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Column: Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson is the Senior Director of Online Education at 4Medapproved, where he oversees course development and online learning. He also hosts 4Medapproved's popular Learning Lunch series, interviewing industry experts on Health IT, HIPAA, ICD-10, and more. Before he joined 4Medapproved, Brian managed life sciences content for a major reference publisher, developing innovative websites, apps, and more. He has extensive experience in education publishing, online learning, and project management. Brian lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.

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Will CMS End Meaningful Use?

Will CMS End Meaningful Use?

Will CMS end Meaningful Use? If you have been living under a rock, or do not obsess over HIT matters, you may not have heard the news this week that CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt said that the Meaningful Use (MU) program is likely to end in 2016. This announcement comes after repeated assurances from CMS that MU will continue through 2018. It also comes after two tumultuous years for the program, when CMS allowed reduced reporting periods and hardship exceptions to accommodate the implementation of 2014 Edition EHRs and the […]

January 18, 2016 | By More
Meaningful Use is Getting Easier

Meaningful Use is Getting Easier

Meaningful Use is getting easier. This is a welcome development after a rough couple of years for the program. CMS finally issued the Final Rule for Meaningful Use 2015 in October, after months of delay that made providers (and everyone else!) nervous. The most important news for most providers was that CMS confirmed a 90-day reporting period for attestation in 2015. But if we step back from the day-to-day scramble, we can see that CMS has major made strides in streamlining and simplifying the program. One of the major improvements […]

November 2, 2015 | By More
Safe Harbor is the New ICD-10 Delay

Safe Harbor is the New ICD-10 Delay

Despite many prayers and tears, it looks increasingly likely that there will be no ICD-10 delay this year. After two years’ worth of previous delays, ICD-10 is set to proceed on October 1, 2015, because the SGR Fix passed without another ICD-10 delay. That fix tied future reimbursement to quality-reporting, consolidating MU, PQRS, and the VBM into one program called MIPS. (If you don’t know those acronyms, get thee to a 4Medapproved class.) However, there are several ICD-10 bills circulating in Congress. There does not seem to be much enthusiasm […]

July 6, 2015 | By More
Medical Mergers Bring HIPAA Breaches

Medical Mergers Bring HIPAA Breaches

Hospitals and medical groups are in a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions, but many are not protecting themselves from the increased risk of HIPAA breaches that results. The latest example comes from Northwestern Medical Group, a highly respected healthcare organization based in Chicago. On December 19th, Northwestern announced that an employee laptop with nearly 3,000 medical records was stolen from a vehicle, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. HIPAA also requires Northwestern to post a conspicuous notice of the breach on its website. Unfortunately, theft is no excuse when it […]

January 4, 2015 | By More
The Best and Worst of Times for HIT

The Best and Worst of Times for HIT

These are the best of times and the worst of times for health IT. On the negative side, this year has been marked by chaos and delays in the roll-out of new EHR certifications. CMS anticipated that 2014 would be a rough year for the EHR certifications needed for Stage 2, which was why the Meaningful Use attestation period was reduced to 90 days for all providers. By all accounts, the process was even rockier than expected. First, CMS essentially threw in the towel by issuing the Flexibility Rule, enabling […]

October 13, 2014 | By More
Patients Need Meaningful Use

Patients Need Meaningful Use

Misdaventures in Healthcare Nothing focuses the mind like a misadventure, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson. Over the last few months, I have seen several doctors, visited labs, and had minor surgery. The good news is that the clinical care I received was excellent, and nothing matters more than that. But good clinical care is not the only thing that matters. Being a patient gave me new appreciation for why Meaningful Use is a promise worth keeping. Entering our healthcare system is a descent into mindless bureaucracy and antiquated communications. At every […]

June 8, 2014 | By More
Rip and Replace Your EHR in 2014

Rip and Replace Your EHR in 2014

You may have noticed that some of your colleagues look like they just stepped off a merry go round. They might careen around the office, mumbling to themselves. You may find them laughing hysterically as they stare at a calendar, or sleeping under their desk using shredded paper records as a blanket. But don’t be alarmed. These are all perfectly normal reactions to this year of change. This year, everything from Meaningful Use to HIPAA to PQRS to insurance coverage is moving into unexplored territory. But change also represents opportunity. […]

April 14, 2014 | By More
L.A. Business Associate Causes HIPAA Breach of 165,000 Health Records

L.A. Business Associate Causes HIPAA Breach of 165,000 Health Records

A Business Associate working for the L.A. County department of health has caused a massive HIPAA breach of more than 165,000 health records. The breach occurred when eight laptops were stolen from Sutherland Healthcare Solution’s offices on February 5th. Now, anyone can suffer a break-in, so why do I write that the breach was the vendor’s fault? It is their fault because the laptops contained unencrypted Protected Health Information (PHI). But don’t take my word on it. Federal law makes it clear that the vendor is liable for the breach. […]

March 10, 2014 | By More
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Meaningful Use

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly in Meaningful Use

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the Chinese curse, or maybe it was Klingon. Either way, these are interesting times for health IT and Meaningful Use. Some news is good, some is bad, and yes, there’s even some ugly. First, the ugly. Recently, the former CFO of a hospital chain in Texas was indicted on federal charges for defrauding the government of Meaningful Use funds. If the charges are true, it’s an astonishing fraud. Allegedly, the hospital in question hardly even used its EHR during the reporting period, but […]

February 18, 2014 | By More