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What to Watch for in Healthcare IT

April 15, 2015, 01:58 AM

One of the basics that clients today have come to expect today is the security and constant availability of their medical data.  With so many changes in information technology and electronic communication, as well as constant healthcare reform, the landscape for healthcare IT professionals is transforming on a daily basis. For those in the industry, attending conferences like this week’s HIMSS15 in Chicago is the best way to earn Continuing Education (CE) credits and keep updated on industry changes. With health IT budgets and staffing only expected to increase in the coming years, it’s more important than ever for patients and providers alike to know what’s happening. Here’s what to watch for in the healthcare IT space in the coming months.

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by intelfreepress via flickr

Healthcare Coding Compliance

With the conversion to ICD-10 slated for fall of 2015, many medical practices and coders are scrambling to sufficiently prepare for the transition from ICD-9/9-CM. Because of previous delays to its implementation, many physicians remain skeptical that the change will actually happen as scheduled on October 1. As a result of this belief, many offices and coding staff remain unprepared. This risks bounced-back reimbursements at the hands of health plans, including Medicare, which the government is insisting will return claims that are not properly coded in ICD-10.

HIPAA Concerns

Patient privacy and security have always been a concern for medical practitioners, but with the new wave of available technologies to physicians and their offices, a new set of potential HIPAA violations has also arisen. From emails and text messages to patients to social networking and medical apps, the possibilities for accidental HIPAA breaches seem endless. Make sure your practice uses compliant messaging platforms, transit-encrypted email platforms, and secure data centers to avoid penalties. With the cost of each violation resulting in a $10,000-50,000 fine and new rules about who is subject to an audit (any covered entity as opposed to only those against whom a violation was reported), it’s more important than ever to ensure HIPAA compliant technologies and software all around.

Secure Storage of Healthcare Data

A secure and encrypted mobile or email messaging system is useless without secure data centers. As more practices become EMR/EHR compliant and transfer their storage of sensitive patient information to electronic platforms, the potential for data breaches and hacking has grown. In compliance with HITECH data retention laws, practices must safely store and make available patient information for up to six years, threatening to vastly exceed data storage capacity and causing practitioners to rely on cloud-based data centers. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, as of 2014, over 30 million patients have been affected by data breaches from record theft to lost data and unauthorized account access. The good news is many popular cloud-based data hosts are available in HIPAA-compliant forms for healthcare providers.

As you can see, the issues facing healthcare professionals, especially those in IT, are extremely complicated.  It’s important for all those in the industry to invest heavily in their IT department and training sessions for all employees to avoid costly violations.

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