Articles Tagged with “health information technology”

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The first enforcement action from a breach report required by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act Breach Notification Rule has resulted in an agreement by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee (BCBST) to pay the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) $1.5 million.

BCBST reported that unencrypted hard drives had been stolen from a leased storage facility in Tennessee. The hard drives contained personal health information of more than one million people, and included information such as social security numbers and dates of birth. An investigation discovered BCBST failed to ensure the facility had proper security measures in place as required by HIPAA rules. The settlement also requires BCBST to establish a corrective action plan to revise its security policies and conduct training.

The HITECH Breach Notification Rule requires HIPAA covered entities to promptly make notifications in the event of a breach that affects more than 500 individuals. The entity must notify each individual affected, the HHS Secretary, and the media. A breach of information affecting fewer than 500 individuals need only be reported to the HHS Secretary on an annual basis.

More information on the HITECH Breach Notification Rule can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules are enforced by the Health Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights. HIPAA Security Rules establish requirements for how entities must secure and protect electronic health information, and ensure that it remains secure and protected.

More information on the HHS Office for Civil Rights can be found on their website.
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The Detroit Medical Center (DMC) recently announced that it has saved more than $5 million in costs in 2009 due to its system-wide Electronic Medical Records (EMR).  This is the second consecutive year that the DMC has experienced cost-savings due to the EMR system. 

The system, which started to be implemented in 1998, cut costs by effectively preventing medication errors and monitoring important hospital tasks.  DMC leaders expressed enthusiasm not only for the cost-savings, but also for the improved quality of care for patients.  In the DMC press release, the DMC’s Chief Medical Information Officer, Dr. Leland Babitch, stated that the reduction in medication errors is “…a major gain for patients – especially given the fact that medication errors account for the majority of accidental deaths and injuries at U.S. hospitals.”
The DMC’s press release comes at a time when the Obama Administration is encouraging electronic health record (EHR) systems across the country.  For instance, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) recently named the first technology review bodies that are authorized to certify EHR systems. 
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) named the first technology review bodies that are authorized to certify electronic health record (EHR) systems.  The review bodies, The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) and the Drummond Group Inc. (DGI), will have the task of ensuring that EHR systems are in compliance with criteria set forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  David Blumenthal, M.D., the national coordinator for Health Information Technology stressed that this is a “crucial step” as certified EHR systems will be required for providers to meet meaningful use standards and the healthcare community’s confidence will grow in these systems. 

This announcement comes as an important step in the Administration’s effort to encourage the transition from paper-based medical records to EHRs.  The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act created incentive payment programs to encourage healthcare providers to make this transition.  In order to qualify for the incentive payments, however, providers must adopt and demonstrate the meaningful use of certified EHR systems.  Now with CHIT and DGI, EHR systems can begin to receive certification and providers may begin to strive to demonstrate meaningful use of the EHR systems. 
For more information on the implementation of health information technology, obtaining incentive payments from CMS for the demonstration of meaningful use, or review of EHR contracts please visit or contact a Wachler & Associates attorney at 248-544-0888. 
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