Mobile Health

Here is an interesting article about the use of mobile telephone technologies in the future delivery of health care services. 

HHS issues final regulations on "meaningful use"

Final regulations on "meaningful use" of electronic health records were released today by HHS. The 863-page rule specifies the initial criteria that hospitals and physicians hoping to obtain incentive support payments under the ARRA for their use of EHRs must meet.  The regulations will be published in the Federal Register on July 28, 2010.

Healthcare Professionals Call on FTC for Exemption from its Red Flags Rule

Will health care providers be the second profession to escape the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Red Flags Rule?  The heads of the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association, the American Osteopathic Association, and the American Veterinary Medical Association hope so, and they're asking the FTC to declare that its identity theft prevention rule (Red Flags Rule or Rule) does not apply to their licensed professionals.

In light of the November 2009 United States District Court decision in American Bar Association v. FTC, which held that the Red Flags Rule did not apply to legal professionals, the healthcare organizations issued a joint letter to the FTC requesting the same treatment.

The healthcare organizations specifically requested that the FTC:  (1) Announce that the Rule will not be applied to licensed health care professionals until at least ninety days after the final resolution of the ABA litigation and (2) Commit that if the result of the final ABA litigation is that the Red Flags Rule will not be applied to lawyers, the FTC will not apply the Rule to licensed health care professionals either.

The letter noted the substantial cost and burdens on healthcare professionals in complying with the Rule and stated that if lawyers were exempt from the Rule it would be "manifestly unfair" to subject healthcare professionals it.

Meaningful Use and EHR Technology Regulations

The good news is that the government has released the proposed regulations on meaningful use and interim final rule setting forth the standards and certification criteria for EHR technology.  The bad news is that these tomes combined are 692 pages.  CMS has issued fact sheets summarizing the regulations, including an overview of the phased-in approach to the criteria that will be applied to define "meaningful use."  Dr. David Blumethal, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, wrote a guest column for the Wisconsin Technology Network stating that "Great care was taken in the development of these criteria."  Nevertheless, one can't help but to wonder - if it takes over 500 pages to explain meaningful use . . . where are we headed?  The public comment period will last for 60 days, that is, if you can finish reading the proposed regulations by then!

And Yet Another Delay....Red Flags Rule Enforcement Date Pushed Back Until June 2010

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it will delay the enforcement of its Red Flags Rule for a fourth time, extending the start date to June 1, 2010.  The FTC previously delayed enforcement until November 1, 2009, but decided on the further extension due to a request from members of Congress.

The Red Flags Rule addresses identity theft and requires certain "creditors" to develop identity theft prevention programs.  You can learn about the specific requirements of the Red Flags Rule in a prior DGS post.

Survey Says . . . Patient Data Not Protected

According to a new survey of healthcare IT practitioners, healthcare organizations are not adequately protecting confidential patient information.  Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said that their organizations do not have the resources to fully comply with the federal privacy regulations.  The survey results aren't entirely surprising considering the fact that organizations are struggling to comply with HITECH and make the transition to EHR.  What is surprising, however, is that 70% of the respondents believe that senior management does not consider patient privacy a priority.  The OCR has quite clearly stated that it intends to increase enforcement and not making protection of patient privacy a priority could be a costly decision.