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Altex Business Solutions has been serving the Texas area since 1993, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

New ransomware is bad news for healthcare organizations

New ransomware is bad news for healthcare organizations

Well that didn’t take long. In a recent article I made the case that newer variations of ransomware could result in a reportable HIPAA breach.  I argued that if ransomware not only encrypted the victim’s files but also copied the files off of a computer or allowed access to the files, then the result could be a reportable breach.

CryptXXX Ransomware

A relatively new variation of ransomware called CryptXXX has been identified. Like older variations, the malware encrypts a victims files and demands a ransom to release the files. The ransom averages about $500.

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Is Ransomware Considered A HIPAA Breach?

Is Ransomware Considered A HIPAA Breach?

The topic of ransomware, especially ransomware hitting healthcare organizations, is making headlines daily. Dan Munro has a very good article over at Forbes that asks an important question:

Is Ransomware Considered A Health Data Breach Under HIPAA?

David Harlow, Principal – The Harlow Group, LLC, whose insight into HIPAA law I respect greatly, states:

Ransomware has just recently come to the fore as a threat to the healthcare industry and it challenges our collective instincts about what should be considered data breaches under HIPAA. We need to remember that HIPAA is narrowly drawn and that a breach is defined as the unauthorized “access, acquisition, use or disclosure” of PHI. In many cases, ransomware “wraps” PHI rather than breaches it. This may explain why there are so few public reports of ransomware in healthcare – there is no obligation to report these incidents to OCR

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MIPS Performance Categories, Part 3: Clinical Practice Improvement Activities

The Clinical Practice Improvement Activities piece of the MIPS puzzle is a new performance category for CMS, and it’s weighted 15 percent of the MIPS total score. Clinicians choose from approximately 90 activities that have been designed with the intention of measuring capabilities in areas like care coordination, beneficiary engagement and patient safety.

60 points = 100 percent credit

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CMS Addresses Possibility of MACRA Delay

CMS Addresses Possibility of MACRA Delay

In a recent Senate Committee on Finance hearing, Acting Administrator of CMS, Andy Slavitt addressed the question: “What options are CMS considering to make sure [MACRA] gets started on the right foot?” The question comes bearing in mind that physicians will only have about two months before the program goes live, if the final rule is in fact announced in November and implemented on January 1, 2017, as planned.

Slavitt seemed to acknowledge the fact that this timeline leaves many (small practices, especially) scrambling to prepare for these major changes in Medicare payment. He disclosed that CMS is open to postponement and shorter reporting periods – as well as considering other ways for clinicians to ease into the program in the short term. A delay of implementation would give clinicians more time to prepare and an adjustment of reporting requirements would ease burdens. He suggested options like obtaining data through automated databases such as a registry, among other methods of easing the initial reporting burdens.

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EPCS and the Opioid Crisis

EPCS and the Opioid Crisis

 How prescribers wield the power to combat the opioid addiction crisis through e prescribing controlled substances

The nation’s opioid crisis has been of utmost interest in the news and across the healthcare industry of late, as the number of opioid-related deaths have soared to an all-time high and continue to grow. Senate has recently approved and passed a bill strengthening prevention, treatment and recovery efforts – through the empowerment of prescribers and law enforcement officials – but for prescribers, electronically prescribing controlled substances (EPCS) is arguably the most effective, efficient and simplest way to combat the opioid epidemic.

As we blogged about before, EPCS is legal in all 50 states, mandatory in New York (many other states are quickly following this mandate), and offers a tech-enabled, seamless solution for safer, more efficient prescribing with enhanced security. Prescribers have the ability to send all drugs electronically with a single application that creates, manages, and stores every Rx, with detailed verification and safety checks at every step.

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Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Performance Categories: An Overview

Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) Performance Categories: An Overview

In our last few blog posts, we’ve explained the two tracks through which to participate in the new CMS MACRA rule (MIPS or APMs), or Quality Payment Program – as well as who, exactly, is eligible for MIPS, since most practitioners won’t initially participate in the APM model.

MIPS adjusts traditional fee-for-service payments upward or downward based on the new reporting program. This new program will integrate PQRS, Value-Based Payment Modifier and the EHR Incentive Program, which will end at the close of 2018. Parts of each of these previous programs will be streamlined into MIPS.

*Physicians can no longer opt out by paying a penalty – all providers who accept Medicare patients must comply.

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MACRA/MIPS: Who is Eligible?

MACRA/MIPS: Who is Eligible?

In our last blog, we covered the two main paths through which to participate through MACRA: MIPS and advanced APMs. We also mentioned that initially, most practitioners won’t be able to transition to the APM model. The majority of clinicians will therefore be subject to MIPS, which will adjust traditional fee-for-service payments upward or downward based on the new reporting program. 

So Who, Exactly, is Subject to MIPS?

The MIPS regulations apply to clinicians only, and not to hospitals. Affected Medicare Part B clinicians who will participate in MIPS will be called “MIPS eligible clinicians.” Eligible clinicians (EC) can report as individuals or as a group.

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The Two Tracks of CMS MACRA: Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) + Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APM)

The Two Tracks of CMS MACRA: Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) + Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APM)

 As we highlighted in our last blog post on MACRA, the goal as stated by the Department of Health and Human Services back in January of 2015 is to tie 95 percent of Medicare payments to quality or value through a combination of two tracks.

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