PHARMACY

Zero tolerance for disruption and security breaches

BY Jim Smith
Savvy business owners understand the difference between investments that are nice to have and those that are necessary. For retail pharmacies, electronic claims processing moved into the necessity category long ago. However, many locations continue to operate with outmoded networking solutions that can leave them vulnerable to connection failures or security breaches.
 
Any pharmacy location that hasn’t had a connectivity upgrade in some time – and those for whom upgrades may have been less than optimal – may be missing out on cost-effective solutions that can ensure rock-solid connectivity. When that’s the case, a simple fix is readily at hand.
 
Reliable Connectivity: Heightened Expectations
A fault-tolerant connection is a must-have for thoroughly reliable electronic claims processing. “Fault tolerance” refers to a connection’s ability to continue uninterrupted at all times, even when a primary connection fails. For example, if a retail pharmacy communications with a claims processor over the internet, and the internet service provider (ISP) has a temporary outage, connectivity immediately rolls over to a backup network connection. In this scenario, communication with the claims processor continues seamlessly, as if nothing happened.
Because protected health information (PHI) is routinely shared with claims processors, the second must-have for a connection is data protection. At minimum, transmissions should be encrypted, so that any intercepted transmissions will be unintelligible to unauthorized recipients.
 
Meeting these requirements requires zero in-house technical expertise. A few inquiries of appropriate vendors will reveal immediately if a claims-processing connection is all it should be.
 
Assessing Infrastructures and Improving System Reliability
Taking the following three simple steps will ensure that claims-processing connections are both fault-tolerant and secure:
 
  1. Contact the pharmacy software vendor, and ask what capabilities the software includes for fault tolerance and security in communications. Does it guard against downtime, and how is data protected when in transit? Electronic claims flowing over the internet should be encrypted using TLS 1.2 encryption at a minimum.
  2. Contact the facility’s ISP or private-line supplier and ask the same questions. What happens if the primary connection goes down?
  3. Finally, contact the claims processor with the same questions – how does it ensure that data is always flowing and always secure?
If the answers indicate a shortcoming in fault tolerance or security, it’s time to pursue options. Even if all is well today or if connections are upgraded, be sure to periodically check in with vendors to see if newer capabilities exist that need to be considered for even greater protection.
The reason for periodically checking in is that network technology continually advances, and vendors often deliver new solutions that perform even better, and at lower cost, than the solutions they replace.
 
Today’s networking solutions are inevitably yesterday’s, and nobody wants to unintentionally end up with a solution that’s no longer supported. With just a bit of inquiry from time to time, retail pharmacy operators can rest assured that their claims-processing connections are available at all times, with full protection of their customers’ sensitive information.

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PHARMACY

McKesson, CHC complete creation of new health technology company

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO – McKesson and Change Healthcare Holdings on Thursday announced the completion of their previously-announced agreement to create a new healthcare information technology company. The new company is named Change Healthcare and combines substantially all of CHC’s business and the majority of McKesson Technology Solutions.

“Today marks an exciting step forward to achieve enhanced benefits for our customers, employees and stockholders,” commented John Hammergren, chairman of the board, Change Healthcare, and chairman and CEO, McKesson Corporation. “I want to thank all of the employees who made today possible and who will continue the important work of building an industry-leading company that will help make the vision of value-based care a reality for payers, providers and consumers.”

“Over the last several years, our industry has experienced a continued shift toward value-based care, requiring an increasingly consumer-centered approach to healthcare,” stated Neil de Crescenzo, CEO, Change Healthcare. “Change Healthcare will be distinctly positioned to leverage its data, analytics and forward-thinking insights to bring new innovative solutions to payers, providers and consumers as they strive to achieve the best healthcare outcomes as efficiently as possible in this new environment.”

By uniting the majority of MTS’ businesses with CHC, the new company will inspire a better healthcare system through a broad set of complementary capabilities that will deliver financial, operational and clinical benefits to payers, providers and consumers. From an interconnected and integral position at the center of healthcare, the new Change Healthcare will be a collaborative catalyst for accelerating its customers’ and partners’ paths to value-based care and better engagement with consumers.

“We are thrilled to have completed this combination of two great organizations. Our nearly 15,000 team members will be working with our collective customers and partners to provide a stronger, increasingly collaborative and more efficient healthcare system that enables better healthcare outcomes,” de Crescenzo continued. “I’m confident that Change Healthcare’s expertise and comprehensive offering of solutions will not only deliver near- and long-term value for our customers and partners, but also help drive the journey toward improved lives and healthier communities.”

In addition to de Crescenzo, previously announced as CEO Change Healthcare, the following individuals will comprise the executive leadership team of the new company:

  • Randy Giles, EVP and CFO;
  • Rod O’Reilly, EVP and president, software and analytics;
  • Erkan Akyuz, EVP and president, imaging, workflow and care solutions;
  • Kris Joshi, EVP and president, network solutions;
  • Pat Leonard, EVP and president, technology-enabled services;
  • Mark Vachon, EVP, sales and operations;
  • Loretta Cecil, EVP and general counsel;
  • Alex Choy, EVP, R&D/IT and chief information officer;
  • Linda Whitley-Taylor, EVP and chief people officer;
  • Thomas McEnery, EVP and chief marketing officer; and
  • Megan Callahan, SVP and chief strategy officer.

As previously announced, the new organization will leverage the Change Healthcare name, but today introduces a new logo, brand positioning and visual identity to reflect the broader capabilities of the unified organization. The migration to the new brand will happen over the next year.

McKesson owns approximately 70% of Change Healthcare, with the remaining equity ownership held by CHC stockholders, including Blackstone and Hellman & Friedman. The new company is jointly governed by McKesson and CHC stockholders.

In conjunction with the creation of the new company, Change Healthcare raised approximately $6.1 billion in debt, which was utilized to fund cash payments of approximately $1.25 billion to McKesson and approximately $1.75 billion to CHC stockholders, cover transaction costs and repay approximately $2.8 billion of existing CHC debt.

 

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CVS selects electronic health record system for specialty care

BY Brian Berk

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — CVS Health on Thursday selected Epic as the electronic health record system for CVS Specialty’s care management programs.

According to CVS, the transition to Epic will help integrate and improve clinical processes for CVS Specialty, including Accordant, which provides care management program services for patients with rare, chronic diseases. This announcement expands the Company's use of the Epic EHR system beyond MinuteClinic which transitioned to the system in 2015.

 "As the specialty pharmacy of choice for many payers and patients, we are focused on creating the most clinically advanced specialty pharmacy experience to help improve care and outcomes for our patients," said Alan Lotvin, M.D., EVP of CVS Specialty. "We are pleased to transition our care management programs onto the Epic platform, which will enable immediate information sharing with other health care providers across the patient's entire care team. This connectivity is integral in providing the best possible, coordinated health."

Epic — the most widely used EHR in the U.S. — will support CVS Specialty's evidence-based care management programs and facilitate connectivity with health care providers nationwide that currently use Epic, including many major health systems, hospital networks and physician groups. Epic interoperability exchanges 1.3 million records daily with tens of thousands of organizations via various national and regional networks including hospitals, clinics and providers.

CVS has more than 9,700 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a pharmacy benefits manager with nearly 90 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.

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