How To Protect Your Healthcare Practice From Breaches

Ben Scully

By Ben Scully, president, Avatara.

Changes in healthcare privacy laws will have significant consequences for medical practices. This summer, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft of its HIPAA Security Rule guidance, the first update since the guidance’s original landmark issuance in 2008.

It’s sorely needed.

According to a ClearDATA report on the state of cloud security in healthcare providers in 2022, there is a significant disparity in how healthcare leaders assess their organizations’ cloud-based cybersecurity health. Many healthcare providers mistakenly believe their cloud infrastructure is safe and secure when they actually fall well short of the minimum threshold for proper protection against an increasingly risky landscape.

So it’s unsurprising that 2021 saw healthcare organizations weathering the most data breaches since 2009. But with clear instructions and accountability from technology providers, healthcare organizations can protect themselves against cyberattacks.

The Responsibility of Each Healthcare Organization

Guidelines from the federal government are meaningless without careful compliance from each healthcare organization. It’s critical that you review how noncompliance can negatively affect an organization.

Because healthcare organizations may not be fined or directly punished, the potential fallout of noncompliance is easy to underestimate. But threats are everywhere and the chance of a cyberattack is likely. If you are not proactive, you will eventually leave yourself open to a breach — and that attack can come with dire financial consequences.

Organizations that remain vigilant, proactive, and in line with NIST’s updated HIPAA guidelines can lessen their vulnerability to cyberattacks. It requires an expenditure of resources, sure, but that cost should be seen as a critical investment in your organization’s viability and the privacy of your patient data.

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Top 5 Healthcare IT Security Tips You Need To Know

With new threats and challenges emerging in the digital world every day, maintaining optimal IT security has become a daunting task for any organization. More than ever before, healthcare organizations are feeling the heat from regulators regarding cyber security. In this blog post, we look at some of the top healthcare IT security tips you should know to keep your organization safe from cyberattacks.

With more than one billion records being compromised every year, data privacy and protection is a topic that cannot be ignored anymore by any organization without risking its reputation significantly. Considering how many patient records are digitized these days, it’s not surprising that hackers are increasingly targeting healthcare companies with ransomware attacks or other ways to get access to confidential information.

Know Your Employees And Monitor Behavior

Healthcare organizations often deal with extremely sensitive data, and thus it’s important that your employees are aware of what information is private and what information can be shared publicly. It’s also important to keep an eye on how your employees are using their devices at work.

If you notice that someone is downloading files from the network that they shouldn’t be accessing, it might be an indication of malicious behavior. It’s also important to keep an eye on the devices your employees are using. If your organization has BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies, it’s important to make sure that those devices are secured against malware or other threats.

Ensure Strong Passwords And Network Security

While there are many different ways for cybercriminals to break into your network, weak passwords remain a commonly exploited vulnerability. It’s important to make sure that your employees are using strong passwords containing a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols.

To avoid having to reset passwords on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to suggest the use of password managers. Another important network security tip is to implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for all critical systems. This will help to prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive data.

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Effective Digital Transformation In Healthcare: 4 Key Characteristics To Look For In a Risk Adjustment Partner

Vinitha Ramnathan

By Vinitha Ramnathan, senior vice president of product management, Episource.

Digital transformation is responsible for a lot of very promising innovations in healthcare. From telemedicine to AI-enabled medical devices to NLP-driven coding, technology is reshaping how patients interact with providers, how data is shared, how care decisions are made, and how population risk is managed.

But implementing new technology can be a tall order for such a complex and overburdened industry. Perhaps this is why only 7% of healthcare and pharma organizations surveyed said they had “gone digital.” As more healthcare organizations move into value-based care, embracing a digital mindset will be critical to meeting the ever-changing needs of patients — and that starts with data.

The Importance of Data

Like in any industry, health plans require large amounts of data to improve performance over time. However, data is only as valuable as the information that can be gleaned from it. Due to the explosion of healthcare data, it can be difficult for plans to put this valuable information to work. COVID-19 has exacerbated this problem, increasing telehealth visits 38 times over pre-pandemic levels. This trend is predicted to continue, as experts project that $265 billion in Medicare fee-for-service and Medicare Advantage care services will be done at home by 2025.

Partnering with a risk adjustment vendor can help health plans and risk-bearing providers see beyond the data weeds. Partnering with multiple vendors, however, can actually contribute to the problem, leading to siloes, disjointed workflows, and reduced visibility into key metrics.

To solve this, a growing number of healthcare leaders are streamlining workflows and replacing individual solutions from multiple vendors with a single, integrated tech stack. This platform approach can result in more accurate risk scores, reduced provider abrasion, and improved patient care. To help health plans do just that, we’ve outlined four key attributes to look for in a risk adjustment partner.

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New Wave of Health Insurers Driving Change for Members and Incumbent Plans

Venkatgiri Vandali

By Venkatgiri Vandali, president of healthcare, Firstsource.

A new generation of health insurers has appeared in recent years, gradually gaining momentum in key markets in part by claiming to offer a more modern, digital consumer experience.

The advent of these modern, tech-driven upstarts bodes well for members of plans new and old alike, who are looking for health insurers to finally begin to offer the levels of customer experience, personalization and convenience they have long experienced in other markets like finance and consumer goods.

Consumers clearly want and expect their health insurance provider to offer the same quality of experience they enjoy in other areas of their lives, and plans that can meet that expectation will enjoy a significant competitive advantage.

Companies like Oscar and Clover arguably pose a serious threat to the status quo.  Oscar Health, widely seen as a leader in this new wave of companies, recently topped one million members and has reported north of $6 Billion in revenues for 2021. Clover Health, another new wave exemplar, targeting the lucrative Medicare Advantage (MA) segment, reported a 25% increase in its MA enrollment for this year.

They are growing fast, expanding their coverage areas (Oscar has recently expanded to cover 22 states), and successfully creating the impression that they leverage modern technologies, process automation and business cultures in ways that traditional health insurers have not.

However, the reality is that their customer experience innovations have not been particularly sophisticated, and many of the advantages they claim today – such as adopting mobile first strategies for member engagement — can be replicated by incumbent plans.

In fact, large health plans have been moving quickly to adopt new, digital customer experience technologies and business process automation (BPA), and the small- to mid-sized plans are poised to follow suit. Cultural change will likely be the toughest area for traditional health plans to transform, but technology may have a role to play there as well.

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IntelyCare Launches The IntelyHeart Foundation, Committing $2M to Support Healthcare Professionals

Boston Tech Deals Roundup - Funding News (October 29 - November 2 ...

IntelyCare, a healthcare workforce management platform in the United States, announces the launch of The IntelyHeart Foundation, a charitable not-for-profit organizationThe IntelyHeart Foundation, with support from IntelyCare, will provide need-based grants to healthcare professionals who apply and meet established criteria.

IntelyCare intends to commit up to $2 million over the next two years to fund grants to those who need short-term financial assistance to help cover rent, mortgage payments, medical expenses, tuition, or other living expenses.

“Nursing professionals have some of the most difficult jobs around, and despite working long hours, often are not paid sufficiently to support their personal and professional goals,” said David Coppins, CEO and co-founder of IntelyCare. “We began our efforts in Q4 2021 to help bridge that gap by awarding over $500,000 in unrestricted grants to thousands of our IntelyPros. Now we wish to take it further by encouraging those who need some short-term assistance to apply for grants through our foundation.”

“Giving back to these workers is a key element in our focus on bettering the lives of healthcare workers,” said Joan Nevins, chair of the foundation’s board of directors. “We already offer IntelyPros flexible work assignments, professional benefits, and career training resources through IntelyEdu. With The IntelyHeart Foundation, we can now offer healthcare professionals a resource to turn to in time of need.”

The formal launch of The IntelyHeart Foundation is an extension of IntelyCare’s existing efforts to support healthcare professionals who are facing financial hardships. Last year, IntelyCare established a $500,000 fund to provide financial relief for healthcare professionals who were struggling during the holiday season and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “Thank you very much for being there for us, and for showing us that you care,” said a CNA from Indiana, PA who received a grant from last year’s program. “We can’t thank you enough for being our inspiration and knowing that you really care about us.”

The application process for the first round of grants is open now. The Foundation expects to announce recipients in the fall of 2022, with subsequent application periods and awards.

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Let’s Talk Interactive Announces The Launch of TrustVideo

Let’s Talk Interactive (LTI), a leading telemedicine solutions provider, today announces the launch of its next-generation enterprise virtual care solution, TrustVideo.

TrustVideo leverages a revolutionary utilization encounter-based model that allows all providers in a healthcare system to access the platform as opposed to licensed-based models. “We believe everyone should have access to care, including the providers. TrustVideo’s utilization encounter-based model opens up an ecosystem of healthcare where no one is prevented from engaging in or receiving virtual care. As a result, more physicians will be able to offer care via the TrustVideo platform and more patients will be seen,” said Arthur Cooksey, founder and CEO of Let’s Talk Interactive.

The standalone, customizable virtual care platform offers a seamless patient and provider user experience that integrates with and complements any electronic health records (EHR) and electronic medical records (EMR) system and is accessible on any device and browser. The solution has the power to serve any medical use case and workflow with one virtual care platform that provides a complete end-to-end user experience for both patients and providers without interruption.

“EHR and EMR systems have become the bedrock of clinical data in healthcare. It’s essential to have an interoperable virtual care platform that seamlessly integrates with any EMR/EHR and serves any use case,” added Cooksey. “Beyond complex integrations, a challenge most healthcare providers experience is jumping from one program to another just to give patients the care they need. TrustVideo is a client-centric platform that incorporates state-of-the-art functionality such as scheduling, notes, reporting, and payment and delivers them in one simple, concise and secure solution.”

TrustVideo’s software platform includes advanced functionality for bio-analytics, medical cart software and medical devices, virtual triage for on-demand queueing to virtual clinics, and a dispatcher role for call center appointment setting or on-demand triage.

“We developed TrustVideo with key healthcare units in mind, such as ICU and stroke units, and emergency departments,” said Cooksey. “They can quickly triage a patient, connect with a specialist, make a diagnosis, send an eScript and determine if other follow-up is needed. The provider can send notes and screenshots from the visit into the EMR and generate any reports or documentation.”

“We are thrilled to launch TrustVideo, an innovation that has truly evolved with patients’ needs instead of simply adapting with them,” said Cooksey. “The result will be a win-win for the patient and healthcare system – increased patient acquisition, improved virtual care, boosted revenue, and more patients seen.”

To learn more about TrustVideo, visit https://trustvideo.com/.

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AGS Health Launches Artificial Intelligence Platform for End-to-End Revenue Cycle Management

AGS Health, a  revenue cycle management (RCM) solutions provider and partner to some of the largest healthcare systems in the U.S., launched its AGS AI Platform, a connected solution that blends artificial intelligence (AI) and automation with award-winning human-in-the-loop services and expert support to maximize revenue cycle performance.

Industry-wide, health systems are being stretched as they face chronic and worsening labor shortages while attempting to address higher denial rates and an onslaught of audits. Shrinking margins limit organizations’ ability to reinvest in care delivery. In this time of high turnover, the AGS AI Platform helps to reduce stress, prevent burnout, and improve job satisfaction by offering the ability to automate high-volume repetitive tasks, allowing skilled staff to focus on more complex tasks.

“AGS Health is excited to deliver this platform as a lifeline to provider organizations in challenging times,” says Patrice Wolfe, CEO of AGS Health. “With our industry expertise, AI-enhanced technology, and specialized services, AGS Health is helping healthcare organizations achieve the financial freedom necessary to invest in the latest healthcare innovations and deliver high-quality care to their communities.”

The platform allows healthcare organizations to gain enhanced visibility into day-to-day operations and the overall performance of the revenue cycle, including intelligent worklists, productivity reports, customizable dashboards, root cause analyses, and executive reporting. Performance trends and predictive analytics help to prevent bottlenecks, reduce denials, and mitigate revenue leakage.

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How Personalization Can Boost Adoption of Virtual Care

Shriya Palekar

By Shriya Palekar, AVP Health Plan Solutions, TytoCare.

The COVID-19 outbreak led many to realize the transformative value the virtual world can bring to their industries. The healthcare industry – where virtual care and telehealth integration are becoming more and more accepted – is no exception. 

In fact, telehealth utilization rates have stabilized, ranging from 13% to 17% of total care visits across all specialties in 2021, compared to pre-pandemic levels – an upward trend that has continued in 2022.

These spikes, however, do not guarantee that virtual care will become universally accepted, especially when it comes to primary and routine care that go beyond on-demand needs. Many health plan members are used to in-person appointments for these types of care, and 53% of people still prefer an in-person visit for a non-emergency health issue, assuming out-of-pocket costs are not a factor.    

Given this reluctance, the question remains: how can health plans boost adoption rates of virtual primary and urgent care for the benefit of both members and the overall healthcare system? 

When looking beyond urgent and acute medical services, there are still barriers to virtual care adoption that need to be addressed. The path to increased virtual care adoption for routine care lies in differentiating unique segments of members and understanding their needs individually. Health plans and healthcare systems need to engage their members by understanding who they are and by breaking them down into clear population segments to reveal their unique needs, and understand how best to personally incentivize these groups to buy-in to the world of virtual and hybrid care.  

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How Healthcare Leaders Can Improve Patient Billing In The Face of Medical Debt

David Law

By David J. Law, chief client officer, Zotec Partners.

Americans collectively owe almost $200 billion in medical debt. With inflation rising, the cost of living increasing, and healthcare providers struggling to keep up with post-pandemic demand, this ballooning debt is causing patients and providers alike a lot of undue stress.

At the same time, the country’s medical debt collection processes are changing. In March, credit reporting agencies announced they will exclude all medical debt under $500 from credit reports by the first quarter of 2023. Furthermore, agencies will wait longer to report larger medical debts to accommodate patients who need more time to figure out and calculate their healthcare payment status.

Healthcare leaders are under pressure to make patient bill care easier and more transparent. They need ways to remain profitable while putting patients — and their financial well-being — first.

Why is prioritizing patient well-being such a challenge? 

It’s clear that one of the healthcare industry’s priorities in the coming years must be making healthcare profitable for providers and affordable for patients. But what does this mean in practical terms? Why is this balancing act still so challenging for healthcare leaders?

For starters, the industry’s surroundings have shifted drastically in the last few years, and the economy has not lent itself to profitability or well-being. We’re living with a 40-year high in inflation, and deductibles are up without a match in salary increases. Patient payers are taking on more of the financial responsibility of their healthcare, and 49% of Americans wouldn’t be able to pay an unexpected $500 medical bill without going into debt.

This financial landscape is very real for patients, and stress is high. Emotional turmoil has always been part and parcel of healthcare — people are full of fear when they or their loved ones are sick and in pain — but stress is especially overwhelming now with medical debt carrying even higher stakes.

Patient expectations have also changed. They are seasoned digital consumers now with several choices in most areas of their lives. While people need a safe and clear healthcare experience, they also want a retail-like experience with the ability to choose their preferred methods for care, payment plans, and communication.

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6 Ways The Right Education Can Improve Healthcare

Woman in White Shirt Standing Near Glass Window Inside Room

Education is at the core of every successful profession. It provides you with the tools, knowledge, and experience that positively influence the outcomes of your work. However, some industries heavily rely on pedagogy more than others, out of which healthcare dominates them all.

The healthcare sector plays a vital role in patient care, impacting community wellness. It ensures that patients are healthy, protected by robust policies, and skilled professionals work with the community. The healthcare industry has many tasks to accomplish in a day. Therefore, the field has to hire highly qualified medical workers willing to commit to lifelong learning. Here’s how educated medical experts keep the sector flourishing:

Nurses are necessary to ensure patients get the help they need. They need to record patient data, relay the information to doctors and take care of the patients undergoing treatment. As a nurse, you can start your career with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Still, this qualification alone cannot prepare you to independently care for patients and ensure their safety. An ADN degree is only a stepping stone into the healthcare sector. If you want to become a registered nurse, you will need to polish specific skills, knowledge, and expertise.

Going from ADN to BSN online will save you time and fill in the gaps in your knowledge and skills. You will have the confidence to communicate more openly and professionally with a diverse group of patients. A BSN degree will also help you work on complex cases without hesitation. Such as establishing a standard EHR language, interpreting lab results, and resuscitating crashing patients. This will make patients more comfortable around you, trust your judgment, and make you a better patient advocate.

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