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Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA

Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA

Changing the Way ePHI is Stored and Communicated

The combination of Stage 2 Meaningful Use for Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA compliance provides an opportunity for healthcare organizations to change the way in which ePHI is stored and communicated and benefit from the Meaningful Use incentive program.

Stage 2 Meaningful Use raises the bar on the Clinical Quality Measures that have to be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services. It also introduces new criteria that eligible healthcare organizations must meet in order to qualify for Medicare and/or Medicaid Electronic Medical Record incentive payments.

This article provides an overview of the main differences between Stage 1 and Stage 2 Meaningful Use, and how secure texting can achieve compliance with both the Meaningful Use of Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA. We have also added a section on the further benefits of secure texting that have been reported to us.

What´s New in Stage 2 Meaningful Use?

Stage 2 Meaningful Use extends some of the existing Stage 1 requirements and introduces some new conditions that have to be fulfilled in order to qualify for Electronic Medical Record incentive payments. Some criteria remains unchanged from the Stage 1 requirements, and this should not be overlooked when assessing how to meet the new requirements.

New Stage 2 Criteria

Among the new Stage 2 criteria, patient health behavior must be monitored electronically and images relating to a patient´s healthcare must be stored in a patient´s Electronic Medical Record to allow for faster sharing and prevent the loss of paper documentation.

Healthcare organizations must now keep track of prescribed medications from the hands of the clinician to the administrator, who must then conduct an electronic prescription handoff to the pharmacist. This is to prevent unauthorized prescriptions from being issued to patients.

Extensions of Stage 1 Criteria

The extensions of the Stage 1 criteria primarily relate to recording more detailed demographics of 80 percent of patients (was previously 50 percent of patients), making sure that patients are able to access their medical records within 36 hours of a request being made, and ensuring that the system of electronic document sharing has technical support.

Furthermore, in addition to the optional Clinical Quality Measures that have to be provided by healthcare organizations, all qualified entities must select Clinical Quality Measures from at least 3 of the 6 key health care policy domains recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services’ National Quality Strategy:

  • Patient and Family Engagement
  • Patient Safety
  • Care Coordination
  • Population and Public Health
  • Efficient Use of Healthcare Resources
  • Clinical Processes/Effectiveness

Original Stage 1 Criteria

The original Stage 1 criteria extensively covered which patient records should be maintained and kept up to date. These include a list of a patient´s medical history, diagnoses, medication, and allergy information.

If a medical facility has treated a patient who would ordinarily have attended another medical facility, the hospital must document the treatment the patient receives, and all lab test results – whether for a new patient or an existing one – must be securely recorded in the patient´s Electronic Medical Record.

How Secure Texting Accelerates the Compliance Process

Compliance with Stage 2 of Meaningful Use for Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA regulations can be accelerated by using a secure texting solution to increase the ease of information recording and sharing between medical professionals. The reporting of Clinical Quality Measures will also be much more straightforward if the data is maintained on one secure database.

Secure texting – when integrated into an Electronic Medical Record – is an easy way to keep patient information up to date in real time, and documents or images can be shared securely – as can lab results, diagnoses and medication.

When healthcare organizations use secure texting to keep a patient´s Electronic Medical Records up-to-date, providing a copy of the treatment a patient has received on discharge is instant. This can significantly reduce existing patient wait times while paper records are being collated.

Prescriptions can be forwarded instantly to pharmacies with secure texting – eliminating the need for patients to wait while their orders are being confirmed – and, as all access to protected health information is monitored according to the HIPAA Security Rule guidelines, there is no risk of ePHI being compromised during any of these secure texting operations.

The Further Benefits of Secure Texting

In addition to accelerating Stage 2 of Meaningful Use for Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA compliance, healthcare organizations that have implemented secure texting have witnessed substantial benefits in terms of increased productivity, cost savings and the standard of healthcare delivered to patients.

  • Delivery notifications and read receipts reduce the amount of time medical professionals spend playing phone tag and eliminate the use of unsecure channels of communication to make follow-up calls.
  • Medical professionals can collaborate securely from any desktop computer or mobile device across any operating platform – enabling them to accelerate patient diagnoses, the administration of treatment and a patient´s recovery.
  • On call doctors, emergency services personnel, telemedicine physicians, and home healthcare professionals can securely receive ePHI “on the go” with secure texting, allowing them to administer appropriate treatment on site and accelerate hospital admissions when necessary.
  • The integration of secure texting apps with Electronic Medical Records and answering services enhances the communications cycle and can be used to issue alerts to physicians about their patients´ critical values.

While healthcare organizations are benefitting from the feature of secure texting, the secure texting platform is monitoring all activity on the organization´s network. Technical safeguards such as “message lifespans” and “app time-outs” further protect the integrity of ePHI, while administrative controls enable the remote deletion of any sensitive content that remains on an authorized user´s mobile device if it is lost, stolen or sold on.

Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA – Conclusion

There are definite advantages of using secure texting to meet the criteria for Stage 2 Meaningful Use for Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA compliance. One statistic which is particularly relevant to the selection of a secure texting solution over any other type of proposed solution is this:

According to a survey conducted in 2012, 92 percent of business mobile device users prefer to use text messaging over other channels of communication due to the speed of delivery and because of the perception that text messages requires an immediate response.

This perception has carried over into the healthcare industry, where healthcare organizations that have implemented a secure texting solution report significant increases in productivity, cost savings and the standard of healthcare delivered to patients.