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Patients Don’t Trust EHR, Survey Says

26. May 2010

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Experts emphasize balance between patient care and privacy. Personal health data is less secure now than it was a year ago, according to a recent online survey by nCircle, an IT solutions provider. Almost half of the 257 people who participated in the survey said they are anxious about the fact that multiple partners of their health care providers (i.e., such as EHR vendors and insurers) have access to personal electronic information — increasing the risk of security breaches.

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Digital Data to Balloon 44-Fold by 2020

19. May 2010

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Cloud computing offers fresh opportunities and challenges for HIT CIOs. Universal digital information will grow 44-fold in 11 years – from less than one zettabyte in 2009 to 35 zettabytes in 2020. (A zettabyte, by the way, is a million petabytes, and a petabyte is a million gigabytes.) This exponential growth will pose a huge challenge to HIT CIOs and other IT professionals nationwide, according to a new study.

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All in a Day’s Work: Physicians Glued to E-mail, Phone

12. May 2010

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Study suggests EHR could improve workflow efficiency. Answering e-mails and attending to other tasks that provide limited reimbursement keep primary care physicians busy these days, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that analyzed data from electronic health records. Led by Richard J. Baron, MD of Greenhouse Internists, a community-based internal medicine practice in Philadelphia, the study looked into the records of 8,440 patients between 15 and 99 years of age. Using EHR, it was able to track the average daily workload of a primary care physician for one year.

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PHLs Join Forces in Data-Sharing Project

28. April 2010

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Interoperability promises to improve epidemiology and disease ID. Take IT infrastructure away from public health laboratories (PHLs) and the country’s entire health system would be in big trouble. A basic IT system will enable PHLs to effectively manage their laboratory data or electronically message laboratory test results, according to a recent article in Public Health Reports. PHLs provide a wide range of essential services, including disease surveillance and identification of infectious organisms associated with outbreaks of disease, explains the article’s author, Patina Zarcone, MPH, of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) in Silver Spring, MD.

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Will Twitter Improve Doctor-Patient Relationships?

21. April 2010

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Social media gets the nod from 59% of poll respondents…But don’t twit any advice. Twitter will be an essential tool for physicians in the future. Fifty-nine percent of doctors believe the social media site will influence the world of medical practice in a huge way, according to a recent poll conducted by Case Western University in Cleveland, OH. The ubiquitous social networking site is now popular among doctors, who use it as a way to interact with patients and other media professionals. However, doctors rarely give out medical advice in Twitter. Read on to find out more about whether to tweet or not.

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Does OCR Verify PHI Breach Complaints Before Investigating?

21. April 2010

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Question: Does the HHS Office of Civil Rights verify the complaints it gets concerning breaches of private health information in alleged violation of HIPAA’s privacy or security rules before launching an investigation? As a covered entity, we’re concerned that someone might decide to use the breach reporting system on OCR’s web site to make totally unfounded complaints and harass our organization. Read on for the answer, straight from the OCR’s mouth…

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OCR to Offer Guidance (Someday) on De-Identifying PHI

7. April 2010

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While no one – including HHS – seems to know yet what de-identification of PHI under the HIPAA Privacy Rule is, one good rule of thumb at this point is to be careful what you post publicly now because it might provide a way to reverse engineer de-identified PHI later. Last week, we noted that the HHS OCR held a workshop on de-identifying protected health information under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. If you de-identify PHI, as we also recently noted, the Privacy Rule and its penalties for disclosure don’t apply – you can enter a “safe harbor” if you remove the 18 identifiers in PHI or use a “statistical standard” to de-identify your patient data. Avoiding HIPAA penalties sounds pretty good…but how exactly do you go about de-identifying PHI? HHS OCR, which is responsible for enforcing the Privacy Rule, is not sure yet. Under ARRA, HHS…

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What HIT Pros Need to Know About ICD-10

7. April 2010

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Is ‘Crash’ the Sound We’ll Hear When ICD-10 and HITECH collide? Here’s something I don’t hear too many people talk about, but it could be a really big challenge for health information technology. There are two fast-moving trains that just may collide over the coming months. Train #1: Medical reimbursement pros have a deadline to implement ICD-10 by 2013 Train #2: Providers are scurrying to install EMR systems that will get them ARRA incentives and help them avoid penalties. Will those EMR systems be able to handle the demands of ICD-10? If you’re wondering what the deal is with ICD-10, here’s a basic primer from the medical coding and billing side.

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How the Threat of PHI Breaches Decreases Quality of Care

25. March 2010

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Plus, your chance to ‘eavesdrop’ on security breaches among healthcare providers across the nation. Any health information professional who uncritically sings the praises of electronic health records should check out this psychiatrist’s op ed piece in The Wall Street Journal. EHRs have the potential to actually decrease quality of care “if patients fear sharing information with their doctors because they know it isn’t private,” writes Dr. Deborah Peel, a practicing psychiatrist who’s the founder of Patient Privacy Rights. “When patients realize they can’t control who sees their electronic health records, they will be far less likely to tell their doctors about drinking problems, feelings of depression, or exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.” And there’s ample evidence that patients already doubt that their medical records are private and secure, despite those long HIPAA forms they routinely sign in doctors’ offices. For example, fifty-nine…

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Can EHR Remedy Our Nursing Staff Shortage?

18. March 2010

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Where did all the nurses go? Chances are they’re buried in redundant paperwork. Time and time again, we hear about a nursing shortage that worsens as our population ages and needs more health care. But a new study suggests that electronic medical record solutions and other HIT solutions could help existing nurses make more of the time they’ve got. Nurses spend a quarter of their working hours away from a patient’s bedside, and more on attending to indirect patient care such as paperworks, logistics and operations, according to a new study from Atlanta-based Jackson Healthcare. Jackson Healthcare, StatCom, and Travel Nurse Solutions surveyed 2,439 nurses, nursing managers and chief nursing officers (CNO) across the US, focusing on the 1,663 who work in hospital settings.

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