. In order to achieve these goals, custom-built healthcare blockchains are needed. Startups like Patientory, Burst IQ, Hashed Health, doc.ai and others are gearing up to introduce blockchain tech to the EHR software industry, providing a way to store health records. When required, professionals can request to see their patients’ data from the blockchain.

4. Consumer-Grade UX in Enterprise Software

For almost a decade, physicians at the front line of enterprise healthcare delivery struggled with software that’s difficult to use, confusing and downright frustrating. The biggest culprit of poor UX is linked to the purchasing process of the enterprise.

 

Oftentimes, vendors create software for buyers who aren’t end users. If the buyers and end users have the same personas, healthcare software vendors can deliver the same user experience as seen in other B2B industries.

 

Regardless, in 2018, expect more consumer-grade user experiences and buyer-value products. Additionally, enterprise healthcare management will bank on analytics and machine learning to improve visibility into healthcare efficiency for personnel and employers. This will reveal usage patterns and reduce inappropriate and unnecessary care.

 

From detecting fraud to slashing healthcare spending, advanced healthcare software could very well be the silver bullet that eliminates all kinds of healthcare inefficiencies.

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Patients Want More Digital Health Tools From Primary Care Physicians

Patients Want More Digital Health Tools From Primary Care Physicians | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Patient adoption of digital health tools remains low, but interest in virtual care services is high, as a new survey report finds that the majority of consumers say they are choosing their primary care provider, in part, based on how well they use technology to communicate with patients and manage their health.

A survey conducted by Harris Poll, on behalf of Salesforce, found that 59 percent of all health-insured patients, and 70 percent of millennials, say they would choose a primary care doctor who offers a patient mobile app (allowing patients to make appointments, see bills, view health data, etc.) over one that does not.

The survey polled 2,000 adults, among whom 1,736 have health insurance and a primary care doctor. The 2016 Connected Patient Report aimed to examine how consumers communicate with their healthcare provider and their interest in telemedicine and wearable devices.

The report found that people primarily interact with their physicians through in-person visits, phone calls and emails, but are open to virtual care treatment options enabled through technology.

When polled about how they communicate with their healthcare provider, 23 percent of respondents set up appointments in-person and 76 percent do so over the phone while only 9 percent use a portal, 7 percent use email and only 1 percent communicate via text. However, those last three forms of communication are higher for millennials—13 percent use portals, 11 percent communicate with their doctor via email and 4 percent communicate via text.

More consumers are using portals to get test results (23 percent) and to get prescriptions and refills (11 percent).

Almost a third of respondents (29 percent) report using a portal to look at their current health data.

However, the majority of consumers (62 percent) are still relying on their doctor to keep track of their health records, and only 25 percent report having access to their health data through a single self-service portal provided by their healthcare provider and/or insurance provider. In addition, 15 percent said they use multiple portals or websites to keep track of their health data provided by their healthcare provider. Only 6 percent of respondents have their own electronic method, whether scanning, saving to desktop or an online file storage, to keep track of health data, and 29 percent keep their records in a home-based physical storage location like a folder or shoebox.

Sixty-three percent of insured adults say their primary care physician provides virtual care services enabled by technology, but these are mainly delivered through legacy technologies such as phone

(53 percent) or email (28 percent). Only 10 percent reported their primary care physician enables communication through a health provider app on a mobile device and 7 percent of respondents’ doctors provide the option of texting with a doctor or nurse or instant messaging with a doctor or nurse. And, only 3 percent of respondents say their primary care physician provides the option of a webcam call with a doctor or nurse.

More than a third of respondents (37 percent) say that their primary care physician does not provide any virtual care services.

Despite this, mobile engagement is important among respondents, as, in addition to 59 percent who favor primary care physicians who offer a patient mobile app, 60 percent would choose a physician who offers home care over one that doesn't, and 46 percent would choose one who offers virtual treatment options over one who doesn't. Just 38 percent would choose a doctor "who uses data from patient’s wearable devices to manage health outcomes" over one that doesn't.

And, the survey findings indicate that 62 percent of U.S. adults with health insurance and a primary care provider would be open to virtual care treatments such as a video conference call as an alternative to an in-office doctor’s visit for non-urgent matters.

The survey findings also indicate that patients want their doctors to have access to their wearable health tracking device data to provide more personalized care. In fact, 78 percent of these patients who own a wearable would want their doctors to have access to data created by the device so providers can have more up-to-date views of their health (44 percent), use health data trends to be able to diagnose conditions before they become serious or terminal (39 percent), and give more personalized care (33 percent).

And, 67 percent of millennials would be very or somewhat likely to use a wearable health tracking device given to them by their insurance companies in exchange for potentially better health insurance rates based on the data provided by the device.

When polled about their post-discharge experiences, 61 percent of respondents say that improvements can be made in the post-discharge process, such as better communication between their primary doctors and other members of their care teams (38 percent).

“Patients today are choosing their providers, in part, based on how well they use technology to communicate with them and manage their health,” Joshua Newman, M.D., chief medical officer, Salesforce Healthcare and Life Sciences, said in a statement. “Care providers who build deeper patient relationships through care-from-anywhere options, the use of wearables and better communications post-discharge, will be in a strong position to be successful today and into the future.”

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What are the Penalties for Breaking HIPAA Rules?

What are the Penalties for Breaking HIPAA Rules? | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Organizations that work in healthcare have an obligation to train employees on HIPAA rules.

 

Employee training ensures that employees working with protected health information (PHI) understand the requirements of HIPAA and the penalties they may face for failing to follow HIPAA rules. The penalties for violating HIPAA rules are discussed below.

Repercussions of Violating HIPAA Rules

Depending on the nature of the HIPAA violation, penalties for the violation vary. Disciplinary actions may be determined by an employer, federal regulators, professional boards, and the Department of Justice. 

Imposed penalties are determined by the following:

◈ The nature of the violation

◈ Whether or not the employee was aware that HIPAA rules were being violated

◈ Whether or not the employee took action to correct the violation

◈ Whether or not there was malicious intent, or the violation contributed to personal gain

◈ The nature of harm caused by the violation

◈ How many people were impacted by the violation

◈ Whether or not the incident violated the criminal provision of HIPAA

Employees that violate HIPAA rules can face the following penalties:

◈ Employers can deal with the violation internally

◈ The employee could face termination

◈ Professional boards could issue employee sanctions

◈ Criminal charges could be imposed, including fines and imprisonment

Criminal Repercussions for Breaking HIPAA Rules

Employees that intentionally break HIPAA rules can be fined $50,000 – $250,000, and that doesn’t include potential restitution to victims. Employees may also be subject to jail time; employees that commit aggravated identity theft are subject to a mandatory two-year imprisonment.

 

Other criminal violation penalties are categorized into three tiers:

 

◈ Negligence: up to 1 year jail time 

◈ Falsely obtaining protected health information: up to 5 years jail time 

◈ Malicious intent or personal gain: up to 10 years jail time

Civil Repercussions for Breaking HIPAA Rules

Civil penalties apply when an employee was aware that they violated HIPAA, or they would have been aware had they exercised due diligence.

 

Fines for civil penalties can be anywhere from $100 – $25,000, depending on whether or not there were multiple violations.

 

If the employee corrected the violation within 30 days of discovery, and did not commit willful neglect, the employee is not subject to civil penalties. 

 
 
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Telehealth, Video Tech Tools and HIPAA Compliance

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

As stated officially by OCR on its website:

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

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

Telehealth video calling platforms to use amid the pandemic

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

Some of these are:

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

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

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

What if patient does not have access to video telehealth formats

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

Avoid using TikTok for telehealth sessions

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

 

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

Avoid using these platforms for telehealth:

  • Facebook Live
  • Twitch
  • TikTok

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

 

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

 

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

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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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4 Reasons Why You Need Telehealth for Your Practice

4 Reasons Why You Need Telehealth for Your Practice | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telehealth defined

Technology and consumer demand are changing how and where healthcare is delivered.

 

Telehealth is the “use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration,” according to the Health Resources Services Administration. Patients experience telehealth when they video conference with their provider instead of being seen in an office.

 

As healthcare consumerism evolves —driven by young consumers — patients want convenient access to care. Patients want access. They want technology that allows them to do more than schedule appointments, renew prescriptions, pay bills online and email their physicians. Physicians want to replicate the care they deliver at an in-person visit. As a result, telehealth is on the rise for providers and patients alike.

 

Patients prefer to see their own doctor virtually and will increasingly choose medical providers who offer virtual visit capabilities over those who don’t.  Similarly, providers want to see their own patients virtually, get paid for it and want video visits to integrate with their practice management workflow and the electronic health record (EHR).

Patients prefer that their telehealth provider knows them.

More than half (56 percent) of respondents to a 2015 consumer survey felt it was important to have an established relationship with a telemedicine provider and even more (60 percent) felt it was important for a provider to have access to their health records.1  Patients who experience video visits with their own doctor have both.

Consumers increasingly choose medical providers who offer digital and virtual video visit capabilities

More than half of patients surveyed expect digital capabilities and confirmed it would influence their choice in providers, according to 2019 consumer study by Accenture.  For example, 70 percent of patients surveyed are more likely to choose a provider that offers reminders for follow-up care via email or text and 49 percent are more likely to choose one that offers the ability to communicate with a doctor via video.2

 

And interest is growing; responses increased 13 percent compared to 2016.  Not surprisingly, younger consumers are leading the trend.

Providers want to see their own patients virtually.

Last year, NextGen Healthcare surveyed our provider clients to determine how best to support their telehealth needs and learned that 56 percent — more than half — use or plan to use telehealth. 4 Of those, an overwhelming majority (90 percent) preferred virtual video visits with established patients.4   Examples of these scheduled virtual visits include:

  • Follow-up visits for treatment compliance
  • Reviewing labs or images
  • Medication management and prescription refills
  • Pre- and post-procedure visits

Integration with practice management workflow and EHR is the key for provider adoption and payment.

Our survey and subsequent focus groups demonstrated the importance of integration of the virtual visit in existing workflows and EHR. 

 

Providers are adding virtual visit functionality to their services and want the same processes for virtual visits as they have for in-person visits, including scheduling, reminders, documentation and insurance or patient payment processing. This is important for adoption by physicians in the practice and payment for services.

 

Just like non-traditional care models, telehealth is on the rise. Providers who embrace the power of virtual care are going to pass those who don’t. Providing technology that is easy to use and integrated into the provider’s EHR will empower easier access.

 

With the advent of technology and healthcare merging into telehealth, providers and patients alike will experience optimal service and optimal care, something that is important to all of us expecting to receive quality care, whether at home or on the road.

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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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How Does HIPAA Enforcement Work?

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Typically, an entity agrees to make specified changes. 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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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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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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Rural Health Professions Training: Teaching Medical Students the Benefits of Telemedicine

Rural Health Professions Training: Teaching Medical Students the Benefits of Telemedicine | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

For medical students with the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, weeks of suspense will end on March 15. Otherwise known as Match Day, it’s the day the students will learn where they will go for their residency training, in their chosen medical field, after they graduate from medical school in May.

 

Sarah Joy Ring, who has completed the College of Medicine – Tucson’s Rural Health Professions Program and a 16-week Rural Health Distinction Track, is hoping for a residency focused on both pediatrics and emergency medicine, potentially in a rural location.  Her “capstone” paper, an in-depth research project that all Distinction Track students are expected to complete, carries the impressive title of “A Survey of Rural Emergency Medicine and the Discrepancy of Care for Pediatric Patients that Present to Rural Emergency Departments.”

 

During her training, she had opportunities to see how important telemedicine can be in rural communities.

 

“I was at sites that had telemedicine capabilities and spent some time chatting with the physicians about them. "I can specifically remember two experiences, one while on my family medicine rotation in Tuba City (in northern Arizona, where students learn about American Indian healthcare) and one during my RHPP summer in Flagstaff” (also in northern Arizona).

“Tuba City experiences a significant shortage of mental health providers in general, and specifically for children and adolescents," Sarah says.

“As such, they found using telemedicine helpful to connect the children of that region with services that they would otherwise struggle to receive, due to having to travel large distances to receive help, which incurs financial and time burdens for families.

“Moreover, a point that I found particularly enlightening when learning about this service, was with regard to what it means to live in a small population where it is quite likely you know most people living in the region," Sarah says.

“The physicians found that because of this, many adolescents experiencing difficulties often felt uncomfortable sharing with people who lived in the region, out of fear that they may tell someone, or that they were themselves a relative or family friend, which can be a common experience. Having someone to share with who lived out of the region and was not specifically invested in the region and an integral member of the community made many of these adolescents more comfortable with disclosing their experiences.  

“I also worked on writing about how telemedicine can be used to augment pediatric services in rural emergency departments for part of my "capstone" project and found some very positive results from multiple studies. For critically ill patients, one study found that in particular, telemedicine consults improved the access to critical care specialists, resulting in a reduced frequency of physician-related medication errors. Moreover, another study found that parent satisfaction was higher with telemedicine consults than with phone consults, which is a particularly important outcome when caring for pediatric patients and their family. Many of these same findings also translated to the pre-hospital environment, where ambulances that utilized telemedicine resulted in better assessments, more interventions in the pre-hospital environment, and improved outcomes for pediatric patients in pre-hospital care. 

“Overall," Sarah says, I think that we will continue to find that telemedicine is an excellent resource for rural providers that allows patients to have clinically significant access to additional resources and care that would otherwise be difficult or unavailable to the region."

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Healthcare Providers & Vendors Need HIPAA Cloud Solution!

Healthcare Providers & Vendors Need HIPAA Cloud Solution! | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Cloud solutions are quickly becoming the new norm for the way businesses operate today. Many companies are moving from legacy software systems to online “hosted” alternatives, such as SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) or IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). The benefits of cloud-based solutions over desktop software are wide-ranging, affecting everything from productivity to data security. Healthcare organizations also need to take the appropriate precautions to ensure that they have a HIPAA compliance cloud.

 

It makes sense to see why so many organizations are adopting cloud-based solutions–improved efficiency, flexibility, cost reduction, mobility, as well as around the clock support are all driving forces behind the growth of cloud services.

 

Yet, HIPAA compliance cloud services also raise some concerns in regards to security and compliance, which go hand-in-hand to help organizations keep their sensitive healthcare data safe. For businesses operating in the healthcare industry, which accounts for approximately one-fifth of the US economy, these concerns escalate due to HIPAA regulatory requirements that mandate the privacy and security of patients’ protected health information (PHI). PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Common examples of PHI include names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, phone numbers, medical records, and full facial photos, to name a few.

 

HIPAA applies to covered entities, such as providers and insurance plans, as well as business associates who perform certain functions for, or on behalf of another health care organization that involves receiving, maintaining, or transmitting PHI.

 

For example, a cloud service provider (CSP) who are involved in handling PHI for a covered entity whether it is data storage or a complete software solution such as a hosted electronic medical record system, are still considered a business associate and need to implement a HIPAA compliance cloud.

HIPAA Compliance in the Cloud

In a nutshell, both covered entities and business associates need a HIPAA compliance cloud that allows for the creation of an effective compliance programThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released detailed, five-step guidance on cloud computing that parties must adhere to in order to maintain HIPAA compliant relationships. This HHS guidance on HIPAA compliance cloud services includes:

 

  1. Execute a Business Associate Agreement– A business associate agreement outlines what business associates can and cannot do with the PHI they access, how they will protect that PHI, how they will prevent PHI disclosure, and the appropriate method for reporting a breach of PHI  if one would occur. It also defines liability in the event of a data breach.
  2. Conduct a HIPAA Security Risk Assessment– The covered entity or business associate that works with a cloud service provider must document the cloud computing environment and security solutions put in place by the cloud service provider as part of their risk management policies.
  3. Abide by the HIPAA Privacy Rule– A covered entity must enforce proper safeguards in order to keep PHI safe and information can only be disclosed to a business associate after a business associate agreement has been executed.
  4. Implement HIPAA Security Safeguards– A business associate must comply with all three key security safeguards outlined in the HIPAA Security Rule: Physical, Technical and Administrative.
  5. Adhere to the HIPAA Breach Notification Rule- In the event of a data breach, covered entities and business associates are required to document and investigate the incident. All breaches must be reported to HHS OCR. All affected parties must be notified as well.

 

The only exception to the Breach Notification Rule is if the data was properly encrypted. If, for example, a properly encrypted device containing PHI goes missing, then there is a low probability that the data will be accessible by an unauthorized user. In this case, a breach will not have to be reported under the provisions of the Breach Notification Rule.

 

However, it is crucial that all HIPAA covered entities and business associates read the standards outlined in the regulation to determine the proper level of HIPAA encryption for different modes of data storage and transmission.

 

If a covered entity does not execute a Business Associate Agreement with a third party vendor with whom they share PHI, both organizations are leaving themselves exposed to a significant risk of HIPAA violations.

A HIPAA Compliant Cloud Will Save You Money

Data breaches are very costly–not only due to monetary penalties but also because of the long-lasting reputational damage a breach can have on an organization.

 

HIPAA breach fines can range anywhere from $100 to $50,000 per violation or record, with up to a maximum of $1.5 million per violation. When multiple violations or a large scale data breach occurs, these fines can compound and lead to millions of dollars in HIPAA fines. As if that isn’t bad enough, breaches are publicly listed on the “Wall of Shame,” maintained and enforced by HHS OCR. This list shows all HIPAA breaches affecting 500 or more individuals. Even worse, some HIPAA violations can lead to criminal charges, carrying the potential for jail time.

 

In order to avoid violations and fines, healthcare providers and business associates must comply with HIPAA regulations which means protecting the security and privacy of their patients.

Compliance Group Can Help!

Compliance Group helps healthcare professionals and business associates effectively address their HIPAA compliance with our cloud-based app, The Guard. The Guard allows users to achieve, illustrate, and maintain compliance, addressing everything that the law requires.

 

Users are paired with one of our expert Compliance Coaches. They will guide you through every step of the process and answer any questions you may have along the way. Compliance Group simplifies compliance so you can get back to confidently running your business.

 

And in the event of a data breach or HIPAA audit, our Audit Response Team works with users through the entire documentation and reporting process. At Compliance Group, we go above and beyond to help demonstrate your good faith effort toward HIPAA compliance.

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How EHealth Empowers Patients And Healthcare Providers 

How EHealth Empowers Patients And Healthcare Providers  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Over the last couple of years we have seen a great rise in the number of websites, mobile ehealth apps and in house devices. All offering patients new ways to take control of their health. This has resulted in more self-tracking and testing patients using ehealth products and services.Healthcare providers on the other hand are finding ways to use this technology to their advantage. Reducing costs, enhancing care management and improving outcomes.

Patients however need guidance. So they are not left to track and interpret the collected information on their own. This is why healthcare providers need to focus on engagement and education. Empowering patients will help them fully benefit from the patient generated ehealth data.
 
The Self-managing Patient

Today’s digital patient has unlimited access to tools to self-test, self-diagnose and self-treat. The number ofwearable health and fitness devices are growing by the day. Apple Health, Fitbit and Samsung’s S Health are just three examples of healthcare tracking platforms.

Users can measure anything from blood pressure to nutrition and activity levels. Putting valuable healthcare data in the hands of the patient. Allowing them to self manage their own health. And even check hydration levels, brain activity and sunlight exposure.

This data does not just affect patient empowerment – it’s also of great value to healthcare providers.

 

Patient Empowerment through eHealth

Technology offers patients great benefits. It gives them more valuable health insights and more control over the outcomes. Resulting in patients rapidly adopting technology as an important health asset.

High quality health data empowers patients to choose how, when and where they receive care. It allows them to choose the manner in which they receive care, diagnosis and treatment. And offers more options and increased convenience.

They can choose traditional service at a hospital if they prefer the in person approach. Or can decide on a more convenient virtual visit with a tele- physician or even request a house call.

 
As this trend seems to be here to stay, healthcare providers worry patients might be getting a little too independent. Patient empowerment through patient education and patient engagement has been a focus of hospitals for a while. Important now is to focus on patient empowerment outside the hospital. And ensuring patients can still reach professional help when needed.
 
Healthcare Provider Empowerment through eHealth

Patient empowerment through data, information and technology is a great thing. But patients should stay aware of the importance of physicians. There is still a strong need for professional guidance and intervention. Only professional healthcare staff can accurately translate and act upon the collected data.

Ehealth data doesn’t just empower patients, it empowers healthcare providers as well. Tracking this continuous stream of data can provide completely new insights into a patient’s health. Healthcare providers have to find the benefits of this valuable information. Incorporating the eHealth data into the care process and workflow.

This can massively increase efficiency – allowing for cost reduction. But it can also help move into a more preventative based model of care. Detecting possible health risks and issues before they’re visible.

 

There is no way we can keep patients from self tracking, diagnosing and treating. They will use the information they receive from their wearable or in-home device. But it provides healthcare providers with a great opportunity to lead the way – using patient generated data to improve patient outcomes and patient experience.

 
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