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Showing 6 posts from March 2014.

Changes Halted on Medicare Prescription Drug Program

After receiving bipartisan opposition and heavy concern from patient groups and insurers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) has declared that it will not be moving forward with draft regulations released in January which proposed several changes to the Medicare Part D program. More >

FTC: Don’t Limit APRNs Crucial Role in Health Care

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) recently released a policy paper suggesting that state legislators should be cautious when evaluating legislative proposals to limit the scope of practice of Advance Practice Registered Nurses (“APRNs”). The FTC is concerned that by imposing more stringent physician supervision requirements, APRNS are effectively being restricted by another type of health care professional (the physician) thereby denying consumers the benefits of greater competition. This is especially troubling in light of the significant shortage of primary care practitioners in the U.S. By allowing APRNs to practice without heavier regulatory burdens, access to health care can be increased and possibly lead to “lower costs, better care, and more innovation,” according to the FTC. More >

Guidance on Minors’ Mental Health & the HIPAA Privacy Rule

On Tuesday, some aspects of the new guidance issued by HHS related to mental health and the HIPAA Privacy Rule were discussed. Today’s topic covers the guidance highlights as they relate to minors’ mental health. More >

Guidance on Mental Health & the HIPAA Privacy Rule

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently issued guidance entitled, “HIPAA Privacy Rule and Sharing Information Related to Mental Health.” As the title implies, it offers information as to when it may be permissible under HIPAA for health care providers to share information related to a patient’s mental health, including instances when the patient may be a minor. The direction, issued in the form of Q&As, comes as HHS seeks to strike a balance between a patient’s privacy rights in mental health records and public safety concerns. The clarifications could not come at a better time, as the health care industry prepares for an influx of patients who now have insurance that includes mental health coverage.  Below are some of the highlights from the guidance: More >

Secure Text Messaging in a HIPAA World? Part II

Earlier this week, I referred to mobile applications such as TigerText and Doc Halo which are being touted as a method of “HIPAA-compliant” texting. These apps allegedly secure protected health information (PHI) sent via text message to ensure providers’ compliance with HIPAA privacy law. Covered entities must realize, however, that the use of these apps alone is not sufficient to pass a HIPAA audit. While HHS has not banned the texting of patient information, it has made clear that an organization should approve it only 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.” More >

Secure Text Messaging in a HIPAA World?

Texting is becoming an increasingly acceptable form of communication in the business world, but can it be relied upon in the health care industry? There are numerous advantages to texting in the fast-paced world of health care. In an environment where time is of the essence, voicemails and pagers can slow down providers’ care and fail to convey adequate information. A text, on the other hand, is both immediate and can be detail-specific. In addition, texting can involve more than one sender and/or receiver in a closed-loop conversation, and, unlike through the paging system, a sender can be notified when the message has been read by the receiver(s). Text messaging can not only improve an entity’s efficiency, but it can also serve as a way to easily connect with patients, thereby improving quality of care. More >

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