HIPAA and Mobile Devices: What Your Service Needs to Know

For ambulance services, HIPAA compliance is a particularly sensitive issue. Because of the sensitive nature of the health data that EMS and EMT professionals deal with on a daily basis, HIPAA Privacy and Security standards must be carefully adhered to. This issue becomes even more sensitive when you consider that most of the data collected during pre-hospital care will likely be collected, tracked, and documented on a mobile device. Laptops, smartphones, and tablets are indispensable tools for ambulance care. Most of these devices will have access to electronic health records (EHR) platforms, which will in turn be connected to the rest of a hospital’s EHR data. While mobile devices can provide convenience in life-or-death situations, they are also particularly vulnerable to the risk of a data breach. A data breach of unsecured health information can lead to serious HIPAA violations and put patient privacy at risk. The kind of health information that these devices have access to is called protected health information, or PHI. PHI is any demographic information that can be used to identify a patient. Common examples of PHI include names, dates of birth, medical information, insurance ID numbers, addresses, full facial photos, and telephone numbers, to name...

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OIG Releases SemiAnnual Report to Congress

The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) recently issued the “Measuring Compliance Program Effectiveness: A Resource Guide“. The Guide was developed by a group of HHS-OIG professionals who wanted to provide a set of metrics by which health care providers can measure the elements of their compliance program. The authors recognize that not all the metrics are applicable to all health care providers but intended to be used as a guide. The Guide was released on March 27. You can also read the full “Semiannual Report to Congress (October 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017)“.

Maintaining Compliance Within an EMS Service

Maintaining compliance within an EMS service can be a daunting task, especially given the number of regulations that we must follow. One way to look at EMS is if a trucking company married a hospital. There are rules and regulations to abide by for an entire fleet of vehicles, from safe operation guidelines all the way down to the use and color of lights. Then there are requirements for a group of healthcare providers, which include necessary certifications such as CPR and knowledge of pertinent life-saving skills. Not only does maintaining compliance keep vehicles and equipment running smoothly, but it can offer employees valuable peace of mind and keep everyone focused on the same goals of providing the best care possible. I like to consider compliance an investment in common sense. Employees know what is expected of them at all times, and they know what type of support their employer will provide to keep their skills sharp. In turn, an EMS service gains from being in good standing with regulators and from an engaged, confident workforce. The benefits of a strong culture of compliance are immense. An organization that lives and breathes compliance can help ensure a smooth-running operation that...

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New I-9 Form Required

New Form I9 Effective January 22, 2017 All employers are required to begin using the new Form I9 starting on January 22, 2017. The new form can be found on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. To ensure that you are utilizing the correct form, an expiration date of August 31, 2019 is in the top right hand corner of the form. Last year we were aware of several ambulance providers who were the subject of Form I9 audits by the USCIS which resulted in technical violations for failing to complete the form correctly. The Form I9 is the document all U.S. employers are required to have completed when hiring a new employee to assure that they are legally eligible to work in the United States. While there has been a reduction in Form I9 Audits from USCIS in 2015, employers should be prepared as the five year trend is on the rise and I am aware of several ambulance providers currently dealing with audits. The Law The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 requires employers to examine documentation from each newly hired employee to prove his or her identity and eligibility to work in the...

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Webinar Now 9/21: Scott Moore, Esq on Employment Lawsuits

It’s not too late! Scott Moore, Esq’s Know When to Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em webinar has been rescheduled to September 21 at 2:00 p.m. ET.  Register now► Employment Lawsuits: Know When to Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em September 21 at 2:00 PM ET $99 for Members $199 for non-Members This program is valid for 1 PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP Speaker: Scott Moore, Esq., EMS Resource Advisors Your organization has been served with a lawsuit or investigative demand on an employment claim. Is your organization prepared for what is ahead? This session will follow what an employer should do long before the Constable serves the papers. Human Resources Managers treat employee personnel records like it is evidence in a case because it could be. This session will also discuss the financial and practical costs of defending your organization and how you can still lose even if you win.

Spotlight: Rebecca Williamson

Rebecca Williamson Compliance Officer, Muskogee County EMS Medicare Regulatory Committee Co-Chair, AAA Board & Committees Tulsa, OK Tell us a little about yourself. I was born in Muskogee, OK and currently live in Tulsa, OK. I received my nursing degree from Connors State College and my bachelor’s degree in English from Northeastern State University. I began working at Muskogee County EMS as a paramedic 24 years ago, have moved through the ranks over the years, and have held my current title of Compliance Officer for about 12 years. When I’m not doing EMS, I am the Director of Nurses at Kids’ Space, a child advocacy center in Muskogee. I’m married to Steve Williamson, CEO/President of EMSA, and between us we have 7 children and 6 grandchildren. What do you enjoy most about your job? It’s always a challenge. Nothing is ever the same. I enjoyed being a paramedic because it was always different and no two patients were alike. Even though I’m now in administration and I’m dealing with Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance and regulatory issues and legislation, it is still never the same between days. I never feel like I have everything figured out, so there’s always a challenge in my (more…)