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Stethoscope on a Computer Keyboard. Blue-toned.

Digital technology has changed our lives beyond recognition. It helps us when we need relevant information fast.We now do things differently because of our smart phones and tablets and computers. The difference is how we communicate ideas and how we search for relevant information. If, for instance, you are looking for a place to have dinner in a new city, your smartphone can give you a much more accurate description of the types of restaurants that serve the type of cuisine you like than a human being could provide.

While we are aware of how much digital technology has improved our home and office lives, we may be less aware of how it has transformed entire industries. One industry in particular that has been radically affected has been the the field of healthcare.  Medicine, which thrives on accurate information, now uses digital technology, to create a seamless stream of information about a patient’s medical history. Today, electronic health records (EHR) have transformed how health care is delivered. Now information about a patient’s medical is available wherever it is needed by any medical professional who needs it. Gone are the days when patient’s paper files had to be delivered by mail or when medical records had to be constantly corrected because of outdated information.

Besides its use in hospitals and clinics, EHR is also important for healthcare companies that provide ancillary support like insurance coding, medical billing services, lab services, and so on.

Compliance with Health Regulations

However, since there are many rules and regulations when it comes to health laws, it can be challenging to keep track of compliance issues, especially if you are just starting a medical practice. Consequently, it is often necessary to use a healthcare compliance company that offers new medical practices meaningful use consulting services. For instance, if upon graduation from medical school, you opened up a specialized clinic to treat knee osteoarthritis pain, you would need some guidance before going live with your electronic health records. You would need to know if you are meeting State and Federal regulatory compliance and if the risk level of your health care practice falls in line with new HIPAA regulations. Failure to meet healthcare standards specific to your practice can result in high-cost penalties and fees.

Improved Healthcare with EHR

Electronic Health Records improve the quality of health care, as well as making health care much more convenient for both patients and providers. EHR improves diagnostics and outcomes and improves care coordination. It also improves medical practice efficiency and provides cost savings.

A health care practitioner benefits by getting quick access to all a patients records to provide more efficient health care. It also becomes easier to interface with labs and to make decisions based on accurate and up-to-date medical information. Meanwhile, those responsible for coding and billing can work with legible documents that have complete details. This may not seem like much of a breakthrough in healthcare, but coding and billing departments have always been burdened by the task of deciphering doctor’s illegible handwriting and hastily compiled documentation!

How Patients Benefits from EHR

Besides getting better treatment based on their physicians working with accurate records, patients also benefit in many ways. They know when to see a physician again for followup treatment because they are given timely reminders by the clinic. They are relieved of the tedium of filling out the same forms every time they visit a medical office. And they enjoy the convenience of their electronic prescribing delivered to their pharmacy by their healthcare provider’s clinic before they get there.

EMR is not EHR

There is often confusion between an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) and an Electronic Health Record (EHR), and those unfamiliar with the digital advances in medical technology use the terms interchangeably. When a patient visits a physician or other provider at a clinic, standard medical information is gathered. This is their EMR. However, all the records gathered about a patient by different providers constitute their EHR. This is a far more comprehensive medical history of the patient. This body of information can be created and managed and consulted by authorized providers across many health care organizations.

A New Chapter in Quality Health Care

According to Healthit.gov, the reason EHR improves the quality and convenience of health care is because “access to complete patient health information is essential for safe and effective care. EHRs place accurate and complete information about patients’ health and medical history at providers’ fingertips. With EHRs, providers can give the best possible care, at the point of care. This can lead to a better patient experience and, most importantly, better patient outcomes.

 



 
  


Medicine doctor hand working with modern computer interface as medical concept

The healthcare industry uses its fair share of contractors at all levels. Using outside staff and services is a matter of convenience, and it allows the healthcare facility to focus on taking care of patients. It’s important that contractors understand that they are held to the same rules and regulations as the facility, including HIPAA. While incidental viewing isn’t something that’s punishable, leaving patient information out in the open is. Every contractor from IT to laundry services needs to follow HIPAA at all times in order to avoid fines. Following are three things contractors need to know to stay within HIPAA compliance.

What Information is Protected by HIPAA?

Protected health information, or PHI, is information that cannot be released without consent of the patient. Personal identification that includes the first and last name, address, phone number, and Social Security information falls under the definition of PHI. Conversations between physicians and patient are confidential as are prescribing and financial records.

The only people who are allowed to view PHI is the physician, nurses, and office staff. The information cannot be released to anyone outside of the facility unless permission has been granted by the patient. Any unauthorized release of information can subject the offender and the facility to fines.

Defining Who Is and Isn’t a Contractor

The general rule of thumb for defining a contractor is someone who cannot be controlled by their employer. That is, the employer does not take out payroll deductions and the contractor can come and go as they please. The other definition of a contractor is an outside agency that’s been retained to perform a service. Services can include cleaning of the facility, laundry services, document shredding, and more.

People who are paid a regular wage, have payroll deductions, and work on a pre-defined schedule are employees. They lose the freedom to come and go but gain defined benefits in the form of paying taxes and Social Security.

Both contractor and employee have to follow HIPAA at all times. It’s doubly important for a contractor to pay attention to HIPAA as they have more freedom to come and go, and can be considered a higher risk than an employee. A data breach that’s attributable to the employee or contractor comes with the same results: fines and potential for prosecution.

Creating a Plan of Action to Prevent Accidents and Leaks

The key to preventing problems is education. Make sure employees are familiar with HIPAA, and if not, make plans to educate them. Make sure that contractors are educated in HIPAA before working with them. If a contractor isn’t versed in HIPAA, don’t work with them until they can prove they are. The same goes with IT services and electronic health records. Always work with contractors who know their duties before they step foot in the facility.

Patient privacy is a serious issue, and one that everyone needs to keep on top of regardless of whether they’re a contractor or employee. Always stay on top of compliance protocols in order to prevent fines and protect sensitive information.


Monday Morning Musing — The Illusion

I’m cooking up something pretty big over here (details to come later this summer — I’m aiming for July) but in the meantime….whoa mama!Musings_02

It’s fascinating to me how quickly you forget about the power of Resistance and the Illusion…and how surprising it feels when Resistance and the Illusion smacks you in the face when you’re getting ready to uplevel your business and your life. It’s not like I haven’t been at this rodeo before, but yet every time somehow feels like the first time. (And not in a good way.)

Right now, what seems to be having it’s way with me is the Illusion.

I first heard about the Illusion through Lisa Sasevich (and, in fact, I pulled a Backstage Pass clip from her recent Speak-to-Sell LIVE where she beautifully shares her experiences with the Illusion from the stage — yes, even someone has successful as Lisa Sasevich runs into the Illusion from time to time).

The Illusion is what happens when you’re getting ready to make a leap in your business (or your relationships, health, life) and “crap” starts popping up all over the place. This “crap” can range from frustrating annoyances, like you rush over to the dry cleaner to pick up the clothes you want to pack for an event, only to find out the dry cleaner is running late and won’t have your clothes done until after your flight is in the air — or it could be something bigger like a major illness.

Typically what makes the Illusion the Illusion is all the crap seems to be lining up to prevent you from taking that next step you know in your gut you need to take. So, going back to the business trip, the dry cleaner doesn’t have your clothes ready, you get to the airport and your flight is cancelled, and as you’re scrambling around looking for a new flight, your husband calls you at his wits’ end with the kids fighting, a burned dinner and now the dog just threw up in the middle of the living room.

It’s a very human response if, at this point, you’re ready to throw in the towel and go home.

Maybe you even think “this is a sign from the Universe that I really shouldn’t go.”

And this is precisely when you need to stop, take a deep breath, and realize what’s probably going on is the Illusion is having its way with you.

Now, that’s not to say you aren’t dealing with very real issues. It is quite real that your flight is cancelled and your husband is overwhelmed and unhappy and would probably prefer you to come home. But, the story behind what’s going on is an Illusion.

Although to us it feels like a preponderance of evidence that we shouldn’t be doing what we’re doing, chances are it’s not. You’re not thinking about how you immediately figured out a backup option to the dry cleaning issue, and the backup may be better then what you originally planned, or how you were able to effortlessly clear your schedule so you’ll be able to focus 100% of your attention on the event, or how you had no problems driving to the airport and finding the perfect parking place. All of those things could be signs that you are absolutely on the right path.

But all we’re seeing is the negatives. And that’s probably because we’re terrified about the step we’re taking and we’re looking for reasons to not take that step.

I’ll talk more about what to do when you are in the grip of the Illusion (including more about my own Illusion) in future blog posts, but for now, I just want you to know if you recognize yourself here, just know you’re not alone.

And be gentle with yourself. The Illusion can be a bitch. But if you keep telling yourself it IS just an Illusion, it’s amazing how quickly you can start to see through it.

Michele PW

About Our GE Network Expert - Michele PW

Michele PW (Michele Pariza Wacek) is your Ka-Ching! marketing strategist and owns Creative Concepts and Copywriting LLC, a copywriting and marketing agency. She helps entrepreneurs become more successful at attracting more clients, selling more products and services and boosting their business. To find out how she can help you take your business to the next level, visit her site at http://www.MichelePW.com.


increasing-sales-through-a-pos-system

Your goal as a business owner is to keep your bottom line in the black, which means you need to increase sales and reduce operating expenses. Although there are still small enterprises whose owners love the idea of doing things manually, most stores today use one type of point of sale (POS) system. Depending on your cash position, you can either rent or buy a point of sale system that is suited to your type of business.

Automation

Using a POS system has many advantages over the traditional method of just using a manual cash register. With a POS system you can automate most tasks, which helps in reducing your overhead costs as you only need to hire staff for tasks that cannot be done automatically, such as serving customers and manning the checkout counter. You do not have to assign a staff to collate sales reports because you can generate that automatically, freeing your staff from the additional task and enable him or her to attend to customers. An integrated POS system is also capable of inventory management and cash reconciliation.

Next generation software

Moreover, most POS systems today are next generation software, thereby there are more features and innovations worked into the program to make the software more efficient and responsive. These additional features are meant to help retailers to further improve and raise their sales and net income through increasing their geographical reach and sales volume. Built-in as well is better customer service.

How a POS system increases sales

Extends your geographical reach – with its new features, you can integrate an ecommerce website into your POS system. This allows your customers to shop anytime and outside of your regular operating hours. Your customer base will increase because you are not limited to serving just the customers in your locality who can reach your physical store but those who live somewhere else. You can program the POS system to simplify your online checkout, which help greatly in preventing online customers from abandoning their shopping carts.

Improves your customer relations management (CRM) – a POS system allows you to provide better service to your customers, from always having their favorite products in stock, to reminding cashiers to upsell or provide you with customer information like birthdays and special occasions – things that will increase customer patronage and loyalty.

Use it as a marketing tool – you can build a customer database using a POS system and generate customer details that you can use for mass email or mass marketing campaigns. If you have newsletters, you can have an opt-in on your website and send newsletters automatically to customers who opted in to your service. You can send emails announcing exclusive discounts, special offers, anniversary sale or new products. These are marketing tools to encourage your customers to spend more money in your store.

Create customized receipts – when you have a POS system you can use a feature of the receipt printer to add a customized message at the bottom of the receipt. It can be a coupon, a discount voucher for the next purchase, an invitation to check out your website or answer a customer survey.

Serves as sales prompts – the flexibility, responsiveness and additional features of a POS system allows retailers to set it up with sales prompts. These are short reminders to cashiers to promote loyalty cards, add-ons to the purchase or announce particular or new products, all geared towards increasing sales for the day or to encourage customers to visit the store frequently.

When you’ve chosen your POS system carefully, it will become a critical part of your retail business operation. Not only will your customer base widen, a good POS system will turn you into  a very effective marketer. Ensure that your POS is well implemented as it will result in increased sales volume, lower marketing expenditure and a smoother business flow process.


The Simple 3-Step Process for Creating Your Strategic Business Plan

Business management and marketing know-how isn’t something we’re born with … but it can be learned.

Many business owners — especially those with a non-business background — struggle when it comes to creating a strategic business plan for their business.  Chances are they’ve never ran a business before and, even in their “employment” days, were not involved with the day-to-day business management and marketing of the company that they worked for.

pie_bizplan

So when it comes to running their business they struggle!

“Still need to figure out (sit down and actually learn) how to do this!” said one business owner to me earlier this week.

And this is typically the scenario I see when I speak with business owners…

  • You have a dream for your business;
  • You are an expert in whatever it is you do;
  • But you have no idea how to take that idea/dream and turn it into a viable and profitable business;

… so you continue on in a state of overwhelm and frustration, with a slow growing business.

Spending some time planning all of your business activities is crucial if you are to succeed long-term.

It’s not just about planning your business – you need to understand the strategy behind what you’re going to be doing.

And you also need to understand how all the different pieces of your business fit together to create one coherent business — this is your business model.

Today, I’d like to share with you my simple, 3-step process, for sitting down and crafting your own strategic business plan.

PLAN – schedule some time in your calendar to work on your business plan. Some people opt to take a mini-retreat away from their office.  It could be spending the day in your local coffee shop, or actually going out of town for a few days.  Or you could just schedule one or two hours and sit quietly in your office planning out your business (that advantage of doing in your office is that you have all your business information right there with you). Whatever works best for you is going to work best for your business.  But the important thing is, you to schedule in the time to create your plan!

INVESTIGATE – what is it you’re going to be offering over the coming 90 days; 6 months; 12 months?  I like to have a loose 12-month plan, but then have a very specific 90-day plan in place.  It’s much easier to focus and implement with a shorter time-frame than it is to do so over, say, a 12-month period.  Sometimes planning out so far ahead can feel overwhelming.  But it is important to have that “big picture vision” in place so that you know where you’re heading.

Also when you’re deciding what it is you’re going to be offering ask yourself, “Does this make sense? Does it fit my big picture vision?”  This is where understanding the strategy behind your business comes into play.  It’s no good deciding you want to do a live event, or offer an online training course, if you don’t understand how this fits into your “Big Picture Vision”. All paths must lead you to that “Big Picture Vision”.

EXECUTE – now that you know what it is you’re going to be offering and when, it’s time to put that plan into practice.  One thing that I do in my business is “reverse engineering”.  I always start with the end date in mind and then work backwards.  For example, if I’m offering a 4-part live training class on a specific date, what do I need to do to promote that training class, and when.  It’s much easier to plan out the promotions if I work backwards from the start date of the class.  That way too, I can see if I’m leaving enough time for the promotions or if I need to adjust something in some way.

So there you have my simple 3-step process for creating your strategic business plan.  Now go ahead and create your own!

Tracey Lawton

About Our GE Network Expert - Tracey Lawton

Tracey Lawton is an expert in online business management, office administration, and developing administrative systems. Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, Tracey Lawton, supports professional speakers, coaches, and authors to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Learn how to create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps, and receive free tips at http://OfficeOrganizationSuccess.com.



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