Proposed Change to Telemedicine CoP Published in Today’s Federal Register

Proposed change to hospital Conditions of Participation regarding credentialing telemedicine providers published in today’s Federal Register.

Federal Register – May 26, 2010, CMS

In a move that is no doubt welcomed by every medical services professional around the country, as well as every credentials committee and telemedicine group, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is proposing a change to the CoPs for both hospitals and critical access hospitals regarding credentialing telemedicine providers.

I suspect that, at least in part, we can thank our friends at The Joint Commission for educating CMS about the increase in effort, with little corresponding increase in patient safety, this standard caused.

The proposed rule would allow hospitals to rely on information provided from another location to base credentialing and privileging decisions regarding physicians and practitioners that will use telemedicine at their facility.

CMS officials said the proposed rule comes because of the current duplicative and burdensome credentialing process. 

Having recently worked with a large health system scrambling to meet the Joint Commission’s July, 2010 standard update for numerous telemedicine providers, I can say Amen to that!

Lost Data Causing 10 out of 10 Pain for Healthcare

  • Officials at a 278-bed psychiatric hospital in Louisville, Ky., are racing to notify more than 24,000 patients that a flash drive containing some of their most personal and important information has been missing for more than a month. More
  • News that a USB stick containing medical records of patients at a secure hospital has been found outside a supermarket has fueled fears over the safety of patient’s medical records. More
  • For physicians (and other’s with access to sensitive healthcare information), a lost smartphone or forgotten laptop can mean a long, arduous process of notifying patients — and the risk of penalties under HIPAA. More

  

Laptop Portable data devices like USB memory sticks, smart phones, laptops, etc. are such useful little gadgets that those of us who like to stay “connected” wonder how we ever got along without them. Often we keep sensitive personal or professional data conveniently stored right at our fingertips.  Unfortunately, if we lose those clever little gadgets, that sensitive data can suddenly be right at someone else’s fingertips. 

The stuff of nightmares…

Flash_drive2 The proverbial ounce of prevention is way better than (multiple) pounds of cure, so let’s talk protection, encryption, and common sense. 

  • First, consider whether you really need to keep sensitive information on a USB drive, laptop, etc. Once you’ve viewed it, transfered it, etc., delete it. (Note that deleted data can often be recovered, so deleting alone is not strong protection, but it helps.)
  • Password protect your files.  Microsoft Office, as well as many other business applications, allow users to password protect files. While not strong protection, a password will keep the casual snooper out of your data. 
  • Droid02 Find out your organization’s policy. If the data you carry is work related, don’t lose your job over an avoidable data breach.
  • Always keep your flash drive in the same place. USB Flash Drives (memory sticks) are small and easily misplaced. If you carry one don’t just toss it in your purse or pocket as it could be gone for days before you realize it. Some options: attach it to your key ring, keep it in a compartment of your wallet, carry a small case just for the USB drive.
  • Seriously Consider data encryption.  If your portable device is work related talk to your IT Department.  If it is your personal device, do an internet search for Portable Device Encryption and you’ll find numerous options. 

Odds are good that eventually one of your portable data devices will be lost or stolen (reportedly about 800,000 a year meet that fate), so take reasonable precautions now to prevent major headaches later.