Archive for August, 2018

Guest Post: HIPAA Compliance and Home Health: Overcoming the Challenges

August 21st, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

When it comes to HIPAA compliance, the mobile nature of home healthcare presents additional challenges over work in a fixed healthcare institution.

Home health workers provide invaluable support to less able patients and are integral to a successful and effective public health service. However, when it comes to compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the mobile nature of their work presents additional challenges they would not face working in a fixed healthcare institution. Outlined below are a number of these unique challenges, along with some tips for minimizing the risk of a potential data breach occurring while carrying out care work in the field.

Secure Communication

While there are no specific technology safeguards outlined by the HIPAA Security Rule, it is crucial that security measures for all operating procedures are current, effective and understood by all staff members to ensure a high level of security is achieved at all times.

Messages containing Protected Health Information (PHI) should only be sent through secure channels, and all records of communication containing PHI, such as email trails or message history, must be stored in a secure location with restricted access.

As well as communication via mobile devices, tablets or laptops, it is important to ensure that any face-to-face or telephone discussions regarding PHI take place in a private environment to minimize the risk of unauthorized individuals overhearing confidential information relating to patient(s).

Unsecured Wireless Networks

Free Wi-Fi hotspots are incredibly useful for remote workers, however, they also provide a great opportunity for hackers to intercept any unsecure connections and retrieve personal or sensitive information. To avoid any potential data breaches, employers should ensure all home health workers are aware of the dangers surrounding unrecognized networks and that they have the appropriate safeguards in place, such as the use of VPNs (virtual private networks) and the correct permission settings on their devices.

Disclosure of Information

Due to the nature of home healthcare, patients may require additional help around the home, therefore, family members or friends may sometimes be present during visits from health workers. However, this does not mean they are necessarily authorized to have access to the patient’s medical information. It is important that all home caregivers have received training in this area and understand only to discuss PHI with the patient and authorized persons to avoid putting all parties present in a difficult or uncomfortable situation, and most importantly, to protect the patient’s right to confidentiality.

Misplaced Information: Devices & Paperwork

With home health workers visiting several patients every day, device security (smartphones, laptops, tablets) becomes a major challenge as there is an increased possibility items could be misplaced, left unattended or even stolen. This can have disastrous consequences, particularly if there are accessible files or messages containing PHI saved on the device.

To minimize the risk of a potential data breach due to a lost or stolen mobile device, workers should:

  • Check they have their devices on their persons when they arrive at a patient’s home and when they leave.
  • Ensure there are sufficient access restrictions on the device – such as fingerprint recognition or active screen lock – so that, should it fall into the wrong hands, any sensitive data will remain secure.

While ePHI and digital records are paving the way to a more secure auditing system for confidential medical data, due to the nature of home healthcare, paper charts and records are still a common way of recording patient’s progress during home visits. As it is not possible to password-protect written records, extra care must be taken to ensure they are guarded at all times when in the health worker’s possession, and transferred to a secure location once visits are completed.

To minimize the risk of a potential data breach due to lost paper records, workers should:

  • Ensure that no paperwork containing PHI is left in an unsecure place, for example, on a desk or in an unmanned car overnight.
  • Store the paperwork in a securely locked filing system when not in use.
  • Destroy any records once they are no longer required either by shredding or burning the documents so that they are no longer readable and cannot be restored to a legible condition.

When it comes to HIPAA compliance, the ultimate responsibility lies with the employer. Through implementing training and compliance workshops, undertaking regular risk analysis, and investing in HIPAA-secure tools that facilitate safe communication, collaboration, and data storage, the risk of a data breach can be significantly reduced.

DocbookMD About the Author: Michael Senter joined DocbookMD in March 2015. He has over 15 years of experience providing solutions to highly regulated industries, including healthcare. Most recently, Michael has been focusing on the unique challenge of IT security in healthcare organizations. To find out more about how DocbookMD is improving communication and compliance in home health, visit https://www.docbookmd.com/explore/providers/home-health/.

Infographic: 4 Major Healthcare Industry Digital Challenges

August 20th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Even as the Internet of Things (IoT) healthcare market is expected to grow from $41 billion in 2017 to $158 billion in 2022, the industry still faces several digital healthcare challenges, according to a new infographic by Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise.

The infographic details the four healthcare major digital challenges: IoT, mobility, digital health and security.

Real-time remote management of high-risk populations curbed hospitalizations, hospital readmissions and ER visits for more than 80 percent of respondents and boosted self-management levels for nearly all remotely monitored patients, according to 2014 market data from the Healthcare Intelligence Network (HIN).

Remote Monitoring of High-Risk Patients: Telehealth Protocols for Chronic Care Management profiles a successful eight-year initiative by New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s (NYCHHC) House Calls Telehealth Program that significantly lowered patients’ A1C blood glucose levels.

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Infographic: Malnutrition Care Needs to Be Integrated Into Care Transitions

August 17th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Malnutrition is a pervasive, but often under-diagnosed, condition in the United States. This prevalence is exacerbated among those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and gastrointestinal, pulmonary, heart, and chronic kidney disease and their treatments can result in changes in nutrient intake and ability to use nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition, according to a new infographic by Defeat Malnutrition Today, a coalition of over 75 organizations and stakeholders working to defeat older adult malnutrition.

The infographic provides details on malnutrition prevalence across care settings, existing patient care transitions pathways and recommendations to integrate malnutrition care into care transitions.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved PopulationsAs one of the poorest urban congressional districts in the country, the Bronx, a New York City borough, was also rated as the last county (#62) in New York for health outcomes and health factors by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In reaction, the Bronx Health REACH initiative formed the “#Not62,” campaign to transform the health of the community.

Innovative Community Health Partnerships: Clinical Alliances to Reduce Health Disparities in Underserved Populations highlights the models of change and key initiatives developed through Bronx Health REACH’s community health transformation project.

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Infographic: Are EHRs Delivering Value-Based Care?

August 15th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

The majority of health system executives surveyed report that electronic health records (EHRs) alone are not delivering the data solutions needed to succeed with value-based care contracts, according to a new infographic by Philips Wellcentive.

The infographic examines the top-rated technology challenges EHRs lack; where executives are going for needed solutions; and how rip and replace scenarios are not being pursued.

A New Vision for Remote Patient Monitoring: Creating Sustainable Financial, Operational and Clinical OutcomesAs healthcare moves out of the brick-and-mortar traditional setting into patients’ homes and their workplaces, and becomes much more proactive, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has been expanding its remote patient monitoring program. The remote patient monitoring program at UPMC has its roots in the heart failure program but has since expanded to additional disease states across the integrated delivery system’s continuum of care.

A New Vision for Remote Patient Monitoring: Creating Sustainable Financial, Operational and Clinical Outcomes delves into the evolution of UPMC’s remote patient monitoring program from its initial focus on heart failure to how the program was scaled vertically and horizontally. Click here for more information.

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Infographic: Navigating the Telehealth Landscape

August 13th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

As healthcare organizations move from fee-for-service
to value-based care, telehealth can enable the delivery of medicine at every point in the care continuum, according to a new infographic by InTouch Health.

The infographic provides a roadmap to help navigate the telehealth landscape.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient MonitoringArtificial intelligence. Automation. Blockchain. Robotics.

Once the domain of science fiction, these telehealth technologies have begun to transform the fabric of healthcare delivery systems. As further proof of telehealth’s explosive growth, the use of wearable health-tracking devices and remote patient monitoring has proliferated, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has added several new provider telehealth billing codes for calendar year 2018.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient Monitoring delivers the latest actionable telehealth and remote patient monitoring metrics on tools, applications, challenges, successes and ROI from healthcare organizations across the care spectrum. This 60-page report, now in its fifth edition, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and remote patient monitoring initiatives as well as the use of emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

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Infographic: Aligning Infrastructure Decisions with Healthcare Business Plans

August 10th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

Healthcare organizations need to align their infrastructure process and business models, according to a new infographic by Fitzemeyer & Tocci Associates, Inc.

The infographic drills down on how healthcare organizations spend their capital and key goals for good infrastructure options.

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS SuccessA laser focus on population health interventions and processes can generate immediate revenue streams for fledgling accountable care organizations that support the hard work of creating a sustainable ACO business model. This population health priority has proven a lucrative strategy for Caravan Health, whose 23 ACO clients saved more than $26 million across approximately 250,000 covered lives in 2016 under the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).

Profiting from Population Health Revenue in an ACO: Framework for Medicare Shared Savings and MIPS Success examines Caravan Health’s population health-focused approach for ACOs and its potential for positioning ACOs for success under MSSP and MACRA’s Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS).

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Guest Post: Why Healthcare Marketers Should Care about the Patient Financial Experience

August 9th, 2018 by Will Reilly

In most cases, health system marketing is focused on dynamic content on healthcare organizations’ latest clinical advancements, philanthropic efforts, wellness management and relationship-building efforts within the communities they serve. It’s also understanding patients and their motivations, using consumer research and analysis, focus groups, surveys and other tools.

Healthcare marketing does not often include the healthcare billing experience, which is understandable. Frank discussions about finances remain a taboo in our society. The rising costs of healthcare—and the increasingly large percentage of that cost carried by the patient—makes this a delicate subject for even the most talented marketing team.

Yet, patient financing is a core pillar of a health system’s ability to deliver a positive experience to consumers and capture their loyalty.

According to HIMSS, “patient financial touch points…may exceed the number of clinical touch points,” yet its specific impact on the patient’s perception of the health system is rarely measured beyond common—and often incomplete—metrics like point-of-service collection rates, call abandonment rates and registration wait times.

Even HCAHPS, the national standardized survey that ties performance results to reimbursement, does not capture a patients’ financial experience, even though that experience can negatively impact a health system’s scores.

Healthcare’s Financial Quagmire

Imagine a state-of-the-art health system. The clinical care is second to none. The staff is highly professional and empathetic. The amenities and design details ensure a comfortable and reassuring stay.

Then the bills come. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Some come by e-mail, others by the post office. Some contradict each other, some are wholly unexpected and some are just plain wrong. According to a 2017 report from the Center of Healthcare Quality & Payment Reform, 70 percent of patients find their medical bills confusing.

Strong, trusted relationships between provider and consumer have been nurtured over generations, but they are being eroded one faceless statement at a time by what has become a significant “kitchen table” issue across almost all consumer demographic groups across the country: how to deal with the high costs and frustrating experience of healthcare billing today.

The patient financial experience is ripe for marketing innovation. The changing dynamics of U.S. healthcare has left the patient bearing more and more of the financial responsibility for their treatment. Every statement sent by the provider to a consumer is an opportunity for the provider brand to show up in a positive way: with clarity, transparency, flexibility and compassion. But too often each billing statement is a brand opportunity lost—a disappointing financial experience that follows a positive clinical experience.

The work to be done to address the high overall cost of healthcare in the United States doesn’t change the fact that extraordinary improvements can and should be made in patient satisfaction with the billing process right now.

So what should marketers do about it? Here are three starting points:

  1. Understand the Patient Financial Experience

    Spend time with your revenue cycle team to understand existing policies and approaches to working with consumer as payer. Revenue cycle teams are on the front line of the provider-consumer experience as never before. Beyond the financial consequences of every dollar left on the table by the health system are very personal, human stories.

    One of the hard realities is that provider billing is managed very differently than other financial obligations consumers face every day. It’s complicated and confusing, and the balances are often large and unexpected.

    What financing terms does your health system offer (beyond financial assistance)? What do your paper or digital statements look like, and how many are sent each week? What is the average post-insurance balance owed by patients and how has that changed over the last five years? How easy is it to pay a bill over time? How much of the total revenue of your health system is due from patients rather than commercial or government payers?

    Armed with this information, you’ll have a good understanding of the way your health system shows up to consumers today and what’s at stake. The most important thing to remember is that “one size fits all” actually fits no one.

  2. Measure the Experience

    We know that patients’ financial experience informs their overall impression of a healthcare provider, but how can that be measured?

    Use focus groups and online panel groups to talk to patients about the financial experience, and measure satisfaction with the current billing experience. A simple five box customer satisfaction survey will get the lay of the land. Or you could find out your financial experience NPS score.

    Once the program is in place, it’s important to use the right type of data and reporting to measure results. This platform should include a feedback loop that allows healthcare organizations to continually optimize and improve financial and satisfaction outcomes. Failure to include this element in the patient financial interaction platform will result in a sub-optimal experience for both patient and provider.

  3. Develop a Patient Financial Journey

    Think about the end-to-end patient financial experience. What determines how patients look at their financial interactions with your system? It could be balance due, demographics, clinical condition, or other things. Can you identify patient financial segments that share common characteristics for whom you can design a better experience?

    Understanding the financial side of your brand experience is an important building block in the overall effort to offer a positive consumer experience across the continuum of care.

About the Author:

Will Reilly

Will Reilly

Will Reilly is the Vice President of Consumer and Client Marketing at VisitPay. He has more than 15 years of marketing and branding experience at major corporations and startups in Europe and the United States, including IBM.

Infographic: Can Your Network Handle Healthcare Technology Shifts?

August 8th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

When patient lives are at stake, every connection matters. Evolving technologies enable healthcare innovation—unless an underperforming network slows progress. These healthcare technology shifts may affect your network in the future, according to a new infographic by Spectrum Enterprise.

The infographic examines how technology is changing healthcare and the network requirements under these new scenarios.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient MonitoringArtificial intelligence. Automation. Blockchain. Robotics.

Once the domain of science fiction, these telehealth technologies have begun to transform the fabric of healthcare delivery systems. As further proof of telehealth’s explosive growth, the use of wearable health-tracking devices and remote patient monitoring has proliferated, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has added several new provider telehealth billing codes for calendar year 2018.

2018 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Remote Patient Monitoring delivers the latest actionable telehealth and remote patient monitoring metrics on tools, applications, challenges, successes and ROI from healthcare organizations across the care spectrum. This 60-page report, now in its fifth edition, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and remote patient monitoring initiatives as well as the use of emerging technologies in the healthcare space.

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Infographic: How Big Data Will Unlock the Potential of Healthcare

August 6th, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

The amount of medical data generated each year is rising astronomically. Understanding how to connect that data for new growth opportunities, greater efficiency and better serving consumer needs is a pressing challenge for healthcare organizations, according to a new infographic by Publicis Health.

The infographic examines these data trends and how healthcare organizations can successfully activate data.

UnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs.

Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan, a 45-minute webinar on July 27th, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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Infographic: Grading the Medicare Advantage Shopping Experience

August 3rd, 2018 by Melanie Matthews

With (on average) 20 Medicare plans to choose from, consumers have high expectations and little patience for friction in health plan interactions, according to a new infographic by NTT DATA.

The infographic examines the leaders and the laggards in the online shopping process for Medicare Advantage options and who is at the top performance level.

UnityPoint Health has moved from a siloed approach to improving the patient experience at each of its locations to a system-wide approach that encompasses a consistent, baseline experience while still allowing for each institution to address its specific needs.

Armed with data from its Press Ganey and CAHPS® Hospital Survey scores, UnityPoint’s patient experience team developed a front-line staff-driven improvement action plan.

Improving the Patient Experience: Engaging Front-line Staff for a System-Wide Action Plan, a 45-minute webinar on July 27th, now available for replay, Paige Moore, director, patient experience at UnityPoint Health—Des Moines, shares how the organization switched from a top-down, leadership-driven patient experience improvement approach to one that engages front-line staff to own the process.

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