Monthly Newsletter

May 2024 Monthly Newsletter

New Rule to Strengthen Nondiscrimination Protections Applies to Healthcare AI Applications

OCR Advancing Civil Rights in Health Care

On April 26, 2024, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule advancing protections against discrimination in health care under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Given the increasing use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health programs and activities, the rule clarifies that nondiscrimination in health programs and activities continues to apply to the use of AI, clinical algorithms, predictive analytics, and other tools.  Click Here for the link to download the unpublished PDF.

Artificial Intelligence-Based Tools and Guidance on Use in Practice

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published guidance on April 11, 2024 regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) based tools, including generative AI, in practice. The USPTO’s goal is to foster and protect innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Emerging Technologies (ET) and bring those innovations to impact to enhance our country’s economic prosperity and national security and to solve world problems.  The USPTO recognizes the benefits of AI and while practitioners are not presently required to disclose whether AI is used as a drafting tool there are a variety of duties that arise with its use.

According to an USPTO Alert published on April 24, 2024, a webinar is being offered on May 15 from 1-2 pm ET where USPOT will present an overview of the guidance and answer your questions.

Social Engineering – Avoid Infection

HIPAA security compliance is a challenge.  Reminding workforce members and management of ways to avoid attacks on your network or systems is an ongoing task. Download the 405(d) “Beware of Infection” poster which provides quick tips and mitigation practices to protect your organization.  Download, print, and share the poster in your organization to remind everyone, cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and "Cyber Safety is Patient Safety"! Download other free information from the 405(d) Resource Library.

Digital Healthcare Research

How technology is used in healthcare is growing rapidly.  The government’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) wants to ensure digital applications are designed to benefit all patient groups and has published a Guide to help organizations implement evidence- and consensus-based framework for improving patient outcomes and advancing healthcare equity.

  •  Download the guide designed for developers, vendors, health systems, health plans and clinical providers.

Telehealth Accreditation – New Joint Commission Program

According to a Joint Commission announcement made on April 23, 2024, this new accreditation program provides updated, streamlined standards to provide organizations offering telehealth services with the structures and processes necessary to help deliver safe, high-quality care using a telehealth platform.

The Telehealth Accreditation Program was developed for healthcare organizations that exclusively provide care, treatment and services via telehealth. Hospitals and other healthcare organizations that have written agreements in place to provide care, treatment and services via telehealth to another organization’s patients have the option to apply for the new accreditation.

The Telehealth Accreditation Program will replace the current telehealth and technology-based accreditation products in The Joint Commission’s Ambulatory Health Care and Behavioral Health Care and Human Services Accreditation Programs for organizations that meet the eligibility criteria.  Click Here to explore accreditation for your telehealth organization.

Reproductive Health Care Privacy Under HIPAA

New HIPAA Privacy Rule

The government has issued this new rule to strengthen HIPAA by prohibiting the disclosure of protected health information (PHI) related to lawful reproductive health care in certain circumstances. This Final Rule is intended to bolster patient-provider confidentiality and help promote trust and open communication between individuals and their health care providers or health plans, which is essential for high-quality health care. 

In April 2023, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published proposed modifications to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to address changes in the legal landscape affecting reproductive health care privacy that make it more likely than before that PHI may be used and disclosed in ways that HIPAA intended to protect. 

The Final Rule:

  • Prohibits the use or disclosure of PHI when it is sought to investigate or impose liability on individuals, health care providers, or others who seek, obtain, provide, or facilitate reproductive health care that is lawful under the circumstances in which such health care is provided, or to identify persons for such activities.
  • Requires a regulated health care provider, health plan, clearinghouse, or their business associates, to obtain a signed attestation that certain requests for PHI potentially related to reproductive health care are not for these prohibited purposes.
  • Requires regulated health care providers, health plans, and clearinghouses to modify their Notice of Privacy Practices to support reproductive health care privacy.

Click Here for more information on 45 CFR Parts 160 and 164.

No Surprise Billing Allowed

The No Surprises Act is an educational topic requested on our latest survey.  This act protects consumers (patients) they receive get care from providers outside of their health plan's network unknowingly resulting in out-of-network charges. During a medical crisis or emergency situation, consumers don’t necessarily have a choice in where they go or who provides their care. This can occur in both emergency and non-emergency care situations. This can arise during non-emergency hospitalizations, where multiple providers may be involved in care.

Even if a hospital participates in a patient’s insurance plan, specific providers, such as surgeons, anesthesiologists or radiologists, may not. Consumers may have no idea that they’re getting care from out-of-network providers and no say in it either.  There is State and Federal oversight regarding surprise billing laws. 

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