Tag Archive for: HIPAA

Smartphone and HIPAA Violations

It was Edna’s 100th birthday at Greenfield Manor and everyone was in the mood for celebrating! The staff made her a cake, while the residents and family gathered to sing a spirited Happy Birthday! Edna was well liked among fellow residents and staff members. Thinking to preserve memories of the occasion, a caregiving aide from Greenfield took out her smartphone and recorded the celebration.

She then shared the cute video on her Facebook profile with the caption “Edna rings in 100. I love my job”. It had seemed innocent enough. Many of her friends commented on how cute it was and extended birthday wishes. She most likely never thought this very action would result in her losing the job she loved.

Unfortunately, the use of personal smartphones and devices is on the rise by professional caregivers in long-term care. And not just for social media. They’re also being used by caregivers who wish to relay patient information and activity to other caregiving staff in a faster and more efficient fashion. They are trying to provide better care. Instead, they are putting their communities, patient privacy and their jobs at risk.

Greenfield Manor believes very strongly in maintaining high end security, patient integrity and privacy. They immediately recognized this act for what it was: a HIPAA violation. They followed their HIPAA privacy protocol, relieved the aide of her position and contacted the family about the privacy breach.

Although Edna’s family was upset about the violation of Edna’s privacy, they were satisfied with the actions the facility took, and the aide didn’t face legal action. It definitely could have been worse.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that enforces HIPAA, has come down hard on communities and their staff members that utilize personal smart devices in a professional care setting.

A recent CMS memorandum to state officials stated that organizations must have policies that prohibit employees from taking pictures or video of residents and posting them on social media, no matter what. In addition to privacy breaches, CMS is concerned with protecting residents from feeling demeaned or embarrassed.

CMS has gone so far to require that any employees in violation of these strict policies must be reported to local law enforcement, for possible resident mental abuse. This is true even if the resident gave consent.

Q: What should senior housing communities do?

A: Remove any and all usage of personal smart devices by your staff and instead get HIPAA compliant, secure RCare Mobile phones.

RCare Mobile utilizes a locked down smartphone which allows caregivers to receive customized patient alerts as well as detailed resident information and location. RCare Mobile allows voice and text communications with other staff including the I Got It button, letting other staff know who is responding to the call.

Here’s the best part. Even though RCare Mobile looks and acts just like a smartphone, it’s a smartphone that is completely dedicated to being a high-function, secure, HIPAA-compliant nurse call system phone. It doesn’t allow additional apps to be installed. It doesn’t allow taking photos or videos. And it doesn’t allow social media of any kind.

RCare Mobile. the world’s most advanced nurse call system is calling you. It’s time to respond.

RCare at AHCA/NCAL 2016 Conference in Nashville

Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and home to Vanderbilt University. It boasts legendary music venues such as the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the historic Ryman Auditorium. As if all that isn’t enough, don’t miss the Johnny Cash Museum, celebrating the renowned singer’s life.

RCare is celebrating its 10th anniversarySoon Nashville will have another reason to celebrate! RCare is spending its 10th birthday at the 67th annual AHCA/NCAL convention and expo. Want to join in the fun? Stop by Booth #257 and say howdy.

To celebrate a decade of our presence, we want to give you presents!!

What??? You bet! All you have to do is come to our booth and you get a prize. That’s right. It’s our anniversary, but the gifts are on us. But that’s not all. We’ll also be giving away free RCare medallion necklaces, complementary to any show attire. If we spot you wearing it on the show floor, we’ve got even bigger prizes in store for you (electronics, speakers, chargers, accessories and more.)

We have more reasons to celebrate at booth #257. We’ll be showcasing our latest and greatest products including our new Pretty Pretty Pendants, our smarter, brand new #RCareMobile phone (HIPAA-Compliant, Secure NurseCall phone), and our new caregiver panel for the RCube.

Pretty Pretty Pendants. Who says pendants have to be ugly? It turns out, they don’t. Personal emergency response systems only work if people wear them. So we made ours pretty. Many people don’t even realize it’s a PERS worn for safety, because it looks like an attractive accessory. But it’s also a reliable call for assistance if needed.

RCare Mobile introduces a brand new phone for our multi-featured, HIPAA-compliant nurse call system. This is a system with two-way communication features that let caregivers know all about the resident who made the call, the reason for the call, and who is responding. It gives you all the powerful smartphone features you need – but none of the security risks.

Find out more about the new CC900 dedicated caregiver panel for the RCube.

And let us get you excited about interoperability! RCare now integrates with Point-Click-Care and Accutech, to give more efficiencies to your staff, greater ease of use, fewer user errors, and maximum information.

If you find yourself in Music City for AHCA/NCAL, make sure you include RCare in your plans.

AHCA/NCAL 67th Annual Convention and Expo
Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
Nashville, Tennessee
October 16-19, 2016
More details about the convention

HIPAA-Compliant RCare Mobile for Security

It happens every day and it’s the ultimate caregiving paradox: should caregivers limit the quality of care they offer by using inadequate tools? Or, should they give the best care possible, but violate federal privacy regulations, while putting your community at risk?

Yikes! Obviously, the correct answer is that neither should be practiced. And so often communities may end up doing both! This is even worse.

Despite the rapid advance of technology, long-term care communities often find themselves using outdated technology such as pager-based nurse call systems. When a patient presses the call button, caregivers are provided with simple, minimal information about the client or the nature of the call, sometimes receiving little more than the room number on the pager display. A standard system doesn’t even allow the two-way communication that would allow caregivers to talk to the client, and to prioritize the call. Many systems don’t specify which caregiver should take the call, or who has responded. This leads to an inefficient duplication of efforts where multiple caregivers may respond to the same alert or worse yet, nobody responds at all.

A recent study from the College of Nursing and Health at the University of Cincinnati identified the biggest problems caregivers had with nurse call systems as: the inability to locate the nurse, the inability to prioritize and confirm calls, and the inability to speak directly to patients and staff. These frustrating problems lead to longer response times, and prevent caregivers from giving premium care.

But caregivers want to provide better care and they have invented creative work-arounds such as using personal unsecured smart devices to communicate with each other regarding patient care. This obvious HIPAA security risk is a problem plaguing administrators and IT staff across the country.

HIPAA applies to all devices that receive, transmit, or store protected health information. The law doesn’t distinguish between work devices, and people’s personal phones and devices. It applies to all devices used by caregivers. Furthermore, today’s cell phones are virtually hand-held computers, which makes violating HIPAA so easy and scary. Caregivers who text or email patient information on their own phones or devices can be in violation, because the information is often transmitted using unsecured mobile networks. This poses more than a few security risks:

  • The transmissions themselves can be intercepted.
  • The information is stored on the phone in an unsecured manner.
  • Photos stored and/or shared from the phone can be a potential privacy problem.
  • Stolen or lost phones are another possible violation.
  • Cloud backup services for their phones can cause still more potential problems.
  • Having phones around can lead to the urge to be on social media, causing even more potential risks and problems.

So. What now?

Don’t worry. We got you!

RCare Mobile was designed so your caregivers can still have all of the fast communication and secure messaging capabilities, avoid duplication and ensure accountability with the “I got it” feature, while sharing more resident information about the situation so the caregiver knows what to expect and what to bring to a call.

Caregivers can put the personal phones away and use our brand new LIFE Phone powered by RCare Mobile. This new secure, smart device is locked down to provide secure 2-way communication. It has a sophisticated display screen that provides information about the call, not just the room number. Caregivers will see the resident’s name, history, and the nature of the call. Because it’s a phone, it lets the caregiver place calls to ask questions, determine any supplies or equipment needed, and let the resident know who is coming to help, and when. The “I got it” feature makes sure that every call gets answered, and lets everyone know who got the call.

Better yet is what the RCare Mobile phone doesn’t do. It doesn’t violate HIPAA. PHI is transmitted, received, and stored securely. It doesn’t cost a lot. And it sure doesn’t do Facebook.

What are you waiting for? The choice is clear.