Knowledge Library

Techniques for a Successful Telemedicine Visit

As the use of telehealth has continued to explode in the U.S., physicians are increasingly learning how to navigate a new way of interacting with patients and delivering medical care using real-time videoconferencing.  With experience comes an appreciation of the benefits, and the problems, associated with practicing medicine through a remote connection.  Distractions are a major problem during telemedicine visits, both for patients and physicians.  A recent study of over 1,000 individuals revealed that 73% of men and 39% of women report multitasking during telehealth visits.  Some of the distractions included:  Surfing online/emailing/texting (24.5%)  Watching TV (24%)  Eating (21%) Playing a video game (19%)  Smoking (11%)  Driving (10%)  Drinking alcohol (9.4%) While...

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Patient Rights of Access to Medical Information

Much of the discussion around patient privacy and confidentiality centers around appropriately restricting and securing access to protected health information, and this is for good reason- threats such as data breaches and cyber attacks often dominate the news, and medical practices are understandably concerned about the risks of litigation and bad publicity associated with privacy violations.    It is important, however, to remember that patients have the right to access, and in some cases to direct others to access, their medical information in a timely fashion and at a reasonable cost.  Providers own their physical records, but patients increasingly expect to have the ability to exercise their legal rights to the information contained in those records.  Laws pertaining to medical...

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ONC Final Rule on Information Blocking

Beginning in April 2021, patients will have the right to directly access their electronic health information under a new federal requirement.  On May 1, 2020 the DHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) issued a Final Rule on Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program (part of the 21st Century Cures Act).  The law is also known informally as the “Open Charts law.” The Final Rule prohibits the practice of “information blocking,” which is defined as any practice which is likely to interfere with access, exchange, or use of electronic health information (EHI)...

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California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act

When questions arise around the confidentiality of patient records and other healthcare information, providers typically invoke HIPAA- the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which establishes standards for the privacy and security of protected health information. However, HIPAA regulations do not cover all aspects of patient confidentiality, and the rules only apply to “covered entities” who perform certain electronic transactions (although virtually all providers fall into this category). Most importantly, to the extent that state law addresses the same issues as HIPAA, the more “controlling” or limiting law applies. It is therefore important for healthcare providers to...

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Current Status of COVID-19 Testing

As the nation continues to struggle to manage the COVID-19 (COVID) pandemic, one crucial element to mitigating the crisis- testing- has continued to present a variety of challenges to health care providers.  Barriers to effective COVID testing include shortages of testing supplies, doubts about accuracy, and evolving recommendations around who should be tested.    Types of Tests  Currently, available COVID tests analyze tissue or fluid samples to assess the current or past presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  The types of tests include molecular, antigen, and antibody testing. Most of the COVID-19 testing currently being conducted in the U.S. uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to amplify and detect the presence of viral DNA.   Each type of test has its advantages and drawbacks.  The FDA published the table below to help inform both providers and the public about the various types of testing being completed in response...

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