Last term I began this blog as a term project, knowing very little about the professional blogging world. Post by post, this blog has been an exceptional learning experience for me as a blogger. This term I have began a new blog, not alone but as a member of a four person group of other University of Oregon students in my class. Our task was to create a blog based on an issue or topic that has both local relevance in Eugene, OR and on a national level. After searching through tons of ideas we came across the issue of dog parks in the Eugene area community. After a local dog owner’s small dog was killed at a dog park she has been advocating the community to become proactive about creating a space in dog parks separate for both large aggressive dogs, and small shy dogs. My group members and I will spend the next eight weeks posting and discussing issues of dog parks on our new blog Free to Fetch.
As a part of researching sources and people who cared about the issue we created a Blogroll. Our Blogroll is intended to provide useful links of information and other blogs related to the issue of dog parks, dog behavior, and dog personalities. It is important step that as a group we analyze each blog and website we list to completely understand their intended purpose, audience, and content. One blog that spoke to me about our issue is Fearful Dogs. Fearful Dogs is a first hand resource into the life of an owner and her shy dog, and how they adjust to other dogs, atmospheres, and situations.
Fearful Dogs is a blog created by Vermont residence, Shari Jacobs. The inspiration that spoke to Shari to start Fearful Dogs was her dog Sunny. Shy and timid, Sunny has been a pleasure but also challenging due to his fearful habits. Shari uses her blog as a space for other dog owners of fearful dogs to learn and spread ideas through commenting of how they can better train, raise, and spread awareness of shy pets such as Sunny.
Most of the posts of Fearful Dog are experienced based. This concept is what makes her posts more personable to her audience. The content is appealing to dog owners looking for someone who has been in their shoes. Rather than an expert spitting facts and reasoning, Shari provides posts about her life and adventures with Sunny and discusses the issues of owning a fearful dog.
Fearful dog relates to Free to Fetch’s Blog because it relates to the issue of dominant and submissive dog personalities. Most importantly it addresses the counter argument against the stereotype that all large dogs are aggressive and dangerous. It is important that the issue is recognized that creating a space for small and shy dogs as well would be beneficial to the community in order to make dog parks a happier place for owners and their pups.
Shari Jacobs and her blog Fearful Dogs will continue to be a great resource for our blog throughout the term. I have attempted to make contact with her that will spark great discussion regarding the issue of different dog personalities and how they affect the dog park experience. Hopefully her voice will bring a great angle and perspective on the issue as an owner of a larger shy dog.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 2006 (HIPAA) is intended to protect health insurance coverage when someone looses their job, and create a standardized set of regulations regarding patient privacy between patients, insurance companies, institutions, and their partnerships. HIPAA is based off an elaboration of the Privacy Rule of Protected Health Information (PHI) of 2003. The regulations that HIPAA ensures is essential for the practice of good medicine in the United States and instills not only bottom line principles, but trust between patients and their doctors and insurance companies. Necessary changes and modifications are implemented each year to make sure the policies are relevant and up to speed with the industry. With the transition to electronic medical records and the growing realm of a Web 2.0 society there are many grey areas in HIPAA’s policies when it comes to issues such as social medial and the Internet. The Obama Administration enacted the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act in 2009, giving institutions financial incentive to organize patient records completely electronically, and included in the act the HIPAA privacy provisions to go along with it. However, left out of this high tech adjustment, were privacy regulations regarding patient privacy in relationship to the Internet when it’s outside of electronic medical records. Should the Obama Administration add an additional subsection to HIPAA to address patient privacy regulations regarding directly with social media, the Internet, and information traveling via word of web, in order to clear up the grey areas this new developing category of communication has arisen?
With the installment of the HITECH Act, there is little controversy regarding the procedures if a hospitals hard drive is stolen, or if a firewall into medical records becomes hacked into; HIPAA’s got it covered. However, if an employee Tweets something from her Blackberry device or updates a Facebook status about her day at work, HIPAA’s regulations and associated repercussions are blurry and gray to institutions. Currently, the healthcare social media and social networks gray area is covered under the general HIPAA rules, and broadly within the HITECH specific credentials. It seems that some of these gray areas could become clearer, black and white regulations if there was a specified subsection dedicated to Internet privacy, which would cover healthcare social media, and all social networking. This would provide a bottom line for institutions to follow and better allow their employees to understand and be aware of what complying with HIPAA in the Web 2.0 world truly means.
In this modern Web 2.0 world. Ethical dilemmas regarding the boundaries of patient confidentiality are more popular than ever. Social media and electronic medical records are transforming the borders of privacy and if modifications are made to HIPAA in attempt to keep up compliance regulations within the new world wide web industry, there is controversy regarding where the thin line of acceptable and unacceptable would be drawn. There is currently little room for exception to HIPAA, which differs from historical medical ethics. Without adjusted regulations by HIPAA regarding Web 2.0 social media, many institutions have created zero-tolerance policies and banned access to websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace through their on location Internet connections. Kevin Johnston, the Officer of Organizational Integrity for Peacehealth Oregon Medical Group is one of these officers who blocked access to social media gateways in the facilities he oversees. It’s a necessary step to take to guarantee employees are aware of the standards however, he states “the challenge arises when the employees leave work and return to their social networks at home and choose to update their statuses about how they feel about their day at work.” This is one of the main issues when it comes to the lack of HIPAA regulations that acknowledge communication not via word of mouth, but word of web, Kevin Johnston continued with “ These sorts of incidents are not only hard to monitor, but hard to reprimand. Here is where HIPAA gets a little unclear and we have to just use our best judgment on a case to case basis”.
Even without HIPAA specifically creating regulations and guidelines for this issue, there are mixed opinions within practices regarding the use of healthcare social media. Carrie Aker, a Marketing Specialist for the same institution, Peacehealth Oregon Medical Group has expressed that there are positive uses for social media within an institution and that the gray areas of HIPAA prevent even good uses such as recognizing patient needs and complaints that are expressed through social networking sites. HIPAA regulations prevent institutions from outreach to happy and unhappy patients who use the Internet to publicly post their views to the world. In this situation, although the patient posted their expression publicly, with the gray areas of HIPPA Carrie feels it’s too risky to acknowledge the patients concerns or that they are a patient at all.
So what is the real solution to this controversial area of HIPAA policies? The simplest way to clear up the blurry areas to the problem would be to pass a section dedicated to social media, and internet based regulations. This would set clear boundaries as to what an institution, private practice, and their partners can or cannot do on the web regarding their day at work through social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. Not only would this prevent harm done to patients from careless health care industry employees but it would make it easier for institutions to use social media resources to better connect with their patients if clear guidelines are established. It would allow more institutions to feel secure in in using these resources like one hospital in Florida is boldly doing. After a patient and surgen has signed a release, this southern Florida hospital updates from the surgury room Twitter statuses of the progress being made on the surgury table and condition of the patient. They use these Twitter updates as a way of keeping the patientss families up to date with the current progress and situation on the operating table. This is something that Carrie Aker and Keven Johnston of Peacehealth Oregon Medical Group Region would still consider to be in the dangerous gray area of HIPAA, and be a risk they aren’t willing to take.
- Putting Americans In Control of Their Healthcare
This subsite from Whitehouse.gov provides information to the general public about healthcare and everything underneath its wing. Currently, the sites headlines are overtaken by Obama’s healthcare reform plan but if you dig deep, this website is the key government resource for finding any healthcare and medical regulatory related information. This government source is the White House blog and online headquarters for the Obama Administration’s current new and information regarding America’s healthcare system. This includes information regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and any changes undergoing review or being put into effect. This resource is key in any research about America’s healthcare system which includes HIPAA, and the HITECH Act updates. Since it is a government resource readers and researchs can trust that it will have little bias, and be composed of primarily news, facts, updates, and guidlines regarding any issues. The information this website provides comes from other governemnt sources such as the Department of Health and Human Services, or the government based websites on Medicare and Medicaid.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
A second key government source is the The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Powered by Federal funded tax dollars like all government resources, this website provides a detailed break down of patient privacy laws. This includes HIPAA, HITECH Act, and the rights physicians, patients, and insurance companies have in relationship to one another. The information it provides is intended for the general public, as record, and a resources of knowledege. This resource is important to my research on HIPAA regulations and how these regulations are passed onto the public because it provides a more detailed review and source of the information. A significant piece to this website’s importance is how the standards are portrayed to it’s intended audience, the American public.
HIPAA.org provided by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS) is an open resource intended for professionals in the medical fiels whether they be private practices or large institutions. It acts as a simple resources to documents of anything employee in the healthcare industry might need in order to understand, raise awareness, comply with, and regulate HIPAA management within their practice. This website would be considered a government website because it is prepared by CMS. However, it’s purpose is to be an resource to further sources in aiding HIPAA complinace as a tool which makes it seem more institutional. This website in particular has been a great in aiding my personal research as it gives direction and access to specific HIPAA documents such as a HIPAA compliance complaint form, that I otherwise would not have been able to find from the whitehouse.gov and hhs.gov websites. For this reason it seems this site is not intended for the general public.
- Health Data Management Website
Health Data Management is a jounalistic resource that is targeted to professionals in the healthcare world and HIPAA compliance officers. It is privately funded as well as by advertisements on the website. Being a journalistic source, there incentive is profit which the site would recieve from its advertizers and subscribers to its emails and newsletters. With profit in mind, it’s content is intended to be an interesting, informational resources, to news worthy issues and topics about health care data management in order to gain the interest of subscribers, and keep them renewing their subscriptions. This gives the site some creditibiliy as a journalist resouce in the fact that high earning professionals are trusting in and intersted in the information enough to subscribe. It is a good journalist resource for my research on the professional and institutional side of HIPAA issues for those reasons. The articles and information that Health Data Management provides attains its information from a variety of all sources. Depending on the context of each individual piece they publish, their information could have came from citizens and professionals in the field, other journalistic sources, institutions, and government resources as well.
- Healthcare Communications & Social Media Forum
The Healthcare Communications and Social Media Forum is a public forum blog that hosts specific healthcare social media and communication conversations on Facebook and Twitter weekly to get people involved in the discussion of healthcare social media or “#hcsm”. The sites conversations and Twitter hastag discussions regularly include HIPAA and patient privacy’s roles. This is a citizen’s source with sources of people of all levels of experience in the subject from patients, to marketers, and doctors is an excellent resource for my research. It provides not only great information from citizens both professional and non professional through the websites disucssions because along with informative information it provides it’s audience with opinions about about healthcare social media. This website is made from a free blogging site and money is not involved outside of private donations, this discussion and sources is funded by passion. This resource is extremely relevant to my topic not only in its content but also in its purpose. It is an example of how social media websites like Twitter have improved awareness and understanding of medical employees. Just because the participants in the discussion have a passion for work and enjoy publically discussing the issues it may bring, does not mean they are revealing harmful information about patients that would breach HIPAA.
- Social Media Security Threats
This journalistic article is taken from a website called Information Security Resources. The author of the article, Michael Eggebrecht , is the Community Editor at a company called CIOZone, another journalistic website. This article on the risks of social media in the workplace is signifcant to this issue in that social media is the primary gray area of HIPAA. Discussing, reviewing, and analyzing the pros and cons of social media security and risks are a necessity in order to determine if allowing or not allowing social media in healthcare institutions as a HIPAA shouuld be. Information Security Resources is funded by advertisements and is intended to reach viewers of interest. Although it’s not a site that would get many subscriptions it would generate hits from search engine optimization key words in the articles they provide. This makes it a great resource for what the average googling citizen might come acrossed from links from Twitter feeds or interest in the issue.
- “Obama’s Health Reform Proposal Would Leverage Health IT Tools”
This journalistic article is taken from iHealthbBeat.org an institutional based journalistic website who’s mission is to “accurately report technology’s impact on healthcare”. This source is institutional because it si non profit and funded by the California Healthcare Foundation. Journalistic, funded by an institution California Healthcare Foundation and donations from its subscribers. This specific article covers Obama’s health reform proposal’s impacts on technological tools within the electronic medical records system. This is relevant because this is a part of the HITECH Act which included HIPAA provisions for electronic medical records specifically and patient privacy. However, the HITECH Act should also imply that the same necessary HIPAA provisions should be made to address a broader range of tech and Internet based issues such those of social media. With iHealthBeat’s free subscription option, their institutionally non bias information is being delivered to scholars, citizens, and professionals about all things that affecting healthcare policy, delivery, and financing; this includes HIPAA, HITECH Act and privacy issues.
- American Medical Association
The American Medical Association is an institutional organization of scholars and medical professionals. They are a non-profit organization who receives its funding by donors and supportive private practices. As a non-profit organization, the American Medical Association’s target audience consists of all areas from patients, to professionals. Its resources are based upon healthcare and government standards which are then delivered to their audience by the website via scholars and experts. This is another great resource for stable source of information regarding healthcare and patient privacy. Their page specified for patient privacy is designed to inform patients of their rights as a patient within the American healthcare system. As well as a section for patients their site provides a log in area for healthcare providers to gain information on HIPAA and compliance. Their information is relevant to my research because it is another deliver of patient privacy laws, that should include a section on internet safety with healthcare electronic medical records and how institutions protect your privacy even within social networking.
- Local News Station Story on HIPAA and Twitter
This story is a from a journalistic source for local viewers. It is funded by advertising on the TV station that original story was aired from. Their information is based on citizens stories. Specifically this story is a great resource for the issue at hand. It discusses a hospital in Florida where a dedicated nurse’s soul purpose is to update their operating room Twitter accounts to inform family members waiting on the surgery of its progress. Here is an example of an institution that was not fearful of the gray areas of HIPAA regulations over social media. To avoid the risk of violating HIPAA, the hospital has the patient and surgen sign off that the Twitter updates will be used and they have their consent to do so. This is a great source for my view on HIPAA and social media, and an example of what Carrie Aker with Peacehealth sees could be a good thing but doesn’t have the administrative permission to mess with the thin line of HIPAA in such a way. This Florida hospital is taking a bold leap by doing so. However, the media coverage they received is a great that the positive ways social networking in the healthcare industry can be used.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is a government funded website as a branch off of the Department of Health and Human Services. This website is important in any research regarding health insurance and the regulations, laws, rights, and financial boundaries relating to it. Here is where people of the American healthcare system an go to find basic support, information, and further resources involving health insurance which includes their rights under HIPAA. Their page dedicated to HIPAA features sections of all concerns from reporting problems, to frequently asked questions about patient privacy rights, and reporting issues. If indeed the Obama Administration was to enact a section to HIPAA that discussed social media and further tech issues than the provisions made to comply with the HITECH Act, this would be a key location that information on it would be provided to reach the public and inform them of what is allowed and not allowed with social media by medical institutions an professionals associated with them.
In the past week institutions have had various reactions to HIPAA’s new regulations regarding the HITECH Act and compliance with business partners. The Health & Human Services Department so far has failed to release the compliance guidelines to compliment the changes put into effect February 17th. Not only has this caused problems, but its lead to the fail of institutions putting into effect the new HIPAA regulations. HHS is delaying their publications and has even hinted they will not begin enforcing these provisions for sometime.
In the past month the government has implemented stricter policies and changes regarding HIPAA laws and who is included to comply with its regulations. Recently, the greatest change to HIPAA are to the possibly penalties an institution or person can receive for breaching HIPAA’s code of security and patient privacy. Since HIPAA was passed by congress in 2006 the penalties have ranged from anywhere between $100 to a maximum of $50,000. With the new technologies of social media, and other ways that word of mouth spreads quickly there have been more instances of HIPAA being breached by word of mouth from employees. To accommodate with societies gossipy tendencies and the demand for secure electronic medical records, the penalties now range anywhere from $100 to a maximum of $1,500,000. Although a $1.5 million dollar penalty cap may seem high, it’s a necessary price to pay for an entire hard drive of medical records and patient information to go missing.
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website is a Government resource of HIPAA information, powered by Federal funding. The information it provides is intended for the general public, as record, and information.
- HIPAA.org (Supposedly prepared for by CMS for institutions)
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (overview)
- Local News Station Story on HIPAA and Twitter
This story is a from a journalistic source for local viewers. It is funded by advertising on the TV station the original story was aired from. Their information is based on citizens stories.
- United States Department of Labor (Portability Coverage and Rights)
This is a government source intended for employees and employers to understand their healthcare coverage and rights within HIPAA while employed. It would be federally funded, and intended to be informational based.
- Health Data Management Website
Health Data Management is institutional and scholarly based resource that is targeted to professionals in the healthcare world and HIPAA compliance officers. It is privately funded as well as by advertisements on the website. It’s content is intended to be an interesting, informational resources, to news worthy issues and topics about health care data management.
- American Medical Association (Under Coding Billing Insurance)
this is an institutional source funded by a foundation of donors. The American Medical Associations target audience consists of all areas from patients, to professionals. Its resources are based upon healthcare and government standards which are then delivered to their audience by the website via scholars and experts.
- HIPAA.com (Journalistic style up to date articles and resources)
This is a journalistic resource website for professionals in the healthcare industry that provides updates and articles of how compliance officers can meet the challenges to stay current with HIPAA standards efficiently. The sources for this helpful resource consist of various healthcare professionals and journalists.
- Healthcare & Social Media Twitter Discussion feed and blog
Healthcare Communications and Social Media form is a public forum blog that hosts specific healthcare social media and communication conversations on Facebook and twitter weekly to get people involved in the discussion of HCSM which includes HIPAA and patient privacy’s roles in the topic. This is a citizen’s source with sources of people of all levels of experience in the subject from patients, to marketers, doctors. This website is made from a free blogging site and money is not involved, this discussion and sources is funded by passion.
- iHealthBeat article “Obama’s Health Reform Proposal Would Leverage Health IT Tools”
Journalistic, funded by an institution California Healthcare Foundation, audience would be healthcare professionals, or patients with specific interest in healthcare technology etc
Thursday of this week, Februrary 18th, 2010 provisions to HIPAA compliance with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) came into effect. Originally signed by President Obama a year ago as part of the stimulus package on February 17, 2009, the HITECH Act is meant to encourage institutes to adopt full electronic medical records.
The new HIPAA compliance rules over HITECH Act industries include new data breach notifications rules. The largest change is that now business associate agreements are all included now under HIPAA compliance regulations.