AHIMA’s New Model Form Draws Attention to Right to Access

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) recently released a model form, taking the lead in providing a resource when a patient requests a copy of their health information.

AHIMA is making strides to reduce the confusion for patients and streamline the process for providers, both of which are important aims.  AHIMA is the only group that has created a form template for organizational use so far. While HIPAA requires a fairly standard written authorization for disclosure of PHI to a third-party, Right to Access under HIPAA has largely been overlooked until recently. We commend AHIMA in its efforts and feel it sparks healthy additional conversation around the Right to Access process and how it differs from Authorizations — as they are often combined and sometimes confused under the release of information label.

While Right to Access is not a new law, it was often misunderstood until Health and Human Services (HHS) in conjunction with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) issued additional guidance in early 2016. At the center of the confusion is the process in which a patient or their personal representative request PHI under the Right to Access stipulation. While a form is not required by HHS for Access requests, a covered entity or business associate may require the request to be in writing if it is in the Notice of Privacy Practices. As healthcare organizations require an Authorization for release of PHI to a third-party, they consider it a best practice to require patients to complete their Access request in writing. To answer the need for a complementary form to Authorization requests, AHIMA created a model form to be utilized in the Right to Access process.

In particular, AHIMA’s model form addresses two issues with Right to Access:

1 – AHIMA’s model form draws attention to a frequently overlooked provision within HIPAA. Following the additional guidance from HHS and the OCR on HIPAA, Right to Access has become a hot topic. Yet, for many organizations, Authorizations far exceed the Right to Access requests they receive, so they have not placed much emphasis on the Access process in the past. As organizations try and navigate this additional guidance, AHIMA has stepped in to provide a starting point via the model form request. AHIMA’s attention to the Right to Access additional guidance illustrates organizations cannot overlook these provisions as perhaps they once had, or they will face repercussions from the OCR.

2 –  AHIMA’s model form assists organizations in verifying personal representatives.

The Right to Access specifications allow a patient or their personal representative to request records, however Access requests are subject to different pricing stipulations than a traditional Authorization request.  As such, attorneys and other entities are taking advantage of the guidelines for the pricing benefits and having patients designate them as their personal representative.  There are real costs associated with producing medical records, and third-parties are taking advantage of what is supposed to be a benefit to patients. As the Access request is not required by HIPAA to be on a specific form, third-parties under the guise of personal representation are submitting requests pretending to be the patient. At DataFile, we have seen boilerplate letters issued “from the patient” with a copied and pasted signature of the patient, leading to uncertainty if the patient themselves is requesting the records, or a third-party representing themselves as a personal representative instead. AHIMA’s model form helps curb this possible exploitation by having the patient complete the form personally, as well as designate their personal representative in writing. HIPAA will allow a healthcare organization to use their specific form and require an Access request in writing, provided it is noted in the Notice of Privacy Practices as well as does not prevent a barrier to the patient receiving their records.

As healthcare organizations see their Right to Access requests are on the rise, in part due to additional awareness of the process and the personal representative designation, the OCR notes their guidance has created some unintended consequences.  At the Health Care Compliance Association conference in March 2017, Iliana Peters, Senior Advisor for HIPAA Compliance and Enforcement, expressed the OCR would issue additional guidance on the Right to Access process to curtail third-parties like attorneys utilizing the personal representative designation misleadingly.

While the healthcare industry can expect to see additional guidance on Right to Access under HIPAA, AHIMA has assisted organizations in addressing Right to Access needs by developing their model form for Access requests.

Want more information on why a standardized ROI form is not enough in responding to your patient and requestor needs? Request our white paper.

DataFile Technologies Achieves Women’s Business Enterprise Distinction

DataFile Technologies, a leader in health information management (HIM) solutions, announced today that it has received national certification from the Women’s Business Development Center – Chicago, a Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBENC) Regional Partner Organization.

Janine Akers purchased DataFile Technologies in 2005, which included only the company name and four customers. From those humble beginnings, DataFile quickly outgrew the initial service model and leveraged emerging technology to build an innovative approach to the most common HIM challenges. Akers has led the organization through rapid growth over the last 12 years, offering solutions such as fulfillment of medical records requests, document management and routing, and scanning for electronic health record system conversions to healthcare organizations of all types and sizes. DataFile works with HIM departments and leaders across the country to improve operational efficiencies that can assist in achieving metrics for new reimbursement requirements as well as supporting patient satisfaction initiatives.

“We are excited to be officially certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise. We want to continue to grow our team of healthcare data experts while expanding our footprint in the health IT industry,” said Akers, CEO of DataFile Technologies. “The WBE certification will give us not only new opportunities for growth, but the ability to network with and learn from other woman-owned organizations across the country.”

The WBE certification for women-owned businesses certifies that a company is at least 51% woman/women owned and controlled. It is the most rigorous and sought after certification of its kind. Companies and government agencies that include women-owned businesses as their vendors show their commitment to fostering diversity, which the WBENC believes sparks innovation and creates partnerships and opportunities that fuel the economy.

Allscripts Milestone Points to Industry Shift to Streamlined Records Processing

“The Times They Are-A Changin’……” Can’t you just hear Bob Dylan singing right now? ….We’re sorry for that!

As evidence of the rapidly evolving healthcare space, DataFile Technologies partner Allscripts just announced eChart Courier hit a major milestone with the exchange of 10 million medical records since inception in 2015.  This news spells more opportunity for practices to streamline back office health information management (HIM) functions.

Allscripts eChart Courier service helps physician practices automate the appropriate sharing of medical records with affiliated health plans. It encrypts and electronically delivers the medical record to the payer, streamlining the reimbursement timeline by sending the required information quickly. The service is available to health care providers at no charge. As a complement to Allscripts eChart Courier, DataFile offers a niche solution for release of information for medical records services.

Hitting the milestone of exchanging 10 million records electronically is a significant accomplishment for eChart Courier and offers a substantial integrity and labor savings for providers. And it’s just scratching the surface of opportunity for practices that want to gain efficiency and eliminate HIPAA liability.

“There are 100+ million records being requested of providers annually, and 90% of them are still being exchanged via traditional paper or analog faxing methods,” said Janine Akers, CEO of DataFile Technologies. “These legacy methods do not offer discreet or structured data to be exchanged effectively and can cause unnecessary issues and inefficiencies.  Allscripts is paving a path of interoperability that benefits patients, providers and payors alike.”

Providers face a number of challenges in today’s healthcare landscape. From ballooning regulations and overhead costs to labor and staffing, running an efficient medical practice can be difficult. DataFile and Allscripts eChart Courier services combine to make it possible for organizations to save money, reduce HIPAA risk and maintain an efficient practice that is able to offer exemplary patient care.

At DataFile, we commend Allscripts for their commitment to offering ways for providers to lower the costs and liability associated with running a practice. As the demand for technology and advanced solutions continues to grow in healthcare, DataFile is proud to partner with EHR companies such as Allscripts that address client needs through turnkey options and allow for a renewed focus on patient care.

To learn more about how DataFile compliments Allscripts and eChart Courier, join us for an upcoming webinar or contact us today.

The DataFile Difference: Keeping You Compliant with Release of Information!

In light of recent incidents in our industry, we feel it is a good time to remind our clients and colleagues of the DataFile commitment to compliance and excellence for release of information (ROI) services. With talk of interoperability and the rapid rate of progress towards automation of heath information exchange, it’s important to understand that when it comes to release of information at the hospital and physician office level, the process is still not automatic. CEO, Janine Akers, is often quoted, urging healthcare leaders to remember, “interoperability does not equal automation”. Akers is an advocate of interoperability and one of the nation’s leading voices on the topic, with her recent appointment to the Care Quality Board. She shares with healthcare leaders that there is still a human element needed to ensure the right information is exchanged, with the right entities, at the right time, and at the right price.

These rapid changes in health information management certainly affect release of information (ROI) services at all levels of the continuum. However, there is still a cost involved to pull this information, it’s not automatic and not all electronic health records are complete.  For patients and requestors alike to receive the most complete and accurate information, a human, whether it be a staff member at the healthcare organization or through a vendor such as DataFile, must be involved to ensure this accuracy. For a staff member, or data expert to review and fulfill the request, there is a cost associated. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) helps regulate the costs associated with records release and additional state governance also applies in many instances. These regulations are put into place to protect patients who have a right to access their medical record at a fair and reasonable cost.

DataFile boasts one of the best compliance teams in the industry, led by Gary Powell and Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser. This team takes pride in not only ensuring the privacy of our clients’ patients, but assisting clients to remain compliant with state and federal laws associated with release of information. “We take the time to research each state and understand the laws and regulations which will impact our clients,” shares Wickenhauser, “this includes the fees that can be charged to patients and third party requestors to obtain medical records; it’s important to note that both not knowing the fee structure for your state, or charging outside that reasonable fee, can land your organization in hot water, as we’ve seen recently with some healthcare organizations. Our goal is to work with our clients to provide services which help them limit their liability and offload back office processes, like release of information. We can ensure their records are transmitted faster, and, most importantly, in a compliant manner.“

Are you interested in learning more about the DataFile difference and our commitment to strict compliance? We look forward to sharing more information with you. To research our turnkey HIM solutions, including release of information (ROI), please visit datafiletechnologies.com or email our experts at solutions@datafiletechnologies.com to schedule your complimentary demonstration.

“On Your MACRA, Get Set, GO!” Webinar Wrap-Up

On behalf of Ben Bull, Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser, and myself, we enjoyed our time discussing MACRA and the Quality Payment Program with webinar attendees from across the country!

Kathryn shares a few additional thoughts from yesterday’s discussion:

“Thank you for joining me for “On Your MACRA, Get Set, Go!”.  I hope you found the information beneficial and are able to apply it to your individual practice.  The Quality Payment Program, including MIPS, will certainly continue to challenge healthcare organizations for 2017 and beyond as a means to illustrate increased quality and decreased costs in the ambulatory realm.  As I’m sure you picked up on, the Quality Payment Program is incredibly flexible and personal to each organization.  If you are interested in additional assistance navigating this new era in healthcare, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.  Additionally, please take advantage of our demo offer through 1/31 for a 30 minute MACRA analysis with yours truly! Thank you again for joining, and have a great start to 2017″

The webinar recording is now available! Please click here to access.

As you review this information shared yesterday, I also encourage you to take advantage of our complimentary consultation with Kathryn, by booking a demo of the DataFile HIM solutions. You’ll learn more about our time-saving solutions… and get more specific information on MACRA for your organization..a win, win! Email us today to book yours!
I hope to see you on another DataFile webinar…soon!

-Jamie

Data Breaches are on the Rise

According to the global information service, Experian, stolen health records in the wrong hands are worth far more than stolen credit card data. Healthcare organizations continue to improve their defenses to make it harder for hackers to succeed. However, according to Trent Peters, CIO of DataFile Technologies, consumers are far more likely to have medical information stolen as a result of internal risks at clinics such as a stolen laptop or falling prey to a phishing attack. Click here to read the full Kansas City Business Journal article about this important topic.

Client Spotlight: Canyonlands Healthcare

To Alleviate Staff and Physician Burden, Canyonlands Healthcare Turns to DataFile for ROI and eFile Solutions.

Canyonlands Healthcare, a private, not-for-profit corporation providing consumer directed health centers with locations across northern and southeastern Arizona, is not unique in the burden and backlog they experienced by fulfilling records requests and other services in-house. There simply “isn’t enough time in the day” for staff to provide outstanding patient care, while keeping up with administrative tasks. Staff, leaders and physicians are all required to do more, with less resources, in the same amount of time, while swimming in a sea of regulations.

In search of a resolution to the backlog and frustrations, leaders at Canyonlands vetted the DataFile suite of solutions and chose to move their in-house medical records fulfillment, along with their chart filing tasks, to the team of healthcare data experts at DataFile.

“The more we looked at the solutions DataFile offered, the more we realized it was the right fit for us. Our processes for fulfilling records requests and scanning for patients charts were fragmented,” shares Patient Services Supervisor Margaret Mangione. “As we implemented the ROI and eFile services, the way both services were tailored to our process really made it an easy transition for our staff and our physicians.”

Client Services Manager, Rafael Jones, has worked with the Canyonlands team for almost a year. “Working with Margaret and her team has been very rewarding, “Jones states, “Our team has been able to dive in to learn their specific workflows to ensure we support them in the best way possible. The patient care they provide communities in Arizona is so important, it’s rewarding to alleviate some of their administrative burden so they can deliver the best care to their patients each day.”

As with any change in an organization, some initial apprehension is always expected. As DataFile and Canyonlands Healthcare began to work together, ensuring that physician workflows remained consistent was at the top of the priority list in building the client’s process. “DataFile tailors the eFile process to our workflows; this makes it much easier for our providers to grasp what’s going on and, it reassures them that their patient charts and EHR are still the same, but updated in a timely manner,” shares Mangione.

When asked which service has had the biggest impact on their organization so far, Margaret is quick to share, “The eFile services have had the most profound affect on the organization. The providers love having scans and updated information in the patient charts within 24-48 hours. They are really pleased with this timely approach that allows them to provide the best care to their patients at the time of service.”

While the eFile services from DataFile have had a strong impact on the clinical workflows and patient care at Canyonlands Healthcare, the staff and administrators have seen measurable improvements from the ROI service as well. Margaret continues, “In my world, the compliance side has had the most profound affect. My mind is at ease knowing DataFile keeps us compliant with our release of information. I also appreciate the support we receive when a patient has a legal matter that requires records be released. I know those requests for releases are being handled timely, appropriately and it takes a real burden off me and my staff.”

As Canyonlands Healthcare continues to service patients in the communities of Northern and Southeastern Arizona with integrated primary and preventive care, improving access and removing financial barriers to care for their consumers, DataFile is proud to work behind the scenes as a trusted partner. “Helping our clients free up their time, eliminate burden and worry so that they can focus on their patients—that’s what we’re here for,” says Jones. And, if you ask any healthcare data expert at DataFile, that’s the best part of their job!

Interested in learning more about ROI or eFile services with DataFile? Our team will be happy to help you discover if the suite of DataFile solutions may be a fit for your organization. Please visit us online at www.datafiletechnologies.com, email us at solutions@datafiletechnologies.com, call 816.437.9134, or, if you prefer, send a carrier pigeon to our offices in beautiful Kansas City, MO!

There’s Still Time! DataFile can Help You Reach Your Goals!

There are so many competing demands on healthcare providers these days. The year is past the halfway mark and now may be a good time to reflect on the goals set for your organization for 2016.

MedData Group annually collects and analyzes insights from providers and healthcare professionals. In partnership with Capko & Morgan, a survey was conducted to learn the greatest priorities impacting their practice management in 2016.

If any of these responses also made your annual priority list, but you feel the year is slipping away – Don’t worry! DataFile offers a suite of HIM and clinical workflow solutions that can assist with many of these priorities.

survey-bar-chart-for-blog-post-and-newsletter

For example, DataFile Release of Information and eFile services allow healthcare providers to reallocate resources away from administrative tasks so you can see more patients. A recent DataFile Blog Post illustrated that if your staff spent simply one minute more per patient per day to complete the associated/required workflow tasks within the EHR than what our super user DataFile staff takes to complete the same tasks, it could cost you as much as $30,000 each year! And if your clinical support team tasked that work to our DataFile super users, perhaps you could see more patients each day and grow your organization.

Many of our clients tell us that not having to hire and train, hire and train, hire and train staff on the EHR or HIPAA is one of the biggest benefits of working with DataFile.

Setting goals and priorities is very important to an efficient and productive life – at work, at home and at play. When we take the time to set priorities, we’re more likely to reach our goals and we’re more likely to reach them quicker. When we take the time to pause to see that we’re still on track, experts say we are even more likely to be successful.

If you’d like to learn more about the DataFile services that could help grow your practice and remove management headaches associated with hiring and training support staff, just send us a quick email.

OCR Email Confirmation Notice: Did You Receive One, Too?

To our valued clients;

You may have received an email today from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) Director Jocelyn Samuels asking a member of your organization to verify that they are the primary contact in case of “potential inclusion in the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules Audit Program.”

Don’t panic!Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 7.56.44 PM

DataFile is actively monitoring chatter within the industry and it is apparent that many healthcare organizations are receiving this request for email confirmation.

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Health and Human Services (HHS) have been very transparent regarding an audit program for Covered Entities and Business Associates that will kick off soon. This email verification is not a notification of audit. However, it is important to take this email seriously and verify the information is correct within the time frame specified, as it will be the email address used if your organization is selected for an audit in the future.

DataFile will continue to monitor and provide updates on the OCR Audits as they progress, including a complimentary webinar to be hosted by DataFile in the coming weeks. Additional information regarding these audits can be found via HHS here.

If you have questions, concerns or would like assistance from the Professional Services Team at DataFile Technologies, please reach out to us at Education@DataFileTechnologies.com.

Meaningful Use Hardship Exception Process Updates

electronic-filesand a computer mouseIn an earlier blog post titled New MU Exemptions for 2015 Reporting Periods, DataFile alerted you to the new Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act law.  This legislation allows for Eligible Providers who were unable to attest to Meaningful Use for 90 days in 2015 to declare an exception in order to avoid a 2017 payment adjustment.

CMS recently issued guidance that Eligible Providers who experienced an issue with their Certified Electronic Health Record Technology related to the rule timing – and any other provider for whom the timing of the rule caused a significant hardship – should select sub-category 2.2d on the 2017 Hardship Exception Application. No additional documentation is required for this selection according to CMS FAQ 14113.  Additional instructions for completing the Hardship Exception Application can be found here.

If you have questions about how the Hardship Exception may apply to your organization, please contact our Meaningful Use Expert, Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser, at Kathryn.Wickenhauser@DataFileTechnologies.com for assistance.