Health Information Defined

Health Information Defined

Health information sounds like a vague and ambiguous term. It means different things to different people. In this article, Nitin Chhoda ‘breaks it down’ and defines health information in a manner that makes it meaningful for a private practice owner.

Nitin also highlights the implications of health information (and its privacy) for your practice.

health informationAs a general term, health information can be any information that relates to health. However, in a medical information management context, health information has a more specific meaning.

Health information refers to medical records, health records, and communication regarding patients that is sent between hospitals, doctor’s offices, health insurance companies, and anyone else in the health care industry, physical therapy management practice included.

Health Information and Technology

As technology improves, health information that must be transferred between clinics, or even between a clinician and nurses in the same practice, is traveling faster.

That means that we now can send sensitive and personal information with a single keystroke.

The technological improvements that are coming to all medical clinics are making communication simpler, faster, and more efficient, but some worry that health information will not be managed as well as before. A paper document is somewhat cumbersome when compared to electronic medical records or electronic health records.

Due to concerns about security and privacy, an entire industry has grown up around health care information management. But the management of health information didn’t start as a technological career – health information management has been around in the United States since the late 1920s. It is now possible to earn a degree or certificate in health information management.

The Skilled Professionals

Naturally, with improvements in technology there has been an increase in the need for skilled health information professionals who are also technologically savvy. In fact, many information health professionals are in favor of moving to entirely electronic systems to manage medical records and health records.

Medical records are used internally, within a single clinic or practice, but often must be accessed by more than one person. Nurses and clinicians, as well as receptionists, may need to know what is going on with a patient so that the proper tests are scheduled and performed.

Having an electronic medical records system allows for quick and easy access for everyone charged with caring for a patient. The same can be said for electronic health records, and many health information managers will say this is an area where electronic records are even more beneficial.

Electronic Health Records

Health records that must be passed from a surgeon to a primary care provider, or from a doctor to a physical therapist, can be more easily, efficiently, and securely transported using electronic health records.

health information definedHealth information can also refer to the various forms and paperwork that is passed back and forth between a healthcare provider and a health insurance company.

For every insurance claim, healthcare providers must fill out certain paperwork and ensure that there are no mistakes.

This form of health record can cause problems when it is not filled out correctly, as an insurance company can reject a claim even if a small mistake is made.

Health information professionals often encourage healthcare providers to use electronic systems because electronic health records tend to be more accurate and are less likely to be filled out incorrectly than paper records.

HIPAA Regulations Discussed

HIPAA Regulations Discussed

HIPAA was designed to protect patient privacy. Every private practice owner should be mindful of guarding patient health information.

Nitin Chhoda explains the link between HIPAA and your electronic medical records system and what you should look for in an EMR vendor.

HIPAA regulations discussedHIPAA regulations can be seemed complex and overly demanding, especially if you run a small medical clinic or private practice.

However, there are a few very important things to know about HIPAA regulations, especially if you are going to use electronic medical records.

First of all, the regulations are not as stringent for smaller practices. In many ways, HIPAA was designed to focus on the biggest offenders first, but design a roadmap for everyone to eventually follow.

At this point, all medical clinics must follow the HIPAA regulations. When the law was first written and adopted, practices were given a lot of time to transition to the new forms and standards.

Some adjustments were made to accommodate problems that were discovered through the process. Compliance dates were set for 2003 and some as late as 2006. The National Provider Identifiers had to be used starting in 2007 and the smallest plans had a deadline of 2008.

HIPAA Regulations Related to EMR

Some of the most specific parts of HIPAA regulations are about maintaining and sharing medical records, and especially electronic medical records. It is likely that any practice that has been operating for any amount of time will already know about HIPAA regulations pertaining to documentation, and there are many places where you can find out what the standards are.

Most importantly, you should remember that if another medical provider asks for information about a patient or patients, you are only allowed to do so with permission from the patient and under conditions that merit the transfer of electronic health records.

Privacy is a major part of HIPAA regulations, so always err on the safe side when handling patient health information.

HIPAA regulationsThe technical safeguards detailed by HIPAA regulations include a few specifics that you must know about if you are operating a medical facility of any kind.

Some of these are obvious, such as the requirement that monitors should not be situated in a way that allows patients to see private information of another patient. A few more are listed below.

  • Access to hardware, software, and any equipment that contains health information is limited to authorized personnel and should be monitored carefully.
  • HIPAA regulations of individual practices and covered entities must be documented and submitted to the government so compliance can be verified.
  • Risk analysis and risk management programs must be in place, to assess how safe private health information is within the clinic and on the computers.

HITECH Act Effects on HIPAA

The HITECH Act was enacted in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. There are a few requirements made that effect HIPAA regulations compliance.

First of all, if a HIPAA covered facility experiences the theft or exposure of private health information of over 500 patients, they must report the breach to the media, the patients, and the Dept of Health and Human Services. There are also regulations about how electronic medical records can be shared and stored.

Health Coverage in the New Economy

Health Coverage in the New Economy

With many disputes our economy is facing today, increasing payments for healthcare services can be challenging. Nitin Chhoda explains why discussing with patients about their health coverage is important.  Making the patient feel prepared and ready will help improve the practice-patient relationship.

health coverageThe idea of the “new economy” has come from a change in the way the United States economy functions.

For a long time, most jobs were in manufacturing, the making of goods that were then sold on the market.

But today, more and more manufacturing jobs are moving overseas to countries where labor is much cheaper. The economy has been moving in a direction of being service-based rather than manufacturing-based.

The New Economy

The new economy is an economy where most jobs do not come from the buying or selling of products, but of services.

Healthcare is a service industry. Both healthcare and insurance are services rather than goods or products. The challenge in the U.S. right now is that service providers for health coverage cannot raise prices without becoming significantly overpriced for the majority of the population.

Health coverage right now is unaffordable to most Americans, and even health insurance is too expensive if you do not work in a traditional, full-time job. As a result, providers of health coverage, even with proper physical therapy documentation, must balance their practices in a new way.

Improving Efficiency for Better Economies of Scale

One way that health coverage can be better balanced in the new economy is to improve efficiency. Economy of scale is a term that describes how it is easier to make money from low prices if you have more clients, customers, or patients.

For example, if your practice pays rent, hires staff, and covers utilities every month, those costs stay the same month after month – these are the expenses. If you can only treat a certain number of patients, your income is capped.

But if you can find ways to improve efficiency so that you can take on more patients each month, you can increase income. Finding the balance is a challenge, and most practices rely on trial and error. For example, many practices of health coverage bill low prices to entice more patients. By increasing the number of patients, they increase their overall revenue, even if they lower prices.

Most people cannot afford health coverage, which means that they do not go to the doctor as often as they probably should to stay healthy. For a practice like a physical therapy practice, they may find that patients of health coverage limit the number of visits so they don’t have to pay the co-pay so many times. But that reduces the favorable outcomes and many patients do not recover or stay as strong as they should.

Encouraging Patients to Take Care of Themselveshealth coverage economy

There is no arguing that preventative care is not a bad thing. One way that a practice can improve their efficiency is to improve technology and find ways within the practice to be more time efficient.

Another way is to provide a service to patients that they do not get anywhere else. When the patient feels they are getting more for their money, they are more willing to pay.

Many practices with health coverage are now taking a more holistic approach and encouraging clinicians to help educate patients so they stay healthy. Then when the patient isn’t feeling well, they come back because they trust the clinicians and feel it is worthwhile to pay for health coverage plans at that practice.

HIPAA Regulations 101

HIPAA Regulations 101

HIPAA laws are designed to protect unauthorized access to a patient’s personal and medical information.

Nitin Chhoda elaborates on HIPAA regulations and how to comply with them to avoid fines and penalties in your practice, and the role that your electronic medical records (EMR) system plays in the process.

HIPAA complianceHIPAA or known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is something with which every therapist must be closely acquainted.

The act sets forth the rules regulating patient privacy and security, and the way personal health records are collected, maintained, used and shared.

Therapists are in possession of sensitive client data each day and clinic owners must take steps to safeguard the security of those documents. Practice owners that aren’t in compliance with HIPAA regulations will find themselves facing harsh and costly fines, along with civil and criminal penalties.

HIPAA Regulations

The HIPAA privacy rule protects patients by prohibiting the release or sharing of individually identifiable health information. It applies to all forms of communication, including oral, paper or electronic.

Protected data includes a patient’s past, present and future medical condition. It includes demographic information such as name, address, date of birth and insurer information. There are exclusions under HIPAA, but therapists must be absolutely sure they’re not violating the law. The parameters are quite narrow concerning the release of client data.

There are unique circumstances in which a patient’s data can be divulged. For example, if the president declares a state of emergency or the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares a public health emergency. The client’s own health information can be released to them if they make the request in writing. HIPAA also makes provision for the release of information to parents and legal guardians of minors.

The usage of unidentifiable information is more liberal. It can be disseminated when used for public health reasons and research. Data can also be included in a wide range of marketing efforts, as long as no data leads back to a specific client, including names, addresses, social security and insurer data.

State Laws and Disclosures

HIPAA regulationsTherapists must also be cognizant of state laws of disclosure, always keeping in mind that HIPAA rules supersede state requirements.

Typically, states can divulge information to prevent payment fraud or abuse, for state reporting on healthcare costs and regulation of controlled substances.

As more clinicians implement electronic medical records, the question of documentation security will continue to grow and evolve to meet the changing needs of electronic medical record systems.

Physical therapy documentation software ensures practice owners are HIPAA-compliant, while providing superior security and safeguards. User login information and verification are required for authorized personnel.

The Connection between your EMR Provider and HIPAA

In an effort to comply with HIPAA requirements, consider the use of an EMR system. With a web-based system, records are maintained in the cloud instead of on local computers, laptops and tablets, where they’re safe from fires, floods and other natural disasters.

Server-based systems are kept and maintained on-site. Therapists run the risk of having equipment stolen that contains personally identifiable patient information. Identity theft and disgruntled employees also place records in danger.

Complying with HIPAA guidelines isn’t optional, it’s the law. It’s one that can cost practices dearly if patient information isn’t adequately protected and is inadvertently made available to unauthorized third parties.

Recent penalties for infractions ranging up to $1 million amply demonstrate this. It highlights the need for clinicians to ensure staff members are trained in privacy regulations and procedures. Even innocent mistakes could lead to penalties that can cripple a private practice.

Healthcare Management Defined

Healthcare Management Defined

In this article, Nitin Chhoda defines the healthcare management process and how in past years it had been very complicated.

He will share how electronic medical records can help make the physical therapy management and documentation process easier and simpler to understand.

healthcare managementWhen patients think of healthcare management, they’re referring to their ailments, medications, tests and procedures.

A physical therapist views healthcare management as a total package of client care, practice management, administration, insurers and reimbursements.

Healthcare practice management is a rapidly changing landscape filled with new technology, coding upgrades, innovative treatments and a better understanding of existing conditions.

Healthcare Management

Healthcare management in the 21st century means having the tools, knowledge and methods to provide the best possible care for clients. Therapists must invest in ongoing training, create liaisons with other healthcare providers, market their clinics successfully and educate the public.

It’s an enormous responsibility and one that requires extensive time and effort. The scope of the tasks can seem overwhelming at times, but an EMR facilitates office processes, expedites revenues and enhances the quality of client care.

Healthcare management in the practice setting encompasses working with multiple insurance companies and providers, interacting with patients in a variety of ways in and out of the office, and remaining in compliance with state and federal laws.

It’s a lot to place on anyone’s plate, and smart therapists know that an EMR makes everyday tasks easier, increases productivity and creates a higher level of efficiency throughout the entire practice.

The healthcare management process begins the moment a patient makes an appointment. There are health forms to complete, visits to schedule, and insurance information to verify.

The Process

A client’s insurance eligibility and coverage is an essential part of the healthcare management process. It allows clinicians to provide the best treatments for the client within the boundaries and limitations of their insurance coverage, while ensuring the practice is compensated appropriately.

healthcare management definedIn the electronic age, therapists need the tools to communicate with clients in a variety of ways. In days past, a mailing or a call to a landline will suffice.

Today’s patients live busy, mobile lives and office technology must evolve to reflect those changes.

Superior healthcare management allows therapists to connect conveniently with clients by email, voice mail and text messaging with patient portals. Reminders can be sent about upcoming appointments, balances due, and test results can be posted online for patients to view.

The digital age also allows practice owners to interact with pharmacies, labs, hospitals and other healthcare providers quickly and efficiently. Tests and prescriptions can be ordered using the power of the Internet and consultations with other healthcare professionals is just a click away with an EMR.

The Turnaround

The success of any practice rides on its available cash flow. A great deal of time will be devoted to obtaining and verifying insurance eligibility, ensuring correct coding, and follow ups to ensure funds reach the clinic’s account in a timely manner.

Submitting that information electronically allows claims to reach insurers and clearinghouses almost instantly for a much faster turnaround on reimbursements. A steady cash flow allows clinicians to plan for the future in terms of equipment, training, staffing and expansions.

Today’s patient may have numerous healthcare professionals overseeing their conditions and ailments.

EMRs represent state-of-the-art technology to obtain a clear, concise and complete picture of a client’s medical history that’s updated instantly with an EMR. Therapists can manage their clients’ healthcare more efficiently, without spending valuable time simply waiting for paper records from another facility.

Healthcare management encompasses a wide variety of tasks, from monitoring the efficacy of a patient’s care to ensuring reimbursements reach the clinic in the quickest way possible. Technology provides the means for better patient outcomes and enhanced cash flow. It’s also an environmentally sound solution that will save clinics thousands of dollars each year.

Healthcare Practice Management and Its State (Before, Present and Future)

Healthcare Practice Management and Its State (Before, Present and Future)

Nitin Chhoda shares how the healthcare practice management has evolved from a manual documentation process to an electronic medical records system.

A few more years, and the medical industry will be using a push-button technology that will greatly increase the cash flow of any private practice.

healthcare practice managementHealthcare practice management has changed enormously as technology has evolved throughout the centuries.

A Blast from the Past

Management of a healthcare operation used to involve little more than an exchange of goods for services rendered.

The days of patients bartering a chicken or garden produce for treatments really isn’t that far removed, relatively speaking. Practices were smaller and served a greater geographical area. Patients had few choices in the treatments they received or their provider.

Office management consisted of copious amounts of hand-written records that had to be transcribed and rewritten by the office scribe into a document that could be read by anyone. Records were often lost due to fire, floods and natural disasters, with no way to put them back together into a coherent whole.

The advent of the typewriter improved the overall readability of medical documents, but it was difficult to coordinate care with other healthcare practice management providers. Unless the professional was just across town, it could take weeks or even months for documentation to travel through the postal system, leading to significant delays in treatment.

Cash flow within the practice was unsteady at best. Healthcare providers had to submit reimbursement claims to individual insurers, without the benefit of clearinghouses, and few patients even had insurance.

EMRs Era

healthcare practice management stateToday, EMRs are eliminating the need for paper records with electronic documents. They’re stored in the cloud, can be accessed instantly by multiple medical professionals, and are updated immediately.

Therapists no longer have to endure long waits for reimbursements. Push-button electronic submissions arrive almost instantly and funds are deposited directly into a clinic’s account.

Healthcare practice management can accept one-time and recurring payments online. The clientele of the 21st century is highly mobile, often relocating multiple times to take advantage of employment and educational opportunities.

New healthcare practice management providers can access a patient’s records simply by utilizing the power of the Internet and their EMR, with no interruption or delay in treatment.

The New Technology

Instead of charts, folders and paper records, EMRs of a healthcare practice management can be implemented on laptops and tablets for the ultimate in portability. The systems also allow clinicians to expand into additional therapy-related markets.

Communication is a key aspect of the therapist-patient relationship and patient portals have arisen as the result of technological advances. Clients can schedule appointments, request medication refills, provide insurance information, and view test results, all online. Practices now have multiple ways of interacting with patients via email, texts and voice messages.

Many have speculated about what the future of healthcare practice management holds. While no one knows for sure, it promises to be an interesting journey.

Healthcare providers in all fields could easily find themselves using software programs that assist in the diagnostic and treatment process based on information provided in a patient’s health record.

EMRs in healthcare practice management will continue to evolve and may contain voice recognition capabilities that allow therapists to record their notes and documentation entirely by voice. Technological strides may eliminate the need for certain types of treatments, while opening new vistas in alternative services.

It may be that healthcare delivery will become more uniform across the board. Clients will become more educated about their ailments and conditions, and more time will be expended on preventative measures.

Healthcare practice management professionals in all fields may find themselves engaged in more patient forums to educate clients, while finding new ways to communicate effectively with those they serve. An ever-increasing population in need of services guarantees innovation, with new treatments and means of delivery that will astound even the learned professionals of today.