Fear is only HIPAA Deep

| March 6, 2015
outcomes system software

MyOutcomes Partners with Compliance Helper

In an age of alarming events that seem to occur with unnerving regularity, I have done my best to avoid being an alarmist. On the other hand, I have no qualms about being a realist. Being a realist is not the same as being an alarmist. A realist is someone who identifies problems and seeks to take reasonable and effective steps to negate those problems. An alarmist is someone who exaggerates the dangers of the world in order to panic the proverbial herd into making risky and costly choices that oftentimes benefits the alarmist or pushes the alarmist’s agenda.

 

In every age, new threats arise that challenge our security. These threats are typically associated with what we consider to be technological, socio-political, and/or economic advances. History is replete with examples of new discoveries, inventions, or other advancements turning out to be double-edged swords: one edge improves life as we know it, while the other edge opens the door to new risks. When the age of pharmacology was first born in the 19th century, the possibility of treating, if not outright curing, so many disorders and diseases became a real possibility. At the same time, the magnitude for substance-abuse and its associated problems grew to a level never seen before. Nothing is without a cost.

In our age, technological advances hold the promise to yield better healthcare that can be delivered more easily to more people. Computers and their attendant software possibilities, the internet, and mobile telecommunications, in unison, have the potential to bring state-of-the-art advances in psychotherapy to therapists and their clients anytime and anyplace. There are few people who would consider advancements that can better the lives of so many as being the equivalent of letting the genie out of the bottle. Nonetheless, taking advantage of these advances requires the creation of electronic records that oftentimes contain personal and sensitive information. And as everyone knows, there are people who want access to that information, whether it be for personal gain, part of a cyberwar stratagem, or it stems from nihilistic tendencies. Luckily, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identified the problem and developed a document that outlines what are reasonable and effective steps to address this threat to our privacy and security. This document is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or, as it is more commonly referred to, HIPAA.

This age has seen numerous companies moving to take advantage of these advances, such as healthcare funders (either government or private), multi-site agencies, and companies bringing therapeutic tools to the therapist. MyOutcomes, the web-based application of Partners for Change Outcome Management System (PCOMS), is one of a handful of companies attempting to bring electronic tools to those therapists who are ready to modernize their approach to psychotherapy by building an evidence-based, feedback-informed practice. Given the very real threats to our privacy and security, one of the top ten questions any therapist, or even any potential client, should ask is: Is the company they are considering doing business with HIPAA compliant? If not, then this should be considered a strong indication that the company doesn’t concern itself with your privacy and security. I give you fair warning; approach such with care.

As in any age when a threat has been identified and a solution has been posed, one can be certain to find the alarmist wolves howling at the gates. The wolves, in this case, are those who are warning of the dire consequences if people fail to become HIPAA certified. In light of these scary warnings, what’s a therapist to do except to seek out something that doesn’t exist? Not only does it not exist, but it can cost a lot (up to $40k) to purchase the nonexistent. Of course, the alarmist wolves are quite willing to negotiate a price that fits the pocketbook of any mental healthcare provider or agency. But then again, why wouldn’t they? They’re getting something for nothing and that’s a sweet deal that any wolf could sink its teeth in.

Like all ages, we have a world filled with problems, solutions, alarmists, and realists. Realists can see the problem and understands the steps needed to calmly obtain the solution to the problem. The steps needed to protect the privacy and security of your clients has been detailed in HIPAA. Nowhere in the document does it say that certification is a satisfactory or necessary step in becoming HIPAA compliant. What HIPAA does say is that ensuring the privacy and security of your clients is an ongoing process. In other words, HIPAA compliance is not a one-time event, but instead, a process that requires continual monitoring. What is needed for HIPAA compliance is knowledge, expertise, and an ongoing mechanism to monitor the state of HIPAA compliance.

MyOutcomes is a company for the ages. Not only is it the pacesetter for companies offering technologically sophisticated tools and support to therapists who have evidence-based, feedback-informed therapies, but MyOutcomes is at the forefront of those companies that are HIPAA compliant. Providing knowledge and expertise needed to become and remain HIPAA compliant, MyOutcomes’ Director of Security is a Certified HIPAA Professional (CHP). To continually monitor the state of compliance, MyOutcomes is licensing Compliance Helper. Compliance Helper is a powerful tool that helps a company keep its policies, procedures, and other documents up-to-date. To provide real evidence to customers that MyOutcomes is HIPAA compliant, Compliance Helper provides four meters to be placed on the MyOutcomes website. These meters will allow customers to see at a glance how compliant MyOutcomes is with its procedures, policies, forms, and regularly scheduled tasks.

In an age filled with so much uncertainty, MyOutcomes’ existing customers and potential customers can be certain of two things that set MyOutcomes apart from many other companies. First, the security and privacy of your clients’ personal information is as important to us as it is to you. Second, MyOutcomes will do everything that is needed to ensure that the security and privacy of that personal information remains secure and private.

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Category: Evidence Based Psychotherapy, Feedback Informed Treatment, HIPAA compliant, MyOutcomes, Outcomes Software, PCOMS, Psychotherapy

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