Archive for September, 2011

Some Have Privacy Concerns with Electronic Health Records

20 Sep

There are many reasons to advocate the transfer to electronic medical records. It has cost saving benefits and even can help improve the quality of care patients receive. However, if there is an improvement that needs to be addressed, it may be the privacy issues, something that opponents of electronic records often point out.

Veriphyr, a Los Altos, California-based identity and access intelligence solutions provider, conducted a survey of 90 healthcare IT managers. What they found should be a concern EHR proponent and opponents alike.

According to the survey, over 70 percent of healthcare organizations reported a breach of personal health information over the preceding 12 months. Most of these breaches were committed by nosy employees: 35 percent looked at the medical records of their co-workers and 27 percent accessed records of friends and relatives.

“While the loss of patient data on hard drives and USB sticks gets a lot of coverage, the top concern of compliance officers is the few employees who misuse the legitimate access to snoop on patient data,” says Alan Norquist, CEO of Veriphyr.

Norquist suggests that the focus on resolving the privacy problem should not be on digital security as much as tools that monitor who accesses the files. He goes on to suggest that healthcare organizations need identity and access intelligence tools that can monitor logs of employee access to patient data.

His reasoning is sound, because he points out that the main problem is not deviant outsiders hacking into the system, rather it’s employees who have access to the records.

“The problem is not authentication to keep the bad guys out, but monitoring the employees who have almost unrestricted access to patients’ data. The reason this data is greatly unrestricted is because in a life or death situation you would not want to prevent a doctor or nurse from getting the patient data they need right away,” says Norquist.


Regulation to Change on Reporting Anesthesia Time

05 Sep

There is a transition underway to the 5010 HIPAA electronic claims standards. The American Society of Anesthesiologists has announces that, as part of this transition, there will be a universal system for reporting anesthesia time to all payers which will go into effect January 1, 2012. This new standard will require all anesthesia time to be reported in minutes instead of units. While some payers already use this system currently, by January, 2012 it will be a requirement for all payers.

The ASA has spent years successfully lobbying against this change, but change is on the way. Part of the resistance was due to the fact that the change can cause some payers to move from a full unit to fractional unit payment system. While this may benefit some anesthesia providers it may also cost some providers money, depending on when individual contracts permit rounding to the next unit. According to the report, the change will not stop contracts from rounding to the nearest whole unit when determining payments.

Changes to commercial payment contracts will have to be negotiated between anesthesiologists and commercial providers. Anesthesiologists should be aware of this change when negotiating contracts with payers.