Posts Tagged: data sharing

OCR Submits Proposed HIPAA Changes for 2021

hipaa changes

The Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR) proposed modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The OCR drafted these HIPAA changes to improve patient data access, caregiver engagement, and care coordination. OCR sees some aspects of the current law as inhibitors to value-based care. Those inhibitors, OCR says, create unnecessary burdens around communication and coordination. 

In this post, we’ll review the proposed changes and what they mean for healthcare data. 

What Are the Proposed HIPAA Changes?

The 357-page document packs in lots of language, so let’s break it down to the following main points:

  • Clarification around patient data access rights, including the right to inspect a patient’s medical records in-person. 
  • Shortening of the mandated medical records request response from 30 to 15 days while also reducing the patient identity verification process and defining the format a patient can receive his or her medical records and transparency regarding fees for such.
  • Third-party access changes requiring providers to enable a more seamless funneling of medical records to other providers or parties at the patient’s request. 
  • Removal of “minimum necessary” provisions to strengthen care coordination, enabling disparate providers to have broader access to patient files. 
  • Covered entity sharing of patient health information with non-clinical third parties, including social services or community-based services, making it easier to address social determinants of health (SDOH). 

In short, the OCR wants to eliminate regulatory barriers that often disrupt healthcare data exchange. Those in charge believe the existing provisions create “unnecessary burdens.” 

HIPAA Changes in Line with Interoperability Rule

The rhetoric and reasoning behind HIPAA changes sound familiar. It’s the same message the HHS and CMS sent with the interoperability rule earlier this year. Those rules were patient access focused and defined better paths to accessibility. Interoperability and accessibility have long been the bane of healthcare data. These changes, if confirmed, could make more in-roads to this problem. 

The Impact on the Healthcare Ecosystem

hipaa changes care coordination

Ultimately, it appears these modifications to HIPAA could improve the patient experience and care. Should they become rule, providers will need to adjust how they provide information to patients, accelerating timelines, and informing patients of formats and costs. 

For the healthcare system, holistically, it should improve data sharing. Without regulatory speedbumps, providers could have the information they need sooner. This access could mean the patient receives the right care at the right time. It could also reduce duplicative testing or treatments, which are a huge cost burden that is avoidable.

Challenges, even with new rules, persist in data sharing to third parties or other providers. While meeting the regulatory requirements causes delays, other things do as well. Often patient record exchange doesn’t happen timely because of bandwidth issues or lack of ownership. Healthcare IT teams and clinicians have responsibility here, and formal processes may not exist. Healthcare organizations often partner with data management companies like InfoWerks to develop secure, compliant data sharing processes. 

Next Steps

The next step for the proposed changes is the period for public comments from stakeholders. We’ll monitor the process and bring you updates on the finalization of HIPAA changes and what they mean to you.

Data Cleansing for Healthcare

data cleansing

“Dirty” data is an epidemic in just about every industry. Healthcare is no different. Due to the complexity and regulatory mandates around healthcare data, data cleansing for the vertical is often more urgent and complicated. Data cleaning is a necessity for multiple healthcare data management activities, including data conversions, data arching, and data exchange.

In this post, we’ll be going over what is data cleansing in healthcare and what every organization should know about it.

What Is Data Cleansing?

Simply put, it’s the process of repairing or removing data that’s stale, inaccurate, incorrectly formatted or structured, duplicative, or incomplete. Clean data is integral to healthcare’s ability to execute digital transformation. 

When Does Data Need Cleansing?

Several things can trigger the need for a data cleansing, including:

  • Data conversions: Moving data from one software platform to another is a good time for data cleansing. You can choose to purge stale or inaccurate data if you’re not required to keep it per medical record retention regulations. You may also find that reformatting is necessary because your new system fields are different from the previous ones.
  • Data archiving: When you move patient data to an archive, you also have the opportunity to clean it first. One of the biggest cleanses in these cases is to remove duplicates. When you do this, it’s much easier to find what you need on your archive platform. 
  • Data exchange: Different systems need to share data to support interoperability. However, you can send dirty data to the new system. Well, you could, but it would be very effective or useful. Cleaning the data before you share equates to better outcomes.

Cleansing of Data Often Pushed from Priority

Your healthcare IT team, whether internal or third-party, typically has a full plate, managing infrastructure and improving it. These IT professionals often don’t have time to cleanse data, so it’s never a priority. The problem is that when this doesn’t happen, data gets even dirtier and causes more problems. It can also cause implementations to stall because the data isn’t ready. That costs you time and money.

Outsourcing a data cleanse with companies like InfoWerks ensures that the process is timely, compliant, and accurate. We’re healthcare data experts and know all about how to take dirty data and transform it into clean data. 

Learn More About Data Cleansing Services

If you’re a healthcare entity searching for a comprehensive data clean, talk to our experts about how we can make it pain-free!

New Study on Real-Time EHR Data and Telemedicine: Can Care Continuity Improve?

ehr data

Access to real-time data in any field supports better decision-making and outcomes. Healthcare is certainly a beneficiary here. However, data sharing and interoperability aren’t standard or consistent. What can happen when clinicians have real-time EHR data available?

new study published in the American Journal of Managed Care provides interesting insights and connections between real-time data, telemedicine, and care continuity.

Telemedicine Is Surging 

Telemedicine usage is experiencing an acceleration during the pandemic. CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) waived certain restrictions in response to COVID-19. A new report from HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) found that adoption increased for primary care visits by 50% during the first six months of 2020. With this option, can physicians better accommodate those with chronic diseases? That’s the crux of the study. 

About the Study: EHR Data Exchange Can Improve Discharge Transitions

Researchers studied 241,510 hospital discharges in patients with diabetes. They examined the rate of outpatient follow-ups, telemedicine, lab tests, and return emergency department visits or readmissions. 

They then compared the data available for the clinician—inpatient-outpatient or outpatient-only. In the former, physicians scheduled telemedicine follow-ups and ordered outpatient lab tests 27.5% of the time. If the latter, it was only 22.9% of the time. 

The Study’s Commentary on EHR Data Exchange and Care Continuity for Chronic Diseases

Researchers concluded that real-time data availability during transitions coupled with telemedicine access, can shift the care delivery without any adverse effect on patient outcomes with chronic diseases. Further, the expansion of interoperability and EHR data exchange can significantly improve follow-up care efficiency. 

Healthcare Data Exchange Still a Challenge

Many challenges around healthcare data sharing still exist, as there’s no standard across the industry. A concerted effort to improve interoperability has been ongoing by HHS and CMS with the new interoperability rule published this year. However, it’s seen delay due to the pandemic. 

As the healthcare ecosystem works toward consistency around healthcare data exchange and interoperability, the goal of real-time data to fuel decision-making will only grow more critical. When clinicians have more data about a patient’s history, they can enhance continuity of care. Follow-ups don’t have to be in-person to be useful. 

Telemedicine Is a Vital Tool in Care Continuity 

ehr data telemedicine

This study, like many others, highlights the criticality of healthcare data sharing and interoperability. It also reflects that telemedicine is an effective alternative to in-office visits. 

Telemedicine can be more convenient for patients with chronic illnesses. They may have limited mobility or be more susceptible to COVID-19. Those with diabetes and other chronic diseases are at increased risk of having more severe complications from COVID-19.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) deemed telemedicine as an essential health service during COVID-19. They point to it as a way to reduce risk but also ensure that patients with chronic conditions continue to have regular visits to manage their illness and ensure medication adherence. 

How Could Real-Time EHR Data Access Improve Your Organization’s Care Continuity?

Data sharing between EHRs, even within the same health system, can be complex. Additionally, there may be other health information systems (HIS) you’d like to integrate to improve decision-making and the quality of care. 

Enabling interoperability or data sharing may not be a priority for your IT team, as they have a staggering amount of responsibilities. To bridge the gap and improve real-time data access, choose a data management partner like us to help! 

Learn more about our data sharing capabilities today.