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Cyber-Security Considerations for “Mission-Critical” Medical Devices

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Understanding the balance between new regulations (almost none) and guidance (in the form of non-binding recommendations)

By Shahid N. Shah MS

Shahid N. ShahTHEN …

In 2013, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its first cybersecurity safety communication, followed in 2014 by final guidance.

It struck a reasonable balance between new regulations (almost none) and guidance (in the form of non-binding recommendations).

NOW …

In 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released a staff report entitled Internet of Things: Privacy & Security in a Connected World, in which it recommend that Internet of Things (IoT) style devices, which of course include medical and clinical devices, need to maintain a good security posture. It’s worth noting that the FDA, FTC, and other government regulators are centering on a few key guidelines.

Six Recommendations

The following six recommendations come directly from the FTC report:

  1. Companies should build security into their devices at the outset, rather than as an afterthought. As part of the security by design process, companies should consider:
  • Conducting a privacy or security risk assessment
  • Minimizing the data they collect and retain
  • Testing their security measures before launching their products
  1. Companies should train all employees about good security, and ensure that security issues are addressed at the appropriate level of responsibility within the organization
  2. Companies should retain service providers that are capable of maintaining reasonable security and provide reasonable oversight for these service providers.
  3. When companies identify significant risks within their systems, they should implement a defense-in-depth approach, in which they consider implementing security measures at several levels.
  4. Companies should consider implementing reasonable access control measures to limit the ability of an unauthorized person to access a consumer’s device, data, or even the consumer’s network.
  5. Companies should continue to monitor products throughout the life cycle and, to the extent feasible, patch known vulnerabilities

The FTC report and FDA guidelines are remarkably consistent. When thinking of cybersecurity and data privacy, engineers tend to think about authentication, authorization, and encryption. Those are the relatively easy topics.

*** circuit***

Mission Critical Medical Devices

For “mission-critical” medical safety devices, however, things are much more difficult and need to encompass a larger surface of questions, including but not limited to:

  • Asset Inventory: Is the device discoverable, and can it associate itself with standard IT inventory systems so that revision management, software updates, and monitoring can be automated?
  • Cyber Insurance: Does the device have enough security documentation to allow it to be insured by standard cyber insurance riders?
  • Patching: How is the firmware, operating system (OS), or application going to be patched by IT staff within hospitals (or the home for remote devices)?
  • Internal Threats: Has the device been designed to circumvent insider (hospital staff, network participants, etc.) threats?
  • External Threats: Has the device been designed to lock down the device from external threats?
  • Embedded OS Security: Is the device sufficiently hardened at the operating system level, such that no extraneous software components, which increase the attack surface, are present?
  • Firmware and Hardware Security: Are the firmware and hardware components sourced from reputable suppliers and free of state-sponsored spying?
  • Application Security: Is the Microsoft Security Development Lifecycle (SDL) or similar software security assurance process integrated into the engineering process?
  • Network Security: Have all network protocols not in use by the device been turned off so that they are not broadcasting?
  • Data Privacy: What data segmentation, logging, and auditing is being done to ensure appropriate data privacy?
  • HIPAA Compliance: Have proper steps been followed to ensure Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance?
  • FISMA Compliance: If you’re selling to the federal government, have proper steps, such as use of Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) certified encryption, been followed to ensure Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance?
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): Is there monitoring in place to ensure data leakage outside of the device doesn’t occur?
  • Vulnerabilities: Have common vulnerabilities such as the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP) Top 10 been reviewed?
  • Data Sharing: Are proper data sharing agreements in place to allow sharing of data across devices and networks?
  • Password Management: Are passwords hardcoded into the device or made configurable?
  • Configuration Protection: Are configuration files properly check-summed and protected against malicious changes?

Conclusion

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ABOUT

Mr. Shahid N. Shah is an internationally recognized healthcare thought-leader across the Internet. He is a consultant to various federal agencies on technology matters and winner of Federal Computer Week’s coveted “Fed 100″ Award, in 2009. Over a twenty year career, he built multiple clinical solutions and helped design-deploy an electronic health record solution for the American Red Cross and two web-based eMRs used by hundreds of physicians with many large groupware and collaboration sites. As ex-CTO for a billion dollar division of CardinalHealth, he helped design advanced clinical interfaces for medical devices and hospitals. Mr. Shah is senior technology strategy advisor to NIH’s SBIR/STTR program helping small businesses commercialize healthcare applications. He runs four successful blogs: At http://shahid.shah.org he writes about architecture issues; at http://www.healthcareguy.com he provides valuable insights on applying technology in health care; at http://www.federalarchitect.com he advises senior federal technologists; and at http://www.hitsphere.com he gives a glimpse of HIT as an aggregator. Mr. Shah is a Microsoft MVP (Solutions Architect) Award Winner for 2007, and a Microsoft MVP (Solutions Architect) Award Winner for 2006. He also served as a HIMSS Enterprise IT Committee Member. Mr. Shah received a BS in computer science from the Pennsylvania State University and MS in Technology Management from the University of Maryland. 

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Understanding Medical Practice Anti-Trust Risks

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Medical Risk Management

By Dr. Charles F. Fenton III JD

fenton* Monopolistic risks are reduced when more than a few networks or contracts are available in the local area for excluded medical providers to join.

  • * Fee schedule MCO contracts, per se, are not generally considered price fixing, provided the doctor providers have not conspired with one another to set those prices. Moreover, network pricing schedule should not spill over into the non-network patients.

Some Issues:

  • Individual providers may be excluded from a network if there is a rational reason to do so. It is much more difficult to exclude a class of providers, than it is to exclude an individual provider.
  • A safety zone can be created if networks or other contractual plans require a substantial amount of financial risk-sharing among plan participants, since Stark II laws have been relaxed. Such zones have been created by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in recent policy statements.
  • The FTC and DOJ are not likely to challenge an exclusive provider IPA that includes no more than 20-25% of the doctors within the panel, who share financial risk. Such panels are likely to fall within a Safe Harbor.
  • Tying arrangements (e.g.: the requirement to buy one item/service in order to buy another item/service) are suspect if not reasonably justified. For example, a patient should not be required to obtain a brace prescription from a specific provider, in order to purchase the device from a laboratory that the doctor owns.
  • Non-exclusive provider panels will not usually be challenged if no more than 30% of the providers are included (another Safe Harbor provision). Physician networks are often analyzed according to four criteria: (1) anti-competitive effects, (2) relevant local markets, (3) pro-competitive effects, and (4) collateral agreements.Further anti-trust considerations consist of analyzing
  • Market Power. This consists of two factors: (1) Geographic Power and (2) Product Power.

###

Flag MOney

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  • Geographic Power is difficult to define in today’s environment. In the past, the geography that was analyzed when medical practices merged was the immediate neighborhood. Currently, the geographical area could consist of an entire metropolitan area. In the past, individual patients would often seek a physician whose office was close to work or home. Now they seek a physician based on inclusion in a health plan. Now, health plans choose physicians based on needs within an entire metropolitan area.
  • Product Power relates to the specific service being performed. There are two products in today’s environment: (1) Primary Care and (2) Specialty Care. Since there are so many primary care physicians in practice, it would be difficult for all but the largest group to acquire product power.

Assessment

It is easier for medical specialists to develop product power. However, certain specialists may never be able to obtain product power.

For example, foot care is provider by many types of physicians. Primary care physicians, emergency physicians, chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, nurse practitioners, and podiatrists all provide foot care. Therefore, it would be difficult, even for a large group of podiatrists to obtain significant product power.

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How I Lost my Battle Against the NPI

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Refusing a National Provider Identifier Number

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

pruittI can no longer refuse to apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI). I lost that long battle. Anyone rejoicing?

I’m spent. My leverage has vanished. Telling insurers “I have no NPI” held much more inherent power than “I have an NPI but I won’t share it with you on principle.” Far too many words. My profession has become dominated by unresponsive, unaccountable 3rd parties that dental leaders in the ADA welcome as policy. Working together, they promote and commandeer the technology dentists purchase and clueless patients pay for in increased fees. I have painfully learned that principles are only for dentists who can still afford them, and it’s a bad economy for luxuries.

Non-HIPAA Entity

Since I am not a HIPAA-covered entity and therefore not required by law to adopt an NPI, my capitulation to extortion disappoints me as an American citizen. I still find it hard to believe that an anti-consumer HIPAA rule enthusiastically enforced by the dental benefits industry could force me to “volunteer” for a PERMANENT identifier. As I and 96% of dentists become jerked around by our NPIs, I hope dental historians note that I am the ONLY dentist who publicly asked “Why?” instead of “Why not?” After 6 years, I’m still awaiting an answer to that question from leaders who continue to promote the NPI to dentists while ignoring their questions.

Dental Benefits Providers

I was able to hold out up until Aetna, Delta Dental and other dental benefits providers deprived my office of access to details of patients’ dental benefits unless I have an NPI. I’m waiting for someone – anyone – to tell me how the identifier can possibly improve the dental care of those who pay Aetna and Delta Dental premiums, especially if their benefits are intentionally kept secret from their dentists. I am certain that if the nation’s employers who purchase dental benefits were aware of the transparent nonsense, they would never purchase such products. Where’s the US Chamber of Commerce? Where’s the FTC? How about the US Constitution?

This is exactly why there needs to be more openness in our profession, Doc. The cockroaches who were invited to quietly overrun dentistry cannot withstand transparency, yet I don’t know how much longer I can fight for it without further risking the health of my practice.

As anyone can understand – and as anticipated by corporate executives in the insurance industry as well as by those with vested interests in the ADA Department of Dental Informatics – to have to explain to new patients why I cannot estimate how much they will owe for treatment would destroy my practice. Outside the US, other societies deem it unethical to deny patients informed consent to treatment for any reason. The NPI is such an egregious blunder that I never expect those who promoted to accept ownership.

###

NPI

Assessment

If I lost the battle, who won? Do EDR enthusiasts in the ADA call this a glorious victory and a likely source of ADA pride for decades to come? Or is it much more shameful? Since I lost freedom, I want to know who won?

Conclusion

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On the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act

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ADA Makes Progress Against McCarran-Ferguson

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

The ADA makes real progress against McCarran-Ferguson. I’ve watched the American Dental Association fight long and hard against the unfair McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. ADA leaders and I still don’t agree on the need for transparency in the professional organization instead of proud unresponsiveness, but nevertheless, I’ve always been publicly supportive of their efforts to repeal the M-F Act.

Insurance Industry

The insurance industry is powerful in Washington. Over the short term, common sense has proven to be far less influential than their generous campaign contributions – making this a long haul for ADA officials. Yet the amendment to H.R. 5, Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act, which was offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a dentist, is finally scheduled to come up for a vote on Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good Work – ADA

http://www.ada.org/news/6926.aspx

If passed, the legislation will restore the application of antitrust laws to the business of health insurance. Makes sense, right? After all, if every other business in the nation, including professional organizations, can be prosecuted by the FTC for collusion, why should Delta Dental, BCBSTX and other members of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) be exempt from antitrust laws which protect their clients.

I and others are hopeful that this will end many of dental insurers’ current business practices which unfairly force dentists to accept take it or leave it terms that would be unacceptable in a fair market. Maybe the repeal will also make insurance lawyers think twice before alerting the FTC when ADA News speaks honestly about the harm caused by suspiciously similar policies of numerous NADP members.

Assessment

Even if the M-F is repealed, here is an example of truth in dental care that I bet ADA leaders still won’t be able to share with Americans: Unfair downward pressure on contracted dentists’ payments always hurts clueless dental patients the most. Delta Dental’s greed will never be satisfied and dentists’ ethics aren’t free.

NADP, meet the FTC.

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How Physicians Select Risk Management Advisors

More Difficult than Ever Before

By Brian J. Knabe MD, Certified Medical Planner

www.SavantCapital.com

Historically, the term “risk management” has brought to mind one subject for the practicing physician – medical malpractice.  Unfortunately, physicians today face a multitude of other risks which may be more insidious and daunting than malpractice.  It is important to recognize these risks, and to have the appropriate procedures and policies in place to mitigate the risks.  These risks come from the federal government, state government, insurance companies, patients, employees, and even prospective employees.  Some risks, many unique to small businesses and medical practices, include the following:

  • Medicare recoupment risk – challenges to coding and subsequent billing by the physician.
  • Medicare fraud.  Numerous laws can be used by the federal government to go after the physician, including the Medicare and Medicaid Anti-Fraud and Abuse Statute, the RICO statute, and the Federal False Claims Act.  The recently enacted Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act aims to save money by increasing funding for anti-fraud efforts.
  • Insurance fraud.  An inquiry from Medicare to look for fraud in a physician’s practice is often followed by similar efforts by insurance companies.
  • The HIPPA Act of 1996 creates new definitions and penalties to use against the physician.
  • Self referral risks.  Federal regulations in this area include the Medicare Anti-Fraud and Abuse Statute, the Medicare Safe Harbor Regulations, and the Stark Amendment.
  • Federal agency risks.  These include regulations from the Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA), Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement agency (DEA), and even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  • Anti-trust risks.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) formulate regulations in this arena.
  • Managed care contractual risks.  Most managed care contracts require the individual physician rather than the professional corporation to sign the contract, thus placing the physician’s personal assets at risk.
  • Medical malpractice risks.  Although the vast majority of claims are paid by the insurance carrier, there can be other adverse consequences for the physician.  These include the risk of increased premiums, non-renewal of policies, and difficulty in getting replacement insurance.
  • Loss of income due to death or disability.  Most physicians recognize the importance of life insurance, but the medical professional is actually much more likely to lose income due to disability at some point in his or her career.

http://www.amazon.com/Insurance-Management-Strategies-Physicians-Advisors/dp/0763733423/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1375149801&sr=8-6&keywords=marcinko+david

The practicing physician should seek the advice of professionals with expertise in these areas.  Every practice should have an experienced attorney on retainer.  It is very important to seek advice from fiduciaries – experts who have no conflicts of interest and who can therefore act in the best interest of the client.  A Certified Medical Planner is such a fiduciary with training and expertise in these areas.

http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

It can be particularly challenging to find an insurance advisor with no conflicts of interest, as this industry is built upon product sales and commissions.  One such insurance advisor is Scott Witt, a fee-only insurance advisor with Witt Actuarial Services (www.wittactuarialservices.com).

Others can be found with an internet search for “fee only insurance advisor”.

Assessment

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Queries for the ADA Member Service Center

Four Questions for Consideration

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

Dear ME-P Readers

I’m considering these four questions for the ADA Member Service Center to break the ice. What do you think?

Question 1 – The FTC’s Red Flags Rule is due to be enforced on June 10. If the Rule is not delayed for a fifth time and a dentist has a contractual relationship with CareCredit/GE or similar healthcare financing service, will that mean he or she will become a covered entity obligated to additional paperwork, liability and expense?

Question 2 – According to the “ADA National Oral Health Agenda” found on the Advocacy page, it states that one of the ways the ADA intends to reduce the cost of dental care is to promote health information technology. This goal was first posted several years ago. Considering the ever increasing liability of data breaches in healthcare, can consumers still expect to save money in dental care by visiting a paperless practice?

Question 3 – Am I correct to assume that soon the ADA.org Website will include the capability for direct discussions between members and leadership?

Question 4 – If interactive functions are indeed to be included in the new ADA Website, will there be any topics concerning ADA policy that will be closed to questions from membership?

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Editors Note: The incredible power of the internet is illustrated with this post relative to the phenomenon of “crowd-sourcing.” In this context, the term means to harvest the reach of social networking, like this ME-P, to solve a problem, or ask for input or opinions.

IOW: A knowledge seeker asks a question and participants respond.  PeerClip.com is an example of how “wisdom of the crowds” allows you to follow the latest opinions on interesting topics. In the medical practice management arena, you can also participate at the: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com, our newest 850 page book available this Fall.

Channel Surfing the ME-P Have you visited our other topic channels? Established to facilitate idea exchange and link our community together, the value of these topics is dependent upon your input. Please take a minute to visit. And, to prevent that annoying spam, we ask that you register. It is fast, free and secure.

Conclusion

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A New Survey on Dental Insurance

Come on out Kim E. Volk – CEO of Delta Dental

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Today, Julie Frey posted “Dentist & Dental Insurance: No Love Lost” on Jim Du Molin’s Blog.

http://www.thewealthydentist.com/blog/1186/dentist-dental-insurance/

Frey hosts dentists’ frank criticism of dental insurance – their harsh sentiments backed up with fresh results from yet another of the blog’s timely studies that nobody else can compete with. Frey writes “Half of dentists have mostly or completely stopped accepting dental insurances, according to this survey.”  One dentist captured the mood of the dentists with the statement, “Do the math … somebody is making hell of a lot of money on these plans, and it is not the dentist!” I smelled blood and posted the following comment.

Bloody Sunday

Anonymous members of the obscure National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) are losing the fat, collective thumb they once oppressed us with – even using our own ADA News to present their non-negotiable terms. Apart from common sense appearing in the marketplace about the same time as transparency, multiple other interconnected factors are causing dental insurance companies to lose business. The bad economy, corporate greed and pride are a few of their more serious handicaps that come to mind. Wasteful, deceptive insurance practices have aggravated my patients and me for decades before modern networked recourse became available on the Internet through progressive Websites like Jim Du Molin’s Blog. I’ll go out on a limb and say it is not unprofessional for us to enjoy protecting those we serve by showing no mercy to unfair stakeholders like the NADP.

There. I said it. In fact, as US citizens and taxpayers I think blowing the whistle on unneeded expense and danger in the nation’s healthcare delivery is the least we can do for meaningful healthcare reform. I say do your part. Make an insurance CEO like Delta Dental Plans Association’s Kim E. Volk feel discomfort on the Internet. Do you know that Kim E. Volk is the only person who has ever refused to accept me as a friend on Facebook?

http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421/

Assessment 

We really don’t want to allow Delta Dental, UnitedHealthcare, United Concordia and others to dictate fees for non-covered dental services, do we? I also don’t think they deserve continued protection from FTC anti-trust litigation. I say we punish the NADP hard every chance we get until the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act and finally make such in-your-face collusion illegal for crying out loud.

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Understanding the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank

Healthcare Fraud and Abuse Data Collection Program

By Patricia Trites; MPA, CHBC, CPC

The Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB) were created to coordinate information with the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). Currently, health plans, health maintenance organizations, and federal and state agencies are required to report final adverse actions taken against healthcare providers on a monthly basis.

The NP Database

The database operates under the auspices of DHHS, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Bureau of Health Professions. The Secretary of DHHS is responsible for operating this data bank in the same fashion as the NPDB.

Adverse Actions

Five types of final adverse actions against a healthcare provider, supplier, or practitioner are reported into this data bank:

1. civil judgments in federal or state court related to the delivery of a healthcare item or service;

2. federal or state criminal convictions related to the delivery of a healthcare item or service;

3. actions by federal or state agencies responsible for licensing and certification;

4. exclusions from participation in a federal or state healthcare program; and

5. any other adjudicated actions or decisions that the secretary of DHHS establishes by regulations.

Assessment

These actions must be reported, regardless of whether the subject of the report is appealing the action. Federal and state agencies, hospitals, and health plans are permitted to query the HIPDB. This will also lead to increased activities by other federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Trade Commission, which can lead to civil and criminal penalties.

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Encrypt or De-identify PHI

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Which One Just Might Work?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

The United States’ advancement in Healthcare Information Technology, which has the potential to lead to wonderful money-saving cures through research using trustworthy interoperable health records, is currently stopped cold by patient security problems that are only getting worse. Our lawmakers cannot get around the security obstacle without resorting to authoritarian means using CMS’s power to withhold providers’ discounted payments and threats of obscene fines from the HHS and the FTC. History shows that tyranny is not tolerated well in this part of the world. Lawmakers can get their butts voted smooth out of office in my neighborhood.

HITECH  

Here is something nobody mentions: Despite the current hope in a thick, political fantasy called HITECH, encryption of patients’ Protected Health Information [PHI] is a non-starter in the land of the free. Everyone knows that resourceful, cynical Americans will simply never trust encryption to protect their secrets, and will reliably withhold important information from their eMRs – one way or another. Doctors as well as patients can be expected to go out of their way to sabotage technology they fear. We all intuitively know this is true, don’t we? We aren’t so naïve to think all the players will happily play by the rules, are we? And I think we can all agree that an untrustworthy digital health record in an emergency room is worse than no patient information at all. Security is a grand problem with eMRs that started with HIPAA changes in 2003 that made eHRs so slippery. And the problem is clearly not being resolved. Not yet.

Public Lacks Trust 

Regardless of the campaign donations which follow him, there is nothing Newt Gingrich and his entrepreneurial friends in high places can do about the public’s lack of trust in encryption. It gets worse: Encryption hasn’t a chance of isolating PHI from dishonest employees in doctors’ offices, and slippery digital patient data can be moved soo easily. Everyone knows that as well, don’t they? It is estimated that two-thirds of the identities stolen in the nation are lifted from doctors’ offices. That’s us, Doc. HIPAA is not only irrelevant, it is an expensive distraction – it gives future ID theft victims a false sense of security.

HIPAA Approved 

De-identifying digital records is not mentioned in HITECH as a HIPAA-approved method of security. Yet it is the ONLY solution that promises to be even more secure than paper records. Because of heavy stakeholder stakes in hospital care, it will take longer for CEO-types to embrace patient-friendly de-identification. Other than identifiers such as names, social security numbers, birthdates, addresses and other items that have street value, NOBODY cares what is in a dental record. I actually think this opens a tremendous opportunity for someone courageous in the Texas Dental Association to discuss the feasibility of de-identification of dental records. Otherwise, instead of leading the nation in solving security problems, the TDA will look just as stupid as the ADA.

Encryption would also provide a dangerous false sense of security in eMRs – that is if it had a chance in the marketplace. But encryption will never go far because consumers simply won’t buy it. That is a marketplace fact that stoically optimistic HIT stakeholders are trying hard to avoid. They also know they are running out of time. Deadlines are quickly approaching for both HIPAA and the Red Flags Rule that providers are far from prepared for.

Former Attorney Speaks 

Bill Lappen, a former attorney and author of the ad I copied below, as well as a partner with his brother David in the de-identified health record venture says: “Since no identifying information is ever entered, a hacker can’t determine whose information is shown.”

So in addition to protecting one’s practice against dishonest or vindictive employees, de-identification of dental records would make hacking a dentist’s computer a complete waste of time, and hackers wouldn’t endanger dental patients and bankrupt dentists.

My Confidence 

I confidently tell you that soon, someone smart will come upon the unprecedented idea that the ultimate answer to our security problem in healthcare will be de-identification of medical records, not encryption. De-identification allows a compromise of privacy for only a miniscule percentage of physicians’ patients. We cannot allow that to stand in the way of better health for everyone else. Those special cases are so few that I am confident that they can be dealt with individually. We simply must move forward. I’ll have to retire some day. I may need help from Medicare.

Encryption gives us only danger and protects nobody but a thief with a key.

Assessment 

We’ve wasted enough time on HITECH and HIPAA, as well as CCHIT. It’s time to say no to stakeholders and pay attention to patients’ needs instead of those who would needlessly increase the cost of their care. Stimulus money attracts cockroaches.

In the name of Hippocrates, disregard the tainted HIPAA mandate. It is dangerous, and especially absurd in dentistry.

Link: http://www.theopenpress.com/index.php?a=press&id=58568

Life-Saving Patient Information can be Online, Anonymous and Usable

Published on: September 26th, 2009 12:19am

By: blappen

Los Angeles, CA (OPENPRESS) September 26, 2009 — Hospital Emergency Rooms need instant access to patient medical information. Allergic reactions and dangerous drug interactions can be deadly. Time is critical. Until now, privacy was a large concern. Two brothers, who have developed medical software over the past 15 years, think they have a simple first step towards moving patient information on to the internet.

“The ER doesn’t need to look up the information by patient name” said Bill Lappen, a former attorney. “We have implemented secure systems in the past, but no matter how secure we make the site, we have to assume that it will be hacked” added David Lappen, a computer design engineer from Stanford. “But providing instant access to life-saving information is too important to ignore”, he added. To protect patient privacy, their system does not know to whom the medical information belongs. Since the person’s identifying information is never on the system, it can’t be stolen. “By enabling anonymous entry, we have protected people’s privacy while allowing them to put their life-saving information in a place where it can be instantly accessed when needed”, added Bill Lappen.

www.AMCC.me is the public service website they created. It allows anyone to enter medical information anonymously. The site provides a random ID which the user carries in his/her wallet. For someone to see that user’s medical information, they merely enter the ID into the site. Unless the user has given them their ID, the information shown is meaningless. That same information, when associated with a patient, can save their life.

Since no identifying information is ever entered, a hacker can’t determine whose information is shown. “Secure patient-controlled Electronic Medical Records are now available on the internet” said David Lappen. A sample ID has been set up on the site to allow users to evaluate the concept before setting up their own free ID.

Contact:

Bill Lappen

Bill@AMCC.me

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Kelly Mclendon RHIA censors D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Dateline: 8.15.09

pruitt

Dear Kelly Mclendon, Registered Health Information Administrator

You are beginning to make me feel insulted, and I will not have that. I just noticed that the last two comments I submitted to your Website, www.spacecoastmedicine.com, on August 9 and 10, are still “awaiting moderation.”

http://www.spacecoastmedicine.com/2009/08/electronic-records-for-all-patients-mandated-by-2014.html#comment-89 

(For clarity, the comments which scared Mr. Mclendon are copied below) 

Over five days have passed, and I want you, your readers and my readers to know that I spent a lot of time preparing those two pieces exclusively for you at your invitation for comments. You are as sincere as I am, aren’t you? 

When I’ve caught others in the squeeze you might be experiencing, several have pleaded that the censorship was an innocent oversight, and did the right thing immediately by posting everything I send them (include this comment, please). And then again, there are a few slow-learning, command-and-control types who think they cam still somehow control the content of their Websites. Like you, Kelly, an anonymous dentalblogs.com editor whom I call “Nancy” by default, also informed me that my comments were awaiting indefinite moderation. What a foolish, rookie mistake that proved to be. For example, if you google “dentalblogs.com,” my article “Dentalblogs.com hates D. Kellus Pruitt DDS” is their 4th hit. It seems to be very popular. 

How’s this for the title of a comment that should make it to your first page by Monday: “Kelly Mclendon RHIA censors D. Kellus Pruitt DDS”? Please, no phone calls. 

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS 

Dateline 8.9.09 

I’m sure physicians’ businesses are no different than dentists’ when it comes to the liability of data breaches – especially considering the giddy, mindless momentum of HITECH-empowered HIPAA. If a computer is stolen in a burglary, compromised by a dishonest employee who sells IDs on the side, or otherwise hacked, and the dentist reports the tragedy according to the letter of the law, it inevitably means bankruptcy even before the feel-good fines are levied by HHS (HIPAA) and the FTC (Red Flags Rule) for not having required irrelevant documentation of administrative trivia in order. What were our lawmakers thinking? 

I guess the HIPAA blunder proves that when politicians, insurers and healthcare IT entrepreneurs get together in vendor clubs like CCHIT, the only government-approved eHR certification authority, they can mandate damn well any law that suits their needs. 

Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman, who is an influential friend of Barack Obama as well as a Trustee of CCHIT told Bloomberg.com reporter Alex Nussbaum in an interview almost a year ago that providers should make the financial commitment “to ensure that doctors have some skin in the game.” 

Glen Tullman is only one reason our nation’s healthcare IT industry stinks from the top down. 

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

Dateline: 8.10.09 

Thank you, Kelly Mclendon, for providing a rare venue to possibly clear up a few items of uncertainty about eHRs in dentistry. First of all, if a technological advancement such as eDRs does not pay for itself, even with government subsidies, who pays for it? That seems like a quick way to increase the costs of dental care – and for what? How do dental patients benefit from expensive HIT solutions when the telephone, fax machine and US Mail serve us fine? 

Digitalization of records offers no benefits to dental patients. Only stakeholders who would grab our patients’ money benefit from HIT. Everyone else loses. Trusting, naive dental patients lose the most. 

Electronic dental records are expensive hazards. If you can think of a lame reason for them, please let me hear it. You can bet I’ve crushed it before. I’ve been down this road with others many, many times. 

Within a week, the government will price computerization smooth out of dentistry. Over 90% of dentists have patient identities on their computers today. If HIPAA is enforced, with or without the Red Flags Rule, I predict that less than half of the nation’s dentists will be computerized a year from now. 

As for your argument that eHRs somehow provide up-to-date and otherwise superior medical histories for dental patients, think about this: If someone changes a paper medical history, it leaves a paper trail. If an insurance thief alters allergies on a digital record to suit his or her own needs, nobody in the emergency room can tell. Whoever said “Paper kills,” lied. It is a catchy PR pitch, though.

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