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A New $5 Million Fine Set a HIPAA Record

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Mon, Aug 15, 2016 @ 07:30 AM

moneyhipaazoomin.jpegThere has been a lot of inspiring news about Olympic records this month, but one record was set recently without such a happy ending. 

We were saddened to read that a new record was set for a HIPAA fine by an individual entity.

Advocate Health Care was part of a $5.55 million settlement with the Office of Human Rights (OCR), which is the Federal agency responsible for the enforcement of HIPAA.

Advocate Health Care has been a leader, growing as an integrated health care system since 1995 -- about the same time as ClickCare was starting. In 2014, they developed a respected and widely used patient portal. They also developed an eICU program with the Arizona Telemedicine Program.

Three HIPAA breaches, self reported, between August 23 and November 1, 2013 -- a mere 9 weeks -- prompted the investigation.

The OCR announcement highlights the intent of this new $5.55 million record fine:

“We hope this settlement sends a strong message to covered entities that they must engage in a comprehensive risk analysis and risk management to ensure that individuals’ ePHI is secure,” said OCR Director Jocelyn Samuels. “This includes implementing physical, technical, and administrative security measures sufficient to reduce the risks to ePHI in all physical locations and on all portable devices to a reasonable and appropriate level.”

The previous HIPAA fine record was $4.8 million -- and here are the top 10 HIPAA fines before Advocate Health Care's.

We get saddened and frustrated when we hear news of these fines, because we know that the fine money could be spent on innovation, helping patients, and improving care. 

And we know that most HIPAA fines and breaches are completely avoidable. 

For instance, a stolen, institution-provided, iPhone resulted in even a well meaning charity being fined this summer. Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was fined $650,000 because the ePHI of 412 nursing home residents was compromised. 

The truth is that iPhones can be safe for ePHI if the correct software is used. Photos of patients should never be saved on your phone's camera roll, but that doesn't mean you can't use your iPhone to securely take and share patient photos. 

The bottom line? Take HIPAA seriously. But don't do it by isolating yourself or giving up on care coordination or medical collaboration. Stay HIPAA compliant even as you do the things you went into medicine to do -- it doesn't have to mean a fine.

We put together a guide to staying HIPAA safe -- download it here:

ClickCare Quick Guide to HIPAA Checklist and Toolkit

Tags: HIPAA, HIPAA secure images, regulations, hippa,, telemedicine, care coordination

4 Barriers to Telemedicine Are Starting to Crumble

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 @ 07:30 AM

It can be easy to feel that things are getting worse and worse in medicine. EMRs/EHRs that seem possessed by a demon, ever-shorter visit windows, and climbing stacks of paperwork all contribute to an atmosphere of "I thought things couldn't get worse. And then they did." 

But when it comes to telemedicine and medical collaboration, the trend is assuredly positive. Especially in the last few months, one obstacle to telemedicine after another is crumbling. Likely driven by incentives to cut costs while improving care, the government, insurance companies, and providers -- all of which are starting to move in the same direction and making choices to support telemedicine.

We believe medical providers need to pioneer their own telemedicine and medical collaboration practices, even without widespread support. But it certainly can't hurt if some of the obstacles are removed.

Here are our top favorites:

  1. Smartphones and tablets make adoption effortless (or close to it). 
    When clunky, expensive hardware was the only option, it was hard for medical providers to adopt telemedicine. Not only was it a pain to interrupt your day to go to the "videoconferencing room," these options also meant that providers had to wait for large budgets to act. “We’ve moved to a belief that you have to deliver this to a phone or tablet in order to get the adoption you want,” says Margaret Laws, the Innovations for the Underserved program director at the California Healthcare Foundation. And since using telemedicine or collaborating on a smartphone or tablet is easier than ever, there is good news for the spread of the practice.
  2. Regulations are starting to get smarter.
    In one example, a new bill would remove health software and clinical software from the FDA's jurisdiction. Is it possible that common sense might just be winning out?
  3. Reimbursements are finally coming together.
    As of last week, there are now 22 states that require telehealth visits to be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits. New York State's Governor Cuomo just signed a law that allows NY providers to bill for live video/audio, store-and-forward, and remote patient monitoring from private insurers and Medicaid. And other efforts continue to move forward, as well: a Colorado bill has just moved to the House that would prohibit health insurance plans from requiring in-person care. 
  4. New tools make workflow a snap.
    We've always believed that telemedicine is less about technology than it is about people and good workflow. When a telemedicine solution is easy to use and works with the schedule of the provider, then the technology can really be adopted. For instance, we've found that a Hybrid Store-and-Forward® solution removes the need for providers to play telephone tag, schedule video conferences, or wait for consults. 

So let this post be one vote for the "glass being half-full" -- and getting fuller every day. 

 

To learn more about Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine, get our free guide:

 

ClickCare Quick Guide to Hybrid Store-and-Forward

Tags: telemedicine, medical collaboration, hybrid store and forward medical collaboration, telemedicine solutions, regulations, hippa,, regulatory issues, workflow

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