Questions for EHR Vendors: What You Should Know Before You Commit
If your vendors aren’t vigilant about privacy and security, you could find yourself drowning in HIT compliance woes.
Health information technology (HIT) covers a range of activities, including the application of information processes in both computer hardware and software system and the storage, retrieval, sharing, and use of health care information, data, and knowledge for communication and decision making. After being delayed in 2020, compliance with information blocking portions of the 21st Century Cures Act went into effect on April 5, 2021.
These changes come as healthcare rapidly digitizes, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors are ditching their charts, fueling a rise in EHR/EMR systems and a boost to the overall digital health market. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 86 percent of office-based physicians in U.S. now use EHRs and EMRs. Although this is equating to streamlined operations and fulfilling the promise of true office portability, it is shining a spotlight again on the need to comply with HIPAA regulations for electronic compliance.
Wondering How to Implement EHR Software? Know Before You Commit to a Vendor
Not all digital health care tools are created equally, and astute offices looking to engage with new systems should have plenty of questions for EHR vendors, particularly as they launch an investigation of how to implement project management software. As CMS has noted, EHRs in particular bring with them a host of benefits, including improved quality of care, more efficient care, and more convenient care. What providers should be aware of, however, is the need to keep electronic health information secure, and this includes key items such as:
- Access control tools like passwords and PIN numbers
- Encrypting stored personal information
- Creating an audit trail which records who accesses personal information and what changes were made and when those changes were made
Questions for EHR vendors and EHR implementation procedures
Choosing a new electronic medical record and project management system is a huge decision, and wise practices will carefully consider EHR implementation procedures and EHR implementation techniques. You should have a frank, honest discussion with potential project management solution providers to ask the right questions and ultimately choose a partner that knows exactly what your practice needs, how your workflow would perform in its systems, and what tools and services there are that would help solve your needs and equip you for exemplary service now and into the future.
The following list of questions highlights questions for EHR vendors as providers look at EHR implementation procedures and EHR implementation techniques. Providers investigating how to implement project management software for patient records and medical records should consider the answers to these questions carefully, as they illustrate how well a project management software providers will be able to cater to particular provider needs and wants.
These questions about software capabilities and EHR implementation techniques, adapted from the National Cyber Security Center of Excellence, cover the topics that you should ask to find the best ophthalmology practice management software for your needs. Through interviewing potential software suppliers and asking them some of these questions, you will keep prospective vendors on their toes and reduce your risk.
Are you willing to sign a comprehensive business service agreement?
Are you willing to confirm compliance with HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules, and willing to be audited, if requested?
Third-party Application Integration
Does my practice need to integrate the cloud-based ophthalmology EHR system with other in-house products, such as practice management software, billing systems, and email systems? If so, what are the implementation procedures and techniques used?
What security features protect the data communicated among different systems?
Personal or Device Authentication and Authorization
Does your software solution restrict mobile device types that can access the system?
What are the security compliance polices for using my own device to access the cloud-based EHR system?
If a device is lost, stolen, or hacked, what countermeasures are in place to prevent protected data from becoming compromised?
Does the ophthalmology EHR system require a user to be authenticated prior to obtaining access to PHI?
What are the authentication mechanisms used for accessing the system?
Are user IDs uniquely identifiable? If so, by what means, and if not, are there alternative measures in place?
Is multifactor authentication used? Which factors?
If passwords are used, does the vendor enforce strong passwords and specify the password’s lifecycle?
Does the system offer role-based access control to restrict system access to authorized users to different data sources?
Is the least privilege policy used?
What measures does your software use to protect the data stored in the cloud?
What measures does it use to protect the data from loss, theft, and hacking?
Does the system back up an exact copy of protected data?
Are these backup files kept in a different, well protected location? Are they easily restored?
Does the system encrypt all ophthalmology electronic medical records while at rest?
What happens if you go out of business? Will all clinical data and information be retrievable?
Do you have security procedures and policies for decommissioning used IT equipment and storage devices that contained or processed sensitive information?
Security of Data in Transmission
How does the network provide security for data in transmission?
What capabilities are available for encrypting health information as it is transmitted from one point to another?
What reasonable and appropriate steps are taken to reduce the risk that ophthalmology electronic medical records and PHI can be intercepted or modified during transmission?
Monitoring and Auditing
Are systems and networks monitored continuously for security events?
Does your software log all authorized and unauthorized access sessions, and can these sessions be audited?
Does the ophthalmology EHR system have audit control mechanisms that can monitor, record, and/or examine information system activities that create, store, modify, and transmit PHIL or ophthalmology electronic medical records?
Does the system retain copies of its audit/access records?
How do you identify, respond to, handle, and report suspected security incidents?
Do you offer the ability to activate emergency access to the ophthalmology EHR or PM in the event of a disaster?
Does your software solution have policies and procedures to identify the role of the individual responsible for accessing and activating emergency access settings, when necessary?
Does your solution provide recovery from an emergency and resume normal operations and access to patient health information during a disaster?
Customer and Technical Support
What is included in the customer support / IT support contract and relevant service level agreements?
Can you provide a written copy of your security and privacy policies and procedures (including disaster recovery)?
How often do you release new features? How do you deploy them?
EHR implementation techniques are complicated, and EHR vendor selection is a big decision – whatever system you choose, you will probably be working with it for years to come.
Ophthalmology EMR software is constantly evolving, with top-tier software suppliers frequently introducing new and expanded services to keep up with consumer demand and integrate the latest in government and industry requirements. Is your current software keeping up? If not, it might be time for a switch. Make sure myCare iMedicWare and Integrity are on your list. We’ve got answers to all of your questions.