News & Commentary

Protect your company and employees from audits in 2024

By 01/03/2024 February 16th, 2024 No Comments

For more than a decade, Mediprocity’s mission has been to build secure communication tools that aim to protect patient health information and improve workflow in the long-term care community.

Our vision is to build unique technologies for robust secure messaging, static and automated secure forms, narcotic orders, inventory tracking, integrations, and reporting.

Letting our mission and vision guide us, we have developed best-in-class technology for our customers so that their employees can stop using unencrypted email, outdated faxes, and unsecure texts/SMS to exchange patient health information (PHI).

It is important to remind healthcare professionals that the Office of Civil Rights and state surveyors are fully back into audit mode, and if your organization is not HIPAA-compliant, you will be fined and penalized. Even with the threat of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), who govern HIPAA, as well as state surveyor visits, it has been a challenge for the companies we work with to ensure their employees are using the proper technologies legally and securely.

Two technologies that are often used in long-term care, WhatsApp and iMessage, are favorites because they are easy to use and encrypted. However, encryption alone is not HIPAA compliant.

That’s where we come in.

During the pandemic, emergency declarations by the U.S. government allowed unsecure communications in critical situations. These temporary allowances are no longer in effect, and once again many technologies in use don’t meet HIPAA and Hitech requirements that are back in full force.

Please review the emergency use authorization timeline below:

  • January 31, 2020: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency (PHE) due to COVID-19, activating the PREP Act.
  • February 4, 2020: The FDA issued the first EUA for a COVID-19 test under the PREP Act.
  • Subsequent months: EUAs were issued for various COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and other medical products.
  • May 11, 2023: The HHS Secretary formally declared the termination of the COVID-19 PHE, resulting in several changes:
    • The PREP Act’s liability protections for EUA products ceased.
    • EUAs for COVID-19 products were no longer in effect, with some exceptions.
    • Certain EUA products transitioned to full FDA approval or other regulatory pathways.

Now there is a new threat to add to the list, which is employee whistleblowers. For example, if an employee reports to the organization that unsecure technology is in use and the organization fails to act, or employees continue to ignore the calls from corporate to fall into compliance, a company can open themselves up to direct civil lawsuits.

If a whistleblower employee’s employment is terminated, they can bring a wrongful termination lawsuit as well. These types of suits can be between $50,000 and $100,000 in claims on the low end, not to mention the time and cost for the legal proceedings and protections.

The reason for this story is as we embark on a new year, 2024, to remind our customers that all healthcare professionals and organizations must meet the compliance standards set forth in the Omnibus law and Hitech Act.

Remind your staff and organization that not only can they be reported to the government, which can trigger an audit, but a state survey could result in an expensive and dangerous F-Tag or IJ tag.

If you are looking for a reboot on your secure messaging or online secure forms processes, Mediprocity has you fully covered!

If you want to take your security further, protect your narcotic tracking, and remove the redundant paper you use in conjunction with your electronic medical record, SureCount, our new narcotics and shift change tracking tool, is your answer.

Contact us for further information at [email protected] today! We are here to help.