• (800) 332-0555
  • info@selectdata.com

Read our latest article on CoPs Breakdown on QAPI Regulations

Viewing posts categorised under: HITECH

HIPAA and Faxing: A Potentially Dangerous Combination

Clinical Practices, Compliance, HIPPA, HITECH

HIPPA and Faxing: A Potentially Dangerous Combination

Thinking about sending PHI through your fax machine? Read this before you do.


The Right to Privacy

In 1890, Supreme Court Justices Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis published “The Right to Privacy” in the Harvard Law Review. They defined privacy as the “right to be left alone.” Over 100 years later the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) established a set of standards for protection of personal health information (PHI).

The world has changed greatly in that 100 years. There was and is a serious need to ensure accountability; to establish a national uniform baseline for privacy and uniform standards for transmission of health information. Today, almost everyone carries a smartphone and has a computer, laptops, and/or notebook to transmit words and images on a host of sites such as SnapChat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for all to see…forever.

And, while there are many seminars and webinars regarding texting and the potential perils of using a mobile device to transmit patient information, no one is talking about faxing. It seems to be such a benign device. But, it is not. Breaches are on the rise. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is stepping up their audits.

Many agencies do not have adequate policies that cover the faxing process. First of all consider, is all the faxing done in your agency really necessary? Scanning and email or use of traditional postal service should be considered, if possible. It can be safer.

Consider setting up a “To be Faxed” sending bin close to the fax machine. This way faxing can be done when it is less busy in your agency office. This can reduce errors of transposed or incorrect digits because the sender’s mind may not be fully on the task.

Policy and Procedures For Home Health Agencies

Have a policy requiring reconfirmation of all fax numbers at least every 6-12 months. Your agency should fax an “Agency Fax Number Confirmation” sheet to all offices faxed routinely and confirm their fax number. Have them confirm, sign, date it and fax it back to your agency. Recently, an agency learned that certain numbers embedded in the EMR used had some outdated numbers. Your fax sheet should have your Agency name, phone number, fax number, address, and contact personnel if there is a question. It should include the legal warning as to what a person should do if the fax is sent to the wrong person or agency/company/practice. Include the person and number at your agency who should be contacted in case of a mistaken fax.

HIPAA HITECH has teeth now and the fines are significant. Your bottom line is fragile as is your agency’s reputation. Don’t jeopardize either with an inappropriately sent fax.


Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (2016). Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule permit a doctor, laboratory, or other health care provider to share patient health information for treatment purposes by fax, e-mail, or over the phone? CMS.gov. Retrieved from: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/482/does-hipaa-permit-a-doctor-to-share-patient-information-for-treatment-over-the-phone/ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (2016). Can a physician’s office fax patient medical information to another physician’s office? CMS.gov. Retrieved from: http://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/356/can-a-physicians-office-fax-patient-medical-information-to-another-physicans-office/
Select Data is committed to a strong compliance program that includes educating all personnel on mitigating HIPAA breaches. For more information about Select Data and their commitment to quality in Home Health and Hospice, call 1.800. 332.0555.  

Read more


Compliance, HITECH


The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) expands upon HIPAA and holds healthcare organizations to a higher level of responsibility for breach of patient information. Under HITECH, if a breach compromises the privacy and security of the patient’s information and poses a significant risk of financial, reputational, or other harm, patient notification is required. Additionally, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and media outlets must be notified under specific circumstances.


On January 17, 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services released the HITECH Act, aka the Omnibus Rule, under HIPAA. This Omnibus Rule represents the most comprehensive set of changes to HIPAA since its origination. It is a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Act allocated $20 Billion to health information technology projects, expanded the reach of HIPAA by extending certain requirements to business associates, and imposed a nationwide security breach notification law.

The new rule modifies the breach notification standard; imposes new rules regarding disclosures of PHI in marketing and sale of PHI. It enhances patient rights to access and control disclosure of PHI. It also expands specific HIPAA obligations to business associates.

HITECH Breach Notification Provisions

The HITECH Act requires Covered Entities (CEs) and business associates to notify affected individuals, the Department of Health and Human Services, and depending on the breach, the media, following discovery of a breach.

HITECH replaces the original “harm standard” under HIPAA. That standard had stated a breach had occurred if PHI was compromised and had significant risk of financial, reputational, or other harm to an individual as the result of the impermissible use or disclosure of PHI. HITECH amends the breach to clarify that the disclosure of PHI is presumed to be a breach with notification necessary unless a CE can demonstrate low probability that the PHI has been “compromised.”

Four factors must be included in any risk assessment, 1) the type and extent of PHI, 2) who was the unauthorized person committing the breach as well as who received the information, 3) whether the PHI actually was received and viewed, and, 4) the extent to which the PHI has been mitigated. Lawyers are asking what is meant by compromised PHI.

Compliance Officers need to keep HIPAA and compliance in front of personnel. Finding ways to do that can be challenging but well worth the effort. For most organizations, some of their greatest risks are those tied to PHI.

HITECH modifies the definition of business associates to include an entity that “creates, receives, maintains, or transmits” PHI on behalf of a CE. Business associates include subcontractors, vendors of personal health records that provide services on behalf of a CE. Business Associates are held directly accountable now to HIPAA. CEs had to revise their business associate agreements to comply with all applicable provisions of the HIPAA Security Rule. CEs are required to report breaches of unsecured PHI as business associates. CEs must hold business associates to the same stringent standards as they are held.

HIPAA HITECH makes business associates and their subcontractors directly liable for non-compliance with the Security Rule and Privacy Rule requirements. Direct Liability flows from the following violations:

  • Failure to provide breach notification to the CE
  • Failure to provide access to a copy of electronic PHI to either the CE, or the patient’s designee
  • Failure to provide an accounting of disclosures
  • Failure to comply with the Security Rule
  • Failure via impermissible disclosures of PHI

Individual Rights

Individuals now have greater rights to obtain all of their health data, to access electronic copies, and to restrict when their information is shared and with whom. Their information must be available to them within a reasonable time. Even offsite stored info must be made available within 30 days.

Compliance Officers

Build security into hardware, software, and processes to the greatest extent possible. Make security provisions operate automatically where possible. When replacing manual processes with technology, validate the process and the fact that it does not increase risk. Technology for the sake of technology needs to be monitored also. Review your processes. Educate personnel to be privacy alert.

Build a meaningful HIPAA and Compliance audit system foundation that has value for the organization. It is mandated by the OCR. Agency audits of organizations began last year. Remember, not having an audit program can be costly. The OCR state fine can go up to $1.5 million for breaches.


Susan Carmichael, Chief Compliance Officer at Select Data, Inc.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Required Elements of a Patient Authorization?

When reviewing the patient authorization, be certain it includes:

  • A description of the PHI to be used or disclosed. Be specific
  • The persons authorized to use or disclose the PHI
  • The person or agency to whom the CE may disclose the PHI
  • The purpose of the disclosure use
  • The patient’s right to revoke the authorization
  • The consequences if the patient refuses to sign
  • An expiration date of the form
  • Signed and dated by the patient
  • PHI may be re-disclosed by a third party and a business associate, subject to the same HIPAA regulations
  • Must be written in clear language

What is an Electronic Breach?

A breach is an unauthorized acquisition, access, use, or disclosure of protected health information relating to failure to comply with organizational security or privacy policies, or violation of federal or state privacy and security regulations. Accessing information by an employee of a covered entity, in good faith, is not considered a breach.

Helpful Tip

Remember, not having an audit program can be costly. The OCR state fine can go up to $1.5 million for breaches.

Read more

Ethics and Accountability in an Electronic Age: 2012

Compliance, HIPPA, HITECH

You are a leader or have interests in home healthcare and hospice, so you are aware of the challenges and opportunities presented in this electronic age.

  • Are you conducting your HIPAA Risk Analysis?
  • Do you have your Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Policies and Procedures current?
  • Do you have a policy regarding use of social media in the workplace?
  • Are you allowing nurses to take pictures of wounds with their personal cell phones?
  • Are you employing etechnology ethics ?
Technology and Change: Today, we all use a GPS, an iPhone, a Droid or some brand of cell phone, and touched our iPad or other tablet,  powered up a laptop or computer to send email, or completed status updates to Facebook,  Linkedin, or Twitter or accessed the Internet for  patient information, financial or clinical reports and benchmarks, or budgets. Technology has not necessarily made life easier. It certainly has increased its constraints on time Technology has impacted how we do banking, make purchases, conduct transactions, complete travel reservations, attend conferences, provide healthcare schedules, teach patients and personnel, automate revenue cycle management, and generate personnel schedules and  agency reports. The negative effects include: 5/19/11 57 hard drives from the servers at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tennessee Call Center were stolen with 1 million individuals impacted. 9/29/11  4.9 million Tricare beneficiaries affected after data stolen. 10/11 McAfee demonstrated how they could hack into a Medtronic Insulin Pump and could have lethally increased the dose. 2010 File boxes of patient records found in two major cities. The world is changing. The workforce is changing. Remote workers need special policies re PHI and protection of patient data. Be certain they attend sessions regarding HIPAA HITECH, privacy, and security. You may have a policy that addresses ‘view only’ access to data with no printing of data. HIPAA HITECH The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law on February 17, 2009.  Title XIII of ARRA is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act). HITECH legislation is meant to affect health care delivery
  • One way to affect change is to provide financial stimulation to create and have physicians and hospitals adopt electronic health records (EHR)
This act includes $20 billion in funding for health information technology projects. These projects include reimbursement incentives for health care providers to acquire electronic health record technology.  Hospitals are being encouraged to move toward becoming paperless. HITECH has TEETH The HITECH Act has given the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules real teeth by strengthening business associates agreements.  One of the major goals of the HIPAA  Privacy Act was and is  “to assure that individuals’ health information is properly protected  while allowing the flow of health information  needed to provide and promote high quality health care and to protect the public’s health and well being.” HIPAA ensures that personal health information  given to covered entities is protected, even information shared with home health agencies, physicians, hospitals, third party billing providers, coding specialists, and others who provide or pay for healthcare services. But Business Associates were not held to the same standards as covered entities. HIPAA HITECH moved to correct this weakness. BUSINESS ASSOCIATES
  • The BAA states that the Business Associate is obligated to: Use/disclose PHI only as permitted or required by the agreement and by law. Use appropriate safeguards to prevent use or disclosure of PHI other than as permitted by the BAA.
  • Report to the healthcare entity any use or disclosure of PHI not permitted. Require all subcontractors and agents that create, receive, use, disclose, or have access to PHI to agree, in writing tobe held to the same restrictions and conditions on use or disclosure of PHI.
HIPAA HITECH imposed breach notifications on both covered entities and business associates and increased individual rights with respect to PHI maintained in EHRs. In addition, there is increased enforcement of, and penalties for HIPAA violations.. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking that would modify the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules. The Proposed Rule implements the requirements of the HITECH Act as well as expands upon the statutory provisions of the HITECH Act.  On March 15, 2010 HHS stated that other than the security breach notification rule and new penalty levels, the new regulation would be enforced. The compliance date for all provisions of the Proposed Rule is 180 days after publication of the Final Rule. HHS accepted comments on the Proposed Rule through September 13, 2010. As of January, 2012, the final rule has not yet arrived, but is expected soon. Prior to the HITECH Act, a Business Associate (BA) was not directly subject to HIPAA privacy and security requirements.  The BA obligations were to the CE under the terms of the agreement. The BA was subject to contractual remedies only for any breach of the business associate agreement (BAA).
  • Prior to ARRA, HITECH Business Associates were not required to meet the obligations for Administrative, Physical, and Technical safeguards, and Procedure and Documentation Requirements.
  • NOW the BAA must clearly require the BA to comply with HIPAA regulations just as the CE.
Penalties for the BA are the same as the CE. That is a huge responsibility for the BA and the CE. The HITECH Act and the Proposed Rule require business associates to comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule and implement policies and procedures in the same manner as the CE. Also, subcontractors to business associates must develop Security Rule compliance programs. Rules to be followed include: Security and Incident response policies
  • Breach Log
  • Every employee must understand they have personal responsibility for intentional breaches
  • Email with PHI is to be encrypted
Breach: A breach is an unauthorized acquisition, access, use, or disclosure of protected health information relating to failure to comply with organizational security or privacy policies, or violation of federal or state privacy and security regulations. Accessing information by an employee of a covered entity, in good faith, is not considered a breach. However, HITECH strengthens the specifics of privacy and security, significantly increasing penalties, establishing a heightened enforcement scheme giving state attorneys general enforcement authority. Individuals may now be held accountable for wrongful disclosure (HITECH Act section 13409). Under the new law, when a breach is learned, a covered entity (CE) should notify each individual whose unsecured PHI has been, or believed to have been, accessed or disclosed.  Business associates must notify the CE of the breach.  Note the understanding that the breach has been evaluated to have caused harm to the individual.  CE and BAs must notify individuals about a breach as soon as possible but, no later than 60 days following discovery of the breach. If a breach involves 500 or more individuals, the department of Health and Human services should be immediately notified. They will post the covered entity on their website. DHHS began posting names on March 1, 2010. Breaches of below 500 must be recorded on a log and annually sent to DHHS. UCLA Medical Center recently was fined $865,000 and required to submit(and have approved) a corrective action plan after allowing workers to access records who should have had more  limited access and a higher level authorization. This is an organization with a sophisticated compliance plan and still had this breach. The EHR   The Privacy Rule gives individuals the right to obtain copies of their paper PHI from a CE. The HITECH Act expanded those access rights to PHI maintained in an EHR. ARRA prepares for the government goal of establishing electronic health records for all Americans by 2014
  • to accomplish this goal, privacy rules have been strengthened and the requirements for breach notification and responsibilities of business associates have been greatly increased.
CEs must prepare processes in response to the requirements and have updates to the BAA. At Select Data,
  • We believe in Corporate Compliance
  • We have a strong HIPAA Awareness and Corporate Compliance Plan which assertively strives to protect PHI.
  • We notify the Corporate Compliance Officer of suspected or actual incidents of PHI disclosure
We want to comply with the regulations and we want to protect health information because, not only is it the law, but, it is the right thing to do. 57 million US consumers have accessed their medical information. Another 40 million want to do so states Cyber Citizen Health US, 2011 survey. DISASTER PREPAREDNESS   The Security Plan: Each CE must plan and document how they will operate during a disaster and how ePHI will be secured. HIPAA 2005 required a Data Backup Plan. That plan requires the backup plan for accessing protected data in case the original data has been destroyed. The Plan must show regular duplication of patient files that are stored in a secure location. The Plan also required an inventory of software and hardware used so key systems can be restored quickly, if a disaster occurs. It is not acceptable to merely store information on a cell or smartphone. Have a clear concise, complete backup plan. The Security Plan is expected to show ways of protection from access to the premises by employees. It also requires records and how each employee can access data. In addition, levels of access are to be delineated.  There should be power on authentications and auto-locks. CEs are expected to test and revise their contingency plans taking steps to identify and mitigate areas of weakness. Employees should be aware that not just patient names are identifiers. PHI also includes addresses, phone numbers, drivers license numbers, medical record numbers, policy and account numbers, VIN numbers, health plan numbers, and relative name and identifiers. Lastly, the HIPAA Security Plan must be in writing and the industry standard is an annual review (though there is no frequency statute). The Plan should have detailed policies and procedures with all incidents recorded, identifying a Disaster Plan with contingencies and technological interventions planned. To read more about HITECH, please refer to Federal Register/Vol 75, No. 134/Wednesday, July 14, 2010/Proposed Rules Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Secretary 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164 Modifications to the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Enforcement Rules Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act Agency: Office for Civil Rights Social and Professional Media Social media is one of the most dangerous of risks. What an interesting dichotomy: on one hand we, in health care, are operating under increasing rigid privacy restrictions and on the other, individuals are posting the most intimate or the most mundane information about themselves and others on the internet for the world to read and see forever. Agencies that allow clinicians to use their personal smart phones to take pictures of wounds and upload them to a patient record may need to be concerned about patient information stored on a personal cell phone. Who owns the data? Who will protect the data? Is texting a safe way to transport patient data? Experts say, “No.” Should clinicians worry that their party and beer drinking pictures could be used against them if they are involved in a med error or a law suit? At the VA, a new social media directive covers the use of Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, blogs, and YouTube channels. They use examples of these sites to educate personnel re personal and professional responsibilities. 100% of the Top 100 firms employ personnel to monitor social media. Every person interviewed has their social media investigated. Hiring is dependent upon the findings. Law firms, banks, accounting firms use social media investigators. Garner Consulting and TechCrunch Blog state “the new social media customer relationship management market (CRM) is expected to reach over $1 billion in revenue by the end of 2012, up from approximately $625 million in 2010. World-wide social CRM is projected to total $820 million in 2011.” What are the ethics of making negative comments about a present or prior employer? Many organizations, especially banks, hospitals, and academic institutions are monitoring what is said about them and their clients or patients. They have clear policies reflecting training as to HIPAA. If an employee or former employee breaches a confidence, they may be sanctioned or sued. WHAT Can You Do? Encrypt email with patient or other sensitive data! Be certain your organization has a strong corporate compliance plan in place. Have a strong Corporate Compliance Officer who reports to the CEO and Board of Directors. Consider the CCO having direct access to corporate counsel. Have compliance policies and procedures that also address disaster preparedness, social media, data protection and backup. Annually, minimally, review the Corporate Compliance Plan. Keep a copy of the presentation with an attendance sheet to demonstrate corporate wide support of the plan. Be clear as to internal audits conducted as well as a corporate wide risk analysis conducted annually. Review the American Nurses Association’s Principles for Nurses re Social Media and Social Networking. Draw from the ANA’s Code of Medical Ethics. Review the American Physical Therapy Association Code of Ethics. Many clinical associations can provide ethical guidelines that can assist with policy development. Mayo Clinic has refined policies on social media well worth reading. Protect your agency. Be certain your employees know your agency’s ethical stance. Review regulations frequently: http://www.govinfosecurity.com http://www.mobilhealthnews.com http://www.cms.gov/ http://www.healthdatamanagement.com Expect clinicians to adhere to their Standards of Practice. Expect everyone to adhere to the best practices in ethical protection of patient data.  Password  protect and change them frequently. Be serious and state your ethical beliefs, in front of employees, frequently. Encourage employees that when in doubt…don’t. Don’t send data that causes them to hesitate. Encourage them to double check what is being sent to whom. Ethics and Compliance have become the watchwords for a safer healthcare environment. Remember agencies with similar beliefs seek each other out. The ethical industry leader wants to work with other industry organizations that share the concern to protect, care, and achieve expected patient outcomes in a compliant ethical manner. Have a great 2012. .  

Read more

Health Care Red Flag Exemption

HIPPA, HITECH, Legislation

Healthcare Providers Receive FTC Red Flag Exemption

The Red Flag Exemption protects physicians, home health and hospice agencies from misguided federal regulation and clarifies that they should no longer be classified as "creditors" for the purposes of the Red Flags Rule.


History of Health Care Red Flag Exemption

On Tuesday, December 7, the House by voice vote joined the Senate in passage of S.3987, the Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010.  On November 30, 2010, the Senate passed this legislation by unanimous consent.   On December 18, 2010, President Obama signed S. 3987, the “Red Flag Program Clarification Act of 2010” (Public Law No: 111-319), which narrows the definition of a creditor for purposes of implementing the so-called “Red Flags Rule.”

The law is important because of its potential impact on the interpretation of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Red Flags Rule which requires creditors to develop identity theft prevention and detection programs, and was originally scheduled to take effect on November 1, 2008. According to the FTC, physicians who do not accept payment from their patients at the time of service are creditors and must comply with the Rule by developing and implementing written identity theft prevention and detection programs in their practices. The Rule is yet another example of unnecessary intrusion into physicians’ practices which increases costs and diverts resources away from value-added services for our patients. (https://www.aapmr.org/advocacy/health-policy/federal/Pages/President-Signs-Red-Flags-Rule-Legislation.aspx)

The following information from the Library of Congress summarizes S 3987 (see http://thomas.loc.gov):

“Amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act, with respect to federal agency (red flag) guidelines regarding identity theft and the users of consumer reports, to define creditor to mean one that regularly and in the ordinary course of business:  (1) obtains or uses consumer reports, directly or indirectly, in connection with a credit transaction; (2) furnishes information to certain consumer reporting agencies in connection with a credit transaction; or (3) advances funds to or on behalf of a person, based on the person’s obligation to repay the funds or on repayment from specific property pledged by or on the person’s behalf.

“Includes in the definition any other type of creditor as the federal agency (banking agency, National Credit Union Administration, or the Federal Trade Commission) having authority over that creditor may determine appropriate, if the creditor offers or maintains accounts subject to a reasonably foreseeable risk of identity theft.

“Excludes from the definition of creditor, however, any creditor that advances funds on behalf of a person for expenses incidental to a service the creditor provides to that person.” (https://www.hipaa.com/healthcare-providers-receive-ftc-red-flags-exemption-from-congress/)

Summary of Health Care Red Flag Exemption

The Red Flag Exemption protects physicians, home health and hospice agencies from misguided federal regulation and clarifies that they should no longer be classified as "creditors" for the purposes of the Red Flags Rule.

Read more

Two Dynamic Modes for Linking Point-of-Care with EMR Systems

Compliance, HITECH

Store and Forward vs Persistant Home health care agencies currently have two powerful methods for connecting Point of Care laptops with company EMR systems. The Store and Forward technique enables users to enter patient information into a laptop where the data resides until uploaded to the company EMR destination at a later, more advantageous time. Typically, a server functions as an intermediate processing station to relay information from computer to EMR domain. As the term implies, a Persistent Connection maintains an ongoing network link between a sending device and the provider’s EMR database. All information transmitted along this route arrives in real time, similar to instant messaging. Which method is preferable? The answer depends on an agency’s requirements and priorities. Providers would do well to consider the advantages and disadvantages of both before committing to either one of these effective technologies. Store and Forward Advantages The Store and Forward approach offers Point of Care providers several key advantages. The most prominent is independence. Laptops utilized in this mode are not connected to the Internet, but instead serve as stand-alone devices for storing patient assessment data. The elimination of ‘connection dependence’ offers nurses and therapists considerable freedom and flexibility for conducting full patient assessments wherever and whenever such service is needed. Once an assessment is completed, a caregiver can upload all pertinent medical information to the company EMR at a future time in line with agency needs. Non-reliance on an Internet connection gives the Store and Forward approach particularly high value wherever online services are either compromised or completely non-existent. These areas include certain rural locations and high-population density buildings, both of which may lack an Internet signal or are limited to an intermittent connection. Freedom from Internet connectivity also eliminates the problem of session time-outs. Caregivers can devote their full attention to a thorough assessment, pausing as often as needed without fear of disrupting the process or losing information. All sessions stay intact, whether they last one hour or one day. Disadvantages If exchanging real time information between Point of Care and a company EMR system is a priority, providers definitely require an alternative to Store and Forward. Depending on the location of an assessment, establishing an Internet connection with an EMR system could take hours, assuming a local connection is possible at all. If waiting is not an option, neither is Store and Forward. Another delay inherent to Store and Forward is related to the synching process. Numerous caregivers have discovered that synching the complex Point of Care data from laptop to EMR system can be both cumbersome and inconsistent at times. Furthermore, since information isn’t always in synch, some transmitted data may be ancient history by the time it reaches the agency. Again, if timeliness is crucial, its best to opt for an alternate method of data transmission. Since Store and Forward allows data to linger in limbo for indefinite periods, Point of Care laptops also can become potential targets for privacy compromises. The longer sensitive data resides within a laptop, the greater the chance of info theft. Clearly, this heightened vulnerability could have a major impact on HIPPA compliance. Persistent Connection Advantages As with Store and Forward, a Persistent Connection offers agencies clear-cut advantages. Foremost among these is the method’s built-in capacity for capturing data in real time, thereby providing company EMR systems with a consistent flow of current information. The method is indispensable for agencies that rely on real-time field data. A Persistent Connection also offers increasingly available and reliable connectivity thanks to advanced technologies such as Wymax and 3G. Despite these advances, however, the required technology and installation is minimal with this method because users need nothing more than a browser to connect. For agencies intent on maximizing data security, a Persistent Connection is head and shoulders above the Store and Forward process. The reason is simple. With the former technique, data resides in the EMR system, not the laptop. Info theft becomes virtually impossible because data is never stuck in a vulnerable location. Disadvantages While the advantages of a Persistent Connection are a boon to health care productivity, agencies should be aware of several key drawbacks inherent to the system. First of all, availability depends on location. A Persistent Connection clearly is not a viable solution for companies operating in rural or limited-connectivity areas. A continuous, reliable connection is mandatory. An adjunct to continuous connectivity is a limitation placed on users. Nurses and therapists conducting assessments simply don’t have the option of working offline. Such a restriction can hamper the efforts of professionals who might not have easy access to a network connection. Another drawback concerns one of the most important components of a Persistent Connection – browsers. In certain cases, the functionality of key assessment applications is limited to the sophistication and compatibility of browser technology. The two must support each other flawlessly. Unfortunately, such mutual support is not always the case. When incompatibilities arise, assessment processes can be severely compromised. Perhaps the most exasperating disadvantage inherent to the Persistent Connection method is its notorious time limitation. Much to the frustration of numerous health care professionals, the duration of online assessment sessions is strictly limited. The possibility of an ‘untimely’ timeout can put undue pressure on caregivers to wrap-up an assessment before the last precious second ticks away and forces a start-over. Taking a break to resume at a later interval clearly is out of the question, since this action will gobble up valuable chunks of time. In essence, those performing an assessment are forced to remain glued to the spot until their task is completed – hopefully before the session times out. Choosing Between Two Powerful Solutions Health Care providers determined to implement the most effective Point of Care data linking solution can choose between two outstanding possibilities. Both Store and Forward and Persistent Connection offer agencies an array of distinct benefits for efficient and reliable communication between laptop devices and EMR systems. Selecting the most appropriate method depends upon a careful evaluation of both the advantages and disadvantages of each in relation to company needs. Why a Hybrid model may solve most challenges Currently some vendors may have a hybrid model which would address most of the issues and challenges for either method. That model would operate similar to the persistent mode of communication. Once there would be lack of connectivity to the host sever, it would store the information temporarily on the point of care device. This is important because unlike most store and forward models, it would submit updated data as soon as it can make a connection. This would be transparent to the user and would not require a full "synchronization". More importantly the data then would be removed from the device, eliminating any risk for information to be stolen if the device is lost. It is recommended when looking for a vendor that you ask if they will support a hybrid model. The challenge is that most do not. It would be in your best interest to see how they address the issues that are predicated by the technology their are deploying.  

Read more

Article Categories

Learn How

Select Data can improve your agency's productivity while increasing your profitablility...



Let us help