“Meaningful Use” Website Launched

The Healthcare Information and Management System Society (“HIMSS”) has launched Meaningful Use OneSource, an online source containing almost 400 documents, tools, and links to other available knowledge.

HIMSS developed the site to help individuals and organizations prepare for the meaningful use and certification criteria and standards regulations.

Among other things, the site clarifies:

  • How to meet and use meaningful use certification criteria;
  • How to receive the Medicare and Medicaid incentive funding and avoid penalties;
  • How to implement meaningful use in a healthcare organization; and
  • How to access recently released updates on federal and state laws and regulations.

The site provides information in three main categories:

  1. The Basics: Meaningful Use 101;
  2. Qualifying for Meaningful Use and Funding; and
  3. Putting Meaningful Use into Practice.

Users can access specific information relevant to their situations and organizations within each area.

New information will be added to the site on a regular basis.  HIMSS reviews all research and information before it is posted, so users can be assured they are viewing accurate, credible and current knowledge.

Source: Rajecki, Ron. “New Web Site is Online Repository for Meaningful Use Information.” InfoTech Bulletin.  10 Feb. 2011.

© 2011 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

  For more information, contact info@pvwlaw.com

Data Security Breaches Give State Attorneys General a Chance to Exercise New HIPAA Powers

The Connecticut and Arizona attorneys general are investigating health plans that recently experienced data breaches that the plans failed to disclose for several months.  This is a definite sign that state attorneys general may be using the HIPAA enforcement powers granted by the HITECH Act provisions in the Recovery Act.

Typically, state attorneys general prosecute only violations of state laws, but they now have authority to investigate and levy fines for violations of HIPAA and the HITECH Act, which requires mandatory notifications within two months of knowledge of a breach.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has come forth as possibly the first attorney general to take on a HIPAA investigation, and Arizona’s attorney general may also be pursuing a similar route. The larger of the two breaches that have come to the attorney generals’ attention was experienced by Health Net, Inc., which lost a portable external hard drive containing seven years of data for 446,000 Connecticut residents. The lost data came from 1.5 million individuals in total, also including individuals from New Jersey and New York.

Health Net reported the loss to the Connecticut attorney general on November 19. On the same day Blumenthal issued a harsh statement demanding answers and promising action. He specifically said he was investigating whether Health Net may have violated “federal laws,” as well as his state’s own data protection laws.

 Blumenthal said he would “seek to establish what happened and why the company kept its customers and the state in the dark for so long.” Blumenthal said he was “outraged and appalled” by Health Net’s actions and stated that failure to provide notice sooner was “unconscionable foot-dragging.”

Health Net’s hard drive, which disappeared from its offices in Shelton, Connecticut, required a special reader to view, but it was not encrypted.

© 2009 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

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HHS Announces Infection Control Surveys for Ambulatory Surgery Centers

To help prevent serious infections resulting from services performed in ambulatory surgical centers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) will use the funds provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (“ARRA”) to implement the nationwide application of a new infection control survey tool developed in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and a case tracer methodology that tracks a patient’s care from admission to discharge. Additionally, CMS will use the ARRA funds to survey ambulatory surgical centers using this survey application at the rate of approximately once every three years during the national pilot program.

The particular focus on ambulatory surgical centers for this funding was chosen because the available infection control tool was developed for ambulatory surgical centers and because of the likely continuing infection control deficiencies in ambulatory surgical center settings.

The primary use of this money will be to pay for the expansion of ambulatory surgical center surveys (both in quality, time and number) using the new infection control tool and case tracer methodology. The funds will allow states to hire additional surveyors (one to four per state dependent upon ambulatory surgical center growth), which will increase a state’s capacity to maintain expected levels of ambulatory surgical center inspections while building greater capacity to use the improved survey tool nationwide.

© 2009 Parsonage Vandenack Williams LLC

  For more information, contact info@pvwlaw.com