HIPAA Audits Are Underway

November 18th, 2011

Under the HITECH Act, periodic audits are now required to ensure covered entities and business associates are complying with the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules and Breach Notification standards. This month, the first 20 of 150 planned audits will begin. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has hired...

Additional New Steps to Stop Fraud, Waste and Abuse of Government Programs Announced

November 16th, 2011

Since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law in March 2010, there has been a steady push to rein in governmental costs associated with fraud, waste and abuse. President Obama’s 2010 directive included several goals—to prevent $50 billion in payment errors by the end of 2012, cut Medicare fee-for-service errors in half,...

Hospital Reimbursement Tied to Patient Satisfaction

November 11th, 2011

For generations, parents have used bribes and incentives to motivate children to make good grades in school. The promise of a trip to Disney World or tickets to a rock concert often were dangled as prizes for As and Bs on a report card. Soon the government will use this...

New Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program FAQs now Available

November 9th, 2011

To assist providers with the complexities of the Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Program, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently added several new FAQs to their EHR Incentive Programs Provider Resources.
The full set of FAQs is available as both a PDF document and as a searchable database. It...

Drug Shortages Reach Record Highs

November 4th, 2011

Earlier this week, President Obama signed an executive order directing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Justice to take steps to reduce the increasing problem of drug shortages.
Drug shortages in the U.S. have reached a record-high. In June, the FDA reported 178 drug shortages. So far...

Employees Texting While Driving, an OSHA Workplace Safety Hazard

November 2nd, 2011

Employees Texting While Driving, a Serious OSHA Workplace Safety Hazard
OSHA is calling on all employers to keep their employees safe by implementing internal policies that will prevent worker-related distracted driving, especially from texting while driving.
Studies have shown that year after year, the leading cause of worker-related injuries and fatalities occur...

Oh No, Must Be the Season of the Flu

October 28th, 2011

As the leaves swirl across our lawns, pumpkins dot the roadsides, and goblins, fairy princesses, and superheros prepare for trick or treating, we hunker down for the season ahead that will bring cold, snow, and just as certainly, flu.
Every year epidemics of flu occur during late fall through early spring....

Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO Final Rule Published

October 26th, 2011

The Department of Health and Human Services announced on October 20, 2011 that the anxiously-awaited Final Rule on Accountable Care Organizations has been published in the Federal Register. The final rule, “Medicare Program; Medicare Shared Savings Program: Accountable Care Organizations“ has been changed substantially from the proposed rule, after over...

SHHH – Patients Are Healing

October 21st, 2011

We all know that a stay in a hospital is anything but quiet and restful. Monitors that beep continuously, rattling carts, TVs on in every room, ringing phones, squeaking wheels, and overhead pages all make it difficult to rest. Not only is all this noise annoying and unpleasant, but it...

Billing Company Possibly Responsible for HIPAA Data Breach

October 19th, 2011

As a follow up to my previous blog on whether hospital-based physicians need HIPAA programs (such as pathologists, anesthesiologists and radiologists), we are hearing about a major breach of medical records regarding a pathology billing company in the Boston area.
According to an article posted by, it appears the billing...

Steve Jobs's Legacy to Health Care

October 14th, 2011

Last week the world lost Steve Jobs, whose innovations in personal computing, music, telecommunications, and consumer electronics transformed the way we learn, play, and communicate with each other. The health care community has also been transformed by the iPad, iPhone, and iPod, along with health applications developed specifically for these...

Deadline to Apply for eRx Exemption is November 1, 2011

October 12th, 2011

 On October 6, 2011, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services published the Final Rule for Electronic Prescribing (eRx), setting forth how eligible providers (or group practices) can use “significant hardship exemptions” to avoid Physician Fee Schedule penalties. If providers or practices do not apply for these exemptions by November...

Lighten Up on Salt – Guidelines?

October 7th, 2011

Recently the Salt Institute (a trade group for salt companies) has accused the federal government of bias and breaking federal law by disregarding scientific literature in its recommendations that Americans consume less sodium. In a 17-page letter sent to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human...

Natural Disasters and Sharing PHI Under the HIPAA Rules

October 5th, 2011

It’s an unpleasant thought, but unfortunately, natural disasters are becoming a way of life. Every day, there are news reports of flooding and landslides, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, severe storms---even earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis. The list goes on and on, and healthcare providers are on the front lines when these...

Million Hearts

September 30th, 2011

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services launched Million Hearts, a new initiative aimed at preventing one million heart attacks and strokes over the next five years. The initiative will focus on two goals: empowering Americans to make healthy choices, and improving care for people who need treatment.

50 Tips to Avoid Breaches of Protected Health Information

September 23rd, 2011

Last Friday’s blog reported on the Department of Health and Human Services’ report to Congress on 7.8 million reported breaches of protected health information (PHI) in 16 months.
Theft was the leading cause of breaches, followed closely by loss of data through negligence or human error. Thefts included the loss of...

Medicaid RAC Final Rule Issued by CMS

September 21st, 2011

A final Rule has been issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), to assist in guiding State start-up, operation and maintenance costs of Medicaid Recovery Audit Contractors (Medicaid RACs) and the payment methodology for State payments to Medicaid RACs. It directs States to assure that adequate appeal...

Breaches of Protected Health Information Tops 7.8 Million

September 16th, 2011

A recent report issued to Congress by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealed some staggering figures: from September 23, 2009 through December 31, 2010 (less than 16 months) the protected health information (PHI) of 7.8 million individuals was compromised.
The 2009 Breach Notification for Unsecured Protected Health Information...

Do Hospital-Based Physician Groups Need an OHCA to Comply With HIPAA?

September 14th, 2011

 For most physician groups, the fact that they need to establish HIPAA/HITECH programs for their organizations is an unquestioned fact of life, but there are other types of physician groups who may legitimately wonder if they must do this.
For instance, do physicians affiliated with a hospital, and working exclusively at...

Is It Wise to Remove Wisdom Teeth?

September 9th, 2011

By high school graduation, the baby teeth are long gone, the orthodontic braces have been removed, and a broad, beautiful smile showcasing healthy, straight teeth peers out from the senior yearbook. The trials of adolescent dentistry appear to be over, but lurking beneath the gums is the next dental challenge:...

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