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.

Wickenhauser a Guest Feature on Compliance and Ethics Blog

Our compliance team, including Gary Powell and Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser, were in attendance at this year’s HCCA Compliance Institute annual meeting at the National Harbor in Maryland. Wickenhauser, an author and speaker in the industry, penned her thoughts after one the sessions she attended. Her post, titled “Right to Access: Peters States Additional Guidance Forthcoming”, was recently featured on the Compliance and Ethics Blog. In this post, Kathryn shares insights from a question that was directed to Iliana Peters, the Senior Advisor for HIPAA Compliance and Enforcement at the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), during the live session.

Here’s an excerpt from Wickenhauser’s blog:

“The attendee asked Peters how to handle a situation when an attorney contacts the provider on behalf of the patient to produce records. The attendee states that attorneys have been “taking advantage” of the “Right to Access” guidance in an effort to receive the same cost-benefit a patient might for requesting a copy of their records, and the patient may not truly be aware of what is being delivered to a third-party. Peters indicated a suggested solution is to call the patient and see if they personally requested the records be delivered to their attorney, as well as what should be delivered, as nothing in the current “Right to Access” guidance prevents a provider from doing so. Additionally, she stated that more guidance was forthcoming to clarify the process and verification of a patient directing their health information to a third-party.”

To read more from Wickenhauser on this topic and the additional guidance that will be forthcoming, please continue on the Compliance and Ethics blog.

 

 

 

 

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.

Moving the Needle of Interoperability; Can We Expect it to be Seamless, YET?

As we all get used to writing the digits “17” in our signature lines, at DataFile we’re reflecting back on 2016 and the many advancements that were made towards interoperability across all stakeholders in the healthcare continuum. One of our consultants started this past year at an educational event in the Midwest where a representative from a small private practice asked if “digital fax” was considered participation in interoperability. As we wrap up this year we know the amount of health information exchanged has hit unprecedented levels and will only continue to grow. Providers at all levels, from the hospital to private practice in rural America, are utilizing digital tools and relying on technology to communicate with their patients and with other providers in a variety of settings. HealthIT systems are working together to make the transmission of information easier between systems and achieve the goal of seamless data exchange.  But what do we do until then?

While we continue to advance interoperability, there is much more work to be done before we can consider the exchange of health information to be “seamless” or “automated”. Our CEO, Janine Akers, has coined the phrase, “Interoperability Does Not Equal Automation”. In February of 2016, the ONC published the “Nationwide Interoperability Road Map” and sets up a number of milestones to measure advancement and success along the way. With the ultimate goal of a “seamless data system”, actions related to key components such as security and consistency are highlighted in this guide. It states that for the years of 2015-2017, the measure of success is to “send, receive, find and use priority data elements to improve health and health care quality.”  A recent article published in the January 2017 Journal of AHIMA states that the ONC and HHS will continue to focus on three areas to advance interoperability in the upcoming year:

  1. Promoting common standards to facilitate the seamless, secure exchange of data.
  2. Building the business case for interoperability; particularly through delivery system reform efforts that change the way CMS pays for care to reward quality of quantity of services.
  3. Changing the culture around access to information.

Our Regulatory Compliance Advisor, and member of AHIMA, Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser, believes the ONC is on the right track. Wickenhauser and Akers share the sentiment of the Journal of AHIMA article that much more work is to be done to achieve full, seamless (or automated!), interoperability. “While we continue to support and work as a unified stakeholder in the nationwide interoperability roadmap, DataFile realizes a continued need of providers across the country will be to help fill the gaps where automation does not happen quite yet.” Akers continues to share that, “the human element is still very important. In many current instances of data exchange, we need a well-trained eye to ensure that information flows correctly from the different healthIT systems and is in a usable format for that crucial moment of patient care.” As interoperability does become more automated, Akers acknowledges that leaders will need to determine how to ensure that automation is working and most importantly, compliant. “We are actively involved in better understanding what audit protocols will need to be implemented for our clients and the industry as a whole,” Janine states. “It’s the next step in further discussions of interoperability and we’ll hear more  about audit protocols in the coming year.”

Seamless. Automated. We’re getting there. And in 2017, the healthcare data experts at DataFile look forward to continuing to move the needle of interoperability, while delivering real-time, important data exchange support to providers and health systems alike.

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.

Copper, Dapper and Fun! The 2016 DataFile Penny Wars

DataFile Technologies recently engaged in a friendly Penny Wars competition to fundraise and fun-raise for our favorite charity, Synergy House. Synergy House is a short-term emergency shelter that serves young people ages 12 to 18 who are in crisis due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, homelessness or running away and is the only shelter of its kind in western Missouri. Synergy House also offers care and assistance to young children and women victimized by abuse.

The week-long Penny Wars at the DataFile offices were filled with lots of activities and friendly competition, including campaign speeches, a putt-putt contest, a raucous parade around the office and Friday’s “Dress like a Golfer Day” let the most dapper of our DataFilers really shine!kristen-darrach-and-sara-mccall

Six employee volunteers were not only campaigning for copper from their co-workers, they were also vying for one of two spots to represent DataFile Technologies at the upcoming Swing for Synergy Golf Tournament to be held later this month.

Besides filling the golfer candidate’s jars with pennies, the more entrepreneurial among us baked and sold cookies, peddled pizza by the slice, hawked hotdogs and dealt donuts to appeal to our snackin’ side. Season ticket holders donated and raffled their own Royals and Chiefs tickets and raised even more money for Synergy.

At the conclusion of the Penny Wars, Janine Akers, CEO of DataFile stated, “I’m so impressed with the enthusiasm demonstrated this week – and more importantly, for the money we generated – that all six of our candidates will Swing for Synergy and represent DataFile at the upcoming golf outing.”

Proceeds from the DataFile Penny Wars totaled more than $2300 (and change too, of course!) and all of it will stay right here in our local community to provide emergency care, necessities and assistance to youth and families in crisis.

Is Your EHR Fully Optimized?

A recent study published in the American Action Forum says probably not… (insert anxiety-filled gasp for air!)

You know firsthand about the high costs of purchasing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system.  And the implementation and utilization of EHRs bring their own weighty costs and challenges.   And with as many as 60% of EHR purchasers last year REPLACING current EHR systems, healthcare organizations are once again spending more time and more money learning and deploying new systems and adjusting their workflows.

You’ve already spent a lot of money!  Now, ensuring optimization of your EHR is a critical component to improving the financial performance of your organization. Did you know that DataFile can help your organization save time, save money and eliminate headaches by optimizing your EHR?

Our clients utilizing DataFile for our eFile services report that the use of those services and our 24-hour turnaround time for Release of Information services has helped them to both optimize their EHR and optimize their staff.  DataFile has afforded them the opportunity to work on higher priority projects and see more patients.  DataFile is an expert superuser of all types of EHR systems.  We are fast, accurate and – most importantly – we are not prone to the countless interruptions that your staff must navigate every day.

Do the math!  If you to take an additional 60 seconds more per patient visit to complete the associated/required workflow tasks within the EHR than what our superuser DataFile staff takes to complete the same tasks, that equates to about 30 minutes per day.  Could you put that same 30 minutes per day to better use by seeing patients instead?  If you’re getting $75 per visit, then its $150 per day…and suddenly that 60 seconds per visit is costing your practice as much as $30,000 per year!

Are you using our eFile Services to fully optimize your EHR?

Are your clinicians able to access complete records at critical moments? Are your staff able to focus on patient care rather than administrative burdens that come along with EHR conversion and/or utilization?

If you can’t confidently answer YES to those few questions (or, you’re just not sure), it may be time to run a diagnostic test with one of our solutions specialists or email solutions@datafiletechnologies.com.  They’ll ask more in-depth questions and provide you with a better understanding of your level of EHR optimization—and what savings may be possible with the addition of our eFile services to your DataFile portfolio.

Recent News Reinforces the Importance of a Comprehensive Security Risk Analysis

Sometimes healthcare regulations can seem like a moving target, constantly evolving and changing as we work to keep up with our increasingly connected world.  Even in an environment of change, there are some constant trends, including the importance of protecting patient privacy and rights through an annual review of compliance with the HIPAA Privacy and Security rules, more commonly referred to as a Security Risk Analysis (SRA).

As healthcare becomes more technologically advanced, more emphasis is being placed on the importance of conducting a comprehensive SRA.  In fact, recent Office of Civil Rights (OCR) audits will specifically review the SRAs of both Covered Entities and Business Associates.  In June, Catholic Health Care Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (a Business Associate) was fined $650,000 by Health and Human Services (HHS) for failure to conduct an “accurate and thorough” SRA.  Just this month, we saw HHS issue a record $5.5 million fine to Advocate Health Care Network in part because of failure to conduct an appropriate Security Risk Analysis.

Jocelyn Samuels, Director of the OCR, emphasized the importance of a robust Security Risk Analysis, stating “We hope this settlement sends a strong message to Covered Entities that they must engage in a comprehensive risk analysis and risk management to ensure that individuals’ ePHI is secure.  This includes implementing physical, technical and administrative security measures sufficient to reduce the risks to ePHI in all physical locations and on all portable devices to a reasonable and appropriate level.”

What’s your liability limit?  Are you willing to accept penalties of $650,000?  Or $5.5 million as we’ve seen in these cases for failure to complete a strong SRA?  Many organizations conduct their SRA in house in an effort to check off a box to meet Meaningful Use program requirements.  But is that the best option for you given the importance of compliance?  As healthcare data experts, DataFile Technologies offers a comprehensive HIPAA compliance solution, which includes a team of experts conducting your Security Risk Analysis for you.

If you’d like to learn more about the DataFile Security Risk Analysis solution, please email Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser, our Meaningful Use / HIPAA Compliance Consultant at Kathryn.Wickenhauser@DataFileTechnologies.com.  Kathryn will provide a customized quote based on your total number of employees (including providers).

The Intersection of Culture and Healthcare: How is Pokemon Go Affecting Hospitals?

You’ve seen it on every major news outlet, it’s all over social media and the app developers are racing to keep up with demands. No doubt Pokemon Go has infiltrated our homes, offices, public spaces and yes… that list includes healthcare facilities! While everyone from grandparents to kindergarteners are getting in on the craze of searching for virtual creatures and acquiring their gems, what does this mean for those of us in healthcare? How does this social phenomenon translate to patient safety, HIPAA compliance and more?

Hospital leaders are finding players of the popular game wandering onto medical campuses to play, causing a number of potential issues that affect not only the safety of the gamers, but that of patients, hospital workers and patients’ rights to privacy. Congested lobbies, players wandering into the path of clinic staff and finding their way into hospital areas that are off-limits to the general public, such as ICUs, are just some of the headaches being reported across the country. As a result, a number of healthcare organizations are currently working on notifying the public those facilities are off-limits for games and alerting staff to call security if they spot any players wandering campuses. “It just poses too high of a risk to patient safety and privacy for us to allow players to enter our facilities,” states the Compliance Officer of a healthcare system in Kansas City, Mo.

While hospital leaders are keeping a keen eye towards the effect on their facilities, fans of the popular game are spreading the idea on social media of sharing the “fun” of Pokemon Go to children who are currently hospitalized. One post was discovered on social media, encouraging viewers to share their extra lures with their nearest children’s hospital:

PokemonGO“I’m not sure people have thought through the impact a multitude of visitors searching for Pokemon will have on a Children’s hospital,” states Gary Powell, Compliance Manager at DataFile Technologies. “Unnecessary visitors to children’s hospitals strains the security resources of those hospitals, threatens patients with immune deficiencies, as well as patient privacy. Players are concerned with bringing children happiness, but while endangering their wellness.”

This poses a sincere threat to the patients and the public that hospitals are addressing. Healthcare leaders are turning to their industry associations for assistance in dealing with the security and privacy issues this game is causing. Becker’s Hospital Review website  outlines some of the attempts hospitals have made to mitigate the issue. A number of healthcare associations, such as the American Hospital Association, are now getting involved by contacting the developer of Pokemon Go, Niantic, on its members’ behalf in an effort to have hospitals removed from the game. Other state associations are encouraging members to contact the app developer and fill out a form to remove their facility from the game. Some healthcare entities report the process works, being removed as a stop from the app, but only to nearly immediately find they were placed back as a location on the app.  Because of this, some organizations are now calling on the Office of Civil Rights to get involved.

These attempts to stop players and remove organizations are good, but they leave an important aspect of this matter on the table, altruism. These players mean well, but are misguided in their attempts to help. Guiding the players toward an amicable solution means the players get what they want, to help in an enjoyable way, while the hospital gets what it wants, for the players to not be present. Suggesting that instead of playing Pokemon in the hospital, that they download charity walking applications like the Relay for Life or Charity Walk apps, which they can use while playing Pokemon everywhere, means that they can contribute to the children all the time, while not endangering them.

As the craze continues, or another geo-location game takes over with such wild popularity, healthcare will continue to be impacted at this intersection. Culture will continue to pressure organizations to immediately adapt to new demands in social life, and as our culture evolves, adapting with it may provide more opportunities than adapting against it. As always, be mindful of your organization and how participation from your patients, employees and the general public may be affecting your responsibilities as a Covered Entity, but be aware of the opportunities that can grow out of it.

 

Article written in collaboration by Gary Powell, Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser and Jamie Verkamp