Transferring Healthcare Files in the US? Here are the Terms You Should Know

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Of course, in order to understand the challenges (and solutions) of healthcare file transfer, there are a few essential terms that you’ll need to know. Let’s take a closer look at a few in particular:

  • HIPAA - Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  This act requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to adopt national standards for electronic health care transactions and national identifiers for providers, health plans and employers. Specifically, this act was put in place to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system. In many ways, HIPAA compliance is the number one file transfer priority for those in the healthcare space.
  • BAA – Business Associate Agreement. This document is essentially a promise that the people hired to handle the sensitive healthcare information are adhering to the same confidentiality agreement that the healthcare providers observe.
  • HIE – Health Information Exchanges. This system provides the capability to mobilize information electronically, across a designated region or healthcare information system.  The HIE is designed to provide a more timely, efficient and effective patient-care system.
  • HIO – Health Information Organization. An organization that brings together health care stakeholders within a defined geographical area. This group then exchanges health information among themselves, for the purpose of improving the health and care within that region.
  • HITECH – Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health. An act that promotes the adoption and meaningful use of health information technology. In other words, facilitating healthcare providers with the technology in order to use electronic health records. This would allow physicians to provide better care to their patients because the health records would be undamaged and easily accessible.
  • PHI (ePHI) – Protected Health Information (electronic). This individually identifiable information relates to past, present and future physical or mental health conditions of an individual.
  • EMR - Electronic Medical Record. This record contains both the medical and treatment history of a patient in a given facility, for one practice. This record stays within said facility and is not easily accessed by any additional doctors who may also be treating the patient.
  • EHR – Electronic Health Record. This report focuses on the total health of an individual. It recaps a patient’s history in every facility, for every practice, that the patient has used.  Think of the EHR as combining the information from every individual EMR that the patient may have, and placing it into one, central location.
  • Managed File Transfer (MFT) - While EHR is the central location for patient data to reside, MFT systems provide a complimentary central system to manage the transfer of files & data (including sensitive and confidential patient information) to/from the healthcare organization to its extended ecosystem of partners, suppliers and payers. This includes integrating with other systems and vendors with multiple configurations and access controls. MFT systems are a key cog in enabling a healthcare organization with file transfer automation and auditing to support HIPAA compliance.
  • Unstructured Data – Also known as the “patient narrative,” unstructured data is text-heavy information that may be unorganized, have irregularities or be ambiguous. This type of information would require the “human touch” to read, capture and interpret properly.  Most of the information that would be needed to make a decision about a patient can be found here.  This data is also difficult to standardized, difficult for a healthcare provider to gain access to, and difficult to share between dissimilar computer systems.
  • EDI – Electronic Data Interchange. This electronic communications system provides a means for exchanging data. This interchange facilitates the exchange of information from one computer to another with zero human intervention.
  • Omnibus Rule – A rule that was put in place to implement statutory amendments under the HITECH Act. Some of the effects that this rule had were: strengthening the privacy and security protection for individuals’ PHI, modified HIPAA Privacy Rule to strengthen the privacy protections for genetic information, and set new limits for how information is used and disclosed for marketing and fundraising purposes. Basically, the Omnibus Rule set further requirements for holding all custodians of PHI the same security and privacy rule of covered entities under HIPAA.

The list goes on. If you’re looking for a way to simplify the file transfer process within your organization, be sure to check out some of our healthcare case studies or this resource page. If there are any other terms that you would like to be explained, please be sure to leave them in the comments section below.

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