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Meet Don Rucker MD – The New NCHIT for the US-HHS

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National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

[By staff reporters]

We are pleased to announce that Don Rucker has been named the new National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Dr. Rucker, a physician leader with national clinical informatics success, has a strong scientific, computational and practical background in medical computing and decision sciences, he was a co-developer of the first Microsoft Windows based electronic medical record in the world.

Additionally, Dr. Rucker was a designer of the computerized physician order entry [CPOE] module that won the 2003 HIMSS Nicholas Davies Award as the best hospital computer system in the US.

Conclusion

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EHRs, ADA Leaders and Conflict of Interest

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A decade later ….?


By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

In July 2007, Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom, representing the American Dental Association and by default, all US dentists, testified before the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) on the benefits of EHRs in dentistry.

His testimony is featured in an official document titled:

“Testimony of the American Dental Association, National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics Subcommittee on Standards and Security July 31, 2007

http://www.ncvhs.hhs.gov/070731p08.pdf

Here are the ADA’s 11 selling points which Dr. Ahlstrom presented to HHS in support of electronic dental records:

  1. Dental office computer systems will be compatible with those of the hospitals and plans they conduct business with. Referral inquiries will be handled easily.
  2. Vendors will be able to supply low-cost software solutions to physicians/dentists who support standards-based electronic data interchange. Costs associated with mailing, faxing and telephoning will decrease.
  3. All administrative tasks can be accomplished electronically. Dentists will have more time to devote to direct care.
  4. Dentists will have a more complete data set of the patient they are treating, enabling better care.
  5. Patients seeking information on enrollment status or health care benefits will be given more accurate, complete and easier-to-understand information.
  6. Consumer documents will be more uniform and easier to read.
  7. Cost savings to providers and plans will translate in less costly health care for consumers. Premiums and charges will be lowered.
  8. Patients will save postage and telephone costs incurred in claims follow-up.
  9. Patients will have the ability to see what is contained in their medical and dental records and who has accessed them. Patient records will be adequately protected through organizational policies and technical security controls.
  10. Visits to dentists and other health care providers will be shorter without the burden of filling out forms.
  11. Consumer correspondence with insurers about problems with claims will be reduced.

Not one of Ahlstrom’s 11 promises has been fulfilled. None …. Total failure!

A decade later, it has become clear that the nation was misled by ambitious leaders of the American Dental Association who have since enjoyed power and/or profit from members’ misinformed adoption of digital records.

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 In my opinion, the grandest deception in the history of dentistry is clearly a result of a secretive not-for-profit corporation’s conflict of interest. This very important business lesson would have been lost to history if I hadn’t been documenting the true progress of EHRs in dentistry.

I (alone?) recognized very early that paperless was doomed simply because the needs of dentists and their patients was secondary to implementation of third-parties’ half-baked, selfish ideas. And I got spanked for that by the same ADA leadership behind Ahlstrom’s tainted testimony to Congress.

My ADA membership was suspended, and I still have not been told why. All the President of the Texas Dental Association would tell me is, “You know what you did.”

Assessment 

To this day, dental EHRs are both increasingly less secure than paper dental records as well as increasingly more expensive. What’s more, they offer no tangible benefits for the patients. ADA leadership failed my profession.

Transparency is accountability.

Conclusion

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On Physicians Texting [SMS]

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Some Technical Considerations

By Carol Miller BSN RN MBA PMP [Miller Consulting]

Carol S. Miller

Text (SMS = Short Message Service) Messaging has become nearly ubiquitous on mobile devices. According to one survey, approximately 72 percent of mobile phone users send text messages (TMs).

Clinical medical care is not immune from the trend, and in fact physicians appear to be embracing texting on par with the general population. Another survey found that 73 percent of physicians text other physicians about work.

(Source:  Journal of AHIMA, “HIPAA Compliance for Clinician Texting”, by Adam Green, April 2012)

Advantages

Texting can offer providers numerous advantages for clinical care. It may be the fastest and most efficient means of sending information in a given situation, especially with factors such as background noise, spotty wireless network coverage, lack of access to a desktop or laptop, and a flood of e-mails clogging inboxes.

Further, texting is device neutral—it will work on personal or provider-supplied devices of all shapes and sizes. Because of these advantages, physicians may utilize texting to communicate clinical information, whether authorized to do so or not.

Risks

All forms of communication involve some level of risk. Text messaging merely represents a different set of risks that, like other communication technologies, needs to be managed appropriately to ensure both privacy and security of the information exchanged.

Text messages, like all digital data,  may reside on a mobile device indefinitely, where the information can be exposed to unauthorized third parties due to theft, loss, or recycling of the device. Text messages often can be accessed without any level of authentication, meaning that anyone who has access to the mobile phone may have access to all text messages on the device without the need to enter a password.

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AA9tsnE

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Texts also are generally not subject to central monitoring by the IT department. Although text messages communicated wirelessly are usually encrypted by the carrier, interception and decryption of such messages can be done with inexpensive equipment and freely available software (although a substantial level of sophistication is needed.

If text messages are used to make decisions about patient care, then they may be subject to the rights of access and amendment. There is a risk of noncompliance with the privacy rule if the covered entity cannot provide patients with access to or amend such text messages.

The Wireless Association

According to 2012 data from CTIA–The Wireless Association, U.S. citizens alone exchange nearly 200 billion text messages every month. So it’s not surprising that an increasing number of clinicians are using text messaging to exchange clinical information, along with a wide range of other modes — smartphones, pagers, computerized physician order entry, emails, etc. Electronic communication is certainly faster, can be more efficient, enhances clinical collaboration and enables clinicians to focus on patient care. But with these benefits comes an increased risk of security breaches.

(Source:  Clarifying the Confusion about HIPAA – Compliant Texting, by Megan Hardiman and Terry Edwards, May 2013)

Unfortunately, vendor hype about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act [HIPAA] is causing many hospitals and health systems to implement stop-gap measures that address part — but not all — of a problem. To identify all vulnerabilities, health care leaders need to consider not only text messaging, but all mechanisms by which protected health information in electronic form is transmitted — as well as the security of those mechanisms.

Mobile device-to-mobile device SMS text messages are generally not secure because they lack encryption.  The sender does not know with certainty that his or her message is indeed received by the intended recipient.  In addition, telecommunications vendor/wireless carrier may store the text messages.

Recent HHS guidance indicates text messaging, as a means of communicating PHI, can be permissible under HIPAA depending in large part on the adequacy of the controls used.  A hospital or provider may be approved for texting after performing a risk analysis or implementing a third-party messaging solution that incorporates measures to establish a secure communication platform that will allow texting on approved mobile devices.

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The Ponemon Institute

A study reported in Computer World in May 2013 by the Ponemon Institute with 577 healthcare and It professional in facilities that ranged from fewer than 100 beds to over 500 beds stated that fifty-one percent of the respondents felt HIPAA compliance requirements can be a barrier to providing effective patient care.

Specifically HIPAA reduces time available for patient care (85% of the respondents), makes access to electronic patient information difficult (79% of the respondents) and restricts the use of electronic mobile communications (56% of the respondents).

The study stated “respondents agreed that the deficient communications tools currently in use decrease productivity and limit the time doctors have to spend with patients. “ They also stated “they recognized the value of implementing smartphones, text messaging and other modern forms of communications, but cited overly restrictive security policies as a primary reason why these technologies were not used.”

Clinicians in the survey stated that only 45% of each workday is spent with patients; the remaining 55% is spent communicating and collaborating with other clinicians and using the electronic medical record and other clinical IT systems.

Several other statements made were:

  • Because of the need for security, hospitals and other healthcare organizations continue to use older, outdate technology such as pagers, email and facsimile machines. The use of older technology can also delay patient discharges – now taking an average of 102 minutes.
  • The Ponemon Institute estimated that the lengthy discharge process costs the U.S. hospital industry more than $3.189 billion a year in lost revenue, with another $5 billion lost through decrease doctor productivity and use of outdated technology. Secure text messaging could cut discharge time by 50 minutes.

(Source:  Computer World, “HIPAA rules, outdate tech cost U.S. hospitals $3.38 B a year”, by Lucas Mearian, May, 2013)

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smart phone mobile ME-P

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Assessment

Several suggestions offered for these preferred mobile devises are:  1) ensure encryption and access to individuals who need to have access; 2) use secure texting applications; and 3) even consider alerting employees with warnings before they send an email or share files that lets them know they are liable for the information sent

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ABOUT CAROL MILLER; BSN, MBA, PMP millerconsultgroup@gmail.com ACT IAC Executive Committee Vice Chairwoman at-Large HIMSS NCA Board Member [President – Miller Consulting Group] Phone: 703-407-4704 and Fax: 703-790-3257

Ms. Carol S. Miller has an extensive healthcare background in operations, business development and capture in both the public and private sector. Over the last 10 years she has provided management support to projects in the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense medical programs. In most recent years, Carol has served as Vice President and Senior Account Executive for NCI Information Systems, Inc., Assistant Vice President at SAIC, and Program Manager at MITRE. She has led the successful capture of large IDIQ/GWAC programs, managed the operations of multiple government contracts, interacted with many government key executives, and increased the new account portfolios for each firm she supported. She earned her MBA from Marymount University; BS in Business from Saint Joseph’s College, and BS in Nursing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a Certified PMI Project Management Professional (PMP) (PMI PMP) and a Certified HIPAA Professional (CHP), with Top Secret Security clearance issued by the DoD in 2006. Ms. Miller is also a HIMSS Fellow.

Conclusion

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Should HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius be Replaced?

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A Voting and Opinion Poll

[By Ann Miller RN MHA]

We are all aware that critics are calling for the head of Kathleen Sebelius after the clumsy online rollout of the PP-ACA.

And so, we ask:

Assessment

After you vote; please leave a cogent opinion, too.

Conclusion

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The RAND Corporation’s Health IT Legacy‏

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Understanding ObamaCare and HIT Data Breaches

[By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittTwo current topics in the HIT industry: (1) A dishonest 2005 RAND study set up lawmakers for disappointment in electronic health records, which are essential to Obamacare, and (2) I told you so.

The Reports

Just the other day, there were reports of two data breaches of EHRs involving over 734,000 patients in Texas and California.

http://www.ihealthbeat.org/articles/2013/10/23/health-facilities-in-california-texas-report-health-data-breaches

For reasons like this, the wisdom of an ambitious mandate for paperless healthcare by 2014 is beginning to be questioned by the same lawmakers who were sucked in years ago by RAND’s tainted 2005 study.

According to the vendor-friendly results gleaned from vendor-friendly data supplied by vendors, EHRs should have started saving 100,000 lives and $77 billion a year, years ago. Predictably, that has not happened. Far from it!

The Findings 

The happy findings – discredited even by RAND in January of this year – were paid for by Cerner and GE, who profited immensely from their RAND investment. Since nationwide adoption of EHRs became a bi-partisan goal with bubbly beginnings and millions of campaign dollars, the costs and danger of healthcare IT didn’t appear to bother conservatives until three months after RAND admitted the study was garbage.

In April, six GOP senators, led by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), released a detailed report criticizing HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ execution of a $35 billion initiative to promote EHRs as part of the ARRA stimulus package. (See: “GOP senators raise concerns with push for electronic medical records,” by Sam Baker, April 16, 2013, The Hill).

http://thehill.com/blogs/healthwatch/medicare/294273-gop-senators-raise-concerns-with-push-for-electronic-medical-records

Wither ARRA?

Have you ever wondered why ARRA was passed as a jobs bill rather than as part of healthcare reform? Any ideas?

More recently, with the conservatives’ failure to stop Obamacare even by shutting down government, EHRs have become recognized as the ACA’s next best weakness. Yesterday, Greg Scandlen, writing for RightSideNews.com, posted “The Tyranny of Electronic Systems.” It goes downhill from there.

http://www.rightsidenews.com/2013102333379/life-and-science/health-and-education/the-tyranny-of-electronic-systems.html

Even More

Also yesterday, Michelle Mailkin writing for Townhall.com, an ultra-conservative website similar to RightSideNews, posted, “Don’t Forget Obamacare’s Electronic Medical Records Wreck.

http://townhall.com/columnists/michellemalkin/2013/10/23/dont-forget-obamacares-electronic-medical-records-wreck-n1730172?utm_source=TopBreakingNewsCarousel&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=BreakingNewsCarousel

Assessment 

Conservatives found traction: Without the anticipated healthcare savings from EHRs, Obamacare will not survive. These times are not as happy for EHR stake-holders as RAND led them to expect.

Conclusion

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Hospital Information Systems and the PP-ACA

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Extension of Hospital Information Systems Beyond the Hospital

By Brent A. Metfessel MD

Dr. MetfesselThe Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), affirmed after the November 7th 2012 presidential election, includes a number of policies and potential projects with the aim of improving quality of care while reducing costs – or at least greatly slowing increases in health care costs from year to year.

Included in this effort are CMS payment incentives for providers that can show care patterns that meet the goals of high quality, cost-efficient care.

HHS and ACOs 

On March 31, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a set of proposed new rules to aid clinicians, hospitals, and other health facilities and providers to improve coordination of care for Medicare patients using a model known as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). ACOs that are shown to lower health care cost growth while meeting CMS quality benchmarks, including measures of patient/caregiver experience of care, care coordination, patient safety, preventive health, and health of high-risk populations, will receive incentive payments as part of the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

But, in some proposed models ACOs may also be held accountable for shared losses.

Care Co-ordination

Coordination of care means that hospitals, physician offices, and other providers have a complete record of patients’ episodes of care, including diagnostic tests, procedures, and medication information.  This potentially would decrease extra costs from unnecessary duplication of services as well as reducing medical errors from incomplete understanding of the patients’ illness histories and medical care provided.

It is also believed that better coordination of care may prevent 30-day hospital readmissions (which occur for nearly one in five Medicare discharges), since needed post-discharge care would be more readily obtainable with more aggressive care coordination.

Medicare patients in ACOs, however, would still be allowed to see providers outside of the ACO, and proposals exist to prevent physicians in ACOs from being penalized for patients with a greater illness severity or complexity.

According to a CMS analysis, ACOs may result in Medicare savings of up to $960 million over three years.  Although the Affordable Care Act’s ACO provisions primarily target Medicare beneficiaries, private insurers are also beginning to create care models based on the accountable care paradigm.  Insurers could offer similar incentives to the ACO model described above, and which might include features such as performance based contracting or tiered benefit models that favor physicians who score highly on care quality and cost-efficiency measures.

Balance

Only the Beginning

ACOs and other implementations of the accountable care paradigm, however, are in their beginning stages, with a number of pilots around the country currently being conducted to more fully evaluate the concept, and there still is some controversy over the best way to achieve these goals. It is a continuing balancing act.

The critical point here is that in all likelihood, with the advent of the ACA and other initiatives, stemming the upward tide of medical cost increases becomes an even higher priority, and no matter what the final models will look like, the success of any of the models requires a high level of care coordination – requiring information systems that are fully compatible and allow seamless and errorless transmission of information between sites of service and the various providers that can be involved in patient care.

More:

  1. Ground Breaking Book Explains Why Accountable Care Organizations May Be the Answer the Health Care Industry Has Been Seeking!
  2. Evaluating ACOs at Mid-Launch
  3. How Using a ‘Scorecard’ Can Smooth Your Hospital’s Transition to a Population Health-Based Reimbursement Model
  4. Doubting the Accountable Care Organization B-Model

Assessment

Thus, wherever a patient goes for care, all the information needed to provide high-quality and cost-efficient care is immediately available.

References

Feds Take Critical Look at Meaningful Use Payments”, InformationWeek Healthcare, October 24, 2012.  http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/policy/feds-take-critical-look-at-meaningful-us/240009661 [Accessed on November 2, 2012].

Conclusion

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Healthcare Adversaries [video]

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Of HHS and AHIP

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

pruitt6If HHS and AHIP continue to give doctors the bum’s rush, what languages can we expect migrant providers to speak well?

The Conference

Last week, I came across a video of a health care conference held a month ago at the University of Miami. During a discussion period, a Miami spinal surgeon named Dr. Nordham warned that more Medicare pay cuts will make small, solo practices like his unsustainable.

Karen Speaks

Panelist Karen Ignagni, who is president and the CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), reacted defensively in favor of continued unsustainable discounts – but with a hasty, disingenuous response: “We’re seeing out of network charges of 95 times Medicare fees.” While as if on cue, former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, who is also president of the university, offered her cold interpretation of the small business owner’s legitimate fears: “He’s really complaining that the price is going down [according to law].”

Shalala Speaks

After also ignoring the physician’s plea, “There needs to be more transparency,” Shalala and Ignagni continue an irrelevant, buzzword-filled discussion with each other using flowing hand gestures while shutting out the doctor’s attempts to bring the conversation back on topic. Then abruptly, without giving Dr. Nordham the opportunity to say another word, Shalala slammed the door: “…. I think we’ll take the next question, thank you.” Then she threw him a bone, “It’s a very important question, though.”

###

MD with eHR

Assessment

The 4 minutes of unvarnished disrespect of Dr. Nordham is so transparent that one wonders whether Shalala and Ignagni were even aware that their half-baked PR game was being recorded for C-span.

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/event/214023 (from 2:09:53 to 2:13:42)

They probably thought nobody stays up that late.

More: Chapter 13: IT, eMRs & GroupWare

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Hospitals: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781439879900

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

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Confusion About “Meaningful Use” Reigns

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Are Doctors Embracing or Ignoring ARRA?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

pruittAre physicians embracing ARRA Meaningful Use cash incentives or ignoring them? That depends on whom one asks.

Doctors versus the Feds

National progress towards Meaningful Use of expensive EHRs depends on whether one talks to federal employees whose jobs depend on the stimulus mandate, or doctors who purchase EHRs to improve care rather than to use them … Meaningfully.

The Feds

Today, Joseph Conn, writing for ModernHealthcare, posted a rosy outlook for MU adoption according to researchers working for HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). They base their optimism for job security on a recent National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) survey:

“A growing number of office-based physicians are using more-robust EHRs that have higher-level functions needed to help the doctors qualify for federal EHR incentive payments [for Meaningful Use] and assist them in providing better, safer care for patients, the researchers reported.” (See “Researchers: More doctors using more-sophisticated EHRs”).

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20121212/NEWS/312129956/researchers-more-doctors-using-more-sophisticated-ehrsJust

eMR and HIT Security

The Doctors

However, yesterday, in an InformationWeek article by Ken Terry titled, “Meaningful Use Doesn’t Drive Doctors’ EHR Selection,” doctors suggested a more depressing future for MU sophistication based on the same NCHS survey:

“Jason Mitchell, MD, assistant director of the Center for Health IT at the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), told InformationWeek Healthcare that he found [the lagging adoption of MU-capable EHRs] puzzling. While there’s no doubt that Meaningful Use has driven much of the increase in EHR use, he said, it seems strange that so many physicians would buy and implement EHRs that could not be used to show Meaningful Use.”

http://www.informationweek.com/healthcare/electronic-medical-records/meaningful-use-doesnt-drive-doctors-ehr/240144093

Assessment

Whom should doctors believe – HHS employees who give away billions of stimulus dollars for Meaningful Use, or family physicians who have determined that the subsidy isn’t worth the cost and effort?

Conclusion

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Enter the HIPAA Fear Mongers

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Fear of HIPAA Sells

[By Darrelkl K. Pruitt DDS]

“The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) can show up at your door and ask to perform an audit on short notice, and your organization will need to be ready, or face fines of up to $50,000 per day for each regulatory provision violated.”

– Gene Kraemer [Customer Relationship Director at The Coding Institute]

http://www.audioeducator.com/hipaa-audits-and-enforcement-042412.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=E99NAGAJ&utm_campaign=E99NAGAJ

The most successful of opportunistic HIPAA consultants are the scariest

As a dentist for almost 30 years, I’ve noticed that along with even rumors of mandate enforcement, ambitious compliance consultants’ fear-inspiring ads start interrupting happier thoughts. It happened with OSHA’s push into dentistry 20 years ago and we clearly see the aggressive sales pitches with HIPAA as well.

The scariest part of Gene Kraemer’s description of HIPAA’s tedious requirements and bankruptcy-level liabilities is that he is simply telling the truth. So if you are a HIPAA covered dentist, be scared.

On the other hand, if you don’t store or send your patients’ digital PHI – choosing instead to use the US Mail – you are increasingly fortunate in the dentistry market. For one thing, our patients are fed up with identity thefts, and paper dental records are the gold standard in security. In addition, nothing is holding down your competitors’ costs for HIPAA compliance and it is increasing much faster than the cost of postage.

De-identify now or lose computerization, Doc. If your patients’ PHI is not present it simply cannot be hacked by an identity thief. Guaranteed more secure than Cloud. Arguably more secure than even paper dental records.

Or … You can hire The Coding Institute.

You can bet Gene Kraemer isn’t someone who would hold down the cost of compliance.

 

From: Gene_Kraemer@mail.vresp.com

Subject: HIPAA Audits & Enforcement: New Penalties & Push for Compliance – Final Notice!

Good Morning,

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is currently implementing audits to meet requirements in the HITECH Act in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for performing periodic audits of compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, and up to 150 random HIPAA compliance audits will be performed by the end of 2012.  While in the past, audits had been performed only at entities that had had a complaint filed against them, the new rule calls for audits whether or not there is a complaint.  This means, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) can show up at your door and ask to perform an audit on short notice, and your organization will need to be ready, or face fines of up to $50,000 per day for each regulatory provision violated.

Join us for this live audio conference on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 1 pm ET | 12 pm CT | 11 am MT | 10 am PT. This conference is being presented by Jim Sheldon-Dean, the founder and director of compliance services at Lewis Creek Systems, LLC, a Vermont-based consulting firm founded in 1982, providing information privacy and security regulatory compliance services to health care firms and businesses throughout the Northeast and nationally. He serves on the HIMSS Information Systems Security Workgroup, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange Privacy and Security Workgroup, and co-chairs the WEDI HIPAA Updates sub-workgroup.  Sheldon-Dean is a participating member of the advisory board of Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL), and has participated in VITL’s Vermont Health Information Technology Plan working group, VITL’s Physician EMR adoption project, and the Security Workgroup of the New Hampshire/Vermont Strategic HIPAA Implementation Plan (NHVSHIP).

Highlights of the session :

• Fines and penalties for violations of the HIPAA regulations have been significantly increased and now include mandatory fines for willful negligence that begin at $10,000 minimum.

• HIPAA Audits have been few and far between in the past, but that’s now changing – the HHS will be auditing HIPAA covered entities and business associates even if there have been no complaints or problems reported.

• What HHS OCR is likely to ask you if you are selected for an audit, and what you’ll have to have prepared already when they do.

• The rules are that you need to comply with will be explained. Learn about the policies you can adopt that can help you come into compliance and be prepared for an audit.

• How the HIPAA rules have changed and how you may need to change. How you work to keep up with them.

• How having a good compliance process can help you stay compliant and respond to audits more easily.

• The documentation needed to survive an audit and avoid fines will be described.

• A discussion on what you’ll need to think about to deal with current and future threats to the security of patient information.

If interested, please click the following link to register and get your early bird discount : –

http://www.audioeducator.com/hipaa-audits-and-enforcement-042412.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=E99NAGAJ&utm_campaign=E99NAGAJ

Please apply discount code “GENE20” at checkout to get your $20 discount on early registration.

Looking forward to having you onboard here.

Thanks,

Gene Kraemer

Customer Relationship Director

The Coding Institute LLC

2222 Sedwick Drive,

Durham, NC 27713

************************************************************************************8*************************

Conclusion

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Promoting “National Family [Medical] History Day” 2011

AKA Thanksgiving Day

By Staff Reporters

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Did you know that each year since 2004, the Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day?

Over the holiday season or at other times when families gather, the Surgeon General encourages Americans to talk about, and to write down, the health problems that seem to run in their family.  PHRs are a perfect tool in this regard.

Moreover, doctors speak about the FH with patients every day, and as they commence office work on this Black Friday. Of course, learning about a family’s health history may help ensure a longer, healthier future together too!

Assessment

For information from the Office of the Surgeon General, please visit http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/

Conclusion                

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Health Dictionary Series: http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/product/9780826105752

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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“Meaningful Use” for Ambulatory Care Medical Practices

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EHR Objectives and Measures

By Shahid N. Shah MS  

For ambulatory care practices and physicians there are about 25 objectives and measures that must be met to become a “meaningful user”. Keep in mind that meaningful use is not tied to a certified EHR alone; in fact, unless you use the EHR properly and in all the ways the government wants you to, you will not be a “meaningful user”.

Don’t be fooled by EHR vendors guaranteeing that they will make you a “meaningful user” – no vendor’s software, no matter how nice, can get your staff to use the software in the way the government wants. You, as the CIO of your practice, are the only one that can guarantee that. In fact, you don’t even need an EHR from a vendor to meet the requirements – you can even roll your own, use open source, or find any other means.

Fear and Promises

In general, as long as you can attest and send data to the government that they require you can do it in any way that you want. Be aware that some unscrupulous vendors are scaring practices and making promises that they cannot keep.

Final MU Rules

The final Meaningful Use (MU) Rule was published by HHS on July 13, 2010. It defines 24 objectives for and measures eligible hospitals that could be met to become a meaningful user and qualify for incentive funding. There is a “core set” that must be met by all institutions and a “menu set” of from which organizations must implement at least 5 objectives.

Core Set Objectives

These are the “core set” of 14 objectives that must be met by all institutions and a “menu set” of 10 from which organizations must implement at least 5 objectives (at least 1 public health objective must be chosen from that set).

  1. Use Computer Provider Order Entry (CPOE).
  2. Implement drug-drug, drug-allergy, and drug-formulary checks.
  3. Record demographics.
  4. Implement one clinical decision support rule.
  5. Maintain an up-to-date problem list of current and active diagnoses based on ICD-9-CM or SNOMED CT.
  6. Maintain active medication list.
  7. Maintain active medication allergy list.
  8. Record and chart changes in vital signs.
  9. Record smoking status for patients 13 years or older.
  10. Report hospital clinical quality measures to CMS or States.
  11. Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information, upon request.
  12. Provide patients with an electronic copy of their discharge instructions at time of discharge, upon request.
  13. Capability to exchange key clinical information among providers of care and patient-authorized entities electronically.
  14. Protect electronic health information.

Menu Set Objectives

These are the “menu set” of 10 objectives from which organizations must implement at least 5. At least one public health objective must be chosen from this set as well (numbers 8 or 9). Drug-formulary checks.

  1. Record advanced directives for patients 65 years or older.
  2. Incorporate clinical lab test results as structured data.
  3. Generate lists of patients by specific conditions.
  4. Use certified EHR technology to identify patient-specific education resources and provide to patient, if appropriate.
  5. Medication reconciliation.
  6. Summary of care record for each transition of care/referrals.
  7. Capability to submit electronic data to immunization registries/systems.
  8. Capability to provide electronic submission of reportable lab results to public health agencies.
  9. Capability to provide electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies.

Government Agencies and Participants Involved in MU

As you can see in the Figure, the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT (ONCHIT) is a component of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ONCHIT, usually abbreviated just ONC, is the principal policy group of the Federal Government that defines and manages NHIN.

Figure Link: Figure 

* ONC is responsible for coordinating with the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the specifications for the NHIN standards.

* The HIT Policy and HIT Standards Committees are the working groups that advise ONC on what to put in the standards.

* NIST is responsible for coming up with the test materials (assertions, procedures, methods, tools, data, and so on) that will be used to certify working systems 

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Content Exchange and Vocabulary Standards for eMRs

Understanding Terms and Definitions

By Shahid N. Shah MS

As per the HHS rules, vocabulary standards are standardized nomenclatures and e-code sets used to describe clinical problems and procedures, medications, and allergies for eMRs. Some commons terms and definitions are listed below:

Terms and Definitions

  • ASTM’s CCR – for most of your basic patient summary exchange needs the CCR will meet your needs. If you’re moving from low or no interoperability today to some interoperable capabilities then CCR is your best starting place.
  • International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modifications (ICD-9- CM) or SNOMED CT® should populate a problem list. If you’re not familiar with both standards and are unsure where to start, go with ICD-9 for problem lists. SNOMED is not commonly supported in the broad EMR industry but ICD-9 support is quite common so start there.
  • Health Level Seven (HL7) Clinical Document Architecture (CDA) Release 2 (R2) Level 2 CCD – for more advanced patient summary exchange needs the HL7 CDA is recommended. If you’re already supporting CCR exchange and it’s not meeting your needs then HL7 CDA is the next logical place to go.
  • For patient summary exchanges, HHS expect the following fields to be populated: problem list; medication list; medication allergy list; procedures; vital signs; units of measure; lab orders and results; and, where appropriate, discharge summary.
  • ICD-9-CM [ACD-10] or American Medical Association (AMA) Current Procedural Terminology (CPT®) Fourth Edition (CPT–4) to populate information related to procedures. Both of these standards are support broadly by most existing vendors so going with either or both is good.
  • For medication lists, HHS requires the use of codes from a drug vocabulary the National Library of Medicine has identified as an RxNorm drug data source provider with a complete data set integrated within RxNorm.
  • For lab results, HHS requires the use of LOINC® to populate information in a patient summary record related to lab orders and results when LOINC® codes have been received from a laboratory and are retained and subsequently available in your EMR. HHS states that in instances where LOINC® codes have not been received from a laboratory, the use of any local or proprietary code is permitted. HHS does not require these local or proprietary codes to be converted to LOINC® codes in order to populate a patient summary record.
  • For the purposes of electronic prescribing, your vendor must be capable of using NCPDP SCRIPT 8.1 or NCPDP SCRIPT 8.1 and 10.6. With respect to a vocabulary standard, your vendor must use codes from a drug vocabulary currently integrated into the NLM’s RxNorm. For the purposes of performing a drug formulary check, your vendor must be capable of using NCPDP Formulary & Benefits Standard 1.0 adopted by HHS (73 FR 18918).
  • There are standards required for insurance data like eligibility checking and submissions of claims. ASC X12N and NCPDP standards (Versions 4010/4010A and 5010 and Versions 5.1 and D.0, respectively) should be used for these transactions. It’s important to realize that Version 4010 is being phased out in favor of Version 5010 so your vendors need to support both at this time and must be able to move exclusively to Version 5010 in the future.
  • For the purposes of electronically submitting calculated quality measures required by CMS or by States, your vendor must be capable of using the CMS PQRI 2008 Registry XML Specification. Going forward, HL7 Quality Reporting Document Architecture (QRDA) Implementation Guide based on HL7 CDA Release 2 may be allowed but for now focus on the CMS PQRI requirements until HHS provides more guidance in the future.
  • For the purposes of submitting lab results to public health agencies, your vendor must be capable of using HL7 2.5.1.
  • For the purposes of electronically submitting information to public health agencies for surveillance and reporting, your vendor must be capable of using HL7 2.3.1 or HL7 2.5.1 as a content exchange standard. At this time HHS not required adverse event reporting nor have they adopted a specific vocabulary standard for submitting information to public health agencies for surveillance and reporting.
  • For the purposes of electronically submitting information to immunization registries your vendor must be capable of using HL7 2.3.1 or HL7 2.5.1 as a content exchange standard and the CDC maintained HL7 standard code set CVX -Vaccines Administered18 as the vocabulary standard.

Assessment

www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.  

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com and http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko

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Our Other Print Books and Related Information Sources:

Health Dictionary Series: http://www.springerpub.com/Search/marcinko 

Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/product/9780826105752

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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More on the Meaningful Use of eMRs

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Final Meaningful Use Rules Released by HHS on July 13, 2010.

[By Shahid N. Shah MS]

Link: http://shahid.shah.org

For ambulatory care practices and physicians there are about 25 objectives and measures that must be met to become a “meaningful user”. Keep in mind that meaningful use is not tied to a certified EHR alone; in fact, unless you use the EHR properly and in all the ways the government wants you to, you will not be a “meaningful user”. Don’t be fooled by EHR vendors guaranteeing that they will make you a “meaningful user” – no vendor’s software, no matter how nice, can get your staff to use the software in the way the government wants. You, as the CIO of your practice, are the only one that can guarantee that. In fact, you don’t even need an EHR from a vendor to meet the requirements – you can even roll your own, use open source, or find any other means. But, in general, as long as you can attest and send data to the government that they require you can do it in any way that you want. Be aware that some unscrupulous vendors are scaring practices and making promises that they cannot keep.

Final MU Rules

The final Meaningful Use (MU) Rule was published by HHS on July 13, 2010. It defines 24 objectives for and measures eligible hospitals that could be met to become a meaningful user and qualify for incentive funding. There is a “core set” that must be met by all institutions and a “menu set” of from which organizations must implement at least 5 objectives.

Core Set Objectives

These are the “core set” of 14 objectives that must be met by all institutions and a “menu set” of 10 from which organizations must implement at least 5 objectives (at least 1 public health objective must be chosen from that set).

  1. Use Computer Provider Order Entry (CPOE).
  2. Implement drug-drug, drug-allergy, and drug-formulary checks.
  3. Record demographics.
  4. Implement one clinical decision support rule.
  5. Maintain a problem list of current and active Dxs based on ICD-9-CM or SNOMED CT.
  6. Maintain active medication list.
  7. Maintain active medication allergy list.
  8. Record and chart changes in vital signs.
  9. Record smoking status for patients 13 years or older.
  10. Report hospital clinical quality measures to CMS or States.
  11. Provide patients with an electronic copy of their health information, upon request.
  12. Provide patients an e-copy of discharge instructions at time of discharge, upon request.
  13. Exchange key clinical e-information among providers and patient-authorized entities.
  14. Protect electronic health information.

Menu Set Objectives

These are the “menu set” of 10 objectives from which organizations must implement at least 5. At least one public health objective must be chosen from this set as well (numbers 8, 9, or 10).

  1. Drug-formulary checks.
  2. Record advanced directives for patients 65 years or older.
  3. Incorporate clinical lab test results as structured data.
  4. Generate lists of patients by specific conditions.
  5. Use certified eHR technology to identify patient-specific education resources and provide to patient, if appropriate.
  6. Medication reconciliation.
  7. Summary of care record for each transition of care/referrals.
  8. Capability to submit electronic data to immunization registries/systems.
  9. Capability to provide electronic submission of reportable lab results to public health agencies.
  10. Capability to provide electronic syndromic surveillance data to public health agencies.

Assessment

As can be seen in the link below, the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare IT (ONCHIT) is a component of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). ONCHIT, usually abbreviated just ONC, is the principal policy group of the Federal Government that defines and manages NHIN.

  • ONC is responsible for coordinating with the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on the specifications for the NHIN standards.
  • The HIT Policy and HIT Standards Committees are the working groups that advise ONC on what to put in the standards.
  • NIST is responsible for coming up with the test materials (assertions, procedures, methods, tools, data, and so on) that will be used to certify working systems.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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Health Information Privacy Breaches

Breaches Affecting 500 or More Individuals

By Staff Reporters

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As required by section 13402(e)(4) of the HITECH Act, the DHHS Secretary must post a list of breaches of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals. The following breaches have been reported to the Secretary.

www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/breachnotificationrule/postedbreaches.html

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PRACTICES: www.BusinessofMedicalPractice.com
HOSPITALS: http://www.crcpress.com/product/isbn/9781466558731
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FINANCE: Financial Planning for Physicians and Advisors
INSURANCE: Risk Management and Insurance Strategies for Physicians and Advisors

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Video Introduction to HealthCare.Gov

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“Take Health Care into Your Own Hands”

[By Staff Reporters]

This new federal government Website is managed by the US Department of Health & Human Services; located at 200 Independence Avenue, S.W. – Washington, D.C. 20201

Assessment: http://www.healthcare.gov/news/videos/tour.html

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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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Do We Have A False Sense of HIT Security?

Data Breaches More Common than Realized

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Here is an article titled “Report: Healthcare Organizations may have a False Sense of Data Security,” written by Neil Versel for FierceHealthIT.

http://www.fiercehealthit.com/story/report-healthcare-organizations-may-have-false-sense-data-security/2010-04-12?sms_ss=twitter#ixzz0kzNS6lq

Versel describes the results of a study commissioned by Nashville, Tenn-based Kroll Fraud Solutions. Kroll estimates that 19% of healthcare organizations in the nation suffered a data breach in the last 12 months. That number is up from 13% a year ago. It is based on this information that I estimate that in the last year, at least 24 million dental patients in the nation have been unknowingly exposed to the danger of identity theft. Everyone agrees that the only ethical thing for a dentist to do if he or she knows that patients’ identities have been exposed is to notify the patients and HHS. The shameful fact is, data breaches in dentistry are not being reported.

Enter the Dentists  

But, who can blame American dentists for underreporting breaches without first blaming the heavy-handed, stakeholder-friendly system that forces honest professionals to be dishonest? If a dentist self-reports a breach of 500 or more patients’ Protected Health Information (PHI) it can easily bankrupt a practice. The harm to one’s reputation in the community is just too great a disincentive for even the best of us, even without the added expense of patient notification, subsequent fines and lawsuits. It’s ugly, but that’s the hard, hidden truth about HITECH-HIPAA in dentistry – a piece of lame, one-sided “feel good” legislation that rather than preventing data breaches in dentists’ offices, it drives them underground. As healthcare providers, we should have warned our patients about the growing danger from electronic dental records long ago. Besides me, there are no practicing dentists discussing the topic. Why?

Accepting Ownership of the Dilemma  

Would anyone like to argue that the bi-partisan federal mandate for an interoperable, national eHR system relieves dentists of their obligations to the Hippocratic Oath? Let’s face it: Dentists’ computers continue to threaten up to 20% of dental patients in the nation. We cannot ignore it any longer, doctors.  Once we finally accept ownership of our problem, what are we going to do about it? I’ve suggested that we use common sense and simply remove the dangerous information from dental patients’ files. Anyone see any problem with this idea? Anyone have a better solution?

Assessment 

So what do the leaders of the ADA think of de-identification?

 

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Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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Electronic Medical Records and Dentistry

A Note to Diane Rehm

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

Dear Diane Rehm,

I always enjoy your show.

You add value to my drive to work.

As a dentist, I was especially interested in your March 10 show “Electronic Medical Records.”

http://wamu.org/programs/dr/10/03/10.php?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+WAMU885DianeRehm+%28WAMU%3A+The+Diane+Rehm+Show%29&utm_content=FaceBook#30598

In all the excitement that surrounds the 19 billion dollars our grandchildren have unwittingly granted to physicians and hospitals for “meaningful” adoption of certified eMRs, you probably haven’t noticed that nobody is talking about including dentistry in the conversion from paper to digital. Do you find that odd?

Small and Mid Sized Practices

Like small and mid sized physicians’ practices, small dental practices are intended to be part of the federal mandate for interoperable eMR adoption – even without the help from stimulus money that physicians receive. You probably weren’t aware that the stimulus money will run out before HHS gets around to defining “meaningful use” of eMRs in dental office. That would be impossible, but nevertheless, I anticipate that the attempts will be entertaining. Physicians in small practices typically have tens of thousands of paper charts as thick as phone books. On the other hand, a busy solo dental practice, like the majority of practices in the US, might have 5,000 files that are very thin in comparison to files that involve the whole body instead of just the bottom third of the face. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

Marginal Benefits May Not Exceed Marginal Costs 

I listened to your guest Dr. Carol Horn, who practices internal medicine in private practice, as well as others involved in the actual delivery of healthcare. They list not only the benefits of eMR adoption, but in fairness, they also described the expense and liability of digital records that continue long after the tedious and dangerous conversion from paper to digital. In other words, it appears that the benefits for physicians barely make the effort worth the price, even with 19 billion dollars in help.

Editor’s Note: In economics, we say that the marginal benefits may not exceed the marginal costs; all things being equal.

Assessment 

And so, it occurs to me that if dentists are to be included in the plans for digital interoperability, we will be very, very slow adopters for natural reasons: like eMRs in physicians’ offices, eMRs in dentists’ offices are more expense and trouble than they are worth – even before considering the bankruptcy-level liability of a data breach.

Most of those who champion eMRs for the entire healthcare system in the nation don’t realize that the bottleneck in dental offices isn’t the front desk. It’s the dentist who is hopefully taking his or her time providing care with those hands instead of working a keyboard.

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Understanding Medical Billing Methodologies

The Cash Conversion Cycle

[By Staff Reporters]

Most patients and financial advisors don’t have a clue about how doctor’s get paid in our current system; but it’s not by magic. Yet, a number of different steps occur during the processing of a medical claim that can be seen in a flow chart. Each step in the process can be mapped out and each is subject to claim payment-or-claim rejection. A payment time line for a typical FFS or PPO can also be subjected to a number of variables, depending on different factors including staff competency, time, outside vendors, information management, management decisions in general, or regulatory requirements. The total transit times may take weeks for electronic claims or up to two-years for some paper based claims.

First Make the Diagnosis

• ICD-9 alpha numeric code for disease classes, not billing.

• HHS offers ICD-9 [CM] for MDs and facilities.

• WHO-1900, updated every 3-10 years, e-ICD-10 [2013].

• Diagnostic Statistical Manual Mental Disorders, 4th Edition [DSM-IV].

Then Select the Current Procedure Terminology® Code

Medical, surgical and diagnostic task & service billing code numbers [5-digit] of AMA used by payers:

• Thousands updated annually

• Secretive with registered mark ®

• Office Visits: [brief, inter, extended, etc]

• # 99214 physical exam

• # 90658 H1N1 flu shot

• # 12002 one-inch laceration suture

• CDT® and HCPCS codes, too!

Document the Visit in Patient Progress Notes

Subjective:

“I was gardening and noticed my wrist was swollen and itched like crazy”

Objective:

A 4 inch linear red rash with circular oozing papules and swollen skin is present. Patient is wearing a small tennis bracelet which was tight.

Assessment:

Rule out rues dermatitidis versus nickel allergy.

Plan:

Soap soaks, with OTC calamine lotion with Rx oral diphenhydramine or [benadryl].

Submit the “Super Bill”

Not a “big bill” or expensive medical invoice; just an invoice

• Official standard billing form used by doctors submitting MC/MD claims.

• Also used by some private insurers and managed care plans.

• Contains patient demographics, diagnostic codes, CPT®, HCPC codes, etc.

• Generic billing form, like the generic HCFA 1500 claim form.

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Update on HIPAA Administrative Simplification

New Enforcement Rules

Federal Register: October 30, 2009 [Volume 74, Number 209]

Rules and Regulations – Page 56123-56131

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

DOCID: fr30oc09-12typewriter

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Office of the Secretary

45 CFR Part-160 [RIN 0991-AB55]

HIPAA Administrative Simplification: Enforcement

AGENCY: Office of the Secretary, HHS.

ACTION: Interim final rule; request for comments

SUMMARY:

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopts this interim final rule to conform the enforcement regulations promulgated under the Health Insurance Portability and

Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) to the effective statutory revisions made pursuant to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (the HITECH Act), which was enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).

More specifically, this interim final rule amends HIPAA’s enforcement regulations, as they relate to the imposition of civil money penalties, to incorporate the HITECH Act’s categories of violations, tiered ranges of civil money penalty amounts, and revised limitations on the Secretary’s authority to impose civil money penalties for established violations of HIPAA’s Administrative Simplification rules (HIPAA rules). This interim final rule does not make amendments with respect to those enforcement provisions of the HITECH Act that are not yet effective under the applicable statutory provisions. Such amendments will be subject to forthcoming rulemaking(s).

Assessment

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Link: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/E9-26203.htm

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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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List of Healthcare IT Trade Associations

Advancing Medical Practice Success with Strategic Relationships

By Staff ReportersHDS

To be efficient in healthcare delivery today, doctors must partner and understand the resources and affiliations that are available to them. Here is a brief list of several healthcare trade associations and leading industry vendors submitted for your review.

AHIMA
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is the premier association of health information management professionals. AHIMA’s 51,000 members are dedicated to the effective management of personal health information needed to deliver quality healthcare to the public. Founded in 1928 to improve the quality of medical records, AHIMA is committed to advancing the health information management profession in an increasingly electronic and global environment through leadership in advocacy, education, certification, and lifelong learning.

EHRA
HIMSS EHRA is a trade association of Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors that addresses national efforts to create interoperable EHRs in hospital and ambulatory care settings. HIMSS EHRA operates on the premise that the rapid, widespread adoption of EHRs will help improve the quality of patient care and the productivity of the healthcare system. The primary mission of the association is to provide a forum for the EHR vendor community relative to standards development, the EHR certification process, interoperability, performance and quality measures, and other EHR issues that may become the subject of increasing government, insurance and physician association initiatives and requests.

HIMSS
HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) is the healthcare industry’s membership organization exclusively focused on providing leadership for the optimal use of healthcare information technology and management systems for the betterment of human health. Founded in 1961 with offices in Chicago, Washington D.C., and other locations across the country, HIMSS represents approximately 17,000 individual members and some 275 member corporations that employ more than 1 million people. HIMSS frames and leads healthcare public policy and industry practices through its advocacy, educational and professional development initiatives designed to promote information and management systems’ contributions to ensuring quality patient care.

HITSP
The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel serves as a cooperative partnership between the public and private sectors for achieving a widely accepted and useful set of standards specifically to enable and support widespread interoperability among healthcare software applications, as they will interact in a local, regional, and national health information network for the United States. Comprised of a wide range of stakeholders, the Panel will assist in the development of the U.S. Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) by addressing issues such as privacy and security within a shared healthcare information system. The Panel is sponsored by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in cooperation with strategic partners such as the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), and Booz Allen Hamilton. Funding for the Panel is being provided via the ONCHIT contract award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HL7
Health Level Seven is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-accredited Standards Developing Organization (SDO) operating in the healthcare clinical and administrative data arena. It is a not-for-profit volunteer organization made up of providers, vendors, payers, consultants, government groups, and others who develop clinical and administrative data standards for healthcare. Health Level Seven develops specifications; the most widely used being a messaging standard that enables disparate healthcare applications to exchange keys sets of clinical and administrative data.

MSHUG
Microsoft Healthcare Users Group (MS-HUG) unified with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as part of the HIMSS Users Group Alliance Program in October 2003. The unification strengthens the commitment of HIMSS and MS-HUG to better serve their members and the industry through a shared strategic vision to provide leadership and healthcare information technology solutions that improve the delivery of patient care.

WEDI
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange [WEDI’s] goal is to improve the quality of healthcare through effective and efficient information exchange and management. They aim to provide leadership and guidance to the healthcare industry on how to use and leverage the industry’s collective knowledge, expertise, and information resources to improve the quality, affordability, and availability of healthcare.

Assessment

As the health information technology industry evolves, we will continue to contribute our expertise to foster ideas that shape the future of healthcare by offering more examples similar to the above.

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Dr. Pruitt Invites Dr. Cohen to Discuss eDRs

Where is the ADA’s Representative?

By Darrell K. Pruittpruitt; DDS

He or she should have been talking with me long ago. I have the audience and I’m giving you that opportunity I promised you, Dr. Donald Cohen.

Rest Easy

I’m aware that I possibly make you uncomfortable, considering how “unprofessionally” I’ve publicly treated lesser devoted HIPAA consultants. Rest easy! As soon as I read your article, I could tell that you’re different from your colleagues I’ve met. First of all, like me, you’re a dentist. That’s very important. Secondly, your credentials are impressive and reveal that compliancy is not a hobby for you like it is for others. Nobody can accumulate a history as impressive as yours without professional dedication. The last point, and the most important of the three, you seem honest about HIPAA compliance.

A Professional

It wasn’t lost on me that in your article you were professionally non-judgmental of the Rule. Instead of trying to justify a defenseless law, your job is to help dentists comply with the mandate as it is written or risk significant fines. Like tax-collecting, someone’s got to do the job of delivering bad news. You have a legitimate purpose to be involved in the dental industry, even if what you teach makes little difference at all if a dentist’s records are breached. I argue that following the inevitable bankruptcy from a breach, HHS fines are hardly a deterrent. And that is the issue: eDRs containing patient identifiers are too risky for the marketplace.

Electronic Dental Records

I think you would have to agree that eDRs are going nowhere until records are safe, and encryption is not going to be sufficient to protect dentists against dishonest employees. Ambitious bureaucrats in waiting, such as HIPAA consultants Travis Criswell, Sharalyn Fichtl, Kelly Mclendon and Olivia Wann – not a dentist among them – hooked their careers to the HIPAA mandate to avoid the tough sales jobs competition otherwise demands in the free market. All four share an authoritarian misconception that since it is the law, dentists will be forced to purchase their products – even if they are utterly senseless. I think we both know that they are oh so wrong. I promised earlier to give you an opportunity to publicly support truth in eDRs if you so choose. Perhaps we could rationally discuss in front of everyone how dentists can wriggle free of the approaching mess. There is no pressure here, other than this is public invitation. Since you haven’t made unrealistic claims about eDRs like others have, I am not interested in hounding you further. I simply ask you to consider responding to the article I posted in your name on PennWell titled “Dr. Donald Cohen’s opportunity.”

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/dr-donald-cohens-opportunity

Assessment

I sincerely appreciate the respect you have shown me, and I pledge to afford you the same. Of all the consultants I have approached with my concerns about HIPAA and eDRs, you are the first to even acknowledge a problem simply by posting my concerns. I think you have the courage to face the realities of the marketplace, while others foolishly think dentists are a captive market.

Note: I submitted this to be posted following an August 28th press release posted by HIPAA consultant Dr. Donald Cohen titled, “Dentists Should Know about New HIPAA Rules.”

http://www.dentalblogs.com/archives/administrator/dentists-should-know-about-new-hipaa-rules/comment-page-1/#comment-35672

If you are interested in discussing the topics of interoperability with fax machines, de-identified eDRs and security that surpasses paper records, in front of you is the opportunity to address your largest audience yet, Dr. Cohen. I’m self-syndicated.

Note: Do you realize that if Dr. Cohen takes me up on the offer, this will be the first time two dentists have openly discussed eDRs on the Internet? Do you think it’s about time?

Conclusion

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Tightening Payment Rules for Non-Physicians

Understanding the Medicare “Incident To” Rules

By Staff ReportersGator

Under the “incident to” rules, Medicare Part B pays for some services that are billed by physicians, but performed by non-physicians. And, the Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] and Office of Inspector General [OIG] says that some of these services might be used improperly.

Suggestions to CMS

The agency recommends the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] perform the following:

  • Revise the “incident to” rule to require that physicians who bill Medicare, but don’t perform the services themselves, ensure that the services are provided by a licensed physician, or a non-physician with the necessary training, certification or licensure.
  • Require that physicians who use non-physician services identify this with a service code modifier on bills.
  • Take appropriate action to detect when physicians bill for “incident to” services that are not covered under the rule.

Assessment

In the current healthcare reform environment, Medicare services by non-physicians are coming under increased scrutiny. And, the OIG is finding that the “incident to” rule is allowing medical care to be provided by non-physicians who may lack the necessary qualifications. This may be a healthcare financial, insurance and quality breach. So, don’t let this trap “bite” you.

Source: HHS Office of Inspector General (www.oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-09-06-00430.pdf)

Conclusion

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On PHI Security Breaches

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New HHS Regulations

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Effective September 23, 2009, new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) will require covered entities to notify affected individuals and HHS following the discovery of a breach of patient information. These regulations are more expansive than other notification laws that may already exist. Under these new regulations, covered entities must analyze every privacy and/or security incident to determine whether a notification requirement exists and then satisfy detailed notice requirements.

Breach Defined 

According to Garfunkel, Wild and Travis PC, a “breach” may be defined as the unauthorized acquisition, access, use or disclosure of unsecured Protected Health Information (“PHI”) which compromises the security or privacy of the PHI. It is important to note that this definition of breach is broader than most state notification laws under which most covered entities have already been operating for a number of years. While state notification laws may only require notification when there is an unauthorized disclosure of social security numbers or other specific kinds of personal information, under these new Federal regulations, unauthorized access, acquisition, use or disclosure of any PHI, not just social security number, is a potential breach. Furthermore; unauthorized uses of PHI, not just access or disclosure, requires notification.

Assessment

For more info: http://www.gwtlaw.com

Conclusion

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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.

Conclusion

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Defining Current Dental Terminology [CDT®] Codes

What they Are – How they Work

By Staff Reportersdhimc-book1

OMAP Unique Procedure Codes*

The HHS [Health and Human Services] Office of Medical Assistance Program’s [OMAP] unique procedure codes were originally listed in the appropriate service guides. The maintenance of these codes was the responsibility of OMAP. These procedure codes were reviewed as needed and deleted either when a program no longer exists or when other Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System [HCPCS] codes are created which fully describe the service. Most of the unique codes were created to meet the needs of specialized services or programs. OMAP’s unique procedure codes were all five character configurations with the following alpha/numeric combinations: four numeric/one alpha (e.g., 7300Y); three numeric, two alpha (e.g., 206EP); two alpha/three numeric (e.g., BA311); or three alpha/two numeric (e.g., VIS01).

Current Dental Terminology (CDT procedure codes)

The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Code on Dental Procedures and Nomenclature is contained in the CDT-3 user guide. The maintenance of these codes is the responsibility of the Council on Dental Benefit Programs with consultation from: Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the Health Insurance Association of America, the Health Care Financing Association, National Electronic Information Corporation, and the American Dental Association recognized dental specialty organizations. The ADA updates the user guide approximately every five years. CDT codes are five-character, alpha-numeric configurations (e.g., D2110). Contact the American Dental Association to obtain a current copy of the CDT-3 Users Manual.

* Note: Due to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) requirements, Medicare Local codes and OMAP Unique codes were replaced with national standard procedure codes. 

www.HealthcareFinancials.com

ho-journal8

Assessment

For more terminology information, please refer to the Dictionary of Health Economics and Finance.

www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Conclusion

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Say it Ain’t So Kathy Sebelius

More HHS Nominee Tax Problems

[By Staff Reporters]56359795

Although it’s sounding more and more like comedian Bill Murray’s movie “Ground Hog Day”, according to Tracy Staton, Health and Human Services department secretary-nominee Kathleen Sebelius, became the second appointee for the agency to admit underpaying her taxes.

Unintentional Problems

Sebelilus fixed three years’ worth of returns due to “unintentional” problems, and paid almost $8,000 in back taxes and interest. The snafu may not be serious enough to jeopardize her nomination, however. Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus issued a statement saying the errors were “minor” and accidental, and that he supported her confirmation (The committee’s ranking Republican Charles Grassley is reserving judgment until after her confirmation hearing).

A Daschle “Do-Over”

We all know that Senator Tom Daschle’s nomination to head up HHS hit the wall after a tax review found he owed some $140,000 in back taxes and interest. Is this a similar KS do-over; aka “mulligan”?

Industry Indignation Index: 45

Assessment

More importantly, are these so-called healthcare demagogues and gurus aware that “perception is reality”; especially in the healthcare space where integrity and trust matters most? Or, as ME-P Publisher Dr. David Edward Marcinko wondered aloud,

“Do politicians and/or those of us in healthcare really believe we are above it all?

Link: http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2009/04/01/sebelius-runs-into-tax-problems-but-daschles-were-bigger

Conclusion

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Avi Baumstein and HIPAA Compliancy

A Ten-Step Process

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt

HIPAA inspections are coming. Are you still computerized? If so, are you prepared? The fines are steep if a dentist’s [optometrist, podiatrist, allopath or osteopath’s] computer is hacked and he or she is found to be not in compliance.

About Avi Baumstein

Avi Baumstein is an information security analyst at the University of Florida’s Health Science Center in Gainesville. He posted an article recently; on InformationWeek titled “Time to Get Serious about HIPAA.” Baumstein is one expert who should know.

Link: Ten Step Process

http://www.informationweek.com/news/industry/health-care/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=214600332&pgno=1&queryText=&isPrev=

Mr. Baumstein notes that in October, the HHS inspector general issued a report that was sharply critical of CMS (Medicare and Medicaid) for not enforcing HIPAA security. The embarrassing dope-slap of CMS leadership causes Baumstein and other experts in the security industry to anticipate more “proactive enforcement” (unannounced inspections) in the next year. 

From his article, I am led to believe that the last prerequisite for meaningful action to enforce security is a tax-paying and otherwise acceptable nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Whoever Obama finally digs up [Kathy Sibelius] I think providers are in for significant changes. 

For example, it will be the Secretary who will ultimately decide if HIPAA inspections will be performed by new federal employees or PriceWaterhouseCoopers personnel – which was the former President’s administration’s “market approach” to helping the GDP by outsourcing policing duties, as well as accountability, to favored big businesses. (For those who are sensitive about political affiliations and become upset with me for saying unflattering things about your heroes, please don’t feel too hurt.  I’m a bi-partisan critic for natural reasons).

The ADA’s imaginary playing field and toy soldiers

“The electronic health record may not be the result of changes of our choice. They are going to be mandated. No one is going to ask, ‘Do you want to do this?’ No, it’s going to be, ‘You have to do this.’ That’s why we absolutely need the profession to be represented in the discussions about EHR to make sure our ideas are enacted to the greatest extent possible.”

ADA President-Elect Dr. John S. Findley,

In-house interview ADA News

October 7, 2008

In spite of President Findley’s manicured and traditional cause-I-say-so sound bite, the actual invisibility of ADA leadership in healthcare IT matters clearly hints that whatever happens in Obama’s healthcare reform, dentists’ and patients’ concerns stand little hope of being adequately represented by ADA representatives. 

For example, when I recently contacted CCHIT to ask about EHRs in dentistry, I was told that I was one of the first to even mention dentistry to the private and reclusive non-profit EHR certification club. I think that chunk of unexpected news blows a huge hole in President Findley’s boat. Want to see something hilariously scary in a darkly humorous way? The President’s campaign motto this time last year was “Findley for the future.” Get it?

In spite of the silent neglect of dentists’ interests by dental leaders from the top down, I would like to proclaim that there is accidental hope that future HIPAA inspectors will know more about dentistry than the jobless OSHA hired in the late 1980s during the HIV panic. I heard a rumor back then that OSHA sent an inspector to a dental office who didn’t know the difference between a microwave and an autoclave.

Panic and Urgency

Panic, a favored US government bureaucratic response, occurred when OSHA leaders found themselves suddenly under pressure from Congress over a mysterious disease that was raging out of control. Since immediate action was demanded, even if it was irrelevant and wasteful, OSHA leadership was so busy chasing shadows that it was hiring almost anyone just to cover their lower backs. Eventually, the panic subsided and yielded to a low level of common sense, thanks in large part to the intervention of the late Rep. Dr. Charlie Norwood of Georgia – a dentist and a courageous statesman. Nevertheless, because of the momentum of institutional panic, millions of healthcare dollars have been wasted on 99% superstition; incredible? Consider this.

In the last two decades, how many lives have been saved by covering dental chairs with plastic between patients? Now, how much does the effort raise dentists’ fees – thereby lowering accessibility and increasing disease and suffering among Americans? Furthermore, after each dental patient is released, the “contaminated” sheet of petroleum-based polyethylene is thrown away. I ask this: Are the reasons for inevitable environmental problems caused by regularly adding non-biodegradable plastic to the city dump based on evidence-based science? 

Of course not! This and other related acts of foolishness are nothing but lingering, costly superstition – now accepted as standard of care without proof of effectiveness. Here is how such absurdity happens: Some of those weekend miracles quickly hired by OSHA in the ‘80s went on to become prosperous and influential consultants with lots of ideas.

Since the US government is prone to panic followed much too quickly by careless and expensive overkill, national responses to adversity often stimulate lots of employment – evidence of need be damned. The OSHA surge of the 80s followed the AIDS scare. More recently, coming on the heels of the banking collapse, auditing has become one of the fastest growing fields in the industry. The feds cannot hire people with accounting skills fast enough. I contend that one should expect that for reasons and attitudes similar to those surrounding the increased funding for OSHA, it follows that news of frightening breaches of EHRs by the hundreds of thousands at a time has created a new nidus of power in a fresh, enthusiastic administration, as well as an enormous employment opportunity for anyone with knowledge of dentistry – like super-hygienists.

A hazy glimpse of the future and a promise to tie all this together soon

This brings us to a fanciful peek over the edge of the event horizon in dentistry. At the same time that HIPAA inspections of dental offices appear unavoidable, there is currently a turf war between fully licensed dentists and expanded duty “super-hygienists” who wish to be able to practice independently – limiting their invasive work to only easy fillings and simple extractions that in their assessment will not turn complicated.

Link: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Turf Wars

This kind of war has been fought before, and physicians lost. Nurse-practitioners annexed physician turf like Sudetenland, and they are still grabbing lebensraum. CMS loves it. 

However, dentistry is different. It is my opinion that because of dental patients’ very personal reasons that include under-rated motivation from primal fear and terror, they will shun almost-dentists almost immediately – leaving graduates with huge student loan payments and lots of unused knowledge about dentistry.

Furthermore, I predict that when super-hygienists consider the expense of finishing out and leasing space at a shopping mall or department store, in addition to monthly loan payments to cover the price of dental equipment, or perhaps even the buy-in price to an insurance-sponsored dental franchise, a few will be discouraged from their initial intention to increase accessibility to dental care by lowering cost and quality.  

I think reality will cause a few super-hygienists to be readily lured from their initial goals upon entering two-year junior college programs that taught them nomenclature and the easy parts of doing dentistry. Unless they agreed to work in underserved areas in exchange for paid tuition, some will consider the benefits of working for commission for the US government as HIPAA inspectors. And later, the most successful of these will have the opportunity to continue their careers as HIPAA consultants with lots of ideas.

Are you following me so far? In conclusion, within two years, instead of real-dentists and almost-dentists being faced with uninformed HIPAA inspectors like OSHA’s shock-and-awe weekend miracle crews of the ‘80s, there will accidentally be thousands of nomenclature-savvy super-hygienists graduating across the nation looking for work about the time an acceptable HHS nominee finds his or her stride. What a story! 

Did I ever tell you that I once did a short stint as a screenplay writer? 

I guess I am being a little bit silly concerning super-hygienists, but do you see how all these pieces of history can conceivably come together at a time when the nation couldn’t be more vulnerable to wasting money on foolishness? Common sense about patients’ security is just not that common in Washington DC, and the absurdity of HIPAA is so great that the stunned silence it evokes actually causes the enforcement of folly to fit in well with the traditional Democratic tendencies of using big government to handle all possible contingencies caused by human frailties – even if that means micromanaging everyone. Who needs that? 

Every day, I am increasingly thankful that my office is not computerized. The sheet-metal box that contains my patients’ ledger cards does not have a USB port. Preparation for inspection is tricky by design.

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Assessment

Baumstein concedes that preparing for a HIPAA inspection is difficult because the law is intentionally vague:

“One goal of HIPAA was to be a one-size-fits-all, technology-neutral regulation.” 

Incredible; when you read the ten obligations Baumstein says a dentist must complete to be compliant with a vague mandate, you too may want to go back to a pegboard system – carbon paper and all.  

It seems to me that in 2003 or so, someone in the ADA Department of Dental Informatics should have warned ADA leadership about the obvious fact that as long as there is a dependable supply of cheap carbon paper in the nation, HIPAA enforcement has the potential to drive computers smoothly out of dentistry. Instead, there was silence followed by increased funding for the department’s budget, and the game was on. By 2005, at the urging of the former administration and healthcare IT stakeholder Newt Gingrich, the ADA News was posting articles pushing ADA members to quickly volunteer for irreversible NPI numbers for no good reason.  A trusting majority of members dutifully followed the tainted command. I am saddened by the loss few yet comprehend.

Link: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. In bringing a close to this contiguous, here is something some may find interesting about the University of Florida, where Avi Baumstein works. Do you remember the 330,000 dental patient records that were hacked this fall from the Dental School located in Gainesville, Florida?  You guessed it; same college town – same health science center

And, as of last week that the dental school was still hemorrhaging patient data to who knows where. I bet by now, Baumstein knows more about HIPAA and dentistry than anyone in the nation How about you? 

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IBM and Google Health

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[Partners for Online Personal Health Records

By Staff Reporters]

computer-hardwareAccording to MarketWire, February 5, 2009, IBM, Google and the Continua Health Alliance [CHA] announced new software that will enable personal medical devices used for patient monitoring, screening and routine evaluation to automatically stream data results into a patient’s Google Health Account [GHA] or other Personal Health Records [PHR].

PHR Value Extension

This breakthrough extends the value of PHRs to patients and also helps to ensure that such records are current and accurate at all times. Once stored in a PHR, the data can also be shared with physicians and other members of the extended care network at a user’s discretion.

Daschle and e-Health Reform

Of course,Tom Daschle’s recent decision to withdraw his nomination as the Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] secretary clouds hopes that President Obama will make significant progress on health-care reform in his first 100 days in the White House. But the problems of unaffordable medical bills and millions of uninsured are not going away, and a deepening recession has more Americans feeling worried about their jobs and insecure about their health benefits.

Assessment

The breakthrough of this triumvirate extends the value of PHRs to consumers and also helps to ensure that such records are current and accurate at all times. Once stored in a PHR, the data can also be shared with physicians and other members of the extended care network at a user’s discretion.

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Conclusion

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Medicare SGR Formula Fix

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The Daschle Imperative

[By Staff Reporters]caduceus

According to American Medical News, January 19, 2009, Tom Daschle, appearing at his first confirmation hearing to be Health and Human Services [HHS] secretary, pledged to replace Medicare’s sustainable growth rate [SGR] formula with a system that bundles payments in an attempt to reward good patient outcomes.

Recommendations

Apparently, Daschle also promised to examine inefficiencies in private Medicare plans, discourage tobacco use, support the training of primary care physicians and work with lawmakers in a bipartisan manner. Reports suggested that Medicare’s SGR formula “just isn’t working right.”

Expiring Patches

The latest in a series of temporary SGR reform payment patches expires at the end of 2009. If Congress doesn’t act before Jan. 1, 2010, doctors will undergo an estimated 21% Medicare pay cut. Any new formula should focus on bundling payments based on episodes of care instead of paying per procedure. Daschle said in the News reported, “I’m not one who supports the so-called performance- based approach, but I do believe that there are episodic ways with which to look at reimbursement that give us a lot more latitude” to reward better outcomes.

Assessment

He did not elaborate further.

Conclusion

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ICD-10 Deadline Delay Achieved

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Two-Year Postponement Announced

[By Staff Reporters]

The Department of Health and Human Services [DHHS] just released the final rule for implementing the ICD-10 [International Classification of Diseases] CM [Clinical Modification] and ICD10-PCS [Procedure Coding System] insurance coding initiatives.

The Delay

The compliance deadline was shifted from October 1, 2011; as proposed in the original rule; to October 1, 2013.

What it is?

The ICD provides codes to classify diseases and a wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances and external causes of injury or disease. Every health condition can be assigned to a unique category and given a code, up to six characters long. Such categories can include a set of similar diseases.

Assessment

The proposed rule was issued last August and presented for public comments.

Conclusion

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Extortion Argument for HIT De-Identification

A Really Scary Tale

By D. Kellus Pruitt; DDSpruitt

Upon arriving at the office early one morning recently, Dr. Smith logged on to the Internet to check her email. Among the usual pieces of junk email, one from Nigeria caught her eye. She recognized the name of one of her patients, written in bold letters. She thought, “That’s odd.” Smith opened the email to read more.

The Threat 

“I am revealing the name of your patient, who lives on Oak Street, as proof that your computer has been hacked. I have social security numbers, birthdates, insurance information … You name it, and I’ve got it. It will go on the market in 24 hours if you do not do exactly what I say …” (This is the start of price negotiations – for the first time).

The Decision 

What will Dr. Smith do? At the very best, she can hope that it’s a bluff. Nevertheless she must contact not only the FBI, but every one of her patients who are at risk of identity theft. That alone will bankrupt her practice because a large portion of her patients will never return. They will look for dentists with paper records. The very worse thing she could do is pay the ransom. In the end, how much did the bad guy risk to destroy a wonderful career, even if it was a bluff, or a devastatingly mean trick? You can relax now; this story is fiction. Here is the non-fiction.

NEWS FLASH!

“Script said the new letters were received by Express Script clients in recent days and is similar to the letter it first received. That letter included personal information on 75 people covered by Express Scripts, including birth dates, social security numbers and prescription information. The sender demanded money from the company, under the threat of exposing records of millions of patients.” – BusinessWeek [11.11.08]

More: http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D94CVLJO0.htm

Lose the Threat 

Dentists must lose this danger or lose their computers. Let’s temporarily put aside our dreams about how wonderful technology might become and open our minds to ways to go around insurmountable obstacles instead of pretending everything is wonderful in stakeholder land. For once, let’s seriously look into de-identifying our patients’ electronic dental records already. Forget about HIPAA and inspections. Forget about AHIC Successor Inc. Forget about CCHIT, CMS and even the HHS. Forget about Newt Gingrich and the past, present and future Presidents of the American Dental Association who prefer to be irrelevant than to discuss anything bad about electronic dental records. And especially forget, with prejudice, executives of dental insurance companies who demand interoperability on their NPI-driven terms. Let’s sidestep the biggest mistake in healthcare history. It does not have to be ours.

More Info:  Dictionary of Health Information Technology and Security 

www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Not a Fete’ Accompli 

Some leaders who have poor understanding of the modern marketplace would lead ADA members to believe that there is nothing that can be done to stop eHRs in the United States of America, no matter how expensive, dangerous and lousy stakeholder interests make them. Why; “cause I said so?”

Example:

Let me give you an example: “If we don’t participate, then who knows what will happen regarding the dental part of the eHR? eHR is on the way.” – Dr. John S. Findley, President of the ADA in “President-Elect’s Interview: Part 2,” ADA News Online (ADA members only).

More: http://adabei.com/members/resources/pubs/adanews/081006_findley.asp

If we don’t participate, Dr. Findley, dentistry will proceed with safe paper records like it has for a century or so.  I have clearly shown that far worse things could happen.  Shouldn’t we “first do no-harm” to our dental patients?  What happened to the ethics of the American Dental Association?

Stakeholder Optimism 

Even though optimistic stakeholders, hobbyists and hangers-on disagree with me, electronic dental records are not inevitable. At least they are not inevitable in the next decade or so.  They can easily become so lousy and so mistrusted by doctors and patients alike that they will set back miracles from Open Source Evidence-Based Dentistry forever. They are almost there already because of ambitious stakeholders, hobbyists and slow-moving hangers-on; like Dr. John S. Findley.

Assessment

Remember, decades ago the US was supposed to be on the metric system.  Sometimes inevitability takes so long that you might as well just forget about it.  And, the metric system even makes sense.

Conclusion

Unlike medical records which must remain secure even if de-identified, nobody, I repeat, nobody cares about breached dental histories. Physicians may have no choice. Dentists do! As always, your thoughts and comments on this Executive-Post are appreciated.

Related Information Sources:

Practice Management: http://www.springerpub.com/prod.aspx?prod_id=23759

Physician Financial Planning: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/0763745790

Medical Risk Management: http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421

Healthcare Organizations: www.HealthcareFinancials.com

Health Administration Terms: www.HealthDictionarySeries.com

Physician Advisors: www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.com

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HHS, OIG and DOJ Fight Health Fraud

New Five Point Strategy Revealed

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[By Staff Reporters]

According to the Report on Medicare Compliance, October 20, 2008, the Health and Human Services [HHS] Office of Inspector General [OIG] recently unveiled a five-point strategy for fighting fraud and abuse in anticipation of a new presidential administration.

Five Pillars

The five “pillars” are:

  1. scrutinize who is allowed to bill before enrollment.
  2. establish reasonable and responsive payment methodologies.
  3. help industry adopt practices that promote compliance.
  4. vigilantly monitor claims for payment, and;
  5. respond quickly to detected fraud.

OIG and DOJ

Among other activities, the OIG and Department of Justice [DOJ is using data mining to identify claims problems before they get out of hand.

Assessment

For example, the Office of Evaluation and Inspections [OEIs] issued a 2006 report on aberrant physical therapy billing – physicians were billing for services performed by unlicensed people in the patients’ homes – while an OIG attorney deputized by the Department of Justice [DOJ] is now prosecuting cases based on this violation in the Southern District of Mississippi.

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Conclusion

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Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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