Wednesday, March 26, 2014

FTC: Don’t Limit APRNs Crucial Role in Health Care

The Federal Trade Commission recently released a policy paper suggesting that state legislators should be cautious when evaluating legislative proposals to limit the scope of practice of Advance Practice Registered Nurses.  The FTC is concerned that by imposing more stringent physician supervision requirements, APRNS are effectively being restricted by another type of health care professional (the physician), thereby denying consumers the benefits of greater competition.  This is especially troubling in light of the significant shortage of primary care practitioners in the U.S.  By allowing APRNs to practice without heavier regulatory burdens, access to health care can be increased and possibly lead to “lower costs, better care, and more innovation,” according to the FTC.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Secure Text Messaging in a HIPAA World? Part II

In an earlier post, I referred to mobile applications such as TigerText and Doc Halo which are being touted as a method of “HIPAA-compliant” texting. These apps allegedly secure protected health information (PHI) sent via text message to ensure providers’ compliance with HIPAA privacy law. Covered entities must realize, however, that the use of these apps alone is not sufficient to pass a HIPAA audit. While HHS has not banned the texting of patient information, it has made clear that an organization should approve it only after “performing a risk analysis or implementing a third-party messaging solution that incorporates measures to establish a secure communication platform that will allow texting on approved mobile devices.”

Friday, March 14, 2014

Secure Text Messaging in a HIPAA World?

Texting is becoming an increasingly acceptable form of communication in the business world.  But can it be relied upon in the health care industry? There are numerous advantages to texting in the fast-paced world of health care. In an environment where time is of the essence, voicemails and pagers can slow down providers’ care and fail to convey adequate information. A text, on the other hand, is both immediate and can be detail-specific. In addition, texting can involve more than one sender and/or receiver in a closed-loop conversation, and, unlike through the paging system, a sender can be notified when the message has been read by the receiver(s). Text messaging can not only improve an entity’s efficiency, but it can also serve as a way to connect easily with patients, thereby improving quality of care.