Last Minute Gift Idea – “Invisible” MedAlet Bracelet?

‘Invisible bracelet’ for emergency health alerts?

All That Twitters is Not Gold
All That Twitters is Not Gold


By LAURAN NEERGAARD, AP Medical Writer Lauran Neergaard, Ap Medical Writer

WASHINGTON – Emergency health alerts for the Facebook generation? The nation’s ambulance crews are pushing a virtual medical ID system to rapidly learn a patient’s health history during a crisis — and which can immediately text-message loved ones that the person is headed for a hospital.

The Web-based registry,, started in Oklahoma and got a boost this fall when the state’s government made the program an optional health benefit for its own employees.

Now the Invisible Bracelet attempts to go nationwide as the American Ambulance Association next month begins training its medics, who in turn will urge people in their communities to sign up.

For $5 a year, basic health information and up to 10 emergency contacts are stored under a computer-assigned PIN number that’s kept on a wallet card with your driver’s license, a key fob or a sticker on an insurance card.

It’s a complement to the medical alert jewelry that people with diabetes, asthma and a host of other conditions have used for decades to signal their needs in an emergency.

And it comes as the American College of Emergency Physicians is trying to determine just what information is the most critical for medics and ER doctors to find when you’re too ill or injured to answer questions, so that competing emergency-alert technologies don’t miss any of the essentials.

“Too many times, we don’t have the information to help us treat the patients correctly,” says James Finger, president of the American Ambulance Association, the largest network of emergency medical service providers. Continue reading Last Minute Gift Idea – “Invisible” MedAlet Bracelet?

2009 – Top 10 Business Health Stories

HIPAA regulations  top the listTop 10 of 2009

Yes, the new HIPAA regulations made it to the “Top 3” of “Health Issues Affecting Businesses in 2009.”

December 20, 2009 — 4:20am ET | By Neil Versel

Nothing has had more bearing on health IT throughout the ’00s than Title II of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, otherwise known as the administrative simplification regulations of HIPAA. Together, the rules on privacy and security of health information, on transactions and code sets for electronic data interchange and on the National Provider Identifier system have had an impact on pretty much every aspect of health IT this decade.

The rules didn’t start to become enforceable until the privacy compliance date of April 14, 2003, but healthcare providers, insurers, vendors, data processors and pretty much everyone else that handled personally identifiable health information–whether on paper or computer–have had to consider HIPAA since proposed regulations began to appear in 1998.

The code sets for EDI transactions, which became mandatory on Oct. 16, 2003–even though CMS wasn’t fully ready to accept such transactions then–were supposed to represent the heart of administrative simplification. They were intended to standardize billing, insurance eligibility checking, remittance advice, electronic payments and other communications. But HHS continued to allow private insurers to include their own addenda to each code, wiping out true standardization.

There were other headaches and criticisms, too. Privacy advocates complained about the May 2002 modifications to the privacy rule, which allowed disclosure of protected health information without patient consent for the purposes of “treatment, payment and healthcare operations.” Some vendors of practice management and hospital information systems–particularly companies that also owned lucrative clearinghouses–took their time in making their products capable of producing standard HIPAA transactions. CMS let the NPI compliance date slide several times by allowing for contingency plans. And all along, the various parts of HHS and the Department of Justice that had jurisdiction over HIPAA have been lax with their enforcement.

As the decade ends, HIPAA keeps evolving. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, enacted in February 2009, effectively removes the “treatment, payment and healthcare operations” exemption in the absence of patient consent. It requires covered entities to notify patients of certain privacy and security breaches and calls on HHS to develop tougher regulations. Perhaps most significantly, ARRA for the first time gives states the authority to enforce HIPAA regulations.

Meanwhile, as providers look toward “meaningful use” of electronic health records to earn Medicare and Medicaid bonus payments starting in 2011, they also have to prepare to switch to the ANSI X12 version 5010 standards for HIPAA transactions by Jan. 1, 2012. The HIPAA work continues.
Read more:

Calming the Swine Flu Frenzy

Keep Workplace Calm
Keep Workplace Calm

Prevent Pig Panic at Work!
December 9, 2009 by Christian Schappel

Posted in: Communication, Employment law, FLSA, Health care, In this week’s e-newsletter – benefits, Latest News & Views, Pay and benefits

Whatever you call it — H1N1, Swine Flu — the illness du jour is definitely a distraction to your entire workforce. From fears of the coughing co-worker in the next cubicle to heated debates over whether or not to vaccinate, everyone has the flu on the brain these days. So how can you keep the panic to a minimum and maximize productivity?

  • Communicate your contingency plans. People have to be wondering what your company has planned should this turn into a full-blown pandemic. Assuming your company has a plan, it’s time to make sure all your workers are in on it.
  • Educate employees. An informed workforce is a less jumpy workforce. Try an info blitz on H1N1. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Web page devoted to the virus. Your state health department also has info. You could even bring in a doctor to debunk myths.
  • Encourage short breaks. When employees are stretched too thin, their immune systems can get run down — increasing their chances of getting sick. Keep an eye out for staffers who look stressed or overworked, and encourage them to take a break.
  • Know the law. What’s worse than having employees out sick? Getting hit with a labor law violation because of your policies about sick workers run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Here is a list of guidelines that’ll help make sure your policies are OK with Uncle Sam.

Phishing Scam Alert from CDC

PHISHING SCAM  – CDC Sponsored State Vaccination Program for H1N1

CDC has received reports of fraudulent emails (phishing) referencing a CDC sponsored State Vaccination Program for H1N1. The messages request that users create a personal H1N1 (swine flu) Vaccination Profile on the web site.

An example of the phishing email is below:
CDC phishing scam sample
Users that click on the embedded link in the email are at risk of having malicious code installed on their system. CDC reminds users to take the following steps to reduce the risk of being a victim of a phishing attack:
Do not open or respond to unsolicited email messages.
Do not click links embedded in emails from unknown senders.
Use caution when entering personal information online.
Update anti-virus, spyware, firewall, and anti-spam software regularly.