NACDS Foundation announces new, expanded class for Faculty Scholars Program
ARLINGTON, Va. — With the inaugural participants in the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation Faculty Scholars Program concluding their year-long work, the NACDS Foundation has named a new and expanded class of participants to continue the program’s research focus.
Launched in 2012, the program educates assistant professors from U.S. schools and colleges of pharmacy about designing, implementing and publishing community pharmacy-based patient care research.
“This program proves once again that success flows from success,” stated NACDS Foundation president Kathleen Jaeger. “By all accounts, the program in its first year has equipped participants to make an even greater difference in research to advance patient care and health outcomes. So, we are celebrating their accomplishments and expanding the program for its second year.”
The inaugural class included five faculty members, and the class announced on Friday includes eight faculty members:
- Meagan Brown, clinical assistant professor, University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy;
- Jeannine Conway, assistant professor, University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy;
- Robert Maher, Jr., assistant professor, Duquesne University School of Pharmacy;
- Lisa Meny, assistant professor, Ferris State University College of Pharmacy;
- Anthony Pattin, clinical assistant professor, Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy;
- Nathan Pope, clinical assistant professor, University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy;
- LaNell Staroba, assistant professor, North Dakota State University College of Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Sciences; and
- Stevie Veach, assistant professor, University of Iowa College of Pharmacy.
The initiative’s educational programming was designed in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh, and the program will continue to be led by Melissa Somma McGivney and Kim Coley.
Through the program, each scholar will participate in advanced educational opportunities through in-person meetings, conference calls, individualized mentoring, Web-based lecture material and online discussion forums. The scholars will engage in peer-to-peer review, receiving support from a network of researchers nationwide. They will also be eligible to receive a research grant to launch a community, pharmacy-based, patient-centered care project.
The inaugural class will complete its work when it convenes at the 2013 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy Annual Meeting. The second class will begin its work in August when it meets in conjunction with the 2013 NACDS Total Store Expo.
QS/1, iMedicare form deal to help patients find Medicare plans
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Healthcare automation services company QS/1 has a deal with the maker of an iPad app for Medicare patients to help users search for and compare health plans.
QS/1 announced the partnership with iMedicare to help pharmacies serve the country’s growing number of Medicare patients.
"Using government resources, comparing plans can take up to 40 minutes," iMedicare CEO Flaviu Simihaian said. "When integrated with QS/1’s Pharmacy Management System, iMedicare can do that comparison in a matter of seconds."
The iMedicare app uses existing customer information in the QS/1 system to populate the necessary fields, allowing pharmacies to help more patients reduce their search times.
"There are thousands of seniors enrolling in Medicare every day," QS/1 president Tammy Devine said. "iMedicare is a valuable resource that allows pharmacies to present plan options for that specific person."
The HIPAA privacy rule: A decade of enforcement
In April 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, Office for Civil Rights, or OCR, began enforcing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly known as HIPAA. Now, a decade later, we can look at how the rule is being applied.
Facts and figures
As of press time, HHS had received a total of almost 80,000 HIPAA complaints. Of those, more than 44,000 were dismissed, more than 19,000 were investigated and resolved with changes to privacy practice, and more than 9,000 were investigated and no violation was found. Investigations were conducted against many types of entities, including national pharmacy chains, major medical centers, group health plans, hospitals and small provider offices. According to HHS, private medical practices were the ones most often required to take corrective action as a result of enforcement, followed by general hospitals. With the exception of 2009, HIPAA complaints have been increasing annually. In 2011, there were more than 9,000 complaints received.
According to HHS, the compliance issues investigated most frequently are, in order:
- Impermissible use and disclosure of protected health information;
- Lack of safeguards for protected health information;
- Lack of patient access to their own protected health information;
- Use or disclosure of more than the minimum necessary protected health information; and,
- Lack of administrative safeguards of electronic protected health information.
Typically, complaints are resolved by the covered entity (i.e., hospital, pharmacy, health plan or medical practice) instituting new procedures to ensure patient privacy, training or retraining staff, censuring or dismissing staff, and making policy changes to protect electronic data. Often settlements also include monetary payments. Some recent examples of enforcement actions include the following:
- A grocery store-based pharmacy chain kept its pseudoephedrine log books, which contained protected health information, in such a way that the protected information was visible to the public at the pharmacy counter. The pharmacy chain was required to implement national policies and procedures to safeguard the information in the log books and to train all staff on the new policy.
- A pharmacy employee placed a patient’s insurance card in another patient’s prescription bag. OCR held that insurance cards contain protected health information and need to be safeguarded. The pharmacy was required to revise its policies and retrain its staff.
- A nurse and orderly in a state hospital discussed the HIV/AIDS status of a patient and patient’s spouse within earshot of other patients without making any effort to prevent the disclosure. Both employees were put on leave, disciplined, given a year of probation, referred for peer review and given more HIPAA privacy training. A monetary settlement was given to the patient.
- A nurse practitioner working in a multi-hospital healthcare system impermissibly accessed the medical records of her ex-husband. The health system terminated the nurse practitioner’s access to the electronic records system, reported her conduct to the licensing authority and provided her with remedial privacy rule training.
Use caution with personal health information
To avoid HIPAA privacy issues, it’s wise to treat patient records as you would want your own private records treated. In other words:
- Don’t share private information unless necessary;
- Properly safeguard electronic records;
- Don’t access records for patients who you are not actively treating; and
- Don’t casually talk about patients in front of other patients or customers.
Stay tuned for the next law column, which will cover frequently asked questions about the HIPAA privacy rule.
Ann W. Latner, JD, a former criminal defense attorney, is a freelance medical writer in Port Washington, N.Y.