In This Issue:
  • New HIPAA audits will target healthcare industry's business partners
  • Telemedicine for your practice
  • Apple unveils CareKit health tracking platform, first app is for Parkinsons
  • CEO Note: New Features in Windows 10
  • Tier3MD Tech Tips: 5 Ways to Stay Secure Online & With Microsoft Office You Can…
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New HIPAA audits will target healthcare industry's business partners

By Joseph Conn | March 21, 2016

Modern Healthcare

A new round of federal privacy and security audits will target the business associates of healthcare providers, insurers and other HIPAA-covered entities along with the entities themselves, according to the Office for Civil Rights at HHS

HHS' Office for Civil Rights has started sending out e-mails to obtain and verify contact information for covered entities and business associates of various types for possible inclusion in the pool of potential audit subjects.

The health IT sections of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 added a number of more stringent privacy and security provisions to HIPAA. The law also required that HHS initiate a series of audits to verify compliance with the rules.

Another new provision in the 2009 stimulus law placed the businesses that do data handling, processing and analysis in healthcare on the same legal footing as the hospitals, physicians, insurance companies and claims clearinghouses they work for.

These so-called "business associates" were largely given a pass in the first round of audits in completed in December 2012.

According to a 2013 report by the OCR, two-thirds of the entities audited-including 47 of 59 healthcare providers, 20 out of 35 health plans-lacked complete and accurate risk assessments.

Last week, the office announced a pair of settlement agreements totaling nearly $5.5 million with the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in New York and North Memorial Health Care in Minnesota to settle possible HIPAA violations. The Memorial Health Care case also involved a business associate, the Chicago-based revenue cycle management firm Accretive Health, according to the OCR, which said the provider and its contractor did not have a HIPAA-required agreement in place.

With the advent of outsourcing health data analytics, business associates today are handling much larger volumes of patient data than just a few years ago when the first round of audits occurred, so the expanded reach is logical, according to Deborah Gersh, partner and co-chair of the healthcare practice group at the law firm Ropes & Gray. "We're also seeing covered entities becoming increasingly more sensitive to relationships they're having with business associates," with those agreements including audit rights and indemnifications that are "more heavily negotiated than in the past," she said.

Getting an audit letter, even if it's only for confirmation of a covered entity's contact information, should serve as notice to healthcare leaders, said Timothy McCrystal, partner and Gersh's co-chair at Ropes & Gray.

"You're in the audit lottery," McCrystal said. He advises letter recipients to pull out their current HIPAA security risk assessment (which typically produces a work plan) and follow up on open areas. "Now is the time to be spending internal time and resources remediating those issues."

Telemedicine for your practice
Are you interested in Telemedicine for your practice? Chances are, you’ve heard all about it. You may have even considered it. Need to know the benefits of telemedicine for your practice? Look no further!

Benefits of Telemedicine
  • Compensation for out-of-office time that might otherwise be unpaid, on-call hours
  • Improved workflow efficiency
  • Avoiding burnout
  • Increased productivity
  • Flexibility to work from home or the office
  • Control over scheduling and downtime
  • Easier time management to fit you and your patients’ needs and lifestyles
  • Less overhead
How about the patients?
You’re not the only person who can benefit from access to virtual visits. For your patients, telemedicine negates the need for travel or long wait times in your office and saves them money! Your patients will love the convenience of being able to handle simple medical issues, such as upper respiratory conditions or minor infections, without having to make an appointment to come in and see you.

Telemedicine also prevent unnecessary trips to the ER, which was one of the main reasons physicians decided to get into the telemedicine business. Your patients have better access to you when they need care. This could mean serving your patients at times that work around their schedule and that help them in an emergency when they need treatment right away—without the ER visit.

Access, convenience, and a time saver—that’s why your patients will love the opportunities telemedicine provides. Your incentives align with theirs, and everyone leaves the virtual appointment happy.

Call Tier3MD today with questions or for a demo!
Apple unveils CareKit health tracking platform, first app is for Parkinsons
COO Jeff Williams said the framework will empower patients and care teams to have more formalized discussions with physicians, beginning with programs for Parkinson’s and post-surgical plans.
By Tom Sullivan HealthcareIT News
March 21, 2016

Apple on Monday unwrapped CareKit and described the new software as a framework for building apps that can empower people take a more active role in their own care.

Whereas Apple’s HealthKit is geared for developers building apps that run on the iOS platform and the subsequent ResearchKit was created to enable researchers and scientists, CareKit was built with patients and their families in mind.

"When we introduced ResearchKit, our goal was simply to improve medical research and we thought our work was largely done," Apple COO Jeff William said during an event on Monday. "But what became clear to us is that the same tools to advance medical research can also be used to help people improve care."

Williams added that the first CareKit app is for Parkinson’s, a natural condition to target because 24 hours after Apple made ResearchKit available it led to the biggest Parkinson’s study to date.

Particular to the disease, researchers can see symptom levels across a range of days before and after medication starts, meaning physicians can track whether the treatment is actually working for a certain patient or not – if they have access to that data. The first CareKit app, Williams said, surfaces that information for patients and doctors.

At the launch, six institutions agreed to immediately begin using the app: Emory, Johns Hopkins University, Parkinson’s Disease Care New York, Stanford, the University of California at San Francisco and the University of Rochester.

Williams said the app will enable them to have more formalized conversations with patients about treatment.

The second app Williams demonstrated is to help patients adhere to post-surgery recovery plans with features including a care card, a symptom and measurement tracker, and the capability to share the data with caregivers, family members and physicians.

"We think empowering people with data about their health is incredibly important," Williams said. "CareKit, like ResearchKit, will be open source."

CareKit will be available in April.

New Features in Windows 10

Have you completed your free upgrade to Windows 10? There are some great new features in Windcows 10. Below are 3 of the more noticeable new features in Windows 10.

1. The Start Menu

For you Windows 7 users, rest easy, because this is here to stay. For the Windows 8 users, the start menu is back with its full functionality – and then some. The aesthetics of the new start menu combine the basics of the start menu from Windows 7 with the sleek tiles that were a part of Windows 8. The customization of this helps you to access what you need much faster and boosts productivity. Open the Start Menu, click on Settings, Personalization, and then Start. Make the Start Menu work for you. Microsoft created a helpful onboarding resource for this feature as well.

2. Microsoft Edge

Although this is the new web browser, do not worry – Internet Explorer 11 will be available by default in your upgrade. It is worth noting that many business applications remain untested with Microsoft Edge. If you find that Microsoft Edge is popping up as your default browser, this article will help you with that. Remember that super awesome Start Menu we spoke about above? Click in the search bar right next to it, and type “Default Programs.” Open that up, find Internet Explorer on the left, and click on it. There will now be an option to click that states “Set this program as default.”

3. Search Enhancements

Find anything on your PC. No, really. On the bottom left, to the right of the Start Menu, type a term in that search box. If it doesn’t automatically populate, click on the “My Stuff” icon on the bottom of that pop-up window. Your machine will be scanned for files, applications, pictures – just about anything – containing any or all of that search term within that file name. Don’t catch yourself drilling down through menus trying to find something. Don’t waste your time digging and trying to find that one file you thought you’d never need again. Use this search function to help save time.

Sheryl J. Cherico,
CEO/COO, Co-Founder

Sheryl is the CEO of Tier3MD and one of the leading Healthcare IT Consultants in the country.

Tier3MD Tech Tips
5 Ways to Stay Secure Online

1. Hook up to a network that you know.

Free Wi-Fi is tempting, but be sure that you consider who is providing the connection. Public connections at the local coffee shop are usually unsecured and leave your machine open to outsiders. While these networks provide a convenience, there are risks to be aware of.

2. Bank and shop with caution.

Shopping from familiar websites is a good place to start. Stick with the reputable sites that are tried and true – like Amazon or eBay. Also, when checking out and finalizing the purchase, look for the ‘padlock’ symbol or the abbreviation ‘https’ in the address bar at the top of your browser. This will ensure that you are on a secure, encrypted part of this webpage. Keeping an eye on your bank statements for suspicious activity is always a good idea, among these other best practices for shopping online.

3. Use secure passwords.

Passwords for logging into any website should contain a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters – as well as be different for each website that you log into. It can definitely be a pain to remember all of these passwords, but ask yourself which is more of a pain – remembering these, or recovering stolen personal information.

4. Lock Your Computer.

When you walk away from your machine, lock it. In Windows, it is as easy as pressing the Windows key + L. On an Apple Mac, pressing “Control+Shift+Eject” will do the trick (unless you do not have an optical drive, then you can hit the “Power” key instead of “Eject”). This practice would be the equivalent to deadbolting the front door of your home. It acts as a deterrent to the bad guys as well as a line of defense. It may even be worth setting up a password lock on your Apple or Windows machine as well.

5. Do not click on anything unfamiliar.

If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. If you get an email from an unknown source, do not click any of the links within it – and immediately report it to your IT department. If a window pops up while browsing a website, immediately close it. Familiarity is always your friend. Using your judgment and trusting your gut is the ultimate defense when online.

Always play it safe!

With Microsoft Office You Can…

1. Edit PDFs

Your PDF files open by default in Adobe. But, what if you want to edit them? You cannot do that within Adobe Reader, and the Adobe software that does let you make changes to PDFs is not cheap. Microsoft Word to the rescue! Launch Microsoft Word. Attempt to open a document like you normally would by selecting "File" and then "Open." On the bottom right of the window that pops up, click the drop-down menu. Choose “PDF,” and then browse to the file that you wish to edit. Once you open it, you can make your edits. You may lose some of the formatting in the process, but it's nothing that you cannot overcome.

2. Collaborate in Real Time

With Microsoft Office, you and a colleague can edit the same document or spreadsheet at the same time. This feature is actually built into Office 2013. No magic needed. It’s a little bit of a process, but will pay off once configured. First, save your document, spreadsheet, or presentation – whatever it may be within the Microsoft Office suite – to OneDrive. Once the document is saved, select "File," "Share" (on the left side of the screen), and then send out your invites.

If all goes accordingly, your colleague on the other end will now be able to review and edit your work in real time. You may need to adjust your Microsoft Office settings in order to do this, but you can always request help from your IT department or an IT services company, if you have any trouble.

3. Ignore Reply-All Email Annoyances

Have you ever been included on one of those spam email threads that have absolutely nothing to do with you, but someone (or multiple people) keep on hitting the reply-all button? Ignore these frequent annoyances with Outlook! Select the chain of messages. Then, in the top of the Outlook window, to the left of the “Delete” button, you will see “Ignore.” By choosing this command, any future messages will now be sent straight to the Deleted Items folder, helping you cut down on inbox clutter.

If you use Microsoft Office at home and at work every day, these time-saver tips may be just what you need to kick productivity into high gear!

  Michael H. Brown  
855-MyTier3 (698-4373), ext 2204
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