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The Connected Health Initiative Launches ‘HIPAA Check’ Tool for App Developers

March 9, 2017
by Heather Landi
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The Connected Health Initiative, with ACT | The App Association, has developed an interactive tool to help software and app developers determine how their technology fits within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) privacy and security rules.

Called HIPAA Check, the tool was developed to help health tech entrepreneurs working in the connected health space to understand whether they need to comply with HIPAA and, if so, how to comply. According to a blog post about HIPAA Check by Morgan Reed, president of ACT's Connected Health Initiative, the interactive tool takes each user through a series of questions with yes or no answers. Each question includes the definitions for terms they need, a video explaining the concept of “on behalf of,” and links to resources and places to find additional information.

The Connected Health Initiative (CHI), a coalition of industry stakeholders focused on using mobile connectivity to improve patient outcomes, worked on developing the tool for about a year, with the help of Joy Pritts, the former chief privacy officer for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

“At its most basic level, HIPAA is designed to protect the privacy and security of patients by governing how entities that handle sensitive health information should protect that data, and it ensures patients are informed about how that data is used and stored. In order to be successful, health tech startups must protect the privacy and security of patients, but for many companies it’s a constant struggle to figure out where they fit in under HIPAA,” Reed wrote in the blog post.

“Importantly,” Reed wrote, “HIPAA rules do not apply to everyone who handles health related information. HIPAA only applies to health care providers and health plans (called “covered entities”) and certain organizations that perform activities on their behalf (called “business associates”).”

Reed also noted that the complexities within HIPAA often creates more questions than answers, particularly for new technologies that didn’t exist when the guidelines were created 20 years ago.

“As we received more and more of these questions, two things became clear,” Reed wrote, “1. The connected health community needs a clear and simple way to not only answer these key questions, but also to find the information they needed to navigate HIPAA and determine where they fit; and 2. Those tools would also need to arm the connected health community with the information they needed to talk about HIPAA (and their obligations under HIPAA) with their customers, financiers, and users.”

According to Reed, once a user has completed HIPAA Check, they have the option of receiving a full report. “While the information provided through the tool, and subsequently the report, should not be considered legal advice, the output of HIPAA Check will provide clarity for many companies as to their responsibilities under HIPAA,” she wrote.

The report provides all the questions answered and how they were answered. It also features reasoning for how they got the result they did, an overview of the entire tool, links to additional resources, and people they can contact if they have more questions. According to Reed, software and app developers can use the report as documentation to show their prospective clients, users, and backers “that they understand their role in protecting the privacy and security of patients utilizing technology to stay healthier.”

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LabCorp Joins Apple Health Records Project

November 5, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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LabCorp, a provider of clinical laboratory and end-to-end drug development services, has announced that it has enabled Apple’s Health Records feature for its patients.

This iPhone feature aims to make it easier for LabCorp patients to access their LabCorp laboratory test results, along with other available medical data from multiple providers, whenever they choose, according to officials.

In January, Apple announced that it would be testing the Health Records feature out with 12 hospitals, inclusive of some of the most prominent healthcare institutions in the U.S. Since that time, more than 100 new organizations have joined the project,  according to Apple.

LabCorp test results are viewable in the Apple Health app for LabCorp patients who have an account with the company, and enable integration with the Health Records app. In addition to their LabCorp test results, patients will have information from participating healthcare institutions organized into one view, covering allergies, medical conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications, procedures and vitals.

Patients will receive notifications when their data is updated, and the Health Records data is encrypted and protected with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID or Face ID, according to officials.

“LabCorp on Health Records will help provide healthcare consumers with a more holistic view of their health. Laboratory test results are central to medical decision making, and broadening access to this information will help patients take charge of their health and wellness, and lead to more informed dialogues between patients and their healthcare providers,” David P. King, chairman and CEO of LabCorp, said in a statement.

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HIMSS Analytics Introduces Infrastructure Adoption Model for Health Systems

October 25, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal, Managing Editor
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HIMSS Analytics, the research arm of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, announced the introduction of the Infrastructure Adoption Model, or INFRAM, which is designed to measure the technical infrastructure used within a health system.

The INFRAM focuses on five technical subdomains, allowing organizations to benchmark how their infrastructure operates within the following areas: mobility; security; collaboration; transport; and data center.

Similar to HIMSS Analytics’ well-known Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model, or, EMRAM, the INFRAM is an eight-stage model (0 – 7) that allows healthcare IT leaders to map the technology infrastructure capabilities required to reach their facility’s clinical and operational goals, while meeting industry benchmarks and standards.  The final stage, Stage 7, guides organizations towards optimized information integration, contextualization and orchestration essential for the delivery of higher order local and virtualized care processes.

For reference purposes, Stage 0 on the model represents that an organization does not have a VPN, intrusion detection/prevention, security policy, data center or compute architecture. Stage 3 signifies that an organization has an advanced intrusion prevention system, while Stage 5 represents having video on mobile devices, location-based messaging, firewall with advanced malware protection, and real-time scanning of email hyperlinks.

HIMSS officials note that by identifying specific benchmarks for organizations to reach before they go live with EMR, systems, the INFRAM aims to ensure that a health system’s infrastructure is stable, manageable and extensible. Through this, organizations can ideally improve care delivery and create a pathway for infrastructure development tied to business and clinical outcomes.

 “The INFRAM is a welcome addition to our maturity model suite and addresses a longstanding need – guiding healthcare organizations in securely implementing the infrastructure with which their EMRs are built upon,” Blain Newton, executive vice president, HIMSS Analytics, said in a statement. “We have seen health systems engage with advanced clinical applications, only for them to ‘glitch’ under infrastructure that isn't powerful enough to support their tools. With the INFRAM, healthcare providers can develop a detailed, strategic technology plan that defines their organization's current state, desired future state, and each stage in between to achieve their clinical and operational goals.”

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