HHS: HIPAA Limitations as Technology Advances

When it comes to electronic medical and personal information, data security continues to be a high priority of all entities within the health care industry. Ensuring that records remain intact and that security breeches are a low risk is the goal of everyone from payers to providers.

First enacted in 1996, HIPAA has provided guidelines on patient privacy and data security. The legislation addresses who must comply with the law, privacy rights and identifies electronic standards for transmitting health data.

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Health Care Data at Risk for Security Breach

As more information is stored and transmitted electronically, the level of security required to preserve confidential, personal information is an essential component of any health care software. Avoiding a dangerous security breach requires experts to know what the vulnerabilities are of the current system in order to fix and reduce the risk of being hacked.

Since 2010, five out of eight major health care system data breaches have occurred in early 2015, according to IBM X-Force’s “2016 Cyber Security Intelligence Index” as reported in a Healthcare IT article. Health care is one of the top five industries that have a higher risk of cyber-attacks.

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Technology to Impact Health Care by 2020

Once one set of technology has been implemented and users adapted to the changes, it seems that the next wave of new systems are released. As technology continues to evolve, health care as a whole must adapt to the fluid changes that are taking place.

Forbes combined a list of upcoming technologies that could have a significant impact to the world of health care in America by 2020, which is only four years away!

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Scam Artist Emails Just the Beginning – Scammers Up Game By Utilizing Phishing Emails

For over a decade, we’ve been hearing about email scams that attempt to persuade individuals to give up personal information so that the scammer can steal an entire identity, instead of just gaining access to credit card or bank account information. Those scams have become less effective, but there are new schemes in place to obtain the same information.

Although there are many anti-virus and anti-malware systems that can be used, hackers still find a way to attack corporate systems. Spear phishing, also commonly known as phishing, is one method that has been around for years, but is currently on the rise.

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Telemedicine Continues to Grow in Popularity in U.S.

Due to the evolution of technology, telemedicine has been able to bring doctors and patients together in the virtual world. This innovative tool has allowed patients to seek treatment by communicating directly with their nurse practitioner or doctor over the internet.

This revolutionary advancement in medicine has made doctors more accessible to patients, while also providing an additional avenue for individuals to seek treatment. Studies show that some Americans are slow to convert to this method if offered by their provider, but part of that may be a lack of knowledge.

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Study: Employers Focusing on Cost Control and Employee Health

In general, the health care industry within the U.S. continues to evolve, forcing everyone from insurance companies to patients to adjust and prepare for these changes. Businesses, in particular, have to handle cost changes from insurance plans and new policies set in place by the government, in addition to managing what will be best for their employees.

Towers Watson, a global professional services company, published their findings in a survey that looked at current trends among businesses with over 1,000 employees. The study examined strategies and practices that employers are putting in place to manage the growing cost of health care.

Here are the primary focuses of the companies that participated in the study.

  1. Cost Management: The cost of health care continues to be on the rise and companies are looking for ways to still offer insurance to employees, while reducing the overall expense. More employers are looking into private insurance plans or self-insured options to lower the financial commitment in the future.
  2. Utilizing Innovative Ways to Deliver Care: Telemedicine and health care apps seem to be gaining in popularity. In an age where people expect instant care and information, incorporating more technology into medicine will allow employees to become more involved in their health care.
  3. Employee Engagement and Accountability: A healthy workforce usually equates to lower medical expenses and more productive employees. In order to motivate their staff, companies are considering utilizing financial incentives to encourage them to take more responsibility for their health.

The survey that was conducted focuses on larger employers. Do you think that small companies are considering a similar plan of action? Will things like financial incentives, mobile apps and offering telemedicine to employees be enough to increase health throughout the company and lower medical costs?

Share with us your thoughts on this topic below!

SHOP Exchange Shortcomings Limit Small Business Insurance Options

For businesses with under 50 employees, the options for offering employer-sponsored health insurance is very limited and can be quite costly. Although the federal government doesn’t require companies with less than 50 employees to offer insurance right now, many employers feel compelled to provide that benefit in order to remain competitive in the market. Companies resort to offering group health insurance plans, which tend to be expensive for both employers and their staff.

The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, was created by the ACA in an effort to provide other, more affordable options for small companies to offer employees. Unfortunately, this program has faced many obstacles and shortcomings, such as technological problems, limited coverage options and unclear tax credit policies.

According to the blog ACASignups.net, there are currently 72,000 SHOP plan participants. The government expects over 2 million will enroll in the SHOP exchanges by the end of 2015. However, experts believe that final numbers will not be close to that estimate due to ongoing issues with the program.

So with the SHOP program not seeming like a realistic option for small businesses, is there only choice to go with private health insurance plans?

A new trend appears to be on the rise demonstrating the savviness of small business owners. Instead of enrolling in a costly group plan, some companies are offering their employees a “raise” that would cover expenses if they were to enroll in individual plans.

Not only does this save the company money in the long run, but it might end up costing individuals less, especially if they qualify for tax subsidies. This option would only be available for businesses with under 50 employees, since they are not legally required to offer health insurance.

Do you think this is a smart move by small businesses? Share with us your thoughts below!