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How are EHRs HIPAA compliant?

Health providers have increasingly migrated from paper charts to electronic health records (EHRs), many of them encouraged by the HITECH Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2009 to promote the use of health information technology. The right EHR can provide convenience, efficiency, and improved data management for a practice.

Just like with paper charts, however, practices that use EHRs must follow HIPAA rules for keeping patient information secure. Unfortunately, not all EHRs are made to be HIPAA compliant. High-profile security breaches in recent years have demonstrated the vulnerability of electronic data. As a result, it is important to choose an EHR system that helps practices adhere to HIPAA standards to protect patient data.

Elements of HIPAA Compliance in EHRs

The HIPAA Security Rule has set national standards for protecting patients’ electronic health information. Under the Security Rule, providers must implement certain measures to be compliant and keep protected health information secure.

While there may be numerous ways to implement this rule, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers recommendations for EHR security. Providers that must follow HIPAA rules should look for an EHR that offers these features.

Access control: A HIPAA-compliant EHR should use access control measures, such as passwords, so that only authorized persons can access protected health information.
Encryption: The EHR should provide encryption for the data it contains. This protects the information by converting it to a code that cannot be read except those who have the correct key.
Audit trail: The EHR should be able to record which user accesses which information, as well as record changes, and when they were made.
Security updates: Because hackers are constantly developing new and more sophisticated measures for finding and obtaining private data, the EHR system should receive periodic updates to keep security features effective.

What Practices Must Do

When it comes to HIPAA compliance, it’s not only about choosing the right EHR system. Behavioral health, addiction treatment, and other providers also must use their EHRs correctly and create practice standards, to adhere to HIPAA.

Practices should conduct annual audits of their system to find any gaps in adherence. This includes the creation and implementation of a plan to close those gaps and improve HIPAA adherence.
All providers and relevant staff members should receive thorough training in using the EHR appropriately, as well as education on HIPAA regulatory standards.
Documentation is vital for practices, especially if they become involved in a HIPAA investigation. Administration departments should maintain records of all practice efforts to become or remain HIPAA compliant. This includes documentation of all vendors who may receive health information.
In case of a data breach, practices must document the breach, notify patients that their data may have been compromised, and take appropriate and necessary steps to correct the situation.

Not all EHRs are created equal. To ensure HIPAA compliance when switching to an EHR, providers should look for products and services that offer up-to-date measures for protecting patient measures. For full compliance, however, practices should also create standards for using the EHR to keep patient information safe.

date:  Jul 02, 2018
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Is Your Organization Following NAATP Marketing Standards?

The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) exists to promote quality and accessibility in addiction treatment, including the promotion of ethical standards. Because addiction treatment often involves vulnerable individuals and populations, the specialty is no stranger to ethical issues.

Code of Ethics Marketing Updates

Earlier this year, NAATP updated its code of ethics. For the first time, organizations must follow certain ethics in their business and clinical operations to remain association members. Non-compliance could result in removal from NAATP.

Section IV of the NAATP Code of Ethics addresses marketing for addiction treatment providers. Under the updated code, members cannot provide or receive compensation for patient referrals, or buy and sell patient leads. The code also prohibits members from offering amenities or bonuses to prospective patients. This includes waiving copays and other payments, unless the patient has a real financial hardship.

NAATP members also are forbidden from using false or misleading statements or predatory marketing practices. Organizations must be transparent about the services they provide, including licensing, locations, and staff credentials. At the same time, they must protect patients’ privacy and not reveal patient identities without written, informed consent, and only after treatment is completed. This applies to any and all marketing content.

The guidelines demand transparency regarding an NAATP member’s identity in their marketing materials. For example, online directories that use an addiction treatment center’s image, name, logo, and other trademarks are also required to identify that center’s direct phone number and website. According to NAATP Executive Director Marvin Ventrell, some websites claim to be directories or resources, but are actually used to channel Web traffic to one specific organization, whether or not that organization is the best option for the user. The new requirements are intended to protect consumers and help them find the right center for their needs.

How Facilities Can Follow NAATP Marketing Standards

NAATP members and membership applicants may be intimidated by the updates and wonder how to approach their marketing. Here are a few ways that addiction treatment providers can follow NAATP ethical standards while using effective marketing strategies.

Define and track success rates, and publish them accurately.
Develop a clear, thorough privacy statement for all patients. Use another for successful patients who are willing to share testimonials.
Avoid superlatives and certainties in marketing. Terms such as “guaranteed,” “unsurpassed,” or “best” are emotionally charged and potentially misleading.
Set ethical guidelines for all contractors and other third parties.
Ensure that all directories that list the practice also follow ethical standards and include all necessary information.
Take care when using pay-per-click advertising, including Google AdWords. HIPAA regulations prohibit certain organizations from retargeting past website visitors.
Consider an automated reputation management system for posting online reviews and ratings. Ensure that these reviews are entirely voluntary and that the facility protects the patient’s personal information.

Following NAATP marketing standards can be a challenge for many members, but not impossible. Appropriate language, privacy protection, and transparency not only adhere to the association’s standards, but also can increase a facility’s reputation and serve as its own marketing strategy.

date:  Jun 26, 2018
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How California is Working Against Drug Addiction

Like other states in the nation, California providers and policymakers continue to seek ways to curb the ongoing opioid crisis. Several new developments in the state hope to reduce addiction and protect patients.

Medical Schools Increase Addiction Training

Last year, University of California San Francisco’s School of Medicine launched a one-year fellowship in addiction medicine as an effort to get to the root of the opioid crisis. This is the first such fellowship among the University of California medical schools. Funded by the city and county, San Francisco’s program provides further training to medical students.

Traditionally, addiction training has been reserved for students of psychiatry. As more primary-care patients show symptoms related to drug addiction, however, it is becoming a wider concern among other specialties. The number of people in California who die annually from overdoses of prescription or illegal opioids has hovered at 1,900-2,000 for the last five years. However, the number of deaths from fentanyl, a powerful and illegally produced opioid, tripled between 2013 and 2017.

New Training for Addiction Professionals

The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) now offers coursework for addiction professionals looking to become Certified Alcohol and Drug Treatment Executives (CTE). The first training will take place in Sacramento.

Executives in the addiction treatment field will receive education and development related to management, including consumer protection and networking. As more California residents seek treatment for drug addiction, there is a greater need for training and standardization among addiction treatment managers CCAPP CEO Pete Nielsen says.

Protection for Addiction Treatment Consumers

The California State Senate recently approved a bill intended to protect patients receiving treatment for kidney disease and addiction. Passage of the Affordable Care Act prevented consumers from being denied health coverage because of preexisting conditions, but that has also led to an increase in high-cost insurance schemes from for-profit businesses. Some providers have enrolled patients in commercial coverage with high reimbursement rates for services, which brings higher out-of-pocket costs.

The bill, SB 1156, would ensure that provider-funded organizations follow disclosure requirements that inform consumers if better options, such as Medicaid, are available to them. The California State Assembly will now consider the bill for passage.

CDPH Issues Standing Order for Naloxone

Last week, the California Department of Public Health issued a statewide standing order for naloxone, the opioid overdose antidote. This order from agency Director Dr. Karen Smith allows all state organizations focused on managing drug addiction to distribute naloxone to patients without an individual prescription. Such organizations include rehabilitation facilities and needle exchange programs.

California pharmacists are authorized to make naloxone available without a prescription, and many addiction-related nonprofits groups administer naloxone under an individual physician’s standing order. However, many rural areas have shortages of physicians or treatment facilities able to obtain a prescription for naloxone. Under the order, Smith serves as the prescribing physician. The order does not include payment for naloxone, which may be purchased privately by nonprofits or received through public health departments at $20-70 per dose.

date:  Jun 18, 2018
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Five Things to Look for in a Behavioral Health EHR

Each health specialty requires different things from its electronic health record (EHR) software. The particular needs of behavioral and mental health, including addiction treatment, require a unique approach to EHR.

What should behavioral health and addiction treatment professionals look for in their EHR?

  1. Designed for Behavioral Health

The first thing that behavioral health providers should look for in an EHR system is a solution that has been designed for their industry. Although there are many excellent products on the market, professionals can save time, money, and headaches by seeking out solutions that were designed with their particular needs in mind.

Besides being designed for behavioral health in general, professionals should look for EHR that can be customized to their particular practice, and can be adapted to future plans and changes.

  1. Treatment Plan Support

Behavioral health and substance-abuse treatments require more than just a round of antibiotics or a vaccine. Depression, schizophrenia, opioid addiction, and other behavioral health conditions usually require long-term and often lifelong treatment plans. Not only that, but each patient requires a unique approach. Providers often must try a combination of treatment options before finding one best suited for an individual patient.

Because of this, the EHR should also be designed to support these different treatment plans. Behavioral-health EHR should support both the short- and long-term goals of a treatment plan, including interventions and relapse prevention.

  1. Coordinated Billing

Coordinated care is important for behavioral health professionals since their patients often present with comorbidities and multiple diagnoses. For the same reasons, coordinated billing is just as important.

An EHR solution should attempt to reduce these challenges as much as possible. An EHR that allows you to track billing and partner with outside billing contractors can help reduce errors and costs and streamline administration.

  1. Medication Management

Behavioral health and addiction treatment providers usually prescribe multiple medications to each of their patients. Because of this, an EHR for behavioral health providers must include a medication management feature.

Prescribers should be able to use the EHR to create electronic prescriptions. This should include medication-assisted treatment for addiction, as well as other controlled substances. The EHR should also help users monitor their patients’ medications and warn them of any possible interactions.

  1. Thorough Training for Use

The chosen product and vendor should provide ample opportunities to make the learning process go as smoothly as possible and ensure that all users are comfortable with the solution. The right EHR should come with training, tutorials, demos, as well as easily accessible support and troubleshooting. Providers who choose a free demo option should make note of how the vendor responds to their questions, as this gives a good insight into their customer service.

Created With Behavioral Health and Addiction Recovery in Mind

BestNotes is an all-in-one solution that is uniquely designed for behavioral health and substance abuse professionals. Use it to manage admissions, intake, assessments, treatment plans, medications, billing, lab results, and more.

BestNotes also provides straight forward pricing, month-to-month contracts, and user support. Contact us today for a free demo

date:  Jun 11, 2018
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BestNotes is now a proud member of NAATP!

BestNotes is happy to announce our membership to the National Association of Addiction Treatment Services.

Over 23.5 million adults are in recovery from alcohol or drug addictions. NAATP has made it their mission to “provide leadership, advocacy, training and member support services to ensure the availability and highest quality of addiction treatment”.  As we strive to “help the helper” in the addiction treatment world, we have found it crucial to stay at the forefront of the guidelines for law and policy , ethics and professionalism and the industry standards for outcomes and surveys. which a NAATP membership enables.

date:  Jun 07, 2018
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