Red Flags Rule Revisited; Meaningful Use; Remote Tx

Red Flags Rule Revisited

The Federal Trade Commission has announced a delay in implementation of the Red Flags Rule until August 1, 2009. Don’t be fooled by this delay. If you are defined as a creditor under the rule, you must still comply. I hope you will take the time to visit the FTC web site and to download and read Fighting Fraud with the Red Flags Rule, a document that will help you assess whether the rule applies to you and instruct you in creating a written plan if it does apply.

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Meaningful Use

During the last week of April, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics (NCVHS) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conducted hearings on possible definitions of “meaningful use of an Electronic Health Record (EHR),” a requirement for receipt of Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments for purchase of an EHR. It is possible to listen to all meetings of the committee live online, and to recordings of the meetings available for public access.

If you are considering attempting to qualify for incentive payments, it is very important that you monitor the discussion of “meaningful use” so you are sure you can prove that you are using your EHR software in a way that will meet the requirements of the definition.

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Remote Psychotherapy and Other Forms of Connected Care

A few weeks ago, several members of the Florida Psychological Association listserv held an active discussion of provision of services to mental health clients by telephone and the Internet. Last week, a similar discussion happened on psychology-tech-talk@googlegroups.com but this exchange focused on the technologies involved rather than on the ethics. The use of Skype and Ichat and gmail chat were considered in order to have both voice and video of both parties available for instant communication.

Meanwhile, on LinkedIn, there has been active discussion in the Connected Health Community on the benefits of use of electronic devices, cell phones and Twitter-like services to monitor medical conditions and to send reminders about medical care. In fact, the most participated-in discussion on this group was about the advent of “behavior-centric” care and how physicians and technology and health systems will interact to encourage individuals to take responsibility for their own health behaviors.

The strongest message for me in these discussions is that change is afoot in our healthcare system and that it is happening both from the top down and from the bottom up. The federal government may be mandating the use of  EHRs to increase the quality of care and to decrease costs, but simultaneously providers of care and the persons to whom that care is provided are becoming activist about the best ways to accomplish the necessary changes. Increased communication, improved access to providers, and patient responsibility for healthy choices are all on the table. Behavioral healthcare is a very small part of the healthcare pie, but change in behavior is crucial to making and following through on healthy choices and is therefore central to all healthcare. How will psychologists and psychiatrists and other mental health professionals be participants in this conversation? 

Where are you in this discussion? Will you wait until mandates are in place and then find ways to comply with or avoid them? Will you become one of the movers of change so you have some say in how it occurs?

To add your comments to this discussion, click on the title of this article and enter your comment in the box at the bottom of the page.

0 thoughts on “Red Flags Rule Revisited; Meaningful Use; Remote Tx

  • Spencer Gear says:

    Kathy:

    As usual, you have nailed some really interesting stuff in your blog. The trend toward “remote” care is one that is particularly important. There are now several studies out there about the relative cost-effectiveness of even telephone based services, and the more that remote monitoring technologies get involved, the more viable these modalities become for complex care environments.

    • I agree that “remote” care is going to become more important over time, and technologies are going to help. Of course, we will need to work on how to fund such treatment. Since an important part of what community based agencies do for the seriously mentally ill is case management, it should certainly be done remotely. Reminders to take medication, to come to group, to see the doctor for medication management, to check blood pressure, to record daily symptoms online…all of these could be completely automated using cell phones or similar technology. Just got to fund it!

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