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The Doctors Company – Ransomware Attacks

April 13, 2016 Leave a comment

The Doctors Company, a physician-owned malpractice insurer, recently posted an article on so-called “ransomware” attacks on healthcare providers.  Ransomware is a software virus that infects your computer network by encrypting all of your data so that it cannot be accessed without typing in the encryption key which the ransomware attacker will provide for a price.

I have a lawyer colleague whose law firm was the victim of a ransomware attack. Fortunately, the firm did frequent backups and all the data could be restored without having to pay the ransom. However, there was great disruption to the office, work essentially stopped, and everything has not quite been the same since the data was restored.

The Doctors Company’s article says that ransomware victims only have three options – restore the data (but that requires frequent backups), pay the ransom, or lose the data. For most organizations, especially those in healthcare, choosing to lose the data is not a viable option.

Victims face the loss of business, inconvenience to patients/clients/customers, damage to reputation, and potential liability if needed data is not available and a patient or client or customer is adversely affected.

Prevention, vigilance, and employee education are all critical to responding effectively to a ransomware attack.

CMS Proposes Significant Changes to the 2016 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule, including to Stark

August 16, 2015 Leave a comment

CMS Factsheet:

“On July 08, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that updates payment policies, payment rates, and quality provisions for services furnished under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) on or after January 1, 2016. This year, CMS is proposing a number of new policies, including several that are a result of recently enacted legislation. The rule also finalizes changes to several of the quality reporting initiatives that are associated with PFS payments, including the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), the Physician Value-Based Payment Modifier (Value Modifier), and the Medicare Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, as well as changes to the Physician Compare website on Medicare.gov.”

The proposed rule includes provisions relating to the following;

  • physician quality reporting system
  • “Physician Compare”
  • EHR incentive program
  • Medicare shared savings
  • advance care planning
  • payment provisions on Part B drugs, misvalued codes, RVU reductions, “incident to” services, physician value-based payment modifier, etc.

Perhaps most significant in the area of healthcare business transactions are the physician self-referral (Stark law) updates:

  • expansion of recruitment and retention provisions to NPPs
  • updating physician-owned hospital requirements
  • reducing burdens of technical noncompliance through more reasonable regulations in a number of areas (based on information learned from self-dsiclosures and the rersults of recent cases)

The complete proposed rule as published in the Federal Register on July 15 can be found here.

Comments will be accepted by CMS on the proposed rule until September 8, 2015.

AMA President-Elect Wakes Up in 21st Century

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment

On Tuesday, the AMA issued a press release “AMA Calls for Design Overhaul of Electronic Health Records to Improve Usability” about its landmark study with the Rand Corporation, “confirming that discontent with electronic health records … is taking a significant toll on physicians.”  Steven J. Stack, president-elect of the AMA was quoted extensively in the release.

One has to wonder whether Steven “Rip Van Winkle” Stack has been sleeping for the past 5 years or was just off visiting relatives on a distant planet.  Same for the Rand Corporation.  One also has to wonder how much the study cost.  One can sure, however, that if the government had done the study, it would have been a clear contender for a Golden Fleece Award.

Physicians in this country have been abandoned and left alone to deal with the thousands of software charlatans selling inadequate EHR products.   Many physicians are on their second EHR system, and some are still looking for something that works.

EHRs and the data that they can produce are critical in dealing with questions of population health and focusing on prevention rather than procedures, all of which will promote more cost-effective health care.

Hopefully, now that the AMA in on task, something useful can be derived from the desolate software environment.

12 Questions to Guide Physician Compensation Strategy

August 9, 2014 Leave a comment

From Healthcare Intelligence Network — essentially a sales promo for their book.  According to HIN, a successful physician compensation strategy includes organizational goals, governance, and physician engagement.  This is slanted from the healthcare organization viewpoint.

Nevertheless, still worth a look.

 


9 Measures of ACO Success

Via: Healthcare Intelligence Network

Online access: Portals connect patients with their medical info

July 26, 2014 Leave a comment

“We do everything online, book airline tickets, paying bills,” said Tupelo family physician Dr. Brad Crosswhite, who helped pilot the North Mississippi Medical Clinic portal in 2012. “Why not handle medicine the same way?”

The secure, free services give access to medication histories, visit summaries, lab results and reminders about upcoming appointments. On most hospital portals, patients can see their discharge instructions. With the clinic portals, patients can request refills and communicate securely with the staff.

“The ultimate goal is to have patients more engaged with their care.”

This is from an online article from InsuranceNewsNet.com: Online access: Portals connect patients with their medical info.

Yes, of course, this is a good thing.  But couldn’t it be better.  It’s time we stopped being so apoplectic about privacy and security, and more focused on how to get better patient engagement in their care.  HIPAA has run a muck and clearly makes things unintentionally harder than they need to be.  As with most government regulations, compliance is more costly and disruptive than the problem being addressed.  No one disputes the value of keeping healthcare records private, but that goal needs to be balanced against the real goal of improving healthcare.

New Hopes for Apple’s HealthBook | HL7 Standards

April 5, 2014 Leave a comment

Leonard Kish offers his thoughts on the promise of Apple entering the mHealth arena, which will put a spotlight on squarely on user experience.

There are a zillion health and exercise monitoring apps.  All are relatively young, because the smart phone platform is relatively young.

So my question is — are people actually getting healthier?  If they are, is the better health the result of the apps or the result of our near obsessive interest (with or without real results) in getting healthier?

See on www.hl7standards.com

Internet access is a basic human right: A Q&A with Keren Elazari

April 5, 2014 Leave a comment

With the increasing importance of patient safety and need to have universal access to health records, the internet’s importance grows as a foundation for improved healthcare.

TED Blog

Keren Elazari speaks at TED2014. The day she gave her talk, we spoke to her about TK. Photo: James Duncan Davidson Keren Elazari speaks at TED2014. The day she gave her talk, we spoke to her about the shutdown of Twitter in Turkey. Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Two weeks ago, hours after Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan vowed to “wipe out” Twitter, his government blocked access to the platform across the country. It was just weeks before a hotly contended election, and Erdoğan was upset about tweets accusing him of corruption. A judicial ruling in Turkey called for Twitter to take down the offending links, but when Twitter did not comply, the Turkish government opted to block the site. (Since then, the courts have deemed the ban illegal, but the government has yet to lift it — and instead banned access to YouTube as well, reportedly due to a security leak.)

Other governments have also tried to block access to parts or all of the Internet in the past…

View original post 1,846 more words

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