Health IT Issues that Deserve a Second Read – March 2017

Top10-200One of the ways that HITECH Answers is different from other media sites is the sense of community. The thought leaders in our community are good about sharing their thoughts on the issues of today. We publish at least eleven guest posts a week now, on our three sites. In case you missed some, here are the top ten read and shared guest posts  in the month of March. You can also read previous month’s Top Ten Lists. Thank you for contributing and reading.

Why Using Encryption is Not Optional for Healthcare Organizations
By Gene Fry, Compliance Officer and VP of Technology, Scrypt, Inc.
Twitter: @ScryptInc

For HIPAA covered entities and their business associates, keeping health data protected should be a top priority. Failing to do so can have disastrous consequences, not only by way of the civil and criminal penalties dealt out for breaching HIPAA’s rules, but also the significant reputational damage that can be occurred as a result of a data breach; it is easier to replenish finances than it is to regain the trust of patients whose health information has been exposed. Continue reading on…

What’s Happening with Value Based Reimbursement in 2017
By Marilyn Agbeko, Product Marketing Manager, ZirMed
Twitter: @zirmed

With all the ruckus around repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, we have heard little to nothing about MACRA (the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act) getting caught in the crossfire. As far as anyone can tell, MACRA, the gateway to Alternative Payment Models (APMs) is here to stay for a while. Accountable Care Organizations, though brought forth by the ACA, are so far avoiding becoming collateral damage as well. However, don’t focus too much on the vehicles by which risk-based contracts and value based reimbursement structures are enforced – pay attention to the fact that you can no longer avoid participating in some form of an APM. Continue reading on…

5 HIPAA Items that Practices Should Focus on in 2017
By Jim Johnson, President, LiveCompliance, a partner service for GroupOne Health Source Inc.
Twitter: @GroupOne_Health

With all the recent turbulence in healthcare surrounding Meaningful Use, ICD-10 and now the transition to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System, HIPAA has flown under the radar, in a sense, for some practices. However, in 2017 it’s important that practices make HIPAA compliance a priority. Here are five things we covered in a recent webinar on what all practices should focus on in regards to HIPAA compliance in 2017. Continue reading on…

Is Your Healthcare Data Safe? Three Questions to Ask
By Susan Biddle, Sr. Director of Healthcare, Fortinet
Twitter: @Fortinet

In the all-out war for data, the healthcare industry is getting hit the hardest. Experian’s fourth annual 2017 Data Breach Industry Forecast states that healthcare organizations will be the most targeted sector for attack, with new and sophisticated attacks emerging. If healthcare organizations and their IT teams aim to keep data safe, they need to take a step back to assess the overall security landscape and the security processes currently in place on a macro level. Here are a few critical questions that all health IT professionals should ask themselves as they think about data security now and in the future. Continue reading on…

5 Necessary Steps to Protect Your Patient Data
By Tom Saine, Chief Information Officer, Spok
Twitter: @spoktweets

Headlines about hospital data breaches that expose thousands of medical records appear with alarming frequency. Yet even one breach can be devastating. A single breach at a Pennsylvania practice in the first half of 2016 exposed 87,000 patient records, and in 2015 a breach at a Los Angeles hospital exposed 4.5 million patient records. Continue reading on…

HIPAA Compliance and Cloud Service Providers
By Grant Elliott, CEO of Ostendio
Twitter: @ostendio

Having patients feel safe sharing sensitive health information is critical to the future of informed population health. How can you ensure that you are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) when sharing this information with 3rd parties? If you are using a Cloud Service Provider, or are planning on using one soon, you may have a lot of questions about how to remain compliant and how to assure your CSP is, too. Continue reading on…

HIPAA and Hospitals: Five Reasons Medical Data Storage is Often Not Compliant
By Arman Sadeghi, Founder, All Green Electronics Recycling

With so much of the data controlled by doctors and hospitals on electronic devices, including mobile devices, desktop computers, servers, and in the cloud, the security of that data is quickly becoming the most important aspect of HIPAA (not HIPPA) compliance. Many medical providers and some of the largest hospital chains in the country have been found to be against HIPAA law and out of compliance – mainly as a result of mishandling digital data. Continue reading on…

Leveraging the EHR as a Building Block for 3 Key Healthcare Initiatives
From the Hayes Healthcare Leaders Blog Series (@HayesManagement)
By Brent D. Magers, FACHE, FHFMA, CMPE, Executive Associate Dean and CEO, Texas Tech Physicians
Twitter: @TTPhysicians

With the advent of Electronic Health Records (EHR) in the late 2000s came rampant resistance. Meaningful Use requirements forced healthcare organizations to begin implementing an EHR but many were unhappy about it. As we transition from fee-for-service to value-based care – from volume to value – and move from current state to MACRA, adoption of EHRs has become both necessary and nearly universal. Continue reading on…

MACRA Time: Value Based Payment Writ Large
By David Harlow, JD MPH, Principal, The Harlow Group LLC
Twitter: @healthblawg

MACRA, the current framework for Medicare physician payments, specifically quality incentive payments, took effect January 1, 2017. The 2015 law replaced the flawed SGR (sustainable growth rate) reimbursement formula in a rare show of congressional bipartisanship, and the implementing regulations were finalized in late 2016. Before the final version was published, CMS received thousands of comments, went on a “listening tour” and conferred with members of congress who sought some revisions on behalf of their various constituencies. A high level outline of the final rule was posted by the former acting Administrator of CMS, Andy Slavitt on the day it was published. Continue reading on…

Blockchain: A Bulls-Eye for Healthcare IT Interoperability?
By D’Arcy Guerin Gue, VP, Industry Relations, Phoenix Health Systems
Twitter: @DarcyGue

It’s no exaggeration to say that our EHR systems’ lack of interoperability is the single strongest barrier to nationwide population health management. That’s exactly what ONC reported to Congress in December 2015. A year later in its December 2016 report ONC acknowledged a few efforts in the right direction, but could point to no definitive progress towards universal standards for interoperability. With the new bi-partisan Cures Act, HHS hoped to exercise more muscle with reluctant EHR vendors by requiring them to meet interoperability standards by the end of 2017. Continue reading on…

MIPS Matters: Quality Category Overview
By Beth Onofri, Clinical Market Advisor, Kareo
Twitter: @GoKareo

In October 2016 the final MACRA rule was released. The rule laid out the Quality Payment Program (QPP) which consolidates previous CMS incentive programs into a single program that began on January 1, 2017. The QPP has two possible paths for eligible clinicians. The Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) is the path that most providers will take in 2017. It is comprised of three categories. Each category represents a portion of a total composite score of 100%. The potential penalties and incentives for MIPS are based on the total composite score. Eligible clinicians (EC) may receive anywhere from a -4% adjustment to a +12% adjustment. Here is an overview of the Quality category, which replaces the PQRS program. Continue reading on…

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