HIPAA & Electronic Medical Records

The combination of Stage 2 Meaningful Use for Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA compliance gives a chance for healthcare groups to change the way in which ePHI is stored and communicated and take advantage of the Meaningful Use incentive program.

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

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

What’s has been added in Stage 2 Meaningful Use?

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

New Stage 2 Criteria

Among the new Stage 2 criteria, patient health behavior must be reviewed electronically and images relating to a patient’s healthcare must be saved in a patient’s Electronic Medical Record to permit faster sharing and prevent the loss of paper documentation.

Healthcare groups must now keep track of prescribed medications from the hands of the clinician to the administrator, who must then carry out an electronic prescription handoff to the pharmacist. This is to stop unauthorized prescriptions from being given to patients.

Extensions of Stage 1 Criteria

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

Furthermore, along with the optional Clinical Quality Measures that have to be supplied by healthcare organizations, all qualified entities must select Clinical Quality Measures from at least 3 of the 6 key health care policy domains approved 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 covered in depth 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 data.

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

How Secure Texting Speeds up the Compliance Process

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

Secure texting – when included in 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 safely – as can lab results, diagnoses and medication.

When healthcare groups use secure texting to keep a patient’s Electronic Medical Records up-to-date, supplying a copy of the treatment a patient has received on discharge is instant. This can greatly reduce existing patient wait times while paper records are being obtained.

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

The Further Advantages of Secure Texting

Along with accelerating Stage 2 of Meaningful Use for Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA compliance, healthcare groups that have put in place secure texting have witnessed substantial benefits in terms of increased productivity, cost savings and the standard of healthcare given to patients.

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

While healthcare groups are benefitting from the feature of secure texting, the secure texting platform is reviewing all activity on the organization´s network. Technical security measures 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.

Conclusion: Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA

There are definite benefits to using secure texting to meet the criteria for Stage 2 Meaningful Use for Electronic Medical Records and HIPAA compliance. One statistic which is very relevant to the selection of a secure texting solution over any other type of proposed solution is this: A survey conducted in 2012 showed that 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 instant response.

This perception has carried over into the healthcare sector, where healthcare groups that have put in place a secure texting solution report significant increases in productivity, cost savings and the standard of healthcare given to patients.

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